Tag Archives: Postcards

Just HAD to show you this one!

Here is my latest Polar Bear!!! 

This one made me laugh.

Grrrrrreetings....

 

It is a private swap from Sue, who wrote on the back that the people in Churchhill, Hudson Bay see the polar bears migrate through their town!  And that IRL polar bears are huge and extremely fierce.  I think the one on her card is not living up to this reputation…….. LOL  (You can’t really tell from the picture, but this card is polar bear shaped.)

I also got another postcard from Canada today – an ‘official’ Postcrossing card from Carole featuring another fierce Arctic animal, and with polar bear stamps!

I need to find out who Martin Frobisher is who features on the 5C  stamp. An early explorer I expect.

Polar Problem

On Saturday I received another polar bear to add to my collection. It came from a private swap with another Postcrosser. She wanted penguins – which I have in plenty – and she had a polar bear that looked very cute.  So the deal was done.

 However there must have been a bad mail day somewhere in Europe when my polar bear was on the way, as he arrived looking like this:

Poor 'stuck' Polar Bear

 What appears to have happened is that the mail has got damp somewhere along the way   (which is completely understandable with the nasty nasty weather in the northern hemisphere recently) – there is also a reverse ‘transfer’  of another address on the back of the postcard, and this turned out to be a Czech stamp attached to poor polar bear’s face.  Our builder (the stamp collector!) suggested a little water on a cotton bud to make the stamp damp again and it might peel off – and then I suddenly remembered that in my stamp collecting days I used to sometimes steam the stamps off things I wanted to keep. So PB and I carefully tried that, and it was a great success!!!  There are just a couple of green smudgy bits where the colour has come out of the stamp, and other than that my polar bear is all better. (Well, he will be if he ever mananges to get out of that  yoga position!!!)

New improved Polar Bear plus the stamp that was stuck.

 The info on the back is in German  and says:   

Spielerisch elernen Eisbarkinder ihre Korperfunktionen. Sie kommen klein wie Maulwurfe in einer Schneehohle zur Welt und mussen schnellwashsen. Ein ausgewachsenes Mannchen kann es auf drei  Meter Lange und 600 Kilo Gewicht bringen.

 Which according to Google translates roughly as: Baby polar bears learn their body functions. They are as small as moles(?) when born in the ice caves and must grown quickly. A male polar bear can be as much as 3 metres long and weigh 600 kilos.

Help with the German anyone?

If someone who speaks German would like to give a better translation I’d appreciate it.

 I actually had a fantastic mail week in the end – after only one card on Tuesday initially, because on Friday I also got SIX postcards! Three cats, a lovely wolf and a curious Football mascot called Buck from various swaps, and a wonderful weird cactus from ErikaJean!!   Some of these postcards may be coming soon to a blog near you.

 (And I don’t think we got any bills this week………. LOL)

Waiting for the Mail

Last week I learnt quite a bit about the US postal system thanks to ErikaJean, so in the interests of cross-cultural relations, here is a little about how the mail system works in New Zealand

Our main mail deliverer is NZPost  (previous called the New Zealand Post Office) – and people still say they are ‘going to the Post Office’  although some do so ‘going to the Post shop’.  Most of our ‘Post shops’  provide a wide range of services – sure they sell stamps and all manner of postal supplies, but you could register your car there, pay all sorts of utilities bills, buy a magazine or a birthday card, register to vote, do your banking and probably a whole bunch of other stuff that I can’t remember at the moment.  

However – NZPost does not have a monopoly, and there are other smaller companies who issue valid stamps and have their own postboxes in some towns.  In the end though –even if you can SEND mail via some other company, NZPost will deliver it to the recipient’s mail box.

When I post my Postcrossing  postcards here are some of the places I could be posting them:

Most of my Postcrossing mail gets kindly posted here by PB at his work.

The one and only Post Office in our small town.

The so-called 'sorting centre.' But actually our mail gets trucked to the city to get sorted now.

My nearest street corner post box.

