Backpacks

I’m in the market for a new backpack to use in the spring/summer when the days are longer and lighter and I’m walking further.  I want something that is going to be hard wearing, hold a lunch box, water, map, first aid kit, waterproof jacket, spare socks, bowl for Roxy’s water/food, food and water for Roxy and my camera – sounds like a lot but if the bag has external pockets then I think everything will fit.  I used to have a 20 liter rucksack that held most of this (minus camera and dog bowl) and it didn’t have external pockets, so I think aiming for a 30 liter rucksack will be ample.  I want something with comfortable, padded straps and a padded back piece, something that is not too heavy when empty or too chunky when full.

So, these are a few that have made it onto my final “Best” backpack list…

osprey

I like the compact design of this rucksack, the design of the pockets and that it has a compartment specifically for sunglasses/phone/camera.  It has side mesh pockets which would be perfect for holding my water bottle and other bits and bobs that may be needed more than other items.  I also really like the fact taht the designer has thought about personal safety and included a light attachment which you can clip a blinker light to, not only is this good for people who cycle but it would prove handy when walking in foggy or wet grey conditions as it will improve how visible you are to others.  I also really like the color, it’s bright and bold and will make you/your bag easy to spot in all conditions.

montane yaraWhile this rucksack was designed with climbing and skiing in mind I am really drawn to this rucksack for several reasons – it was designed specifically for women, so the straps and back panel have been shaped with the woman’s body in mind which will make for a comfortable wear.  I like that it has hip straps which mean that the bag will sit right and not move around so much and that these have pockets built in for small items (I could see myself using them for lip balm, a few plasters and my phone).  I also like that the bag has an “ultra tough Raptor UTL on the base” which means that the bag will last for a while -most of the wear from my other bags has been from the base first.  And, lastly, it is water bladder compatible which would save internal space from not needing to carry extra water bottles around.

  • Gröden 30 SL £58.50 (or £65.00 with Go Outdoors discount card)

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The first thing that drew me to this rucksack is the look of it, or to be more specific, the pockets and their placement, its not like any other ruksack that I have been looking at.  I love the pocket placement and they look really big too, big enough that I could put my waterproof jacket into which would free up space on the inside of the bag for all my other things!  The bag has a lid pocket which would be perfect for things like my fist aid kit or other “quick grab” items.  It also has a detachable rain cover that covers the whole bag and protects it, and your items from getting wet which is a brilliant idea.  And I really like the honeycomb fabric that is used for padding the straps and back which should stop too much rubbing when you get hot or sweaty.

berghaus arrowI really like the simplicity of the design on this rucksack, it is plain but that doesn’t mean that it is boring.  This rucksack has a lid pocket (which a few others have too and I am really liking this design feature), I like that the side pockets seem to come out from the main bag, rather than being an add on afterthought its like they were designed as part of the whole bag.  I like the toggle clips and the loops at the bottom of the bag, while these were designed for walking poles I could see them being used to attach lights to or other items that may be needed (I could see my dog poop holder being clipped onto one of the loops).  It has a Flow Back system of vented foam which helps to regulate your temperature and helps prevent you getting hot and sweaty.  It is also hydration pack compatible which would reduce the need for me to carry additional, bulky water bottles.

 

 

 

 

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Week 9 26/2/17 – 4/3/17

This past week I have not managed to push my stats to where I would have liked them to be, instead of hitting between 55000 and 60000 this week, I have fallen slightly behind (and also fallen back on last weeks step total) to 48771 total steps for the week.  This is still not too bad, I’m hitting over 50% of the average recommended daily steps and hitting 6967 as an overall average.  I have not managed to get out at lunch times, the weather for the past week has not been too great, cold and wet, which has seen me take soup for lunch to work and put me off of going out at lunch times.

This week I am hoping to hit a step average of 7200 per day, any more will be a bonus!

How did you do last week?  What are your aims this week?

