Wild Family Fun

Tales of living, working and enjoying life in the outdoors


Review: SLPY – The Wearable Sleeping Bag

I was very lucky to be contacted, recently, by a company called SLPY. I was asked if I would like to review a new style of sleeping bag. The company kindly sent me links to information about the sleeping bag, and how it even becomes a wearable clothing item to suit different scenarios. For more info, visit  www.slpy.com

I usually spend at least two (or more) nights per month on a camp, and a sleeping bag is a very essential and well-used piece of my kit. The SLPY is just like a ‘normal’ sleeping bag, the only difference being that it can be worn in three different ways.

To sleep in. It can be used as a traditional sleeping bag, but it has a hood. It also has zips where your arm area is, and this allows you to sleep with your arms out of the sleeping bag.

It can be worn. The zipped additions at the arm and feet areas, means that the SLPY can be worn as a clothing item, allowing you to move about. That’s the interesting and very unique difference to this effective and functional sleeping bag.

Explore in it. By engaging the zip-cinch system found at the base of the bag, it can be pulled up to the waist and secured. This allows you to wear the bag more like a coat, allowing more movement whilst still within the warmth of the bag.

Designed in Yorkshire, the SLPY is machine-washable. It has a soft outer fabric which is then filled with “Thermalite Extreme”, providing a Comfort Rating of -5 and an Extreme Rating of -15. This means that it’s a fucntional three-season bag for outdoor use. It easily becomes a four-season bag, if you want to use it indoors as a really cosy, snuggly blanket!

The Original SLPY comes in six different colours. I had one in orange, which is very brightly colourful and is very appealing to young, trendy campers! There are five other colours available, each to suit a range of tastes and sizes.

I was intrigued at this uniquely new and different design of sleeping bag, so I jumped at the chance of being able to put it to the test. Coincidentally, I had a D of E assesment weekend coming up, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to try it out.

I was sent one in medium size, and it was just great for my body shape. I’ve had problems, in the past, when trying to find a sleeping bag with a generous fit to allow unrestricted movement to a girl of my proportions. But, I have to say, I found that the SLPY gave me room to move comfortably, and wasn’t too tight around the top area. It was amply long enough to cover me from top to bottom, with a little room left for comfort and movement.

After a long day of getting to checkpoints, and making sure that all the young adults were ok, we got to the campsite at about 7.30 in the evening. It was definitely time for tea and biscuits for the staff. It was also a great time to test out the SLPY, as the sun was starting to sink, and the evening temperature began to plummet just as rapidly.

Here I am, at the end of a long day, enjoying a well-earned snack and hot drink. In the SLPY, I could easily walk over to our kit-van, collect my mug of tea and treat myself to a couple of biscuits!

It wasn’t too long before some of the young people from my group wandered over to see what I was wearing, (I think it was the colour that drew them in!). A couple of them tried it on, and immediately loved the comfort of the SLPY. Most of them go to music festivals, and said how useful it would be to keep warm, yet still be mobile, after a day of dancing. Others said that it would also be lovely to have a SLPY to relax in on the sofa while watching a movie, especially now that darker nights are drawing in.

I kept the SLPY on for about an hour, and I was so warm. While my colleagues were putting on warm jackets and hats, I ended up wearing a t-shirt with a thin jacket, and was plenty warm enough not to even have to put gloves on.

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Warm, toasty, cosy and snug!

The biggest issue, for me, was how I was going to feel when I had to get to sleep at night. By the time the group had settled and we’d tidied up, it was nearly midnight, as usual! In the open countryside, it gets deceptively cold very quickly, so keeping oneself warm, while asleep, is really important. I’d put my SLPY inside my tent, as we were camping by a beach and the air had become quite damp. It would have led to disaster, if I’d had to sleep in a cold, wet cold sleeping bag.

When I sleep in a tent, I usually cocoon myself in loads of chunky layers. I also wear a hat to bed, as a big percentage of body heat is lost from the head. However, I found the hood on the SLPY was quite big, so I thought I’d just use the hood “sans chapeau”. I rarely wear socks to bed while camping but, as I had the option of zipping open the bottom part of the SLPY, I tried thick bed socks and opted for movement over restriction. It’s usually quite an irritation to me, as don’t like the feeling of my feet being trapped at the bottom of the usual sleeping bag format, so it was nice to have a choice, in this instance.

