Sunday, 23 August 2015

As Promised - Showing where the Cuddlies used to live

Hello there Everyone - it's Cy Bear back again somewhat surprisingly, and this time, I'm not chatting to you all about my fellow Cuddlies, but about where I used to live before Isobel and I moved to Nottinghamshire.  Amazingly, it is a year ago this week that this happened.  Isobel did promise to show you some pictures of the place, so this is what this week's bulletin from the Cuddlies is all about.

There has got to be a reason, I can hear some of you thinking to yourselves (as a Bear, that's what I think happens when human beings do what they do).  Well there is.  An amazing thing happened to one of the Cuddlies this week, and it's not yet over.  The eventual outcome will happen next week, So Isobel (and I, because of course I get consulted), decided that we'd wait until the whole story could be told all in one go.

So, as promised here are some pictures of The Hospital of St. John, with an explanation of what it now is in the text  (printed in blue).  It is taken from the brochure about the establishment for would-be residents.

"The Hospital of St John is situated in the heart of the village of Heytesbury. It is not a Hospital in the medical sense, but in the mediaeval meaning of the word as a ‘Hostel’. Although it was founded in 1472 and has provided accommodation for those needing it ever since, there is nothing mediaeval about it today."

This picture shows the oldest part of the Hospital - which has blocks of flats, bungalows and studio flats surrounded by gardens.  These buildings have been in situ since 1764, and form the front entrance to the complex.  The white flagpole on the left of the picture flies the Union Jack on appropriate occasions throughout the year (both for National commemorations, as well as local ones too).  (The original building for the Hospital was at the other end of the Village to it's current location, but was burned down in the 1760's to be replaced with the current structure.  There have been additions in the 1970's, which is where Isobel and I lived - built at the rear of this building.)

A closer shot of the Clock, which chimes on the hour, and the Coat of Arms of the Heytesbury family who originally set up the Charity to look after workers on the Heytesbury estate in 1472  - or thereabouts.  The family still has associations with the village, and direct descendants are currently resident in Australia.  (Sorry the picture is slightly skewed - but Isobel was taking it in a bit of a hurry!)  

If any one is interested, a brief history of the place can be seen by Googling "The Hospital of St.John and St. Katherine, Heytesbury".  Until the 1950's, there were 12 gentlemen and 1 lady resident (the Cook and Housekeeper)  - in the charge of a Custos, and the men regularly paraded to the Village Church in the uniforms they were provided with when they became residents.  There are still folk in the village, Isobel tells me, that remember this well.

"There is a small staff headed by an Administrator, who is responsible to the Trustees for the smooth running of the Hospital, and the pastoral interests of Residents are undertaken by two Chaplains, one of whom is resident. Staff are on hand to deal with emergencies and give limited support in the event of temporary sickness of any Resident. Home helps, ‘meals on wheels’, private carers and the services of the district nurse and social services are, of course, available in the normal way.

This shows one side (the east facing one) of the complex - although it does go back a bit further than the camera angle allowed.  The wall surrounding the garden and buildings is listed - which made for difficulties when - because of modern transport and sheer old age - parts of it began to bow outwards. In 2014, when surveyors came to decide how to cope with the problem they also blamed the shrubs and holly bushes that had been planted innocently, but whose roots were undermining the wall. So, the decision was taken to remove them, while the wall was restored by specialist contractors.   While residents affected were initially somewhat dismayed, when they suddenly realised how much light had been kept out, the culling was eventually welcomed.

This shows the western frontage (at the front of the complex - taken from where Isobel stayed when she recently visited Wiltshire, and where the stories about Berry, the Lurcher and her two feline Friends, Merlin and Pelinore were based - our post on 09/08/2015).

The white building on the right of the picture is The Angel Inn, one of two traditional English pubs in the village - where the portions are huge and the prices similarly high!  However, it was most convenient to be able to take one's visitors over, if one didn't feel like providing hospitality oneself.  The Angel has it's own history as a coaching inn - and one can see where the coaches were driven in (not in this picture though!) when travellers were journeying between the south Coast (Southampton being the nearest big spot), via Salisbury and Bath, through to Wales and the West Country.

(The gardens shown in the front of the picture are actually allotments - tilled by some more active residents, and also the Garden Committee, who undertake to provide the flowers for the Chapel.  I understand from Isobel that they do a great job.)

"The House Supervisor is on duty Monday-Friday during normal working houses. She is not qualified to carry out nursing duties; her duty is to be ‘a good neighbour’. No nursing care or administration of drugs is permitted. Proposed residents requiring more than this degree of attention would be better served by a residential care home or a nursing home.

The Hospital comprises attractive one or two bedroomed flats and bungalows, all of which are particularly suited to the needs of retired or elderly people. The dwellings are self-contained and centrally heated. Residents bring their own furniture.

The view from our living room one Spring day.  

Where Isobel recently stayed  - the other side shown in the picture above
"The Hospital is run under a charitable scheme and is non-profit making. Residents are required to make a contribution toward the cost of their accommodation and there is also a charge for the heating and hot water. (The cost of living at St John’s is within the means of those whose only income is a state pension).

The residents' Hall
"Some communal facilities are provided, they include a Hall where social functions are held, and a Residents’ Social Group organises events and outings. Residents are under no obligation whatsoever to be more sociable than they feel inclined. There is a Chapel where regular services are held. Other facilities include a limited number of garages for rent, a Guest Room, a composite TV licence for all dwellings, and a laundry room.

The Hospital is set in pleasant grounds and the village Post Office cum shop is just along the road. Buses serve Warminster, Bath and Salisbury."

Here is another shot of the view from the living room window, and if you look closely, you can see the Village Church (which has a full peal of bells, which regularly practice during the summer months).

A picture taken at, or around, the same time as the Spring pictures shown earlier in one of the cherry trees shown earlier.  With that, I'll end for this week.  Hoping that everyone has a good week and that preparations for "Back to School" are well in hand.

Your friend

Cy Bear

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Starting Afresh - First Cuddly with a New Look

Goodness gracious me - but it is such a long time since I've been able to talk to you - Cy Bear back with you again!

As the title of this post indicates, we at Coldham Cuddlies are thinking of starting afresh in various ways.  Jogged into action by Isobel's recent differences with her computer, we've joined a new Team on - called Friends R Us, and from all accounts it's going to keep Isobel busy, as well as hopefully raise the Cuddlies profile at the tame time.  (There's a lot of daily supporting each other that goes on, and lots of Treasuries and things involved as well). The Shop is going to be re-jigged, beginning with new titles and new tags - if and when there is time for it happen that is.  Finally, but actually most importantly, new Cuddlies will be coming in to the Shop (  I'll qualify that last statement by saying that perhaps they won't ALL be brand new specimens, but different versions of old favourites - just like our Frog, which Isobel has been working with over the past few days.

He's made from the same pattern used to make our previous Green Frogs - who have had either light green undersides or orange ones in the past - and Isobel has decided to another multiple offer.  This one has been listed  in the Shop earlier this week under this link -

(Alas, pictures of our original Green Frogs are not currently available, I don't think - until Isobel has a chance to look at the photographs she did back up, well before the computer crashed a couple of weeks ago.  Otherwise, because she's enjoying making these guys at the moment, it may mean she makes a couple of the Green ones again - but I do know the fabric for them is running out, so that may be ALL she can do in that particular colour format.)

In case the link doesn't work, I'm going to show you some other views of this fellow - which Isobel has found a lot easier to work with this time around.  She'd realised that it was in fact easier to follow the instructions given in the pattern - TO THE LETTER - rather than make him the way she THOUGHT was even better!!   (It wasn't actually!)

 It's resulted in almost three versions of Mr. Frog being made in 10 days or so of evening sewing.  One remains to be stuffed:  the other is in the throes of being put together.  As you must realise, in effect Isobel has to make each one twice, then sew the limbs on to the body, and then sew the underside to the rest of the body after that. 

She's  hopeful that all three will be ready to be offered for sale by the middle of the coming week, because she's not going to be living in two different places from now on.  Clare and Alan have been busy getting to know and cope with their adoptive son in the last 12 days or so, and it's meant that at times Isobel has been staying up the road with their dog and two cats - feeding them at regular intervals and walking the canine too.  We are all hoping that as of this week, Little Person will be allowed home for good and can carry on getting settled - as he's shown every sign of doing to date.  Isobel can then spend all day at home, because for the next few weeks, no one is allowed near the house to enable the parent/child bonding process to strengthen.  So far so good:  and everyone can't wait until some sort of  "normality" can be achieved.

Meanwhile, here is a close up of Mr. Frog to end this post.

Hope to be back with you again next week - it will depend on what Isobel's sewing and other plans end up achieving.  Meanwhile, have a great week everyone. 

Your friend, Cy Bear.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Some other Animals of my acquaintance.

Hello there Everyone:

As promised last week when I bemoaned my stupidity in handling my "trusty" computer (or should that be MIS-handling?), this week has not been as fraught,  I've been pleasantly surprised to find that somehow on sites like One Drive I seem to have got some more pictures of former Cuddlies that might prove useful in the future.  Also, on Friday night, while surfing (a VERY DANGEROUS occupation as folks will realise in view of my proclivity towards clicking on buttons without realising what will happen next), I made another lovely discovery - some files that will be even more useful.

Among the finds was the fact that,  somehow, the list of nearly  ALL of the  80+ different  Cuddlies included in the shop ( was still available for use.  Now how come I managed to save these, and not the others which were in the same place on my computer, I will never know.  But no matter:  I have something to work with!!  Hurrah!

When moving north last year, I inadvertently discarded the typed version of this list, which included all the prices for each Cuddly and the Etsy Shop section in which they appear. (It had become very tattered and difficult to keep in once piece though).  It was invaluable when blogging,  allowing me to refer to the actual reference number for each Toy.  One of the jobs planned for the summer break was to re-do the list.  Now I only have to edit it, and add the newer Cuddlies that have appeared since the original was thrown out!  Except that I have to work out how to change the format in which it originally appeared (and is filed on One Drive) so that I don't lose all the elements in the interim!! Having got this far, am confident I shall find a way.

Now, to the other Animals I re-met during my recent trip back to Heytesbury.  They include one dog - a Lurcher named Blackberry, who answers fairly readily to "Berry", and two cats (who were mere kittens when I left a year ago) called Pelinore and Merlin.  The latter are two brothers, from the same litter, but one would never know it!

Talk about a guilty  look - but, for once, she did not actually have anything to be guilty about!  Berry when I knew her last year was still small enough to be able to JUST squeeze herself through the cat flap - and take off - often to the The Hospital of St. John, an almshouse complex of bungalows, apartments and studio flats for the more mature and where I had lived with Peter since 2008, until he died in 2012.  Not every resident was willing, or sometimes capable,  to entertain a puppy, so it was an interesting test of village neighbourliness in the early days!  I sometimes found myself called upon - because of my relationship with Widget - to catch Berry and return her home!

I  used to dog-sit Berry's predecessor - a Boston Terrier called Widget.  Unfortunately, Widget died earlier in 2014, and Berry was rapidly found to replace her.  Her owners have a number of grandchildren, who are regular visitors, and a dog is regarded as an indispensable part of the family when it comes to keeping them happy and occupied.

Berry's particular friend in the animal part of the family is Merlin - who is a cuddly armful of fur, who is never happier than when being fussed by his humans.  Unfortunately, he is also ready to play with anything that comes into his sights - and Berry on form, is hard to miss.  Because of the difference in size, Merlin often comes off worst in a play-game - and tends to look scruffier than his brother, Pelinore - who is a much more distant feline who definitely considers such rough and tumble goings-on to be beneath him.

This picture was taken before he launched himself at me - in a vain attempt to reach me and climb up onto my shoulder.  Regrettably, he does this often (usually choosing the rear of the target human), and his claws are remarkably adept at keeping him in place, once he has achieved his objective!)  Despite that, he's a very loveable little fellow and his purrs sound much louder than he looks capable of producing.

Merlin particularly enjoys licking Berry, who puts up with the attention for so long and then moves to stop the attention happening!  

The resulting fur grab, results in Merlin looking very shaggy and ruffled in his spinal region as  show in another view of Merlin, still with the look of choosing the area of human anatomy that he wants to land on - immediately!

And then, there is the aloof, Pelinore:

While Merlin is curled up in the background, Pelinore is about to get going on his daily rounds of the big garden in which his home is situated.  The birds and other small creatures are duly wary of his attention and when the weather is fine, Pelinore spends most of the day outside.  When he does condescend to come inside, he'll find a comfortable chair, bed or window sill on which to perch - and may, sometimes, be joined by his brother.  He's does not encourage cuddles or fussing - and does spend a lot of time preening his coat and keeping it in good order.  He's still a beautiful cat - with potential to grow into his fur, methinks.

"Now - what shall it do next?"

As with all Lurchers, Berry has a good turn of speed and loves to run up and down the long garden where she lives.  This final photo shows her getting ready for one such spin up and down her favourite paths.

Nowadays, as you will realise - Berry is only able to fit her head through the cat flap, which is her way of greeting anyone who comes to the back door.

Next week, as mentioned last week, I'll show you some recent pictures of  the Hospital of St. John taken during my visit there in July - and include some other shots of the garden there, which survived the computer meltdown.  

Until next week - have a good one, everyone.  Isobel.

PS:  These photographs would not have been available were it not for the friendship and hospitality extended by the animals' owner, Katherine and Mark Venning:  both with long time family connections to the Organ Building firm of Harrison & Harrison Ltd - details of which can be found by clicking here

Incidentally, Coldham Cuddlies have been adopted by the Venning family too.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

A salutary lesson learned - BEWARE of new computer programmes

Hello Everybody  - as Cy Bear is taking a well-earned rest this week (I mean two weeks on the trot could be described as hard work for this Beaver Lamb Ted), the post this week has been deemed to be my responsibility - with reason, perhaps.

After a potentially disastrous week vis a vis my computer (yes - yet again, I have had issues, but this time it's probably mostly my own fault - more later), I have spent most of this afternoon (when I normally work on the blog - with or without Cy Bear) trying to get re-organised,  So, while telling you about my computer woes, I'll illustrate this post with some photographs of the two Foxy Critters that didn't get shown last week. You may recall, there were four Cy Bear spoke about.  Three have been listed in our shop (  There is still one in draft format and the other has yet to be uploaded.  I promise that next week, I'll tell you about my recent Wiltshire trip, and include some photos of my canine and feline friends who have all grown up since I left just about a year ago!! That could account for two future posts - enabling me to get some Cuddlies replaced or newly made in the interim!

I am somewhat relieved to find that, actually, the disaster is perhaps not as bad as it could have been. It is all down to my ability to click on buttons without always realising the consequences - and it's time lessons were learned.

Our new Wolf dressed in Blue and White Printed Poplin
Thanks to an invitation to upload Windows 10,  I followed through - and now live to regret it!  SO BE WARNED EVERYONE!  Be very, very careful before you go down the route.  Admittedly, the programme is so new (having only been made available July 29) that the usual gremlins in any new computer software have still ALL to be ironed out.  But on the basis of thinking that having reserved my place in the waiting list, and the invitation having arrived (the day after the programme was offered to the public) the time was right, I went ahead on the basis that in the normal course of events, the current Windows 8.1 will eventually become unsupported by the great Microsoft engineers, so I might as well do it now rather than later.  BIG MISTAKE.

The installation began early evening, just as everyone in the UK was closing down - and since I don't know from which continent the actual process was being carried out from, it hadn't occurred to me that the techy guys I contact in times of crisis would not be available when needed.  All went well to begin with - and the evening meal was started

That was speedily curtailed (I'd almost finished) when what looked like the final stage was obviously not going to plan. My usual desk top picture on the screen began to behave like a mad thing - flashing on an off and when I tried to control it with mouse, cursor or any other thing that USUALLY works, nothing happened - except the flashing screen.  Alas, the computer's Help Desk had closed for the evening - so........

A speedy telephone call to my local Help Desk - also known as Son in Law - (who had advised me - though not as strongly as usual in such circumstances -  NOT to go with Windows 10) indicated that the computer was in for a long night (not to mention yours truly!).  Apparently one does NOT close down a madly performing computer in the middle of an upload, and so it wasn't until 0830 BST on Friday morning - on the dot - that contact was made with Hewlett Packard who made the computer (an HP Sleekback laptop, if any one is interested) and got the bad news that because the programme is so new, they hadn't yet developed reliable counter measures for such disasters!  A complete "Restore to Factory Default" setting was therefore prescribed - and needless to say, I hadn't backed up EVERYTHING to do with my personal settings - so have lost most of them.

Our new Coyote (the first Lady version) made with Chenille (new too)
Once the Restore mechanism had done it's stuff, I had to reapply as much as I could remember I usually use to operate the darn machine.  You know Browser(s), Skype (yet to be done), and so on. 

The computer was still having sporadic hissy fits, because it kept saying that I wasn't connected to the internet - although I'd already done that and got things done before it decided on that route - so I rang my reliable OnLineTechyGuyz and asked them to get me sorted with such important things.  By Friday evening operations were approaching "normal", although not at full speed - that's going to take some time to achieve, because I've got to find out what I was doing before this all happened!!  Technology is so fast and I'm getting increasingly slower - that alas I fear such hiccups are going to recur with increasing frequency.

Saturday was spent with the family (Philippa having joined us for the week-end) visiting a long time family friend, so not much computing was done yesterday. 

Our Fantasy Fox (listed already) from the rear view
Having spent this afternoon loading my devices back on and uploading pictures that were still on my camera (normally, they get deleted once I've uploaded them to the computer) I did find there were some for the Foxy Critters Cy Bear wrote about last week,  as well as the photographs taken when I was away in Wiltshire, so at least there will be something with which to illustrate this, while I'm on line at the moment.  

I wish I could say I've finally learned my lesson - but I THINK I've realised one doesn't upload a NEW piece of software when it is barely 24 hours old!!  There will undoubtedly be more mistakes to make as life goes on!!!

I'll end this post with another photograph of our latest, more traditional, Lady Fox Toy and - as mentioned before, I'll look forward to telling you about my trip to Wiltshire (and other news that will be happening last this week) at our normal posting time next Sunday.

This Toy was listed on Thursday - before the problems set in
Hope everyone has a really good week - and I'll try to keep on the straight and narrow internet path from now on.