Sunday 29 July 2012


2003 "Extreme Endeavours" series
The untimely death of astronaut Sally Ride this week made me think of other women pioneers so here is the record breaking aviator Amy Johnson (1903-41).  With only 50 hours of flying experience she made the first woman's solo flight from England to Australia, taking 17 days. Further record-breaking flights acorss Siberia, the Atlantic and solo to Cape Town followed. Amy Johnson disappeared over the Thames estuary in January 1941 ferrying an aeroplane for the Air Ministry in World War Two.  In bad weather and running out of fuel she drowned after bailing out. There is a mystery of her death, was she on a secret mission for the air ministry or was she shot down by coastal defence guns after giving the wrong identification code of the day?
Here she is with her Gypsy Moth waiting to take off from Croydon airport in 1930 which was where international  flights came in and out of London. The airport closed in 1959, it had no room to expand, and all that remains are the terminal buildings, the control tower  (which houses the visitors centre) and the Aerodrome Hotel.  I wonder if business travellers or tourists stay there now, there are no aeroplanes

or rocket launchers. A  'smiler' stamp and cancel celebrates the 40th anniversary of the moon landing and a cancel for the first commercial supersonic flight from Heathrow (the airport which replaced Croydon) is on the Charles Babbage stamp. The latter was a 1991 commemoration of his birth centenary.  Babbage (1791-1871) and his Difference Engine which he later called an Analytical Engine is considered a computer pioneer in his quest to store data and then reuse the information to add more.

I like the whimsy of the cover, the Mars 'postage stamp' at the bottom and on the back there are stamps for a Mars Tourist visa, the moon station and the International Space Station and if you have enough money to go into space the $5000 Earth Tax mentioned there would be a snip.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps

Saturday 28 July 2012

A Century

An entry to Sepia Saturday. "Using old images as prompts for new reflections"

As a cricket fan of course I'm going for that option for this week's theme of  "sports which won't be seen at the Olympic Games", although it could be glanced for a few seconds right of at the start of  the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympiad in the green  fields recreated in the stadium.   But lets go back to the start of the 20th century with this team and what do I see. Well it seems that not everyone has turned up in their whites for the photo, something that will no doubt bring back memories of forgetting school sports bags for some of us who hadn't checked their school timetable. The boy on the left has at least remembered his cricket boots or perhaps they have played a practice match.  For those not familiar with the game the wicket keeper sits gloved in the middle, if I was going to make a sweeping generalisation it would be that wicket-keepers tend to be 'characters' possibly because of the specialisation and responsibility of the role.  I would guess that the man wearing the striped tie n the photo and sporting a Nietzsche type moustache is the captain.  We can see the two umpires who in their white long coats who will make all the decisions on the field.  The wiry and slightly dishevelled man third in from the right at the back can be nothing else but a bowler, whether fast or slow who knows but I can imagine him toiling for a wicket on a hot summers day.  I can't make out the symbols on those men who are wearing cricket caps rather than the everyday flat caps so we will never know which team it is
The card was sent from Congleton in Cheshire and I thought maybe that may be the team but unfortunately I discovered that the one that resides there was not started until the 1930s. The card was sent to my Grandmother from her friend on the 15th May 1911 and says "Thank very much for the parcel received which we enjoyed immense.  Send me a bit of the lily of the valley if you have time to get any for usTell Nannie I am sending the parcel off the same time I post this ".  My grandmother often seemed to send flowers of the season to friends and family and a lot of the cards she kept send thanks for their receipt.. I wonder if she sent them on the train or by post.

