Friday, 30 December 2016

Cold...and flu


It's another cold day here; one of those days when it is cold and frosty and the sun is at war with the fog to see who will rule the day. We are spending most of these cold days just huddled around the fire but on the occasions when we have to go out it feels like Antarctica out there. When you first step out the door you are struck with how still everything is, sound is muted, and those cries of the sheep in the adjacent paddock sound like disembodied wails rather than new lambs looking for their mothers. The smoke from the fireplace hangs in the air like a spectre, swirling around you in defiance rather than drifting away while giving you the impression you are walking through a dream. The ground is crunchy underfoot and the cold penetrates the soles of your feet which makes you move faster to complete your task rather than admire the scene which looks as if it has been dusted with sugar. Pretty as it is, warmth is more inviting making our quest for firewood more urgent.

It sounds a bit dire, and perhaps it is. We are all ill with the flu, though, thankfully we're over the rough patch that kept us all down under the covers. Any task was a group effort taking much longer than average. Christmas came and went and we were more interested in finding wood than opening gifts. The fridge is still overstocked with all the food we bought to make the holidays festive, food that made us blanch to even think about just a few days ago. Soup and tea were on the menu every day and how grateful we were to have it.

At the moment we are up and about, albeit slowly. Every little job done needs a short rest afterwards. I've never felt so wrung out in my life as I have felt these past two weeks. Now my mind drifts to letters and I want to write, but still I go slowly. My pen can't keep up with my thoughts and I tire easily just trying to get words on my paper. Typing this has taken more time that I'll admit to though it feels good to be writing. It's cold in this room but it is enjoyable to be quiet with myself and my thoughts for a short time rather than in cramped comfort in front of the fire watching old movies. It's a nice respite even though my fingers and toes are stiff with the cold. Our drafty old building site of a house is pretty but not very inviting on these frosty days. My ancient old desk top computer means I have to brave the cold of the study to type but I'll enjoy the warmth of the hearth even more when I return to the sitting room.

For now I will leave you will all good wishes for the New Year. I'm writing letters slowly, but hope to answer all in good time.   

Friday, 16 December 2016

Happy Birthday Jane!



For all you Janeites out there, today is Jane Austen Day. On this day 241 years ago, Jane Austen, was born. Jane's unique voice as an author has given both pleasure and inspiration to so many. The number of books, movie adaptations, biographies and etc that have been produced because of the influence of this one person is astounding. She has a fan base to rival any pop/movie star, clubs and societies worldwide, even a day in September when people go to the City of Bath and dress in Georgian style to emulate Jane and her life.

Even though her books are considered classics, people still read them, unlike most other works of literature which people claim to read but really don't! I've read most of Jane's books...two to go, I love that I still have something of Jane to discover so I have been savouring her work. Today I may just begin one of the remaining two to mark the day. Or, I may set aside time to write some crossed letters to friends and fellow Janeites.


Happy Birthday dear Jane!

Thursday, 22 September 2016


Preservation


It's another sunny but breezy day here and I'm thinking about my letters. I've been doing an on line course in genealogy over the past six weeks and it's taken up a lot of my free time. I just finished my last test and earned my certificate, now my mind is on letter writing.

During the course we learned a lot of things about researching and maintaining your family history. There were some very interesting things discussed that I thought, as a letter writer were important for conserving the letters we receive. I think all letters are valuable whether they are for preserving you family's history or for the sake of saving a cherished correspondence, so I was particularly interested in this part of the course.

Backing your data up in several different ways was the first order of business along with some of the more obvious suggestions for keeping your research safe, but a lot of family historians have sheaves of paper documents and source material that needs to be safeguarded too. No one likes to think of things like fire and floods but believe it or not, both of these things have robbed me of letters I was saving so I think passing on some of the hints we discussed in the course is not a bad thing.

A few things to remember when you want to keep your precious paperwork safe is making sure they are not stored in a damp place. Think about keeping things in air-tight containers, and storing them up off the floor. Check them from time to time to make sure the way in which you are storing them is working. It all sounds so simple, but like I said earlier, I lost most of my letters, once when the neighbour upstairs decided to install a washing machine in her flat and flooded my apartment, and again when lightning stuck my house and burnt it out. You never know what to expect so it's better to be prepared for anything!

