Friday, 22 August 2014

Relocation Update No. 4 - Well we made it: and other news too!

Hello Everyone - and to echo the title of this post,  Cy Bear and I have made it!

We now reside in a quiet, residential complex for mature folk in the small Nottinghamshire town of Kirkby-in-Ashfield, some 25 miles north of Nottingham itself.  We're two weeks into our new surroundings, although I only moved in myself at the beginning of this week (August 18th to be precise).  Cy Bear, together with all the Cuddlies, moved away from Wiltshire on August 11th and were duly deposited in their new home on August 12th

To say the experience was breath-taking is an accurate description.  The removal crew were so quick and so efficient, that things got packed away before I could tell them they should remain in situ - for others to remove after my departure. The result - first thing next day, was a cry for help to Alan's father for his assistance in removing one double mattress to the local dump.  It had been  rejected on the grounds that the important fire retardant label had been removed (seem to recall Peter got fed up with it scratching his legs everytime he passed by it and used a convenient pair of scissors to remove it!)  The British Heart Foundation benefitted from the other one and the North American style, three foot wide 3-drawer steel filing cabinet which had accompanied Peter and I in our various moves since it's purchase in the early 1980's (with hardly a scratch to show for it's adventures!). Those items, together with a working washing machine (which  was sold!) were the only things that could not be fitted into my current dwelling.  The result admittedly is a tight squeeze, but there's room enough for me to move around - or there will be when everything is in it's correct place eventually!

The whole moving experience lasted a total of  six and one quarter hours - 3.5 hours packing everything into two vans the first day,  and 2.75 hours unpacking the next.  The task was undertaken by two fathers and their respective sons, who were obviously used to each other's reactions in such situations and the task was accomplished with very little chit-chat between them.  Nothing was broken, and they even took the trouble to leave pathways in the living room in my present abode to enable one to move between the piled up boxes during the unpacking process - while they placed the furniture in the bedroom, living room and kitchen areas according to the floor plan I had created.

Clare and Alan, having just moved home themselves, were still in relocation mode themselves.  This resulted in all the many boxes - I lost count after about 30! - being unpacked and the contents distributed somewhere into the nearest convenient place (for me to sort out over the following days). All the packing cases had been taken to the dump by the Thursday morning!  I don't move as fast as heretofore - and fitting a two-bed flat into one living room and one bedroom has taken a bit of doing. The process is on-going - but we're getting there.  Hopefully, this will explain the gap in publishing posts here over the past few weeks. We will try to do better - soon!

One thing emerged during the packing up process however - once all the other unbreakable objects had been packed by me.  My fabric stash was, and still is MASSIVE.  I was not prepared to sacrifice much of it given the quality of plush fur accumulated - not to mention all the other plush, tweeds, velvets etc that had accumulated during the 4 years since starting COLDHAMCUDDLIES in February 2010.

This was just the bottom half of the fabric store cupboard.  There was a canvas travelling case semi-full which normally resided under my former double bed, coupled with that stored in the upper shelves above the cupboard, shown below:

Here all the fleeces, some leathers and felts were kept, and then there was all the sewing equipment and sewing machine to packed too.  As I  packed, a sinking feeling started and the thought occurred that I might be biting off a bit more than I could chew, but nevertheless having started, the process one carried on.

The result was that the fabrics alone looked like this when awaiting relocation into a removal van -

to be followed by the "Body Bag" (the family description after they had been purchased before we returned from Canada in 1987!) containing all the Cuddlies in their various plastic bags on top of the pile.

At the Nottinghamshire end, my fears were pretty well realised when, after finding spaces for rest of my stuff, the three of us faced the prospect of fitting that pile into the one big cupboard in the flat, next door to the front cupboard - usually housing vacuum cleaners etc in any other normal person's home!  The result is now like this:

Cy Bear sitting on top of the Body Bag containing his fellow Cuddlies, which is on top of one of the fabric Body Bags in my bedroom.  The rest of the Cuddlies raw materials are unceremoniously stuffed into the cupboard like this.

and the top of the same cupboard:

So how are we contemplating solving the seemingly unsolvable?  Someone - I think it could have been Philippa - suggested acquiring vacuum bags and these have accordingly been purchased.  They arrived earlier today, and the process of housing the plush will begin tomorrow.  We do have some leeway however:  the two canvas suitcases are destined for Clare and Alan's home - to be used in the not too distant future by them - if they choose to.  They contain baby clothes that I have saved - and are still in good condition.  They have been worn  by every family baby since Philippa - the oldest cousin - was born. (Clare and Alan received the good news that they have been approved as prospective Adoptive Parents this very day (having passed their Adoption Panel last week after a pretty stressful few months).  Together with the space the cases have occupied since Cy Bear and I arrived, and the two shelves in the next door front cupboard - I'm hoping the vacuum bags will prove my "salvation". (An update on that will come in the next post or two!)

