Snugpak GeoGrip Gloves: £19.95
After a hat or a Buff, another useful accessory is a decent pair of gloves.
If I’m away in what promises to be cold, wet or wintry conditions, then I take a pair and always pack at least one spare pair.
Why? Because I was very glad that I did a few years ago when I took a pair of performance fleece gloves off in order to take one shot on a motor driven compact camera when I was doing some cross-country skiing in the Lillehammer area.
I’d put my gloves over the top of my ski poles and although the time elapsed between taking the gloves off, taking the shot and going to put the gloves back on again was less than 30 seconds, they’d already frozen up. Spare gloves were dug out of my pack and donned before continuing the day out. Yes, it was that cold!
Now I haven’t had the chance to try these Snugpak GeoGrip Gloves out in total anger yet, because the main rainfall has come overnight around here and we haven’t has yet had any snowfall either, so not even the snowball test has been carried out as yet.
When the snow does arrive (and the Met Office think there could be some in January), I’ll dive back on here and let you know. In the meantime, the gloves are going to go in the car in readiness for such eventualities, largely because when we had the last batch of decent snow, there was about six inches of the stuff appeared overnight.
So, what makes these Snugpak gloves worth £19.95?
They’re made from neoprene, so they’re water resistant and offer warmth too. The neoprene allows the user to wear them when wet and helps in the drying time stakes whilst the rubber palm grips allow the user to grip ski or walking poles, cameras, maps, coffee mugs or a medicinal dose from a hip flask at the end of the day out.
There’s an emphasis on the amount of dexterity available on these gloves. I haven’t had any problems with a lack of dexterity on the usage so far in milder conditions, even though I still have some problems with my left hand.
That’s down to the after effects of that stroke I had ten years ago and whilst I’ve almost got full use of my fingers once more, that usage comes and goes from time time as a few supermarket till operators will testify to after I dropped a load of loose change all over the place when paying for purchases!
As far as the right hand goes though, there’s no worries, which is a good job as I am right handed. Gripping tightly and using cameras or fiddling with keys when I get back home isn’t a problems and neither is opening and closing straps or zips when I need to get something from a pocket in my pack or whatever jacket I’m wearing at the time.
The GeoGrips are easily donned and removed thanks to their stretchy cuffs, they can be clipped together and then onto a jacket when necessary and they’re easily washed too (it’s a hand wash though, not a machine wash).
Other gloves are available and on the usage so far, the GeoGrip Gloves are performing favourably. When the snow or the rain really hits home, then they will be taken out and used in anger along with a select few that I’ve been using for a few years now (I’m a bit fussy when it comes to gloves!).
If you want to keep warm – get a hat!
Hats come in all shapes and sizes – mountain caps, wooly numbers with ear flaps, ones that look like they should be getting stroked whilst the owner says something like ‘We’ve been expecting you Mr. Bond…‘ or pure and simple hats like the Eider Garmish Beanie (£20) that’s pictured above.
Yes, it’s bright and noticeable, but that’s something that I’m never going to be worried about. Yes, my usual choice of hat colour owes a lot to a Henry Ford quote, but there are times when something that’s bright and colourful is preferable to having a whole outfit that wouldn’t be out of place at a gig by The Mission, Sisters Of Mercy or Fields Of The Nephiim (and I have been to gigs by two out for the three bands mentioned there – the middle one is the odd one out!). Not saying that I wear a lot of black, but I just happen to wear a lot of black…
There’s a practicality to wearing a hat. It can be a style statement or a piece that like the Eider Garmish Beanie in that it’s designed to tie in with other Eider clothing. It’s also a practical choice too as around 40% of body heat can be lost through the head. Wear a hat and you should feel warmer in no time.
If it’s cold and crisp and even, then the warmth should help matters. If it’s snowing or raining, then a waterproof hat could come in useful or you could simply put your waterproof jacket’s hood up (unless of course you’re the bloke I served about seven or eight years ago who said he wouldn’t be seen dead using his jacket’s hood! There’s always one…).
There are also times when wearing a hat indoors can be useful. The only times that I’ve worn a hat indoors have coincided with heating breakdowns in shops or at home or the one time when I went away for a couple of days and returned home to find that all of the pipes in my rented house had frozen up – time to get a hair dryer out on the pipes as recommended by the plumber who was working on a similar problem a few doors away from me.
There are alternatives to hats though – such as the ubiquitous Buff.
The Buff is one of the most useful pieces of kit in both Caroline’s and my own outdoor or travel wardrobes. We both have a few variations on a theme by Buff and makers of lookalike items with the standard and Polar Buffs proving to be the most useful and long-lived weapons of choice.
They’ve been used as neck gaiters, pulled over the face in cold weather, used as a balaclava in cold weather or worn as a helmet liner in wintry weather. Buffs have also been used as hand towels, packing for small crockery items bought abroad and as handkerchiefs on occasions as well (and washed soon after because only one of the Buffs I have is a green one!).
I’ve used mine whilst walking, cross-country skiing, climbing and whilst travelling. Caroline uses her examples around town, whilst commuting to work on the bike, whilst out on longer rides and also when she’s travelling. Her sons use Buffs on really long bike rides and travelling (the eldest son) whilst her youngest wears his on his Suzuki 650, for climbing or when jumping out of aeroplanes. During one trip to the States, he took off in a plane 34 times in a fortnight and landed in a plane twice – the other 32 landings were ones made with the help of a parachute…
There will be another gift-related post later on today – missed yesterday as there was a food and drink buying session taking place. Ours was the smallest trolley load in each of the supermarkets we visited – anyone would think the shops were closed more more than one day this week!
After a couple of nights in Tavira, our moving on day arrived and after a short wait in the railway station, we headed off to Lagos in search of a bus to Sagres as we travelled from one side of The Algarve to the other. This was down to be the treat of the trip as we were booking into a hotel that was several stars above what we’re used to – the Pousada do Infante, part of a sixty strong group of Portuguese hotels that include buildings old and new.
Pousada do Infante, Sagres
Pousada do Infante dates back to the 1960s, but it is one of the more modern buildings. It’s the only hotel we’ve ever stayed in with its own helipad and it’s the only one either of have stayed in because we were entitled to a discount on the room rate for being over 55!
The reception staff were great, but a bit bemused by our relative lack of luggage and the fact that we didn’t have a car. They were also bemused when we were both soaked through when we asked for our room key the following day. ‘It’s okay’ said Caroline ‘We’re English, we’re used to a bit of rain now and again…’.
Sagres provided the most peaceful part of the two weeks in Portugal. The hotel was quiet, as were the local bars, restaurants and the local attractions. A morning walk to Henry The Navigator’s Fotrazela and onward to the lighthouse at Ponta de Sagres was followed by lunch at beach bar Raposo and that sudden rainstorm.
We’d also made a wonderful faux pas. Our intention had been to head to Cabo de Soa Vincente, but we didn’t make it as we’d mistakenly taken the road down to Fortazela instead. Cabo de Soa Vincente is what was initially thought to be the edge of the known world, but we didn’t make it – our mistake however does give us one very, very good reason to revisit Sagres on one of our next trips to Portugal…
Our first evening meal had been an outdoor one at an Italian restaurant, but as we were staying in a Pousada, we ate in on the second night. The meal, wine and coffee went down well and it was a cut above our usual night out at home – as was the bill.
Given that we didn’t have to check out until lunchtime, we headed down to Porto de Balleeira harbour the following morning before picking up our bags, hitting an internet cafe for orange juice, mango juice, espressos and a bit of mail checking before getting the bus to Lagos.
Lagos Youth Hostel
After two nights in a Pousada, a night in Lagos Youth Hostel was always going to be a bit of a culture shock, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. Caroline and I are both old school hostellers – I was on Border and Dales Regional Council in the 1980’s and did some of YHA magazine’s gear reviews in the 1990’s whilst Caroline was an assistant warden at Malham Hostel back in the day.
