Sunday, 22 May 2016

Updates on last week's post: plus the long-promised pictures around Newark Town Centre

Hello Everybody - Cy Bear just calling in, with updates on the items I shared with you last week.

The Grey Plush Ladies' Slippers left us for Port Glasgow, Scotland (not Edinburgh, Scotland as I inadvertently told you last week) on Wednesday late morning.  We've learned that the Macaw Parrot pattern is en route to us from Denver, Colorado.  Finally, Isobel has completed the creation of three more Monkeys - pictured below - which still need to be listed in our Shop (
Isobel nipped out after she'd had lunch this afternoon - just in case the sunshine disappeared totally for the day. Now that the weather is turning warmer she'll be taking outdoor photographs of our Cuddlies as she makes them and this one (together with others that will be used when the Monkey Toys are listed) will be in our Shop later this evening, if she has time - or sometime tomorrow.  (These little guys are made with a slightly lighter colour plush - and, because there's not much of it in store, I think these fellow will be listed as being Limited Editions).

Oh, before I go - we're expecting a New Patient in our Coldham Cuddlies Animal Toy Restoration Clinic.  Isobel was contacted by a MsLA - based somewhere in the UK - who wants us to work on the hind legs of a Horse Toy, measuring 5ft x 1ft 8".  His travel to us has been booked by Royal Mail Parcel Force - beginning Monday (May 23), he's travelling Express Post and should therefore be with us sometime before mid-day on Tuesday, May 24th.  In the meantime, Isobel has got to figure out how we'll fit our Patient in - but if we could manage Count Rusty de Benj (Philippa's Giant Teddy Bear who was a Patient in 2013 or 2014 - I can't quite remember as I type this) - I expect we'll be somehow coping! 
 I'll keep you posted!
After a luke-warm bath in soap suds, and a complete re-stuff (using nearly 6 lbs (c.3 kilos) of polyester fibre, Count Rusty now looks like this - a true leader of the Morrell Bear clan:
Now Isobel will take over to tell you more about her visit a few weeks ago to Newark Town Centre, which took place after she, Clare and GrandsonE had visited the ruins of Newark Castle (about which we posted three week's ago (see our post dated 8th May, 2016).

Greetings everyone.  Sorry for the delay in posting these pictures, but what with one thing and another, life is becoming pleasantly hectic once more.  Long may it continue.

Newark is an historic Town situated just off the main A1 London-Edinburgh road and you can find out a lot about it if you Google it, or go to Wikipaedia and "read all about it" there.  So there's not much point in my giving you a precis here.  Just to repeat what I said in my previous post, though - it's about six miles north of where Peter and I lived with our girls for 12 years after we returned to the UK after spending 12 years in Western Canada.  I now live just over one hour's drive (when the traffic allows!) from the Town, and the day we visited was one of the Market Days which takes place in the Town Centre.  

The Town Centre, with its Market Place is reached by several different streets and this is one of them.  For pretty obvious reasons, when the Market is in situ, it's a pedestrian free locataion!

The ancient Town Hall building forms the backdrop for part of the Tuesday Market - on the day we visited.

Another view of the Market Place, with the historical buildings currently occupied by shops and other businesses in the Town.  The building on the immediate right of this photograph just happens to be the one in which my personal Bank is located, and immediately between that building and its neighbour, you can catch a glimpse of St. Mary's Parish Church.  Yes, the cobbled streets are still in evidence (although a somewhat modern take on the originals).  Still, murder to walk on when wet or icy, and uncomfortable when dry.  But, it does add to the historical authenticity of the place!!!

The magnificent Church Tower and Steeple is at the other end of the buildings shown in the previous photograph.

Many of the original buildings in the Town remain occupied, and this one is a particularly good example of the ancient architecture of the Town - although, alas, the business which once used it is now no longer extant.  However, it does give you a view of the history of the Town.

Do hope you've enjoyed this short visit - and once again, I apologise for the delay in letting you complete the viewing of this lovely local town in Middle England.

See you all next week - I just wonder what on earth will be happening during the coming days this time!!  Have a good one everyone.


Sunday, 15 May 2016

A Cuddly finds a Forever Home: a pair of Slippers get made - oh, and an Enquiry about Goats

Hello Everybody!  Cy Bear being allowed back for a short while again this week!
Basically, we've had quite a lot of action on the Cuddlies front(s) this week, and I can tell you about some of them before Isobel returns with the promised photographs of Newark Town Centre - as she mentioned in last week's post.
First of all, Isobel had to commence work on a pair of Grey Rabbit Head Novelty Slippers - having found the correct size our Customer required.  She therefore used one of the stored set of insoles which form the basis of every adult slipper we offer, and cut out the plastic backed fabric required to begin the process.

Then during the evenings this week, she set about cutting out and sewing the sides and top of the slippers, so that they now look like this:
The slipper on the left of the picture has had the elastic threaded through the ribbon trim, while the other one awaits that addition.  Isobel will then cut out the Rabbit Heads and ears, and once they've been sewn, they will attached in front of the knotted ribbons and the bows tied.  We are hoping that they will be en route to Edinburgh, Scotland by mid-week, this week.  
Then one of Isobel's cousins rang her on Tuesday to say that she was going into Hospital to have a major operation on Saturday of this last week, for which she had been on a waiting list for over two years.  Isobel and MrsJC had been talking about a Coldham Cuddly to help her in her recovery, because we had got the impression that her name was reaching the top of "the waiting list".  The summons came somewhat quicker than anticipated so the conversation ended by MrsJC saying that she didn't think there would be time for a Cuddly to reach her before she needed it.  
Well, Isobel rose to the challenge, without disagreeing with MrsJC, and actually managed to wrap and send off our Fox in a Green Dress the next day (Wednesday).  Using the Royal Mail Special Delivery service, which guarantees delivery before 1300 the day after dispatch, 
But she didn't get ready for her journey without our traditional farewell ceremony taking place.  Here is a photograph of our Fox Cuddly, with me giving her a bit of a hug before she left us for her Forever Home.  MrsJC rang us on Thursday evening to say that she had arrived safely, she was over the moon with her and would it be OK if she paid us when she got home.  Naturally, we agreed and we now await news of how MrsJC has got on with her latest brush with the UK National Health Service.  (MrsJC told us that already our Fox has a name - Freda, after a friend of MrsJC's Mother.  Incidentally, that Lady is 98 and looking forward to getting her Card from the Queen in two year's time!).  

Our Fox in a Green Dress is a Limited Edition version of our Cuddly Foxes.  There's enough fabric left to make just one more - so yet another item to the "To Make List" has been added!

Then on Thursday we received an enquiry via the Etsy Custom Request system asking if Isobel could make between 5-10 Small Goats.  (He gave us a unit price he waslooking for and asked for one about the size of a hand.  Which would be about the same dimensions as our Baby Rabbits, and new Monkeys).   The Enquirer is a Film Maker, and wanted the Goats as a gift for the backers of his film and we got the impression that it might lead to a need for many more Goats down the road.  
Now, initially, Isobel was quite excited - even though we don't currently have a Goat Pattern.  Thanks to Google and, that's not now a problem, and when initially starting the research, we found just how complicated Goats could be to make up as a Cuddly Toy.   Isobel is really not geared to make multiple orders - and we've got a lot of replacement sewing on her books to do, as well as several new Cuddlies she wants to make.  So, Isobel wrote back to the gentleman, saying how flattered she was that he felt we could meet his needs, but that her target market was more for the one-off, small order customer and she regretfully said "No Thanks" - but did add, she hoped he would bear Coldham Cuddlies in mind if he, his family and friends, or his film colleagues were in need of a special present or two!!  We wait in eager anticipation.........!
Then, on the same day, we were asked by a fellow team member from the FriendsRUs Team on ( ) if we might be able to make a Parrot for a friend of hers who lives in the UK.  Now, yet again, we didn't have a pattern for a Parrot (Isobel did a rapid check through our Library of Toy Patterns), but she did find this one when she put "Parrot Toys" into the Etsy Search box.
Pattern, Parrot, Blue And Yellow Macaw, Craft, Art Doll, Primitive, Folk Art, e pattern, Whimsical, Jungle, Animal Art, HAFAIR, Artful Zeal
Well, after seeing this, Isobel sent an estimate to her Team Mate friend.  It's a bit difficult to actually give a firm price on these occasions, and the figure Isobel quoted was a "bit pricey" for our Friend, especially as she was already sending something to the intended recipient from her own Etsy Shop  -  However, Isobel likes the pattern so much, she's ordered it - and it's on the way (from Denver, Co,)!  So, even though our Team Friend wasn't interested this time around, she has said she'd like to see the "finished article", and suggested that we might use more than just these two colours of Blue and Yellow.  Isobel agrees, and is looking forward to adding this Macaw to the ever-growing To Make List for the Coldham Cuddlies.  She also said that there are a lot of "Parrot lovers" around - so who knows what might occur once a Coldham Macaw arrives in the Family!  She has a point!!  When made, the Seller requests that we attribute the pattern to her Shop - which we are more than happy to do - and has said that there's not problem in Isobel making a Cuddlies version in different colours.  Thus, when the Coldham Macaw is introduced, the description will contain the following - copyright 2014, Jennie Taylor Artful Zeal