That being said, letters, either as history or from friendships through the post, along with being stored safely, should be written in a way that will keep those paper conversations alive for the future. One of the crucial components of letter writing is the instrument that records your thoughts. Many of my pen pals are pen aficionados and prefer writing with pen and ink or fountain pens. Like most of you, I love the look of a fountain pen. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say something that will most likely shock you...I prefer writing with a ballpoint pen. Fountain pens, roller balls, gel pens are not really user friendly for me and my handwriting morphs into a scrawl that I'm not happy with.. I can almost hear the collective gasp amongst you and I sense you have all taken a step back from me in horror. I know, the fountain pen is the Holy Grail of letter writing, but I like my medium point Bic Crystal. For the way I write, it gives me flow and balance and I can write easily with it, so you can imagine how shocked I was when I learned that ball point pen fades in time. I didn't believe it but then I looked at one of my old journals and it was sadly disappearing, not only that but the writing on the backs of all my photos was slowly fading away too. This was bad news for me. I now have the monumental task of re-writing all the information on my photos before it's completely obliterated and I must find a new pen of choice.

I'm sure, if R, a guy I worked with ages ago at the book store could read this, he'd be saying something like "I tried to help you..." R and I had a constant dialogue on calligraphy and ink pens which always seemed to end in stalemate. He, a graphic designer, wanted to perfect my writing, me the amateur, countered by telling him my handwriting was uniquely individual and that anyone could do calligraphy. He'd switch tactics and try to tell me the best pen to write with was a fountain pen and on and on the debate went. In the end, he laughingly gave me a book from his own library which highlighted a steadfast ballpoint pen fan who whose handwriting was lovely. Uncannily, it was very similar to my own handwriting. R and I agreed to disagree in the end, and I still quietly used my ballpoint pen.

Now, here I am, admitting defeat and looking for another writing instrument.



 At least my search starts with an old friend. I found this Bic fountain pen that I thought I would try. I also indulged in a Parker pen. So far, the Parker is easier for me to write with as the Bic fountain pen is a pudgy and shorter than its cousin the crystal. I'm sure I will try others too, this is just a start. My son has a Lamy fountain pen that I quite like as well. I think this is just the beginning of my search. There are so many pens to choose from, but it will be a fun search, if nothing else.



Thursday, 28 July 2016


The Heat is on!
Well, right out of the blue, just like that, summer arrived. And just when I never never thought I would see the sun again. That's how it is in England a lot of the time. The garden centres and DIY stores have adverts that go something like this: "Get your house and garden ready for when summer finally arrives!" Up until now, which is typical of our area, we've been having an extended spring with cooler temps and rain almost daily. You get to a point where you just don't expect it anymore. I overheare a conversation at the market one day when a man remarked, "Mary, is that the sun?" To which she replied "Don't be silly, the sun is just an urban legend."
The past few days have been hot like Ella Fitzgerald's Summertime, slow and meandering. I have the day to myself so I thought I would sit in the shade and enjoy the day writing to my friends. Life is good on these kinds of days enjoy the day writing to my friends. Life is good on these kinds of when “the livin' is easy” and I can take my time.
I took my little table down to by the ha-ha and set up under the old rowan tree that's covered in an endless vine of honeysuckley, in a shady spot so I could enjoy the view beyond the paddock that abuts our garden. The sky was blue and the clouds, puffy white fluffs, drifted leisurely by; it was heaven. Several house went by before I even thought about making dinner, but on a day like today, who cares? It was pure bliss, every single minute I sat there.
The cat soaked up the atmosphere as well, keeping me company while I gazed out over the vista before me and sipped my cool water with lemon and composed my missives. It's funny really how the thoughts and ideas you have can take on a whole new shape when you change the location you write in. Normally I sit at my desk in my bedroom which faces the front of the house and I have much the same view, but sitting out here, I almost felt as if I were a part of the scenery and not just looking at it. My writing came easily to me as I sat there and I answered several of my letters and even wrote a few postcards as well.
A day just couldn't get any better than that, or could it? One by one the cows who'd been grazing in the paddock in front of me, came by, curious to see what I was doing. I found this a bit amusing because usually they don't even notice when I stroll up to the ha-ha to look out over the field, so it was a surprise to look up and realize I was being watched by each one of them at some time or another.
How do you spend your lazy summer days?
PS, I apologize for all the spaces, Blogger isn't playing nice today and at first everything came out double spaced and when I got rid of that it put all the space between the paragraphs.

