Sunday, 31 March 2013

463 – 12 Heures de Paris – the race that never happened

Card no 463 – Danielle 
12 Heures de Paris, 1939 
Country Card Sent From: USA 
Place that Card Sender Lives: Omaha 
Date Received: 30th March 2013 
Distance Travelled: 4,122 miles 
Time Taken: 7 days 

I probably get more cards from Danielle than from any other friend with whom I exchange cards. And always they are to my liking. I don’t list motor racing on my postcrossing profile but it is my major sporting interest.

This poster advertised the race that never happened. It shows one of the cars of Amédée Gordini (1899 –1979), an Italian-born race car driver and French sports car manufacturer. Olazur was a motor oil of the time. An entry list was published for the race (including seven Gordini cars). But exactly a week before it was due to take place Britain and France declared War on Germany and all French sporting events were cancelled.

462 – Fifi and Alli ride again

Card no 462 – Sini 
Inge Look Christmas card from Aland 
Country Card Sent From: Finland 
Place that Card Sender Lives: Lahti 
Date Received: 30th March 2013 
Distance Travelled: 1,191 miles 
Time Taken: 7 days 

This is a very special card. Firstly, it originally came from Åland.

 The Åland Islands or Åland (Postcrossing abbreviation AX) is a special territory in Europe with a population of 26,711 habitants. The capital of Åland Islands is Mariehamn. It is an autonomous, demilitarised, monolingually Swedish-speaking region of Finland that consists of an archipelago lying at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia in the Baltic Sea. Collectively, the islands in the archipelago form the smallest region of Finland, constituting 0.49% of its land area and 0.50% of its population. Åland's autonomous status means that those provincial powers normally exercised by representatives of the central Finnish government are largely exercised by its own government.

Åland comprises Fasta Åland ("Main Island", on which 90% of the population resides) and a further 6,500 skerries and islands to its east. Fasta Åland is separated from the coast of Sweden by 38 kilometres (24 mi) of open water to the west. In the east, the Åland archipelago is contiguous with the Finnish Archipelago Sea. Åland's only land border is located on the uninhabited skerry of Märket, which it shares with Sweden.

Secondly, it is a Maxicard – that is, a card with a stamp on the same theme, on the front of the card. It is also a First Day Cover, being posted on the first day of issue of that stamp.

This was the Åland stamp on the back.

The card was then posted on from Finland by Sini and this was the appropriate stamp.

And thirdly, of course, it is an Inge Löök card with Fif and Alli celebrating Christmas. The snowy scene is very appropriate at the moment as our gardens lie under inches of the white stuff.

461 - Cap Corse Wine Bottles

Card no 461 – Martine 
Cap Corse wines 
Country Card Sent From: France 
Place that Card Sender Lives: Piedigriggio, Corsica 
Date Received: 30th March 2013 
Distance Travelled: 942 miles 
Time Taken: 5 days 

My much-loved Corsican friend, Martine, sent me these to toast my health but suggested I didn’t drink them all at once! LOL. This was reinforced by a message printed on the card that ‘ Un abus d’alcool est dangereux pour la sante’ (Abuse of alcohol is dangerous for health). I wonder if they are required by law to put that on as the card could be considered to be advertising! What a strange world we live in. Cap Corse Wines have been in existence since 1872 when Louis Napoleon Mattei, a modest wine merchant, invented an aperitif with quinine in it to combat fevers.

The stamp celebrates the fact Marseilles is the European Capital of Culture 2013.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

460 - Nesvizh Castle – a World Heritage Site

Card no 460 – Mish 
Nesvizh Castle – a World Heritage Site 
Country Card Sent From: Belarus 
Place that Card Sender Lives: Minsk 
Date Received: 28th March 2013 
Distance Travelled: 1,154 miles 
Time Taken: 6 days 

Click to enlarge
Another card of Nesvizh Castle – a WHS.

 Click to enlarge

The card came with a lovely long letter and a couple of goodies from my friend Mish in Minsk.

The envelope included this fridge magnet.

It’s lovely to have a reminder of a friend sitting on the fridge door and perhaps I’ll see if a couple of my other friends can get magnets of their towns.

The stamp shows St Sophia's Cathedral in Polotsk.

459 – A map of Finland

Card no 459 – Sini 
A map of Finland 
Country Card Sent From: Finland 
Place that Card Sender Lives: Lahti 
Date Received: 28th March 2013 
Distance Travelled: 1,191 miles 
Time Taken: 5 days 

A direct swap with Sini who lives in Lahti.

Lahti is a city and municipality in Finland and the capital of the Päijänne Tavastia region. It is situated on a bay at the southern end of Lake Vesijärvi about 60 miles north-east of the capital Helsinki.  In English, the Finnish word Lahti literally means bay and Vesijärvi means water lake.

The symbol of the city is a train wheel surrounded by sparkling flames.

At the end of 1905, the area that now comprises Lahti accommodated around 8,200 people of whom just under 3,000 lived in the city itself. All essential municipal institutions were built in just ten years, including a hospital and a city hall. At the same time, a rapid increase in brick houses was taking place in the centre of the city.  In the early 1920s the city gained possession of the grounds of the Lahti Manor, an important piece of land previously blocking the city from the lake. Large-scale industrial operations grew rapidly in the 1930s as did the population; Lahti, at the time, was one of Finland’s fastest-growing cities, and before the start of the Winter War with the Soviet Union (1939/1940) its population was approaching 30,000.

Through the addition of new areas in 1924, 1933 and 1956, Lahti grew, both in terms of population and surface area. Especially strong was the growth after the wars, when Lahti accepted about 10,000 immigrants from Karelia, after the region was surrendered to the Soviet Union, and then later in the 1960 and 70's as a result of mass urbanization. The population growth came to a sharp end in 1975.

Lahti is best known for its annually held World Cup winter games - the Lahti Ski Games. Some ski jumping events of the Lahti Ski Games are part of the Nordic Tournament.

Lahti can be seen marked on the map below -

The stamp was this super Easter hen.

458 – Reading in the sea

Card no 458 – Claudia (DE-2043667) 
Reading in the sea! 
Country Card Sent From: Germany 
Place that Card Sender Lives: Dresden 
Date Received: 26th March 2013 
Distance Travelled: 722 miles 
Time Taken: 6 days 

Friday, 29 March 2013

457 – Russian Postman

Card no 457 - Dasha 
An early 20th Century Russian Postman 
Country Card Sent From: Russia 
Place that Card Sender Lives: Moscow 
Date Received: 26th March 2013 
Distance Travelled: 1,618 miles 
Time Taken: 21 days 

This was a direct swap with Dasha – in exchange for a view of Liverpool. I’m delighted with it.  The English words on the back say St Petersburg - early twentieth century.  And once again, perhaps I can call on the services of Captain Mish for a translation of any of the Russian on the front / back (and on the mail coach stamp).!!

These were the stamps which included a super one of a mail coach -

Thursday, 28 March 2013

456 – Small Tortoiseshell butterfly

Card no 456 - Monica 
Small Tortoiseshell 
Country Card Sent From: Sweden 
Place that Card Sender Lives: Borås 
Date Received: 26th March 2013 
Distance Travelled: 695 miles 
Time Taken: 7 days 

This Small Tortoiseshell butterfly photo was taken by Monica and the card was home-made but it looks very professional. I wonder how soon we’ll see a Small Tortoiseshell here. With snow on the ground it is nice to have a reminder that Spring is around the corner.

Sadly the Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) is very much in decline in Britain. When I was young it was the most common butterfly to be seen in the gardens of Merseyside. In the last ten years we haven't seen a single one in our garden. To quote from it "is one of our most-familiar butterflies, appearing in gardens throughout the British Isles. Unfortunately, this butterfly has suffered a worrying decline, especially in the south, over the last few years. This butterfly has always fluctuated in numbers, but the cause of the most-recent decline is not yet known, although various theories have been proposed. One is the increasing presence of a particular parasitic fly, Sturmia bella, due to global warming - this species being common on the continent."

These were the stamps - small boats (they look like tugs) and a Golden Oriole.

The frank missed the stamps. I have decided some franks are so attractive they are worth including. It says Happy Easter which was also the wish sent to our family.

455 – A British pillar box

Card no 455 - Danielle 
A British Elizabeth II double pillar box 
Country Card Sent From: USA 
Place that Card Sender Lives: Omaha, Nebraska 
Date Received: 26th March 2013 
Distance Travelled: 4,122 miles 
Time Taken: 10 days 

The UK has a wide variety of different pillar, lamp and wall letter boxes so it was by pure chance that Danielle sent me one that showed the type my cards to her are often posted in. This is a photo of it done in the same style as Danielle's postcard.

Because I don’t postcross with people on the UK I don’t get British pillar boxes. Perhaps I should start including the UK in my postcrossing.

This was the stamp - for once the beautiful new round USA stamp was not obliterated by the franking process. 

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

454 – A Fountain at Saratov

Card no 454 - Larisa 
The Fountain near the Brothers Nikitin Circus, Saratov
Country Card Sent From: Russia 
Place that Card Sender Lives: Saratov 
Date Received: 26th March 2013 
Distance Travelled: 2,033 miles 
Time Taken: 15 days 

This beautiful fountain is in Kryty Square, Saratov, and the postcard, being twice normal size, shows it to its full advantage.

