Monday 28 March 2011

St Petersburg

 A wonderful aerial view of St Petersburg and Nevsky Prospect, so much history lines its route and of course also famous for making an appearance in many classic Russian novels. The building in the foreground is the neoclassical Kazan Cathedral built in 1801 and modelled by Andrey Voronikhin after St Peter's Basilica in Rome.  It is dedicated to Our Lady of Kazan and has an icon of her, the representation possibly better known as the black virgin. I love how you can see the rows of buildings and palaces all the way to the river with the golden dome just in the distance. The card came with
 one of the kremlin definitives, and one I did not have (only another 6 to go now, LOL).  It is of the Novgorod Kremlin. The tallest tower is the Kukui and one can climb to the top of it. If there is a tower with a view I am likely to climb it but I am not sure which it is in the stamp, the clue is that it is capped with a silver dome.

Thank you Yulia and Pavel who sent greetings from St Petersburg and then said "that is all George Harrison" which I did not get at first. But of course it is from the first line of his song - "that is all I have to say". I laughed at that comment, eventually!

Sunday 27 March 2011

Spring Flowers

The theme for this week's Sunday Stamps is "Spring" and one of the joys of the season is the appearance of the early flowers after the dark days of winter. This set of GB stamps was issued on the official first day of spring - 21st March (1979).  They were the first ones designed by Peter Newcombe who is a landscape artist and I love how he has put the flowers in their habitat and the skies suggest the time of year.  Lets start the flowering season. The brave snowdrop is on a snowy bank and the primrose nestles at the bottom of the hedgerow.
The daffodils are in full bloom at the moment and today as the clocks go forward we are just off  to Ulpha Woods to walk through the swathes of daffodils. At least I hope so, as these are the truly wild ones, they are always later than the garden variety. Last year they were later than usual; I wonder what I will find today? The last stamp features a favourite flower of mine, the bluebell. Walking through the woods when they are in full bloom and to have the senses overwhelmed by banks of colour and scent is a magical experience.
Lastly the delicate cherry blossom, two little trees near my house are in bloom. The blossoming and location is announced on the weather forecast in Japan each day at this time of year.  This is a moment of rejoicing but always tinged with sadness because of their short flowering. When they are at their greatest beauty they will fall, a symbol of the fragility of life.  The poignancy of the short life of flowers and of humankind will be especially felt this year.    

An entry to Sunday Stamps hosted by Viridian's Postcards 

Friday 25 March 2011

Swanning by the River

A unused postcard from the early 20th century. No indication of publisher only the instruction that is for inland postage only, at a price to send of half a penny. Just think our postage is due to go up 10 times that amount next month.  The decline in the number of items posted is one of the reasons the increase is so much, according to Royal Mail. I'm doing my bit in sending lots of post, but of course this card is from the golden age when everyone sent mail.

I like the pink tops, the boat nestling in the reeds and white swans, a scene that brings to mind the long languid days of summer. It has been wonderfully warm and sunny here which brings on a fuzzy happy feeling of looking forward to days filled with flowers, birds and butterflies over the months ahead.

Beth at The Best Hearts Are Crunchy is the hostess of Postcard Friendship Friday here

Monday 21 March 2011

Say Cheese

It is said in France there is a cheese for every day of the year, and of course the famous Charles De Gaulle quote is "how can you govern a nation that has 246 different cheeses".  I wonder how many types of cheese Normandy has, the 14 on this card seem to be all types of Camembert.  This soft cheese originated in Normandy and unlike Brie is produced in a small round, traditionally sold in small wood containers with the label covering the top.  I love to browse amongst the Cheeses when on holiday in France, the only difficulty is deciding which to choose.

The apple blossom and the apple harvest shows the other things to have when visiting Normandy, of course apples and cheese are a perfect combination, but perhaps these apples are destined for either cider or Calvados (apple brandy) or even an Normandy apple tart.

Sunday 20 March 2011


This week's theme of Sunday Stamps is anything Irish, and what could be more Irish than the game of Hurling. Its origins older than the written word. The above stamp was issued in 1934 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Gaelic Athletic Association. The organisation was formed in 1884 to support Irish games and culture, politics of course was never far away.   The first Hurling Championships being played in 1887 with 8 counties participating.   Ireland and the sport has changed greatly since these times

and in 1984 the association celebrated its centenary. Hurling is called the fastest game on grass, and despite its similarity to hockey and shinty  the ball (sliotar) is rarely played on the ground.  The All Ireland Hurling Final is traditionally held on the first Sunday of September, the most successful teams are Cork and Kilkenny.  An exciting and skilful game, the spectator sees end to end action.  I think the 1934 stamp captures the action beautifully, but for video action here is one from You Tube:

Sunday Stamps is hosted by Viridians Postcards here

Saturday 19 March 2011

Maid of Orleans

Southern Railway Continental Steamer "Maid of Orleans"

Built by Denny of Dumbarton in 1918 the ferry 'Maid of Orleans" was part of Southern Railways cross channel fleet. She took part in taking the troops of the beaches at Dunkirk and was  fitted out as a Landing Ship for Infantry visiting  the Forth and Scapa Flow, but her most significant voyages were during the D Day Landings. The skipper, Captain Payne gathered the crew in the saloon before setting off saying  
"Our job is to deliver the troops, and keep on delivering, Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans, liberated France - the Maid will help us do the same, by the grace of God".    
She made several trips but on the return voyage of the 28th June 1944 she was sunk by a U Boat torpedo near the Isle of Wight.

The card was sent to England in August 1939, the start of World War II was imminent. They writes
"Dear Ron, Just landed in France Weds at 12:30. Came over on this boat, more news later just meeting all the froggies, Love Mam and Dad".    The French may have returned the nickname and called out senders roast beefs.  I wonder if this was the ship's last commercial voyage.  

Monday 14 March 2011

All At Sea

Eeva, who sent this card from Finland, says the Baltic Sea seems rather threatening in winter. The card is certainly threateningly atmospheric with the blue colours and the distant island surrounded by a white and icy sea. The ocean can be a wonderful place but it is also can be a dangerous one, as the sad events in Japan have shown all too graphically.

On the back was a picture of the
Glasgow built windjammer Pommern. Winner of the grain race from Australia to England twice.  After World War II she was given to the the town of Mariehamn, and is still anchored there, part of the Åland Maritime Museum. She is also famous for the pictures of rounding Cape Horn taken by Peter Karney.  I have seen an old black and white film of that experience it looked one scary trip. The artist has certainly taken the voyage into consideration with the stormy sea portrayed. I discovered that Peter Karney's photographs are held by the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. I love these old sailing ships so this is one place to head to when in  London, although I would love to visit the Åland Islands and see this sailing ship (a popular visitor attraction).

Sunday 13 March 2011

Hot, Hot, Hot

This week's theme for Sunday Stamps in Mardi Gras or Carnival. Tricky, I have lots of stamps with dancers but this is the only one I have which is actually celebrating Carnival. Designed by the doyen of stamp designers, David Gentleman and his then wife, Rosalind Dease this stamp is entitled "Trinidad Carnival Dancers ", issued for the Commonwealth Arts Festival in 1965.

The Trinidad and Tobago carnival was going full swing this month, and Trinidadians say it is the best carnival in the world, Brazil, second.  This area of the Caribbean is a mix of cultures and the celebrations reflects this with costumes, stick-fighting, limbo dancing and of course music.  Costumes are the usual over the top mix of sequins and feathers.
On the Carnival Sunday (Dimache Gras) the King and Queen of carnival are chosen. At different times there will be a musical competition for the Calypso Monarch and The Pierrot Grenade will give speeches on the issues of the day, in rhyme.    The lead up to the Carnival will have taken place weeks ahead with preliminary rounds and parties. The carnival is also part of the school national curriculum.  It is said that if Trinidadians are not preparing for Carnival then they will be daydreaming about it.

As we are in Trinidad no carnival  would not be complete without Soca music, and of course I could not resist heading this post after the world wide dance hit "(Feeling) hot, hot hot".  Some of the big names have not been appearing at the carnival but everyone turned up this year, perhaps the prize money of $2M was an incentive.  Here is this year's winner Michel Montano with "Advantage", not the actual Carnival footage but there are feathers and sequins.

Visit Viridian's Postcards for lots more festive Sunday Stamps stamps here   

Friday 11 March 2011

Barefoot in the Sand

 "When the Heart is young"
To celebrate the week of International Women's Day here is a group of women in their best dresses enjoying a day on the beach. It looks breezy, not unusual on the coast of Britain.  I like the discarded boots on the right, caps and hats of course were de rigueur in the early 20th Century.  The card was sent from Blackpool, on the north west coast of England on 23 August 1909.  A popular destination for holidays at this time from the north of England and Scotland (especially Glasgow).  I wonder where this group are from, they look as though you could have a fun time with them. 
Our sender may have come from just a small distance to the north as the card is being sent to Penrith.  She says "Dear Alice, We have had very nice weather up to now (Mon) but it is raining at present. We are enjoying ourselves immense and hope you are doing the same. Remember me to George. Love from Amy"

It is interesting to reflect that at this time women did not have the life choices we have today nor have the vote. In Britain it would take to 1928 before all women gained the same voting rights as men. The United Nations theme for women this year is 'Equal access to education, training and science and technology".

Beth of The Best Hearts Are Crunchy is the hostess of Postcard Friendship Friday 

Thursday 10 March 2011


Bodensee or Lake Constance is surrounded by Germany, Switzerland and Austria so this card has the symbols of the three countries in the corner. Switzerland says the boundary runs down the middle, Austria says it is owned jointly as a condominium (shared), Germany has no view on borders but Google Maps does, typing in Bodensee, it prompts, Germany.

