Sunday, 11 June 2017

Update on the Grey Cat Puppet - and change of scene.

Greetings everyone - Cy Bear here with another post from the World of the Coldham Cuddlies.

The update mentioned in the title:  after a battle (on Isobel's part - because she'd forgotten passwords and user names she uses to get in touch with Mohair Bear Making Supplies) contact was established and the fabric for MsSD's Grey Cat Puppet ordered.  It arrived safely in a couple of days after the order was placed, and it has now been cut out.

This first picture shows all the items assembled ready for Isobel to start the sewing process:  pattern template (in the manilla envelope on the left of the chair) and the instructions for putting the Cat's Head together on the white sheet of paper.  Scissors, measuring tape - to cut the hand puppet bit to match the measurements given us by MsSD.  Both versions of the proposed Cat Puppet will be made to those criteria - and the all important stuffing needed for the Cat's Head.

The second photograph shows the two Puppets cut out and ready to sew - and shows the fabric required to make a COLDHAM CUDDLIES hand/arm puppet.  Calico for the lining of the arm area, the furry fabric for the Cat's Head and body pieces, and the light Grey plush fabric needed for the Cat's muzzle.  Isobel is hoping to get around to sewing it later tonight - or definitely tomorrow. The body of both puppets will be machined - making it a much quicker process than if it was all done by hand.  Then the Cat Heads will be sewn individually - and the facial features created.  (Isobel actually treated herself to some special scissors from Mohair Bear Making Supplies which she will keep for using when shaping future Toys' facial expressions.  They're slightly curved at the ends, and very sharp - and should be easier for her to use in making Bears, Monkeys and other Toys that need these special features).

Sewing operations have been interrupted a little this week because Isobel has had other things to attend to - outside the COLDHAMCUDDLIES' World, one of which is that she's found herself being asked to organise some outside visits for fellow residents and herself to various sites of interest in the surrounding Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire countryside.  The lady that did it previously is now no longer with us, and there was no one else prepared to do it. Also, there were problems with Banks not co-operating, and the need to change their arrangements, as well as coping with the departure of the previous Trip Organiser, resulting in no outings taking place for the whole of 2016. 

Thus, Isobel has been busy getting prices for hiring the motor vehicle to transport between 10-16 residents (and their families/friends), and on Saturday - together with three gentlemen residents, she went on a train ride.  The objective of this exercise being to see whether such an event would be practical - with some residents needing "walkers" to aid their movements, and two of them relying on wheelchairs for access to such trips.

The gentlemen involved had been keen to arrange a trip for themselves to sample (and revive) their long term interest in the Steam Railway era - and their youthful preoccupation with "train-spotting". But one or two other residents, including Isobel, had expressed an interest in going along too.   A short distance away, there is a Heritage  railway - the Ecclesborne Valley Railway - offering a trip through beautiful Derbyshire countryside which begins at the village of Duffield, a circa 35 minute-drive from our home.  So, off the four residents went yesterday - and fortunately, the rain held off, and although it was windy, otherwise conditions were good.  (The UK offers a number of these Heritage Railways, around the country, staffed mostly by volunteers - some are bigger and cover longer distances than others.  Apparently there are at least two others in the nearby vicinity to our home, but this one was selected, because one of the "scouters" is a member of the Ecclesborne Valley Railway, and so was able to guide us in this aspect of the proposed outing.  He also gets "special rates" himself, but they discovered rates for parties can be negotiated as and when required.  Isobel will need to get her bargaining skills honed as a result.)

The other objective of the day out yesterday was to find somewhere to have a "meal out". Everyone living here enjoys the prospect of eating a meal that they've not had to prepare for themselves.  One of the company had suggested The Bridge Inn at Duffield, so that was where the party headed to begin with, having decided to eat first and ride later.  However, the drive had taken less time than envisaged. The hostelry did not appear to be open to outside visitors when they arrived, so having scouted the outside area(s), the party decided to proceed to Duffield Station, and take the first morning trip scheduled to begin some 20 minutes later.

The intrepid travellers - outside The Bridge Inn, Duffield

Part of the outside eating area.
The Bridge Inn has the River Derwent flowing beside the outside eating area.

So, off to Duffield Station they went - and this was the sight that awaited them upon arrival. 

An empty station platform, but obviously with a train expected shortly, as people were walking from cars and gathering at the station office to get their tickets. This cost Isobel £12.00 ($15.30 USD) - and it enabled her to travel for as long as she liked all day Saturday.  

Very shortly after they'd got their tickets, the train arrived, and because it is largely a single-track facility, the engine was uncoupled and shunted backwards towards the day's arriving passengers, so that the points could be changed to enable the machine to travel back along the short piece of second track - to the other end of the train, where the process of point-changing could take place, and the engine be re-coupled to the other end of the 4-carriage train.

Engine being shunted back to enable the points to be changed.
Waiting for the point change to take place
Travelling back to re-join the train at the front end.
On the way to getting on the train prior to departure, Isobel and company were able to have a quick glance at a noticeboard with the history of the railway.

The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway is celebrating it's 150th year since it opened and they are holding a series of events to commemorate this landmark between April and October this year.  The map on the left of the board shows the stations en route  and the rail journey takes about 20 minutes.  In addition to the steam engines, they also have some diesel locomotives that are used to convey visitors during week-days.  Steam travel, given that the railway is entirely staffed by volunteers, takes place on Saturdays and Sundays - because, for obvious reasons, it takes more time to ready the engines to get sufficient steam to propel the trains using coal as fuel for the trips.

The Derbyshire countrywide was looking very spruce and green, since the trees have only recently acquired this year's leaves - and the party was particularly struck by the view between hedges of this field - absolutely covered with buttercups:  really a sight to be seen.

On the way to Wirksworth, this view caught Isobel slightly unawares, and the nearby hedge butted in before she'd had time to get her camera ready in time to show you the absolute carpet of buttercups on the scene.  However, on the way back, she managed to get it a bit better - it really is a wonderful sight, isn't it?

At the other end of the track, we found this little steam engine complete with it's own truck.

This enables those so inclined to pay a bit more and be transported to the top of a nearby land mark - where the Derbyshire countryside opens out looking towards the Higher Peak District westwards. The trip takes place during the time that the engine does the track-switching operation which delivers it to the rear of the train, for the journey back to Duffield - which also enables the other travellers to buy and enjoy a quick snack offered in a Buffet housed in converted old railway carriages.  Our party decided to leave these bits for another time, and just enjoyed breathing in the fresh Peak District air instead.

 On Saturdays and Sundays, there are three trips a day under steam, and there are a similar number of journeys on week-days - with choices of travel while being hauled by a Heritage Diesel Locomotive - pulling the steam rail cars, or days when the Diesel Locomotive hauls Rail  Cars of a similar vintage to itself.  

From their perspective, Isobel and her friends decided - while enjoying a light lunch back at The Bridge Inn after they'd arrived back in Duffield - that a visit could well be arranged for their walker-aided friends.  The wheel-chair travellers needed to be consulted (and appropriate arrangements laid on) about whether or not they'd be prepared to travel for the duration of the trip in the Guards Van, which does have access via a ramp provided.  (There is a window in the railcar).   The access via the normal doorways was definitely not wheelchair friendly.  If they were, Isobel would need to ensure that the rail car with the Guards Van was on hand on the day any trip were to be booked.

Isobel and Co. also discovered that there could be an alternative to offer those residents who might well enjoy seeing a Heritage Railway in operation, but not necessarily be that enthusiastic about participating in the journey itself.  There is a handy Garden Centre - complete with cafe and other shops, all under cover - which they could repair to, while the rail enthusiasts undertook the journey to Wirksworth and back.

The findings are to be offered to the Residents next week - and arrangements put in hand as a result of decisions taken at that time.  More of that anon - and of course, hopefully, finished photographs of the Cat Puppets too.

See you all next week, Folks.  Hope you all have a good one!

Your Friend, Cy Bear.