In October I had been notified that my mini bears Hanne and Hannes were nominated for the British Bear Artist Award. Much to my amusement I heard that Marjolein’s 50-cm bear ‘Katja and her cats’ had also been nominated for the same category.
The award ceremony was to be held in the weekend of 7 and 8 december. On Friday we packed our party dresses and bears in our suitcases and flew with Easy Jet to London.
We had chosen to fly to Gatwick, which proved to be the best choice as we landed on the Brighton side of London. When we found that the queue for buying train tickets to Brighton was too long, webought coach tickets instead. We had to wait a while for our coach at the bus station, but it was worth the wait as we were brought right up to the doorstep of our hotel!
We had taken a fine gamble. The Royal Albion Hotel, which was truly royal, was the first hotel on the seafront and close to the pier. We had a lovely room with a view of the sea and it had a bay window where we could make our own coffee. This was much to our satisfaction.
At breakfast we were asked whether we wanted a continental or an English breakfast.
The price led us to opt for the continental breakfast, which was fine with croissants and Danish pastries. Fried eggs with ham, sausages with beans in tomato sauce and baked tomatoes and mushrooms did not tempt me in the early morning. Later, when we paid the bill we found the English breakfast was included in the price and we were sorry not to have known this before.
On Friday evening we had strolled around town and had seen many nice displays in the shop windows in the many small streets. Of course, we passed by the illuminated Palace – a quirky place with a ridiculous amount of turrets. We had wine in a kind of pub and, of course, we dined in a pizzeria and that was very pleasant. It was very busy with shoppers and people out on the town.
We didn’t find the English people very modest, as there was a lot of noise in the restaurants; people tended to shout a lot. On Saturday we had a great time shopping, there is a lot to see in Brighton, the seafront is lovely. Many things have been restored and everywhere you look you see beautiful gates and lampposts. There are many wonderful narrow streets with many shops selling jewellery, which we really enjoyed visiting.
And then on Saturday the gala evening was held. There was a dinner with round tables each seating ten people. From this room there was a view of the lit up pier.
Almost everybody wore black; some showed a bit of bare skin while others added a shiny jacket. Barbara Ann stood out with her red hair and colourful outfit, which matched nicely with the kind of bears she makes. Her bears are in shades of purple and screaming green with coloured noses.
The organisers had made a wonderful film of all the nominated bears. The beginning was hilarious, with jumping bears and bears flying on broomsticks accompanied by mysterious music. It was a Harry Potter theme. The bears and the names of the artist all kept appearing on a large screen before the winner was announced. Marjolein was runner up in the Europe category and Ursela Pfischer (a German bear maker) won first prize. For me it was enough honour to belong to the best five bear makers of Europe and to be part of the festivities.
Unfortunately, on Sunday there was no table available for us at the fair, and therefor we could take our time going toHove, two kilometres down the coast. We travelled in style by taxi.
We were surprised to find all the shops open but our driver said this was normal.
Marjolein sold her bears to the shop ‘Bears and Bunny’s’. My bears were too expensive for the shops. As we have all found, sales are also down in England. Of course, we bought some fabrics and at four o’ clock we collected our bears that had been on show.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any orange-purple fabric and I’m still shopping around for this. An English bear maker did promise to send me a piece, I am curious.
On Monday we returned by coach to the airport and took an Easy Jet to Amsterdam.
We took the train back to Hengelo.
We were surprised to find it was freezing minus 10 degrees Celsius!