Cologne clear out - no casualties reported!
But firstly I wanted to announce the good news that after quite a few weeks and a fair degree of nail biting on my part, all the overseas perfume packages I posted as a result of my recent cologne clear out and giveaway made it through to their destinations in Croatia, Denmark, Australia, Canada and the USA. All the packages contained an eclectic assortment of decoy items, from a wind up reindeer to an unwound paper clip, as well as tea bags, strands of wool, universal ink cartridges, torn bits of material, sweets, skincare samples, an elastic band, a lone earring, a bookmark, a button or two - and a vividly coloured coaster with reindeer on it. (I say, there seems to be a bit of an accidental reindeer theme going on....!)
For the most part, these extraneous items were nothing you would actually want or could use, but their inclusion, however token, enabled me to access whole new categories on the customs declaration such as 'Stationery', 'Jewellery', 'Artists' Materials', 'Children's Toys' - and my personal favourite, 'Haberdashery'. Had space permitted, I would dearly love to have popped in a scarf to one or other of the parcels, so I could have added 'Ladies' Apparel' to the list. Next time I might just try that with entry level apparel items like pop sox! Maybe (clean) ones with ladders in them for added comedic futility.
It seems the recipients were also amused by my creative labelling / inclusions. When two of the packages made landfall in Australia, I received a photo of them sitting on the new owner's desk with the following running commentary as she opened them one at a time:
"LOL! Fabric samples...Nice work!"
Me: "If there's a tea bag in there, on no account drink it. It's something green and nasty."
"Shoe polish sponge. Button. I'm laughing my a*** off in the middle of an open plan office !!"
|My next stash of fabric samples, ready to go|
The Post Office inquisition, and the onside rule
The other aspect of my postal MO to mention is that I have taken to splitting my custom across multiple post offices for the more sensitive shipments, much as people stockpiling painkillers are wont to visit a number of different chemists. I now pretty much only use my local post office for sending perfume within the UK, which is of course not a problem, except that you are limited to how many bottles you can send, and even what constitutes a bottle. For the fact that you are meant only to send full bottles in the first place is perplexing, given that I mostly want to post decants and samples. Then there is the complicating factor of the 'bottle' supposedly being in its original packaging, which the things I am sending may well not be, if I have decanted them myself.
Then the other day I was sending two decants and a sample of something to a friend - which I gaily construed as 'one bottle' on the hazardous goods label, because on aggregate it was nearer to one bottle than anything else, hehe. And because I had told the postmaster earlier that I was having a clear out of my perfume collection, which is what had prompted the earlier flurry of UK packages he had handled, on that afternoon he piped up: 'Hey, have you got any perfume going spare?' He meant for himself, as it turned out, so I am going to give him a little miniature of a unisex scent by Micallef that Sabine of Iridescents had recently passed on to me, which is a bit rosy and oudy. I happened to be wearing it at the time, and the postmaster sniffed my hand and said he liked it a lot. So the next time I am in I will drop it off, for given how globally dispersed this perfume hobby is, it is quite important to keep your local PO staff onside...
|Not my post office ~ Source: Wikimedia Commons|
4160 Tuesdays: padded packaging prompts patient prising
The other postal observation I wanted to make is about the packaging in which Sarah McCartney, owner of 4160 Tuesdays, had kindly sent me a promotional notepad featuring a colourful graphic of iconic London buildings interspersed with perfume bottles. It arrived in a corrugated cardboard pack that was so well sealed I had to take both scissors and knives to it in the finish. It was hard to find where exactly the ends of the package were sealed so I could insert my sharp implement of choice between them, but eventually brute force and a ragged kind of cutting action prevailed.
|As seamless as your average sting ray|
Here for reference is a photo of an average sting ray - bet you can't see the join on it either?
I mentioned the impregnability of her parcel to Sarah, who explained that it was a new style of 'cushion wrap' packaging they were trying out, which cleverly only sticks to itself and not to the item enclosed. Despite having done a project on single, double and triple-walled corrugated cardboard in Poland, Germany and Austria, I was not aware of this nifty technical feature, albeit the project in question was in 1996.
I think the new style of packaging is excellent for protecting contents in transit - there would be no dog ears or creased dustjackets if you were sending a book, say - but it does require a fair degree of patience and the ownership of an armoury of pointy utensils on the part of the addressee.