Thursday, 18 December 2014

Season's Greetings

I realise it has been a while since I last wrote here. I have still been writing letters, some taking longer than others as I write mostly in cafes (my writing bureau currently is being used for storage - there's some letters on it, a dictionary, a hair brush, pocket tissues,some sticky tape stuff, writing paper and stickers..... I need to relocate the stuff). I also have started a diary, and this has sometimes taken precedence.

I intended to make some envelopes out of Christmas paper again this year but only made a couple. Still, hopefully they have brightened up the mailbox. I have been a little late in sending some Christmas cards overseas. I posted one to the US, one to Germany, and one to the Netherlands at lunchtime today! I also just managed to finish a letter to the US, but I forgot to enclose it in the Christmas card. I only realised after I had posted the card! Oops. Did that earlier today too to a UK penpal (I think), but that was just a short note saying I'd reply either over the festive period or in the new year.

I am still reading To The Letter. I received it as a present last Christmas, so maybe I will have finished it by Christmas 2015! I have been using clear highlighter tab things at interesting places. I am currently in the chapter titled, "Why Jane Austen's Letters Are so Dull (and Other Postal Problems Solved)"

Monday, 13 October 2014

Belated stats


Out - 8 letters, 3 postcards
In - 16 letters, 2 postcards


Out - 15 letters, 1 friendship book returned home, 1 birthday card.
In - 8 letters, 4 postcards.

I wasn't free to write many letters in August during the school holidays.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

No loneliness while replying to letters.

 Drawing is not my strong point - writing words is not a problem (most of the time), but making pictures, I am limited to stick people. still this didn't put me off trying to draw the scene in a cafe.
Two people sit at a table and rather than talk to / communicate with each other, they are on their mobile phones playing games and watching videos. Me, I sit there writing to my friends and I do not feel lonely one bit but sometimes glance at those two people, thinking how alone they looked in company.
Here I am replying to a letter, and I use my Lamy pen I had bought for 20p! Bargain.
Nostalgia - having pen pals - doesn't have to be in a bygone age.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

A book on Letter Writing

I am not entirely sure why I went into my local library this week, but I did... and then borrow a book on letters even though I still haven't finished To The Letter. What is done is done and now I am sat down reading, "Letter Writing" in the "Everything You Need To Know" series published by HarperCollins in 2001.

One of the first paragraphs puts it nicely, "Generally speaking, we write because the process of putting words to paper is more effective than speech. It demands the sole attention of the recipient while being read and can be more intimate than speech; it is certainly more durable."

The book goes on to talk about paper, pens, typefaces before going onto grammar where I was reminded of a few things. The book then has examples of types of letter. It covers personal letters from thank you to condolences to congratulations to Dear John. "I know that simply leaving this letter on the kitchen table must seem like a total cop-out but, in the circumstances, it seemed the least painful way." Then there are business letters, from junk mail to bills to complaints to job applications...

Although I have not read every single word in the book, I have come across no mention of penfriendship - that is, friendship initiated through the medium of the letter. I found this disappointing. I shall be returning the book later this week, and will resume reading To The Letter.

Thursday, 11 September 2014


It is sad to still see on various penpalling/correspondence messageboards, fora and threads people contemplating or actually reusing used but unfranked/postmarked stamps. I had written a post about this earlier. It is illegal, fraudulent, cheating... Do you like cheats? Do you  like drug users in sports - should they be allowed to compete and win against decent, clean, hard-training athletes? I know the odd reused stamp is small in the great scheme of things... but from small things come bigger things. If people have no qualms defrauding the postal system... what would they go onto next? I wonder if there are any convicted murderers who have not ever dropped a single piece of litter, even if accidental and left it there?

Monday, 18 August 2014

Inkwells and places visited

Last month, I posted a letter with the Portmeirion stamp, and a fishy one.
It arrived safely at its destination. I had also enclosed a photo I took in Portmeirion.
It was a lovely day to visit, and we usually try to get there once a  year.
I have also been out and about, visiting Plas Newydd. I don't have inkwells, but have a box with bottles!
Plas Newydd is home to a fabulous mural by Rex Whistler. This is part of his artbox on display.  He also was a letter writer!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Address book again

One address I need to put into my address book is causing me a problem... I enter addresses under the initial of the surname (I wouldn't have the problem if I used initial of first name), but the person's name has "van" in. I received a letter from this person yesterday and the return address label had van with a capital V. Vincent van Gogh is under G in the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Do I put the address under V, or under the name after the V? Maybe it is something I could ask in my reply.

