Saturday, 30 April 2016

Bud

I seem to have made a run of Spring girl bears lately, so about time I balanced things up with a boy I think ...


 This is 'Bud', little brother bear to my 15" alpaca girls ...



I hope he makes you smile!

If Bud tugs at your heartstrings, please pop over to my website for further details and a couple more pics.  He is currently available for adoption and is happy to travel worldwide to meet you.

:-)

Update: Bud has been adopted and will soon be living in the US!

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

My little ray of sunshine

In other news, Tuesdays alone with my Grandson, are an absolute joy. I really look forward to them.  We laugh, explore, play, read, sing, dance and chat together, all day long ...


In fact, being Toby's Nana is the best job ever ... this cheeky little man brings sunshine to my day, whatever the weather!

:-)

A breath of fresh air..

Our local woodland is carpeted with magical bluebells at the moment and I am so disheartened by the prospect of them being destroyed by developers next year.


It seems to me, some arrogant someone somewhere, must have overlooked the fact we need trees to enable us to breathe.  According to Louis Villazon, science writer for the BBC Focus magazine a human breathes about 9.5 tonnes of air in a year, which when calculated by someone far more clever than me, works out very roughly, to seven or eight trees per person. By the time our little patch of woodland has been torn down and turned into a road serving an additional five hundred properties planned for the field that aligns the woods, nature's fragile equilibrium will never be quite the same here again.  So sad.

:-(

Monday, 25 April 2016

Shades of April

I created 'April' for a customer who fell in love with 'Lily' (the pale pink sister bear I created earlier this year) but was pipped to the post on the day I offered her for adoption.  I hate when collectors are disappointed so put my thinking head on and found this soft 'duck egg' blue alpaca.  I was also lucky enough to find a matching alpaca/merino blend yarn to knit her a hat and scarf.  I do so love it when a teddy bear crafting plan comes together!


'April' will be jetting off to live with her new mom in the USA this week.

Bon voyage bear!

:-)

Friday, 22 April 2016

In the Purple Rain

It was the 80's ...

The lights went up and my sister and I waited as the auditorium emptied. We made our way to the front of the stage where a handful of hopefuls gathered ... a few moments of anticipation and then Prince strolled back onto the stage, guitar in hand!

We could hardly believe our eyes, or our ears, as he grinned right at us, then played one last amazing song.  He didn't quite make it to the end of his performance because 'Management' dutifully pulled the plug on his electric guitar ... but not before we were given a gift we will never forget.


3rd October 2007 ...

" Mum, how would you feel about coming to see Prince at the O2 with me?"

My forty something grin, spread rapidly from ear to ear and two days later, high heeled boots cast carelessly aside, my twenty four year old daughter and I willingly submitted to a beat I have loved her entire life.

I last had the privilege of watching the genius who is 'Prince', play live in London, twenty years ago.  His performance was breathtaking ... and two decades later, twenty thousand purple glow sticks waving in the dark to 'Purple Rain', laid testament to the fact his unique magic remains unclouded with time.


21st April 2016 ...

Sexy, sassy, passionate.
A musical talent created somewhere beyond the stars ...

Rest in Peace Prince.
May you dance forever in the Purple Rain.

Listening to my all time favourite Prince song as I write ...

The Cross


Monday, 18 April 2016

Mote Park

I'm sure I've mentioned this many times, but I love walking in Mote Park, a place I have visited regularly over the past forty years and enjoyed in all seasons.  Over the years I've witnessed new paths being laid and fresh vistas cleared, so don't mind admitting, that from time to time, I have been concerned such 'meddlings' might change the nature of 'our' park ... and I suppose to some extent, they have, but not necessarily for the worst.

