Perry's Europe Tour - 1996

Cub Reporter Perry Bear! Hello Bear Friends! Come join Doctor Steve, Miss Cynthia and I as we tour England, France and Germany!

Perry's Travels: 

A Bear's Guide to London

Dear Bear Friends:

Some of you might like to travel the world, someday, as I have--and I hope you'll find this little Bear's Guide To London to be helpful.

To begin with, the British are VERY staunch supporters of the Bear species.

Here in England, my Mistress is far from alone as a grown-up who believes in bears! Bears are everywhere in England, and they are loved and honored by young humans and old humans alike.

That is why England has been home to several famous bears. Of course, we are all familiar with Edward Bear, known to his friends as Winnie-the-Pooh, or Pooh for short. Did you know that dear Mr. Milne wrote the Pooh stories about an ACTUAL bear? The original Winnie lived just outside of London, with his Master, Christopher Robin, and Piglet and Rabbit and Kanga and little Roo, and all the other well-known inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood.

London contains a very special item of Pooh History: the original sketches for the Pooh stories! Yes, if one travels to the Victoria and Albert Museum, one may see the original drawings made by dear Mr. Shepard. You can see the finished drawings in any copy of "Winnie The Pooh" or "The House At Pooh Corner"--but the artist's actual drawings and sketches may be seen in London.

Another famous London bear is Paddington Bear. It was so exciting to see the actual train station that gave Paddington his name! My, it is busy and exciting there, full of noisy trains and hurrying people. Wasn't Paddington a Very Brave Bear? To be lost at Paddington Station would have quite finished me, I dare say!

There's another famous British bear who is less familiar to us Colonials (that's a joking way to mean Americans--it comes from our status as a former colony of the British Empire!). Rupert Bear is a rather tall, slender fellow who wears a yellow jersey (that's what English people call a sweater!), red plaid pants, and a little red scarf.

While we Americans don't hear much about Rupert, he is very familiar to British children. Rupert comes from the small city of Canterbury, to the south of London--and he has many exciting adventures and travels! Perhaps our paths will cross some day--that would be exciting! Meantime, you can look for one of Rupert's many adventure stories in your local library.

London is home to many, many bears who are not so famous as Pooh or Rupert or Paddington. In our travels, Mistress and I found two shops devoted ENTIRELY to bears! One, called The Great English Bear Company, has a shop on Oxford Street.

I was astonished to see SO MANY bears! Not only are there bears ready to be adopted, but bear books and bear cards and bear furniture are sold there.

There are even ready-knitted sweaters in sizes to fit just about all of us!

After enduring some of the cold, damp English weather, I saw the advantage of a knitted sweater, even if it would mash down my fur.

Just outside the South Kensington station of the Underground, Mistress and I found another interesting bear shop. Oh, but it was tiny! The shop itself was about the size of an American bathroom, but it was lined with shelf after shelf of beautiful bears. THESE were not your common, garden variety toy bears (as I am, myself), but elegant and expensive collector bears, made of fine cashmeres and wools.

In the face of so many elegant bears, I felt quite ashamed of my rather matted, worn fur. However, these exquisite bears were friendly fellows, and soon, I had a good time chatting with them. They joshed me, good-naturedly, about my American accent--but I could see that they also envied me. After all, my Mistress IS most unusually fond of me. I hope all my new English bear friends are adopted by a fine family soon!

I have saved the best for last. My bear friends, I was privileged to meet some of the oldest bears in existence! Near the British Museum lies a small, wonderful museum, called the London Toy Museum. It is a spendid place! The Toy Museum is contained in a very, very old house--one part of the house is almost seven hundred years old! The ceilings are low, the rooms are small, and to see all the toys, one must climb up steep and narrow staircases.

But the rooms devoted to dolls and bears are worth the climb! As most of you know, the teddy bear was first produced in Germany by the Steiff company--are any of you Steiff bears, with the signature button in your ear? If you are, you are inheritors of a proud and ancient tradition!

Even though the first bears were made in Germany, it was British and American children who made teddy bears popular--and we Americans gave them their name!