July stats:
Letters out - 17.
Letters in - 13.
Postcards in - 2.
No postcards sent.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

sad address book

Although I was given a nice Simon Drew address book last year for my birthday, I am still using an old address book...
I was adding a few new addresses to it (I actually made a mistake listing someone under the first letter of their first name, not surname! oops), but was sad to see the number of entries I have in it that are no longer needed (correspondence has been stopped by them.... they hadn't replied although I realise that perhaps mail may have gotten lost on route....). I haven't written the addresses of everyone I have written penpal letters to... if I did, I would have to start one of my newer address books...

Thursday, 3 July 2014

It is July already?

June seemed to pass very quick.

Postcards in - 29; out - 3 !!
Letters in - 11; out 13 (but this would have been 16 if I had caught the postal collection on Monday).

Instead, these 3 letters got posted on the 1st of July but the little plate on the postbox said next collection was to be Wednesday (I posted before 5.30pm which is when the last collection is supposed to be from that particular postbox).

You see that light green stamp? The one that has a value of 20p? Well, I was surprised to see something in a shop today to be sold at 20p....The daily newspaper I buy used to be 20p, but now costs 30p!

I haven't used Lamy before, but I thought at 20p, I cannot go wrong.... the cost of sending a letter (whether within the United Kingdom, or abroad) is more than that! This is my first Lamy: most of my fountain pens are Parker.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Possibly annoyed with myself

Yesterday, I posted two letters. Today I also posted two letters but when I was deciding which stamps to use, I have a niggling feeling that I did not put enough postage on one of yesterday's letters.... putting a first class stamp on instead of a £1.28 (the Great British Films Issue).... I should find out tomorrow... If I have put insufficient postage on, I will be annoyed but hope Royal Mail return the item to me to rectify it.
This will be the first time I've done something like this.... although I have had post returned because a stamp has fallen off (was on a shiny envelope) or when they looked at the back of the envelope where I used to put my address label as sender with them saying insufficient postage (now, I put my address label in top left corner on front of envelope, or write it at the top on the back of the envelope).

Edit - 26th June 2014... no sign of the letter being returned, so perhaps it did have correct postage on. The letter was either off to California or to Minnesota...

Monday, 16 June 2014

Bits and bobs

I sent 3 Postcrossing postcards this month so far (I know, it is not many....). I got absent-minded and forgot...
 ... the price of postage.... I had grabbed a 2p stamp instead of 5p.... so had to use another 2p and 1p for postage. Still, the postcard reached its destination OK.
 I am in the middle of a reply to a correspondent in Japan. She used this cute kitten stationery.... but I'm a little bemused at the saying by the feline... "Being relieved will improve human relations."
I am a fountain pen user and was curious to see a nib on the box of printer ink.... I wish it were a variety box of Diamine fountain pen inks instead! 

Sunday, 15 June 2014

May stats

Sent - 14 letters. Received - 17 letters/postcards.

I have been finding myself being busy doing other things and there's been some nice weather so have also been spending time in the garden (not writing letters). I am working through my pile of letters, posted 2 yesterday, and have a letter in progress I intend to post tomorrow. I may be able to get another letter written while the football is on the radio (I do not have a television). 

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Size of stamps

Last month saw the release of a stamp issue celebrating Great British Films...
 However, the size of the stamps is rather large. This is a first class stamp on a C6~ish envelope.
 For the first rate of International airmail, there is not a lot of spare room for the make-up value stamps...  Imagine using this issue on postcards.... and there isn't a nice 97p stamp on the horizon. 
There is just enough room to use two of the first class stamps plus additional postage to for the next weight band of airmail, although there are stamps in this issue for £1.28. 
At least the next issue of stamps, this Thursday 5th June, and all first class, should be of a more convenient size...

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Little extras.

Look what I treated myself to over recent weeks and months....
 Various deco/patterned and sticky tapes, plus ....
Wax seals and coins. One set of coins is interchangeable with a handle.
This is one of the new seals, a snowflake. One of my better attempts at not setting fire to the envelope!

Not all of the letters I send will be sealed with wax, because Royal Mail has now brought in a size limit on international letters and I'm worried a thick seal could take me over the thickness limit of 0.5cm.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Surface mail and other updates.

To recap, I sent out 13 items of post with surface mail postage on 7th March 2014 (a Friday) from the United Kingdom. I haven't heard if 2 of the letters have been received or not... but

11th March - one arrived in Massachusetts.
12th March - one arrived in Toronto
13th March - arrivals in South Africa, Australia, Hawaii, Montreal, Iowa,
14th March - arrivals in Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Texas,
15th March - one arrived in Texas

Good News I should have reported earlier, the 10g worldwide rate has not disappeared to postcards to outside of the UK will be 97p for both Europe and the rest of the world.

