Sunday, 30 May 2010

Québec, Canada

Canada seems like one of those countries that would probably be quite nice to live in. It seems so down to earth and clean, and very beautiful, too, with lots of gorgeous nature.

Apart from Vancouver, the French-speaking Québec province fascinates me the most. Now *that* area probably wouldn't be the best place to live for me as I don't speak any French, but it does seem like a lovely area.

These particular postcards show glimpses of the Historic District of Old Québec, which is also a Unesco World Heritage site. Doesn't it look wonderfully colourful?!

Founded in the 18th century, Québec, illustrates one of the major stages in the European settlement of the Americas: notably, it was the capital of New France and, after 1760, of the new British colony. The Historic District of Old Québec is made up of two parts: the Upper Town, defended by fortified ramparts, citadel, and other defensive works; and the Lower Town, which developed around the Place Royale and the harbour. A well-preserved integrated urban ensemble, the historic district is a remarkable example of a fortified city of the colonial era, and unique north of Mexico.

The top postcard shows Château Frontenac. It was designed by American architect Bruce Price, and was one of a series of "château" style hotels built for the Canadian Pacific Railway company at the end of the 19th and the start of the 20th century. It opened in 1893, five years after its sister-hotel the Banff Springs. The railway company sought to encourage luxury tourism and bring wealthy travelers to its trains.

Thank you, Léo of Montréal, for these postcards!

The envelope in which these cards arrived had some very nice stamps on it. The one on the left is a commemorative one, issued in 2010. It shows Romeo LeBlanc, governor general of Canada from 1995 to 1999, who died in 2009. The other two stamps are from a set of 2 stamps, also issued in 2010, and they celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Navy.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Kõpu Lighthouse, Estonia

The last (but not least!) postcard of today comes from my postcard pal Rita in Estonia.

Kõpu Lighthouse (Kõpu tuletorn in Estonian) is one of the best known symbols and tourist sights on the Estonian island of Hiiumaa. It is one of the oldest lighthouses in the world, having been in continuous use since its completion in 1531.

The lighthouse marks the Hiiu sandbank and warns ships away from the shoreline. Light from Kõpu Lighthouse can be used for navigation as far as 26 nautical miles (48 km) away, although in 1997 a radar lighthouse largely took over its role as navigation aid.

The lighthouse is built at the top of the highest hillock of Hiiumaa island, Tornimägi (68 metres). The height of the building itself is 36 metres, and the light is 102.6 metres above sea level, making it the highest coastal light on the Baltic Sea.

The stamp is from a set of 2 stamps issued in 2010. They belong to the 'Europa' series, this year's theme is children's book illustrations. This stamp features an illustration by Jüri Mildeberg. The Estonian postal services website was quite helpful in that I found out more about children's books in Estonia. :) This is what the website says:

"The middle of the 19th century can be regarded as the beginning of the Estonian literature for children although secular stories for children had been published before, notably by Friedrich Gustav Arvelius in 1782 and by Otto Willem Masing in 1795. The author of the first Estonian book of fiction for children is Carl Körber and that of the first poetry book Johann Voldemar Jannsen. Like everywhere else, Estonian children`s books often have very beautiful and imag-inative illustratsions and some of the illustrators have won inernational acclaim, Vive Tolli and Jaan Tammsaar being perhaps known the best."

Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

I participate quite a lot on the postcrossing forum, especially in the British Isles community there. Recently some more people from Ireland have joined as well, which is great. And it means more postcards from Ireland, which are always great, that country seems really interesting, I hope to get to visit it one day. Anyway, this card is from Claudia who's originally from Germany but has been living in Ireland for more than 12 years.

Claudia sent me a postcard showing a library as she noticed I like books and reading. :) This card shows The Long Room at the Trinity College in Dublin. There's some helpful info on the postcard itself:

The main chamber of the Old Library, the Long Room, is nearly 65 metres in length, and houses around 200,000 of the Library's oldest books. In 1860 the roof was raised to allow the construction of the present barrel-vaulted ceiling and gallery bookcases. Marble busts are placed down either side of the room which also contains the oldest surviving harp in Ireland.

The stamp is a little difficult to see from behind all the cancellations... but it shows the Sea aster and is from a set of 3 stamps, from the fifth phase of the sixth definitive series, depicting the Wild Flowers of Ireland. I'm not sure of the year of the issue...

Rochester Cathedral, England

Another postcard from England! This one is from Carly who visited Rochester recently.

This card shows the Cathedral and Deanery in Rochester. Rochester is a town and former city in Kent, England, about 48 kilometres from London. The town is known for its cathedral and castle, and for an epic siege in 1215. It has a population of 27,000 (in 2001).

The Romano-British name for Rochester was Durobrivae. This is commonly translated as 'stronghold by the bridge' or 'stronghold by the bridges'. This could have been a Belgic Settlement or oppidum, but there was no bridge in AD 43. It was also known as Durobrovum and Durobrivis, which could be a Latinisation of the British word 'Dourbruf' meaning swiftstream. It is recorded as Durobrivis c.730 and Dorobrevis in 844.

As the name for the city of Rochester contains the Latin word 'castra', which is present in the names of many cities that were once Roman camps, it is assumed that Rochester was a fortified Roman town, but no evidence has been found of such fort. The Roman street pattern suggest that it was a line of shops and houses built alongside a road, and systematic fortification did not take place until after AD 175.

Like many of the mediaeval towns of England Rochester had municipal Freemen whose civic duties were abolished by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835. However, the working guild of Free Fishers and Dredgers continued and still have rights, duties and responsibilities on the Medway, between Sheerness and Hawkwood Stone. This authority is effected through their attendance at the Admiralty Court as the jury of Freemen responsible for the conservancy of the river through current legislation. The freedom is passed through 'servitude' ie apprenticeship to a working freeman. The annual ceremonial beating of the bounds on the river takes place after the Court, usually on the first Saturday of July.

It took me a while to find any info about the stamp, but it would seem to be from a set of 5 stamps issued in 2002, with the theme "occasions". This one depicts "moving home". I really, really like this stamp, and it's always a treat to see older stamps like this as they are so difficult to find (heck, even stamps from last year can be difficult to find in England! :p).

The New Forest, England

This gorgeous panoramic postcard arrived a couple of days ago from Serena in England. It doesn't look so good in a small picture, but you can click it larger. :)

The card shows an autumn view in the Milkham Enclosure near Linwood. Now I'm not a huge fan of autumn when it actually arrives as it means the weather tends to be quite cold and even more rainy than usual. But the colours do look gorgeous!

The New Forest is an area of southern England which includes the largest remaining tracts of unenclosed pasture land, heathland and forest in the heavily-populated south east of England. It covers south-west Hampshire and extends into south-east Wiltshire. The New Forest Heritage Area covers 570 km2 (140,000 acres),[12] and the New Forest SSSI ("Site of Special Scientific Interest") covers almost 300 km2 (74,000 acres), making it the largest contiguous area of un-sown vegetation in lowland Britain.

The New Forest was created as a royal forest by William I in about 1079 for the private hunting of (mainly) deer. It was created at the expense of more than 20 small settlements/farms; hence it was 'new' in his time as a single compact area.

According to Florence of Worcester (d.1118), the forest was known before the Norman Conquest as the Great Ytene Forest; the word "Ytene" meaning '"Juten" or "of Jutes". The Jutes were one of the early Anglo Saxon tribal groups who colonised this area of southern Hampshire.

The stamps is from a set of 10, issued earlier in 2010. These stamps celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in London. Battersea aim never to turn away a dog or cat in need of help; which is why it takes in 12,000 lost and homeless pets every year.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Vancouver 2010

I had been meaning to post about this earlier, but better late than never... It's an official postcrossing card from Angela in Canada, and a very cute one, too!


The card shows the Vancouver 2010 mascots and sidekicks. The biggest one is called Quatchi, a young sasquatch, the small guy on top of him is Miga, a young sea bear, and the character in the middle is called Sumi, an animal spirit who lives in the mountains of British Columbia. The smallest character is Mukmuk, a small and friendly Vancouver Island marmot. Aren't they just adorable?!

I wish I could say I liked the London 2012 mascots as much... But they are horrible! :( You can see a picture here. I always thought the Olympic and Paralympic mascots were supposed to look cute or at least nice, but there's nothing remotely cute about "Wenlock" and "Mandeville". They are about as nice as the logo for the 2012 Olympics, which is also horrible. I guess I shouldn't have expected anything nice... But those two characters won't even make nice postcards, grrrr.

Anyway... The lovely Canadian card came with this flower stamp. It's from a set of 4 stamps, depicting orchids. This one shows the Grass Pink.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

dragon fruit

One more card for today... This one is from a swap with Helen in the USA (thank you!).

Dragon fruit (or 'pitaya') is the fruit of several cactus species, most importantly of the genus Hylocereus (sweet pitayas). They are native to Mexico and Central and South America, but are also cultivated in Asian countries such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. They are also found in Okinawa, Hawaii, Israel, northern Australia and southern China. Until seeing this postcard, I hadn't even realised there was more than one variety of this fruit. I got to taste one not long ago, but it had white flesh, so I was a little confused when I saw this card. It turned out there are three varieties: red pitaya (the one I had, and apparently the most common variety); Costa Rica pitaya (the one on this card); and yellow pitaya (yellow-skinned fruit with white flesh).

I also found this postcard interesting as it's from Fruit & Spice Park. The Fruit & Spice Park is the only tropical botanical garden of its kind in the United States, located in South Florida. The Park's tropical climate can be found nowhere else in the continental U.S. and hosts over 500 varieties of fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, and nuts, and other commercially important plant specimens from around the world. The Park showcases 150 varieties of mango, 75 varieties of bananas, 70 bamboo varieties, and numerous other exotic edibles. That sounds pretty amazing, wouldn't it be great to visit it one day?!

The Simpsons stamps are from a set of 5 great stamps, issued in 2009. The smaller stamp is a definitive stamp from the American design series, issued in 2003. This one shows American Clock.

Red Square, Moscow, Russia

I had to post this card as well since it's possibly one of my favourite postcards received from Russia. It's from a tag on the postcrossing forum, sent by Kaurry.

It's still a "touristic" postcard, but I love it how it's still from a slightly different angle. I mean, it's not just about buildings, you can see people as well, and I love the atmosphere in it, it seems so calm and peaceful somehow. I do love those special moments just after it has finished raining, for some reason I really like the smell of wet asphalt for instance. O_o

...and Russian stamps are so pretty! Well, a lot of them anyway. I particularly like the big one on the right. If I'm correct, it's from a set of 3 stamps issued in 2009, depicting Culture of Russian People. This one shows the National Head dress from Yaroslavl Province in the middle of the 19th Century. The smaller stamps are from a set of 12 definitive stamps issued in 2009, depicting Russian Kremlins. The one on the top shows Moscow Kremlin, and the one under it shows Kolomna Kremlin.

The Brod Fortress, Croatia


This postcard arrived from Croatia yesterday. It shows The Fortress Brod, which, according to the sender, is "a remarkable monument of the 18th century, as a system of fortified towns on the frontier towards Turkish Empire". Prince Eugene of Savoy designed it at the beginning of the 18th century. The regular star-like form of the fortress was determined by the flat-country. It was built of rammed earth, bricks, wood and partially stone, and designed for the accommodation of 4,000 soldiers, mostly infantry and 150 cannons.

According to an evaluation of the Brod Fortress resistance, during the classical siege with full capacity channels, it would have taken ten days of preparation for the attacks and 46 days for the enemy to take over the entire Fortress. The Fortress of Brod occupied about 33 ha. The military government did not allow for the construction of solid material houses, due to the fact that the entire town was within the range of the fortress cannons, and consequently, throughout the entire 18 and most of the 19 century, Brod was the town of small wooden houses, roofed by shingle or board. In case of the potential Turkish attack, the town was to be leveled down, in order to provide the artillery with the open space around the fortress. Although being a military border stronghold, the Fortress almost never had the opportunity to prove and demonstrate its combative power.

I really like the stamps on this card! The one on the right is from a set of 5 stamps issued in 2008, portraying Croatian Ethnographic Heritage. This one shows Local Customs from Sunja. The stamp on the right is from a set of 3 stamps depicting Croatian Freshwater Fish, issued in 2009. This one shows the Danubian Bream.

Piran, Slovenia


Slovenia has always seemed like a very beautiful country to me. It has some truly amazing nature and landscapes, and in some pictures I've seen it looks a bit like New Zealand, which can never be a bad thing. ;) I had previously heard of the Julian Alps, but there is LOTS more to explore besides.

This postcard shows Piran, which is a town and municipality in southwestern Slovenia on the Gulf of Piran on the Adriatic Sea. The municipality has 16,758 (2002) inhabitants and covers an area of 46.6 square kilometres. The municipality is bilingual, both Slovene and Italian are official languages. It is also one of Slovenia's major tourist attractions. It does look very, very pretty; not a surprise then that it's one of the sender's favourite postcards from the Slovenian coast!

The stamp on the left is from a set of 17 flower stamps issued in 2007, with this one showing the Dineric Chickweed. The stamp on the right is from a set of 4 flower stamps issued in March 2010, this one showing the Maiden Pink.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Minsk, Belarus

I got this postcard from a tag on the postcrossing forum, from Helena in Minsk, Belarus. This is from a set called "11 blue postcards". The author wanted to show Minsk (the capital of Belarus) as an unique city through details which are unseen at first sight. I love this kind of cards; small details such as windows, doors and balconies are often far more interesting than the usual touristy cityviews that most people send and receive.

The bigger stamp was issued in 2009 and shows the building of the CIS Executive Committee. The flower one is from a set of 8 stamps called Garden Flowers, issued in 2008, this one showing a Tulip.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Museum of London


What did I say about receiving postcards from people living outside of their home countries? It seems like that's the theme of the week - I've just had yet another such card! This time it's from a Dutch girl living and studying in London. This is one of the nicest ad cards I've received for a long time. It advertises the Museum of London, opening on 28 May 2010.

This is what the card says about the new museum:

"The spectacular £20 million Galleries of Modern London, opening on 28 May 2010, tell the story of London and its people from 1666 to the present day. Five new galleries and 7,000 objects show how the vibrant and unflagging energy of Londoners has shaped this global city."

It sounds really interesting, it would be nice to visit it one day. You can find out more about the museum here.

The stamp is the standard second class definitive stamp. I don't understand why (most) British stamps have to be so boring. :( On a related note, within the UK you have the option to send mail either by first or second class. First class is slightly more expensive and it's *supposed to* be delivered the day after mailing. This is not quite how it works in reality, however, which is why I only really use first class stamps to mail job applications, or postcards to people who appreciate nice stamps (as nice stamps are not available in 2nd class anymore :/) on their mail. I think it's a waste of money to send normal mail in first class when there's no guarantee it's going to be delivered the following day. Quite often it takes at least as long as second class mail, and earlier this year there was an instance where I sent a postcard to London in first class, but it took a month to arrive! Royal Mail can be such a joke sometimes...

Royal Mail quite often prints messages on cancellations, usually advertising different services or reminding people to write the postcode on their mail. I had no idea what this was about, so I had to check out what this "10:10" means. Apparently it's an environmental project where individuals and organisations are trying to achieve a 10% cut in the UK’s carbon emissions in 2010. I wonder how it's going to work... Surely airmail isn't the most environmental thing to be around, but then there would be no international mail (or it would take weeks or even months to arrive), which would be devastating news for postcrossers (and lots of other people as well - you just can't use email all the time!).

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Book of Kells


More mail from Postcrossers who haven't stayed in their home countries! This card was sent to me by Pavla, she's from Czech Republic but used to live in Ireland and has only just moved back to her home country. So yes, this is an Irish postcard. :)

I'm quite a bookworm but I have to confess I had never heard of 'Book of Kells' before. Ooops...

'Book of Kells' is the oldest Irish book (from 800AD). It is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and tables. It was created by Celtic monks ca. 800 or slightly earlier. The Book of Kells contains the four Gospels of the Christian scriptures written in black, red, purple, and yellow ink in an insular majuscule script, preceded by prefaces, summaries, and concordances of Gospel passages. Today, it consists of 340 vellum leaves, or folios.
The book had a sacramental, rather than educational purpose.

...maybe that's why I didn't know of the book before - I'm not a religious person and my knowledge of the Bible is embarrassingly limited.

The postcard was sent from Czech Republic so the stamps is obviously from there as well. It's from a set of 2 stamps, published in 2006, depicting Crafts and in particular Bohemian Gems, Jewel-making and Hallmarking.

Naples, Italy


This card arrived on the same day as the raccoon below. It's from Betty, a Dane living in Naples (Napoli in Italian, and also in Finnish :D), Italy. It's interesting how many people I've "met" through Postcrossing who have also moved abroad for love. Good to know I'm not the only one.. :p

The card shows a street in Quartieri Spagnoli (Spanish Quarters) in Naples. According to Wikipedia, it's a poor area with high rates of unemployment and youth crime. The area consists of a grid of around eighteen streets by twelve. It has a population of 80,000 people per square kilometre. (In comparison, London, at its most densely populated, has 10,000 people per square kilometre, so that does sound quite crazy!) Most houses are tenements, usually six storey blocks with a roof terrace and a central courtyard.

So... it might be a poor area, but I think this street at least looks very cute, charming in a shabby way. I really like cards like this that show ordinary life in different countries.

There was a very nice stamp on the card, too!

raccoon, USA


This lovely raccoon postcard arrived from the USA. The sender, Cathy, is from Minnesota and she tells me they have a lot of raccoons around there. (A couple of years ago they even rescued an abandoned baby raccoon and bottlefed it and raised it until it could live outside on its own. How sweet!)

This is what the postcard says about raccoons:
Native only to the Americas, the raccoon is a nocturnal, solitary animal. It spends most nights foraging for food along stream banks. Females prefer to nest in hollow trees or other protected places.
(Photograph: Tom & Pat Leeson)

The cat and dog stamps are from a set of 10 stamps, 'Adopt a Shelter Pet', issued in April 2010. Very cute, and the cat looks like one of our cats (we have six cats at home, three black ones and three black & white ones). :)
As a curiosity, there was a similar issue in the UK earlier this year, for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. Nice to see unfortunate animals getting publicity this way!

Monday, 17 May 2010

First post

Hello, and welcome to my new postcard blog! I have seen so many nice postcard blogs lately that I wanted to try having my own. Let's see how this will go...


I thought I'd start this off with a bit of nostalgia and post about my first official postcrossing postcard received. It arrived on the 22nd of November 2007 from Switzerland, from the lovely Zasa. I remember being very excited to receive the card - someone had made it specially for me, and written it full of nice text.

This was the stamp on the card. It shows Leonhard Euler, a pioneering Swiss mathematician and physicist.