Postcrossing Blog

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

Posts tagged "uk"

Good news, everyone! After a short hiatus, the Little Mail Carriers have written back from the UK, where they were hosted by Sophie (aka FlyingGiraffe). They loved it so much that we’ve had to break their stay in 2 posts! :) You can read all about the first part of their journey below, and stay tuned for more adventures in Leicestershire!

Hello again, everyone!

In September we visited the UK, staying in the county of Leicestershire, in the East Midlands region of England. We stayed in a village and our first job on arrival was to help in our host’s vegetable garden, where we picked home-grown produce such as rhubarb, tomatoes and some purple carrots! We found out that traditionally all carrots were purple; the modern day orange carrot wasn’t cultivated until the end of the 16th century by Dutch growers – interesting! We especially enjoyed climbing up the apple tree to pick some lovely English apples which we then used to bake (and eat!) a delicious apple cake; it was worth all of our hard work!

The Little Mail Carriers in Leicestershire, UK! The Little Mail Carriers in Leicestershire, UK! The Little Mail Carriers in Leicestershire, UK!

Bitten by the baking bug, we also helped to make and decorate some delicious vanilla cupcakes which we sold at a charity bake sale held at our host’s workplace to raise money for the charity Jeans for Genes. We even helped make some little jeans out of fondant icing to decorate the cupcakes; they suit Little Paulo don’t you think?!

The Little Mail Carriers in Leicestershire, UK! The Little Mail Carriers in Leicestershire, UK!

It was great to visit our host’s office; she works part time at an architectural company. Whilst we were there, we were interested to look at some drawings. Little Ana also helped answer the phone and Little Paulo had a go at some audio typing – it’s harder than it looks!

The Little Mail Carriers in Leicestershire, UK! The Little Mail Carriers in Leicestershire, UK!

We enjoyed exploring the Leicestershire countryside, including going on lots of autumnal walks with our host’s dog, a Jack Russell named Ruby, who helped us sniff out some brilliant conkers! Public footpaths in England are marked with distinctive yellow signs so you always know which way to go!

The Little Mail Carriers in Leicestershire, UK!

Apparently Leicestershire is well known for many foods, including Red Leicester cheese, Stilton cheese and Pork Pie from the town of Melton Mowbray. Pork Pies are a traditional British meat pie made of chopped meat and pork jelly sealed in a crust pastry. They were tasty but very filling for little people like us!

The Little Mail Carriers in Leicestershire, UK!

Our host’s local town of Ashby-de-la-Zouch has lots of interesting things to see and do and we really enjoyed our visit to Ashby Castle, originally a Norman Manor House which is now in ruins. There is a tower to climb and an underground passage to walk through. To round off our visit, we visited the gift shop where we bought postcards of the castle (of course!) and some very special English Heritage stamps which feature images of the castle and are especially designed for use on international postcards – perfect!

The Little Mail Carriers in Leicestershire, UK! The Little Mail Carriers in Leicestershire, UK!

Their adventure will continue in a few days… stay tuned!

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Happy birthday, Penny Black! The world’s first adhesive postage stamp was introduced 175 years ago today, on May 1st 1840, as part of Sir Rowland Hill's postal reforms which paved the way to the modern postal system.

Penny Black

Featuring the profile of Queen Victoria, the Penny Black was sold for just one year, as it was discovered the red ink being used to cancel it was too easily removed… In 1841, it was replaced by the Penny Red, which was easier to cancel using black ink.

It’s not a very rare stamp, as over 68 million specimens were printed, but very few complete sheets have survived. The ones that have now belong to the British Postal Museum and you can see them up close on their upcoming exhibition about this famous stamp. It will run from May 6th until August 7th, in London.

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We met Lucy (aka Lucy156) a couple of years ago in Oxford, and we were immediately struck by her cheerfulness and sense of humor! Plus, she informed us which magazine had free Doctor Who postcards… we were instant friends! :) Here’s her interview:

Sending postcards at the London Meetup 2014
How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

I discovered Postcrossing in June 2006, quite by accident! I was searching for new penpals to exchange letters and postcards with and found this site! I immediately liked the idea of sending postcards to many different people across the world, from different cultures, to share views of where I live and have visited but also to learn more about where they live and places that they have visited.