In the early years of the 20th century, a political cartoonist illustrated a famous incident involving President Theodore Roosevelt. The President had refused to kill a bear (thank GOODNESS!) while on a wilderness trip. The cartoonist began to draw a little bear cub in many of his cartoons. Soon, Americans began referring to stuffed bears as Teddy Bears, to honor our brave and honorable President, and the Bear Craze began.

Well. I MUST tell you. I was privileged and honored to be able to visit some of these very, very old bears at the London Toy Museum. There were bears from 1905 and 1906--ancient, venerable, kindly bears who smiled at me but did not speak. I was awed and humble just to be in the presence of such old bears!

My favorite bear, though, was a bear who had been adopted just before World War I. He had been owned by several young children, brothers and sisters.

These talented children made the most amazing wardrobe for their Teddy Bear!

He had an elegant evening suit, a soldier's uniform, a sailor suit, and even a checked wool outfit for picnics in the country! Like the oldest bears, he too was silent, but he nodded gravely when I complimented him on his outstanding wardrobe.

I felt quite solemn when we left the London Toy Museum. I had no idea we Teddy Bears were such an old, honorable species! For nearly one hundred years, we have been companions and friends to children, sharing their joy and comforting them when sad or lonely or frightened. I turned to Mistress, and with a tear in my eye, gave her an extra-special tight hug.

"Oh, Perry," she said, "never you mind. Who can imagine a world without teddy bears?"

Who, indeed?


Perry Bear Ewer

Perry Solves A Literary Mystery

Dear Bear Friends:

We are in Paris!

A few hours ago, our train pulled into the "Gard du Nord", and we are really, really in Paris. I have so much to look forward to! Miss Cynthia has promised to take me on a bus tour of all the Paris sights, and I will write faithfully about all that I see and do.

This evening, however, Your Bear Correspondent Perry Bear Ewer got to the bottom of a mystery that has bedevilled bear literature for nearly 70 years.

As literary mysteries goes, it is a small one, but one of great interest to Miss Cynthia and to ME, at any rate, and here is how I discovered it:

Our Paris hotel is VERY grand, like all of Paris: a huge stone building with many tall windows. Our doorman wears a very dashing uniform, with a red cape. He said "Bon Soir!" to Miss Cynthia and me as we went out for a short walk on the streets of Paris. Miss Cynthia told me that "Bon Soir!" means "Good Evening!", because I was very puzzled.

Off we went, down the street. Paris IS very grand. The buildings are all made of stone, and are very tall. Each window has an elaborate iron railing, and everything is very beautiful. Cheerful shops line the sidewalk, and cars dash about on the street.

Everyone seems to walk EVERYWHERE. I saw young French girls, arm-in-arm, hair flying behind them, laughing and smiling. Although the weather was brisk and cold, Miss Cynthia and I enjoyed our first walk in Paris.

Suddenly, just ahead, we noticed many lights and people and much commotion.

"Shall we investigate?" asked Miss Cynthia. I was agreeable. Remember, while poor Miss Cynthia has to walk around in the cold with NO FUR, just a coat and scarf, I get to ride in warm comfort, snug in my fur, wrapped in a warm scarf and tucked into a corner of Miss Cynthia's handbag.

We crossed the street, and found ourselves in front of Le Pringtemps. Le Pringtemps is a very large department store--the name means, Springtime.

Miss Cynthia told me it is the oldest department store in Paris! Le Pringtemps is more than 130 years old, but it looked very new and modern.

When we got closer, we discovered the reason for the excitement: Christmas windows! I sat up taller to get a better view, because the windows were WONDERFUL. A whole court of cats, dressed in old-fashioned court clothing, looked on while Santa Claus was presented to the cat King and cat Queen.

Winter scenes with snowmen. Santa's workshop. So many wonderful windows, and all of them were moving. Why, I thought I'd gone back to Perryland!

I noticed something odd, however, and resolved to ask Miss Cynthia about it, soon. My chance came right away. "Perry," Miss Cynthia said, blowing on her gloved hands to warm them, "let's go get a hot drink--I'm FREEZING!"

