Saturday, 26 April 2014

COLDHAM CUDDLIES Spring Cleaning session continues

Hello Everyone! Cy Bear looking in again.

It's lovely to be back, with some anecdotes about more of my Furry Coldham Cuddlies Friends who have recently been renewed in our Shop,

With the weather being benign over the Easter holidays, Isobel was able to get out with our Lady Dressed Rabbits and took some new photographs of the Girls in various parts of our gardens here at The Hospital of St. John.  I'm not going to chat about them today, because I've decided to show you the new photographs of some of our Fox Family, beginning with the Buchanan Foxes (Etsy Listing #65456642).

The Buchanan Foxes among the Grape Hyacinths
Originally, there were three Buchanan Foxes all with their dresses made in genuine Scottish Buchanan Tartan, which we'd acquired in our fabric stash as off cuts from our faux fur supplier based in Frome, Somerset - Fine Quality Feather Company.  They all had the same bonnets, and could be singled out because their dresses had different coloured ric rac trimming around the hems.  One Buchanan Lady Fox found her Forever Home in Richmond, Texas - just before Christmas.  We've not heard how her journey went, but she was destined as a surprise for our Customer's Mother, who had originally been a Buchanan before she married. We know she arrived safely at the Customer's home:  we just don't know how the important meeting went!   We are operating under the assumption that in this case, "No News is Good News!!

Sitting precariously on the back of a garden seat in breezy conditions
However, we've had some interesting side episodes as a result of Isobel introducing these Lady Foxes. Just before Christmas 2013, we received an enquiry from MrsMB, a lady living in Toronto, Canada.  She did not want a Cuddly, but had been scouring her local haberdashery sources to find sufficient quantities of the Buchanan tartan for her own craft project - a coat for her daughter's dog.  Apparently she makes several a year, and having seen our Buchanan Fox trio's original photos in our shop ( contacted us to see if she could buy her requirements from us.
We think it is because the daughter's surname is Buchanan too!

Seated more comfortably among hyacinths and dandelions at ground level
We were, by then, deeply involved with MsJAF, the author of a self-published book "Birthright" - the first of a trilogy of books about some Buchanan Wolves and Isobel decided to find her own unlimited supply of the Buchanan plaid.  This we did - Strathmore Woollens Ltd of Forfar, Scotland - and they've been marvellous;   not only in supplying us with our Buchanan requirements, but also in confirming the names of other tartan off-cuts we have in our fabric stores - intended for future Cuddlies' dresses.  They've also allowed us to deal with them on a trade rate basis too.  Very helpful - and they are so prompt in their responses too.  Anyway, we've purchased a metre (the minimum order) and were able to supply MsMB with what she needed.

We're hoping that when the dog coat is finished, we might get a picture of the dog and coat - but so far none has arrived.  Meanwhile, we have a good stock of  Buchanan plaid - to meet future requirements from MsJAF.  We've posted about the Buchanan Wolves - Agatha and Nick - and anyone interested should go to our post of 16th February, 2014 - The Story of some Special Cuddlies - Nick and Agatha Buchanan Wolf to learn more about them.

Chuck Coyote, next to a Heather Bush
Another recent renewal has been Chuck Coyote.  His head is made in the same way as our Foxes - but  using a different shade of plush fur.  However, his body and clothing are combined.  (Our Lady and Gentlemen Dressed Toys have separately made bodies, and their clothes are also made separately and sewn on.  Chuck also does not have leather boots - but some smart matching tan leather shoes, to go with his leather gilet or waistcoat jacket.  His trousers are straight, as opposed to the riding jodhpurs our other Gentleman Toys sport.  Because there is less effort and fabric involved in Chuck's creation, he (and his Coyote counterparts) are a little less expensive to purchase.

A rear view of Chuck Coyote, who is now out of any possible range of the drain pipe that can be seen in his first photograph!  Isobel was so intent on taking Chuck's picture before he got blown down - we are still experiencing Spring breezy conditions here in the UK - that she didn't realise the pipe was there.  However, you can rest assured that the outlet was at the rear of the bed in which the heather bush reposes, and Chuck was well in front of the substantial heather bush when the picture was taken.  Isobel was the one who moved to get the picture of Chuck's bushy tail.

A sideways view of Chuck Coyote
When Isobel first made a Chuck Coyote, he ended up becoming mascot to an After School Club attached to a nearby Village School.  They are known as the Codford Coyotes.  He has been fulfilling that role now for nearly four years, and  has often appeared in photographs with his Forever Friends in the local newspaper, The Warminster Journal - when they are expanding on their various after school activities or publicising awards that they and their organisers have achieved.  He is actually called Charlie Coyote (because, of course, Charlie is the English version of Chuck).  This naming game can get complicated, can't it?

A Country Gentleman among the daffodils at the foot of our Mulberry Tree
When this Coldham Cuddlies Fox was first made - in the 1970's, while Isobel and Peter were living in Alberta, Canada- she decided to give their daughters a Mummy Fox each for their birthdays in the year that Clare was 4 and Philippa three and a half years older.  Philippa's birthday is earlier in the year, so her's was made first and then Clare got her Mummy Fox six month's later.  They obviously enjoyed themselves together, so Peter  - whose birthday was even later in the same year - asked if he could have a Daddy Fox.

The wish was granted, and Daddy Fox went to work and live in Peter's office in downtown Edmonton - sitting in full view of all visitors and customers who visited on business.  He was a great "conversation piece" and carried out this important function when we returned to England in 1987.  However he is alas no longer - having stopped standing up and looking rather poorly after several subsequent moves around the UK.  One of the Mummy Foxes is still extant however - and may well be pressed into service to entertain another generation shortly.  (Isobel had not yet taught herself how to rejuvenate or renovate Cuddly Toys as she now does in the Coldham Cuddlies Stuffed Animal Restoration Clinic (Etsy Listing #79124185)

Our Country Gentleman's bushy tail clearly shows the white tip to his brush.  All UK Gentlemen Foxes have those whereas their wives don't.  Nor, as far as we know, do gentleman Coyotes.  We now are aware we may well be open to be told otherwise by our wonderful Followers!

So this is all for this issue of our blog.  The weather, alas, has taken a turn for the worse - it's very windy (as opposed to being just breezy).  So definitely no further photo shoots possible today, or indeed for a day or two if the forecast is to be believed.  However, Isobel is renewing our Cuddlies  at the rate of one a day, and I've only so far shown the new looks of five Cuddlies to date.  We've still got several more Rabbits and some Teddy Bears to tell you about, as well as the prospect of two new Cuddlies.  Both are Koalas, but both very much bigger versions than our extremely popular, traditional Baby Koalas (Etsy Listing #55190185) and each of them come with a story of their own that I think you'll enjoy hearing.

Lot's more to come then:  so until next time.  Good bye for now!  Your Friend - Cy Bear.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

ColdhamCuddlies Shop is having a Spring Clean!

Hello again Everybody!  

As Mascot to the ColdhamCuddlies, I get involved in a lot of the photographs  taken by Isobel - especially when there are Cuddlies on their way to their individual Forever Homes.  Here are a couple of recent examples of these - taken when one of our Black and White Plush Baby Bunnies  (Etsy Listing #55187979)  left for a new home in Cheyenne, Wyoming -

This little Black and White Plush Baby Bunny  is destined to be a Forever Friend  for a little baby girl called Isla - who is about five months' old and has been very ill in hospital with something called pneumonia - which sounds very nasty at any time, but particularly so, one would think, if you are as a small a Little Person as she is.  However, Mother tells Isobel that she is now well on the way to recovery.  As Bunny is meant to be an Easter Bunny present, we hope to have pictures of the two of them when they get together this week-end.

One of our Baby Koalas (Etsy Listing #55190188) also left on the same day en route to his new Forever Home in Columbia, MD, United States of America.


We've just heard earlier this week that both Cuddlies have arrived at their respective destinations and are looking forward to getting some pictures of them in due course.  Koala's won't be taken until sometime next week, when his Forever Friend, MsAW gets out her camera so she can take photographs of her beautifully embroidered Totes - which can be seen at
(Isobel got a convo message from MsAW yesterday that she has decided to call Koala, Kili - after some one in a book called "The Hobbit".  Hope that means something to everyone - afraid neither Isobel nor I know too much about that subject!)

Now, it's been decided (I wasn't party to the decision, but as always  I am willing to go along and help out when needed), that our Shop ( is going to have a Spring Clean.  This means that every one of the Toys are going to participate in a photo shoot.  These will take place outdoors, when the weather is kind.  Isobel has got bored with the same-look backgrounds that we inevitably end up when the pictures are taken in and around our flat here at the Hospital of St. John. 
We took a lot of outdoor photographs when our shop was still quite small - say with about 20 Toys in all.  Isobel believes those shots contributed to quite a lot of our original sales, so she's hoping the new ones - where she's had more experience of using her camera - will result in the same thing happening. 
(We now have 75 Toys listed, with some more labelled  "Inactive".  That means they are waiting to be resewn and re-listed.  Isobel has begun to make a spread sheet (don't know what that is - but doubtless our wonderful Followers will know what she's talking about!) with facts and figures about us Cuddlies, and she actually has 81 in all.  Some are not likely to be re-introduced in exactly the same way they looked before, because the original fabric has been used up.  (There is a proviso to that effect in our Shop Policies by the way!)

Isobel takes part in several Teams on Etsy (whatever they are!)  As a  Beaver Lamb Bear that doesn't mean much to me - except that it takes up an inordinate amount of her time, when I think she should be sitting in her work-room and making new Cuddlies for me to look after!  However - apparently it is a well-discussed topic in those Teams  that the more items one can have in one's Shops the more folks can come to have a look-see, and if those Buyers enjoy their visit, there is more likelihood that they'll adopt a Cuddly and make them their Forever Friends
Also, the more one "renews" a shop item, the more the shop should get noticed by social media outlets who spend their lives looking out for such activities.  And one of the ways that these outfits are attracted - is by constant movement within one's Shop.  So, Isobel has decided to try to keep renewing one Cuddly every day (most of us are due for our four-monthly renewal, anyway), and she's also going to try and make some brand new Cuddlies along the way - to intersperse between the daily renewals.  So my suggestion is - look out World!

Last week, the renewal programme began and I don't feature in them yet:  think that will happen when some of the smaller Cuddlies are involved.   I thought you'd like to see them, and I can tell you a little about them as they all go along.  I'm happy to do so - as it can get a bit boring sitting all day long on Isobel's bed without anything else to do!

This is Nicholas Rabbit.  He was originally made as a special Christmas Rabbit.  However, he is just as appropriate as an All Year boy's or girl's gift.  We don't favour gender-specific toys in the ColdhamCuddlies family - and you can find out a lot more about him by clicking on this link. 
This picture shows Nicholas standing on a step outside the Residents' Hall at The Hospital of St. John, with some Forget-me-Not flowers and other plants in a nearby flower bed.  He's leaning against another step - the front of which has been painted in white.  That's to try to stop our elderly neighbours from missing the step as they go up and down them to reach the Hall - where they have things like Coffee mornings and where the Craft Fairs we've featured in take place.  They have been posted about here on the blog too.  (See our Post dated 03/11/2013 - The Poppy Appeal Craft Fair as an example).

We've managed to renew several Cuddlies already and I'm not necessarily going to include them in the order in which they have been re-listed.  We've done several Rabbits as well as Foxes and begun to do the Teddy Bears as well.  So, here's one of my Fox Friends, Miss Prim.  Her initial photograph never really did her justice, and I think this one really shows her up well.  Do hope you agree!

There's more information about Miss Prim to be seen if you click here  Isobel posed her in the branch of  a Mulberry Tree that is reputedly nearly 400 years old.  Certainly it has some very broad branches and this is going to feature in several of the renewal photographs - thus keeping us in line with a recommendation that one should be consistent with our backgrounds when taking pictures for on-line marketing activities.  

Right, I think this post has gone on long enough, so I'm going to close for tonight.  As it's Holy Saturday as Isobel types in my words for me, I'll end by wishing everyone a very Happy and Blessed Easter.  Hope you all have a great time, get lots of Easter Eggs (I'm not allowed those!) and I hope to back with some more pictures of my Cuddly Friends - old and new - soon.

Your Friend, Cy Bear

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Welcome to a New Cuddly, with news of another on the way .

Good afternoon Everybody - this is Cy Bear being allowed to chat to you!
Seems to have been quite some time since we last were together, but Isobel has not been idle in the interim, and of course she has to be available to type what I'm about to tell you, or else it doesn't get done.  Life goes on very quickly here at The Hospital of St. John, and looking at the date of the last post Isobel published, it is already 12 days since it happened. 
 So, with no more ado, please allow me to introduce George Green, the newest Dressed Rabbit to join our shop at
Etsy Listing #185804697
This Brown Plush Toy Rabbit is the latest to be made from the vintage toy pattern used for all the other dressed Gentlemen Rabbits.

His matching Green Boots are made from Glove Quality Leather and he is stuffed with polyester fibre fill
meeting all international safety standards.

 Unlike the other adult Rabbits, he has a smart yellow bow tie with pearl button tie pin.  His Aquamarine Striped Jacket is closed with a matching pearl button, which can open to display his very smart Green Satin Waistcoat.  He has a White Felt Collar.  He does not undress any more than opening his jacket.

George Green Rabbit measures 17.5 inches - 40.4 cms (tip of ears to sole of boots) and weighs approx. 7 ounces (205 g). 
Isobel did not intend to make George Green Rabbit, because the original plan was to replace another Brown Dressed Gentleman Rabbit, known to his friends as Uncle Brendan.  He had a Green Velvet Jacket and Brown and Cream Striped Trousers, with Tan Leather Boots and versions have found homes in France, Washington State and elsewhere since our Shop opened in 2010.  Because some of the fabrics used when Uncle Brendan was first made have been used up, Isobel was looking through her fabric stocks, found these and decided she'd make George's clothing instead - and  hey voila! to mix my expressions a little - we now have George Green himself.  
(We do have two Brown Rabbit Heads ready to be stuffed - one of which could well end up as the next replacement Uncle Brendan, although he may not have the same colour jacket as he originally did.  The trousers are still capable of repetition, as are his tan leather boots). 
We're about to be joined by a really new Cuddly - in the shape of  a Big Koala Bear. He is based on Big Koala, who came as a Patient in our Stuffed Animal Restoration Clinic (Etsy Listing #79124185) when it first opened.  He looks like this now he's had his treatment and lives with a host of other Baby Koalas and Ed Ted (all of whom have been written about in our blog at the time of their treatments).
 There's quite a story attached to his arrival, which hasn't finished yet. When he is eventually made, he will not be the same colour as this Koala, because the fabric is rapidly running out and there doesn't seem to be any likelihood of our being able to get any more. Isobel is keen to be able to continue making our Baby  (Etsy Listing #55190188)  with this Light Brown Faux Fur for as long as possible.  
 The new version is being made with the same fabric was was used for these special Christmas order  Koala Head Kids Slippers.  (Because they were a custom order, they don't have an Etsy Listing, since they weren't sent to our Shop before leaving for their Forever Home).  
When the transaction - if it materialises - is complete, it will make a good addition to our blog posts I can tell you!
Meanwhile, here is a final picture of George Green, complete with his White Cottontail in place.
Right that's the lot from me for this post.  Do hope everyone is keeping well and that I'll be able to tell you all about Big Koala very soon.  In the meantime, please take care of yourselves, won't you?  
Your Friend, Cy Bear
Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

How difficult is it to give a Review?

Hello there Everyone - back once again, but this time with a question: 

 Just why is it so difficult these days for one to get a Review published on
When I started on Etsy way back in February 2010 (that was registration day:  official selling only began in September 2010, because there was a need to build up the shop stock before I felt able to offer Cuddlies to the world) a review was valid once the goods had been dispatched.  The Buyer was expected to give their opinion on the purchase once the product had arrived:  meanwhile I was reminded on almost a daily basis that a review was expected from me.  I usually didn't complete the transaction until the Buyer had acknowledged receipt - at which time, fortunately, they all provided me with five star ones - and every completed order was matched with the requisite review.
For my part, I always gave my Buyers a good review, and in turn found a great deal of "comfort" in being able to read what other sellers had said when meeting my Buyers for the first time.  As a hesitant Seller,  unfamiliar with on line business behaviour/techniques, it was helpful to see if the other side was "safe", "patient", "clearly knew what they wanted" etc. et al.  Now alas, that help is no longer available -  because sometime last year, Etsy decided that Sellers need no longer provide their opinion on how nice it had been to work with one's Buyers, and they set some time limits for Sellers to provide these reviews to be published.  
In theory they should work well but in fact, as far as I am concerned, they don't.  According to my Shop stats, I have made 50 sales - but I only have 35 reviews, never mind that they are, to date, all Five Star Ones.  What happened to all the other sales' Reviews?  Because I have had some lovely comments from the happy buyers via Convo and/or email - whichever happened to be easier for them - but they weren't converted into the all important Review, which  - I am given to understand - can have an impact on how COLDHAMCUDDLIES is perceived by Google et al.

A fond Farewell from Cy Bear
The problem came to a head recently for the COLDHAMCUDDLIES shop when J.Anne Fullerton (JAF)  - instigator and buyer of Nick and Agatha Buchanan Wolf (shown with Cy Bear prior to their departure). They were subjects of two separate orders  (based on two existing  Foxes in the shop).  JAF found herself unable to provide an official Review, even though she had expressed herself to be satisfied with the Toys on their arrival - quoted in the post published on February 16 in which The Special Story of Nick and Agatha was told.  Please feel free to go to our Archive (right side of this blog) and read the whole story, but for the purpose of this post, I'll repeat JAF's comment:

"Nick and Agatha arrived today. They are, in a word, astounding. I could not be more pleased with the quality of your craftsmanship. I'll be leaving great reviews for you. I will try to get good pics this weekend for you. Now I'm excited to see the rest of the family! I'll be in touch soon. Thank you again."

Time passed, and JAF kept in touch saying that she was trying to find how to give her Review, but still had not been able to.  There is a time limit (I've subsequently found out) for Reviews to be placed on the Etsy system - 60 days after the estimated date of arrival (by Etsy) following notification of the package's dispatch.  So, since it was still within that time I decided (with JAF's full backing) to approach Etsy Support to see what had gone wrong. 

 Now, if you have read the Post already mentioned, you will have discovered that in fact between us JAF and I had well and truly messed up the Etsy buying system.  Because between us we not only had not followed the now established Custom Order route, but also taken far too long to complete the orders (originally placed in October 2013 and not completed until the end of January 2014). The time frame was perfectly acceptable to JAF and myself - but alas the Etsy Purchasing System could not handle it. (Readers and Followers of this blog, with Etsy Shops, please take note!)  Also, Nick and Agatha did not actually have any Etsy reference numbers - other than ones for  Beau Fox (Etsy Listing #128704624) and a Lady Fox dressed in Buchanan tartan (Etsy Listing #65456642), not to mention a different Transaction Number as well!  Talk about working at cross purposes.

Nick Buchanan Wolf - showing off his tartan waistcoat
Thus, the time limit for reviews having run out, the Etsy Support response was :-

"Thanks for reaching out to us here at Etsy.  To clarify, if (JAF) reaches out to our team, her note will be made visible on your account.  However, that note will only be visible by Etsy Admin and unfortunately will not be able to be viewed on your public profile.

Again, when the review option expires on a transaction, sadly it cannot be reinstated.  I hope you understand.

I have been in touch with (JAF) today and recorded their wonderful review on your account.  I hope you find this resolution to be satisfactory.

We're glad to hear you are such a valued member of the Etsy Community! "

(The actual message contained JAF's email contact details:  for the purposes of this post, I have substituted them for the initials - Isobel).

Agatha Buchanan Wolf, with bonnet
JAF's  most recent contribution to this saga is as follows: 

"Dear Sirs,

  I wanted to make certain my positive experience is reflected somehow in her shop as her work is exceptional and I will be a repeat customer. Her craftsmanship, the quality of her product, her willingness to take on new challenges and overall communication were beyond expectation. She allowed me to substitute components and whole-heartedly stepped up to meet my needs. I could not be more pleased with the final results. She is truly an outstanding seamstress and businesswoman. Please relay my sincere gratitude for her efforts so that it can be seen by potential buyers on Etsy. Thank you."

What a Review!!  I couldn't be happier with it - but what to do next? The more folk who can see it, obviously the better it will be for the future of   Well having obtained the agreement of Etsy Support to use to publish it verbatim, and encouraged so to do by JAF,  this post is the result. 

In the interim, I have recently joined LinkedIn and a Group called the Etsy Professional Shop Owners.  (As if I don't have enough social media responsibilities already!).  They have a thread - very vocal it is too - which has concentrated on the difficulties involved in getting/giving reviews under the current Etsy arrangements.  Many of the discussion threads repeat my own frustrations - and I have promised to keep them updated as to what happens (or not!) to my specific predicament.  Thus once I've completed the usual promotions associated with this post (on my various Etsy Team Threads, Facebook, Twitter etc.) I shall be posting the link to this post on the LinkedIn site too.

Hopefully it will help to provide comfort/relevant information to potential CUDDLIES buyers as well as to those of us on Etsy who struggle to cope with the current Review system.  You may rest assured that both JAK and I will make sure that any future transactions between us are carried out via the Custom Order route.  Remember
the same time limit for giving a Review remains - the Etsy estimated time of arrival of the goods at the intended destination and 60 days after that - will still apply.

There are many good things associated with one's relationship with  But there are many frustrations too.  My main bugbear (I'm not alone, incidentally!)  is their habit of changing things (allegedly for a better Seller experience!) just as I get used to doing things and the way those changes can be implemented without any warning (unless, of course, one inhabits the many forums that Etsy organise for just such a purpose!).

Thank goodness, many of the Etsy teams to which I subscribe have Leaders/Members who are alert to these changes, and I get to know that way via their pleasantly time-consuming Chat Threads.  But in the interim:  anyone know how to conjure another 24 hours to each day?

Hope everyone is having a great day!  Isobel 

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic