Saturday, 31 October 2009

Multi million pound revamp on the way?

The LDNP is planning a multi million pound revamp of Bowness Bay and The Glebe (the name of the park at the edge of the bay) called 'The Masterplan'. There are a range of possibilities aimed at putting Bowness on a par with Waterside destinations around the world. Radical ideas include demolishing unsightly buildings and constructing an underground car park at Braithwaite Fold. It's a great idea that definitley gets our vote - imagine what this view from The Glebe could be like if those buildings went and the vista that these holidaymakers would get...simply fantastic.


Friday, 30 October 2009

season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

Was Keats on his way to Bowness when he wrote this iconic ode? Probably not, but when I came to the viewpoint of Windermere next to the Beech Hill hotel this morning it was the quote that immediately sprang to mind. The lake was partly shrouded in mist and there were already yachts gliding silently along. One big gust of wind would be all it would take to make the trees shed their leaves but, for now, they are splendidly decked in orange, red and brown. The weather has been unseasonably warm this week (17 degrees yesterday afternoon) and very calm, culminating in a perfect day today. Yesterday was our busiest day in the shop since we opened 18 months ago and Bowness is bustling with visitors making the most of this beautiful weather.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Dougal the Digger update

Apparently a deterrent for puppies who transgress the boundaries of acceptable behaviour is to throw a mixture of water with a tiny amount of vinegar over them when caught in the act. In the McMahon household we've taken this one step further with the help of Connie's supersoaker gun. Now we all enjoy (a little too much, if I'm honest) administering the punishment for digging in the plant troughs although the neighbours must be slightly worried when one of us shouts "Get the gun!!!!"

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Grizzly Grisedale

At the risk of hijacking the Love the Lakes blog (the girls are obviously too busy during half term week to post), we went to Grizedale Forest this afternoon. It was predictably mobbed with people - but with good reason as the colours of the trees was quite spectacular. We even managed to get recognised (twice!)...oooh, the fame...


Hot off the press

Well, actually hot off the PC as they haven't reached the press yet but they will be done this week. For those who have followed the 'winter card' thread, here's one of them that I decided upon...

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Christmas Cards

Just been working on some Christmas/Winter cards and trying to sort out some suitable scenes. Here are three possibilities, what do you think?



Saturday, 24 October 2009

Photos from yesterday...

I took a few photos yesterday, firtsly in the shop - your gorgeous host Louise...

These little Herdy money banks always make me laugh - 'Please set us free!' they seem to be saying:

Why should the pigs have all the money indeed!
I had the dogs with me so on the way home I couldn't resist a visit to an Autumnal Fell Foot, well worth a visit whilst the leaves are still on the trees and if the sun shines those colours will be magnificent:


Thursday, 22 October 2009

Julie the hamper queen

Jules and I often remark how our particular penchant for certain lines make them sell when we're on the till. Jules makes some of our jewellery and when she's in command 9 times out of 10 jewellery is our top category that day. My background is home fragrance and when I'm on the till 9 times out of 10 reed diffusers are the top category (when customers aren't sticking them up their noses - see a previous blog). I've discovered our new Julie really likes our DIY hampers and, sure enough, the telepathy magic is working again: she's on the till today and we've sold 6 hampers!
I hear the PO workers are intending to strike again for 3 days next week. It looks like I'll be signing up with Hermes parcels (previously Parcelnet) tonight.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Dougal the Digger

I thought it was too good to be true: at last I've found Dougal's achilles heel. The perfect puppy is no longer perfect and I've escaped to work to avoid strangling him. Last night, under the cover of darkness Dougal jumped into one of our plant troughs (approx 90cm high) and dug down as far as he could go. We've found him before chewing at plants on the patio and he's been suitably chastised but this is beyond the pale. When I got up this morning plants, bulbs and soil were scattered all over the place and the silly puppy still pranced around me as if he hadn't put a foot wrong...........aaaggghhh. He was probably bored as the rotten weather in the past two days has meant short walks for both dogs, so I'll be going home at lunchtime to take them out as soon as I can get thoughts of murder out of my mind.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Up close and personal with Reed Diffusers

Reed Diffusers are a brilliant invention: they're glass jars filled with fragranced oil and bamboo reeds that - once inserted in the oil - draw up the oil which then evaporates leaving the fragrance to infuse your room day after day. They look great and smell wonderful and we sell lots of them. However, one customer yesterday got more than he bargained for when he indulged in the popular pastime of our customers: smelling all the testers that are dotted around the store. His wife passed him the "Warm Embrace" tester and he enthusiastically brought it up to his nose to get a good whiff, only to get one of the reeds stuck in his nostril! Jules and I stifled laughter by disappearing into the office, holding hands over mouths and letting the tears roll down our cheeks: however, be assured that the unfortunate gentleman's wife and rest of his family were bent over double with mirth.
P.S. They bought the diffuser

Monday, 19 October 2009

kestrel spotted on Ash Street

We've just seen the most amazing thing - we were just chewing the cud with the guys from the chip shop opposite when a kestrel swooped down on the pigeon that was minding its own business in the middle of the pedestrianised(!) street. It was all talons and beak attempting to lift the pigeon but was foiled in it's attempts when a lady rushed over to the pigeon's rescue. One lucky pigeon is now sat on a window ledge keeping an eye out for all predators!

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Stripped down gear

What are the things manufacturers sell you walking gear on? In my opinion after using all sorts of clothing, there are many things that are irrelevant or not really required. I am fed up with carrying clothing that weighs a ton, jackets that have useless flappy hoods, map pockets that you don’t need and vents that are neither use nor ornament - anyone who has a Gore Tex jacket will know what I am talking about!

My expensive 3 layer Gore Tex has lay unused in the back of a cupboard for 5 years. I have been a big Paramo fan since then but the usual problem with their stuff is that it often ends up being too warm for the conditions but it is better than Gore Tex as it never makes you cold when you are wet on the inside of the jacket as well as outside.

Even that gets a bit weighty when you carry it around so over the last 12 months or so, any new gear I have bought has had to be light and compact when carrying it around. First was the bag, downsized to a stripped down 25 litre OMM. As I got a smaller bag, I have to get gear small enough to fit in it. That is okay for the summer, but what about winter? My latest investment, tested on the Greenburn Round for the first time was a Hafglofs LIM Barrier jacket (LIM = Less Is More!). It is a primaloft synthetic down filled jacket which is wind and water resistant, weighs about the same as two feathers and a piece of cotton and packs down to the size of a fag packet. It is a simple design with one chest pocket and no hood – I never use a hood anyway, preferring to use my trusty LA Mountain cap.

First impressions were that it was really good, doing the same job as a bulky fleece jacket. It did get too warm at one point, the answer to that was to simply take it off – no need for zip, vents, hoods or other such paraphernalia. Coupled with a Rab Generator Vest (also primaloft and highly packable), a Paclite shell for heavy rain, a Paramo fleece, gloves and hat I reckon I am pretty well sorted for most conditions without the bulk that I previously carried around. Anyone else fancy getting stripped down?


Friday, 16 October 2009

A591 update

Apparently the A591 is now open, although one of our suppliers' drivers said that it took him an hour and 20 minutes to get from Kendal to our shop! The word on our street is that the police have charged 6 people with dangerous driving: that stretch of road is notorious for boy racers and this time it looks like their antics had fatal consequences as there is a fatality reported. Bowness is very busy and I wonder if people are stopping off to wait for queues towards Ambleside to subside.

A591 blocked

Traffic is chaotic here today. There was an accident last night at Troutbeck and the A591 between the Sun Inn and White Cross Bay is now closed until at least lunchtime. It means for many drivers a diversion up towards Kirkstone Pass and down the Struggle to Ambleside so, understandbly, there's a few irritated drivers around. It think the Lakes is going to be busy again this weekend: the weather is glorious - not yet frosty in the morning but heading that way. What a contrast to last October when we had more wet days than dry.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

we love hampers

We have another new starter in the store today. Julie (another one so v. confusing) also works in the local art gallery and lives in the village. As part of her induction, I explained that we offer a self selection gift box and hamper service and they can be quite fiddly to put together so maybe it was a good thing that they sold mostly at weekends when there's always 2 staff in the store. So what's the first sale of the day? A pre-made hamper of course, so I then had to make putting together another one look easy - don't want to put Julie off on her first day. Customers really like browsing the shop to put their own gift box together: it's so much more personal than buying a ready made gift in an acetate box!
I really like this time of year when customers' choice of purchases change as the days grow shorter. Yesterday, the last sale of the day was to a family of 3 who brought a selection of candles to the counter which totalled nearly £100: during the summer we'd be lucky to sell £100 worth of candles all day, never mind in one transaction.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Pea Souper today

We can't see the lake from 20 metres away today but it's quite warm so maybe it will burn off in the next couple of hours. Last night, I took the car ferry across Windermere to meet up with Jules, Tim, Sean and Connie at Jules' wedding venue near Hawkshead. I wonder how many people travel in such a brilliant way to and from work each day. The ferry runs like clockwork every 10 minutes and the views you get along the lake as you cross are stunning. Its the only way to travel when the alternative journey around the lake takes approx. 40 minutes. The wedding venue is superb - a house (but not Hill Top) originally owned by Beatrix Potter, now hired out for special events, and partly occupied by the people who own Jumping Jenny's cafe at Brantwood. The visit was followed by a delicious supper at the Outgate Inn - highly recommended by the McMahon family!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Bad weather...or was it?

