Thursday, 29 July 2010

Summer Holiday Activities from the National Trust

With the school summer holidays well and truly here I received a rather timely email from the National Trust detailing holiday events in our area.

A quick look at their website and I found this, which I thought might be of interest...

(The activities listed at the link include the whole country not just the South East.)

Monday, 12 July 2010

So what's so great about Soft Shell?

We’ve just taken delivery of some soft shell jackets for children. Soft shell has been taking the walking and hiking world by storm over the last couple of years and people we have spoken to that wear soft shell love it (I bought a Marmot Soft Shell Jacket before our hiking trip to the Brecon Beacons and I can confirm that I am a big fan of soft shell).

The fabric is windproof, rainproof, warm and lightweight. But isn’t a kagool 3/4 of these things? Well yes, but…. no. If you consider your waterproof to be your “hard shell” (bear with me here) nothing is going to get in and nothing is going to get out. You’re protected from the elements and if the sun comes out it can feel a bit like being wrapped in baco-foil. Soft shell trades off some of the waterproofing with breathability. Think of it as general weatherproof rather than totally waterproof. A soft shell will perform well in strong wind, light rain and snow (and from my Brecon experience I can say pretty heavy snow at that) but for heavy rainfall you will still need that waterproof.

I like to think of my softshell as being the gap between a fleece and a waterproof. It has proven particularly useful when hill walking with my son - the softshell has replaced my fleece and waterproof on shorter walks and with a quliaty base layer under it is perfect for winter hiking.

Many kids waterproofs are cut with a loose fit for heavy winter cothing underneath, which is great for a waterproof but not great for a spring/autumn jacket. Which is where soft shell comes in. Lightweight yet warm, making it ideal for cooler days. Breathable yet weatherproof, making it ideal for outdoor play or even PE. The soft fabric is nice to touch, it lacks the hardness of some waterproofs, and in the case of our Kozi Kidz jackets the fleece lining makes them ultra snuggly. Thankfully the designers at Kozi Kidz have ignored the rule that states “all softshell must be black” and have produced a kids walking jacket worthy of any catwalk. (Marmot also decided to ignore that for their ladies range, thank you Marmot!)

The soft, stretchy material allows full freedom of movement and the 3-layer construction of the Kozi Kidz Soft Shell, including a waterproof inner membrane means it is a very versatile and practical item to have in the wardrobe.

We are stocking the boys dark/light grey jacket and the girls cerise/lime jacket both of which retail at £38.

At the time of writing only the girls jacket is listed on our website but the boys jacket will be available online ( from Wednesday July 14th.

Friday, 18 December 2009


A recent supplement enclosed in Country Walking magazine has got me thinking..... how green is our outdoor gear?

I must confess that when I am buying outdoor kit for myself I am more influenced by performance than the environmental impact of my kit. I doubt I am alone in this but it did get me wondering about the environmental impact of the kids gear we sell at

After all, products that pollute, companies that exploit the environment, manufacturers that abuse their workers.... do not contribute to the kind of world I want my children to inherit.

As a parent I make active choices when buying my groceries that I hope will help make a small difference to the way the planet is managed - I look for fairtrade, organic, free range when I buy food and household products so I should be applying the same criteria to all my purchases. Therefore, as a retailer I should be expecting other parents to ask the same questions of the products I sell as I ask of other reatilers when making a purchase.

Where was it made? What is it made of? Who made it? Can it be recycled? Will it last a reasonable time period?

I believe that everything we sell in our online store lives up to quality expectations, I hope our customers agree. I select products that I have used myself or have been recommended to me and have been satisfied that the items I have personally used have lasted longer than they fitted my children - many of the items I have road tested have been used by both my children and then sold on ebay or freecylced for other children to use.

I am looking in to the environmental policies of the manufacturers that supply our stock to see how their green credentials stack up and will post my findings on our facebook fan page;

Monday, 14 December 2009

Festival Memories

I went to see a band on Saturday night - a rarity these days! Echo and the Bunnymen at the O2 Academy in Oxford. I felt like the youngest person in the audience, being one of only six people under 40.

