Monday, 1 February 2016

Positively staying in step..

Training this little pickle to walk politely on her lead is proving a challenge.  At eight months of age, she now pulls like a proverbial steam engine.


Walking Betty on her lead together with big sis Polly, just isn't practical at the moment.  It's a constant strain on my arm joints .... not to mention my stress levels! So I have had to walk my girls separately most days, to give me time to focus on teaching Betty lead etiquette.


Little Miss Boo loves to live life in the fast lane and is always very excited by the big wide world, so wants to explore at super puppy speed, which as you can imagine, is not conducive to walking calmly.  She is an absolute sweetheart and so much fun, but boy oh boy, can Betty Boo pull!


In search of good advice, I have watched a stack of 'You Tube' 'how to teach your dog ...' videos, listened to advice from all kinds of doggy quarters, read heaven only knows how many dog training/psychology/behaviour advice books and have been taking Betty to obedience training school for the past four months.  I have to say, it is truly amazing just how much conflicting advice is spouted when it comes to dog training!


I absolutely loathe the notion of aversive methods to train, so for my girls there will never be choke chains, electronic collars, or the like, no matter how long it takes, nor how difficult/frustrating it is, to train them to a reliable obedience standard.  In fact I don't even like to walk them on their collars, I prefer harnesses as I think they are kinder.  After educating myself as fully as I could manage, my heart and common sense told me instinctively that 'Positive Reinforcement' would be the right dog training path for us to take.


Betty is actually pretty darned obedient off lead, so I am sure that if I can teach her how to walk more slowly by my side without a lead, I should be able to teach her how to apply that skill to lead walking. So, this week we've been playing games indoors and also on the local playing fields, to encourage my lively girl to stay in step with me, firming up her focus on my movements by using a clicker to click and treat whenever she put herself into the correct position ... she loves to learn in this playful way and that little blue clicker really captures her interest. There are no harsh yanks on her lead and no cross words while we do this, just gentle, calm encouragement and praise, as Betty works out what is expected of her.  

Today I noticed a marked improvement on our lead walk as she began to make the connection between our games and walking on her lead outdoors. Of course,  there were times when she still forged ahead, but when she pulled too far forward I simply stopped walking and waited until the penny dropped and she turned back and positioned herself by my side again.  As our walk progressed, I noticed she was spending more and more time by my side and checking with me to confirm she was doing okay ... progress, yay!


I am under no illusions this is early days, after all, the world is a very exciting place for a perky young pup in her first year exploring the great outdoors ... and dog training is hard work, time consuming and requires a great deal of commitment.  However, I am beginning to see light at the end of our lead walking tunnel and am hopeful it might not be too much longer before both my girls are able to enjoy a polite stroll by my side on their leads, without Betty pulling us all along single pawed!

:-)

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Sunny smiles and curiosity!

I'm into my stride as 'childminder' for my Grandson now and despite the early morning starts, really look forward to spending Tuesdays with him.


He is the sweetest little boy, all sunny smiles and curiosity. I don't know what I ever did to be this lucky, but whatever it was, I am so very grateful for my special time with Toby ... he lights up my world!


We spend our days together chatting, laughing and of course, whatever the weather - exploring. We love to go out walking, listening to the birds, splashing in puddles, touching tree trunks and finding special treasures like sticks, stones and leaves.


So my apologies for the slow start to teddy bear production this year ... but as you can see, I've been a little busy being Nana!

:-)

Monday, 25 January 2016

Lily the Pink

This was a little indulgence bear on my part as it's been ages since I worked with alpaca, so when I saw this pretty powder puff pink piece, even though I had other projects I should have been working on, I couldn't resist buying it and squeezing her into my bear-making schedule.


I happened to have a couple of balls of lovely soft alpaca yarn in my work basket, in the perfect shade of pink for this bear, so over the weekend, I snuggled into my chair to knit her a cosy hat and scarf to wear.

Lily looked so pretty in pink, I am delighted to say she was adopted as soon as she went onto my website yesterday!

:-)

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Happy 80th Birthday Dad, from us all xxx

I didn't write a blog post for my Dad's birthday on the 10th of January this year. I didn't forget, I just didn't feel like dwelling on him not being with us to celebrate his 80th, so instead I visited my son and his family, spending the morning laughing, chatting and playing with my Grandson. That afternoon, my husband and I took Polly and Betty out for a good run on 'Big Field', squelching through puddles deep enough to swim in as we battled driving rain. Needless to say my mucky pup Goldie girls had an absolute blast playing in the mud!

So Dad's birthday was a normal Sunday for me, packed with family and outdoors, as most of my Sundays are.  Later in the day though, I felt the urge to catch up with the rest of my family on Facebook.  Dad always enjoyed Facebook.  He would often mention how much he loved being able to keep in touch with his 'girls' and grandchildren via the computer ... and he was a mean Scrabble opponent too!  My first job of any day was always to turn on my computer, log into Facebook and catch up with Dad's antics on our virtual Scrabble board.  He delighted in beating me!  

How I miss those morning Scrabble games with you Dad.

A rare gem of a family photograph!
Our Dad (blue shirt) celebrating with his sisters and their husbands

Anyway, as I was saying, I turned on the computer, logged into 'Facebook' and found myself strolling down Memory Lane, back through old family photos, photos of my Dad.  As I browsed the few pics I have of him, smiling to myself, I wrote a little birthday message and before I knew it, several of my nieces, my sisters, our Auntie (Dad's sister) and some of Dad's nieces had joined me online from their homes across the South of England and we began to reminisce fondly about Dad, on what should have/would have been, his eightieth birthday.

Sadly I have very few photographs of Dad because I grew up in the days when a camera was a fairly rarely used item in most families, saved mostly for high days and holidays and of course as a youngster, I didn't own any of our family photographs ... so when my younger sister Lynda (blushing bride in the pic below) sent me a virtual 'handful' of the equivalent of dusty old photographs from our younger days, on Sunday night, I was bowled over.  We don't live close to one another these days, so I had no idea those pics had ever been taken!  I think we girls all assumed our Dad would live forever, so it never crossed our minds that photographs of him could and would become so very important to us. Sharing precious 'Dad' photographs and memories on his birthday, brought Dad close to us all again.

We five sisters, with our Dad

I don't say this very often, 
but thank you Facebook.

And special thanks to you Lyn.

And a very Happy 80th Birthday to you Dad,
With love from us all.
Your Family.

 xxx

A Crystal Day

It may have taken me a while to find my creative stride this year, but I can, at last, introduce you to my first bear of 2016 ...

So without further ado, meet 'Crystal'!

Crystal 18"

Crystal puts me in mind of the kind of day when the world should wait, while you muffle up and enjoy a bracing walk beside a frozen lake in watery January sunshine.  I love days like those!

For further adoption details, please visit Crystal on my website:


Update: Crystal has been adopted!

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Christmas Cobwebs

There's nothing quite as good as a crisp, sunny day, straight after Christmas ... the kind of day that calls you to don walking boots and head up the nearest hill to blow away overindulged Christmas cobwebs!


We headed up to Bluebell Hill with Polly and Betty to walk off our Christmas excess and the view was spectacular!  The girls had a whale of a time chasing up and down steep paths, while we strolled downhill, then huffed and puffed like geriatrics on the uphill trek.

It might take a few more of these walks to shift our mince pie muffin tops, but who cares when the sky is blue and you can see for miles and miles and miles?!!!

:-)

An Adventuresome Bear!

When my sister Lynda asked if I 'knew anyone' who would be able to create a teddy bear from her daughter's old Scout camping blanket, naturally I proffered my own name!


The blanket duly arrived in the post a couple of  months prior to Christmas and I must admit, my initial thought was that it was a pretty uninspiring piece of woven cloth (and quite scratchy! Given the lovely soft fleece blankets available today, maybe it's time for the Scout movement to upgrade their camping blankets?!)  Anyway, on the upside, the cloth was strong enough to cope with the rigours of teddy bear construction, so after mulling things over, I set about designing a suitable teddy bear ... nothing too cutesy as this was to be an adventuresome kind of bear!


Lyn's concept was for me to make a memory bear, large enough for my niece Charlie to attach her Scouting badges and her Grandfather's.  (Grandad had been a Boy Scout in his youth and sadly passed away recently.)  This would keep the hard earned badges safe and proudly displayed ... such a lovely sentiment couldn't help but inspire me!


So, the brown wool blanket became a 19" teddy bear with a lovely round centre seam head, accessorized with Charlie's Scouting neckerchief and two of her Scout Movement badges. 

Needless to say there is a certain professional pride, (not to mention nervousness!) in accepting a secret commission from one's sister of all people (!) so I was relieved to receive a highly delighted response when she came to collect him in person ... phew!

'Scout' hopped into Santa's sack, finally meeting Charlie on Christmas Day. Charlie has renamed him 'Bear', in honour of the inspirational Bear Grylls, Chief Scout for the UK Scouting Movement.  The perfect name for such an adventuresome bear!

:-)

Thursday, 31 December 2015

A New Year's Wish

The final day of 2015 has arrived here in the UK in a sunny, gusty, showery kinda way, making it crystal clear Christmas is now over with and a new year beckons ...


I loved Christmas Day this year. My kids and their partners came home and as they are all adults with busy lives of their own, I never take that for granted.  It was extra special to have them back around my table, sharing Christmas dinner as a family ... and this year, for the first time, celebrating with my little Grandson Toby.


I think Toby brought with him the true spirit of Christmas this year ... as only a child seeing the magic of Christmas through innocent eyes can.


Being able to spend Christmas Day with my family was very special and to share in Toby's Christmas magic, the most precious Christmas gift of all.


So here we are today, our family celebrations done and a New Year waiting for us. As the final hours of 2015 tick by, I don't have a New Year's Resolution, but I do I have a wish ... 

I wish for a happy and safe year ahead for my family.  I wish for my children's hopes and dreams to be treasured and I wish for my Grandson's life to be held precious by his family and the world around him.

Happy New Year to you all,
With my love. 
xxx

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Step into Christmas!

I am sure there are many ladies of a 'certain' age who like me, are mums with kids who grew into adults without warning, then flew the coop.  It sure takes a while to adjust to making festive preparations without excitable youngsters at home to share the tinsel and Christmas sparkle ...  


But I have always enjoyed the approach of Christmas and taken a pride in making our home cosy and filling it with the aroma of festive cooking spices, so although it may have taken a while for my Christmas spirit to waken this year, waken it did ... the moment my kids told me they wanted to come home to share Christmas!


So, my cake is now baked and covered in marzipan, a fruit pudding mixed and steamed and my red and green biscuit tin is heavy with home baked gingerbread. The Christmas tree is twinkling merrily and my husband has even hung fairy lights outside our house to welcome guests!


Tomorrow I will ice the Christmas cake (better late than never, my son loves the icing!) and wrap the kids' gifts.  I may be late with preparations this year, but I am determined to be ready on Christmas Eve when my daughter and her fiance come home.  We will be joined on Christmas Day by my son and his family, so as you can imagine, I am excited about sharing the magic of Christmas with them all and of course, with my little Grandson!


So, despite a quiet house in the lead up to Christmas, it's fair to say I am enjoying my tinsel and sparkle preparations this week ... as I wait for my family to come home and step into Christmas.

:-)

Monday, 21 December 2015

Catching up for Christmas

Met with my nieces from Portchester yesterday afternoon. They drove from Hampshire to Kent for a Christmas catch up with family and arranged for us to meet at beautiful 'Mote Park' for a fun walk with our dogs.

Our Christmas family catch up in the park

Unfortunately my sister Fo and I don't get to spend nearly enough time with our Hampshire nieces now they are all grown-up and working so far away, so it was great to have an opportunity to spend some time walking and chatting with  them. They brought their mum's (our sister Tina) cheeky Cockerpoos, Woody and Jessie, with them and my sister Fiona and her husband Simon brought Autumn, their magnificent German Shepherd girl.  My son and his family donned wellies to meet us there and of course, if there's a doggy party to be had, my gorgeous goldie girls, Polly and Betty, are always happy to attend!

Cousins catch up!

In fact all five dogs had a wonderful time racing around and re-acquainting themselves.  It was so much fun to watch them enjoying their family Christmas catch up too!  


So thanks for taking the time to travel up from Hampshire to see us all Justine, Kerri and Mark. The dog walk was a great idea - we all thoroughly enjoyed it and Polly and Betty wish Jess and Woody a very Happy Christmas!

Safe trip home girls and Mark.  
Have a great Christmas ... and let's catch up again soon! 

xxx

Friday, 18 December 2015

Shedding new light on Malteser

By the way, I took new pics of Malteser sitting on my little bench in the garden today. I wasn't entirely happy with how the studio lights had affected his colouring, so thought I'd see if daylight was better for him ... and the result is so much better in natural light!  Let's hope they help Malteser to find the new home he so deserves. He really is a lovely traditional teddy bear.

20" Malteser

If you would like to see Malteser's new photographs and full adoption details, please pop over to my website:


Good luck Malteser!

:-)

Update: So the new pics did the trick and Malteser has been adopted!

Christmas Past and Christmas Present

I confess to making only one Christmas bear this year.  I know, shocking isn't it?! Much as I would love to have made more, not to mention some Prim Dolly Doodles too, between training Betty and minding my Grandson, time conspired against me.

