Home or away

Many people look forward to a holiday away from home; an opportunity to escape the routines of the everyday and enjoy new experiences.  Many people look forward just as much to the return home, to familiar comforts and routines.

During the past twelve months I have enjoyed a few escapes away.

I travelled overseas and far away for my first visit to London.

Whitehall, London © Norah Colvin

Whitehall, London
© Norah Colvin

My visit to the UK included a few days at Saxmundham to the north

Cottage at Saxmundham © Norah Colvin

Cottage at Saxmundham
© Norah Colvin

and a visit to Dinosaur Adventure at Norwich for Grandson’s fifth birthday.

Dinosaur Adventure, Norwich © NorahColvin

Dinosaur Adventure, Norwich
© NorahColvin

I travelled to Cairns and Port Douglas in northern Queensland,

Port Douglas © Norah Colvin

Port Douglas
© Norah Colvin

and from north to south through Tasmania from Hobart to Launceston.

Hobart © Norah Colvin

Hobart
© Norah Colvin

I visited Alice Springs and Uluru in Central Australia.

Uluru © Norah Colvin

Uluru
© Norah Colvin

I also visited some seaside locations closer to home, including Hervey Bay and Marcoola to the north and Coolangatta to the south.

Hervey Bay © Norah Colvin

Hervey Bay
© Norah Colvin

Just last week I enjoyed a few days at a farmstay celebrating Grandson’s sixth birthday.

Farm © Norah Colvin

Farm
© Norah Colvin

Looking at that list, one might think I am never at home; but it doesn’t seem that way to me.

Visiting places away from home can be educational as well as enjoyable and fun; meeting new people, learning about different cultures and ways of life, experiencing new foods, activities and routines, and seeing different geographical features. This is true for adults and children alike. The learning is integral to the experience, not an add-on or a lesson.

However the experiences can be recorded by, with or for children to enhance learning opportunities; for example, but not restricted to:

  • Photo stories with accompanying text provide wonderful opportunities for reading and discussion and for keeping the memories alive over the years.
  • Diary or journal records that include dates, places and events provide opportunities for writing and reading. These entries can be supported with photographs, drawings, or “souvenirs” such as stickers, postcards, entry tickets and brochures.
  • Letters and postcards sent to family and friends provide further opportunities for sharing, writing and reading.
  • Emails can also be used to share highlights with family and friends and provide opportunities for using and learning about technology. I have found that including myself as a recipient for each email provides an effective alternative, or addition, to diary writing.
  • Marking routes and places visited on maps helps develop a sense of location and direction. Combining these with photographs or photo stories or diaries makes them even more meaningful.
  • Using a calendar to count down the weeks or days until departure, mark the days at each location, and the date of returning home helps to develop an understanding of the passage of time as well as the ability to read and use a calendar.
  • Discussion of departure and arrival times, the time until and the duration of journeys or events,  and relating these to time shown in both digital and analogue format helps develop an understanding of the use of time measurement and the passage of time. Use of printed and online timetables, as well as those displayed in airports, train stations and at bus stops provides opportunities for in-context and purposeful learning.
Example of a simple photo story for preschoolers

Example of a simple photo story for preschoolers © Norah Colvin

Books, including atlases and photo books, can be used to ignite interest in places to be visited during a planned holiday or generally to arouse interest in other places. Stories can also be used.

Felix

One such story is Letters from Felix by Annette Langen and Constanza Droop. It tells of Felix, a toy bunny who was lost at the airport, as he travels the world on his way home to Sophie. In my version Sophie lives in Hobart, Tasmania and she receives letters from Felix in London, Paris, Rome, Cairo, Kenya and New York. (If anyone owns a different version, I’d love to know the countries included.) In each letter, the information shared by Felix inspires Sophie to find out more about the location. When Felix finally arrives home he has a surprise gift for Sophie: a sticker from every location visited.

Letters from Felix is a great story to read at any time, but takes on extra meaning when one, or someone known, is travelling or returning from travels. It can be used to support or encourage an interest in geography in the classroom or at home. If children are not visiting locations as exotic as those visited by Felix, they may still be encouraged to record and share their experiences in the ways described above.

Of course, when children arrive home, they may be just as excited to rediscover their familiar comforts, toys and books and reconnect with friends and family left behind. As the song says, “There’s no place like home.”

