the joy of a letter

It was a nice weekend here, including a day out in Hastings visiting my parents who were on a weekend adventure and a spot of birdwatching/counting in aid of the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. So I was all set to bring you a tale of fishermans huts and nice new shops in charming old units when I saw a picture of this card in a magazine and felt a post coming on:

I’ve had a lifelong interest in stationery, fuelled in its earliest stages by a love of writing letters. When I was at school I had penpals and when I was away I seemed to pick up new ones who I would continue to swap letters with for months after we first met.

When I was at uni I wrote to my friend Olly in the long summer holidays and he put a lot of effort into his replies, which always meant a lot to me. One letter arrived inside a tin of Heinz tomato soup, which had been so carefully cleaned and sealed up that it looked like a normal tin of soup. I still have the tin.

My uni years also saw me writing to Mr E, when he spent a summer working in Yellowstone National Park, the vagaries of the international post confusing our letters so they sometimes arrived out of order. Once I opened a letter and an assortment of pressed local flowers fell out. I’m not too sure what the American environment agency would have thought about that, but all these years later I remember how it made me smile.

Even now, when I have ready access to email and phones I regularly exchange letters with two of my closest friends.

So what is it that has me hooked? On a basic level it’s the pleasure of getting something personal in the post; a break from the usual pile of letters from utility companies, ads for the local takeaway and Parish by-elections – our village seems to be a contentious place!

Then there’s the time the sender has taken to write the note and the time I get to spend enjoying the contents. In a world where we’re used to speedy communication, a letter makes you take time to read it.

More than anything though, it’s the joy of the personal touch. Every letter I have ever received has reflected something of its sender. Olly’s letters showed the care and meticulous attention to detail he has when he sets his mind to doing something. Mr E’s letters shared the things he saw in Yellowstone that we share when we explore somewhere new together now.

So don’t let the Royal Mail’s endless price increases put you off; send someone a letter, because to be honest, a letter from you really is much more exciting than getting an email.

And if you want to you can read a nice article on the joy of letter writing here.


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