Yes, the room was basic, but it was better than one or two hotels we’ve been in here in the UK and a darn sight cheaper too. Breakfast portions were on the small side, but as we didn’t have to check out for a while, there was time to get a second breakfast at a cafe down the road. Coffee and a pastry filled the gap that was still there after the first breakfast, but they were also tastier than the evening meal we’d had on the night of our arrival in Lagos.
That early morning in Lagos was pretty quiet. The centre had been teeming with people before we checked into the hostel the previous night. The route to the hostel from the bus station had taken us straight down the main tourist strip and boy, it was busy. We did have a short wander around after our second breakfast to see what we’d missed, but as the visitor numbers increased, it was time to get our bags and get the train back to Lisbon.
We were pleased that we’d booked our tickets in advance at Tavira as Lagos station was busy and only one of the ticket windows was open for business. There was an hour or so to kill before our train and it was interesting to see the size of bags that people were toting around with them.
The younger crowd had the biggest bags on their backs, the thirty-somethings had wheelie bags and the over 50s were those with the smallest bags. The wisdom of the age? You might think that, but I couldn’t possibly comment!
Whilst the train from Lagos to Tunes was a local one, the narrow price gap between first and second class meant that an upgrade to first class for the section between Tunes and Lisbon was a no-brainer. This train did however terminate at a station we weren’t familiar with, so we got the Metro back into the city centre and made sure our Lisbon Viva Viagem travel cards were charged up with enough credit for the Metro ride to Lisbon Airport later on.
As it was late afternoon and it was Friday, we stashed our bags in the left luggage lockers in Rossio station (one locker for two bags – another joy of travelling light…) and headed for coffee, a stroll and then made a final decision about sleeping at the airport in readiness for a 5am check-in time.
I’d done it at Manchester and Leeds/Bradford before and Caroline had also spent at least one night sleeping on the floor of a terminal building so the plan was hatched – forget about getting a room and just go for a good blow-out meal, get the bags and head off to the airport.
So that’s what we did. No fuss, no messing and we just got on with it. Da Vinci near Rossio station was busy, but they just kept on bringing more food, tables and chairs out as almost everyone was wanting to eat outside as it was such a warm night.
The Metro to the airport was quiet, but the terminal was quite busy and it became obvious that we weren’t going to be the only ones looking for benches or comfy chairs for the night. So it was a case of Sleepless in Lisbon as the night wore on until the check in opened around 5am and we could head through to the food court in the departure area.
And yes, that was closed. We did get a couple of coffees from the Harrods coffee shop and then wandered through to the main shopping mall for Caroline to buy a bottle of ginjinha and for me to buy a bottle of Tawny Port.
Our trip was almost over, but the return visit was already being planned. It’s another fortnight with one week in Lisbon to see the parts we didn’t get to on this trip and to make side trips to Cascais and Estoril from Lisbon. After that, the plan is to visit Coimbra for a night or two and then head up to Porto to explore the city and the Douro valley – and do a couple of visits to port wine lodges to find out the story of port and to partake in a glass or two in the interests of our own research into port wine.
Travel wise, it will be local trains to Cascais and Estoril and either train or bus from Lisbon to Coimbra and then onwards to Porto before heading back to Lisbon for the plane home – unless we can fly into Lisbon and out of Porto from the north of England. Time and airline schedules will tell and no, we don’t intend to spend another night in Lisbon airport – once is enough!
Did we enjoy our trip to Portugal? Oh yes! There were places we loved, there were places we didn’t, but there were always places that we found that were stunning, relaxing and interesting. We missed out Belem and a good walk around the Alafama in Lisbon, but we did find some good eating places around the city centre.
We didn’t go for the local seafood specialities as neither of us are into seafood, but we did eat well as even the busiest cafes or food stalls offered good food and drink. And that’s why we’re going back… for more ginjinha and to try the pasteis de nata from the bakery in Belem… We did try other variations on this custard tart theme in Lisbon and elsewhere, but the ones in Belem are highly rated.
As I said earlier – this could be the start of a beautiful friendship…