Monday 31 October 2011

Autumn Gold.

I've lost count of the number of times I have walked around Mote Park over the years.  The first time must have been at least thirty five years ago.  There are 450 acres of open parkland surrounding the lake and every inch of this great outdoors is enjoyed by young and old alike; dog walkers hurl sticks for 'Rover' to chase, small children wobble along pathways on bicycles, families picnic, couples stroll hand in hand, lads kick balls and gaggles of girls giggle on benches, admiring lads.

The lake

As a teenager I would often wile away the hours, gossiping with friends on the grass in summertime and as a student, would avoid tedious economic history lessons by sitting on a bench with my nose buried in a novel, when I should have been in class.  When my own children were growing up, we would tramp around the park in all weathers, feeding ducks, stuffing anorak pockets with acorns and conkers, playing 'Poohsticks' under the old stone bridge and puddle jumping on wet afternoons. 

Of all the seasons to visit, I love Mote Park best in her Autumn golds.  She puts on a wonderfully flamboyant show before Winter steals away her colourful landscape with his frosty chills.

When Stuart and I visited for a breath of fresh air yesterday afternoon, work had been actioned to 'improve' the park.  Muddy pathways had been widened, levelled and tarmacked, lakeside areas stripped clear of unruly foliage and construction of a smart steel bridge was in progress across part of the lake, all in the name of progress. 

I'm sure when we visit again in Spring next year, these upgrades will be ready for the public to use and will look less harsh with the season's new growth to soften the manmade edges. I just pray the planners won't diminish the essence of our natural parkland by over titivating, because I for one love the freedom of muddy, meandering walks around this beautiful park and hope future generations of local townsfolk will continue to enjoy that special sense of freedom too.

Thursday 27 October 2011

Nose to the grindstone.

My poor nose has been so firmly pressed to the bear-making grindstone lately, I haven't had time to scribe even the quickest of blog posts.  I've been busy making bears for the 'One More Bear' shop in Trentham and also for the 'Christmas Treasures' online webshow, which takes place in November ... and when those bears are completed, I have yet another festive shop order to fill before the end of November. Christmas is a-coming that's for sure!

I don't have new bear pics to share just yet, but please pop back soon because my Winter bears are very nearly ready to show off!

Wednesday 19 October 2011

'The Teddy Bear' - a bear magazine for adults

Today I'm singing the praises of 'The Teddy Bear' ... but not the furry kind, no, this time we're talking about our excellent new UK magazine!  

'The Teddy Bear' is published by Warners Group Publications

The Autumn/Winter issue of 'The Teddy Bear' has just been published and like the two previous issues, it's an absolute gem bursting with well-written, informative features and delightful photographs.  All credit for this excellent publication must go to Kathy Martin, for her commitment to the subject and also for her complete professionalism.  Kathy is internationally respected for her exceptional understanding of the teddy bear, both historical and contemporary; together with her talented editorial team, she approaches the subject from many fascinating perspectives.

And if I may be permitted the tiniest trumpet of my own, I can't tell you how  thrilled I am to have my name included in the list of contributors for this issue!  Kathy kindly invited me to write a piece introducing 'The Guild of Master Bearcrafters' to the magazine's readership and having my article in print is a huge privilege!

I really can't recommend 'The Teddy Bear' too highly.  It is full of interesting features and written for adults, by experts.  We need to protect the future of this great publication, so please visit Collect It to purchase your copy.  

Incidentally, the first two back issues are also available to order (my bear Morris was the front cover star on the first issue!) so why not indulge yourself with all three mags - you'll thoroughly enjoy the read!

Monday 17 October 2011

Simple Sunday

Who would have thought having new carpet laid could create so much work?  Furniture out, furniture in, dusting, vacuuming, polishing ... by the time we'd set our home straight on Saturday afternoon, I was fit to drop!  I've been battling a bit of a chest infection for the past few weeks too, so on Sunday afternoon, rather than walk anywhere, work, or help Stuart tidy the garden for the winter, I laid full stretch on the conservatory couch in the sunshine, with my book, a cuppa and my cats.

