When I was about eleven, I had a pen pal.
These days, pen pals have gone digital. Google the term ‘pen pal’ and there are apps and websites dedicated to them. In a world where emails are the preferred method of communication, it seems that pen friends are still en vogue.
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.
Why have a pen pal?
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
In Celebration of Snail Mail & The Old Fashioned Pen Pal
Fionnu had 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 ;)