May to August 2016
Now, where were we?
Ah yes, we’d been to Blackpool and the Yorkshire Dales (hence the pics of Caroline at Tan Hill Inn and her study of the cake menu at Dales Cycle Centre’s cafe) and we’d dived back home for one night only.
First up on the Saturday morning was a weather check to get a ten day forecast for the Fishguard area. Yes, that was our base for five nights as we’d bagged the double ensuite at Hamilton Backpackers Lodge.
With a favourable forecast, our bags contained virtually the same items we’d had in Swaledale. Caroline’s bike kit and a few other items had been washed and had dried overnight, as had my two pairs of Rohan Goas, my Rohan polo shirts and travel towels. The bags? Yes, a brace of Ospreys…
As this was meant to be a relaxed break, Caroline hadn’t taken a lot of bike kit as she was hiring a bike rather than taking her road bike to Fishguard.
The relaxed nature of the few days down there were only matched by the relaxed nature of the plans we had for our time in the area – loose ones!
We had planned to have a Sunday lunch out and for Caroline to have a day on a bike, but that was it. With rain keeping at bay for all of the time out of Hamilton Backpackers Lodge, the clothing selection was ideal – casual for the day time and smarter casual for any nights wandering around town or heading into a pub for a bar meal.
Smarter casual attire also came into play in St. David’s, especially as Caroline was planning on wandering around the Cathedral and I headed for the cathedral’s cafe to do a spot of reading.
Our five days of bumbling around worked a treat as we took a look around museums dedicated to the Sunderland Flying Boat, wandered on quiet beaches, watched a rowing regatta and pondered a £10 each day trip to Ireland from the Fishguard ferry terminal.
Caroline got her ride in and whilst we donned smart casual kit for a last night pub meal, we have to say that our dress sense was much better than the items on the couple of plates placed in front of us when we found a pub that wasn’t having a giraffe with their pricing policy.
Did we hit the pub with the worst bar meals in the area? You might think that, but I couldn’t possibly comment, but I will say that it was the wurst sausage and mash I’ve ever had.
If we hadn’t been so hungry by the time the plates arrived, we’d have sent them back. We had a meal out with Caroline’s youngest son a couple of nights ago in a pub near Leeds United‘s football ground and we all agreed that the food on offer was pretty decent, even though it was fairly standard pub fodder. My choice – sausage and mash of course!!
With June and July being turned over to a bit of refurbishment and decorating of Wisepacking Towers, Our next break wasn’t until August – a three night hit and run to one of our regular get away from it all spots – North Norfolk.
Whilst it was overcast at times, North Norfolk was rather warm. As the temperatures were high, I ended up taking double the usual amount of t-shirts and polo shirts with me so one could be worn during the day and another following the pre-evening meal shower taken as part of the freshening up process.
Yes, we were back at Deepdale Backpackers once more, but as this was a last minute and almost spur of the moment thing, it was a casual affair as we weren’t eating out on an evening and the poshest place we were going to hit was the cafe at Holkham Hall where Caroline had gone to for bike hire.
Caroline did the wash and wear thing with some of her stuff – Rohan Ultra Silver Camisoles & Briefs, I did something that was quite radical given the usual nature of our travelling.
My worn stuff went into a nylon clothes bag picked up at Waterstone’s book shop in Leeds earlier in the year and was washed when we got home. No smelly socks in the bag though as the North Norfolk trip was done in sports sandals – Clark’s ATL leather for me and Merrell’s for Caroline.
It may have been a more sensible move to use ventilated approach shoes over these few days, but as temperatures were high, it was simple a matter of donning the sandals and slathering an appropriate amount of Nivea Factor 50 as sun protection.
The other factor to consider is that I rarely wear socks or footwear at home as I pad around in bare feet most of the time and have been spotted in sandals sans socks in the local chippy or Co-Op in December and January up here in deepest Yorkshire!
So, what else went along for the ride on these trips? The ever present Kindle, Nikon digital compact camera, Lifeventure and Eurohike travel towels plus Lush shampoo bars and shower gel, my Via Sonic electric toothbrush and my dumbass phone on the trips where driving was required.
Although I took the iPad Mini 2 along on the Swaledale and North Norfolk trips, it wasn’t used that much. Cinema Paradiso was viewed in Swaledale and a couple of pre-prepared wisepacking posts went live thanks to the iPad when we were in North Norfolk.
The artillery also went along to North Norfolk – my Sony A100 DSLR. This was used alongside the usual Nikon S3100 digital compact camera and it gave me the chance to remember and use some old shooting skills over those few days…
The next trips? All in the mix at the moment…
The first part – https://wisepacking.me/2016/09/07/a-a-packing-part-one/
April to August 2016, the places, the packing
April 2016 saw us hit Blackpool in a big way. Yes, it was just before the May Day Bank Holiday, but even so, one would have expected warmth and sunshine rather than the biting winds and rain we encountered.
We did find some warmth, but that happened as Status Quo kicked off what’s been touted as their last electric tour.
So, what did we take with us for the two days/one night?
In my case it was a ten litre bag that I picked up at Imperial College, London last year whilst Caroline had a fifteen litre Healthy Back Bag.
I had my TNF hooded soft shell and was wearing a TNF microfleece zip neck over a Rohan tech tee plus Peter Storm Soft Shell trousers and Salomon Gore-Tex lined approach shoes.
Inside the bag was a travel towel, basic wash kit, my meds, socks, underwear, Rohan merino wool mix t-shirt, Rohan Microgrid Stowaway zip neck fleece, Kindle and travel tickets plus the all important concert tickets…
Inside the soft shell pockets were a merino wool Edz beanie and the trusty Nikon Coolpix S3100 digital compact camera.
Caroline was similarly attired, only she’d chosen her TNF Windwall fleece jacket, her Berghaus PacLite jacket and Rohan jeans. She did however hit Primani for some leggings as she was feeling the cold and Millets didn’t have any base layer leggings left in stock.
Her bag also contained a Rohan Microgrid Stowaway zip neck – it’s not often that we wear almost matching tops, but as we both wore them for the pre-show meal and whilst waiting around in Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, we didn’t much care about matching!
The mix proved to be ideal for the mooching around we did before heading to the B&B. The choice of t-shirts and fleeces for the walk back into town, our meal, the show and the walk back to the B&B was a similar success.
Friday saw more rain and we were pleased that we’d had good conversation with the B&B owners before grabbing our bags and checking out. It was cold, windy and miserable!
We sheltered for a while in the RNLI shop before braving the beach, but it didn’t take long for us to hit The Albert & Lion on the seafront for a coffee in this Wetherspoons pub.
The coffee prepared us for the walk along the prom and then back around town before we headed to Harry Ramsden’s for a fish & chip lunch. It’s not often that I have a beer with lunch, but I was pleased we were inside as some of those looked as if they’d arrived for the bank holiday weekend appeared to be underdressed and blooming freezing as they walked on by.
As we headed back to Blackpool North Station for our train, a strange apparition appeared in the sky. Yes, the sun had come out – too late for us, but right on time for the couple of hundred people we saw leaving the station in search of a Bank Holiday break.
Ten days later and we were in the car heading for a holiday of two halves.
There had been a tentative plan to try and get a week to ten days in somewhere like Rhodes or Zante for a relaxing break, but it didn’t happen, so we thought laterally and came up with a plan.
Yes, we have Internet access via desktop, tablet and Caroline’s smartphone, but the idea for the first part of our break came from a paperback book – The Independent Hostel Guide.
I’d spotted Dales Bike Centre at Fremlington near Reeth, made the call and booked ourselves in for four nights in a room at their hostel accommodation (there’s also a bike shop, bike hire and cafe on site – along with 24 hour cake supply via honesty box for those staying at the centre).
Swaledale was part of my old stamping ground as an instructor and whilst living in Darlington. Caroline knew it of old, but hadn’t been there for years.
As Caroline was taking her road bike with her to do some cycling, I was the Skoda driving equivalent of Thunderbird 2 – ready to offer assistance and with the hatchback available to be Pod 5… providing of course that both of us had a signal on our respective mobile phones.
