Penpalling & Letters

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

How to write a letter

Veteran letter-writers are already familiarized with the different parts of a letter and how to structure and organize it in a correct way, but what about beginners? Today's post is addressed to all those who wish to know some tips to write a letter to a friend and aren't used to penpalling, yet.

As you can see in the image, a letter can be divided in different parts. Let's start reviewing each of them:

1. Place and date of the letter:

The place and date have to be written on the right upper corner of the paper, just like it can be seen in the image. Some people don't include the place, others do... so you decide what to do here. The date helps to keep track of when the letter was written, so it is nice to know this information in my opinion.

2. Opening greeting:

The opening of the letter should be located at the left area of the paper, just below of date and place (as it can be seen in the above pic). There are several ways to open a letter, depending on your level of confindence with the person you are writing to. The most common opening is "Dear" followed by the person's first name and a comma. A more casual greeting is "Hello (name)" or "Hi (name)" followed by an exclamation mark or a comma.

3. Opening paragraph:

There are several ways you can begin your letter with as they are "How are you?", "How are you doing?", "How it is going"? In this paragraph you can also add sentences like: "I am happy to be writing to you again", "It is always so nice to hear back from you and start writing a new letter to you", "I am so happy I received your letter after so many weeks travelling! I thought it was already lost in the mail.", "It is great to hear from you once more and get your news", "I am sorry it took so long to get back to you but here I am finally"... (check number 3 in the image to see where it should be located in the text).

4. Body of the letter:

This is the main and more important part of a letter, as well as the part which is really unique in each letter you will be writing. The body can consist of as many paragraphs you wish to write and of as many topics you wish to develop. A letter to a friend can be as long (or as short) as you wish it to be. Don't forget to make your letter attractive and interesting so your penpal will be hooked to this penfriendship!

5. Closing paragraph:

At this point you are saying goodbye to your penfriend. Some typical endings are: "It was such a pleasure to write this letter to you", "I am so happy to have written to you this long letter. Cannot wait to hear from you again!", "Looking forward to hearing from you", "Hope to hear from you (very) soon", "Write soon", "Hope you are enjoying your holidays and that I will hear from you soon"...

6. Closing:

When ending a letter you can choose a closing depending on the person you are writing to and the level of formality. It is usually situated towards the right side of the paper. Some of the closings you can use are: "Take care", "Best wishes", "With best wishes", "All the best", "Cheers", "Talk soon", "Kindest regards", "With kindest regards", "Yours", "Truly yours", "Sincerely yours", "Sincerely", "Love from", "With love from", "Love always", "Much love from", "With much love from", "Lots of love", "All my love"... Under any of these endings you have to add your name or put your signature.

What are you waiting for now? Pick a pen and a paper and start writing! Isn't it lovely to write a letter to a dear friend far away? Go and enjoy it!

Are you learning how to address an envelope? Check the following tip: "How to address an envelope"

If you are looking for advice on penpalling check: "Tips on letter writing"

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Covered of Cuteness Giveaway!

Today we have a special guest with us. Her name is Michelle and maybe you don't know who is she, yet... What about if I mention about, or Do these names ring a bell?
Surely some of you already know that Michelle together with Henk run these lovely online shops full of the cutest items for a while already. Michelle is here today to talk a bit about her penpalling experiences, her online shops and to offer a very special gift to the readers of Penpalling & Letters as well as to the loyal customers of and

But go on reading to find out how to participate in this "Covered of cuteness giveaway":

Hello Michelle! It is a big pleasure to have you here, at the Penpalling & Letters Blog, sharing with us both your penpalling experiences and your love for the cutest penpalling supplies.

Hello everybody! I am also happy to be here and spend some time with you talking about letter-writing and cute penpalling items!

- How did you discover penpalling? For how long have you been writing letters?

I first started writing letters when I was about 12, with a girl I met on holiday. I then answered some penpal ads in a magazine and was soon hooked! I loved writing long letters and decorating the envelopes. And nothing beats finding a colourful envelope in your mailbox! I lost touch with some of my pals when I started university, but rediscovered my favourite hobby a few years later. I'm still in touch with my very first penpal. I even visited her last week and we caught up over coffee. Penpal friendships are amazing, it's such a special way to get to know somebody and especially in these modern and "fast" times I enjoy sitting down with a cup of tea and taking the time to write a long handwritten letter.

- Which "penpalling supply" is your favourite to use?

Personally I love using letter pads. They have lots of sheets in different designs and are perfect for my long letters. When the sheets don't have lines on them, I put a sheet with black lines underneath so my writing doesn't go all crooked... Then again, I also use lots of stickers on the back sides of sheets to make them look more colourful.

- How did the idea of come up?

