Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Join the Hug
Who here still has their childhood teddy bear?
Who here has bought a teddy bear for themselves in adult life?
A bear is not just a toy for children, but a lifelong companion. You can never be too old to own a teddy bear, and for a lot of people like myself, one is just not enough.
I admit I never used to be all that into bears, but a few years ago I received my first collectable bear, and that was it. I was hooked. I collect a few different types of bear, but 99% of my collection is from Charlie Bears.
Charlotte Morris used to run a teddy bear shop, and all too often found her customers falling in love with a bear, but upon discovering the price, sadly put it back on the shelf.
So in 2005, she and her husband, Will decided to do something about it. They would design bears that everyone could afford. And thus, Charlie Bears was born.
These 'bears with personalities' are now celebrating their 10th birthday, which Charlie and Will are marking with international signing tour covering Australia and the UK.
The tour has been going on all year, and I had been waiting patiently for them to make their arrival in London. That day came on the 25th July and was hosted by Dragon Toys.
The event ran between 12pm - 4pm, but all invitees had a half hour time slot. My mum (also an avid collector) and I were scheduled for 2.30pm - 3pm, but although we arrived a half hour early we were still allowed in.
At the desk we were given several exciting forms to examine (I never thought I would associate the word 'exciting' with the word 'form'). The first was for a raffle, in which one lucky winner would receive Graham, a long retired and sought after bear. The second was a price list of all the bears at the event, the third told us that anyone who spent over £100 would get a free Travel Buddy bear, and the fourth was a special bonus offer of double loyalty points to spend on the Dragon Toys website.
Paperwork out the way, it was time to get down to serious bearness. All the bears were displayed very well. There was lots of space to move around, and you could see them all clearly laid out on the tables.
The first to catch my attention were Quinton and Cobweb, who I was surprised to see because they retired some time ago. As I already had these two, however, I moved on, and fell in love with a traditional bear called Memories, and a standing bear called Peyton. I put them back down again as I looked around the rest of the hall, but they had chosen me and would not let me leave without them.
Charlie and her bear artists create a whole range of different bears. These include plush, mohair, alpaca, minimos (miniature mohairs), bearhouse and puppets (aimed at children), and baby organics. It is not just bears you'll find either. Since its founding, Charlie Bears has expanded into all forms of wildlife, including rabbits, foxes, cats, dogs, hedgehogs, and more.
After buying the two bears I wanted to get signed, my mum sat down for a free cup of tea and piece of cake, and chatted with other collectors about their shared love. Meanwhile I queued up to meet Will and Charlie.
I can tell you now that they are two of the most lovely people you could ever meet. They are so warm and genuine. Went it got to my turn, they both greeted me, and recognised me from a previous encounter last year, which was surprising since we only saw each other very briefly.
Mum then caught up with me and we prepared to leave. As we made our way towards the exit, however, we noticed that some of the crew were putting out new bears that we had not seen before. This was fatal. All our good intentions blew out the window, when Mum became smitten with three other bears.
Bear browsing is a dangerous activity, but if you share my affinity then you might want to catch Will and Charlie at one of their other signing events:
13th September -Colchester Town Hall, High Street, Colchester, Essex 27th September - Llangollen Pavilion, Abbey Road Llangollen, LL20 8SW Llangollen 18th October - Queens Hall, West Street, Newtownards, BT23 4EN 25th October - Launceston Town Hall, Western Road, PL15 7AR Launceston, Cornwall