Clothing choices for this trip were easy to sort out. The ten day forecast was set fair for both this and the next section, so in my case it was a mix of Rohan Core Silver t-shirts, Element t-shirts and the same company’s polo shirts to cover casual and smart casual situations. Trousers? Two pairs of 2015 Rohan Goas covered all eventualities.
The bag? The trusty Osprey Farpoint 40 that took all of the above plus jacket, camera, books, iPad, chargers and a bag of food too.
As Caroline was cycling, her clothing included Endura cycle pants, a Tenn cycle shirt plus a couple of Peter Storm pocketed tech t-shirts.
Tenn Ladies Sprint Short Sleeve Cycling Jersey
Rohan Essence t-shirts and vest tops plus her Rohan jeans were worn off the bike and a Rohan fleece cardigan came in useful on the nights we hit local pubs for a meal and a drop of Guinness for me and cider for Caroline.
Now I said that this trip was a break of two halves as we had a cunning plan.
It did get changed though as we had to head for home sooner than expected to sort out two tyres for the Skoda – one was punctured and replaced, but once we got to Kwik Fit, it became apparent that we needed two new tyres.
Our overnight at home had been planned as we’d already packed stuff for the next part of the trip. But it did give us a chance to have a curry and do some washing, safe in the knowledge that it would be dry in readiness for the next morning…
More on Friday!
Rohan’s Cool Silver t-shirt – worth its weight in gold?
As you may have noticed in the pieces so far in the One year series, there is a common denominator in the postings related to the posts on our travels in May and Junes 2015, but it’s hardly mentioned at all in the posts about the trip to Lisbon in July.
We know how much stuff can go in the back of a Skoda Fabia when the seats are down, but anything we took along on the Somerset trip had to be packed around Betty Bike – Caroline’s trusty touring/commuting cycle.
Betty’s sturdy and took up more room in the car than we thought, so packing had to be on the minimalistic side, which is why we took small bags with us and shopped locally when we got to the apartment we’d rented for the week.
There were a few luxuries though as I’d shoved a few DVDs into a carrier bag in case we felt the need for some televisual entertainment and I’d also decided to take along my DLSR as well as the usual Nikon Coolpix S3100 digital compact camera.
As the weather was destined to be changeable according to the advance forecasts, a couple of micro fleece zip necks (TNF and Craghoppers) were packed into my Karrimor holdall along with a pair of Peter Storm soft shell trousers, a couple of Rohan’s Cool Silver t-shirts and a couple of the same brand’s Essential t-shirts, three or four pairs of Rohan Silver trunks and a few pairs of M&S dress socks.
With that lot in the bag plus a pair of Merrell shoes and a pair of Brasher sandals, that was about it apart from a couple of travel towels plus my wash kit, meds and Kindle.
The bag wasn’t full and could be easily squashed into any gaps around Betty Bike once her front wheel had been taken off in order to get her into the back of the car.
Caroline was also using a Karrimor holdall, but her clothing mix included travel clothing from either Rohan or Royal Robbins and a few bits of Endura, Altura and Tenn cycle clothing too.
Your starter for Tenn – great shirt for cycling or daywear…
Did we take the right kit with us? We certainly did. The only pieces that haven’t been mentioned so far are the Berghaus and Nike waterproof jackets we took along or my TNF hooded soft shell. Only the waterproofs were used to protect the innocent…
Anything else? Well we did some shopping at the Rohan shop in Dunster, but that was for a few items that were required for the Lisbon trip that we’d decided to take a few weeks later. Even at that stage, Caroline and I had plans for Europe, unlike some who have been in the news over the last few days – allegedly!
As the visit to North Norfolk in June was a short one and Caroline wasn’t taking Betty Bike, we didn’t really need to pack much given the advance forecasts and the relaxed nature of this trip.
So it was a scaled down packing list compared to Somerset – the clothes we were wearing plus three t-shirts each, socks and undies, a spare pair of trousers and the usual travel towels, wash kits, meds and Kindles. The DLSR was left at home in favour of the Nikon and that was it.
Or was it? Well no, not really as Caroline was planning on hiring a bike whilst we down in Norfolk, so her bike clothes, helmet and gloves were also in her Karrimor bag.