Now we both agree that this post is long enough - without the Newark Town photographs.  So Isobel will be back with those - and any other news bulletins that may occur - next week.  It would appear that the time Isobel spends "playing around" on the computer on Etsy, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter might just be beginning to pay off.  We'll keep you posted - naturally.!
So, until next week - hope it's a good one for all of you.  Your Friend:  Cy Bear

PS:  The Parrot pic stubbornly refused to be placed in the centre of this post - hence it appears to be on the left side of the page at this draft stage.  That could change, when the bulletin is published. Isobel just doesn't understand all this internet stuff, apparently.  (Meanwhile, it's completely mysterious to me!!)

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Sunday, 8 May 2016

A new Coldham Cuddlies line appearing - and starting a visit to Newark, Nottinghamshire.

Hello there Everyone - Cy Bear calling in, before Isobel takes over!
It's been a while, but just because I don't appear every time doesn't mean that I'm not on duty on behalf of the Cuddlies and over-seeing what should be happening in the Shop ( - just in case any of you had forgotten! - while Isobel has been visiting venues all round us here in Kirkby in Ashfield (and there's more to come later here).  

However, Isobel has almost completed work on a prototype new Coldham Cuddlies offering - Nursery Mobiles.  She's spent a few evenings recently making furry Baby Monkeys, which look a little like Orangutangs - but we're going to continue calling them Monkeys (the other name is a bit difficult to spell, let alone type!).  While the Baby Toys have worked well, she's not quite so sure about the mobile frame, but is almost satisfied.  We thought we'd give you a sneak preview, before finally listing them in the Shop in the next few days - after a bit more work has been done on the mobile frame.

The Baby Monkeys are going to be strung up by 3mm Yellow Satin Polyester Ribbons, one of which you can see at the top of the mobile frame in the photograph taken above.  The lighting is not all it could be, but it was taken late in the evening a couple of nights ago, just to be able to show you what is in the process of arriving in the Shop.

The loop from which the whole mobile is strung from in this picture is being held in place with the first thing Isobel could think of using when she was producing the frame - thumb tacks.  Now anyone who knows anything about those will know that they don't take stress very well, even if there are four of them in the same area!!  Also, if they are removed, there are then holes left in the frame (made from polystyrene)  where they had been fixed!!!  So, Isobel did try to sew some covering stitches to hide the holes, and also give the hanging loop some strength.  While that has worked to some extent, the stitching is not to her high standards, and some further work is needed to hide even that attempt.  (It may result in this first attempt being throw away in the end - but that's what protypes are all about, I'm told!!)

The mobile is also not strung from a hook (Isobel has purchased plastic ones, with a sucker fitting for use on ceilings when purchased, which will accompany the final product).  The photos above show the product hanging from one of the side lamps in the living room, which is also providing the spotlight effect - not altogether successfully!!  However you get the drift?  Hopefully!

Now to some pictures taken recently during a visit made by Isobel, Clare and GrandsonE when going to meet with a very good friend of Clare's who works in the Town of Newark, Nottinghamshire - which is about an hour and a bit's drive from where we all live.  It's a Market Town with Roman origins (according to Wikipaedia) and situated on the old Roman Road called The Fosse Way.  The Town is built around a Castle - now a ruin - and used to be the centre of the wool and cloth trade many moons ago.  Nowadays, it is on the East Coast Main Line railway from London to Edinburgh, and the A1 road between London and Scotland.  

That's enough of the background, I think.  So, I'll hand the rest of the post today (and probably for at least another bulletin) to Isobel.  Good being back with you, even though it is for a short time!!

Your Friend, Cy Bear

Hello there!  

Cy Bear mentioned Newark Castle just now, and here is a picture of one of the aspects of what remains of the original building.  It lies beside the River Trent, and is not far from a newly opened Civil War Museum - which features the story of the Cavaliers and Roundheads led respectively by Charles I and Oliver Cromwell.  (That's another story all together!!).  You can see cars parked on the side of one of the roads into the Town, and we were approaching this from a car park situated on the near side of the picture.

The inside of the Castle grounds now feature lawns and gardens, and on the day we were there, there were several parties of primary school children being led and guided by a mix of teachers and parents.  There was also a wedding taking place - because the Town's Registry Office is situated on the Town side of the Castle grounds.

This picture of the front of the Registry Office is actually taken from the street that runs in front of the building, and forms part of the Inner Road around the Market Place and other shopping areas of the Town.

This is the rather impressive entrance to the Registry Office - making a rather imposing background for wedding photos, although the day we were there, the wedding party chose to have theirs taken on the Castle garden side of the building.

This is the first view of the Castle one gets when entering the Gardens on the eastern side of the site, and gives one an impression of how grand it must have been in its original existence.  This picture, together with the photographs that follow, are courtesy of Clare's mobile - thanks to my camera batteries choosing to close down, and my forgetting to have spares handy for such an occasion!!

Had you walked round the left of the last picture, this is the view that one would have!  Given that these walls were built in the 1500's (I think - my history is getting a little hazy these days!), they've lasted pretty well, really, have they not?

This is the wall and garden from the opposite end - from that shown in the second photograph of the Newark Castle series - (taken by me, after we'd walked into the Market Place and I'd purchased some replacement batteries).  You can see the little groups of children sitting on the grassy bank and it was lovely to see some of them dressed  up for the occasion!  School seems to be so much more fun than I remember it being!!

If you walk to the railings, you look over the River Trent and towards the northern side of the Town.

So that this bulletin doesn't get too long - and so that we have something to blog about next week, I'll close this dissertation down for today.  Hope you've enjoyed our trip to Newark Castle as much as we did - we were jolly lucky in the sunshine, although the wind was pretty strong and still very chilly. 

(Incidentally, when Peter and I first returned to the UK with Clare and her sister, Philippa, after 12 years spent in Alberta, Western Canada, we actually bought a house about 6 miles down the A1 road from Newark, towards London.  As often happen, even though we visited the town on an almost weekly basis, this was the first time that I'd really spent any time in the Castle Grounds - and we left the area in 1998!!!)  So this visit to the Castle and its grounds was long over due!)

See you all next week - hope you all have a great one, and that everyone of my many American Mother Friends have had a great Mother's Day today.  As I type this on Sunday evening, it's heading towards 1730 hours BST, so it's probably just beginning for many of you across the Atlantic!


Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Monday, 2 May 2016

Rufford Abbey Part Two,coupled with some Cuddlies news too.

Hello Everyone!  

Apologies for this being a day later than normal, but life was somewhat hectic in the latter stages of last week. Sundays are always busy, and yesterday we had the 80th Birthday of a fellow church-goer to attend, which meant that the normal blogging schedule and other Etsy duties had to be postponed for some hours, because upon returning home, the Sunday paper had to be read too.

Then one of my Etsy Teams, (  had organised a massive "hearting session" between 9000-2100 EST. The event, known as the "Heart Attack", is a regular monthly event,  and is a great way to highlight one's Etsy Shops.  I always get in a muddle when participating - and this time was no exception.  But, contrary to other forays into this kind of Etsy Shop promotion game, we actually received an Order!  It came in circa 2300 BST - and I picked it up circa 1245 BST this morning - so on top of missing a blog spot, I also missed out on my "beauty sleep".  However it's great to know that hard work on Etsy "hearting" and promoting other folks' Shops on one's teams can have a positive payback!!
This is the Cuddly item who will be dispatched to a new Owner at the end of May - and thus moves to the top of the Replacement Schedule as a result.  Have contacted the Buyer to ask for whom the items is intended, and if any changes in ribbon colour are required, and if the finished item is to be wrapped up in any special way with an accompanying card -for which there is usually an additional £5.00 GBP (USD 7.35) charge.  (Have forgotten to ask for the exact size needed, but will be sending a follow-up query as and when I receive an answer to my initial enquiries).
Grey Rabbit Head Slipper,"Silver Fox" Unisex Plush Footwear,Made to Measure, Special Unisex Present,Unisex Footwear,Unusual Unisex slippers.
Now, as promised last week, I'm going to continue my description of a recent visit to Rufford Abbey Country Park which was started in last week's post.  This is a view from one of the window's of the ruined buildings which were featured last time.

It conveys the expanse of beautiful garden areas through which the public can roam and having taken it, Clare, GrandsonE and I retraced our steps through the entrance way - and were met with this vista, showing another expanse of the Country Park area.  (One of the car parks adjacent to the Park's entrance can be seen on the left of the photograph)
Turning right at the end of the entrance parkway, we proceeded to tramp our way around a formal pathway - the Queen Mother's Walk - planted to celebrate one of the major birthday's of the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.  (The weather was not too helpful that day, and alas the plaque showing which major milestone it was - I think it could have been her 90th Birthday - doesn't show up that clearly, either.  I'll have to try and take it again next time I have occasion to go there)
Not sure who is leading whom:   but GrandsonE and Mummy keep up with each other!
The pathway is easy to walk and we all proceeded at a smart pace, coming upon  trellised lime trees on either side, giving a pleasing avenue-look to the surroundings.  Do hope I'll be able to visit the Park again when all the trees are out:  it must be a terrific sight.

As you can see there are plenty of benches for visitors to take advantage of any sunshine - which was in very short supply on that particular day admittedly.  However, it was dry enough for one to enjoy the gardens and to admire the beautiful and ancient trees that are planted at strategic intervals along the route.
The Cedar Tree here, surrounded by wood paling fencing is one of many around the park, and are of some age too - as indicated by the notice on the fence.  (The fencing is put up to ensure visitors are not easily injured should there be any branches blown down - or fall down, because many of these trees are several hundred years old).
The pathway eventually doubles back towards the Abbey buildings and there are several tantalising alternative routes one can take if the weather and one's walking capabilities allow.  One we followed took us around what is called the Reg Hookway Aboretum - consisting of a small walled garden area - where there was a collection of plaques dedicated to several individuals.  

Who they are, and why they happen to be commemorated there is still somewhat of a mystery:  but one that remains as an object of future research.

This appears to be centre of the Aboretum area, and one then goes off to the left and finds oneself on a pathway that leads back towards the Orangery - and the inevitable Shops and eating areas that are an essential part of any Important Property these days.

For a little fellow, still to reach his second birthday, GrandsonE kept up well with the brisk pace dictated by Mummy.  The weather may not necessarily have been to the grown-ups' liking, but nothing seems to daunt him!  

Before closing for this week's post, a brief update on the new Cuddlies offering.  Four new Baby Monkeys have been made and await their destiny as parts of a Nursery Mobile Toy offering.  The ring from which they will hang has been decorated with suitable satin ribbon.  The present question is exactly how said Baby Monkeys will now be attached to the platform ring and what materials will form the hanging mechanism for the Mobile to be displayed.  More anon!  

Have a good week everyone.

Your Friend, Isobel

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Reverting to the "Alternative Subjects" Agenda - Rufford Abbey, Part One

Hello once again.  Isobel in charge of this week's post, with pictures and description of another family sortie to another nearby Place of Interest - also with a link to the Earl and Countess of Shrewsbury of yesteryear (the latter being as well known by the title "Bess of Hardwick").   
Bess of Hardwick, Countess of Shrewsbury, looking not unlike her Queen!
Rufford Abbey is now owned and preserved by Nottinghamshire County Council but in its heyday was the property of the same Earl of Shrewsbury, husband of Bess, whose family name was George Talbot. 
The first view a visitor gets as one drives into the park setting
 A fact I didn't include in my two posts about Hardwick Hall (published on 28/03/2016 and 04.04.2016 respectively) is that George Talbot was responsible for the care and custody of  Mary Queen of Scots on behalf of Queen Elizabeth 1 until she was beheaded at the Queen's command. 
A portrait of George Talbot, Earl of Shrrewsbury himself!  There are similar portraits at Hardwick Hall of  the Earl and his wife, but they would not have reproduced half as well as these do.
 (The grand daughter of  Bess was Mary's niece by marriage by virtue of being the wife of Mary's nephew Charles Stuart and therefore a strong contender to be a successor to Queen Elizabeth I - but lost out, as well as her head, when Charles died before the Queen!)  Such was the incestuous relationship of the wealthy in Elizabethan times - really not that much different to that carried on in modern times really!
Daughter Clare and Grandson E walking from the Car Park
Anyway back to Rufford Abbey - which is situated in 150 acres of lovely parkland (Rufford Abbey Country Park), just a few miles north of  Nottingham itself.  The site is among the top 10 Country Parks in England and is open to the public all year round.  One just has to pay for parking and one can walk around at one's own pace.
Approaching Rufford Abbey's Main Entrance
The Abbey was founded as a Cistercian Foundation over 800 years ago.  The Order still exists. and is known as a "Closed Order":  which means the members live in their monastery - spending their lives praying and working to maintain their properties and don't mix with the general populace.  After the Reformation (King Henry VIII's legacy to English History) it was transformed into a grand country estate (as part of North Nottinghamshire's "Dukeries" - Hardwick Hall, Welbeck Abbey (another nearby Stately Home still exists and is somewhere worth a visit! - in other words, watch this space!)
Entrance to the Abbey Remains
On the right hand side of the walkway to the door, one sees the current Rose Garden.  (The buildings in the background house  the Orangery and Apsidal Gallery - which we left for another visit - possibly when the seemingly ever-present rain makes an indoor visit more acceptable!). 

Then, as one walks up the steps, through the door and hallway, one is faced with a space with strong walls, but now without a roof.
The picture above is taken about mid-way in the room, which has a basement - now used as a  -Restaurant and a Library.  There are "interesting looking steps down to ground level from this space.   (We decided not to try the stairway at the other end - not shown - of this space:  particularly as they didn't appear that easy to negotiate:  at least for a Little Person and his Granma!  To be fair to them, Mummy isn't that keen on claustrophobic spaces either - and these certainly gave that impression!)
The walls surrounding the space are in pretty good condition for their age, and have their fair share of windows (without glass - unlike Hardwick Hall's collection!) and an interesting feature are the decorative gargoyles to be seen at the top of many of the openings.

Well, what with all the illustrations, and descriptions to date, think this post is long enough.  So, I'll close for this week, and I can show you just part of the beautiful parkland setting in which Rufford Abbey lies next time around.
Meanwhile, the Baby Rabbit replacement list has been reduced somewhat - as I've been able to sew more easily back home this week.  All the elements required are in the same room!  I'm also embarking on a new range of  Nursery Toys which I hope to be offering shortly.  Yesterday, I purchased the materials I'm thinking of using to make Nursery Mobiles - which seem to be pretty popular toys at the present time, and will be using my current Plush and Fleece Baby Rabbits, as well as three new Cuddlies.  I've re-discovered the patterns I've had all along for Baby Teddy Bears and am going to have a go at Baby Monkeys and Baby Lambs as well.  (I've had the patterns ever since I first began making Cuddly Toys in the 1950's).  Am thinking that perhaps its about time I actually made some!!
See you all next week - God willing!  Meanwhile, have a great one Everyone.
Coldham Cuddlies Clinic