Nestled in the woods, behind a beautiful meadow full of flowers, grows a hedgerow of prickly bushes. If you were taking an afternoon stroll through the woods, you would not pay much attention to these bushes.
I am sure the bright bluebells, sunny yellow buttercups, and purple lavender would catch your eye instead. But I’ll let you in on a little secret. If you look really hard at the bushes in the afternoon sun, something remarkable will appear!
Within the bushes, what may seem like the ray of sunlight is actually the magic of Mills Beary Village. For anyone that can look past this sunlight, stands an old heavy wooden door which will appear out of nowhere. An overgrown fragrant honeysuckle vine hides the door and the large black iron latch.
By now, you will probably ask yourself, “what is a large wooden door doing standing in the middle of the woods?” Look closely, you can see a faded brass sign nailed to the door with the words “Welcome to Mills Beary Village.”
The Magic of Mills Beary Village – Episode One
Mills Beary Village is a peaceful place full of lots of magic. Hidden in a part of the English countryside with rolling hills of the deepest green mingled with wildflowers as far as the eyes can see. It’s the perfect place to explore new adventures.
There is a working Mill called The Bear Mill where magical stuffed animals come to life. But should you want to visit this village and meet the characters that live there, you cannot find it on any map. Only those I have invited can come and join in our adventures.
I am Duffels the Bear and I would like to invite you to come with me and share in our adventures. You are going to meet The SnipPets and all of their friends. These peculiar little animals are far from ordinary.
We all live at The Bear Mill as one big happy family.
The Making of the SnipPets – Episode Two
When I created the SnipPets, it had an enormous impact on The Bear Mill and transformed life in Mills Beary Village. These little creatures are proof that very extraordinary things can come from the most seemingly ordinary of places. Here is the beginning of their journey.
It all started while I was sweeping the floor of the sewing room after a busy day at the mill. After getting rid of the day’s mess, I was left with a pile of fabric scraps on the floor. Now, I am a frugal bear and I certainly didn’t want these scraps to go to waste. So, rather than throwing them away, I placed them in a box in the corner. Then, I put them out of my mind. This probably would have been the end of them without another event that happened the same week.
I was in the mill’s basement organizing the shelves to get them ready for a new coat of paint when I saw an odd light emanating from the darkness of the farthest corner. At first, I rubbed my eyes to check if I was seeing things because this was no ordinary light. When I took a closer look, I saw that it was coming from a worn wooden trunk that looked as though it had been there for a long time. Now, I must tell you that I had never seen this trunk in all my years of visiting the mill’s basement. So, I was very curious about it, indeed. I made my way over to the corner and reached to open the trunk lid just a crack. For a moment I couldn’t see anything but the brightest white light. However, as I jolted in shock, I opened the lid fully and the light faded enough so that I was able to peer into the trunk. Inside, I saw rows upon rows of neatly placed bobbins of thread. As I reached into this array of bobbins and took one out for a closer look, I felt a tingle down my arm. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that the thread had a wonderful silvery shimmer, that hadn’t been noticeable in the trunk. It was so beautiful that I decided I would try to use it the next time I was at the sewing machine. I took out a second bobbin so that I would have enough to use and I put them both in my apron pocket.
Now, the rest of the week was very busy so I gave little thought to the box of scraps in the sewing room and the bobbins of thread in my apron pocket. On Saturday evening, I decided I would go for a walk along the lane by my cottage after I had eaten my dinner. My thoughts wandered over the events of the week and I remembered the curious thread. Since it was still early in the evening, I thought I could take another look at the fabric scraps I saved and perhaps use the thread to make something from them. Arriving at the mill, I pulled out the fabrics from the box and placed them on the cutting table, where all the fabrics get cut before sewing them together to make our animals.
