Saturday 30 June 2012

Moscow Nights

The sun has set and Moscow's lights come on, how wonderful to be able to walk past the fountain through the arches and into the Bolshoi Theatre.  In October last year after six years of renovation the company returned to the historic central stage. They had to balance modernisation with preservation but it certainly looks magnificently opulent, just the place to experience the famous acoustics and a company that is in its 236th season.

So you have booked your ticket for the opera or ballet, the next question is where to stay.  Well this card shows the five star Hotel Baltschug Kempinski.  I like the rainy Moscow night with the lights reflecting on the road and on the river.  I can almost hear the swoosh of the cars through  the rain.

Elena tells me both buildings are near the Kremlin so there is one days sightseeing taken card of in my postcard journey. Thank you Elena and Zoya. 

Sunday 24 June 2012


There has been a deluge of rain, a months worth falling in a day, rail closures and flooding. It must be summer. Wimbledon starts on Monday, hope they have Cliff Richard on speed dial ready to sing to pass the time for the spectators.
Here we have summertime written in English and Welsh on the stamp. The Royal Welsh Agricultural Show takes place in mid Wales. Nothing says summer like agricultural shows, from the large ones like this one at Llanelwedd to the small local meetings, there is always a beer tent to shelter if  inclement.
The first day of the cricket season in mid April has thrown up all sorts of weather from snow to sunshine but it is always hoped when the test matches start then it will be glorious and perfect weather for cricket watching.  Lords, the "home of cricket", always holds the first summer test match and also in contrast the finals of the National Village Cricket Competition. 
Travel north to Scotland and the various highland games are in full swing. Braemar Games in Aberdeenshire take place in Aberdeen and this is the one the Queen usually attends.
Lastly in this 1994 set we have an event that takes place in the first week of August, the yacht racing at Cowes on the Isle of Wight. This weekend is the Isle of Wight music festival where torrential rain caused chaos, seven mile traffic queues and ferry services suspended.  Today the festival goers seems to be enjoying the mud and looking forward to Bruce Springsteen appearing. So there you are a British summer in stamps.  My uncle always said the amount of rain always balanced out over the year so I'm looking forward to a dry spell in August, or November.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps

Tuesday 19 June 2012


Wall Box Number LA22 162
I always like the swirling scroll of Edward VII (1901-1910) on a postbox
although this one at the Grizedale Forest Visitors Centre looks as though it may be due a lick of paint
 The parked car outdoes it in redness.

Sunday 17 June 2012

Food and Drink

I have a copious numbers of stamps on agricultural themes but none it seems with the end product on a plate, or in a glass. This Yugoslavia stamp of the 1950s is from a set full of workers heroically toiling in the fields or industry but the exception is this bucolic scene of gathering apples.  The child on the left I think is amazed at the number of apples in the basket but I am sure is about to take a bite of the one in her hand. Who can resist a fresh picked apple.     

Stopping in the same decade I'm on theme with this one, a cook with a tray of hot food.   Mmm I wonder if there is any dim sum on there.  The stamp celebrates community meals as part of a 1959 set commemorating the anniversary of people's communes.  This propoganda poster shows
 the ideal people's commune with the communal restaurant in the middle surrounded by a rich harvest and a wind that is blowing all those greenhouse gases in the other direction.

After a hard day at work I'm sure a nice relaxing drink would go down a treat
 This South African stamp shows a gable of the historic Cape Dutch dwelling and national monument at Groot Constantia, and more importantly for that drink the grapes of this vineyard which has been here for over 300 years. This was the first definitive stamp series of the Republic of South Africa issued on 31 May 1961 when as the result of a whites-only referendum the country left the commonwealth becoming a republic and legislated for a continuation of apartheid. The same year it introduced the rand currency and this 2½ cent stamp was the cost of posting a standard letter.  
I presume by the fourth printing in 1969 the cost of letter writing had gone up. Enough to turn you to drink, or a wine tasting at Groot Constantia, today owned by a not for profit trust.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamp theme of Food and Drink

Sunday 10 June 2012

Looking Out Into Space

 I'm going with the astronomy theme for this weeks Sunday Stamps with this se-tenant stamp called 'looking out into space'.  Perhaps it also asks the question of what the universe is expanding into or is it just looping back in a circle. This 1991 Europa stamp was on the theme of  exploration of space and honoured the work of European astronomers at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory which perches on the heights of La Palma in the Canary Islands. In the spirit of co-operation the stamps were designed by Belgian artist Jean-Michel Folon.