So we turned into a nearby McDonalds. Yes, a McDonalds! It was the same as an American McDonalds, and it was a little bit different, too. The soft drinks are very small, and McDonalds sells WINE in France! Miss Cynthia got a steaming cup of coffee, and she was kind enough to purchase a hot chocolate for me, as well.

We found a table near the window, so we could watch the passing crowd.

"Miss Cynthia," I said, "Where are all the bears? There were hardly ANY teddy bears in those store windows!"

"Perry, you noticed!" said Miss Cynthia, solemnly. "Yes, this will surprise you, but teddy bears are not very popular with French children. I hope your feelings won't be hurt. The French are just not very interested in bears."

"Not even at CHRISTMAS?" I gasped.

"No, not even then," said Miss Cynthia, sadly. "If you look in the toy stores, you will see a few bears, but most of them are German or English bears, not French bears. Bears have never really caught on in France, I'm sorry to say."

Imagine! Hard as it is to believe, it is true. French children like many American toys. In Paris, every toy store has LOTS of toys from "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and I could certainly understand THAT! After all, the cathedral of Notre Dame IS in Paris! Barbie is popular, too, along with a European doll like Barbie, named Sindy. Just not bears! I was very sad as I sipped my hot chocolate.

Meanwhile, Miss Cynthia was making a face at her cup of coffee. "What is it, Miss Cynthia?" I asked. "I don't know, Perry just look at this cream!"

Miss Cynthia held a small, opened container of coffee cream toward me. It was thick and yellowish-white, and to a bear nose, it smelled DELICIOUS.

"Is it supposed to look like this?" Miss Cynthia asked, "Do you think it's gone bad?"

"Nothing that smells THAT good has gone bad, Miss Cynthia!" I said. "Let me taste it maybe it's fancy French coffee cream!" I scooped up just a smidgen onto my paw, and licked it. Delicious! Almost as good as honey! I rubbed my tongue around the inside of the tiny tin, and guzzled the entire sweet, delicious morsel. "May I have some more?" I asked Miss Cynthia, somewhat stickily.

"Perry, what has gotten into you? Eating my coffee cream? What IS this stuff?" Miss Cynthia walked to the counter and retrieved some more tiny tins.

She sat down, looking carefully at the label on the top. "'Lait Concentre Avec Sucre'" she read, "Hmmm. Concentrated Milk with Sugar . . . why, it's condensed milk!"

Miss Cynthia was very excited. "Perry, do you know what you've done? You've solved a mystery!" Me? Solved a mystery? I just wanted Miss Cynthia to give me some more . . . condensed milk, was it? She opened the tin, smiled, and placed it in my paw.

"Perry," Miss Cynthia said, "all my life I have wondered about bears and condensed milk. You see, it's a critical element in one of the most famous Pooh stories, the one in which Pooh gets stuck in Rabbit's doorway. Remember? Pooh visits Rabbit for tea, and Rabbit asks, 'Honey or CONDENSED MILK with your bread, Pooh?' and Pooh says, 'Both!' but so as not to seem greedy, he adds 'Never mind about the bread, though!' You remember what happens next, right? Pooh eats so much honey and condensed milk he gets stuck in Rabbit's door--and I've been puzzled ever since I was a little girl about CONDENSED MILK. And now I know what it is! Perry, you have solved a literary mystery!"

Miss Cynthia smiled at me, happily, and I smiled back, very sticky about the muzzle. If it made Mistress happy to learn that bears loved condensed milk, it was fine with me. I looked at her hopefully, and she laughed, opened another tiny tin, and put it in my paw.

"Salud, Perry!" she said.

"What?" I mumbled, through another sticky, delicious mouthful. "That's French for 'enjoy'!" Miss Cynthia laughed.

I DID enjoy my first evening in Paris!

Perry Bear Ewer. World Traveler, Bear Friend, and most lately, Literary Sleuth.

Perry Goes to Tea

Dear bear friends:

What a happy day we've had I couldn't wait to rush back to our hotel room to tell you ALL about it. Now, you may be asking: "Whatever do teddy bears DO in London?" I will tell you: we go out to tea!

