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Monthly Archives: November 2011

  • Don’t dismiss the dog walker’s jackets.

    I have become a dog walker. And I love it.

    On Heughscar Hill

    Around this time last year our new pup Sete had all her injections and tablets and was allowed out into the big bad world for the first time. This was brilliant. We had been gagging to get out for big walks with our new pal but pups can’t go out until they have been inoculated against whatever it is that makes them poorly, and looking at some of the horrendous stuff she eats, she’s going to need help here.

    That used to be a chicken.

    So I went from being pretty much a fair weather walker, no shame in that, especially when you live in the Lakes and can choose your days out, to being a responsible dog owner with a young enthusiastic Springer Spaniel to tire out 3 times a day. Well, 2 times a day. Mary always does the morning shift, which at the moment is sponsored by Petzl. That’s another thing that’s changed. I always used to be in favour of staying on British Summer Time through the winter so we got a bit of light after work. But now I want to keep GMT or push for GMT-1 so we can have time for a good walk before work. Another skill I’ve acquired since turning 40, the ability to get out of bed early, actually wanting to get up earlier. I only used to manage this on Christmas morning.

    Anyway, as someone who has sold waterproof jackets for the last 100 years, I, like most staff in outdoor shops, have used the term “dog walker’s jacket” as a derogatory term. Sneering at jackets that are plain and boxy and don’t utilise every pocket as an extra vent. Well I would like to apologise for any jacket snobbery I may have displayed, or if any of my comments could have been interpreted as belittling the daily constitutional with man’s best friend as compared to a yomp up Blencathra.

    The cutest pup in the world.

    I have come to realise that to be out every day, in every kind of wet horrid rain that we get is the true test for any jacket built to withstand the elements. From innocent looking drizzle that gets in everywhere, more like a damp cloud wafting down your neck or up your sleeve, to good old fashioned stair rods that will fill your boots in less than a minute. A regular dog walker will have more experience of extreme weather and be better placed to comment on jacket design than most mountaineers.

    I have discovered the ultimate dog walking trousers. Sprayway’s All Day Rainpants are waterproof trousers that are just worn on their own, not an overtrouser but a waterproof pair of walking trousers. And I am stupid. I have just got soaked taking the dog out, and I left my All Day Rainpants behind because I thought it didn’t look like rain. It can always rain! I live in Cumbria, expect rain!! The great thing about these is you just put them on anyway so if it rains you are dry, and if it doesn’t rain, well done, you have avoided rain. But for them to work at their best they have to be worn. They don’t work very well hanging on the back of the utility room door.

    Sprayways All Day Rainpant.

    Sprayways All Day Rainpant.

    I will be a lot more respectful to any jacket that is designed purely to keep the wearer dry and weighs more than a sandwich. And also to those brave folk who are out, with my wife (?), at 6 O’Clock every morning, in every kind of weather, not because it is there, but because the dog will pee in your house if you don’t. So next time you hear a shop assistant sneering at a jacket as a dog walking jacket, quiz him on it. Find out if it really is that good, or if you would be better off with something designed to keep mountaineers happy.

  • My first blog by Andrew Laverick aged 40 3/4

    Hello. My name is Andrew Laverick and I am about to become a blogger.

    Andrew

    I have never done this before so please be gentle with me. I don’t really know exactly what it is I want to blog about, but I do have lots of opinions on just about everything on the planet so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find something to ramble on about.

    We could start on one of my favourite subjects. ME! I was born in 1971, which makes me just ever so slightly 40. On the whole I’m pretty cool about being 40, but it does make you think about the quantity and quality of your remaining years a lot more than 39 did. There are more aches and pains than before and I am starting to make strange noises when I stand up from the sofa, and I’m just starting to consider that my wife might be right and I am not immortal after all. But I am still in reasonable shape and I love the outdoors more than ever.

    Andrew & Sete

    With age comes wisdom, and a realisation that the speed I fly down the Howtown Run on my Mountain Bike will cause me serious harm when I come off. Mix with that the addition last September of our brilliant Springer Spaniel pup Sete, and I am doing more hill walking now. Sete loves coming out with us on the bikes and one of the finest joys in life is riding along a bridleway with your dog by your side, ears flapping in the wind, but she is such good fun I like to walk with her and run around being daft and throw sticks. I don’t know if any other dog owners have picked up on this, but dogs seem to LOVE sticks.

    I also go away snowboarding every year, mainly in Europe, and up to Aviemore when they get snow up there. I love it when the Cairngorms get a good dump of snow. A good friend of mine moved to Aviemore a couple of years ago, and he was working as a ski instructor so he was the perfect friend to visit. He’s moved to Glasgow now though and I’m more of a country boy so I don’t see him as often these days.

    The Beginning.

    Let’s go way back to 1971. It was a dark and stormy night in mid January and the snow was coming down thick and fast. The midwife could not get through the snow to the little cottage at the Yetts of Muckhart, where the young Mrs Laverick was expecting her third child, the pinnacle of her mothering carrier. Mr Laverick had to step up and deliver his child in this small Scottish cottage, there was no alternative.

    I really don’t want to think about what happened next, but I’m sure it all went very calmly and then everyone sat back and had a nice cup of tea.

    My Educational Career.

    Since that glorious night I have lived a charmed life and enjoyed most of the journey. My educational career didn’t amount to much. The teachers at Penrith Grammar School in the 80’s were so old and dusty and out of touch that despite my massive thirst for knowledge, they managed to make the most interesting subjects as dull as dishwater. Because of this I think my imagination must have wandered and I tended to entertain myself (and the rest of the class according to my reports) with good old fashioned mischief.