If I am sending mail to someone in New Zealand  it could get delivered to them by an NZPost person who is walking, cycling, riding a little motor scooter or motor bike, or driving a car or truck.  This would depend on which city or town they lived in, or if it was a rural area.

Typically in a suburban area we all have a mailbox to receive our mail at our gate or the end of our driveway.  If we live in a multistory apartment building or a housing estate of some kind – or there are just several homes up a really long drive way – all the mail boxes will be together in the foyer or at the road end of the driveway/entrance.  The average suburban postie will ride a bicycle around their delivery route, though in a hilly town or city they may walk – particularly if their route includes lots of stairs. This website tell a little bit about the task and hours our posties work:  New Zealand Careers.  The picture below is from that website.

Bicycle postie

 However an urban/suburban postie will not drive a vehicle. In a semi-rural or lifestyle block area with more distance between each mail box the postie might ride a motor scooter or a motor bike. In build-up areas like businesses in town or city centres the postie will also walk and generally push a little trolley or have a mail bag over their shoulder, and may deliver the mail into the hands of the receptionist or similar.  But us regular people have to walk out to our front gate or down our driveway to get our mail out of our mail box.  

In a completely rural area the postie will drive and your mail box must be located in such a way that he or she can get to it without getting out of their vehicle.  There are special rural mailboxes that have a little flag on the side that can be raised and lowered, so if you have out-going mail the postie will know to stop. However your Kiwi farmer is often a creative and ingenious fellow, so rural mail boxes can be made out of almost anything that you can find laying around on a farm – any kind of container or barrel or can will do, so long as it’s watertight and the mail fits in it!!!

Rural delivery van - could also be a large car or a small truck

 Not everyone will be able to have their mail box (regular or creative!) outside their farm gate though, as the posties only go down certain roads. So often in a rural area you will see a collection of mail boxes at a road intersection or at the start of a no exit road.  

Rural mail boxes from davidwallphoto.com

I also just discovered today that rural posties ought to be able to sell you stamps on the spot, and should know all the postal rates so that they can do that. However – I don’t think our urban posties have to be able to do that – well, not that I can find out on-line anyway!!!  And if you live in a really remote area your mail may get delivered in a more unique way. Check out this  article for delivery by boat!

Also, not everyone gets their mail delivered to their home, business or farm. In all of these situations it is possible to get a ‘Post Office box’ at your local post shop or postal agency.  

Post Boxes

These New Zealand Post Office boxes are from a group at Flickr dedicated to different mail boxes!  Check it out: Post, Letter & Mail Boxes

 And as for me, I wait for my postie to cycle past  as I can see the road from my ‘office/craft room’ window, and race outside to check this postbox:

Annie's mail box. Is it your letter or postcard in there today!?

Sun, Sand & Surf

I’m not too much of a tropical island girl – I think I’ve mentioned before that the cruise I would want to do would be Alaska, but I thought we all needed to see a bit of sunshine and blue sky, so here is a Postcrossing card from Indonesia.

Bali is the southernmost big island of Indonesia. It’s the most southern place which has a distinctly Asian flora and fauna. This is mostly due to the fact that during Pleistocene when sea levels were lower it was linked to Java & Sumatra and they to the Asian mainland, so animals & plants had the chance to migrate. Bali was however separated from Australia to the south by a very deep strait that was never dry.

This postcard comes from the Postcrosser Ullee who is from the main city of Denpasar. Denpasar is the provincial capital of Bali, but the nearby city of Kuta is the main tourist area, and of course Nusa Beach is the place to go, if you are into that kind of thing.  Tourism is Bali’s main money earner and around 80% of the island’s income is made from tourism. Bali is the wealthiest of all the provinces of Indonesia – in a great part thanks to the tourists, no doubt.  The tourist trade supports a large number of artisans and craftspeople of all kinds in areas such as stone & wood carving, fabric arts and clothing, jewelry making, painting & silverwares

Ullee didn’t write too much on her card, but she has the most fantastic handwriting and as you can see has drawn cute little pictures as well. She has also used very beautiful stamps – including a sort of Christmassy looking one, though I’m sure that Christmas is not a big feature of Balinese life as a bit over 90% of the population follow Balinese Hinduism, which in itself is a change from the predominant Muslim faith of most of Indonesia.  

