Sunday, 30 June 2013

Cuddlies' Slippers - Here's how they've been made to date.

Greetings everybody:

 Cy Bear here, now that Isobel is beginning to get over the computer troubles that have been plaguing us since the middle of March.  Am so glad that I don't have to be involved with such matters - it's so much nicer being the ColdhamCuddlies Mascot - and performing duties such as this!

Saying goodbye before the Golden Rabbit Slippers left for their new home
These Golden Furry Rabbit slippers (Etsy Listing 152976020) came to fruition after we'd been asked to provide a custom order for our friend, LauraC who lives in Florida, who badly wanted to have some  Slippers like these.  Isobel had never made any, but having been provided with the measurements so that the finished slippers would fit Laura, the production process got under way.  (Now that three sets have been listed, Isobel has included all the measurements she would like to have in order to get made-to-measure finished products that really do meet everyone's exact needs!)

The material used for the soles,  we actually had in stock.  It is waterproof on one side, and has a fleece lining on the other.  It had previously been used to make our Green Frog (Etsy Listing #116285186), but for the purposes of this experiment, Isobel decided to use some to see how it would work out.  We started the whole thing off by getting a  pair of  insoles and cut it to fit the UK equivalent of a Man's Size 10 foot (USA) (as requested).  Laura wanted it to cover her whole foot, plus socks in cold weather,  and gave us a measurement which actually took the slipper over her ankles.  There may be times when she's not living in Florida (but in a colder part of the USA) and a warm cuddly pair of slippers will come in handy.

Step One looked like this

Then Isobel added the other side and a panel at the back, cutting out matching pieces of the Gold Plush fabric and the waterproof material - with the fleece lining on the inside.  The slipper then looked like this:

The seams were then sewn together - separately for each piece of fabric:  so the inner lining was sewn together first and then the outer shell (with the seams on the inside)  Isobel is keen not to have any chance of rubbing of skin occurring in the final product.  The next step was to add the furry insole so the slipper is really warm on the inside (as well as the outside), again, with no seams showing.

Since starting and completing the Golden Slippers, Isobel has made two more, different coloured slippers. LauraC was very pleased with her version, incidentally, and her comments have appeared on this blog earlier in proceedings.  However, I have to report that they frightened  her cats on arrival apparently!  Because of the computer problems, Isobel and Laura have not been communicating just recently, but on the strength of her first attempt, we've now completed another custom order for two different pairs  - this time for our next door neighbour, KatherineC.  One is for another pair of Rabbit Slipppers, in Brown Plush fur, with a mauve satin ribbon trim, and the other for a pair of Panda Bears.  These two will form the basis of the next installment of the Slipper creation story.

Till the next time, folks - it's good to be back blogging again. 

But before I go, Isobel has asked me to tell you that the other new project is also beginning to take shape (the distance learning course for her to become a Children's Writer).  Both of us are looking forward to this new adventure:  the ten unit course has arrived and Isobel sent off her Student Data File (which she had to fill in telling them all about her life and interests) which is designed to find a suitable Tutor to guide her through the course.  Isobel is determined not to let the new experience interfere with either her toy-making activities, nor our joint blogging - so, she's going to be busy!  We'll be keeping you informed, as ever.

Good night for the time being!  Cy Bear

Friday, 28 June 2013

Third Item in the Novelty Slippers range - 2013 New Product offering.

Just listed in our shop at, here is the third version of our new Novelty Furry Slipper offering.

Etsy Listing # 155281164
These were the third set of slippers that I have completed.  They are easily replicated and have been received with much amusement by their recipients, whose Mother decided they would make ideal "joke presents" for a special birthday this year!

Novelty Furry Slippers, for Children, Ladies and Men are  one of the new ColdhamCuddlies' product offer for 2013.  Whilst still in the experimental stage of production, these particular specimens have been made at the request of a  local customer here in Heytesbury, England, UK.   They took me between 3-4 days to make, so if anyone is looking for a similar pair for their wife, daughter or significant other, be happy to meet your requirements.  The pattern is based on slippers  made one Christmas for all the male members of my significantly large family - but those were made with felt, and didn't last as long as I believe these will.

They consist of an insole (this example has a memory foam base)  to which a Black Plush outer covering is lined with White Fleece.  The underside of the sole has a  waterproof  fabric complete with its own black fleece inner layer.  Both plush and fleece fabrics are then sewn to the insole.  The same black plush covers the insole, hiding the seams (illustrated here).