  
While Polly and Betty snoozed after their very muddy walk in the woods this afternoon, I filed photographs on my computer and came across several Christmas bears (and dolls) I made in better organised years - I think they span about ten years. They made me smile, so I made a little 'Christmas Past and Christmas Present' collage to share here with you today.

I hope they make you smile too.

:-)

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Stepping into my Christmas stride

It has taken a little while to get into my Christmas stride this year and as yet, it is still a work in progress, but we do at last have a bauble bedecked tree in the window, a collection of friendly snowmen waiting patiently on the hearth and two excited young Golden Retrievers, who are wondering what on earth is happening.


Yep, Christmas is now definitely on its way and if I listen very, very, carefully, I can even hear the tinkle of sleigh bells far away in the distance .... !

:-)

Saturday, 12 December 2015

What the Dickens?!

Introducing a little festive spirit at last!



This is 'Dickens', a sweet 14" teddy bear in the most heavenly velvet soft red mohair.  He'd love to share Christmas with someone very special.  
I wonder, could it be you?

For full details, please visit: 



xxxxxx


Wishing all my lovely teddy bear owners, past and present, a wonderful Christmas and above all, a peaceful 2016 wherever you are in the world. 

Thank you all so much for your generous support and kindness.

With warmest hugs,
Paula and the All Bears 
xxx

Update: Dickens has been adopted!

Sunday, 6 December 2015

A mum always knows!

I knew he would be 'The One' the very first time I met him.  
Something about his open manner, easy smile, the way he looked at my daughter ... and how her eyes sparkled and softened when she was near him. 
They were two halves of a whole, even then.
A mum always knows!


So when Neil asked me for my daughter's hand in marriage on Friday, I couldn't have been more thrilled to formally grant my permission and more importantly, to give him my blessing.  A little later I received an excited call from Fay on holiday in a wild and wintry Cornwall, to tell me what I already knew would happen, she had accepted his proposal!

I am so happy Neil will be my official son-in-law.  Not only is he perfect for Fay, he has already become a very welcome member of our family and is a perfect fit for us too!

So,
Congratulations you two!
I am bursting with happiness for you both and so proud of you!!!

With loads of love and pride,
Mum xxxxx

:-)

A pan of Christmas cheer

What with one thing and another, I completely missed 'mix-up Sunday' this year, so on this rainy Sunday afternoon, I am taking full advantage of two sleepy dogs and a husband working all weekend, to bag myself some 'Paula play time' ...


The kitchen radio is bouncing out cheery 70's hits (SO my generation! Abba's 'Waterloo' is playing as I type, reminding me of my Dad's penchant for the lovely blonde singer who wore a blue satin jumpsuit with a heart shape cut out revealing a cheeky tummy button!) ... and the dogs are snoring contentedly at my feet as I mix my pan of Christmas cheer.  It's odd, but I never feel in the least bit festive until I have made a Christmas cake and pudding for my family ...

Well, well, well, I do believe there may be a tiny hint of something festive tiptoe-ing up on me at last!  Better late than never eh?!

:-)



Wednesday, 2 December 2015

An inviting decision

I um-med ah-ed for quite some time when invitations for next year's Hugglets' shows arrived, because after so many years exhibiting at their lovely London shows, committing to a change of plan, had me feeling very torn, but the truth is, I have been struggling to create enough bears to set aside for shows since Polly, Betty and my Grandson arrived and to be absolutely honest, after twenty years of bear-making, much as I have enjoyed the shows, I no longer have an appetite for the inevitable deadline crisis that always has me in a last minute twirl of bear-making madness.


Preparing to exhibit at bear shows is time consuming and costly, so I have come to the conclusion that in preparation for 2016, it is time to put on my big girl pants and make a firm decision about how to move forward. The result is, I will be taking a break from shows for the foreseeable future.  

There. I've said it, so that makes it real. Phew!


So, I am looking forward to working at a more gentle pace, creating bears from the heart, walking each day with my girls, taking care of home, hearth and  husband and of course, sharing time with my precious Grandson while he is still little enough to need me. 

Yes, I think it's time to put the brakes on a little and maybe even smell those roses!

I will continue to share new bears via my website and will of course, keep in contact as usual, through my blog, mailing list, Facebook page, Twitter, Bearpile and ... well, you get the picture. 

You can take the bear-maker out of the shows, but you can't take the bear-maker out of the ... er bear-maker!

:-)

Monday, 23 November 2015

Wynter

We've slipped quietly from the mild golden days of Autumn, into the frosty nip of Winter in the bat of an eyelid. I can hardly believe how fast a year passes these days ... it will be Christmas in less than five weeks and I haven't even mixed my pudding yet.


Still, there's nothing quite like an early morning walk in the woods with my girls crunching on frosty leaves, so perhaps I shouldn't complain too much.  So long as as the sun is shining, I really don't mind wrapping up warmly for a stroll ... a wintery chill is always invigorating!

And of course, a new season should always herald the arrival of lovely new teddy bears ...

Today I'd like to introduce you to 'Wynter', a pretty 19" bear in frosty shades of lavendar (more lavendar than this pic in fact, as I have discovered lavendar is another shade which is difficult to photograph under studio lights!)

Wynter is now available for pre-Christmas adoption from my website: 


Keep snuggly all!

Update: Wynter has been adopted.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

A Copper Carpet

Not quite sure how I managed to find time to finish him this week, but somehow, between dog training, walkies and Grandson time, it happened!

16" Copper

So this is 'Copper', a rather lovely 16" mohair teddy.  As soon as I spotted his gorgeous mohair, I couldn't resist ordering it because it put me in mind of our favourite Autumn walks in the woods ... the leaves are golden, crunchy and carpeting the ground here right now, it's absolutely beautiful.


While I had my studio set up, I also took new photographs of 'Malteser' - dark brown bears are so tricky to photograph, but I think I prefer these pics of him to the ones I first took ... especially the one of him with Copper, it's so cute!

Malteser and Copper

20" Malteser 

Both of these lovely teddy bears are now available to adopt from my website:



Update: Copper has been adopted!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Time for Toby

Can't tell you how delighted I am to have been asked to take care of my Grandson, now that it is time for his mummy to return to work.


As it is such a privilege to be able to share special time with Toby while he is so little, I have decided to put aside my bear-making for one day a week and make time to enjoy simply being with my Grandson. 


We spent our first full day alone together yesterday and had so much fun playing with toys, reading books, climbing, walking, chatting and of course, chuckling!
  
I am completely smitten with this little lad ... being his Nana is the best job ever!!!

:-)

Monday, 9 November 2015

Remember, remember

My kids may be in their thirties, but they have never been too old to don wellies and celebrate Guy Fawkes night with me ... and happily this year, my Grandson was able to join us for the first time too! 


Watching little Toby wrapped safely in my son's arms, gazing at the sky with smiles and wide-eyed wonder, was a very special treat for me. Sharing traditions with my closest family has always been important.  Thanks kids, for always remembering and never failing to make time.


There is always a moment on Guy Fawkes night, when an especially spectacular firework illuminates the night sky and if I listen hard enough, I can almost hear my Dad's voice over the fizz and crackle.  He would have loved sharing fireworks with his Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren ... he always did enjoy a good Bonfire Night celebration.

Remember, remember, the 5th of November.

Never forgotten Dad xxx

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

A heartfelt teddy bear

The traditional teddy bear will always be at the heart of my bear-making.  Those golden oldies of years long past embodied comfort and security, so as a modern day bearmaker, I think it's every bit as important today, to weave heart and soul into our bears, as we steer them safely through flashing, beeping, technological toys, into the hearts of future generations.

20" Malteser is now available to adopt from:

In this computerised age, I make no apologies for my very traditional teddy bear.  Yes, he may be a simple chap, but please keep in mind, he is honest and true in his design.  He may not have beeps or sirens, flashing gizmos, nor triple AAA batteries, 

but ...

'Malteser' is a heartfelt teddy bear. 
Made by me, especially for you.
xxx

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness..


Depressingly, our local council is currently on a mission to build houses and shops on any what seems like any available green space around the outskirts of town.  Thankfully, our local award winning 'Mote Park', bequeathed many years ago to the people of Maidstone, is still a beautiful place to take a stroll ... 


Autumn is my favourite time of year for walking in the park because that's when it flames gold and red with unabashed flamboyance. We explored some of the quieter areas of the park last weekend with Polly and Betty and I loved watching them running and playing together in the autumn sunshine.

Even though I have walked here for more than forty years, I never tire of visiting.  There are always new memories to made and misty memories of happy times, waiting for me along each pathway ...

:-)

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Goosebump

Little 'Goosebump' disappeared almost as quickly as I could say 'boo' yesterday!


No sooner did I send him to my website, than he was invited to spend Halloween with a lovely new owner!  I'm certainly not complaining, but sending 'sorry that one already sold' emails to eager collectors who only just miss a bear they are excited about, is always tough.  

I can't stress enough, if you fall in love with a special teddy bear, either on a website, or at a show, please trust your instincts and adopt as quickly as possible, because if you've fallen head over heels in love, the chances are someone else has too ... 


Happy Halloween Bear Collecting Everyone!

:-)

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