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

My other interests, besides Postcrossing of course, are penpalling, listening to a wide range of music from classical to jazz and blues to rock, watching various drama and sci-fi programmes, going to the cinema and taking weekends away with my partner Mark in out red VW campervan called Babs.

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!

My local post office and post box is just a short trip into town for me. The staff at the office know me well and always save a sheet of new stamps when they are issued for me to collect, which makes me very happy!

My mailbox is in the communal area in the block of apartments where I live… my postman enjoy seeing all the different kinds of cards I get and has admitted to looking through them before dropping them into my box!

Lucy at the post office

I file all my received cards into boxes by country, which I really enjoy organising. My available cards are also sorted into boxes by theme so that I can easily find them! PC Interview   boxes of postcards

What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

I love being surprised when I open my mail box to find a new postcard in there and getting online to register it and find out more about the area where the card has come from or discover more about the theme that it relates to! I enjoy updating my flickr page with received postcards and ones that I have ready to send…I like to try and find a special one for each person that I get details of and enjoy taking the time to do this. I have a Blogger page too which is fun to keep, when I find time between sending postcards and penpal letters!

I also enjoy taking part in the Round Robins and tags on the forum, where I get to meet so many more people and get lots of great postcards on the themes I enjoy!

Have you been surprised by any place that you have received a postcard from or sent a postcard to?

One of my earliest postcards was from Nicaragua, which I am sorry to say I did not know where it was at the time when I received it! At least my knowledge of geography has hopefully improved with the help from Postcrossing!

Have you met any other members in real life?

I have been luckily enough to attend 2 International Postcrossing Meetup’s in Oxford in 2013 and London in 2014! I met Ana and Paulo, founders of Postcrossing, who are two of the nicest and most genuine people I have ever met along with many others who attended from across the UK, Europe and beyond! Oxford 2013 Meetup  Group Oxford 2013 Meetup  Ana & Paulo

Is there anything that you are passionate about?

I love watching Strictly Come Dancing, having been a ballroom and latin american dancer prior to an accident in 2011 which resulted in partial paralysis. I have been lucky enough to dance with one of the professionals on the UK show, Anton du Beke. I enjoy exploring the UK and Europe either as a driving holiday or on a cruise ship, particularly to places with history, museums, galleries and places which has unusual features to photography!

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Anu (aka ichabodhides) comes from Finland, but moved to the UK some years ago for love… which she discovered on a martial arts’ class! :)

Here is her spotlight interview:

How did you come across Postcrossing? What got you hooked?

I had been aware of Postcrossing for a while before I actually decided to sign up. I think I first read about it in a magazine, quite possibly the magazine the Finnish postal services distribute to every household every so often. I was finishing my university studies at the time and was quite stressed about my master’s thesis so I thought it would be nice to find something other than just bills in my mailbox. I used to write a lot of letters and I still do that occasionally (but am a pretty rubbish pen pal these days), but postcards are a lot quicker to write. I’ve always enjoyed sending and receiving postcards and family and friends used to send me postcards from their holidays even before I had heard of Postcrossing and I still have a lot of these postcards saved.

I got hooked pretty much immediately – it was great to hear from new people all around the world and look at the pretty pictures on postcards I received.

Do you have any other interesting hobbies?

My main interest outside of Postcrossing is Aikido, a Japanese martial art. I’ve been practicing since 2005 and am currently a 2nd Dan black belt. Aikido has been a pretty life-changing experience for me – it’s the reason I live in England now and I met my husband there. I joined a university Aikido club when I was an Erasmus exchange student in England in 2005–2006. I met Matt (now my husband) there and fell in love. I had to go back to Finland to finish my studies but moved back to England in early 2008 once I had graduated. Matt and I are currently living with his family and their 6 cats, 2 Labrador puppies and a rabbit. We got married in 2011 and our wedding was accidentally (??) a little Aikido-themed. Most of my friends are from Aikido as well so it plays a pretty major role in my life. I still practice at the university as they allow ex-students to continue practicing but we might have to find somewhere else next year unfortunately.