It may have been misty down there, but that's because you were under this...

not quite such a perfect day

Sean and Casper ventured out early this morning in search of some interesting weather - inversions I think, but I'm not sure how successful they'll be as, although it's a lovely still day, there's lots of low cloud around. I'm stuck with today's task of trying to get a company interested in removing our rubbish. We have a weekly cardboard mountain that is a pain to store and then remove but no one seems willing to shift it for us. One big problem is that the shop is built into a hill and so has no rear access or storage for cages or bins. Despite paying over £1,200 a month in business rates, this doesn't cover any rubbish removal or recycling and I'm not getting anywhere with any local firms. Anybody got any bright ideas?

Monday, 12 October 2009

Oh, what a beautiful morning

I've broken off from doing spreadsheets for the bank - tedious at the best of times - to tell you what an absolutely gorgeous day it is. The sun is bright, the temperature is cool (5 degrees) and the mist still hangs over the lake which, in the places you can see it, looks like a mirror. Every single mountain in the south Lakes is as clear as a bell: fantastic. Judging from the number of "No Vacanices" signs around town, quite a few people are taking a long weekend in Paradise. This could be October's Perfect Day (there's always one)

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Help is here

Great news in our shop: we have a new starter today who's going to be doing weekends for us alongside Mel. Seema is a teacher too so the pair of them will be able to swap worst pupil stories. Is working in a shop the perfect antidote to a hard week's teaching? Search me.
Anyway, I'm off home now to a bottle of Chianti and X Factor (high brow entertainment for Connie, Casper, Dougal and I on a Saturday night - Sean's at work). Mel wants to know if anyone will join her for a night out in Bowness tonight as her other half is out gallivanting with his mates. Be warned, these teachers are dangerous when they let their hair down!

Friday, 9 October 2009

Oh dear, someone's not happy!

Beautiful day here again in Paradise but I think we've shattered someone's perfect day. A lady has just popped her head into the shop to remonstrate with us about having Christmas decorations on display so early. She's going to "report" us to the Chamber of Commerce......ummm. Had she not strode off so quickly leaving us and customers in the shop equally stunned I would have told her that we're selling Christmas not celebrating it......never mind, you can't please all the people all of the time!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

exploding beer bottle

Gorgeous weather yesterday and today: lots of fans around taking advantage of the sunshine and fantastic colours. We're very busy but I'm a tad concerned about the potential Post Office strike in the offing. In general, the postal service around here is pretty good - we get our letters and parcels between 9.30 and 10 every morning and, touch wood, every parcel we've ever sent in the 18 months we've been in business has arrived on time. The last thing I need on the run up to Christmas is a strike affecting the delivery of our internet orders: I guess I'm going to start looking for a private delivery service and that's a shame.
Oh yes, the beer bottle. I started unpacking a beer delivery this morning, pulled a bottle out of the box and it literally exploded in my hand and I was left holding the neck. Fortunately for Jules and I, it only got our hearts racing and there was no damage to us or any other stock. The brewery have assured me that it must have been a freak accident but should I be issuing goggles to all staff??!!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Wedding stress!

Now that Sean has mentioned the Wedding- I'd better introduce myself. I am indeed Jules, Tim and I are getting married on November 5th. We didn't twist Seans arm to take the photo's-we just made it uncomfortable for him to say 'no'.
Mel and Louise are really looking froward to the Wedding- they are really fed-up of me going on about it and can't wait for it to be over. They have been with me through the venue double booking, the inlaw distress and the lost shoes (now found by the Post Office but they don't fit!).
The venue is the beautiful Belmount Hall near Hawkshead and hopefully Sean will manage to get at least our heads on the landscape shots.
Its only 4 weeks now until the Wedding and I'm not stressed at all.......much. There are just the finishing touches to do now, seating plans, place settings and favours...oh and bedding in my purple suede shoes.

The weather again

Sorry Angela, I can't resist.......despite Metcheck claiming we'd miss the majority of the rain today, it has been raining solidly since 6 am. this morning which, inevitably reminds me of last October. The floods of October 25th were amazing to behold and in my weather diary for that day (yes, sadly, I record each day's weather) I simply logged "floods". I only just made it home along the road to Newby Bridge and the next day that road was completely closed - blocked by water and rocks carried down from the hills. There was only one route into Bowness and, whilst cautiously urging the car through indeterminately deep puddles, I called home to say that I probably shouldn't bother opening as no one would be around. I reached the pier to find two of the 3 jetties completely under water, the Tourist Information Centre under siege from the lakes and, incredibly, a vast crowd of onlookers, lots of whom subsequently found their way to our shop. Yes, the worst floods in the Lakes in living memory didn't put off the punters....oooh, how we love to shop.
Anyway, its just stopped raining and the next 2 days are predicted to be lovely. Bring it on.
P.S. Please ignore Sean's complaints - he loves it really......


Just because I've got a camera and have taken a couple of landscape shots in my time, it seems I am now the product photographer for the shop website and wedding photographer too, as Julie has twisted my arm into that one. Now if we could get Julie and Tim to get married on top of Coniston Old Man holding a couple of products from the shop, I could roll it all up into one!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Does anyone know anyone who wants a job?

Christmas is happening with a bang: resistance to buying decorations, tree decs, cards and presents is futile - people just can't help themselves. Personally, if I bought stuff now I would forget where I'd put it by Christmas (and, in fact, have done just that in past years) but I can't complain about folk operating on the see it and buy it policy.
When we first opened the shop we comfortably managed to have only one person running it each day. I'm glad to say that those days are gone and we usually need one and a half and two at a time at weekends. I'm normally here 6 out of 7 days, Jules does 4 days and Mel does the weekend when she's not teaching. Sean's appearances at the shop are now fairly rare as he has lots of other things to occupy his time. Our daughter, Connie, is the oldest 8 year old in the world and would love to be behind the till but she is obviously too young. Our son, James, who's 18 would rather drive rusty nails in his eyes than work in the shop: it obviously does not suit his tough, rugby playing image and anyway he has the perfect excuse of being away with the Merchant Navy for the majority of the time.
Anyway, as I'd really like to spend more time with my family, does anyone know anyone who would like to work for 16 hours a week in our shop? Incentives include lots of free tea and coffee, free sampling of all new cakes, beers, spirits and body products and some great conversations with customers from around the world!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Phew, thank goodness that's over

It was a tad optimistic to say that erecting 2 Christmas trees, dressing them and getting out back up stock of all the decs would only take 2 hours. Yesterday was also our busiest day of the week so that added to the fun. 10 hours into the job we still hadn't finished as we decided to change round some of the main displays too. Anyway, the finished result is superb: today's job is to clear the bombsite in the stockroom...
Mel, my trusty aide at weekends (she's a supply teacher searching for a permanent job during the week -not easy in the Lakes) is a slight shade of green today. She's been for a St Tropez tan treatment in preparation for a wedding she's going to tomorrow and, apparently, looking like the Incredible Hulk (her words, not mine) is part of the effect until it settles down. Nice!
(see, no mention of the weather just for you Angela - its not worth talking about today anyway)

Friday, 2 October 2009

Only 84 days to go

'tis the season to be jolly (nearly). I'm still hanging on in there wearing my shorts as it is
warm(ish) but the Chritmas trees are being arranged as I type. It must be to do with global warming I think.


Thursday, 1 October 2009

I know I shouldn't mention the weather, but....

Ok, this is the last time I'll mention the weather this week...tomorrow it will all be about Christmas decorations and our attempts to get 2 trees up and decorated in the shop in less than 2 hours. It is absolutely glorious today - appropriate that the temperature has dropped by a few degrees, as it's October 1st, but to compensate, brilliant sunshine and stillness.
On a completely different subject, I'm going to have a rant: we've just heard that one of the most prominent shops in Bowness (quite large, 2 storey and near the roundabout where 2 main roads meet), which is currently a gift shop, is going to become a British Heart Foundation shop. I have absolutely nothing against charity shops per se and we already have 3 notable ones in Bowness, but to have another one with such a large frontage in such a prominent position is making me mad. The locals complained when Costa and Tesco Express came to Bowness but, to my mind, this is far worse......if anyone can assure me that this store is going to look great and be a real attraction for locals and tourists please get in touch. I need coffee and chocolate.