The colors were so bright that they instantly lifted my spirits. I cut them into various shapes and sizes, letting my hands guide me with their memory of many fabric-cutting sessions past. Eventually, I found myself sitting at the sewing machine with a pile of what would soon become arms, legs, heads, and bodies. I threaded the machine with the shimmering bobbin of thread in anticipation and, if I didn’t know better, I could have sworn I heard it make a contented sigh as I began sewing. Because I didn’t have enough fabric of any one color, I began to sew without an exact plan. I simply mixed and matched the individual pieces of fabric, hoping to make some new designs. It was enjoyable work and in no time at all I found myself with six new unstuffed plushies sitting by the sewing machine. I was very excited to take them to the filling machine to see exactly what I’d created, but it was getting late so I thought I would wait until the next day to finish the project.
I turned off the lights, closed the sewing room, and locked up the mill. As I walked home for a good night’s sleep, I caught a glimpse of the mill on the last curve of the lane before reaching my cottage. I thought I saw a light in the sewing room that I’d not seen before. It was very curious, indeed, and it must have tickled my memory because that night I had vivid dreams about how I was created at the mill. I didn’t fully understand until the next day as I worked at the filing machine with my new designs. For, as I filled each one, they came to life! My dream from the night before now made sense. I remembered the day I was created in long-forgotten detail. I also remembered that the special thread I used to stitch these animals was the exact same thread that had been used to stitch me many years ago. I thought I must have forgotten the trunk and thread over the years…or did I? Astonishingly, when I went back to the basement to take closer look at the trunk, it was no longer there! Its whereabouts will stay a mystery for another time, I suppose. I am just so thankful for the set of coincidences that helped me make our new friends, The SnipPets family. They are not perfect with their unusual eyes and different colored body parts, all made from scraps of material, but it is my belief that they are each perfect in their own way. We are not all created equal but we are all still more than valuable and each have an important place in the world. Although we may be different, we all deserve to live, love, and be loved. It is what is in your heart that matters the most.
It is here that our story truly begins.
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Having remembered my dream of last night I was anxious to go over to the mill and fill each of the SnipPets with stuffing. Henry was sitting on the wall outside the Mill and shouts Hi Duffels where are you going to in such a hurry. Did I tell you about Henry? I will come to that later. Oh I have a project I am working on. You are welcome to come and watch if you are interested. Not to miss out on anything Henry jumped down form the wall and caught up with me. As we entered the sewing room Henry saw the new animals sitting on the table. What’s all this he asked. I explained about all the scraps of fabric that I had been disposing off for all these years and how I wanted to make something with them. These were the result of that action.
I should get them filled with stuffing and I believe the magic will begin. I said to Henry. I put them all in a basket and carried them to the stuffing machine with Henry following because he was totally intrigued. This is a machine that hold fiber stuffing and each of the animals at The Bear Mill will get filled with the same stuffing.
Here goes I said as I picked up the first animal and filled his little body and sealed his back. I shook his to remove all the fluff that was sticking to his fur and he shouted Hey steady on there who are you. I am Duffels and this is Henry, we have just created you here at the Mill. Henry gasped. As calm as you please he sat there for a moment and seemed to be very content. After filling all the SnipPets, there was so much chatter between them that it had become very loud in the Sewing room.
I cleaned the area and watched them walking around the room getting to know one another. After we decided on names for each of them. I went into the kitchen and brewed a pot of tea. We drink lots of tea at the mill it is what we do. I laid out a tray with China cups, milk sugar and biscuits and I called them all into the kitchen.
We sat round the kitchen table as I told them all about Mill Beary Village and how they had come to life just like he had done many years ago. That was my dream I too had been sewn with this very same thread and arrived in the world the very same way. I even remember who created me. For some reason the thread had been put in the basement and forgotten over the years. It seemed it had been time for me to find it again, or did I?
They were in awe and so excited to begin life in their new home. Henry asked where they were going to live. He himself had carved out a very special place at the mill to live and loved the comfort of it. He was constantly adding new cushions and furniture that he made on the sewing machine in the evening when it was not in use.
Well, that is a good question I thought, where indeed? We could convert the Attic into a dorm room I said and there are lots of rooms unused up there. We will need to remove all the dust and cobwebs but can add some furniture and make them cozy. They all shouted at the same time yes.
