Tuesday 10 December 2013

Season to be jolly

With Christmas nearly upon us, I notice a decrease in correspondence coming my way. I don't particularly mind as I will probably not reply this year to any letters arriving after the end of this week. I slow down, and do a few other things, spend time with the family and all that. It is not because I do not want to post letters at this time of year, it is just I do not want to rush letters out for them to sit in a mailbag for days when the postal service grinds almost to a halt over the festive period (especially if it is a White Christmas).I have a few more festive cards to send out internationally this week, but I also must not forget to send to my UK friends too. 

I don't send gifts to my penpals, except perhaps for a few simple flat things like stickers, interesting newspaper articles, postcards and photos. I wouldn't know what to gift, and with postage rates getting high plus there has been a change in regulations for what can be sent in the post. 

I was writing a reply to a beautifully handwritten (calligraphed) letter while sat in a cafe when I noticed I was being watched by a group of lads. One said that my handwriting was nice and I replied that it is if I use a fountain pen (I was using one), then went on to comment on a couple of schoolhood (is that actually a word?) events:
  • One history teacher marked me 1/10 for homework because he couldn't read my writing, however, I was unable to decipher his hand-scrawled comments
  • My biology teacher suggested I cease using a ballpoint pen  and use a fountain (cartridge) pen to improve my handwriting
I showed them the letter I was replying to and said that my handwriting wasn't as neat as my correspondent's. With fountain pens, you take more care with writing and this should make it more legible. I wonder if any of the lads will have a fountain pen in the near future!

 I haven't written any Postcrossing postcards for a while. Maybe I'll send some out this week, although for some destinations, it would probably by too late to arrive before Christmas. I haven't got any festive postcards - I haven't seen them in the shops here although a certain online shop does (but the only postcards I've ordered from them have been Pixar ones).

November stats:
Letters - out 13, in 8
Postcards - in 23
Other - in 6

Tuesday 19 November 2013


It is November; time flies....

October was a quiet postal month.

Postcards: 15
Letters: 10

Postcards: 10
Letters: 11

And now it is only a few weeks until Christmas, I have started to send Christmas cards to my international friends.

Monday 4 November 2013


I have recently returned from holiday, enjoying what was left of the nice weather (quite lucky, not much rain during the daytime), avoiding the major gales hitting the southern part of the UK, visiting new places and revisiting others.
Was too late to look around the inside of this Priory (Lindisfarne is a tidal island and on that particular day, it was safe to drive across just after 3pm but we crossed nearer 4pm missing the last admission to the priory), but did venture into the castle earlier in the week.
And passing this on the way home (although it was not as nice a day, with all the rain and wind).
(made a mess of the scans so trimmed off the perforations on the image on the computer).

While I was away, I did write some letters, but with regards to a couple of them, they were posted a couple of days after finishing them because of finding a postbox (I don't like leaving letters in a postbox after the last collection for that day).

I came home to some letters too, my current pile is 6 letters to reply to with one of those replies in progress.

Friday 25 October 2013


I have found myself busy with distractions.... mainly stamps. I collected stamps as a child and would like to get back into it. The stamps below were some of the Canada stamps I had then. 
Consequently, I haven't been in much of a writing mood as I sort out some of the old stamps, and soak ones I recently purchased as kiloware.
With all the distractions, I even forgot to send something to The Letters Page, a journal about correspondence, with issue two being about penpals (submissions closed over a week ago). Perhaps I wouldn't have managed a single side of A4!
I have still been writing letters, but have been a bit slower than usual. I do like to reply to letters within a fortnight but have a few to reply received at the beginning of the month. I will get them sent out within the month.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

September stats

I have been getting carried away with stamps. I bought some kiloware so I have started to sort and soak them.

September stats:
Out - Postcards: 17, Letters: 24
In - Postcards: 80, Letters: 19.

Tuesday 8 October 2013

Mixture of stamps

I bought some stamps from a collectibles dealer and have only just got round to looking properly at them.
I haven't been collecting UK definitives... but do know some people collect them.
Some are regional definitives.
Some US stamps.

Tuesday 24 September 2013

On Stamps

When I was a child, I remember liking the stamps on the post my mother received, including letters from her brother in Australia. I decided to collect stamps and had a world album book with the quadrille paper, sticking stamps in with those pesky hinges. Stamps were removed from paper n the bath, with me also in the bath, playing with the stamps as they came off the paper. I bought stamps from a little market stall, and from a big chain newsagents/bookseller (they still do collector albums, stamp hinges, and packs of thematic and worldwide stamps). I had penpals as a teenager and liked seeing the different stamps they used. then, with 'A' Levels and university, penpalling and stamps fell by the wayside by the distraction of studies and student social life, although my collection was kept. I had half forgotten about my collection.

In 2008, I started penpalling again and joined Postcrossing. This rekindled my interest in stamps, mainly using them and just appreciating them being used on postcards or letters to me. My son liked looking at the stamps, and was interested in having his own collection. We started him off with a world builder album and starter stamp packs but he has only put about 100 stamps in (well, when I say he, I mean me - he wasn't keen on the stamp hinge adhesive), and now his collection is neglected. Perhaps when the nights draw in more, we'll work on our collections.

I bought a newspaper in the newsagents on Monday and the customer behind me bought a postcard but also wanted a single stamp which the newsagent was unable to sell: they only sell booklets of stamps. I mentioned to her that the post office was not far, and they might still have some of the commemorative stamps issued last week, or the dragon first class stamp (one of the Welsh definitives) I showed her on a letter I was about to mail. I saw her again coming out of the post office and asked her if she got what she wanted. She told me that she bought a couple of the merchant navy ship stamps although she had to wait for another cashier to sort some out for her! She had only wanted one stamp but bought at least 2! I also mentioned to her the next issue will be dinosaurs next month.

This brings me nicely to a letter written to a stamp magazine a couple of years ago (I bought this magazine in a charity shop at the weekend). The letter commented on the observation of the lack of commemoratives on mail received. The letter then went on to blame the Machin stamps and suggested discontinuing them, replacing with a range of pictorials issued/changed regularly. However, I don't believe that would solve anything because the are a lot of people who do not buy their stamps from the post office (booklets of first or second class stamps, "only" sold in Machin designs), and do not realize that there are nice commemorative issues. I can't remember the last time I saw a poster in the post office for the special issue stamps, and sometimes the post office counter staff do not know (or do not care) when the stamps are issued.

I was talking to an old friend today who would like to take up stamp collecting again. He had a collection started about 50 years ago (and no longer in his possession) but doesn't yet know what he wants to collect this time round. My friend had some of the Wildings and earlier monarch head stamps, as well as British Empire. I am sort of a stamp collector at present, and am not really into the Machins but do know of people who are interested in collecting them. I mentioned to my friend that I will be collecting thematic stamps in the themes I am interested in anyway, and suggested to my friend that it might be a good place to start.

Sunday 22 September 2013

Postbox, visiting places also featured on stamps

Found this nice postbox on holiday in York last month.
I also saw this view of York Minster from the city walls, although I didn't visit inside the impressive cathedral. I'm sure I have visited other places depicted on Royal Mail stamps, and I'll have a look to see if I have any for a future blog post on the subject.

Some outgoing mail from last week (not everything). The item with the Valiant and Eye stamps have arrived safely and made the recipient's day!

Saturday 7 September 2013

August stats

I thought August was a particularly quiet postal month but that may have been because I hadn't sent many postcards in July.

Postcards: sent - 77; received 5
Letters: sent - 22; received 18
Other nice post: sent - 5; received 6

I compared the month with previous years

In August 2012:
Postcards: sent - none; received 46
Letters: sent - 20; received 14
Other nice post: sent - 3; received 5

August 2011:
Postcards: sent - 39; received 39
Letters: sent - 15; received 7
Other nice post: sent - 11; received 17

I was surprised about receiving more letters this August than in the previous ones.