But back to the cricket, I have happy memories of coming across a village cricket game by chance while on holiday in England, sitting talking to the locals and watching the to and fro of the  match while the sun shines down.  Whether watching professional or amateur matches cricket take time, hey this is a game that breaks for lunch and tea, so a good lot of eating and drinking goes on during the day for the spectators and for   
"Picnic scene at Freshwater" - Photo from the Powerhouse Museum Collection, Australia
that reason this photo is irresistible, although the accent is on the picnic and the cricket accoutrements at the back are just there for a bit of activity on a trip to the countryside, or as it is in Australia I suppose I should call it bush. The billy can at the front has "Freshwater 1895" (with the painted 9 the wrong way round), which I think is rather wonderful, the place and time frozen in time for this gathering of friends.  The Powerhouse Museum has done a short montage of close ups of a few of the elements of the photo here (It took a while to load for me but it may be my connection today).  The photo being Australian brings to mind that the great rivalry of international test matches is between Australia and England
"The Queenslander,", Dec 13, 1928 (From the State Library of Queensland)
 and here is the English lion wearing a cap like the men in the postcard and the kangaroo wearing the famous Australian baggy cap. The lion is at the top of the cricket see-saw which was prophetic as England won the series when they toured  there in 1928/9 and retaining the Ashes.

Sunday 22 July 2012

Faster, Higher, Stronger

GB 1980 "Sports Centenaries"
 I was going to illustrate the Olympic motto of "faster, higher, stronger" but though I can illustrate the first
two I can't find any weightlifting stamps in my collection so just imagine that one. Just like imagining the Olympic rings on the US stamp. A dispute meant that the International Olympic Committee prevented USPS from using them so they they came up with five overlapping five pointed stars instead.

This year's Olympic Games will be the third held in London  
"Globe and Laurel Leaf"
  but those of 1948 are generally referred to the 'Austerity Games' but despite London still having bombed out buildings, post-war rationing and in dire economic conditions they turned out a great success.
No new venues were built and the athletes were housed in existing buildings
"Olympic Symbols"
59 nations took part and the USA headed the medal table.  GB won 3 golds, 14 silver and 6 bronze
"Winged Victory"
This year 216 nations will come to London and I look forward to see the medals and stories unfold. 

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme - Olympics

Saturday 21 July 2012


 An entry to Sepia Saturday. "Using old images as prompts for new reflections"

The Health Fairy takes centre stage on our prompt picture this week but as the concept of that fairy is a mystery to me I've gone with what it looks like, a tableau.
And this postcard produced by Emil Goetz, a company which published cards from 1896-1958 in Lucerne, date of the card unknown as unsent. But lets get back to the heroic scene with soaring mountains and a rainbow. The scene shows "The Rütlischwur", a legendary oath of Switzerland taken on the Rütli mountain meadow by Lake Lucerne.  The date of the first oath is thought to be 1291 and today the 1st August is a national holiday.  Three chiefs of the cantons swear to be a single people and rather die than be in slavery so it was appropriate in 1940, as war surrounded neutral Switzerland,  that General Guisan made a speech vowing that the country would never surrender if invaded. 

Happily in the picture people have come prepared with shields and raised swords but significantly the women folk seem to be busy elsewhere.  Joan of Arc would never have stood for that
as she mounts a ladder at Orleans to defeat the English and tipping the 100 years war in France's favour.  The participants here are the citizens of St Macaire en Mauges in February 1910 "Tableau Vivant. Jeanne d'Arc montant a l'assaut des Tourelles".  The celebration of Joan of Arc take place all over France every year but this year it would have been an even bigger event than normal  as it was the 600th anniversary of her birth. 
 Postcard  from the Bryn Mawr College Library collection
Here I have managed to find the wings from the prompt photo, they may not be health fairies but more girls get to wear wings . The "Saint Germain sur Moine Féte de Jeanne d'Arc - Tableaux vivants - Jeanne glorieuse".

Monday 16 July 2012

Black, White and Red

Post Box CH1 104 - Bridge Street, Chester

Post box and black and white buildings, irresistible for a photo opportunity.  One of the old buildings on Bridge Street which has a variety of architectural styles along its length.  There are many wooden black and white buildings in Chester, this particular one was renovated a few years ago so is in pristine condition.   The outside seating for the Italian Restaurant, Carluccio, can be seen on the left.

There are a lot of double post boxes in the town probably because it is a tourist destination so a profusion of postcards will be sent from here.

