Wednesday, 7 June 2017

How a new camping table has changed my (camping) life

I was sent a table by Millets recently. They asked me to share with you what I thought of it and to see if it could make camping a real home from home.

Now as you will know if you are a regular reader, I am a 'bare minimum' sort of camper. No electric, not fussed about flushing toilets and shower blocks, happiest in a wood or a field just me, my tent, some beer and a book (and DD of course, my regular camping companion) so how would a table work for me?

Well I picked the rather super looking Eurohike Basecamp table with storage under it, and to say it changed our camping lives is not an understatement. One of the reasons Mr Tentsniffer doesn't camp with us (along side having a bad back, and preferring an evening in front of the TV to one trekking across a field to the loo,) is that he hates mess and when DD and I camp, we are messy.

I'm messy anyway, chucking things down and leaving them where they land, and in the tent that soon becomes a royal pain in the bum!
"where is the hairbrush?"
"have you seen the matches?"
"wasn't the kettle here somewhere?"
"are there any apples left?" cue staring at vast pile of 'stuff'...

So could a table save us? Amazingly yes it could! The Eurohike Basecamp table is 7kg in weight and has a handy carry handle for transporting it when it's folded up - and it folds up so neatly! It opens up into a spacious table and the legs extend to give it height. Underneath are two large storage 'cupboards' with solid flat bases, perfect as a larder for our new 'kitchen diner'. At either end of the table are pockets for anything you fancy, cutlery, magazines, hairbrushes, matches...'stuff'...

The table fitted perfectly in our Cabanon Pyramide IV tent and the best bit was that our storage boxes slid in beautifully underneath it. Sadly these boxes are old and cracked, but I searched around and found some 50L boxes on Amazon that are just the right size to slip under the table, so we have all our regular bits and bobs safely under the table, extra cupboards and a table top too! We managed to keep everything so neat and tidy on our jaunt to the Byline festival that I think even Mr Tentsniffer would have been proud. Just take a look.

Disclosure I was sent this table (and a fabulous box of goodies - see the unboxing video here) by Millets to review but all the thoughts about the table are my own!

Monday, 5 June 2017

Review of the first ever Byline Festival

As you will recall I was invited to the Byline festival as a guest, with the lovely DD, to review the festival and tell you all about it! So you'll be wondering if it lived up to the hype - or was it fake news!

Byline Festival was described on its own website as A RIOT OF FREE SPEECH
PROTEST AGAINST FAKE NEWS AND ALTERNATIVE FACTS something that rather worried the chaps at the local BBC radio station it seems.
But they needn't have worried, far from fields of violent rioting hooligans, the fields were in fact full of a diverse band of intelligent people, keen to learn how to spot truth from fiction, how to survive in a world so rich in information that it can be hard to spot the important bits, how to be their own journalists but also how to find journalists to trust...and why even today in a world of 'instant news' via social media, journalists and their skills are vital. I really enjoyed the satirical comedy by Hardeep Singh Kohli, and of course the bad press awards presented by John Cleese  (who understandably got a fit of the giggles trying to talk about the famed Werewolf of Hull!). But I was also delighted to listen to a talk 'No Platform' about lesser known stories and the stories behind and around the headlines.

I failed miserably to attend the few talks and workshops related to blogging (what am I like!) I do hope there will be more next year. But I did manage some great debates.

As the festival was brand new there were of course a few things that could be improved, better signage from the car park for instance, printed maps handed out along with programs when we arrived, rather than relying on an app or us finding the Info tent (and enough programs that they didn't run out!) but I can't fault the posh loos (flushing!) the free showers and the great bars, with frozen cocktails no less! The lineup and choice of debates was varied and everyone was extremely helpful and friendly. The food catering was good, though I wish the food consessions had been told they should stay open until the festival officially closed at 3pm on Sunday. We managed to try burgers, crepes and pizzas as well as ice cream and booze during the weekend, and having a bread and baked goods stall was an excellent idea.

I loved the fact that there was a real mix of genders, ethnicity, nationality and even political leaning at the festival. Loads to learn and an excellent atmosphere. While the festival is family friendly and certainly happy for you to bring the kids there is not much structured stuff for them to do (though playing in the woods seemed popular) so you might be wisest to leave the kids with friends or relatives and taking a weekend away for an adult only break.

The festival is running again in 2018 and currently super early bird tickets are a simply barmy £30 (they will be £120 at full price - still great value.) I highly recommend it to any journalists, serious bloggers, writers and anyone with an interest in politics, life and the truth.

Disclosure : I was sent complementary tickets for this event for the purpose of this review - the words are all my own.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Safety in the pool and the importance of a swimming hat

Over on Facebook today I saw a post sharing a truly frightening story of a young girl getting her hair caught in a pool filter while on holiday, and subsequently nearly drowning. She lost chunks of hair and had to be treated in hospital, she was lucky to survive this terrifying experience.

I have read about pool filters and the dangers of them before, and whether at home or abroad it's easy to forget safety when we are on holiday and having fun.

When DD was younger she had waist length hair and because wet waist length hair is a pain when you are trying to swim, we bought her a swimming hat. While she initially hated it and thought it looked a bit silly, she soon realised the benefits, no wet hair all over your face as you surface, no tangles after swimming (or at least a lot fewer than when it's loose) and even slightly better speed when swimming as there is less drag!

When we holidayed in Spain there were signs all around the pool telling guests to wear a swimming hat if their hair was longer than shoulder length and the hotel sold swimming hats so that there was no excuse. Initially I assumed it was some hygiene reason, less loose hair in the pool or something, but I soon realised it was more about safety.

Girl wearing a swimming hat in a pool on a rubber ring

All long hair gets tangled, more so when wet and it's easy to catch it on things, valves of floats, step handles and of course, pool filters.

So my reminder to you all - if you are going to be using a pool this holiday - take swimming hats! You can buy all sorts of pretty or funky ones online for kids and adults alike. (they don't need to be latex or rubber either, you can buy material ones that are more comfy)

Wear your hat with pride, and stay safe.

Jason Bradbury demonstrates that even when you have more hair on your chest than your head, you can still rock a swimming hat

Friday, 12 May 2017

An Exciting Festival in the Heart of the Gorgeous Ashdown Forest

I have been sent tickets to a new festival for this summer! I am really excited as it sounds fabulous and so I felt the need to share it with you in case you were free, and in possession of a tent, on first weekend in June to come along to Byline Festival 

Actually you don't even need to have a tent, as like many festivals these days there are pre-pitched tent and glamping options which mean you can rock up and have all the hard work done for you! I quite like pitching my own tent, it always feels like I deserve the beer then, but each to their own and I guess it is pretty sweet to just be able to stroll away from a festival on the last day without a backward glance, and with nothing to stuff into the car for the return journey except the faint whiff of herbal cigarettes and the memories of brief love affairs...wait..where was I?

Ah yes! A festival. This will be my first of the season and while it has music, it is not primarily a music festival, much like the literary festival I went to last year in The New Forest. Though Curious Arts is a bookish festival and this one, Byline looks more news and comedy based (and if you don't laugh at the news right now, you'd cry, so it seemed appropriate.)

Byline Festival is described as "A riot of free speech, a protest against fake news and alternative facts", and I have browsed the acts and the shows that were promised and have decided it is right up my street! Right up DD's too as you will recall that we like the comedy tents best at most of the festivals we attend.

Tickets are from £110 for the weekend, including camping, Under 4s are free and older kids are £12. Huge Discount for students too. Check out the Byline Ticket Prices here. 
60 Live Music Acts Including Dj Nihal, The Blow Monkeys, Department S, The Members, John Ellis (The Vibrators) And The Priscillas
Topical Comedy From John Cleese, Lenny Henry, Hardeep Singh Kohli And Others. Workshops. Screenings. Activism.
Speakers Include Frances Barber, Heather Brooke, Catherine Mayer, Hugh Grant, Bonnie Greer, Luke Harding, A.L Kennedy, Tom Watson, Martin Bell, June Sarpong. 
BylineFest brings together a riot of journalists, bloggers, commentators, satirists, analysts, lawyers, musicians, actors and activists to mix and chat. Here are a few.
BylineFest brings together a riot of journalists, bloggers, commentators, satirists, analysts, lawyers, musicians, actors, activists, and you.

I'm really looking forward to the 2nd June, grabbing the tent and heading down to Pippingford Park for a weekend of thoughtful but funny festival fun. There will also be wine. I'll let you know afterwards what it was like - do drop a note into the comments if you are planning to attend.

Disclosure : I am on the festival guest list so that I can review the festival - stay tuned!

Friday, 28 April 2017

Enjoying walking the dog by the river Adur

As the spring weather is here, I'm making more of an effort to get out and about, I'm also nagging myself to blog more!

I am still 'iffy' about using my stick when I walk - despite falling an impressive 3 times last week - because I worry it makes me look old. Obviously I don't worry that I'll look a prat if I fall over.

So a plea to other mildly disabled or wobbly folk - and to stick suppliers everywhere - what's a good stick to use that will still look cool? Feel free to let me know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter (links in the sidebar)

Anyway - on with the walk. Mr TS and I decided to take her ladyship Fizz the border terrier for a stroll along the River Adur. We only walked from the airport at Shoreham as far as the first car park but it was a nice meander, the weather was lovely as were the views and Fizz enjoyed herself.

Lancing College
Lancing College

dog walking by a river
Fizz, mistress of all she surveys

dog watching another dog while out on a walk
The mix of excitement and disappointment when a dog you want to play with is separated from you by a deep stream
 Despite the lack of rain and the ground looking parched, Fizz, of course, managed to run through the gloopy silt and mud minutes before getting back to the car.

On the whole though it's a good walk for dogs, minimal livestock on the west side of the river, and good views so that if there are sheep you have plenty of time to get the dog back on a lead. No roads nearby and a river for getting muddy in. Not too many walkers but enough to be friendly and enough dogs that Fizz had a nice play too.

dry parched soil
Dry April

Have you been out walking lately?