What inspired me to think about holidays and home this week is the flash fiction challenge set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a return to home. I have written about Marnie’s return to the place she had grown up but had never felt was “home”. It also provides a segue to the next post in my series celebrating Australian picture books which includes “Home” by Narelle Oliver. I hope you will join me for that post. In the meantime, here is my flash:

The return

Her eyes looked outward but her gaze was inward, trying to unravel the confusion of tumultuous emotions: anger for what had been, sadness for what wasn’t, regret she hadn’t escaped sooner, fear of her reaction, coldness at their passing. The bus carried her back; some things familiar, some as different now as she, returning “home” after so many years. Home? She’d called it home, back then, but now realised it hadn’t been home, not really; not safe and warm and loving as any home should be. She’d left vowing to never return. She returned now for finality and closure.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post or flash fiction.

44 thoughts on “Home or away

  1. Bec

    Nice to be with Marnie as she has some closure – and a very moving piece of FF. I hope this means she now has her own home where she feels secure and comfortable. Also great to see your lovely photos from travel! And to read about the opportunities for making the fun experience of travel full of learning, too.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks Bec. I’m pleased you found a little more hope for Marnie in this one. We made many such books together when we were younger (I was going to say ‘you’ but we were both younger!). Now wonder you were an early reader! 🙂

      Like

      Reply
  2. roweeee

    We have loved letters to Felix and it is one of our most treasured picture books. Thank you for reminding me of that and I’ll have another go getting the kids to make their own books from our holiday to Byron Bay. Trying to get them to do anything can be a thankless task but always worth another try! My daughter quite likes making things so we’ll see. xx Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Yay! Another Felix lover. I guess your book is the Australian version too. I haven’t heard from anyone with a different version yet.
      It will be interesting to see if the children are interested in making their photo books. They work well in PowerPoint too, and Google photos has some fun and easy things to do with photos. You’ve sort of pipped them with your blog. Do they look at your blog? Could they write a guest post? Do they blog at school, or have you thought about them having their own blogs, even if just for the family?
      Sorry. I’m not trying to make extra work for you. I just can’t help myself with the suggestions! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. roweeee

        Norah, I love your suggestions. They have been reading my blog lately, especially the ones about our trip to Byron Bay. Both of my kids are utubers and my daughter posted video of our messy house without my consent as well as myself. Both kids have ipads and I know my daughters put a few things together. She’s very good with graphics and the art side of things. I’ll have to put some thought into this. Stay tuned. xx Rowena

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
  3. writersideup

    I never travel which is one reason I’m so grateful for things like photography, videos, good movies and TV, and places like the internet where people like you can share their travels 🙂 And I just love the way you write this. You have the perfect novelist voice, my dear 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Donna. You are very generous in your comment. I’m so pleased you enjoyed the post. Thank you for reading and commenting. Travel programs are excellent for those of us who don’t get about much, aren’t they? Sometimes I think you get to see more on the screen that you do in person, but the visual isn’t the entire experience. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. writersideup

        You know what that reminds me of? For a good 15 years I was a die-hard NY Yankees fan. I watched almost EVERY game, most of them on TV. You saw every pitch, hit, run, etc. And instant replays, in the dugouts, all kinds of stuff. I loved going to the old stadium (not the new one) and there was nothing like the atmosphere if you were sitting in the right seats. The thing is, I would miss SO much of the game! Between people constantly going up and down the aisles, and lots of time standing up in front of you. Just everything. I would barely be able to enjoy the game itself in comparison to when I watched it on TV. So there’s pros and cons to both 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
  4. Autism Mom

    We tried books when we visited NYC a few years ago and our son was not interested. This year, to prep him for Great Britain, I used lots of photos and videos. That worked well for him. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  5. Sacha Black

    beautiful piece of flash as always….<3

    My mum used to give me a scrapbook / journal when we would go on holiday and I would fill it with thoughts and drawings and napkins and tickets and all sorts of tat! but you know – I would remember, and like you say she would talk and discuss with me all kinds of things about our holiday.

    I still do it to this day – not on the 'summer hotel and pool holidays' but on the travels the real ones, the exciting places. and I will definitely do the same for my boy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
      1. New Journey

        Since I was very young…my parents would take us all out of school, load up the ole ramble station wagon, we would get to sleep in the back the first night we left, when we woke up were in a different state and life was vey exciting….I have it in my blood….

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
  6. Sarah Brentyn

    Felix! I would have LOVED that book when I was little. I’ve never heard of it. I’ll have to look into it now. Lucky you, getting to travel so much. And great pictures. (As I’m sure you imagine the journal and postcards appeal most to me.) It is nice coming home though, too.

