Picking out a tent for your festival camping needs

5 05 2013


Image via Flickr creative commons from A%amon

With the festival season approaching, thousands of people will already be gearing up for their big expedition. Of course, we’re all familiar with the big festivals such as Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, but there are many other events both large and small. A weekend at a festival can leave you with enough memories to last a lifetime, but it certainly helps to make the right preparations. After all, you can’t always rely on the weather to help you out – as anyone who’s experienced a festival mudbath will no doubt testify. It’s a particularly good idea to take the time to pick out the right tent for your needs, and you’ll find an extensive selection of tents at GOOutdoors.co.uk. Here are a few things you should look out for when you come to find a festival tent.

As a post from Puretravel.com observes, you probably don’t need to spend too much on your festival tent. You’ll be spending most of your time exploring the festival site or watching the acts, so all you really need is a tent which is roomy enough and which is sufficiently robust to withstand the rigours of a festival weekend. Of course, this latter point is particularly important. There’s always a chance that you’ll encounter inclement weather during a music festival – even at the height of the summer – so you do need to ensure you buy a tent which is capable of standing up to the wind and rain should it put in an appearance.

Weight is another important consideration when you come to buy a festival tent. The chances are you’ll be facing a fairly lengthy walk to get to your campsite when you arrive, and you’ll probably be carrying quite a lot of other bits and pieces with you at the time. This means that you need to choose a tent which is fairly lightweight and compact so that you can carry it more easily. Naturally, you’ll also want to choose a Pop Up Tent from GO Outdoors which is easy to assemble – you won’t want to be spending hours of your precious festival time trying to put your tent together.

It’s also worth picking a tent which is eye-catching. It can be tricky to spot your tent when it’s among a sea of others – so if you can find one which is of a bright colour or has some other clearly distinguishable features, it should therefore be easier to find when you eventually return to your tent after a day’s revelling. Size is, naturally, another important consideration. You probably won’t want to be squashed up against the other people who’ll be with you, as a lack of sleep can really put a dampener on your festival weekend.

As a guide from GOOutdoors.co.uk notes, the mix of condensation, heat and general moisture can also lead to mould appearing in your tent – so this is something you’ll need to be aware of, particularly when you come to pack the tent away when you’re going home. Make sure you clean the tent down on the same day you leave, so that any mould is washed away. Make sure that any mess and debris has been scraped off properly before you pack your tent up. This should help you get more use out of your tent than you otherwise would.


The tools every gardener should own and how to use them

5 04 2013


Image via Flickr creative commons from dottieg2007

Everyone who loves their garden also has a set of favourite tools with which they prefer to maintain it. Much of this selection will depend on the use to which they choose to put their available space, but nevertheless anyone with the responsibility to maintain a garden, and a desire to make it look as attractive and be as productive as possible will have a list of tools which they feel they can’t do without.

All lists of must-have gardening tools are likely to vary, but Mother Nature Network, a forum for people who aspire to making the best possible use of the garden space they have available, has produced a list which gives a pointer to anyone looking to equip their garden tool box, which includes the following suggestions:

Scissors. These need not be any specialist product, but have many uses, including to dead-head flowers, cut herbs, harvest small vegetables, and of course, open all those bags of compost or potting soil which any serious gardener will use several of.

A weeding tool. These slender tools with long, pointed prongs are designed to reach easily far down into the soil and dig out the most deeply embedded roots of those pesky weeds.

A soil knife. A Japanese innovation, this implement has one flat, sharp edge and one serrated side. For the many instances in which a gardener needs to be able to cleanly cut through plant stems, for transplanting for example, cutting through dense earth, and cutting stubborn weed branches down to size, this is very useful.

Pruning shears. The fact that these implements can be easily carried in a pocket is one of their big benefits, but as many variants have tough, rubberised handles this is a great help for getting purchase when cutting through tough and stubborn branches and stems.

A water hose. With many countries suffering from declining rainfall, it’s important for gardeners to have a means of using the water from their domestic supply – or better still, their rainwater butt – to help give their garden the nutrition it needs.

A spade. A small spade with a long, narrow blade will get into most areas. It will also be easier to use in the hard clay soils which predominate in many areas.

A rake (or two). A large fan rake might save time, and be best for clearing large areas of leaves and other debris, but a more compact version will be easier to store. A flat-headed rake can also be turned over to be used to smooth out soil and blend it with what’s already in the bed.

