Last week Jane and I were beside ourselves with excitement about where we were headed. We had the shiny eyes of kids expecting Christmas, our hearts were beating fast and we clutched our invitations with the clammy hands of devoted fans.
Were we off to meet a new fashion designer? An Invitation Only sample sale for a designer brand? A seat on the front row of a top catwalk show? We were not. Oh no. We were headed to somewhere we had never been to before and were over the moon to be invited to......
It was the Lakeland Christmas press day.
Our husbands refer to it as 'Plastic Porn' but we LOVE Lakeland, and the press show did not disappoint us. We met the nicest people, the nicest of whom was Wendy Miranda (you know who she is, she's the woman in the photo in all the catalogues who pops up with useful comments on how to use the product), who talked us through the hot trends in Lakeland products and encouraged us to slice potatoes, which NEVER happens at fashion press days.
Wendy told us customers are still being very careful about what they buy due to the economic climate, with most purchases being about gesturing (either making things to give or buying items as presents) or speciality equipment.
The 'make your own' trend has been huge for Lakeland this year, from cupcakes to jam, everyone is growing-their-own and making more at home. For Wendy this means sourcing new and better machines to help us do that, and we loved the new Electric Cup Cake Maker coming this autumn (£39) which makes six cup cakes in nine minutes. Wendy is also talking about bringing back beer making kits...oh no! Both Jane and I remember our dads making beer when we were teenagers (that often exploded under the stairs) with mixed results.....
People are also making more gifts to give, so she's been sourcing nicer jars and bottles to give away your cordials and jellies in. And there are some spectacular cup cake decorating tools which allow cooks with few skills to produce beautifully decorated cakes. Amanda has her eye on the Tefal Electric Jam maker (above, £99.99), which has been sold for a while but has become one of Lakeland's best sellers as it is brilliant, apparently. Expect TWR own range jam and marmalade soon......
Other new products Wendy advised us on included a very safe Zyliss Smart Guard Mandoline (£24.00) which is where the potato slicing came in and the Morphy Richards Flavour Savour (£89.99), which is a slow/fast cooker to you and me, which browns meat off before you slow cook it. One pot cooking has been a very big trend according to Wendy, who says customers will spend money on really good machines if they are flexible -like the Flavour Savour, which acts like a frying pan and a slow cooker- and do more than one thing. There's a not-too-scary-looking Tefal Jamie Oliver pressure cooker (£120) that Wendy promised us was fab, and wont blow up on us (like the ones our mums had always threatened to do...)
But the ONE ITEM that made Jane and I lick our pencils and reach for our shopping lists was the retro sounding but so very wonderful Swan Teasmade (£59.99). How have we survived without one?
The autumn catalogue is out soon and all the new products we've mentioned here come out around August. We will, as usual, be spending lots.
Lakeland website, be warned, can be addictive.