Saturday, 2 July 2016


  Tea for 2  6






                                                      

Last month the Queen celebrated her 90th birthday so all around the UK people were hosting tea parties in her honour. I'd wanted to attend one of the many tea parties, but living rurally in the middle of acres of sheep, cows and apple orchards, I didn't have that pleasure. Not for want of trying; I'd even gone out and bought a hat. You probably know that to the British woman, a hat, is still quite a statement of fashion and as I adore hats I was determined.


As time went on, I couldn't manage to find a venue that was hosting a tea party in my area and conceded defeat. Then one day in town, I walked into a charity shop, saw these little beauties and an idea was born.




I decided to host another postal tea party. I'd done this before in honour of her majesty’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012. That tea party, although a success, had many wrinkles to iron out. This time there would be no icing melting off the cupcakes and onto the plate in a puddle, nor would my rapt attention in getting everything just right result in my tea towel smouldering on the stove top. Items would not be left out only to be posted separately, causing confusion and finally, all tea party parcels would be mailed at the same time. Sounds simple, but first time around was a bit of a fiasco so this time the incontrovertible list was employed to keep me on track.


I set out to find sweet and savoury treats as well as nice teas to offer my guests; things that would be travel friendly in the post. For example things that would not melt if they were to go to warmer climes. I also endeavoured to have variety of tastes. I decided on two different cakes and shortbread biscuits, as well as savoury crackers in three flavours. Ideally, little finger sandwiches would have been more apropos but sending anything like that through the post would not have worked on any level, so the crackers added a nice touch of savoury to compliment the sweets. Choosing the tea was probably not as easy. I wanted it to be a traditional tea, but also something the guests may not have tried before to give a little mystery. In the end, I decided to include two teas, the first an English tea, appropriately called London Tea and the second a tea, more of a desert tea called Cherry Bakewell, which is reminiscent of a beloved English pudding (read dessert.) Finally, for the tea there were demerara sugar cubes for a bit of panache.


Once the food items were found, I shopped for vintage napkins and made buntings just for a hint of old-fashioned style. Invitations were made from British themed note cards. At first I was going to craft the invites but came across the note cards while searching for something else and decided they were just the thing. Tea towels with scenes of Buckingham Palace added a nice touch too and just for fun I sent Union Jack cupcake papers and cake picks depicting iconic British things. I packaged things with ribbons and lovely stickers and I was very satisfied with the overall presentation.  


My next feat was to set the scene and dress the table. I love linens and probably buy more than I should but when I see these vintage lovelies in the charity shops, things that were cherished by someone, I can't help but buy them and give them new life. I chose a spot in the garden near the wisteria that grows up the side of our house and the scent added another nuance to my tea party. I found a beautiful table cloth, added a small vase of flowers from my garden, and set out the tea things. My chair was cushioned with pretty little vintage pillows that were either crocheted or embroidered, and I brought out my parasol just in case the sun became too hot. It was an absolutely glorious day, the sun shining bright and a gentle breeze blowing. Pictures were taken, by the hundred, to get just the right view to include in my parcels then, finally, I sat down to tea and enjoyed the mid afternoon in such a pleasant way. Like Mrs. Duffy, one of my esteemed guests, I wrote as I savoured my tea and couldn't imagine a nicer way to pass the afternoon.

I hope my guests were as pleased as I was and from their comments, I think they were. Some of my guests, like my dearest friend Limner, have mentioned the tea party on their blog, and I couldn't be happier that she enjoyed it so much. Lady Pamela, another of my honoured guests, sounded delighted when she talked of received her parcel. I aspired to create something that was pretty, and at the same time offer a charming afternoon tea with all the trimmings and I think I may just have got it right this time. Everything went smoothly...no smouldering tea towels or melting cupcakes.


PS.  Since I made this post, another of my lovely guests, Jen, posted about her tea party experience which you can view here.  Lady Pamela has written further on her  tea party too, and it sounds like she had a ball.

Each tea party has a magic of its own and I'm so enjoying reading about them all.  It's amazing how one little idea can blossom into something so wonderful.  It pays to think outside the envelope every now and then, don't you agree?



Thursday, 16 June 2016

Good Mail Yay!



Recently Mrs. Duffy was talking about the magical power of mail to elevate your mood. I've always been a firm believer in this and then I received this “pull” flip book in the post and my beliefs were reaffirmed. I've never seen a flip book like this before so the wonder of exploring it equaled the thrill in receiving it. This was a book I received from a swap I participated in on Swap-Bot. I hope my partner was as excited to receive the book I made her as I was to receive my swap from Sisi in The Netherlands.