The plush and lining outer pieces are sewn separately and fitted together so the seams do not show - either on the inside or outside of the slipper.  A Panda Head is then created, with Safety Eyes, lined Ears and stuffed with polyester fibre infill which meets all international safety standards.  This is attached to top of the slipper where it meets the ankle.

 Once the head is attached, each slipper is finished off with a black and white checked  ribbon edging with  elastic threaded through the ribbon. Sufficient elastic is provided for adjustments to meet the individual requirements of the customer   The bow, which can be undone on each slipper, conceals the elastic fastening.

Animal heads do not necessarily have to be restricted to Pandas.  They can be selected from any of the Toys available in  the ColdhamCuddlies Shop.  Colours in which they are made can be the same as those currently displayed in our Shop or  also be individually selected.  Should the selected fabric not be in stock, this may add to the delivery time(s).

To ensure the finished product is "Made to Fit"  when ordering   the following information will be most helpful, but are  not absolutely vital.  The items highlighted with a ** ARE needed however.
(1)  Your normal shoe size. **
(2) Colour combination(s) - if different from those shown**
(3) If possible, a drawing of each foot - to accommodate individual shapes!
(4) Measurement of each foot from Toe to Ankle OVER the instep arch.
(5) Width of foot from side to side, OVER instep arch.
(6) Ankle circumference at top edge of slipper - to accommodate any possible swelling involved.

My snail mail address can be provided  when the order process has commenced, if scanning and other electronic means of communication are unavailable to you, the client.

Armed with this information, it should be possible for me to meet your very specific needs!  The resulting product should resemble the items shown here:

Slippers can be made for Children, Ladies and Men - once all the above information is provided for each person.

Prices are as follows:

Men's Slippers Size L-XXL         USD61.40 per pair

Special Fittings (All)                    USD84.40 per pair

Ladies Slippers (all sizes)            USD46.00 per pair

Childrens' Slippers (all sizes)       USD34.99 per pair - all sizes.  Small ones can be as difficult to sew as the      larger ones!

Recently added to the ColdhamCuddlies pattern line are slippers for Children and Men - which I'm very pleased to say are not that different from this third version for the Ladies!  The templates for all of them are now ready to be used on the fabrics, and production is about to begin.  Watch this spaces Ladies, Gentlemen - and Children too!

Be back with you all soon.  Isobel

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Computers? Great - when they work!

Well, hopefully, normal service here at ColdhamCuddlies will be resuming from here on in, because it's been far from that in the last couple of weeks.

 As everyone knows, who kindly follows us here on, there have been some teething troubles with my new computer that have had to be dealt with.  Somehow, we've had trojans visit us (got rid of), then the computer began to slow down - and Hewlett Packard  Support guys, after trying to sort me out, decided that the best way to cope was for me to reset the whole she-bang back to the "Factory Default" position.  This was carried out, and for a day or two things went OK.  Then, all of a sudden, we went back to the two screen option - with everything being done twice (don't ask ME - even the techies had no explanation) and it was back to the Factory Default option  This time though, it only took about three hours (despite the double versions) to reset - the first time around, it had taken five and a half hours to complete the clean-up.

So, about the middle of last week,  off we went for the third time, in as many weeks (I've had this machine operating since the middle of March, and I should think I've been trouble free for about four weeks, not all at once!).

Now I'm a very obedient person when I'm on my computer, and when my technical support (a.k.a. Hewlett Packard) indicates to me that there are updates that need to be loaded, I automatically click on the button and carry on with my job.  Isn't that what one is supposed to do?  Well, this is what I did and all went well for a while.  Then the computer began to go slower and slower - and when I checked on the Technical Support site, there was evidence that there were lots more updates to load on, so I switched everything off - having completed what I needed to do (checking all my emails, Etsy teams sites), sewing some replacements Owls and Wombats and renewing them in the shop at when I don't always switch the computer off.

Next morning, there were still some updates needed to be brought in, so I gaily switched on  and I was happily typing away when this time I got a telephone call - from Microsoft, themselves allegedly.  Despite my surprise, because I didn't think  Microsoft did that sort of thing, I was persuaded to allow them to show me that this time not only had my software been "COMPROMISED" - a word I'm becoming familiar with, I have to say!! - but so, too had my HARDWARE.  Now, that is a Hewlett Packard responsibility -  in my book anyway, so someone (or something) wasn't operating as it should have been.  Anyway, these fellows suggested they could clean both bits up for me, and if I'd like them to look after me (after all these weeks - I'm ready to have my hand held, believe you me) - for a fee, of course.  Now I'd just been persuaded to subscribe for a special three year warranty with Hewlett Packard, combined with  two years "security" with Norton before all the re-setting lark began.

