Cindy: I think you already know what I collect! You bought me a lovely one for my birthday last Easter. I collect owls. Figurines, cards, stuffed toys. Anything in the shape of an owl or with an owl on it. I love that hand-made owl mug you bought me. I don't use it because I’m afraid of breaking it.
I have more than seventy little owl figurines and about fifty others things with owls on them. My grandma collected owls all her life. I used to play with her collection when I was a kid. She knew I loved them and for my sixteenth birthday, she passed her entire collection on to me. That's the most wonderful present anyone has ever given me.
Just before she died, I promised Gran that I would look after her owls and pass them onto one of my kids if I ever have any. I don't know what started off my grandma collecting owls. But I do know she was a bit of an amateur ornithologist, and that the owl was her favourite bird.
My latest owl is a stuffed toy of Hedwig, Harry Potter's Snowy Owl. A friend of my dad's brought it back for me from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida. It's really beautiful and life-like, not like some of the rubbish stuffed toys you can buy at theme parks. That ‘Donald Duck’ you’ve got in your bedroom, for example. It’s hideous. I would have nightmares if that thing was on my bed at night!
Hedwig has pride of place in my collection at the moment. Yes, I admit it! I am owl-mad! But it makes things easy when friends or family members want to buy me a gift!
Jeff: I collect pencils. I know it sounds a bit sad to admit I like something as ordinary as pencils, but I find them fascinating. At last count last month, I had nine hundred and seventy-eight. I keep them in boxes in my bedroom.
I also have a glass case fixed to the wall in my room where I can display some of my collection. I started collecting pencils when I was about ten or eleven. When friends’ family members see an unusual or unique pencil anywhere, they always get it for me.
For example, I have more than a hundred pencils with the names of different hotels on them from all over the world. My most interesting hotel pencil is one from the Ritz Hotel in London. It's quite old. The father of a good friend got it during a business trip to the UK back in the 1990s. It had been lying in a drawer amongst some junk, and when my friend found it he gave it to me.
Last month another friend went to Thailand on holiday. A woman was selling handicrafts on a boat at a floating market. And my friend saw a set of handmade coloured pencils made out of twigs and bought them for me.
Did you know that the modern wooden pencil was invented in Italy in the middle of the sixteenth century? I only collect wooden pencils, not automatic ones. Mechanical pencils are boring, but real wooden pencils can be beautiful and interesting. Each one is a little work of art.
Also, did you know that the great American novelist Ernest Hemingway wrote many of his stories with a pencil in a notebook? There you go! Pencils can be used to write a shopping list or a great novel.