The uppermost shelf here is currently occupied by painting material left behind by the maintenance staff who only managed to redecorate the living room before we all arrived on August 12th.  Their materials will remain for them to complete redoing the hallway (the bedroom really doesn't need it) during the few days I am going away to stay with Philippa at the end of next week, so that shelf will be available eventually as well.

Cy Bear has recovered his equanimity after being unceremoniously pushed into a very convenient corner in one of the boxes which contained books and house linen.

He was not a happy Bear to begin with, because he had to perch on top of the travelling case containing all the Cuddlies  in the new bedroom. 

 (That is still where he is put each night when I hit the hay, as the new - very comfortable - single bed is now not large enough to accommodate the two of us.  Not that he did before - I'm a very restless sleeper, and I don't think Cy Bear is the sort who would appreciate being uncermoniously removed in my sleep!!!)

Until the next time - as I look forward to the next stage in the life of  COLDHAMCUDDLIES, which  is beginning to look very promising - on all fronts.  

Good night - and God bless you all  Isobel.

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Sunday, 3 August 2014

An unexpected Patient visits + Relocation Update No.3

Hello there everyone:  just proving I'm still around, and giving Cy Bear a break from posting!
As our title implies, we had a definite change in routine this week.  It's been a while since we had a Patient in the Stuffed Animal Restoration Clinic (Etsy Listing: 79124185).  The therapy required - and provided - was not a major drain on resources (nor my time!) and it all began last Monday morning as I was returning home from getting my daily newspaper.
Just before reaching the front gate at The Hospital of St. John - my home for another 8 days - I heard my name being called and saw MrsNW - to whom erstwhile patients The Wagstaff Bears belong** - coming out of her front door on the Village Main Street with a large - very large - Dinosaur in her arms.  Now a week or so ago, she'd told me that she would be bringing him around for a quick consultation, but time had gone by and frankly I'd forgotten about him. (I also thought he was a normal-sized Dinosaur!)  However, she had espied me walking along on the other side of the road and asked me to give Dino an investigation.  His head was drooping and he very evidently needed some extra stuffing. (**The Treatment of the Wagstaff Bears - there were three of them - were described in our posts dated 19/12, 28/12 and 31/12/2012 should anyone like to visit them on the blog.)

So, having handed him over - at the same time expressing concern that I might be worried who would see me carrying a very large Dinosaur along the village street! - we parted company with my promising her that his treatment would not take long. 
You can see what I mean by Dino being a Big Chap!  My circular dining table is a 3ft 6 ins one (108cms) and his nose and tail dropped off the edge on both sides.  Apparently he had been acquired by one of her sons, BW, as a Fairground prize, and his neck had become somewhat floppy since his arrival in their home.
Homewards I went, hoping like made that I WOULD meet folks with such an unusual patient in my arms - and guess what, there wasn't a soul around for me to "advertise" the Clinic's services!  Typical - because on a normal day, there are at least a couple of people who are prepared to pass the time of day with one.
Here you can see his problem.  While it's OK to have a slightly floppy tail - which Dino did not have incidentally - it's another thing for a Dinosaur to be unable to hold his head up high!.  So, it was out with the "Quic-unpic" and a speedy disection of  the first available neck seam - without necessarily undoing the whole toy.  Sometimes, the stitching is such that it can prove a real problem to cut the thread half way along a seam - but on this occasion that  was not the case.   The interlocking stitching used by industrial sewing machines may be good for keeping seams together, but are not meant to be cut in the middle!

Dino's existing stuffing was a mixture of polystyrene pellets - and you know just how much I loathe them - and polyester fibre - so making sure that not too many of the pellets took flight, I began to put some more polyester fibre into his neck. (Ideally, I'd like to have taken out his insides and re-stuffed him, but size alone decreed that this was not the time nor place).  While doing so, it became obvious that the problem had begun because not enough stuffing had been provided around his shoulders, so a lot more stuffing was needed than had been evident to begin with.  His front legs were very floppy as well - and certainly not capable of withstanding Dino's weight when still, let alone had he been required to walk, run or whatever gait his particular species might normally move with.
After about three-quarters of an hour's work, Dino was able to hold his head up high.  A speedy telephone call resulted in MrsNW and son BW, together with an un-named friend, all coming round to collect him.  After payment for services rendered, Dino was returned to BW's arms and off he went home with his young friends.

Here Dino is, proving that he can hold his head high once more - and that he has rather a nice, happy expression on his face as well.  I did think of stuffing his feet too, but it quickly became apparent that the pattern did not call for that.  His front limbs were obviously more wings than legs, so the limbs were left  floppy!
Before leaving the Clinic, though, he was introduced to Cy Bear - who looks rather a small Bear in comparison.
Cy Bear's normal position is sitting down with a pillow behind him for comfort:  but by leaning him against Dino and perching him on his feet, you can see how big the patient was!  And the bed on which both are perched is a double one as well!

Relocation Update:  there are now twelve cartons fully loaded with a mixture of books and household linen taking up the space in our living room, where the table you see in this post was previously located. 
(When we purchased it nearly ten years' ago, Peter had it specially designed so that it could be folded and placed against a wall easily - which is what happened earlier in the week.  I'm now pic-nicing, having my meals on a lap-tray!)    
There are another two and a half shelves of books to pack (a further 16 cartons were delivered this morning) and by this time next week, I hope to have all the unbreakable items, including all the books, securely packed in them.  (The daily timetable is that early each day, the boxes are made up and  between 3-4 boxes at a time are packed - I'm not seeking to break any records.  Then I get on with my normal daily routine, which now requires a lot more dusting of cupboards etc!!).  
With the second armchair, a side table, a book case and a Persian rug all now safely ensconced with Philippa in High Wycombe, not only do I have somewhere comfortable to sit when I go to say with her - scheduled for the last week-end of this month! - but she will be able to use it when I'm not there too!  It also means I've moved my chair over and given myself more working space for carton-packing.          
 (When working in a limited space, strategic decisions are required in order to achieve the final objective!! )

The filing cabinet is now empty - and I've shredded enough material to fill three large bin bags.  The contents are destined as nesting material for my next-door neighbour's chickens.  Two bags have already been delivered and the third will accompany me when I go round for a quick bite to eat at lunchtime on Tuesday (after my last Zumba session down here).  Some of the files related to events as far back as 1992!
(I attended a Zumba class in Kirkby-in-Ashfield last year while staying with Clare for five weeks to celebrate her 40th birthday, and other family occasions, so expect I shall continue my weekly sessions once I've got my bearings in the new place.)
Another, last post from Heytesbury is planned before we all leave on August 11 - however, one never knows what may happen in the intervening 7 days. I plan to take photographs of the Cuddlies being prepared for their travels northwards, and maybe that could form the basis of  the next installment.  
Until then, or until the next time, Good night and Good Bye from both Cy Bear and myself.  Isobel

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Coldham Cuddlies Teddy Bear Parade - and Relocation Update No. 3

Greetings Everyone:  Cy Bear with you once more.

This seems to be developing nicely into a weekly blog post that Isobel manages to do on a Sunday afternoon, while we get ourselves organised for the upcoming translocation from Wiltshire to Nottinghamshire.  In my last contribution, when we introduced Jasper Teddy Bear (Etsy Listing #197033773), I forgot to remind Isobel to put Update No.2 in the title.  Perhaps, she'll get round to doing it when she's finished helping me this afternoon.

Towards the end of last week's post, I mentioned that all Coldham Cuddlies Teddies will henceforth have a tie, bow or other decoration around their necks.  The five current Coldham Teddy Bears have now got their own ribbons, but it was decided I would not have one.  All of their necks move around, and we thought it might help their Adoptive Friends if a bow is under their chins to begin with - to help decide which is the Bear Front and which the Bear Back.  The way us Cuddlies can get treated - if Isobel didn't wrap us up well with tissue paper and bubblewrap - could mean that they arrived with the head in the wrong direction! (The reason I declined to be so adorned is purely because my head is firmly sewn on and doesn't move, and besides I don't like the feeling of being constricted in that area of my torso.)

Earlier today, Isobel went into the garden here at The Hospital of St. John and chose a conveniently placed bench which was also not too exposed to the bright sunlight we are currently experiencing hereabouts.  It's been lovely but all the humans are saying it's a bit too hot in the middle of the day, so the photo shoot didn't last long, and Isobel wanted to get on with lots of other things too. 

 Unfortunately, she didn't realise that the skirt of one of her friends was in the picture too - but it's actually very appropriate that this lady does appear in this photograph.  MrsEP is someone Isobel often visits and she is also a very valued critic of every Cuddly that has been made since the COLDHAMCUDDLIES were set up.  She has extremely definite views as to what she likes - or doesn't, as the case may be - and her criticisms have been extremely helpful in the eventual outcome of how we all end up!  She lives on her own, is nearly ninety years of age - so she knows what she is talking about - and actually has a Mummy Hedgehog (Etsy Listing #956533310) and a Baby Hedgehog (Etsy Listing #95653745) of her own.  They sit on the back of her recliner chair, I am told.