    After school I decided I wanted to do hairdressing, I was a Goth at the time and wanted to create crazy hairstyles, but the reality of doing shampoo and sets on old ladies (lovely though they were) at Carlisle Tech failed to inspire me and I got kicked off that.

    The Bit Between School & Now.

    There followed a period of travelling, unemployment, part time courses and generally enjoying what life had to offer without putting in too much effort. After numerous years of this I came to work for my parents in their gift shop and café, Treetops, in Pooley Bridge. When they sold Treetops I went to work for my brother Richard at Catstycam the Outdoor Shop at Glenridding. After a few years Richard wanted to leave to pursue other interests and I was given the opportunity to take over the running of the shop.

    The Catstycam Empire.

    This was in 1999 and I have been running Catstycam ever since. I took over North West Yacht Sales in Pooley Bridge in 2003 and that became the second Catstycam shop, then in 2010 catstycam.com was launched and the Catstycam empire became complete.

    Married Life.

    Mary & Sete

    That just about brings us up to date. But I do need to tell you about my wife Mary. We met in 2005 and through a common love of Mountain Biking and lager we shared a summer of love that continued into a lifetime of happiness. Mary is a physiotherapist for the Fire Fighters Charity. She works getting injured Fire Fighters back to work and I could not be more proud of her. Together with our dog Sete we have made a great little family and I am a very happy man.

    Happy Days.

    I love my work and my colleagues, the Outdoor Industry is a very friendly industry and our customers are great. On the whole they are on holiday doing what they love and they come in to see us and talk about outdoor kit. What a perfect way to spend your working week?

  • Weird Fish Clothing

    Weirdfish Clothing

    Weirdfish Clothing

    Weird Fish was spawned from the great inland ocean that is Cheltenham in Gloucestershire in 1993. We have been selling Weird Fish clothing since 2002, and every year they consistently come up with great new styles and designs.

    We always look forward to seeing the next seasons range from Weird Fish more than any other. This is partly because they always make so many great Tops and Tees. It is usually a struggle to find space in the shop for all the different styles we want to bring in. But we also look forward to seeing Mark, the Weird Fish agent who looks after us. For years he had his range of Weird Fish samples for the following season on display in a bizarre shed on a farm, by the giant wind turbines near Kendal. He has recently moved to a unit built for humans, with a road and car parking and other such luxuries. We have known Mark for over 20 years and it is always great crack when we catch up. He always has a good stack of butties and biscuits and pop ready for us when we come. And he doesn’t mind when we pinch all his pens. Good pens are hard to come by these days.

    Weirdfish Clothing are not just weird, they have fun too!

    So many companies take themselves far too seriously, and the salesmen all behave like they have just completed a course. Weird Fish still give you the impression that most important decisions are written down on the back of an envelope and then it’s off to the pub. They really do seem to enjoy the work they do and the success they have had. The company as well as the range has grown every year. They used to operate out of an old chicken shed when we started dealing with them, but they outgrew that and have kept growing every year.

    Weird Fish Clothing owner John Stockton

    John Stockton owner of Weird Fish

    John Stockton who used to be the Head Honcho at Animal bought Weird Fish a couple of years ago. He borrowed £8 million from some venture capitalists and bought it from Doug Tilling who founded the company. Doug always used to be at the trade shows to go through the range with you. There can’t be many companies where the owner is so closely involved with the sell through and showing off their range. A lot of fashion brands can be very up themselves and they let you know that they don’t care if you sell their product or not, because they are so big and important. Weird Fish have always been a friendly company and they let you know they appreciate our faith and passion in the brand.

    Weirdfish might be an animal, but they're not Animal

    John has brought a lot of experience with him and you can see some slightly Animaly changes coming through, mainly in the workbooks and ladies range, but they are completely different companies. He seems to understand the Weird Fish market. He said “the company, which targets its brand at "40-plus" men and women, has tried to keep these (price increases) as modest as possible. Our prices have gone up by 10pc in two years. We don't want to become an aspirational brand – that just means expensive. We have a broad consumer base and like to be in that middle sector." I couldn’t agree more.

    Weirdfish Clothing ethics and approach

    Weird Fish are determined to keep the bulk of their manufacturing in Turkey and not move it out to the Far East. John Stockton recently said "In Asia you get price reductions but the lead time and service goes down the toilet. And compromised quality is not what our customer buys our brand for." The company takes an ethical stance. "We pay a good price for our merchandise and expect the factories to pay proper wages," said Mr Stockton. “We insist that all production of Weird Fish is in factories that are clean, modern and safe. In Turkey our production is mainly in 100% cotton fabrics. Cotton is a "natural crop" product and Turkey is one of the largest growers of cotton in the world. Any factory in Turkey that employs more than 30 people must by law provide them with a hot meal each day as well as transport to and from work. Weird Fish employs a full-time agent and three full-time quality controllers in Turkey. We are working with our suppliers daily and we are confident of their ethical behaviour.

    Weird Fish's sales of £12 million in 2010 are expected to grow to £14 million in 2011, and I hope we help them achieve this. Every new season we see great new styles and fabrics from them. The classic Macaroni is still our best seller, and Macaroni Light is a perfect fabric for summer tops. The recently added Keira Knit and Jarse Knit fabrics are brilliant. Keira Knit is like a lighter Macaroni and they have only used it in ladies tops so far. The Jarse Knit is a really soft knitted marled fabric and has been really popular in its first year, so we have more styles coming in next year. This is Weird Fish’s real strength, they manage to source great new fabrics and make good looking clothing that anyone can wear at sensible prices.

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