I didn't quite know what to expect when I untied the string holding it closed, but when I unfolded the flaps, I was enchanted by what lay inside. There was a little tab at the end that said “pull” and when I did, the pages cleverly opened one by one showing the goodness inside.







 To say I was pleased with this swap is a gross understatement! I think Sisi outdid herself on this swap and I am so happy I was the recipient.























Wednesday, 1 June 2016

June 1st is National Pen Pal Day

Today is National Pen Pal Day in the United States but that doesn't mean the rest of us pen pals scattered around the world can't observe such a great day too.

This holiday was started by Rosie Tholl, an avid pen pal and a very nice lady. She has a great love for the written word and has been writing to people around the world for over 40 years. Rosie has been involved with many pen pal gatherings over the years including pen pal picnics and also larger gatherings like Pen Pals United which was held every other year from 1992 to 2008.

I've been doing some writing today and also concentrating on my second postal tea party. Yes, you read that right, I'm having a long distance tea party. I've happily been putting together my little parcels to go out in the post to my guests. My last tea party celebrated the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and this tea party I'm working on will be in honour of the Queen's 90th birthday. There will be tea parties hosted throughout the country this month to mark the Queen's special day so I thought I would host one too. I'll write more about the actually tea party in another post.


Whatever you're doing today, take a moment out and write a little something to someone.  

Thursday, 19 May 2016

A Good Mail Day





Hello my lovelies. Today I wanted to show you one of the fabulous things I received in the post. As you know I participate in swaps over at Swap-Bot and this particular swap was for a book related flip book. I was absolutely thrilled to pieces to get it in the mail as it encompasses some of my very favourite things; namely books, tea and Jane Austen. Have a look.



Just opening the package and seeing how beautifully it was wrapped was a delight, but when I opened the book up, it just kept getting better and better. My partner really went all out for this, and the fact that she personalized it to include things I like made it very special.




There were several pages and each had pockets to look in, or flaps to lift and explore. The pages of the flip book had excerpts from Pride and Prejudice artfully used as background for the sweet little tea time embellisments that filled the pages.




Lisa, also a fellow Janeite, chose some lovely goodies to put in with this swap and it was so artfully and thoughtfully done that it's my favourite flip book. Thank you Lisa!

Thursday, 5 May 2016



The Perfect Ending

The Write on Challenge is finished now and I'm still writing my letter a day. This is a beneficial thing on two levels; one being that my letters get replied to promptly and secondly, it does not overtax my hands. I have a problem with carpal tunnel syndrome that is aggravated by arthritis and when I do too much I have a great deal of difficultly, so writing and working in moderation suits me just fine.

The last day of the Letter Writing Month Challenge culminated in a perfect ending for me. I received two letters. The first was from Mrs. Duffy whose beautiful handwriting and signature ink colours make her letters stand out. She has such a distinctive style and it's a pleasure to receive a letter from her. The second letter was from a new friend who undertook the Write on Challenge too. Jen sent her letter in an incredible envelope which she crafted herself. She also included a wonderful poem by Anne Sexton. April was also Poetry Month so Jen cleverly incorporated the two by sending poems with all her letters and I was delighted to be the recipient of one of her carefully chosen poems.


This month ended on a high note for me. I've conquered my pile of mail to be replied to with only one or two remaining and have bonded with others who took the challenge. It's been a worthwhile experience to me as I now have that anticipation for writing my daily letter which serves to make it a better conversation and I enjoy the process so much more now.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Winding Down

Well, I finally have broadband back after two weeks. Yay! Tomorrow is the last day of the Write on Challenge for Letter Writing Month. At first it started out a bit frantic trying to make sure I wrote something every day. I had quite a few letters to answer and it all felt so daunting. I was hoping this challenge would help me re-establish my flow and get back to enjoying the process of writing a letter to a friend and that is just what it has done for me. Now I sit down and feel calmer and more open to a paper chat without the angst of just getting a letter written. It took me a week to slow down and know that I would have time to write, because I planned for it, rather than just sitting down and trying to dash something off, which kind of defeats the purpose of writing a letter. It should be an enjoyable process, not something you dread because you haven't give yourself time to really have a conversation. I've managed to write at least one missive a day and sometimes two, and on the odd day, three! My desk doesn't look like a disaster area any more; everything has gone neatly back to order as my to-be-written pile got smaller. I still have a few letters to reply to but I'm looking forward to writing them.