So, leave the snow and rain behind for a few moments and  enjoy a little visit to the sunny sands of Bali!!

Tropical Beach

Ulle's Message

Cat Collection

Another aspect of Postcrossing for some people is the swaps.  In fact, it seems that some people are mostly only involved in the swaps. Personally I like the surprise of the random mail, and new places & creatures to  learn about.

But in my tidy-up of my stationery when I started Postcrossing (and the big renovation sort out!) I found a little booklet of postcards – all of kittens. So I decided that I would have a go at joining one of the swaps. The one I tried is called a ‘Round Robin’ – you send postcards of a certain theme to a set number of people, and they each send one back to you.  So I joined Lori’s Cat RR#55.  It turned out to be just as fun as getting any other postcard, because in the end the only thing I knew was that the postcard was somehow going to feature a cat.  I received two from the USA, one from Ireland and one from China.

Below are the cats that I received:

From Tobie - USA

From MandyMandy - China

From VolvoMom - USA

From Fisherman - Ireland

Postcard Update

Well, it seems that all my mail arrives at once! Three official Postcrossing postcards arrived today, along with one RR swap, and a card from my Mum. 

I also got a Postcrossing message from DotDot (who sent me the cute Polar Bear postcard:  Polar Pals) which told me the identity of some birds on a previous postcard I had received from Finland. I posted it on my blog here:  Postcrossing Day.   But I had not been able to give any information as I did not know the bird species.

Finnish Birdlife

So here goes courtesy of DotDot:

Eurasian or Common Crane  (Kurki)   Grus grus

This crane species has a very wide ranging territory over most of Europe and much of Asia – being seen in over 80 different countries. Finland is the country with the third highest population of Eurasian cranes; although how this is determined I’m not entirely sure as they are a migratory bird. Perhaps they are counted where they nest.  Birdwatchers in Britain are pretty happy these days, as a small population of Eurasian cranes has started breeding again in the Norfolk Broads after the species having been absent from the UK since the 1600’s.

These cranes prefer various types of wetlands for their nesting, and as with many wetland birds, they are at risk in areas where swamps and bogs are drained for farming, housing or industry.  They are omnivores, which means they eat a wide range of vegetation, insects and small animals such as frogs lizards, snakes & mice, so are also put at risk when these small animals are poisoned.

Cranes are great dancers and singers as they use a complex sequence of moves and calls during courtship, and apparently just for fun and relaxation. They choose a partner for life, and males are equality involved with brooding and caring for the eggs and chicks – what a great example for us!

For a little entertainment – especially for the kids – here is a sort of  ‘pick-a-path’ game to play about Crane migration.

Great Crested Grebe (Silkkiuikku)  Podiceps cristatus

Now this one is kind of embarrassing, because I actually should have recognized it. It is very similar to the  Australasian Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus australis). that we have in New Zealand.  It could partly be put down to the fact that there’s only about 400 of them in NZ and this photo below is about as close as I’ve ever seen one.

Yes - there is a Grebe there!

 But not reeeeally an excuse as I have seen perfectly good photos of our NZ Grebes!! Here is a picture of the New Zealand Grebes, from the Department of Conservation website:   You can see that their crests and head coloring are a bit different than the European grebes.

Picture from New Zealand Department of Conservation website

 The Great Crested Grebe, like the Eurasian Crane has a range that covers the greater part of Europe and Asia, with another sub-species living in Africa, and also migrates, although some populations only migrate locally.

One of the interesting characteristics of all grebes is that they generally build a big messy nest of sticks & reeds, and that sometimes these nests float free. These nests can be very fragile and easily endangered by the wake of motor boats.  In New Zealand at least, the lakes that the grebes frequent  are closed to motor boats. If you look at this picture on the ibc website you will see how at risk the nests can be.