The last time I saw Echo & The Bunnymen was at Reading Festival circa 4 BC (4 years Before Children). Then I felt that, at over 25, I was one of the oldest people in the audience. That was my only experience of Reading Festival, having been to Glastonbury Festival several times as a teenager it gave me the urge to re-try Glastonbury the following year.

My first festival experience was when I was 18, the day I left school. My friends and I returned our books to the sixth form centre and officially left full time education. We left with an air of anticipation and bussed our way first to Oxford, then Bristol, Shepton Mallet and on to the shuttle bus to the festival site. We met up with friends who had travelled variously from Cambridge and London at the entrance to the main camping field and found our pitches - not too near the toilets, half way up the field on a relatively level patch of ground. We pitched five tents - four to house us and an ancient Force 10 to stash our kit in. The space between tents was astonishing compared to festivals now - as my photo shows (Matt will kill me for posting that one but you can;t see the tents in my other pictures!). We then reccied the camping field, acquired fire wood (to be stored in the Force 10) and set off to find beer. It was a baking hot weekend and many an hour was spent watching the circus performances, dancing badly to the Orb and visiting Joe Bananas Blanket stall on the way to see a late night showing of Bladerunner at the outdoor cinema (that was just a bit cold).

My festival kit, all packed badly in to my bright purple rucksack, included my Dad's old army sleeping bag - it was cosy but weighed more than I did, my tent - a cheap two man tent from Millets, shampoo and deoderent, clean underwear and a bucket to wash in - standards are to be maintained at all times, as you can see Matt even shaved every morning!.

It was with idillic memories that I booked my ticket for Glastonbury in 3 BC (3 years Before Children). I knew I wasn't going to be able to rough it as I had ten years before so packed my gloriously warm and light Marmot sleeping bag, Vaude self inflating sleeping mat, enough clothes to see me through any weather conditions, food and camping stove, baby wipes, and anything else I thought I might need.

This time we drove to the site, parked and tried to call friends we were meeting on our mobiles - the entire network was, of course, over loaded so we made our way, along with 17 million other people to the camping field.

Chaos is the only way I can describe it. We found enough space to pitch two tents and got one of them up. Then searched for our friends, who had pitched their tent in a swamp in the next field. Now we learned the beauty of a dome tent - we unpegged it and between three of us lifted it over our heads and carried it through the crowds to repitch it next to my tent. The way the tents were packed in, practically on top of each other worried me, it was nearly impossible to get from tent to path without tripping on guy ropes or standing on somebody's tent.

Glastonbury Festival had changed a lot in 10 years; queueing was now the main order for the weekend. Toilets, queues, beer. queues, music, queues, even the circus tent had a queue! It just seemed as if there were about ten thousand too many people on site. My first festival experiences were lazy days in the sun, my last was hectic, full on and claustrophobic.

I have decided I'm just too old for big festivals. I might try one of the smaller ones with my kids in a couple of years, but until then I'm sticking to quiet family camp sites for my canvas trips.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Ski and Camp?

At this time of year my thoughts turn to planning our trips for next year. Whilst scanning through a campsite guide I noticed a number of sites are open all year round, a site we have camped on in previous years stays open all year for people to ski and camp! Whilst camping in the snow doesn't appeal to me personally I wondered if there were many people out there that do winter camping (or is it only something to try with a caravan?).

If you're a winter camper I'd love to hear from you...

Do you heat your tent and if so how?
Is it just a case of artfull layering for warmth at night?
Do you cook your meals at camp or escape to the warmth of a restaraunt or pub?

The thought of getting cold and not being able to warm up puts me off camping passed October half term but people survive much colder temperatures than we get here so I guess it's just down to good planning. Either way I am yet to be convinced that it's for me.

Meanwhile, at we have stocked up on fleece hats and mittens and have some fabulous fleece all-in-ones for toddlers to wear under snow suits. If you are taking your kids skiing this winter check out the sunglasses we have at the online store - these have a thick neoprene strap so don't fall off and are optician approved so you don't need to worry about your kid's eyes in the snowy glare.

