Tag Archives: stamps

Parcels,Pate and Pakora

Disclaimer – there is not much pakora in this post – but I’m a slave to alliteration so I lied. Sorry about that. I did have pakora in my sandwiches last week so I do at least have a slight excuse to mention them. They were sweet potato pakora and, to my mind, much nicer in sandwiches than the falafel we also tried.

Yesterday I breakfasted on porridge, took Julia to work, cursed several cyclists for their ridiculous strobe lights and arrived at the shop far too early.

I had to use a lot of old self-adhesive stamps where the glue has dried out. This means they have to be fixed using a stick of glue. In turn this means that several of them have to be detached from my finger tips. They were a really bad idea as the glue either dries out or forms an unbreakable bond with the backing paper. I’m sure they are good when they are new, but we, as you know, use a lot of old stamps.

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They are First CLass Stamps, but no longer self-adhesive.

My first parcel of the day was a selection of gum cards bound for America. Imagine my surprise when  my fourth parcel turned out to be a group of gum cards. To America. It was the same man, who quite clearly hadn’t thought things through.

Fortunately I have strong nerves and a steady hand so I was able to open the parcel with my trusty scalpel and add the second lot of cards. Two lots of cards. one lot of postage and a substantial refund. Hopefully he will be happy with that.

After parcels (and no more mishaps) I proceeded to do more banknotes. This an ongoing project. I have photos loaded up until Myanmar and will be moving on to Nepal tomorrow. I’m looking forward to Zimbabwe…

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Nepal – bank notes and an unusual head-dress

In the evening I read and replied to other bloggers, wrote a blog post, then wrote a second blog post, though it was actually too late in the end.

Between the two I cooked ratatouille and sausages, made a batch of smoked mackerel pate and did the sandwiches.

The pate recipe is simple and I’m not sure why I don’t do it more often. Mackerel, cream cheese. yoghurt, spring onion, lemon juice, lemon zest, horseradish sauce and dijon mustard. Quantities range from two bits of mackerel and quite a lot of cream cheese down to juice and zest of half a lemon and a teaspoon of each of the seasonings. Next time I may leave out the yoghurt and add more horseradish. Or I may just buy the pate and avoid the epic amount of washing up it generates.

It has worked out rather well and Julia can have the third bit of fish. She likes fish. I eat it because it’s good for me. I used the small blender and two bits of fish was enough to fill it. I haven’t used it for a while and couldn’t work out how to get the bowl off . Julia eventually sorted it for me.

You can also make fish pate with smoked haddock, though I seem to remember you can do that with a fork. There’s a look of the shoe sole about a smoked mackerel fillet if you aren’t careful. So far it has provided a decent depth of filling for four medium cobs and will probably do at least two more.

It’s really quite amazing. Some smoked fish and stuff in a blender and I’m already daydreaming about a Michelin star.

Tonight we will finish the ratatouille, add some “French-style lentils” from a packet, bake a potato and have some veggie burgers. This week I have bought the burgers – next week I will be making them. I am also going to start cooking my own lentils. I have become very lazy.I always used to make my own but have drifted off course somewhere.

I’d better try making my own pakora too…

Banknotes of Laos

Banknotes of Laos

Robins, stamps and Robbie Burns

The featured image is one of the robin Christmas stamps from 1995. I have looked them up and can yell you there were five of them. I can’t recall any of the other designs – this is the only one we seem to get.

We also have a fine selection of Scottish mini-sheets.

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Off to Australia

It seems, looking at the prices charges by stamp dealers, that we are being awfully extravagant in using these stamps for letters. In fact you can buy lots of stamps in the trade for below face value. There are even companies that specialise in this sort of thing – search “discounted stamps”if you want any.

Much of my working day was spent packing parcels as we kept getting orders through the day. We also had phone calls and a few customers actually visited the shop, despite the boarding.

One or two mentioned the boards with questions like “Have you been robbed?”. To which, after a few polite answers, we started replying “No, we’re just going for a shabby chic look.”. A few more and it was “No, we’ve joined a Blitz re-enactment society.”

If anyone else had asked there was a danger, by the end of the day, of the answer being less than polite.

There’s only so much to be said.

The rest of the day was taken up with moving stock and furniture round in preparation for our new security precautions. It appears we are not allowed to dig pits and line them with spikes.Or use guns and tripwires. Or train rottweilers to attack people wearing hoods and concealing their faces.It’s the nanny state gone mad, I tell you!

