Thursday, 28 January 2021

We are the World Blogfest # 45 St Kilda Postcards to remember …

 

While we’re in lockdown and I’m just mopping time with thoughts – not moping … just on a very slow day-to-day travellator through the daily info-pack …


… I’d come across an article about postcards sent from an archipelago in the north Atlantic … it’s delightful to read about, while the history of St Kilda deserves to be told.

 


We are the World Blogfest … was set up to bring positiveness and light into this dark world of ours … originally before Covid, but now as the pandemic cavorts through all populations …

 

 

St Kilda's geographical
position

… this is a reminder about how much joy a posted letter or postcard can bring to the fragile, elderly, self-isolating peoples in this world today.

 

 

 

The St Kildan islanders had learnt to communicate the need for help by launching tiny waterproof boats … in the hope that they’d be picked up by passing ships or make it to the mainland (over 40 miles to the north and east) … 

A journalist, John Sands, in 1877 became stranded … carved a little boat … let it out into the seas … the currents took it, within 9 days, to the Orkneys … when a boat was sent out to rescue him and nine shipwrecked Austrian sailors. 

 

 

Please Open ... a boat launched in the 1930s
Eight years later a huge storm battered the islanders and their food stores … a young lad had known about the way of communicating … made 5 boats and sent them out … one arrived quite quickly in Lewis … they raised funds to provision the lost stores and launched a boat to bring relief. 

This practice was adopted and the tiny mailboats became famous in popular culture … 

The islands were evacuated in the 1930s … but contact was maintained through military personnel, conservation workers, volunteers and scientists …


The children, who found the little
wooden boat sent out in 2010 - here they
are in 2020:  c/o National Trust Scotland
 

The archipelago is now owned by the Scottish National Trust … but when an archaeologist in 2010 decided to send out his own boat … with seven postcards to St Kildan contacts … who knew where they would end up …

 

 

… surprise, surprise and to much joy to four little ones in Norway – the boat, cargo intact, arrived safely on a beach on Andoya, north Norway – about 180 miles inside the Arctic Circle and over 1,000 miles from St Kilda – after ten years floating in the currents …  

As the kids’ (twins aged 9, 6 and 4) grandfather says … what excitement and treasure this find has given them … 

… then the recipients too … so many memories coming back …  the lad back in 1885 … one of his ancestors, now in Norfolk, England, received a card …

 

c/o The Mail Oxford
Going back to today’s ghastly times … how about writing to relatives and friends with snippets of fun stories … or making bundles of cards, or notes … to be delivered in due course … a wonderful way to note down a few things … perhaps that just might escape the memory bank in a few months or years … 

 

My mother and uncle, in their final years, were always thrilled to receive letters, or postcards from family and friends … something we might want to consider today … 

 

We are the World Blogfest

In Darkness, Be Light

 

 


 

The full story of St Kilda mailboat's epic journey ... 


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

45 comments:

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
St Kilda is much-treasured history up this way, of course... and it is not that long ago that I exchanged cards on a regular basis with several folk. It is something which has become a casualty of the high-tech, super-communicative methods of the 21st century; but there is still a joy to be had from an actual paper item in one's hands that another person has touched and created something upon! YAM xx

Liz A. said...

I still mail birthday cards to family. It would be fun to discover those little boats on some far-flung shore.

Murees Dupè said...

To this day I still love receiving letters, even though nobody really writes them anymore. When I was younger I had a few pen pals and got so excited everytime I recieved a letter from a friend from overseas. Sending out the little boats sounds fascinating. I would've loved spotting one ashore. Hope you are staying safe, and taking good care of yourself.

Jz said...

Every life can use a little more "reaching out" in it...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That boat traveled a long way. What a clever way to communicate back in the day.

Joanne said...

Rather fun. I write to my father weekly (he's 89) and I send cartoons from The New Yorker magazine, plus other articles I find in the old fashioned paper. He gets a kick out of them and we do communicate by email. But paper with a stamp counts for a lot. As a college kid I wrote to my grandmother weekly and she'd write back. I'm a grand sender of cards, etc. Folks love mail that's not a bill!

