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The Great Garden Escape

botanic garden clock

After more than 11 years working for myself and a lifetime [minus 5 years of age] working and studying gardens and horticulture, I’ve come to the very logic conclusion that there is very little if anything I can do that does not make me think of horticulture in some or any format.

May bank holiday weekend on the horizon in mind, this is where I found myself on the last one…. ? 😉

*photo taken at The Trinket Box coffee shop, Lusk, Co. Dublin

Grace Dieu Hedgerow Walk

hedgerow walk grace dieu (22)

Yesterday I went walking with The Hedgerow Society through the lands of Grace Dieu, Ballyboughal.

The Hedgerow Walks are I find what keeps me very much on my toes. It is at this time of year knowing trees in the distance by their silhouette and it is plant identification in its finest format on the move, without books and straight from the brain. It is that that I have to know, being a horticulturist.

Grace Dieu Hedgerow Walk (mp3)

More than that, it is knowledge sharing and an understanding of why everything that should be in the great outdoors, sometimes is not. Nothing could be reason more than the local knowledge of the lands at Grace Dieu, Ballyboughal where once lay a Nunnery dating back to 1190 and its small village settlement. Although some stone work  is visible above ground, a lot of it resides now below and is the main sole reason why on a dry day foundation outlines are clearly visible and a fine explanation as to why crops would falter. In short, information no book could ever explain.

Many thanks to all of those who I met on the day. It was, yet again and as always an absolute honour.

Next Event:
  • Date and Time: Saturday 3rd December, 10.00 am
  • Meet Point: Cafe in Ardgillan
  • Details: Walk around Ardgillan grounds on a field trip with Declan to find out what happens to nature around us in winter.

5 Essential Products for the Great Outdoors

As we head past the August mark on the calender towards what I would note as the wetter and latter months of the year, some may be noting this as their time to hang up the outdoor paraphernalia for what may be considered the off season. Not on your nelly says this fellow.

To me, the more inclement the weather the more interesting I say. Whether it be Electric Picnic were it always rains on the final night, a walk in Donegal were all for seasons are guaranteed within the space of one weekend two hours or like me you just like camping and working outdoors in all seasons – the following are five essential products that make my great outdoors experience greater.

1. Icebreaker Bodyfit 200

icebreaker bodyfit 200

First up it’s all about keeping the upper body warm and dry.

This is in short no ordinary t-shirt and if you think I might model this for the sake of a blog post, you are [happily/ sadly/ delete as appropriate] mistaken. That said, the Icebreaker bodyfit 200 holds tight to the body and warms me almost immediately. I own three of them now and they are the ultimate piece of clothing for this gardener/ festival/ outdoors trekker.

Sweating whilst it rains is a pain in the tusch and if I am going to get wet, my logic is really is a case of how quick I can become dry. They say:

Wind resistant. Highly breathable so moisture vapour escapes. Liquid moisture is pulled away from the skin and released as moisture vapour. warm air is trapped between layers. Warmth is trapped in air pockets between each layer.

I say: it is a genius piece of clothing. Extremely light. Dries out very quick and is essential if you are to be outside from September onwards in Ireland. I bought the long sleeved version. Black in colour to soak in any available Irish sun that little bit quicker. Also: check out their BAA code tracker.

2. Crag 45 – Beyond by Gelert

crag 45 rucksack beyond gelert

Second is about keeping the rest of your clothes and food dry and as important comfortable to carry.

From the Beyond by Gelert range, this Crag 45 ain’t no ordinary ruck sack. It was given to me to road test by Millets Camping of Mary Street, Dublin. How good is it….? For starters, it comes with a [quote]

manufacturing, materials and workmanship defects for the lifetime of the product

There’s confidence for you. 45 litres in size it has enough adjustment straps to suit perfect to your shape and an air fit system to suit your back in comfort whilst drying sweat away. Better again it is water safe but has what I can only describe as a mini-parachute tucked into its bottom that can be taken out and pulled over for extra water-proofing. So suited to the great outdoors the chest straps come with a built in whistle, that works. This one costs €44.99.

3. Mini Maglite

mini maglite aa

No. 3 is the light that guides you.

About the only thing on the list that may not be used by me as a gardener yet I still keep it in my jeeps glove compartment.

I have this maglite torch years. Pretty unbreakable, durable and just ruddy well made, it is so much so I have never replaced the bulb on it. In search of an official note that says how waterproof it is and also the light strength – the Maglite official website is pretty brutal – and I couldn’t, officially find an answer.

That said mine has fallen in river, lakes, puddles and last year spent three weeks outside in the Irish snow and still, the old horse works like a charm. More than that I consider it a valuable and at a little wider than a pen, it fits perfect on my person and is well able to take on the big boys in the how bright can you shine contests.

4. Silky Pocket Boy 130

silky pocketboy 130 saw

No. 4 is for fire wood and furniture.

