with love from Toronto (1984)

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Dear Hilary, Well you’re right, I don’t care too much for these silly christmas traditions but I do have a sense of humor. So I found the tackiest christmas card I could find and here it is.  I’m really busy at work these days but it’s not too late yet.  I’ve spent all my hard earned dollars on a huge set of speakers (4 feet x 3 feet x 2 feet) which are moving in this week.  I just hope they wont get us evicted!  Merry Christmas to you, Simon, Mom & Pop and the rest of the gang, love Craig

Although this card is sent from Toronto the 3D image is of Florida’s flamingos.  It is apparently part of a 3D collector series.

The postmark date is 18 Dec 1984

Craig was my first love; he came over to the UK to study for a year.  He went back to Canada, I went to Norway.  We wrote long letters to each other.  I went to Canada, we had some adventures.  He was younger than me; I wanted happy ever after; he wasn’t ready; I moved on.  We stayed in touch intermittently for several years.  Then one day his mum phoned to tell me that he had died (tears are pricking as I write this), he did not reach 30.  No old, bald paunch for him – forever young and forever in my heart.

with love from Fallingbostel (1980)

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Dear Hilary, Thank you very much for your letter and the photograph.  I’m very busy now before Christmas and so I send you only this card.  I hope you excuse it.  So I wish you and your family a merry Christmas and a happy new year ! Yours Claudia

A lovely Northern European illustration sending good wishes for Christmas and New Year.

The postmark date is 22.12.80 so it probably arrived after Christmas.

Claudia and I became ‘pen pals’ when we were at senior school.  I would write to her in German and she wrote in English.  Claudia’s English was far superior to my German, so eventually we just communicated in English.  She was a conscientious correspondent often writing lengthy letters about her life.  We met for the first time when I was in Norway and she planned her inter-rail trip to include Oslo.  Then in the mid nineties (after 20 years of exchanging news) Claudia went quiet, no letters, cards, Christmas cards – nothing.  I tried to contact her parents by letter and more recently have searched social media sites without success.

with love from Dartmoor (1976)

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From the greatest!? guess who! FANS! To the 2nd greatest in the universe.

Dear Hilary, Thanks for your letter I’m sorry I haven’t written we’ve just had our exams. God! they were hard, I’ll tell you about in a letter.  We’re on holiday in dartmoor, having a brilliant time.  We dammed a river, and then mum had the bright? idea of finding the source.  We walked miles & miles.  When we found the spring there was a dead sheep.  We didn’t feel like a drink! love Jackie xx

A classic teenage ‘it’s all about me’ status update – even without the internet we still managed to display the arrogance of youth.  Jackie and I vied with each other scrawling ‘I am the greatest!’ on anything and everything (which I had forgotten until I found this postcard!).

This picture is of Dartington Hall, Totnes in Devon which was built in the late 1300’s  Some 600 years later the Estate is home to a variety of arts and commercial activities as well as being a conference and wedding venue.

The postmark date is Axminster, 7 June 1976 and the stamp is a second class 6½p for a small postcard, which approximates to 48p in 2014.  Interesting to note that two years on from when post codes were supposed to be used on all correspondence, most of us still weren’t bothering.  The cards and letters were delivered anyway and they were too complicated to remember.

Jackie lived right next door to me at my new house, but I was put in a different class at the new junior school and became friends with Julia.  Julia went to a different senior school.  At my senior school I was put in a different class to my other junior friends and ended up being sat, alphabetically, next to Jackie.  She became my new best friend.  I found it all quite traumatic, it seemed to be several months of continually getting to know a new group of friends, the memory of which still causes me anxiety today.  Then Jackie’s family moved away from the area – we exchanged letters and cards, as well as visiting each other in the holidays.  Jackie’s letters dwindled and I got tired of trying to maintain the friendship, so I gave her an ultimatum – write more often, or don’t bother.  Jackie stopped writing and we lost touch.  This is regrettable and entirely the fault of my stupid and self-centred young teenage self.  I am truly sorry for any hurt I caused Jackie.

with love from Alicante (1978)

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Dear Hiral, I’m having a fantastic time. (that’s wot I put on all the cards) I’ve met lots of people – German, French & Spanish.  We’re really close to the sea & we’ve got a swimming pool.  The shops are lovely and a lot of stuff is cheaper than in England but Mars bars & English stuff is really expensive.  It’s really hard to sleep at night as it’s so hot, but during the day it’s easy to sleep.  I hope the party was good (Mr. Morris’s one) Have a great holiday Hope to see you soon love Sara.

So by 1978 I had a made a good group of friends at my senior school and had gained the nickname ‘Hiral’ – Hilary>Hiraly>Hiral.  We were studying for our O’ Levels and Mr Morris was the History teacher.  Unlike most of my friends, I had opted for ‘easier’ Art over ‘harder’ History; but Mr Morris was great fun and I joined in any of the extra curricular events that he organised.  The aforementioned party was probably an end of term lunch time affair consisting of Coke, cake and biscuits. Sara appears to have missed the party; her family obviously went for one of the cheaper deals outside of school holidays and took her away towards the end of term – something for which, since 2013, UK parents are now fined.

Globalisation was still evolving and despite the cheaper, colourful clothes and souvenirs we continued to be amazed by the price of British brands abroad.

Sara was in a different class in my ‘new’ junior school, we became friends as we went through senior school.  Sara is a great writer, composer, communicator and very loyal.  Although, we both moved around and away from the area where we were at school, we now only live a couple of miles apart; I am pleased to report that, 30 years on, we maintain our friendship and meet up regularly.

with love from The Balearics (1974)

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Dear Hilary, We are having a lovly time, the weather is fine, we are staying in the Hotel Veracruz, on wednesday we went to a barbecue, Friday we went to the Caves of Drach and the safari and saw a big cat show, Sunday we are going on a boat trip. hope you have made lots of New frends by for now love Tracey x

In the seventies a package holiday to Spain (Mallorca) was still fairly exotic and the picture illustrates images of that country that many of us held.  As girls we coveted and collected flamenco dolls which were brought back as souvenirs by friends and relatives.  Their colourful tiered skirts and dark features were incredibly exciting.

This is another 1974 card from an old friend wishing me well in my new school.

I am sorry to say that I have no recollection of Tracey; this may be the only communication I had from her.