Penpalling & Letters

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Postman Pat and his black and white Cat

I just found interesting to dedicate an entry to a series related to mail and letters. Images are so nice that I couldn't help to post a couple of them. Isn't Jess cute?

Postman Pat is a British stop-motion animated children's television series first produced by Woodland Animations. It is aimed at school children, and concerns the adventures of Pat Clifton, a postman in the fictional village of Greendale (inspired by the real valley of Longsleddale in Cumbria).

Postman Pat was first screened on BBC1 in 1981. John Cunliffe wrote the original treatment and scripts, and it was directed by animator Ivor Wood, who also worked on The Magic Roundabout, Paddington Bear, and The Herbs. A second version of the series was made and shown from 2004, which expanded on many aspects of the original series.

Each episode followed the adventures of Pat Clifton, a friendly country postman, and his "black and white cat" Jess, as he delivers the post through the valley of Greendale. Although he initially concentrates on delivering his letters, he nearly always becomes distracted by a concern of one of the villagers and is usually relied upon to resolve their problems. Notable villagers include the postmistress: Mrs. Goggins, Alf Thompson: a farmer, and the local handyman and inventor, Ted Glen.

In the new series, Postman Pat Special Delivery Service (SDS), Postman Pat has been promoted to Head of the SDS and is now called upon to deliver anything. Each episode follows Postman Pat on a Special Delivery mission, from rescuing a runaway cow to delivering a giant ice cube. In his new role, Postman Pat commutes to the nearby town of Pencaster where he collects his special deliveries from the Pencaster Mail Centre. Postman Pat now has a new fleet of vehicles including a helicopter and motorbike, complete with side-car for Jess.

[Information taken from Wikipedia]

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Pen Friend Clubs of Japan

Before the Internet arrived to our lives I just only got to know one firm or penfriend club where I could find new penpals. Surfing around the net and when trying to find out more information about these helpful penpal organizations back then, I came accross “Pen Friend Clubs of Japan”, which are related to the Japanese Post. This service seems to be similar to the one of Deutsche Post: “Letternet”, although there are some differences. At the PFC website you can read all the information they provide about themselves. The “Pen Friend Clubs of Japan” were founded in 1949 as “Yubin Tomonokai” (its former name) and they were first appointed to junior high school students who were looking “to communicate with friends in various countries, as well as in Japan, through letters”.

As stated in the website, the aims of PFC through letter writing are:

Contribute to PEACE in the world
Promote FRIENDSHIP within the community
Improve our CULTURE

The abbreviation "PFC" is also an acronym for the three mottoes of the Pen Friend Clubs of Japan: PEACE, FRIENDSHIP and CULTURE.

If you are interested in contacting PFC you can write to their mailing address:

Pen Friend Clubs of Japan
Postage Stamps and Postcards Office
Mail Business Division
Japan Post Service Co., Ltd.
Tokyo 100-8798 JAPAN

Also you can fill in an “Application Form” and send it to PFC by postal mail if you are interested in having Japanese or non-Japanese penpals. The service PFC offers is free of charge.

To learn more about Pen Friend Clubs of Japan, visit their website: "Pen Friend Clubs of Japan”

[Information in this entry has been taken from Pen Friend Clubs of Japan]

Sunday, 14 February 2010

XXI Olympic Winter Games

From 12th to 28th February, the 2010 Winter Olympic Games are being held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Since I have been a fan of the Olympic Games for as long as I can remember, I am paying here a tribute to the Olympism. All the best to Vancouver during the Games and to the athletes! Let’s always remember the importance and the spirit of the Olympics.

Are there some similarities among the meaning of the Olympics and the meaning of penpalling? In my opinion there are many. Both of them show to be tolerant, respectful, understanding and supportive to each other. They both work on showing us to accept other cultures, countries and customs the way they are. Isn’t it the most important to build a World where solidarity, friendship and unity lead us in the same direction to achieve worlwide peace?

For more information about the Olympic Games visit:

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games and Official Website of the Olympic Movement

Friday, 12 February 2010

Mary and Max (2009)

Mary and Max is a 2009 stopmotion claymation feature film directed and written by Adam Elliot.

