Monday, March 31, 2014


You can find some real nuggets of fun from stamps.  Sheila at a Postcard a Day posted a stamp of a steam engine called Ivor, from a much loved children's cartoon. I'd never heard of this so looked it up and found several of the short episodes.  There went the rest of my Sunday afternoon! 

If you wish, make yourself a cup of tea and see for yourself.

Ivor is from the "top left hand corner of Wales." I love hearing the narrator trip so smoothly over those complicated Welsh names. The stories are enchantingly slow-paced and the animation very simple.  Perhaps too simple in the original 1950s series.

The original series was written, animated and narrated by Oliver Postgate in 1958. In the 1970s colour episodes were made with each episode forming part of the longer story which meant that each week the poor viewer was left with an almost excruciating cliffhanger.  Above is the first of the colour episodes and below is the original B&W version. 

Ivor wants to join a choir and the rest of the six episodes tell how this comes about.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

trams of old

a 1994 set celebrating the trams of Sofia, Bulgaria

unlike in these last few years (at least where I live), 
the styles changed greatly from one decade to the next (1951 to 1912)
see more public transportation stamps here

Friday, March 28, 2014

cats enjoying themselves

all cats have wonderful stretches 
(Cat Yoga)

and love to play
(Irina Zeniuk's Blue Cats)

and after all that,
there's the sleeping to be done 

(Jeffrey Brown from "The Cutest Sneeze in the World")


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

a developing story

And so begins the development on the waterfront. This site was previously a motel that, in the end, no one was sorry to see demolished. It has been about 20 years in the making - and not without a lot of controversy. About eight years ago approval was given for a variance for extra height to build a 22-storey and 7-storey condo plus a 7-storey hotel. There is already a hotel on one side of the lot and an old motel with a rather nice house on the other. 

I can see the appeal of living right on the waterfront, but I don't think that should happen. Especially not right downtown, as this is. It has been nice to be able to see out onto the water from each of the north-south streets and to not feel hemmed in by tall buildings as you walk or drive alongside the lake. And there are the daily sunrises over the lake...

Not many of us who live in the downtown core are happy about having a high rise on the waterfront.  We haven't been too happy about these high rises (below), either. Then again, I live in what was the first high rise in town and people possibly weren't too happy about it, either. and I wouldn't blame them.

above, on the far left you can see the 6-storey hotel and a bit of the empty space where the new development is being built. on the left photo (both taken last spring, before the pier was finished), the red roofed Ascot motel

Below are some artists renderings of the future. The only possible saving grace is that there will be public access to the waterfront ... even if the public won't be able to see it from the street.

And if you look carefully, you'll see a building positioned directly opposite the 22 storey bit. that is the 'green' glassed condo building in the 3rd picture above. They will lose their view.

...and prices will likely start at $1,000,000

Sunday, March 23, 2014

farm animals

Sometimes stamps look amazingly better when you can see them enlarged. Sometimes not. Still, I rather like these  two series of stamps from 1962/63 showing farm animals in Romania. Below, we have the usual suspects - a chicken, rooster, and a goose as well as a pig, a sheep and a cow.

and after seeing all the cows on stamps that have been posted for Sunday Stamps, and because seeing a cow in a certain pose always makes me remember this 70s era ad...

Saturday, March 22, 2014

stylish dressing

Last week, for my birthday, a friend took me to see the Dressing for Downton Costume Exhibit at Spadina House in Toronto. Here is a postcard (because this is a nicer view than one at this time of year with dirty snow everywhere) of the 1866 house next door to the more famous Casa Loma. The house sits in what was at the time the wealthiest area of the city and was owned by James Austin who founded the TD Bank and Consumers Gas.
The exhibit and tour nicely ties in what life was like for the Granthams of Downton in Yorkshire and the Austins of Spadina in provincial Toronto during the 1920s and 30s. Things may not have been as grand or busy at Spadina House, but it was a little more progressive (telephone and electricity and kitchen gadgets, for example) 
On display were about 20 costumes worn by the Grantham sisters, Lord and Lady Grantham, the Dowager Countess, Matthew and Isobel Crawley as well as Mrs Patmore, Daisy, Mrs Hughes and O'Brian
My photos aren't the best, but there is a video link at the end that gives you a better idea of the dresses on display.
Mrs Hughes and her keys!

