Ted was lounging in an all items 50 pence basket in the corner of a shop when I first noticed him. Whether it was his wink or a cheeky grin, I decided he was due a more exciting life! So the story of Ted began.
I bought him a Passport on a trip to Brighton, where I could not resist popping into a Teddy Bear shop as I passed. Inside the Passport was a stamped mark - ‘Ironbridge’ so I decided that would become his place of birth and added underneath it -18th June 1996, he now had a Birth date.
I had the idea of taking photos of him with a different back ground each time we went on holiday, this turned out to be quite a challenge. On holiday I put Ted in a small plastic bag, later named as his travel bubble! and kept it in my bag, so he was always ready to take out for a photo shoot, as quickly as possible, so not to be seen.
Ted’s first ever trip abroad was in 1997 to Tsilivi, Zakynthos, Greece. He travelled at the time in my suitcase, put in at the last moment, so my husband did not know about my idea, nobody knew, except Ted!!
During our first week there, I wondered if I was ever going to get a photo, without anyone knowing. Ted came out of hiding and I managed to take one. It was not until we were back home and the printed photos arrived, my husband said “What’s that”? The cat, or should I say Ted was out of the bag. After that Ted became a bit of a legend and never travelled in a suitcase again, but always safely in my hand luggage, suitcases if you are unlucky can go astray. I must admit on many occasions when Ted popped out of his travel bubble, my husband or daughter popped out of sight!
Ted accompanied us on a Caribbean cruise. On arrival all passengers had to queue in the ballroom and go up to a line of desks, one at a time, to have their passport stamped. I asked my husband if I dare get Ted’s passport stamped, he replied “Well you’ll be on your own”, I said if the man seemed nice, then I might ask him, well I did and so the stamp for ‘Entry by Sea’ was added.
After this nerve racking experience I decided to ask receptionists at the hotels where we stayed to stamp his Passport with the hotel stamp. They were always obliging and loved the idea of Travel Ted. I always approached the reception desks, when there were no other holiday makers there.
Whilst in Aruba (Caribbean island) at the Volcanic rocks I took Ted’s photo, thinking no one had seen. Later that night at the hotel, we were talking to a couple and they remarked, “You’re the lady with the bear”. Next day we arranged to go on a helicopter flight with them. My husband said “You’re not taking Ted”, but the other lady said, “Oh you’ve got to take him”. So I managed to put him in my pocket and up in the air we went, snap, another photo, and on landing Ted even got his own ‘Wings’ certificate!
In Barbados as we walked onto the beach, there was a very small coconut tree, just the size for Ted to sit under! Back at the hotel I had an umbrella that is used in cocktail drinks. I imagined the photo, but each time we went onto the beach someone was always sitting there. So further down the beach one day, I decided to be brave and sit Ted with umbrella, under another one. My husband said “I’m off for a walk”. An older couple asked me if I was entering a photo exhibition, I replied “No, it was for my grandson”! I explained that I had wanted to use a smaller coconut tree, but there wasn’t one in the right place. With that the man got up and picked up a small tree saying, “Where do you want it”? Apparently when they are small you can move them anywhere and they just continue growing.
So that’s how Ted became to be known as Travel Ted and without really thinking has been referred to as a ‘he’ for many years, but in reality it should be she, considering Ted has a skirt on, I was tempted to put a stitch in it, making it into shorts, but decided to leave well alone.
Ted officially retired in 2011 on his emigration to Cyprus after many travels and friendships made. His has three photo albums in all and I wouldn’t really be surprised if he pops up in the odd photo, in years to come.