Thursday, 25 February 2010

A Dougal breakthrough

Casper, Dougal and I went for a stroll this morning on Birkrigg, a limestone outcrop complete with stone circle and lots of sheep. Casper usually eyes up the sheep but always responds to my command "Off those sheep". Dougal usually notices the sheep but always follows Casper's lead and so leaves them alone. Many dogs and owners walk on Birkrigg, whatever the weather, and Dougal has over the past few months learned to approach dogs, meet and greet them and then come back to me. So far so good. However, the main reason I resort to putting him on his lead is that he jumps up at people. When he does it he gets suitably chastised but he always does it again, even just a few minutes after he's had a good telling off. Today, however, we met a few people whilst on our stroll and Dougal didn't jump up at any of them. I'm hoping this is a major breakthrough in Dougal's training and I'll hold on to that hope for a few hours until I take them out again.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

I like a challenge

I've just had a lady in the shop struggling to find a gift for Mothers Day. I could empathise with her as my Mum was incredibly difficult to buy for, particularly as she got older. The challenge was as follows: the Mother in question was elderly and her eyesight was poor (ruling out books and Sean's prints); she also didn't like anything fragrant on her body or in the house as it made her sneeze (ruling out perfume, most of our body products, candles and reed diffusers), she was also on a diet and alcohol made her eyes dry!!!? (ruling all our jams, chutneys, relishes, chocolate, gin, vodka and beers). Oh, and she didn't wear jewellery. Did I fail the challenge? Of course not, the desperate daughter went away happy with a cashmere scarf and, as we're currently still in the grip of the coldest winter since 1978, I'm sure Mum will be happy too!

Monday, 22 February 2010

Where has the week gone?

I can't believe it's been almost a week since I last blogged. Half term hit us like a whirlwind (not that we need another weather related extraordinary incident) as droves of people descended on Bowness to enjoy themselves despite the very dodgy weather. Jules and Julie coped brilliantly as usual whilst I played a very minor role in proceedings as updating the website has been my main priority. At home we have been watching the Olympics with half an eye (well, maybe with both eyes when the Ski Cross was on yesterday: fantastic!) as Sean and I have both been crouched over computers creating new products and uploading images. We've now some great ideas for Mothers Day including gorgeous new body products, lovely jewellery, the latest limited edition prints from Sean, fabulously fragranced candles and reed diffusers from Pintail and the shop's best selling jams, chutneys etc. which, when you buy 3, come in a Love the Lakes gift box. Please take a look at and see what we've been up to!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

New shop on the horizon

After 9 months of searching, we think we've found the location for our 2nd Love the Lakes. The deliberation that has gone into it has surpassed the thought that went into the Bowness store (and that made our brains hurt!). At the end of the day you can only go for the best you can do without breaking the bank and after many months of studying footfall, the local retail competition, catchment area, tourist income etc., etc. (not forgetting the new potential hazards of flood level and accesibility during snow!) we've come to a decision. Now the easy (ha, ha) bit starts: bank manager to woo, lease to sort out, shopfitters to pin down, suppliers to coordinate and staff to find. Can we get open for Easter? We shall see.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

What a load of tat

We've just got back from Britain's largest gift trade show at the NEC - it's over 100 miles to walk round the entire show so very, very tiring. In a previous life I used to attend this show as an exhibitor and, as we were always quite busy, didn't get round the rest of the show. This time it struck me what a load of useless rubbish is peddled in the name of "gifts". There were large numbers of Chinese stands and large numbers of British companies selling Chinese stuff. Good quality gifts made in the UK were few and far between and the so called "British Design" section was risable. It seems "buy local" hasn't got as far as gifts yet...shame....but you can check out in the next few days for more lovely (British made) gift ideas for Mothers Day.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Winter on the fells

How did that happen? Louise and Julie have abandoned the shop for a couple of days to visit a trade show and left the fort in my capable hands. Some would call that 'gallivanting', but I woldn't dare! Anyway, that means I get to blog too, so there is a slight change of subject for this one..

I often get asked what I wear/carry on the fells in freezing winter conditions, so here goes..not to say this is what you shoud be wearing but just my personal preferences!

Boots - My winter boots are trusty Scarpa Manta's. I will only wear them if I think I will need crampons, otherwise I will stick to 3 season boots.
Crampons - My crampons are Grivel G10's and I have never had any problem with those coupled with a Mountain Technology Glencoe Ice axe (not sure if these are still around, I've had it for about 10 years).
In full snow conditions I tend to wear ski pants, they are great for the conditions with everything you could want - internal leg gaiters (I detest wearing outside gaiters), they are hard wearing, waterproof and breathable. When wearing crampons they are tough enough to withstand the odd misplaced spike too.
On top I simply wear a HH thermal base layer and a Haglofs LIM jacket over it (see earlier review)... and that is all. I carry a  fleece should I need an extra layer but generally it is not needed. If really cold I will carry a Rab Generator jacket as well - that packs down small and it can be put on over everything else to save messing around with layers.
The only other things I wear are a fleece Buff for when it gets a bit chilly round the gills and one of a selection of hats (latest one is a Rab mountain hat), and a pair of Rab Phantom Grip Gloves.
In the bag is a spare pair of gloves, spare hat, waterproof paclite shell and that is about all...have I missed anything?


Sunday, 7 February 2010

To taste or not to taste

To date we've not done very well with tasters: putting out little plates/cups full of something we sell so customers can try before they buy never seems to have any effect other than to make the taster disappear (usually in about an hour but the record is 10 minutes). Our first taster was chilli chocolates which produced (despite the big warning signs) the inevitable choking noises from customers who homed in on the free chocolate. The second was freshly made local fudge: this was our most moreish taster and we all gained several pounds when we went through this phase. The third was locally made sloe and damson gin, hic! The fourth, and most memorable for me, was fruit dipped in dark chocolate, which not long after we put it out was tasted by a little girl who promptly spat it back on to the plate so it all had to go in the bin! This weekend we have some lovely hand made chocolate out as tasters, but I'm not holding out any hope for extra sales of chocolate!

Friday, 5 February 2010

My last word on the subject (potholes not Valentines Day)

Yesterday I counted 37 hubcaps and one bumper littering the verges on the A592 to Bowness. Today the work to repair the worst of the potholes near Hill of Oaks has commenced. The tragic accident on Sunday has been attributed to ice, mmm.........  

Thursday, 4 February 2010

I think I'm the clueless one!

First customers of the day were a guy in his early 20s accompanied by a "yoof" in his early teens. If I'm honest I thought they might be on a shoplifting spree so I was surprised when the older guy promptly picked up one of our Valentines Day cards and a Fanny and Claude Bath Salts pack (both handmade in the Lake District of course). On interrogation (we always probe for personal information - it helps the day go by!) we found that the older guy was an outward bound instructor and the "yoof" was one of his pupils. Furthermore, the instructor is bringing his girlfriend up to the Lakes next weekend for a romantic weekend in one of the loveliest guesthouses in the area....he even told us which restaurants they're going to (hope they don't close in the next week Angela lol). After that he is taking his girlfriend to Thailand for a month. I guess he qualifies for the "going the whole hog" Valentines Day man and I'm only glad, for his girlfriend's sake, that large cards with padded hearts held by cute teddies are now out of fashion!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Beware men with clueless expressions

Valentines Day is a bit of a hoot for us. Unlike birthdays and Christmas, some people (ok, men) get away with proclaiming that they don't "believe" in it. Others (again, men) make what I would call a token gesture  - chocolates and the smallest, most non-commital card they can find - and others want to go the whole hog (in the 80's they bought those huge cards with padded hearts held by cute teddies) but haven't got a clue what to buy. Predictably, as unsuspecting lone men enter the shop at this time of year, we like to guess which of the above categories they fall into. Actually, there is another category of man - the one that takes note of what their loved one says they like in the shop and then rushes back alone 30 minutes later to purchase said loved one heart's desire......aahhh.

Monday, 1 February 2010

The Elements

I am determined to get back on my bike a bit more this year, I used to do lots (and lots) before the walking took over. I went out today (optimistically) with my shades on - I must have got at least 100 metres before it started to rain and another 100m before it started to hail. Just a shower? No, it was a 'shower' of biblical proportions but obviously it was too late to turn back now!

25 miles later it was still raining until I pulled up at our house when the sun and blue sky appeared. I was abasolutely frozen and mud spattered but felt oddly good about the experience. Will it last? Only time will tell...