“Our bodies are our gardens…”*

This week’s post about mindfulness takes a walk into the garden

There are all sorts of theories behind “grounding”. I occasionally go out into my garden and walk on the wet or dewy grass, because I like how it feels on my feet, I think about it and enjoy the sensation, just walking around the garden. This is mindfulness.

walking on grass

Be happy in yourself. Why do some people feel they have to ‘prove’ themselves, be demonstrable, confrontational or point the finger? When you are asked something or perhaps even be criticised, be confident in your own conviction, rather than argue back feeling like you have to raise a point. Simply reply with ‘Yes, I’m happy with what we are doing/ the decision I have made/ where I am at…’ etc… This can both defuse a situation and also say, in a polite way, it’s none of their business anyway.

Play music. Anything you love and makes you feel good, though preferably something upbeat or calming, (not thrash metal, then), even when you’re in the garden or hanging out the washing. Just as helpful, try listening to a podcast, a story or interesting talk show, or an audio book. This can be a very positive experience.

But a note of caution: avoid sound overload. Don’t have multiple sounds, music, tech, iPads, TV all going at the same time, easier said than done when you have kids. Contemporary open plan living is very social, but needs to have noise boundaries. So for everyone’s sake, don’t overload the brain with clashing music and noise. Manage it in a calm way, by allocating kids to other rooms and / or implementing time frames.

And don’t forget to laugh! Just by laughing more endorphins are released, so naturally it’s good for combating stress and rebuilding neurones. Laughing is contagious. Research shows that in work areas where employees laugh and enjoy play time, productivity increases, defensiveness decreases and teamwork improves.

*”Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners.” Iago, in Shakespeare’s Othello




“Lay aside life-harming heaviness…”*


In the second of my musings on mindfulness, let’s start with the physical. Exercise is really good for combating stress, anxiety and depression as it releases the feel good endorphines, increases neurone production and combats cortisol production. So start the day with some Pilates stretches on the living room floor

Avoid emotional triggers, whether it’s a violent movie or one that makes you blubber. Put any potential confrontational situations at arm’s length if appropriate, or deal with it if you have to, then box it off and move on. You may then need to do some meditation, mindfulness or read to really take your mind off the problem and calm the anxiety reaction.

Take time to learn meditation and breathing exercises, which can be hugely beneficial in calming the mind, or try a Sound Bath, a form of relaxation through music vibrations.

sound bath

Understanding yourself and what you are dealing with is an essential part of healing yourself. For a lighthearted but fascinating read try Sane New World – Taming the mind by Ruby Wax and her second book Frazzled which is equally brilliant.

Cuddling, stroking and talking to a pet is very calming and good for mindfulness. And if you have a dog the exercise is great too. But if it’s needed,  CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) can be very beneficial if you have some issues (past or current) or stress triggers that you are struggling to deal with. It may be an incident that happened in the past, which is putting up barriers and stopping you from moving forward in personal or business life. Talk to your GP about this.

And finally, try to avoid being reactionary. If you are stressed or anxious you already have a heightened level of adrenaline, so a relatively minor passing comment can irritate and annoy you. STOP. Do not react straight away. Think about what has been said, then try and look at it from the other person’s perspective and why did they say or do that.. If it’s a text or email, read it several times as you can sometimes miss inferences or even words, that may affect how you react. Go away and think about it. Then if you need to reply or comment, do so in a calm, understanding, non-inflammatory way, saying ‘I do understand, perhaps….”. This quite often can defuse a situation from the outset, and reduce your own adrenaline reaction.

*Lay aside life-harming heaviness: Richard ii



To sleep, perchance to dream

Mindfulness – where the likes of Philippe Starck, Prince Harry and Ruby Wax converge, because mindfulness needs to be about mindful living. And as a designer who has worked with people at all extremes of the stress-level spectrum, it seems right to put some ideas into action.

For the next few weeks I’ll present a series of short blogs which might help….beginning with the most important need in all our lives: good sleep.

townhouse bedroom

Do you wake during the night and can’t get back to sleep? Instead of fighting it, get up and go to  make a warm drink (without caffeine – decaf tea or just hot water) and snuggle up on the sofa with a duvet and watch some quiet and calming TV. No horror movies or anything that will trigger adrenaline. This should take your mind off whatever thoughts keep playing in your head. Eventually you’ll feel sleepy and switch off, back to bed. Or you could read, or listen to a meditation app,  whatever makes you concentrate on the here and now, and switches the chatter off in your brain.

I read before I go to sleep… until I’m falling asleep. Other ideas include burning a few bay leaves on a plate to reduce anxiety; they smell great too. And of course yoga is great for detoxing, meditating and calming the mind as well as the body.

However busy your day, it’s really important to get some ‘me time’ perhaps with a friend so you can chat about stuff (problems or not, preferably fun things to talk about). Too much time alone, even when out for a walk, can lead to ruminating and dwelling on your problems. So better to share your walk and be less introspective.

Do something mindful that you enjoy. Take up a hobby that makes you spend an hour or half hour concentrating solely on that thing. It could be art, playing an instrument, knitting, making something, model making, colouring by numbers, or trying out a new recipe. This helps to rebuild neurones in the brain which counteracts the cortisol produced by the amygdala gland in your brain, which tells the body to send out adrenaline. Cortisol is your stress chemical for inducing ‘flight or fight’ and it can get into a pattern of being easily triggered, so you need to break that cycle. It’s not a quick fix, you need to have faith and just stick at it for many months to really feel the benefits.

four poster pic

Four poster bed design by Fidget for the award-winning Cedar Manor Hotel at Windermere

Which brings us back to good quality sleep. If your partner, is a noisy snorer or restless, this can wake you and your brain chatter switches on. If you don’t get enough sleep, you feel sluggish and thoughts can become unreasonable, situations can blow out of proportion. On occasions it may be worth sleeping in another bed or another room or even on the sofa if necessary. As long as you are comfy, not too hot or cold and get some quality undisturbed sleep.


A birthday tribute to the queen of design

You know the bold chevron and geometric patterns that are everywhere now? Well, guess who started that trend? Yes, Mary Quant back in the fifties and swinging sixties, along with block panels of colour and bold stripes. I reckon stripes will be coming back in soon, too.


Mary Quant was the first ‘designer’ I was ever aware of when I was just eight, introduced to me by my mother. Even though she was highly successful and at the height of her career a couple of decades before I was born, I was captivated and blown away by this bold graphic style, bright colours and of course the iconic stylised daisy logo.


Me and (above) my style guru…..

Mary, who studied Illustration at Goldsmiths College London, was a self taught designer, a game changer in the fashion world. She opened her first store in 1955, Bazaar, on the Kings Road in London and frequented by the Chelsea Set – a group of young artists, film directors and socialites interested in exploring new ways of living. Her cutting-edge designs were on the covers of Harpers Bazaar and Vogue, and she mixed with the new trendsetters in society, the Rolling Stones, Beatles and photographer David Bailey.

With her cottage-industry approach, the rails at Bazaar were continually refreshed with short runs of new designs, satisfying the customers’ hunger for fresh, unique looks at competitive prices.

She also offered a radically different shopping experience with loud music, free drinks, witty window displays and extended opening hours creating a ‘scene’ that often kept going late into the evening. Young women travelled to Bazaar to enjoy shopping for ‘something different’ in a much less formal environment.

Quant’s first collections were strikingly modern in their simplicity, and very wearable. Pairing short tunic dresses with tights in bright, stand-out colours – scarlet, ginger, prune and grape – she created a bold, high-fashion version of the practical outfits she’d worn as a child at school and at dance classes. She’s also said to have invented the mini-skirt.

By 1957 demand for Quant’s clothes had led to the opening of a second Bazaar store on the King’s Road, in a space designed by Terence Conran. 

In 1966 she was awarded an OBE for services to British fashion and in 1990 she was awarded the prestigious Hall of Fame Award by the British Fashion Council, recognising her outstanding contribution to British fashion, and became a Dame in the 2015 New Year’s Honours list.

 In 2006 Quant’s iconic mini-skirt was included in a range of stamps by Royal Mail celebrating a decade of iconic British design alongside images of Concorde, the Mini car, the anglepoise lamp, the red telephone box, the Routemaster bus and the London Underground Map.

Mary also invented hot pants and was the first to use plastic coated fabrics and PVC with her ‘wet look’ fashions, and the fabulous Mondrian boots which, as shoe addict, I simply adore and would love to get my hands on a pair.

Go Go Girls arrived with their Go Go Boots and the Daddy Long-leg boots with their zip off leg section turning them into ankle boots. Her fashionable rain boots made of the new high gloss plastic fabrics were described as ‘waterproof, durable and indestructible’.

From the late 70s onwards, the business moved into mass-production high quality womenswear, alongside coordinated interior designs for British manufacturing company ICI, including bedlinen, carpets, paint and wallpaper, diffusion ranges such as swimwear, hosiery, jewellery, the Daisy fashion doll, and popular ‘Paintbox’ make up brand and skincare products.

When I was a teenager I wore baggy orange T-shirt dresses, black and white striped tights and monkey boots. I hadn’t realised the ‘modern day’ link with Mary Quant until I look back now, but it was to go on and influence me all through my life as my own design career unfolded.

As a professional designer, the eye catching stripes have never left my side, both in interiors and graphically in branded design. I love the simple shapes, beautiful proportions and clean lines which portray a confident image.

Mary’s style is still influencing today with over 300 Quant cosmetic stores in Japan, and the likes of Boden clothing, Alessi design products… and my own Fidget Design.

Mary Quant… Eighty four years young and still going strong. I salute you!


How to use colour therapy as spring approaches

Spring is on the way, one of my favourite times of the year, as colour comes back into our lives. But how well can you handle colour?

Audrey Hepburn, who was never seen in mis-matching colours, took the theme for her whole life, and would eat by colour to maintain a good balanced diet. But apart from eating your greens – and blues – you need to know how to use colour confidently in design.

audrey hepburn

Putting together complementary colours and creating a balance of hues, and the strength of colour, can make or break the look you are wanting to achieve.

A quick science lesson: colour is derived from the spectrum of light and has three components – lightness, saturation, and hue.  With these components, we get the theory of colour.  The lightness is based on light versus dark, or white versus black.  Saturation is based on the brightness v dullness, or warmth v coolness of the colour. Hues are what make the colour we see and name.

What matters more to us is the impact of colour. There is actually a treatment – chromatherapy – which uses the effect of colour to bring about physical and other changes, and has proven health benefits. That’s why it’s so important to choose the right colours to have around us. But what’s “right” is always personal preference.

So even though I love spring, and gardens filled with bright yellow daffodils, I don’t particularly like yellow as a colour. But it is making an impact on the design scene now, and there are ways to warm to it. For me, it has to be muted tones like mustard yellow, or soft creamy custard. My entrance hall is a very rich petrol blue, and to add some spring colour zest I’ve added complimentary muted yellow accents.

How do you add the right splashes of colour to give vibrancy and balance? Simple touches can create a stunning effect, and adding colour to your interiors can really enhance the enjoyment of your space, whether it’s energising, uplifting or calming. Do you know, for example, that prison cells now tend to be painted a soft pink for its calming effect on the inmates?

In commercial environments colour can be really exploited to create visual impact and draw the eye, enhancing a company’s visual branding, but this would not necessarily be applied in the same way for your home, where you’re living with the effect day after day..

A version of this article first appeared in Lancashire Life magazine


A bold approach to planning in our world heritage site

calatrava in new york

How bold can we be, Windermere?

Whatever else we think about the genius of William Wordsworth, he was the man who deemed that the railway line should not be extended further into the Lakes than Windermere.

And the millions of visitors who have travelled here by train since have emerged at a station which is really little changed since Wordsworth’s day. (Reminder: he lived from 1770  till April 1850.)

Now, I know that those millions of visitors (from all over the world) love going to see where Wordsworth lived at Rydal Mount, to see the couch on which he lay in pensive mood to write his poem about daffodils, and see the garden that he planned.  But as TRAVELLERS perhaps they need to see something more up to date at Windermere station.

There have been some changes, of course: the original train station is now part of Booths supermarket. The current train station has been redesigned/refurbished and extended a couple of times since then, and it fought off plans to close it altogether at one stage.

So rejoice at the plans to transform it into a gateway fit for the World Heritage site that the Lake District is now.

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, working with the Lake District National Park Authority and other organisations, is exploring options for enhancing Windermere Railway Station to increase its current capacity, and improve access.

Proposals include measures to improve access to and from the station for all modes of transport, including the local bus network, helping to increase links to local attractions and businesses and improve onward travel to the lake and other destinations.

Great! But what will it look like? Wouldn’t it be marvellous if the planners used some imagination and designed and created a gateway worthy of the best in the world?  I offer to you, planners, the inspiration of Santiago Calatrava. He’s the Spanish architect, structural engineer, sculptor and painter, known for his bridges, his museums, stadiums and …. railway stations. Like this one here below in New York, Oculus, designed to bring light down into the subterranean rail station and shopping centre.

calatrava in new york

His best-known works include the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Turning Torso tower in Malmö, Sweden, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in Dallas, Texas, and his largest project, the City of Arts and Sciences and Opera House, in his birthplace, Valencia.

So, Lakes planners, be bold, think big, and look outside of your comfort zone when planning a gateway which will welcome the world. We can create our own dramatic interpretation, that element of the sculptural, while using local materials. And as the Lakeland HQ next door proves, it’s possible to be sensitive AND contemporary.

Meanwhile, anyone interested in the history of railways in the Lakes, and in particular, the part they played in Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons stories, will enjoy this


Ready for Romance?

As we creep thankfully towards the end of January, our thoughts turn to…love.

February is the month of St Valentine, and romance is all about stimulating the senses, of course, so here we might have something to learn from Neanderthal man, the first Romantic guy. He had it all worked out.

So let’s get down to some Neanderthal basics; we need to get the combination right for our five senses. Each one of our senses is a trigger for creating a wonderful memory. For example, a real fire – as Neanderthal man knew well – can help relaxation and reduce blood pressure.

Not just supposition, it’s now medically proven. Scientists have discovered a link between a burning fire in the hearth and a “significant” reduction in blood pressure. Flickering flames, combined with the crackle and roar of burning logs, possess a hypnotic calming effect.

Fires also “cement” a bond between individuals sitting next to them. The University of Alabama study may also go a long way to explaining the recent surge in popularity of wood burning stoves, whose sales have risen 300 per cent in recent years.

And of course, fire also provides, heat, light, a means of cooking and encourages people to gather and be sociable. The perfect ingredients for romance.

You can find the right setting for Valentine’s Day at my favourite romantic hotel and restaurant, the Cedar Manor in Windermere. Favourite not least because I designed the bedrooms!

Short on cash but big on love?  Invite him or her to dinner by sending a real love letter – not a text, not an email.

Set the table beautifully. Recreate a romantic restaurant feel, using crisp linen table cloths and napkins, add some sparkle with napkin rings, polished chrome goblets and silver candle holders. Flood the room with tealights.

Write your own poem or a special message around the edge of the plate using a Sharpie pen. Hold hands across the table. Then snuggle down on the sofa against our Love District range of cushions..

The key to romance, you see, is being impulsive and aiming to surprise. Happy planning!


Beating the January blues with interior ideas


New year, same old house. Alison Tordoff suggests some sensory treats to lift the January blues

The decorations are down, and it’s dull and grey inside and out, but your home should be warm and inviting in January. It can be done, but you do need a couple of new year resolutions.

Firstly, clear out the clutter. Unless it has sentimental value, anything that’s not been used for six months should be boxed up, recycled or taken to the charity shop. And that includes clothes.

Use storage with cupboards, blanket chests, tea chests, storage boxes or ottomans.  Making spaces feel more streamlined has a big impact on your emotions. You feel calmer, more organised and energised.

Second, get yourself out for a brisk walk. It’s all too easy to hibernate in winter, but fresh air and some exercise will get the blood flowing, and inspire new ideas.

So here are ten top tips to brighten your home life this month.

  1. Draw the eye to the main focus of your living room, perhaps illuminating a piece of art you can drift away in, or a warming fire.
  2. Don’t put all the Christmas lights away. Last year I was so fed up with the dull grey and wet weather, I kept my main dining room twinkles in place and they’ve been there all year, ready for decorating again with the kids this Christmas.
  3. Always use warm-white LED lamps, especially in nooks and niches to introduce more dynamic pockets of lighting.
  4. Around the house, try mood enhancing LED colour changing or SAD lights, such as those by Mathmos.
  5. You can introduce warm and zesty tones into all rooms, with art and soft furnishings that can be swapped around each season.
  6. You might not want a big decorating project, so what about a feature wall in a room that’s otherwise full of neutral tones? You could paint it a different colour, or use wallpaper on one wall.
  7. Use plants, and bring some greenery indoors. You could make a grouping like a small indoor garden, or if you are feeling adventurous, install a green wall.
  8. Look for inspiration and new ideas, in local galleries, stately homes, hotels, magazines.
  9. TV can become moving wallpaper over Christmas. Try turning it off, and even moving it to a less focal part of the room, then listen to some music instead. I’m lucky – I have my own resident acoustic guitarist.
  10. Escape to the bathroom, light candles around the bath, and soak with a bath tea bag by Bespoke Aroma, made locally – and organically – in the Lakes.

This article first appeared in Lancashire Life magazine




The VERY best list of local goodies for Christmas

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


Jingle Fells

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



Farraday’s Tasty

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.

sweet life

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



DoodleLove Designs

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.


A range of bespoke hand-made gifts can be bought from Jo at her studio (by appointment) at The Factory, Kendal. Tel. 01539 723949 www.jovincent.com 

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.

love d

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


Thuline Art

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)

Contact Alison 07971 106748 / https://www.facebook.com/LakelandEscape/



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. faywilson

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

info@cedarmanor.co.uk Tel. 015394 43192



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.




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.


Bespoke Aroma

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

Email: yvonnecervetti@btinternet.com /  www.facebook.com/yvonnecervettimassage/


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.



07866747685 /inspiredlifecoachingandyoga@qmail.com 



Sound Bath

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 / soundbathsession@gmail.com


Cumbria Crystal

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.