Wednesday, 7 October 2015

A Polly & Betty catch up

Last weekend was a quiet one for us, so a chance to don walking shoes and enjoy some Autumn sunshine at Cobtree Manor Country Park with our girls ...

Little Betty is now almost five months old and a happy, cheeky little soul.  She is so much fun and I am constantly amazed by how fast she learns new skills.  Having a big sister to look up to has definitely helped Betty master the basics quickly, but even without Polly's guidance, this little girl is very switched on, constantly impressing me with a sweet-faced eagerness to please and a lovely natural enthusiasm.  Betty and I enrolled at Obedience School together recently and I am delighted to tell you, she is already proving herself to be as bright as a button.

As for my beautiful Polly (now two and a half years old), she will soon be undertaking a spot of 'urban training'.  I thought it might benefit her (and me) to join a small group which trains in real life situations, so we have signed up with an ex-guide dog instructor and our first walk is going to take place right through the centre of our busy local town, which should certainly put our obedience skills to the test!

Two such lively young girls keep me on my toes as you can imagine, but they do enjoy a snooze or two every day, so don't worry, there's still time for my bear-making.  In fact, I am currently working on a little Halloween teddy bear for my website and am hoping to finish the Halloween Prim Dolly Doodle I started a while ago.  Speaking of which, I'd better sign off and get to work ... Halloween is fast approaching!!!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Excellence in Bear Artistry

The 2015 announcements have been made today and I am delighted to tell you, my 'Mr Moonshine' is among the select few honoured with a prestigious ... 

'Excellence in Bear Artistry - Judges Choice Award'!

So, right now, I will take a quiet moment to enjoy my success and give thanks that after twenty long years of making bears, they are still appreciated ... something in this fast moving creative industry, I never ever take for granted!

The next stage of the competition is the public vote.  If you would like to cast votes for your favourite teddy bear from each category, please visit the EBAA website by clicking the link below:


Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Deja vu!

You may be experiencing a little 'deja vu' at the sight of this fine fellow, but you can rest assured it is simply because he is a limited edition shop exclusive teddy bear and the third bear of his series!


 I am delighted to be able to tell you, 'Dustin' No.3 will be making his way to 'The Bear Shop' in Norwich tomorrow.


Friday, 25 September 2015

Some Blackberry Crumble

An Autumn memory ... before my youngest sisters were born, Dad would take me and my sister Fiona along the lane near our house to gather blackberries at this time of year.  We carried pails to fill with good intentions, but of course ate more than we saved and arrived home with telltale purple juice stains around our lips and probably bellyache too!

Blackberrying with Grandad

Stuart and I have always enjoyed walking in the countryside with his grandson at this time of year, foraging for blackberries along the way.  When he was little it was fun to show him fruit didn't have to arrive covered in polystyrene trays!  We're looking forward to 'fruity foraging' with our younger grandchildren too, just as soon as they are tall enough to reach the berries safely ... 

13" Blackberry Crumble

For me, Autumn is very much a time for being outdoors with family.  I guess the beauty of childhood memories is that the best ones can frame what  becomes important in our future ... and in my case, can fill teddy bears with happy memories too! 

I finished 'Blackberry Crumble' today.
 I hope he makes you think happy Autumn thoughts.


Update: Blackberry Crumble has been adopted!

Monday, 21 September 2015

Parental Advisory

It's been said before I know, but it bears repeating: new mums should be given a precautionary notice when first they take those precious little bundles into their arms.  Something along the lines of: 'Advisory: On loan'!

There was a feature about 'Empty Nest' syndrome on TV this morning and as I drank my first coffee of the day, I found myself murmuring in sympathy with the mums interviewed, whilst pondering my own job as a mum; after all, let's be honest, nothing really prepares you for the news your work is done, does it?  I don't mind admitting I found the rising panic and intense sense of loss, tough to handle both times.  Waving Anthony off first, followed by his sister Fay a short while later, with a smile and my blessing, was probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. 'Independence Day' always seemed a vague horizon away, I really wasn't ready for it to actually arrive on my own doorstep ...

But now, both my kids have homes of their own, good jobs, lovely life partners and in the case of my son, a family too.  We share time often and have evolved a whole new grown-up 'us', which is very special to me.  It took a while, but I did eventually come to accept that my grandson's beautiful smile and my son and daughter's independent happiness, are a fair exchange for all the years I shared with them at home.  Naturally there are times when I miss their noise and banter, but even so I wouldn't change a thing ... they earned their independence and so did I!


Saturday, 19 September 2015

Dish of the day!