Actually, this morning, I thought we wouldn't do ANYTHING. Miss Cynthia and The Doctor would NOT get up. They slept and slept and slept, long past the time

they usually wake up. I was getting quite worried! At one point, I took my paw and rolled up Miss Cynthia's eyelid. She batted at me, sleepily, and said, "Cut it OUT, Perry", so I knew she was all right. I sighed, and leaned back against the pillow to wait for her to wake up.

Goodness! It was after NOON when they finally woke up. I asked Miss Cynthia why they had been so silly, sleeping and sleeping when we could be exploring London. That's when Miss Cynthia explained all about jet lag.

Jet lag. Poor humans! When they travel in airplanes for long distances, their bodies take a day or two to adjust to the new time zone of the place they're visiting. This makes them cross or cranky or very, very sleepy. I'm glad I'm made of stuffing, and needn't worry about such things!

In any event, soon Miss Cynthia and The Doctor were up and dressed and ready for the day but it was already 2 p.m.! Miss Cynthia tucked me into a corner of her handbag, and took special care to wrap a nice warm scarf around me, because the weather in London is cold and damp.

First thing, we stopped to get some English money. It was very confusing!

The British call their money "pounds" and "pence", not "dollars" and "cents" as we Americans say. A pound is worth about $1.50 in American money. I giggled, naughtily, when I heard how the British refer to "pence" they call it "pee"! A newspaper seller will say, "London Times, that'll be fifty pee!". When I giggle, Miss Cynthia pokes me with her elbow and says, "Hush UP, Perry!"

Supplied with lots of pounds and pence, we stepped out into the street from our hotel. The weather was cool and damp, and the buildings were very beautiful. Many buildings are quite old in London, and even newer buildings LOOK like they might be old. London is very beautiful, and I enjoyed our walk.

Miss Cynthia says if you want to learn more about London, ask your Mommy to type this address in a Web address box:

Soon, we turned a corner and walked into the Underground. The London Underground is a big set of tunnels under the city. You take speedy little trains from one place to another, and it is lots of fun. First, you buy a ticket from a special machine, and it costs one pound and 10 pee (hee-hee-hee-hee-OUCH! Miss Cynthia!). Bears can ride for free!

Then you send your ticket through a little slot, and it lets you through a doorway. Next come the escalators and they are SO steep and long. I wanted to slide all the way to the bottom on the slick, shiny dividers between the escalators, but Miss Cynthia wouldn't let me. She never lets me have ANY fun!

At the end of the escalators, we found the platform for our little train.

Look! Here it comes! You can tell a train is coming, because wind rushes through the tunnel ahead of it. My fur was blown straight back! The train pulled up, the doors opened, and we all hopped onboard.

Very, very quickly, we arrived at our stop and left the train. This time, the escalators went UP, and I was very glad I didn't have to climb all those stairs. Soon, we were back out in the cool, damp London air. I enjoyed my first ride on the London Underground!

Miss Cynthia and The Doctor decided to walk around a little bit. We went to Trafalgar Square: a big, open square with lots of statues in it. There also are lots of people, and LOTS of PIGEONS! British children love to visit Trafalgar Square to feed the pigeons. A little stand sells small cups of pigeon food, and you can see giant flocks of HUNDREDS of pigeons, maybe even THOUSANDS of pigeons milling around, eating the food.

The pigeons are very tame, and very, very FAT. When they're not eating, they sit on all the statues, even the tallest statue of Lord Nelson!

Miss Cynthia wouldn't let me feed them, though! She was mad at the pigeons, because one of them made a mess on her new coat. I was very disappointed. Miss Cynthia gets excited about the oddest things!

I looked at the children who had a NICE Mommy who let them feed the pigeons.

The children were dressed a little bit differently from my American friends. Boys wear little short pants, even though it is very cold outside!

Both boys and girls wear special school blazers, most of them with a little necktie, because many British children wear school uniforms. They like to wear Dr. Marten shoes, and it does look a little bit strange to see those big, black clunky shoes on a girl in a blazer, wool skirt and necktie!

Still, it was very nice to see how the children are dressed. It almost made up for Miss Cynthia's very annoying refusal to let me have some pigeon food and feed the pigeons! My friend Bert from Sesame Street is going to be VERY disappointed! He LOVES pigeons!

By now, it's 4 p.m., and Miss Cynthia and The Doctor decided to go for tea ­ and what a tea we go to! We walked a bit farther, looking for The Savoy Hotel.

Actually, we walked a bit farther than we absolutely had to, because we were lost. Miss Cynthia and The Doctor exchanged a few words on the subject, before The Doctor saw a policeman, and decided to ask him for directions.

Policemen in London are VERY nice. They have a special nickname: Bobbies!

A Bobby wears a black uniform, and a high, round black hat with a black-checked band. Our Bobby was very, very helpful, and he gave The Doctor very precise instructions.

I noticed something: it is very hard for me to understand what the Bobby is saying. It is strange! We are supposed to speak English, just like the British do, but many of the sounds and words are so different that it sounds like a whole new language entirely! I was a little bit confused, but the Bobby smiled so nicely at me I was reassured anyway.

Soon, we enter the lobby of the Savoy, and I was amazed! The ceiling was SO high! The hotel was SO beautiful, with marble and beautiful furniture and libraries full of really old books right in front! But my amazement at the lobby was NOTHING compared to what we found in the "Ladies Cloakroom".

There's one of those words, again! The British do not say "restroom", like we do. Instead, they say "lavatory" (that's from the Latin word, meaning "place to wash" Gaius Ursus will be proud that I know a Latin word) or sometimes they say "W.C.", which is short for Water Closet. How confusing!

The Ladies' Cloakroom at the Savoy, however, was simply amazing. First,

Miss Cynthia gave her cloak to a very nice lady who hung it up for her. Then we washed up for tea. Mistress sat down at a special little vanity table in front of a big mirror. When I came out of the handbag, my fur was brushed and fluffed, and Miss Cynthia spent some time tying my bowtie just so. I was glad she had dressed me in my best black-velvet bowtie, because tea at the Savoy is VERY fancy.

All freshened up, Miss Cynthia and I joined The Doctor, who was also looking very handsome in his "E for Ewer" blue blazer. We were ushered to a tea table by a tall man in a white tie and tails! I thought "white tie and tails" meant some kind of animal costume, but Miss Cynthia said that is what you call a certain kind of very formal men's suit.

The tea room was so beautiful! It was decorated in rose colors, with beautiful carpeting and a very high ceiling. There were green palm plants and ferns everywhere. In the center of the room, right next to our table, stood a white grand piano. A nice lady was playing very quiet, soothing piano music, and all around us, people were taking tea.

Mmmmmm! The tea smelled delicious, and the FOOD! Our waiter (in the "white tie and tails") brought us so many good things to eat. First, there were little tea sandwiches. Miss Cynthia was SO GOOD she let The Doctor have one of the cucumber sandwiches, which are her particular favorite. There also were ham, and salmon, and even tomato sandwiches. I felt proud, though, to notice The Savoy didn't have any bear-shaped sandwiches like Miss Cynthia fixes for our own teas at home!

Next came the scones. The British pronounce "scones" as though it rhymes with "swans", not "scones" as rhymes with "stones". I'm glad I knew how to pronounce it correctly! Scones are rich, light biscuits, a little bit sweet, and they are eaten with jelly and lemon curd. I'm sorry to add that, while Miss Cynthia is a very good maker of bear-shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, her scones do NOT measure up to the standard of The Savoy Hotel.

These were the most delicious scones I ever had!

As we were eating (I was scolded, quietly, for gobbling my scones and getting my paw in the jam), Miss Cynthia poured cup after cup of delicious tea from a beautiful china teapot. We relaxed for a few minutes, but soon perked up: the sweets are here! There were so many different kinds I lost count: tarts and tiny pies, little pastries, sweet breads and muffins.

I am sorry to report I lost all sense of proportion. I ate and I ate and I ate! Everything was so DELICIOUS and the piano music was so nice, and everyone was so pretty and happy I wanted our tea never to end. I had a tart, and then a pastry, and then shared some date bread with Miss Cynthia, and THEN I swiped an extra muffin from The Doctor's plate, but Miss Cynthia made me put it back, and then I had ANOTHER muffin . . . .