A hoe. Ideal for tidying up and clearing the remains of roots from the edges of flower and vegetable beds, these help to get right into the extremities of the cultivatable area to remove any obstacles to the successful growth of plants, shrubs and veg.

Finally, given that most gardeners will be going outdoors when the weather is warm, having a comfortable hat to wear is a wise move, as it will stop you from having to cut short your gardening stint through the effects of the heat and exhaustion.

This website suggests that people choosing their gardening implements should divide their choices into long-handled tools, to help them reduce the amount of labour they need to expend on their outdoor work, watering tools, and hand tools. In the last of these categories it includes some items which might not usually be considered, such as a bypass pruner – a tool which enables the cutting of branches of delicate plants, fruits and vegetables without damaging the stems.

The title of this article is one of those which gives rise to choices which can be subjective. But the products listed above are listed on a number of authoritative gardening websites, so there is a wide consensus over their importance.

Off-road Riding, How To Stay Safe

3 04 2013


Image from flickr creative commons via chaunceydavis818

Off-road riding is a fun and exhilarating sport but when practised without caution, there is the potential for a lot to go wrong and injury to happen. For that reason, it’s really important that you take heed of safety warnings and advice each time you take your bike off-road. That’s why I’ve come up with this handy guide on how to stay safe when taking your bicycle off-road. We’ll take a look at essential safety equipment that every cyclist should wear, before further discussing the merits of riding and how you can get involved in the sport.

When cycling off-road, it’s vital that you wear safety equipment such as a full-face helmet, cycling gloves and elbow and knee pads. It is also recommended that both trousers and a long sleeved top are worn for added protection. So why am I telling you all of this? No it’s not to be boring. Safety is of utmost importance, particularly when you’re involved in a dangerous sport such as off-road biking. A helmet is possibly the most important piece of safety equipment to wear as it will protect your head should you fall off your bike. The last thing you want is to injure your head as it can have lasting and potentially severe consequences. As for elbow and knee pads, it goes without saying that if you can protect yourself from nasty scrapes and cuts, you might as well; it’s not like you’re losing out on anything by wearing them.

The most popular form of off-road biking is with a BMX. These bikes are ideal for doing tricks and cool manoeuvres as they’re built with that purpose in mind. The sport was first popularised in Britain during the 1980s and was practised in skate parks and on dirt roads. However, it has come a long way from there and was introduced into the Olympic games in 2012. After the Games finished, the 400m BMX track was opened to the general public as part of the Velopark in the Olympic Park.

So why is BMX so good for you? As with any sport, it gets your adrenalin pumping and your heart racing which means that it burns calories. In fact, the effort of riding a BMX bike at speed for just an hour can burn approximately 610 calories. The sport is known for increasing endurance, developing physical coordination and improving muscle strength, as well as helping with weight loss.

Pedalling a BMX bike helps to strengthen and tone various leg muscles, while muscle mass in the biceps and triceps is increased when lifting the handlebars to perform tricks. It doesn’t just have physical merits however; whether practising to compete in races or performing tricks, BMX biking gives the rider boosted self-discipline, motivation, self-esteem and confidence.

Not only that, but group training sessions can encourage younger cyclists to develop and improve communication skills and learn how to work well as a team.

If you’re thinking about learning BMX biking as a beginner, you’ll need to master the basics first before you are able to compete amongst the more advanced riders. There are many YouTube videos with tips and advice for mastering the basics and they can teach you how to perform some of the simpler tricks to get you started.

Once you start to become a little more advanced and confident with the tricks, you may wish to set yourself a bit of a challenge. Tom Allen spent several years travelling through some 30 plus countries with his mountain bike, so he’s more than qualified to dish out advice. He offers 10 tips for those wanting to complete their first off-road cycling trip. As well as giving the cyclist practical and helpful advice, he also reminds people to have fun too. My particular favourite is the final tip which he entitles ‘enjoy’, as I think it serves as a good reminder that you should be able to have enjoyment and pleasure from a sport as well as pushing yourself to the limits.

For those wanting to take part in BMX biking competitions, there are several events that take place up and down the UK as well as in various countries around the world. A low-cost way to be able to take part in so many competitions is to buy cheap tents to stay in, saving you a fortune on expensive accommodation. What’s more, you’ll be able to get in some handy last-minute practise on nearby trails.