Tackiness, sentiment, tradition: readers share what attracts them to holiday fridge magnets | Interiors

For Caroline Walker, 65, holiday fridge magnets aren’t merely practical souvenirs holding up the shopping list but “meaningful little reminders” that bring her back to a time or place in her life. The first in her collection was a little magnet from Dnipro, Ukraine. It was a gift from the leader of a group of Ukrainian students to whom she taught English. “I look at it now and I wonder where they all are, if they’re OK, how many of them died, how many of the boys are fighting,” she says.

Walker is among dozens of people who contacted the Guardian to share their emotional response to holiday fridge magnets in light of a new study conducted by Liverpool University that suggests these objects may also provide an important means of accessing happy – and not so happy – memories of past trips.

Brought up in Lancashire, Walker, who now lives in the south of Turkey, also reminisces about “the love of [her] life” when she looks at the magnets he gave to her. When she wakes up and puts the kettle on, they’re the first thing she sees. “They’re small and because I can put them on the side of the fridge and I see them every day.”

“I love my two little Greek ships that I’ve got there because again, it’s like, I want to be back on those ferries going around the Greek islands,” she says. “There will be more,” she adds, speaking about a trip she has planned to Thessaloniki in the summer.

Chris Bridge has a slightly more playful take with her collection. She chooses the magnets based on how ugly they are. “I’ll pick the ones that no one really likes. As long as they have the name and where we went, with things we did … the tackier, the better!”

“I quite like the little cable car from San Francisco and also the tile ones from Spain, in Granada. They’re really funny. And also doesn’t make that much clutter,” she says.

It’s a great way to memorialise a trip, but also to give back to locals. “I feel like it’s me contributing to the local economy, purchasing the magnet myself, even if it’s just small.”

Collecting things from trips away is not new to Bridge. She used to collect postcards but graduated to magnets because they’re “sillier” and more convenient. “I used to ask my friends to send me postcards but no one really does that any more,” she says.

Moving from the Middle East to Hook village in England, John Sandford and his family’s magnet collection has been one of the constants in the 20 years since they started it. “Last night, myself, my wife, and my daughter were trying to rack our brains, ‘where did we start this?’ and we can’t remember.

“It’s just something nice to remember those times on holiday, just to remind us of great times we have had. Families grow up but when you get together to reminisce, it jogs your memory. It’s just a fun thing to have.”

Sandford’s daughter Gillian has moved out of the family home with her fiance, Krishan, and the couple have continued this “nice family tradition”.

“They were in Brazil early on in the year and they brought us back a fridge magnet and wherever they travel, they always bring us one back. I’m sure that they will continue,” he says.

Caroline Walker, 65, treasures holiday fridge magnets as more than just practical souvenirs. To her, they are “meaningful little reminders” that transport her back to specific moments in her life. Her collection started with a magnet from Dnipro, Ukraine, a gift from Ukrainian students she once taught English to. Reflecting on her magnets, she wonders about the fate of those students and fondly remembers her past.

Walker is one of many individuals who shared their emotional attachment to holiday fridge magnets with the Guardian following a study by Liverpool University suggesting that these objects can evoke happy memories from past trips. Originally from Lancashire, Walker now resides in southern Turkey and cherishes the magnets given to her by “the love of [her] life.” These magnets are the first things she sees each morning, serving as daily reminders of her cherished memories.

She expresses her love for her Greek ship magnets, longing to return to the Greek islands. Walker eagerly anticipates adding more magnets to her collection during an upcoming trip to Thessaloniki in the summer. Another enthusiast, Chris Bridge, playfully selects magnets based on their tackiness, favoring those that others find unattractive. She appreciates the humor in magnets like the San Francisco cable car and the tile ones from Granada, Spain.

For Bridge, collecting magnets is not only a way to memorialize her travels but also a means of supporting local economies. She finds magnets more convenient than postcards, which she used to collect, as they are sillier and take up less space. John Sandford and his family have maintained a magnet collection for 20 years, using it as a tool to reminisce about past vacations. Sandford’s daughter and her fiancé have continued this tradition, bringing back magnets from their travels to add to the family’s collection.