Elephant's Child said...

Lovely, heartwarming stories today. Thank you.
And yes, those small gestures are HUGE and mean a lot.

Botanist said...

I used to write letters to a few friends around the world. Sadly that has all gone by the wayside these days - the curse of the convenience of email!

Hels said...

In 1966, I went overseas for 12 months, fulfilling my Gap Year dream. My friends and I couldn't afford even one overseas telephone call during that year, but we were delighted for each other when a letter or post card arrived from home. I was always happy to share mine around.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Yam – I bet you know lots of snippets about St Kilda’s – the archipelago has always interested me … particularly as I came across a book in Canada about it … which I’d love to read – can’t remember its name though … but know I noted it down somewhere!

@ Liz – yes I do too … and thank you letters. Wouldn’t it be amazing to find some historical treasure like these little boats … but I’d hate to be on the island hoping that one would land in Scotland so I could be rescued fairly soon.

@ Murees – good to see you … is the South African post working … I gave up on it about 15 years ago – sad as I did enjoy writing to friends out there. That story of the little boats delights doesn’t it …

@ Jz – yes reaching out in whatever era … and if necessary however long the missive takes to arrive at its destination …

@ Alex – the boat travelled a huge distance … a couple of miles further out to sea – it’d have rounded Norway and gone into the Barents Sea – a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean. But if you’re desperate for help pre modern telecommunication – a wise way to raise the alarm for help.

@ Joanne – oh how lovely to hear … and brilliant you entice him with other fun or interesting items. I bet he loves getting your letters … and as you say the post can be just wonderful. Excellent to know you wrote regularly to your grandmother too … and now continue to send cards for various things – you’re right – folks do love mail, that is not a bill. I do the same … and am very happy to have that occasional personal note.

@ EC – it’s fun to think about … and I’d have loved to have been those children’s grandparent or parent … such fun they’ll have over the years remembering that find. Such a treasure … they look so pleased.

Sending a personal card or letter through the post can bring such pleasure …

@ Ian – yes I can understand the curse of the convenience of email … but when my mother and uncle were ill and in their last years … I wrote out often – so family members and friends would send them cards at various times of the year. They loved keeping in touch that way …

@ Hels – yes … that I can understand … being young in 1966 was an expensive time … but sharing is a great way to keep friends together. I bet you all were so pleased to get any news of home … I know I was when I was in South Africa.

Thanks everyone … that way of communication is really quite difficult to think about … rough seas, troubling currents … so we are so lucky today. Stay safe - Hilary

Susan Scott said...

What an exciting story Hilary. Reminds me of the message in a bottle. Those little hardy tin ships travelling such a distance and people receiving notification of those in distress is very heartwarming. and the modern day story is wonderful. Have a lovely weekend.

Keith's Ramblings said...

A few years ago several bloggers and I decided to write letters to each other. I even bought a new bottle of Quink! When I was was young I was really proud of my handwriting, but when I tried writing my first letter after all those years, it was almost illegible! It seemed a good idea at the time but it didn't last!

Once again, a really interesting post, Hilary

Anabel Marsh said...

Strangely, that is the second time I have read about St Kilda mail boats this week! Fascinating.

bazza said...

I've been to St Kilda in Melbourne, Australia. I didn't know that there was one over here!
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s unnaturally useful Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

David M. Gascoigne, said...

I am sad to confess that I have abandoned the habit of sending real mail, and more's the pity actually, because I know the joy I derive from it when occasionally it arrives in my mailbox (thank you especially Sue Goldberg). There also seems to be an improvement in content and style with "real" mail. Perhaps people compose and then go back to tweak and improve it, whereas an email is dashed off, errors and all in the blink of a keystroke. As you might imagine, after a lifetime of travelling the globe in search of birds, I have contacts around the world, and there was nothing quite so exciting as seeing an airmail envelope, with exotic stamps, often carefully chosen with natural history themes, show up alongside the bills. Receiving mail was an event! Now it is still wonderful to hear from people but opening an email doesn't have the same impact. If people send me feathers, it gets really exciting. Unused stamps with birds, mammals, wildflowers, fish - any part of nature are thrilling too! It's pretty hard to include little treasures in an email!

Pam Lazos said...

I love this post, Hilary! The original message in a bottle!! I have a friend at work who has been sending us co-workers postcards since the pandemic started with little montages cut from newspapers and magazines about what's going on in the world. It's very fun to receive these missives. Thanks for sharing. xox

Jemima Pett said...

I didn't realise they used this method so many times! Makes me wonder where that message in a bottle I sent when I was eight or so ended up...

Sunk, probably :)

Pradeep Nair said...

Interesting story about St Kildan and their mailboats.

My father, a teacher, regularly received letters from his students, and he replied to each of them. One of my British friends, who doesn't have an email ID and doesn't know to operate gadgets, writes to me; and I write to him. He is the only person to whom I write a letter.

There is no doubt getting a letter is nothing like getting an email.

Jacqui Murray said...

What an amazing concept! 9 days--I never would have thought it could be so fast. Then again, 10 years to Norway--woah. Excellent story, Hilary.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Susan – yes the message in a bottle … I’m sure the ones we launched off Cornwall sank. I just thought it’s a great little tale of history for an archipelago in the ‘middle’ of the Atlantic. But today’s story – well the one from 2010 … is just delightful and the recipients of the cards, when they arrived, must have been delighted.

@ Keith – what a fun idea – I do write to a few bloggers … but I didn’t go out and buy some Quink – let alone find out my handwriting doesn’t match up to being easily read … I think you should have been a doctor?! A fun way to get letters out from the island …

@ Anabel – my reminder was from sometime last year I think … but felt it was a good one for this month. But as you say … fascinating …

@ Bazza – ah – you got your geography wrong!! I wonder if the original inhabitants came from the islands back then … hence the name. I’ve located it on the map … always interesting to know about.

@ David – in recent years I’ve rather given up … but I did a phenomenal amount for my mother and uncle in their last years … I think I was rather overloaded and thus gave up – I do write when I’m away.
I’d have thought that email was easier to chop and change around … and I am quite careful with what I send out – at least I hope I am.
I do enjoy seeing the various stamps issued … I’ve a few sheets here, with detailed information – many more have gone to the hospice for fund raising. I may use those remaining as potential blog posts in due course …
Wonderful to read that you enjoy getting feathers … and unused stamps from the natural world … long may that continue – even sporadically.

@ Pam – so pleased you enjoyed reading it … I must say it tickled me … thinking about how excited the kids must have been – especially when they found the secret compartment and the cards …
Your co-worker had a brilliant idea … and what fun to receive … I bet they are more humorous than what’s going on in real life … I can imagine they’d be great fun to receive.

@ Jemima – yes … before a form of telecommunications was set up – in WW1 … sadly I suspect your bottle sank – I’m certain mine sent off in Cornwall went down too … the only way to call for help.

@ Pradeep – thank you … such an interesting snippet of British history. Your father certainly set a good example for his students. You followed on … especially with your British friend … gosh not having any connectivity in this day and age – good for him. But as you say writing and receiving a letter is ‘the best’ … I’ve just written my thank you letters …

@ Jacqui – the currents up off northern Scotland are pretty swift … and anyone launching a little boat would have no idea where they’d end up – as we found with the 10 years to Norway. But such fun – those kids will live with their find for ever … I guess.

Thanks so much for visiting – so glad you enjoyed the post … such a fun story to know about … take care and stay safe - Hilary

Mark said...

Amazing how resilient some of those islanders are :)

Dan said...

That's a wonderful story, Hilary. I can only imagine the joy the children got from finding the boats, but even more so the people being rescued or receiving food.

D.G. Kaye said...

A wonderful collective Hilary. There is nothing like reading a real old fashioned in letter - IN CURSIVE! Lol :) I hope you're keeping sane and safe! <3

retirementreflections said...

There are such wonderful gems in this post, Hilary. I especially love the moral - to reach out and sent a letter to a friend or loved one. It can make a WORLD of difference!
Sending you warm thoughts across the miles!

Marja said...

I love snail mail and still send cards to the Netherlands. The snail mail from St kilda is real snail mail. Amazing that the little boat survived 10 years floating. That is very cool and exciting. I looked up St Kilda and they are just tiny islands still quite far from Scotland. Very cool

simonfalk28 said...

What an enthralling story, Hilary. I'd suspected St Kilda to be somewhere else. But it also shows the power of reaching out in words to our elders, a practice that has borne fruit here too, during COVID lockdowns. Thanks so much for sharing this with WATWB.

Sandra Cox said...

What a fascinating story. Thanks for sharing this, Hils.
Have a great one.
Stay safe. Be well.

Mason Canyon said...

I think communicating through a letter or postcard is a wonderful way to brighten anyone's day. It's something we should be more of. Always enjoy your posts. Hope you have a wonderful week and stay safe.

Kalpana said...

It's such a lovely story of hope - where you send out these tiny boats with messages in the hope that someone will find them and lo and behold - they do, against all odds.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Mark – yes … but in those days (late 1800s) there was no other way of communicating – other than a boat off and on …

@ Dan – thank you – I just loved it … and yes my imagination about those kids finding that little boat … all of over 1,000 miles away … with their little faces exploding with bemusement, smiles, and then laughter, and trying to understand in their little heads where it come from … such fun – but all the explanations of how life was led on the island … incredible times.

@ Debby – I so agree a letter is special and in Cursive … my handwriting needs something to be done about it … still I do write out fairly often. All safe here – thank you …

@ Donna – thanks – yes so many of us could do more and reach out … actually I do it fairly often – need to get into a post office - which is now not an easy thought. Definitely letters make so much difference to the lonely …

@ Marja – yes snail mail is good isn’t it – I’ve always sent cards out when I’ve been overseas and here in England at times too. Sailing mail – a new phenomenon perhaps … and this via the non-snail mail today is bringing a fun story to the world in other ways …
Yes St Kilda is over 40 miles away from one of the outer islands of Scotland …

@ Simon – it’s fun isn’t it … and a great retelling for so many of us … love the idea of making a little boat and sending it on the waves to people far away …

@ Sandra – thank you … I loved the thought of this and the model-boats being sent off over the seas to bring hope and/or joy …

@ Mason – I so agree sending out letters or cards to lonely people or kids certainly brighten people’s days. I agree we should encourage more … I quite often mention the idea.

@ Kalpana – thanks so much for coming by – and I know … they spread their risk: by sending out more than one boat to get their communication to arrive – as you say against all odds.

Thanks everyone – so pleased you enjoyed the story – I hope you’ll all send out a card or letter to a loved one soon. Stay safe – all the best - Hilary

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Such a good point about sending out cards! And what an amazing story...only 9 days for the stranded journalist's message to reach help! They must have been so relieved when help came so quickly.

A Cuban In London said...

Gorgeous post. Full of history and culture. Thanks.

Greetings from London.

Elsie Amata said...

Great advice to reach out to our older family and friends through the mail. It's something I still do with my aunts. I have a card going out in tomorrow's mail. :)

Warmly,
Elsie

BWitzenhausen said...

This is the first time I have heard about St Kildan. Such an interesting story and to hear that someone rekindled the project is fantastic. I'm sure those children will always hold a special memory of those postcards. Thanks so much for sharing this and for being a part of our #WATWB family! Hope you have a fantastic week!

Denise Covey said...

Hi Hilary!
One thing that disturbs me in this email generation, is what we leave behind. All those stories about letters in attics etc will not apply. Who's going to sift through emails? Your story was delightful.
Hope you're doing well.

Erica/Erika said...

