News to me! But not to the Huffington Post. If you follow the link to A Christmas Dinner, you find the interesting blog Reading Dickens. Beware annoying ads.
So far this year, I’ve read one chapter.
They were absolutely filthy but to the experienced eye they said, ‘might be Whitefriars.’ Now that I’ve scrubbed them up, I’m sure that they are.
A stack of knitting patterns, £1.50. From the same seller, some cheap and useful stationery and this Doulton ‘Watteau’ plate for my blue and white shelf, £1.00.
More china: Royal Albert ‘Flower of the Month’ for Christmas. £1.50
And how about this? ‘Free books. Please help yourself.’ So I did.
Plus some other quite ordinary things which were still good buys. Phew!
In other news, our mild spell continues. I have the stable door open and it’s warm enough for gardening. The trouble is, everything is dripping wet, which would make the gardening rather uncomfortable. That’s my excuse, anyway.
Oh, it is lovely to be able to drive again and have my freedom back. Last weekend I kept going out in the car, just because I could. I didn’t buy anything much at the market then but did get my car thoroughly cleaned there. ‘Now you’ve got a nice silver blue car instead of a green one!’ Too true. My poor car lives outdoors, under a cherry tree which is currently in full bloom.
It was absolute brass monkeys at the market this morning but I’m glad I went. I bought: a huge pile of old knitting patterns, the complete Darling Buds of May series on DVD* and an old book, all for a fiver. Also a stamp album for rather more but which I’m pleased to have. As I walked away from the pattern sellers I heard one say, ‘She got a bargain!’ The joy of haggling. Well, people can always say No.
*Blimey, just looked this up on Amazon and it costs £49.99! Let's hope all the discs are in good condition.
All these books from the same seller for £1.40. One of them is a very good buy.
A pile of knitting patterns so heavy I could hardly carry them, £1.00 the lot. Hours of fun ahead looking through them.
So why I am feeling like kicking myself? I missed a great stamp bargain. Looked through an album, asked the seller how much he wanted for it and got the response, ‘Haven’t looked at it yet, love.’ This annoyed me, I thought he was rude and replied sniffily that he wouldn’t sell it then would he? Later on, some old chap I don’t know told me he’d bought the album I’d been looking at it. Curses, it would have been a fantastic bargain at £40.00. Also, the same man who two weeks ago sold me Long Barrow for 50p. wanted £5.00 for a bag of mixed knitting yarn. I thought then it was too much and when I got home, that it would have been a bargain for odd pieces of crochet. Idiotically, I will be beating myself up about this all weekend.
In other news, what about our weather? Yesterday: thunder, lightning, hailstones rattling down. This morning: mega-frost and cold legs at the market. Currently: warm sunshine but a chilly breeze. Thanks to the storm, there’s thatch everywhere but it’s too wet to sweep it up. You have to love our climate, it’s never dull.
click to see all the stamps
Here’s the latest mailshot from Royal Mail, introducing the new stamps which will be in use from 30th April. The interesting thing about this leaflet is that nowhere does it say, ‘This is the biggest price hike ever! We have to do this in order to maintain our wonderful service.’ Instead, it goes on and on about how beautiful the stamps are. If you like Machins (I do) you’ll probably agree. Look closely at the new Large Letter stamp and you see that the security background printing ‘ROYAL MAIL’, with its hidden codes, has been changed to ‘DIAMOND JUBILEE’and wow! it's iridescent. How can you resist? I wrote before about the ludicrous expense of all the new Olympic stamps. Do they really expect people to buy these as well as paying so much more for their regular postage use?
I'm guessing that big companies like Amazon may try to absorb the new postal charges but that won't be an option for small sellers and people who use eBay. Trouble ahead. So are you stocking up now? What about the idea of buying stamps in advance for the next three Christmases? (Suggestion from money expert Martin Lewis.) Apparently, some people are investing thousands in stamps, hoping to make a profit later. Not really an option for most of us.
