Wild Family Fun

Tales of living, working and enjoying life in the outdoors


Take a moment

camping

 

This is one of the reasons I love camping.

I love getting up early and feeling the quiet beginnings of the morning.

With everybody still asleep, I enjoy the peace and the cold crisp air.

In that early hour I’m away from alarms, noise and the normal rush of a morning at home.

And nothing is better than a hot cup of coffee looking at this view.

For me it’s the best way to start a morning.

My Sunday Photo

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My Duke of Edinburgh expeditions have come to an end for this year, and this picture was taken during my last expedition.

We were staying in the Fishguard area and I was on driving duties very early, (so early that I had to dress by headtorch light, as it was so dark!).

Fortunately, I was able to stop for a few minutes and enjoy this beautiful area.

If I wasn’t heading to meet a group of young people, I really could have stayed here all morning.

It’s great to discover a little bit of hidden beauty every now and then.

OneDad3Girls

Camping in the Sunshine!

Our first Duke of Edinburgh Bronze expedition was upon us and, for many young people, it was their first time camping and having to look after themselves away from home. It’s always a huge learning curve for everyone involved, and the staff often end up feeling a bit like stand-in mums and dads for the weekend.

As we weren’t staying too far away from home, my husband and daughter joined us for the adventure. We stayed at one of my favourite campsites, which is Biblins Youth Campsite. This is a Foresty Commission campsite situated in the gorgeous Wye Valley, near Monmouth. It’s a beautiful area right on the banks of the River Wye, with no mobile phone signal or WiFi, and so it has a realistic feel of being isolated from everything.

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Finding some fun, back-to-nature style.

The weather was beautiful and the sun was out, which always makes camping that little bit more special. After a day of walking, the groups started to drift into the campsite. They were all happy to reach the end of day one, and were looking forward to an evening of relaxing and fun.

After the tents were up and they’d cooked a variety of meals, (some a lot better than others!), a football appeared and many of the boys piled onto the large field, energy levels recharged. Of course, my little girl joined in, and “managed” to get a few goals in.

The great thing about Biblins is that it allows open fires on the site and, when everyone got a bit tired, we settled down to a roaring open fire and (of course) we toasted marshmallows.

Later, as the fire died down to just the pulsating glow of embers, we were able to gaze upward into the clear night-sky, seeing a speckled tapestry of brightly-sparkling stars, and even the occasional orbitting satellite.

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It was the perfect night, watching the stars and enjoying tasty treats.

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This early-morning picture reminds why I love waking up to a beautiful, crisp start to the day.

The second day started with a few moans about aches and pains, but knowing that they were walking to the finish-line gave them the boost they needed to set off. I had a lovely surprise at my checkpoint, as I was able to sit enjoying the scenery and watch Canadian canoeists paddle slowly by on the Wye.

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Periodically, each group would pass through my checkpoint, and I’d make sure that they were refreshed, and then safely cross the bridge to continue on their way.

As each group finished, everyone was happy to see the mini buses at the end, throwing off their rucksacks and jumping on the buses ready to get home for cooked meals and clean clothes.

We were only out for one night, but the feeling and the atmosphere when camping at Biblins is just perfect. It’s a quiet and easy campsite, with no frills or fuss, but the setting is just amazing.

It always reminds me of why I love camping, and that it’s a great way of spending really great family-time together.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

April 27, 2015

GETmore Water – Review

While on Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, the importance of drinking plenty of healthy fluids and being hydrated is key to a successful experience. I find that I have to force myself to drink enough water on any typical day, but while on expedition it’s so important to have a regular, above-average supply of fluids.

In our D of E centres, we don’t allow our young people to bring energy drinks, or canned fizzy sweet drinks. Instead, we promote water or squash, as some young people, (myself included), find it boring to drink volumes of plain water.

However, in the evening, I often allow myself an orange juice, as it can be a nice treat and is something to look forward to after dinner. When I was asked to review GETmore Water, I thought it would be a great supplement to have on a Duke of Edinburgh camping expedition.

GETmore Water

More Drinks

More Drinks. Low in calories. High in vitamins.

More Drinks bring you Get More and A Little More, two ranges of drinks that help adults and children get more of what their bodies need. Every product in the More Drinks range communicates a single, simple message that tells you what you’re getting and why it’s good for you.

  • More vitamins and minerals – to help you stay strong and healthy.
  • More flavour – because no matter how good something is for you, you won’t drink it unless it tastes great.
  • More spring water – to quench your thirst and keep you hydrated.
  • More convenience – for nutrition on the go.

Personally, I liked the fact that they’re available either still or very slightly carbonated, and are available in a variety of flavours, so that everyone can find a flavour to suit their taste. The added bonus is found in the added vitamins and minerals within the drink. I chose apple & raspberry with B vitamins, as I thought it would lend itself to the physical activity exerted while I’m on expedition.

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This was my favourite. It has a delicious flavour and really made a nice change to watery squash. Refreshing and sweet, it really gave me a boost when it came to late evening. Food and drink become a huge focal point, as we tend to camp away from shops and stores. Most of the time, we have to rely solely upon what we can take with us. My colleagues tried the citrus with multivitamins and, again, they were surprised and pleased with the crisp taste, as well as being very happy with the low-calorie content within the drink.

I find that some other flavoured waters leave my mouth feeling “coated” and the after-taste puts me off choosing them. But GETmore Drinks don’t have that problem, and it gave a lovely sweet taste which refreshed me. I felt like I’d had a little treat, without having the unnecessary “bad” extras that can be found in some drinks.

Yet another bonus is that GETmore Drinks also have a child-friendly range of drinks which come in a selection of wonderful flavours, all of which really appealed to myself and my daughter. My daughter has a weekly kayaking class, after which she always has a snack when she comes home. She tried the still mango flavour with D vitamins, and absolutely loved it. To have a children’s drink that has a low-calorie and low-sugar content, which also encourages healthy hydration, is amazing for kid’s and such a help to parents. My daughter has since spotted them in our local shops, and we now regular buy them for school lunches. Also, the handy sports cap enables no spillage, which is great for when we’re on car journeys.

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I can recommend GETmore drinks for multi uses from lunch boxes, family days out, walks and camping expeditions.

GETmore Drinks are currently available at Tesco, WH Smith Travel, WH Smith High Street, Asda and other stores nationwide.

To GETmore information:  http://t.co/X2eDHHoYol

Also, you can follow GETmore on Twitter: @morevitdrinks

Also, on Facebook: morevitamindrinks

I’ve received a selection of samples from GETmore drinks for review purposes. My opinions are my own, and are honest and unbiased.

 

365 Project Week 5

It’s scary to think we are in February all ready. Its been a week full of mud and chicken pox…..

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25: On a Duke of Edinburgh walk and while waiting for my group I managed to capture this little Robin just sitting in the tree. He was great company at lunch time.

26: An evening trip with a playcentre and we travelled to a local beach for a fire and toasted marshmallows. This was the beautiful sunset we saw while we warmed by the fire.

27: I came home to a lovely husband who was busy making cakes. Caramel and pineapple upside down cake! Yummy.

28: My daughter came down with chicken pox this week. Thank goodness for my Mum who helped out and I had a sleepy child who didn’t miss the alarm clock going off in the morning.

29: Sour cherry sweets were much-needed after a very cold and wet paddling session in work. Sitting in a raft for the afternoon and being splashed with river water numerous times by teenagers wasn’t the greatest of days in sub-zero conditions.

30: With my daughter being ill we had Friday on the sofa and watched family films all together. I captured her and my husband holding hands while watching The Goonies. I love this shot.

31: Another Duke of Edinburgh walk and we went along the coastal path along Llantwit Major this week. However it must have been one of the most muddy walks I have ever been on. Lots of cleaning kit come Monday!

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

365 Project Week 2

Here are my photographs of my second week in the 365 challenge

First week back to work after a lovely Christmas break, lots of lovely walks but as its January all the layers were on!

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4: A walk to the local shops is never just a five-minute walk with my daughter. We live near some lovely woods and have a little duck pond near our house so we always end up having a quick detour for an explore.

5: My first day back in work and every month we have to go through all our equipment {there is a lot!} and do the necessary health and safety checks. It’s the not so exciting part of my job.

6: Tuesdays are always Duke of Edinburgh evenings. This week we were getting ready for our first day walk which is coming up soon. Route cards at the ready!

7: A beautiful day of navigation in week. It was very, very cold but the views were amazing.I even captured a little rainbow in the distance.

8: This is normally the cave entrance at Porth yr Ogaf in Brecon. However after all the heavy rain fall through the evening, nobody was caving that day.

9: An afternoon to a local Forest to have an explore on Friday afternoon. A definite day for the Kelly Kettle for hot drinks to keep the cold away.

10: My daughter still enjoying her Christmas presents. A quiet time of colouring her new school bag in. A very clever present.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

My Sunday Photo

I have just come back from a Duke of Edinburgh training weekend and this was the way I had to walk each morning to where the conference was running.

Plas y Brenin is an outdoor adventure centre set deep in the heart of Snowdonia. One of the most beautiful places I have ever been to and I don’t think this photo shows the true and full beauty of the area.

I couldn’t have asked for a more breath-taking place to stay.

 

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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

View SLPY Email Footer.png in slide show

Follow SLPY on Twitter  @SLPYadventures

Follow SLPY at Facebook: SLPY Adventures

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.
 
OneDad3Girls
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A Wet Weekend With the Duke of Edinburgh.

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Duke of Edinburgh season is now in full swing.

Many young people are taking part in practice camping weekends, during which they’ll gain valuable skills and knowledge ready for assessment in a few months.

I’m lucky enough to be part of the teaching staff for all three levels of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, (Bronze, Silver and Gold). It’s a long-term commitment for the young people involved, and not just with outdoor skills alone. They also have to complete a personal skill section, a volunteer section and a physical section, all over different periods of time dependant upon whatever level they may be at. This, for many young people, is in addition to school work and other extra-curricula activities.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award is available to all young people and I have been able to work with many young people, from a very diverse range of backgrounds and abilities. I think it’s a very positive and wonderful experience for any young person to be able to take part in.

These thoughts were confirmed, recently, as we had the wettest and utterly miserable weekend, while camping in preparation for a Bronze expedition. All through the week leading up to the “off”, I kept checking the weather reports for the Gower area. I kept praying and hoping that those dark clouds full of rain would disappear and we would see those lovely weather-chart images of bright sunshine, or a half-hidden sun, or maybe just a white cloud………..?

…. but they never changed.

When we all gathered, very early on the Saturday morning, the weather was OK with a clear sky. We held our breaths and didn’t mention the R**N word, so as not to bring a curse upon ourselves. However, as we started to pack the mini-buses, the rain came. It didn’t spot, or pitter-patter at first…… it just arrived in force, and that was pretty much that, until Sunday morning.

It either rained in heavy downpours, or continuous fine-mist, or somewher in between the two, (which was also very cold), so it was impossible to get dry, be dry or stay dry, all day.

I was lucky. I only had to walk to three checkpoints, and so I was only in and out of the periodically, rain for a couple of hours. However, my good deed for the day came when I offered up my waterproof trousers to a young girl who’d forgotten to pack any waterproofs for herself. I trudged along behind the group with my trousers getting wetter and wetter. By the time I was able to get some respite back inside the mini-bus, my trousers were stuck to me like a second skin and, worst of all…. wet pants are definately no welcome guest, in this situation!

Once inside the welcome cocoon of the mini-bus, I began the planned ride around the Gower, going to each of my allocated checkpoints. It’s a case of ensuring that each of the small groups walks through, and is aware of where they are and where they have to head for next.

As I sat, quietly waiting for each group to pass, looking at the dark, rain-heavy clouds just dumping gallons of water over all out in the open, I realised that this is part of the reason why I love working within the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.

All the young people passed by me, completely soaked through to the skin. Wet clothes, wet hair, wet feet. They’d eaten a cold, wet lunch while nestled in hedges to keep out of the rain and, all the while, made sure they’d used their route card and map to ensure that they stayed on the right track. Each one of them stopped and talked to me and all the other staff. They adjusted rucksacks for each other, and asked “How long left”, but they never stopped. They could have shouted, “That’s it, I’m done”, and climbed en masse into a nice, dry, warm mini-bus at any of the checkpoints.

But they just kept on walking.

Eventually, they arrived at the campsite and put up their tents in the rain. There was still no moaning. The rain finally eased off, and so we advised the young people to cook their dinner on their little stoves while the weather held off a bit for them. The comforting aromas of pasta with a variety of sauces filled the air, with one small group even taking the adventurous leap to cooking thin slivers of steak, then rammed into baps with salad and relish.

After a tidy-up, all these young people sat around with full tummies and the night to themselves. A slippery game of football took place, and then the staff wandered around the site, checking on the young candidates and making sure that all kit and people were safely inside tents, protected from the stormy night ahead.

These young people had achieved so much in one very wet day, still smiled, put up a shelter for the night, cooked food and also had the energy to play a game of football in the rain…….. I really don’t know where they get the enthusiasm and energy from.

We often hear about anti-social behaviour in young adults. We hear about hostile reactions to difficult circumstances – either by choice, design or, sometimes, simply by no fault of their own.

Without wanting to be too generally judgmental, what I do know is that many young adults in todays’ society would run to the comfort of a car, or a warm bed, and ring the local take-away for their dinner, on a wet week-end like this one.

Some young people, but not all. For me, I feel very lucky and privileged to be able to spend my time with some of those very strong-spirited, focused young people, who completed a difficult camping expedition under extreme weather conditions.

I don’t have a magic solution, I don’t know what the answer is, and I can’t save the world (though I wish I could). The young people that I meet through the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme have taught me that “size really doesn’t matter”, and the louder you shout doesn’t make you any tougher. These young adults find determination to succeed, and strength from within……….

……then they put that spirit into something good.

 

My Sunday Photo

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Llanthony Priory in the Brecon Beacons. This is part of a campsite we use for Duke of Edinburgh, an amazing place and you get to wander around the ruins.

This post was linked in with…

OneDad3Girls

My Duke of Edinburgh Weekends

It’s officially Duke of Edinburgh season for me, which means that my weekends are now very busy teaching young people various skills needed for being in the outdoor’s.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a fantastic scheme, which gives young people a chance to develop a variety of important life-skills and gives them an opportunity to take part in exciting outdoor adventures. I’m very passionate about young people having the chance to take part in the scheme. It’s such an amazing experience and shows true commitment from any young person taking part and completing the project. I have met such dedicated and confident young people throughout my work within the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme.

Now, back to my most recent weekend as a Duke of Edinburgh trainer. I always think visual aids help to paint a better picture, so…..

I spend a lot of time driving around check-points and then spend even longer waiting for the groups to pass through, check that they’re doing ok, and then send them on their way again. My mini-bus becomes a little home for me on these weekends…

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After waiting in the mini-bus, I frequently find myself having to kit-up, (definitely waterproofs at the moment), and go looking for groups that seem to be taking a little bit too long… (the sheep certainly had the right idea)

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I also get to spend my time in beautiful surroundings, and it makes me feel grateful for being able to work in such a variety of stunning environments.

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Ocassionally, we find ourselves having to ‘make do’ in a crisis situation. Due a power cut, very late one evening, we had a “delicious” dinner of pasta twists and cheese, eaten by the light of a head torch. A little bit of greenery on the side made the meal slightly more “gourmet”.

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Keeping track of maps, compasses and the other equipment that we bring is another “must”, because young people always forget something. (On this trip, we lost 2 compasses and had a map returned with a tear in it… that’s quite usual)

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And finally, after a long couple of days spent in the wind and the rain, I get to slam the mini-bus door shut and kick off my boots. This really is the best feeling of satisfaction.

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So there it is.

  An average D of E weekend is long, cold and not very glamorous at all. We have to adapt and make do, in so many different situations. We have to be replacement parents to about 25 young people for the whole weekend. We have lengthy conversations about how there’ll be no “real” toilets while camping. We have to keep asking them to zip up their coats, and put on a damn hat to stay warm.

If I’m honest, though, I wouldn’t have it any other way !!!