Sunday 15 July 2012

Flying the Flag

From 1989  to the present there have been regular issues of the Canadian flag fluttering in front of diverse scenes from that vast country on everyday mail. This one flies against the  backdrop of a Newfoundland iceberg
The Toronto skyline at sunset with the ferry on Lake Ontario. Next to the land of Ann of Green Gables, a winter scene on Prince Edward Island. 
Lastly a dog sled under winter skies in the St Elias mountain range, Yukon. I seem to have subconsciously chosen winter scenes, must be because we are in the middle of summer.
So to a country with snowy mountain peaks - Nepal. Their uniquely shaped flag and map of the country on a stamp issued to commemorate the first general elections to parliament in 1959
One of the major turning points of the history of Europe was the Great Siege of Malta in 1565 when the  Knights Hospitallers and the civilian population held the island for three months against the vastly superior forces of the Ottoman Turks. The stamp, apart from showing a lot of fighting (which was very bloody) has a flag showing the famous Maltese Cross and the cross of the Knights.  Lets turn  to a more peaceful Europe.
The UK flag shown as part of a jigsaw of Europe when we joined what was then the European Community in 1973 and today is the European Union. Lastly not forgetting flags have to be made by someone 
here is a group of women having a good chat while sewing the Vietcong flag, part of a set entitled 'Life in Liberated Areas', issued by the Provisional Government of the National Front for Liberation in 1971.  The stamps were printed in Hanoi and used in NFL occupied areas in the south.

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme of Flags or patriotic stamps

Friday 13 July 2012


Beautiful Saarbrücken

Saarbrücken, the state capital of Saarland, which in its present form (when the baroque town of Saarbrücken merged with the market town of St. Johann and the industrial town of Malstatt/Burbach) has been over 100 years a city.  The settlement goes much further back in time, which can be seen locally  in the remains of a Celtic hill fort and a Roman Mithras shrine but this card celebrates its buildings.  The city  has also changed hands between France and Germany during the last 200 years which must give it a unique perspective. On to the card...

Given central billing is the baroque castle which has gone through various bouts of destruction, partially burnt down and reconstructed then renovated in its present form in 1989.  The view at night shows brilliantly the architect Gottfried Böhm designed central block of steel and glass linking the two sides of the castle.

Lets go clockwise round the card starting from the bottom left which philatelists may recognise because it has appeared more than once on Germany's stamps in 1965 and 2009, it is also the symbol of the city of Saarbrücken - the Ludwigskirche (Ludwig's Church).  Like many of the city's buildings it was nearly destroyed in the Second World War and rebuilding began in 1949 however a dispute raged from the 1950s to the 1970s on whether the baroque interior should be reconstructed from the original plans or it should be a modern interior.  In the end the baroque could not be resisted and that is how it appears today.

Next we have the Neo-Gothic St Johann town hall with its 180ft (54m) high tower complete with carillon which plays at 3:15pm and 7:19pm.  I'm presuming there is some significance about those times because 7:19 is a very specific time. I'd be heading there because I do like hearing a carillon tinkling on the air,  that and the fact the façade is decorated by statues of the trades such as minors, smelters, brewers and merchants all topped off with the patron saint of my own country George and the Dragon.

Following the town hall comes the neo classical State Theatre by the side of the River Saar, another building which has appeared on German stamps. 

When looking at the next structure I thought it was a horse racing track but no it is a casino (Spielbank).  I think I'll keep the money in my pocket and go on to St Johanne Market Square, one of the many in the city designed by the great baroque architect Friedrich Joachim Stengel.  

We've reached the bottom right of the card with the Basilica St Johann which it the place to listen to organ music for it has three. The 18th century main organ and 2 choir organs.  These can be played individually or together what a sound that must make. 

Another town hall, as this is baroque guess this is the Saarbrücken one.  

Lastly we reach the Schlosskirke, the Castle Church at sunset. This dates from the 15th century and was destroyed in the Second World War but restored in the 1950s.  The sarcophagi of the last princes of Saarbrücken are to be found in the choir. The church is now a museum of  the Cultural Heritage of the Saarland.

Thank you Martin for showing me your city.   

Sunday 8 July 2012

Mellow Yellow

For this week's Sunday Stamps theme of 'Yellow' the best place to start must be with this perfectly coloured, and my only, Macedonia stamp, showing Makedonska Pošta's logo, the post horn. Macedonia's flag has the colour yellow in its rays of sun and the next country's flag also has yellow, in a stripe
shown on the bottom corner of this definitive stamp featuring a Fire Crowned Bishop.  If they had shown the Yellow Crowned Bishop it would have fitted perfectly with this theme but happily the background is yellow and shows its woven grass nest placed between upright grass stems, a favoured place for this seed eating bird.

Lets leave Africa and take a journey by boat
1980 'Ships'
to Singapore where this Fujian junk, a traditional Chinese ships, sails across a yellow background.  But what to wear on the journey, perhaps something in yellow?
The stamp description is "ceremonial costume" and at the time it was issued by North Vietnam in 1964 it was only being used at weddings and other formal occasions.  In the 1980s there was a revival in what is now considered the national costume, the  Áo dài, and it is worn on many occasions, plain white ones sometimes as school uniforms. As can be seen the silk tunic is worn over pantaloons/trousers, the stamp shows the older looser style but there is also a tighter fit style sometimes described as "covering everything but hiding nothing".

Next, a little unseasonably

is a 2006 Christmas stamp, one of 10 that were a result of a nationwide competition in which all New Zealand schoolchildren were invited to design a stamp illustrating what Christmas meant to them. This $1.50 stamp was by Sylvie Webby (age 11) who said "Pōhutukawa flowers look like red Christmas lights flashing on a native New Zealand tree".  Not a yellow flower then, so I'll finish with one that is
1988, 5th series, 'Narrow Road to a Far Province'
the safflower. The other stamp of this pair portrays Willow trees in Obanazawa, where the 17th Century poet Basho wrote part of  "The Narrow Road to the Deep North" when he stopped there for 10 days, the longest stopover of his trip to northern Japan.  The stamps are part of a multiple series issued by Japan to celebrate Basho's many journeys, or more precisely wanderings, where he met friends, enjoyed the scenic places, experienced the seasons and shared them with the world in his travel writings and poems. 
"Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought" Basho Matsuo

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme of 'Yellow'

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Line Up

Post Box Number LA20 35, Foxfield

All means of communication in a line up, post box, telephone box and bus stop by the side of the main road up the Cumbrian coast, the A595.  Opposite is Foxfield railway station but the main attraction is the location of the post box which is designated "Prince of Wales, Foxfield" and that welcoming pub is just to the right of the post box.


Sunday 1 July 2012

Landscapes of Guilin

In 1984 China issued a set of 10 pre stamped postcards of the beautiful and unique landscape of Guilin.  They showed the area in different weather and times of day
  This card is called Xingping Wonderland and it does indeed look like a wonderland with the parasol opened as the boats drift past on the river. All the photographs were taken by Ren Guoen who is still designing stunning stamps for China.  Quoting from the postcard insert which succinctly describes Guilin
 Guilin, the Crown of Super Landscapes in China, has long been renowned for its beautiful scenery. Sailing downstream along both banks of the Lijiang River from Guilin to Yangshuo, one can enjoy a multitude of green weirdly-shaped hills with gorgeous steep precipices. Surrounded by crystal-clear water and flanked by strange peaks, the Lijiang River forms a picturesque landscape which looks just like a magnificent scroll. "The River winds like a blue silk ribbon, while the hills erect like green jade hairpins" is the vivid description of this unique scenery by an ancient poet".
Here is one that shows intense green of Green Lotus Peak which is on the west bank of the Li River.  All the peaks have wonderfully evocative names, such as the carp and the golden tile but the Green Lotus also has a legend of the Green Lotus Fairy
 The area has many sweet osmanthus trees which flower in late summer and autumn, the  flowers are used in scented teas.  Just the thing to drink while gazing at the scenery.  China only issued these pre-stamped postcards in 1984 but of course with scenery like this they have appeared on stamps of other years, see here  

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps theme of  'Scenic Natural Areas'