Monday, 7 January 2019

It is 2019! Where does the time go?

A question asked elsewhere was how many letters did you write in 2018? I didn't actually count but I reckon over 300 letters. I did however keep a record of when letters/postcards came in, and when I posted mail too so I could tot the numbers up. I did not mind the question though. 

I did used to give monthly stats but stopped because it may not be fair to say, "Look at me, look how many letters I write, look how much money I have spent on postage stamps, look how many penpals I have got!" Besides, perhaps I do not want to admit/realise how much money I spend on postage (or even how much stationery I bought last year - at least most of it was in the sales)! One of my penpals has over 150 other penfriends. Some might say that she is a penpal collector, and how can her letters be unique? Her letters are unique, and the ones to me are written just for me.

I could say how many different people I have written to in the past year, but I won't do that. With the likes of Facebook and the possibility of showing others how many "friends" you have on there, and Twitter & Instagram with followers, penpalling is not a popularity contest. It doesn't matter how many penpals you or I have. For me, it is the quality of the letter, the connection that I find is more important than quantity / popularity. For personal reference, though, it may be informative. 

What I might do when February has started & finished for 2019, is to count up the number of surprise letters received and sent through InCoWriMo-2019.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

'Tis the season

December has arrived, and Christmas cards have been coming in the mail. I have also been sending cards too, still more than a few yet to write and post. I am having some trouble finding Christmas cards I actually want to send. I still have some from previous years and I was able to buy more this year, but the problems I have are:

1) Many of the cards I come across are square. Not a problem for postage within the UK, but the smaller square cards suitable for posting domestically, fall foul of the minimum sizing for international mail.

I had posted in this blog in December 2016  about this, after I had sent a small square card out internationally.
The US has a non-machinable surcharge for square items of mail. I did wonder if Royal Mail would go down that route, but so far, they haven't....

2) Many cards also have glitter on. After the big fuss of Sir David Attenborough's nature series showing the amount of plastic in the ocean and killing off some creatures - even poisoning milk and killing little baby sea mammals.
Not all of the cards have glitter, and my camera hasn't made it easy for you to tell which cards here have glitter.
The designs look nice and I have bought glittery cards in the past before Blue Planet II. I still like the way glitter shines in the light and it would be very hard for me not to go Ooo about it. However, when buying new cards, I think I can restrain myself from getting glittery ones now.

3) Some of the sentiments inside are not what I want. I need both the wishes for Christmas and for the New Year. However, some just have Christmas wishes in. I do also like Season's Greetings as that can mean time-appropriate greetings. Although it can be a bit strange to send a winter scene to someone in the southern hemisphere. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to one and all. 

Friday, 19 October 2018

Ooops, gone down the wax seal rabbit hole

This year, I have been using wax seals more often than less to put the finishing touches to my outgoing post. These are just a selection.

 The one above and below are of the Ironbridge. 

I have a few more wax seals on order, and have also received a few new ones not yet used. In addition, I have ordered different colours of wax to use. 

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Yesterday was World Letter Writing Day

Yesterday, 1st September, was World Letter Writing Day. Did I participate? Did I write letters? The answers - NO! I do not need a special day to write letters. I write letters most days of the week, so gave myself a day off. I do though participate in a February letter writing project as a means to reach out to new people.

Letter writing is relaxing, calms the brain, but also allows me to think about the person I am writing to, and craft measured replies. I'm pretty sure at some point in our lives, we've all opened our mouths and said something without thinking. I know I have done and could well have ruined friendships if I hadn't realised straight away what I had said. Letters also allow me to communicate with someone while they are otherwise busy (work, chores, enjoying entertainment or socialising) or are asleep. Sending email would also allow for this but the ping (or other sound notification) on a mobile phone can be distracting at inconvenient moments. I found email social correspondence too demanding. "I know you have read my email, why haven't you replied?" was one follow up after not replying the same day. 

I write or start a lot of letters out in public, in cafes. I even take with me some washi tape and a means to cut it to size.

Although I have more than enough stationery to last a lifetime, I do look for more stationery. I couldn't resist this set, Emily's Cats originally sold at WHSmith, found in a charity shop for £1. The box had never been opened. 

Monday, 27 August 2018

Follow up on last post.

Since my last post about used stamp re-usage, the person still didn't stop. She blocked me in July after she put an image of yet another used stamp being used for postage. I have had a friend send me screenshots.
This was posted in mid July. I have no idea why she uses By Air Mail labels on her mail from Northern Ireland to England or Wales. For a different but used Mr Men stamp (shown in last post), she said that it was brand new! 
My friend shared with me a screenshot of another re-used used stamp image after I was blocked from seeing this person's post. I don't know what the "No it was a sticker that got stuck by mistake" comment means but was it an excuse/explanation for the mark on the right on the potato stamp? That mark is a postmark. She must think we were born yesterday. 

Monday, 11 June 2018

Postally used stamp re-usage is fraud.

One of the things about penpalling/snail mail is that it can be an expensive hobby: postage is not cheap. However, in one penpal group on Facebook, someone is showing off her outgoing mail with postally used stamps as postage. She claims Mr Grumpy, shown below, is a brand new stamp.
 She is very much mistaken as the mark on the top left corner of the stamp is from a first day issue postmark (Mr. Tickle).

She also says she buys stamps off ebay. Shown below, this was the first picture of hers I noticed on the group.
You can clearly see postmarks. Nice for a stamp collection or for decorating letters/scrapbooking, but no, she uses them for postage. One of the group's moderators agreed they were postmarked and that it would be fraud to reuse them for postage.

She didn't listen.
The pear from the tasty stamp issue is on the top envelope and could well be the same stamp in that all used stamps picture. The same first day issue postmark is also visible on the two Mr Men stamps. In the thread discussion, she says:

Further investigation into her posts in the group reveal another visibly, but faintly, postmarked stamp across the bottom part of the neck by the 1st indicator..
I can perhaps forgive a one-off mistake, but this is ongoing. 

The black scrub-out is mine as I don't want to show the names of the unfortunate recipients who may have to pay the surcharge for the sender's criminal behaviour.

Royal Mail's postal fraud online form isn't particularly helpful in this instance.

On the incoming front, yesterday, I received a letter from the US - the stamp had sticky tape on. You might just be able to see the different colour paper underneath the stamp on top of the envelope.
 I peeled the tape from the envelope and revealed this - it had been used. The angle of the photo doesn't do the gold paper justice - looks like it is from an envelope to go with a greetings card.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Friday the First. Thought for the month.

I grew up in London, experiencing racism and bullying in school. I was called Paki more often than British. As far as I know, I have no Pakistani ancestry. I am not a Paki; Hercule Poirot isn't French. 

I have moved on from London and away. I am still seen as foreign but this time, I am either seen as an Italian or Greek woman. I don't feel as cross or feel this is as hurtful as being called Paki.

Being different, some people do not know what to say. Some, on seeing people of colour or different ethnicity would ignore them, at worst cross the road to the other side, refuse to make eye contact if on public transport with no escape until the next station or bus stop. If words are spoke, these are sometimes questions asking, "where are you from?" or, "when are you going home?" I had to pay a bill and did so over the counter at my bank. The bank teller was a lovely lady just like me, of mixed race. Her parents met at university as foreign students in the next town. She was born there. She has been asked those questions, and on one occasion, her manager heard and intervened. "OK, she's from the next town," the manager said in a jokey voice as there can be a bit of local rivalry, before admonishing the customer's attitude. 

I like letter writing because you don't start with stereotypes and prejudice from seeing someone's face. Some people can be put off by what they see (tattoos and even piercings, as well as colour). I think perhaps we all do to some extent but letter writing allows me to get over that hurdle, to allow words with thoughtfulness to come flowing out of the pen, in my own time. It doesn't matter if my written conversation partner is at work, asleep or doing other things, for I will not be disturbing them. They will read the letter when they are ready to, perhaps when I am asleep myself.