In the mid-1970's, a homely, friendless Australian girl picks a name out of a Manhattan phonebook and writes to him. She includes a chocolate bar. She's Mary Dinkle, a chubby lonely eight year-old girl living in Mount Waverley, a suburb of Melbourne (Australia), and the only child of an alcoholic mother and a distracted father. He's Max Horowitz, forty-four years-old, overweight, atheistic Jewish man with Asperger Syndrome living alone in the chaos of New York City and subject to anxiety attacks. He writes back, with chocolate, and thus begins a 20-year correspondence, interrupted by a stay in an asylum and a few misunderstandings. Mary falls in love with a neighbour, saves money to have a birthmark removed and deals with loss. Max has a friendship with a neighbour, tries to control his weight, and finally gets the dream job. Will the two ever meet face to face?

Like Harvie Krumpet (2003), Mary and Max is innocent but not naïve, as it takes us on a journey that explores friendship, autism, taxidermy, psychiatry, alcoholism, where babies come from, obesity, kleptomania, sexual difference, trust, religious difference, agoraphobia and much more

The film takes place from 1976 to 1994 and its central focus are the letters shared between Mary and Max (from the ages of 8 to 26 and 44 to 62, respectively) and the stories behind their life and the lives of people around them. Spanning 20 years and 2 continents, Mary and Max's penfriendship survives much more than the average diet of life's ups and downs.

The film states in the opening credits that it is based on a true story. In an interview given in April, 2009, writer-director Adam Elliot clarified that the character of Max was inspired by "a penfriend in New York who I've been writing to for over twenty years.”

[Information taken from The Internet Movie Database and Wikipedia]

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

IPF - International Pen Friends

Another penfriend organization is IPF - International Pen Friends. Since 1967, International Pen Friends (IPF) has provided more than 1.5 million people aged from 8-80+ with penfriends, according to the IPF site, and offers services in six different languages. On the contrary to IYS - International Youth Service, IPF has been an active organization for the last fourty-three years. IPF's success was achieved long before the Internet became popular and has continued in this technologically advanced society. For the IPF's team this is a reflection of the never-ending motivation and determination behind IPF, and for the high quality service provided.

International Pen Friends (IPF) was founded by Neil O'Donnell in Dublin (Ireland) in 1967. Inspired by his experiences as a young child growing up during World War II, his vision was to give people in all age groups, from every country, the opportunity to gain penfriends and promote world peace and understanding through sincere correspondence.
After O'Donnell retired in 2001, and since his deepest wish was for IPF to continue, Julie Delbridge took over the role of President and relocated IPF's Head Office to her hometown of Melbourne, Australia. Since 2008 IPF's Head Office has been moved to Paynesville, located on the beautiful Gippsland Lakes in Victoria, Australia.

IPF's service is personalised and controlled. It has been designed to provide value for money and the best possible opportunity of gaining many current, enthusiastic and genuine penfriends in a secure environment.
Nowadays, as in the past, IPF looks forward to providing an ever-increasing number of people worldwide with the opportunity to enhance their life through the countless dimensions of the penfriend hobby.

IPF's objective is to keep the art of letter writing alive and to use that form of communication to promote worldwide friendship. Furthermore, IPF encourages their members to combine e-mail and other forms of communication with their letter writing, so they can experience the many different dimensions of the penfriend experience in this technological era.
IPF remarks that there is an exciting anticipation in waiting for letters to arrive: the stamps, fancy writing paper, postcards, photos, different handwriting styles, the time and care people have taken to write the letters, then sitting quietly and reading the letters time and time again, possibly keeping them for many years as part of personal history. It's also a lot more fun to receive letters in the mail rather than junk mail and bills!

In IPF, penfriend services are available for individuals and school classes. It is possible to join by completing the online application form or the printable application form. The school class application form is available for teachers and group leaders. IPF's magazine and letter writing booklet can also be ordered on the application forms.
Note that joining IPF and obtaining penfriends through this organization is not a free service. To get information about their fees, please, consult their website.

If you are interested in learning more about IPF - International Pen Friends, you can visit their website:

[Most information in this entry has been taken from International Pen Friends (IPF)]

Monday, 8 February 2010

Deutsche Post's Letternet. Worldwide penpals - Die Welt per Brief entdecken

Deutsche Post AG - Discover the world through letters

Is traditional letter-writing via "snail mail" a lost art? Are envelopes and stamps obsolete? The German post office, Deutsche Post AG, doesn't think so, and they have Letternet _with over 250,000 members in more than 100 countries_ to prove it! Deutsche Post would like you to "discover the world through letters" and they've set up a Letternet website (in German and English) to help you do that. According to the Letternet website, Letternet is the largest free pen pal club in the world.