Henry led the way, as he knew every corner of the Mill. The Attic looked pretty gloomy the dormer windows were dirty and did not shed much light. Most of light bulbs were not working so it a very gloomy place indeed.
The SnipPets looked at one another and I notice some concern pass over their faces until Georgie shouted. We can make this work, as she began to hum a tune. There’s a place where animals come to life The Bear Mill, Bear Mil, love me hug take me home.
Georgie shouted, lets open the dormers and get some fresh air up here! The Attic was really a nice place but Georgie decided after all the cobwebs and dust was gone, they may need to paint. I decided to leave them to it. Henry can help you find whatever you need to make the attic livable. Hue who was very technical and needed to have everything written down before he could challenge a task, Went in search and found a paper and pencil and began to write and plan out all the possibilities to make the area comfortable. They were all working hard and Windle said to Hue, come on Hue put away your paper and pencil we can save the designs for later, but we have work to do right now. Since this was against Hue’s nature he did as he was asked but felt a little nervous and out of sync.
In the background Georgie shouted “Hey come check this out” and she showed them that there was a large bathroom. They got buckets of water and rags that Henry gave them and Dash set about cleaning the windows. Henry got them some new light bulbs and installed them. The whole room began to take shape;
After a few hours the place already started to gleamed . There was a total feeling of accomplishment when I arrived back armed with tea and some sandwiches. Time for a break I said. Bobbins had found a table and chairs that he had polished till you could see your face in it. I set the tray on top of it. Oh, yum said Tayla I am so hungry. Everything is resolved with a cup of tea I said it is the British way. They discussed the days activities and I promised to get them some paint. What color would you like I asked Georgie? Well, she said it would be nice if we could each paint our own rooms the color or our choice.
Did you know that there is another room over there as she said and pointed to the back wall, it was full of furniture? You could barely notice that a door existed it blended into the wood paneling. Did someone live here before she asked me? I don’t know I said, that is very interesting. I believe there is a book telling the history of the mill. It has names of previous owners and workers maybe I can do some investigating. But let us sort out the attic first. It looks like a huge job to me. It is very much brighter already I said. Yes, we cleaned the windows and Henry got some new light bulbs for us. Also, she said the bathroom has a claw foot bath tub it is beautiful. She had notice it when she found the bathroom. You can see the white and black tile now after she had moved some boxes. It is right in front of the window with an outstanding view of the gardens around the Mill. You know I said I have never had any reason to venture up this far. Seems like it is the perfect place for you to make your home.
During the rest of the day the whole family worked together and set up their bedrooms, and shared the furniture they had found. Once it was in a livable state, they all agreed that they had done enough for one and pledged to paint and fine tune in upcoming days.
It was time for a nap said Bobbins, I think we had better get a wash before we go to bed said Tayla, and they all stopped to look at each other and began to laugh. They were so dirty from the day’s events; they had not had time to consider how much of a mess they looked.
Later tired and worn out the six little SnipPets went to lie down on their beds.
The following day, I wanted to take the SnipPets down into the village so they could become more familiar with their surroundings. So, I walked over to the mill and they were all sitting at the kitchen table. Looks like you have already had your breakfast I said. Yes, said Windle, the cupboards were so full of food we put breakfast together. Henry helped us. Henry was sitting at the end of the table finishing up his breakfast. Did I tell you who about Henry? Well, I will come to that shortly. Would you like to join us for a cup of tea, said Windle? I sat down and he poured me some tea. The rich dark amber colored liquid filled my cup, and I added one cube of sugar and a drop of milk. Perfect, I said. I love a cup of tea.
How was your first night at the mill. They all shouted at once as it seems they are likely to do. We all slept really heavy. Henry brought us some biscuits and cocoa for supper and none of us heard another sound until the morning.
I thought we may go down to the Village Center today. It seems to me if you are going to live here; you need to get familiar with your surroundings. You can work with me at the Mill but there is a lot more to life than the mill and so much to do around Mills Beary Village. However, it’s a little chilly, so I suggest you all wrap up warm for the journey.
