Thursday 29 November 2018

Bear necessities....

In my last post a number of bears of all sizes took over half the window area of the Small Worlds museum.   Today it is time to take a first look at what is in the other half of the window....

When I moved into my newly renovated full-size house in Bavorov in 2007 one of the first things I wanted to do was renovate a much smaller house - an Ebay purchase I had brought over from England for my then four year old granddaughter.

However this was way before the days of Small Worlds and The Stables, so all the useful stuff I now have in the Czech Republic for doing anything under the sun for a dolls house renovation was still a distant dream.

Almost my first visitors back then were my brother Ian and his wife Mette  - she is a highly skilled miniaturist who amongst other things writes regular columns for the magazine Dolls House and Miniature Scene.  When I knew they were coming over I asked her to bring a few useful items like flooring and wallpaper so that we could do up the house together.

She did so, but we were still short of carpets and upholstery so we raided the cleaning section of a local supermarket, ending up with coloured dusters, chamois leathers, and green scourers (which latter make very excellent seat covers when cut to size-I suspect they are rather unpleasant to sit on though!). 

We were very proud of what we achieved with such limited means but I have to confess that the house interior had become badly faded over the years, not helped by having stood in bright sunlight most of the time....

Time for a renovation before a large family of bears takes it over ready for Christmas.....

A few dabs of paint on the worst bits was all that I was prepared to do outside.... covering up a large, unexplained hole in the side - Butterfly suggested running a drain-pipe down with some mesh to prevent leaves getting in.   Out came the useful hair-curlers to act as mesh and a black straw drainpipe


I ripped off the very tatty vegetation that had been growing up the trellis work and replaced it with something rather more seasonal.

The greenery is from our favourite cheapie shop, Kik, and after some hunting...... 

....through my supplies I settled on wooden beads for the red berries.  

Please do not enquire as to the type of plant that resulted though!

The front doors needed some attention, as did a balcony door. A nameplate (which some of you will recognise), keyhole and doorknocker completed the outside work. 

I was pleased to discover that none of the rooms really required repapering. It was mainly a matter of replacing most of the flooring 

In one room I decided not to let good taste be my guide!  Who knows what appeals to bears anyway?

The other rooms are more restrained

The kitchen floor had always distressed me - it looked more like a roof than a floor - a coat of very pale blue stone paint, greatly improved matters.  


The staircase satisfied a great need - many years ago Mette gave me a strip of hand-embroidered carpet (with I think the promise of more, which sadly never materialised) which I have never actually found a use for because there was not enough of it. 

There was, however, almost enough for the very visible staircase and so I thought I would try the experiment of photocopying it and using the copied bit right at the top, where it could not be seen so well.   I am quite pleased with the result...

Then all that remained was to prepare the bears for their occupancy. They all looked a bit too summery for my liking - indeed, as you may remember from the last blogpost,  several were stark naked.

I hunted out some knitted jumpers, the work once again of Sheila Randall who has been mentioned many times in these blogposts.  Getting some of them on was a bit of a struggle!

 I also dismembered a pipecleaner doll, of which I have several, to get a cosy scarf for one of the bears.  

Trousers were donated (or maybe just lent) by some small dolls. 

It is surprising how a bear can be transformed by removing a silly bow from its head.....

Another visit to the bric a brac stall in Vodnany produced two more useful bears - Butterfly has named this one Oscar Wilde Bear, thanks to his opulent dressing gown

The second will make his appearance in the final post of this trilogy, much nearer to Christmas......

In the meantime I leave you with some final views of the house.  Have a Happy Advent and watch this space!

My thanks to Anya for allowing this repurposing of her dolls house.  I hope she approves of it.

PS And for those who don't know it - a clue to why the post-title!

Wednesday 7 November 2018

Bear with me....

....for not having posted very much this summer.  Life has been fairly hectic and if you take a look at Butterfly's recent post on Words and Pictures you can see why.  Even before she arrived in the Czech Republic in late September, I was submerged in plans, architect and builder discussions and mega-clearing tasks (thanks Lynda!) which, amongst other things, involved moving hundreds of books to a new home.
View from my Czech living room

And now, like the ospreys, we too have migrated once again. We are back in the UK, reluctantly leaving the golden glories of South Bohemia. 

The ospreys in Small Worlds have also migrated, but only from the window display, to the desk where I hope they will continue to raise a little money for nature conservation.

They have been replaced in the window by very different wildlife, of which more in a moment. 

Whilst Butterfly was in Bavorov, we had the opportunity of taking a table at a small local "pouť", a word which is almost impossible to translate into English since it is a kind of fair, but with a religious background, almost equating to a pilgrimage.  I suppose the closest would be village fete, but that does not really work for the delightfully large St Wenceslas Pouť that we came across by accident on 29th September in the beautiful spa town of Třebon (peat baths anyone?).

A greater contrast than that between Trebon's pouť, and the teeny tiny one held on St Wenceslas's actual day, 28th September, in our teeny tiny neighbouring village of Budyně would be hard to find, but both were equally enjoyable. 

Budyně's pouť is popular for miles around so we attracted attention from not just the locals but from those further afield, and we got rid of a pleasing number of flyers which I hope will bear fruit next season.  
Our favourite "other attraction" was the man-handled roundabout - the attendant actually ran round with it to keep it moving!  And it cost just 2kč as opposed to the usual 60kč (£1=ca 29kč)charged nowadays.

Whilst I am on the subject of contrasts, in the last post you were able to admire some of the massive mushrooms around this year. 

But there are mini-mushrooms too - in a planter right outside my front door!  (Next year I plan a serious attempt to make a moss garden; I love the velvety feel and multitude of different greens to be found in the world of mosses)

So to the new window display. I have long been minded to make use of some of the many teddies in Small Worlds.   Those of you who have been following the blog since its inception back in 2013 may remember a series of posts on the Essex Dolls House Haul - a lucky strike on Ebay when I managed to buy six houses for the princely sum of £33, and collection from Clacton.  

I puzzled for ages over what to do with this house .......

....since it only opens from the top. In the end it turned into a bears' cavern, with rocks and crevices made from washing machine packaging.   Small children love to peer in and count the bears.

But I thought it was time not only to house these cavern-dwellers, here seen en route to better quarters, (car is courtesy of Colin Rosein more comfortable surroundings, but also to use some of the many other bears that I have accumulated over the years, some of them very tiny indeed....

In fact a teenage Butterfly once spent hours producing hundreds of wee bears, some of which have survived the years between, and some of which are sadly now looking rather the worse for wear...

When I leave Bavorov for the UK at the end of October each year, I have to make sure that at least part of the window can be transformed into a Christmas display without causing my kind friends who open up the museum for the Christmas market, too much trouble.  This year it has worked out well I think because at one side I have a display of all things bear, and at the other...well you will see that in the next two posts.

"All things bear" involved my digging out everything I could find that was bear-related. So one side of the window display includes books...... and jigsaws.... 

...and of course, bears. Some of the bears are housed in a Christmas stable, one of the many lucky finds at a giant Prague flea market on what must have been almost the hottest day of a scorching summer. (I think the friend who suggested the trip may have regretted it once he discovered how much there was to schlepp back to his car!) 

Two other bears have been given a home in the middle-size of three house frames bought from a Polish cheapie shop, Pepco, that has now usefully appeared in the Czech Republic. 

The frame required a bit of work (and a two hour hunt for the fireplace that I knew I had somewhere!) to render it cosy and comfortable for its new inhabitants.

I am afraid that those in the stable had to put up with straw as their soft furnishings but they seem happy enough.   

 I think the little bear on the left clutching a heart,is considering which of the two flower-bearing suitors to present it to!

Of particular note is the Teddy Bears Picnic, comprising five of the little ones that have survived over the years, still enjoying their burgers and cucumber sandwiches. 

And here you see two bears made in my likeness - the skirted one represents me in my school uniform, though something went wrong with the skirt colour - we did not wear toothpaste aqua!   And at the front is a bear enjoying the Alexander Technique practice known as semi-supine, or, more familiarly, lying on the floor with books.

And as a final touch, that side of the window contains an audience of giant bears. Well, giant compared to the others anyway!  When we moved five years ago all our bears went to other homes so I had to go on a bearhunt to the bric a brac stall in Vodnany market, which once again produced the goods.   

Four bears, 10kč (33pence) each. 

And when I got home I found that one of them has the coveted "Knopf im Ohr" that should denote a Steiff bear.  Can I really have been so lucky? 

As usual, the photos of the window display itself leave much to be desired, but they should at least give you an idea of the layout....

The big bears are hiding behind the window upright on the left, straddling the two parts of the display.   Watch this space for the reveal of what is on their other side..... 

I look forward to welcoming you to Part One of our Christmas journey very soon.  Thank you for being with me today.