 Saratov traces its history to the reign of Tsar Fyodor Ivanovich, who constructed several settlements along the Volga River in order to secure the southeastern boundary of his state. During the summer of 1586, the fortress of Samara was founded, followed by Tsaritsyn in 1589 and finally Saratov, located midway between Samara and Tsaritsyn, in 1590. The future town's buildings were first constructed in the upper reaches of the Volga, a full year prior to the in situ foundation of Saratov. In the spring of 1590, workers disassembled the con-structions, marked each log, and delivered the "town" to its destination via the river. This method allowed the buildings to be rapidly erected in just a few weeks.

During the Nineteenth Century, Saratov, with a population of 240,000, was the third-largest city in Russia.

During World War II, Saratov was a station on the North-South Volzhskaya Rokada, a specially designated military railroad providing troops, ammunition and supplies to Stalingrad. Until the end of the Soviet Union in 1991, Saratov was designated a "closed city", that is, strictly off limits to all foreigners due to its military importance. This was due to the presence of a vital military aircraft manufacturing facility in the city.

Saratov has moderately continental climate with warm and dry summers and an abundance of sunny days. The warmest month is July with daily mean temperature near +23 °C (73 °F); the coldest is February, at −8 °C (18 °F). Summers are hot and dry in Saratov. Daytime temperatures of +30 °C (86 °F) or higher are commonplace. Snow and ice are dominant during the winter season. Saratov receives about 92 centimeters (36 in) of snowfall annually. Days well above freezing and nights below −25 °C (−13 °F) both occur in the winter.

The city has a population iof around 838,000 and in addition to ethnic Russians, it also has many Tatar, Ukrainian, Jewish, and German residents.

This was the stamp – 

Monday, 25 March 2013


Since we have no incoming mail I thought I'd make a little mosaic of some recent outgoing cards...

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Where is the post?

I'm getting withdrawal symptoms.  It's Sunday so there is no post.  And yesterday and the day before there were no postmen.  They wouldn't come out and play in the snow. It's only 8 inches but I presume they aren't allowed out because of 'Health and Safety'.   So my doormat is feeling lonely...

It's a bit ironic because one if the cards I recently bought to send out was this one -

Those were the days!

I hope there is some post tomorrow but at least it has given me a chance to catch up on my posts about postcards received.

Friday, 22 March 2013

453 – Books wanted for troops – US poster

Card no 453 - Danielle 
War poster for books 
Country Card Sent From: USA 
Place that Card Sender Lives: Omaha, Nebraska 
Date Received: 21st March 2013 
Distance Travelled: 4,122 miles 
Time Taken: 5 days 

The Brodie helmet worn by this soldier was in use in both the First and Second World Wars so I would need to identify the rifle to be able to tell which war this was for. That’s beyond me. Perhaps there is another clue in there that someone can tell me about.

These were two of the stamps –

452 - Cathedral of Saint Virgin Mary, Minsk

Card no 452 - Mish 
Cathedral of Saint Virgin Mary, Minsk 
Country Card Sent From: Belarus 
Place that Card Sender Lives: Minsk 
Date Received: 21st March 2013 
Distance Travelled: 1,154 miles 
Time Taken: 12 days 

The Cathedral of Saint Virgin Mary, (The Cathedral of the Holy Name of Mary) is a Roman Catholic baroque cathedral in Minsk. It was built in 1710 as a church of the Jesuit monastery. In 1793, after Russia took over Belarus, the Jesuit order was banned and the church became the local cathedral. The Cathedral was heavily damaged in a fire in 1797, but was later fully renewed.

The Soviet authorities closed the cathedral down in 1934.   During the Second World War, the Germans allowed the cathedral to function again, but after the war it was again closed down by the Soviets. In 1951, the cathedral's bell towers were intentionally destroyed by Soviet artillery and the building itself was given to the Spartak sports society.

 In the beginning of the 1990s, religious services started again. In 1993, the building was given back to the Roman Catholics; by 1997 it was renewed. During 2000s, the frescoes created in 18th century were also restored. An in 2005, the church was gifted a new organ manufactured in Austria.

Mish mentions Saint Sophia's Cathedral in Polotsk has an organ as well and its sound is amazing.

The Gooseberry stamp is lovely - 

Thursday, 21 March 2013

451 - One naughty kitten!

Card no 451 - Danielle 
One naughty kitten! 
Country Card Sent From: USA 
Place that Card Sender Lives: Omaha, Nebraska 
Date Received: 20th March 2013 
Distance Travelled: 4,122 miles 
Time Taken: 11 days 

“How is your kitten? As naughty as the one on this card?” asked Danielle. Answer – YES!

 I hadn’t realised Lady Bird Johnson was so attractive.

Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Taylor Johnson (December 22, 1912 – July 11, 2007)[1] was First Lady of the United States (1963–69) during the presidency of her husband Lyndon B. Johnson. Notably well educated for her time, she proved a capable manager and a shrewd investor. After marrying LBJ in 1934, when he was a political hopeful in Austin, Texas, she used a modest inheritance to bankroll his congressional campaign, and then ran his office while he was serving in the navy. Next, she bought a radio station and then a TV station, which would soon make them millionaires. As First Lady, she broke new ground by interacting directly with Congress, employing her own press secretary, and making a solo electioneering tour. Johnson was a lifelong advocate for beautifying the nation's cities and highways ("Where flowers bloom, so does hope") and the Highway Beautification Act was informally known as Lady Bird's Bill. She was a recipient of the Presi-dential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest US civilian honors.

One of the other stamps –

450 - Arundel Castle, West Sussex, England

Card no 450 - Pat 
Arundel Castle and the River Arun 
Country Card Sent From: England 
Place that Card Sender Lives: Outer Hebrides 
Date Received: 19h March 2013 
Distance Travelled: 203 miles 
Time Taken: 1 day 

Arundel Castle in Arundel, West Sussex, England is a restored medieval castle. It was founded by Roger de Montgomery on Christmas Day 1067. Roger became the first to hold the earldom of Arundel by the graces of William the Conqueror. The castle was damaged in the English Civil War and then restored in the 18th and 19th centuries.

From the 11th century onward, the castle has served as a hereditary stately home and has been in the family of the Duke of Norfolk for over 400 years. It is still the principal seat of the Norfolk family. It is a Grade I listed building.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

449 – A map of Kiev

Card no 449 - Iryna (UA-522573) 
A map of Kiev 
Country Card Sent From: Ukraine 
Place that Card Sender Lives: Kiev 
Date Received: 16h March 2013 
Distance Travelled: 1,432 miles 
Time Taken: 17 days 
 Click to enlarge

Situated on the Dnieper River (one of the major rivers of Europe), Kiev (also Kyiv) is the capital city of Ukraine. After a rough and turbulent history, the town has become an interesting array of old and new buildings. More and more of the culture is being influenced by the characteristics of both Western and European customs, yet the Ukrainians who live here still cling proudly to tradition. Once catapulted onto the world scene by the nuclear reactor blast at Chernobyl, the stunning city of Kiev is a world away from the tragedies of the past.

The modern city of Kiev is home to roughly three million people. Some of these people are foreign diplomats while others are students from other parts of the world. Thus, Kiev has a somewhat cosmopolitan feel. While many of its greater architectural and art treasures were destroyed in the Second World War, that which was left has been restored and now proudly adorns the face of this picturesque city. For a while there were understandable concerns about the safety of living in such close proximity to the destroyed nuclear reactor plant, but most scientists agree that the city is safe from the effects of radiation.

You can find out more about Kiev and Ukraine at the country’s official website.

Fun Facts about Ukraine: The Great Gate of Kiev

One of a number of classical pieces in a suite by Russian composer, Modest Mussorgsky, 'The Great Gate of Kiev', is not actually a gate but a design submitted by artist Victor Hartmann to commemorate the attempted assassination of Tsar Alexander II in the city of Kiev in 1866.  'Pictures from an Exhibition – A Remembrance of Viktor Hartmann' is a suite in ten movements (plus a recurring, varied Promenade) composed for piano in 1874.  The suite is Mussorgsky's most famous piano composition, and has become a showpiece for virtuoso pianists.

Hartmann's early death at the age of thirty-nine devastated Mussorgsky, a close personal friend, and he agreed to become involved in a commemorative art exhibition of over 400 paintings by his friend. The exhibition inspired Mussorgsky to complete his piano suite.  While Pictures in an Exhibition has since been orchestrated by at least ten different composers, Ravel's work is easily the most popular finishing with a bombastic, enthusiastic interpretation of The Great Gate of Kiev, fully reflecting Hartmann's celebratory design.

Hartmann's majestic design for The Great Gate of Kiev caused a sensation, and the artist believed it was the finest work he had ever done. The sketch for stone gates to replace the wooden gates of Kiev incorporated a cupola in the form of a Slavonic helmet. In the design, the archway rested on granite pillars and its peak was to be decorated with a huge headpiece of Russian carved designs including the Russian state eagle.

To commemorate what was referred to by the Tsar as "the event of April 4, 1866", a design competition commenced. Though proposals poured in including a drawing by Hartmann, Russian authorities scrapped the effort and while the Tsar may have been relieved to dodge assassination, explicit acknowledgement of the event may have led to the cancellation of the competition.

These were the stamps.