Tag Archives: Stamps

Poor Orphan Postcards

Too wet for geocaching today sadly, so we’ve assembled a bookcase and visited PB’s mum in hospital and, well, not a lot else.  So I’ve no geocaching to write about. Instead I’ll show you some poor orphaned postcards that I’ve adopted via Postmuse. They arrived in today’s mail.  Here is the page that explains Postmuse’s project:  Start of Something New.  

My postcards arrived today – one is a sort-of local picture from the West Coast, and the other from our capital city of Wellington. I’m going to tell Postmuse about our visits to both these places.

"The lofty peaks of Mt. Tasman and Mt. Cook reflect dramatically in the dark waters of Lake Matheson.

Lake Matheson  is an absolutely beautiful scenic location near Fox Glacier, a few hours south of where we live.  Its considered to be high up on the list of places to visit in New Zealand.  We’ve decided that it must only ever look like this on the days that overseas tourists are visiting, because we’ve never had good weather down at the Glaciers. The once that we have walked all the way round the lake, it was misty, rainy, dismal & grey and we barely saw the lake, never mind the reflections! However, there’s plenty of photographic evidence that it does look beautiful.  There are also some really great geocaches down in this area and futher, as well as a few not so great.  One of our favourites from about 50k south is GCHF60 Paringa.

This postcard also has a cute little design along the edge on the back, which I’ve never seen before on any New Zealand card, so perhaps that is not the ‘fashion’ in postcards now. 

The second postcard shows our Parliament buildings. The strangely shaped building to the left is known as ‘The Beehive.’

Parliment Buildings, wellington, New Zealand

 Sometimes, no doubt, our politicians are as busy as bees, but other times I truly wonder …….   

PB and I had a two week holiday (vacation) travelling around the lower half of the North Island  in January 2009. We went to dozens of new places and found  over  150 caches including breaking the 1000 caches found barrier.  We found a couple of caches around the Beehive – of course there are no caches too close to the buildings.  GC10KTP Sweet Lunch Spot  was in a surprising  little quiet area, near some really unusual sculptures. Everyone should try to visit the centre of government for their country at least once, so now we can say we’ve done that.  Possibly we’ll even be back again – there’s quite a few more caches in Wellington…..

Postmuse also used some really nice stamps on the envelope the postcards were in.

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A Postcard and a Puzzle

This week I received quite a few Postcrossing postcards, and a curious gift from our builder.  He discovered that I liked postcards – turns out he collects stamps, and he gave me a bundle of old postcards that he was about to throw out.  So now my mission is to find out what I can about them. They are French, German, Swiss, and one Italian one, and maybe up to 50 or 60 years old.

So today I’ve been having a little lesson about the Swiss Alps – as it happens one of the Postcrossing cards I received this week is a picture of these mountains, along with two of the mystery postcards!

Firstly, my Postcrossing card which is from Somedaisy in Switzerland, and took 11 days to get to me. It seems that Somedaisy is a very energetic person as she wants to do some serious mountain climbing!

Pennine Alps in Switzerland

 

This picture is the Walliser Alpen  (otherwise known as the Pennine Alps. ) This mountain range is partly in Switzerland and partly in Italy.  It has high peaks – 10 of the twelve highest peaks in Europe – and steep deep valleys. It is a very culturally diverse area and often different languages are spoken in neighbouring valleys.  Two famous peaks that are in the Pennine Alps are the Matterhorn 14692 ft/4478 m and Mount Rosa 15203 ft/4633 m.  It is possible to drive THROUGH this mountain range via the 5.7 kilometre long Great Saint Bernard Tunnel.  It is also possible during summer to drive OVER the Great Saint Bernard Pass. Both the pass and the tunnel are named after St Bernard who founded a hospice and monastery high on the Pass in 962 in order to assist those who were attempting to cross the Pass.

 Now – the first of my puzzle postcards.

Grindelwald and The Wetterhorn

Back of card

 

This is a view of the village of Grindelwald, and the Wetterhorn.  The Wetterhorn is a peak in the Bernese Alps of Switzerland. Its  tallest summit is 12142 feet or 3692 metres, but there are actually three summits of almost similar heights. Grindelwald is also the name of the municipality (county) that the village is in.  It is a small village with a population of around 4000 people, and tourism is important to the whole area – as you might expect in such a beautiful part of the world. The scenery around the area has had a starring role in a range of films including a James Bond movie, a Star Wars movie and The Golden  Compass.

The photo below comes from my old friend Wikipedia, and shows almost the same view as the postcard. PB and I have been trying to figure out if any of the buildings are the same!!

 

My puzzle is – how old is this postcard and is it possible to tell when the photo was taken – which may or may not be the same era?  So any ‘vintage’ postcard people out there – please help me out.

So puzzle postcard number two.

Niesenbahn Funicular

 

This one has a little more information in that it has been postmarked, and written on (in German?) The postmark says -4.X.52, which I’m reading as 04 October 1952. And also the numbers 2362m – which I’m suspecting is the height of the mountain as that is also on the postcard – so perhaps it was specially postmarked as a touristy thing at the top of the mountain.  The funicular  is called the Niesenbahn, and was opened in 1910 – which I imagine must have been quite a feat of engineering in its time.   It continues to run today during the European Summer  but according to its website , it is in ‘hibernation’ at present!  This is basically a type of cable car where the carriage travelling down balances the one travelling up a steep incline. The Niesenbahn is the longest ‘continuous cable’ funicular in Europe. There are steps going up the mountain beside the funicular that are used for maintenance and it is reputedly the longest staircase in the world. The Guinness Book of records says so, so it must be right, but unfortunately only maintenance people can access the steps.

The village at the bottom of the Niesenbahn is called Mulenen and the summit is called Niesenkulm and is at 2362 metres.

The other interesting thing about this postcard is that it has the names of the peaks printed right on to it – but I think I’ll have to get out a magnifying glass to read them!

 
   

Visions of White

This post is now part of the Festival of Postcards, coordinated by Evelyn at her blog, A Canadian Family. The theme of the Festival is “White.”  Visit the festival at  Festival of Postcards (6th Ed.) – White!

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White. What do you first think of when you see or hear the word white? For me it’s Antarctica. If I go south from New Zealand, well, that would be the first place I get to – and quite often it feels like our weather is coming directly up from there. (Strangely enough, because it is!)

So Antarctic and Arctic animals fascinated me.  Whether you believe in Mother Nature, Father God or something else altogether, the fact that creatures can live in the conditions encountered near our Poles is completely phenomenal.

I mean, would you care for your unborn baby in temperatures of around minus 60 degrees Celsius (minus 80 Fahrenheit) with winds of over 100 miles per hour. Emperor Penguins do, with no trouble at all!  These awesome birds have no nest, no homes – just a warm brood patch to tuck their eggs into as they balance it on their feet. And what’s more – it’s the dads who do this.  Unfortunately I don’t have a postcard of an Emperor Penguin, but you can check them out here:  Antarctic Connection: Wildlife of Antarctica.

I do however have Adelie penguins! So from the largest penguin of Antarctica, we go to the smallest.

Diving Adelie Penguins

These ones are from a group that nests at Cape Royds, Ross Island which at latitude 77 South, is the southernmost penguin colony in the world. These little Adelies have a different strategy that the big Emperors. The Adelie Penguin raises its chicks entirely during the short summer season, so that the young penguins are ready to leave their parents before McMurdo Sound ices over for the winter.  Beginning in September and ending in March, the journey across ice and land to the nesting site must be made, a mate found, nest built or repaired, eggs laid, incubated and hatched and a young chick prepared for a life at sea.  It’s a big challenge but the Adelie Penguins complete it.  The babies grow very quickly in their first months and it’s quite a struggle for the parents to keep feeding them.  After about a month the chicks are left together with other chicks in a penguin crèche (yes really!) and both parents go out to sea to find food. The chicks grow larger than their parents, but with grey downy feathers instead of their adult colourings.  Eventually the chicks shed the grey fluff and prepare for life in the ocean on the ice packs. They live at sea on the ice during winter, in a white white world.