Apart from Aikido I also enjoy crocheting, cooking and baking, reading and watching tv shows & movies on my laptop.

Show us your mailbox, your mailman/mailwoman, your postoffice or the place where you post or keep your postcards!

We don’t have a “proper” mailbox at home, just a slot in the front door.

mymailbox

I go to a few post offices in my area when I need to buy stamps or send something slightly bigger than a regular postcard or an envelope. The one here, inside a shop, is one I visit quite often as I live quite close and the queues aren’t usually too bad.

postoffice

This is the mail box I normally use to send my cards as it’s the closest to where I live.

mailbox
Show and tell us about your favorite received postcard to date, and what makes it special.

I couldn’t possibly pick just one postcard as I’ve received so many great ones. However, the first one I ever received, CH-8925 from Switzerland, has a special place in my heart – I still remember how excited I was to receive it! Zasa and I have swapped a few postcards since and occasionally still bump into each other online, which makes it all even nicer.

CH 8925

A few other postcards I particularly like:

postcards1

From left: FI-1033072 from Sirks, FR-46083 from thaddee_calisson, GB-44737 from toucans.

postcards2

From left: AU-25762 from Claire, NP-346 from spellbindguy, FI-544673 from veverka.

What is it your favorite part of the Postcrossing process?

I enjoy sending just as much as receiving and like to try to match the recipients’ wishes whenever I can. I also like to use nice stamps whenever I can although this isn’t very easy at times because British post offices don’t always have particularly good selections of nice stamps available.

Have you met any other members in real life?

Yes. Pipey from the UK, Astrid1978 from the Netherlands, duffeli from Finland and a few other Finnish Postcrossers I met in a mini meet-up in Helsinki some years ago, and quite a lot of Postcrossers in international meet-ups in London a few years ago as well.

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218 years ago today, the great Rowland Hill was born! If his name does not ring a bell, read on – we have tales of postal corruption and innovation to share with you today!

Once upon a time, the British postal system was… a mess. Expensive, complex and widely corrupt, it was seen as wasteful and inadequate for the needs of a growing industrial nation. For instance, did you know that correspondence at the time was paid by the recipient and it depended on the distance travelled and number of paper sheets it contained? As a result, people often cross-wrote letters to save space or encoded messages on the cover of the letter – which could be analyzed and then discarded without payment. A significant percentage of letter-writers would also abuse the system by sending their correspondence under the personal frank of members of the parliament (who could send them without paying).

Rowland Hill

Rowland Hill, a teacher from Worcestershire, studied the state of the postal service for several years, before producing a pamphlet called “Post Office Reform; its Importance and Practicability”, in early 1837. In in, Hill called for “low and uniform rates” according to weight, rather than distance:

“The postage on all letters received in a post-town, and delivered in the same, or any other post-town in the British Isles, shall be at the uniform rate of one penny per half ounce”.

He also showed that most of the costs incurred in mail delivery were not for transport but rather handling at the origins and destinations – and these could be greatly reduced if pre-payment of postage by the sender was implemented. In order to achieve this, Rowland Hill proposed official pre-printed lettersheets and adhesive stamps – a piece of paper “covered at the back with a glutinous wash”.

Penny Black

The plan was met with resistance from the part of Royal Mail, but also with plenty of support from traders, merchants and bankers, fed up with the high costs and the corruption of the system in place. With a lot of pressure from these groups, Rowland Hill was appointed to the Treasury, in order to put his plan into operation: the Postal Reform was born!

A design competition was held to figure out how to implement the prepaid postage, and after a few false starts, the Penny Black made its debut in May 1840. It featured an engraving of a very young Queen Victoria, based on a commemorative medal sculpted by William Wyon.

The success of Rowland Hill’s reforms were mixed. One one hand, the financial cost of the Uniform Penny Post was disastrous and it would take over 30 years for Royal Mail to reach once more the revenue levels they had before 1840. On the other hand, postal traffic was greatly increased, since the lower cost made postal communications more affordable and accessible to the masses – paving the way to the development of many sectors of the economy.

Rowland Hill

Rowland Hill was knighted in 1860 for his many services to the United Kingdom. His legacy lives on in the form of the modern postal service.

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