Friday, 9 December 2016

Christmas Cards

It is the season to be jolly, so I bought Christmas cards from charity shops to send to my penpals around the world. For the greeting, I like the wording similar to either Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, or, Season's Greetings. However, many just have Christmas greetings so that means writing in Happy New Year.

Now, the weight of the cards can be an issue, with some really fancy ones over 20g. This then falls into the 20-100g postage band. No good. So, limited to smaller cards. I bought square cards, some bigger than others. The smaller ones are a good weight and even allow room for a sheet or two of paper for a letter. So, I write my letters and enclose  them with a smallish square Christmas card. I post it, having looked up at the pricing leaflet from Royal Mail I picked up in May, with correct postage. I head over to Twitter but am dismayed when one post office tweeted about a minimum size for international mail. I responded to Royal Mail wondering if my slightly shy of a minimum 14cm on one dimension on the envelopes (supplied with the cards) would still get to Germany and USA. The reply is yes, as long as enough postage has been used but also to check - this shows indeed a minimum size.

However, another current Royal Mail link mentions nothing about minimum size: (accessed 9th December 2016)

In the US, there may be a surcharge on square letters as the one dimension falls into non-machineable thingywhatsit (maybe a "which way is up" problem for the machines). I was wondering then whether Royal Mail will head down that route in the future and add a surcharge.

So, I have a bunch of under 140mm square Christmas cards to get through. There is no reported minimum size for domestic mail. So, I can use for them.

What a jolly scene. I have sneaked a few of the into 7 inch by 5 inch envelopes and this is under the 20g.

I bought also smaller cards to fit into the C6 (roughly 6 inch by 4 inch) envelopes. However, these ones I have to write in the New Year greeting. This size or even lightweight cards to fit into the C6 envelopes are rare.

So, I thought, if I have to write in Happy New Year, why not go for blank cards. I came across some nice folded gift tags and thought - they'd do for festive cards. I can then place more emphasis on the letter... size doesn't matter (it is the thought that counts?) and I can write my own greeting.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

My old letters

On a recent visit to my mother's to help her sort through boxes in the garage, I came across a couple of folders with my old correspondence in. After leaving university, I decided I wanted to make new friends and thought again about penpals (I had a few through the youth penpal service or whatever it was called, through my school). I came across a free ads paper and in it, there was a form for writing adverts to be shown in their sister papers overseas. There was a penpal section. I found the draft of my advert: 
Female, 21, wishing to make new friends. Loves photography, nature, travel, cacti and Star Trek.
I placed the ad, with my postal address (I'm not at the same address now) in various papers - New Zealand, some in Europe, some in the US and Canada. I had forgotten how many replies I had actually received. I am not sure I wrote to everyone who had sent a letter. I know most of that correspondence was not successful. I still have most of the letters, although most of the envelopes had the paper with stamps torn off. I also back then had drafted replies, some typewritten with many typos. One draft reply said:

I like nuts. Some people say I am a weirdo, or nutcase. I prefer to be a lunatic...
I am pondering why most of the correspondence had been unsuccessful. One comment I had attached to one letter was that it was from a religious nutcase (the letter contained only religion, nothing personal about the writer, no hobbies, no weather). Other letters asked for photos of myself. I think that this may have put me off - what does a person's appearance have to do with penpalling. OK, it may be good to put a face to a name, so some letters came with photos (no, the people were fully clothed). Another reason for failed correspondence - I think I had found a new boyfriend and didn't find much time for my postal pals of either gender. I did keep one correspondence going but the amount of letters exchanged slowed down when I had a toddler (now correspondence is just a note with a Christmas card), but I don't know what made that correspondence special to last so long. 

Sunday, 30 October 2016

To the Letter, and Remembrance

Now, almost 3 years later, I have finished To the Letter by Simon Garfield. I read the book slowly and marked many pages with highlighter tabs to note particularly interesting bits - some repeated below. 

