REVIEW: Keen Women’s Venice H2 Sandals

May 20, 2011 § 2 Comments

Last weekend I headed to Rest Bay for a surfing session in the cold cold Welsh sea. Besides catching a few waves I also tested out my lovely stripy new pair of Keen Venice sandals (which cost £62.99 from the fab people at Web Togs). I’d worn them around town and on walks, but would they live up to their waterproof, non-slip claims?

The product description: “The Keen Women’s Venice H2 Sandals are a versatile and stylish pair of sandals that are just the ticket for summer time. Topside, the Venice H2’s are constructed with an open strapping system, which provides outstanding ventilation to let the wind caress your toes. The Venice’s also have a streamlined, grippy outsole featuring multi-directional lugs with razor siping. These give them exceptional traction control on a variety of terrains, they are particularly awesome on boats or wet decking. The main difference between the Venice H2 and the ordinary Keen Venice is that the H2’s are saltwater resistant, you can paddle about on the beach and in rock pools to your hearts content without worrying about the material rotting away.”

Test 1: On the beach
I wore my Venices paddling in the sea, climbing over rocks, through sand and, er, to the cafe after our surf. They were incredibly comfortable even when wet, and have a well-springed sole that makes walking over even jagged rocks comfortable. Their best feature is their grip: I didn’t feel even slightly off-balance clambering over seaweedy stones.

Test 2: Around town
The main reason for my rather extreme love for my sandals is how fantastic they are for cycling. Flipflops and bicycles are not a good combination due to their flimsiness, so these were a great solution: the breathability of the Venices combined with their sturdy toecap means they offer great protection without overheating in the summer. I got my friend to stand on the reinforced rubber toes and couldn’t even feel it: the Venices would be ideal for travelling or trekking in warmer climates. The only issue I had was that the rubbery soles made my feet a bit sweaty, but moisture does get wicked away reasonably quickly and the sandals didn’t ever feel slippery as the stretchy straps molded to my feet very well. I also loved the fact that I could stick them in the washing machine after a particularly muddy cycle and they came out as good as new.

Test 3: As a fashion accessory
Mixed reviews on this one. I am personally a big fan of my stripy red numbers (carnelian/apricot! I love the Keen colour names). The Venices are chunky, hardwearing shoes, yes but that is the point, and I like to imagine they make me look like I’m off on an adventure. A quick poll (of my housemates): the (very fashionable) Clemmie declared that they were ‘cute’, and seasoned traveller Flo wanted to take them off travelling round India. Leo, however, grimaced at the sight of them and decided that what bugged him were the stripes. We concluded that Leo does not like outdoors shoes trying to be pretty. The general consensus, however, is that Keen have done a very good job of making hardwearing sandals look nice enough to wear out and about.

Keen Venice sandals combine hardwearing, super-grippy soles with a light-weight feel. They look good enough to go anywhere whilst protecting your feet: the perfect solution for summer adventures.


Alice Robert’s Wild Swimming

May 18, 2011 § 2 Comments

Absolutely beautiful show on BBC Iplayer at the moment: Alice Roberts swims in empty lochs, freezing rivers and underground lagoons, interspaced with water-based poetry in this beautiful one-off show. As a huge fan of river swimming I am mega jealous.

If you feel like having a go yourself, Daniel Start’s lovely book, Wild Swimming, lists the most beautiful spots in the UK. My favourite? Claveterton Weir, near Bath.

Summer countryside guides: Great British traditions, gardening courses and gorgeous journeys

May 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

May I humbly suggest you peruse three guides I have compiled for Countryfile magazine.


Celebrate the Royal Wedding (or possibly the fact that it’s over) with my guide to ten ways to be quintessentially British this Spring. Slap on a straw hat and grab a picnic basket and indulge in the joys of afternoon tea, punting and a spot of tennis.


Fancy getting greener fingers? The UK has some fantastic gardening courses on offer, teaching everything from making intricate Japanese arrangements to compost heaps. If you’re more the window-box herb type, a course is also a fantastic present for a garden-mad relative.


Finally, who said public transport was dull? My guide to the top ten scenic routes in Britain redefine getting from A-B: stunning backdrops of Scottish lochs from a train window, trams to secret gardens and buses along the Giant’s Causeway make the journey just as special as the destination.

xx Sian

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