Delivery to Neighbour Option Welcomed by Most (Just Don’t Trust Us With Edibles)

We all know the frustration of waiting for an eagerly anticipated package to come through the post, only to find a “something for you card” dropped through your letterbox while you were out.

A Royal Mail postman on his daily rounds (Picture: The Telegraph)

Added to the frustration of having to then go out of your way to pick up the parcel at the local sorting office is the fact that if their opening hours clash with your working hours, you might have to wait days before you can pick it up, which rather defeats the point of paying extra for first class post.

While many delivery companies offer you the option of specifying an alternative delivery option, like leaving the package with a neighbour, Royal Mail are actually bound by law to leave those little cards that cause so much frustration.

However, that could all be changing fairly soon as Royal Mail plan to allow their posties to leave your parcel with a neighbour instead, following successful trials of the scheme.

Though this will be welcome news to most, those involved in garden fence feuds or the like will be relieved to know that nobody will be forced to accept the new arrangement, as every UK address will be sent a letter this autumn allowing them to opt out.

The final hurdle before the scheme goes live is to get the whole thing approved by the postal regulator Ofcom, who will have to carry out a lengthy consultation with the public before putting the necessary regulatory changes in place.

Somehow we doubt there will be much opposition to the proposal – it’s a no brainer! That said, our own neighbours probably wouldn’t want to leave anything too tempting with us for too long, we’re not 100% sure we could guarantee the safe return of a parcel full of cookies, for instance…

Royal Mail’s Gold Medal Stamps

This summer, London will become the first ever city to have hosted the Olympics three times. Royal Mail have decided to celebrate this achievement with an Olympic-themed “first” of their own by releasing a series of first class stamps depicting Team GB gold medal winners which will be ready less than 24 hours after each win.

A preview of Royal Mail's special Team GB gold medal winners stamp collection

The stamps will feature the name and sport of each Team GB gold medal winner or team as well as a picture to immortalise the winning moment, and will be made available at 500 Post Offices across the country.

In order to get the stamps out on time, each athlete will be photographed during their winning moment.

A team of designers will pick one image to go on the stamps, create a template for it, and send it to six top-secret locations to be printed.

This will be the first collection to be released over night, and with each collection needing to be ready by noon the next day, no matter what time the medal is won, Royal Mail’s dedicated team will have to work very hard to keep the process running smoothly.

Of course, the more gold medals we win the harder they’ll have to work! Royal Mail are offering a subscription service for the collection, starting at £68.40 based on Team GB’s medal haul in Beijing in 2008 which included a grand total of 19 golds.

However, even in the worst case scenario of Team GB finishing the Games empty handed, philatelists won’t be left completely at a loss as Royal Mail will also be releasing the “Welcome to the Olympics” stamp as well as a selection produced for the Paralympic Games which start on August 29th.

The Flying School Bus

If only this were full size!

Apparently it took the creators 2 years and 14 prototypes to make, so it’ll probably be a while before you’ll actually be able to fly to school, still, a kid can always dream!

The Penny Farthing Postman

A poet from Bude, Cornwall, who was so startled by the price rise of first class stamps that he set up his own postal service has this week been granted official status with his on personal identifying code from Ofcom.

The Penny Farthing Postman on his rounds (Picture: Stuart Clarke)

Graham Eccles set up the Penny Farthing Postal Service on April Fools’ day, and although the idea of getting your post delivered by a poet on a Penny Farthing seems like a whimsical one, the 32 year old is now running a very practical service.

Customers can buy stamps for 25p each and post their letters in any of several mail boxes placed around Bude, with the promise of next day delivery.

Graham said he was motivated to set up his own postal service when he found out that local letters sent through Royal Mail were taken 50 miles to Exeter before being sorted and sent back to Bude.

Using his own kitchen as a sorting office and cycling the 20 mile round, Graham says he is able to provide a service that is not only cheaper for local residents, but also greener than the alternative.

The service has been very popular, with Graham delivering around 100 letters a day, six days a week. His stamps are also becoming something of a collectors’ item, with people from all over the world buying them on eBay.

It just goes to show that you don’t always have to rely on new technology to provide an innovative green service!

Happy Diamond Jubilee!