I love the correspondence between Bessie Moore and Christopher Barker written while he was in the army during World War II. I will have to get Simon Garfield's book, My Dear Bessie which has more of the letters in than To the Letter. However, from To the Letter, I was able to garner wonder and emotion from these letters, for they contain humour, passion and concern:

"I am hanging on to the old old theory that no news is good news."

"Thanks for the letter, old-timer,I am sending this by Air Mail because it will have enough dull stuff in it to sink a Merchant ship." 

"How can I tell you I want to implant myself; how my lips need to meet your flesh everywhere, to kiss your hair, your ears, your lips......."

" 'How do I feel?' - such a large question sweetheart, oh such a large question! So difficult for me to tell you."

So, what do letters mean? More snippets from the book:

According to Emily Dickinson - "A letter always feels to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend." 

Katherine Mansfield wrote to a friend, "This is not a letter but my arms around you for a brief moment."

Ted Hughes describes letter-writing as "excellent training for conversation with the world."

"Without letters we risk losing sight of our history, or at least its nuance."

"Is a hand-held, ink-written letter more valuable to our sense of self and worth on the planet than something sent to a fortress of cables in the Midwest that likes to call itself a 'cloud'?"

A friend recommended The Why Factor, a radio programme broadcast on BBC World Service, and available online. One of the episodes was called Letters - broadcast a couple of years ago and had extracts of letters (including some between Bessie and Christopher). The programme spoke to John Steinbeck's son, Thomas about letters and letter-writing. From this episode, I do feel that letter-writing is a kind of armour against embarrassment for you can write words you may find difficulty in saying face-to-face. Also, I believe I am able to reveal myself more with ink on paper for I am a shy gal. 

We are coming up to 2 years shy for the centenary of the end of World War I. I have been to see the Weeping Window at Caernarfon Castle. 

One of the things I came across from doing citizen science was a project on the War Diaries of the British Army on the Western Front. The handwriting of the soldiers was neat although I was not used to all the handwriting styles used so took me a little while for me to decipher. The soldiers would have also sent many many letters home.

Their families grateful for every little bit of news from afar, even if it is about the weather. I wonder how many of these soldiers' families have kept these letters from World War I or even World War II (such as the family of Bessie and Christopher). Would the children of today be able to read them for many schools have discouraged or not taught joined up or cursive handwriting. Social and family history risk being lost. Will emails written today be treasured by generations to come?

Monday, 10 October 2016

Attracting people to the world of snail mail

I expect that many who read my blog have an interest in snailmail, letters, or even stamps, so I may be preaching to the converted about the joys of letterwriting and snailmail. But if you are not amongst the converted, did you experience the joys of snailmail as a child, with penpals? I was talking a while back with someone about letters and was told it was a childish hobby - you probably wouldn't call Prince Charles childish for all those letters he wrote, the black spider memos. What can we do to persuade people to come (back) and experience the pleasure of letters? Do projects such as InCoWriMo and LetterMo help (although these both take place in February)? Does anyone have an ideas? Do you see other people writing letters?

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Stamps on incoming mail.

 After showing some of the Royal Mail issues I use, I thought it would be time to show stamps on incoming mail.
I received this one earlier this month, the first I received with a Star Trek stamp. I watched the repeats of the original series as a child before going on to watch The Next Generation and then some of Deep Space 9 and Voyager.
Today, I received this huge envelope. I had to request redelivery as I was out when the postman tried to deliver last week. The sender had used both the stamps of Star Trek issued from the USA and Canada. I had not expected this and it was an extremely pleasant surprise.
These are just some of the envelopes containing letters needing replies. Although I no longer "postcross" I am still fond of Postcrossing and am pleased to see a stamp from the second issue of Postcrossing stamps issued by The Netherlands.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Stamps round-up.

Late July, saw the celebration of Beatrix Potter on Royal Mail stamps. This is a miniature sheet. There were also 6 other stamps for this issue, 2 x 1st class, 2 x £1.33 and 2 x £1.52.

These stamps are nice for use on letters to penfriends with children. Maybe they would like the stories of Peter Rabbit and friends, as they've been translated into many languages. We here have a set of the stories in the Welsh language. 

