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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 Hedgerow Walk

hedgerow walk dublin

Sunday 7th August, saw a revisit to the Slí na Sceacha also known as the Hedgerow Society as the group took another journey through the ditches and outback of some of Dublin’s lesser known lands and trails.

The Hedgerow Way (mp3)

From field grown potato to brassicae and from what are soon to be the finest apples and blackberries [all free gratis], this time the group took what we called the fruiting trail. Brilliant from an exercise and fresh air perspective, more than that it is time spent with others in the great outdoors surrounded by nature.

I think the pictures tell a better story.

Garden Group Outing: The Hedgerow Fruit Trail

The 6th Garden Group outing takes place this weekend coming Sunday August 7th. The hedgerow walk has been done before but, this time the route should be in full fruit.

donegan hedgerow walk

  • Date: This Sunday August 7th 2011
  • Where: Ballyboughal, The Slí na Sceacha/ Hedgerow Walk – The Fruiting Trail
  • Time: 11.30 am

With @anthonymcg on the garden groups outing (mp3)

  • Details: meet outside O’Connors Pub – the only pub in the village in Ballyboughal [directions below]
  • Numbers: limited to 15 [can be extended if I give enough notice]
  • Cost: None. Never is.

If you use an iphone app for your walks runs – this is was runkeeper showed last time.

New To The Garden Group:

Recommended reading of Read more

Lough Ramor, County Cavan

lough ramor

Lough Ramor is a beautiful lake near Virginia County Cavan.

I was there initially at Lough Ramor camping but I have chosen, in blogging terms, to keep the camping seperate from the actual lake via an entirely seperate post.

The fishing people will be much better versed than I in what it is good for but many boats and many methods were spoke about in how to best get ones rewards from a days outing.

Other than fishing, not so much water sports but canoeing and paddling boats were a regular fixture during my time there. I however chose to walk the peripherals and enjoy what it is I should and did admire.

Wikipedia tells me that it is a large natural lake of around 800 hectares, that Lough Ramor has been designated in 2011 by the EC as a Special Protection Area (SPA) and also

Lough Ramor is a partly wooded wetland site, a haven for many species of wildlife both resident and migratory. Available recorded history indicates that nearly half of the 170 acres (0.69 km2) of Deerpark woodland was once oak woodland, the timber being used for building and agricultural purposes. During the seventeenth century it was reported that early Virginia settlers had to transport their building timber from west Cavan and Fermanagh. The early nineteenth century saw extensive tree planting of ash, elm, oak, larch, spruce and Scots pine. In recent times additional broad leaf varieties were planted including sycamore.

The most recent site study conducted by the Government Department of the Environment describes the Lough Ramor area as a hollow in the Silurian strata that covers most of eastern County Cavan. Lough Ramor is a very shallow lake with a pH of 7.5 and a maximum depth of six metres. The water is nutritionally poor but is periodically enriched, resulting in algal blooms. Being situated on a different rock type than other Cavan lakes it differs also in appearance. Much of the shore has semi-natural woodland of alder, willows and hazel. The stands near Virginia were originally planted.

more images of Lough Ramor

Ireland, Camping and The Great Outdoors

The August Bank Holiday weekend is looming quicker that you might actually realise and there is a mild buzz in the air as suggestions and possible destinations are dissected, travel plans are made and lists of not to forgets are concocted and overly examined. Of course one could book into the El Fancy Dan hotel for some pampering and what not but in case you didn’t already know, it seems that camping in Ireland may just be the new rock und roll.

Mary….?! where did you leave the….. did you actually put the tent pegs in the car….? Well they should be there then, shouldn’t they….. shouldn’t they ?

camping irelandSome may shudder at the thought of the potential chilly night and the fact that the neighbours, now just two sheets away can hear every air movement and whisper. But unless you own the Partridge Family bus, there was and always will be an element of egg shell trampling with any family holiday. It is, with hindsight what makes them fond memories.

In favour of the properly roofed accommodation brigade is the reality that our hotel prices are cheaper than we have ever seen them before and most recently we have seen Irish Value Added Tax on restaurants dropped to nine per cent encouraging us all to eat out… well, in, if you know what I mean.

In the camping camp, it doesn’t bode so well as the media pundits continue to report the usual economic related tag-lines as potential reasons for the camping resurgence. But it is of them that use the RTE Prime Time misnomers, that I wonder. I wonder if they have ever actually camped, more than once. The naysayers aside, I personally wouldn’t swap cooking and sleeping Al Fresco for the world.

I almost forgot to add the fact that Irish weather is just a little unpredictable.

The reality is I’m proud to boast, that we do live in such a beautiful little country. But I’m still wondering why and what it is about this element of the Irish great outdoors that makes so many others want to sleep in a tent.

According to Camping Ireland, figures from the Central Statistics Office show Irish people made 309,000 camping trips at home in 2009. They also noted the Irish Caravan and Camping council who said that altogether, Irish people and foreign tourists spent 2.4 million nights on Irish campsites in 2009, contributing €96m to the local economy. And figures are rising….

But why, you may be asking, is the Dublin gardener yabbing on about camping in this weeks article.

Gardener. There. I said it. Gar-Den-Er. Gar-Den. Get back to the garden, ye big Donegan head the ball…..

There is a point where, lets say in cooking, were one must cross over into the gardeners world and at the very least understand where and how the food is produced, grown and developed. One must as some point, get their hands dirty, even be it just fresh herbs. From this gardeners perspective, I’ll go back to the reasons and thinking behind the non-gardeners group I set up two years ago.

How does one encourage the next generation to become interested in gardening….?

The answer, in part, is quite simple. Step one ? One needs for the people to be outside first. And there in lies the key. Because, when one goes camping one doesn’t stay inside the tent for forty days and forty nights. One is outside, in the great outdoors and one develops a feeling, almost an understanding, not of how all the elements work, more how to work in tandem with them.

That may sound a bit silly, but every male will tell you there is an art to picking the perfect place to pitch for the night. It is a primary trait, followed in no particular order by mans preprogrammed function to source food and water.

My wry wit aside, the last place I went camping in was sited just by Lough Ennell. Surrounded entirely by woodland and right beside a stunning lake. So picturesque, at the time in audio, I wondered if in fact it was the most beautiful place on earth. Eamonn O’Malley, the sites owner told me how after weekends he wanders through the woods to do the various checks and tidy-ups. He explained how visiting children and their imaginations rearrange minute segments of the woodland in such varying guises en route to making their own fun. He commented how, even with the advances in technology how the game consoles are so quickly forgotten.

In Lough Key, near Boyle in Co. Roscommon where I stayed last year the campsite was set within the forest. My friend George and his family travelled with mine and similar to, within hours of arrival the elder son [5] had laid and rearranged some branches and stumps now known as furniture. The invisible living room was of course where one went to listen to the invisible radio. On one occasion I forgot to use the door and walked through an invisible wall.

There is a point where gardening and camping meet and appreciation for what surrounds takes reign. The fruits of recently made elder flower champagne for example were tasted just this week and no longer I should admit do I see this plant as a weed. Quite the opposite. Three weeks ago, I was thought how to eat a nettle leaf and I in return explained how when my hair goes wavy it is based on the theories behind the old hydrometers. It is how I predict that it is going to rain.

For the next generation, the nations schools have seen gardening become part of their everyday playground, at home, community gardens are becoming as logic as a hall door and plant life is something we are all beginning to instinctively watch out for.

Wonderland n 1 an imaginary land of marvels or wonders. 2 an actual place of great or strange beauty

Outdoors n 2 the world outside or far away from buildings; the open air

More than that again, our children are being thought about biodiversity. A thinking that encourages one, in short, to leave piles of leaves and logs, to plant flowers and food to encourage bees, bats and bird life. It is a thinking that in any space allows an appreciation for the older, newer and the fallen members of the tree family. But, what if you were surrounded by it….

No matter how I describe and no matter how I enjoy it…. the great outdoors, in Ireland for me, is simply amazing. In my mind and in my eyes the only thing that changes is the size and shape of the garden, one in which I am privelidged to be allowed enjoy.