With one thing or another... after writing a big batch of postcards for Postcrossing and some letters at the start of March, I haven't written many letters or postcards since, although I am getting back into the swing of things.

March stats:
Postcards: out -58; in 33
Letters: out - 22; in 15

April stats:
Letters: out - 11; in - 12.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Surface mail update, and an oops

The story so far...

Surface Mail was posted for the 5pm collection on Friday 7th March.

I have had reports back that 2 have already arrived - one went to Toronto in Canada... and the other went to Massachussetts.....  12th March.... However, in the one envelope, I had enclosed a letter to someone else in my surface mail experiment! Oops. Never done this before, although I have heard stories on a penpalling forum about this happening occasionally.... I wonder if it was just 2 letters getting mixed up or whether I wrote two letters to the same person..... Never write 13 short letters in one evening!

Monday, 10 March 2014

Surface Mail Experiment

With the impending price rise, the cost of sending a postcard abroad will go from 88p up to 97p for Europe and £1.28 to the rest of the world by "airmail" or International Standard. There has been talk amongst UK Postcrossers about sending postcards via surface mail (or, International Economy).  Current price for upto 20g to rest of the world is 78p and will rise to 81p.. a "considerable" saving. However, how long will the post take to reach the destination. Royal Mail, according to their website, aims to deliver surface mail to the USA within 28 days.... and I've had a look at other selected rest of the world countries and to them, RM's aim is within 56 days. So, I thought I would test it. On the 7th March, I posted in the postbox with 5 minutes to spare for the 5pm collection, letters (note, letters, not naked postcards), to people in: Canada - Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia; South Africa; USA - two people in TX, and one in MA, FL, IA, MI, and Hawaii; and one in Australia. 13 items in total. I didn't write "Surface Mail" on any.
May send another batch of surface mail stuff later in the month or next month and hopefully to other countries...

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

How was February?

I sent 5, and received 18 surprises (across LetterMo, InCoWriMo and SendSomething)

Replies to these surprises, I sent 9 replies and received 1.

With existing penpals, I sent 16 letters and received 16 letters. 

Other items, 1 package went out, 2 came in. I also received 3 other items of mail from existing contacts, and send a letter to someone new via another hobby.

I sent 66 Postcrossing postcards plus another postcard sent to Portugal for the "boss" and received 23 postcards.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Annoyed, to say the least...

Royal Mail has announced details of postage rates coming in effect on the 31st March 2014.

  • First class will go up to 62p (from 60p)
  • Second class will go up to 53p (from 50p)
  • Europe upto 20g airmail will go up to 97p (from 88p)
  • Rest of the world first weight band will be upto 20g - there'll be no 10g rate currently 88p. The cost of sending upto 20g airmail will still be £1.28 (although this is a 40p increase for lightweight post under 10g, and for postcards)
  • Some weight bands have been removed. Some heavier letter rates will be "cheaper" 
  • Airmail will be renamed International Standard
  • There'll be a letter size for International post, not exceeding: 24cm length, 16.5cm width and 0.5cm depth.

Overall, I am not a happy bunny. 97p can sort of cope with that... but a 40p rise for outside of Europe for postcards........... well, I think I will need to do some serious thinking about whether I can send postcards around the world. I know this will hit many UK postcrossers hard and think some will even give up.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Post wet again

I have just come home from a few days away visiting my mother, to a pile of wet post. Some of the envelopes became see-through and getting the letters out was not the easiest task. Some of the stamps also peeled off easily. There are also wet postcards, one is panoramic and is curling at the ends. I have the letters drying on a clothes airer although I am eager to read them. A couple of letters escaped the damp.
Postcrossing postcards, stamps and an envelope drying on a towel....

On a happier note....
Look at my new toy!!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Crosswords and surprises.

I buy a paper almost daily... and have a look at the puzzles page.
You may be able to make out clue 16 Down - Letter-writing friend (3,3)
And do you know the answer to clue 14? Item studied or collected by a deltiologist (8)
I have had some surprise post through LetterMo and InCoWriMo. This sealed & parcelled letter came from the Czech Republic.
Inside was a nice letter, a postcard and a bookmark. I will be replying to this.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Postal Art

A couple of months back, I went to an art exhibition.
This caught my eye...
Little metal "postage" stamps...
and a letter ....

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Some nice post

My first InCoWriMo surprise letter reached me yesterday on the 7th February, earlier than my first surprise from LetterMo last year. I also received yesterday a letter from a regular correspondent
I used my letter knife to open the one from the Netherlands...
Inside that, was a letter written on Diddl wavy paper. I am not too old for Diddl, although it is cute.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Weather, letters, ....