I do not actually remember many of the stories or even all the characters.

In August, the issue celebrating Landscape Gardens was released. 2016 marks the 300th anniversary of Capability Brown's birth. There are 8 stamps in this issue, 2 each for 2nd class, 1st class, £1.05 and £1.33

I have been to Alnwick castle but didn't have time to look around the extensive gardens. Maybe will get the chance someday.

Earlier this month, the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London was marked. A series of cartoons was released on the stamps, 6 in all, 2 each for 1st class, £1.05 and £1.52

I used to live in London and on the way to university, would pass Monument (OK, underground), where there is a column commemorating the Great Fire.

On the 15th September, Royal Mail issued stamps celebrating the works of Agatha Christie. However, many crown post offices were actually shut due to industrial action. I did manage to get some stamps from a small sub-post office. However, I was a little slow getting there as buses conspired against me so I didn't get as many as I wanted. I tried another post office branch in a convenience store to find that they do not get them. The manager was unaware of the special stamps and doesn't know if they'll have Christmas ones when they are released.

Here are just some of the stamps I managed to buy. I also bought some more today from my local crown post office as I needed to pick up more airmail labels (I couldn't find my secret stash). There are 2 other stamps but I didn't bother getting them as they are the £1.52 ones. I was actually surprised this post office still had some of the previous issues of stamps (Fire and Gardens) as quite often, they are sent back if not sold before the next issue

This issue has a bit of magic. There is microtext, illusions  (e.g. the skull is quite apparent!) and also thermochromatic ink (visible with heat or under ultraviolet light)

I put the stamp on my tablet which was warm so I could photograph the magic. 

I have not actually read any of the Agatha Christie books but have seen some of the TV and film adaptations with some Miss Marple and Poirot actors/actresses better than others.

OK, not stamps but money that could be used to buy stamps. The Bank of England issued new £5 notes this week - these are plastic and smaller than the paper notes. They feel different and will take a bit of getting used to. This isn't the first plastic fiver I've had. I have one somewhere from Northern Bank (operating in Northern Ireland). 

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Time for a postbox post!

Due to some forum games elsewhere (not on my snailmail forum), the locations of these will be withheld until correct guesses have been made there
Two photos of the same postbox, apologies for the quality of the one, taken on a bus.

I was hoping to have caught a bus after finishing my walk, but just missed it, so had to walk even further.

This is a cheeky postbox, aboard the MV Balmoral. More information about this vessel can be found at

Monday, 15 August 2016

Wax seals revisited.

I sometimes use a wax seal to secure the envelope flap (but don't trust it on its own so also use tapes too). The LOVE coin came with a set containing wax, a spoon, some candles. 
My first attempt with LOVE was a bit impatient as I lifted up too quickly taking the O with me.
Next, I didn't put enough wax on the envelope, but I prefer not to have a great big thick bit of wax which could make the letter a large one and put it in a different postage rate.
As well as wax sticks, I also have wax hearts (currently, just one colour) and is a convenient amount easily doubled/trebled, to be melted in a spoon.
I also bought a new seal from Manuscript - the classic quill and ink bottle.
Sorry for the poor photo, but this seal was bought by my mother at a souvenir shop celebrating the Magna Carta.
I also treated myself to a new M seal, this one is larger than the one I already had.
There is a small amount of the heart shaped wax melted in with the silver. I didn't fully clean the spoon.
This is the smaller M seal you may have seen in an earlier blogpost.
I didn't have the amount of wax perfected. Also, wax can burn and go black.
This is one seal I made a while back and mentioned here too. Not sure where I put this. I may have another go at making my own.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Ordeal by post office

