Monthly Archives: November 2016

Milnthorpe retailer offers quiz prize to mark anniversary

A North West business is preparing for its 35th anniversary in the New Year, proving that there’s still a place for local independent specialists in a world of anonymous online trading.

Clocktower at Milnthorpe is the area’s biggest independent retailer of kitchen appliances, with a vast range of everything from kettles and blenders to free-standing and built-in washers, fridges and ovens.


Tom Harvey: offering expert advice and after-sales service

But they have also built a 35-year reputation as experts who can advise, fit and repair electrical goods, trusted as an honest company with wide-ranging knowledge of what their customers need.

Clocktower is run by Tom Harvey whose parents began the business 35 years ago, initially at nearby Haverthwaite. The company moved to its current, extensive roadside home on the A6 at Milnthorpe 30 years ago.

In that time Tom, who is also a South Lakeland district councillor, and chairman of Cartmel Cricket Club, has seen the inexorable rise of online retailing while his own business has continued to grow, with a customer base that ranges from Grasmere to Lancaster, and from Barrow to Kirkby Lonsdale.

“It’s clear evidence that people want individual attention, genuine advice and knowledgeable service,” says Tom.

“For example, if a customer comes in for a new washing machine, we ask if their kitchen/diner is open plan, and help them select a quieter model. That’s not something you can discover when buying online.”

The company does have an online sales department, but Tom says that customers like to call at the showroom knowing what they need – and finding the best advice to guide them to the best product.

“Our customers want advice,” he says. “They want to see items before they buy, and they want to talk to someone who has the knowledge to answer their questions.

“They also know that they can come here for spare parts and replacement parts, and that we can install their new washers and ovens.”

The company doesn’t build fitted kitchens, but can provide the appliances either built-in or free standing, as needed. Their best sellers currently tend to be Bosch laundry appliances, and refrigeration from the premium brand Liebherr.

Tom has decided to run a competition to mark the company’s anniversary, and is offering a Hotpoint microwave oven worth £129.95 as a prize. Competitors have to answer just one question, and deliver it in person to the store before January 1, and place it in the special “hat”; postal and email answers don’t qualify.

To be in with a chance of a prize, put your name, email address and phone number on a piece of paper, along with the answer to this question:

Which rock band sang a song about microwave ovens and custom kitchen deliveries?

The winning entry will be drawn from the hat on New Year ’s Day.


Celebrate with artist while Christmas shopping

Christmas shoppers in Kendal are invited to an evening celebration  at the studio and gallery of artist Thuline De Cock.

Thuline, who comes originally from Belgium,  is combining two seasonal traditions by offering gluhwein and mince pies to all who come through the door at 139 Highgate on late night shopping night – Thursday December 8.


Thuline’s studio

“We will have marked the feast of St Nicholas, or Sinterklaas as we know him, and we’re heading towards Christmas, so we wanted to offer something very European alongside something very English,” Thuline said.

She added: “At this time of the year in Belgium and Holland the mulled wine is known as Bisschopswijn, but we know that everyone can pronounce gluhwein!”

Her paintings of animals are being snapped up as Christmas presents, following a series of fairs across Cumbria, and several have been ordered to be shipped as gifts overseas. She also has a range of tea towels, mugs and aprons for sale.

Thuline opened the studio, opposite the Brewery Arts Centre, three years ago, but she’s been based in Kendal for more than 20 years. Originally from Bruges, she met her Cumbrian husband Dave Hill – also an artist – while on holiday in Spain. Her animal paintings are distinctive and unusual; regular visitors to the Lakes will have seen them at the Jumble Room in Grasmere, at the Sun Inn at Crook, and at Low Sizergh Barn. One of their cows was featured in a large painting Thuline sold recently.

Thuline exhibits in a number of galleries throughout the UK and Ireland, and she has work in private collections in Britain and overseas. She’s had solo exhibitions in the north, including Percyhouse at Cockermouth, Gallery15 in Penrith, Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake, the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal, and  Liverpool’s Blue Coat Chambers.

She’s also had her work on show at other exhibition venues including the NEC in Birmingham, the Artist Fair in Chelsea, Stockbridge Gallery in Hampshire, and art fairs in London, Edinburgh, Bristol and Antwerp.

The gallery will be open this evening until 7pm, and will be open every Sunday until Christmas from 12-4.


Bob claims the prize as he solves “murder” mystery on the Lakeland fells

A murder mystery in the Lakeland fells has been solved by a campsite worker from Wasdale.

Bob Smith, a keen walker, has found the geocache hidden on a hillside near Scafell Pike by crime novelist Andrew Bibby.


Bob Smith with the secret message in the geocache

Andrew placed the cache under a rock in an area of otherwise featureless fellside which is the scene of the alleged crime in his latest novel, In the Cold of the Night.


Andrew Bibby hiding the clue, in better weather

In the story the half-naked body of a Three Peaks challenge walker is discovered below England’s highest mountain …and one of the mountain rescue team happens to be a former investigative journalist, who’s determined to find out what happened to “the body in the bog”.

When the book was launched recently at the headquarters of the Langdale and Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team in Ambleside,  Andrew gave some clues, including a partial map reference and some photos.

A full grid reference and more photos were published two weeks later, and inspired Bob to go hunting for the prize (dinner for two at the Regent Hotel at Waterhead).

“I’m quite a keen walker, though the geocache was in an area I’d never really explored before,” said Bob, who comes originally from Lancaster.

“I first heard about the challenge on the radio when they interviewed the author and then again on social media.”

He worked out the location from the grid reference. “It was then quite an arduous trek in wintry conditions up to Pots of Ashness below Seatallan via Greendale Tarn. Once there, at first it seemed it would be impossible to find due to the covering of snow on the ground.


Wintry conditions below Seatallan

“However, I had the picture clues saved on my phone and could just about make out the shape of the rock under which the geocache was hidden, and with a little bit of digging, success!”

Added Bob: “I didn’t stick around too long due to the conditions so set off back via Middle Fell.”

A keen reader, he likes crime novels but particularly anything that’s set in or is about Cumbria.

In the Cold of the Night features investigative journalist and mountain rescuer Nick Potterton. The same character also features in Andrew Bibby’s first novel The Bad Step, which is set during a fell race above the Langdale valley. Both are published by Gritstone Publishing.

The author decided to donate a percentage of the sales of the new book to the LAMRT and is about to hand over his first cheque to them.

“I had a lot of fun researching the book, and the locations, and decided to issue a challenge to readers,” said Andrew. “I’m amazed that the cache has been found so quickly in such wintry conditions.”

The cache itself remains in place for other walkers to seek, with instructions to take a selfie with the contents if they find it.

Andrew Bibby is a professional writer and journalist, whose work has appeared in The Guardian, The Independent and other national papers. He is the author of several non-fiction books about northern England landscapes, including the walking guide The Backbone of England. He’s a fell runner and has completed many of the classic Lakeland fell races, and the Joss Naylor challenge.

Andrew Hewitt, the manager of the Regent Hotel which offered the dinner prize, said: “We are very impressed by Bob’s navigational skills and determination in spite of the snow. We look forward to meeting him here soon.”




A new look for a room called Windermere

Windermere is getting a makeover. Not England’s biggest lake, though, but the room named after it at the award winning Cedar Manor hotel not far from the water’s edge.

The Windermere room, elegant with high ceilings, is in the older part of the building and was originally the master bedroom of the house which was built in 1854, designed by the same architect, J.S. Crowther, as St Mary’s Church across the road. Crowther also designed Wynlass Beck and Holehird in Windermere, but he’s best known for major restoration and repairs to Manchester Cathedral.

A favourite with guests who return to the Cedar Manor year after year, it’s now the turn of the Windermere room to have a face-lift. The original stained glass window will stay, with its window seat looking down onto the lawn and the huge Cedar tree that gives the hotel its name.


But that has inspired designer Alison Tordoff to introduce an element of Victorian gothic to the new “earthy, organic” theme which will be brought to the room’s décor.

“We know that Alison will once again bring her distinctive style to this project,” said hotel owner Jonathan Kaye.

Alison, of locally-based Fidget Design, has made her mark throughout the hotel, bringing awards galore for interior excellence as well as hospitality. These include international Hotel Interior Design of the Year at the Bloomberg Hotel Awards. The hotel has since won Best Small Hotel in the Cumbria Tourism awards, and was recently given the AA three star silver award.


Hotel owners Jonathan and Caroline Kaye, with designer Alison Tordoff

The hotel has also been chosen as the first European hotel to join the list of a prestigious American-based register. Select Registry is a collection of independent, boutique lodging properties which has recommended hotels and inns to travellers across the USA for 45 years.

All the rooms at the Cedar Manor are named after local landmarks – valleys, fells and lakes – and Alison also designed the detached luxury Coach House Suite. All rooms feature the furniture of Andy Smith who served part of his apprenticeship building furniture for Cedar Manor before going on to set up his own business, Lakeland Fells Furniture.

“He has continued to work with us and now all wooden furniture throughout the hotel has been hand-crafted right here in Windermere,” said Jonathan. He always selects FSC woods (Forestry Stewardship Council) and Alison designs the furniture to be sympathetic to the Victorian gothic style which is in keeping with the age of the building.”

Jonathan added: “We are very excited about the re-design of Windermere and we know that our guests next year will love it.”

Film-makers who love Cumbria’s sense of place

From Hollywood blockbusters such as Star Wars and Snow White, the landscape of the Lake District has been used by countless film-makers who have been repeatedly drawn to Cumbria’s unique “sense of place”.

Now a film enthusiast has acknowledged this by compiling the first ever-comprehensive guide to the history of films shot in Cumbria and the Lakes since the early 20th century.

The new book includes a wide variety of films and genre’s ranging from family favourites like Miss Potter or Postman Pat, to the perennial classic Brief Encounter or the contemplative and poignant Raven on the Jetty, and each is treated to author David Banning’s highly informative and well-researched analysis.


Scene from Raven on the Jetty

David, who lives in Grasmere, is a self-confessed movie buff. He’s equally enthusiastic about the visionary director Ken Russell and up and coming Kerry Harrison, though he is quite clear about his personal favourite: Withnail and I.

He works part time at the Heaton Cooper Studio in Grasmere and also in the University of Cumbria library Lancaster campus, which provided him with a number of excellent resources to aid the considerable background research.

Formerly, David worked in marketing and promotions for an independent record label in London, gaining invaluable experience on high profile campaigns with bands such as Garbage and Muse. Eventually he moved on to study History of Art at Goldsmith’s College, University of London as a mature student.

It was while he watched the 2012 film Snow White and the Huntsman, and recognising the distinctive location of Cathedral Quarry in Little Langdale, that the idea for a book first emerged.


“It started with compiling a list, and grew into a book,” says David, whose work is introduced in a foreword by Sophie Neville, the actress who starred in the original 1974 version of Arthur Ransome’s classic story Swallows and Amazons. She remembers working in the Lake District with great affection. “If you want to make a film for the big screen, why would you not want the ever-changing backcloth provided by the regal landscapes of Cumbria?” says Neville.

David is now working on a project that aims to show how the Lake District has been depicted in art over many centuries to the present day.

An A-Z of Cumbria and the Lake District on Film is published by Hayloft, £12.

Take Trump on a tour of the planet, campaigner is urged

Donald Trump should go on a world tour with a climate change campaigner to see for himself the impacts of global warming.

The invitation was issued by Richard Leafe, the chief executive of the Lake District National Park, at the opening of a new exhibition, Images from a Warming Planet.

Photographs taken by Ashley Cooper over a 13 year journey around the globe to document the effects of climate change are now on display at the Heaton Cooper Studio in Grasmere ,  as his mammoth book of 500 pictures is launched.


Richard Leafe told visitors to the opening of the exhibition that the USA president elect, “the most influential climate change denier on the planet” ought to be shown the impacts that Cooper had documented “and the consequences of these on peoples’ lives”.

Leafe said that Cumbria was no stranger to the effects of climate change as the region approached the anniversary of Storm Desmond, “one of the most potent climate-change-driven events here in the National  Park.”

The opening of the exhibition,  coincides with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which is taking place in Marrakech.

Cooper said:  “This has been a very long journey, and I hope that it does make a difference. For those who may be wavering, global warming is not a case of what might happen in the future. These images show what is happening now. These pictures show the consequences, and it is only going to get worse unless we act now.”

Environmental activist Kate Rawles, who is about to ride the length of South America on a bicycle made out of bamboo to raise awareness about the loss of biodiversity, told guests at the opening: “Ashley has witnessed more impact of climate change than any other human being on the planet.”

She said that his images “howled” the message far more effectively than any statistics.


Images from a Warming Planet: One man’s mission to document climate change around the world is available at the Heaton Cooper Studio (£40). From the sale of each book, the studio will donate £4 to, the climate change charity.

Cooper, whose photographs include images of drought, flooding and the misery of refugee migrations, said: “Those least responsible for climate change are the ones who are most impacted by it.”

He added: “We are at a crossroads and we need to change direction and de-carbonise very quickly. Renewable energy is the way forward. The future is ours to control.”

Leading environmental campaigners have hailed his book and exhibition as a call to political action. Jonathon Porritt says that Cooper’s book is an “extraordinary photographic record” which must not be seen as just another snapshot in time. “Do not be tempted into any kind of passive voyeurism; do not allow the power of the images to come between you and the people whose changing lives they portray,” says Porritt. “See it more as a declaration of solidarity,  and as the powerful call to action that it surely is.”

Images from a Warming Planet: One man’s mission to document climate change around the world is available at the Heaton Cooper Studio (£40). From the sale of each book, the studio will donate £4 to, the climate change charity.



Mystery in the Lakeland hills remains unsolved

A secret cache in the hills above Wasdale is waiting to be discovered in a mystery challenge.

In spite of clues given away by the author of two Lakes-based crime novels, the cache – and a prize for the finder – has not yet been claimed.

So novelist Andrew Bibby has decided to give a full map reference to help walkers track it down.

He hid the cache near the scene of the alleged crime in his latest book  In the Cold of the Night,  which was published last week.


Bibby hides the secret cache

The story features a mystery in the fells and an investigative journalist who is a fellrunner and a member of the local mountain rescue team. Bibby spent some time with rescuers researching details for the book, and is donating a percentage of all sales fees to the LAMRT.

The publishers (Gritstone Publishing) have also reissued Bibby’s previous Lakeland crime novel in a companion volume,  The Bad Step, another murder story set this time above the Langdale valley on the mountain ridge called the Crinkle Crags, which has to date been available only on Kindle. In that story, one of the runners in a championship fell race is found dead on the route.

Andrew Bibby is a professional writer and journalist, whose work has appeared in The Guardian, The Independent and other national papers. He is the author of several non-fiction books about northern England landscapes, including the walking guide The Backbone of England. He’s a fell runner and has completed many of the classic Lakeland fell races, and the Joss Naylor challenge.

He said: “Working with the mountain rescue team has been great fun, and I’m pleased to be supporting them.

“I set the mystery near the route of one of the Lakes’ classic fell races.”

The first person to find it will win dinner for two at the Regent Hotel at Waterhead near Ambleside.

There’s a second page in the cache which walkers are asked to return to its hiding place – after taking a selfie with the clue. “If you find it, all the instructions are there. But the geocache is in rough mountainous terrain at over 1500 ft height and so people looking for it need appropriate mountain experience and clothing, and need to take account of the weather… and you look for it at your own risk.”

And that key map reference? 14532 09109.

If the cache is still not found, Bibby will release another clue next week.