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Friday, 22 August 2014

Cowboys, country girls and Indians

A few months ago our friend Henry was trying out his Cowboy outfit and asking his mum for more horses so he could play Cowboys and Indians with his friends.  This gave Henry's mum Lorraine and I an idea for some summer fun.  While Henry was visiting the USA for the 2014 Sasha festival he went to the Grand Canyon and saw an Indian tepee and this gave me a further idea for our summer fun day.  A date was set and Henry, Molly, Stevie, Peggy Sue and Kayla brought Stratford the horse with them to visit Laura, Reuben, Miranda, Florence, Nicholas James, the babies, Emily the white horse & the Gotz pony yesterday.  In the days before their visit, I worked to grant Henry his tepee wish...

A certain little bear called Clemence (a cousin of Mossy from Sasha Village) decided to get involved.  These are some of his observations:

In the Indian village Miranda was visiting the babies in one of the tepees.  
Clemence wandered up to Miranda to ask "where is Laura".
"I don't know, you will have to go and look for her" said Miranda
Florence was pretending to be an Indian woman
looking after the babies Leo and Mabel in a tepee
Clemence spotted Peggy Sue and asked her "have you seen Laura".
Peggy Sue replied that she didn't know.
Leo and Mabel caught sight of Clemence and wanted a cuddle.
Clemence gave Mabel a great big cuddle
Peggy Sue realised that there were some babies in the tepee
but at least there weren't as many as at the Sasha Festival earlier this year!
Leo and Mabel came out to see Peggy Sue
Leo babbled to Peggy Sue...
...while Mabel held up her arms for a cuddle!
Peggy Sue sat down on the grass with the babies and Clemence the bear.
She felt slightly less overwhelmed by babies than at the festival!
For anyone who doesn't understand why Peggy Sue (a very old wooden Shoenhut doll) went to the 2014 Sasha festival you need to visit Lorraine's blog and what happened to her when she got there!

Kayla the American Indian girl was sitting enjoying the sunshine in front of her tepee.
She could see the beautiful horse called Stratford grazing nearby.
Molly came to visit Kayla and asked all about what it was like living in a tepee.
Kayla decided to show Molly some of her treasures,
such as her bow and arrow, papoose, little drum
and her new friend the Canadian Indian boy (from my doll cabinet).
She explained that the Bison painted
on her tepee meant courage and honour.
Other symbols on her tepee also have meanings.
In the meantime Henry the Cowboy mounted his horse
Clemence the bear climbed onto Stratford to ask Henry "have you seen Laura?".  
"No, I haven't seen her yet" said Henry,
who was really pleased to see Mossy's cousin and gave him a great big hug.
Laura was riding Emily, her beautiful white horse
Stevie came to admire Emily
Laura told Stevie how wonderful her horse was to ride
Clemence approached Stevie and asked "Have you seen Laura?"
"Yes, I have" said Stevie, "She is riding her horse".
Clemence was so pleased he gave Stevie a cuddle
"Laura!" cried Clemence "I've found you at last"
Henry and Stratford trotted round to Laura and Stevie came to greet Stratford
Stevie stroked Stratford on the nose as Henry and Laura chatted
Meanwhile Reuben was stroking the pony which Nicholas James was trying to ride
"You know Reuben, I wish I could ride Stratford,
I feel a bit silly riding this little pony" said Nicholas James
Lorraine and I had a lot of fun and laughs trying to get the two tepees to stand on a windy afternoon in my back garden.  They stood fine on the dining room table, but proved a bit fiddly in the garden so I'm experimenting with a solution to make them really easy to put up (and stay up!).  Henry has taken his tepee home with him.  More about the tepees in another post.
Florence and the Navajo mat from Lorraine
Florence sitting in our tepee with the lovely woven mat which Lorraine brought for my daughter all the way from the Navajo Indians near the Grand Canyon.  The Navajo traditional house is a hogan (made of wood and mud) rather than a tepee.  Lorraine also gave my daughter a beautiful silver bracelet from the Navajo.

We tried to dress all the girls as if they were from the time of Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House on the Prairie), though Laura is wearing more modern cowgirl clothes (part of the 2012 Festival raffle doll ensemble won by Laura H).  I know that Nicholas James would love a cowboy outfit especially after seeing Henry's clothes, so I'll need to try making something.  Reuben quite fancies a Native American costume, though he knows that wearing a full feather headdress is something only the revered elders of a tribe are allowed to wear, so he is asking for a couple of feathers in a headband instead.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Waldkirch - part 3

On the Saturday morning when visiting the Waldkirch International Orgelfest at the end of June, we visited a lovely little toy shop in one of the main streets. It was packed with glorious toys, mostly traditional, though some modern. Last time I saw a Kathe Kruse bath baby doll there and was very tempted. This time, they had one KK doll high up on a shelf, several Gotz and various other lovely dolls, however I resisted. We were more interested in finding toys for the dolls. The following picture story shows the miniature animals, miniature sailing boat and wooden game we found in the shop.  It also features 2 other souvenirs my younger girl collected over the weekend.  The shop owner was VERY interested in the doll carrier bag which Lorraine had made for Laura and took a photo of it, so I wouldn't be surprised if she commissions someone in Waldkirch to make some for her shop. She gave my younger daughter a small gift of the cuckoo clock fridge magnet and some loom bands to say 'thank you' for allowing her to take photos of Laura and Reuben in their travel bag (she did ask permission first).

Laura and Reuben were sharing the gifts
they had brought from Waldkirch with the others
Clemence the bear discovered the giraffe, who stared at him for a long time
Leo loved the polar bear
Laura proudly wore her Waldkirch Orgelfest badge
and loom band bangle
and showed off the cuckoo clock (fridge magnet)
Reuben and baby Mabel were having fun with the sailing boat
Florence and Miranda had a game with the coloured puzzle,
they took it in turns to add pieces
Miranda had the purple, Florence the green triangle
Nicholas James found a flamingo while Leo still clutched his polar bear
The puzzle was coming together nicely
"You can put in the last piece Miranda" said Florence
"Yay, we finished the puzzle" cried the girls
Laura decided to show off the miniature organ
she and Reuben were given in Waldkirch
She sat down and turned the handle on the side,
all the miniature animals turned towards the sound
all the dolls gathered to listen while Laura brought the sounds of Waldkirch to England
See also Part 1 and Part 2 of our trip to Waldkirch.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Waldkirch - part 2

Waldkirch orgelfest continued (see also part 1): On Sunday morning we visited the organ workshop of Achim Schnieder who makes incredible instruments - lovely street organs and musical boxes. We had a tour of his workshop and looked at the collection of strange automata type instruments built from scrap with a group of local school children as part of an education / engineering project.  The instruments were mainly for sound effects as part of a musical performance later that day, however visitors could try them out.  DollMum's younger daughter, Laura and Reuben tried out this pedal barrel operated guitar and drum playing combination (you pedalled and operated a lever to change the 'finger position' on the guitar which was strummed by a barrel pinned with brushes and could at the same time pull a cord to make the green drummer above hit the drum).
Laura, Reuben & DollMum's daughter try out the music machine
The guitar and drum machine
At the organ workshop of Jäger und Brommer Laura and Reuben encountered a small colourful street organ which a perspex case which made it possible to see how the organ works inside.

Colourful street organ (busker organ)
side view of the colourful street organ
There was an unclothed barrel organ monkey hanging from a shelf, showing how its body is constructed.

Barrel organ monkey at Jäger und Brommer
Some of the street organs were being demonstrated in the workshop.  This little street organ has dancing couples which turn with the music.

Reuben and Laura enjoy the dancing figures street organ
Watching and listening to a small street organ at Jäger und Brommer
Laura, Reuben and DollMum's daughter at Jäger und Brommer
Listening to the dancing figures street organ
In the rain we walked to the Eltzalmuseum of Organs, which is a museum at the heart of the town filled with the history of Waldkirch including a sizeable collection of instruments built in the town in the past 150 years. The museum was very busy, with regular tours, and especially so in the rain!  15 years ago this special organ was commissioned as a joint project built by all the organ builders in the town and launched at the 1999 Orgelfest - it was designed with children in mind and is called 'Altobella Furiosa', with the visual design by Otmar Alt.  It is a firm favourite in our family.  During the festival it is brought out of the museum (down a ramp on the main steps) to play outside however they also play it indoors (it is quite loud).  Laura and Reuben decided to pose in front of it (not playing at the time).  You can watch a video of Altobella Furiosa playing an amazing Blues Brothers arrangement at
Laura and Reuben with Altobella Furiosa
Laura and Reuben with Altobella Furiosa
They also posed with Altobella Furiosa's little companion street organ.
Laura and Reuben with the companion street organ
Laura and Reuben with the companion street organ
In the museum the public can play some of the instruments.  This Jäger and Brommer street organ has paper roll music and anyone can hand turn it to play it.
Watching the Jäger und Brommer street organ being turned in the museum
Watching the paper roll being rewound to be replayed
Laura and Reuben help DollMum's daughter turn the street organ
In the museum basement are several of the larger organs in the collection.  The Swiss Alpen horns were meant to be playing outside however it was very wet so they played indoors instead.
Swiss Alpen horns being played in the Elztal museum
Outside on the stage beside the museum was the newly built organ with a 'pop art' style facade designed by Otmar Alt.  This instrument had been demonstrated for the first time on the Friday evening, however it isn't yet complete and the stage was used by other performers throughout the weekend.  Organo Caribe are a German group who specialise in playing Caribbean style music with their little street organ, we have a CD of theirs which is a favourite for long car journeys.  See and hear a short video of Organo Caribe at
Organo Caribe play outside the museum in the rain
Sadly all festivals come to an end and most organs on display stopped playing after 5:30 pm.  We returned to our hotel and had dinner with a group of visitors from the USA who always come to our hotel for their last night meal at the festival.  After dinner Laura and Reuben sneaked out to stand in the same spot where Peter and Matroshka had stood three years before.

Laura and Reuben pose outside Altersbach hotel
Laura and Reuben pose outside Altersbach hotel
The hotel owners have a street organ which they had used to welcome the American party.  In their display cabinet was a lovely little Bavarian doll, Reuben and Laura greeted her through the glass.
Reuben and Laura greet the little Bavarian girl in the display cabinet at Altersbach
The little Bavarian doll at Altersbach
On Monday we drove all the way back to the ferry.  It is a very long way (to Strasbourg then on the north French motorways).  We are always sad to leave the organ town of Waldkirch and the lovely people at the hotel.

Laura and Reuben wave goodbye to France
DollMum's younger daughter
drew this picture of Laura and Reuben on the ferry
Just in case you're wondering about their clothes, you may recognise Laura's outfit as the Autumn Swap pinafore set sent to me by Anne in Germany who has the Sasha Comoneo crew.  She knows the Black Forest well, so it was appropriate to bring this outfit with us.  Reuben's outfit is actually his Pinehurst school outfit without the blazer and with the addition of brightly coloured braces which I constructed on the Sunday morning from some ribbon I had brought with me.