So you may have seen them for yourself, pasted up in and around London, brightly coloured pieces of paper with a thoughtful message, or random sentence – that stops you in your tracks and makes you think or just laugh. You may even follow Notes to Strangers (NTS) on Instagram. Well, I do – and because of this, I came across that the creator behind Notes to Strangers Andy Leek runs NTS Walking Tours – and wanting to try different things and be more spontaneous in life I bought two tickets to go on a tour with the Hubby. I just thought it was an event I couldn’t miss and what a memorable experience it might be and I was not disappointed…
So on a rather damp and extremely windy Sunday afternoon, a group of strangers met across the road from the Tate Britain, a spot specifically chosen to start the walking tour as it’s here Andy started posting the Notes to Strangers – so a poignant place to start our journey, discovering new Notes to Strangers along the way that Andy had specifically written for the tour and see what discussions/conversations they triggered within our group.
I personally think that it’s quite true. We’re not talking about breaking laws, obviously, but bending the rules or pushing against societal norms might give you a bit of trouble, but it could also give you a memorable life and might actually be some of your best memories. There’s something to be said of those who don’t follow the crowd. Just because everyone else does something or because society says you must conform, doesn’t necessarily make it the right thing!
Do you agree?
Now, this note sparked off such a conversation and one that really helped the group open up with each other – an excellent ice breaker! We all agreed it would be something that would make you stop and think. Then there were discussions on how you eat your toast – almost on the scales of a steak – do you take it well done or underdone? Then we covered what toppings do you like. There did seem to be a consensus for a lot of butter on toast. Could it even be served as a gourmet food if presented correctly?
When I was a kid we did initially have a toaster we used to do toast under the grill – so occasionally I’d only have one side toasted and the other side ‘raw’ – and would have the toasted side spread with butter and marmalade – that is actually making my mouth water thinking about it!
How do you eat your toast?
There is definitely something in this. If you are with happy, warm people the feelings can be contagious and you yourself feel happy and warm. But the reverse can also be said – if you’re with someone who is down and sad, eventually these feelings can leak over to you too. Let’s aim to be warm people for those we meet. But be careful if you are helping someone else not to let yourself get depleted, your feelings are important too.
Do you feel that you absorb the emotions of others and they affect how you feel?
Exactly – We discussed the fact you couldn’t really enjoy a hot chocolate when sat on your lounger by the pool whilst sunbathing – it just wouldn’t work. Neither could you fully appreciate one having just eaten a three-course meal. But if it’s really cold, wet and windy out and you’re snuggled up on the sofa under a blanket, now then you can imagine holding a mug of tasty hot chocolate complete with cream and marshmallows, obviously, and curled up with your favourite book (perfect bliss for me)! Or maybe you’re out in the rain and stop off in a coffee shop and treat yourself to hot chocolate. This hot chocolate could just change the way your day is going.
Has a hot chocolate ever changed your day?
If you’re not “Blundering your way through this” can you please let me know your secret? Our group all concurred that we were all definitely winging it. I really like this shot of Andy with the poster too.
I find it funny now, in my 30s, that I used to think “When I grow up…” but now I am theoretically ‘a grown-up’ I am still waiting to grow up! I don’t believe I ever will – I personally believe I take life less seriously now and try and enjoy it more! I was far too sensible a teenager – so I am having my rebellion in my 30s, with piercing, tattoos and shaved hair! Haha!
Do you feel like you’re blundering through this?
I think this is just plain good advice – not trying to fix you, but just to get you to think another way – and hopefully will help those in passing overcome just one of those negative thoughts. I believe we all think negatively at times – but do all these negative thoughts come true any more than the positive things? So why do we give more weight to the negative thoughts in our heads? So this bit of advice could be very timely – and just make you question why you’re thinking the way you are.
Could you challenge your negative thoughts?
Written by Andy, with a hangover, whilst eating a banana. Sometimes these posters just make you smile, and set your mind on a different way of thinking. I personally agree, though my Blue One can’t stand bananas – I think bananas are magic, good food before a workout or after or when you need a snack – and tasty on toast and remember there is no wrong way to eat toast!
What are your musings on the humble banana?
Whether it be physically or mentally clumsy. Occasionally we say things without thinking – speaking clumsily – this is forgivable, we are only human after all!
Do you agree?
Oh my goodness – this is so true! Isn’t it just? You think you know where you’ve put them, but when you want them they’re never there are they? Haha!
Do you find your nail clippers go walkies?
A tough but valuable lesson I feel. You need to accept the situation for what it is, not giving it the power to control you, but being able to live with it. But this is not something that can be done easily, it is a slow and gradual process – but when you do, you will have beaten whatever it is.
How do think you can “Beat it”?
I agree with this – being able to question your circumstances and feel unsure is a sign that you are in a good place in your mind in my humble opinion. It shows that you are neither depressed or manically happy – because when we are in those states of mind, we are definite and certain about what we think. Everything is either black and doom or we are excited and we want to take epic risks, we are not unsure on either count! We even discussed that being unsure could be a sign of intelligence too – that you’re willing to question things and not just blindly follow others.
Do you agree with this note?
Life is a one-way trip, we never get to live a moment again – at times it’s really important to keep this in mind, and a reminder like this could be very timely. Bad times are only temporary and will not last forever, good times will come back.
Sometimes you need to be spontaneous, sometimes you need to take that risk, sometimes you need to take that leap – because the opportunity might never present itself again and it could potentially be the best decision and give you a memorable life and no regrets! Like the song by Nickelback “What are you waiting for?”
This isn’t a dress rehearsal – we only get one shot at this – live your best life! And these are words I need to remind myself of each and every day!
Do you live each day like it’s your last?
I’ve been fortunate that I don’t think this has been the case for me… yet!! I do feel my hairstyle is more stylish these days and a lot more me now that I have a pixie crop, as opposed to waist length hair! I realised that I used to have my hair long because other people like it that way, not because I did – I am so much more comfortable with my cropped style – and weirdly it reduces my anxiety when my hair is short too!
What’s the worst hairstyle you’ve ever had?
You have to give things time to grow and develop, and none of us are very patient about this – but this note is so true, don’t give up. Like any seed though it needs food, water, and love to grow into fruition – this is the same things you need too – you need to care for yourself even when you’re working hard, you need to remember to nourish yourself, hydrate yourself and show yourself, love. At times, it may feel like the most impossible task, and you might feel like giving up, but don’t. One day you will reap the fruits of your labour.
This note reminds me of the quote “When you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, but actually you’ve been planted”
Do you have any small seeds of plans that you are hoping will grow and bloom?
Hope – just a little bit of hope will help you fight for what you want. Hope will make everything look possible – even when the journey to what you want is fraught with hardships, that glimmer of hope will keep you going, and get back up each time you are knocked down. Sometimes hope is a hard thing to muster in this world, but try not to lose your hope. This was the last note on our walking tour and a great one to end it with. I got so much out of this tour, more than I could have anticipated. Would love to attend one again in the future.
Do you add hope to your thoughts?
We came across some of Andy’s older notes as we wandered around. I love both of these notes – but the one that says “Look after your spark of mischief” – I think sits really well with the first note from the tour – “A bit of trouble is the side effect of a fun life” – definitely need a bit of mischief to get in a bit of trouble, right!? ; -P
Do you have a mischievous side? (I know that I do!!!)
We thoroughly enjoyed the Notes to Strangers walking tour and would recommend it to anyone. Just a different experience in this tapestry we call life and a nice little workout for the mind.
Have you come across any Notes to Strangers – which ones did you see? Which of the above notes gets you thinking? Share your thoughts and feelings with me in the comments 🙂 xxx