I love a niche museum. The high point for me had to be the Paris Sewers Museum, just down the road from the Musee de L’Orangerie – yes I recommend it, and no I would not have gone if Dad had not taken me there on the false pretence of getting coffee. Anyway, talking niche museums, the Postal Museum opened in Clerkenwell mid last year and it has been on my list to visit since I saw an ad for it on the tube. What caught my eye, what made me choose this museum to fantasise about above all others, was its newly refurbished postal train.

You read that right. London used to have a tube network running beneath the streets just for the post. It was created when the streets began to fill up with traffic back in the day and keeping to a regular timed route became impossible. To solve the problem they created mini-tube carriages (like ¼ the size of the normal tube) that had sacks of letters hauled onto them, the trains travelled around this fair city making sure the words found their homes.

The reason I took quite so long to get to the Postal Museum is because that darling Postal Train had sold out for bloody months. I had to wait for a spontaneous bright and freezing Thursday in January to be able to secure a coveted seat.

The museum space proper is across the road from the train part, it is unbelievably cute and kids (or you know, millennials with a child’s heart) will love it. It’s interactive and full of fun facts about how the postal service shaped the nation. And it has some working pneumatic tubes that you can use to send anonymous notes to the other side of museum – I will let you guess what I wrote on mine (a risky move since I was the youngest in the museum by about 50 years).

When you head to across the road to THE TRAIN you get some more fun interactive post games, including my favourite where you have to maintain your balance on a moving train carriage simulator and put letters in the right slots. It’s a cool museum.

But ONTO THE POST TRAIN. I had an unfortunate wait when it came to my timeslot (all rides have a specific time, you can’t just hop on), one of the two trains had broken down and there was a delay of half an hour. No, not ironic at all. I eventually managed to hop on the TINY TRAIN (they are not designed for passengers, only mail was meant to travel on them) and begin my 15 minute journey.

It is amazing to see the real life tubes that the mail travelled down for so many years, and hear the history of the men that worked the mail train. They have some interactive displays that are a nice touch and then before you can blink you are back to the start.

I really enjoyed my time at the museum and the mail train ride (excluding the 30 minute delay which was a Royal pain), however it is the price that I quibble with. I don’t doubt that it costs a pretty penny to restore and maintain the train, and the museum is world class – however we are in a city of free museums. I think £17 is a lot for the train ride, and for the price I don’t think I would do it again (or have done it in the first place). Check out the website and make your own mind up, it is a really interesting way of looking at history in any case. And besides, stamps are cool.

Postcard photo

My parents both turned 60 this year (they first met when they failed science together in high school) and for ages I was stuck for how to celebrate with them. I mean I was across the world, not so easy to plan a party, make a speech or even just hug them on their birthday. So I came up with quite possibly my most elaborate craft product to date, this is the story of the 60 postcards.

I took it back to the most basic form of communication we have from across the globe, not even a heart filled letter just the simple picture postcard. But these were, of course a little different. I designed the 60 postcards to be an elaborate birthday speech from my sister and I, with a few messages from their friend as well, and then got them all printed by the Big Robot at Moo.

The postcards started with photos from the trips we had taken together, with text hidden in billboards or on menus. Then we had the messages from their friends. Remember that scene in Love Actually when that guy from the Walking Dead declares his love for Keira Knightly? Well those cards were the example I used when asking all their friends for help. What I got back were pictures of everyone who loves them holding some of the funniest, most sincere and downright rude birthday messages I have ever seen.

So one by one I sent these messages across the globe, between them all they covered 1,099,500km and not a single one went missing!

My parents were vastly confused at first when they started receiving one post card a week, and I can only imagine what the postman thought as he delivered them in ones and twos over five months. But they loved them (I think!), and without doubt it made me feel one hell of a lot more involved in their celebrations from the other side of the world.

Amazon Locker

As much as I love shopping online, the unhappy side effect is the pain of missing the postman. You miss the delivery, and then either have to wait round for hours for the re-delivery or have to trek to the post office and then spend half a day waiting in line. It gets to the point that it would have been quicker to just buy your stuff in an actual shop.

Thankfully Amazon has the solution, the Amazon Locker. They are dotted all throughout London and look like very minimalist wardrobes. You order online, your order gets shipped to the Locker location you have selected, you get sent a code and then you just go to the locker and enter the code and the door opens like magic. Very very convienient and takes all the pain out of the internet shopping schbang.

The best part is that in the UK they are delivering to Amazon Lockers for free for the next month or so – try it!

Amazon Locker Door Open

I don’t normally use this blog to rubbish things – but these new Post & Go machines are really terrible.

The concept is great. To cut down the long Post Office queues they have installed machines where you can buy stamps and weigh/post packages. Some are installed in normal post offices, and some are installed in un-manned locations where there are not any nearby Post Offices. Particularly around Chrismas time this type of thing takes all the pain out of sending things overseas, great right?

It would be if they worked. I have used these machines about six times to buy both international and first class stamps. I used one of the un-manned locations because the nearest Post Office is 20min walk away. On three of those occasions the Post & Go machine didn’t print all of my stamps.

The first time it was just one, of the six stamps I requested so I let it slide – after all, who can be bothered complaining about 60p. But the second time it didn’t print £7 worth of international & first class stamps.  This was an unmanned Post & Go, so there was no-one to complain to. So I called the Post Office number and they agreed to send me a cheque to refund me.

I didn’t want to jump to conclusions, because these machines were a far quicker and easier way for me to post things. But then the damn thing did it again. Yes it was only £3.60 worth of first class stamps – but still really irritating.

The Post & Go machine failed to print all my stamps 50% of the time. Not good. Yes the Post Office did the right thing and either gave me a refund or sent me new stamps – but the machines are meant  to make things quicker and easier – waiting for a week for a cheque which you then have to take to the bank is a anything but.

I for one will not be using these machines again until they update the software.