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Angy's Blog October 2008

The trials and tribulations of a fashion designer in the Lake District!

ARCHIVE: my previous entries:

OCTOBER 2008 (Woman Event - Collection on Catwalk - Radio Cumbria - Brochure Download)

SEPTEMBER - Early OCTOBER 2008 (Newcastle United Wedding Dress - Wedding Shows at Abbey House and Carlisle)

AUGUST - SEPTEMBER 2008 (Fashion Designers - Spectrum in Four Seasons Collection - Sara Gadd Millinery)

JUNE - JULY 2008 (Haute Couture - Vivienne Westwood - Wildlife - Dorset Buttons - Magna Carta)

(Lake District Inspirations - Long Blondes - Wedding Show)


DIARY DATES: 21 December 2008: RECYCLED CLOTHES SHOW - Greenhill Hotel, near Wigton (see below for further information)

Please keep checking my website or reading my Blog for additional events.
Email me if you would like to be placed on my mailing list for future updates.

Romantique Couture
1 Atkinson Court
Fell Foot
Newby Bridge
United Kingdom
LA12 8NW

T: 015395 30648
M: 07812 210880

Email: angela@


There was huge excitement when the postman came today ... because he brought the eagerly antipated Christmas issue of Cumbria Life ... with me in it! I was all fingers and thumbs as I turned the pages. The feature is fantastic - beautifully written, and the photos more than make up for all that shivering on the shore of Windermere! I'm really pleased with the result. It makes all my hard work seem worthwhile, and inspires me to go further and further. Even the title is perfect - but you need to read the article to really understand why, So go out and buy a copy now!

Of course, I am not suggesting that you only buy a copy of Cumbria Life to read about me ... buy it because it is such a great read, and excellent value too. £3.40 or subscribe and receive a copy from just £2.80 per month, as we do. I had been concerned that the quality or content of Cumbria Life might have been sacrificed when it recently went from bimonthly to monthly publication. However, if anything it seems to be getting better. The Christrmas issue will certainly keep me busy with some excellent articles to read - some that have caught my eye include the 'Lost Gardens of Lowther" (I have recently been reading about a project to restore the castle and some of the gardens in their rather, mysterious ruined state), an illustrated feature on John Duffin's superb paintings of Barrow, and an article about the gardens at Blackwell, the Arts & Crafts House overlooking Windermere. There is also an interesting piece about a local 'Style Queen' - another useful contact perhaps? And of course there is much, much more.


I was contacted just after the Woman Event by Sam Massey, from the Raspberry Rooms (great name!) in Caldbeck, regarding a forthcoming Recycled Clothes Show. This will take place on Sunday, 21 December at the Greenhill Hotel, south of Carlisle on the main A595 near Wigton. The event will raise funds for the Eden Valley Hospice and is open for anybody to attend. Young people from the Wigton Youth Station have produced recycled costumes, including a wedding dress made from newspaper, to be shown on a catwalk. Other contributors include artists Hazel Appleby, Andrea Dixon and Julie Coughlan, while work by art students from the Lakes College will also be exhibited. I am meeting with Sam on monday evening to decide how I can contribute. I have a couple of new recycled outfits which I will exhibit and, of course, the Newcastle United wedding dress!

Sam's business, Raspberry Rooms, sounds fascinating. She provides a selection of fashion, accessories and interiors, along the line of embracing design and creativity in the UK, and celebrating individuality. Sounds exactly like my own philosphy so looking forward to meeting her. She also organises a programme of workshops by designers and artists.

The Tithebarn, Midtown,
Caldbeck, Cumbria CA7 8EA

Tel. 016974 78038
Email: raspberryrooms@yahoo.co.uk
Website: www.caldbeckvillage.co.uk


More publicity ... this time the North West Evening Mail which covers the South Lakes region. Claire High came round to interview me on monday, and we also took a few photos out in the courtyard, and in the house, avoiding the holes and cracks left by the electricians! The full feature appeared in today's issue as a double page spread in Love Life - the fashion & beauty supplement. Well written, with a focus on recycling and my background - it is also a nice taster for the Cumbria Life article due out in a week or so. Click on the image on the left, or on the following link for a PDF file of the full article:

Angy's Recylcling Style 2.3 Mb


My home and studio is situated in an old slate building, which was once part of the stables for the big house that used to stand at Fell Foot. The walls are nearly a metre thick but very draughty, so it is very cold in the winter. The electrics are also old and at times quite scary. However, that is all changing - our landlord has sent in electricians to rewire the house and replace the heaters.

It is absolute mayhem ... holes in the walls, wires hanging from the ceiling, hammering and drilling, and dust! All my dresses have been covered up and put away safely for the duration. One cat was hiding under the bed, the other was following the workmen around, chasing cables, eager to play with powertools and mains electrictiy! He already managed to get under the floorboards so he has now been locked in the office, sulking! As they say, curiosity killed the car, so I have to be careful!