Another thing that helped me along the way was the encouragement and input from others doing the challenge too. It's nice to have a community of friends to support you when you are frazzled and trying to get back to good writing habits, so thank you to all of my letter friends for your kind words of encouragement and for those who took the time to comment and/or write, these things helped me to continue on each day. They really made the difference for me staying committed to the challenge. I have come away from this with a deeper appreciation for my letter writing, and that is such a good feeling.

Friday, 22 April 2016

You Can't Stop Progress


Well, I was all set to sit down and write a post about making the half-way mark in the Letter Writing Month challenge and discovered we had no broadband. Then we discovered we had no phone line. Then my mobile/cell phone just decided not to do internet any more when I went to town, and while trying to ring the phone company, all available funds were used. That was Friday, mid-morning, it's Friday again and we have the phone back on but internet still eludes us for some reason. I am writing this on borrowed internet access in hope that the internet provider will keep their word in restoring our broadband to us later today.

It's been strange really, not doing the daily morning ritual of checking my mail while I boil the kettle for the tea. I have been spending more time writing, which is a good thing. I've been writing more than one letter a day for this challenge and I'm getting caught up on all my responses and that is a great feeling. Once the angst of replying to everyone in the to-be-written pile had lessened, I began enjoying the process of writing again. At first, I confess, I was writing in a frenzied kind of manner with the sole purpose of getting back on top of my correspondence, but now, I've got my flow and it's not so break-neck, but leisurely and I am enjoying that. That's a better frame of mind to sit down for a paper chat with a friend.

And so, the challenge continues albeit in a more calm manner.

PS.  Happy Earth Day!


Thursday, 14 April 2016

                   A Note From the Past





Restoring an old house is hard work but there are times when it all pays off. My son and I have been stripping wallpaper in one of the upstairs rooms and while it's not such a daunting job now that we have the wallpaper steamer, it still requires patience and stamina. As I work I contemplate who I will write to next and formulate part of the letter in my mind. It takes the tedium out of removing wallpaper for one thing and happily keeps my mind occupied which serves to help keep me on track with my Letter Writing Month challenge.

The other day while we were working away in Cynthia's room, so called as we found her calling card under the floor boards while doing some plumbing, my son shouted with delight as he began to pull away a strip of paper and discover there was something written underneath. It was just a small note but it made our day to find it. There was a circle with the signature and date of the man who had wallpapered the room.

Mr. Morris may have thought he was being cheeky leaving a secret message under the paper which only the next decorator would find, but for us it was a message from the past which gave us a little more insight into when the room had last been redecorated. There were other telling things under the wallpaper, like bits of wood put in at regular intervals that tell us there was some ornate valance above the window, but it was just that little circle of words that captured our imagination and our work became more animated as we wondered what else we may find as we scraped away.

We did find other writing, jottings from the builder who installed the sink complete diagram and the words Basin and Mirror along with arrows showing where they were to be set. They were interesting finds too but we still loved finding Mr. Morris' details which in turn inspired my son and I to write something of our own to be discovered by the next decorator.


Sunday, 10 April 2016

                                     Still Going Strong

Well, it's day 10 of Letter Writing Month and I'm still going strong. I have written a total of 19 letters so far this month and now the to-be-written pile is not so impending! Yesterday I wrote to a cousin and a former co-worker and it was nice to sit and catch up with them. I like to write in the mid morning, I seem inspired at that time of the day and it's when I do most of my writing. It's quiet and the sun isn't so direct. My writing table faces the window and the view is gorgeous and it's just nice sitting there putting pen to paper.

 Here are some photos of the crafts I've been sending out. I was recently in a couple of swaps to make snail mail flip books and I must say I do enjoy the process. What I like about it is each book has it's own style. Once I look at my partner's profile and see what colours and styles they like, that shapes what the book will eventually become. This first flip book is my favourite. Probably because it encompasses all my own favourite colours. I just couldn't stop adding things to it. I had to just wrap it up in the end or I never would have gotten it in the post on time! 


This next book turned out nicely. I was going for a minimalist look with soft colours and this came out just the way I wanted it to. I love the chalkboard tags I made for this. In fact I made some for myself too.




My third flip book was totally different from the first two, this one for a pen pal. I chose earth tones and a nature theme and just love the soft way this one looks. I hope my pen pal likes it too! She will have received it by now so I can show some photos.