I was recently surprised to learn that Letternet has been around since 1997. Membership is free and open to just about anyone in the world. All Letternet members receive a quarterly magazine called Lettermag (in German and English). Letternet doesn't use e-mail, but you can still use your computer to register online (Letternet registration). You provide some info about yourself and a computer then selects your first "ideal" penpal (Brieffreundin in German). But you can also look through Letternet's registered members to select someone with whom you'd like to exchange letters. After you register, you'll receive a small package from Letternet with a welcome letter and the contact info for your first penpal.

Although Letternet is sponsored by the German Post Office, your penpal(s) can be anywhere in the world. The Pinnwand "notice board" in a recent edition of Lettermag featured four pages of Kleinanzeigen "classifieds" for members in France, South Africa, Germany, the USA, Finland, Belarus, Turkey, Sweden, most of the German-speaking Europe, and several other countries. Although the main languages for corresponding are German and English, other languages (Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, Turkish, etc.) are also possible. You can also place your own free ad in the magazine.

If you think that sending handwritten letters on paper is a bit anachronistic in the 21st century, the Letterfun website offers these reasons (and more) why you should prefer letters over e-mail or the phone:

Warum Briefe? (Why letters?)

- Ich schreibe. (I’m writing)
- Denn mein Brief soll nicht in Spam-Mails untergehen. (Because my letter isn’t going to go into the Spam mail trashbox.)
- Denn ein Brief hat mehr Bedeutung. (Because a letter has more meaning.)
- Denn ein Brief kann er nicht einfach löschen. (Because a letter can’t just be erased.)
- Denn ein Brief hält länger als ein Handy-Akku. (Because a letter lasts longer than a chat on a cellphone.)
- Denn ein Brief hat immer Empfang. (Because a letter always has resonance/reception.)
- Denn ein Brief gerät in kein Funkloch. (Because a letter doesn’t just disappear into cyberspace.)
- Denn ein Brief klingelt nicht in peinlichen Momenten. (Because a letter doesn’t embarrass one in those silent moments.)
- Denn eine E-Mail duftet nicht. (Because an e-mail doesn’t have a fragrance.)
- Denn Kleinigkeiten lassen sich per E-Mail schlecht verschenken. (Because with e-mails you can’t send along small items of interest.)
- Denn eine SMS wiegt nichts. (Because instant messages don’t weigh anything.)
- Denn ein Brief enthält weder Viren noch Würmer. (Because a letter doesn’t contain either viruses nor worms.)

From the Letterfun Web site

NOTE: Letternet has stated recently that since they have a new homepage, they have stopped producing "Lettermag", the Letternet magazine.

To learn more about Letternet and how it works, visit the Letternet website: Letternet

[Information in this entry has been taken from and Letternet]

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Hints on Letter Writing by IYS - International Youth Service

How did you start writing your first letters? What did you tell to your penfriends? How did you organize those very first letters? IYS - International Youth Service provided "Hints on Letter Writing" when sending the first addresses of your new penfriends. I always found those hints very useful and meaningful, so I decided to reproduce this guideline here, in this blog. Here it goes:

The easiest kind of letter to write is one to someone you know well. You know what interests him and what doesn't. There is little chance of his misunderstanding you, and since you share a common background, there are many things which can be left unsaid. There is no need to chew the end of your pen before beginning to write. The friendship which exists causes the ideas to flow.

When, however, your correspondent is unknown or scarcely known, when he comes from a different country and speaks a different tongue, when you know neither his interests nor his opinions, then the pen is apt to be nibbled for a considerable time. In this case you may find the following hints useful.

1. In the first letters you must provide your pen-pal with knowledge about you, and discover something about him. Go easy. Don't put "everything" in the first letter. Concentrate on one or two of the following and keep others till later.
a) Write about yourself. BUT don't be too factual: "I am twelve years old and two months, weigh 6 stone 5 lbs, and am 4 feet 9 inches tall". Don't boast: "I would have come top of the class last month if ..."
Say what your interests and hobbies are; what you do at school and how your day is arranged.
b) Write about your family and home.
c) You home town; its virtues and its vices.
d) Your country, if you know a lot about it.

2. Remember, however, that it is the vivid detail which is interesting. Write about things you know about, not things you've heard the geography master talk about.

