Monthly Archives: June 2015

The marriage of art and fine food


A leading Cumbrian chef is joining forces with a top art gallery for a special opening party in Grasmere.

Kevin Tickle, formerly of Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume, and Rogan and Company in Cartmel, is preparing the canapes for the opening of an exhibition at the Heaton Cooper Studio on July 1.

The exhibition, A Vital Spirit, celebrates the life and work of the sculptor Ophelia Gordon Bell, who was married to the landscape painter William Heaton Cooper.

Kevin is now working in Grasmere at the newly-restored Forest Side Hotel which is due to open later this summer.

He said: “It is great to be working alongside the Heaton Cooper gallery, it is important to build and maintain relationships within the local community and support each other.”

Ophelia Gordon Bell  (1915 – 1975) had a fascinating life and extraordinary talent, as the new exhibition highlights.

Born in London and brought up among the artists of St John’s Wood in London, Gordon Bell was equally at home in the Lake District where her maternal grandfather was vicar of Urswick near Ulverston.

Trained in London, she exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts, and the Royal Scottish Academy.

Her work can be found throughout Britain, from a carving of St Bede at a Carlisle church to the giant stone figures, Thought and Action, outside the Risley HQ of the former Atomic Energy Authority in Cheshire.

Perhaps her most celebrated work is the bronze head of mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary. She also created many pieces portraying the characters of the Lakeland fells – shepherds and farmers and houndtrailers.

It was during a visit to the Lakes that she met William Heaton Cooper. They married and made their home in Grasmere and had four children. One of her sons, the painter Julian Cooper, is curating the new exhibition. He says: “She was truly a vital spirit. Everyone who met Ophelia was struck by her. Even if they did not know of her artistic skill, they were witnesses to her great vitality and kindness.

“She was a most remarkable woman, bringing together the two enormously contrasting worlds of London and the Lakes, and bringing immense vitality to everything she created.”

The Forest Side Hotel is now owned by Andrew Wildsmith,  who also owns Hipping Hall near Kirkby Lonsdale, and The Ryebeck in Bowness. He plans to create a luxury romantic hotel on the Grasmere site. Food will be a major part of the offering at the Forest Side and Kevin aims to produce a 12 course tasting menu, with an emphasis on natural flavours.

mallow flowersMallow flowers collected by Kevin for the canapes

Award shortlist for luxury hotel with green credentials

Windermere’s Cedar Manor Hotel has reached the finals of an international “green” award competition.

It has been shortlisted for the Small Considerate Hotel of the Year and will be judged against hotels from Northumberland – and The Seychelles.

Owners Jonathan and Caroline Kaye will hope to pick up the coveted award at a gala lunch in London next week (July 3).

Created in 1991 in Westminster with initially just London’s flagship hotels, the Considerate Hoteliers Association (CHA) was one of the first hotel associations worldwide to impart the message that care for the environment and social responsibility should form a major part of a responsible hotelier’s agenda.

They encourage the adoption of economically, socially and environmentally sustainable policies and practices among hoteliers in a way which enhances the viability of their businesses, the environment and the quality of the experience on offer to their guests, staff and visitors. Member hotels are expected to protect and improve the environment locally  – and thereby nationally and globally – by taking action in a number of different ways.

The Cedar Manor already holds the Cumbria Business Environment gold award. Jonathan Kaye is a Trustee of Nurture Lakeland, which inspires people to care for and contribute to the natural environment of the Lake District through a visitor giving scheme. He said: “We are thrilled to reach the finals of this award and to see our efforts recognised. We make sure that relevant environmental legislation and regulation is understood and complied with, reducing energy and water usage wherever possible and by implementing increased efficiency.

“We are careful to use raw materials in a way that avoids producing waste where possible, and by reducing, re-using or recycling waste whenever possible.

“We use environmentally friendly materials whenever possible and appropriate, raising the awareness of staff and customers so that everyone may be involved in looking after our environment and the National Park, and use locally sourced and fair trade produce whenever possible.”

The two other shortlisted hotels are Battlesteads in Northumberland and the Fregate Island hotel in The Seychelles.


Further information: Jonathan Kaye, 015394 43192

Go adventuring, says climbing legend

houlding and school

Photo: Steve Ashworth/MovieIt

Climbing legend Leo Houlding called in at Ambleside CE Primary School to encourage the pupils to have their own adventures.

Houlding, one of Britain’s top climbers and among the best in the world, answered questions from enthusiastic youngsters, told them about his climbing exploits, and did some filming for a project the school is working on for Kendal Mountain Film Festival.

The “film active” project is underway at the school, with the children using Go Pro cameras to show that adventures can start early and young – and on your own doorstep.

It’s being led by professional photographer and adventure film-maker Steve Ashworth who bid for a grant from the Kelsick Trust to fund the children’s venture. It is hoped that the finished project will be premiered locally and then shown at Kendal Mountain Festival.

Leo Houlding is a veteran of a score of epic ascents, including Everest, but specialises in  climbing the most technical peaks and biggest walls in the world.

Steve Ashworth said: “It was great to have Leo make the time in a busy schedule to call in to chat about mountains and film for the project that we are working on together. The staff were just as excited as the pupils.”


Retreat weekend in the Lakes for total escape

RYDAL HALL. © Steven Barber Photography Ltd

RYDAL HALL. © Steven Barber Photography Ltd

Visitors to the Lake District come to the area to “get away from it all”. Now Rydal Hall near Ambleside is offering a chance to unwind completely.

Stop, Rest and Pray is a weekend retreat with an opportunity to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the Hall, the Diocese of Carlisle’s retreat and conference centre.

There are still places available for the final weekend in June,  from 6pm on Friday June 26 until 9:30am on Sunday June 28.

Dinner, bed and breakfast with the opportunity to attend morning prayer, mid-day prayer, evening prayer and compline (final prayers of the day) is offered for just £100 per person.

Rydal Hall, one of the most spectacular buildings in the Lakes and set in acres of formal Edwardian gardens designed by Thomas Mawson, also offers holiday accommodation to individuals and families.

For further details and bookings please contact the bookings team at Rydal Hall,   015394 32050 , email:


How YOU can help with grand gala charity auction

Business sponsors, and donations for an auction, are being sought for what promises to be one of the most prominent and ambitious charity events of the year.

The auction will be staged at The Villa at Levens at a gala day to launch a unique photo exhibition, 100-to-1, which is aiming to raise more than £20,000 for three charities.

Organised by Kendal photographer Glynis Bland, the event will also include stalls, magic, music and other entertainment. The exhibition will spotlight 100 people who were born in each year from 1914 to 2014. Their pictures will also be included in a limited edition book which will go on as the exhibition opens.

The three charities which will benefit are Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Macmillan Cancer, and Bay Search and Rescue. Kevin Kendal from 1818 Auctioneers will bring down the hammer on donated gifts and promises, the first of which are  a wine tasting experience, and dinner for two at a top restaurant.

The youngest of the one hundred is Stanley Taylor, from Grange over Sands, who Glynis photographed initially as a newborn baby. He subsequently needed a heart operation, and Glynis recorded his progress in pictures.

“Stanley’s story touched my heart,” says Glynis. “I’d photographed him as a newborn baby, before he was diagnosed, and when I went back I wanted to do something practical to help.”

That “something” became the remarkable project involving  a further 99 people, from all over England, from all different backgrounds and walks of life. There’s another “local lad”, 98 year old Henry Wilson Robinson from Oxenholme; and  94 year old, Tadeusz Wierzbowski, from Cirencester, the last surviving Lancaster bomber pilot.

“As a professional photographer, I get to see and capture all types of life,” said Glynis. “Reflecting on the variety of my work, I came up with the idea of a unique new project to capture the diversity and breadth of photography that I take, and at the same time raise a substantial sum for charity.”

Each of the subjects was asked the same question: What could you not live without? Answers range from “toast” and “whisky and a packet of crisps” to the 87 year old who said “Skype”.

“We are determined to make this a very successful fund-raising occasion,” said Glynis. “We want local businesses to join in and help, by sponsorship or by donating items for the auction and a raffle.”

Anyone who wants to help is asked to contact Glynis on 07919 201711 or


The gala day is on Sunday September 6 at The Villa.

Top award for hotel’s “treasure”

patricia awrd pic

Cumbria Tourism Awards: Patricia Torre with Jim Walker (Lake District Estates) and comedian Sean Collins , the event host                                                                     

Countless guests at Windermere’s Cedar Manor Hotel have lavished praise on general  assistant Patricia Torre for her kindness, efficiency and humour.

Now Patricia has been recognised with the region’s highest honour at the Cumbria Tourism Awards. She has won the Sheila Hensman Award for Outstanding Customer Service, only three years after arriving from Santander in Spain knowing only a few words of English.

Patricia, 22, who comes from Santander, has worked at the Cedar Manor for two years where she is regarded as a treasured member of staff, general assistant and waitress.

“Patricia is a real treasure,” said hotel owner Caroline Kaye. “She is singled out by so many of our guests for her kindness, thoughtfulness and her cheerful smile day and night. We are absolutely thrilled for her that she has won this award and that her efforts have been officially recognised.”

The award ceremony at Kendal’s Castle Green Hotel learned that Patricia plays a pivotal role in maintaining the high standards of service at the Cedar Manor, going above and beyond the call of duty in her attentiveness to visitors, and also in helping her peers and the managers.

“Her professionalism is matched with a sense of humour, remarkable for someone who knew little English three years ago,” said Caroline Kaye.

Caroline and her husband Jonathan were at the ceremony to see Patricia pick up her prize, along with her sister Alejandra Torre who had flown in from Spain for the occasion.

Jonathan Kaye said that from a timid start, Patricia now had an excellent command of English, but is also delighted to talk to Spanish guests in their native language.

“She has grown in confidence. Initially she was anxious about dealing with telephone enquiries, but now she’s a great communicator, capable of attending to anything, including welcoming guests in reception. She anticipates customers’ needs, stepping in even before they ask, understanding what might be required.”

He said that Patricia was especially attentive with guests who are elderly or disabled, always patient and kind.

Patricia, who recently passed written exams in English and Maths with very high marks, 89% & 100% respectively, was assessed in the hotel restaurant by Kendal college teacher Dean Boydell as part of her Hospitality & Catering NVQ and apprentice qualification.

Mr Boydell said : “Patricia consistently delivers excellent customer service. Having observed her in action over the past 18 months she has grown in confidence and skill. Patricia adapts her customer service skills to each guest, has a natural balance of friendly professional service and anticipates her customers’ needs. She has excellent knowledge of her organisation, local area and products and is able to give advice and suggestions, which adds to her customers’ experience.”

The Outstanding Customer Service Award is made in memory of Sheila Hensman who was a former Chairman and President of Cumbria Tourism. She believed that the customer had to come first and always encouraged those she met to remember and act of this. The award is intended to encourage those in the industry to strive for the very best in customer service.

The Cedar Manor has the highest TripAdvisor ratings in the area, and Patricia has been highlighted in many reports. She was described by one guest as “the best hotel staff member we have ever come across”.

Comedian Ed Byrne takes a double dip in the Lakes

ed byrne and pete in ullswater 1

Ed, left, with Pete Kelly in Ullswater. Photo: Steve Ashworth/MovieIt

It was no laughing matter when comedian Ed Byrne went for a hike in the Lake District.

He tackled one of the most serious climbs up Swirral Edge onto Helvellyn, England’s third highest mountain, stopping for a dip in one of the highest tarns on the way up.

And to complete the adventure, he had a swim in Ullswater at the end of the day.

Byrne, the Irish stand-up comedian and actor, was guided by mountain leader and open water swimming expert Pete Kelly from Ambleside’s Head to the Hills.

The route forms an adventure swimming day known as the Helvellyn Double Dipper which Head to the Hills offer for individuals or small groups wanting an extra challenge in the mountains.

Byrne, who has presented television shows Uncut! Best Unseen Ads and Just for Laughs, and is a guest on television panel games, is also a keen walker and  Munro bagger. He also writes regularly for The Great Outdoors magazine.

“This was Ed’s first taste of adventure swimming in the mountains and considering this he did really well and provided enjoyable company throughout the day, and was stopped on the summit by some admirers for the obligatory selfies,” said Pete Kelly.

“Our clients love this day out because Red Tarn is one of the most dramatic swimming locations in the Lake District. It provides cooling relief after the strenuous hike up from the valley floor and provides the best view of the mountain amphitheatre surrounding it. And Swirral Edge provides a really exciting route to the top of Helvellyn.”

Pete advises that only experts should attempt to tackle the double challenge without a qualified guide. “We get people safely to the top of the mountain, and take in another couple of summits before coming down via Glenridding Beck for the second swim of the day in Ullswater.”

Anyone who wants to try Ed Byrne’s route can find full details at

The distance walked is 15km, with 1,000m of ascent, and approx 3km of swimming. The next guided tour is on Saturday 29 August and costs £69.99 per person.

Pete Kelly is writing a swimming and hiking guide to the Lakes for Wild Swimming author and publisher Daniel Start.