Given that existing care package was obviously insufficient for my needs, I complied with the new suggestion - now have  "unlimited technical support for over 100 software applications, peripherals and devices 24/7/365 availability to tech support via phone and remote access".  (I only have two computers:  no ipads, ipods, kindles or what have you for little old me).  The package is  for Two Years plus a 2 Year Support Plan.  They did offer me one for 10 years, but as I said, at my age, 4 years at a time is quite sufficient for the time being!!!  But, I was by this time so desperate that I decided to go with the new guys - and boy has it worked for me.  Not only do they stop me clicking on the wrong sites, they also transferred all my pictures from my old computer to this one - because, of course they'd all been wiped during the various resets, hadn't they?

  Also if I find trojans trying to get back on (as they did earlier this evening) I can ring a UK telephone number (for free - ringing Hewlett Packard costs 5 pence/minute and then no service!!)) and someone takes over my computer after a bit of a conversation, and 20 minutes later the invading trojan (with some advertisements I can well do without!!!!) is wiped off and I am able to get back here - with none of the said advertisements invading the space at the top of this blog and trying to get me to do things I don't want to.  Now such surveillance may not be for everyone:  but for me, this is the way forward!

Now, I'm engaging in a battle to get my payments back from Hewlett Packard and Norton - wish me luck!!  So, even if these guys who are holding my hand are indeed a "scam" (suggested by Hewlett Packard when I began my fight for refunds earlier today) the service I've already received beats anything that has been available to me in ALL the years I've been surfing the net - from Hewlett Packard or Microsoft for that matter.  As far as I am concerned, it's money well spent.  I'm keeping them, I can tell you.  It means I can concentrate on important things - like making new slippers, blogging here - and, even, swotting up on childrens' literature while undertaking the distance learning course I'm about to start!

Yup, the ten-unit course is sitting on my filing cabinet and I've today sent off my personal data (a.k.a. my life story!) to the Academy of Childrens' Writers to find me a Tutor from their stock - some of them with publications under their belt already.  The course is certainly interesting - and definitely challenging, if only because I tend to drop off to sleep within minutes when trying to read these days.  Which is why I've taken to making toys instead!!  Will have to read in a less comfortable chair, maybe:  and I'm hoping because most of the reading I have to do is childrens' literature, it may be more stimulating that some material available for the grown-ups!

Right, have just tried to load some photos on here, and Blogger is not playing ball.  It's getting late here, and I need my beauty sleep, so this time around, you'll have to read my news - without any illustrations.  I'll get on to my new best friends tomorrow, once I've done some things like joining the local library (so I can borrow the books I need to read for my writing course) and get some typing ribbons for my electronic portable typewriter which will come into it's own in this respect, I suspect (it already has!!), not to mention the erasing tapes that such a machine needs!

Life is busy, hopefully less frustrating - and it's good to be back blogging here again.

Cheers for now.  All the best.  Isobel

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Coldham Cuddlies have made it into a Peruvian blog!

Cy Bear opening this dispatch with the news that a fellow Etsian - a member of one of the Etsy Teams Isobel frequents from time to time - issued an open invitation to anyone who would like to be featured on his blog.  Isobel responded earlier this week, and today, we are delighted to say that

Gino Escate from GyGante - based in Lima, Peru - has kindly featured us in his latest post at  Although its all in Spanish and Isobel is not as conversant with the language as she once was (in the 1950's - she did an Evening Course at what was then called the Norwich City College & Art School - where she also learned to type and do Shorthand!) she was able to get the gist of what is being said - and is very grateful for the promo.  Do hope that EVERYONE will not only visit the blog, but also Gino's shop where he features some beautiful photographs and products he's made from all sort of different objects.  He's very talented - so Isobel tells me.

We do hope lots of Spanish-speaking folk will not only read Gino's blog, but also visit us here and look around our shop at  Hasta la vista!  (hope that is an appropriate Spanish greeting?)

Isobel has now just about finished the third pair of furry slippers she has recently been commissioned to make, and here are one or two pictures to follow on from those we included in our last post, when we spoke about the Brown Rabbit Slippers with their mauve satin ribbon trimming.