Lady Mary's dress worn on that fateful night when she took Kemal Pamuk as her lover
A "plain" dress worn by Lady Edith on the left and a dress worn by Lady Cora on the right
and Lady Sybil below

I cannot impress on you how tiny these dresses are! they don't look nearly as small in the pictures, but some of them (Lady Mary) had to be put on children's mannequins as they wouldn't fit on the adult ones.
there is also a Downton-inspired Afternoon Tea but ... it's sold out!
you only have until April 13, 2014 to see this exciting exhibit... (thank you, Beverly!)

Friday, March 21, 2014

escape to a fairly land

The weather may have gotten warmer, but it is not quite warm enough to feel like Spring. 
There is still rather a lot of snow and ice lying around. 
Dirty snow and ice.

I think a trip to a warm isle is in order.
how about here?
We are having one grand time swimming, dancing, eating etc. This certainly is a fairly land & we do enjoy the warm weather, Leo & Leona (sent  Apr 1939)
look at all that green!!
though the hotel seems a bit of a hike from the beach

 so we could try going to Bahamas instead, where the hotels are on the beach
there's the Fort Montagu Beach Hotel (built 1926)
Nassau in the Bahamas with its beautiful "vision-level" pool and cabana club
or the Emerald Beach Hotel
Nassau Bahamas 
Right on the oceanfront overlooking the largest and most magnificent private beach in Nassau. Three hundred luxurious rooms. Tennis Courts, Calypso Lounge, and a Pitch 'n Putt Course
Hi David,
Enjoying our stay here but weather not too good. We rented a car and have been touring the island. The land is quite flat and not as pretty as some of the other islands. The flowers however are gorgeous and the people friendly. There seems to be all kinds of flights from here to Florida so if you should decide to come you shouldn't have any trouble. My best to your mother and dad, Charmaine (sent Aug 1962)

I really have no idea what a 'vision-level' pool is (perhaps an infinity pool?) nor do I quite understand the "fairly land"
I thought I'd look up Emerald Beach Hotel and found someone else was trying to find it back in 2006 with this interesting thread on tripAdviser.
and here is a link to some other wonderful old photos and postcards of the Fort Montagu Beach Hotel.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

mailing a letter

First you learn to write. 

Maybe as fancily as this calligraphy stamp designed by artist Brody Neuenschwander, 

though maybe not written with a quill pen

When you are satisfied with your message, you find a postbox 
and maybe it goes on a ship across the seas to make someone in a faraway land happy

Friday, March 14, 2014

cats and balloons

these 1930s kitties don't really look too thrilled to be sending out birthday wishes
so  I was thrilled to get this hand made postcard from Finland this week


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

free entertainment

I'm not entirely sure what "freeview" is 
(I believe it's some sort of digital channel out of the UK) 
and I'm even less certain how the advertising team came up with this idea, but it's brilliant! )

Sunday, March 9, 2014

two women of India

These stamps are not in the best of condition, but a friend of mine thoughtfully collected many of the stamps she got off her ebay purchases and saved them for me. Had she not, I would not have learned about one of these women.
Rukmini Devi Arundale was a leap year baby, born on the 29th of February, 1904 (died 24th February, 1986) was a dancer and choreographer born in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. At age 16, she married 44 year old Dr Charles Arundale making her the first Brahmin to break caste by marrying a foreigner. She and her family were ostracized by their Brahmin associates, but with the help of the Theosophical Society (religious philosophy or speculation about the nature of the soul based on mystical insight into the nature of God) of which the family were members, the Indian public eventually came to accept the marriage. 
On one of her trips abroad, Rukmini Devi met and became friends with Anna Pavlova the great Russian ballerina, who taught her ballet and encouraged her to lean Indian dance. Through sheer determination she learned Bharathanatyam, a classical dance form of South India. It was considered low class and vulgar in the 1920s, but she was able to see the beauty and spiritual value and in time helped elevate it from its previous disreputable status and pioneered the dance-drama format we see today. She was featured in a list of 100 People Who Shaped India by India Today and a Rukmini Devi Medal for Excellence in the Arts has been awarded by the Centre for Contemporary Culture, New Delhi since 2001