Now, allow me to introduce each of my Teddy Bear Friends in turn - complete with their new neck gear. Some of the ribbons are a little long I think - so, too, does Isobel - but the detail is going to have to wait until we reach the other end, and a new toy-making and blogging routine is established.  As I thought, the idea of a Teddy Bear Parade and photo-shoot appealed, because it was relatively quick and easy to do.

First in the line-up - going from left to right  is Silvery Grey Bear (Etsy Listing #95205668) with his apricot coloured bow.  As a normal rule, Teddy Bears in this family tend to be Boys - but there's no reason why they should not be Girls.  So, perhaps the fact that Silvery Bear's ribbon tends towards the female colour spectrum may suggest a Girl could easily  become his Special Friend sometime soon.  His fur is incredibly silky to look at, as well as feel, and he always looks optimistic - whatever everyone else's mood might be!

The next to Silvery Bear is Jasper - about whom I wrote last week.  He's settling in very well with the other Bears, but is a little apprehensive about this move of ours.  Am sure it will all be all right, because it's the second time all of the Cuddlies have visited where we are going to live and they all came back safe and sound -except those who found their Forever Homes.  They appeared at a MacMillan Cancer Coffee Morning in September 2013 at MrsPL's home.  That now is at the bottom of Clare's garden, three doors away from where we are going to live.  (Clare and Alan recently moved into what was MrsPL's house!)

Here is Happy Bear, who is made with the original Light Brown Faux Fur Isobel began making Teddy Bears with when COLDHAMCUDDLIES (  first came into being in January 2010. (Well before I came on to the scene, too!) He's got a rather smart striped tie, with dots on it, in a nice brown and gold colour scheme.   There have been several versions of  Happy over the intervening period, and he also has a twin whom I call Grumpy Bear.

He's not really grumpy, but looks a lot more serious than Happy, and he too has a Yellow Ribbon around his neck, which Isobel hasn't really arranged in either a tie (like Happy has) nor a bow.   Not sure why that's happened, but, as I said before, there are lot more important things for Isobel to think about at the moment, and such matters as arranging ties, bows etc for us Bears can wait!  It's the starting LOOK we talking about here!  Incidentally, another difference between Happy and Grumpy, is that the former does prefer to sit, whereas the latter can be persuaded to stand upright for sometime!

Then finally, but by no means the least, comes Goldie Bear (Etsy Listing #120705327) - named as such for pretty obvious reasons!  His maroon bow looks the smartest of the lot of them, but I think could still do with a little bit of a trim.  He looks (and actually is) a bit smaller than the rest of Family, as well as when he's measured against me.  However, although the same pattern is used for all of us, the thickness of the fabric pile which each of  Bear has been made from does vary - and results in some of us looking fatter than each other, as well as smaller, as is the case with Goldie.

Moving Saga developments:  Part 3

The Bear Parade now being over, I'll just update you on this matter.  I'm told that "the cartons" are being delivered tomorrow afternoon.  This means that there's going to be even less room for Isobel to move around in throughout the flat, but she's come up with some strategies to cope with that problem.  Meals are not going to be eaten at the dining table (which will be folded up and stored against the wall in the living room).  The four chairs will be stacked against the wall and on each other, leaving a space in which cartons can be packed one at a time.  She will use her cushion tray (whatever that is) to put her plates on until the move is over.

On Wednesday of this week, one recliner chair, a side table, a bookcase and the Persian Rug will all be picked up by The Van Man from Warminster and taken to Philippa's home in High Wycombe.  That will give Isobel some more space in which to move (and fill with more packed cartons!).  The initial idea was that ALL the packing would be undertaken by the removal firm.  However, Isobel decided she would go "stir crazy" surrounded by books and things she could pack in her own time - and thus speed up the eventual departure of our goods and chattels on Moving Day - which is August 11, 2014.  

Between now and Wednesday, there will be lots of shredding undertaken and the collection of books severely trimmed.  There are apparently quite a large number that are simply out of date, Isobel has never used a recipe from a considerable collection of cookbooks, and so on.  One of our friends from the village is coming round on Wednesday afternoon to give Isobel a lift to Warminster, where she will distribute some stuff at the dump and other books etc at the Barnado's Donation Depot.  Rumour has it that that charity is "crying out" for books and Isobel would love it if someone can really use them when she cannot.

