Monthly Archives: February 2016

New apprentice as Kendal firm powers ahead

A new apprentice has been taken on by Kendal-based Draper Ltd as part of their expansion plans.

Nick Crierie has been appointed trainee business administrator by Draper who are developing their back-up generator business as well as being fire and security experts.

the team

The Draper team: left to right, apprentice Nick Crierie; Ben Wragg, installation engineer; Alan Duff, operations director; Dawn Gedge, office manager; Joel Duff, installation engineer; and Kevin Draper

Managing director Kevin Draper has noted a big increase in enquiries following the winter storms. One of his customer hotels was able to stay open when neighbouring businesses had to send visitors home after the power failed.

“Storms had brought the power lines down and there was no grid power for three days,” said Mr Draper. “The hotel switched to their back-up generator and the guests never noticed any difference.

“We are getting a lot of enquiries from businesses who want peace of mind, knowing that they are not going to lose income if there is a power cut.”

His firm is also supplying generators to care homes where elderly residents need to be kept warm and secure, and to residential customers with disability needs. Back-up generators will keep wheelchairs, other devices and even breathing apparatus operating if the power fails.

Nick Crierie, who will also run the company’s social media programme, joins the head office team on the Dockray Hall estate. Draper also have a nationwide network of experts in fire and security, and generator installation and maintenance.

“It’s all about peace of mind,” said Mr Draper. “Your house will be the one with the lights still on. Your business will be the one with the machines still running and the computers still functioning.”

Draper is an approved NICIEC electrical contractor with customers all over Britain, from Plymouth to Arbroath.



Free wedding if HE says yes on leap year day

Romantic businesses in the Lake District are offering to foot the wedding bill if a lass proposes to her lad on the town’s Victoria Bridge next Monday, leap year day.

The wedding shower of goodies on offer to the lucky couple now includes a free wedding ceremony in the town of Kendal.

The lovers will also be given a post-proposal romantic dinner, a makeover for the bride and bridesmaids, engagement ring discount, and free wedding accessories if he says “yes” to her on the iconic bridge.

Tradition says that in a leap year a woman may propose to a man on the leap year day itself, February 29.

Now a business group in Kendal which encouraged love’s young dreamers to take the chance has been inundated with offers. And there’s a chance that the couple will be featured on national television.

The Victoria Bridge was named after the Queen whose union with Prince Albert is one of the greatest love stories in history. It’s also a happy place today, recently re-opened with stronger foundations after being damaged during the December floods.

“We love our Victoria Bridge, and we love a good love story,” says Daniel Morley, director of the Kendal Business Improvement District.

“We don’t mind where the couple come from – visitors and locals are equally welcome to pop the question.”


He added: “We are thrilled by the response from local businesses to this idea. They are making very generous offers that will help an engaged couple plan the wedding of their dreams.”

The offers are:

  • A free civil ceremony in one of Castle Green Hotel’s suites or in their romantic gazebo in the grounds, including room hire, flowers for the ceremony table, pianist to set the scene and accompany you down the aisle, chair covers and bows. Or for those preferring a church wedding there’s £500 off their Classic Wedding Reception Package. (T&C: Minimum 60 adults, new bookings only)
  • A make-over for Bride and Bridesmaids at Beales store on Finkle Street
  • A Post-proposal romantic meal for two in the Riverside Hotel Tannery Bar & Bistro
  • Peter George Banks Jewellers offer 15% discount and a glass of champagne to celebrate.
  • And if the bride orders a dress from A Family Affair- she will be given £100 worth of free accessories and 10% off of menswear hire

The leap year tradition dates back to the 13th century and was said to be the one day of the year when women are ‘allowed’ to get down on bended knee and propose to their boyfriends – a chance that only comes around once every 1,461 days.

It’s also believed that if he says no, he has to buy the woman a dress, as allegedly decreed by Queen Margaret of Scotland.

When they married in 1840, Victoria was a 20-year-old young woman who had just become Queen in 1837. She was most pleased with her new husband and wrote to her uncle Leopold thanking him for “the prospect of great happiness you have contributed to give me in the person of dear Albert.  He possesses every quality that can be desired to make me perfectly happy.” They were together for 21 years and had a family of nine children before his untimely death plunged her into grief.

The Victoria Bridge is one of five road bridges over the River Kent in Kendal and was erected to commemorate the Queen’s Jubilee in 1887.

Any lasses who need a little prompting to ask the big question should contact the Kendal BID manager Sarah Williams :

Festival of the fells to be staged in Ambleside

Ambleside is to stage the country’s first Festival of the Fells, offering a feast of walking, swimming and scrambling in the town once known as the anorak capital of the world.

The event, in September, will celebrate the landscape, culture, history and outdoor activity in the heart of the Lake District.

Organised by Ambleside Together, the festival will be staged over four days from Thursday September 22 until Sunday September 25. It will include guided walks, swims in lakes and tarns, food, music and other entertainment.

The organisers already have leading outdoor brands who want to be involved, and they hope that the festival will become an annual event.

“This is a really exciting opportunity,” said Ambleside Together chairman Andrew Hewitt. “The town is known in the equipment world as the European outdoors capital, and we have so much to celebrate here on our doorstep. We hope that this will be appreciated and enjoyed by regular visitors and newcomers to the area.”

festival logo jpg

Ambleside, in the heart of the Lakes, has the highest concentration of outdoor equipment shops in any European centre, as well as being surrounded by fells offering high and low level walks, in one of the most popular walking and hiking centres.

A programme of events is being planned and these will include guided walks over Loughrigg and Wansfell, Red Screes, and the Fairfield Horseshoe, combined swim and walk tours using lakes and tarns, and talks on the history, fell-walking and climbing exploits of the area. The organisers also hope that local restaurants and cafes will create special festival dishes for their menus.

One of the talks already scheduled is by Clive Hutchby who has been commissioned to revise and update all the Wainwright guide books to the Lakeland fells.

The organisers want to meet guided-walks leaders, outdoor instructors and others who might want to contribute to the festival programme. They also want to talk to café and restaurant owners, outdoor equipment providers, and musicians and entertainers, and a meeting will be held before Easter.

Meanwhile Ambleside Together has bought a number of “feather” banners which are going on display around the town with the logo “Love Ambleside”. They also have a new and vibrant social media presence with Facebook and Twitter pages which have already attracted messages of greeting from celebrities such as broadcaster Clare Balding, explorer Paul Rose – and the casts of the West End  musicals Les Miserables and Cats.

And they have produced a short “We love Ambleside” video featuring local locations and local characters which is being watched by audiences around the world.

Anyone interested in being involved, in leading walks or giving talks, putting on a music event, or a special menu in a restaurant, fell runners, etc, please come to a public meeting at the Ambleside Parish Centre on Thursday March 10 at 7.15pm

Mountain artist to give workshop in the Lakes

A highly acclaimed exhibition in the Lake District exploring the aesthetic appeal of rock climbing and mountain environments is to be extended at the Heaton Cooper Studio in Grasmere.

Prominent Lines, a collection of work by climber and artist Tessa Lyons, highlighting the beauty of rocks and crags, opened to critical acclaim last month at the mecca of climbing art in Grasmere.

The response to the show has persuaded the organisers to extend the exhibition until after Easter.  It will now run until April 11.  And the artist herself will run a workshop at the studio next month.

“The workshop consists of experimental mark-making exercises coupled with drawing techniques and development,” said Tessa Lyons.

“To begin the day there will be a strong emphasis on experimentation to explore the qualities of charcoal and ink. Through various mark-making exercises we will be loosening into expressive drawing before moving on to cover more observational drawing techniques.”

Sheffield-based Tessa, 27, works in charcoal and chalk, creating pictures which are inspired by Japanese calligraphy and Zen painting. Tessa is a climber and an artist intrigued by the visual appeal of geology. From large-scale charcoal drawings of mountains, averaging two metres wide, to delicate depictions of individual rock climbs in ink, Tessa’s work looks to capture the essence of the places that she is drawn to.

tessa's work on display at Heaton Cooper

One of her most viewed recent works is on display at the remote Black Sail youth hostel, a picture of Pillar Rock which was commissioned by the YHA in 2014.  The piece is on permanent exhibition in the tiny sitting –cum-dining room for walkers, runners and climbers taking refuge to enjoy.

Tessa studied illustration at the University of Brighton where she was won the Highly Commended Award by Nagoya University of Arts for her charcoal and chalk drawing Summit of Haystacks, The Lake District. Since graduating she has had gone on to exhibit nationwide in both group and solo exhibitions as well as being shortlisted for numerous awards including the Association of Illustrators New Talent Award, and BITE, the UK’s leading printmaking competition.

Her work is a regular feature in the British Mountaineering Council’s national publication Summit magazine. In 2014 Tessa was invited by Kendal Mountain Festival to commemorate 100 years of the classic rock climb Central Buttress on Scafell in the Lake District.

“Climbers often talk about certain climbs, or lines, as being ‘beautiful’,” says Tessa. “At the crag a prominent line will draw your eye, striking inspiration, leaving you with a burning desire to do the climb. With these drawings I’m looking to capture the essence of those compelling lines with a strong simplicity inspired by Japanese calligraphy and Zen painting, the textural qualities found in printmaking and observational drawings of the rock formations.”

