Nick Foulkes: Lakeland, mecca of gadgetry, is Britain's spiritual home

Share
Related Topics

The other day a four-and-a-half-inch high plastic lemon appeared in our fridge. I asked my wife what it was doing there. "Oh that," she replied. "Lucy thought it would be useful for storing the lemon halves you don't use." Lucy has a habit of supplying us with solutions to problems that we did not know we had.

Call me slow on the uptake, but it only dawned upon me recently that I had been Lakelanded. I tend not to pay a lot of attention to kitchen and cleaning utensil purchase, my mind is on higher things (watches, cigars, tiepins and so on) so the fact that our household had joined the Lakeland Cult escaped me, but then that is the way with Lakeland. Like most addictions, it has a habit of creeping up on you, which is probably why a survey by Which? magazine discovered that it was the nation's favourite shop.

Lakeland is almost 50 years old. It began as a business selling plastic bags to farmers; after that it was but a short step into plastic haystack covers and silage sheets. But even in the 1960s Lakeland was showing its solutions-to-problems-you-never-knew-you-had side with "Lammacs", raincoats for newborn lambs. The Big Chill of the Seventies when Britain went freezer-mad gave Lakeland the chance to enter the domestic freezer bag market. With that came the Archimedean realisation that people who freeze food also cook it, and thus kitchenware entered the Lakeland universe. There are now 47 Lakeland shops around the country and a plastic lemon in my fridge.

What I love about Lakeland is that it shows there is still a Britain beyond the iPad, Twitter and Cleggeron consensus politics, a Britain that is unafraid to be cosy, clean (or spick and span as I daresay they say Lakeland) and – yes – house-proud. As someone who has suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder I find it hard to dislike a company that sells mini foam-ended sticks for cleaning beneath cooker knobs and inside plug holes.

Britons love gadgets and Lakeland has them in abundance, whether it is mini shelves on collapsible legs (no more double-stacking misery in the jam and tinned goods cupboard) or adhesive transparent bird-feeding kits to be stuck to windows (enabling Lakelanders to get up close and personal with our darling little feathered friends).

The Lakelander lives the not-quite-Nigella dream of domestic deification. Whereas Nigellaphants, would probably go out of their way to assemble a heterogeneous assembly of jam jars and asymmetrically cut pieces of greaseproof paper, the Lakelander knows that the best way is to go to Lakeland and equip oneself with everything from a Scandinavian berry picker to special sticky labels. On the website you see Lakelanders urging their favourite store ever onwards to greater heights, so I was particularly struck by one correspondent who wanted Lakeland to do its "stuff and blaze the trail" and sell wipe-clean pre-printed labels for "store cupboard basics".

With such products as its talismanic banana guard, Lakeland is entering doily territory. Unsurprisingly, it is a robust champion of the unfairly maligned ornamental filigree paper mats, which it describes as "by far the prettiest (and most nostalgic!) way to display dainty delicacies". Hurrah! In the 21st century, as our national identity is under threat of erosion, I find it extremely reassuring that there are people who still care about a pretty way to display dainty delicacies.

Nick Foulkes is author of 'Gentlemen and Blackguards – Gambling Mania and the Plot to Steal the Derby of 1844' (Weidenfeld & Nicholson)

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Critics of Fiona Woolf say she should step down amid accusations of an establishment cover-up  

Fiona Woolf resignation: As soon as she became the story, she had to leave

James Ashton
 

Letters: Electorate should be given choice on drugs policy

Independent Voices
Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities