Sunday 25 March 2012

Spring Flowers

The mild climate, long hours of sunshine and rich fertile soil make Jersey the perfect place to grow flowers.  The daffodils flower much earlier than in England so traditionally the Jersey daffodils arrived in the florists the first, originally they and
anemones were grown as another just another crop by farmers. The anemones seem to have been particularly prolific this year where I live, (a long way north of the island)  perhaps our winter was as benign as Jerseys this year. Cultivated anemones have been grown in Jersey for many years, being amongst the Island's first recorded export flower. 
The next are amongst my favourite flowers, the freesia, hybridisation has produced a wide range of colours, many especially the yellow, being heavily fragrant. They can grow out of doors, blooming in the spring from corms planted in August or September but even in Jersey are mostly cultivated under glass, from seed.
Lastly comes a bunch of carnations and gladioli, the former much beloved for decorative purposes by florists and flower arrangers. In Jersey outdoor cultivation of gladioli produces fields of bloom in early summer and earlier flowing occurs under glass.

Jersey lives up to its name of the "Floral Isle" but I always look forward to the waxy Jersey Royal potatoes arriving later in the year. The other main agricultural products are cauliflowers and tomatoes and of course dairy products from those Jersey cows but flowers are the most important export crop mainly shipped to the UK.  No wonder they have lots of flower shows in Jersey, the first of the year is the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society Spring Flower show next weekend.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's  Sunday Stamps

Friday 23 March 2012

Opera House, Samara

The imposing façade is the Opera and Ballet Theatre in Samara, the largest  in Russia, it opened in June 1931 with a production of Mussorgsky's 'Boris Godunov.  The city is on the banks of the Volga in South East European Russia and was the place the first manned spaceship to orbit the earth was built at Samara Progress Plant. My sender, Vitaly, tells me that the Opera Theatre has recently been resorted inside and out.  Originally called the Palace of Culture it stands in the central square (Kuibyshev).  Looking on their website they have an extensive, and varied programme of events. If you were lucky enough to be walking through the doors and into the ornate interior next week then
you would be treated to a cornucopia of operas dedicated to the memory of Irina Arkhipova (1925-2010), the "Queen of Russian Opera" and star of the world opera stage, seen above in her role of Mary Stuart. Which night would you choose?  There is Madam Butterfly, Prince Igor, Rigoletto, The Tsar's Bride and lots more to enjoy.  But lets go back in time, to the second world war, when Samara would have been the capitol of Russia if Moscow had fallen to the invading German army, the Bolshoi Ballet were performing on the stage and the premier of Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony was played here. Appropriately the card came with
one of the "Weapons of the Victory" series of Tanks issued in June 2010.  This is the T34-85 which was the improved 1944 version of the T34 light tank, the name coming from the very long 85mm gun which apparently you had to be careful not to get stuck into the ground on certain terrain, there was a three man turret so plenty of eyes and hands to prevent that. The German Panther was a bigger and more heavily armoured tank but the Soviets produced the T34 in such numbers that it became the most important tank design of the war.  Happily those days are long gone so I'll move on to the other stamp Vitaly used
from the Bridges of Russia set, namely the Bridge over the Matsesta Valley, Sochi, which looks to be my favourite form, the viaduct. Sochi is on the Black Sea Coast and will be the venue of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games so there has been a lot of building of both road and rail bridges and tunnels for the event.  There is vague link to the card because Vitaly told me another world sporting event to be held in the city of the card, Samara, which is the World Football Championship in 2018 (the stadium has not been built yet) .  All roads lead to Russia in the sporting world and they will encounter the message Vitaly finished the card  "Welcome to Russia!"          

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Flora of Iceland

In a land like Iceland lots of flowers grow low and the number of species are comparatively small, not because of climate but of isolation.  I like how the card shows the name in Icelandic,Latin and English on the reverse.  The sender of this card wrote that "the flowers are a joy" when she posted this card from Husavik ( a town on the north coast of the island) in July of 1982.  These were the last words on the card, the others said "This is not so much a holiday - more a survival exercise! We were stormbound for 3 days due to a hurricane in NW Iceland but have also managed to have some memorable experiences of the other kind".  Sometime disasters make the best holiday stories.

So there are the flowers for the first day of spring, which I imagine comes late to Iceland,  but the card also came with
two of the three bird stamps issued in 1981, the Raven and the Wren.

 A peaceful Husavik

An entry to Jocelyn of Cuckootree's Our Wonderful World Tuesday

Sunday 18 March 2012

Birds of a Feather

As St Patrick's Day falls this weekend I thought for this week's "anything you like" option I would look what stamps I had for Ireland so here are some native birds,
 Ireland has been issuing Irish flora and fauna definitive stamps since 1997 and these birds span the change of currency from the first two in Irish pennies to
 the change to the Euro in 2002 when the charge was in cents. Thirty Irish birds have appeared on the stamps
one of the last to be issued (which finished the series) was the 60c Sea Puffin.  All stamps were designed by Killian Mullarney the Irish ornithologist and bird artist living in County Wexford, possibly most famous for his illustrations in bird identification guides.  
 An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Die Marksburg

This is how I imagine a fairy tale castle to look like, soaring towers on a high hill and surrounded by nature. Back to the present day, if you look closely there are red umbrellas on the left which I imagine is a café where one can while away an afternoon gazing down on the Rhine.