This winter, I don't think this Mailbox Gritbox has had much use.... but....
2013 didn't end well and 2014 didn't start well either due to the weather. Storms and wind together with high spring tides caused flooding in December along the east coast of England, and heavy rain flooded many parts of the UK over Christmas, and also the wind caused havoc. We were away when we returned to storm battered Wales and the battering wasn't over, with January high spring tide + storms affecting Wales and south-west England. February high spring tide + storms have affected Wales a bit, and England's south-west and south coasts... 
Post had been delivered in the rain while we ere away over the festive period and was a little bit on the damp side... I tend now to use ballpoint pens for the address, for fear fountain pen ink would run in the rain.  Luckily, these made it to me...
The paper crinkled from the water... but the letter was still readable.
One of my presents was To The Letter by Simon Garfield... I have started reading it. I intend to write a few comments about it for this blog. Maybe for my birthday, I could ask for Shaun Usher's Letters of Note.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Lettermo/InCoWriMo progress

So, there have been 4 postal days here in the UK, and I have sent 6 letters, including two for people via Lettermo/InCoWriMo. It is early days, but my letterbox has been very quiet, last mail for me was received on Saturday 1st. Last year, my first surprise letter arrived here on the 12th so plenty of time. Looking back on last year though, I sent about a dozen Lettermo surprises but none of those led to a correspondence, and received about a dozen surprises all replied but maybe only a third of those still correspond. Sometimes I feel disappointed. Some people were able to send over a 100 items in a month last year, but if I exclude postcards, if I push it I think I could do 30-40 letters a month (perhaps 75 or so postcards and letters). As I write this, someone says they sent 243 items this month. I will concentrate more on quality than quantity.

I have been struggling to decide who to write to. There are messages from people on both of those sites saying that they are up for receiving nice post... and then there is my Postable account where people have left addresses... However, sometimes I think what is the point putting heart and soul in a letter to a complete stranger.... would I get a reply....... did I just waste my time....? Only time will tell. I'm logging off now to start a reply I would like to finsih off tomorrow for posting (6th Feb).

January Stats:

Out: 13 Letters; 8 Postcards; 7 other flat mail items; 1 small packet (more post than last year)
In: 20 Letters; 1 Postcard; 11 Christmas Cards; 4 other flat mail items; 1 small packet. (not as much post as last year).

Thursday, 30 January 2014

February is Lettermo/InCoWriMo

February being the shortest month, seems to be home to at least two postal projects - Lettermo (short for A Month of Letters Challenge) and InCoWriMo (short for International Correspondence Writing Month, a take on NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month). The idea is to send an item of post every postal day in the case of the former, and for the latter, to write a letter (or postcard or card) every day in February. 

This is the 3rd year for Lettermo and last year, little achievements were introduced (e.g. sending something internationally, sending an old-style type of letter (think fountain pens and wax seals), and for sending some post even if you can't complete the full challenge). A great idea. 

I think I will be able to complete both challenges, all being well. I think it would be nice to broaden the range of people I write to. 

I think both these projects are great ideas to bring new people into the happy world of snail mail, and the joy of holding words of wisdom & thought from all around the world. 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The Round Robin annual letter

I received my first two on returning home from the festive period away visiting family. One was from someone I hadn't heard from in months.... and she had lots and lots to say (with reasons why she was unable to reply earlier) but did scribble neatly something meant specifially for me, and the other was from someone who had corresponded recently. The latter was more of a letter from my penpal's family, and I think it may have been written by the partner of my penpal.
My mother receives round robins from a family friend who did live in the same street but moved overseas. She has received these for the last 20+ years, and so we've been annually updated about about their lives.
While this type of letter, is good for those who do not correspond very often and the same words are meant to be sent to many people, it is not really the best form of letter for regular (well, annually is regular) more frequent correspondence. I haven't sent, I don't think, this form of letter as I believe in tailoring my correspondence to the recipient. Having said that, I do not object to receiving this type of correspondence, if, like the first one mentioned, can add on a bit just for me (the recipient).

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Festive post

I hope everyone has had a good festive period so I wish you all the best for 2014 and beyond.

I wasn't in much of a letterwriting mood in December, plus I was away over the festive period so December's stats may not be totally accurate (those received while I was away will be included in this month's stats to be published in February).

Letters - sent 7, received 6
Christmas cards (sent/received on their own) - sent 24, received 13

I came home to 7 Christmas cards on their own, 2 notes included with Christmas cards, and 8 letters (some included with cards). Unfortunately, some envelopes were a little bit damp, but the contents are ok (dried out nicely).