Sitting on the dining room sideboard 

The Panda Slippers from the rear.

(The salver in the background is one that was given to Isobel when she ceased being a  Girl Guide District Commissioner while they were living in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.)

These Panda Slippers will be listed in our Shop sometime tomorrow, once they have had some elastic threaded through the ribbon trimming.  They are destined for MrsKV's other daughter (you will recall we told you that together with the Brown Rabbit Slippers, they were going as "fun birthday presents" for her two daughters).

 They won't be delivered for another ten days, as MrsKV is away.  Isobel is looking after the family dog - a Boston Terrior called Widget.  She spends the day with us, and then goes back for the night - to keep the family feline - called Ariosto - company.  They only live next door, so it's not a problem - and keeps Isobel company during the day time:  not to mention giving her some more welcome exercise too!

As also promised in our last post, Isobel will do a blog shortly showing how all three models were made - and you will see how they have developed from the Golden Rabbit Slippers we started with, to the latest version.  Isobel is not quite satisfied that they the finished article - but they are all wearable, and she's developed a routine in making them.  These last two only took  two afternoons to complete - from cutting out to finished product (except for the elastic, of course!).  Plans are afoot to repeat all three - plus introducing several other animal models, some of which have yet to feature as proper Cuddlies! - to have available for sale in time for the Christmas season, when slippers are apparently often required as gifts.  Special requests can always be handled in the meantime!!!!

Before the bodies were made as slippers, they featured in our last post
I'm also delighted to be able to tell you that Isobel thinks she's almost got the new computer going at full blast.  She's been in communication with the outside world using it in the last two days,  but has so far not been able to figure out how to load the printer that goes with our computers- nor the camera.  Also, she's got to figure out how to transfer all the pictures that are on this machine which we are using to post this update on to the new one (1,189 at the last count!).  Most of them were once on the new Sleekbook (we're using a Compaq Presario at the moment!) but due to all the virus problems Isobel has been having, she was told by the Hewlett Packard technical support team who have been helping her sort out the mess, to " Reset the computer back to its factory default position".  This has had to be one twice, but yesterday, Isobel was able to get it back sufficiently to be able to use it a bit.

Now as you know, I'm just a Bear made in Beaver Lamb, so all this does not mean a thing to me - I'm just hoping that it will all work out so that Isobel will stop being so frustrated with the darn thing, and we can get back to our normal equable selves!

Right this has now gone on long enough, so I'll end this dispatch!  It's been good to chat again - and, don't forget:  visit Gino's blog and shop and see just what he gets up to!

Good night, and God Bless  Cy Bear

Monday, 10 June 2013

Olly the Owlet has returned to the Family + plus a new Chum.

Olly Owlet, Etsy Listing # 107123292
Hello Everyone:  CyBear returning to the blogging fray!  It's good to be back, what with all the hiccups Isobel has been having with the computer and her connections (whatever they may - or may not, as in this case - be.)

We thought you'd like to see some up-to-date pictures of Olly Owlet, a smaller version of Ben Barn Owl (Etsy Listing 99686556).   Both versions have been popular members of the ColdhamCuddlies Family, and it's been a while since Olly was in the shop at  That is because Isobel has not had time to replace him since he first disappeared - some months ago, what with one thing and another.

Yesterday was a bright, sunny day - when these were taken...
She's had the time recently because of the computer hiccups and the latest broadband disconnection.  It has meant that she got the time to actually sit down and make some toys!  Between you and me, she does spend an awful lot of time on the computer, when she doesn't seem to be doing that much (at least to a Bear like me!)  However, the broadband connection is due to be put right later this coming week - hopefully.  Meanwhile,she's operating on something called Wi-Fi to which her ISP connected her yesterday so she could continue blogging, trying to sell the Cuddlies on Etsy and all the other things she's getting involved in.

So, not only has she been able to make two more Ollys - and they've been renewed - but she's now making two more Ben Barn Owls - since both of the latest Twins have now found Forever Homes in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  The first one went early in May, but when HeatherB realised he was one of a Twin, she asked for the second one to join him.  Twin One (she'd earlier picked Twin Two out from an Owl Picture Parade!) left us at the end of last week, so should be well on his way to Edmonton and we hope to have pictures of them all together again, soon. well as a very windy one!
Another thing that has been occupying Isobel, when she's not been on the computer - is her latest line in ColdhamCuddlies products.  After the first experimental Golden Yellow Furry Slippers (Etsy Listing #152976020 - featured in our last post), we've now got a pair of Brown Rabbit Furry Slippers which have been specially ordered by one our neighbourhood friends here in Heytesbury.  MrsKV saw the Yellow fellows, and decided they would make ideal "joke" birthday presents for her two daughters later this year.

These have purple fleece linings - and won't be listed:  YET!
 So, the Brown ones were started while Isobel was in Normandy recently - and finished last week, and the next pair are waiting for the black plush fur to arrive from one of  our plush fabric suppliers.  Once that arrives, Owls will be temporarily cast aside (unless they've already been completed), and the second part of the custom order will be fulfilled.

They do have eyes - it's just that they so furry, you can't see them!
This time, rather than Rabbits - and to illustrate that any of the heads of any of us Cuddlies can be used - they are going to be Panda Furry Slippers.

These will have a black coat, white fleece lining and a black check ribbon  trim
We've decided to do a future post in which we show how the slippers are constructed.  It will be incorporating all three pairs, which are still currently experimental, as Isobel is making changes in their format as she goes along.  Slippers are going to become permanent Cuddlies in future, because (a) Isobel enjoys making them, and (b)  there seems to be definite interest in them - both locally and on Etsy as well, but until a permanent pattern emerges, Isobel thinks that tutorial can wait a while.  In addition, the two patterns that LauraC ( for whom the Golden Yellow Rabbit Slippers were ordered) sent to Isobel arrived yesterday, and will undoubtedly be used to create the final slipper product(s).  They will fit Children, Ladies AND Gentlemen!

Meanwhile, here is the rear view of Olly Owlet and Chum.

They did manage to stay upright - eventually!
 Good to be back with you again:  - until the next time!  Cy Bear.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Made to Fit - Personalized - Novelty - Golden Yellow Furry Rabbit Slippers - Custom Order for Laura Curtin of EightBoardsFarm

Etsy Listing #152976020
These Novelty Plush Fur Slippers form part of the 2013 New Product Offer from the Coldham Cuddlies, and were listed in  at earlier this afternoon.

They are the result of  a meeting, via the Etsy Activity site earlier this year, when Laura Curtin  mentioned how she much would love some Golden Yellow Furry Rabbit Slippers and asked if I could possibly make them for her.

 (Laura and I have become firm friends since we first met (I think she followed me on Etsy, or it might have been the other way around!  Think the relationship can best be described as a fine example of how Etsy works when crafters get together and exchange ideas and views.  Laura has provided me with invaluable advice on how to tag, categorise and otherwise try to highlight the Cuddlies.  I've yet to put ALL her advice into practice with ALL the other Cuddlies.  It's on the "To Do" List!)

Now, I'm not usually capable of producing anything without a pattern:  however, my older daughter (whose memory is considerably better than mine) reminded me that in the early 1970's I made Felt Slippers for almost the entire family for Christmas presents - and having jogged my memory, she was also able to tell me how I did them!  (She used to sit and watch me doing them, and passed me the bits as I needed them - if memory serves.  See I'm quite good, once I remember!)

Thus emboldened, between us Laura and I have managed to produce a pair of  Foot Warmers, capable of taking socks if required, that fit her specific requirements (American Man's Size 10).  She wanted them over the ankles to the lower shin bone, whereas future models will reach below the ankle bone - with the same room for socks.  The specially requested Golden Yellow Plush Rabbit Slippers have been delivered, fit her well and even have their own names!

Jonty and Alistair - but I don't know which is which!
They consist of an insole to which an outer plush covering is lined with a  waterproof  fabric complete with its own black fleece inner layer.  Both fabrics are then sewn to the insole.  There is a plush covering of the insole, hiding the seams - in this case, it is made with the Golden Yellow plush.  (Please note, I have limited supplies of waterproof material;   I am currently seeking a long-term supplier for this, or a similar material).  There are plenty of various coloured fleeces with which to produce other models.

The plush and lining are sewn separately and fitted together so the seams do not show - either on the inside or outside of the slipper.  Animal heads - not necessarily restricted to Rabbits (they can be selected from any of the Toys available in the ColdhamCuddlies Shop) and the colours in which they are made can also be individually selected. Once the head is attached, each slipper is finished off with a satin ribbon edging with half inch elastic threaded through the ribbon.  The bow on each slipper conceals the elastic fastening - which is sewn in such a way to allow for adjustment - be it expansion or reduction, thus allowing for individual ankle conditions.

There are already 2 further Custom Orders in production - which will be listed when completed  One is for another Rabbit (in brown plush with a mauve lining and matching edging):  the other is for a Panda slipper - in black and white, with a white fleece lining.

To meet the Made to Fit offer, when ordering, the following information will be required:

(1)  Your normal shoe size.
 (2) If possible, a drawing of each foot - to accommodate individual shapes!
(3) Measurement of each foot from Toe to Ankle OVER the instep arch.
(4) Width of foot from side to side, OVER instep arch.
(5) Ankle circumference at top edge of slipper - to accommodate any possible swelling involved.

Armed with this information, it should be possible for me to meet your specific needs!

Slippers can be made for Children, Ladies and Men - once all the above information is provided for each person.

Prices are as follows:

Men's Slippers Size L-XXL                    USD61.40 per pair

Special Fittings (All)                               USD84.40 per pair

Ladies Slippers (all sizes)                       USD46.00 per pair

Childrens' Slippers (all sizes)                  USD34.99 per pair - all sizes.  Small ones can be as difficult to sew as  the larger ones!

Cy Bear's Farewell before they left for Florida
There will be a further post in which I describe how I made these particular models - and the two Custom Orders  mentioned earlier.  However, it will have to wait until the second pair are completed - hopefully in the next day or so.  During the process of our conversations while these two were produced and feedback received, Laura discovered patterns for Men's and Childrens Slippers, which she has kindly purchased for me and they are on their way here. It should, therefore, not be beyond my wit to alter these variations in order to meet future Ladies' orders.   These three experimental versions can really be described as "seat of one's pants" efforts. (I refused to accept payment for making these guys - except for charging the postage to get them to Florida - just in case they did not work.  The patterns are her way of repaying me I guess!)

All the best to you everyone:  it's so good to be back blogging once more.  Isobel

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Computer troubles - again: a trip to France, plus a New Direction for Cy Bear and Friends.

Hello Everybody - it seems a long time since both Cy Bear and I were blogging here, but life has been somewhat of a whirlwind of late, and it has not been aided by the continuing saga of my battle with the new computer.  I love the computer itself, but it seems to have a fatal attraction for viruses - no matter the security protection against such invasions that are in place.  To the point that, for the second time in the three months  I've had the darn thing, a second screen appeared - (almost by magic).  It slowed everything down;   every- thing I did got duplicated - while I was bombarded with special offers.  Plus the announcements that I'd won things I didn't want, while being prevented in doing what needed to be done!

 The first time it occurred I laid the blame entirely on myself and unfamiliarity with Windows 8:  the second time has made me think it might just not be ALL my fault.   Having the benefit of a friendly young techie relatively handy (but not free from charging!) I got the whole thing cleaned up for me first time around.  However, the thought of another paid session with said young techie (they're all young to me, these days!), I decided to contact HP Support to see what, if anything, they could suggest.    Having spent an inordinate time on the telephone with the helpful Hewlett Packard techies yesterday - they rang me back half-way through the long-distance session, fortunately - I was told how to return the computer to its "factory default" position (to quote one of my new- found friends):   and then told how to start up again.  The trouble is that I now don't trust the computer.  Nor do I want to waste my time loading everything I need onto it - for everything to go wrong again in a few weeks.  I cannot spare the time involved- more anon!

 So, as I've got something like 289 days of Warranty Cover  in hand, am going to exercise my consumer rights to see if I can get a brand new Sleekbook 15 Laptop model - and hope that I can develop the same friendly relationship with it that I've had with my back up computer - a Compaq Presario, on which I am happily producing this post, that has served me well for several years.  The prime reason I decided to go for a new one was that the hinges broke - plastic fatigue.  A lap top needing to be propped up with three reels of cellotape is not exactly compatible with an efficient workplace.  It was also becoming somewhat out of date!  Besides, I need a reliable computer - which brings me, in a round about fashion, to the second bit of this post.

When Cy Bear and I last posted earlier in mid-May, I was about to go for a holiday to Normandy - and it's since returning that all the computer problems re-emerged.  The trip over the English Channel was as smooth as travelling on glass - thank goodness.  Because it was the first SeaCat voyage of the 2013 season, all passengers (not many, as it was an 0700 BST start, on a frosty Thursday morning) were offered a free glass of wine, courtesy of "Le Capitaine" half-way through the crossing.  Having accepted - it was good drop of red wine that I chose! -  felt brave enough to even get up from my comfortable seat and wander around the boat.  That did not last long:  after looking out of a nearby window, I was sufficiently alarmed at just how close the English Channel surface was to the floor on which I was walking, to rapidly return to where I'd started and buried my head into a copy of "The Lady" magazine, to which I subscribe weekly,  until the end of the voyage.

Le Havre - as we came into port - the sea was like that  all the way over!
This time around, the weather was not as bad as it had been in October.  We actually managed to have lunch  al fresco twice  -

and I was able to see something of the Normandy countryside - very pretty, with all the pear and apple orchards in blossom, with the promise of a good crop of fruit to produce the cider and perry (pear cider) for which the area is famous.  (Reminded me of my young adult days, when I spent week-ends in Kent before many of the orchards - for which the county was famous - were dug up).  Kent was not called the "Garden of England" for nothing!
Nearby Farm, with it's Orchard in blossom
We still had plenty of rain for most of the time, but it didn't stop one being able to take the dog for walks (even managed to do a 12 kilometre jaunt - about three and half miles - one day), taking in the local views.  

I was also able catch up with Cy Bear's twin - Peter Bear - seen here on the left.  He was made last year and used up the rest of the Beaver Lamb coat from which Cy Bear was created. When making him, I corrected the mistakes  made in Cy's production, so he is a safer option for Little People to handle.

Peter Bear's Forever Home is now with MmeIM, my sister-in-law, who is also the Forever Friend of Mme Lapin and Mons. Reynard - both former patients in the Stuffed Animal Restoration Clinic (Etsy Listing #79124185)  and both the subjects of their own posts here on this blog.  Peter Bear now occupies pride of place on MmeIM's dressing table, while the other two Associate Cuddlies have been wrapped up in preparation for becoming New Best Friends to MmeIM's little grand daughter, CM - when she is a older.  She's just four, and still at the age where  toys can be roughly handled.    After all that Mme Lapin and Mons. Reynard have gone through, and in deference to their age,  it is felt that Little One needs to be  older to properly appreciate them.

However, all three of these Cuddlies formed the basis of a story that Cy Bear authored a few weeks' ago which I submitted for a competition being run by the Academy of Children's Writers - who are based in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, UK.  I learned about this competition via "The Lady" and, having been encouraged by some of you wonderful Followers' comments on this blog to consider writing for children I decided to try my luck:  "nothing ventured:  nothing won" etc. et al.  Closing date for entries was April 30, and to be honest, I'd forgotten about it while away in France.

A Normandy Spring Scene
Yesterday, the following letter arrived from the Academy of Children's Writers, which opens up some interesting new possibilities for Cy Bear, the Blog and myself.  Forgive me if I quote it quite extensively - because the contents are extremely exciting, and I want to share it with you all - since it's thanks to your support that this new opportunity has occurred.

"CONGRATULATIONS on your recent entry "Cy Bear's ColdhamCuddlies Blog" for our 2013 "Write a Story for Children" competition.  We received over 2,000 entries again this year and the overall standard was extremely high.  A list of winners is printed below for your information.  We hope to have the winners' permission to place their stories on our website shortly.

Although your story did not win one of the prizes you did reach the final 250.  To reach the final 10% the judges thought that you have an understanding of what young people like to read and that impressed them.  This is a quality that is invaluable to a would-be children's writer.  The judges suggested that I make this particular point when writing to you about your entry as we are only writing to the 10% of entrants who are short-listed.

I suspect that you have had some experience in this field - possibly in telling stories to young relatives and friends.  This suggests to me that with a little effort your talent could be developed to enable you to produce work of publication standard........"

The letter was signed by "Shirley A Cousins, Director"

The letter further contains an invitation to consider participating in their 10-unit writing course - details of which are available to those who are interested at  Not one to let a chance like this pass me by, I'm going to have a go.  Where I'm going to find the time to fit the studying in, I don't know.   However, we are given 2 years to be published - guaranteed by the course apparently:  otherwise the entire course fee is refunded!  So, wish me luck - and here Cy Bear and I go!

La Boffetiere - where I stayed - with a field of Rapeseed in the foreground
Regular bulletins will appear, normal toy construction will carry on - with some new items on schedule for introduction in the next day or so.  Meanwhile, Good Night from both of us!  Isobel