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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 โ‚ฌ44.99.

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

Bloom 2010 – reviewed

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If you did read my post on Thursday, you would have got my recommendations for Bloom In The Park 2010. And so I went along again on Sunday and Monday.

The weather was cracking for most of Bloom, but the last two days meant the umbrella’s had to come out. But then, this is Ireland… That said, I did notice in contrast to Blooms first year a massive difference in the ‘dealing with Irish weather‘ facilities around the festival. Well done behind the scenes team.

The layout did change slightly to the main area outside the show gardens and for some I wondered why they had a prime pitch, with almost little or no relevance to horticulture. It was however a little easier to navigate than the year previous so maybe there’s method behind the decision. From a visitors perspective it was one I was glad of.

I did like the food area and the tasting and it was nice to see the forgotten crafts speaking taking place. I particularly enjoyed the Burren Smokehouse talk. I Never really knew what went into making a good smoked salmon. I do now. As a by the way, they sold out of every single piece of fish by 4pm on Monday.

To the right of that were some crafted outdoor displays which I felt delivered a nice message. Of note was the Wicklow Educate Together School Tin Man and the display for oil versus renewable energy. This replaced last years Obama replica vegetable garden. Very refreshing.

As always I don’t really like to comment on the gardens, as I’ve built and designed, been awarded medals and not…. That said I do recommend you read this post on building a show garden. It’s not easy ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think I’m personally still suffering the aftermath of 2 years without a sponsor. Anyhow, you can comment, I won’t, but I will say the layout was good and quite relaxing walking around. Well done to all the sponsors and gardeners.

I didn’t make it to taste the crafted beers… but I did get to hear some of the bands in that area and it was great to see on Monday evening families dancing in the rain to a chorus of ‘Hello Mary Lou‘. Next door, the crafts area was nice and open and left places for people to sit and picnic. I also like the arts and crafts dotted throughout and the gentlemen singing acapella were amazing.

I thought the fact that speakers like Shawna Coronado from the U.S. were introduced was a great idea – I also believe her talks went down extremely well. Well done Shawna. [Also: my interview with Shawna Coronado]

There were suggestions that the food was well priced. On a different note, phone coverage and in particular internet phone coverage was poor. This I heard from too many people and from a meeting up point of view I only found afterwards that they’d been there. It also meant I couldn’t do live video’s and picture posting.

From speaking with Aidan Cotter and some of the Bord Bia team I believe numbers were up on last year which is great to hear. Aidan also queried whether I was returning to Bloom 2011 to build another show garden, with a twist difference…. I meant to ask him if there’s a chance of me getting partnered with a sponsor ๐Ÿ˜‰

Overall, some say the direction has changed. Some say the garden judges were a little tougher this year. Others simply say Bloom 2010 has come along way in, what one should not forget, is just 4 years. All in all, I personally and sincerely enjoyed the show. Whether I go back in 2011 as a visitor or as a designer is a question I’ll need to answer soon. Either way, you will see me there.

Well done to all involved. Take a bow and when you find the time a well earned rest.

I’ll have some video’s and information to go up this week. You can also view my other images from Bloom 2010. I personally love this picture taken by my good friend Stephen ๐Ÿ˜‰

What do you think….?


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Some Irish Birds…

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The weather outside is absolutely freezing… it has been for some time now and today the snow fell in Ballyboughal heavy enough to concern me. With that in mind I had reckoned I should do a post on some things frost[y] related.

In what I can only describe as a sincerely very welcome press release [and I get a lot…] …it’s especially for you guys and it’s all about birds. Got an apartment, balcony, a billion acres of garden or not then read on.

As you can gather the weather is causing havoc for a lot of of our wild birds such as the sparrow, the thrush and the Goldfinch and BirdWatch Ireland [I had mentioned the Bird Watch boys previously] are on a mission to encourage people to put out food for the birds that visit their gardens. According to Oran O Sullivan [this is the press realease bit…. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ]

Cooked household scraps as well as peanuts and mixed seed all provide a vital source of energy for garden birds, particularly important as daylight hours are short and frozen ground affects garden birds ability to hunt for prey items. Remember to keep feeding regularly through the winter months, putting out food in early morning. It is also important to provide fresh water as many normal water sources are frozen over.

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I myselfย  like to buy a big bag of feed [both types] nuts and seed. The seed is so the little ‘uns get something [the bigger birds cant get their beaks through the gauze].

When I was growing up we always left out some stale bread and water milk for them… but then I have two dogs and four hens…. not really enough waste to around I guess ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyhow… it’s good fun and depending on what you put outside for them… it’s also free.

I had done this post previously on birds in my garden.

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Harvest Time…

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the next day....

After so much rain… the sun finally came out. And when it did farmers worked literally round the clock to get done what was needed.

Opposite my home Barry was harvesting wheat. I popped across to have a bit of a chat with him….

If you have never seen it before… it is amazing to see a field, literally overnight go from fields of gold to a couple of bales in a field of stubble.

Have a look and see what you think… ๐Ÿ˜‰

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vernalisation

a little frost...

a little frost...

As I write this post – it is freezing cold! But whilst we are wrapped up so snug and warm nature is at work everywhere we look – although possibly unknowns to us….

Vernalisation is the acquisition of the competence to flower in the spring by exposure to the prolonged cold of winter. The word vernalization comes from the Latin word vernus, meaning of the spring. blah, blah, blah….. [courtesy of wikipedia]

Vernalisation is essentially exposing a store of food [a bulb or seed] to a period of low temperatures [usually below zero celcius]. This generally happens naturally in winter time/ spring, but sometimes when I’m sowing seeds i have bought I would first pop them in the freezer for a day or two. In my opinion it speeds up the germination ie. the amount of time it takes for a seed to pop its head above soil level. The period of frost/ cold [in a word] breaks the dormant state of the plant, or as my Mom would say… it makes the seed wake up ๐Ÿ™‚