Saturday 30 December 2023

A couple of little rants....

I have been using the festive period to sort through old but not-continuing correspondence from over the last 16 years. One InCoWriMo, I received an introductory/generic letter, but it was from someone I had previously received an introductory/generic letter 3 years prior - am I that forgettable? As I was going through the letters, I realised I was also forgetful of some of the names I'd sent letters to, but also many I do remember. There was Katy in Israel in 2015 I had written to: one letter I wrote was being composed in a McDonald's and I had put sugar on my fries, instead of salt - at least edible; I doubt salt in a cuppa tea would be delicious! 

Many of the failed correspondences have come via the February letter writing projects. The idea is to write a letter every (postal) day that month. One of the projects says also to reply each letter/postcard you receive through the project. And that is where it falls down. So many letters - they can't have all gotten lost to/from me? There is a forum associated with that project and Disqus comments for one of the other February letter writing projects, so if you really don't want to write back, letter acknowledgement is possible. 

I do know I can't get on well with everyone, and penfriendship would not work with some people. Maybe there's also a time/moment issue -  you'll probably have a day here/there where you don't want to speak to a particular friend, but would be willing to catch up another time. 

Another little rant is postage... It ain't cheap, I get that. But I am less likely to respond / acknowledge a letter if it has insufficient postage from overseas. I don't know all the postal rates from overseas, but do know that ONE domestic FOREVER stamp from the US is not sufficient postage to pay for a letter INTERNATIONALLY. Do you really expect me to think that it costs the same to send something regardless of whether domestically (within your country) or internationally? 

Domestic forever valued postage stamp, of a volleyball

OK, perhaps one or two people new to snail mail or Postcrossing might not know any better, but there was one letter I received I  haven't acknowledged (not even in my correspondence diary, incoming mail list) with a postage label (presumably bought from a machine in the post office) for one cent (0.01 euro). Definitely am not surprised the sender decided not to use a return address on the envelope nor even in the letter itself (email address was provided). 

Deutsche Post postage label, for 1 euro cent

That is definitely wrong, and not a genuine mistake. Postage rate then I think was 1 Euro and 10 cents, DEFINITELY NOT ONE CENT ONLY, not mixed up in a postal rate change (as was the case this month, I received something with stamps adding up to 68p, which was the second class rate at the start of the year but now is 75p). Surprised Deutsche Post let this one through and postmarked it.

Sunday 24 December 2023

2023 almost at an end

Incowrimo - someone wrote in their address post about wanting long-term penpals, but although received a fair few letters, and replied, however none of the replies were responded to. The Feb projects do seem to have more participants only wanting a one-off letters. OK, there’s no contract to continue correspondence, nor to respond by the next day. Life/events do happen, and snail mail is a hobby, not a full time job with wages based on how many letters get written. This month, I received a letter in reply to an incowrimo missive I sent this February. Although it may be nice to receive letters sooner rather than later, late is better than even later/never!

I did throw my hat in the ring for the Feb letter projects but haven’t decided if I will participate in 2024. Early days. I am possibly at my limit of penfriendships I can manage in a timely manner (yes, I know what I wrote above, but I still would prefer to get replies out within a month of receipt). 

There were 2 postage rate rises. 1st class was 95p, then up to £1.10 and has finished the year on £1.25. 2nd class was 68p, now 75p but there’s rumours of it increasing more than by a few pennies next time. I am sending domestic post mostly by 2nd class post. International rates also increased, from £1.85 to £2.20 for airmail, and economy from £1.60 to £2 for letters outside of Europe. Royal Mail say that it is still offers good value, but putting £1.25 into a currency exchange, brings it out as more than the price of a global forever stamp from the USPS. 

On the stamps front, Royal Mail changed the silhouettes over in March for the Flowers issue. QEII’s last silhouette was on The Flying Scotsman issue. I like the flowers, and am finding it psychologically difficult to use them for postage, and same also for Discworld. There have been some curious values of stamps issued. £2 is OK, as that is the international surface mail rate, but £1… what is that? Half-way between 2nd and 1st class! The stamps celebrating the coronation were uninspiring. I don’t really know what Royal Mail is playing at. 

We approach the end of the year and we are none the wiser for next year’s stamp calendar. Deutsche Post’s was up by the end of May. USPS end of October with more issues announced later. Stamp dealers get advanced news but they can’t say have agreements with embargo dates perhaps lifted just under a week before the stamps’ issue. Less than a week, well, how can I plan which stamps I want to buy? As a stamp user, I need to know what values the stamps are, as well as the themes. 