Another way to observe the skies    
 is by radio telescope, and in 1966  the 'British Technology' set included this view of  the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics which sits on the Cheshire plain like this view
from part of last year's stamp issue of the A to Z of Britain.  I think the older stamp gives more of a feel of the technology of the  telescope but judge for yourself from the webcam

In anticipation of the appearance of Halley's Comet in 1986 the British cartoonist Ralph Steadman was entrusted with the stamp set and came up with a wonderfully 
bewigged Halley streaking through the skies.  The notebook of Edmond Halley (1656-1742) is preserved in all the density of its 180 pages of calculations , geometrical figures and observations in the archives.  All those centuries later
in 1986 saw the probe Giotto approach the comet which was called a "dirty snowball" to collect scientific data. The spaceship was named after the renaissance painter who had observed the comet in 1301 and depicted it as the Star of Bethlehem in his Adoration of the Magi.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme of Astronomy and scientists.

Saturday 9 June 2012

Tea Time

An entry to Sepia Saturday. "Using old images to prompt new reflections"

Who could resist a spread like this. Little Bobby Roe looks as though he is eating a fairy cake while eyeing up the table to see which plate he will attack next before the grown ups arrive.   The photo was taken in 1954, the buffet today would be very different with changing, and broader tastes, although sausage rolls and open sandwiches could still be on the table there would also probably be samosa and quiche, to mention two things not dreamed about at this post war date. Rationing after the war had just ended in 1954 with things gradually being taken off the list,  the year before in February 1953 sweets had come off the ration so I imagine Bobby was one happy boy. If you had wanted "lashings of tea" during rationing then you may have had to save up, the weekly allowance was 2 ounces (57g),  No such thing as tea bags.  Tea pots ruled.

Bobby was the mascot of the football team Preston North End from 1951-57 and the occasion on the postcard is a buffet held  following their defeat in the 1954 cup final against West Bromwich Albion (3-2).  Preston are a club with a long history as they were one of the founding members of the Football Association in 1888.   In that first season they were undefeated in both cup matches and league gaining the nickname "The Invincibles".  Today those halcyon days are behind them as they are way down in  League 1 but still have mascots and in 2007 the grandson of Bobby Roe, William (aged 9), in his role as mascot lead the team out onto the Deepdale pitch. He will never compete with the more than 170 games that his grandfather took the pitch.

Wondering about those paintings on the wall?  The buffet was set up in the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, perhaps feeding both the body and the soul.  Today there is also a painting of Preston's most famous player, Sir Tom Finney (who celebrated his 90th birthday this year) in the gallery although it has proved illusive on my last couple of visits, perhaps it has been loaned out. 

Sunday 3 June 2012

Greek Ports

The port of Athens - Piraeus.  It certainly did not look as peaceful as this when I was there. It was as though the whole world had arrived in one place at the same time loaded with their worldly goods. Row upon row of ships to travel to the islands.   We took one to the island of Paros which took about five hours sailing on the iridescent blue of the Aegean while drifting past hazy islands on the horizon it was like sailing in a dream, not so dreamlike on the choppy return journey.
Solonica or Thessaloniki was named after Alexander the Great's half sister,  like Piraeus has been a port since antiquity.  It sits on the Gulf of Solonica which opens onto the Aegian Sea. It was the co-reigning city of the Byzantine Empire along with Constantinople. The city has been troubled by earthquakes since medieval times so this set of stamps issued in 1958 may not show it as it is today for there were earthquakes in the '60s and one causing much damage in 1995.
Volos also suffered in the 1995 earthquake with many of the building today being modern replacements. Volos sits on the Pagasitic Gulf at the foot of Mount Pelion from which the region, the Pelion, gets its name.  It is one of my favourite parts of Greece with its beech, oak and chestnut forests and hiking trails. It is famous for it orchards of apples.  Mount Pelion in mythology was the home of Chiron the Centaur, today it is also a ski destination, where else would you be able to have sea views before setting off downhill on skis.
The first island port of the stamps, Hermoupolis on Syros in the Cyclades with the brightly painting fishing caiques so much part of any Greek Island holiday making a picturesque view on any photograph.
Lastly Kavala or Cavalla considered the most attractive of Greece's largest cities which rises like an amphitheatre from the natural harbour up to the huge Byzantine fortress.  If you have been reading the the Greek names on the stamps you will also notice  the word on the  right showing they are airmail stamps, just right for those holiday postcards. 

I remember someone suggesting tongue in cheek that the answer to Greece's economic woes would be to give everyone free flights there to spend lots of holiday money. I'd definitely vote for that suggestion.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps