Sunday 26 February 2017

Top of the World

1994: Centenary of Greenwich Meridian
Our Sunday Stamps journey to the four corners of the earth ends at the top of the world and it is winter...
2014: 'Norden' The North by the Sea Part III: Ships (Designers: O. Nilsson and Norbert Tamas/Engraver: Martin Mörck)
The shipping lanes have to be kept open and here icebreakers are doing their work, these two cut through the ice of the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia. The souvenir sheets depicts two sister ships, the Atle and Ymer.  I suspect the Ymer was named after the Swedish icebreaker of the same name built in 1932 and the first icebreaker in the world to have a diesel electric engine. Both vessels on the sheet were built in the 1970s at the Wartsila Shipyard in Finland and they have undergone a refit in recent times to extend their working lives. Sweden has five icebreakers of the Atle class (which I think translates as athlete) and when they were built the crew accommodation was considered some of the best.
2009: Preserve the Polar Regions and Glaciers
I like Canada's choice to highlight species at especial risk due to global warming on this sheet and issued as part of the multi-country stamp initiative on the theme of preserving the polar regions and glaciers. (List here)  The PPRG logo is on the top right.  I always think the migration of the Arctic Tern or Sea Swallow from the arctic to the antarctic sounds like something from legend rather than reality. This little 100 gram bird during an average life time of thirty years will fly the distance of to the moon and back three time. This statistic is from the Arctic Tern Migration Project who tracked the terns 70,000+ kilometre pole to pole journey from Greenland to the Weddell Sea with surprising results. If you have time the follow the journey video is well worth watching.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Northern Hemisphere - head north to See It On A Postcard         

Friday 24 February 2017


A picture of serenity, Avalokitehvara is said to be the embodiment of the Buddha's compassion and is always depicted in white and holding a lotus.  The four arms and hands signify the four immeasurables: loving kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity but like all religious art there is a whole lot more symbolism going on in the painting.  Avolokitehvara is the patron bodhisattva of Tibet under the name Chenarezig.  The Chinese buddhists portray him as a woman, Kuan-Yin (she who hears the cries of the world),  India sees Avalokitehavara as a cosmic being who takes countless shapes in whatever form will most effectively free beings from suffering.

The artist is Andy Weber whose spent seven years in the 1970s living and studying the iconographical art of Tibetan Buddhism in India and Nepal;  one of his teachers  had escaped from Tibet with some 250 year old scroll paintings (thankas).  Andy paints many thankas for western Buddhist centers and travels the world teaching but his studio is not far from where I live, as is the Manjushri Meditation Centre where I found this card last century and more years ago than I care to remember, since that time they have built a Peace Temple in the grounds with a golden top which glistens in the sunlight and no doubt serenity can be found inside. 

Postcards for the Weekend theme - Serenity - be serene at Connections to the World    

Sunday 19 February 2017

Land of the Rising Sun

2009: Travel Series 5: Nara National Park
This stamp wants to take us travelling to Nara (Japan's ancient capital), and shows us a glimpse of the Kasuga-taisha Grand Shrine. The tips of the temple roofs and pagoda towers peeking through the trees is supposed to be one of the abiding images of Nara.  The month portrayed on the stamp is May for the wisteria is in full bloom and is one of the sights visitors go to see.  Perhaps there are also pretty butterflies fluttering around the flowers
Copper Butterfly
The shrine lies at the foot of a deeply forested hill where birds will sing

or flock like the Japanese White Eye. Small streams and ponds are bound to contain fish so perhaps a Greater Kingfisher will call by.
There will be more flowers.  I wish I had more of Japan's 1992-4 flora and fauna definitives but see the full set here .  Lets travel instead to the high mountains of central Japan to see  
1963: Japanese Birds
the ptarmigan, called the 'thunder bird' in Japan possibly because of its rasping croak of an alarm call or perhaps you would prefer a gentle stroll in the lowlands and hear the Meadow Buntings call.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Eastern Hemisphere -  go east at See It On A Postcard 


Friday 17 February 2017

An Old Friend

This bike has seen better days as indeed has my own, but we share lots of memories. Eeva translated the poem for me as -

"Sometimes we stopped by a neighbour, and had coffee with buns. Time went by , we had a good time together - and still have".

The card came with this stamp
2011: 100th Anniversary Kaj Frank
which makes me think perhaps the hand is just starting to make some Finnish cinnamon buns (traditionally served with coffee).  

The postcard is part of a series of summer poem cards featuring bicycles, flowers and all things of the season with poems that encourage warm thoughts of past summer days and perhaps gratitude for the people and places that have inhabited them.  

Postcards for the Weekend theme - Gratitude -  at  Connections to the World

Sunday 12 February 2017

Western Shores

The wonderfully ornate Belem Tower (built in 1515) guards the entrance to Lisbon's harbour on this Maximum Card.  There will be no postal deliveries to the fort but Portugal's biggest urban centres  such as Lisbon and Porto have seen a postal vehicle silently gliding through the streets since 2011
2013: Europa - Postman's Van
which is the environmentally friendly electric Groupil G3 seen on the stamp issued to celebrate the Postman's Van, the cancel made me see the battery instantly and then notice it on the stamp.

Having sailed along the River Tagus and left Lisbon's harbour. given a wave to the tourists on the top of Belem Tower on the way past, then hugged the Atlantic coastline of Portugal and Spain it takes us ultimately to the calmer waters of the Mediterranean after calling in at its gateway, Gibraltar.    
2012: Europa - "Visit"
A popular stopping off place for cruise ships and yachts.

The stamps 10p and 44p stamps show aerial views while the 42p takes us to the top of the rock and the Moorish Castle's Tower (built AD711).
To plunge to the depths of St Michael's Cave with its stalagmites and stalactites (51p), out into the sunlight again and the (54p) Europa Point lighthouse, which at Gibraltar's most southerly location looks towards Africa. Lastly the 66p shows Eliott's Column in the Alameda Botanical Gardens.  The column was erected to the memory of George Elliot who commanded the British garrison and fortress during The Great Siege of 1779-1783 against the forces of Spain and France in the American War of Independence.

Sunday Stamps II theme - Western Hemisphere - Go West for more at See It On A Postcard     

Friday 10 February 2017


"Divin baiser, soupir du coeur, est toujours l'éternel vainqueur"
For love and romance this week I'm travelling by postcard to France. Oh la la, a bouquet of flowers and a kiss complete with a haiku like rhyming poem which translates as - "Divine kiss, sigh of the heart, is always the eternal winner".  I like the artifice that we see the loving couple perhaps while walking past an open window. 

The initials ELD at the bottom right are the publishers E. Le Deley who resided in the city of romance, Paris (it was a family business who published postcards from 1900 to 1930). They produced black and white cards of life on the western front during World War One and published in the dual languages of French and English for the troops to send home to the ones they loved. 
The card is unsent but probably from 1907-1912

Postcards for the weekend theme - Love - join the love boat at Connections to the World   

Sunday 5 February 2017

Southern Sights

Lets head for the southern seas where it is believed Royal Penguins spend most of their time somewhere between Australia and Antarctica but here they have moved ashore. The photograph is by the ornithologist Gavin Johnstone (1941-1987) who wintered one year on Macquarie Island  to study Giant Petrels and this same island is also one of the main breeding sites for Royal Penguins.
2007: World Wildlife Fund: Royal Penguins
Royal Penguins get their name from the those cute, if slightly unruly, yellow plumes which meet on their forehead, it takes several years for them to fully develop.
1988: Australia New Zealand Bicentenary Joint Issue
When night falls perhaps it is time for a koala and a kiwi to sit around a campfire. Roland Harvey an illustrator of children's book is the artist and he says he has always loved the outdoors so I think he would enjoy taking a mug of tea with these two while the billy can bubbles away.
1988: Definitive Series 1 -  'Living Together'
Australia's bicentennial year also saw the issue of three series of definitive stamps with a variety of subjects about living in Australia and drawn by a variety of artists. Of course my favourite is the one showing the postal services. Even on a magic flying stamp the postie isn't safe from dogs!  The stamp illustrator is Peter Viska who started out as a cartoonist but then turned to children's books, his first  being the children's chants and rhymes ' Far Out, Brussel Sprout' and the very Australian 'All Right, Vegemite'.

Here are some other things you might see flying around in Australia
1979: Australian Birds
although this set issued from 1978/9 shows the birds each in their unique nests. The artist is one of Australia's foremost wildlife artists, Kay Breeden Williams (b1939) whose work can be seen in many wildlife guides.
1987: America's Cup
Time to set sail and as we are in the southern oceans we will be navigating by the southern cross, and be,
2004: Celebration: Southern Cross (Designer: Brian Sadgrove)
as the line in the Australian national anthem says, - "Beneath our radiant Southern Cross" .  The next stop is the Cook Islands, fifteen small islands over a area about the size of western europe in the South Pacific. 
where we might see a bird unique to the islands and critically endangered, a little flycatcher, the Rarotonga Monarch.  It is unusual in that it has sequential plumage which as it grows, changes from orange, to orange-grey and then pure grey when it is four years old.
1989: Endangered Birds (Designer: G. Drummond)
    An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Southern Hemisphere- head south at See It On A Postcard

Friday 3 February 2017

Garden Birthday

Birthday Greetings. In the Garden
For Maria's birthday month a birthday card and greetings.  I think most of us would be happy in a garden I know I always am although I think wearing a large bow on my head might be a little impracticable if any hard labour were involved and a white apron would be a disaster. We will just have to imagine an idyllic sunny afternoon among the flower beds collecting cut flowers to display in the house.  By the size of the wheelbarrow I would guess our pretty girl must be a flower seller.
The postcard was published by E A Schwerdtfeger who set up business in the 1880s and were large producers of  real photo postcards, many hand coloured, but unfortunately not this one.  They also produced a number of series featuring  actresses of the day, portraits, holidays and fashionable women in a variety of costumes. Birthday postcards seem to be one of their major outputs and eventually they would become Germany's largest greetings card company. Their other products were calendars and glanzbilder (decorative elements printed on paper which could be pasted on household items, furniture, walls or displayed in one of the great leisure pursuits of the time, scrap books).  Schwerdtfeger had offices in London and New York but the business and factory was located in Berlin and despite being damaged in World War Two they continued to trade until the 1980s.
The card has been used for a birthday greeting from May to her father with five kisses, although there is no stamp the inland postage rate quoted of ½d and the divided back indicate it might have been sent between 1902 and 1918.

Postcards for the Weekend theme - Happiness - be happy and travel to Maria's Linky Party at  Connections to the World