I couldn't resist naming this little mushroom coloured fellow 'Stroganoff' ... after all, it is the season for dusting off the stockpot to make yummy casseroles and stews!

16" Stroganoff

He hopped straight off my website shortly after I popped him on yesterday evening.  It seems Stroganoff is a very popular dish!

Friday, 18 September 2015

Dear Dad,

Dear Dad,

That fateful September morning when the 'phone rang and our world stopped turning was five years ago today.  Wherever you are, I hope you know we five 'girls' still talk about you often and the words 'Dad would have ...' punctuate our conversation, whenever we are together.

Needless to say, when we are together, we are every bit as loud as ever we were!  Fo 'n Simon invited us to celebrate their wedding in true Hoppé style this year and their special day reminded each one of us of the importance of making more time to spend together ... there is nothing quite like a dance floor and disco tunes to bring sisters together!

Naturally, everyone is busy with their own life these days, but as you always said, it is important not to forget that family is what truly counts in life, so maybe we need to try not to allow quite as much time to slip through our fingers in future ...

Your grandchildren are all doing really well ... yes, all ten of them. They are such a fine crop!  From youngest to oldest, you can rest assured they have all turned out to be vibrant, independent achievers, bright, compassionate, beautiful and interesting. They are so much fun to be around and most definitely grandchildren to be proud of! I think the last picture of the ten of them together, was taken in your garden a good few years ago, so perhaps we should update that, as they are all growing up so fast! Your Great Grandchildren are also beginning to explore the world ... I am sure little Toby will take his first solo steps any day now and would you believe, young Ella has just started nursery school! Fo and I are so proud of this precious pair.

Five years on and I still miss our chats Dad.  Most of all though, I miss being able to sit down quietly with a cuppa, just making make sense of life with you.

Time heals as the saying goes, but it doesn't fill the space.

Love always,

PJ xxx

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

A Changing Season

I have several new bears in the proverbial pipeline, but as we didn't find time for a holiday this Summer, I decided to put work on the back burner last week and instead, enjoy some early Autumn walks with family and our goldie girls, Polly and Betty.

A special little man was left in my care on Friday and I couldn't have been more delighted to have his company on our first walk together in Mote Park.  I have very happy memories of walking with his daddy and auntie in this very park thirty years ago!

When his mummy returns to work in the next couple of months, Toby and I will be spending a day together each week.  I am so looking forward to switching off from the rest of the world on those precious days and just being Nana.

Stuart and I took off to Leybourne Lakes for a walk with Polly and Betty on Sunday.  The lakes looked beautiful bathed in early Autumn sunshine, so much so, Polly couldn't resist a quick dip.  She's a pretty good swimmer it transpires!

The weather was mixed when we took the girls to Riverside Country Park in Gillingham earlier in the week.  Warm sunshine as we walked along the coastline to start with, then our very own black cloud overhead all the way back to the car!  Thankfully it didn't actually rain. I always enjoy this walk with its starkly contrasting landscape - natural shoreline to one side and a power station on the other.  Polly and Betty loved following all the new scents and had great fun splashing in huge rain water puddles on the jetty.

We also took fun daily dog walks from our doorstep, through the local fields and woodland ... while we still can.  Sadly developers have recently been granted permission to build houses on our favourite field and others in the vicinity.  This will alter the landscape forever, threatening the natural environment dramatically.  It breaks my heart to see all the contractors vehicles driving along our sleepy lane, making ready to destroy yet another significant chunk of local countryside, in the so-called name of 'progress'.

As Autumn touches the land with gold and fills our countryside with wild berries and sweeping grasses, it seems to me, this most spectacular season will be granted one final blaze of glory before Winter this year, but thanks to man's unerring greed, it is unlikely we will witness the tender touch of Spring on this beautiful area again.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

A hint of Autumn

There's a hint of Autumn creeping into our days here in the UK, evenings are darker and farmers busy harvesting wheat.  Our local field was harvested a few days ago, much to the confusion of Polly and Betty ... one day the wheat was tall, waving gloriously in a warm Summer breeze, the next, stubby and prickly against their tummies!

It is such a lovely time of year to create teddy bears.  Inspiration comes easily as our countryside bears fruit and slips towards the spectacular golden tones which herald the change of season ... 

'Harvest' is my tribute to Autumn.  

Autumn is tinged with mixed emotion for me, as it embraces memories of both loss and happiness.  Nevertheless, I love the passion of this most golden season and its final dramatic flare before the dull grey of our English Winter.


Harvest is now available for adoption.
Please visit my website for further details:

Update: Harvest has been adopted!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Little Miss Betty Boo

My favourite kinda Sunday ... we took a walk down to the ancient megalith at Kits Coty with our girls at the weekend and it was so peaceful!

Betty, now 14 weeks old, has settled in beautifully and is fast becoming a superb companion dog.  She is a busy little pup, always sniffing, playing, exploring and stealing slippers.  She is also wonderfully obedient and eager to please, so  long may that continue!  I am constantly enchanted by how quick to learn and affectionate my new puppy girl is, completely true to the wonderfully 'biddable' reputation earned by this fabulous breed.  

Polly is proving herself to be an excellent big sister to Betty and a surprisingly calm teacher too.  We have started work on basic obedience training both in the garden and also on our daily walks and it seems that both girls appear to be learning from one another.  Polly taught Betty how to sit and lay down when asked and how to walk in a reasonably straight line on the lead without tripping Mum over, whereas Betty taught Polly to speed up her recall if she wants to share Mum's tasty treats!

They love to play together and even though she is still very small, Betty isn't in the least bit overwhelmed by her big sister ... in fact Betty is usually the instigator of  wrestling matches and daft games of 'bitey face'.

We are having so much fun now that Betty is old enough to come out on short walks with us.  It is a true joy to watch her and Polly dashing around so playfully together in the late Summer sunshine.

Welcome to our family little Betty Boo ... and by the way, where have you hidden my slipper this time?!

Monday, 24 August 2015

Quality time..

My daughter and I sat in static traffic on the M2 motorway during Saturday afternoon, thwarted in our attempt to reach the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury in time to see 'Dirty Dancing'. Unfortunately, what should have taken no more than forty five minutes, instead took a bum numbing three and a half hours due to a serious road traffic accident.  The road ahead was closed by the police, so we passed time listening to music, whilst chatting about life, the universe and everything between, as mums and daughters are apt to do. We were shocked to watch as several less calm drivers bypassed the stationary traffic by slipping along the hard shoulder, seemingly unconcerned about the risk of blocking emergency vehicles.  How people can be so recklessly selfish, is totally beyond my comprehension.

My daughter, parked outside the Marlowe Theatre at last!

We eventually arrived in Canterbury, too late for the first half of the show and as Fay is diabetic and I was just plain ol' hungry, we needed to find an eatery rather urgently.  Instead of the restaurant meal we had planned, we were eternally grateful to a tiny branch of 'Subway' in Canterbury High Street, where a friendly chap served us tasty torpedo rolls, filled with spicy Italian sausage, gerkins and mayo. With only a few minutes until the show's second half, we camped out on the steps of the theatre like a pair of hobos to eat, just grateful we'd arrived safely at last, hunted down food and found a place to eat it.

As soon as we took our seats for the second half of the show, it became clear the row behind us was determined to be rowdy, but the iconic 'nobody puts Baby in the corner' finale was such great fun, it successfully drowned out their noise and we enjoyed a sparkling performance of Patrick Swayze's iconic final dance scene.

There is no doubt sometimes plans just don't work out.  Poor Fay had a nightmare train journey from her house to meet me and as the M2 was still snarled late into the evening, our journey both to and from Canterbury was dreadful, but absolutely none of that mattered because it was lovely to spend time with my daughter this weekend, simply doing our thing, in our own sweet, traffic encumbered way.  When your kids move out into their independent lives, quality time together becomes all the more precious.


I can't help but think 'there but for the grace of God go I and my family' when I hear of a serious accident ahead on the road.  Traffic jams shouldn't be an excuse for impatience, or taking selfish chances on the road, they are a glaring reminder to all travelers that someone on the road ahead may not have been so lucky.  It's all too easy to forget what's really going on when travel plans are inconvenienced.

Take care all xxx

Thursday, 13 August 2015

1940's Glamour

My supplier described this mohair as looking like it walked straight out of a 1940's Hollywood movie ... how very apt!

I had a notion such stunning, sleek, stylish mohair would make a sophisticated girl teddy and hope I have proved my theory with 'Constance', a fabulous 22" girl, guaranteed to bring elegance to any room.

This lovely teddy bear girl has been a joy to make and it is now time now for her to seek new horizons with a special someone ...

Further details can be found on my website:

Update: Constance has been adopted.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Big Hugs

There will always be days when comfort from a teddy bear may be needed ... and of course, the bigger the hugs, the better.

Introducing Otto.

He's big.

Update: Otto has been adopted 


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

A new arrival!

The roses have been so beautiful this year ... a moment to enjoy these most radiant of flowers is perfume for the soul.  Sitting in my deckchair, with sun warming my skin as my dogs play tug together on the lawn, has been a joy since Polly's little sister Betty came to live with us just over a week ago. 

At nine weeks old, she is the prettiest and cheekiest of puppies, full of fun, mischief and love.  She and Polly have quickly become good friends, eating, sleeping and playing boisterously together.  As you can imagine, my bear crafting time has been considerably interrupted by this sweet new arrival, so for the time being, I will need to steal creative moments while she naps!

So, new teddy bears may be slow to appear in the weeks to come, but please bear with me ... I have succeeded in cutting out and pinning a big traditional boy bear from beautiful gold mohair this week, so progress is being made, albeit at a leisurely pace.  In fact, both my girls are fast asleep while I write, so I will sign off now and tiptoe up to my sewing machine ... 


Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Congratulations Mr & Mrs Winter!

My sister Fiona's marriage to her long term partner Simon, took place last Saturday.  The service was held in a quaint village church, which has stood fast for many centuries a few steps along the road from their home. The bride and groom opted for a relaxed stroll in the warm sunshine to Church, Fiona's designer heels carried chivalrously by husband-soon-to-be Simon, as she clomped elegantly alongside him in cheery red wellies, clasping a delightful bouquet of sunflowers and red roses.  They looked picture perfect as they arrived to the celebratory peal of St. Giles' church bells.  

The ancient church was filled to capacity with family and friends eager to help Fiona and Simon tie their knot and the congregation looked fabulous in bright, summery outfits, exactly as Fiona had requested. 

Guests arriving at St. Giles

The planning of Fo 'n Simon's wedding has been very much a family affair. One of my favourite pre-wedding tasks was to visit St Giles with my son, daughter-in-law-to-be and Grandson, on the day before the ceremony, to tie children's wellies planted with flowers to the end of each pew. The rows of brightly coloured boots looked absolutely gorgeous as bride and groom walked down the aisle together.  After the service, guests collected the wellies and carried them back to decorate the newlyweds' garden reception.

My son and his beautiful family

There were many 'Wormshill Wedding Committee' planning and preparation meetings during the months prior and no detail was overlooked. In truth, there were moments when we wondered if everything could possibly be achieved in the time available, but with a concerted family and friends' effort, no detail was overlooked. The result was a wonderfully colourful, crafted celebration, with hand painted signage leading guests to the event, hand made garden decorations, invitations, flower arrangements, order of service cards and of course, a hand made teddy bear guestbook. There were even hand decorated glitter champagne flutes with which to toast the happy couple! The official photography was provided courtesy of our sister Tina and garden lighting, marquee and gazebo construction and a superb hand crafted cocktail bar, were erected thanks to the combined building and electrical skills of the men in our family.  Stages designed and built by Groom Simon and his team of family helpers provided flooring for a live band to play our favourite 70's disco tunes and later, for my niece's DJ friend to ensure the music continued through to the wee small hours, so newlywed's and guests could continue to dance the night away on the smart black and white checked dance floor.

Pre-wedding drinks at the Ringlestone Inn, with Fay and Neil

My husband Stuart and I were asked to give readings during the wedding service - Stuart's from the 'Song of Solomon' and mine from AA Milne's 'Winnie the Pooh' (I think I had the easier part of that deal!) So on the day, we left early with my daughter and her boyfriend because traffic reports were threatening another nightmarish day of 'Operation Stack'.  Thankfully our journey was unexpectedly clear and we arrived in the village with plenty of time to spare, so put it to good use in the Ringlestone Inn's lovely garden. A little Dutch courage soon eased away my pre-reading nerves and I am relieved to say, our speeches to the congregation were surprisingly word perfect!

My boys, collecting up the wellies

Meandering back to the garden reception to celebrate

The Church service was a wonderful beginning to Fo 'n Simon's married life, reminding us all of the solemnity of marriage vows and the meaning behind them, but there was also laughter, song and an important sense of family togetherness throughout the ceremony.

The newlyweds wedding dance

After the solemnity of Church, a celebration into the wee small hours, the best way we knew how! So much colour, music, laughter and love, a garden blooming with happiness for the new Mr & Mrs Winter ... and as a thank you to their many guests, a fabulous first dance, in true Hollywood style!

Not only is Simon now my sister's husband, he is also Stepdad to my two nieces and Grandad to my Great niece Ella, on top of which he has been a great friend to me and my family over the past decade; so I would like to mention how delighted I am to have Simon as my official brother-in-law at last! Not so much a welcome to the family, more a recognition of all you have quietly done for our family over the years ... you have always been a part of it.

And my family pic above, for this post not about me, my kids and my little Grandson, instead a nod to Dad and his presence on my sister's special day. Dad loved their home in Wormshill and the candle and glass of red hanging from the tree branch at the bottom of the garden, was their wedding day tribute to him. He would have loved the celebrations and just like his daughters, would have danced the night away given half a chance, but more importantly, he would have been so happy to see his daughter Fiona, married to his good friend Simon.

So to bring this special post to a conclusion ...

Congratulations Mr & Mrs Winter!
Here's to your future together, 
may it be filled with everything your Wedding Day shared with us, 
colour, fun, happiness, family, friendship and love ... 
and in the words of Pooh bear,

“Oh, Bear!” said Christopher Robin. “How I do love you!” 
“So do I,” said Pooh.” 

AA Milne
Giles the Guestbook Bear


Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Talkin' 'bout my generation

A while ago my daughter went to a gig with a girlfriend who commented how surprised she was by the more 'mature' audience - my daughter gently pointed out that just because years creep up on a person, their passion for live music and the right to enjoy it doesn't have to end ...

Sir Elton John
Detling Showground
31st May 2015

Before I became a mum my first job was in London, the heart of the 'Music Industry'.  I was responsible for typing anything from invoices to envelopes (yawn!) pouring tea for my bosses, sticking stamps on aforementioned envelopes and generally making myself useful, but the highlight of my daily trek from Kent to London on British Rail, wasn't to work in an office, it was to watch live music in the evenings.  The acts I saw were diverse: up and coming pop rock hopefuls on tiny stages in smokey London pubs, angry punks at Finsbury Park's famous Rainbow Theatre, a mellow yellow Donovan at The Royal Festival Hall ... whatever the act, if there was a ticket or pass available, I would be watching eagerly from the crowd.

Legends of Rock: 
Kaiser Chiefs, Paul Weller and The Who at Hyde Park.
26th June 2015

That was over thirty years and my now fully fledged family ago; if someone had told me then how fast the years fly, I would never have believed them ... back then, time was simply a moment to live in.


After a great night out remembering when we were young with Elton John back in May, my husband and I, now creaking slightly into our fifties and prone to being overly organised and a little too responsible, dusted ourselves down on my daughter's orders and travelled by train to London's Hyde Park, to stand in a leg aching crowd of 65,000 beer and cider swilling fans for over five hours, for the sole purpose of listening to half-century legends of rock The Who talking 'bout their generation.  We also witnessed 'Changingman' Mr Paul Weller woo the crowd with his elite brand of uber cool and the fabulous 'I predict a riot' Kaiser Chiefs, rock it out above and beyond their call of duty. (Incidentally, let it be said if ever someone ought to still be rocking it out in fifty years' time, front man Ricky Wilson should be the man for that job ... what a performer!!!)

I love that age proves no barrier to great musicianship and I also love that crowds gather to share the music which first pounded their youthful hearts several decades ago, but after our Hyde Park excursion, I openly confess to shocked joints (and no I don't mean the kind wafting on the breeze!) screaming for hot baths and Epsom salts.  Next time we feel the urge to remember when we were young, our ticket criteria may well involve seating because young at heart or not, mid life aches are now the signature tune to 'my generation baby'!


Monday, 22 June 2015

Best Ever Dads

It was Father's Day yesterday and for the fifth year in a row, my four sisters and I either metaphorically, or actually, steered ourselves steadfastly past neat rows of 'Best ever Dad' cards displayed in local supermarkets, towards the relief of a more mundane challenge, that of selecting cold meats and cheese ...

The passage of time paints polite smiles on our faces, smiles which if you look closely, probably don't quite reach our eyes in the way they used to when you were here at the heart of us ... 

Dad, we miss you still xxx

But it's true, life does go on and for the first Father's Day in five years, I had a heartfelt smile in my eyes yesterday ...

My son's first Father's Day.
He is a super Daddy and I am so proud of him.

Happy First Father's Day Anthony.
With Much Love always,
Your Muva xxx

Friday, 19 June 2015

Memories of Summer

A fleeting memory of when I was a very young girl; waiting in the car with my sisters at the petrol station while Dad filled the tank and mum bought freesias for our Gran ... such a pretty scent!

Introducing 'Freesia', a Summer clown teddy bear, filled with the warmth of nostalgia.

Happily, 'Freesia' has been adopted.

Wishing you all a beautiful Summer, full of happy memories!



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