Sunday 31 December 2023

Dark Sky


2014: Dark Sky Discovery

Left - Niarbyl    Right - Port Erin

With light pollution dark sky areas have become so important to experience the wonder of the universe.  The Isle of Man identified 7 sites to gaze at the heavens and in 2012 it was announced that all of them had been granted Dark Sky Grade 2 status.  Following popular support for the initiative a further 19 sites were submitted for UK Dark Sky Discovery (DSD) status which was granted in 2014


Left - Fort Island     Right - Langness

The criteria for all Grade 2 sites is that you should be able to see the Milky Way clearly on a dark clear moonless night. In Manx Gaelic this galaxy has been known as Raod Mooar re Gorry of the Great Way of King Orry, a major figure in the folklore of the island.  

Happily even with street lights our nearest neighbour lights the sky (weather permitting) so look up

2016: Planetary Correspondences

and the Man in the Moon may be there.

Sunday Stamps theme - Night Scenes -  See It On A Postcard

Thursday 28 December 2023


The Thursday Postcard Hunt  Christmas theme ends with the prompt of Snowy or Manger scenes

The Family by Sergey Vsilyevich Ivanov (1864-1910)

I have no holy family postcards but did find a family in the snow.  Sergey Ivanov worked on this painting for many years and eventually completed it in 1907.  One could weave many stories from this scene
Settle-Carlisle Line (Photograph - Peter Shaw)

Steam and snow always a winning combination.  To keep to the Christmas theme a steam Santa Express ran this year from Carlisle to the Christmas Market in York via this line however the photo shows the  train running towards the city through a snowy Dentdale, home of the highest station in England.  The scenic Settle-Carlisle line sees many special trains throughout the year and the one shown is the 'Cumbrian Mountain Express' being pulled by Loco number 777 'Sir Lamiel' built in 1925 (one of the King Arthur Class) and preserved as part of the UK National Collection but currently being overhauled for mainline running.

Sunday 24 December 2023

Christmas Tidings


The fourth of the Advent candle has been lit today, 'The Angels Candle' which stands for love

2013: |Centenary of John Nicholson (1840-1913)

Art and angels combine in St Thomas Church on the Isle of man which is full of John Nicholson's art where angels musical and flying can be seen in the chancel and on the stamps.  More wings on the mural of the mini sheet with the archangel Michael fighting the many headed dragon (representing the devil) and Mark the Evangelist, the winged lion.

A Merry and Blessed Christmas to All

Sunday Stamps theme this week - Christmas - See It On A Postcard

Thursday 21 December 2023

Sleigh Ride

 See It On A Postcard's Thursday Postcard Hunt - Christmas Animals


While the reindeer are away

Artist - Inge Löök/223
the Christmas elves will play.  The bear is having second thoughts

Sunday 17 December 2023

Gift Bearers


1985: Christmas Gift Bearers (Design - Clive Abbott)

Christmas is a time of gifts both spiritual and secular.  Here are some potential visitors - 

1.Santa Claus a universal gift bearer. 2.Scandinavians adopted the Italian Saint Lucia (Lussibruden) as a symbol of light and she comes with a crown of candles arriving on the 13th December with a song, coffee and cake. 3.The first of the three wise men - Balthazar bringer of myrrh. 4. In the Netherlands Siinterklaas - Saint Nicholas is the gift bearer and being wise he doesn't live in the North Pole but in the warmth of  Spain. Arriving in Amsterdam by steamboat on 23rd November (this will give him time to collect children's requests)  he embarks on a festive canal tour then journeys by horseback through the city.  The Present Evening parties will take place on the 5th December and the saint will spend the night time distributing the presents which will be laid out on a table to be found by children on the morning of the 6th December

1.The children in Italy wait until the 6th January for their gifts from the witch known as La Befana, stockings full of  sweets for the good children and coal for naughty ones. 2. Denmark's Father Christmas is Julenisse assisted by his sprites. 3. In Germany  an angel leaves the household's presents. Christkind rings a silver bell just before she leaves. 4. Good King Wenceslas (patron saint of the Czech Republic). The carol tells us he set out in deep snow on St Stephen's day to bring succor to a poor peasant.

1.France is blessed with several Christmas gift bearers but in the south of the country around the Provencal village of Les Baux, the midnight mass is enlivened by the arrival of a shepherd bringing the gift of a lamb for the baby Jesus 2. For that same baby Caspar brings frankincense 3. In Russia the Baboushka, leaves children toys in a basket 4. Melichior, the giver of gold

Sunday Stamps theme this week is - Christmas or Hanukkah - See It On A Postcard 

Thursday 14 December 2023

Christmas Trees

 Time for a See It On A Postcard Thursday Postcard Hunt this week and its Christmas Trees. All sizes still available from the garden centre near me but

Inge Löök's grannies have already decorated theirs and have decamped with all the essentials for Christmas  to the coast.  They have thought of everything, including an inflatable igloo.

