Postcrossing Blog

News, updates, and all kinds of goodies and stories from the postal world!

The writing prompts invite postcrossers to write about a different topic on their postcard’s messages every month. These are just suggestions though — if you already know what you want to write about, or the recipient gives you some pointers, that’s great too!

A lot of kids have really firm ideas about what they want to be when they grow up, whether it’s based on shows on TV or their day-to-day heroes… and we thought it would be fun this month to prompt people to share exactly that: what did you want to be when you grew up? Or if you’re still a child, what are your big plans for your future?

In December, write about your childhood aspirations.

As usual, I’ll go first! I think I had a lot of imaginings as a child about what I might do or be when I grew up: I’m sure I had my share of bizarre ones as a younger child. Hippo-keeper at the zoo, probably? Or giraffe-keeper in my parents’ back garden, since I wasn’t shy about wanting a giraffe for a pet—and I had an answer for every quibble, including volunteering our next-door neighbours to have a giraffe too so mine wouldn’t be lonely! Once I got a bit more realistic, I went through phases and thought about teaching, becoming a geneticist, maybe becoming a lawyer or a doctor… but I never really settled on one thing.

At the age of 31, you’d think I’d have it all figured it out by now, but I can’t say I have! I still have all kinds of dreams…

But now it’s your turn! What dreams do you or did you have as a kid? And did you achieve them—or something even better? Do you have a weird journey to share? From hippo-keepers to astronauts and everything in between, we’d love to see you share here in the comments… and if you’re stuck on what to write on your postcards, we hope this prompt inspires you to share!

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This year of 2020 has been rough and it could definitely use some extra good things in it, so it makes us extra happy to announce our yearly partnership with Deutsche Post on the Cards for Literacy campaign, where postcards count for a good cause! Without further ado:

For every postcard sent from Germany through Postcrossing during the month of December, Deutsche Post will make a donation of €0.10 to the non-profit organization Stiftung Lesen (Reading Foundation).

So if you’re in Germany, all you need to do is to send postcards! If your December postcards are registered before the end of February 2021, you will be contributing to this cause and entering a draw to win some neat prizes! Seven lucky postcrossers (residents in Germany only) will be randomly selected to receive one of these: Cards for Literacy campaign

So by sending postcards from Germany in December, you’re not only helping a good cause, but can also win some customizable stamps or maybe a cool-looking messenger bag. Hurray! Each postcard sent is worth one entry, so the more postcards you send, the more chances you have to win one of the prizes.

And although only postcards sent from Germany count, there’s always a receiver in every postcard exchange — so each time a card from Germany is registered, the recipient will be indirectly contributing to this donation too. So don’t forget to register your postcards promptly, so that more can be sent!

As usual, Paulo will run his random number generator in March next year, and we’ll reveal the total amount of postcards sent (and money raised for Stiftung Lesen) here in the blog. Last year, an unbelievable total of €9,968.30€ was raised for this good cause, breaking all previous records and nearly going into the 10K level. The bar has definitely been raised for this year! 😄

Stiftung Lesen

Stiftung Lesen is a German non-profit organization, working to increase literacy in the population, especially among children and adolescents. Their activities include reading clubs, media literacy projects and initiatives to promote the learning of German language by refugee families in the country.

We hope you’re as excited as we are for the 8th edition of the Cards for Literacy campaign. If you’re in Germany, gather your stamps and postcards and get ready for sending lots of postcards in December to make them count for this good cause! Everyone else, keep an eye on your mailbox for those postcards!

P.S. – As always, we respect your personal information and will not share it with any company without your explicit permission. The full details of this campaign can be read here (German only).

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Good news, everyone: Postcrossing has a shiny new forum! 🎉🎉🎉

Have you ever been to the forum? It’s a place for postcrossers to play games, arrange meetings, do swaps or just chat with each other, cementing the community bonds that tie us together. We love the idea of a forum… but for a long time now, we’d fallen out of love with the software we chose for it 15 years ago. It stopped being developed just a few years after we had installed it, and quickly started to show its age and limitations. The need for a separate login from Postcrossing itself was a hassle, and the lack of responsive design or support for languages that didn’t use Latin scripts were also issues that drove people away from it over the years… A technological upgrade that made the forum easier to use and in tune with the times was long overdue.

So over the past couple of years, we gave different softwares a go, finally settling on one that seemed to fit most of our requirements. We tested it first with a group of enthusiastic postcrossers, and then last month had a trial run with a larger group of active forum members, to understand how the forum would perform with more people on it. We were pleased with the results, and are therefore happy to announce that the new forum is finally live!