Freddie de la Hay, the dog of Corduroy Mansions
Anderby Wold, Winifred Holtby
Blotto, Twinks and the Ex-King’s Daughter, Simon Brett
The Music at Long Verney , Twenty Stories, Sylvia Townsend Warner
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, Alan Bradley (Flavia de Luce)
Katherine at Feather Ghyll, Anne Bradley
State of Wonder, Ann Patchett
Humbug, E M Delafield.
Leave the Grave Green, Deborah Crombie
A Conspiracy of Friends, Alexander McCall Smith
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specially. It came as part of a bundle, as in ‘You can have all that lot for a fiver, love.’ Well, yes please; you never know what you’ll find. Although the stamps inside are usually little use to me, I like just looking at these old albums and seeing what the junior collector of the 1920s and 30s put in them. Answer: a lot of old stamps in poor condition. The albums themselves are fascinating; full of information and with pages for countries which have vanished from a world turned upside down by war. At the time though, all was proud and confident. Here’s the page for Great Britain. First in the book, naturally.
Area - 94,798 sq.m. Pop. about 44,360,000.
Capital - LONDON
Sovereign - GEORGE V.
King of Great Britain and Ireland and all the Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India.
Stamps first issued, 1840.
‘dominions beyond the seas’ sounds so romantic, doesn’t it? Positively Elizabethan. I was writing around Remembrance Day that I still felt connected to the First World War because my grandfathers took part in it. My connection with the vanished empire of George V is knowing that when my mother was a schoolgirl, Empire Day was celebrated every year. Such confidence! How strange to be taught that you live in the greatest country in the world!
Reel thorts: it still is of course, just no longer Top Nation.
Hideous, aren’t they? I still haven’t decided whether to keep them or pass them on. This sort of album has a very limited use IMO. Next I looked through a lot of stamp albums but wouldn’t pay what the seller was asking for them. Book finds followed: four 1940s children’s books for 50p each (bargain!) and some less bargainous books for a present for someone. Phew, with all that trekking round and rummaging I was pretty tired and almost didn’t make it into the last hall. Just as well I did because there I snaffled
( my favourite find. )
I love reading about what other people have been buying, whether it’s clothes, books or a great bargain from a charity shop or car boot sale. So every now and then I have a little market boast. On Friday it was so dark here that lights were on all day and everyone was miserable. Yesterday couldn’t have been more different; beautiful October sunshine. It lifted the spirits and made people at the market chatty and cheerful.
One of the regular traders was selling baskets bursting with pansies for a fiver each. Goodness, you couldn’t buy the makings for that so I snapped one up and I’m really pleased with it. You never know what you’ll find at the market. One week, everyone will be selling books, though hardly ever books I want. Yesterday I saw stamps everywhere. The sellers ranged from specialist dealers to people who’d just put a few spares in bags at a pound a go. My luck was to find a chap who had a few albums for sale amongst his glass and china wares. After a quick look through I took a punt and handed over a tenner for two of them. This was money well spent because suddenly I’m all about stamps. I’d recently realized that I hadn’t looked at my collection for about five years. Now I’ve rediscovered a wonderfully absorbing occupation, just in time for winter. Off to pick the ones I want to keep and have a little gloat.
Here’s something you rarely see: a letter with a so-called special stamp on it and a legible postmark. When’s the last time you received one? Almost every letter posted has a gold 1st Class or blue 2nd Class stamp on it, while packets and parcels have computerized labels. In spite of this, every year Royal Mail brings out several sets of special stamps (which I still think of as commemoratives) in order to exploit unfortunate collectors whose ambition is to have a copy of every British stamp ever issued. What’s worse, they claim that these stamps are highly collectable and will become heirlooms. Oh yeah? Like those ‘heirloom’ Millenium stamps everyone hated? Don’t they realize that as soon as an object is described as a collectable it ceases to be one? If only we all knew which ephemera we’re throwing away now would indeed be collectable one day!
I gave up collecting these stamps long ago and now buy only new definitive stamps and save postally-used commems when I’m lucky enough to get any. This booklet dropped into my letter box this week.
If you can read the print, note the use of the weasel word ‘products’. Since when did stamps become products? What earthly use to anyone is a cover with a coin attached to it? We are offered the Olympics stamps in every possible variation of sheet, any number of different covers, postcards, miniature sheets, booklets; you name it. With the help of a calculator I worked out that to buy every item on offer would set you back £834.11 . For that money you could buy a decent collection of British stamps or even blow the lot on one rarity. In the latter case you would have a thing of beauty which would probably increase in value, unlike these worthless Olympics products. Of course, if you really love these new stamps or are a collector of sports issues, go ahead and buy. You can see some of them here.
Otherwise, what a waste of money! I much prefer these:
and they’re cheap as chips.
I should have posted this yesterday, the sixtieth anniversary of the opening of the Festival by King George VI. The charming little tinted card (click on it to see full width) shows The News Chronicle Children’s Zoo, Festival Gardens, London. The South Bank was transformed for the occasion, with temporary pavilions celebrating various arts and sciences (they were keen to emphasise Britain’s role in the technology of the future) and the Royal Festival Hall, which is still with us.
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King George VI 1937 – 1952
Here he is with Prince Charles. This is said to be the Queen's favourite photograph.
Here's the latest issue of 'Special Stamps' from Royal Mail, out now. I'm always complaining about these issues because they're aimed at making money out of collectors and are not much used. People working in post offices find them a nuisance and get rid of them as soon as possible. If you're sending a birthday card, though, it is nice to use a pretty stamp if you can. I'm advising stocking up because next month comes the traditional annual hike in postage rates. From the Royal Mail site:
‘Royal Mail today announced that the price of First and Second Class stamps for standard letters weighing up to 100g would rise by 2p, to 41p and 32p respectively, from 6 April 2010. The prices for ordinary meter and account mail, largely sent by small businesses, will not increase and will remain at 36p and 25p respectively for standard letters weighing up to 100g.’
They claim these rates are still good value compared with the rest of Europe. What bothers consumers, though, is forking out for 'next day' delivery and not getting it. Post early!
Outrage in the British media over the news that this cute little girl was not singing but miming at the opening of the Games in Beijing. Well, shock horror. How about the news that the chap seen here lighting the beacon at Wembley in 1948 was picked for his good looks? The organizer of the Torch Relay, Commander Collins, also specified that the beacon lighter should be blond! And this was how long after the 1936 Olympics? Collins gave strict instructions that the first man to pick up the torch when it arrived at Dover should not be bald or have a paunch. Oh, and drugs were available, too.
I learned this and much more from A Very British Olympics on BBC4 yesterday evening. Talk about Make Do and Mend; the male British athletes were kitted out by Simpsons but the women had to make their own vests and shorts. It was surprising to see so many people who had actually taken part in the games, people who must have been at least eighty yet were astonishingly well preserved. Does sport keep you young or is it the longevity gene which makes you good at sport?
This morning’s post brought a letter from friends in the Gulf and a book for me from Australia. The book is Breton Holiday (1939) by Jane Shaw. Hurrah! I had to seek this out after learning that the Children’s Press edition (retitled Breton Adventure) is quite heavily cut. Now I shall have to read the two books in tandem, to see where the butchery took place. I am very pleased with the book, which is a lovely fat one with nice white pages. Why is it that so many of the scarcer Jane Shaw titles seem to be available in Australia but not here?
This book came from a dealer via ABE. During our correspondence I asked if he would be kind enough to have real postage stamps put on the packet, rather than a computerised label, and he did! So I have some nice Australian stamps to add to the collection, plus some more from UAE. Not everyone would be bothered, so I am grateful to him. Australia Post, like our own dear Royal Mail, issues more and more stamps while fewer are used all the time. I will save my rant on this subject for another day.