PHQ Card - 2018: Christmas (Illustration - Andrew Davidson)

Meanwhile the posties will still be working until Christmas Eve for the post must get through.  This is one of the big city postboxes with lots of room for Christmas cards and London always has lots of Christmas trees of every size and interpretation. David Hockney's 'Bigger Christmas Trees' may be the most eye catching this year for lovers of lights.

Sunday 10 December 2023

Glass Bottles


1986: Glassware
An ornamental flask 300AD
1993: Folk Art

A Fluhli enameled glass bottle of 1738.  Its name originates from the two German brothers who moved to Switzerland and set up glass-works in the canton of Fluhli. The last works closed in 1869.  The postmark is from the wine making village of Fläsch so one could fill up this pretty decanter with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay or Riesling.
1999: German Contemporary Design 

No wine in these bottles but sparkling mineral water.  Designed by Gunter Kupetz as a reusable clear glass bottle with importantly a screw top which sped up the process of being automatically refilled.  From 1971-2013 five billion were produced as all German manufacturers used them, they could be returned to anyone, the perfect circular economy.

Sunday Stamps theme this week of course is - Glass - see more at  See It On A Postcard

Thursday 7 December 2023

Santa Calls

 Thursday's  Postcard Hunt is on the theme of Santa Claus so here he is arriving

with a full sleigh because he is close to home in Greenland. The little girl looks happy with her presents of a ball and a doll. This is one of my favourite cards because the little girl's clothing is embroidered with long stitch and also has a nice cancel on the stamps

although the musk ox does seem to be disappearing into the 'snow'.  The card was posted to the Cragg Family in 1972 from Willy sending them "just a little Christmas greeting and a good new year".   

Sunday 3 December 2023

Health Service

Today is COP28's Health Day to discuss how climate change is impacting human health and what can be done about it but I look back to simpler times in stamps

First Anniversary of People's Communes

A Chinese health worker with her first aid kit and

1987: St John Ambulance Centenary (Design - Debbie Cook)

something more elaborate for volunteers of  St John Ambulance Service.  One can depend on the Victorians for robust design.  St John Ambulance volunteers are a familiar sight at sporting occasions on hand to provide first aid.  They do many other things and during the pandemic they helped to screen donors for the blood transfusion service

1972: 20th Anniversary of the Post Office Employees Blood Donor Association

I assumed this stamp was for France's national blood donation service but on closer examination found it was celebrating  a non-profit organisation that encourages blood donors among employees of the French Post Office

1983: The Red Cross (Design - E Krag; Engraver Cz Slania)

The more famous Red Cross

2003: Public Health 400 Years (Design - Sverre Morken)

The small beginnings of public health in Norway from July 1603 when royal patent was awarded to the physician Villads Nielson and a lifelong annual income from the public purse to provide medical services to Bergen, the largest town in Norway at the time. In 1703 the first doctor was appointed as a public servant but not until the early 18th Century were there 5 physicians in the entire country. A single qualified midwife was not in service until 1740.  Things have grown since then with a transition from a social assistance state to welfare state after World War II.

1988: Health for All in 2000

Worldwide "Health for All" was a global strategy by the World Health Organisation launched in 1978 for extending health care coverage as a basic human right.  There has progress since then but still lots to do so now we have "Health for All in the 21st Century", things were a lot more optimistic in 1978.

Sunday Stamps theme this week is - Health or Medicine - hosted by the date prescient See It On A Postcard

Thursday 30 November 2023

Cowslip Wine

 See It On A Postcard's Thursday Postcard Hunt is cartoon animals

Time for a picnic where the wasp this time is perfectly welcome and provided with a teeny glass for Mr Bunny's cowslip wine toast. 

Springtime : Illustrator Ammi Krogius

A springtime picnic for the sheep family in a field full of cowslips so why not celebrate the season maxing out on cowslips to both drink and eat. 

Thursday 23 November 2023

Railway Dogs

See It On A Postcard's Thursday Postcard Hunt on the theme of Pets finds me trackside

Waiting on a Friend

on a deserted station but this dog knows a friend is coming down the line

Take Your Dog, unknown artist, 1923-1947

or maybe there will be two friends. 

A postcard of a poster used by the four railway groupings to promote return tickets at the single rate for dogs travelling with their owners

Sunday 19 November 2023

Mail Transport


1980: Norwex 80 (Design - F Matheson)

This mini sheet fits the Sunday Stamps theme of 'planes, trains and automobiles' with the added bonus of a paddle-steamer, the 'Bergen'.  All modes of transport carrying mail with the Norwegian stamps of their era.

1949: 7th Anniversary Opening of the Communist PO in Sha Tung

On another continent a post runner goes to meet a train.  An East China stamp, one of liberated areas who issued their own stamps until the formation of the Republic of China replaced all the regional issues.