Strolling past the Volunteers Pavilion, with Betty

In fact one of the more recent projects (2010) was to renovate the long forgotten, much overgrown, 'Volunteer's Memorial', originally built in 1801 to commemorate a visit by King George III and Prime Minister William Pitt, when they paid a visit to the park to inspect around five thousand assembled troops of the Kent Volunteers. In addition to the troops, twenty thousand visitors turned out that day to catch a glimpse of their King, guns were fired, a feast held and the next day it is reported that the leftover food fed six hundred starving 'Maidstonians' ... I reckon that must have been one heck of a party!


Nowadays the Volunteers' Pavilion stands proud and the park is as popular with locals as ever it was. Families gather with picnics, children ride bicycles along the new paths, wheelchair users have greater access than ever before and of course, we dog walkers relish the opportunity to stroll in such a beautiful open space, in the heart of our town.


And if like me, you have walked in the park for many years, you will know the most peaceful areas in which to walk, avoiding children on bicycles, families with picnics, playgrounds, Segway machines (how I hate those!) and so on.  Polly and Betty love to explore the less cultivated areas of the Estate, so that is exactly what we did yesterday afternoon.  In fact, Mote Park covers 440 acres, with a perimeter walk of around four miles, so there really is plenty of space for everyone to enjoy!

:-)

Friday, 15 April 2016

Mr Grey Skies

After the gorgeous Spring sunshine we've had here lately, I received a right royal soaking when I took the girls for their walk earlier this morning, so to prove even the darkest days can have a silver lining, I have called my latest bear ... 

'Mr Grey Skies'!



I hope, wherever you are, 'Mr Grey Skies' will remind you that the sun will shine again and when it does, it will be ever more beautiful after those dark skies.


Speaking of which, something I noticed on my rainy walk was how beautiful the Spring blossom looked against such heavy skies. I couldn't resist taking a photograph to share with you!

:-)

Update: Mr Grey Skies has been adopted!

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Family man

Yesterday was my son's thirty first birthday. 

The number surprises me because those thirty one years raced by so fast.  It truly doesn't seem possible the little boy who snuggled on my lap to watch Warner Brothers cartoons, pushed Corgi cars around my living room carpet and delighted in being thrown in the air, could possibly be a grown man with a family of his own already.

But he is!  


In fact I'd go so far as to say, that little boy grew to be the best adult son this mum could ever have wished for.  He has been a shoulder to cry on whenever I have needed one, unfailingly loyal in challenging times, a lovely family man, amazing daddy to my grandson and ... always knows how to make his mum laugh!

I am so very proud of the man you have become Anthony.

Happy Birthday Boy,
With all my love always,
Your Muva xxx

A reason for being ..

From time to time, I receive a telephone call reminding me exactly why I am a bear maker.  Today was one such day.  The 'phone rang just as I was about to give Polly and Betty their breakfast, so I asked them to wait while I picked up the receiver ... 

On the end of the line was a lady 'no longer in the first flush of youth' (her words not mine!) asking if I was the person who made teddy bears 'for the Auntie Bears firm'.  I smiled to myself as I told her yes, I had made bears in the past under the 'Auntie Bears' label, way back in the mid to late 1990's.  It was then she told me about a very special teddy bear she had recently purchased, after much careful deliberation, from a local antique shop.  The teddy was large, ivory white and wore a delicate net collar, now yellow with age.  She told me she came with a beautifully handwritten tag, bearing the name 'Lilian' ... did I remember when I made her?

Sometimes, when a collector rings with such a question, try as I might, it's not easy to remember their bear after so many years because I have made so many teddies over the past two decades ... but I knew this lady's bear in an instant.  'Yes I remember Lilian,' I told her with a smile, 'I named her after my Grandmother'.

My caller espied Lilian tucked away among the antiques and fell instantly in love.  Being a lady of sensible disposition, she left the shop without Lilian in her arms, but the bear wouldn't leave her thoughts.  The next day she decided the only answer would be to return to the antiques shop and claim Lilian as her own.

Lilian was a beautiful bear, one of the few I made that even tugged my own heartstrings.  I recall being reluctant to sell her and for quite some time, kept her with me, until I had no choice but to find her a new owner.   I don't recall who bought her back then, but sometimes a teddy bear's path takes twists and turns and their first owner may need to find them a new home. Lilian was one such bear.  