 One of the more endearing sights that you will see when watching a grebe family is the little stripy chicks riding on their parents’ back. The chicks are only allowed to do this for a few weeks before the parents tip them off. However this should be of little concern to the chicks, as they are born able to swim and dive quite well.

Whooper Swan (laulujoutsen) Cygnus Cygnus

The third bird species shown is the Whooper Swan (Laulujoutsen) Cygnus Cygnus, and is in fact the national bird of Finland. It features on the Finnish 1 Euro coin and is a rather elegant bird. Each Whooper Swan has a unique pattern of black & yellow on its beak that is as individual as a fingerprint.

Whooper Swans also mate for life and keep their chicks close for the first winter. They may form family groups with chicks from the previous seasons, and when it is not the breeding season gather in large groups up to 300-400 as they are a social bird. 

The Swan is another bird that migrates and as a species roams over wide areas of Europe and Asia, and occasionally strays make it as far as North America.  I have mentioned in a previous blog about the danger than wind turbines present to some migratory birds, and it seems that the Whooper Swan is another species that may be affected by this danger. However,  they are not at present at any danger of becoming rare, as there is so many Whooper Swans spread over such a large area of Europe & Asia.

This website Birdlist.org http://www.birdlist.org/finland.htm gives a list of all the birds in Finland (and other European countries) including the name of the bird in Finnish.

So thanks DotDot for your information!

All the Way from Arizona

All the way from Arizona in 26 days. Postcrossers on a number of blogs that I have visited have been bemoaning the fact that their mail has slowed down over the holiday season. Now we have evidence – Erika (who is a fellow geocacher, postcrosser and blogger) & I were beginning to think that her postcard had gone missing!!  But after almost a month it arrived safely. 

All the way from Arizona!

I’ve had a bit of a fascination with cacti, as that is the only ‘indoor’ plant PB & I have ever had any success with (and even then, ours have gone on a bit of a sulk the last year since we repotted them.) 

Our biggest cactus

 

The other cacti

 

So I’ve been equally fascinated by Erika’s photos, and especially the little video she did of a cache hunt one day, which showed cacti ‘skeletons’ – which look at least as interesting as the living plants.

The cacti on this postcard are Giant Saguaro or Carnegiea gigantea. They only grow in a small area of the United States, known as the Sonoran Desert, which is mostly in Arizona and extending a little into the southeast of California and down into Mexico.  The Saguaro can live to 150 or even 200 years old. It grows very very slowly (only a couple of centimetres/one inch a year), so large ones like on the postcard will be many decades old.  It says on a couple of the websites I looked at that the ‘average’ Saguro is 30 feet (9 metres) tall with 5 arms, but they can get up to 50 (15 metres) feet tall, with over 25 arms. The flower of the Saguaro is the State flower of Arizona, and is quite pretty but very short lasting. An individual flower will open overnight, and be gone by midday. In this short time it has hopefully been visited by birds or insects or bats, and pollinated. It is only able to be pollinated by pollen from a different Saguaro.  The flowering season is May-June, and only a few flowers on each cactus will open in one night.

The Saguaro and its desert habitat are very different than anything at all that I am used to in New Zealand, so it’s been educational and interesting  to research.  There were so  many YouTube videos about the desert that I could still be watching them!

Here is a website that has a little video and some more information:  DesertUSA

And here is a video from the Arizona Game & Fish department about Saguaro, 

 and another about the Sonoran Desert 

Arizona was the 48th State admitted to the Union in February 14th, 1912 – now I’m not entirely sure what  that means, not being an American, but it sounds like a kind of important thing. The little pictures on the letters show some of the main attractions in Arizona. (The letters are actually die-cut, though that doesn’t show too well on my scan, which really adds to the character of this postcard!)

