Whilst we were enjoying our recent caravan holiday to Mowbreck Park we were all given the chance to reflect on our careers and our respective jobs converge in some interesting ways. Regardless of the fact that we were all very different kids when we were growing up in Leicester, we’ve somehow all ended up in jobs that involve the regular use of print and design.
Tom has been working as a graphic designer for 10 years now, having first started his business after leaving college. He started out in Leicester, building up a wide portfolio of work that included designing business cards and letter headers for small local businesses. After a year or so of doing this ‘donkey work’ (in his words!) he was able to start taking on bigger jobs from bigger clients, which has led to him upping sticks and moving to London.
Tom’s work now involves a wide variety of interesting sectors and require him to design large vinyl decal stickers that are used for shop window displays, point-of-sale displays and other kinds of print jobs. He’s passionate about his work, which is something that we all have in common.
Similar to Tom, Alex started out studying Graphic Design in college before moving on to taking an interest in Marketing which he studied at university. Graduating with honours, Alex entered the exciting world of marketing as an intern but soon found himself promoted to an Executive and then onto a managerial position. Funnily enough, Alex has also found himself working with decals. Although he’s not had to flex his creative muscles in quite some time, he now finds himself micro-managing a number of print design jobs at any one time, which often leads to him calling up myself.
I’ve worked in the realms of print since leaving school, starting out with my very first job in a local print shop. I was taken on fresh out of school, something that I’ve always been proud of and spent the next five years picking up all the experience and skills that I would need to build my own print business in London. I’d always loved working with stickers and vinyls when I was in that first job, so when it came to setting up my business, I knew that I wanted to make decals my speciality.
It’s funny and strange how a good ten years after we all left school in Leicester, we are able to discuss the print and design industry from three different perspectives. Tom’s still very much a creative soul who has been able to convert his passions for design into an excellent living, whilst Alex has a keen understanding for how those creative decisions can be harnessed to increase sales and interest for businesses. For my part, I feel very lucky to be able to call myself an independent business owner and am grateful that I’m able to work in an industry which supports creativity, as much as it does sound business management.
After our week in Mowbreck Park, we’ve had plenty of fun imagining how we could combine all of our talents to create a successful business, but to do so would risk endangering our friendship, something that we’ll never do.
The LLSA has always been a social group more focused around rural activities, as opposed to the urban activities our contemporaries are more intent on pursuing.
Despite growing up in the bustling city of Leicester, we’ve all grown up as ‘outdoorsy’ types who prefer to spend our spare time outside as much as possible. Although we now find ourselves spending the majority of our working days inside under the false-glare of fluorescent light, whenever we meet up we try and do so in the great outdoors, under the wide open sky.
There are some outdoor activities that we’ve still not tried together and it occurred to us whilst we were staying in at Mowbreck Park that going to an amusement park was one of them. With Blackpool Pleasure Beach so close by (one of the UK’s most iconic theme parks) it seemed foolish to not dip our toes in the waters of high-thrill amusements. Some mild nausea aside, this was a decision that we were glad we took and it made us wonder why we’d not visited one before!
We made it to the Pleasure Beach for the opening of the gates and were surprised with how empty the park was. All we’d heard of amusement parks before going had been how long the queues were and how expensive the price of entry was. However, at £25 a ticket (roughly the cost of a trip to the cinema these days) the price was not so high and at this time in the morning there wasn’t a queue to be seen!
The ride that draws the eye as soon as you enter is Valhalla, a technical marvel of it’s time, this ghost-ride-cum-log-flume ride called to us as soon we entered, however it turned out to be the only ride in the park that would succeed in getting us soaking wet from head to toe. The ride included some rather dated animatronics and jarring warnings (‘Do not lean forward on the next drop!’), but it was still a good introduction to the corny, atmosphere of the park.
Similar to a classic fairground ferris wheel but much bigger, each person clambers aboard a horse and holds on for dear life as the machine begins rotating. Whilst the ride starts off slow, once it reached maximum velocity you may find yourself wondering if there shouldn’t be a few more safety measures in place. Safety aside, this ride did a wonderful job of drying our clothes out and by the time we were queuing up for the Pleasure Beach’s newest attraction, Icon.
Unlike the other rollercoasters at the Pleasure Beach, Icon is built for efficiency. Two separate sets of cars run at the same time, so whilst one set of cars is set off, the other is coming in to load up on more thrill-seekers. By the time we made it to Icon the park was filling up a bit more, but the queue went quickly and soon we were being shot through this intense ride at an incredible speed.
By the end of the day we were weary and a little queasy, but more than pleased with the value for money we received at the park.
Family holidays can conjure up just as many positive memories as negative sometimes, but that didn’t stop our Mothers from booking two caravans at Mowbreck Park for a week, to give them a flimsy excuse of cracking open a few bottles of Prosecco and us a chance to have a much-needed catch up.
When we were kids we’d spend months looking forward to our annual caravan holiday. Although we changed caravan park each year depending on which was the cheapest, whenever we tried to recall a particular year they all seemed to blend into one gloriously sunny, homogeneous memory for us. When our Mums told us to book a week of our annual leaves for a caravan holiday we were more than happy to do so. The promise of an idyllic trip to the countryside and a heavy dose of nostalgia was more than enough for us to comply with our Mums’ request.
We all took the train from our respective homes and waited to get picked up by your Mums. It didn’t take long for us to catch up and fall back into the same in-jokes that we’ve had for years, soon we were bundled into cars and on the way to our home for the next week. Mowbreck Park is a handsome caravan park that is situated just a stone’s throw away from Kirkham & Wesham train station. Whilst it could be considered to be in ‘the middle of nowhere’, we all clocked a number of pubs on our way out of Wesham and made a pact to return to them as soon as we could.
The next week stretched out in front of us and whilst our Mothers got to catching up themselves, we pulled on our Longwool jumpers and headed out nearby Lytham St. Annes. Whilst there are a handful of caravan parks in Lytham St. Annes itself, our Mums thought we’d appreciate the 9-mile walk and promised to meet us there later for dinner.
We packed up our bags and set out on our way, happy to be in each other’s company and headed towards a tasty pint at the end of our journey. The landscape during the walk was surprisingly flat, offering us plenty of views but very little in the way of challenge. After tramping through field and across roads for just under three hours we arrived at our destination and were more than ready to settle down in front of the sea with a well-earned pint of ale. Who thought a caravan holiday could be so exhausting?
Lytham St. Annes doesn’t offer a huge amount of interesting activities for lads in our age range, but it’s a welcoming enough English seaside town to put your feet up in for a few hours. After trawling the internet to find the best pub to drink at we lumped for The Trawl Boat Inn, a handsome Wetherspoons pub that offered plenty of cheap drinks and (best of all) an outdoor seating are where we could happily enjoy the sunny weather. It wasn’t until some time later that our Mothers met us and they weren’t surprised to find that we were more than a little inebriated…
Thankfully, we were only a short walk away from the Lord Derby – Flaming Grill, where we gorged ourselves on the massive steak dinner that we never knew we needed!
We are the Leicester Longwool Sheep Association – a group of adventurous travel and food fanatics who are so named because of our trademark woolly jumpers made from the high-quality fur of the locally bred Longwool Sheep.
This website collects together the experiences that we engage with on a weekly basis which can include (but are not limited to) trips to the country, visits to local restaurants, pub crawls, hikes, museum/art gallery visits and camping trips!
We’re a forward-thinking, fun loving, open-hearted group of excitable individuals who are always eager to share our adventures with new people, so if you like what you see here then please don’t hesitate to get in touch and find out what we’re doing next!
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