Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Top 10 Pressie ideas for outdoors/ Cumbria lovers

I'm the sort of person that swears at Christmas ads on TV in November, but then I do have a number of friends who have already done most of their pressie shopping *and* have it wrapped, so maybe now is the time to share some of the best pressie ideas I've come across during 2016.

I've got everything here from stocking fillers to indulgent "if you really loved me you'd buy them" gifts - and, if you're a Cumbrian business and/ or have other pressie ideas to add then please just leave a link in the comments section below.

1. Contoured Coasters

First up are a set of laser cut coasters from Alp and Ash - they come beautifully packaged and you can select whichever coasters take your fancy.  They don't just have the Lake District either - you can select from a huge range of options covering most of the UK - plus they can personalise them for you too.

The coasters are 1:25000 scale though, as they say on their site - perhaps best not to rely on them when hiking.  They are also far too lovely to take outdoors - they're made from oak veneered plywood and finished with Danish oil.

Cost:  A full set of six coasters start at £32 

Why I love them: They're the perfect gift for any keen hiker and a brilliant way to remember a special place or favourite walk.


2. Quirky Workshops
Next are the superb range of quirky workshops at Greystoke Cycle Cafe - don't be put off, you don't have to be a cyclist to attend. 

Throughout the year they run a series of fabulous craft workshops with something to there for everyone - from willow weaving and stone carving to pizza oven building and cheese making.  

We've both attended a few workshops and had a thoroughly brilliant time.  You can book specific workshops as gifts - Wildlife Whittling and Making a Herdwick Doorstop sound particularly fun!  If you can't afford an entire course then gift vouchers are available here.

Cost:  Gift vouchers start from £15 - full day courses are around £75
Why I love them:  Because they're different and because they are preserving traditional crafts, some of which are fast dying out.

3. Fabulous funky socks!


Corrymoor Socks

It's just not Christmas without socks - this year I discovered Corrymoor Socks who make superb hiking socks in a range of fab and funky colours!  I love a bit of colour on the fells and am thoroughly bored with grey and blue socks.

I've had my pair of Corrymoors for a few months now and (this bit sounds really sad) look forward to them coming around in the "sock cycle" - you know, when you need fresh socks and your favourite pair is ready & waiting for you.  They're soft, comfortable, durable and keep your feet warm in the winter and non-stinky in the summer - absolutely love them to bits.

Cost: Hiking socks start at around £13.60 but they do loads of other stuff too.
Why I love them: Because they're colourful, comfy and fab!

4.  Super comfy outdoor shoes
While we're on the subject of feet...  If you're after something a little more "outdoorsy" then you could do worse than this rather lovely pair of outdoor shoes from Columbia.  I was very cynical when they first arrived and claimed to be waterproof but I've dunked them in puddles and waded through fields of soggy grass and they've kept my feet dry as a bone.

My "real" job requires me to be on my feet all day and I really look forward to popping these on for my journey home - like putting on a pair of slippers (and especially good when they coincide with the Corrymoor socks in my "sock cycle"! )

Why I love them:  Because they're comfy, colourful and they really do keep my feet properly dry!

5.  Inspiring works of art
Nicholas Leigh

How about a bit of art?  If you've ever visited Cumbria then you've probably got several dozen photos to remember your trip, but a piece of art is a wee bit different and isn't at all expensive.  I met Nicholas Leigh at a Christmas fair last year and loved his bright and colourful pictures immediately.

He does ready framed prints, greetings cards, place mats, mugs, the lot!  We bought a couple of sets of greetings cards to use throughout the year and framed up a few to give as gifts - and they went down an absolute storm.

Cost:  Gift cards start at just £2.20 each
Why I love them:  Because they are bright, colourful and original

6. Twigtastic Pens!

Personalised Twigpens
These Twigpens from The Twig Pen People were the surprise hit of last year with our nephews - I spotted them at a market in Kendal and they were quickly engraved with my nephew's names.  They'll engrave whatever you want on them and they're just such fun - the pens lasted really well  and, when they run out, they're fully refillable.

They're perfect for Christmas and also for birthday's, weddings, promoting your business etc. etc. etc.

Cost:  Prices start at £3.50 per personalised pen
Why I love them:  Because they're a brilliant idea from a lovely little Cumbrian business.


7.  Herdy
Love Herdy!

It's no secret that I've had a big soft spot for Herdy for many years now - they have a superb range of bright, fun and imaginative designs, they work hard to ensure everything is produced as ethically as possible and they are utterly committed to the HerdyFund whereby they support sustainable local developments.

Each year there are several new additions to their flock but be warned - once you start collecting it can be very hard to stop...

Cost: Varies but keyrings start at £3.50
Why I love them:  Because of their great products, sense of humour and ethical values


8.  Big boy boots

Aku boots from Keswick Boot Company
Proper fells require proper boots and the only place to get them from in my book is the Keswick Boot Company - a proper independent shop, owned and run by local hiking enthusiast and boot expert Alex Charlton (and winners of Best Independent Retailer - TGO Awards 2016).  Of course a cracking pair of boots like these (Aku SuperalpNNK GTX) don't come cheap, but they do come with guarantees of waterproofness and durability. 

If you're buying boots it's best to go to the shop - but they do mail order so you can order your boots to wrap and stash under the tree or simply give them a call and they'll sort you out with some gift vouchers to use if you're not sure what your beloved would prefer.

Cost:  The boots in the photo are £199.95 but they have lots of others to choose from
Why I love them:  I love the boots because they're super light and super grippy and I love Keswick Boot Company because they give brilliant advice.

9.  Booze glorious booze

Keswick Bewery

In Cumbria we are blessed with a large number of micro breweries and there are none finer than the Keswick Brewing Co.  If you're in town you can join in one of their brewery tours - but if you're further away you can recapture your holiday magic with a case a beer - who wouldn't appreciate a case of beer waiting under the Christmas tree?

There is are a HUGE range of gift ideas in their online shop - or you could go the whole hog and buy a gift membership of the beer club, for year round aley goodness!

Cost:  From £28 upwards for a case
Why I love them:  Because it's beer.  (Sorry - do I need another reason? OK then - because it's gorgeous tasting local beer - how's that?)


10.  The finest literary work in Cumbria

Off the Beaten Track
OK - I definitely over-egged that one, but it got your attention didn't it?  Believe it or not there are still some folks who haven't got a copy of our book and I'm sure they'd absolutely love it.

Don't let the "history" part put you off - it's chatty and friendly with lots of interesting and unusual facts and tons of gorgeous photos taken by my equally gorgeous husband (he's going to kill me when he reads that part!)

We've got plenty in stock to send straight away and will be happy to sign them too if you'd like.

Cost: £13.49 + £3.00 P&P
Why I love them:  Because we're locals, we love Cumbria and we worked really hard to make this as lovely as we could.