Edward Explores: Autumn

After the excitement of his trip to London last month, Edward has been staying closer to home recently. The settled weather has enabled him to get out and about locally, something he enjoys immensely. Edward has been on woodland walks with friends and has helped in the garden with the apple harvest. It is still a tad early in the season for the trees to display their glorious autumn colours but the fungi are starting to emerge. Edward hopes to enjoy more of these fascinating organisms as the summer undergrowth retreats further.

 

On one woodland walk, Edward and his good friend, Taly, climbed some trees to enjoy the view. Woods are fine places to explore with all their fascinating plants and creatures rustling through tangled thickets, hidden but heard. At one village passed through they found a bear sized niche in a church wall to rest in. As always, people who walked by smiled when they saw the bears enjoying the sunshine. Teddies bring happiness wherever they go.

 

Tree climbing was also required when Chief Bearer requested apples for a warming crumble. Edward selected the finest of the fruit and then supervised preparation. It took a very long time for the dish to cook. Patience is not one of Edward’s many skills.

 

Edward is, however, an excellent cook. He especially enjoys taste testing finished creations. He tried the crumble with Greek yoghurt, cream, and then custard. The latter was declared his favourite.

With the nights drawing in, evening entertainments have mostly moved indoors. Edward has been teaching his friend Albert to play pool, a game he excels at. Albert’s paws managed the long cue with only a little assistance. Edward tends to forgo the need for this implement when taking his turn.

Edward hopes that all his readers are keeping well and finding time to partake in whatever pursuits bring them joy. He advises that all activities are even more fun when shared with a teddy bear.

Edward Explores: London in the time of Covid

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As mentioned in the last post in this occasional series for fellow teddy bear appreciators, Edward was very excited to be taken on an adventure that required a train journey earlier this month. He travelled to London where he hoped to visit several of his favourite attractions. Sadly, some were either closed to visitors or had restrictions in place that prevented entry. Nevertheless, Edward had an enjoyable couple of days away with his bearers and returned home with tales to tell his friends.

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On disembarking the train, Edward took pleasure in a lengthy walk across the city, through several Royal Parks and along the river. He passed Buckingham Palace where his good friend Elizabeth sometimes works. Men with guns stood outside so he decided not to get any closer. The place was notably quieter than the last time he was there.

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After such a long walk it was good to arrive at the hotel where Edward would be staying. It had a big bed and a view of passing trains and tall buildings. Our intrepid bear decided that a nap was in order and settled down to rest with the complementary cookies to help keep him going until dinner.

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Edward had hoped to visit St Paul’s Cathedral but it was closed. This seemed strange given it is supposed to be a place for worship and quiet contemplation. He perched on a sign that seemed appropriate. Why it was there remained a mystery.

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Shops were open so a few important purchases were made, selected after careful consideration and tastings. Edward likes Whittard, although was sure on his last visit he was also provided with biscuits.

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Edward understands how important it is to take time to refuel when on an adventure. The Ivy at Tower Bridge provided a delicious chocolate bombe that was much appreciated.

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Edward regretted that he could not gain access to the Tate Modern as it is such an interesting building to explore. Instead, he observed Extinction Rebellion protestors gathered on the lawn as they prepared to cross Millennium Bridge. The surrounding streets were clogged with a great number of police vehicles, one of which had been given a parking ticket. Edward did not appreciate their noisy helicopter overhead but enjoyed the protestors’ musical offerings.

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Before returning home, Edward had a chance to chat to his good friend Paddington who told him the return of visitors has been most welcome, although his station remains quieter than it used to be. Edward then enjoyed a small snack before boarding his train.

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Edward was sad to say goodbye to London but concluded it is probably not worth visiting again until everywhere reopens with a full welcome. He was pleased that the fine weather enabled the outdoors to be enjoyed – especially along the lively South Bank – when so many indoor venues proved uninviting.

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Elizabeth enjoyed catching up with all the news of her capital city. Even with limited access, Edward agreed it was good to go adventuring again.

Edward Explores: A Happy Birthday

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In last month’s post readers were told that Edward likes birthdays. His favourite birthday is his own, which he celebrated recently. It was decided that such a special day deserved its own post in this occasional series.

A reminder, Edward Explores is written for fellow teddy bear appreciators. If you are here purely for the books you may wish to come back tomorrow.

As Edward’s birthday is such an important occasion there was champagne and cake. Edward shares the date with Chief Bearer who had requested chocolate brownies be made. Robin, a bear adopted from the wonderful Flump Bear Care, helped Edward check their quality. After several sizable tastings they declared the brownies excellent.

edward birthday pic 1Birthdays also benefit from a delicious meal out, preferably in the company of favourite people. Edward was happy to be taken to one of his favourite restaurants. Naturally, he dressed for the occasion.

Deciding what to eat can be a challenge when there are so many tasty options to choose from. Edward decided to try: bread and butter pudding with custard, warm chocolate brownie with ice cream, and chocolate chip banana bread with ice cream. 

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After carefully considered (and repeated) tasting he opted for the brownie. It was that sort of day.

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Bears will normally be in bed by 8 o’clock but birthdays can require a later night, especially when they have involved so much rich food. Thus Edward had a recovery lie in the next day. He enjoyed a healthy breakfast incorporating the last of the brownies.

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Freshly energized and determined not to waste what time was still available, Edward decided that, as a thank you for his birthday dinner, he would make chocolate truffles for his bearers and friends. These were much appreciated.

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Since his birthday, Edward has been on another adventure, one requiring a train journey! As it has been such an exciting month there will be a second post to tell his readers all about it. He is very happy to be out and about again. 

Edward Explores: Eating out at his local pub

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Edward has been on an adventure this month, which pleased him greatly. With restaurants permitted to reopen after lockdown, enquiries were made at his local pub. Hurray! Restrictions have been lifted and customers are being made to feel welcome again. Younger bearer decided it was time to go out for his delayed celebratory birthday meal. Edward likes birthdays. 

Always eager to be appropriately dressed, Edward chose carefully based on the heavy rain that fell on the day selected for the outing. Thankfully, by the time everyone was ready to walk to the venue, clouds had cleared.

The friendly waiting staff offered a table by bookshelves, giving Edward an excellent vantage point from which to observe proceedings. Drinks were ordered along with a sharing platter. Edward was not entirely convinced this was for him.

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After a lengthy wait, during which Edward had time to peruse several books, more appealing portions were delivered. These looked very tasty.

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From chocolate brownie, biscoff cheesecake and sticky toffee pudding, Edward chose the brownie. He had to try quite a lot of each before coming to this decision. They were all delicious.

As well as eating out, Edward has welcomed two new friends who came to live with him. 

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Bungle is a rescue bear, spotted in a charity shop window and brought home to comfort youngest bearer who had been feeling a little down. Edward has never been able to understand how loyal and undemanding bears end up in such places but is pleased that Bungle – who provides excellent cuddles – has now been given a new forever home.

Oskar is a one of a kind bear from Susie’s Button Bears, purchased to celebrate a bearer’s new job. He mostly lives on her bookshelves along with some other bears from her extensive sleuth.

Edward hopes you are all keeping as well as is possible in these trying times. He is looking forward to further adventures while his bearers remain free to take him out and about again.

Edward Explores – Lockdown Life

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Welcome to another post keeping you up to date with how life is treating a small (but perfectly formed) teddy bear named Edward Gainsborough. When this series was introduced last month, Edward had been hoping to be out and about on exciting adventures by now. Sadly, the lifting of lockdown restrictions was postponed meaning he is still confined to his house and garden. He has, however, been working hard at keeping his bearers’ spirits up as much as is possible – a task teddies are particularly adept at.

When, for a brief period at least, the sun came out and temperatures rose, a cheering barbeque was requested. Edward enjoys barbeques. He and his good friend, Al (a build-a-bear companion made for youngest bearer) took their sunglasses and deck chair into the garden to watch an exciting table tennis match while food was cooked on flames – they stayed well back from those. Edward particularly enjoyed the chocolate stuffed banana he was given, eating it all up before it could be photographed – yum!

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It is always an exciting day when a new bear comes to live at Edward’s house. Helga (a Steiff bear from the Netherlands) brought with her a tulip and a small companion who had kept her company in the box they travelled such a long way inside. Edward introduced her to all her new friends, whose names she cleverly committed to memory. She is a lovely addition to the sleuth and gives excellent hugs.

When the weather turned damp, Edward suggested a pancake night – something that brings his bearers together, drawing them out from their private spaces within the house. They listened to music and talked about football, a sport Edward was to learn a great deal more about in the weeks ahead.

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With the need to find entertainments at home, the recent European football competition has provided a welcome distraction. Edward joined his bearers to watch the Scottish match, although that team’s supporting bears wanted to know where their flag was. They also wondered how to turn the big television on – in their excitement they had arrived a tad early for kick-off. Teddy bears are, of course, very patient but were keen to learn what exactly footballers did and why this was so exciting.

Although Edward’s bearers shout a lot at the players – something a quiet bear would never do – he was pleased to note that they seem to enjoy themselves, especially when their team wins the match.

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There was also a birthday to celebrate this month, which required cake. The chocolate orange creation didn’t last long but was declared delicious by the young bearer it was made for. Edward agreed.

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More football was watched and goodies eaten in celebration of the England team’s continuing success. The bears enjoyed sharing the edible balls provided. They may need more time to master the skills required to make use of the one they were provided with to kick.

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Limited as they are to home entertainments, Edward is pleased to see his bearers interest in the sporting action, even if it is only on a screen. He wishes the England team good luck in the final. He is hoping a win might result in much joy for his bearers, and perhaps another celebratory cake.

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Edward Explores – An Introduction

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By quite some margin, the most read and shared post on my blog, year after year, is one I wrote in 2014: 10 Common Misconceptions About Teddy Bears. The very fine bear featured is called Edward Gainsborough. He is a small, jointed bear handmade by the now defunct English Teddy Bear Company. I believe the business was bought by Harrods who promptly closed it down – presumably to remove competition to sales of their own brand of delightful bears. I was saddened to see it go.

I recently received a message from a reader who asked if I still had Edward. Of course I do! And he still accompanies me on all my best adventures, even if these have been somewhat curtailed over the past year. The reader asked for more teddy bear content on the blog which prompted me to consider an occasional series. For my book loving readers who have no interest in bears, these posts will be clearly titled to ensure they may be ignored if desired.

Pictured above is Edward on a rock in Brecon, on the English / Welsh border. When the sun is shining he loves to be out and about (rain plays havoc with joints so is best avoided). Along with many people, he has missed going on his regular adventures. So what has Edward been doing during this time? Read on for the update requested.

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When the first COVID lockdown began it became obvious that people who were suddenly confined to their local areas and, perhaps, worried by the ongoing media frenzy, needed something to add cheer to their days. Teddy bears are, of course, ideal for such a task. The village where Edward lives organised a bear hunt – bears placed in street facing windows to wave at passers by as they took their daily exercise. Edward joined some of his Merrythought Bear friends who understood the importance of this enterprise.

edward and doctor snuggles

Unlike humans, teddy bears do not require exercise to remain healthy. Nevertheless, given the global concerns caused by the pandemic, Edward thought it best to have his heart checked by an expert. It was no surprise to anyone when Dr Snuggles (an upcycled bear from Susie’s Button Bears) declared that Edward has enough love for everyone. Teddy bears are always available to offer comforting hugs and listen to concerns without judgement. They truly are ideal companions.

edward hibernates

With few opportunities to travel, Edward has spent much of his time in bed. Naturally, a little sustenance is required from time to time to keep him in tip top condition. He prefers cake to bread, even sourdough. Although missing his visits to tea shops, he has remained cheerfully stoic and provided much solace to his resident bearers.

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To help pass the time, Edward has also been reading. He enjoys discussing stories with his friends, even those that do not involve his own exploits. This book is a particular favourite – one of three written by Mawson, an author bear who lives in Australia. As well as providing unconditional love, teddy bears often share wise thoughts if listened to carefully.

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In troubled times it is important to look for the positives. Celebrations may have been muted due to imposed restrictions but special occasions have still been enjoyed at home. Edward has joined his friends and adopted family to mark Christmas, birthdays and Easter. A teddy bear’s presence is always an asset, bringing as they do smiles and appreciation of the many simple pleasures available to all when looked for.

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Edward is hopeful that travel will again be permitted from later this month that he may venture further and, once again, explore our beautiful world with his bearers. He raises a glass to your good health and hopes you will return to read about wherever he goes next.

Bear Review: Shakespeare

 

Review of Shakespeare Bear

by Jackie Law, book blogger, writer and arctophile

P1020410There is little better than book post, except perhaps bear post.

Shakespeare arrived in a canvas, drawstring bag decorated with images of all his friends. He is dressed in a well made and attractive black doublet, trimmed with burgundy velvet and antique gold satin. His ruff has been hand folded from grosgrain ribbon; he sports a bottle green velvet, Elizabethan bonnet trimmed with a feather. As with all writers, he comes prepared to make notes when inspiration strikes. Historians are divided over whether The Bard wrote with his right hand or his left hand; this little bear carefully holds his quill in his left paw. In his right he carries a ribbon bound stack of three plays: Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet. Each is a properly bound book, although currently lacking words.

As with all Great British Teddy Bears, Shakespeare is fully jointed, has soft fur, an adorable expression, and is stuffed to a consistency perfect for cuddling. All of his clothes and accessories are removable. For the purposes of this review I decided to take him to London to visit a few of the landmarks associated with his namesake. As travel can be hazardous, I packed his books and quill separately.

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William Shakespeare was born 450 years ago.  Many of his plays were performed at the Globe Theatre.

Shakespeare Bear packed easily into the bag that I carried for our day out. He shared this with the usual, family paraphernalia: water bottles, snacks, books, toys, extra clothing. Despite being stored between my feet on the train, squished between commuters on the underground, pulled and pushed out of and into my bag for photo opportunities throughout the day, he remained looking dapper, undamaged and adorable. This is a robustly made bear that can be played with.

We got caught in a shower of rain from which I did my best to protect him. The slight dampness quickly dried out leaving no ill effects. Each time I posed him for a photograph, passers by would smile and occasionally remark on his good looks. He is a very handsome bear and enjoyed the attention.

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Shakespeare Bear sitting on his Book Bench. Later in the day, mulling the possibility of time travel.

What else can I tell you about this teddy? He is perfectly sized, being neither too big to transport easily nor too small to cuddle comfortably. He is well made and durable, the perfect companion for a child or an adult. The attention to detail and quality of construction on both bear and accessories are impressive.

We enjoyed our day in the city and Shakespeare now sits quietly on my desk, emanating the wisdom and love that make teddy bears so special. After all the excitement of his arrival he can look forward to calm afternoons spent helping me with my writing.

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So Shakespeare, how can I finish this review with the words: ‘Exit, pursued by a bear’?

(This post was written for The Great British Teddy Bear Company who provided my bear)

 

10 Common Misconceptions About Teddy Bears

 

1. Teddy Bears are inanimate objects.

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I cannot believe how many people seem to think that teddy bears do not have feelings. Have you ever looked into the face of a teddy bear? Your furry friend will be as alive as you need him to be. Just like magic and dragons, if you believe then it will happen.

2. Teddy Bears are just for children.

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Of course, a child will benefit greatly from having his or her own bear, but so will an adult. Teddy bears listen to your problems and do not judge; they are always there to offer a hug; they do not get huffy when ignored for long periods of time. Basically? They are the ideal companion at any age.

3. Taking a Teddy Bear out in public is embarrassing.

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No. Children are embarrassing. They say what they think to total strangers, throw up wherever they happen to be without even attempting to get to a place where their mess can be easily cleaned up. Children spill food and drink, throw things, including tantrums, wet their pants when a public convenience is just across the way. Compare this to your quiet, clean bear and tell me which is behaving better. If you must take children out in public then take a teddy bear along too so that the children can observe desirable behaviour.

4. Taking a Teddy Bear out in public is embarrassing if you have no children.

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I don’t understand this one at all. I have taken my teddy bear to lots of different places: teashops, restaurants, museums; on bicycle rides, boats and aeroplanes. I find that, when he is around, people smile at us. Isn’t that a good thing?

5. Teddy Bears can be cleared out along with other toys

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This just makes me sad. I have given a new, forever home to several rejected bears. Although it takes a while to gain their trust and convince them that they are here to stay these bears tend to be particularly loving, as if they feel they may be thrown out again if they do not do their job well. Old bears in particular just emanate wisdom and show so much gratitude that they have been accepted as a valued addition to my sleuth.

6. Teddy Bears are not fun to play with.

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Anyone who thinks this has obviously never played with a teddy bear. The games that they enjoy are endless, and they do not complain if they are always  the one chosen to die, lose or get hurt. How many other friends are always available, will do exactly as asked and put up with whatever role they are assigned without complaint?

7. A dirty or worn Teddy Bear is a health hazard.

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No. Just like a person, all he needs is a gentle wash. You would not put even the dirtiest, smelliest child in a washing machine; don’t do this to your bear either. Too much water plays havoc with delicate joints. Offer a careful sponge wash and respect the scars and lost fur; these offer a reminder of good times gone by. Old teddies are to be treasured. They may, however, appreciate the added protection of a warm cardigan.

8. Teddy Bears serve no useful purpose.

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Have you any idea how many bad dreams they chase away? Who do you think got rid of the monsters under the bed? Just because you cannot see how useful a bear is doesn’t mean that he has no use. Teddy Bears are so under appreciated, yet still they love and protect us unconditionally.

9. My friends will think I am childish for sleeping with a Teddy Bear.

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I do not know anyone who does not appreciate a softer side in a friend. You may be surprised at how many thoroughly mature, well-adjusted grown-ups harbour a teddy bear. Perhaps this is why they are thoroughly mature and well-adjusted. A teddy bear can teach you what love really means: being there when you’re needed.

10. A Teddy Bear is just a lump of fur and stuffing.

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And you are just a lump of skin, bone, hair and yucky stuff. You are still amazing though, beautiful and valued. Do not reject what you do not understand, do not mock what others value and find solace in. As with any friend, you may choose whether to grant a bear space in your life or not. A teddy bear, properly respected, can be the best companion that there is.

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One last thing, if you do have a bear? Go give him a hug. And some cake. I have yet to meet any bear who does not feel that his life is that little bit better when he is allowed to share a slice of cake with his best friend.

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The very fine bear who accompanies me on all my best adventures, and who kindly agreed to allow his photograph album to be opened for this post, chronicles some of his escapades and offers words of advice on Facebook. If you would like to get to know him better, you may find him here Edward Gainsborough – Teddy Bear).

xx