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I was able to sleep with thick socks on, and feet outside for once. Freedom!

I was happily surprised and very impressed at how warm and comfortable I was. I wore a light thermal shirt to bed, and was warm enough to have my arms outside the SLPY, which was amazing. It was like having a thick quilt on, but also having the snuggest qualities of a sleeping bag. It really was very warm all night, and I didn’t notice not wearing a hat or having my feet outside of the sleeping bag.

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My friend sneaked a photo of me sleeping away, very comfortably indeed!

It was a very comfortable and warm nights’ sleep and, put simply, that’s all you want and need from a good quality sleeping bag.

I also managed to try it out, while I was waiting at my checkpoint the next day. Staffing a checkpoint usually means waiting around (for an age) in a mini bus, while all your groups check in and then move off. You see if they’re ok, check that they know their route and fill up water bottles, if needed. You can be at a given checkpoint for anything from half an hour, up to three hours it it’s a long day.

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I knew I was in for a long wait, so I put my feet up and got comfy. I enjoyed the Sunday papers and I really was very cosy, with total mobility, wearing the SLPY

As a sleeping bag, the SLPY is great. It offers all the qualities expected from a standard format sleeping bag, in regard to warmth and comfort. I really did enjoy having zips built into the design, as it gave me the opporunity to move more and find a comfprtable sleeping postion.

Unlike a standard format sleeping bag, you can benefit from all these qualities on the move while wearing the SLPY, in a whole range of different scenarios.

When it comes to the”sack race”, thanks to it’s unique and innovative deign, the SLPY wins hands (and feet) down !!

I was sent a SLPY product to review. My opinions are my own, honest and unbiased. For retail info,  www.blackleaf.com

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Follow SLPY on Twitter  @SLPYadventures

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My Sunday Photo

 

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 In honour of Stictly Come Dancing that’s started this week, I wanted to share this photo. Can you guess who we are supporting in our house?

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Our Last Trip of the Summer

As a part of my work, we run outdoor activities throughout the whole summer holidays. We deliver two trips per day, ranging from walks for under 8’s, through to mountain biking, gorge walking and coasteering for young adults, and much more in between. It’s always a very busy time and, by the end of the summer, even we can’t wait for the children to go back to school!

So, our tired little troupe of outdoor workers, fed up with wearing damp wetsuits and not wanting to see another buoyancy aid for a long while, all decided that our last summer holiday activity would be a forest day, with a small group of under 8’s from a local play centre. Relaxed, not much kit to pack and, (let’s be honest), easier than clambering up a waterfall.

This ended up being one of my most favourite activity trips of the summer.

We didn’t have to travel far, as we went to Forest Fawr in Cardiff, not far from Castell Coch. It’s a wonderful forest area, with lots of safe space for children to roam and explore while still being in constant visual contact of the staff. It’s also where the T.V. series Merlin (as well as episodes of Sherlock Holmes) have been filmed, and this is something that the children love to be able to recognise and relate to.

We loaded our rucksacks with a Kelly Kettle, fire building equipment, tarpaulins for den building, wood cookies for outdoor medals and other bits and bobs for a full day of forest adventures and exploring.

We had a short walk to the site, which has a fire circle already in place and lots of space for den building. The children off-loaded their bags, and couldn’t wait to explore the area. Luckily, we gave them each a set of waterproof clothes and wellies, because it’s easy for us to wash off the kit, and the kids all go home clean and mud free!

They really did need protective clothes, as this was the first thing they spotted!

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Mother Nature providing the perfect playground!

The children spent ages balancing on the tree, carefully stepping and sliding along it. Eventually, after about twenty minutes, they finally became brave enough to stomp, squelch and jump in the mud, mud, glorious mud!

The staff stopped and took a step back, (thinking that we were the ones who were going to have to wash the kit), but all agreed that the children were having a wonderful time.

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They say that one picture can say a thousand words…………

After a bit of washing off, we headed to our base for the day. There, we handed out tarpaulins, ropes and string, and then just allowed the children to create their own dens. What struck me the most, was how the children worked together and didn’t need (or seek) our help. They were so confident and comfortable in the environment that they didn’t need adult intervention.

That’s how it should be…… child-led play.

It was so amazing to watch. As outdoor workers, that’s what we strive to see. Play is such an important experience for children, as it allows them to develop in so many different ways. Seeing the children happy, confident and totally in control of choosing how and what they want to play. It was wonderful.

We spent the rest of the afternoon learning about fire-safety, and how to make fires. The children loved having the opportunity to learn how to make a fire in a safely controlled environment. It was something they’ve never been allowed to do, and to see them working responsibly in pairs, on such a risky activity, was great. Then, the staff cooked popcorn on an open fire, which was enjoyed by everyone, both young and old.

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……………….and, of course, there was even more mud!

All the children and the staff had such an amazing day. It’s funny, sometimes, that people often “talk-up” activities such as gorge walking, canoeing and mountain biking. People are amazed that we get involved in delivering those sorts of activities to children and young adults. But, to this tired and weary outdoor worker, (at the end of a long summer programme), this simple yet fun-filled adventure in the forest has to be one of my favourite memories of this summer.

sometimes, the simple things in life are truly the best!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Learning for Life

 

 



My Sunday Photo

I have just come back from my Duke of Edinburgh expedition. My last and final check point was looking onto this.
I was waiting for my group for nearly four hours which wasn’t bad, as I got to gaze at this magnificent sight.
Rhossilli Beach in the Gower, a beautiful part of the country.
 
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My Sunday Photo

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This was taken while canoeing on the Mighty River Taff, while I was in work.

I am so puzzled why my face is a mix of fear and dread.

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My Sunday Photo

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 We planted this pear tree in my Fathers’ garden when my daughter was only four months old. This year is the first year we’ve had delicious pears, picked straight from the tree.
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Our summer holiday to-do list!

A few weeks ago, I posted all about our Summer Holiday to-do list.

I was worried because, this summer, we weren’t going abroad for a holiday, but I still wanted my daughter to have weeks of fun-filled activities, especially during our 2 weeks off work. This was the reason for creating the list, so that we would have a plan of activities, and adventures that we wanted to do. After a very busy two weeks, we were able to tick most of the activities off the list and, when I think back, we only took one of those days to stay at home and recover from all our outdoor adventures.

 Celebrating National Play Day

Wednesday 6th August was National Play Day, which is a wonderful day for families and children to celebrate, and be a part of, lots of different play events running throughout the country. We spend the day celebrating with  Friends of Pentre Gardens.

We had an amazing day, providing a huge range of play activities and opportunities for children and young people within the community. There were a variety of arts and craft activities, sporting games, bug hotels, jewellery making, homemade swings and hammocks from trees, team games (with the most popular activity being the homemade car made from a recycled wheely bin) and the graffiti artist Lloyd made the most amazing creations for the children to take home.

It was a huge success, with the staff being able to take a step back and observe the children playing together, making their own play experiences happen and also seeing so many parents staying to play with their children. This was a truly wonderful play experience for everyone who took part in the day, and we were so happy to be included in it.

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Go foraging for wild food

One warm evening, we made our way up to the apple trees that grow near to our house. For weeks, we’ve been checking the apples to see if they are ready, and finally the time was right. My daughter made her way safely up the tree (with some help from her Dad) and, with trusty stick in hand, was able to reach up to the apples high at the top. We quickly filled a tray full of delicious, juicy apples ready for cooking. Apple crumbles, tart Normande and Tarte Tatin for tea!

Walking up Pen Y Fan

Attempting the walk to the top of Pen Y Fan was a huge challenge, and something we’ve wanted to do for such a long time. Pen Y Fan is the largest mountain in South Wales. My Dad kept checking the weather reports for a week, and we decided that the last Saturday before I returned to work was the day for us! We donned our walking boots and wind-proof coats, packed a picnic and set off. I was so glad that we were prepared with jumpers, hats and coats, because the top of the mountain was pretty windy, and we had to shout to each other to be heard. Steaming cups of hot chicken noodle soup was passed around by my Dad, and we really had a magnificent day. I was so proud of my daughter, who didn’t moan at all going up-hill, and I had such a lovely experience being out with my Dad. It was a brilliant day, giving us a wonderful family memory.

Coasteering

Unfortunately, we didn’t make a specific coasteering trip but there are still two weekends left to squeeze in a trip to the Gower.

However, my daughter did achieve a huge leap in improving her kayaking abilities over the Summer. She took part in her first moving-river and open-water journey with her paddling group GlamBoaters. She’s had about two months of indoor pool sessions, and so going onto the open water is a big step. I must admit that my heart was in my mouth as I watched her paddle out on her own. The first was a paddle on the River Taff and, when she jumped into her kayak, I had a moment of nerves but, after some calming words from my Mum and Dad, we were off! I paddled a Canadian canoe and stayed very close to her. Paddling on a river can suddenly present many different problems, such as the sudden change in water current, changes in wind strength and so on. I think I was more nervous than she was, as she dug the paddle in and got further away from the land. But she loved it and I couldn’t believe how far out she went, growing in confidence with every stroke. For the journey back, she jumped into my canoe and had a rest as we paddled back to her Dad, Nanny and Bampy, who were proudly watching from the bank, (drenched right through, as it was pouring down with rain, bless them).

Her next adventure was paddling at Cardiff White Water Centre. This is a brilliant place, where paddlers of all ages and abilities have the opportunity of paddling different types of waters; flat water for novices and fast-moving water for the more exprienced paddler. My daughter had some time on the flat water improving her technique, paddling on the flow from the smallest of waves. When she toppled over, she popped up quickly, giggled and then quickly gave me the “thumbs-up” just to calm my nerves. Of course, she wanted to go on the fast-moving water. She went with one of the instructors in an inflatable, two-man raft and they bounced their way down the course. It was a great evening and, being out of the pool into moving water, was so good for her confidence and kayaking experience.

 

 

Our Summer Holiday scrapbook is coming along nicely, with tickets, photos and drawings being added to the book. It’s a lovely way of remembering our trips, and will be a great “show-and-tell” experience for when my daughter returns to school.

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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



Learning for Life

Canoe Camp: This is my Office

In work, my favourite time of the year is when we take a group of young people on canoe camp. The group work all year round, in their school, to earn behaviour points to be able to take part in canoe camp, so the young people who attend really deserve it and want to be there.

Good behaviour equals a reward.

I love it as I get to canoe in the most beautiful environment. We have two days of open-boat paddling on the River Wye, through the beautiful Forest of Dean. We camp at a lovely (and very quiet) youth camp-site, which allows open campfires, and this is great for toasting marshmallows. It’s a truly breathtaking place to be.

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We were very lucky and had stunning sunshine, so there was no need for thermals or waterproofs. The suntan lotion was applied liberally before setting off and we gently paddled down the river. Throughout, we spotted ducks, swans and even saw an otter.

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The late evening was spent around an open fire. We told scary stories and the adults freaked out the young people out by telling them gory tales of the wild boar that live in the forest around the campsite. Every year we tell the story, and it has become quite an “Urban Legend” throughout the school.

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Trying to dry my socks in the morning sun!

The next day involved a gentle paddle, with the current slowly pushing us down to Monmouthshire Rowing Club where we exit the river. When the end comes into sight, the water fights start! This involves lots of splashing, with boats being paddled faster and faster to get away from each other. By the time we reach the end, we’re paddling in canoes full of water, with all the staff and children squelching and soaking!

It really is a fantastic couple of days. It can be hard work paddling, especially on the first day. It’s usually for about five or six hours, depending on the weather, the river levels, the wind and (of course) the different personalities within the group, but I love it.

The young people get so much out of it, and have a wonderful time. They really make the trip worthwhile, and I love their company. For my part, it’s great to be involved in something that’s so positive.

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 Those two days of canoe camp always reassure me that I’m in the right job, and I feel really very lucky that this is my “office” !