I love the concept of sharing positives in today’s world and every day, Hilary. Your words “pandemic cavorts” made me smile even when the pandemic is not a smiley condition. Tiny, waterproof boats....wow! First time I have heard of this. Fascinating how it continued. I believe the children finding these treasures will change the world in their own positive way. A ripple effect. This is a great reminder, Hilary, and a wonderful post!

Haddock said...

Like that idea of tiny mail boats.

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello!

What lovely heartwarming stories you treat us to in this post.

On this, Candlemas Day, it seems singularly appropriate to bring more light into the world, especially at a time when for so many they only see the darkness all around. And, in these uncertain times, perhaps connecting in whatever way with others gives reassurance and hope that there is a brighter future ahead.

Spring is just around the corner so we must all hold tight and launch our boats of happiness. Well, who knows who might find them?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Elizabeth – yes … I do wish more people would do it – especially to the elderly and youngsters – they so love getting a letter. It must have been fraught at times being on the island waiting for a boat to come … but loved this story …

@ ACIL – thank you … yes, a fascinating snippet of early history – when people sailed the waves … and remembering Scottish island living.

@ Elsie – yes … we do need to reach out – especially now in these times. Well done on reaching out to your aunts … and the recipient will be enjoying her card this week …

@ Belinda – it’s a tiny uninhabited island now – except for research etc … but I just loved the story and can really imagine the children’s faces – they’ll be dining out on that story for years to come …

@ Denise - I know – who is going to be interested in ‘our emails’ – let alone the blogs … but also the letters in the attic will get fewer – sad … I wonder what life will be like in 50 years …

@ Erica – thanks … yes these #WATWB monthly postings are fun to write up – and we read so much about other positive happenings in different countries … and I just loved the story of the kids’ finding the boat – amazing … bet they’ve learnt so much from this treasure find …
Sadly the pandemic is cavorting over here …

@ Haddock – thank you … those little boats – desperate measures for desperate times – when stuck on an island …

@ Jane and Lance – great to see you here … thanks for the visit. Yes it is heart-warming isn’t it …
You’re right about bringing the light in on Candlemas – we all need some relief from the worldly happenings …
I hope Spring will bring some hope and help to many in this world …

Thanks everyone – so good to see you … especially in these gloomy pandemic days – stay safe … Hilary

DMS said...

What a fun post. I would have been over the moon to discover the boat with the postcards in it as a kid- and I would still love it now. Magical!

I agree that sending a note can make a world of difference in brightening someone's day. :) I know I always love receiving cards and notes!
~Jess

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

What a delightful (and horribly unreliable) way to communicate! Such an interesting story. Those children must've been over the moon at finding that enchanting little boat.

I used to be the queen of writing letters and post cards. Had numerous pen pals as a child, and sent post cards to all my friends whenever I went on vacation. The last of the people I wrote to regularly have all passed away now, and there aren't many people left these days who care to be bothered. They'd rather communicate via text messages. Oh well... the times have changed. I reckon we have to adapt.

Take care, sweet lady. Cheers!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jess - yes I must say I'd have loved to have found a 'treasure' such as this ... and then send the postcards on and finding out more about the recipients.

Yes - snail mail is a wonderful way to communicate ... I've done a lot in my time ... but I love getting them ...

@ Susan - I know ... but if you're 40 miles out in the Atlantic before the steam age - there wasn't much choice. But they obviously worked ... and the kids' story is so much fun - I love it ...

I can imagine you'd have lots of fun writing to family and friends ... as in fact I did ... but I don't do 'texting' - so I miss things - ah well - times are changing ... not sure how much more adapting I'll be doing! But we'll see ... and lovely to see you here ...

Stay safe both of you - all the best - Hilary

Steve said...

Beautifully written sending a note indeed makes a world of difference.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Thanks for visiting Steve - perhaps you'll join us at the end of this month ... last Friday of the month - stay safe - Hilary

Steve said...

Ok, I will see how it is going to be and my availability. Also, I shared some tips in my blog last month about Helpful Tips To Improve Mental Health & Well-being. I believe it's quite related to your post about many other ways to reach out especially in the current climate.