In Celebration of Having a Pen Pal and Snail Mail

When I was about eleven, I had a pen-pal.

Remember those?

These days, the term ‘pen-pal’ is probably obsolete. In this digital age, people tend not to use pens to write letters any more. Emails are the preferred method of communication.

But anyway, I digress.

My penpal was Italian. She had long dark hair, tied back in a sleek ponytail and in the photo she’d sent me, she wore a sea-green sweatshirt . I can’t even remember her name — it was such a long time ago — but I used to love receiving her letters in the post.

They used to contain news of her life,  little Italian treats — stickers, scented rubbers or tiny sweets — and basically, in an age where there was no internet, email or social media of any kind, they gave the most enticing glimpse into the life of someone I barely knew.

Digital communication is good — amazing in fact — but these days everything is so immediate.

You can post how you feel — for thousands of people to see — and even have a face-to-face conversation, in real time, with someone who’s thousands of miles away. It’s the kind of technology they used to talk about on Tomorrow’s World.

Only now, it’s not ‘the future’, it’s the here and now.

Nowadays, there’s something utterly charming about an old fashioned letter.

So imagine my excitement when, last month, I received an intriguing box filed with the loveliest treats from my blogging friend Fionnuala, who lives in Germany.

Received in The Post

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In Celebration of Snail Mail

She’d sent me a bag filled with fresh walnuts from the tree in her garden, a little parcel of chocolate covered marzipan (something we had a lengthy Twitter discussion about last Christmas) and a can — yes, a can — of Prosecco. A running joke and something that doesn’t seem to be widely (if at all) available in the UK.

I thought it was an urban myth until I opened the packaging!! But I can now confirm that it does exist — and also tastes very good!

I’d no idea that my friend was sending this little package of loveliness and it was such a treat to receive it.

Funnily enough, I used to take part in an organised gift swap which was very similar. The difference being that you had a good idea that someone was sending you something — albeit not what they were going to send.

Weirdly enough, opening this little box of treasures transported me back to being eleven again. Coming home from school to find a letter from my penpal. In this immediate, digital age, it’s not often we receive lovely and exciting surprises.

So thank you Fionnu. Thanks for being so thoughtful and taking the time to send such a lovely selection of little treats through the post.

It made my entire week.

Although the marzipan didn’t last that long ;)

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Caro Davies

Caro Davies art directed fashion and interiors before leaving the world of design to pursue a career in social media. She can now be found chasing the light — and two small twin boys.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook

22 Comments

  1. 1st Nov 2016 / 10:21 pm

    This is the loveliest blog post ever! I can’t think of anything nicer than an unexpected but so thoughtful gift in the post. I had a pen pal too around the same age as you – it came about when I won a writing competition in the Puffin Post and they let me know that they also had another member of the Puffin Club with the same name as me – she in London, me in Ireland. They put us in touch, and we became pen pals, and I looked up to her so much as my more sophisticated other, but always tried to impress her with carefully chosen gifts, which in hindsight were probably really embarrassing! Bring back pen pals I say – and your post definitely supports this!

    • 2nd Nov 2016 / 2:26 pm

      Well done on the Puffin comp!!! And yes — it’s a bit sad that pen pals are not a ‘thing’ anymore and letter writing is a bit of a lost art. I definitely think it should make a come-back! Such a lovely thing for kids to experience :)

  2. 1st Nov 2016 / 10:32 pm

    Aw, this has made my evening! I’m so glad you liked the little surprise parcel. Isn’t chocolate covered marzipan the best type?!

    • 2nd Nov 2016 / 12:10 pm

      Did you really think I wouldn’t mention it on my blog?! ;) Haha!! It was all too nice not to take photos of!! Thanks so much again — so thoughtful of you. And YES. That marzipan lasted all of two days. Apart from the one in the photo that I managed to keep until I’d taken some pictures!!!

  3. 2nd Nov 2016 / 7:13 am

    What a cool parcel! I have been on the receiving end of a little parcel of goodies from Fionnula too, she is so lovely :) I used to love my letters from my German penpal. I have since tried to find her on twitter funnily enough but with no luck!! x #Homeetc

    • 2nd Nov 2016 / 12:08 pm

      It’s a lovely thing isn’t it? SO nice to receive something that you just weren’t expecting!! By the way, Fionnu is @threesonslater on Twitter ;)

  4. 2nd Nov 2016 / 7:52 am

    Oh what a lovely treat! I love getting little gifts in the post and sending them too. So thoughtful. I have to say I am most excited by the can of fizz! #HomeEtc

    • 2nd Nov 2016 / 12:06 pm

      I was INCREDIBLY excited by the can of fizz!!!! Made me laugh!! We’d been talking about Prosecco in a can for the best part of a year!!

  5. 2nd Nov 2016 / 7:29 pm

    How special!! I used to have pen pals when I was little too! I would love one now – the art of writing is lost to the digital world now isn’t it? Lovely post xx #HomeEtc

    • 6th Nov 2016 / 6:55 pm

      Agree! It’s a lost art isn’t it? Such a shame — receiving this little box of treats made my day!

  6. 2nd Nov 2016 / 10:17 pm

    This is the sweetest!! And so thoughtful. I agree – there’s many things I miss about the ‘good old days’ – even when I watch old episodes of Sex and the City it makes me hark back for a time when we’d all call each others landlines. I lived in the US as a student, pre-internet days and loved getting letters from my friends and family back home, such a treat. Beautiful photos Xx

    • 6th Nov 2016 / 6:54 pm

      Haha!! Landlines! Now there’s a thing. Although, to be honest, the signal is so poor is our village, people are more likely to get hold of me on the landline than my mobile if I’m at home!! ;)

  7. 3rd Nov 2016 / 9:31 pm

    Your pics are gorgeous!
    I totally agree, nothing quite matches receiving something handwritten. I actually think we’re craving this kind of interaction now and I really hope penpals make a comeback!

    #HomeEtc

    • 6th Nov 2016 / 6:48 pm

      Aah thanks lovely. I agree — I think the digital age is amazing but its all a bit ‘obvious’ and immediate. Nothing seems very special or surprising anymore does it?

  8. 5th Nov 2016 / 3:36 pm

    I used to always collect penpals from our family holidays – I used to love receiving their letters and writing mine, although I never received treats! How thoughtful this little package is, it must’ve been lovely to receive. And Prosecco in a can?! I’m sold! Think I need to get me another penpal! #HomeEtc xx

    • 6th Nov 2016 / 6:47 pm

      It’s weird isn’t it? A whole generation are totally missing out on the whole pen-pal phenomenon! I think it should make a comeback, for sure!

  9. 8th Nov 2016 / 9:08 am

    Ah I had pen pals but I was terrible and always forgot to reply to them so we never got very far ha ha. This is such a lovely idea and use have been a treat to receive! Thanks for hosting #homeetc :)

  10. 15th Nov 2016 / 8:23 pm

    Ah how lovely – and marzipan is the absolute best. Chocolate and marzipan obviously a winner. Thanks for hosting #homeet

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