The SnipPets all looked at each other and said in unison, with what? Oh Sorry, I said I was not thinking, come with me. The SnipPets followed me up the wide stairway for the second time in two days. This time we went to the second floor not the Attic. It was a little noisy because the stair treads have no carpet and everyone was running at the same time. In the center of the tread, you can see wear from others walking up and down over the years. Duffels caught sight of Hue who was very inquisitive admiring the banister. It is hand carved from old oak, I told him it is very rare indeed.
Right, I said here we are and pointed to the last room on this floor. I opened the door and could hear audible gasps from the SnipPets as they viewed the racks and racks of clothing. This was the left-over clothing that used to be made at the mill and had not shipped out to customers. I just put them in this room to store them. The excitement built as each SnipPets pulled down hangers with various clothe designs and tried them on. They were laughing and giggling as they mixed and matched silly combinations.
I will tell you what, I have some emails to answer. How about I leave you here and you can take whatever you would like to wear? Put yourself together a wardrobe. If you open up the cupboards at the back of the room, you will find socks, shoes, slippers and boots. When you have finished, come over to my office. It is at the front of the mill and we can get ready to go out.
Sitting in my office in the distance I could hear them giggling, I knew This was going to take much longer that I first expected. Perhaps I should get back to work and we can go to the village tomorrow.
Let me tell you about Henry. Early one morning I was heading over to the Mill thinking I have a lot to do today and wanted to get an early start. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Henry laying on his hammock. Good morning, Henry I said what are you planning for the day. Waiting for his answer, I thought back to when Henry first arrived at Mills Beary Village.
He had arrived at the mill simply by mistake. I will never forget the story he told me about living in a little town not far from Mills Beary. One day on his birthday he had gone over to the local feed and farm to find himself a treat. Some days when bags of grain get dropped or burst open, there is grain left on the floor and makes for easy pickings for a wonderful dinner. Since today was his birthday, he thought I will spoil myself and check it out. It was difficult getting there because few people like rats, and it was important for him not to be seen. He cannot remember how many times he had heard someone scream. It’s a rat, and he had to run and hide really quickly to save from being caught, who knows what would happen to him if they did. Well, today he had walked down the main road in the town and kept a low-profile dodging behind all the flowerpots and obstacles on the way. Arriving at the local feed and farm, he saw a large truck loading grain and farm tools. oh, what a birthday treat he thought!
Sitting on the wall, he watched them load the truck and got into the rhythm of how long it took for each sack to get loaded. He waited until they were in between loading and he jumped on the truck and hid behind some sacks.
Luckily, the delivery truck was just as he expected, filled with farm supplies and grain when as luck would have it, Henry noticed, that one of the gardening tools had fallen over and ripped open a sack of grain. Thankfully, the workers had not noticed as they secured the load. They started the engine and headed out to make the delivery. Henry had not expected to go for a ride but thought well they will return this evening and as long as I can keep out of site it will be an adventure. As the truck pulled away from the store, Henry immediately helped himself to a nice snack from the open bag of grain. He was really full now and as the truck made its way across the countryside, the gentle movement of the truck bed made Henry sleepy and he snuggled down for a cozy nap.
When he woke up, Henry he was in Mills Beary Village. Henry did not know why he wasn’t still on the truck and was very nervous. Wondering where he was and what he should do. So, he hid under a bush and waited until nightfall to look around. He carefully made his way to a building next to the stream. Thinking he could enter the building when he heard a noise like a sewing machine. He saw a hole in the stone wall and squeezed through it toward the noise. There, to his amazement, he saw a bear whistling to himself while sitting at a sewing machine. When the sewing machine paused, the bear heard Henry and called out, “Hello!”. If you think it surprised Henry to hear a whistling, talking bear, imagine how shocked he was when he could answer back! Hello, he shouted back.
I am Duffels the Bear. Welcome to The Bear Mill. I don’t believe I have ever seen you before. It was then Henry told me about the trip to the feed and farm and about his nap on the truck and waking up in the village.
That is curious I said, I don’t believe that has ever happened before. I think you must have fallen through the magical doorway when the truck went over a bump. Maybe it bounced you right off the trunk. I did not see any harm in his presence, so I simply invited him to stay. There is a lot to do around here every. day you are welcome to stay. Henry like the look of the place and said he would love to stay.