How is your Letter Writing Month Going?


Wednesday, 6 April 2016

                             Incoming!



It's day 6 and I'm still happily writing. I've only managed to write a letter a day for the past two days but that is because I have been working on swaps that need to be sent out. I have developed a passion for making snail mail flip books and joined a few swaps to make them. I received two swaps today and I thought I would share them since they are so pretty. I love them both.   



This first swap was to be the size of a postcard. The first thing that struck me was that the pages were placed vertically rather than horizontally, which is how I did mine. I love the bright green colour my partner chose. Kath did a lovely job and I'm so pleased with this swap. I hope my partner likes my flip book as much.


The second book was made by Gabi, and it was a very visual book with lots of embellishments that added depth. This book was slightly bigger than the other and the colour was lovely.  You can't really see it here but it's very bright. It was definitely a good mail day today! I also got a package from my sister and an ephemera swap which had lots of goodies I know I will use.

Monday, 4 April 2016

                   A Walk in the Woods           


We took a little trip to day to walk in the Forest of Dean despite the rain. It's quite a drive to get there but it's worth it when you get to walk amongst the trees. We parked the car and walked across an old iron railway bridge, stopping midway to admire the scenery. It had stopped raining by then and even though it was still overcast it was warmish and a good day for a walk. Once over the bridge we came to a favourite pub called The Boat which is nestled right into the side of a hill and surrounded by numerous little waterfalls. The River Wye runs right in front of the pub and there are tables scattered about to enjoy the view. 


We decided to stop at the pub for lunch before our walk and discovered this lovely little post box in the front wall so I posted the letters I have written for the Write on Challenge. I'm still keeping up with my letter a day, and sometimes I manage two letters or like yesterday three letters. I'm still enthusiastic about the challenge and happily writing on, which I'm pleased about.  I feel a bit more organized now and not so overwhelmed and that is a good thing, really.  I enjoy writing to my letter friends and don't want to end up stressing about it all the time.  Once I get the majority of my letters answered I will feel a lot better.  Right now it's a steady process but I'm making headway. 


After lunch, we set out walking along admiring the many streams and waterfalls cascading down the hill. The further along we got, the quieter the sound of the traffic became and we finally could only hear the gentle steady sounds of the water and the birds who were very vocal today. The transformation is gradual, but noticeable as you progress along the path. Moss softens rocks and trees and there are ferns and bluebells underfoot. Suddenly, there is only you and the trees and it's a very peaceful feeling to have only the sounds and softness of nature enveloping you. We walked along for a while before turning back. The sun had returned and the sky was blue, making the scene in the distant hills pretty, even with winter's brown hues still clinging.   


Sometimes it just nice to get away from all the outside sounds and be quiet for a while. I began thinking about things to write about while I walked. It was a very inspiring day all around.





Saturday, 2 April 2016

                          So Far So Good




Well, it's day two of the Write on Challenge and I'm still afloat.  I managed to write two letters yesterday and one today.  Saturdays are always busy around here but I'm glad I made time to sit and write a bit.  I like Lettermo but I think the pressure to mail something every day creates anxiety so this chance to just write and mail when I get to town is much more relaxed for me.  I'm enjoying this process.  I get my tea, sit at my desk and have a nice chat on paper with one of my pen pals, no pressure.  Today the "to-be-replied-to" pile doesn't seem such a daunting task.  

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Letter Writing Month


I seem to have misplaced my mojo. I used to have a good system for writing my letters. Usually I join lettermo, writing every day in the month of February, so I can get my schedule re-adjusted to me writing something every day after all the bedlam of the holidays, but this year was a total bust. I forgot to log things, didn't make time to write or just got bogged down with other things. My “to-be-written” pile is enormous. Why does this happen when I enjoy letter writing so much? Okay, I live in an unheated house (read building site) and have problems with my hands as a result of the cold and damp, but still, I used to manage to write a little something every day even if it was just a postcard. So, what am I going to do to get back into the swing of writing daily? Tomorrow is April 1st, April Fools day, but also the first day of Letter Writing Month. I am going to take the Write on Challenge and attempt to write something every day of this month. I have cleared my desk and have note cards, stationery and postcards at the ready so I am hoping I'll get my flow back.

You can swing on over to Write on who have sponsored this event for three years now; they have lots of things to inspire you. Go here to read their blog and meet sponsors like Eggpress and HelloLucky who are as passionate about letter writing as we are.

If you are on Swap-Bot, there are a few swaps like this one geared for this challenge to help get you in the mood and Rebecca over at Findingmyblog has a great list of writing prompts to put you in a letter writing frame of mind. Thanks Rebecca!

Who's with me? Let's all get writing.


Friday, 12 February 2016

                  Hibernating Pen Pals




I have noticed I'm not the only one who hasn't been a diligent blogger. It seems that a lot of the blogs I've looked at in the past week have posts about getting back into the swing of correspondence. It's almost like the spring thaw when the hibernating animals come out of their sleepy dens and get back to business; all us letter writers start to break out of the winter doldrums and find pleasure in putting pen to paper again.  Over the holidays things get so frantic and rushed, that I don't have the leisure time to sit and compose for my blog and it just keeps getting put off.  My mind is usually full of things to do and deadlines to meet during the festive period so it's nice to have those quiet moments again to focus on something I love.

I have some difficulties with my hands and the cold doesn't help so I've been reading more than I've been writing the past few months. It is easier to grab a moment to read and enjoy something rather than getting continually interrupted whilst trying to write.  I find it so frustrating and lose my train of thought and my correspondence suffers for it.  But reading is something I can enjoy in little bits so I tend to embrace that pleasure for a while. Being a self-confessed Janeite I have been reading about her life and the Regency Era which both fascinate me. Some of the books I have on my bedside table are The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen by Lindsay Ashford, Jane Austen's World by Maggie Lane, A Portrait of Jane Austen by David Cecil and Jane Austen's Letters collected and edited by R. W. Chapman.

All are vastly interesting books. The first is a work of fiction which interweaves bits of Jane Austen's real life gleaned from her letters that perhaps show intent for her untimely demise. It was the bits of her life I was more interested in, however, and not a plot for murder. The author does put forth a very interesting case that Jane may have been poisoned. I had heard an interview on the radio with Lindsay Ashford and and I was curious about it so I wanted to get a copy to read. I lucked out and saw it on a shelf in a charity shop and snapped it right up. I thought it was a good book, and though I'm not convinced Jane was "done in," it was compelling to read an account that centered around her daily life.

The other books I'm reading are non-fiction and give a great deal of background into Jane Austen's personal life, her family and her writing, which I find especially interesting. A Portrait of Jane Austen by David Cecil is very well written and cautions readers not to view Miss Austen's life with 21st century eyes but to see her as she lived in the Regency Era so you can truly appreciate the happiness and hardship she faced. There are lovely paintings from the family scattered throughout and it is a good representation of Jane's life.

Jane Austen's World by Maggie Lane gives bite-sized chunks of the life of Miss Austen and her books. I particularly liked the pages devoted to letter writing. The “crossed letters” she wrote (that some of us have also exchanged in homage) were referred to as “chequer work” which I never knew.



I'm still reading bits of some of the books and wading through the letters. I have come to believe Jane Austen was a charming lady of great wit and incredible imagination with a bit of impishness for good measure and it's been a pleasure to get to know more about her and her world.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

National Handwriting Day



It's time to get out your pens and stationery and get writing as today is National Handwriting Day. 

Handwriting has always been a personal thing to me.  I was forced to learn cursive writing over a weekend. We moved house when I finished second grade and on my first day in third grade at my new school I found out my classmates had learned to write cursive the year before.  I was sent home with a packet of templates and a note to my mother explaining that I had to learn cursive to keep up with the class.  It was hard work and I did miserably.  My handwriting was abominable for years, then I got into pen palling and that is when I made an effort to write nicely.  The change in my writing was a gradual thing, I practiced and practiced and there were many moments of frustration but I persevered.  I bought old documents from flea markets and used them as a guide because I love that old fashioned way of writing.  Now I have my own personal style which I like. There is a lot to be said about neat penmanship. 

Today is a cold wet day here so I don't need any more encouragement than that to get started. I have been truant from writing for a while.  The holidays were difficult this year as my dad wasn't with us but I'm getting back into action, I've cleared my desk, another casualty of the holidays, and I've written a few letters today. It feels good to have a pen in my hand again.

If you'd like to primp up your handwriting, have a look here.  The Pen Shop has a short list of  ideas for improving your handwriting.  They also have a wonderful motto:  Talking is for now, writing is forever.  It's so true. 


Happy writing.