If you have ever made anything from what surrounds you by the way of rope and wood [?] or just the odd branch gets in your way whilst trekking across the hedgerows the self nicknamed Little Giant [due to its extraordinary cutting capacity] is an absolute must. They say:

Rust-resistant, hard chrome-plated, taper-ground blade with an impulse-hardened non-set tooth design for greater cutting efficiency

  • 5-inch (130 mm) blade length
  • 8.5 teeth per inch (10 teeth per 30 mm) teeth configuration
  • 0.35 pounds (160 grams) operating weight; 0.5 pounds (220 grams) weight with carrying case

I say: I’ve had this one about eight years now. Light as a feather and once again takes up very little space, this is a genius little product and an essential for this gardener, camper and great outdoors lover. Another great investment.

5. Tresspass Commanche

trespass commanche

Finally it is all about keeping the head dry and warm.

As you can see this Trespass Commanche hat has been with me for some time. Peaked at the front and without even pulling the flaps down I have done very little by way of gardening, camping or trekking without this in my arsenal. This has more often ended up saturated on the outer whilst I’m bone dry by way of hair style inside.

I couldn’t find anything about it on the Trespass website – that’ll possibly tell you how long I have it.

Thoughts and comments below if you wish or find me via:

walking in ireland

The Camping Checklist – What Not to Forget

camping in ireland

I was asked to blog my camping not to forget checklist which I have built up and used over the last few years by a first time camper friend of mine. The suggestion was it may prove of benefit to others.

If there’s an addition you feel should be added, simply pop a comment in below. I may have left out the very obvious like the tent and so on…. These are just the ones I need to remind myself of.

Directions

  • Map & compass
  • Sat Nav co-ordinates if you can get them

Camping

  • Tent pegs – lots of spares
  • chairs
  • sleeping bags
  • air bed
  • pump – check the connections fit
  • picnic blanket – waterproof on one side
  • towels – old and good
  • pillows – each to their own

Cooking

  • frying pan
  • saucepan
  • towels
  • washing up liquid
  • cloths/ sponge
  • bin bags – greensax 
  • coffee – pre ground beans in air tight jar
  • tea bags
  • espresso maker [old type]
  • butter
  • kitchen roll [paper]
  • basin
  • can opener
  • bottle opener/ corkscrew
  • thermos lunch bag
  • refridgerated ice bars
  • knife/ forks/ spoons
  • plates/ cups/ bowls
  • cooking implements
  • wine glasses – you read correctly
  • flask

Other

  • first aid kit
  • car battery booster pack – recharges phones and lights etc
  • water bottles – empty lemonade type – for fresh water depending on the campsite their may only be a water source. as versus a shop.
  • toilet paper. *my tip: put it in a waterproof bag or container – you’ll thank me some day
  • spare socks and spare footwear

Personally, I’d sleep in a plastic bag [and I have] with a survival kit and watch one episode of McGyver before I left. But, this is family camping and very much about the great outdoors and time spent with others whilst there.

camping checklist

Review: Coleman Canyon 6 Tent

coleman canyon 6

This is the Coleman Canyon 6 Tent. It is the tent that I have owned and used for the last two/ three years. The worst weather it has been tested in was last year when it hit about 3 degrees Celsius and pretty bad rain [I kept a maximum minimum thermometer inside the tent overnight]. The best weather was most probably June bank holiday weekend when temperatures exceeded 25 Celsius.

It’s a sturdy bit of kit that looks quite smart when put up. Of the two bedrooms one is large enough for maybe 4 small children or two adults quite comfortably. The smaller you will get two adults in, but it would be across the lesser width of the tent. It supposed to be a ‘6 man’ tent – I say four. Men.

coleman canyonThe problem with the Coleman Canyon 6 is the bit in the middle of the tent, assuming that it’s for a family and that it may rain [This is Ireland] as there really isn’t enough room for a small table, or anything in the middle.

Bottoms on the ground, the problem is that the ground sheet is at ground level and if pitched in the wrong place [or not] it is where the boots must come off and also were you may sit to eat. That said, it’s also quite easy to drop the lesser bedroom down leaving you with a fair bit of space.

On a slightly different note there are no windows in it. The doors must be open, as such to let light or air in whilst camping. However, one can open all four sides of the tent even with the bedrooms erect, this allowing a great draught run through in order to dry/ air before packing it away.

Outside of that the tent pegs that come as standard are really not enough to hold it down in gale like winds. One may chuckle at that, but try camping around Achill island on a fair day and you’ll know where I’m coming from. The answer, invest in really decent tent pegs for the guy ropes.

Time to put it up, one parent on his/ her own can be anything up to or over 35 minutes with a little bit of practice and I strongly urge you trial run erecting it before you go away. The poles in particular around the larger dome can be a bit tricky.

All the watch out fors aside, I like the Coleman Canyon 6 and camping is what it is. My rating score is 6/10. It drops points for the ergonomics of it really and the time to erect. That said I have been very happily camping in it for the last two years and would have no problem continuing to do so.

coleman canyon 6