Friday, 30 April 2010

Little Mole

The moles are producing their litters at the moment so how nice to receive this from seven year old Lena in Germany who is learning English.  Wie der Maulwurf su seinen Hosen kam it says on the back, How the Mole Got His Trousers.  In Old English mole is mouldwarp (a combination of molde = earth and weorpan = to throw) so in times past the two languages had a similar name for this furry creature.

But what of our  ktek or little mole in Czech. It is the creation of Zedenek Milar who in the 1950s wanted to produce a film featuring a little animal showing how use flax and tripped over a molehill, and as they say, the rest is history.  The first film he made was 'How the Mole Got His Trousers' which sometimes appears in English books as How The Mole Got His Pockets.

When our friend first appears he is carrying all the objects you can see but he cannot play with the ball because he keeps dropping everything, and then he sees a pair of trousers drying on a line with Big pockets. He goes to ask all his friends if they have any, no, he sheds tears.  But the forest creatures come to his aid -
Mole grows flax
Frog helps him drench it
Stork breaks it 
Hedgehog combs it
Spider weaves linen
Crab Cuts It
Reed Warblers sews it

Everything ends happily as you can see on this pretty card.  The Czechs have produced stamps in the past celebrating this character and his adventures:

So ends this story of friendship on Postal Friendship Friday, hosted by The Best Hearts Are Crunchy


Thursday, 29 April 2010

International Year of Biodiversity

The recently issued Mammals set of stamps for 2010 which has been designated the International Year of Diversity.  These are creatures under pressure from another mammal, man, or loss of habitat or predation of non-native species. Nearly 500 species have died out in England alone since 1800. One extinction every 20 years. There are less than 400 wildcats left in the highlands of Scotland.

The Water Vole has disappeared from 90% of the places it used to inhabit but there was some good news in last years waterways survey as its numbers were found to be increased.  Our planet is teeming with life and its health is seen in the diversity of its species, which in some places are under pressure.  If you were to study your garden in minute detail it is highly possible that you would find an unknown species for there is still much that the biologists do not know or have yet todiscover.  A bat species was identified recently, the Alcothoe, which brings our native bat species up to 17.  A new micro moth was discovered by an amateur naturalist living in an oak tree in Devon because he had noticed some unusual caterpillars. It is black and white with a wingspan of 6mm and has been named after its discoverer.

There is a rather nice audio slide-show of the stamps and the animals portrayed (who can resist a cute dormouse) on the BBC site here

Friday, 23 April 2010


A nice bit of word play on this unsent card.  Somebody was having to sew his own buttons on, a useful skill any man should have.  Poor lonely bachelor who problems would be over, or maybe just beginning, if he could only find a nice girl.

This embossed card is from 'BB London' the trading name of Birn Brothers with their interlocking Bs logo. They printed a lot of these type of cards from 1905 onwards.  This one was printed in Germany in either Saxony or Bavaria.  They also produced greeting cards and it is said that the children's author Enid Blyton wrote some of their verses.

If our bachelor was American he may have used the service of these ladies.  This is a card of the 1943 painting 'Ironers' by the 20th Century artist Jacob Lawrence who called his style dynamic cubism. As part of the Harlem Renaissance he documented the history of African Americans and in this instance Harlem life.  Domestic labour was the only option for many women in western society in the first half of the 20th century but Lawrence shows these as a community of strong powerful women wielding huge irons.  They look the old cast irons that had to be warmed up on a fire or filled with hot coals.  You would sure get muscles wielding one of those.  I am so glad to be living in the 21st century.

To visit more participants of Postcard Friendship Friday visit our hostess at The Best Hearts Are Crunchy

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Turku Abo

Turku Abo is on the south west coast of Finland at the mouth of the Aura River (Aurjoki) and is one of the oldest cities in the country dating back to the 13th Century. It is the regional capital and the Christmas City of Finland.  The name is a combination of the Finnish Turku (old Slavic for market place) and the Swedish Abo meaning riverside home. The sender moved here a year ago and has made it her riverside home and says "this small sea city is a pretty nice place to live".

