Friday 31 March 2017

Something Fishy

Spring flowers, a trio of fish and a small child, it must be the 1st April in France, or Poisson d'Avril.  The tradition is of children sticking a paper fish on the back of an adult and running away shouting 'Poisson d'Avril' (April Fish).   At the beginning of the 20th century it was very popular to send these fishy cards in the post and you can see more, with an explanation of the tradition on The Daily Postcard. This card was sent to Béthune in Northern France
on 31st March 1911 and no doubt Monsieur Robert Delemaire would smile as he received it on April Fool's Day. I love these wacky cards, I wonder if anyone still sends them.

Postcards for the Weekend theme - odd, fun, humorous - more smiles at Connections to the World

Sunday 26 March 2017


1997: Europa - 'Irish Myths and Legends'
Would you like to fly?  The children of King Lir were turned into white swans by their jealous stepmother and that is how they stayed for 900 years. (Their story can be found here).  Alas we are earthbound but engineering ingenuity means we can take to the skies
1969: First Flight of Concorde
and in the past it could have been on the beautiful supersonic Concorde.  This, at the time, cutting edge technology, got me wondering what was the oldest stamp I possessed featuring an airplane
1919: Air
and I think it must be this one of a biplane floating in the clouds.  This was one of the first airmail stamps of Germany's Weimar Republic (a set of two, the other was a winged posthorn)  which were issued in July 1919 and would start a long tradition of airmail stamps.  Swap some date numbers around
1991: Historic Mail Aircraft
and in 1991 Germany was celebrating the delivery of mail by air. This is the 1922 Fokker F-111 which could carry five passengers (one sitting by the side of the pilot). 
1932: Air
 Another country with a long tradition of airmail stamps is China, here showing a Junker F13 flying low over the Great Wall of China.  These airmail stamps came in a variety of colours and denominations.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Flying - swoop over to See It On A Postcard

Friday 24 March 2017


In the Thessaly region of central Greece lies the peninsula of Pelion between the Pagastikos Gulf and the Aegean Sea.  Perhaps if I moved there I would live in a house like this.  The area takes its name from the mountain of Pilio of which there are many legends, one of which is that it was the land of the centaurs (Pelion).  It is popular climb in summer and in winter a ski destination. 
The Pelion has beech and oak forests with cool running streams which are a pleasant escape in summer from the heat of the day.  There is also easy walking on the kalderimi, the ancient network of stone paths that lead from village to village where perhaps a tortoise may be spotted ambling through the undergrowth. The postcard above shows the mountain village of Pinaketes although I am happiest when in easy reach of the sea
like this, horse optional. It is also an area famous for its orchards of apples and of course no Greek scene would be complete without olive trees but there are also figs and grapes growing wild. I have visited many parts of Greece and its islands but this is at the top of my list of a favourite places.  It also has a narrow gauge railway, the so called "little train of the Pelion" what more could one want.

Postcards for the Weekend theme - a country you would want to live if you had a chance - move on to the Linky Party at Connections to the World

Sunday 19 March 2017


Two stamps for the price of one on this exhibition card produced by Åland. for the International Stamp Fair in Essen, Germany.   The featured German stamp is from the Humanitarian Relief Fund stamps of 1984 featuring Orchids and designed by Professor Günter Jacki.  This is Orchis ustulata, the burnt orchid which flowers in April and May.

The choice of a stamp from 1984 I think is no accident for that was the first year the name Åland appeared on stamps.  From 1984-1992 the stamps were issued by Finnish Post and you could use a combination of both Åland and Finnish stamps on envelopes.  In one of life's ironies today Åland act as agents for Finnish stamps.
1990: Orchids (Design: Allan Palmer)
I don't think one has to know the language to work out what this is called in the Åland Islands, Adam och Eva.  It is also known as the elder flowered orchid which grows in both purple and a yellow white.   I liked the description of it from Nature Gate which includes this paragraph:

"Elder-flowered orchid is one of the earliest-flowering orchids in the north. Its flowers adorn coppices on the Åland Islands from the end of May, when the queen bees wake up from their winter rest and establish a hive, flying tirelessly around to gather nutrition for the first generation of workers. From the bee’s point of view however it is a fruitless task to visit elder-flowered orchid because it has no nectar or pollen: the plant rather fools inexperienced bees into pollinating it without any reward. Insects learn to beware of cheaters, so evolution’s next step was to create two colours of elder-flowered orchid, red and yellow, which can appear in the same habitat. The red coloured variety is usually predominant in northern Finland, while in the south it is in the minority. The differently coloured varieties usually stay very separate, but sometimes plants that are different shades of orange can be found".

2015: Maximum Card 92
This maximum card features Campanula persicifolia, the fairy bell flower or peach-leaved bellflower.
2015: Peach-leaved Bellflower

I have never been happy with any of my photographs of bell flowers but the photographer here, Andy Horner, shows how it should be done.  The card also has postage paid image on the reverse
Lastly something tropical
1975: Flowers
the Giant granadilla (Passiflora quadrangularis).  I have read that this flowering vine can grow over 50 ft in a season, it also produces fruit. 

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Flowers - visit the garden at See It On A Postcard

Friday 17 March 2017

Sri Lanka

This week I am travelling in my imagination to Sri Lanka. The postcard features some of the fauna of Yala National Park, a wildlife sanctuary in the south east of the country.  One of its strap lines is "Glorious Past and Spectacular Present" for the area was a centre of ancient civilizations, so this combines two things I love, nature and history. It sounds as though Yala National Park has everything, monsoon forests, freshwater and marine wetlands and many other ecosystems. It closes for a few months  during the drought season but last year the rains came early so it reopened early.  It also closes during the mating season of the native Sri Lankan leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya).

Yala National Park is also known for the number of birds  that can be seen in this area of 378 square miles (979 sq kilometres) which totals 215 species.  It is appropriate that the stamps the card came with were two birds endemic to Sri Lanka -
1993: Birds of Sri Lanka
the Ceylon Hill Mynah and the Ceylon Brown Capped Babbler.  Both species are known for their calls.  The Capped Babbler nests on the ground in forest undergrowth and is difficult to see but they are noisy birds so one will definitely hear them.
 Yala is marked on the map by the Sri Lankan elephant on the south east corner. 

Postcards for the Weekend theme - a card from a country you would want to visit - dream of travel at Connections to the World

Sunday 12 March 2017


1975: Faroese Stamps
On the 30th January 1975 the Faroe Islands issued the first definitive stamps as an independent postal authority and the first that bore the country's name. Two of the seven designs featured maps of which this is one
The figures and letters on the stamps are designed by Lydia Laksafoss and the steel engraving was made by Czeslaw Slania who would go on to have a long association with the islands stamps. The map of the Faroe Islands is a section of a map called  'North' from the 1573 edition of the wonderfully named 'Theatre of the World' (Theatrum Orbis Terrarum) by the geographer Abraham Ortelius considered the creator of the first modern atlas. If you are ever in Antwerp (his birth city) I can recommend a visit to the printing museum of Plantin-Moretus not only for the oldest surviving printing presses in the world and the building itself but but their collection of maps including Ortelius's atlas.  Oh and did I mention the postcards in the shop, I still regret not splurging the cash and buying the complete Dick Bruna alphabet set of cards.

But lets move on several centuries and a more modern map

1978: Mykines
of the westernmost of the Faroe Islands, Mykines, famous for its birds, as you might have guessed from those flying around the island on the FDC. There are certainly more birds than people as only 11 live on the island all year round, however there are forty houses.

The stamp artist was the Faroese painter Bárður Jákupsson and the set was the first of the projected  'island profile' series in which it was intended to show all eighteen islands.

Now lets head south to the Mediterranean 
1977: World Telecommunication Day (Design: Harry Borg)
and the distinctive boot of Italy and the Islands of Malta and Gozo in the middle with the radio aerial pulsing its sound waves from the coast of Africa. The stamp was issued on World Telecommunication Day, 17th May, but since the issue of the stamp it is now called World Telecommunication Day and Information Society Day. Not as snappy is it!  The theme for 2017 is 'Big Data for Big Impact'  I wonder could one call stamps small data, big impact.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Maps - plot your way to See It On A Postcard

Sunday 5 March 2017


1981: Year of the Rooster
As flamboyant as one would wish a rooster to be and there is not just one rooster in this barnyard
Designer: Cheng Chuanli - Engraver: Sun Hongnian
I hope they are not going to fight.  As you can see these stamps are from a booklet.  I discovering that the original artist was Zhang Ding (1917-2010) who encompassed all types of art, design and calligraphy as well as being a teacher and art critic.  I am not sure but think this rooster was first designed as a tapestry and displayed at the Beijing Institute of Research for Carpets.  Zhang Ding was born in NE China first drawing caricatures and later shifting to design.  He participated in the creation of the national emblem of China and the first group of commemorative stamps after the founding of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949.
1981: Booklet Cover Year of the Rooster
Goodness this barnyard is full of roosters.  Room for any more?
1999: Twelve Animals of the Lunar New Year Cycle
The designer is Kan Tai-keung who has been involved in Hong Kong's Lunar New Year stamps for many years, more than 12 lunar cycles, and still doing it today. He also designed the 1997 definitive stamps after the return of sovereignty of Hong Kong from Britain to China.  

Do you want an early morning rooster call?
1996: 100 Years of Going to the Cinema - A Celebration
Here is the British Pathé News rooster whose cock-a-doodle-doo and then dramatic music heralded that weeks news at the cinema in the days when you got a news short before the one or two films showing that week. British Pathé was formed in 1896 when this was the only way to see what was happening in the world but with the advent of television and the immediacy of the news available it eventually ceased in 1970. Today it is still in business but as a fascinating film archive.

An entry to Sunday Stamps II theme - Roosters - more fine feathers at See It On A Postcard

Friday 3 March 2017

Northern Maps

My town just sneaks onto this card at the bottom left (Barrow).  It is on the edge in more ways than one as it is on a peninsula surrounded by water which some comedians say is  'the longest cul-de-sac' in the country. The council prefers the line 'between sea and mountains'   The lakes of the Lake District span out like the spokes of a wheel and to feel completely surrounded by mountains then nothing is better than to head to the centre, Grasmere.

To give some context lets pan out a little to show where I am on the west coast 
with this card which shows a long distance footpath, The Pennine Way, which runs down the spine of the north of England.  Most people take three weeks to complete the walk however in July 1989  Mike Hartley ran the route in 2 days, 17 hours, 20 minutes and 15 seconds without stopping for sleep.  Mike only  rested only twice on this record breaking run and one of those was an 18-minute fish and chip break in Alston (which can be seen on the card near the man with the binoculars).

I think I would rather take a trip into the Lake District for the day
perhaps head for the Langdale Valley.   On a winter's day like this one could take a choice of stopping in the village on the postcard and sitting by the Britannia Inn's open fire in Elterwater or continue on for a walk up the Langdale Pikes whose names are Pike O'Stickle and Harrison's Stickle. The distinctive shape can be recognised from any direction.

Postcard's for the Weekend theme - Home Country - Go home to Connections to the World