Monday, 23 March 2009

Will I be smiling in 2029 ?

2029 ... seems a long way away ; I'll be 66 . So why do I need to know this ? Because that is the year / age I'll be pensionable . I've checked the fact of it with the Pension Service website , and after a hugely frustrating morning of jumping the mini hoops of "help" lines which lead no where fairly fast I have just applied for an online State Pension Forecast .

Now , before you think to yourself "this is the most boring blog post ever !" just take a second to really think about the future . I mean the long term future , which at my age is still hard to contemplate ! Eventually everybody's flow of income reduces to a mere trickle - unless you win the lottery . Not that likely in my case as I don't buy tickets ! So I need to check whether it's in my interests to buy extra years National Insurance Contributions to secure a basic state pension.

With apologies to readers outside the UK - I noticed an article in the Telegraph which stated that if you have under 10 years NI contributions it is well worth the investment of making up the years at £421.20 each , as after 10 years of payments you would receive 26% of the full Basic State Pension - worth £23.58 a week . The catch being (stay with me on this) that after April 6th this year each additional "yearly credit" will cost £626.60 . The government has cottoned on to the fact that at a staggering return on investment of 640 % plus they really would be giving away money to women , like myself , who elected to stay home with their children and not re-enter the work place . I think I qualified for Home Responsibilities Protection during this period - which protects up to 10 years pension credits whilst a non-worker is in receipt of Child Benefit for an under 12 child - but it's as clear as mud . Bureaucracy is a wonderful thing , and the British excel at it! Reminds me of The Circumlocution Offices in Little Dorrit . Every time one of the help lines "helpfully" cut me off I couldn't but wonder if "they" don't want us to know about pension provision etc. Bet I'll get the answers I need after the additional payments change to the higher rate :0(

On reading that back I agree ; it was the most boring blog post ever ... but maybe it will alert someone else to the possibility that there is a shortfall to their entitlements . After all , age will catch us all up won't it ? - ho hum .

To end on a less gloomy note ; the photo was taken for Teddy Bear Review's upcoming article on British bear artists .... and I'm holding one of the newest bears for Edwina's Friends ... so it's a sneak preview ! I absolutely loathe having my picture taken so I'd appreciate it if you scrinch your eyes up when looking at it .... maybe then I'll look pleasantly that much further away from my 66th birthday !!

T.T.F.N Ruth x

State pension forecast -
Pensions advisory service -
Women and pensions helpline - 0845 600 0806

Thursday, 19 March 2009

I've been spinning plates ....

.... and look , I've popped back in time to waggle the pole under my "blog plate" !

I am absolutely not complaining though - I love being so busy with my little scraps of bears . I feel properly creative and energised rather than stressed or burnt out . Looking through my diary I see that I'm booked up for making bears (either stock for fairs , or orders) until November ; that's amazing ! The fairs are as follows :-

4th June : Black and White Ball (Miniatures Day) , TBACA online .

7th June : The Teddy Bear Artist Event , Stratford-upon-Avon .

13th September : Teddies 2009 , Hugglets

In and around these dates I am creating 2 designs of Limited Edition bears for Teddy Bears of Witney ; which is incredibly exciting for me and also a little daunting . There will also be more bears travelling to Edwina's Friends - the next 4 will be leaving me shortly , so I'll post pics soon . I've squeezed in a commission , with one more on the horizon .... although I think I'll now have to close the one-off order book or my table might be empty at the TBAE !

In fact , I could never have dared hope for such a fantastic interest in my work post-Hugglets , so I'm truly treasuring it :0) I don't like to sound gushy , but ; "if you're happy and you know it clap your hands !" Whoooooot !! Well why not ? You only have to pick up a newspaper to be firmly returned to Earth with an almighty plonk .... and besides I have new stashes of ribbons , vintage lace , and crochet trims to (metaphorically) go burying my head in ! Thanks to my mother , I have some spectacular pieces of lace - right back to Victorian - from a shop I assumed was long gone . Don't ask where ' cos I'll never tell * wicked grin *

I have received a lovely Friendship award from Tina , of Tiny Bear. She is my very special friend , and such a sweet lady . I can't wait to spend some time with her before we do the TBAE fair in June . Thank you so much Tina ! I notice from her pretty blog that she has awarded some really interesting artists ; all well worth a visit . On this occasion ( whilst I waggle poles , LOL) I will diplomatically include all my blog link friends in this same award . Cheers to you ladies !