I couldn't be more delighted that the beautiful white bear I made twenty years ago and named in memory of my Gran, found her way to that antique shop, then into the life of the lady who rang me this morning.

Sadly I no longer have a photograph of Lilian teddy to share with you, so  I will have to leave that to your imagination and instead share some pretty white Spring blossom.

:-)

Monday, 11 April 2016

Up hill and down dale

Now she's the grand old age of eleven months and has some obedience training under her belt, we've been able to take Betty on more adventurous walks at the weekends.  She still pulls like a steam train if she has to wear a lead in new places, but her recall is pretty good, so we let her off lead as much as possible ... she is so excited by having freedom to explore the big wide world for the first time!


We took the girls to White Horse Country Park on Detling Hill on Sunday.  It was a beautiful afternoon, a bit breezy on the hill, but glorious in the April sunshine.  We hardly saw a soul while we were there and the girls had a fab time sniffing, chasing and sticking their doggy noses into every available rabbit hole.  It's an 'up hill and down dale' walk, very steep in places, so we sat on the side of the hill to catch our breath a few times (we're not quite as young as we were and sad to say, definitely creak a bit more than we used to!) to admire the spectacular views.

Today I must admit I'm feeling the burn after yesterday's long hilly walk, but I have managed to walk Polly and Betty locally (a boring ol' pavement walk followed by a game of ball on the local playing field) and am now looking forward to a quiet afternoon working on my latest bears, while my sleepy girls snooze on the living room rug.

:-)

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Happy Birthday Mum

It's my Mum's birthday today. 
Happy Birthday Mum!


 Several of we five daughters, a variety of partners, a selection of her ten grandchildren and both her gorgeous great grandchildren, gathered at her house to celebrate Mum's seventy fourth year last weekend ... cake, candles, you know the routine ... just like Mum, it never grows old!


Oh and the reason we celebrated at the weekend, rather than today? Well, Mum works tirelessly in her role as volunteer hospital driver and wanted to shift her birthday gathering forward a few days, so that she could still ferry the elderly to and from appointments today.

Wishing you a very Happy Birthday doing what you enjoy Mum,
With much love,
Paula xxx

Monday, 4 April 2016

Outdoorsing ..

The sun shone, shades were dusted off, the dogs given a free pass and ... er, the mud squelched its 'squelchiest' (and guess who forgot her wellies? Doh!)


Spring may well have sprung in Kent, but it sure is going to take a while before that mud dries out!


Not that Polly and Betty minded of course. The muddier the better as far as the average goldie is concerned!  In fact, they had a whale of a time racing through swamps at 'Shorne Country Park' on Sunday and Polly couldn't have been more thrilled to find a special 'doggy pond' to swim in (Betty less so after falling in and scrambling out rather clumsily. I think she may need some of those inflatable water wings - call yourself a golden Betty Boo?!!!)


Yes, Spring has definitely arrived and with it an opportunity to share 'outdoorsing' time with my family. I loved our long swampy walk with my daughter and her fiance yesterday ... great fun and great company!

:-)

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Oh what a beautiful morning!

Took a break from my pile of mohair this morning, to make the most of the April sunshine ... it's absolutely glorious out there, way too glorious to stay indoors!


Polly and Betty enjoyed their long walk and a lovely romp on 'Big Field' and now that my batteries are recharged, I am ready to face the world again.

Oh what a beautiful morning!

:-)

Friday, 1 April 2016

The spirit of Spring

I always think Spring is a season of hope for the year ahead ... fresh buds, pale green shoots and a palette of pastel pink blossom, paint a landscape of happier days to come, after winter's grey gloom.


This is 'Hope', an alpaca teddy girl, who I hope you will agree, embodies the spirit of Spring!

:-)

Updated: Hope has been adopted!