Her workshop is on March 5, from 10am – 4pm,  and provided with the workshop there will be a range of collected objects, photos and an eclectic playlist of music to respond to as well as an opportunity to create mark-making tools and brushes to work with. “If you have a particular object or photograph you would particularly like to draw from then please bring it along,” said Tessa.

The workshop is suitable for all abilities and costs £50, with some materials provided. Places are limited so call the studio to book on 015394 35280.

City art show moves into the country at Bartle Hall

The work of talented Lancashire-based artists will go on show next week (March 3) at a distinctive exhibition at Bartle Hall.

For the first time, the Preston Art Society is staging its spring exhibition at the country house hotel near Preston, Lancashire, a new setting which will display their work and their talent in spacious and elegant surroundings.

The exhibition will be opened by celebrity potter Matthew Wilcock who took the top prize in BBC television’s Great Pottery Throw Down.

“We are delighted to be exhibiting at Bartle Hall, and thrilled that Matthew can join us for the opening of our exhibition,” said Art Society chair, Pam Potter.

by pam potter

“The hotel is a perfect setting for us to show off our work, and our visitors will be able to linger and enjoy it all the more because there’s plenty of free parking.”

Pam, an accomplished artist and former art lecturer, has been working with hotel owners Andrew and Nicola Haworth to design the exhibition space in Bartle Hall’s elegant rooms.

“This is an exciting development for us,” said Nicola. “We think that Bartle Hall will be the ideal backdrop for the works which will be on show.”  The hotel is offering a special afternoon tea deal throughout the period of the exhibition, at £28 for two, for full afternoon tea, with a drink on arrival. Coffee and cake at £3.95 will also be available.

Matthew, 23, who teaches pottery at Giggleswick School, was the youngest contestant in the TV competition. Among his tasks in the final was to make a 12 piece porcelain tea set, and create three high-shouldered jugs in just 20 minutes.

“We love his work,” said Nicola. “We are hoping that we might commission him to create some pieces for our gardens here.”

Matthew said: “This sounds like being a great event and I am really looking forward to it.”

matthew wilcock pic

The official opening of the exhibition will be on Thursday March 3 at 6pm. The art show will then be open daily until March 24, (not Saturdays and Sundays, or Friday March 18), from 10am till 4pm. Admission is free.




Work by Pam Potter,  Lyn Pyatt and Stuart Mason.

Pam Potter trained in fine art and textiles and was a lecturer at Blackburn and Preston Colleges for 30 years. Solo shows include The Haworth, Accrington, Harris Gallery Preston, Vernon Gallery Preston, Lytham Heritage Centre, Beaux Arts Ludlow, Dukes Theatre Lancaster sponsored by North West Arts, and Penrith Museum sponsored by Eden Arts. She has shown in many shared shows in the North West and Cumbria including the Manchester Academy, St. Helens, Royal Exchange Manchester, Lancashire Museum and Pendle Heritage Centre. She has been awarded many prizes and her work has also been exhibited in London, France, and the United States.

Pam is a member of The Art and Craft Guild of Lancashire, vice chair of Preston Arts Association, chair of Preston Art Society, and member of New Longton Artists and Mill Barn Artists.

Stuart Mason is a former art teacher who has, since retiring from teaching, concentrated on representational work.  He has received a number of awards, including  a prize winner at the Harris Open three times. He also won the popular prize at the West Lancs Open and has exhibited at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters annual show. 

Lyn Pyatt taught in various colleges in Lancashire. Her work has been exhibited at many galleries and can be found in collections in the UK, Europe and the USA. This includes an etching in the permanent  Collection of British Women’s Art  at the University of Cambridge.

Her subject matter is contemporary landscape and equine art. The paintings are based on her fascination with the relationship between man and land and water, or, between horse and man.


Poetry contestants are given more time to “mind the gap”

School pupils across Cumbria are being given an extra two weeks to enter a prestigious poetry competition.

The annual Rydal Mount Wordsworth prize for young poets is organised by the descendants of William Wordsworth, and is open to students at all schools in the county.

The closing date for entries has been extended to Friday March 11, after the Wordsworth family confirmed that they will be attending the award ceremony at Rydal after Easter.

The announcement and prizegiving will be held at Rydal Mount on Thursday April 11.

