Category Archives: Personal development

The Bideford Half

Bertie and Croc's Half Marathon effort

Challenge is a word Bertie and Croc are quite use to experiencing. I mean, let’s face it, when your legs are as small as theirs, even climbing into a camera bag can be a challenge!

Just recently Bertie and Croc embarked on one of their biggest challenges since returning to the UK. At first they thought they were on another, ordinary adventure. They were sat comfortably in the back of the car watching the trees and landscape roll past. They were on their way to somewhere called Bideford. Bertie was, as usual, quite excited as he had never been to Bideford. Croc, as usual, was quite pensive as he hated going somewhere new and didn’t understand why this would excite anyone?

When the warm sun finally began to light up their faces, they realised they had arrived. They could hear the voices of several people, and knew that something interesting and exciting was going to happen. As they made their way closer and closer to the excited chatter they were surprised to see more people that they ever imagined, all in active wear, walking, jogging or standing around.

“What on earth is happening?” Queried Bertie. Croc shrugged and nestled deeper into the pocket he had been hiding in. Crowds, yuk, they made him shiver down his spine and feel slightly queasy.

A loud voice came over the crowd, announcing there were 1,400 people running today! Bertie looked around in shock, then down at his own small legs, “Running!?!?”

The starter went off and so did Bertie and Croc, being carried in a pocket each, bouncing around. They heard the strangest sound. It was music, Bertie was sure of it. He braved a peak out of the pocket. There were bagpipes, he heard someone say! “How odd?” Bertie shouted over to Croc. Croc pretended not to hear him over the noise. He was definitely not going to stick his head out when he was being bounced around like this. In fact, he was beginning to feel slightly sick.

Eventually, the bounciness calmed down and they began to get use to the motion. Croc, curiosity getting the better of him, braved a peek out of the pocket and saw Bertie, wind in his fur, waving manically at him! They were in a race and the landscape was amazing! They were running along the side of a river, under a canopy of trees, with an amazing view.

They watched the mile markers go by…..how much further, thought Bertie?  Suddenly they began to slow. Bertie, wondering whether the race was over, peered even more from the pocket. He jumped, as a small jelly bear fell into the pocket with him! He poked it. It didn’t move and his paw got all powdery. The familiar bouncing motion began again. They had had a jelly baby pit stop!

After what seemed like forever, Bertie began to feel them speeding up. He looked over at Croc, who had also felt the increase in the bounces and sank safely to the deep depths of the pocket. Bertie was getting into this now. As the wind blew at his fur, he felt liberated and began to cheer. They crossed the finish line in just over 2 hours.

Something else joined Bertie and Croc’s pocket on the way home….a big shiny medal. Bertie and Croc had just run their first half marathon. Bertie was super excited and chatted away all the way home. Croc silently stared at his medal. It was huge, and a strange feeling came over him. He felt proud!

Finding a place called home

It is living not planning that fuels human creativity!
Bertie was beginning to realise that the more he travelled, the more he learnt. The more people he met, the more he understood himself a little bit more. Bertie began to understand that in hiding away for years in the bottom of a basket he was not avoiding other people, but also avoiding himself. He did not want to see himself reflected in the people he would meet. He was scared of what he would see. What would happen if he didn’t like the person looking back at him?

As Bertie sat contemplating on the window sill of his new home, he realised that this was a brand new adventure. He had never had anywhere to call “home” before.

Bertie looked at his reflection in the dusty window and smiled confidently. He was no longer afraid of the bear who looked back at him.

He was Bertie, Bertie the Travelling Bear, and he was on another adventure. Who knows what he would learn, who he would met, or what he would do? That was the magic of it. The unknown. He was excited to discover the answers. 

The Power of Speech

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I have lost my voice.

It isn’t until you really loose something that you realise how much it meant to you, or how much you relied on it! I now know how Bertie the Travelling Bear feels not being able to verbalise his thoughts. His only power of communication is the written word.

Without a voice communication has been difficult. Not impossible, but difficult. I have had to be resourceful. My partner and I had the most fun we have ever had in the supermarket this week because all of our communication was done in sign language. We soon forgot about the confused stares from the other shoppers as we fell around, me laughing silently, at the random gestures we were making up. We still haven’t quite worked out a silent sign for milk, any ideas anyone?

I have learnt how to get my computer to speak what I type, and have had fits of silent giggles, making it say random things to people all week. The receptionist at the doctors couldn’t stop laughing when I used my computer to tell her that I needed a doctors appointment and what was wrong with me. I then pointed to the huge “Its my birthday” badge I was wearing when she asked me my date of birth (it was actually my birthday as well, I haven’t gone completely insane).

The other thing I have noticed is, when I speak very quietly to other people, they actually respond in the same way. I have had no choice but to whisper a few words when I can, but the people I have spoken to have lowered their voices and whispered back. I have found this quite amusing and would highly recommend giving it a try!

When I am silent and I smile at other people they start talking, and they don’t seem to stop. I don’t have much choice but to listen, silently. I have had random strangers chatting away to me when I have whispered “no voice”.

Hopefully, my voice will return to normal next week but I have seen this week as some kind of blessing. I have learnt some lessons in communication which I feel will be very useful to me in the future. In the meantime, I will use my silent moments to work out some more random sign language…..ways to sign chocolate anyone?

At last…..

Bertie’s very FIRST book has finally gone live on Amazon!

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I have decided that anyone who tells you writing a book is so easy, it can be done in a few days, is not doing it properly. Bertie’s book has been created from travelling around the world, carrying a small bear and a not small enough back pack! I have hiked up mountains, travelled by boat, plane, car, tuk-tuk, bicycle, motorbike, scooter and foot all to create the content of Bertie’s books.

It takes a lot of effort and determination to place a small bear at the base of Everest and photograph him!

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Then there has been the actual writing bit. The constant editing and re-editing, because I am a complete perfectionist. The most nerve wrecking bit of all was sending the book to my friend to proof read. Being an ex-teacher I knew she would spot every grammatical and spelling error there was! When she gave me her seal of approval I knew I was onto a winner. Who better to review a children’s story than someone who has read stories to children every day for most of their life?

I can’t even begin to recall how many times I uploaded a new proof to the publishing platform because I found a formatting error or I wasn’t happy with the photo size. There was one point where I did want to run out of the room screaming or do something resembling this….

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Bertie’s audio recording…..well what can I say? I thought it would be easy too. I have decided to give up on thinking! My dad was an absolute star helping me with this bit. I had never even heard of a “pop filter” and was very confused when he was waving one around excitedly saying “p” through it!?

In conclusion, travelling the world to get the content of Bertie’s books has been the easy bit. Actually creating them has been harder, but there was something amazing about opening that package and seeing Bertie’s book in print, for the very first time. I do have a video and I am planning on sharing it…..I just might tweak it first (perfectionist?)

Now you have read ALL the way to the bottom of this post, here are the links to Bertie’s book on Amazon, for the US version click here, for UK click here.

I am still waiting for the audio to be approved. As soon as it has been you guys will be the first to know (after the dog of course!) Feel free to share and provide feedback! Thank you for all your support. May you all be blessed with a week full of chocolate and warm hugs! What will I be doing? Learning book marketing techniques of course……

 

Grant the Grapefruit…

…..goes live!

It has all been a little quiet on the Bertie front recently. Bertie has moved states within Australia and has just moved countries!!! He couldn’t believe how much he has to fit into his little suitcase. I mean how much stuff can one bear collect???

He has also been helping his friend Grant the Grapefruit to release a book, which is now available on amazon: US version and a UK version

In fact, Bertie has been so inspired by his friend Grant’s book that he has been debating writing his own series…..

Grant's portrait
Happiness is being a travelling grapefruit

Gargoyles and zebras

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Waving goodbye to their new found friends in the Toy Shop window Bertie lead Croc towards the large, towering structure in front of them. Croc was too excited about his new friends to at first to look up, until Bertie gave him a little nudge and pointed towards the sky.

Croc’s jaw fell open revealing a very impressive set of teeth. The building in front of him was like nothing he had ever seen before. Croc was looking at the impressive York Minister. Bertie instantly went into tour guide mode explaining, to a rather overwhelmed Croc, that the stone York Minister was badly damaged in a fire during an uprising in 1068 and the Normans built a new minster in around 1080. This was the basis of the present impressive Minister he was looking at today.

It was indeed impressive, thought Croc. He felt slightly dizzy looking up at the tall spires on the Minister. The gargoyles looking back down at him and Bertie made Croc do a little shiver and he sank a little deeper into the pocket he was in. Soon he had forgotten the stony stares and had become immersed in the ornate detail everywhere he looked. As they walked around the side of the building, Croc also noticed the impressive towering windows. Where Croc was from this building would not have survived this long as a cyclone would have destroyed it by now he thought as he posed happily and proudly for a photograph in front of the entrance. Bertie smiled to himself noting Croc’s new found confidence in having his photograph taken.

Bertie took Croc all the way around the outside of the Minister, allowing him to take in all the details of the huge building. He then pointed to a smaller building which was in front of them. Peeling his eyes away from the impressive shadow of the Minister Croc saw the most unusual building he had ever seen. It looked like an architectural zebra!

Bertie laughed at Croc’s description and told Croc that it was a classic tutor building from around the 16th to 18th Century. As the walked along admiring the architecture, Bertie knew exactly where to take Croc next…..

The only time Croc took his eyes away from the Minister!
The only time Croc took his eyes away from the Minister!

Photographs and content copyright of Samantha Key

The Toy Shop

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When Bertie was just an untravelled bear he was quite introverted and was extremely cautious about other toys. What did they want? Why were they being nice to him? He would often think as a rouge bear would try to start a polite conversation with him. In fact, Bertie had become so introverted that he had buried himself at the bottom of the toy bin in the hope that everyone would just leave him alone.

How different Bertie felt about life now!

Bertie had begun to notice that his friend Croc had similar characteristics to young Bertie. He would often hide in the bottom of the coat pocket and when Bertie first met Croc he was hiding at the back of the bunk bed in the dark. Croc had started to grow more and more confident within his own stuffing and Bertie had begun to feel a sense of pride at being able to help him on his journey to discover the inner Croc. After all, thought Bertie, what good is all this knowledge and experience if it is not shared and used to help others?

Today Bertie took Croc to meet some new friends, just to see how Croc would react. They emerged from the narrow pathway which lead to Barley Hall into the hustle and bustle of the busy streets of York again. There were so many people, thought Croc, unable to get his head around where they had all come from. The streets were so small and the buildings so close together Croc felt if he turned sideways he would cause several people to trip up over him.

Bertie grabbed Croc and dragged him out of the safety of the pocket, much to Croc’s protesting. He settled with Croc on a  windowsill of an old shop. Croc got such a fright when there was a tap on the window behind him. Turning around slowly, half expecting to see a ghost bear, Croc saw a large green Crocodile-like toy much like himself but stood upright waving at him! Croc looked on in shock as his brain processed the expanse of toys in front of him…..there were hundreds, all smiling and waving and there was no where for Croc to hide. He could either throw himself into the crowds of people or stay where he was and socialise.

Taking a deep breath, Croc did a small nod towards the other toys who responded with great joy at the acknowledgement he gave them. Looking over at Bertie Croc could see him grinning widely from underneath his small, blue, winter wooly hat and he felt instantly reassured. He was amongst friends for the first time in his short Crocodile life and it felt great.

 

Words and photographs copyright of Samantha Key 2016