    Wonderful flash. I really do hope you’re compiling all your Marnie flash. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks Sarah. I was a bit surprised when writing the post to realise how many places I had visited in the last twelve months. I don’t really consider myself a traveler. I had my first overseas trip in 2005, and have only had three more!
      Thanks for your comments re Marnie’s stories. I have collected them all on her own page on my blog but only in the sequence they appear, not in the sequence of her “life”.
      I knew you would like the journal and the postcards! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  7. Annecdotist

    That’s a lot of travelling from my perspective, Norah, but seems like you’ve had fun. When I used to travel, I tended to keep a diary but rarely added any pictures. When I did my 194-mile coast-to-coast walk, I wasn’t planning to keep a record until a friend bought me a lovely book. I got friends along the way to do a write-up and perhaps a drawing – some of mine were awful, but it does help me remember the feelings I had when I did it.
    Looks like Marnie had to go back to move forward: well done her!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I can not imagine a 194-mile walk! It tires me just thinking of it, so I tend to not think about it each time I read your mention of it! I’m in total awe! How wonderful that your friends wrote and drew in your diary. That would make it a very special memento. 🙂
      I’m pleased I made the correct choice for Marnie.

      Like

      Reply
  8. Pingback: Return to Home « Carrot Ranch Communications

  9. Charli Mills

    When I traveled to Todd’s family farm, his aunt visited, too. She was an educator for many years and now she travels the world and is taking a cruise around Australia for a month. She loves to keep learning, too. Marnie’s reflection is painful but necessary in your flash.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I would love to do that cruise around Australia. I don’t seem able to make myself make travel plans. I need someone else to give me the incentive. I visited with Son’s family in the UK, Marcoola and at the farm, went to a friend’s party in Cairns, accompanied Bec to Tasmania, visited a sister in Hervey Bay. We go to Coolangatta a few times a year. Out of all those trips the only one I organised was the Red Centre. I’d like to do more, but am also happy at home. 🙂

      Like

      Reply
  10. Sherri

    Hello Norah! At last, so good to ‘read’ you again 🙂 I absolutely loved looking at your holiday snaps, you’ve been to some wonderful places, including one or two I know 😉 I used to keep a scrapbook of places we visited when my children were young, which they helped make, keeping photos, tickets, even packets of things like crisps and sweets (from the UK) so that they could remember them when we returned ‘home’ to California. Eldest son and I did a few, by the time daughter arrived as number three, I’m afraid that my scrapbooking habit diminished to, well…nothing 😦 But she loved drawing so that was good, and also I loved travel books for children. oh I wish I had granchildren as I would buy Letters from Felix. In fact, I might anyway as I know i would love it!! A great idea for a photo story, maybe I would have been more inclined if we had had a computer back in the day, to replace the scrapbooks! And your flash…love it. I’m fascinated that Marnie has returned for closure and look forward to the next installment to see just what happens. Sometimes we have to go back even if painful, to face the past and the hurts, and then to come away knowing that we have at long last cast it away for good so we can heal and live the life we were meant to live…

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for sharing your scrapbooking experiences. It’s funny isn’t it that long before the days of “scrapbooking”, we were the original scrapbookers, collectors of memories. The scrapbooking craze began just a little too late for me and my littlies but I don’t think I would have done justice to the artistic side of it. My collections in old-fashioned scrapbooks served just as well. The photo books work just as well with hand-written text, on paper, in display folders or photo albums. Whatever works is fine. 🙂
      Thanks for your thoughts re Marnie’s story. Words of wisdom there, backed by experience I’m sure.
      Thanks for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Sherri

        Just one last thing on scrapbooks Norah: I used to keep them when I was a girl, but they were far from polished. I used to press wildflowers I found in the woods at the back of our house and sellotape them on the pages. I still have one believe it or not, but the flowers are rather faded, ha!! I love your photo-book ideas for children, and Marnie’s story 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        1. Norah Post author

          How wonderful to still have one of your scrapbooks. It sounds delightful. I remember when I was studying ancient history for year twelve the text was a huge heavy tome. I used to press rose petals in it as I studied. I hope its next owner appreciated them!

          Like

          Reply
  11. TanGental

    When we travelled with the children we all contributed to scrap books, whether a drawn picture, a little bit of writing. They are still much treasured memory books. My favourite is Sam’s aged 8 in Fiji drawing the French football captain holding the World Cup aloft. We both lay in a hammock at 5 am as the sun came up listening to a crackly broadcast on a shortwave radio. Special moments. Loved your flash but we need more to know how Marnie gets on. Charli needs to think hard about the next prompt to ensure your audience is not denied…!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Those scrapbooks and moments do become special memories. I’d love to see the drawing. I’m sure it’s amazing.
      I’m sorry my Marnie moments are not in sequence as yours are with Mary. I have already shared what happens when she arrives at the “home”. I don’t expect you to remember, but I do appreciate your eagerness to know. Thanks for that encouragement.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I have been very fortunate to visit some new (to me) and some familiar places. Getting the children to write their own text would definitely be the best, depending on the age of the child. 🙂

      Like

      Reply

I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s