I have been on an adventure to buy the latest issue of stamps due out today. My first stop was a post office in the city, inside a stationer's (because I wasn't sure I'd be able to find a nice little post office since the one I visited in April closed due to retirement and pending relocation).  It was a busy morning there with over a dozen people in the queue for two counters (a third position was closed), to send parcels, letters, to check a passport application and to exchange Sterling for Euros. I watched the screen showing adverts for Post Office and Royal Mail services - travel money, insurance, broadband, yet no sign of stamps old or new. Fifteen minutes of queuing, I finally get to a counter. I ask for the new issue of stamps that came out today to be told Pink Floyd was due out next month and there is no issue of stamps today. I spoke again to say it was the World War I stamps. Their reply was no, they had sent them back yesterday because they were recalled and withdrawn. I left unimpressed and unhappy. So, I jumped on a bus to a little town with a little post office inside a card shop, stood in a little queue but the atmosphere was already better. The post office staff sounded cheerful with their customers. My turn came and the lovely sub-postmistress said that it was the presentation packs that were recalled and she still had the stamp issue to sell. She let me buy a few miniature sheets and I also bought some of the first class stamps. I didn't bother with the £1.52. She said that she will have the Pink Floyd stamps in so I shall go and visit her next month.

Afterwards, I went for a little walk and found some post boxes to photograph!
It is a pity I didn't have a letter finished to feed this one with. I only feed a few post boxes around my town. I have a choice of 2 if it is raining (both in supermarkets), or if weather is OK, then either in the centre of town (two boxes next to each other, the left one doesn't get fed as much) or one at the shop round the corner from where I live (and is of this style).

This one is outside the old post office in Menai Bridge and is near the new post office. I wonder which side gets the most post. 
I passed other post boxes today but I didn't really notice them. I only noticed 8 but I know there are more than that on the route I took. 

Monday, 6 June 2016

Notecards, stamps, a post office closure

Last month, one of the little post offices I visited closed for good, due to retirement. The town will have a new post office but in the Spar. Anyway, the little post office had a closing down sale and I bought some blank cards. I don't use many cards as they are too heavy for international use (well, for the 20g rate) but I can use them for domestic mail. I love this one:

A Great Auk drawn with character. I have a correspondent who likes bird-watching so perhaps this card could be used for her.

The pen, by the way, is a Jinhao and when I showed it to a friend, he wanted one. It is surprisingly comfortable to write with, writing smoothly across the page.

I have a huge pile of post to reply to, but it is all welcome. I was even surprised today by a letter via SendSomething answering the Five Questions I had put up on my profile there.

This was the nice little post office in Beaumaris I went to. Opposite (and behind me taking the photo) is a nice little cafe I could happily sit in all day writing letters. However, I do not live on the Isle of Anglesey and so a trip there is an occasional treat now. Maybe I could still go there after I buy the new issue of stamps from elsewhere. 

I doubt the retired sub-postmaster and sub-postmistress will be reading this but if they do, I hope you enjoy your retirement and new home. I'm sure you won't miss all the paperwork and book keeping weekly.

The last issue of stamps were a bit on the silly side of things. The limbs fold over the edge of the postcard or envelope. However, the stamp issue is in a miniature sheet with two stamps of each value - 1st class, £1.05 (airmail postcard, 10g Worldwide/20g Europe airmail letter), and £1.33 (20g Worldwide airmail letter). There was quite a discussion over on the Norvic Philatelics blog - I wonder how many of this issue will actually be used postally. I have a few sheets so I can use some. However, as a sort of stamp collector, I'm unsure if they'll have much philatelic value. Self-adhesive stamps aren't the easiest of stickers to soak off paper, although there are ways...

Friday, 20 May 2016

Oops, I can't spell a town name

Today, I managed to post 4 letters. One of them was to a friend and this was my fortypluth letter to her. However, it is only with this letter I posted to her today, I realise I have been spelling her town's name all wrong. Instead of herTOWNsomething, I had been writing herTONsomething. I even wrote down the wrong spelling in my address book. I've googled the misspelt town's name and find I am not the only one to have erred. The BBC,, Carphone Warehouse, Burger King, and Boots are among some of those who've misspelled too.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

To The Letter.......