Last order date for Christmas delivery is the 18th December (stock levels permitting). I am updating the site regularly to try and ensure all items currently on the site are in stock but occassionaly an item will go out of stock and we cannot guarentee delivery dates. If you are buying as a Christmas gift you can email me at and I can check stock levels or give me a call on 01844 202622.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Back in the land of work

Two weeks in Northumberland and I really didn't want to come back to work. With safe sandy beaches, castles, hill walking and fresh fish it was my dream holiday.

The other half is still recovering from his foot injury so he looked after Small whilst Loki and I takled a couple of the smaller hills within the Cheviots. Humbleton Hill and Yeavering Bell gave us both a taste for hill walking that can only be cured by relocating to the Lake District... I wonder if that is actually feasable....... Food for thought!

With the school holidays drawing to a close the walkign festivals are starting up in ernest. So whilst I get my head back in to work mode here is a round up of what is going on in the next few weeks (as usual if I haven't mentioned something I should have drop me a line at;

The Oakhill Festival of Walks takes place between the 29th and 31st of August. Full details can be found at

The bank holiday weekend sees many small festivals taking place and the Camping Kidz will be attending the Towersey Festival. As it's so close to home we will be buying day tickets at the gate but weekend camping is available. Towersey Festival showcases folk music, dance and art from around the UK and always has an international special guest. Previous acts have included Georgian Folk dancers, Tanzanian Fire Dancers and Apalacian Clog dancing. The full programme of events can be found here: Disappointingly this year dogs have been banned from the market and arena areas meaning they are only welcome on the campsites. I know this has put off a few people from camping as, understandably, they do not want to leave their dogs alone at the tent during the performances.

Pendle Walking Festival kicks off ont he 30th August and runs a series of events until the 7th September - details at (Gosh that's a long old link!)

The first weekend in September sees a couple of highlights in Wales with the Really Wild Food Festival in St Davids ( the Brecon Beacons Challenge in aid of the British Heart Foundation (

Right better get back to work (and need to dig out the tie died shirt for Towersey Festival). Don't forget we can be found on twitter ( and FaceBook (search on "Camping Kidz" to find our fan page) where you can find more ramblings and out and about the latest goings on at the online store and get the latest product updates.

Finally, I am walking 26 miles to raise money for Cancer Researchand need sponsership. I lost my dad to cancer a few years ago and don;t think i know anybody who hasn't been touched by this desease one way or another so am using my love of the outdoors to raise money for this worthy cause. If you want to help me reach my sponsership target you can sponser me online at

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Plant identification

I haven't abandoned my new resolution - I have identified the Iris... drum roll please...... it is a Stinking Iris and I can confirm that it is a native plant. I didn't think to smell it, something to add to the list of things to do when out with the kids. I'm very proud of my new investigative skills and think I may carry on with this learning our wild plants malarky.

This weeks plant....

So far I have been able to find that it is an orchid, possibly a Southern Marsh Orchid. However, it wasn't growing in marsh - do drainage ditches count as marsh?

Now for an interesting fact.... easier than said than done with this plant. I think it's pretty rather than interesting. More good news though, it is a native.

For future walks I need to invest in a notebook and make a note of the location and size of the plant to supplement my often very "soft" focus snaps.

Back to the world of camping and did anybody brave Glastonbury with their kids. If so I'd love to hear from you... did your kids enjoy it as much as you hoped? What could you not live without on site? What did you not have that you would have loved? I'm toying with the idea of taking my kids to a festival - I think Glastonbury might be a bit big for me but one of the smaller festivals would be fun and would love to have some advice.

If you are planning a camping trip this summer and need to get new gear for your kids - sleeping bags, waterproofs, even travel beds and child carriers then don't forget to have a look at our online store

I am sorting out our rainwear sizes at the moment so if the size you are looking for isn't listed please drop me an email at We may have it in stock or on order and just not updated that particular line on the site. This should be fixed by the next time I update the blog.

Don;t forget you can read my daily (almost) ramblings on Twitter - our twitter user name is @littlewideworld.

If you haven't already become a fan of our facebook page you can find that here - we're still looking to know your favourite campsites, camping recipes and out and about tips. You'll also find details of any special offers and new products at the online store.