It's no more peaceful outside ... if it isn't gale force winds rattling the slates, it's fireworks going off across the lake. We went to the display at the Lindeth Howe Hotel on bonfire night, It is a charity event which we attend every year. Last year the fireworks were disappointing due to the high winds, but this year the weather was perfect, and murmers that it might be toned down due to the 'credit crunch' were unfounded. It was truly spectacular, with enormous rockets which illuminated a huge high above the lake. 10 out of 10!


As mentioned in an earlier entry, BBC Radio Cumbria has produced a fab Calendar in aid of BBC Children in Need Appeal 2008. It is a quirky and very relevant to the Lake District. The various presenters toured the county with Pudsey Bear to seek out suitable locations for each month. The quality photos are all black and white with Pudsey and other significant items picked out in colour.

To receive your copy of the Calendar send a cheque for £ 6.56, payable to 'BBC Radio Cumbria' to:

BBC Children in Need Calendar, BBC Radio Cumbria, Carlisle CA3 8BB

And remember, £ 4.00 from the sale of each calendar will go directly to BBC Children in Need.

CLICK HERE for further information

Finally managed to take a proper day off after a very busy week and summer.The sun was shining, the sky was blue and the trees over the lake almost looked as if they were on fire!

We drove up into the High Pennines to see a steam special crossing the famous Ribblehead viaduct of the Settle & Carlisle Railway.

'Sir Nigel Gresley' racing towards Shap, and crossing Ribblehead Viaduct against a backdrop of Pen-y-Ghent
We have often seen steam trains working excursions through the Pennines but this time it was rather special - and not only because for once, it wasn't raining! The engine was 'Sir Nigel Gresley', a sister of the record breaking Mallard, one of the A4 pacific locomotives designed by the man of the same name in the 1930s. Now, this may not seem a very 'girlie' subject but believe me this was one impressive machine - pure streamlined, gleaming 'Art Deco', straight out of a 'Poirot' movie! You could almost expect to see the famous detective himself sipping wine in the Dining Car - though if my memory serves me correctly, he wasn't a big fan of wild places such as the high feels of the Lake District! Never mind, the day certainly inspired me - the shiny, blue locomotive, the swirling steam, the dramatic landscape, and the sheer scale of the viaduct. Lucky I remembered my notebook and managed to sketch a few new ideas.

PS. quick update: planning to extend the 'Spectrum' collection as there is so much scope for ideas based around colour and the Lake District. However, I have something else up my sleeve for the near future ... but no clues, just wait and see!


It's all go this week. Craft show, meetings, clients, photoshoot, interview and to top it all, our landlord has sent in the electricians to replace the ancient wiring - there are gaping holes in the walls, wires hanging from the ceiling, clouds of dust, crashing, banging and drills going off everywhere. One cat is sulking under the bed, the other is chasing the electricians round, being a nuisance and trying to get under the floorboards.

I enjoyed a fantastic evening at Carlisle Racecourse last night - 'Glitz & Glamour', a charity fashion show held in memory of a girl called Kelly Gorlay who died following a car accident in the summer. The show was the idea of her friends, including her partner, Carlisle United player Peter Murphy, and was staged jointly by Carlisle United Football Club, and the new lifestyle magazine, Carlisle Living. The fashion show was divided into two sessions with collections by local boutiques including Chameleon, Casanova, Hoopers and Edinburgh Woollen Mill, modelled by a mixture of professional models and some of the Carlisle players and their partners. The players, who included Scott Dobie, Michael Bridges, Chris Lumsdon, Josh Gowling, David Raven and Simon Hackney, provided a fun element to the evening. Meanwhile, the models, my good friends from Premiere Productions, added a new dimension to the catwalk - as professional singers and dancers. There was even a charity auction with things to bid for including your name on an Eddie Stobart truck! It was also nice to meet more of the Cumbria Life team, who were there for Carlisle Living; Richard Eccles (Editor), Mary Ingham ... and Claire Sherwin who I have been dying to meet for ages ... just as bubbly, and friendly as I imagined. She is now a proud mum and was rather anxious at leaving her baby daughter at home for the first time!


Imagine the scene: a clear autumn day with an icy breeze whipping across the lake and stirring the leaves, photographer and husband wrapped up in winter woollies ... and me in a flimsy evening gown ... brrrrr! 'Just one more Angy', Phil, the Cumbria Life, photographer kept saying. We were on the lawn in front of Storrs Hall, an elegant Georgian mansion (1808-11), and now one of the nicest hotels in the Lake District. The colours in the trees were amazing and the setting, with views up and down the lake, must be one of the best on the shores of Windermere. Storrs Hall also has a folly, an octagonal tower, called the 'Temple' which rises from the lake and is connected by a stone jetty which was below the water today, due to the recent floods. There was absolutely no way I was going to walk along it just so they could get a shot entitled 'walking on water'!

Storrs Hall Hotel near Bowness-on-Windermere; 'Wild Fire' in a woodland glade
The photos were for a feature which will appear in the next issue of Cumbria Life (December issue - out mid November - watch this space!). Mary Ingham, the commissioning editor, is coming to interview me on Friday. I posed with Wild Fire, Solway Sunset and the corset of the Newcastle dress, rushing in to the lovely heated hotel to change between sessions. It was so nice to retire into the lounge for a coffee beside the fire afterwards - heavenly!


We woke to a blue, cloudless sky - perfect tor an adventure through 'uncharted' territory. We had decided to head over the border into Scotland and work our way back to Carlisle via the old woollen mill towns of the Tweed. I am still looking for a manufacturer to produce quality clothing - limited editions of certain designs. The closer to home, the better, rather than to import from Asia like every other Tom, Dick and Harry! The causeway to Holy Island was open, but only just - we had just over an hour for a whistlestop tour of Lindisfarne before the tide would make us prisoners.

We took the back roads to Berwick which was a real surprise - I was so ignorant that I had to double check that it was still in England! Berwick-upon-Tweed is probably the only town in the UK with a complete city wall which you can walk round. It is also a very attractive place with its old, sandstone bridge and steep streets. We watched seals from the bridge, browsed through some excellent local shops (check out the Green Shop - an organic 'supermarket' which sells almost anything - bought some very smelly lemongrass soap), admired the view down the High Street to Holy Island, and watched a train crossing the Royal Borders Bridge en route to Edinburgh.

The countryside beyond Berwick is enchanting, enhanced on this occasion by a spectacular display of autumn colours and low sunlight which illuminated the Cheviot Hills, and outlined the bizarre humps of the Eldon Hills. The historic towns of Coldstream and Kelso were especially attractive. I only regretted that we had no time to exlpore further. Sir Walter Scott once described Kelso as 'the most romantic, if not the most beautiful, place in Scotland'. What also surprised me were the number of castles, fortifications and impressive houses which marked the course of the River Tweed. Our final stop was at the Heriot Watt University outpost in Galashiels which has a School of Fashion and Textiles, in a converted woollen mill. Sadly, they confirmed what I suspected - no small, clothing manufacturers remain, even in the Scottish wool towns. However, they will contact me in the future regarding university student placements ... I may need an apprentice before too long.

Photographs of the Borders - from left to Right; Top to Bottom:
Lindisfarne Castle; Crossing the Causeway to Holy Island; Berwick-upon-Tweed;
Berwick-upon-Tweed - view towards Lindisfarne; Border landscape; River Tweed at Coldstream with the Cheviot Hills;
Kelso reflected in the Tweed; Floors Castle near Kelso; Eldon Hills near Melrose.

26 OCTOBER 2008 - HAGGERSTON CASTLE: Charity Craft & Fashon Fair

When Jenny dropped me a line to ask if we would like to exhibit the 'infamous' Newcastle Wedding Dress and help to judge some recycled fashion ideas by local school childen at a Craft & Fashion Fair in Northumberland, I didn't really know what to expect. I could find no reference to Haggerston Castle in a guide book but Google revealed a Haven caravan park. Well, Google was right. Haggerston Castle is a HUGE holiday park ... there were 7000 people staying when we arrived. That is a lot of people in caravans. Nevertheless, you really don't realise it unless you take a drive around the site as it is all landscaped into a former estate, beautifully set between a string of lakes, woods and gardens.

But shame on the guide book. The history of Haggerston is fascinating as I found out by chatting to our lovely hosts, Jenny and Rae, and subsequently from a little book which I purchased from the park shop. The castle has had a chequered history, steeped in the battles of feuding border families, thieves and villains. Little remains of the original house, the tower excepted, due to a series of fires. According to a curse placed on the castle by a witch, there would be three fires. The last would cause fatalities. This happened over the course of history and as a consequence of the last fire, in the thirties, the place is now haunted. After the fire much of the buidling was dismantled and sold off at auction. The extensive estate became a caravan park over the years and is now very popular.

The holiday park at Haggerston is managed by Haven Holidays, part of the same group that manage Warner Hotels and Butlins Holiday Camps. There are extensive facilities including an entertainment complex, swimming pools, a well-equiped spa centre, golf course, and even a Chinese Restaurant which occipied one of the former estate houses. Its popularity can also be attributed to its wonderful location - just an hour from either Newcastle or Edinburgh, and within easy reach of many of the attractions of Northumberland and the Borders: Berwick-upon-Tweed, the castles of Alnwick, Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh, the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne, the Farne Islands, the Cheviots and so on, and so on. We were accommodated in a 'Prestige' caravan. But, for "caravan' you should read 'bungalow' ... it was enormous - three bed rooms, living room, bathroom, kitchen area, and even a broom cupboard. In fact we only discovered the third bedroom when we returned after an evening meal.

The clocks changed overnight so we had the luxury of an extra hour to lie in, and were still up early! We exhibited four dresses on the stage together with my usual assortment of handbags and recycled bags. There were many other stands selling a variety of excellent local produce - Belgian chocolates made in Scotland, throat burning Ginger Wine from Bedlington, Jewellery, clothing, handbags, childrens toys and so on. I was especially attracted to a stand selling traditional 'clippie' mat in contemporary designs. When I have sold a few dresses I may even treat myself to one!

The main reason for coming to Haggerston was to assist the Mayor of Berwick to judge competition entries from three local schools. The children had been set a task of creating an item of clothng or a hat from recycled materials. It was more difficult than you might expect. What really impressed me was that the children's designs were free of conventions and rules. Their creativity was unfettered meaning that they could make the most of their imagination. There were even clever charts of brainstorming sessions. My favourites were a costume made from bin liners, where the child had used every piece of the material without wasting anything, and another (First Prize) which used a selection of different materials and contrasting colours to great overall effect.

I always find it a great pity that there is so much talent lost on a local level due to the fashion industry being polarised in London, Paris etc. I have mentioned my interest in local initiatives, such as Ulverston Fashion Week before. If only we could bring fashion to the talent rather than take talent to the fashion, we could create so much that would be new and exciting. During the show I had a meeting with a fascinating lady who wished to discuss an initiative to attract fashion houses to the north-east through a series of fashion projects with local schools. This is something that I am very interested in and may discuss in the future if the project develops beyond the initial planning stage.

Overall, the day was a success. The Newcastle dress attracted plenty of interest due to the amount of publicity it had received from the press in the North East. And that is despite the result of yesterday's Tyne - Wear derby ... subject closed! It was also nice to exhibit outside Cumbria, and especially in the North-East. I have described Newcastle as a thriving cultural centre in previous entries, and it is certainly a city which could provide enormous potential for my services, while remaining within easy reach of a studio in Cumbria.

A quick tip in case you are in the area and looking for somewhere to eat. Jenny recommended we should try the Black Bull Inn in the village of Lowick, a couple of miles inland from Beal. Couldn't fault it ... delightful local pub with an excellent restaurant. All the food is from local suppliers - farms, fishmongers, bakers etc. These are all listed beside the menu boards. Great food, great service and great value. Sorry no website - 01289 38828 for reservations.


What a week - rain, rain and more rain. And wind. The jetties at Fell Foot Park are under water and the shop has been flooded again - but then again what would you expect if you convert a boathouse into a shop? The forecast for Cumbria today was torrential rain and severe winds. Hardly weather for driving cross country to Northumberland. We toyed with following the motorway but decided we might be better on high ground. The strategy paid off. As we climbed out of Kirkby Stephen over the high moors to Teesdale we listened to the radio, to tales of dangerous gusts, speed restrictions and overtuned caravans on the M6 and A66. We missed the rain but certainly caught some of the wind ... so now for a word of warning to all those boys out there who wear tight pants when driving a long distance ... if you decide to loosen them, remember to fasten them up before stepping out of your car into a force ten gale on a windswept moor! That said, it is better to find yourself flying at half mast in bleak, empty moorland than on a busy high street! The journey was without further incident though a brief wander over Bamburgh beach to look out to the Farne Islands saw me sandblasted. I am still finding bits of sand in my ears and between my toes!

Inclement weather - from left to Right; Top to Bottom:
Derwent Reservoir near Consett; Waves crashing over the Derwent Dam; Rainbow over Mugglswick Common.
Seaspray at Seahouses; Yours truly in a sandstorm at Bamburgh; Bamburgh dunes migrating to the Farne Islands

My previous Posts:

OCTOBER 2008 (Woman Event - Catwalk Photos - Radio Cumbria - Brochure Download)

(Newcastle United Wedding Dress - Wedding Shows)

AUGUST - SEPT. 2008 (Fashion Designers - Spectrum Collection - Sara Gadd)

JUNE - JULY 2008
(Haute Couture - Vivienne Westwood - Dorset Buttons - Magna Carta)

(Lake District Inspirations - Long Blondes - Wedding Show)
Angy's Blog is written by Angela Morton, Fashion Designer & Dressmaker
Photographs copyright of Mike and Angela Morton

Copyright Romantique Couture 2008