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.

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, lastminute.com, 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.