So today I have nothing new to report; not a single bear, or cheeky Prim Dolly Doodle to show you, no photographs of my local great outdoors - in fact, I don't even have a flickering of the tiniest creative flame to share.  All I have to offer is this very ordinary snap of my Puddle cat stretched out in the October sunshine with my book and mug by her side. 

So that was my Sunday ... a day to stop, smell the coffee and simply catch up with myself.  No more, no less.

Wednesday 12 October 2011

2011 Golden Teddy Award winners, featuring Ken Yenke!

You may remember I was delighted to receive a 'Golden Teddy' award nomination earlier this year.  I didn't win my category (but was happy to lose to Kelly Dean, a very old friend and fabulous bear maker!) 

I would like to share the awards presentation with you.  It gives a great sense of the importance of international competitive work and for me, it's such a huge thrill to hear my name being read out in the presence of world expert Ken Yenke!  By the way, please watch the video right through to the end because there is a very charming talk given by Ken about how 'teddy' came into being and it's well worth waiting for!

If you would like to know more about Ken Yenke and his work, please visit his website at:

Aside from being museum curator for 'The Chelsea Toy Museum', leading teddy bear authority Ken has also written several books about teddy bears and their fascinating history.  I am lucky enough to own 'Bing Bears and Toys' (published by Schiffer) and can tell you his passion for the subject really shines through!

 Bing Bears and Toys, by Ken Yenke

The Golden Teddy Awards are hosted annually by American teddy bear magazine 'Teddy Bear Review' and as you can see from the slideshow, competition for the coveted 'Golden Teddy' is fierce!

Monday 10 October 2011

Staying true to Sunday

The best kind of Sundays for me, have always been family days.  When my sisters and I were growing up, the Government hadn't yet introduced Sunday trading, so the hussle and bussle of town was strictly reserved for Saturday and our Sundays were spent playing, reading books, listening to music, going for walks and of course, squabbling with each other. 

A family visit to London Zoo with my four sisters, in the mid 70's.

We would wake on a Sunday morning to the sound of Jim Reeves, Nat King Cole or Perry Como crooning from the radiogram.  There would be a comforting smell of warm fabric conditioner filling the house as Mum tackled an enormous pile of family ironing and more often than not, Dad would be singing 'O Mein Papa', or 'Danny Boy' at the top of his voice in the kitchen as he prepared our weekly family roast - no mean feat considering there were seven of us living at home at the time!

Me and Fo, with our new baby sister Tina

And if the weather was fair, there was many a Sunday afternoon when Dad would pack us into his car and drive us to the local woods or seashore, to let us 'run off some stream', as he called it.

A rather blurry pic I took back in the 70's, of Dad with my four younger sisters.

Despite the passage of almost half a century, the heart of a Sunday for me has always been and I hope always will be, family.  Our lives are under constant demand to be ever busier these days and keeping hold of what's important can be challenging, but when it is possible to share a traditional Sunday with family, it really doesn't get much better than that.

Stuart, Fay, Fo, Simon, Ants, Han and of course, Bugsy!

If you are a regular 'Bearing All' reader, you may know I love to visit Knole Park in the Autumn.  It has been almost a year since I last gathered my lot together for a clomp through this spectacular deerpark, so yesterday we arranged to meet there and had a lovely time walking, talking and laughing together.

Life may have changed shape over the years, but for me and I'm sure for my sister Fiona too, the essence of Dad's family Sunday is as important today, as ever it was.

This beautiful ancient deer park is open all year round for walking, so if you would like to visit Knole Park in Sevenoaks, Kent, please click the link below to be taken to the National Trust website for further details:

Saturday 1 October 2011

An Honourable Mention!

Well, well, well, I certainly wasn't expecting that!  I opened my email this morning to learn my entry 'Kefalonia' has received an 'Honourable Mention' in the 2011 URSA Awards! 

'Kefalonia' - an 'Honorable Mention' in the 2011 URSA Awards!

The main competition nominees were announced quite some time ago and as Kefalonia didn't make the top three in her 'big bears/undressed' category, I assumed that was it, game over - but no, apparently Kefalonia achieved a very respectable fourth place and as the final category placements were so close, she has been honoured her with this lovely ribbon award ... which has made my day!


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