My penpals were asking me where I found the cute stationery I was writing on. I bought it at an Asian store in Amsterdam and soon discovered it was hard to find in the rest of Europe. I started selling some letter sets through eBay and then started a website consisting of just a single page of letter sets. I wanted to make it a place where penpals could come together, so I also added a penpal ad section, a part for swappers with info on FB's and printable label bags. At the time the webshops that did offer stationery, often charged ridiculous shipping charges to Europe or didn't accept Euros so we became popular very quickly. It soon took off so I decided to make a more professional website and was born. That was in 2003 and we've been online ever since. We now accept both Euros and US Dollars and send everything worldwide. There are few countries that we don't have customers yet! A few years after the launch of we added a separate website for stickers, We have moved to England, Canada and Malaysia and always brought our shops with us. We're now back in the Netherlands where we are originally from.

- Had you ever thought that your letter-passion would become your own business?

Never! I feel so lucky to have made my hobby into a business. I also love bringing people together and so many penpals have found each other thanks to my website. We have so many penpal ads on our website now and it's such an easy way to find a new penpal or swapper.

- Which penpalling supplies do you offer to your customers at the moment? And which stationery brands do you work with at your shops?

We focus on letter sets, letter pads, memo pads and stickers. We sell mainly Asian brands, and mostly from Korea. They have really cute stuff which is also very affordable. We occasionally sell items from brands like Sanrio and San-X as well as some other Japanese brands. As long as it's pretty or cute we like it!

- Which penpalling supplies are the favourite ones of your costumers?

Letter pads are the most popular for using but there are also quite a few customers who order every new letter set we add and then keep one sheet and one envelope of each to collect. We also sell lots of stickers. I find they come in great use for decorating letters and FB's and also make a great small gift to add to a letter for your penpal.

- Are you interested in providing new items to your customers in the near future as well as different brands of stationery?

Absolutely! We always love hearing from our customers and always keep an eye open if there are any special requests.

- What's the aim of your online shops?

Spreading cute items worldwide against low prices!

Michelle, thank you very much for such a lovely interview and let us know the story of and!

It was a pleasure to be here. See you all very soon!

By the way, Dutch speakers have the chance to enjoy the Dutch version of, go and have a look at:

And now, let's talk about the giveaway that and Penpalling & Letters have ready for you!

If you enter this competition you can win a stationery goodie bag worth 25€/32$ offered by! However, if you can't wait, you can order now by entering discount code "PPL" in the Shopping Cart in all the shops for an instant 10% off. This offer is exclusive for the readers of Penpalling & Letters!

How to enter?

1. Visit to see which item(s) are your favourite ones in the shop(s). Come back to this post and leave a comment here together with a way to contact you.

2. For an extra entry be/become a follower of Penpalling & Letters (notice that to be a follower you don't need to have a Blog of your own but an accessible Blogger profile) and tell us in a comment which stationery brands are your favourite and which ones you would like to see in Make sure you leave a way to contact you.

3. Tell/link about this giveaway on your Blog/Website for another extra entry. Tell us which items from your favourite brands you would like to see in and again leave a comment in this post. Make sure you provide the link to your Blog/Website post together with your comment as well as your contact data.

4. Tweet about it on Twitter to get a new extra entry and tell in your comment here what you like the best about Penpalling & Letters and what keeps you coming up for more. If wished, let me know what you would like to see more of! Make sure you leave a link to your tweet and also a way to contact you.

5. Join and/or on Facebook at and (if you have already joined you are in) for a fourth extra entry and leave your Facebook name or the e-mail you are using in Facebook here and, of course, a way to contact you.

So, as you can see it is very easy! Everybody is welcome to enter so remember to spread the word! Deadline is the 21st September and the winner will be drawn shortly after. Remember that the lucky one will be given a cute goodie bag full of penpalling supplies worth 25€/32$! For those who cannot wait remember that as long as the competition is running you can do your stationery purchases at, or under the discount code "PPL" for a 10% discount!

Good luck to all and hope you enjoyed Michelle's visit!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Summer of 1994

This is the first postcard I received from a foreign country. It feels nostalgic as such a long time has passed ever since... Although I already had a good collection of postcards back then, all of them were from my own land. This is why getting this postcard felt special that summer. At that time I didn't know anybody from another country who could send me mail... until I met my very first penpal from abroad. It was the summer of 1994 and I was at the beach when I met this girl from another European country. She was on holidays with her family as well, visiting the north of Spain and the north of Portugal. It was lovely to know her when I less expected it and it was sad to say goodbye at the same time. However, we exchanged our postal addresses (no Internet in 1994) and this is the first of many postal items both of us exchanged. In the postcard you can see an aerial view of Bragança, a city located in the north-east of Portugal (Trás-Os-Montes Region), close to the border with Spain.

The stamps she sent me belong to a series called "Arquitectura Popular Portuguesa" ("Traditional Portuguese Architecture") designed by José Luís Tinoco and issued on the 20th August, 1985. The one on the left "Casa Minhota" ("Typical House of the Minho Region") has a value of 20 Portuguese Escudos (currency of Portugal from 1911 to 2002) while the one of the right "Casas da Beira Litoral" ("Houses of Beira Litoral Region") has a value of 50 Portuguese Escudos. What a luck I got these stamps so many years after they were issued!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Brontë Sisters Birth and Residence Places - Do you know where are they?

Together with Bursts of Bubbles we are travelling today to West Yorkshire, England as she is going to tell us about Thornton and Haworth, both rural villages within the metropolitan borough of the City of Bradford. Maybe you already know that Thornton is the birth place of the Brontë sisters: Emily, Anne and Charlotte who are well known classic book writers, while Haworth was their place of residence until they died.

Bursts of Bubbles has been into penpalling for the last twenty-one years and she started writing letters when her primary school class made a letter-exchange with children in a different school. She has never stopped ever since.

Thornton is a typical village of the Pennines, with houses built in stone. You can go and visit the Brontë sisters birth place which is situated within the village at 74, Market Street, but there is not much else for you to see there except the view of the most beautiful countryside and an old rail bridge. The remains of the Thornton Chapel (known as Bell Chapel) where the father of the Brontë sisters preached from 1815 to 1820 can be seen in the restored old graveyard off Thornton Road opposite the current Church.

The Brontë family moved to Haworth some years later. The sisters wrote most of their famous novels while living at the Haworth Parsonage (which is now the Brontë Parsonage Museum and a shrine to the family). The surroundings of the family's home were the source of inspiration for the three sisters, a landscape characterized by moorland, which had a deep influence on their writing. In the Parsonage it is possible to see family memorabilia, original furniture and library collections. You can visit it and walk in the footsteps where the writers played when being little children.

Haworth still looks quite old with its cobbled streets and little shops. You can take a ride in the old steam train around the village or lead a path to Stanbury, a small village nearby, where the Brontë Waterfall, Bridge and Stone Chair are located (it is said that the sisters took turns to sit on the Stone Chair to write their first stories). The surroundings of the waterfall, of outstanding beauty, are mainly moorland and farmland. Following the path out of the valley and up on the moors you reach Ponden Hall, a farmhouse which is believed to be the inspiration for Thrushcross Grange (home of the Linton family) in Emily Brontë's "Wuthering Heights" as well as Top Withens, a ruined farmhouse which is said to have been the inspiration of the Earnshaw home in the same novel.

See you in the next travel around the world!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Penpalling and taking care of the environment

A few weeks ago, The Ecological Storyteller started a section in her Blog: "The Letter Writers Circle", which I highly recommend. The whole Blog is an interesting reading but if you are curious to hear about the thoughts, experiences, ideas, opinions... of other penpallers keep an eye over there!
The point is that one of the topics to develop in the interviews is "to relate ecology and penpalling in the same thought". Due to my background I can only think about "Ecology" as the science which studies the distribution, abundance of organisms and how they interact between them and with the environment. But obviously this topic refers to "Environmentalism", a social movement concerned about the preservation and protection of the environment.

How would you connect both penpalling and environmentalism? I was thinking about that since I first read this statement in The Ecological Storyteller and now I surely know there is a connection between them.
It is summer and it is the time to go to the beach. Lucky me I come from a coastal town and have lived all my life next to the sea! I cannot imagine myself living far away from my dear seawater! So, here you can see a view of the beach I went to this week: blue skies, sunny and warm weather, wonderful views, crystalline water, soft sands, rounded rocks, lots of little animals here and there (different types of fish, crabs, hermit crabs, winkles, sea anemones, starfishes, limpets, mussels...), colourful seaweeds... In one word: paradise for me!

Since I like walking much more than being still on the beach towel I had a look all over the place. I was quite disappointed to discover how disgusting are some human beings. Here it is the result:

As you can see they are mainly plastics (especially plastic bags and yogur containers), tins and rests of different fishing gears (included plastic gloves which fishermen throw to the sea, bags looking like nets where mollusks are stored before being sent to fresh food markets and ropes).

It is very disappointing that human beings are so dirty. It is clear that the most part of people don't care about the environment. Is it so difficult to bring your plastics back home and put them in the yellow bin? It seems very difficult for most part of people!!! It is a shame we are treating The Earth so badly and with so much careless! She doesn't deserve it! A plastic bag needs around 200 years to disappear, tin around 500 years, a polystyrene yogur container around 1000 years... Be fair and put them in the bin instead throwing them in the natural environment.

Besides, those abandoned nets in the sea cause that many marine animals get trapped and suffocated to death. That usually happens to sea lions, seals, marine turtles, whales, dolphins, porpoises, manatees, marine birds...
Also, marine mammals, birds, turtles and fish are in danger when they mistake food for plastics floating in the water column and ingest them. Their digestive tract gets blocked and they end up dying.
Can you imagine dying like that?

So, coming back to the topic which opened this entry, I can state that both penpalling and environmentalism are related when us, penpallers, care about the environment and do our best to keep it save and clean. Even if our contribution isn't big, we still have done our little bit! I already recycle and take care of the environment, but if next time I go to the beach find plastics again, I will work on disposing of that waste and will be proud of it as I know I helped my little bit!