From sweet treats to adventure days in the hills, Alison Tordoff chooses some last minute gift ideas that will bring a sparkle to your Christmas
It’s the season of joy, goodwill to all men, and panic. For unless you’re one of those irritating people who Christmas presents are bought and already wrapped, you’re a last-minute shopper.
But how lucky, to live in the Lakes where there’s such a wealth of great ideas and fabulous gifts, so that there’s absolutely NO need to head for the Trafford Centre and other temples of doom.
With a designer’s eye we’ve put together a basket of perfect presents for everyone on your list, without breaking the bank. Everything here can be bought locally, for around £30 or less.
We love buying local and finding products inspired by the Lake District. And if you love and support your local craftsmen, designers and producers, they will love you back. It’s a truly creative network. So these are a few of our favourite things…
Kin Toffee Vodka is one of my all-time favourites. For that extra special treat on Christmas day why not mix with prosecco in a tall champagne glass and add a few frozen cranberries. A 500ml funky gift-boxed bottle of this gorgeous amber nectar is £19 and there’s still room in the budget to add a decent bottle of fizz to make a lovely cocktail combo. https://kinvodka.co.uk/products/toffee-vodka-gift-box
Or alternatively add a box of their fabulous toffee vodka truffles for £6. https://www.abbottschocolates.co.uk/product/toffee-vodka-truffles/
I’m loving this novelty Lakes Gin Bauble. Available from Windermere and Ambleside Wine Stores £19.95 for 20cl bauble. And once you have drunk it, you can make it into a snow globe for your tree by filling it with glitter and water! How eco-friendly is that? Tel. 015394 46891
How about a crate of Christmas beer from the Cumbrian fells. Perhaps a well rounded, malty spiced Christmas ale with subtle hints of smoke? Jingle Fells is savoury on the nose with aromas of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. 12x 500ml bottles £25 available online and directly from the brewery’s tap The Beer Hall, Hawkshead Brewery, Staveley Mill Yard, Staveley, Cumbria LA8 9LR http://www.hawksheadbrewery.co.uk/beer-shop/by-the-case/jingle-fells-45-abv.p.aspx
Also available from selected craft beer shops.
Rhubarb Crumble Gin
Mmmm… Think i might have to add this one to my own drinks cupboard! And what better way to shop than popping into the Low Sizergh Barn, which is an Aladdin’s cave full of wonderful festive treats and tantalising aromas, from local producers.
Solway Spirits Rhubarb Crumble Gin – the name gives it away! Beautifully smooth, this Gin has rhubarb, juniper and citrus on the nose. They use quality Gin and infuse with fresh rhubarb and vanilla pods then a little torrified wheat (the kind they use in Belgian-style beers) for a short period.
Try this with Ginger Ale and the flavours and aromas explode for you to enjoy. £29.50 for 70cl. Also available through their online shop: http://www.lowsizerghbarn.co.uk/product/solway-spirits-rhubarb-crumble-gin-70cl/
A friend of mine, Sam, was asked to make some fudge for the school fair. It was so popular she started up in business and now has over thirty different flavours. She also does wedding favours, celebration pizzas and show piece Fudge Mountains. All available on mail order. 3x 200g bags of Fudgeadoodledoo Fudge (your choice of flavours) for £13.00 (p&p included)
We love the Raspberry Sedbergh Mess, White Choc Chai, Christmas Pudding and Eggnog Flavours. Contact Sam for all the flavours. https://www.facebook.com/pg/fudgeadoodledoo/shop/?rid=1007218239391052&rt=39
I was very excited when I saw the Ginger Bakers huge range of yummy cakes and biscuits, especially the gluten free options with mouthwatering and unusual flavour combinations. Choose from their fabulous selection online and make them up into a delectable hamper that everyone will drool over. Prices start from £3.50 https://www.gingerbakers.co.uk
Dave’s skill at combining flavours is amazing and these little jars of joy are simply divine. I’m addicted to the Wasabi and Mango mayonnaise, which surprisingly seems to go with everything! I’m not into hot flavours, but this mayo is really delicate. Choose from his large range of artisan chutneys, mayos and pickles for the ‘Medium Mixed Hamper’ (6 jars) £24.50
Also, by the time this article goes live he will have launched his Tasty Cranberry Sauce with Gold Leaf! How decadent and special is that for your festive table?
Life is Sweet is not your average sweet shop and these are not your everyday chocolates. They are the prettiest chocolates imaginable, with stunning designs, and the flavour combinations are just Wow for the grown-upchild in a sweet shop.
They have various sizes of special Christmas presentation boxes. The 26 chocs box is £24.99 and the 30 chocs box is £28.99. Call into the shop in Windermere, or buy online. http://www.lifeissweetwindermere.co.uk
STYLE AND DESIGN
I was delighted to stumble across DoodleLove Designs based in Kendal. They have oodles of feel-good, funky printed products for styling your home or getting you organised for 2018. They also offer a personalised printing service. I like to be super organised so would go for the Stationery Addict Gift Box £25.00.
Jo Vincent Glass Design
Everyone’s raving about the wonderful pieces that Jo makes, and her largest lighting commission to date was for one of my interior projects. So to have a little piece of the fabulous Jo Vincent Design, how about one of her stunning pendant necklaces with fused glass colours £30.
The Northern Line
Take some time out and dive into this Lakeland Quiz Book £6.99 with a shot of espresso to get the old grey matter into gear. https://thenorthernline.co.uk/collections/home-gift/products/lake-district-quiz-book
We also love this stylish Beasties Animal Espresso Set of four £22.50 (below)
They have shops in Ulverston and Windermere, or buy online.
The Love District
Contemporary interpretations of the Lake District…made with love. Ok, we have to admit this is one of our designs, but we’re very proud of them. For example, the Lakeland Books Tea Towel…These quality tea towels are printed with a selection of beautifully coloured book designs based on local history, arts, crafts, poets, culture, industry etc…all with slightly quirky tongue-in-cheek titles and authors.
The book titles depicted include Windermere Char Char, Fifty Shades of Grey Wool, The Love District Guide How to Fleece a Man by Sally Shearer, The Flying Boat Brigade by Shortie Sunderland, and Wordsworth and the Railways by Bill Halt, providing a contemporary interpretation of the Lakes and Cumbria. A great stocking filler at £9.99 each
***Special offer*** Buy 3 for £25.00 mention code ‘30Gifts’
http://thelovedistrict.com Contact Alison 07971 106748
How about this handsome fella by local artist Thuline De Cock.
He’s printed onto a funky bag ideal for shopping, school work or the beach, with a bright and colourful image. Size approx. 46×38 cm. £20
The bags are manufactured by hand, can carry a lot of weight, fully machine washable at 30 degrees and the colours don’t fade.
Lakeland Magma Art
Just launched, this wonderful free-flowing art on canvas can be made to order in your favourite colours and each piece is totally unique.
Select from the range of canvases available or choose your own recipe of colours, maybe add copper, silver or gold for some decadence
***Special offer*** A 22 x 30cm canvas £39.00 (usual price £60)
A GOOD READ
An A-Z of Cumbria and the Lake District on Film by David Banning
SHORTLISTED for the 2017 Lakeland Book of the Year Award, this is the first comprehensive guide to the history of movies filmed in Cumbria and the Lake District, from the early twentieth century to the present day. Presented in an entertaining and easy to access A-Z format, it will take you on a journey through the filmic landscape of one of the world’s most beautiful places.
The book, part of the Cumbria Guide series, recounts the area’s rich and absorbing film and social history alongside an assortment of hand-drawn maps, photographs and film stills. It is packed full of information on how to visit the breathtaking scenery and locations where film history was made.
You will be able to immerse yourself in the lush green world where Star Wars created an alien landscape or take a trip around Swallows and Amazons country, not to mention joining the ranks of Withnail and I pilgrims or sampling the nostalgic Brief Encounter tea rooms where a tiny piece of grit kick-started an enduring romance.
Wilson and Fay Sail the Wayfarer by Fay Larkin
Cedar Manor Hotel is always keen to support local businesses and they have a variety of select suppliers in their in-house shop. This fabulous children’s book is beautifully illustrated, ased on adventures in the Lakes District by local author Fay Larkin. £7.95.
They have a limited number of SIGNED FIRST EDITIONS. Get them before they’re gone.
Herdwick Needle Felt
And while you’re there take a look at these wonderful needle-felt Herdwick sheep and bears made by Sarah Beale from Tilly Mint Crafts. Prices range from £19.50 to £22.50
The ‘Mondrian’ art sheep is my favourite. He’s a special collector piece at £26 as £5 goes to the Calvert Trust.
Why not have a romantic candle lit dinner in their award winning restaurant and Christmas shop at your leisure. Contact Caroline or Jonathan at Cedar Manor
Bluetooth Speaker Bulb
This colour changing light bulb sounds very cool to me.
Link it up to your phone/iPod via bluetooth and play your favourite tunes.
£24 from RNew Electrical Shop in Windermere.
Contact the lovely Ryan: 015394 22196
Light For Your Moments
This nifty energy smart light bulb is retro fit and allows you to control your lighting from your mobile or computer. For example, you can program ‘When I get home, turn my lights on’ or ‘When I leave home, turn my lights off’, and you can even have scene setting using multiple bulbs.
Price from £9. Available from the Epixx Home Audio showroom in Windermere.
Here’s a very neat combo for any budding photographer. A funky and stylish easy access camera clip-on pouch for iPhone or point-and-shoot cameras.
The Photographers Guide to the Lake District has loads of useful hints and tips on where and when to take the best shots.
HEALTH AND HAPPINESS
Always good to burn off some of those excess calories following the great festive troughing.
Walk-n-Talk is a quirky idea, from the Quirky Traveller, Zoe Dawes. She exudes a totally calm and positive outlook on life. A ‘Walk-n-Talk’ with Zoe can do wonders for knocking down hurdles and unlocking your potential. So get those endorphins flowing with her introductory offer £30 for one hour.
Nic’s Nordic Walks
This effervescent and enthusiastic lady, based in the heart of the Lake District will have you burning more calories than you can shake a Nordic walking pole at.
Learn the correct technique and you will
- Burn 46% more calories
- Use 90% of your body’s muscles
- Reduce the pressure on the lower limb joints
- Reduce shoulder/neck tension
- Strengthen lower back/core muscles
- Clear your head and think more clearly
- …and most of all – have fun with no high-tech equipment or wi-fi buzzing around in Nic’s Gym Without Walls… whatever the weather
£25 for Part 1 Basic and Hill Technique. Email or call Nicola for your voucher
Nicola@nicsnordicwalks.co.uk / 07976 949488
Relaxed & Calm
For those feeling a little frazzled and in need of regaining the life balance, look no further. These thoughtful gifts will have them relaxed, rested and recharged in no time.
Only in December does my wardrobe ever smell so sublime from the stashed away Bespoke Aroma products ready for Christmas Gifts. My sister-in-law who is a midwife, swears by the ‘Hard Working Hands’ Hand Cream. Indulge the senses with these all natural products and no nasties. Beautifully presented gift sets £25.
The method of Reflexology, also known as Zone Therapy, has been used for several thousands of years and is known to have been practised in a similar manner by the Chinese and the Egyptians. It is a very relaxing therapy which links pressure points in your feet to areas of your body helping to reduce tension and lead to an improved sense of well-being. £30 for 1 Hour Session. Contact MacFarlane: Mob. 07515 821852
Time to unwind and rebalance
Yvonne Cervetti is offering a special price for all sorts of wonderful massages.
45 minute session for £30 in any of the following: Myofascial/Sports/Relaxation/Hot Stone Massage ; Postural & movement assessment and Active Fascial Release to improve posture & performance. Tel: 015396 21303 or 07795 063107
And Fritz Hrynyk (her hubby) is offering a 60 minute session £30 clothed treatment of Reiki with cranio-sacral techniques to rebalance the body & mind. Contact him on: 07817 665662
Inspired Life Yoga
Unwind, connect, balance & breathe. This is my brilliant yoga teacher who straightens me out and calms me down ready for the week’s work and whatever life throws at me. A one-to-one 1 hour guided yoga session £25, or a Partner Yoga Session £30.
Shelley Barlow @ Inspired Life Yoga.
This gift really should be in the ‘Relaxed and Calm’ list, however I was so blown away by this amazing experience it is firmly in the ‘Unforgettable’ list. The music is beautifully mesmerising, and I was still tingling from the sound vibrations 20 minutes after the session had finished.
These Sound Journeys enable deep relaxation and a sense of peace and well-being, easing any tension that may have built up in the body and soothing any stress in the mind. Using Shamanic drums, Tibetan Singing Bowls, Gongs and other instruments, the rich harmonic frequencies will bathe you in sound while you switch off, feeling the stresses and strains of the day melting away as peace and harmony come singing back to you. Gabriel runs them once a month in Grasmere Village Hall £10 one hour session.
I’m taking the whole family next time.
Contact Gabriel Hideg Mob. 07914378111 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Did you know that Cumbria Crystal makes exquisite cut glass for royalty, the James Bond movies and the period drama Downton Abbey? Here’s your chance to get a piece of the action with a one-on-one ‘Blow your own bauble’ workshop. It’s a rare, educational and fun opportunity to not only watch artisans at work but to actually experience the alchemy of glass-blowing first hand in one of the last working crystal factories in England.
Workshops run Sunday – Thursday. £25 per person 13+years & £15 per person, 8+years
***This is time sensitive as they are only offering this unique experience up until the 22nd December***
Honister – All Adventure. All Weather. All Ages
Experience the REAL Lake District. For those who want to push their personal boundaries, the Via Ferrata Classic Gift Certificate is a must. 2.5-3 hours of extreme adventure for £38 . http://honister.com/via-ferrata/
Afternoon Tea on the shores of Lake Windermere
Nestled on the shores of England’s longest and most beautiful lake you will find Cragwood Country House Hotel. Set in its own secluded, twenty-acre estate of beautiful landscaped gardens and woodland, it’s hard to resist a relaxing Lake District break at Cragwood. With stunning gardens leading down to the shores of Windermere, there could be no place more beautiful to take in the fabulous views than at the end of their private jetty on Windermere. The Cragwood won Small Hotel of the Year at the Cumbria Tourism Awards 2017.
Afternoon tea is £19.95, and with a glass of fizz is £24.95 per person and includes:
CAKES: Homemade Biscuit, Meringue, Tea Loaf, Chef’s Dessert
SCONES: Plain, Fruit, Served with Chantilly Cream and Strawberry Jam
SELECTION OF SANDWICHES: Smoked Salmon & Cucumber on Brown Bread,
Egg Mayonnaise on Brown Bread, Cheese & Tomato Salad on White Bread, Ham on White Bread
Tea & Coffee, Selection of Fruit & Camomile Teas. Vouchers available online or call the hotel.
My Cumbria Card
There are loads of unforgettable experiences and exclusive offers to be had with this special discount card. This card encourages you to get out and explore the rich pickings we have in Cumbria.
In order to become a MyCumbria member, you MUST have a valid CA or LA Cumbria postcode at either your home or work address, as the offers and benefits are exclusively for those who live or work in Cumbria. The cost of an annual membership is only £20.
or the Love Cumbria Visitor Card has over 40 offers across the county with up to 30% discount. It costs just £10, is valid for 2 people and runs until 18th March next year.
So now I’ll sit down with a large glass of mulled wine…I’ve done all my Christmas shopping, and I hope I’ve given you some ideas to finish yours.
Wishing you all the very best for 2018
Love n’ mistletoe kisses.