I'm exhausted just thinking about all this.  So, to cut a long story short for this week, I'll end with a final picture of the Bear Gang - this time sitting on a comfortable leather chair in the sitting room of one of our near neighbours.  MrsJB used to make lots and lots of Teddy Bears, and still has a considerable number arranged around her flat.  I've never met them, but she had to stop doing them when her fingers got so badly affected with arthritis that she could no longer handle a needle and thread safely.  She too has been a tremendous help to Isobel in critiquing us Cuddlies as we appeared on the scene, but she doesn't have quite as strong views as our other neighbour (referred to earlier in this post).

Until the next time - have a great week everyone.  Your Friend, Cy Bear.

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Introducing Jasper Teddy Bear - Newest Bear in the COLDHAMCUDDLIES Collection

Hello there Everyone:  Cy Bear calling in to introduce you to a new Bear Friend of mine.
In between getting things organised for the COLDHAMCUDDLIES relocation adventure - whatever it may be for Isobel, I'm getting quite excited at the prospect of a different view from the bed on which I am regularly perched every day - Isobel has managed to make another Teddy Bear.  When she was taking the introductory photographs of him the other afternoon, one of our neighbours asked to cuddle him - she's one of the older residents of The Hospital of St. John - and she insisted he should have a name:  not be just Teddy.  So, when challenged to provide him with one, she suggested he should be called Jasper - and so allow me to introduce him:
The decision has been taken that henceforth all Bears will be introduced with a bow around their necks. We just happened to have this piece of Cotton Blue and White Check ribbon in stock, and it has a floral pattern.  I believe there is a tradition among humans for the colour blue to be associated with Boys and pink with Girls.  We at COLDHAMCUDDLIES strive not to be gender specific, so Isobel thought by having some flowers involved, we could make Jasper equally suitable for either a Boy or a Girl - and, since he was obviously such a hit with MrsMcC-B, our friendly neighbour - even aspire to become an Adult Companion Toy
Jasper's initial photograph in our shop at is this one - sitting down :
Unlike some of my other Bear Friends, Jasper can actually stand up quite easily - his Light Grey Faux Fur (which has some random Dark Brown stripes scattered around his arms and body) is actually quite thick, and once Isobel had sewn his suedette paw pads on, and he was stuffed, we found he didn't need to have anything to lean against, hold on to or whatever else is available as a prop when it comes to taking photographs. 
He is also one of the first of the COLDHAM Bears to have a plastic nose.  Whilst it may look more realistic as a facial item, I'm quite happy with my hand sewn one.  It will be up to our Buyers to let Isobel know which version of the ursine probiscus they would like their Best Friend to appear with.
When Jasper stands up, he measures a stately 15 inches (38 cms) - taken from the middle of his head, between his ears, down to the floor over his back. Sitting down, though, and measured from between his ears, over his nose, down to his seat, he is 13.5 inches (34 cms).  Now, perhaps an embarassing statistic for some, his tummy measures 16.5 (42 cms) around his waist.  As far as Bears are concerned, I would suggest that to be a comfortable state to be in - but perhaps not necessarily a healthy one!
The fabric that Jasper is made with is one of a number of Faux Fur fabrics that we've been lucky enough to be provided with from Fine Quality Feather Company of Frome, Somerset - our source of polyester fibre with which we are all stuffed, and which meets all international safety standards.  His large Teddy Bear eyes are a nice bright Amber and they are firmly affixed with metal safety discs.  With the fur pile surrounding them, it will be a difficult, if not impossible, task for any little person whose fingers might try to get them out - as I'm told can sometimes happen. 
Isobel tells me that we don't have as much of this particular striped furry fabric as we have in some other colours, but there could well be enough to make at least two more Jaspers, if Jasper No.1 finds his Forever Home fairly soon.  Oh, before I forget, like all of us Cuddlies, Jasper has been made in a totally smoke-free environment.)
Earlier this afternoon, I overheard Isobel telling daughter Clare (the one who lives near to where us Cuddlies are being re-located) that she's given all the other Teddy Bears waiting for their Forever Homes ribbons too. 
(Now, I've not seen them yet, nor have I been offered one either.  So, I shall be having a word with her and maybe we can have a Teddy Bear Parade with all of us modelling our new appendages. That would make quite a good and easy - given Isobel's other pre-occupations at the moment - post for next week.  I'm not promising, but I'll see what we can come up with between us).
In the meantime, we do have other Bears in our Family - not just Teddies.  If anyone is interested, you can click:
Now:  just a brief update on what is happening on the relocation stakes - as far as I understand them. 
The tenancy agreement has been signed. 
We've had various nice gentlemen come around our present home - all with tablets or clipboards in their hands - and Isobel has been showing them which bits of furniture (most of them) and whatever else has got to be moved.  They've all been a bit amazed at the fabric stash!  But I have to say, they don't seem to be in the least fazed by it - which is just as well I suppose. 

