Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Nature is free, but drawing it'll cost you

In an unusual fit of decisiveness and organisation, we actually left the house before 10am to drive to the Lakeland Pencil Museum in Keswick. Once we had stopped to buy a cardigan for the chilly Littlest (perhaps not so organised, after all) we were there, in a museum, before it was even time for anyone to start moaning about lunch.

This is unheard of.

Lakeland has long been the centre of the country's pencil-making industry, with cottage industries in the area resulting in the creation of the UK's first pencil factory in 1832.

We saw the special top secret pencils made for airmen in WWII. These were assembled after dark when the factory had closed, and had a tiny map of Germany and a miniscule compass inserted into their hollowed-out centres. We saw pencil-making machines, and pencil innards in various stages of refinement.

Pencil engineering history is all very well, but it was the vintage packaging that took my eye. I took this photograph for Lynn. I know she'd want it. It was a in glass case, though, so I couldn't shove it in my rucksack and run.

These tins, below,  Mr Coffee and I recognised from our childhood - they were the standard-issue pencil tins in both our schools. I wished I could have bought one as a souvenir - maybe the tiny tins with six pencils in that would have been perfect to carry in a handbag for those bored-in-the-waiting-room moments.

It was vintage I was looking for in the shop, but in the shop it was all Serious Pencils. We managed to nearly bankrupt ourselves by buying fancy watercolour painting pencils so expensive that from now on, colouring in the Coffee House will be undertaken with a hushed reverence befitting the creation of the Lindisfarne Gospels. Incense may well be burned.

We went on one of the walks from our new book.

Please note how Littlest's brand new cardigan blends in with the landscape.

The rest of the Bank Holiday weekend passed ridiculously calmly. There was the Unveiling of the New Pencils. There was a trip to Matalan for bits of uniform and socks. (Seriously, how is it possible to spend £83 in Matalan? Everything is only £2.50.)

And on the Monday, the children played together with the Polly Pockets for over two hours. Do you know how strange this is? It is a year last October since the children played happily together for over two hours. 

I made a dress. I MADE A DRESS.


  1. 1. Even before I saw my name, I was drawn to that photo like moth to flame. (That's sort of poetic!) LOVE the vintage display. AND the rainbow factor.

    2. Thank heaven for that pencil museum, since otherwise Keswick and environs are so boring and unattractive!

    3. You pronounce it Kezzick, don't you. See! I know something!

    4. Let me know how that hushed reverence thing goes for you.

    5. Congrats on the sewing.!

  2. My goodness, I enjoyed this post. And I wish I could go to the Pencil Museum.

  3. I didn't know there was such a thing as a pencil museum. I'd like to go there. Very much.

    Is it the dress you pinned? I need to see it cos I've got that pattern languishing because I can't decide on fabric...

  4. I mourn the departure of the sharp-edged pencil tins from schools - there was always the hope of an excitingly disrupting accident. And I sit amazed at your energy and productivity, whilst also mourning the time when I had three children all at home together squabbling the whole holiday through. The house seems so quiet when the squabbling is over and gone.

    Pomona x

  5. OMG! I didn't realise there was a pencil museum!! I will need to aarange a visit. I'm such a magpie when it comes to stationery. You had the best bank holiday in my book. Now then - this dress - pics?

  6. wow, too much. pencils, gorgeous views, reminders that I haven't done the sock shopping, and now a dress.
    I need a lie down just reading it.

  7. I know the dress thing is my fault, so I respectfully and humbly request a photograph, please.

  8. Oh I love, love, love pencil tins. I have to steel myself every time I go near a stationery shop to walk fast and not look at anything, or our house would end up resembling an explosion in said shop.

  9. Those Aquatone sticks are amazing, I bet they cost a bomb. I looked at the list of items and came across a battery operated eraser! The mind boggles.

    I agree with everyone else, we need to see a picture of the dress.

  10. Look at all of us with our pencil obsessions! Must agree with driftwood-SO much accomplished! Yes, dress pic. Please?

  11. I appear to have disappeared. I have become a conciliation service for my children. There's a lot of scooting and park visitng going on. I've reappeared transiently to say that I need to get to see the pencils next time I'm up there. Why have I not done this before? I too love those old floral rainbow pencils.

    Feeling triumphant for you over the Polly Pocket playing. I hope you lolled around with a cuppa.

    Where is the dress though?

    I thought you might like to know that the word verif is Peedle

  12. I love the idea of a Pencil Museum, totally cool.
    I made a dress this summer too, but I don't know why, I haven't had a dress on since we went to a funeral 6 years ago.

  13. Wow that is amazingly gorgeous --

  14. Everytime I read your posts I chortle and chortle and cackle! You are absolutely brilliant.

    I am timidly letting you know that I am hosting a giveaway and I very much think you deserve to win after RUINING yourself buying those stunning colouring pencils (I would have fallen for them too). I think you might quite like the gifts on offer...

    Best wishes,


  15. Well, now the 'cars of the stars' museum is closed I guess the pencil museum has to do. I think we managed to come away with a fair few free pencils the time we went, probably in the colours no-one wants to buy.

  16. I have heard about the pencil museum and long to go someday. There's nothing I like more than a new pencil set, especially at this time of year. I have a set of inktense pencils that are just wonderful to draw with. Thank you for the trip to Keswick.

  17. jfb57, and I'm Crayon - yes, yes. I'm coming with the pic. It's like a request show over here.

    planetcoops - I have a weakness for A4 writing books. I never even write anything in them.

    Projectforty - oh! the inktense ones! it was only when I got home I found out you could use them to paint on silk. Why didn't we get those?

  18. I have those Inktense pencils with which I have only done a little experiment , would you like to have them?

  19. Toffeeapple that's an enormously kind offer! But I couldn't accept your pencils - they cost an absolute fortune! It would be like you sending me gold through the post!

  20. I now have to convince MadDad to take me to the lakes. I need to go to the museum. I am a stationery addict

  21. OH my! that was really kinda interesting.. how i wish i could go to that museum.

  22. I think Littlest has a great career ahead as 'tourist' in a postcard photo. There's always someone in a red sweater..she can move on a bit. the lakeland Pencil museum..I went when I was 12 and again again when I was 58. No change.
    I too had the little tins in school.


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