By Ann La Mar
(Illustration by Miki de Goodaboom)
One day in early March while racing round making holiday preparations I went to Thornaby on Tees. The little shopping centre there doesn’t have all the fancy chain stores but enough shops to provide basic provisions to the community. It was an ideal place to go for my last minute bits and pieces and the parking is easy.
As I was wandering and as is habit nowadays…probably addiction…. any way one of my many guilty pleasures…I went towards the charity shops, there are three close together to look for teddy bears. I went in the first two and didn’t find any bear that I felt…all teddy bears are beautiful but I like to feel something personal from them. Outside the third shop was a tombola..now I’m not sure how Miki and Truffle would feel about this (maybe they will tell you) and I didn’t tell them at the time because they had so much sadness going on in their lives it didn’t seem right. The tombola was raffling very many orphaned bears all sitting patiently waiting to be loved in new families. I couldn’t pass by and not try to bring some home so I had ten goes on this tombola and not one bear was to come with me.
I went in the shop thinking should I try again then I saw a higgledy piggledy pile of bears and other creatures in a basket in the corner so I began looking in the basket and the back of a yellow patterned waistcoat stood out so I lifted out the bundle and to my joy it was a beautiful little cream coloured bear. He looked so cute in his waistcoat and he was also carrying a sign saying Provence… I had found my bear…Miki and I have had conversations about Provence so he was perfect. I went and paid for him then as I was leaving lots of children were at the tombola so I hope they had teddy bears to take home. I had to walk quickly otherwise I would have gone back and tried to get them all.
Once my bear was safely home I took a good look at him and discovered he was indeed a real French bear from Colmar in the Alsace region of France. Hopefully one day we will all go on a trip and take him home for a visit.
Next he had to have a name so I searched the internet for famous people from Provence while reading the list I read about Alphonse Daudet a writer…he wrote’ Lettres de mon Moulin’ about life at the windmill in Fontvieille well this was an amazing coincidence as Miki had told me her family name was Fonvielle ( a modernised version of Fontvieille meaning ‘old source’)….so he had to be called Alphonse.
I took his picture and sent it to Miki saying meet Alphonse, she adored him and asked me to bring him to Spain the following week. Alphonse was going on holiday to meet Miki and Truffle.
PS: Miki de Goodaboom here. Truffle and me did meet Alphonse, what a beautiful bear he is! And a perfect personage to invite you to visit the Provence, and the Fontvieille Moulin. My Dad loved teh Lettre De Mon Moulin, the famosu book written by Alphonse Daudet. For those who know the book and its characters, my Dad made a phenomenal impression of the “Curé de Cucugan”… it still cracks me up when i think of his face doing it!