I am still plodding my way through Simon Garfield's wonderful book to The Letter I received for Christmas 2014. It is taking time to 'journey through a vanishing world' as I put clear sticky tabs/page markers at sections/sentences of particular note and interest. I don't always have these to hand and I dislike bent over corners. One of the points of interest I marked was Best Wishes, a sign off once used just for business letters and now, I almost always sign off my letters to penfriends with it. The book mentions correspondence of the Second Earl of Chesterfield and instructions to his daughter about putting the date at the bottom of the page because it is more respectful. When I write letters, I date it when I start. If I am unable to finish the letter in a day, I write the date when I recommence the missive. 

One thing I came across last night, was a description of a cat in a letter from a father to his daughter, as a mobile ginger flower - Ginger-dandelion. The letter writer was Ted Hughes. The chapter of the book was named The Modern Master. A collection of some of Ted Hughes' letters have been published. To The Letter also has a picture of Ernest Heminigway's cat walking across letters and correspondence on a bed. Some of my penpals have mentioned their cats getting in the way of snailmail by sitting on the letter, on the paper to be written on, on the table, or even the chair to be used at the letter writing desk.
Letter-writing - 'excellent training for conversation with the world.'
 I am over three quarters of the way through the book. I should finish it before Christmas 2016 and then, perhaps, I can follow up on selected bibliography and people mentioned, e.g. 
  • Abelard and Heloise
  • Second Earl of Chesterfield
  • Fourth Earl of Chesterfield
  • Letters of Ted Hughes
  • Letters Home (Sylvia Plath)
  • Madame de Sévigné
I wonder if there will be ebooks of the emails of some celebrity / author / entertainer / scientist / person of interest in years to come.

I wonder what people would make of letters answering Five Questions, part of the postal challenge on A World of SnailMail forum. Some of the questions asked can be a little silly. I recently answered a question unable to touch my nose with my tongue. Did you just try to do that yourself?

There is still time to ask Five Questions this month and answer others people's questions. Even some of my long time penpals incorporate answers (sometimes to other people's questions) in their letters to me.
'Maybe the crucial element in handwriting is that the hand is simultaneously drawing.'
Well, that is about all the drawing I can handle - letters!

So, why don't you surprise a family member or friend with a letter. One of the short stories broadcast on the radio last month mentioned a mother writing to her anorexic daughter in a bid to learn and help, and for this story, it worked. Taking time to write down thoughts and questions, without interruptions of, "You just don't understand..." or other speech-stoppers and the written dialogue continues in a calm manner. 

Letters connect people. Letters have brought more joy into my world. 

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Posties - five stories

I have been browsing the BBC Radio 4 Extra schedules and came across 5 stories by Julia Darling called Posties. The omnibus edition of all 5 stories can still be listened to for almost a month at I am currently listening to it now.  First story was quite good - a long lost letter finally delivered.

"I would far rather receive a letter than a casually written email."

"There is something decent about a letter: its firmness; its privacy; the sound it makes when it falls from the letterbox to the mat; the assertiveness of a stamp; the postmark......."

Update - rather good collection of postal stories. Well worth a listen if you have time.

Monday, 11 April 2016

So much for Write On...

Almost half-way through April and I haven't written many letters. Last week, I was hit by a very nasty cold and this left me without much energy - I had completed and wrapped up some letters for posting before I became ill but did not have any willpower to go out and post them until 3 days later. 

April is the month for Write On, a campaign for daily letter writing, like InCoWriMo is for February. While I managed InCoWriMo with relative ease, I have failed Write On without even trying. I know life can get in the way of writing letters so that is why I like the monthly challenge I started on A World of Snail Mail - Five Questions [you ask], Five Letters [you write answering other people's Five Questions]. Although 5 letters is the aim, it doesn't really matter if you cannot meet that goal - the challenge is supposed to be fun, and participation I feel counts more than winning. Also, the questions asked give you some idea of actually what to write in a letter - this isn't a job interview and your snail-mail letter shouldn't read like a CV. 

I still have yet to think about the 5 questions I would ask for this month, but there is still time. There is time for you to participate too. 