Now, Henry is the happiest rat you will ever meet. He no longer has to search for food or find warm places to sleep. With my guidance, he has become very resourceful and makes himself fashionable clothes from the mill fabrics and also uses them to create furniture and rugs for his home. He really loves his life here. Henry is a big part of The Bear Mill family, and that is the best part of all.
Laying on his hammock. Henry shouted good morning, Duffels, oh, this and that I thought I might walk over to have a cup of tea with Little Red. I haven’t seen him for a few days. Did you know he was decorating his den? No, I answered I must stop by and check it out for myself. Please give him my regards.
Will do he said as he swung off the hammock and made his way down the lane wearing his Red and black tam o’shanter cap.
Big News and a New Discovery – Episode Seven
I was looking out of my office window and I spotted Little Red and Henry walking down the pathway. Little Red is another one of my friends, a red fox with a big bushy tail. He lives in the woods by the Mill. The two were deep in conversation so I assumed that word had gotten out about the SnipPets. Mills Beary Village is a small place and everyone cares very much about one another. So, it does not take long for news to travel. Seeing Little Red and Henry animatedly chatting, I assumed the whole village must be abuzz with the news. I thought to myself that I simply must take a trip down into the village square soon for everyone to meet our new arrivals.
In the meantime, I was busy trying to find The Book. I had been told of its existence many years ago when learning about the Mill’s history. People in the village put great store by the contents of The Book. You see, it contains years of history and documents all the great changes that have occurred in Mills Beary Village over the years. I vaguely knew of its existence, like I said, but I had never had cause to go in search of it. However, with the arrival of the SnipPets, that had all changed. I was aware that I must have come into the world magically, the same as they did. I thought it might have something to do with the thread that was used to create us. But, I wanted to know more. So, I was on the hunt for The Book that could answer my questions.
While I was busy searching, Henry walked in the office, followed by Little Red. “Good morning, what are you two up to today?,” I asked. “I just came up from the Village,” said Red, “I heard all about the SnipPets and was hoping to meet them.” “I believe they are in the Attic, as they still have some organizing to do,” I said, “Feel free to go and introduce yourself.” After Little Red started toward the staircase, I asked Henry to wait for a moment. I explained that I could not remember where I had heard about The Book and asked if he had any idea where it could be found. You see, Henry knew every nook and cranny of the Mill. He had made it his mission to find out everything about Mills Beary village since the day he arrived.
“Hmmm,” said Henry, “I do remember that key hanging in your wardrobe. Do you remember it? We saw it when we were fixing the hinge on the wardrobe door. It was hanging on a ribbon in the corner.” “That’s right!” I said with excitement. “Would you like to come with me to see if it holds any clues?” Henry agreed and off we went towards my cottage to see if the key could tell us the whereabouts of The Book.
As we walked, Henry said, “So, what are your plans for the SnipPets? It seems like you have created a unique group.” “Yes,” I replied, “I am so happy that I created them together. They are such a lovely little family and I feel bonded with them already. We are all going to work on improving The Mill and expanding the work load now that there are more of us to help. Once they get settled, we will be able to discuss all that we do at The Mill as we plan on moving forward. I thought it would be best if they became familiar with their surroundings and all of the people in the village before that, however.”
With that said, we arrived at the cottage and went to my bedroom. We opened the wardrobe door and Henry said, “There you are, Duffels, it is still there!” I reached in and took hold of the once forgotten key. I felt a familiar tingle down my arm as though I was about to discover something very special. It was the same feeling I had when I picked up the bobbins of thread before I made the SnipPets. I knew Henry was onto something and I couldn’t wait to discover more.
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If you have questions about Mills Bear Village and the SnipPets please email Duffels Bear. Allow 24 hours for Duffels response.
He is a member of the SnipPets Family and lives in Mills Beary Village. Bobbins is the playful one in the group. He loves telling jokes and making others laugh, he does a great impersonation of Duffels.
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