1979: Europa: Post and Telecommunications
A busy postal hub on the FDC with a 1.70 stamps showing Boule de Moulins which were floating containers used to carry mail during the Siege of Paris.  They were not a success unlike the balloons which were used in the siege which successfully got to their destinations.  The 1.20 stamp shows a monoplane, the Caudron Simoun, used in the 1930s as a mail plane by Air Bleu,  The address of the Bushbury on the FDC has a tenuous aeronautical link for in the 1920s aircraft factories were established in this area.  Who knows Mr Jones might even have worked in one.

2013: Europa - Postman's Van (Design - Alexandra Ubukata)

 Lastly a jolly Polish postman sets off in his van ready to deliver mail

Sunday Stamps theme this week - Trains, planes and automobiles - See It On A Postcard

Thursday 16 November 2023

Sheep Gathering

 The See It on a Postcard Thursday Postcard Hunt this week is a search for Working Animals

"Sheep Gathering in the Skidadalur valley Ljosmyndari"

and here are the  hardy Icelandic horses. Iceland's sheep spend the long summer days in the mountains but come September/October Icelandic farmers head to the mountains to gather the sheep in before the long cold dark winter arrives. The sheep roundup is called the Réttir and starts with search parties riding horses and quad-bikes to locate the roaming sheep.

2016: PHQ Card "40 Year of Aardman Animation"

No horses live at Mossy Bottom Farm but the farmer has his sheep dog Bitzer (who is always seen wearing the blue knitted hat the farmer gave him as a puppy).  Bitzer is never completely in control of Shaun the Sheep or the The Flock but life would be dull without them.

Sunday 12 November 2023



1927-1940: Ship (Design T Jensen Engraver F Britze)

With a fair wind we set sail

1947: Centenary of State Railways (Design F Holm Engraver H Cheffer)

Integrated transport with a rail ferry, I wonder how many of these are left certainly not this one.

1951: The Hospital Ship Jutlandia (Design V Bang Engraver B Jacobsen)

All at sea with the Hospital Ship 'Jutlandia' which was converted for service in the Korean war and served in the area for 3 years.

1941: Vitus Bering (Design V Bang Engraver J Britze)

A taste for adventure? Travel with Vitus Bering although choose your ship wisely if wanting to survive the experience

2016: Shackleton and the Endurance Expedition

 Shackleton and Endurance - one of the great survival stories and regarded as the last of the heroic expeditions of  the polar regions. Stranded in sea ice for 4 months until the ship was crushed they certainly needed endurance to survive the next 6 months but all 28 did

2013: Merchant Navy

And for Remembrance Sunday those who served on the Arctic Convoys in WW2 which sailed between the Arctic ice pack and German bases in Norway bringing supplies to Russia. Attacked by U Boats, aircraft and warships and especially dangerous in winter when the ice came further south. The stamps show - clearing the deck of ice on HMS George V and a Merchant Navy Convoy

Sunday Stamps theme this week is - Ships - sail with See It On A Postcard

Thursday 9 November 2023

Sheep Flocks

See It on A Postcard's  Thursday Postcard Hunt theme is "On the Farm"

although these sheep are safely grazing on "Parson's Meadow". The sender of the card (Kate) didn't have enough room on the back for her full message

which was a card swap with her friend with the familiar refrain "I would have sent one sooner but I have been very busy"   The card is from some time between 1907-1917 and here is the card's

destination, the 18th Century Langley Old Hall, all the lawn is missing is a few sheep

but perhaps not as many as this. The flock is by the River Findhorn, Scotland in 1938 and it looks as though the sheep may be deciding whether to follow the post van.

Sunday 5 November 2023

Military Moustache

 Sunday Stamps theme this week is - Moustaches

2010: Battle of Britain Pilots

and if one is looking for them then a good place to start is the RAF.  This set of stamps commemorated the pilots who fought a desperate battle over the skies of Britain in 1940 to prevent the German Air-force gaining air superiority over the English channel as a prelude to an invasion.  Churchill famous speech at the time said "never was so much owed by so many to so few" Happily the two pilots - Bob Stanford-Tuck (1916-1987)

and Mike Crossley (1912-1987) lived to tell the tale.
1993: Roman Britain
The Emperor Hadrian never took took the skies but did leave the lasting monument of Hadrians Wall, Rome's northern frontier.  The bronze head was dredged up from the River Thames near London Bridge in 1848 and had been hacked off from the body of a lager than life sized statue. This is one of a handful of bronze portraits of Hadrian to have survived from antiquity. As the British Museum curator commented "Hadrian, apparently aged around 30, is clearly recognisable from his incipient beard, moustache and distinctive physiognomy"

Thursday 2 November 2023

In the Wild

The Thursday Postcard Hunt for 'Animals in the Wild'  finds me

in the snowy north and (as the card says on the back)  in a "winter wonderland".

Meanwhile on a different continent a lone wolf gazes across a snowy landscape