Having featured a rather unusual tribute to Her Majesty in the blog on Wednesday, we thought we’d kick off the bank holiday weekend with a clip of the rather impressive Diamond Jubilee fly over from the RAF:

Whether you’re flying the flag or planning a getaway to escape from it all, we hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

A Right Royal Tribute

As the nation prepares for a long weekend of celebration to mark the Queen’s 60th Jubilee, many of us will be stringing up the bunting and cracking open the Pimm’s to raise a toast to Her Majesty.

One anonymous fan, however, has gone above and beyond the call of duty by plastering a photograph of the Queen on the bonnet of his Lamborghini. Yes, you read that right, his Lamborghini.

The Lamborghini paying a special tribute to the Queen (Picture: Pejman Faratin)

The Italian sports car was spotted, appropriately, outside the five star Kensington Garden Hotel in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and drew quite a crowd.

One blogger who picked up on the story commented, ‘I’m thinking if I had that much money for that sort of car I’m not sure I’d want to stick a photo of anyone on the bonnet. But then it is the Jubilee week and it is a photo of the Queen.’ Well said man, well said.

The photo shows the Queen sitting next to the Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said Al Said, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of his rule in 2010. This has led to speculation that perhaps he decided to return the favour with this very special Diamond Jubilee tribute.

Whoever the vehicle belongs to, our Liz certainly must have made quite an impression on them. Can you rival this tribute? We’d love to hear from you if you can!

A Delivery That’s Out of This World (Literally)

An American company has entered the next generation of delivery services by completing the first ever delivery by a commercial supply ship to the International Space Station.

NASA astronauts work inside the Dragon capsule. Picture: The Associated Press

NASA astronaut Donald Pettit was able to float into the Dragon capsule on Saturday, a day after it had successfully docked, to access the 1,000 pounds of food, clothes, batteries and other provisions contained inside it.

Pettit commented that the Dragon, run by California-based company SpaceX, looked like it could hold about as much cargo as a regular pickup truck, and had that refreshing new-car smell.

NASA retired its own space shuttle last year and contracted Russia’s space agency to deliver supplies and transport astronauts to the space station while private companies readied their fleets of vehicles for the task.

Russia are still ferrying the astronauts to and from the space station, but SpaceX hope to be able to take over this task too within three to four years.

Shiply users will be pleased to hear that the six astronauts on the space station will unload the Dragon’s groceries and then refill the capsule with science experiments and other equipment before sending it back – so it won’t be making the return journey empty!

With NASA aiming to hand over more orbital delivery work to private companies in order to focus on bigger objectives like getting astronauts to Mars, it looks like the transport sector could be set to go intergalactic. Forget man and van, think rocket express!

Not Your Average Garden Hedge

Following their recent success at the Spanish Grand Prix, Williams have added a rather unusual award to their belt this week – a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show.

Hedge in the shape of an F1 car
King & Co's award-winning formula 1 themed topiary (Picture by Alpha)

The Williams F1 Story features a full scale topiary car and pit crew and took Essex-based creators King & Co three years to cultivate.

Their patience and hard work paid off as the creation was awarded gold in the great pavilion category.

Owner Paul King admitted he was worried that the non-traditional design might not be to the taste of the Chelsea judges, and described winning the award as “utopia”. (We bet he’s almost as chuffed with that pun as he is with the medal).

We’re just wondering where it’s off to next – it would certainly stand out in any front garden, but might overshadow you car slightly?

Delivery Runners: On Your Marks, Get Set, Go!

International delivery service DHL will be taking inspiration from Olympic Athletes and using delivery runners to beat the increased congestion expected during the games.

A DHL delivery runner
A DHL courier runner on his way to deliver an urgent package

With the number of visitors to the capital expected to top 5 million for Olympics, traffic is expected to increase in London along core routes by around 30 per cent.

Add to that all the extra security measures and special lanes reserved for athletes and officials, and it will be challenging even for the wiliest of bike couriers to get around as quickly as they’re used to.

However, businesses are likely to need to ramp up efficiency during this time rather than be held back by sluggish deliveries, so the German firm will be enlisting a team of foot-couriers employed by London-based JogPost to ensure vital documents get to their destination on time.

The service has the added advantage of flexibility, with couriers being able to jog onto and off trains for longer-distance deliveries, as well as having access to pedestrianized areas.

According to JogPost, most of their runners work part-time and cover 5-6 miles per day, but with the extra demand expected during the Olympics, we bet a few of them will get almost as fit as the athletes by the end of it!