I turned to my trusty knee high Times Atlas, I've had it so long boundaries and names of countries have changed, but the geography has not, so the thing that puzzled me about this postcard is explained.  The Swiss Alps are indeed at the top for this view is south at the top, north at the bottom.  The lake normally appears on maps the other way up. So this is a Swiss inspired view of the Bodensee.

It is possible to take the a signed 300 kilometre Bicycle Circuit around the lake, with an additional 60K to lengthen optional, or shorten the ride by taking ferry crossings. The route is mostly on traffic free roads and paths. Sounds a delight.

Monday 7 March 2011


Penguins wondering what they are doing in the northern hemisphere?  The postcard is a picture of part of the Redcar promenade, a seaside resort on the north east coast of England.. The beach at Redcar is 8 miles long.

Sunday 6 March 2011

Favourte Characters

I am spoilt for choice for this weeks Sunday Stamps theme "Children's art work on stamps or stamps that would appeal to children". The children's art work that appears on our stamps tend to be at Christmas and I'm in the mood for Spring so that is an easy decision.  The stamps above were issued in 2006 called Favourite Children's Book Animals. The set was a joint issue with the USA but the two sides of the pond had different animals. with the exception of two, the hungry caterpillar and Maisy mouse,  I'm showing a character from one of my favourite books, Alice in Wonderland, the white rabbit and one I have not read, Satoshi Kitamura's Comic Adventure of Boots. I like the sound of one of Kitamura's other books, When Sheep Cannot Sleep. I can imagine that as a Shaun the Sheep adventure.

We seem to have had a run of imaginary characters in recent stamp issues, Wallace and Gromit at Christmas which I loved, even though they were rather small,  Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds and Joe 90 in January (no strings showing) and coming up on the 8th March Magic Realms featuring, King Arthur, Harry Potter, Discworld and Narnia.  But the ones I have chosen are another of my favourite characters, issued in October last year, the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, not the ones I have shown before here but the miniature sheet which tells a story
EH Shepherd  illustrated the original books with these drawings, using his son's teddy bear called Growler as a model for Pooh. Words and drawings, the perfect book for any age.
"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast? said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
"It's the same thing," he said. 
Viridians Postcards is the hostess of Sunday Stamps

Saturday 5 March 2011

At the gates of Rome

When I first saw this pyramid I thought it was a modern structure, I should have known better, this card is after all of Rome. Built for the rich praetor Gaius Cestis in the years18-12BC  it was his last resting place, a tomb. The interior is a burial chamber. When Rome conquered Egypt in 30BC anything Egyptian became fashionable so why not build your pyramid at the fork of two roads so people would pass it on their way into Rome.

The contrastingly round gates are the 3rd Century Porta Ostiensis, so called because they led to Ostia which was Rome's harbour in ancient times. at the mouth of the Tiber River.  It eventually silted up. Nowadays it is called the Porta San Paolo because it was the exit of Rome that led to St Paul's basilica. Today they stand in isolation but in the 3rd Century they were attached to the Aurelia walls.  The card brings to life the  history I learnt at school about Rome's decline and the vandals sacking the city, for in 549 the Ostrogoths entered the city through these very gates.

I don't know what date this unused card is but I do love the cars on it, the little Fiat by the gate and the open topped car in the foreground.  Driving in Rome I think may not be as idyllic as this scene looks on the card so perhaps it is best to take the metro and get off at the station called "Piramide"

Friday 4 March 2011


Looks as though our indifferent lover is about to light up a cigarette in a show of  nonchalance.  She is concentrating on ignoring him. 

I am fascinated by the language of flowers, both their Latin names and the Victorians subtle system of sending messages by flowers.   They produced many books on the language but they could differ in  meanings, and could over time change meanings. No problem wondering about the meaning with a postcard one can send it directly through the post. In this case it was sent with a unrelated, and practical, message on 3rd September 1909

Dear Mum, Received box and bedding allright but couldn't make out what day you were coming as you never said but shall be up to meet that train today Friday if not tomorrow. With love Bert and Nance.  The card was posted in the morning at 10:15, I wonder if 'Mum' received it before she set off for the station.

Beth of The Best Hearts Are Crunchy is the hostess of Postcard Friendship Friday

Tuesday 1 March 2011


Llangollen from the River Dee

The Welsh flag flying from the Town Hall gave me the clue that today it was St David's Day, patron saint of Wales.  So here is a Welsh town.

The card is from the 1960s and it tell the full story on the back "Although famous as a national beauty spot, Llangollen is better known for its international Musical Eisteddford, which has been held every summer since 1947.

Choirs come from all over the world to perform, and perhaps win a prize. Here is the Soul Sounds Academy Choir from Sri Lanka perfroming at the 2010 Eisteddfod.