Monday, 14 March 2016

Web bookmarks and such

I think my computer is getting old and has given me a bit of trouble the last couple of weeks. I might need a new one sooner rather than later, so I have been going through some of my bookmarks.

Are Postcards Obsolete? an article from The Washington Post.

An article about Handwriting from The New York Times What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades?

A TEDx talk from Ana Campos of Postcrossing, in Portuguese.

A rather delayed letter arrives 25 years late.

‘Lost’ pen pal letter returned to sender after 40 years - did any of my blog readers here write to anyone called Julie who lived in Weston Coyney in 1974? Julie wrote a letter but it doesn't appear to have reached Cathy (in France) at the beginning of 1975.

Letter-Writing 2.0 from The American Spectator. Tongue-and-cheek!


Tuesday, 1 March 2016

February over for another

February is over for another year and I have thoroughly enjoyed InCoWriMo. I put  my address (now removed) in a spreadsheet for it, and also on the LetterMo profile (also removed). I have received a fair few letters and I expect more to come in early March as post travels around the world.

Letters Sent to people met through (although this does not include those I wrote on the last day of the month and posted on the first day of the next):

LetterMo/InCoWriMo 2014 - 2
InCoWriMo 2015 - 14
Swap-Bot - 2
Postcrossing - 1
Reddit - 1
5Q5L - 4
LetterMo/InCoWriMo 2016 - 9
Other - 2
SendSomething - 1

Letters and Postcards Received from people met through:

LetterMo 2013 - 2
LetterMo/InCoWriMo 2014 - 3
InCoWriMo 2015 - 17
Swap-Bot - 3
Postcrossing - 4
Reddit - 1
InCoWriMo/LetterMo 2016 - 13
5Q5L - 7
SendSomething - 1
Other - 5

I didn't keep a tally last year.

Monday, 22 February 2016

A week left...

In my last post, I was perhaps lamenting not receiving many surprise letters via LetterMo and InCoWriMo. Well, it was early days. Now, I have over a dozen letters from penpals as well as new contacts. I had a look through my incoming/outgoing logbook, aka my page-a-day diary, and worked out the breakdown this month, up until and including the 20th.

Sent to people met through:

InCoWriMo 2014 - 1
InCoWriMo 2015 - 9
Swap-Bot - 1
Postcrossing - 1
Reddit - 1
5Q5L - 2
LetterMo/InCoWriMo 2016 - 6
Other - 2

Received from people met through:

LetterMo 2013 - 1
InCoWriMo 2014 - 2
InCoWriMo 2015 - 15
Swap-Bot - 3
Postcrossing - 3
Reddit - 1
InCoWriMo/LetterMo 2016 - 8
5Q5L - 5
SendSomething - 1
Other - 2

If I had the inclination, I could check back through my correspondence logbooks/diaries to see from where I had found people to write to, and work out the success rate. I can tell you that Interpals for me has a 0% rate except that it introduced me to Postcrossing where I have found success with finding penpals. I can say that the InCoWriMo/LetterMo penpals have overwhelmingly been quite successful for longterm correspondence, more so than searching through profiles on various sites.

Monday, 8 February 2016

InCoWriMo/LetterMo - deciding who to surprise!

One of the questions popping up is on how do you decide who to write to for LetterMo/InCoWriMo if you do not have ongoing correspondence/friendship.... I joke that I put the names in an imaginary hat and pull one out! What I actually do, is read a few profiles of those participating, and decide on that (whether they say a lot or not), who to write to. Maybe I have been to their hometown or nearby, or we share other hobbies and interests. However, too much commonality I think sometimes does not lead to a successful correspondence (repel - magnets?).
So far, I have received one surprise this month (still early days), but have sent 4 letters to new people.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

I don't like the new address book :(

Almost two weeks ago, I decided to start a new address book because I'd filled up all the spaces for surnames beginning with a certain letter. I've now come to the conclusion that I do not like the address book. The addresses look lost in the space given as I do not require a person's email address or various phone numbers.