You can guess what happened. I got a little tummy ache from our tea, and Miss Cynthia put me to bed early. The Doctor listened to my stuffing (get it? STUFFING?) with his doctor-thing, and said I would be fine in the morning.

And so I was. But tummy ache or not, I will never forget my wonderful tea at The Savoy Hotel! Besides, you never know when I'm going to NEED a nice plump tummy to keep me from falling out a window . . .

Your bear friend,


Perry goes to Germany

Dear Bear Friends:

"Up and at 'em!" sang Miss Cynthia, with determined cheerfulness.

I sat up from my snug nest on the pillow, and rubbed my eyes with my paws. I was SO sleepy! Last night, we arrived in Cologne, Germany. We had traveled all the way from Paris on the train. I had stayed up VERY late on the train trip, talking to my new friends among the Orchestra--and now, I couldn't wake up!

"Come on, sleepyhead!" said Miss Cynthia, "We have chores to do!" For once, Miss Cynthia was up and dressed and ready for the day, while I lay sleeping. She picked me up, gave me a perfunctory fluffing, and re-tied my bow tie.

No cozy little ride in a handbag today for Perry! No, Miss Cynthia plopped me awkwardly on top of an odd little suitcase, before I'd even shaken the sleep from my stuffing. A long, long handle protruded from the suitcase, and I soon learned that there were little wheels beneath me as Miss Cynthia wheeled herself, the suitcase and me right out the door! I grasped the handle with both paws, and tried to gather my scattered wits as we flew out the door to our new hotel.

"Where ARE we, Miss Cynthia?" I asked. "Where are we GOING?" Since she was pulling the little wheeled suitcase behind her, like a wagon, I was addressing my questions to the back of her head. Miss Cynthia turned, looked at me and with an amused tone said, "Someplace VERY NICE!" "Someplace you're going to enjoy, Perry!"

I gave up my quest for information. SOMETHING was up, that was certain, but I was too sleepy to do more than watch the scenery fly by. Now I remembered!

"We are in Germany!" I thought, and I looked about me with more interest.

It was very cold! People walked by on the street, bundled up in hats and scarves and coats and gloves and boots. Even with my fur, I felt the cold, crisp breeze, and I thought longingly of the snug, warm corner of Miss Cynthia's handbag.

Moreover, it was not EASY to ride on the top of that little suitcase. The sidewalks were paved with stones, making for a very bumpy ride for a little bear. Miss Cynthia walked briskly, and I was bumped and shaken and jolted all the way to the mystery place.

Still, I looked about me with interest. The people looked friendly and jolly, and was that a BEAR in the store window? Yes, it WAS! I remembered how Miss Cynthia had told me teddy bears were INVENTED in Germany, and I felt happy to be there.

However, my happiness was quite short-lived. The moment we entered the door, I could SMELL it: the unforgettable smell of a bath-in-the-washing-machine.

The aromas of detergent, bleach, unpleasant soap of every kind went straight up my little bear nose. Oh, NO! It was a bear-cleaning place!

There they were, LOOMING at me! Row upon row upon row of WASHING MACHINES.

Big ones, too, with dark scary holes to enclose little bears. There! On that wall! Enormous nasty dryers, hot enough to singe the fur off any bear!

I jumped right off that little suitcase and ran to the door as fast as my legs would go. No sir, no ma'am, I was NOT going to have a bath in the washing machine. Perhaps I would find a nice little German child to live with, but NO BATH, not for Perry. Run, legs, RUN!

Miss Cynthia, though, has longer legs than any bear, and she caught me before I made it to the door. She scooped me up and gave me a nice kiss. "No, Perry, NO! YOU aren't going to have a bath! We're just going to wash all the dirty clothes!"

Yeah, RIGHT, I thought. I've heard this all before, and I folded my arms together and looked at Miss Cynthia with squinched-up eyes. She laughed, dusted me off, and sat me down on a little bench. "I mean it, Perry, it's not your turn for a bath. It WOULD be, though, if you'd gotten outside and fallen in a puddle!"

Hmmmfpf, I thought. "I shall reserve judgment!" I told Miss Cynthia, with what I hope was great dignity, and I watched sourly while she sorted the clothes.

What a place! It was full of light and the hated sound of washing machines.