And so to Lisbon via a night drive to Liverpool John Lennon Airport and a late arrival at the Hampton by Hilton hotel as Caroline had spent been at a family wedding.
Baggage choices? Our trusty Osprey Farpoint 40s as we were travelling hand luggage on easyJet.
And the contents? A security friendly travel wash bag that had been bought for the journey. It was originally full of predominately Gillette travel products, but a little pruning and replacement ensured that the new contents covered all eventualities.
The disposable razor and small tube of toothpaste were retained, but in went a plastic cased Dove roll-on instead of an aerosol. That was followed by my Slim Sonic Toothbrush, a bottle of Lifeventure Fabric Wash for the clothes, 100ml of Lush’s Flying Fox shower gel, a small bottle of tea tree oil, a similarly sized King Of Shaves shaving oil and two small bottles of Nivea Factor 50.
As before, my usual prescribed meds, yellow Warfarin book and repeat prescription forms went in along with a pack of indigestion tablets and a few sachets of recovery powder (just in case there were too many glasses of vino collapso imbibed over the course of a day…).
Worn items included Salomon ventilated trainers, a pair of Rohan Goa trousers, one of four Rohan Core Silver t-shirts (the rest were in the bag along with a couple of Rohan Element t-shirts).
Why so many t-shirts? As good as all of these shirts are, expectations of 30+ C meant that for once I was playing safe and wearing two shirts per day rather than one. I did however regret not having a couple of polo shirts as smarter options as we were eating out so much over the course of the week.
Rohan Cool Silver trunks and suitable socks completed the worn outfit and yes, there were spares in the bag of these. Other packed items included another pair of Goa trousers, my Nikon Coolpix and charger plus my Kindle and charger, a newly purchased Rohan Stowaway Daypack 20 and a travel towel. Oh, and a copy of Rough Guide‘s Pocket Rough Guide to Lisbon plus a pair of Next espadrilles for sock free days or nights out…
Caroline packed a couple of Rohan Serene vest tops, a Rohan Malay Linen Plus top and a few other items from their travel linen range.
Footwear choices were a pair of Ecco Blom Lite Mary Jane shoes and a pair of Merrell sports sandals. Her day bag was a Rohan Stowaway Daybag 3 that held her passport, camera, travel wallet, tissues, sun cream and a small bottle of water.
Washing was done before we went out and left to dry on hangers next to the windows once the clothing had been rolled up in a travel towel to squeeze out excess water.
The Rohan Goa trousers were just right for the trip thanks to a lightweight fabric that washed and dried quickly, two zipped pockets to take wallet, camera, reading specs and guest house keys.
Out of all the things we took along with us, there was only one piece of kit that required a rethink. I’ve no doubt that the Rohan packable day sack will come into its own, but I have to admit to making a personal wrong choice by using it over the first few days in Lisbon. It was a bit too big for what I wanted to carry around and I ended up buying a small cotton bag that sufficed for the rest of the week.
Coming up next – One year – August 2015.
London, Lonely Planet and a tube strike!
Greetings from a partially snow covered Yorkshire.
It’s bright, it’s sunny and there’s snow on the ground – just a light cover mind, but snow nevertheless.
It’s not going to last though.
The brisk walk up to the local shop an hour ago wasn’t through a full covering of snow and a quick glance out of the window now I’m back indoors has revealed that the multicoloured gnomes in the back garden have lost their frosty coating.
There is a breeze though and the temperatures are low, hence the choice of layers for that walk.
Which were pretty much the same as what I’d have chosen had I been heading out for a wander through the woods to the pub or for a day out with a pack in the country or on the hill.
First up was an Icebreaker merino base layer, then a Patagonia Snap Neck fleece pullover and then a North Face Nuptse 900 LTD down jacket. On the legs were a pair of Peter Storm soft shell trousers, a pair of Bridgedale socks and a pair of Salomon boots.
Result? Warm and toasty all the way there and back…
If I had been in the country or on the hill, then the chances are that the Nuptse would be in my pack and used when lunch or coffee breaks were declared.