Firstly, the Grand Canyon. Although of course I’ve hear of the Grand Canyon, I have to confess that I was not entirely sure where in the USA the Grand Canyon was,  but now I know!  The Grand Canyon is one of the most visually spectacular bits of geology on the Earth.  The Canyon has been carved by the power of water – specifically the Colorado River – and is 277 miles (446 km) long. It varies in width from 4 to 18 miles (6.4 to 29 km) and is over a mile (almost 2 kms) deep. It is still only the second deepest canyon in the world, with there being a deeper canyon in Nepal.  The two sides on the Canyon are quite different as the northern side is higher altitude and more remote than the southern side. 90% of the tourists who visit go to the southern side.  If the Grand Canyon is the most visited location in Arizona, the second most visited spot is a very strange one indeed!

Arizona’s second most visited tourist attraction is the ‘London Bridge!’  Yes, that’s right – the actual London Bridge from London, England.  The bridge was sold in 1968 to a wealthy American, dismantled bit by bit, and ‘rebuilt’ near Lake Havasu which is a man-made lake on the Colorado River at the Arizona/California border.  The bridge was actually re-constructed in concrete, with the stone from the original used to cover this on the outside. The whole reason that Robert McCulloch brought the bridge was to attract residents and tourists to the city he was building at Lake Havasu, though in reality the whole thing is kind of fake, as the bridge is not even across a real river. The bridge was rebuilt on land, then the channel underneath it dug out to create an island.

Two of the other spectacular landscapes shown  in the letters are Monument Valley and the Red Rocks of Sedona, which both also seem to be fascinating places.

Polar Pals

Just a quick post to show you a postcard I recieved today from DotDotPC at Postcrossing. This postcard took 16 days to travel 16,984 Kms (10,553 Miles) from Finland.  Of course this one went in my favourites – as would the other postcard I recieved today from ErikaJean !!!! (Erika’s postcard will feature in a longer post soon.)

Polar Pals

DotDot also choose a very appropriate stamp. And it’s a round stamp – we have round stamps in New Zealand, but this is the first I have seen from another country. On the stamp it says “Preserve the Polar Regions and Glaciers.” A sentiment I could not agree with more!

Round Stamp from Finland

From France

This is my first Postcrossing card from France, although Rebecca the sender, is as German student currently studying in France. She sounds like a real language scholar!  The picture is perhaps from the small town of Septemes-les-Vallons, which is in Provence in the south of France. It seems to be just slightly north of Marseille  which is a major coastal city and the second most populated city in France.

The postcard is square which is rather unique, and has an interesting stamp of the Eiffel Tower .

 

On Rebecca’s postcard she tells me that ‘Guten Tag’ is the formal way to say hello in German, and Nouvelle-Zelande is French for New Zealand.

A Bird in the Hand…

With four days of no mail, I’m wierdly beginning to suffer withdrawl!! This postcard is an official Postcrossing card which I got a wee while back, but I haven’t had a chance to find out more about it until now.

Nordseebad Insel Helgoland Basstopel am Lummenfelsen

 

Silke and her family visited the islands of Helgoland. It is in the North Sea, but it is German territory – after having previously belonged to Britain, and Denmark. It is the only part of Germany that is significantly offshore, taking about 3 hours to get there by ferry.  There are two islands in the group, with only the main island of Hauptinsel being permanently inhabited.

Helgoland has had a varied history, but now is mainly known as a tourist location. One important activity on the tourist schedule is bird watching as many species can be found here on the spectacular cliffs. Silke’s postcard shows the Basstolpel otherwise known as the Northern Gannet (Sula bassana). This is a migatory bird that breeds on both sides of the Atlantic, and can be found as far south as the Equator during the winter. Helgoland is one of its breeding spots. This website The Internet Bird Collection  has a great selection of video and photos of the Basstolpel . Well worth a look!

Gannet feed by diving into the water from quite a height to catch small fish. They may also be found scavenging around boats, or stealing from other birds. They range from close in to the shore to far out in the ocean for food. Gannets often partner for life and most commonly nest on island cliffs, and sometimes in steep, protected areas of the mainland. 

These gannets look very similar to the Australasian Gannets  we have nesting in New Zealand at Cape Kidnappers  in the Hawkes Bay. Some sources suggest that the two are not separate species, but just subspecies.  It is possible to do a tour  to view these  New Zealand gannets up close, which is something on my list of things to do the next time we are in the North Island!