In April 2012 I was walking next to the Seine in Paris whilst peering at the wide array of vintage magazines, records and tat that the stalls were selling. I felt my euros burning a hole in my pocket, but yet possessed no desire to buy something I knew would sit gathering dust on my shelf. I thumbed through old postcards, some blank and some with long forgotten messages, being sold for a euro each. It made me sad seeing handwritten postcards being sold, just the same as when I see family albums and books with notes in the front. I wonder how and why they ended up here.

I wanted to write one, but in the digital age handwritten postcards have become an almost ancient ritual, and it seems that the chosen method of rubbing your trip in somebody’s face nowadays is to take a selfie and post it online. I ran through a list in my head and came to the conclusion that nobody I knew would appreciate a postcard from Paris.

That’s when I decided I would write to my children.

To put this into perspective I was nineteen at the time, and by no means planned to have children anytime soon (and still don’t), but the more I thought about it the more excited I got about writing it. It would be like a diary. They would read postcards written to them from an age they never knew me.

I take it easy when bringing this up to new people if I’m on the hunt for a postcard, as it can understandably sound a little bit odd that I’m writing letters to children I don’t even have yet. “Do you know how many you’ll have?” and “Do you know their names?” are the two questions I get asked most frequently. In reality I don’t know if I’ll even have children. I don’t have any dreams about how many I will have, or what gender they will be. My intention is not to ever enter motherhood with any preconceptions of who my children will or won’t be.

The postcards began as a way of documenting my experiences in the places I was visiting as well as short thoughts about life. In Paris I began, “Here begins my journey into adulthood and my writings to you” and I go on to talk about Paris and how I had discovered my passions very early on in life. Throughout 2012 I wrote recommendations on areas within the cities and countries I was visiting, short anecdotes about camel-riding, arguments with my family and burning my legs and advice including my favourite “always be prepared for the worst” (from Berlin June 2012 when three things went wrong at the airport meaning I was charged £100, had to leave luggage behind and then lost my purse before I had even gotten onto the plane).

As time went on and I began to revisit places I had already spent time in, the postcards have become more of a diary, and from the start to now it’s quite phenomenal how obvious my growth is from just reading a few lines. So far, as of August 2015, there are sixty-three postcards from different cities and countries stored, and four that never reached the UK, and the lengths I have gone to in order to find and mail out a postcard has at times been comical.

During this project I have discovered how few postcards are tasteful, and in India even resorted to printing my own (understandably, in a lot of places I visit there aren’t often a lot of postcard choices). I have had a mini meltdown in the airport in Vilnius when I realised I hadn’t posted my postcard, only to have a member of staff offer to take it to the post box for me after work. I have discovered a love of scratch and smell stamps in Thailand and I’ve had postcards with fraudulent stamps on returned to me months later.

Everybody I have explained this project to has had only positive comments to make, and I wanted to share it with a wider audience in the hopes that maybe other people will be inspired to start a similar project, so that when our children feel confused or ignorant to adulthood, they will see that we too were once young and naive, and that life is a constant journey of growth and development.