Here is my little Easter commission bear , who has flown away to the USA to share her chocolate!

TaTa For Now then ,

Ruth x

Sunday, 8 March 2009


Whilst I've got a few minutes spare I thought I'd post up those pictures of Kensington .They vaguely follow the route we took away from the hotel toward our ultimate goal ; The Natural History Museum , where we anticipated spending most of Saturday prior to the Winter Bear Fest next day - to the eager delight of a certain 12 year old !

First stop was this unique street name - interesting because "Kensington Gore" was the trademarked name of fake blood in the film and theatre industry . The true reason for the place name lies in the obscure meaning of "gore" ; as a narrow or triangular piece of land (makes sense it's a narrow street) but gloriously appropriated to denote the red , splashy stuff without which productions like "Titus Andronicus" would be , um , less gory .

Next is the beautifully decorated College of Organists - easily missed down a side street , right along from the Royal College of Art .

And so we came to The Albert Memorial on the opposite side of the road .It was fantastic to see the wonderful Spring sunlight illuminating the gilded spires . Quite topical in film too what with "The Young Victoria" doing the rounds . I like the description of it as an example of "high Victorian gothic extravaganza" . Apparently it is 176 feet tall and took 10 years to complete (in 1875) and cost £120,000. There are 187 carved figures in the bottom frieze and Victoria herself approved the design ; maybe it lessened a little of the devastation she felt on losing Albert , aged 42 , from typhoid fever . I remember seeing that thick black crepe mourning dress ; wide as it was high , in the Bath museum of fashion - she wore only black after becoming a widow which suggests she could never overcome her deep sorrow . Poor lady .

The Albert Hall ; which was opened in 1871 . It can accommodate 1000 performers in the Orchestra and an audience of 8000 people.

We definitely didn't want to miss capturing this elegant equipage on film , standing in traffic on Kensington High Street . Ashley held on until the driver had finally put away his mobile phone !

And so to The Natural History museum :-

I was slightly disappointed for a few reasons ; we didn't know you'd have to queue up inside separately for the world famous exhibition of dinosaur skeletons (something to go straight to next time :0) and I would have loved to go in to what should be a thought provoking inner exhibition all about Darwin . However at £7 per person a little pricey ; likewise the exhibition of wildlife photography ( also £7 each)
I expected to see case after case of jam-packed in specimens , but in common with every other museum the content appears to have been "dumbed down" I'm personally not half as keen on the huge-poster-here , look-one-fact , lift-this-flap , interactive style of presenting their wares . Tellingly the bird room was like a blast from the past with infinite numbers of variations on bird wings , feet , tail feathers - little yellowing cards with a wealth of information and all the more engrossing for it !

This was my highlight of the day : If you've ever seen Nick Baker's Weird Creatures on the telly you'll know that the only place he successfully filmed a Pink Fairy Armadillo was in the N.H.M .... it was stuffed . They are are that rare to sight in the wild . Here it is ; now given a starring role in his very own cabinet . About the length of your hand , and just the most enchanting little beastie !

I shall look forward to visiting him again in September ....

T.T.F.N Ruth x

Monday, 2 March 2009

Edwina's Friends

In all the excitement of the run up to Hugglets I didn't get a chance to post photos of the four new little bears who have been delivered to Edwina's Friends ; which is the lovely beary web-shop run by former Teddy Bear Scene editor Kathy Martin .

The bears are 3" tall : boys in Smokey Long Pile upholstery velvet , and girls in Vintage Long Pile upholstery velvet , each with their own birthday accessory . I really enjoyed creating pretty little cotton dresses with dainty girly trims for these diminutive misses !

Click here to drop in and visit them .