Friday, 27 May 2011


Pen pals (or penpals or pen friends) are people who regularly write to each other, particularly via postal mail. (Wikipedia)
I have been thinking recently how when I was younger I had three penpals – one in France, one in Australia and one in the States and how I loved writing to them and receiving replies back in the post with their exciting looking stamps on them. To hear about their lives in such different countries was hugely exciting and I was lucky enough to meet my French and American penpals.
Hollie Novak - Michigan, USA
Nathalie Legron - France
Leisa (and I can't remember her surname) from Australia
Hollie and I started writing when we were 11. My Mum also had a penpal who she had written to from the age of 11 and she is still in touch with her, Kay. Well Kay had a friend with a daughter my age and asked if she would like to be my penpal and she said yes. I was so excited! I was also lucky to meet her when she came over to the UK twice from her home in Michigan USA. Once with her Mum when she visited with me at my parents’ house – we were about 15 and then she came over again when I was married and she visited me and Hugh. I have since lost touch with her, but before I did I know that she had twins.
Hollie's Mum Gayle, Me, Hollie - taken when they visited in 1982
Nathalie was from France. Although I didn’t go on the French exchange with my school year, I met her through the school and the following year she came over to stay with me for a week. It was an interesting experience as her English was not brilliant and my French wasn’t great either! She had been told that English food was horrible and so wouldn’t eat all the lovely things my Mum prepared for her! However, it was an interesting experience. I was invited back to stay with her, but decided against it as we hadn’t really hit it off! It was a friendship that was much better on paper than in real life.
Nathalie with my best friend Ann - taken on the London Underground on a day trip to London
My third penpal was from Australia. My best friend, Ann, found me for her. Ann’s Dad moved to Australia and Ann went to visit him. She met several girls our age out there and so began my friendship with Leisa and my overwhelming urge to go to Australia. We wrote for several years and I had every intention of going over to visit her. In fact, I had saved the money to go and stay with Ann who spent a year over there with her Dad. Then I met Hugh! He was living in Leeds at the time and I fell in love so I bought a car instead of a plane ticket so that I could go and visit him instead! I did get to go to Australia in the end in 2002, but by then I had lost touch with Leisa and we never met.
Another photo of Leisa from Australia
Anyway, how many of you think that blogging is a bit like having a penpal? I definitely do, only we are lucky enough to share with so many more people and it is so much more immediate. However it is still really nice to receive those letters in the post and that still happens through our blog friends too. We even sometimes get to meet our blog friends, which is great.
I think my biggest regret is that when I moved out of my parents’ house I got rid of all the letters that I had received from my penpals. At least now with a blog I have all the wonderful replies from everyone stored and I can go and visit your blogs and read your lovely posts whenever I want.
Did you have a penpal when you were younger? Do you still have a penpal now or do you just use your blog? I would love to hear your answers.


Alison said...

I had a German penpal when I was a teenager but,like you,lost contact with her after a few years. Nowadays I keep in touch with people by email..I don't know the last time I actually wrote a letter to anyone!
alison xx

Sian said...

I used to love to write to friends - I had a couple whose dads were in the army and got moved around so I got letters from all over.

For years my brother and I wrote to each other too. It's all emails now, which is a shame I think because keeping an email isn't at all the same as having an old box full of letters.

It's lovely that you got to meet two of your penpals, have you ever thought of trying to find them again?

Anonymous said...

I never had a penpal. I signed up for one at Girl Guides but nothing ever came of it. Funny I'd forgotten all about that till your post triggered the memory. I don't really write any letters anymore unless you can count the one we send out at Christmas, but that's totally different.

Maria Ontiveros said...

Your American and French pen pals have a really uncanny resemblance - don't they? I really enjoyed your stories of meet-ups and (almost) meet-ups. I had a pen pal from Japan for a few years when I was in elementary school. And I agree that we all do seem like pen pals on blogs nowadays!

Gem's Crafts said...

I had a few penpals when I was younger as we lived abroad, and I loved getting mail! I never met up with any of them though, my sister is still in touch with her penpal, has met up with her, and even invited her to their wedding last month!

Becky said...

Rinda - I had never noticed how alike my French and American pen pals were until I did this blog post! I actually had to check to make sure that I had chosen the right photos!

Lynn said...

I had a penpal - Catherine but have not kept in touch. However up in the loft i have a box of letters - mainly written to me when I was at college.

Anonymous said...

I never had a pen pal, but always wanted one. Blogging friends do seem to have a lot in common with pen pals! Must say these friendships are the very best thing about blogging.

Deb @ Paper Turtle said...

I did have a penpal when I was a young teenager ~ she was from Denmark and I loved receiving her letters.

I've often thought that blogging friendships are much like penpals. It's nice though because our correspondence is more immediate which I really like. :o)