Posted on Leave a comment

Enjoy a late Summer staycation – bring on the British weather

The summer holidays are upon us, with kids wanting to enjoy every day before school beckons again. This is the prime time to encourage them away from their gadgets and up off the sofa, to go and explore what the great outdoors has to offer. Or just a chance to head off on your own and make the most of the British summer weather – rain or shine!

Getting outside is beneficial for both our physical and mental health – it provides great stimulus for children, encouraging them to learn, think and to use their imagination, as well as keeping them active and fit. 

Woodland Walks
Woodlands are a great place for exploration with a large abundance of wildlife and plants, plus they are cost effective as you often don’t need to pay to enter them! Children are free to run around and explore, or make themselves a den using twigs and ferns. Teach them about the different trees that you can see, or take some paper and crayons to do some bark rubbings. There are woods where you can learn bushcraft activities – one of which is backwards cooking, which is the art of cooking on a traditional campfire. It aims to teach people to make good meals whilst focusing on resourcefulness and less reliance on modern kitchen gadgets, or even many utensils. Foraging can be included – perhaps in a woodland where wild garlic grows, which can be incorporated into your campfire treat. The National Trust provides a calendar of different bushcraft activities for all ages to enjoy. You can find those HERE

Even on a rainy summer’s day you can enjoy the woods – children need no excuse to jump in puddles, or get a little muddy trying to climb trees. Make this part less stressful for you though by getting their (and your) outdoor gear prepared in advance … ensure waterproof coats have been cleaned with Nikwax Tech Wash, to remove previous traces of dirt and revive the water repellency. If they have waterproof over-trousers then do the same here – means less for you to clean when you get home! If the garments have been thoroughly used then be sure to re-proof them using Nikwax TX.Direct – the specialist waterproofing treatment for wet weather clothing.

S15_AY8Q4863_vaude_attenberger_r

Escape to the beach
It’s fantastic to head to the coast on those scorching sunny days to enjoy the beach and brave a dip into the sea. For those that enjoy some action there are numerous water activities you can try nowadays – body boarding, kitesurfing, sailing and more – all of which make for a thrilling day out. Or you can find a more secluded location and just set up a picnic on the beach and have a dig around some rock pools. One thing we almost all wear when we head to the beach in summer are sandals, but what you don’t want is your footwear from smelling due to continuous contact with your bare skin. Nikwax Sandal Wash is an effective cleaner and deodoriser, which removes all dirt and body oils from non-waterproof footwear – including insoles and footbeds – and reduces bacterial growth, meaning your summer footwear will last longer and smell fresher!

woolcycling-76

Put your feet to the pedal and go cycling
Going out for a ride on a sunny summer’s day is like nothing else! Pedalling down country lanes and feeling the breeze, or going off-road for a bit more adventure, cycling is fun for all. However, we all know the weather can change at the drop of a hat, so it is good if you go for a ride to plan for all eventualities. Layering is the best way to dress for cycling. Technical wicking base layers are designed to be breathable, to keep your body temperature steady, allowing sweat to spread out and dry quicker. Keep a lightweight waterproof jacket on you so that in case of rain you can add an extra layer to keep yourself dry and comfortable. And remember to take a drink with you – cycling in hot weather can lead to dehydration, so keep having water to ensure your energy levels are kept up. You will want your base layers to maintain their performance, but their condition can deteriorate if cleaned with household detergent and standard fabric conditioner. Nikwax BaseFresh is a deodorising conditioner, designed to be used with your household detergent and ensure the performance of your gear is maintained. You can push yourself to the limit – if you so wish – and feel comfortable and fresh throughout!

There are many online route planners for finding a good cycling location – Sustrans is one of them, the charity working to make cycling and walking easier for anybody to do. You can find information on family-friendly routes HERE.

tents-6

 

 

 

Have a night under the stars
Nothing says adventure quite like camping! An activity which can be enjoyed on your own, in small groups, or as a family. You could spend the day hiking and exploring nearby places, then settle down in your little spot of paradise in the great outdoors to relax amongst nature. Having a campfire – if allowed at your camping spot – will keep you warm, and children can have fun toasting marshmallows. On a clear summer’s evening you can lay back and watch the stars above you and experience real tranquillity. The Perseids meteor shower falls in August, with it peaking around the 9-13th August, so keep your eyes peeled for those shooting stars!

Even in summer sleeping in a tent can be chilly, so just ensure you have taken appropriate sleeping bags and blankets for everyone to get a good night’s sleep. Most importantly – ensure your tent is up to scratch! The thin fabric on tents is vulnerable to both ultraviolet (UV) light and rain, leading to tears and possible dampness on the inside. If you use Nikwax Tent & Gear SolarWash, you can clean your tent thoroughly whilst the product also reduces resistance to UV light and revives the water repellent coating. You sleep safely, soundly and stay cosy and dry.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Hannah and Chico: Welsh Vacation

The latest blog from Hannah and her trusted friend, Chico:

I last sent a message at the very beginning of last July’s heat wave, when the rains of June were still fresh. The walk around Wales took another four and a half months; Chico the donkey and I finally arrived back in Aberystwyth in mid-November, having completed the full 1000-mile circumnavigation of the country.

We were very lucky. The adventure was dreamed up in 2012 during the wettest summer on record, and the organising all happened during last spring’s interminable coldness, when we all wondered whether the trees would ever get the chance to sprout leaves. I’d like to say it took faith, but actually I just tried not to think about it.

Here comes the rain…

After the heat wave which blazed right through July and half of August, we slow little travellers walked right on through a very mild September and October. There was rain, but never for more than a day, which meant that we always dried off before the next shower.

November got tougher – the rain started falling with vigour, and it doesn’t take long to become quite mouldy and wretched. My shoelaces, less than a month old, rotted and snapped. Food supplies got wet, bread in particular soaking up the leaks. Usually I’d manage to find a phone box to refold my map in, but occasionally there was nothing. Those maps – north Pembrokeshire and south Ceredigion – are still wrinkled and rubbed, with place names ominously missing forever, like whole villages might have been washed into the gutter along with us.

Chico, a hater of rain through and through, from his desert-dwelling genes to his unsuitably fuzzy, oil-less hair, had got so dependent on me that he’d often opt to stand in the rain where he could see me rather than take shelter. We were a sorry bunch.

And yet I wouldn’t have changed it for anything. I was living outside, and rain is part of outside (and Nikwax helps!) I was walking around Wales, and rain is definitely part of this green isle. But most of all, the rain was a fine reminder to be flexible, and attempt to be relaxed with uncertainty.

Power alarms

Climate change seems to be behind the extremes of weather, and that is scary. For the span of human history we have been creatures at the mercy of the elements, and now we are the ones with the power – it doesn’t sit easily.

I think privileged humankind are suspended between feeling powerful and feeling powerless. Collectively people suddenly have the power to change the weather, but individually it’s hard not to see my shorter shower, diligent recycling or energy-saving light bulb as a tiny squeak of desperation in the roar of threatened existence.

Individually we have the power to change how we live. So what to do? Do what you can, of course. Mend and reuse, buy less and recycle, ally yourself to brands and companies that you know care. Make changes that enrich your life, not ones that feel like sacrifice.

And make friends with uncertainty. During the heat wave I had friends who flew to the Philippines, to Croatia and to Spain, for guaranteed sun on their understandably precious summer holidays. Meanwhile I basked and burned, day after day, in fantastic Welsh sunshine – absolutely not guaranteed and somehow all the more wonderful for it. When the rain began there were still all sorts of sensory treasures – the smells and sounds of storms, wild winds that Chico and I leaned into on Strumble Head, occasional rainbows, and fierce hailstorms on the tent at 3am.

Make friends with uncertainty. Adventure stems from it, a donkey as a companion guarantees it! You need a resilient and resourceful attitude to cope with it, and that’s a thing well worth cultivating. And it looks to be the way the world is going.

And then? Get out there, whatever the weather.

 

See more Seaside donkey activity here: www.seasidedonkey.co.uk Like Hannah and Chico on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/seasidedonkey … and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/hannahengelkamp Hannah is currently working on the book and the film of the adventure, following a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. You can pre-order the book and film at www.seasidedonkey.co.uk/shop, or sign up to the newsletter to be kept informed of progress!

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Top 5 foods to forage

If you thought there was no such thing as a free lunch, think again! UK woodlands have plenty to offer with delicious plants, berries and nuts that are safe to eat and offer a number of health benefits.

We’ve rounded up 5 of the best wild foods – chosen for their abundance, nutrition and safety.

1. Berries

Berries are one of the easiest foods to forage. Look for them in woodlands, hedgerows and parks from late summer. There’s a large variety of berries available; including blackberries, raspberries, mulberries and hawthorn berries. All are tasty and packed with Vitamin C and can be eaten as a snack or used in juices, jams, pies, cakes, wine and more!

Be warned, some berries are highly poisonous, if you’re not sure what they are do not risk eating them.

2. Wild Garlic

Ramsons, known as wild garlic is easily identifiable, forming lush green carpets in woodlands close to bluebells and emitting a distinctive garlicky smell. It tastes much like regular garlic but has a milder flavour.

Its bright green, lily-of-the-valley-like leaves are delicious chopped into salads and stir-fries or can be used to add flavour to soups and stews.  Also, its white flowers with six narrow petals have an al dente texture and subtle taste when eaten raw. Wild garlic has many health benefits, including helping to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It’s also good for gardens to ward off pests and diseases, and the juice can be used a household disinfectant.

Please be aware that ramson leaves look very similar to those of the bluebells, except bluebell leaves are poisonous. Always smell the leaves to check they are garlicky.

3. Nettles

Many people avoid nettles as they can leave painful welts on the hands of the picker. However, if you have a decent pair of gloves, the pros of foraging for nettles outweigh the cons. You can find nettles in gardens, woodlands, pastures and orchards. They are packed with vitamins and minerals, and contain more Vitamin C than oranges! Boiling nettles will remove the sting and they can be used be make tea, soup, beer and even haggis. Be careful to pick the youngest leaves in early spring as mature leaves can damage the kidneys.

4. Nuts

Nuts are a great source of protein and energy for hungry foragers. Forage for nuts in the autumn and eat them either raw or roasted. A woodland favourite is hazelnuts. Hazelnut leaves are roundish, downy and toothed while the nuts are encased in a green, leafy cup. These nuts are ripe for picking when the leaves are just beginning to turn yellow. Other widely available nuts include chestnuts, beechnuts, and walnuts. Nuts can be used in nut roasts and nut breads, or mixed into salads and stir-fries for extra crunch. Ground nuts can be pressed through a fine muslin bag to extract the oil, to use for frying and salad dressings.

Horse Chestnuts, more commonly know as conkers, are poisonous – do not eat these under any circumstances!

5. Elder

Elder is widespread and abundant in hedgerows, woods and roadsides. Elder bushes are usually covered in sweet-smelling flowers by the end of June, followed by berries between August and October. Elderflower has enormous uses; the aromatic blooms can be eaten raw, cooked, dried or powdered, and added to cordials, salads, ice cream, cakes, biscuits, jellies, jams, sweets, tea and used to make elderflower champagne! It is also fantastic in beauty products such as skin lotion and eye cream. Elderberries can be put to many of the same uses as the flowers but the leaves and stems are poisonous.

Responsible foraging

Before you head out foraging always check whether the land is protected and if it is public – if it isn’t, ask permission from the landowner. Also remember that nature’s larder should never be stripped bare as many birds and animals rely on it for survival.

On a final note, take great care when selecting and eating wild foods, it’s easy to mistake a deadly fungus for an innocent field mushroom! If you can’t be sure of a foods identity do not eat it.

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Clean, waterproof and lengthen the life of your summer jacket

Cleaning and waterproofing your lightweight summer jacket keeps it clear of dirt and adds durable water-repellency. It also ensures it stays breathable to keep you cool in the warmer months.

Keeping it working well for longer also saves you money and fewer resources are required in manufacturing replacements.

Clean your lightweight jacket with Nikwax Tech Wash

  • The safe way to thoroughly clean waterproof clothing.
  • Proven to revitalise waterproofing and breathability.
  • Easy and safe cleaning in your washing machine, even at 30ºC.
  • Suitable for all wet weather clothing and equipment.

Add water-repellency to your lightweight waterproof and windproof jackets with Nikwax TX.Direct

  • The safe, high performance waterproofing for wet weather gear.
  • Adds long lasting, Durable Water Repellency while maintaining breathability.
  • Easy and quick to apply at home in a washing machine or by hand.
  • WaterBased, non-flammable and fluorocarbon free.
  • Does not require tumble drying to achieve maximum waterproof protection.
Posted on Leave a comment

Clean, waterproof and protect your tent and gear for the 2013 camping season

Cleaning your tent
Around this time of year one of our most frequently asked questions is: Should I regularly clean my tent and if so, what’s the best way to do it? The answer quite simply is yes, cleaning your tent will remove dirt and dust that could inhibit the tent’s waterproofing ability. The quickest, easiest and safest way to clean your tent is to put it up and sponge it down using a diluted solution of Nikwax Tech Wash.
How to clean your tent with Tech Wash:

  1. In a clean bucket, add three full capfuls (medium/hard water areas) or two capfuls (soft water areas) of Tech Wash to six litres of warm water.
  2. Sponge the solution over the tent to remove all dirt. Repeat if required.
  3. Hose or sponge down the tent with clean water to wash off all the cleaning solution.

Protecting and waterproofing your tent
After cleaning, or if your tent is brand new, use Nikwax Tent & Gear SolarProof to add Durable Water Repellency and to protect the fabric against UV degradation. The product is easy to apply and just one application could double the effective life of your tent!

How to protect your tent with Tent & Gear SolarProof: 

  1. Erect tent and rinse down with clean water
  2. Spray, sponge or brush Tent & Gear SolarProof evenly to the outside of the tent fabric.
  3. Wait for 2 minutes. Remove any surplus product with a damp cloth.
  4. Check carefully to ensure no areas have been missed.
  5. Allow to air dry and ensure the tent is fully dried before packing away.

Check out our video from Nikwax’s Luis Brown on how to apply Tent & Gear SolarProof.Click Here

Did you know?
Tent & Gear SolarProof is ideal for waterproofing and protecting all synthetic weatherproof textiles, so alongside tents it can be used on awnings, marquees, rucksacks, panniers and camera bags.