Screenshot of the new forum software

Some of the features of the new forum include the integrated login with your Postcrossing account, notifications when someone mentions you, group messages, aaaaall the emojis, easy upload of images, support for languages in different scripts, responsive design, wikis… 🥰 The list goes on and on!

Even if you’re not a “forum person”, we encourage you to login and take a look — maybe you’ll find a cozy place to chat with others in your language or geographical community, play a game of Tag with postcards of a certain topic, geek out about postcards or stamps (or maybe knitting or anime and manga!), talk about your favorite parts of Postcrossing or just generally hang out with other postcard lovers out there. Don’t be shy! It’s a fresh start, and everyone is welcome!

We hope you enjoy the new home for the Postcrossing community as much as we do — see you there! 👋

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Hi everyone! Nicky again, with one of my reviews about books that feature mail!

Last time I wrote about books for the blog, I was enthusing over Dorothy L. Sayers’ The Documents in the Case, a mystery novel which relies almost totally on written evidence. This time, I’m talking about something completely different: 84 Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff.

Cover of 84 Charing Cross Road

84 Charing Cross Road is actually non-fiction: Helene Hanff was a writer and screenwriter from New York, who entered into a 20-year correspondence with a bookshop on Charing Cross Road, in London. She corresponded at first with a man named Frank Doel, but her funny letters and generous presents (such as food parcels containing food British people couldn’t obtain at the time due to rationing) quickly endeared her to the entire staff and to their families.

After Frank Doel’s death, she decided to publish some of their correspondence, and this was published as the book 84 Charing Cross Road — which is the book Helene (you can’t call her by her surname after reading this book) is best remembered for!

Reading the collection, I couldn’t help but quote bits aloud to my wife, almost every other page! Helene’s letters are warm and witty, and while Frank’s replies are rather more reserved, you can see an odd sort of friendship developing between them. Here’s one of the letters where she teases him for taking a while to find her a book:

“Dear Speed—You dizzy me, rushing Leigh Hunt and the Vulgate over here whizbang like that. You probably don’t realize it, but it’s hardly more than two years since I ordered them. You keep going at this rate you’re gonna give yourself a heart attack.”

It sounds like the plot of a romance, but Frank Doel was happily married, and… well, I’ll warn you all ahead of time: he and Helene never met. Throughout the letters she refers again and again to a visit that she never manages — at least not until after his sudden death and the closure of the shop where he worked.

My copy (from Sphere, published in 2010) does include The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, a book which collects Helene’s journal entries from her trip to London. It’s a satisfying follow-up if you’ve got attached to everyone via their correspondence in 84 Charing Cross Road, because you get to hear a little more from Nora (Frank’s wife), and Helene’s joy at finally reaching London is palpable.

Cover of Going Postal

I found it a really enjoyable read — though I almost found it difficult to believe that these people really existed and really sent these letters! There’s something incredibly sweet about their 20-year correspondence, short as it seems from this rather selective collection. It’s quite easy to dip in and out of, too, if you’re looking for a short/easy read. I loved it, and definitely recommend it!

I’m still taking suggestions for books about mail and mail-related topics, so do let me know any new ones you’ve thought of! I love non-fiction as well as fiction, and I’m totally open in terms of genre. The next post will probably be about Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal… but I’m notoriously capricious about reading, so I’m making no promises!

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The writing prompts invite postcrossers to write about a different topic on their postcard’s messages every month. These are just suggestions though — if you already know what you want to write about, or the recipient gives you some pointers, that’s great too!

I’ve tried quite a few different cuisines in restaurants, but that’s usually a full meal. Snacks from other countries are a bit harder to come by, and I never know what to try! So… what would you recommend?

In November, write about your favourite snacks.
Welshcakes

Personally, the best snack I found in my time living in Belgium was speculoos biscuits! Especially when I could persuade my wife to go to the bakery nice and early on a weekend and get freshly made biscuits for me! Luckily, we have them in the UK too, under the name of Biscoff… but I miss the fresh ones.

When I’m feeling homesick, though, I turn to Welsh cakes. They have a variety of names in Welsh: picau ar y maen, pice bach, cacennau cri or teisennau gradell, according to Wikipedia, and they may also be known as griddle cakes or bakestones within Wales, because they’re traditionally made on a bakestone, a type of griddle. They’re made with butter, flour, eggs and milk, usually contain currants, and are spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg.

My nanny (my dad’s mother) used to get them for me from the market, liberally dusted with sugar, and always deliciously light. Even better, though, is to eat them warm from the pan… You can try out a recipe here!

What about you? Do you have any favourite snacks? Can you get them in stores, or do you make them yourself? You can share your favourites in the postcards you send this month… but we’d love to hear about them in the comments as well! 😋

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