3. Ask intelligent questions. Some exchanges of letters -and conversations, too- get one-sided because one person asks all the questions. Make sure you ask one or two and reply to the ones your friend asks, but don't ask too many to start with. It is easy to ask questions. It takes a longer time to answer them. Too many questions is as bad as none at all.

4. When the penfriendship has got under way, writing becomes less hard work. Take a pride in what you write, however. Don't write vaguely as many grown-ups do: "There were a lot of people there and we all had a nice time" is a typical example. The person who writes like that has not used his eyes and is not interested in his own letter. How many people were there really? Did everyone have a "nice time"? Why didn't they? Can you remember what the place looked like, the curtains, the furniture and, above all, the people? What in this would be interesting to your penfriend anyway? These are some of the questions to ask yourself. If you are observant it is a great help.

5. If you are trying to describe something remember that the eyes are only one of the senses. Use your ears and nose as well.

6. From the above, a central principle; one interesting thing talked about in detail is much more interesting than a number of things talked about quickly and superficially. Only where you share a certain background is the latter recommended and even there the first is better.

7. Don't forget the existence of lending libraries, reference libraries and reading rooms. Magazines, books and large scale maps can help you to see your penpal in his environment. Even if you are writing to a cousin of the same nationality in the next town you'd be surprised how much you can learn this way.

8. The unusual is always a source of interest. Drawings, newspapers-cuttings, bus tickets, postcards, snap-shots and stamps are not difficult to slip in a letter. Magazines and papers are quite cheap to send by post.

9. If you can write amusingly it is a great help. Be careful, however; it is easy to misunderstand. And don't write when you are miserable.

10. Finally, always say what you feel if you think you will not offend, but don't pretend to say things you don't feel in order to not offend. Remember you are different from anybody else and so is your penfriend. Respect what you feel and respect what he feels, too.

[Information taken from IYS - International Youth Service (1952-2008)]

Saturday, 6 February 2010

IYS - International Youth Service: A tribute

IYS - International Youth Service
PB 125
FIN-20101 Turku

IYS (International Youth Service), founded in 1952 and based in Turku (Finland), was an internacional penfriend organization which arranged foreign penfriends for children and teenagers between 10 and 20 years of age. In exchange of a fee per address, IYS provided addresses of one or more penfriends (matched in age, country, interests, language abilities... through a computer system). Sadly, IYS closed down in 2008 as this Finnish firm couldn't compete with the communication through the Internet. This is the last statement on IYS' website (no longer available):
“IYS will be closing down this summer, by 30th June 2008
The International Youth Service (IYS) has been operating since 1952, over 56 years now. We have arranged foreign pen friends for school children and students aged 10 - 20 years in over 100 different countries.
The Internet has lead to a situation where sending ordinary letters is old-fashioned. Letter writing, once very popular, is now a hobby of a few.
We have come to the end of a certain period. As we can not find enough young people interested in penfriendship any more, we have decided to close down this firm by 30th June 2008.
We thank all our customers, both children and teachers, in past years and wish you happy times. Don’t stop learning different languages and cultures and keep up those penfriendships you have managed to build up.
Even if the Internet is useful in many ways, the disappearance of IYS might not be the best for the penpalling world. I am sure that many people involved in this wonderful world of letters were very sorry about the disappearance of IYS, myself included. Without IYS I would have never met my first penfriends and shared so many wonderful stories, experiences and amazing dreams! Thank you IYS!
[Information about IYS in this entry has been taken from IYS - International Youth Service (1952-2008)]
NOTE I (14th January, 2011): A group called "People who used IYS (International Youth Service) to find penpals" is online in Facebook. You have to be logged on this network to be able to see it. If you are looking for penpals you met through IYS years ago, perhaps there is a possibility you can find them through this group. Good luck!
NOTE II (30th April, 2012): Are you looking for a lost penpal? Maybe one you had met through IYS? Follow the instructions stated in the following link and send your ad to: "Penpalling & Letters - Lost Penpal Ads".
If you are looking for penpals, swappers, postcard-pals, penpals for your class... just visit "Penpalling & Letters Ads", find the right "How to - Section" and send us your ad. It will be online as soon as possible! Please, check Penpalling & Letters Ads to see how to elaborate each specific ad. Thank you!
NOTE III (10th January, 2014): "Penpalling & Letters" is a Facebook group in which penpalling-related discussions take place. You have to be logged on this network to be able to see it. If you are also looking for penpals you might make new friends through this group. Please, be patient since we need several days to approve your membership. Thanks!