 Isobel is increasingly confident that she's going to be able to fit almost all she currently has in three rooms into the two that are going to be available - it's going to be a snug fit, but quite feasible!  
Philippa has spent the week-end with us ferrying Isobel around to the outer reaches of her friendly circle in Heytesbury and surrounding area so that she could say thanks to people like our Butcher, and others like that whom she may not have time - or be able to reach by 'bus - before she goes.  She wants to say "Good Bye" face to face as much as possible, because they've all been so nice to her since Peter died and made her feel so well cared for.  
The ladies also took the opportunity to do some sorting of towels, sheets etc that Isobel will not need (double sheets for example, as Isobel is looking for a single one in the new flat) and other such important household impedimenta.  So, that means there's just a little bit less to pack - and find room for at the other end.  (I'm reliably informed that Clare is well supplied in that particular area - and in any case, will be getting the left-over stuff that may not quite fit into our new home!)
On that optimistic note, I'll end this post.  Good to be talking to you all again - until the next time.
Your Friend, Cy Bear.

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Friday, 11 July 2014

Coldham Cuddlies are relocating - Stage One: The Announcement

Hello Everyone!

While I'm currently to be found - until next Monday (July 14) - in Nottinghamshire (East Midlands, UK) and Cy Bear remains at his sentry position on my bed in Heytesbury, (Wiltshire, S.W. England) regular blogging is being interrupted - as Cy Bear did mention in his last post.  

Cy Bear en garde together with the Piglet Twins preparing to depart for Italy
The reason for this temporary separation is because I am arranging a move to a new home just three doors away from my younger daughter, Clare - and have decided that the time is right for the Coldham Cuddlies and myself to relocate.  Currently, I find myself living four and a half hours drive from Clare and two hours drive from Philippa and have decided it is time to rectify this separation.  It is simply illogical for me to expect the girls to have to visit me - especially were the occasion to be an emergency,  and equally uneconomical for me to continue the cost of travelling myself to see them via Britain's railway network.  Added to which, the Cuddlies have now reached "saturation point" in the Warminster area, and without transport of my own, the opportunities to rectify this situation are limited.  So the chance offered to spread the word  about us in another area of the UK seems to make good commercial sense,since my new home is located in a small, regenerating town not too far from the City of Nottingham. (There's plenty of England's "green and pleasant land" within easy striking distance all around!)

Cy Bear keeping Mr. White Rabbit company while his travel arrangements are made
The tenancy agreement has been signed by me - and  now awaits confirmation from the landlords which hopefully will mean that we all leave for pastures new sometime during the week beginning 11th August, 2014

 Personally, I shall be very sad to leave - in all our years together, Peter and I had never really found somewhere like Heytesbury before.  It's where we really felt we had come home and where the girls insisted I return to when Peter died two years ago, since we had developed a very good network of friends and acquaintances - who have been a wonderful support to me.  However, Peter is now in a far better place where he is no longer in pain, and I have begun to develop life on my own once more.  So while my health remains good, now is  a good time to start afresh. 

Providing company for Charlie Coyote prior to his departure  for USA recently
Blogging and Etsy marketing etc. is thus likely to be interrupted in the coming weeks therefore - while I organise the move.  This current visit to Nottinghamshire has enabled me to see my new home - (Clare had been to see it after I was offered it and felt it would be suitable).  It is a one-bedroom apartment. with similar facilities to those offered at The Hospital of St. John.  With Clare just 3 doors away, and having recently moved with Alan to a larger home herself, visits from Philippa are not going to be a problem and she can reach Nottinghamshire almost easier than previously. (There were no similar, suitable properties near to Philippa, although I had searched diligently).  It requires fewer major roads to negotiate than she currently has to when visiting Heytesbury and the journey is broadly similar in time spent driving.

The central garden - The Hospital of St. John, Heytesbury
I already have a network of friends in the Nottinghamshire area - what with Clare and Alan's friends and those I've made when Peter and I lived in the next door county of Lincolnshire when we first returned to the UK from Canada in 1987 - and, as one of my unannounced hobbies could be said to be "collecting people", I'm looking forward to making lots of new ones once I've settled in. 

I think there's going to be space aplenty (whether in the flat or in Clare and Alan's attic) for my toys and my toy-making/restoration materials.  I look forward with keen anticipation to the future - although the immediate present is a little daunting.  Despite having moved between 33-35 times (lost count after about 28!) in nearly 45 years, I am well aware of the pitfalls involved - not to mention the new mistakes that can occur.  An added dimension is the logistical challenge of fitting a 2 bed apartment into the smaller 1 bedroom one.  Please bear me in your prayers my Follower Friends and thank you all so much for your continued, sustained support. (Earlier this evening, while preparing this post, I noticed that page views here have nearly reached 25,500!!)

Will be in touch as and when I can - with Cy Bear's help 

So, for tonight, Good Bye.  Isobel

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Sunday, 29 June 2014

A Bevy of Bunnies - Dressed for a Party

Greetings again everyone - now, could someone please tell me where this last week went to?  I've been moved with normal regularity from the bed to my perch on the bedside table each evening, and back to my sentry post for the day, and it only seems like yesterday that you and I were getting together so I could  tell you about our new Brown Plush Rabbit Hand Puppets last week-end.  How the time does shoot by!
This week, Isobel and I decided that I should tell you some more about my good friends, the Coldham Cuddlies Lady Rabbit Toys - beginning with Jemima Rabbit 

Etsy Listing 112432364
This version of Jemima is a recent one - because as of January this year, all Lady Rabbits are supplied with their own juice carrot.  They can come looking like this - holding the carrot and looking as though it's ready to be eaten, or they need not have a carrot at all.  In which case, the overall cost of the Lady Rabbit will be slightly less.
(We still have a couple of  Lady Rabbits in stock that didn't have carrots when they were made - but it doesn't take long for Isobel to make one, so anyone interested in giving a "carrot-less" Lady Bunny a home just needs to tell us and it will be provided.  They, too, will be slightly less than the published price if no carrot is required.  Have a conversation with Isobel when you are making your decision, and she'll be happy to accommodate you.)
Esty Listing #103038453
Now this White Plush Dressed Lady Bunny doesn't have a name as such (and she's one of the carrotless specimens I've just talked about!).  She's dressed in colours that Isobel thought are particularly associated with Halloween - but as this picture shows, she looks great in Spring or Summer sunshine too.  Her dress is made with an unusual Black and White Gingham fabric, which has a floral overprint - if you look closely at the photo, you can just make it out below the nylon apron, which has a bright orange ric rac trim.  The apron waistband has been made with an orange print ribbon and Isobel embroidered the edge of her white felt collar with orange and black French Knots just to complete the outfit.  You can also just see her black felt shoes peeping out from under her skirt.  (By the way, the dress fabric is in limited quanitity too - enough, Isobel thinks for two more versions.  So, one could describe this Lady Rabbit as being a Limited Edition I suppose.)
Etsy Listing # 72168846
Those of you who study these things will realise from the Etsy Listing number that these two White Plush Rabbits appeared in our shop quite early in the COLDHAMCUDDLIES  operations.   They were one of the early members of the Cuddlies Family of which I am the proud Mascot (in case newer Followers of this blog are not aware of my  official status).  
Versions of this Cuddlies Toy can be found around the UK and the last one was originally destined as a friendly gift to a new Mum, but in the end, because - alas Isobel had sold out, and hadn't replaced them - she was replaced by our Green Candy Striped Dressed Rabbit - who I'll tell you about in a moment. 

Etsy Listing #63369098
Its really curious to me that Toys Isobel makes using the same fabric can look so very different, but this is certainly the case with my next Rabbit Friend, our Grey Plush Lady Rabbit.  Her dress is made with the same fabric that the Purple Dressed Rabbits are shown wearing  - and yet Grandma Grey Rabbit looks as though her dress is made with a Blue Print fabric.  Whether it's the grey plush used for her head and paws, or the fact that she has a White Collar - rather than the Purple ones adorning our other White Lady Rabbits - I do not know.
However, this example of the Coldham Lady Rabbit family is another One of a Kind offering.  Her grey
 plush fur is very limited - there may just not be enough for a Big Bunny:  although we might just be able to squeeze a Baby one (or may be two) with a white chest from what we have left in our fabric stash.  Another reason for her being special is that the dress fabric is getting short on supply too.  It was a remnant given to Isobel when she first began the business in 2010 - from a lady in the village, who was trying to clear out her own handicraft supplies!  We're just surprised that we've managed to get as many Lady Rabbits - Grey or White - out of the remnant.  We think there may be just enough dress fabric for another one.
Etsy Listing #60491625
Finally, and perhaps one of the most popular of our Dressed Lady Bunnies,  is Belinda Brown Rabbit.  She had a sister at the end of last year (when Isobel was  making the Purple Rabbits above.  But one went to Queensland, Australia and was accompanied by a Panda Glove Puppet  The puppet was intended for the expectant Dad - so he could entertain the new Baby Girl,  and one of the Pink Fleece Baby Rabbits also went too.  
(That's certainly been the biggest consignment of Cuddlies in one go that Isobel has had the pleasure of posting since our enterprise began.)

Now there's somewhat of a scarcity for this Brown version of my Rabbit Lady friends, because for some unknown reason Isobel cannot get the plush fabric in that shade of Brown anymore.  She's been trying for ages - so she can make some for Rabbit Head Ladies Novelty Slippers, but without success.  So, with the assistance of Philippa, we've now re-supplied ourselves with a golden brown plush - so future versions of this Candy Stripe dressed Lady will look a little different.
Right that's the end of this catalogue of my Lady Friends:   if you get the idea that Isobel enjoys making these particular Cuddly Toys, it's fair to say you'd be on the right track.  She likes making the gentlemen too, but the girls are not as fiddly as the coats, linings etc that come with Gentleman Rabbit territory and I suppose she can let her sewing creativity run riot too!
With that thought in mind, I think I've rabbitted (the pun is intended!) on enough today.  Good to be back and I hope to be with you again next week.  Isobel does have some other things to attend to in the upcoming weeks, but is going to try to ensure that we don't lose touch completely.
Good night my Friends - have a great week!  
Your Friend Cy Bear

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Sunday, 22 June 2014

A Collection of Browns - Renewed Plush Rabbit Glove Puppets to the Fore

Cy Bear being permitted to once again drop in to tell you about some new Coldham Cuddlies -Brown Plush Rabbit Glove Puppets we've now got in the shop at 
 They're replacing some girl Mad March Hare Glove Puppets who have  found Forever Homes some weeks ago.  Isobel was able to get them finished and photographed yesterday - while the sun was out, but not too bright.  Apparently, that's the best time to take pictures outside - or that's how Isobel is kidding herself anyway.
When the heads were first cut out and sewn, Isobel intended them to be used for a pair of our Ladies' Rabbit Head Novelty Slippers which also needed renewing.  However, she found she'd run out of fabric and hasn't been able to replace it with anything that matches the existing heads.  So, finally, she decided to see if she could find some brown fabric that would make a suitable Glove Puppet.  She found some lovely soft  Brown Fleece - which alas is not a match, but is not too much of a contrast.  To finish them off, she's created a smart Tan  tie to fit under each Puppet's chin, and again, although the ribbon is not a match, it does seem to a good job co-ordinating the head and body.  There's yet another shade of brown included in the Puppet's paws - hence our title "A Collection of Browns"!
The pictures was taken with both Puppets fitting over a knitting wool cone, into which the finger guide to work the Rabbits' Heads is fitted.
We have several of those, donated by one of the residents here at The Hospital of St. John.  She is a dab hand at using a knitting machine to make wonderful cardigans, sweaters and lots of socks - for all the hunting, fishing and shooting afficionados that inhabit Heytesbury and the surrounding villages.  The lady is one of the oldest residents here (being in her 90's) and normally gives the cones to the Village School for their crafting activities.  However, Isobel happened to notice a collection of them on her window sill on a visit, and asked if she could spare us a few.  We've now built up a collection of about a dozen, which will stand us in good stead for future Craft Bazzars where the Glove Puppets can be displayed to stand up by themselves.
As I said before the heads are made with a light brown plush fabric, and the body - which will accommodate a man's large hand,  When Isobel puts her hands - which are quite small ones - into the space, her thumb and index fingers do find it difficult to get the arms and head  to work properly.  A full-sized man, however, using the Puppet to entertain a baby or young toddler would find there is plenty of scope for all sorts of manoeuvres.
The Rabbits seem to be enjoying the scent being wafted from the lavender stems,  They are growing in a bed  next to the wall on which the Rabbits were perched for this photo shoot.  I think there are some red fuschia plants in the background there too.
As you can see, they have yet another brown colour for their eyes - this time our amber plastic eyes have been used, both of which have metal safety washers to hold them firmly in place.  The head is stuffed with our usual polyester fibre which meets all international safety standards - and all together they both make for a safe, cuddly toy for children of all ages.  Their facial features have been embroidered with our usual black double knitting yarn.
Their paws have been sewn on with button-hole stitches, using some suedette material that we use for our Teddy Bear paws, when they are not having leather ones attached.  Isobel has also used the suedette fabric for the beaks of our Owls too.
There are likely to be some exciting developments in the COLDHAM CUDDLIES' world soon, which I'm not yet at liberty to disclose.  However, it's going to take up quite a lot of Isobel's time for a few weeks, so the blogging and toy replacement exercises may be somewhat intermittent.  She's determined not to let the schedule slip too much, but I've been told by her to give you an early warning!
Till the next time, then.
Your friend.  Cy Bear
Coldham Cuddlies Clinic