22 August 2018

Storing and organising postcards

When I started becoming interested in collecting postcards again, I knew I needed to get them organised, and the collection had outgrown the boxes it was in. This was a good excuse to get my DVD collection organised first, and repurpose some of the DVD boxes which were a perfect size for all but the biggest postcards.
I separated the postcards into two boxes, one for places and the other for everything else. I then set about making some dividers from white card. It turned out that I needed a lot more of these dividers than I'd thought, so that I could categorise the postcards properly.
In the "places" box, I sorted the postcards into maps, Fife, Edinburgh, Lochmaben (where we used to go on holiday), the rest of Scotland, England, Wales, Italy, the rest of Europe, Asia, and the rest of the world.
In the other box, there are too many categories to list, but they include famous artists, cats, poetry, degree shows, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, film & TV, and much more! It's really difficult to decide where some postcards should go that fit more than one category!
The boxes are not full yet, so there's room to expand my collection, and I can use more of the DVD boxes when these ones do fill up.

I do still keep my Royal Mail stamp postcards in a separate box. For many years I would go down to the post office on the day these were released, and buy them. But I got rid of a lot of them eventually and just kept my favourites. Now I just buy them if I particularly like the stamps.

20 August 2018

Buying postcards

Since I've started collecting postcards again, I've been looking at where I can buy them. It's a lot more difficult to find a good variety of new postcards. When I was young there would be postcards in most newsagents and post offices, and there was a lot of choice. Here are some of the places I've found that you can still buy postcards.

Tourist attractions e.g. National Trust properties
Art galleries
Tourist information offices (the selection can be quite limited and generic, though)
Good bookshops
Quirky little gift shops
Directly from artists, whether at craft fairs or online

Charity shops (Oxfam bookshops in particular tend to have a box full)
Antique or vintage shops
Flea markets

18 August 2018

Postcard books

I recently discovered an amazing secondhand bookshop in Burntisland. I'd seen the sign a few times for a bookshop, but this was the first time I'd gone for a look. I was actually looking for postcards, but instead I came out with a book of Boring Postcards compiled by the photographer Martin Parr (who I just happened to see on a programme about British photography I watched shortly afterwards). This style of postcards really appeals to me, and my parents found the book fascinating too.
I've had A History of Postcards by Martin Willoughby since it came out in the 1990s. It's interesting to read about the history of how postcards developed, but most of the book concentrates on eras before the time I'm interested in, with only two pages on the 1960s and 1970s. It seems to jump from the 1930s to the 1980s with not much in between.

16 August 2018

Boring postcards are interesting!

Some of my favourite postcards are those that could be described as "boring" but I think they're really interesting because they show an almost utopian view of mundane things like motorways, hotels, and shopping centres, with everything looking new and clean, and all the clothing and cars being lovely bright colours. It's like they are a celebration of the architecture that was modern then but can look dated now.
I suppose I should have realised that this was actually a fake view of the world! I knew there must have been some sort of filter applied to make the colours so intense, but it wasn't until I watched a programme about the history of British photography that I discovered that the colours of individual outfits and cars were painstakingly altered, making some of them more intense but completely changing the colours of others e.g. from white to red.
These days I find that most photographic tourist postcards are just a bit too slick and polished, and I feel they are tacky in their non-tackiness! So I've gone back to my roots and started picking up secondhand postcards from the 70s and 80s with their hyper-saturated colours.

14 August 2018

Recently thrifted - Postcards

I've got back into collecting postcards in a big way over the past month or two, and a lot of the ones I've bought have been secondhand, whether from antique shops, charity shops, flea markets, Ebay, or Etsy.
Collecting postcards was one of my main hobbies when I was a child, and I used to get handfuls of them whenever I visited my grandparents, because they would get their friends to save them for me. I would also buy them wherever I went on holiday or day trips. 

Although I'd still been buying a few everywhere I went over the years, I hadn't been keeping an organised collection like I did when I was young. I remember I used to spend the occasional Sunday afternoon organising my collection, and I'm getting back into doing that.

I think one of the things that got me back into postcards was listening to the Postcards from the Past podcast. I'd been following the Twitter account for ages but when I heard the enthusiasm of the guests on the podcast for their postcards I got interested again.

My favourite postcard of all time is one with a weather-house on it by a Scottish artist called Nora Paterson which I bought in a bookshop in the 1980s. I remember looking at her various designs on the display stand and choosing that one. And now I've been able to pick up some of her other designs online!

12 August 2018

The Secret Bunker

The Secret Bunker in the East of Fife has been open to the public for 24 years, but I hadn't really thought of visiting until I saw some photos on Instagram and realised that it would not just be interesting to military history buffs.
I was a bit nervous about visiting because I sometimes get a bit claustrophobic (I've had to abandon attempts to climb various towers on holiday because of tight stairwells and low headroom) but the bunker didn't cause me any problems of that sort. In fact, it feels very like being inside a school (something I'm used to, having worked in one since the very year the secret bunker opened to the public!), with similar sized corridors and rooms. I didn't even really notice the lack of windows at all.
The first surprise I got when going down the long corridor into the bunker was that I was greeted by two cats! It was a bit disconcerting to see something moving at floor level in my peripheral vision as I was taking a photo, and my first thought was that it was a rat! I was very relieved to see it was two cats, who would presumably deal with any rat or mouse problems there might be!

My main reasons for visiting the bunker, after seeing it on Instagram, were all the old technology and typefaces, dating from the 1950s when it was built until the 1980s when it was decommissioned. I was not disappointed!

It was a really thought-provoking place to visit. It got me thinking about what life would have been like for those in the bunker if it ever had to be used for its intended purpose as a command centre in a nuclear war. 

10 August 2018


It would be hard to decide which is the prettiest of all the Fife villages, but Culross is a strong contender! I had actually only been a couple of times before, when I was young, so it was lovely to go back for another look.

I found a lovely community garden that was a new addition, and it was a lovely place to sit and relax before exploring the rest of the village.
There are so many lovely details in Culross, and there are flowers everywhere! It's a photographer's paradise!


08 August 2018

Dundee Howff cemetery

The Howff is a very old cemetery, right in the middle of Dundee. I'd always planned to visit it, because some of my mum's ancestors are buried there, but I hadn't realised just how easy it was to get to. I had been visiting the McManus Gallery, and it's very close to there.
The cemetery is a real haven of tranquility, right in the middle of the city. There are beautiful old gravestones, with lovely carvings on them, and there are lots of flowers growing around the place, attracting bees and butterflies.
It was a stunningly sunny day when I visited, and it would be interesting to go again on a damp misty day for a totally different atmosphere.
Unfortunately I didn't find the gravestones of any family members, but I'll keep looking next time I visit!

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