Managed through carelessness to lose years of posts so it will soon be time to start over. Plus, happily, I've been diverted by a travelling life.

No prizes for guessing what will be top of the 2019 New Year Resolutions!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Find your way with Cotswold

Pick up a map and compass and navigate your way to your nearest Cotswold Outdoor store to participate in their upcoming series of free navigation workshops in association with Ordnance Survey between April and June. After a successful series of navigation workshops in 2010, this year the number of sessions has doubled, with 15 sessions across Britain offering more people the opportunity to build their essential mapping skills and giving them more confidence to explore the great outdoors. 
The interactive classes, hosted by Ordnance Survey experts, are aimed at beginners or anyone wanting to brush up on their basic skills. Attendees will learn a variety of vital information handy for when those GPS signals sway or for sharpening up tried and tested map and compass methods.  The 15 sessions will take part in Cotswold Outdoor stores across Britain, encompassing all areas of mapping a journey. All participants will receive 25% off any Ordnance Survey maps purchased on the day. Tickets are free and can be picked up or reserved over the phone at the relevant store - www.cotswoldoutdoor.com.
Photo credit: On Barden Moor - YDNPA

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Pitching up

Just because a tent comes supplied with certain guylines, runners and pegs doesn’t mean that they are ideal. As a matter of course, I like to consider how pitching, adjusting and packing away can be made easier. For years, changing guylines for reflective versions plus adding Line Lok runners and hi-visibility ribbons to avoid them during the day has been the norm. I’m now a fan of Delta Ground Anchors (www.deltagroundanchors.co.uk)and have discovered the versatility of Clingons. Delta’s pegs combine a tough hard wearing nylon composite material with a clever design that has held firm in horrendous winds on coastal and mountain valley pitches. As well as a couple on my tent’s main guylines, four are now used to secure the huge tarp that offers us plenty of shelter and open air on site. That tarp will never break free again! Unless, of course, it rips free but then I’ll use a handy Clingon re-usable instant eyelet (www.clingons.co.uk).


There's an assumption that using a small tent rules out using a camping table and chairs. How foolish. 
Pigeonholing is a particular hobby horse of mine. It's about the need for us to be slotted into categories, usually by marketing people seeking to make sense of a confusing world. So, we have exclusive labels attached to us as campers such as family, car, lightweight and backpacker to list but a few. The reality is that there are no hard and fast boundaries between campers. Rather, there are core users in each group with plenty of blurring around the edges. I met up a couple of years ago with a bloke who I first met many years ago on a Backpackers' Club weekend in the Cheviots. He's now 76 years old and still enjoys camping. Sometimes that's with his car as transport to a site. At other times, it's on foot to wild pitches with his grandson. Is he a backpacker, a family or car camper? I think he's just somebody who enjoys camping.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Float away

The Sportyak 245 (www.bicpsportboats.com) is the perfect boat to use as a workhorse, fishing boat, a tender or for simply messing about on the water – it’s stable, tough, light and at a great price. The wide built-in wheels ensures that transporting from car to water is a doddle and smooth launching and recovery are easy.  Simply pick up the bow and wheel the boat to the required destination – the extra wide wheels make manoeuvring over sand or soft ground a doddle.  Ideal for 1, 2 or 3 adults – whether it is fishing, getting to your favourite spot or simply messing about on the water - the clever design ensures that you have the room and the safety. Stability was a priority when it came to the design as was the cost and durability. The Sportyak 245 is built to last and built on a solid reputation spanning more than 35 years of experience and development. £549 is a remarkable price when you consider that this includes everything -oars, rowlocks, seat, rope, seat and wheel system.  There’s nothing else to buy; just load it on top of the car and away you go. 

Breaking wind

Years ago, I sweated for two days in my garden, planting a long laurel hedge. Straight, level and healthy when finished, it was dead within four months through a strange combination of hyperactive moles and severe flooding. (The flooding sorted out the moles). Between the expense, effort and disappointment, I was gutted and have no interest in ever planting a hedge again. Happily, I won’t need to as Tobyn Cleeves (www.campingwithsoul.co.uk) is offering windbreaks that fit the bill. Initially, the Camping with Soul website featured dry stone wall images but laurel hedges are now on offer. When I look back over the years, it’s hard to credit that windbreaks have been either plain and boring or the blue with stripes of those cheapo beach versions.
Sadly, I can see the nightmare of sponsorship occurring to companies and campers and we will be unzipping our tents to be faced with an assault on our senses funded by sellers of goods and services. Heaven help us if electric hook-ups mean that neon is a possibility. On the other hand, there is a certain appeal in being sponsored, for instance, by the Wylam Brewery so I may consider making my own blank canvases and putting the space out to tender.