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Each and every day..

Thirty three years ago on the 22nd March, shortly after my twentieth birthday, my first child was born.  I can remember so clearly, reclining on my hospital bed, my precious bundle carefully swaddled in a white hospital blanket and propped against my knees.  I gazed at my new daughter in pure wonder, utterly oblivious to the rest of the world in that moment.

Celebrating Fay's birthday

That tiny bundle has taught me so much and made me so very proud.  She was a naturally shy child who, no matter what the challenge, taught herself to face the world with dignity and confidence, as she quietly carved her independence. 

Resilience, determination, humour, loyalty, compassion and the most wonderful zest for life, have made my daughter the amazing girl she is today.

Happy Birthday to you Fay,
You make me proud each and every day.
With all my love, 
Now and always,
Mum xxx

Monday, 21 March 2016

Making amends

Remember 'Lily', the sweet pink alpaca bear I made recently? Well, she sold so fast I had to disappoint a couple of my overseas collectors.  To make amends I promised to create similar alpaca teddy bears, but in alternative shades.  It's not always possible, but fortunately Lily's beautiful alpaca was also available in several alternative, equally gorgeous hand dyed colours ... perfect for Spring teddies!


So here is Lily's sister bear 'Lupin', an adorable 14" teddy bear created from a very pretty shade of lilac and wearing a cosy hat and scarf I knitted using a lovely soft alpaca yarn.  Lupin will be flying 'Downunder' to meet her new Mum in Australia later this week. 

Bon Voyage Lupin!

:-)

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Speaking of Spring

Although I'd barely know from the chill wind which bites my nose every time I set foot outside, officially, it has at last been declared Spring here in the UK.  Despite the cold, it should be said, our daffodils are boldly trumpeting their arrival and making a rather fabulous effort to cheer the local parks and gardens.


If I wrap up warm, it's a lovely time of year for walking, with new shoots appearing each day on trees and delicate pastels making a shy appearance in local beds and borders.  Polly and Betty definitely have Spring in their step; they can't wait to ditch leads and run free at every opportunity!


Speaking of Spring flowers, the Camelia Dad gave me for my birthday many, many years ago, is flowering well again this year!  It survived our house move nine years ago and being transplanted from pot to muddy border, then took root and grew contentedly in its new corner. I introduced my Grandson to his Great Grandad's special 'flower' last week.  He's too young to understand the importance of this shrub yet, but I know Dad will be watching us chatting together in the garden and I don't for one second doubt, he'll smile down with pride at his Great Grandson's first horticultural explorations!


And it goes without saying that Springtime should always lead to a crop of pretty new teddy bears, so between looking after Toby and walking my girls, I will be working on them.  I hope to have a pretty soft green alpaca bear to share with you shortly and in the meantime, have made a montage of spring bears past and present for your enjoyment ...

:-)

Is it so small a thing
To have enjoy'd the sun,
To have lived light in the spring,
To have loved, to have thought, to have done.

Matthew Arnold
From the Hymn of Empedocles

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Love 'n laughter

My Polly Dog turned three on Monday and goodness me, how those years have flown. Needless to say, I couldn't allow Polly's special day to pass without taking a few snaps of the birthday girl!


Polly, you have been my constant companion through thick and thin, for the past three years.  Whatever would I have done without your gentle 'kisses' every day and that soft nose of yours nudging my arm to remind me it's teatime?


You are the best foot warmer ever and always know how to make me smile, even if I'm sad ... and I love that daft grin of yours and the way you place your paw in mine as if to say, 'I love you too Mum'.


You have given me love and laughter every day since you first arrived and for that, I am so thankful.

A very Happy Birthday to you, my gorgeous girl xxx

:-)

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Magnolia

This pretty Spring girl bounced off my website as soon as she landed.

17" Magnolia has been adopted

 I called her 'Magnolia' ... the magnolia trees will soon be blooming and after a long, muddy brown winter, I for one, am very much looking forward to seeing them! 

Monday, 7 March 2016

The best medicine

I almost had to cancel my Mother's Day after being knocked for six by a nasty sickness bug last week, but the thought of postponing my family made me sad, so I wobbled on and by the afternoon, felt strong enough to receive visitors.  Without wishing to sound contrived, chatting over a cuppa with my kids and future son-in-law, had a genuinely medicinal effect ... I felt so much better for spending time with them!


It was so lovely to be made a fuss of but the best Mother's Day gift of all and definitely my best medicine, was sharing time together.

Thank you so much for your love, thoughtfulness and time.

You kids are my world.

Mum xxx

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Change is as good as a rest

The Winter Bearfest will be taking place in London tomorrow but sadly I won't be among the exhibitors this time.  Rather than worry about reserving teddy bears for shows, I plan to work at my own pace in future, fitting  my bear making in, with time for Polly, Betty and Toby.  After exhibiting with Hugglets for twenty years, I sure will miss all the fun of being in London with everyone else this year, but hopefully will be able to make a return with my bears in the not too distant future ... fingers crossed!

20" Marshmallow

I will of course, continue to make special bears for special people!  This pretty 20" pink 'n white girl was recently commissioned by a keen collector.  She is named 'Marshmallow' and will be meeting her new mum next week.  New mum has been waiting for my tennis elbow to settle so I could finish the knitted dungarees ... thank you so much for being so patient!


Wishing all my bear making friends and teddy bear collectors a wonderful show in London tomorrow.  I hope the day is full of magical teddy bear buzz! Have fun!

Friday, 26 February 2016

Sunday Lunch

Have 'borrowed' this pic from my daughter after our lovely Sunday lunch with her and her fiance last weekend. It was a special treat, posh grub at Michelin Star restaurant in Royal Tunbridge Wells ... very swish!


 I miss our Mum 'n daughter time since my beautiful girl flew the coop just over a year ago, so catching up regularly is important to us. Fay and I rarely have photos together, so this lovely happy photograph snapped as we tucked into a fabulously pretty desert last Sunday, is very special.

Thank you for a lovely fun lunch you two, 
See you again very soon!

 xxx

Handmade with love,

It was my birthday earlier in the month and I completely forgot to write a blog post ... birthdays seem to come round far too quickly the older I become!

My day was full of birthday visits, gifts, cards, flowers, laughs, family chat and a dinner with my children, their partners and of course, my gorgeous grandson.


Speaking of grandsons, this is the very precious memory board Toby's mummy and daddy created for my birthday gift this year.  I am so touched by the love and care they put into making it.

Thank you so much for my special 'Nana' present Ants, Han and Toby ... it makes this very proud mum and Nana, smile every day!

xxx

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

That's not tennis!

My bear making has been limping along at a snail's pace lately because I had a flare-up of tennis elbow; twenty years of bear-making takes a toll on joints unfortunately.  I've had to start using a support which I wear below my elbow while working ... thankfully, that is helping.  So, the pink 'n white bear I mentioned in my previous post is waiting for knitted dungarees (knitting is particularly painful with this condition) and her ears still need stitching on (mustn't forget to do that!) ... but we are making progress, albeit slowly.


On the plus side, having to rest my arm has at least provided me with much needed time to tidy my workroom, which is now lovely and organised ... 




I'm relieved to say my arm is feeling a bit stronger now and I'm looking forward to making a lovely bear crafting mess in here again in a few days' time!

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Pink 'n white in progress..

It's been a while since I shared a work-in-progress pic here, so this is my current project, a lovely big pink 'n white girl; a special commission for a customer.


I think she's coming along beautifully and I'm looking forward to assembling her because then it will be time to start work on a cosy pair of knitted dungarees for her to wear and as you know, I do enjoy a snuggle on my sofa with my knitting needles of an evening! 

So I'll share another pic when she's finished and I hope you will pop back to see how she progresses ...

:-)

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!

:-)

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