Postcrossing Blog

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

Voting is now open on the competition that chooses the most beautiful EUROPA stamp of the year!

The theme this year is “Stories & Myths”, which is just a brilliant topic. Every country has its own mythical creatures, legends or sagas connected to their own history which are part of that country’s DNA. Sometimes they are based on historical events or geographical oddities, and sometimes they are just fantastical adventures that evolve with each retelling, often infused with magical tones to explain the inexplicable.

A mix of EUROPA stamps from the 2022 edition, featuring illustrated tales from different European countries

I love this theme and the stamps coming out of it — give me all the dragons and witchcraft, haunted castles and tales of shipwrecks, nymphs and brave heroes that save the people! There are some gorgeous designs in this year’s selection, inviting us to discover each country’s folklore and oral traditions. You can see the full gallery on this page.

What do you think of the stories and myths that were chosen to be featured on this year’s stamps? Which one will get your vote? And if you’re not from Europe, which legends from your own country do you think would be worthy to be featured on a stamp? Let’s share our country’s best stories in the comments below!

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The writing prompts invite postcrossers to write about a different topic on their postcards’ 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!

This month’s writing prompt was a suggestion by HM on the forum. I’ve often found that people have interesting stories when they’re asked this question, so here goes…

In May, write about your favourite animal!
Helen Hippo in a rocking chair

My favourite animal is a hippo. Hippos have tough competition from hedgehogs: I’ve even helped rescue a sick hedgehog once; he stayed in my sister’s room for a couple of days while she was away, while we waited for an expert to pick him up. I was often the one to check on him, and can tell you that he snored when he was asleep… which is very cute, but doesn’t quite edge out hippos. Likewise, people might expect rabbits to be my favourite, given my little menagerie of three rabbits.

But no! Still hippos, and yes, there’s a story here! When I was born, my mother’s best friend bought me a teddy. As I remember, the story goes that she went into a shop and looked for the teddy that seemed to most need adoption, when her eyes fell upon a little grey hippo, and knew that was the right one. I’ve been inseparable from this hippo since I was two days old: she’s lost an eye, she’s had countless other surgeries, and we even had to sew an extra layer of fur over most of her body to protect her fragile, furless skin.

Given she’s been my constant companion for so long, I always said my favourite animals are hippos—and they are fascinating animals! Did you know that the US once had plans to have hippo ranches? I learned this from a book by Sarah Gailey, and it does make me wonder how it might’ve changed the world…

Now it’s your turn! What’s your favourite animal, and why? You can let us know in the comments, or write it on your postcards this month. Or both! Maybe you can even send a postcard showing your favourite animal to your next recipient, and then tell the story on the back.

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Some time ago, Ana chose a number of the handmade cards from the forum to highlight on the blog. That forum topic is still going strong (do share your own handmade cards there too!) — and now it’s my turn to choose some of the gorgeous creations to share.

Let’s start off with a smile! These animals with googly eyes from Caro (aka Pigglet) really made me smile. Especially the sheep, with the mismatched eyes!

animals with googly eyes

These lovely images introduced me to the concept of etegami, a Japanese art form which involves the combination of words and images to create a simple postcard. Etegami isn’t about creating the most beautiful or skilled picture, but about expressing yourself. These examples were made by Hikari (aka hikarin).

a postcard with seahorses in inkpostcard with eels in ink

In the previous post, we’ve shown off some of the collage postcards people make. These ones made from a fashion catalogue by Nadja (aka Nadjafee) grabbed my eye — there’s a fairytale waiting to be told here, I think!

postcard saying She was herself againscrapbook card that says Fliegen

Öne (aka Radieschen)'s collages caught my attention right away as well: so much texture and colour!

bird waltz postcardscrapbook postcard with a lion

We always really love to see unusual postcards decorated with different kinds of crafts, and here’s a lovely one decorated with batik fabric and crochet! It was made by Giffen (aka cutetaiki), from Indonesia. I do crochet myself, and can just imagine how interesting this is to the touch as well.

a postcard decorated with crochet

Since I just mentioned a card that should be interesting to the touch as well, this one’s something that engages other senses too: Tamara (aka tamara84) created a postcard by creating a sticker from a cross-stitched image, and then added a little lavender oil so that the card is scented as well!

lavendar embroidery

Olga (aka OlgaMartik)'s beautiful embroidery sailboat had me wondering where exactly it’s going, and I really liked those wave effects!

a sailboat made in thread art

Since we’re speaking of embroidery, here are some that really made the team smile. Ksenia (aka Xute) took up the needle… but found it less relaxing than hoped.

ksenia did this in 2021 and it took forever, embroiderythey say it's relaxing - it was not, embroidery

Inspired by Ksenia’s example, Ana (aka meiadeleite) has given it a try as well!

ana did this but not very well embroidery

Turning to other crafts, Hanna (aka _Hawkwind_) invited everyone to guess about the owner of this striking silhouette… I think I know, do you?

a stencil of a man in profile

Tatyana (aka Tatyana-Levina) has done some lovely (and personal) drawings for postcards, which I just couldn’t resist sharing as well.

a drawn card of a woman holding apples, saying apples for you lindaa drawn card depicting different kazakh specialties

I loved the idea of using maps to make postcards, so Christa (aka Chrizzie)'s globes are a favourite. It’s a really effective look!

two cards saying explore more and let adventure begin

And that’s a lovely note to end on… so let’s let all our adventures begin! And if you make your own postcards, we’d all love to see them.

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As promised in my last book review (on Deirdre Mask’s The Address Book), this time I’m reviewing Rita Mae Brown's mystery novel, Wish You Were Here. And while we’re getting started, I mustn’t neglect to mention that, in fact, Rita Mae Brown had a co-author on this book, Sneaky Pie Brown, a cat which condescends to share her living space!

Cover of Wish You Were Here

In my search for books about post, I’ve come across quite a few mysteries—including one by one of my favourite Golden Age crime writers, E.C.R. Lorac, which you can probably expect to see me review here sometime in the future. I try to select a range of different genres when I can, since I know that Postcrossers are a very diverse group with all kinds of interests… but nonetheless, the mysteries are compelling, and this book in particular got me thinking about why—but let me introduce it for a moment first!

Wish You Were Here is set in a post office, which gives the protagonist plenty of opportunity to snoop. The protagonist Harry is the postmistress, so she’s able to put two and two together when people start turning up murdered shortly after receiving mysterious postcards—a clue that the police would otherwise have missed.

That’s what I think is so appealing generally about using mail in some way in mystery stories. The things we write on our letters and postcards can be revealing of our personalities, and even addresses and postmarks can tell you a lot, even without peeking inside. The handwriting on the outside of an envelope can be the tiny telling detail that someone’s long lost auntie is about to make a triumphant return. In addition, postal workers can make a convenient witness, criminal, or provider of an alibi, or bring along the crucial evidence at just the right time.

In Harry’s case, the mystery is enlivened by interludes featuring cats, dogs, and other creatures, all sleuthing away at the mystery as well. For me, this was just a bit too cutesy; I’m not above anthropomorphising my own pets, but no matter how clever I tell them they are, my bunnies can barely sniff their way to their food bowls without great encouragement! I had difficulty with suspending my disbelief to imagine that a cat—even a clever cat—could reason out why someone might be the murderer… or that cats and dogs would talk amongst themselves exactly like humans do. That spoiled things a bit for me, though I think that touch of whimsy might be exactly what makes other people enthusiastic. Especially the pet-lovers amongst us!

I do love the idea of a postmistress being ideally placed to figure out a murder, all the same, and I got wrapped up enough in figuring out whodunnit that I finished the book in record time. I don’t think I’ll be continuing with the series, but it was an enjoyable read despite my doubts about our feline friends, and in this book at least, the postal system is pretty important, with threats/clues being delivered by mail, and Harry’s knowledge as the postmistress of Crozet giving her the information she needs to start working things out.

Don’t worry, I haven’t spoiled you on any of the clues, if this book sounds like your thing. There’s plenty still to discover in Crozet (especially judging from the number of books in this series).

Now that I’ve reviewed this one, I’ve promised plenty of times already that I’ll read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows), so I really better stick to it… and after that, who knows? E.C.R. Lorac’s Post After Post-Mortem is beckoning, but I’m hoping to find another non-fiction book to review first. There are a few on my wishlist, so watch this space!

Don’t forget, you can also make book suggestions to me in the forum thread I set up (you’ll need to be logged in to access it).

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Reto (aka Acclax) from Switzerland went on a “once-in-a-lifetime” trip in February to a very special place, and wrote back with a report of his adventures. We’re always happy to hear about the special places postcrossers explore and send postcards from in Travel Mode, and Reto’s postcards from the southern tip of the world have started arriving to their destinations today, so this seems like a good occasion to publish this blog post. Enjoy!

South Georgia Post Office

I had the opportunity to travel to the island of South Georgia this February. This island lies around 55° S and 36° W in the middle of the Southern Atlantic Ocean. It’s biggest “village”, Grytviken, is home of the most southern post office of Great Britain, with an official letter box and daily emptying hours. With only three permanent inhabitants in summer (and none in winter), it’s a very popular stop for ships visiting Antarctica.

Together with Postcrossing, I was able to post the first 20 official postcrossing cards with a GS-code to people scattered all over the world. Even though I posted them on March 3rd, they are still on their long journey to its recipients.

Whaler ship

Grytviken once was a Norwegian, later English whaler station. The whalers used every part of the whales: the blubber and meat were rendered to extract the oil, and the bones and meat were turned into fertilizer. Elephant seals were also hunted for their blubber. Around 300 men worked at the station during its heyday, operating during the southern summer from October to March.

Shackeltons grave

You can still see the ruins of the big tanks, working facilities together with some old houses, barracks and a little church. There is also a very interesting museum where you learn a lot about the history of Grytviken and South Georgia. Next to the village is a cemetery where you can visit Sir Ernest Shackleton's grave. In 1914, Shackeleton planned to cross the Antarctic continent, but the Endurance, his ship, was broken by ice in the Weddell Sea in November 1915. To save his men, Shackleton and five of his men went back to South Georgia to get help. Believe it or not, all 28 members of this expedition survived. During my trip, the wreck Endurance was discovered on March 9th on the ground of the Weddell Sea.

Fur seals Young sea elephants

Between the ruins you find fur seals in abundance, they are everywhere, the young ones very curious and extremely close. You also find sea elephants in Grytviken and king penguins.

Mail Box

And of course, there is the post office where I posted twenty cards with the code GS-1 to GS-20. When I asked at the post office, how long it takes to send these cards, I was told, that it could take “some weeks” to be picked up. Hopefully, these cards will have been shipped to the Falkland Islands by now. From there, they are brought to London. From there, they are being distributed to all over the world.

So, if one of you reading this receives a card with the code GS-1 to GS-20, you can be sure that your card had experienced a long, special journey!

PS: Planning to visit a special post office or mailbox? We’d love to hear about it!

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