Consumerist Packaging

I have been re-cycling since I can remember the reduce-reuse-recycle scheme started in Wales (UK).  The current set up for re-cycling in my area is weekly collections of boxes dedicated to glass, plastic and metals, paper and cardboard and I know that is more than some places offer, but looking at my waste and what ends up in my bin week in, week out, is food packaging – plastics that are otherwise unable to be recycled or are refused to be recycled by my local council.

What is the plastic I’m talking about?  Well, can rings – those pesky 4 holed pieces of plastic designed to keep cans together, plastics that crates of cans are wrapped in, cellophane, crisp wrappers, dried dog food bags, pizza wrap, salad bags, produce bags (whether that is bags for loose veg and fruit or pasta and cereal bags – I use the term loosely), carrier bags  basically any plastic that is put over something to contain it or keep it together.  When I have placed this kind of plastic in my re-cycling box it has been left by the collectors time and time again and its really frustrating as I’m sure some, if not all this kind of plastic can be re-cycled.

What seems to be the main problem?  For me its not so much the plastic but how it is used, and from what I can see it is used excessively in the food packaging industry.  Like, for example, why does a box of tea bags then need to be wrapped in a cellophane skin?  Its not stopping the product getting damp or spoiled by scent or taste transfer from other products, why do tins need to be placed in cardboard boxes and then wrapped in plastic? its not helping the product sty together any more than if it was just contained in the cardboard box, why do cereals need to be wrapped in plastic and then placed in plastic boxes? and why do dvds, games and cd’s need to be boxed in plastic cases that are then wrapped in cellophane?  Some packaging really does not make sense.

What can we do about it?  Well, I have a few thoughts on this that I have been mulling over…

  1. Make excess packaging the supermarkets problem – at first this idea may not make a dent in how things are packaged, but if we persevere then maybe things will change.  My idea – leave the excess packaging at the store for them to dispose of – the excess plastic around crates of cans, the can rings, strip your shopping of these things at the till and leave behind.  Maybe when the stores have to start paying for removal of the packaging themselves they will take into account what we have to deal with ourselves and start talking to their suppliers about packaging.  You could take this one step further and bring your own containers to decant products into, products like cereals, rice, oats, flour, tea bags, coffee.  There is no point in stores offering re-fill packs of coffee and sugar when the packaging can not be re-cycled easily.
  2. Shop elsewhere that offers bulk buy produce, places like Costco, and Macro that offer larger volumes of product, at least in that way you are getting more product for the waste that is produced.  Better still, how about local markets?  Buy loose products, fruit, veg, herbs & spices, teas and other produce there and not only make a dent in the waste produced but you also support local business and have, mainly, local produce to boot!
  3. When buying loose produce then use your own hand made produce bags to put items in, google how to make your own produce bags – there a re loads of ideas about how to make them, from upcycling old net curtains to making bags from newspaper.  Say no to the convenience of plastic and think ahead to what you will be shopping for.
  4. And finally, maybe write to all the stores you shop in and ask for the kinds of thing featured in the video below (which was on my facebook timeline)  why not buy all produce loose and provide our own containers?

 

How are you making a difference?

 

 

 

 

What’s Planned for this Month

Here’s a look at some of the posts coming up on the blog this month!

  • The Environment will be looking at food packaging and ways to reduce the waste.
  • Food For Walkers will be giving some ideas for lunchboxes.
  • Best will be focusing on walking back packs
  • In Fun Things to do on Walks With Kids we will be looking at an “Alphabet Search”
  • How will be covering How to Read Maps.
  • We will be doing a Quarterly Review in this months blog posts.
  • The Health section will be looking at Heart Health and Walking

We will also be covering the usual Week in Review posts, Nature Table, Fun Facts Friday, Art, Poems and Stories and History!

Stay tuned to read all the posts!

Spring Walks

There is no better way of seeing Spring coming into season than being outdoors.  All around there will be signs of spring – buds on trees, bulbs and new growth peeking from the soil, lambs frolicking in fields, bluebells and snowdrops starting to appear, bracken starting to unfurl new leaves.  There are lots of places that these signs can be seen and here are a few of my favorite places to visit in spring, and a couple of reasons why thrown in too!

Pontypool Park

Pontypool Park is around 120 acres of park land, with grassy areas, mature trees and the Afon Llwyd river running along one edge of the grounds.  There are lots of different paths you can take that lead to so many different things, like the walk up to the refurbished Nant-y-Gollen ponds where, if you sit quietly, you can see frogs and tadpoles in the water.  There are walks through woodland where you will be able to see new growth appearing on the trees, buds of blossom starting to form and other plant life just starting to emerge.  And if you are feeling energetic, up a short, steep slope lies the Grotto and not too far away is the Folly which to get to, you will need to cross some pasture land and might get a chance to see some lambs in the nearby fields!

Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal

Walking along the canal from Goetre Wharf towards Abergavenny is a lovely walk to do in the spring.  Walking by the water, looking a the reflection of the sky and being able to look at all the animals grazing as you make your way on your journey is a perfect way to spend a few hours on a weekend.  The canal weaves its way through wooded areas, fields and past some waterside houses.  You might be able to spot fish in the water, see ducks and ducklings, swans and cygnets along with sheep and cows and their babies too!  You should be able to spot sings of spring all around you from trees and plants to animals and insects.

Talybont-On-Usk

Talybont-On-Usk is set in the Brecon Beacons and is beautiful to walk any time of the year yet for me there is something magical in seeing this landscape starting to wake after the months of winter.  There are lots of different walks to go on and plenty of things to see along the way, waterfalls, streams, woodland, grass land, and all the wildlife that goes along with it.  You should be able to spot lambs in the surrounding fields and bulbs starting to shoot up as well as see the new growth on the bracken as you walk through the landscape.

Wherever you are planning on walking please adhere to the Countryside Code of Conduct, keep dogs on leads and be careful around baby animals – not only can they scare easily but the parents can be very protective of their young and become aggressive if you approach to closely.

Where are your favorite spring time walks?

Week 8 -9/2/17 – 25/2/17

Last week I said that I would like to push my average steps to around 9500 steps, I didn’t manage that but nearly maintained the steps I took hitting a grand total of 55133.  I’m not too unhappy about that figure as maintaining is better than being lots under.  Saturday and Sunday are still my most inactive days and I really do need to work at this to get these days to at least 5000 steps, doing this will see a huge improvement on my overall stats.  My best day was Tuesday where I hit 11064 steps though I don’t really know how I managed that as I can’t remember doing anything different to any other day!

This week I am going to try and maintain my steps to anything between 55000 and 60000.  Anything more will be a bonus!  And I will try and get out at lunch time for a walk too!

How did you do this week?  What are your goals for this week?

Pontypool Park

Pontypool Park is around 250 acres of park land which was originally leased to the family  around 1655.  Further land (which became known as Pontypool Park) was purchased by Capel hanbury in 1689.  The Hanbury family built their home on the land around 1694 and the Park Gates were erected some years later in 1720.  You can still see the house, complete with stables and an Ice House today, the house now makes up part of St Alban’s R.C High School, the stables are now home to the towns museum and the Ice House remains virtually untouched and is sited opposite the museum. (The ice house is a double chamber building that is unique in its design and build and unlike any other of its kind!)

There is a lot of history in the park, commemorative stones placed in memory of the Pontypool and District Hospital which finally shut its doors and was demolished shortly after in 1994, the Italian Gardens and Fountain which are a short hop over the river, behind the bus station on the edge of town (added in 1924), the bandstand at the center of the park, an addition in 1931.

Further into the park is the Pontypool RFC pitch which was developed and laid out in 1925 (which the rugby team had to share with the cricket team!) with the addition of the grandstand almost 20 years later in 1945.  And keeping with the theme of sport from the path that runs along the top of the rugby pitch toward the leisure center you should be able to see the ski slope that was added in 1975!  The tennis courts that should be seen if you face toward the clock tower (added in 1952) were added to the park around 1924.  There is a bowling green set next to the tennis courts that was added in 1925 too.

If you venture even further into the park and up towards the ski slope you will come to Nant-y-Gollen ponds, originally a mill pond to feed a forge, it was remodeled back in the early 1990’s, there are lots of stories about the pond (a good starting point of research is here )

Then there is the proper heart of the park, for me that is the Shell Grotto and Folly Tower, the Shell Grotto is worth a visit when it is open, the inside is decorated with shells, animal teeth and bones, it was built as a summer get away/picnic area for the Hanbury family in the 1830’s.  The Folly tower was added earlier, around 1765 but later demolished in 1940, when World War 2 was taking place – it was feared that the tower would act as a reference point and guide for German aircraft.  The tower was finally rebuilt in 1994.

There is a walk called the Pontypool Park Circular which takes you past many of these landmarks and places of historical interest, the full walk takes around 4 hours and is moderate in its rating – there are some steep parts and muddy trails along with woodland and rough ground.  If you would like to do this walk then details for it can be found here.

 

Andy Goldsworthy

Andy Goldsworthy is an artist who has been working with land based, site specific works in natural and urban areas.  He has created some really lovely works using leaves in woodland settings, collecting leaves of similar colours and placing them together to highlight and accent certain features of the landscape around him.  Two of my favorite images are shown below

(images from google image search)

I really love the yellow leaves placed around the base of the tree, there is something magical in this, like the ground where it meets the tree is alive and glowing.  And the leaves placed so precisely in the water make for a very striking image.

If you are out in the woods with children, you could collect leaves and other items from the ground and create patterns with them, leaving them behind for others to find.

The Importance Of Hydration

We are made up of around 60% water and loose and gain it in every day activities, weather we lead sedentary or active lifestyles, though the amount we loose will vary person to person.  Today I’m looking at the importance of hydration and why we should try to aim for a 2 liter/8 glass consumption of water on a day-to-day basis.

Water acts to keep our joints lubricated, our skin supple, our brains running well, it can keep us alert, aid digestion, regulate our temperature, get rid of toxins and a whole host of other things.  It keeps us and our cells healthy and keeps everything ticking along nicely.

Without water we can get all sorts of health problems – tiredness, joint aches and pains, lack in concentration, oxygen can not be delivered around our body via our blood system as quickly and easily, muscle fatigue, digestive problems, build up of toxins in our system and dehydration.

It is recommended that we drink around 2 liters of water each day, which is around 8 glasses.  We can loose around this much a day via the production of sweat and urine alone so need to keep this level topped up.  If we exercise then we may need to drink more.

I try to drink 2 liters a day by having half a pint to a pint in the morning upon waking, 2 – 3 pints of water when at work, a pint upon returning from work and half a pint to a pint before bed.  There are water bottles you can get that hold 2 liters of water with little markers on them to show how much water you have consumed and help with knowing how much you still need to drink, these can be really helpful to have.  I always carry around a bottle of water in my car and bag which I can drink from when needed too.

If the weather (or heating in your room/office/home) is warm then you may need to drink more than the recommended water.

How do you monitor your water intake?

Feathers

“Nature Table” is a series of blog posts where I share finds that have come from nature.  This series idea comes from my time as a kid, spent in primary school, where we would have a table set up in the corner of the room for us to bring in things we found when we were out.  This table was very seasonal, in autumn it was covered in nuts and seeds, spring saw different leaves and bulbs and twigs with buds on them, summer had flowers and grass heads and winter saw moss and bark pieces.  I decided to bring this idea to my blog and share some things that I find on my walks.  This month I have mainly found feathers, I’d love to know what kinds of birds they are from, especially some of the more patterned ones…Here’s the pictures of them

Let me know if you know what birds they are from!