Located by the Baltic Sea it has warm summers and wet cold snowy winters. Perhaps next year would be a good time to visit as it is the European Capital of Culture, but not in August for that is their wettest month. Although August is supposed to be a pretty wet month in Britain but I never remember it as that.

The city has nine bridges crossing the Aura, none on this postcard, but a lovely picture of the waterfront at night. The top right hand image is the market in the centre of Turku which every year in July has a medieval market. Just like my home town it builds ships but nice cruise type rather than the grey submarines here.

The card came with an Easter stamp that made me smile called the "Easter Twins":

The Finnish postal site says "The Easter bunnies disguised as Easter eggs or the other way round"

The designer is Osmo Omenamaki who also designed their Easter postcards, oooh I nearly pressed on the 'buy' button on the site

The card also came with a Pooh Bear flying a paper plane, probably taking his mind off looking for honey.

Thank you Tiia for showing me your world

The card travelled 1,041 miles (1,675K) and took 7 days, although it was delivered to one of my neighbours so it took 8 days before it was in my hot hand.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Kenya Coast

A white sandy beach on the Indian Ocean. All along the  Kenyan coast are lovely beaches, old towns, overgrown and deserted ruins, and Arab and Portuguese ports. There is no indication on this card of where any of these photographs are but who can resist a beach.

The stamps on the card were two of the definitive 2001 Crops series.

Kenya's horticultural sector is the economies fastest growing sector and their third largest foreign exchange earner.  With all flight in and out of Europe grounded due to the Iceland volcano the flowers and vegetables that Kenya exports to Europe are deteriorating in storage.  The airports north of Blackpool are supposed to be opening tomorrow which will be good news for the Kenyan growers.

Another of their top foreign exchange earners is tourism and this card was sent from Andy and Jo who were on a December holiday in Kenya a few years ago, and got married on one of those lovely white sandy beaches.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Aven Armand

Wow how amazing are these stalagmites and how many years must it have taken to produce this scene. Look how they dwarf the people.

The cavern was discovered in September 1897 by Louis Armand so they were named after him as 'Aven Armand'. Aven is the french name for a big underground  cavern.  They are located near the village of Meyrueis in an area of the south of France called Les Causses, described as wild and beautiful.

Not only can you visit these natural wonders but travel underground is by funicular, although it is possible on occasions to descend by rope down a natural shaft. I'd be spoilt for choice although on balance I think the rope option would be much more fun. I went down the 300 foot shaft of Gaping Gill in Yorkshire by rope, although there was a bosun's chair attached, it went down quite fast. I can recommend it.

The official site for Aven Armand says "Impassioned guides will make you admire, thanks to the setting in light with changing effect, the virgin forest and its 400 single stalamites" The biggest is 30 meters high which is shown on the postcard for it says on the back The Great Stalagmite.

This card came with

the October 2009 joint issue with Switzerland of the Centenary of the Universal Postal Union.  World Post Day is celebrated each year on 9th October, the anniversary of the establishment of the UPU in 1874 in the Swiss capital, Berne. Thanks to this union of countries we can all just stick a stamp on our letter or postcard and it will be delivered anywhere in the world.

The stamp features the French sculptor Rene de Paul Saint-Marceaux (1845-1915) who create the UPU Monument in Berne. This image also appears on their flag.

Thank you Isa in the south of France for sending me this card. She says Postcrossing is a great way of travel; it certainly is, so hurray for the universal postal system.

The card travelled 729 miles (1,174k) and took 6 days. 

Friday, 16 April 2010

Furness Railway Paddle Steamers

I always image paddle steamers chugging down the Mississippi to the sound of roulette wheels, but the Lady Evelyn was a Furness Railway steamer plying its trade in the Irish Sea carrying passengers between Barrow and Fleetwood in summer months. Built by Scotts of Kinghorn it was acquired by the railway to inaugurate the service in 1900 and was so successful its original length of 200 feet was increased by 30 feet in 1904 to increase passenger accommodation.  Some idea of its popularity was that in 1901 it carried 28,000 passengers but by 1903 it had increased to 41,000.

Here is an advert of the time showing the route, both Barrow and Fleetwood are on peninsulas. The idea was to bring people holidaying in Blackpool to Barrow and from there onto the railway travelling into the Lake District, bringing more revenue to the railway. Of course people would also travel the other way, landing at Fleetwood (a deep sea fishing port for most of the 20th century) a seaside resort, or travel by tram into the larger seaside resort of Blackpool.

At its peak the service had four Paddle Steamers travelling up and down the coast.

The Gwalia was bought for £22,750 in 1910 given a blue hull and a new name of Lady Moyra. She was named after the wife of Lord Richard Cavendish, he was on the board of the Furness Railways.  She was well known in the area and by chance I found a wonderful quote over on the Aesthetes Lament  by her "I don't know if I should, but I judge people by their picnics".  I rather like picnics myself but would imagine the landed gentry of those times would have wonderfully elaborate picnics.

Both these two ships shared a similar fate. In 1914 at the beginning of the First World War the Barrow to Fleetwood service finished, never to run again.  The ships were requisitioned by the Admiralty to operate as minesweepers. After the war they were sold for the Bristol Channel service, Lady Evelyn became the Brighton Belle and Lady Moyra renamed Brighton Queen.  In 1940 during World War Two they were part of the brave little fleet of small ships that gathered to evacuate the troops from Dunkirk. Lady Moyra was sunk on her second trip over the channel and Lady Evelyn was also lost on her second trip when she hit an underwater obstruction.

However let me end on a happier note for the Lady Moyra card was postally used and when it was sent in 1924 she was happily running for the White Funnel fleet.

They are Raphael Tuck cards for the Furness Railway and produced as Series No 20, but at a time when inland post was half a penny so this card was sent at a later date.  It is addressed to Mr J Robinson of the Wigan Coal and Iron Company in Barrow, "Dear Sir, Please send me 10 cwts of your nut coal which you showed to Mrs Holdsworth on Friday, Yours A Holdsworth".  Was she impressed with either the price of the quality.  Keep the home fires burning.  

Our hostess for the Postal Friendship Friday meme is The Best Hearts Are Crunchy

Monday, 12 April 2010


Al and Clare are in the Eternal City on a short break enjoying the sunshine and checking out the historic and iconic sites in-between ice creams.  The card is of the exceptionally long Piazza Novona (in the historic centre of Rome), looking north.   The main attraction are the three fountains, the square also has many outdoor cafes and restaurants.

It came with a 'posta ordinaria' stamp which is one of the women in art (donna nell'arte) series. The woman in question is the Princess of Trebizond.  This put me in mind of the Rose Macauly book 'Towers of Trebizond' which has the famous opening lines of "Take my camel said my Aunt Dot as she climbed down from this animal on her return from high mass"  Nothing to do with this stamp, just the way things are filed in my brain.
This is actually a detail from a fresco by Pisanello or as he is also known Pisano (1395-1458) called 'St George and the Princess of Trebizond' which is in the Pellegrini Chapel of the Santa Anastasia church, Verona.  Here is the full fresco, the princess on the right

the city in the background is Pisano's native Verona.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Indo China

 "Hanoi - Porte d'entree de la Garde Indigene" - Entry Gate of the Native Constabulary/Gendarmerie

The flag is flying so the police must be at home, a grand entrance dwarfs the actual building.

This is a card produced by Raphael Moreau who set up in business with François-Henri Schneider in French Indo-China in 1900, within the year they had published 3000 cards. Their great competitor was Pierre Dieulefils, a retired military officer in Tonkin who also produced thousands of cards

Indo-China was the chief bastion of  imperial France in the East, the so called  'French balcony in Asia' (I don't know who first called it that but if anyone out there has the answer I would love to know).  The French believed in decentralisation and local autonomy; Indo-China contained distinct and separate regimes, though under control of the governor-general who was responsible to the minister of colonies in Paris.  Tonkin, with its capital at Hanoi was independent but theoretically ruled by the Emperor of Annam, in the present time these are the country of Vietnam. 

In the scramble for concessions in the late 1890s "spheres of influence" began to be marked out by the 'Great Powers'. Russia claimed Manchuria, Britain the Yangzte Valley, Japan Fukien, Germany Shantung.  France claimed Southern Yunnan, which despite the subject of the card is where this was posted from.  The name means "south of the clouds" and it is a mountainous region with 600 rivers and lakes bordering on Burma, Laos and Vietnam .  Its beautiful landscape and mild climate make it a popular tourist destination in the present time.

A Chinese Imperial Post 4cent stamp with a clear franking of Hokow dated 22 August 1904, which by coincidence is also my birthday, not I hasten to add the 1904 bit.  Although someone who was going to have a great influence on China was born on that date in Szechwan, the future leader Deng Xiaoping.  The other coincidence of this date is that 1904 was also the year that the French started to build the first railway, not to connect to the rest of China, that would happen many years after the French had left, but to the Vietnamese port of Haiphong and also to Hanoi. The narrow gauge railway was completed in 1910. The province was rich in tin and opium, the latter probably not an export that would be encouraged today.

The card also has an arrival marking of 'Plancy-Aube' dated 9 October 1904, being 48 days in transit. The length of time is not surprising as not only was Yunnan mountainous it was sparsely populated.  The 1 in 3 written on the left hand corner is intriguing I wonder if the sender was based in Tonkin and was taking a break journeying through beautiful Yunnan or maybe involved in French colonial business and letting Mademoiselle Chaplain know where he was. From the corner marks it was obviously at some time in an album and maybe it was hers.

Our hostess for the Postcard Friendship Friday meme is The Best Hearts are Crunchy

Monday, 5 April 2010

Beaune, France

The Hotel Dieu is a former hospital in the centre of Beaune, now a museum. It says on the back "Merveille d'art burgonda-flamand", (a wonder of Burgundy-Flemish art).  My sender points out its "high-pitched roofs surrounded by numerous dormer windows with decorated gables".  What a fabulous building.  If ever I visit Burgundy it would certainly be one of the places I would like to visit.

The hospital was founded by Nicolas Rolin and his wife Giugme de Salins in 1443 as a pious foundation.  He had risen from almost nothing to become Chancellor of Burgundy and right hand man to Philippe the Good of France. It was towards the end of the 100 years (yes the English were fighting the French again) and lots of the area had been destroyed, so a hospital would be a marvellous thing.  But Chancellor Rolin did not want the Hotel Dieu to decline, the property to be passed on to others after his death, he wanted his name to live on, so he also endowed the Hospice with 157 acres of vineyard and this would provide an income and independence.

In the present day this vineyard is  a prestigious appellation and every year the wine is sold at a charity auction, the income goes towards the upkeep of the foundation. I believe that the declaration of the vintage also indicates how good that years wine will be in the rest of Burgundy.

The card came with this stamp, part of the June 2009 'Endangered or Extinct Species' series.

At the time the Hospice was founded this Auroch, a predecessor of modern day cattle, would still be roaming wild, but by 1627 it would be extinct, because of over hunting and habitat destruction.  It was quite a size, six and a half foot high, and a ton in weight.

Thank you Dominique from Paris for this lovely card which travelled 441 miles (709K) and took 9 days.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Faith, Hope & Charity

1 Corinthians, Ch13v3 "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity" 
Pythagoras called three the perfect number, expressive of the beginning the middle and the end.  Three is symbolic  in classic mythology and many religions.  This pretty little girl is showing the three Christian graces of Faith, Hope and Charity.  The three cards were sent to my Grandmother in 1913 from her friend in Farnworth near Bolton, Lancashire.

Faith arrived in February 1913 with the message "Dear Winnie, Hoping you like this. Will send "Hope and Charity" later on . Best love, Yours Dora Hart"

True to her word Hope was posted on 7th March 1913 with the message "Dear Winnie "I wish to thank you for the beautiful snowdrops you so kindly sent to me. Do try and come for a few days before long, would meet you and make you welcome. Believe me. Your true friend Dora Hart"

And appropriately enough Charity arrived the day before Christmas "Wishing you the compliments of the Season." and as an afterthought "write to me".  My Grandmother wrote a good letter, they were always short, but as my father said, she packed more information into one page than most letters contained in three.

Happy Easter and Friendship Friday to everyone.

Postcard Friendship Friday is hosted by The Best Hearts are Crunchy