Edward Explores: When Bill met Ted on an Excellent Adventure

Edward Bill bed

Edward usually goes by his full, given name. He is sometimes referred to as teddy but, up until now, has never been a Ted. He was therefore somewhat bemused when he recently visited Shakespeare country and met a bard bear named Bill. Bill much prefers this moniker to William and assumed Edward would have a similar preference.

Bill was a resident at the most excellent Billesley Manor Hotel. He naturally assumes the place name is a hat tip to him. Having lived quietly in this one place, Bill was delighted to meet Edward. He listened avidly to the many tales of travel and adventures that our intrepid teddy enjoys partaking in.

Edward champagne  Edward creme brulee

On this trip away, Edward was helping celebrate a birthday, something at which he is highly skilled. When his bearers realised Bill’s hotel had many links to Shakespeare, they asked Edward to help in a write-up of their literary stay and adventures.

Edward coffee shop

The ensuing photoshoots took place around the hotel and in nearby Stratford-upon-Avon. It was tiring work for a small bear so sustenance was sought in coffee shops along the way. Edward makes an excellent model for such an endeavour. You may read the resulting hotel review here.

Edward Bill daffodils

On the final day of Edward’s stay, Bill took his new best friend into his garden to discuss their future destiny. It was decided that, although parting is such sweet sorrow, they would prefer simply to stay together. Arrangements were therefore made, the assignment completed, and Bill has now joined Edward’s sleuth in Wiltshire.

Edward iced cake

Arriving home, Edward was pleased to find that his younger bearers had made him a cake. It was covered in a great deal of butter icing, so much in fact that a second cake was made a day or two later to make good use of the excess.

Edward chocolate cake

Having celebrated eldest bearer’s birthday with a trip away, a second celebration was planned that would include the whole family. Edward enjoyed the subsequent trip to his local Prezzo, especially the puddings he was given to taste.

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Bill has spent the past fortnight meeting the many bears he now lives with. He and Lottie have struck up a particularly special friendship. Edward is always delighted when the new bears he welcomes so quickly find their niche.

Bill and Lottie
We are such stuff as dreams are made on

Edward Explores: Bars, beaches and many tasty treats

Edward February at bar

Those of you who follow the adventures of my intrepid teddy bear, Edward, will be aware that he enjoys the occasional pudding. This past month has therefore been a good one for him. It has included: a birthday celebration lasting an entire weekend, a few days away on the Devon coast, and Valentines Day. Although he understands why some eschew the latter event, Edward’s heart holds enough love for everyone and he has enjoyed the sweet treats made available to mark each of these various occasions.

The birthday bearer opted to eat out at a local pub to mark her special day. Naturally, Edward was invited to join the attendees. He was somewhat concerned when the kind waitress delivered the order placed, and then relieved when his food finally arrived at the table.

Edward February with chips Edward February with pie

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The next day was the actual birthday so a cake was made. Edward sampled the first slice and declared it delicious. He wondered if it contained carrot because the newly aged bearer is a vegetarian.

Edward February with birthday cake  Edward February eating cake

With the weather set fair for the time of year it was decided that a trip away was in order. It is quite some time since Edward visited Devon so this is where he was taken. He stayed in a rather nice hotel that understood the need for stocking the room and its fridge with welcoming treats.

Edward February on Torquay bed  Edward February with Torquay treats

Edward enjoyed drinks by the fire and a selection of sweets with coffee each evening.

Edward February with gin  Edward February with sweets

Days were spent exploring the blustery coastline. As well as walks, Edward took a bus ride and found a shop selling tasty ice-cream cones. On his return to the hotel he was pleased to find his biscuit supply replenished.

Edward February by beach  Edward February on bus

Edward February with giant ice cream  Edward February with biscuits

Dinner at the hotel was quite a quirky experience. Live piano music was played on a baby grand that turned out to be electric. Singers were accompanied by a recorded soundtrack with volume intruding on conversation. The food was, however, much to Edward’s liking, although the menu remained sadly unchanged throughout his stay. He also regretted not packing more changes of clothing as he always prefers to feel suitably dressed – and dapper – for every occasion.

Edward February with pudding5  Edward February with pudding3  Edward February with pudding4

On the final day Edward came across some welcome signs of spring. It may still be regularly cold and a tad damp but the promise of better weather is cheering.

Edward February by spring flowers

As mentioned earlier, Edward likes to mark Valentine’s Day. He made a banoffee pie for his bearers, and they made a coffee and walnut cake for him.

Edward February with banoffee  Edward February with coffee cake

Edward hopes that all his readers have a bear to hug, and that they enjoy the unconditional love offered by a teddy.

He and Elizabeth were recently spotted planning another party for later in the year. And Edward is already making plans for his next exciting adventure…

Edward February with Elizabeth

Edward Explores: Fungi

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In last month’s post, Edward explored Autumn, noting the emergence of interesting fungi amongst the undergrowth where he went walking. Always eager to enjoy new experiences, on a recent sunny day he set out to search the grounds of a large estate in his neighbourhood for further specimens.

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There were plenty of pretty leaves but the ground staff were obviously working hard to keep the ‘Capability’ Brown parkland tidy. Edward understands that many visitors like order and cleanliness, but fungi need more wildness to flourish.

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Undaunted, Edward roamed further afield, into the undergrowth beyond the park but still on the estate. Here, at last, he spotted what he was looking for. One specimen was bigger than him! Areas of wildness are so important to our ecosystem. Being a bear, Edward appreciates this.

As well as enjoying the fine local countryside, Edward has been celebrating a family milestone. The medical student has become a doctor. Appropriate bears went to town for dinner and drinks.

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A good dinner always ends with pudding. Edward carefully checked if the tiramisu and then the profiteroles were worth eating. After significant consideration he declared them tasty and agreed to share with his bearers.

Both food and medicine rely on fungi, as discussed in this recent newspaper article.

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Another day offered the opportunity for an additional trip to the woods. Look what Edward found. He has no idea what these fungi are called but admired the cascade effect they made.

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As the nights draw in, Edward has also been enjoying some quieter pursuits, including reading. He recommends you too seek out The Secret Life of Fungi by Aliya Whiteley. Like teddy bears, what we see on the surface is merely an indication of wider usefulness. There is wonder to be found in so many things if one delves deeper.

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The cost of a night out is going up

Yesterday was my wedding anniversary. My husband and I celebrated by going out for a lovely meal at a local restaurant. The children were fed at home and then left to sort out their busy evenings for themselves. I felt a bit guilty about this; so much of my life has been spent trying to be the best parent that I can. Sometimes though, we just have to take our adult time and make the kids cope. It is important for them to understand that, although we are happy to support them, we too have lives to lead.

I had a lovely evening and came home feeling happy and relaxed, much later than I would normally stay out, especially on a week night. Today I am paying the price for that. It would seem that, as I get older, the cost of a night out is going up. I barely know what to do with myself today I am so tired; it feels as though my very bones ache. It is hard to believe that I could once stay out half the night and still bounce into work the next day. I know that there are plenty of people my age and older who can still party the night away and get by. Whatever the reason, I am not one of them.

As I lie here trying to rest and recuperate, I am thinking back to those younger days when a night out such as I enjoyed last night would have seemed tame. My husband and I were never wild, party animals, but we enjoyed our share of socialising and had a good group of friends. Many of these lovely people came to our wedding, and we still keep in touch. Our big day was planned as a chance to celebrate with those we enjoyed spending time with; we didn’t see the need to provide our large, extended families, who we rarely saw and many of whom we would barely recognise, with a get together. Selfishly perhaps, we did it the way we wanted.

After the excitement of our engagement had abated and we started discussing the next step, it was decided that we could do the whole white wedding in a church thing, but not necessarily follow too many of the other traditions. I saw no need to wait too long to do the deed; not for us a lengthy engagement of several years. I wanted a chance of decent weather which ruled out the approaching winter, but I didn’t want to be a June bride; too twee for me. We opted for May 1st as we liked the links to summer festivals and workers rights. It also fell on a Friday in the year we got married which made booking venues and services a whole lot easier.

I liked the idea of dressing up in a white wedding dress, but was reluctant to pay a large amount of money for something that I would wear once. Luckily for me, my sister-in-law still had her wedding dress, it fitted me and she was willing to let me wear it. She was my bridesmaid and wore a dress worn by one of her own bridesmaids. Friends leant me a veil, head dress and a hooped underskirt so I just had to buy shoes which I hoped I would be able to wear again. My husband bought a good suit as this seemed a more worthwhile investment; he still has it all these years later.

My talented parents-in-law made the wedding cake and the bouquets. I bought the invitations at a local stationers and hand wrote them. A friend recorded the event on video although we did use a professional photographer for the stills. We also hired one wedding car with my brother-in-law decorating his black car with ribbons to provide a second. I did my own hair and make up. All of these little details provided the setting but did not seem hugely important. What was important was that we were getting married!

We wanted a fairly small ‘do’ so limited invitations to close family and friends. In the end we provided a sit down meal at a good hotel for about forty guests. It was a lovely day, made all the more so I think because I was not worrying about everything being just right. The whole thing was put together with so much help from others and nothing had to particularly match. Looking back, the only thing that I would change would be to rein in the photographer who took too long getting his shots. It is hard enough finding time at a wedding to talk to all the people who make the effort to attend without having to spend what felt like hours posing in organised groups. I would have preferred more informality.

As each anniversary has gone by, my husband and I have made the effort to celebrate. Some years we have gone away for a night, on other years we have marked the occasion with a simple take away meal at home. In many ways my husband is more romantic than me and will make more of an effort to ensure that the occasion is special. It was he who insisted that we go out last night and I am glad that he did, even if I am suffering for it today.