Part of the problem perhaps is the size of the book. I'm used to a slimline book, but this is A5 size.
I do have other A5 address books yet to write in, at least one has two columns so I could fit more than 3 people on a page.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Finding out......

Friendship can be a funny thing. A true friendship should last a lifetime. However, some people find themselves being frozen out of friendships when one of them becomes a parent. One of the discussions over at is about friendship cut short because the one finds out the other has children. The same could be true for people without children being dumped by new parents. "How could they possibly understand the commitments and responsibilities that come with having children?" is perhaps one train of thought. I haven't myself lost single/child-free people as friends when I became a mother. I gained "friends" who also were mothers. Parenthood might turn you into a zombie at times but you are still you. You might not be as carefree and fancy-free as you once were, but you are still you. I can understand if people don't telephone you as often because you might have just gotten the baby to sleep, but with penpal letters, this doesn't disturb and the conversation can be continued at whatever time of day or night is convenient. Still, some people seem even uncomfortable continuing penfriendship on finding out their penpal does not have a similar family status.

Browsing penpal site profiles yields those who only want to correspond with other mothers (maybe with at least 2 children only). I can understand if the phrasing was "mainly mothers" because you could potentially share advice, tips and experiences.

One of my best friends here I see regularly does not have children herself (and has never wanted), although she does have 3 generations of German Shepherd dogs and she was also a teacher before retirement. How does the "you wouldn't understand" comment apply to her, as being a teacher and animal companion? She is not a selfish person.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

February is nearly upon us!

Today I have been reminded from other blogs that it is National Handwriting Day. I have already done some handwriting as I composed a letter to a penpal. I should be writing more letters later including answering some 5Q5L some people have asked on my snailmail forum. There is still plenty of time to participate this month although I wonder if some members are saving up for the February letter writing frenzy of LetterMo and/or InCoWriMo

I have used up the last space in my address book for one of the letters. Do I start a new address book? I still have the Simon Drew address book my mother bought for my birthday a few years ago, as well as others I have bought along the way but haven't started. I suppose I could do with starting afresh as there are people who've moved or not continued with our correspondence. 

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Snail Mail - the book

Venturing in to an independent bookshop opens eyes to a different range of books. On the top shelf, I saw the spine of a book in the colours of international correspondence and I reached up to grab it when I saw the title was, "Snail Mail." The secondary title, "Rediscovering the art and craft of handmade correspondence," had me hooked.
I bought the book and proceeded to devour it. In it, there is a section on various forms of communication. The one on e-mail suggests replying within 48 hours. I had a brief foray into email friendship but one e-pal was not happy if I did not reply to his daily emails. There seems to be a sense of urgency with emails requiring attention. Now, the only emails I want to receive are notifications. I rarely read them but their titles are comforting knowing that my Amazon order is on its way.
There are pages on types of mail - writing to congratulate/celebrate events, love letters (does anyone keep love e-mails not printed out?), condolence, fanmail (not a huge fan of this) and even letters to your future self.

There's a little bit on signing on and off. I hadn't thought starting a letter with your penpal's name (with no salutation greeting) as being stern. I do vary the initial greetings depending on mood and penpal. I use - Hi, Hello, Greetings, Dear, Annwyl... As for valedictions, I usually use Best Wishes but the book lists this as a business sign off (I knew that it was from Simon Garfield's book, To The Letter - I'm still plodding through this). I occasionally use Hugs but this is not mentioned.
There are ideas for decorating the snail mail, and there are stickers and labels in the back plus templates for making envelopes.
Another section covers handmade - making papers to write on. One had lines sewn in. Caution though is advised if sending to Australia as they have strict import regulations and post could get destroyed.

There are pages picturing used postage stamps, and some old letters - I can decipher the handwriting. There's a section on fonts, typefaces and handwriting styles. For handwriting, the book suggests trying out both cursive and block, but...
Overall, I am happy I bought this book but it is preaching to the converted. It is a nice book and would make the perfect gift for someone just starting out in the world of penpalling and snail mail.