At around 17 years of age, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu  left her home in Skopje and joined the Sisters of Loreto, an Irish community of nuns with missions in India where, in 1931, she took her initial vows as a nun. Mother Teresa was assigned to a school in Calcutta dedicated to teaching girls from the city's poorest Bengali families before getting the call to devote herself to caring for the sick and poor. Since she had taken a vow of obedience, she could not leave her convent without official permission which took nearly a year and a half of lobbying before finally being approved. For over 45 years she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying while guiding the Missionaries of Charity's expansion, first throughout India and then in other countries. She was summoned to Rome in 1968, and in 1979 received the Nobel Peace Prize for her humanitarian work. Although she has received much praise from many for her humanitarian work, there has also been much criticism of her efforts especially regarding the level of care and her motivations.

see more women featured on stamps here

Friday, March 7, 2014

floral clock

In honour of the time change this weekend (it's worth losing an hour if we get more sunshine, isn't it?) I thought I'd show some of my postcards of the Niagara Floral Clock. You can find it on the Niagara Parkway across from the Adam Beck Generating Station near Queenston.

This one shows the crests of the ten provinces. I'm not sure why the two territories were not included to make it easier to read the time - maybe that would have been too crowded and difficult to see the details. I also am not sure why they are shown in a seemingly random order.

The clock was built in 1950 by Ontario Hydro after the chief engineer made a visit to the Princes' Street Gardens clock in Edinburgh 
Since 1977, the clock has been maintained by the Niagara Parks and the design is changed each year. you can read about the history here

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Architecture in Israel

It took a fair bit of sleuthing to find information on these stamps. At least to get the information I wanted, which was to find something interesting...
I found these Architecture in Israel FDCs (a set of three stamps issued in 1974) at the local stamp fair last weekend. The "modern" architectural designs in Israel seems to be much more innovative and creative than much of what we have in North America.
Although none of these buildings are in Jerusalem, that is where the cancellation mark is from.

The Elias Sourasky Library at the Tel Aviv University was built in 1954 by Michael Nadler, Shulamit Nadler and Samuel Bikson.

The building's lower floors, built in stone, integrate with the supporting stone walls and terraces, which go all through the campus and create the different levels according to the natural slopes.

Above these floors and terraces floats the huge mass of hammered concrete, which includes the reading areas and books. 
Striving to create an atmosphere of concentration and pleasantness, the various reading rooms, located in the upper levels, are open only to a quiet patio, which offers a pleasant view. 

Elias Sourasky (1899-1986) was born in Byalistok, Poland but at an early age moved to Mexico, where he became a successful entrepreneur. He was also prominent in his support of scientific research and educational institutions in Mexico and Israel.

Information on the Lady Davis Technical Centre "Amal", Tel Aviv was more difficult. I wasn't entirely sure if that was her name or her title, as it seemed unusual for the area. Eventually I realized I had to sift through the McGill University and Jewish General Hospital (Montreal) references. Turns out it's her title, as the wife of Sir Mortimer Davis (the first Canadian born Jew to be knighted). The high school was built in 1972 and designed by Ram Karmi.
Lady Davis (Henriette Marie Meyer)was an active philanthropist, and was made an officer of the Légion d'honneur and Commander of the British Empire. I found an image of Lady Davis, but couldn't find her age when she died in 1963, though she and Mortimer were married in 1898. The Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research and the Lady Davis Fellowship are named in her honour.

and now we come to my favourite building (and stamp)
and, perhaps the most interesting.
and, the one with the most variations in spelling.

Mivtahim Rest Home, Zikhron Yaaqov

Zikhron Ya'akov is a small town 35 km south of Haifa. 
Architect Yacov Rechter, who also designed the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center and other iconic buildings, won the 1973 Israel Prize for the Mivtachim Sanatorium (1968)  part of a healthcare campus in the Carmel mountains. The elongated design follows the lines of the topography and is open along its entire length to vistas over the Mediterranean Sea. The 7,752-square-meter (83,441 sq. ft.) structure includes 91 guest rooms, halls and public spaces. It fell onto hard times and about ten years ago was bought by someone who planned to disastrously compromise the integrity of the brutalist building.. But after a prolonged public debate the new owner changed her mind and eventually the original architect's son, also an architect, became involved with plans to preserve the facade and the original woodwork. The renovated Mivtachim was set to reopen in 2012 as a boutique hotel with 80 rooms, an art gallery, two concert halls and a recording studio. I haven't been able to confirm if that actually happened, or if the project has been delayed.

Here are two postcard images of the Mivtachim Sanatorium/Hotel in Zichron Yaacov which shows off the grand scale of the design.