Life can have as many special occasions as we choose to celebrate. I may need longer to recover from a night out than I once did, but if I lived too carefully then I would not be generating more happy memories to look back on. Agreeing to marry my husband was the best decision that I ever made and our wedding, however selfishly planned, was as happy an occasion as I could wish for. As each anniversary passes I am reminded of how lucky I am that he continues to put up with me. The cost of a night out with him may be going up, but it is still a price that is well worth paying.

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Getting away

What do you give the man who already has everything that he wants? This week my husband celebrated his fiftieth birthday, his first half century, the arrival of his sixth decade. Knowing that it was approaching he had made it very clear that he wanted neither a party nor an expensive, surprise gift. I couldn’t let the milestone pass unmarked but, when asked, he could think of nothing that he wanted. What a fabulous situation to be in! Nevertheless, something had to be done, some token gifts offered to show that I cared. The best solution seemed to be an indulgent night away.

My husband does not like surprises so the idea was discussed in advance and plans were made together. Advice was sought from friends, facilities at hotels researched, days were booked off from work and cooperation from the children agreed. When everything was finally organised I started to feel rather excited about this short trip. He couldn’t, after all, be sent off on his own – I was going too.

We had only been away overnight, just the two of us, once before in our married life. Although it had been pleasant enough I had been too worried about my young children to fully enjoy it. I knew that they were being safely cared for, but was concerned that they would not understand why mummy had disappeared. I imagined them feeling abandoned, being concerned and worried but unable to put that into words. I envisaged them being traumatized, losing their carefree happiness and security, becoming clingy and unsure if I would be there for them when they returned from their next outing without me. I had a good imagination about these things.

This time was different. As teenagers, they were rather miffed that we were going to have fun and eat yummy food while they missed out, but having the house to themselves without us to tell them to do homework and go to bed early seemed adequate compensation. If I didn’t trust them then I might have felt some concern about the eagerness with which they embraced our plans. I like to think that they were just happy to see us doing something for ourselves. I still have a good imagination.

Getting away without the kids after so many years of holidays planned around them made me feel young again. I was able to pack a suitcase just for me. There was no need to take practical, mummy clothing or to leave something behind to make room for their things. There was no need to limit luggage so that we could carry everything when the children threw a strop and would not help. Even after I had packed all that I needed, wanted and a bit more besides, I still had room in my case. My husband looked quite bemused as he put his little overnight bag in the car and helped me with the luggage that normally suffices for at least two of us for a week. I was having fun already.

I had decided that the key requirements of the hotel were good food, a room with a view and indoor leisure facilities in case of bad weather. I also liked the idea of staying on the coast. Living in a land locked county of England I do sometimes miss being close to the sea. As a child trips to the beach were a regular occurrence as we lived within a half hour drive of a glorious stretch of sandy coastline. I love the sound of the lapping of the tide and miss the long walks along the beach that my parents insisted on when I was young.

My husband and I had booked into what I hoped would be the perfect hotel and set off for it in glorious sunshine. I was a little perturbed by the few flurries of snow in the air, but the car was warm and we could play our choice of music without complaints from the back. A couple of hours later we had reached our destination and were in high spirits. This was going to be good.

We had a little over twenty-four hours at the hotel, but seemed to pack in so many lovely experiences. Arrival day was freezing cold with a biting wind but we managed a walk on the beach, around the harbour and along the residential streets of Sandbanks (which has, by area, the fourth highest land value in the world – the house designs are stunning) before the cold drove us inside. We made good use of the hotel’s leisure facilities, braving the outdoor hot tub and warming ourselves in the sauna and steam room. My  husband likes to make use of everything available so even swam in the outdoor pool – brrrr.

Our room had a balcony on which we drank his celebratory bottle of champagne, well wrapped up against the cold, while watching the yachts from the local clubs sail by. My ever active husband had brought a book and it was good to see him spend some time relaxing while I prepared myself for dinner. We had drinks and canapes at the bar before sitting down to one of the most delicious dinners I have ever eaten. It was a fabulous day.

In the morning we stuffed ourselves silly at the breakfast buffet. With so many tempting choices it was hard not to try them all (I am so unused to hotel living). After a short rest to recover from our gluttony we packed up and headed back to the beach for a long walk along the sand and promenade. The sun was still shining but the biting wind had eased so we were able to enjoy this comfortably. When our legs grew tired we stopped at a beach side cafe for coffee; even this is an indulgence for us. Our coffees on the go are normally preprepared and carried in a flask, drunk in the shelter of the car.

We headed home feeling overfed and windblown, but also pampered and indulged. From the state of our kitchen it was clear that the children had coped well without us, eaten sensibly and seen no need to waste time clearing away or washing up. The hens had been cared for, lights switched off and doors locked. I was happy that all had gone so smoothly.

It was a lovely way to celebrate a birthday. As parents it can be too easy to forget that we are people too. Now that the children are older they do not need us to be around them all the time and the occasional taste of independence can give them (and us) the confidence to know that they can cope on their own. Perhaps one day we will do it again. I hope so.

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