Then there’s been the debacle over non-barcoded ordinary stamps. Those just with the Queen’s head, or country icons for the country definitives. Stamps Royal Mail have supplied in their exchange scheme, when used, some have been marked as counterfeit/fake, and others that are fake/counterfeit/used have been let through as OK. A right Royal (!) Fail. 

Sunday 17 December 2023

Christmas wind down.

A week now until Christmas Day, and as a snail-mailer, I am starting to wind down. I still have a few domestic letters and cards to send out, so will try to get those out in the next day or two, via second class. A headline in today’s Sunday Times newspaper reads, “Undercover footage shows Royal Mail leaving letters on the shelf” and this includes letters marked NHS, various governmental post, bills; so there is no point in using first class stamps domestically. A first class stamp costs £1.25, and a second class stamp is only (!) 75p. Maybe I will use a combination of older but still valid stamps to make up that second class postage rate.

3 stamps adding up to 75p, the second class rate.

After the mad rush, I expect by Tuesday, I’ll have finished all my festive mail. I may still write a letter or two especially if able to post by Friday afternoon. Although there should be a postal collection on the Saturday: the collection time is early morning from my local postboxes (no earlier than 7am says one), I think it is better to assume nothing will be collected until Wednesday, the next postal day.

5 days seems a long time then to be able to post a letter (I don’t like leaving post for long periods all alone and cold in the box), or receive any. Perhaps for the letter writer who communicates with friends mostly through snailmail, it could feel quite lonely. There’s nothing wrong with writing a letter and holding onto it for days before posting, but then, maybe I’d change my mind about what I wrote, or maybe a cup of tea will get spilled across.. I had been about to start a Christmas card when my hot cup of tea spilled across, drowning the card, the cover of a notebook I had the card on, some loose stickers, stamp sheet selvage, and the tail end of a roll of washi. Desk tidy still in progress.

I have a few localish friends I see in town who travel by bus, who live alone. Their villages might as well be in the middle of nowhere;  there’s no social gathering place nor shop. No or poor Sunday bus service, and again same for bank holidays. A long time to be isolated. At least I will have some family with me. 

I shall still be thinking about letters. I am planning to reorganise my stored letters. Maybe even those where correspondence has not continued. I can’t remember the names of everyone I have corresponded with since I restarted snailmailing in 2007. 16+ years of letters, some stored in fancy “shoe” boxes. 

I will finish tidying my desks, and drawers/boxes of stationery. I have become a bit of a stationery hoarder (also books too). 

I do have a used stamp collection I could organise some into a new stockbook. Stamp hinges are horrid things!  No idea how many of those I licked and affixed stamps to my worldbuilder album over 35 years ago! However, most of the more recently acquired stamps have brought letters to me and remain on the envelopes. 

Monday 4 December 2023

Christmas cards

It is early December, a time when many a Christmas decoration has appeared in the home; trees bought and transported on the car roof or even by bus; lights adorn the outside walls of some houses, and illuminated net curtains in the windows. It is also a time Christmas card lists are drawn up and acted upon. I am an atheist but I still like sending/receiving Christmas cards at this  time of year; my preferred pre-printed sentiment inside being either Merry Christmas & Happy New Year, or, Season’s Greetings. The latter perhaps being more apt, with the delays/mishaps in the postal system delivering some cards well after the event. 

To my blog readers

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

From CorrespondenceFan 

However, cards with to/from and nothing much more may not mean as much as, say, a phone call wishing you the same sentiments, and then going on to chat about life, the universe, everything. Most of my cards will be going to penpals, so they’ll get the life, universe, everything throughout the year. But for those not going to regular correspondents, maybe I should write a little more than wishing you all the best over the holidays and the new year. Perhaps I could do a printed round robin letter, with a summary of my year. I do receive a few of these, even from penpals, and they do make a nice little reminder of their year. 

For those who aren’t postal… is the postage worth it, especially when you can send a text message, email, or e-card? For 75p, 2nd class domestic postage within the UK, maybe, especially if you make it memorable, a keepsake. I have family connected through Facebook, and they only seem to wish each other happy birthday, etc, on Facebook, even for the younger members of the family who aren’t on FB, or living in the same house. Digital greetings and maybe even then only reminded by FB. Sad, considering grandparents may have exchanged love letters, and kept letters & postcards from family; current history, the connections will be lost. E-messages don’t have the same romance.