The poems this time are invited on the theme: Mind the Gap. Peter Elkington, the curator of Rydal Mount, who is organising the contest on behalf of the Wordsworth family, said: “The writers can interpret the theme in any way they wish, but we thought that it would be an opportunity for some of them to consider how the winter storms and the Gap on the A591 have affected their lives and their family lives.”

Mind the Gap

The winner will receive a £50 cash prize, a personal trophy, and his or her name will be added to the roll of honour on the plaque at Wordsworth’s former home at Rydal Mount near Ambleside. There are book prizes for the poets judged as highly commended in the primary and secondary school categories.

the keswick gap

Each entrant also receives a certificate signed by the descendants of William Wordsworth.

Last year’s winner was 13 year old Jessica Dickinson, a pupil at Keswick School, with “I wandered into my childhood”, a tribute to William Wordsworth’s Daffodils. Her poem was deemed to be the best from more than 150 entries from school pupils across Cumbria by members of the Wordsworth family, who will judge the entries again this year. Her poem has been framed and displayed at Rydal Mount for visitors to read.

The closing date for entries is Friday Feb 26, and an award ceremony will be held at Rydal Mount later in the spring when the winner will be announced.

Entry forms can be found at or via the Cumbria education department schools’ information portal.

Diary of a novice triathlete, part 2: Ursula fights a knee injury


It is four months until Triathlon X. My first triathlon and billed as the world’s toughest triathlon. Really?? ….and starting from my hometown….Ambleside.

So am I nervous? Am I excited? Most importantly, am I anywhere near ready?

I will quote something that was said to me yesterday by a respected ultra-athlete who lives in the village.

“You may have amazing muscle definition and abs that turn heads but if you can’t cycle, swim and run to a high level, you’re buggered!”ursi close up

“You could bluff your way through a mini-triathlon, but there is no hiding places on this one”

“0k, thanks for that” I replied, pulling in my abs.

Being a fitness instructor, it doesn’t matter how many classes I take a week, how many clients I jog around the park with or how many kale smoothies I drink. I have to be flipping good at swimming, cycling and running….and let’s face reality, I am not. So I am trying, yes, really trying to get better at all of them in the time I have between classes, clients, and barking at my kids to get off the X box.

I remember cycling around Denmark in my Gore cycling jacket feeling smug, when a lady 20 years older than me in a floral skirt and basket on her handlebars sailed past me with a wave of her hand. She cycles every day.

Ok, so last time I wrote my blog, I was feeling good. I had just run half a marathon, cycled well and was well on the way to learning good technique in front crawl. Since then I have strained my popliteus, a small muscle in the back of my knee that feels like someone has kicked me. Maybe they have?

I am not happy with my running technique. It feels onerous going slowly over long distances and always seems to result in an injury for me. So I took a session with a natural running coach this week who was brilliant and has given me lots of useful tips on how to make my running more efficient. So when this muscle strain goes (and it will, stay positive) I will run tall with a quick cadence and I will be relaxed, yeh, so relaxed.

I have been practising my front crawl every day…..if only I could have a snorkel and didn’t have to breathe, it would be easy. Conscious breathing is hard for me as breathing is a natural thing that you don’t have to think about it too much in running or cycling. I don’t like thinking too much. It ruins everything. I just like doing!

It has rained a lot in the Lake District recently. When I say a lot, I mean shed loads….but I guess you already know the devastation it has caused. Cycling in the rain is not fun, but better than cycling on ice, so get positive Ursula. Out of all the disciplines, I like cycling the most. Apart from when I get overtaken effortlessly, and then I try to keep up with them and realise I’m not so good after all.

cycling the passes

I have started reading a book about portable nutrition. I don’t like gels and packaged cereal bars. I like real food, so I’m going to get myself a rice cooker and experiment with lots of rice cake recipes until I find one that works for me. I need to be well hydrated and have the right nutrients that don’t give me gut rot but keep me going on this beast of an endurance race. I have an amazing band of friends who will support me and supply me with the food I need. I wouldn’t be able to do it without them.

So four months away and mentally I am ready. Don’t tell my swimming coach but I still have it in my head that I will do a fast breast stroke rather than a slow front crawl whilst gagging from drinking Lake Windermere.

Cycling, I am going to keep practising longer distances and do parts of the Fred Whitton route a couple of times before the day. I am lucky as I have plenty of amazing cyclists in the area who can help me get faster.

Running. I need to get rid of the popliteus injury and my massage therapist will sort that out…..and if he says rest, which he will, I will have to ease back. Just a little bit.

I hope you enjoy reading this and that it might help you do things you never dreamed you would do. I am trying. I want to do this. Until next time, thanks for your comments and keep training specific.

Ursula is a personal trainer and runs fitness training sessions in Ambleside: