Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Lichfield Pit Stop !

Well , what have I been up to lately ? I'm afraid the time gremlin has been spinning the hands of all the clocks again - feels like after I get up it's time to go to bed again !! I've managed to meet 2 quite crunchy deadlines , and I now have another at the end of this week; a 2.5" bear will be joining "friends" at Teddy Bears of Witney ..... sshhhhhh ....

Mind you , I think I work much better with clear deadlines . I spent a long time producing bears without direction before I decided to get on with it properly ; it really wasn't as much of a spur to the creative juices as knowing why and when to make something . I feel very lucky that I now consider my little bearies a lot more than a hobby - if not a fully flourishing business (as yet) it's certainly a Hobb-ness ..., or maybe a Bus-by if you see what I mean .

What else ? Ah yes , it seems getting mentioned in bear magazines is like British buses ! You wait ; nothing on the horizon , then 3 come along at once ! I'm not sure if they'll all be out at the same time but Teddy Bear Times is doing an article on The Teddy Bear Artist Event (Stratford) for which I've put in an ad' , Australian Bear Creations has a piece coming up on dogs - including my micros - and I have taken out a 1/4 page ad' (woohoo !) at a great rate thanks to TBACA's Sandi Smith , and then Teddy Bear Review will be featuring British Bear Artists . I was encouraged to apply for their advertising rates , but I'm afraid it's a stretch too far for me . I gulped a bit when I got the details and no doubt resembled a guppy at that precise moment . But hey-ho , 2 out of 3 ain't bad , right ?!

Anyway , I managed to make a flying visit to Lichfield which is really a very interesting place and deserves a "proper" visit when the gremlin moves on !
Firstly , it has a wonderful cathedral - which I don't have a photo of - and there are numerous wibbly , quaint old buildings peppered through the streets of shops , and less worthy architecture.
Lichfield's main claim to fame is that Dr. Samuel Johnson , the Georgian essayist / biographer who produced our most famous Dictionary of the English Language (1755) , was born here in 1709. There is a huge statue of him in the town square - which I also don't have a picture of !
Next time I shall definitely go to Johnson's elegant home overlooking the market square , where he lived for his first 27 years ; now his birthplace museum . Also , you can visit Erasmus Darwin's house - he was Charles Darwin's grandfather .

Ashley did take a pic of this sweet little house though , right in amongst shops and cafes . One door seems not to be in use judging by the weedy growths in front . In the 2nd photo Brett wanted to illustrate just how tiny the door ways are !

When we walked round the corner and saw the plaque it was amazing to think that such an important , and often quoted , historical figure ; renowned for his great learning and literary genius began his writing in those tiddly little rooms . If only the walls could talk !

Here are a couple of Johnson quotes :

" I lately took my friend Boswell and showed him genuine civilised life in an English provincial town - I turned him loose at Lichfield"

"In order that all men may be taught to speak truth it is necessary that all likewise should learn to hear it."

"Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless , and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful."

"What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure."

And a few of his dictionary definitions :-

DULL - Not exhilarating , not delightful ; as to make dictionaries is dull work .

OATS - A grain , which in England is generally given to horses , but in Scotland appears to support the people.

PATRON - One who countenances , supports or protects . Commonly a wretch who supports with insolence , and is paid with flattery.

If you're interested you can visit www.samueljohnsonbirthplace.org.uk for further details . The museum has free entry .

Ta Ta For Now ,

Ruth x

Friday, 17 April 2009

Ice Cream Bears

This little group of 3" bears , in ice cream pastel shades have now joined Edwina's Friends
They are "Vanilla" , "Mango" , "Raspberry" and "Caramel" - each made from soft long pile Upholstery Velvet , with Ultrasuede paw pads , and trimmed with organza bows and tiny "labels" depicting appropriate ice creams .
Could you tell I'm longing for the summer !!

Ruth x

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

A Bit More Buxton ...

We took the day off on Friday and decided to take the helter-skelter roads over to Buxton for a mooch around . Even though it was the most beautifully dazzling , bright spring day the clouds were still hovering low over the tops of the hills in the Peak District Park - we had to wait for the journey home before we could spot all the sweet little lambs in those rugged fields , as they were previously hidden under grey , damp blankets of fog !

I did manage to learn a few new things ; there has been a Heritage Regeneration programme in Buxton since 2000 ( last time we visited The Crescent was being worked on) partly funded with National Lottery donations , and there are now plans for a five-star , luxury Spa Hotel right in the centre of the town . It will be situated in The Crescent , and the original Pump Room (the small building facing The Crescent in the photo) will be restored to its former glory as a place inviting the public to take the mineral rich waters . The blurb , on huge boards inside the old Pavilion - which is itself set in restored gardens - states that it will be one of only 2 naturally occurring spa hotels in the country ; so surely the other must be in Bath . Which is one of my favourite places :0) If you remember , there is a Royal Crescent in Bath which is on a grand scale to make Buxton's pretender seem .... "compact and bijoux". Whilst it may be a modest challenger it's still elegant , Regency and majestically fits its own landscape !

Much of the architecture appears to have been cleaned ; you know how interesting buildings seem to gain a beacon of light on them that directs your gaze . We spotted this enchanting doorway . I can't decide if the message is more stern or solicitous .

Interestingly , Buxton hospital was one which Florence Nightingale tried to reform prior to 1860 , originally the patients were barely receiving any "care" at all . After that time the 6th Duke of Devonshire started a charity hospital , and more effort was given to facilitating the taking of the waters for patients .

The last photo speaks for itself really - this is the War Memorial in the gardens high above The Crescent . I particularly like the way Ashley has captured this part of it specifically , cutting out the more flowery decoration . These memorials are all so powerful when you take time to stop still for a second. Here we were standing on a quiet , sunny , go-slowly day enjoying the views . On the statue the inscription ;"Pro Patria Mori " ( Died for Their Country) Impossible not to be moved .

Enjoy your day ,wherever you are ,

T.T.F.N Ruth X

(See previous Bath and Buxton posts in 2008 archive)