The spell-checker wants to remove “rottweilers” and substitute “erstwhile”. I originally spelt it “rottweillers” and the suggested alternative was “steamrollers”. I’ve often wondered how these things work. I’m definitely no wiser after this last selection.

I’ve given myself the night off tonight and watched TV with Julia instead of trying to force the writing. I’m not sure she’s grateful.

Update

Well, it’s been a chequered few days.

I’ve struggled with technology in various ways, but am managing to get round the problems in a variety of ways (even if I did fall asleep before posting last night!)

I’ve put photos up for the Scone post, as I said last night, and I’ve now put photos on the enamelled  coin post. With any luck I’ll get some on the Harlow Carr post next. That might be tomorrow as the netbook doesn’t make things easy.

I’ll keep plugging away and next week I’ll try to get my laptop in for repair.

Moan, moan, moan, etc…

Today’s photo (which I already used on the enamelled coin post) shows a parcel I prepared for posting today – every stamp ends with half a penny, a coin that was withdrawn in 1984, In other words, all the stamps are at least 35 years old. The fact that we are now using them on envelopes indicates they may not have been a great investment.

 

 

Stamps from 35 years ago…

The William Caxton stamp is actually from 1976 – 43 years ago. A lot has happened since then. But not to the stamp – it just lay there in an album and did nothing until I pulled it from a packet, licked the back and stuck it on an envelope.  It’s now on its way to London, and probably to a bin.

Coins, coins, coins…

Yesterday, we had quite a few people in the shop and I spent a lot of the day in the front of the shop talking rather than working. Today was the opposite and I spent most of the time sitting in the back room typing a seemingly endless list of coins into eBay. 

These aren’t just ordinary coins, these are tedious modern coins mounted on First Day Covers commemorating things like the Queen Mother’s birthday, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and a Royal Visit to the Isle of Man. They are badly made, dull, uninspired and bring out the worst in me.

I’m generally in favour of tradition and  resistant to change. However, after a couple of hours of this I’m prepared to put the entire Royal Family up against a wall and shoot them (normally I only feel like this about Prince Andrew and Fergie and their unpleasant offspring). A couple of hours later I’m also prepared to undermine the entire capitalist system which makes the successful marketing of such trash possible.

Just a short post for now, though the new editor seems to lack the capacity to count my words. I’m off to polish my hammer and sickle and raise a red flag.

Meanwhile I still haven’t worked out the benefits of the new editor, in any, compared to the old one. I may well go back to the old one.

Royal Family 1937

Inspiration

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Heavily stamped envelope

This is my version of the Random Idea Generator. I just stick a load of stamps on and take a picture to remind myself later.

Spanish Armada, Fishermen, Sign Language, Tropical Fish, Horse Chestnut, The Mallard, Landscape, Flowers, Gramophone,  Postal Union, Fire Engine, Radio Broadcasting, Inigo Jones building, Inigo Jones masque costumes.

That’s just a taster. Many of them lead on to other thoughts.

Here are a few others.

More Stampish Inspiration

More Stampish Inspiration

 

Roald Dahl, Cats, Morgan Le Fey, Merlin, Christmas, Cricket, Edward Lear, Pathe News, National Trust Cliff, Bittern, a couple I’m not sure about (including a French Horn), Rugby League, Golf, Football, something to do with Springtime and Queen Elizabeth II.

I really must read them more thoroughly next time and remember what they are.

I’m not sure they will convert to haiku very easily, but they should work for haibun and other forms. The prompts will be incorporated into my writing challenges. (Because they aren’t already hard enough…)

 

Some more stamps…

We bought some stamp sets last week and I put this one to one side for a photo. The five stamps come to £1.89, which is, coincidentally, (and 20 years after issue) the value of second class Signed For postage.

They are a bit shiny so the individual shots didn’t come out too well.

 

Sorry about that. They are a good set, featuring some great stories, and deserve better pictures than this.

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Just a short post today. I may try another one later. It was a hectic day with 24 parcels to do – one with 46 items in it and another with 24 medallions. They take some packing!

Sounds silly after some of the jobs I’ve had to say I’m exhausted after packing a few parcels, but there you are – old age.

I also failed my blood test this morning, so I’m back again next week. Pah!

A Few Bright Spots

The high point of the day was probably repairing my camera with a penknife. It’s nice to know that although everything is now chipped, computerised and digitised a quick jab from a Mk I penknife can still do a useful job.

It wasn’t a particularly technical job, just adjusting the fit of a socket in the side of the camera. I have been having problems with the lead falling out when downloading photographs. I don’t have that problem now, and I’m going to charge myself £50 for the repair. This, I’m fairly sure, would be the situation if I sent it away.

There was a time, when every boy carried a penknife, and knew how to use it for repairing things, sharpening things and opening things. It’s a lost art now. We have unrepairable sealed units, health and safety and cunning packages that don’t need cutting. In addition we have legislation about knives so I daren’t even keep it in my pocket.

I keep it in the plastic box I use for carrying my writing materials and use it for sharpening pencils. (Just in case anyone in law enforcement is reading this).

Over the last few days I’ve added 23 postcodes to the list, including 14 on Monday when working alone. It was hard work on Monday but it’s actually easier working on your own, as nobody takes the stamps or sellotape when you’re in the middle of using them.

At the moment I’m in danger of having more postcodes than interesting facts, so it’s clearly time to get searching.

I’ve also been trying to use as many different stamps as possible: I’m easily amused.

 

 

 

Football, a Spider and an Educational Parcel

We didn’t have much to do in the way of packing parcels this morning, or much activity from customers, so I was able to continue with the soul-crushing task of compiling a drop-down menu of Topical Times football cards for the eBay shop.

They aren’t like normal cards, which had to fit in a cigarette packet or pack of gum, these were given away with a magazine. The ones I did this morning are the miniature size – as wide as a cigarette card but about twice as high. This makes them difficult to photograph efficiently as they need cropping whichever way you do them. They are also in black and white, which makes them look very similar – I’m used to a world where football shirts come in different colours, not just black, white and grey.

Having said that, they had better names in 1938.

James Argue - Chelsea FC

James Argue – Chelsea FC

 

Sam Barkas - four of his brothers were also professional footballers, as was his cousin Billy Felton

Sam Barkas  – Manchester City

There were five Barkas brothers, all professional footballers. Sam and his cousin Tommy Felton both played for England.

We were lucky during the week when a lady rang up with a few things to sell – I checked if she had anything else and was able to buy some WW2 propaganda leaflets and wartime maps. They had belonged to her late father. but she was (quite rightly) keeping his DFC and other medals. More of this later.

Towards the end of the afternoon we had a number of sales, which we packed ready for Monday morning.

I scanned some of the propaganda leaflets ready for auction next week. This, though tatty, is probably the best of the lot – a magnificently evil Nazi spider with Hitler’s face.

WW2 propaganda leaflet

WW2 propaganda leaflet

My Greek was weak in the 1970s when I actually made a serious effort. It’s worse now.

I’m still good at sticking stamps on envelopes though, as you can see here.

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£3.95 – absolute bargain!

History, nature, Christmas, royalty – it’s not an envelope, it’s an education. The Winston Churchill stamp provides balance to the Nazi spider.

Fun with Stamps

We get offered a lot of stamps in the shop, and turn most of them down. The stamp market is such that there is no real call for First Day Covers, schoolboy collections or, indeed, most stamps we are offered. We even turned away a Penny Black the other day. As you can see from the link – they printed 68,808,000 of them and many used examples were saved. They were hand cut from unperforated sheets and only ones that have been well cut, with four even margins, are really worth anything. They frequently sell for under £30 on eBay, with several under £20. It’s not much for a cultural icon. (On the other hand, Stanley Gibbons have a nice one for sale at £250,000. Well, I assume it’s nice for quarter of a million.)

The ones we buy are the Presentation Packs. We then break them up and use them on parcels. As long as they are priced in decimal currency you can still use them. You can even use the ones priced in 1/2p denominations even though we stopped using the 1/2p coin in 1984.

It can take a while sorting all these stamps and working out the postage, as you can see from the accompanying pictures. It’s good for your mental arithmetic, if nothing else.

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Bluebells and Winnie the Pooh

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A very orange stamp

The first perforated stamps were Penny Reds. They were originally issued to replace Penny Blacks in 1841, and continued until 1879. In the beginning they needed cutting like the Penny Black but in 1854 they were issued perforated for ease of use.

1854 – we couldn’t run an efficient army nursing service but we could perforate stamps…