I’d probably be wearing a fleece gilet and a soft shell instead (the old faithful TNF hooded soft shell has just been reproofed with Nikwax Soft Shell proofing) and have a pair of gloves and a mountain cap in the pockets, just in case. Oh, and a pair of base layer leggings too.
The choices aren’t too far removed from what Caroline was wearing earlier when she took Frosty The Snowbike out for its first spin. Frosty is her old Dawes hybrid bike that’s had winter tyres fitted and works a treat (especially now that the brakes have been fixed – the tyre fitter [not me or Caroline!] forgot to reconnect the brake cables)…
A base layer, bike shirt, fleece and reflective waterproof jacket do the job in virtually all weathers on both her leisure rides and her early morning/late evening commutes to and from work.
But layering doesn’t have to be used solely outdoors. We both wear layers around the house over the winter months – they keep us warm and comfortable and help keep the bills down so we’re not laying down the foundations for big gas bills later in the year.
Does it work? Yes, as it was a tactic I first used thirty-odd years ago as the first house I had after leaving home was an exposed, not very insulated farmhouse with single glazing.
We’ve also used the same techniques elsewhere too, most recently in a place that had a wood burner in the lounge.
Not saying it was cold, but we were both in there wearing merino base layers, fleece pullovers and down vests and were just about warm!
Mind you, it was even colder down on the beach the following day – thank goodness for high quality down jackets!
I’ll be going into more layering next week as there’s a round-up of base layer principles and some product reviews too happening on wisepacking.
The snow may be melting now here in Yorkshire, but it’s going to be back…
And we’re prepared for it – right down to the home baked cheese scones that are being baked this afternoon and a good bit of comfort food for tea.
Beef stew with dumplings and mashed potatoes. Cooked from scratch, not from a tin or a supermarket freezer section!
Your starter for Tenn – the Ladies Sprint Short Sleeve Cycling Jersey
It’s about twenty years since I first started doing reviews of cycling kit for YHA’s membership magazine Triangle and I also had quite a few years reviewing clothing, bags and camping kit on Cycling Plus magazine too.
So when an opportunity arose to review some cycling kit on wisepacking, it was a case of ‘Yes please!’ and time for Caroline to do her stuff given that she’s getting some miles under her wheels thanks to her commute and leisure rides and that she usually packs some cycling kit when we’re away in the UK and there’s a bike hire shop nearby.
The Ladies Sprint Short Sleeve Cycling Jersey (£27.99) by West Sussex based Tenn uses an advanced 100% polyester fabric. This has enhanced wicking and drying properties, while the sun, wind or water helps to release odours. There’s also high UV protection too.
Caroline’s been racking up the miles recently in fine and not so fine weather, so she’s been using the Sprint Short Sleeve on its own and as part of a layering system with a base layer from either Rohan, Helly Hansen or The North Face underneath and her usual Altura fleece and Altura waterproof jacket on top.
Given the miles done and the speeds recorded on Strava, she’s not been hanging about, yet the Sprint Short Sleeve has performed well. It’s got damp with sweat a few times, but it’s been dried and used again over the following days and there’s been no need to chuck it in the washing machine to get rid of any nasty niffs.
The supplied size 10 top fits well, looks good and it’s easy to get some ventilation going on thanks to the zipped neck fastening. The length is fine and the silicone waist grippers work well, ensuring that the top doesn’t ride up when Caroline’s using the drops on the bike.
There’s also a reflective strip on the back of the shirt and a couple of reflective prints too, but one of these is starting to peel off. Washing the shirt has been with either Lifeventure Travel Wash when it’s been hand washed or Sainsbury’s Non-Bio Powder when it’s been in the machine.
There’s three decently sized elasticated pockets on the back of the shirt and there’s a zipped mobile phone pocket too on the front – a HTC Desire phone can be stashed away.
If you have a bigger phone, you can always put that in a jacket pocket and use the mobile pocket to store loose change for coffee and cake stops (Caroline’s secret is out!).
It’s the first item that either of us have seen from the Tenn range, but if the comprehensive selection of clothing and other kit that’s on their website is as good as the Ladies Sprint Short Sleeve Cycling Jersey then it may be well worth checking out.