Monday 2 September 2013


With the quiet August on the postal front, I have been thinking about the stamps I have, the used ones I collected as a child, plus the ones I have received as a consequence of Postcrossing, from penfriends, and other postal niceties.
I haven't gotten round to organising them... Or, what I want to collect now. I think I'll want to concentrate on the themes generally of interest to me.... post boxes, maybe this year's Europa issue of mail "transport", letterwriting, and other hobbies/interests I have.
Maybe also, I should leave some of the stamps on the item on which they were mailed... Look at that gorgeous postmark... I think I'll keep some as covers (but not neccesarily first day covers), especially those containing letters from current correspondents, and those with nice postmarks....
I have found a nice little stamp community Stamp Bears where I have been welcomed even though I am not a "serious" stamp collector (yet).

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Selection of Postboxes.


Edward VII (not sure where), VR Brighton, George VI (not sure where)


ER II (not sure where), George V box in Criccieth, VR in Chester.

George VI wallbox (not sure where), ER II (Bangor I think), Edward VII (Bangor) 

and the Gold postbox in Flint for Jade Jones.


Edward VII wallbox in Betws-Y-Coed, and ER II box and "posting box" outside Beaumaris Post Office.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Bank holidays

Bank Holiday Mondays mean no post received that day. Today is Tuesday and the only item of post arrived was for my son and it was a postcard from his classmate on holiday in Spain (he arrived back home at least a week or so ago).

I did have a letter on Saturday, the only one in my pile to reply to.

I posted more Postcrossing postcards today too. One sent postcard of mine arrived in India after only 5 days! One to Thailand arrived in 4 days! 

Saturday 24 August 2013

Some more outgoing post...

I sent up to my full allowance of Postcrossing postcards this week.

Just a small selection of outgoing post....
And some more...
Saw this book... Masters of the Post: The Authorized History of the Royal Mail. I think I'll add this to my to-read list.

Friday 23 August 2013

Wednesday 21 August 2013

August void

I'll be interested to see how much post I will receive this month and compare it with last year (I'll have to go through my diary to find out)... but I have not had much post this month. There have been times when I haven't had any letters to reply to. So, I have been searching for new correspondents, and also sending a few Postcrossing postcards (not yet at my full allowance).

Today, I sent out some postcards..

I sent out a letter needing a higher rate of postage than I usually send.... Thomas the Tank Engine with a Morgan Plus 8. 
 I am slowly using up miniature sheets, though none of today's outgoing post had these on. I can't remember where the TARDIS went!

Wednesday 14 August 2013

To Do....

 Some letters posted recently. Has the summer months slowed down the to-and-fro of correspondence?
 Why is it there is an abundance of Thank You paper in card shops... I'd like to see an abundance of decorative paper without a caption because if you are writing something anyway, wouldn't it be more sincere if the writer wrote "Thank You" instead of a machine printing it?
A to-do list... tasks, errands, correspondence, notes... Guess which one I'd like to have "full"!
I could do with drawing up a to-do list for subjects to cover in this blog... I've done address books.... what else is there to muse upon?

Friday 2 August 2013

It suits me

My husband, last night, said that the writer's bureau suits me! I have been sitting at it most evenings writing letters, occasionally scooting across the floor in my swivel chair to check something on the computer, or to put the next background noise source on (radio, or an episode on a DVD). I love my bureau!

Last Friday, I sent a surprise letter to someone in Germany and today (Friday 2nd August), I received a reply!

Forgot to post a letter yesterday, completely slipped my mind! Tut tut. It'll get sent out today with two other letters.

July Stats:

Postcards: 36 in, 5 out.
Letters: 20 out (including 6 surprises), 11 in.
3 other things sent out and one received.

Monday 29 July 2013

Look what I bought!

I bought this for a £10 from a charity shop, but needed to be sanded and re-varnished. May spruce up the inside later.
I have changed the way I store letters... I was using A5 zip wallets but these get quite bulky and also the ends split. So, I decided to go for resealable food bags. These wallets/bags are for those I had yet to reply to.
I bought some ribbon to wrap them up. I don't have enough ribbon for them all. 
Today, I wrote a letter on this lined paper.... slightly smaller than A5, from Santoro. I decided to write on both sides, although the back of the lined paper is plain.... sometimes it seems such a waste to leave the back side blank (but I do not always write on the blank side). 
Last week, I received a letter on this A4 card, folded into quarters and the top edge cut. There were 8 panes, the first side as a nice handmade card design, and my penfriend wrote on the other 7 panes. I like this idea, sometimes writing on A4 leaves gaps and spaces on the right hand side and could be perceived as such a waste of space (some creative arty types might fill those voids with doodles), but using A5 might be more efficient. 

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Postage Stamps.....

I was browsing some penpal groups on Facebook yesterday when I came across this post:

I was horrified to read this, from someone I think lives in the US. What a cheek. It comes across as this person wants someone else to pay for her to send letters... The most important part of pen paling is the letter from someone sincere, not from someone who will commit a crime every time they post a letter. If she doesn't have the funds to write to all her penpals then she should cut down on them and or the frequency she sends a letter. 
I agree with the admin of the certain pen pal group and it is illegal to postally reuse postage stamps. A form of fraud or theft, although I haven't heard of any arrests/prosecutions for the crime.

Reading other penpal discussion groups and fora, this is a common practice. It isn't one I subscribe to myself. I buy my stamps from a lovely sub-postmaster and love being able to use the (mostly) wonderful stamp issues Royal Mail have produced to affix for postage.

Tuesday 16 July 2013

June stats and more

I received another Europa stamp for 2013... This time from Finland.... My third Europa stamp (I have "noticed")
I sent a letter out with this cheeky comic stamp....
I like writing letters in cafes so here's one, table is a bit low and the sofa is so hard to get off of.
I saw this bureau in a charity shop... I should have snapped it up but I was pondering where to put it (would need to declutter/reorganise)... Anyway, went back a few days later and it had gone....

June Stats:
Letters - 15 received and 15 sent!
Postcards - 22 received and 59 sent!
One other nice item received.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Europa stamps 2013

Last week, I received a letter from the Netherlands with this year's Europa stamp
Today, I received a postcard from France with another Europa stamp.
PostEurop has a competition for the most beautiful Europa stamp. The theme is “Van of the Postman” but not all the entrants are wheeled vehicles! Royal Mail hasn't yet released their Europa issue and are not in the competition to vote for (again, missed the Children's Book theme and they would have had a good entry with Winnie The Pooh).
Still have a miniature sheet, but only one of the stamps on it (plus another first class not on the sheet) were marked Europa.
Royal Mail issued the 2011 Europa issue early and was entered into the competition.
And 2012 was Visit, Royal Mail deems only the Victoria and Albert Museum the only one worthwhile of the Europa logo to Visit (I haven't actually visited it, as far as I can remember). W is for White Cliffs of Dover (have seen), and X is for Station X, Bletchley Park (not visited either).

Wednesday 19 June 2013

The magic of correspondence

A Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4 Extra recently featured extracts from a biography called Storyteller: The Life of Roald Dahl, by Donald Sturrock. Dahl's son Theo had problems with a defective valve but Roald Dahl sought help from a craftsman toymaker whom he corresponded with a decade earlier. Between them and a consultant at Great Ormond Street Hospital, they developed a valve which has been successfully used on nearly 3000 children worldwide.
Letters save lives; letters create smiles; letters are magic made manifest and the fountain pen is the wand.
I hope my letters help the recipients smile, and bring a bit of magic into their days.

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Address book, and postcards

My mother bought a nice address book for me as a birthday present but that was two months ago and I still have not written in it.
Perhaps I am waiting to fill up a few lettered pages in a current address book (so there is no space for addresses for people with surnames beginning with that letter)...
Or for when too many addresses have been crossed out due to them becoming out of date, because people move (I have had over half a dozen addresses in my life so far)...
The address book is by Simon Drew, and his illustrations are fun. Whiter shade of pale... not sure on the rest!

I mentioned earlier about sending Doctor Who postcards produced for Royal Mail, commenting that there is not much room for the recipient's address.
There isn't a lot of room to use the nice first class stamps plus the make-up value stamps for international postage. There is a little bit more room than the picture shows: the make-up value stamps are self-adhesive when removed from the backing paper, but that still doesn't leave much room for the address. I am not sure if Royal Mail thought these postcards would actually be sent through the postal system.