On the back of the card it says "Above the village of Braubach is the only Medieval Castle on the Rhine river that has never been destroyed", Originating in the 12th Century it was lived in for over 700 years and is now a museum open all the year.

A panorama here shows the view and the bend in the river, I was also impressed with the beams in the kitchen and you can even take a virtual trip to the gift shop where I spotted a nice twirl of postcards.

An entry to Jocelyn's Cuckootree Our Wonderful World Tuesday

Sunday 11 March 2012

Clara Zetkin

Clara Zetkin (1857-1933), socialist, fighter for equal rights, women's suffrage and peace campaigner.  In 1910 she organised the first International Women's Day and this stamp celebrates the 70th Anniversary of the event.
It was not the first time China had celebrated Clara Zetkin,  for the 50th Anniversary of Women's Day they issued a set of four stamps. Born Clara Eissner in Saxony she studied at the Leipzig Teaching College for Women where was where she was politicised, and joined the Social Democratic Party in 1877, who won 12 seats in the elections. This turn of events worried Bismark and he introduced anti-socialist laws banning meetings and publications. In 1882 Clara  left Germany for Zurich and then to Paris where she married the Marxist Ossip Zetkin, a Russian revolutionary living in exile.
They had two children but sadly he died of tuberculosis in 1889.  In 1890 the anti-socialist laws ceased so Clara returned to Germany and campaigned against militarism and for women's suffrage, editing Die Gleichheit (Equality) from 1891-1917.  She opposed the First World War writing in November1914
"When the men kill, it is up to us women to fight for the preservation of life. When the men are silent, it is our duty to raise our voices in behalf of our ideals."
and in 1915 helped organised the International Women's Peace Conference in Switzerland. She did not agree with the Social Democratic Party suspending strikes and political activism for the war so continued her journey to the left joining the Sparticus League, and was arrested several times during this period for opposing the war.  In 1919 the Weimar republic included complete women's suffrage in the country's new constitution.
          Woman tractor driver
Clara was elected to the Reichstag in 1920 as a member of the KPD (German Communist Party) and continued her campaign for equality for all but  she was also a life-long anti-racist amongst other things
taking part in the international protests against the Jim Crow laws in the USA.  In 1932 as the oldest member of parliament she was entitled to open the parliament's first session. She took the opportunity to make a speech denouncing the policies of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.  With the burning of the Reichstag in February 1933 Hitler suspended all civil liberties and she went  into exile again, this time to the Soviet Union where she died in the June. She is buried by the wall of the Kremlin in Moscow. 

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps

Wednesday 7 March 2012


Алексе́й Никола́евич (12 Aug 1904-17 July 1918)

Tsarevich Alexis in 1913 when he would have been about 9.  The youngest of the family he was affectionately called 'baby'.  Famously he suffered from haemophilia and his parents appointed 2 sailors from the Imperial Navy to look after him so he would not hurt himself, maybe that is why he is wearing a sailor suit.  His parents had prohibited from riding a bike, I guess they were not too successful, although perhaps they weakened thinking three wheels were more safe than two.

When Nedis sent this card at the end of January in was minus, that is -30°, not the weather for riding bicycles.
Hope the bear and fox's fur was thick enough to keep them warm (5th series definitive stamps).

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Tilting at Windmills

From the wonderful world of imagination Don Quixote de la Mancha and his trusty squire Sancho Panza on his mule continue their ride in the Plaza de España in Madrid underneath a monument to their creator Miguel de Cervantes.  Forever fighting with 
 Campo de Criptana
windmills thinking they were giants.  These are some of the famous windmills of La Mancha in central Spain. Each of the windmills has a name and at one time there were 34,  today there are about 10 all with their machinery and structure preserved.  La Mancha is very dry and hot in the summer, I imagine being inside one of the windmills would be a good way to cool off, after admiring the shape and their pristine white against the deep blue sky.

An entry to Jocelyn's Cuckootree "Our Wonderful World"

Saturday 3 March 2012

All aboard

I could not find many streetcar stamps in my collection but this one may make up for that, featuring a Glasgow 'Coronation' Double Decker Tram No 1173 and a post box.  The tram still exists and can be seen in the Glasgow Museum of Transport. This stamp was one of a set of 1988 for the Europa theme that year which the post office decided to feature Transport and Mail Services in the 1930s.  The designer has used the style of the posters of the period that invited you to visit many parts of Britain travelling by train,
or in this poster of 1929 travel by tram, but why not give

 Romania a try. A trolley bus from their series of definitives of the 1960s which featured different modes of transport and postal communications.
although I can never love a diesel train as much as a steam one
 so here is a GB Maximum card featuring a  'King' Class loco the "King Edward I" climbing up to Whiteball Tunnel as it "heads the Plymouth-Taunton steam hauled section of a Pathfinder Tour charter train near Burlescombe".  You can see the people on the train are doing what my mother always told me not to do and putting their heads out of the door and window.  The stamp is of Great Western Railway's "King William IV" near Teignmouth in 1935, in the days when there were people in postal trains busy sorting mail through the night.
Railway Travelling Post Office Coach

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme of  Streetcars or passenger transport