Bedraggled Adelie penguin chick

These Adelie Penguin postcards – and some other Antarctic penguins – have been with me for a long while. In fact I’d forgotten that I had them, until I sorted my stationery when I started Postcrossing recently. So I don’t know when or where they are from, just that I likely brought them myself, as they are not written or stamped.

Now, from being as far in the southern whiteness as we can go, we’ll head north to the tundra and ice packs of the Arctic Circle for our next creature. One of my favourite animals is the Polar Bear, Ursus maritimus or the “sea bear.” Polar bear spend as much time on the ice as on land, and are the only ‘marine’ bear.

Polar bears are considered to be a threatened species by the USA.  The state of Alaska is one of the areas that polar bears inhabit, along with Canada, Russia, Norway and Greenland (which is part of Denmark.) An estimated 60% of the polar bear population is found in Canada.  Polar bear populations have been affected by the decline in sea ice. This is thought to be caused by ‘global warming.’ Polar bears are reliant on the ice for their hunting and breeding so a decline in ice negatively affects population numbers.  There may also be more risk of polar bear/human encounters as polar bears are driven ashore in the search for food as there is less sea ice. What food could there be out on the ice you wonder? Polar Bears eat seals mostly, but will scavenge anything such as dead whales and walruses, and have been known to kill young ones. When their favourite seals are unavailable the bears will eat any kind of meat such as birds, fish, eggs, small land creatures and also sea weed and berries.  They have been reduced to eating human garbage, which calls problems for bears and humans alike.

I find it completely amazing that a creature like a bear lives almost entirely on the ice, and is able to survive taking a polar dip in the ocean. Its extra-ordinary ability to survive in extreme conditions is in part due to the deep layer of blubber. (The rest of us would call it fat, and would not be quite so proud to bear an 11cm (4.5 inches) layer of it under our skin!) This blubber is topped with a layer of dense fur of different lengths including a thick layer of under fur. Polar bear fur is not actually white (What? Out they go – no polar bears in this Festival of Postcards then!!!) The fur is transparent – that is, no colour at all – and hollow. And what’s more, polar bear skin is black. Both these characteristics are also mechanisms that help the polar bear to gain and retain heat.  As you are probably aware from personal experience, dark surfaces absorb more heat – thus when there is sun in the polar bears’ habitat its skin will absorb the warm from the sun. The hollow hairs trap warm air, giving the polar bear another layer of protection.  A polar bear apparently appears white to our human eye due to the fur reflecting the white light of its snow and ice covered surroundings.

 The card below is a private swap courtesy of SibCat at Postcrossing who saw that I would like a polar bear card and offered to send me one. Such is the kindness of Postcrossers!  He received a kiwi in return, of course!  I also really appreciate the polar bear stamp.

 

The second card was sent by my sister and is one of my favourite postcards ever. According to the information on the back of the card, this is an image from the “2000 BG Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition organised by BBC Wildlife Magazine and the National History Museum, London.” The photo is by Kennan Ward of the USA and is titled’ Polar Bears Cooling off After Play.’  To quote the back of the card:

 These Canadian Polar Bears in Churchill, Manitoba, have just spent several hours play-fighting. Polar bears are insulated from the cold by their black hide and think layer of blubber. Vigorous activity can make them overheat, and the bears need a break from their games to cool down. Spacing themselves out evenly across the ice-floe means that if one of them starts to move around again, the others have enough time to respond.

So even polar bears have playtime!

Information sources:

Antarctic Connection

Polar Bear – Wikipedia  

Polar Bears International

Seaworld 

From Poland

This postcard is from iastusthem at Postcrosser from Poland.  I saw it on his blog and asked if he would swap with me, as I like nightscenes, and here it is. It show a variety of the most famous locations in the  Main Square in the city of Krakow (or Cracow.)      

   

Cloth Hall  or Sukiennice

This is possibly the oldest mall in the world! It has been functioning in various guises since the 1300s, when it began life as a line of stall selling mostly textiles, and a place for traders to meet and carry out their deals.  Now days there are stalls and shops selling mostly souvenirs on the lower level, and Krakow National Museum upstairs.

The Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.  

This church was originally built prior to 1300, and rebuilt again there-after. The current building was completed in 1397 but the towers were added in the 15th Century. The lower tower contains five bells, and from the higher watchtower a hejnal ( bugle) plays every hour. This church is most famous for its carved altar which is the largest surviving piece of medieval art of its kind. The feature that I would most want to see is the 14th century stained glass. It would also be quite some experience to hear Mass said in Latin in such a place!! There are many websites featuring the church.    

Adalbert’s Church

This is the oldest church in Poland. Its origins are in the last years of the 10th Century. Legend has it that Saint Adalbert    consecrated the church in 997. The first church on the site was a wooden structure, with a stone building being built in the 12th century. The building’s present appearance is due to 18th century renovations.  An unusual feature of this church is that the interior is below the level of the surrounding plaza, due to the pavement of the plaza rising a couple of metres over the centuries as it was re-paved. 

 Town Hall Tower

The Town Hall was built in the late 13th century, and demolished in 1820 in an effort to improve the Main Square. The tower is the only remaining part of the building, and has an unfortunate lean of 55cm as a result of a severe storm in 1703. Reputedly the original occupants of the town hall cellars were a torture chamber and a beer hall, nowadays fortunately replaced with a café and a theatre.  Visitors can also climb the 100 steps of the tower up to great views of the city of Krakow.

Monument of Adam Mickiewicz

Adam Mickiewicz was a famous Polish poet of the 19th century. Strangely, he never visited Krakow in life, but in 1890 his remains were brought there from Paris, where he had been buried, after first having been buried in Istanbul where he died in 1855!!! So after his third burial he rests peacefully in the Wawel Cathedral in Krakow.

The bronze monument was unveiled on June 16th, 1898 exactly 100 years after Mickiewicz’s birth. In 1940 during the Second World War the monument was ruined by the Nazis. Fortunately in 1946 most parts of it were located in a scrap metal yard in Hamburg, Germany so it was able to be restored to its original condition.

Krakow appears to be a fascinating city with an enormous amount of history and amazing buildings. This is recognized by the fact that the centre of Krakow is a Unesco World Heritage area.  Another location to add to the places to visit in my dreams!!!! :0

And for us geocachers – well, there are currently 50 caches  within 10 miles of the Main Square.

Stamp Collectors….

I  possibly have something you want …..

Stamps looking for homes

 

In the quest to restore my craft room/office/storage of teaching resources space into something resembling …. well, I’d setttle for a room where I can actually FIND stuff ….. I came across a pile ( hmmmm – truthfully – several piles of )stamps.  They used to go to a mission group, but the group doesn’t want them any more.

But if you want some of them I’m sure we can come to an arrangement. Because you’ve got something I want –Postcards!!!

So here’s what we’ll do. The first five stamp collecting people who leave a comment on my blog telling me that they want stamps will get some of them.  Similar to, but not exactly the same as, the example below —  around about 15-16  New Zealand Post stamps of different denominations with a couple of double ups, and a couple from the other random stamp creating companies we have here.  What you see is what you get in terms of the sort of condition they are in.

Similar (but not exactly the same) assortment to this.

Closer View 1

Closer View 2

Your email will be on you blog comment when I recieve it, so I will email you back and we will swap addresses. You will send

me a postcard – linkie here to my Postcrossing profile which explains what kinds I like.  And I will put your stamps in a little plastic baggie (geocachers have lots of those!) and in an envelope, and send them to you!  So you’ll also get a bonus stamp or two on the envelope.

If this experiment works I will do it again early-ish next year, as I will have more stamps by then due to the iminent arrival of Christmas cards.

Let me know what you think?