June 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
June 13, 2011 § 1 Comment
I’m heading to Glastonbury next week, and am so excited I’m a bit worried I’m going to burn out before I even get there. The amount of bands I want to see and muddy dancing I want to do means I’m going to need a mega-comfy sleeping bag to see me through the long weekend, so I was very excited when Tesco sent me a big squashy package in the post: a Gelert Lakeside Deluxe sleeping bag (£45.00). As I was off camping last weekend I thought I’d give it a test run and see if it was up to a hardcore week of moshing.
The product description:
“The Gelert Lakeside deluxe 300DL sleeping bag is ideal for weekends away, camping trips or festivals during the spring and summer months. With hollow fibre insulation and sumptuous flannel lining, this single sleeping bag is extremely comfortable. This envelope type sleeping bag comes with a 2 way reversible zip to allow you to easily get in and out of this sleeping bag at night. When you have finished with this sleeping bag, you can roll it up and put it into its storage bag to carry it home. Then it can be washed in your washing machine and hung out to dry.”
Test 1: Camping
The Lakeside Deluxe is an interesting size: it’s a bit bigger than normal sleeping bags but wouldn’t comfortably fit two people unless you got on VERY well. For one person, there’s an upside and a downside: it’s incredibly comfortable, with a soft fleecy flannel lining, but it’s also very roomy, which means on cold nights it’s hard to retain body heat, as there’s a lot of space between your body and the bag. The night I slept in it it was pretty balmy, and therefore absolutely fine, but I’d stick with using it in summer months.
Test 2: Outdoors
I took my Lakeside along to a stargazing evening, which turned out to be the ideal time to test its warmth – it had rained earlier so the ground was wet, and by midnight it was properly chilly. Once I’d tucked the Lakeside around me properly to keep my body heat in, it did the job well, and despite lying inert for a good few hours I didn’t feel too cold. However, if I laid it out flat it was a bit too big to keep me properly warm.
Test 3: Washing
As a result of a few days camping and a sleep outdoors, my Lakeside was less olive green and more mud brown. I did as the product description said and shoved it in the washing machine (no mean feat). It came out perfectly: mud gone and bag as good as new. It took a while to dry spreadeagled over the washing line and some chairs, but is now back to its shiny-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside original condition.
The Lakeside is definitely the comfiest sleeping bag I’ve ever tried: the lining is so cosy I want to shuffle around the house in it. The bag itself is possibly a little bit to big for a one-man sleep: there’s just too much space, which is great in warm weather but an issue in the cold. The upside of course is that two people can get in for a cuddle if you’re freezing…
After helpfully modelling the Lakeside, my lovely helper Catrin thought it would suit a couple due to the size. Leo liked how soft and comfy it was but had an issue with the opening and hood, reckoning it would let cold air in during the night as there’s no zip or way to button it up. The verdict? If you’re after comfort, look no further: the fuzzy softness of the Lakeside is addictive. It’ll be perfect for festivals, making sure you get a good nights sleep on warm evenings. All in all, an ideal sleeping bag for spring and summer (or if you like spooning).
June 2, 2011 § 1 Comment
The mantra that “The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun” is common lore amongst surfers, and whilst this might sound pretty unbelievable to a surf virgin attempting to paddle out from the shore, surrounded by wet-suited muscle men whipping over the waves on tiny, slick boards, it’s true, and it’s a fundamental belief in the sport.
Surfing can look pretty intimidating – you need special kit, there’s a whole secret vocabulary (any grommets fancy a gnarly barrel, tiki style?) and it looks, frankly, impossible. But surfing is actually a very easy, friendly activity to get into, and one of the more extreme sports that isn’t dangerous for beginners, as the worst that can really happen is that you fall into the sea.
Plus, it’s impossible not to love it once you’ve tried it – as well as getting a massive rush from your first wave; it’s easy to love the chilled-out vibe that’s as much a second skin to a seasoned surfer as their wetsuit is. The social side of the sport is second to none – the surf trips I’ve been on have involved as much drinking, fancy-dress partying and midnight skinny dipping as they have time in the water. The waves may be green and the sky may be grey, in contrast to the brilliant blue of sexier surf destinations, but from the crazy hilarity of Newquay to the beautiful, empty beaches of Pembrokeshire, the UK’s coast is dotted with amazing places to surf.
Finally, I have to share my obsession with cult surf product Mr Zog’s Sex Wax (£1.79 from www.magicseaweed.com). The easiest (and cheapest) way to look like you’ve been doing it for years is to carry one of these babies around in your board bag. Sex Wax is a Californian cult product for adding grip, but has the bonus of smelling like strawberry pina colada. It’s so good you’ll want to rub it on yourself as well as your board.
June 2, 2011 § Leave a comment
I absolutely, utterly and completely love surfing (see post above). I should quickly make it clear that this does not mean I am GOOD at surfing: I spend most of my time flailing in the shallows or getting hit on the head by my board, but the utter rush of catching a wave makes pain, cold and wee in your wetsuit seem like very minor issues. Whilst I would love to surf the USA, Indo or Oz, living in Cardiff has meant I’ve been able to get out on the green waves of Wales, which offer some very decent surf.
WALES’ BEST SURF BEACHES
My regular haunt, due to the fact that it’s a bus-ride away from Cardiff. Rest Bay gets busy in the summer but has beginner friendly waves all year round on a beach fringed with beautiful grassy cliffs, away from the tacky shoreline of Porthcawl. Cressey’s Surf Academy are based here and offer girls-only sessions for would be surf girls. There’s a lifeguard station keeping an eye on people in the water, and you can hire gear from the fabulous Malc’s Cafe (boards £10/day, suits £5/day), a a popular surfer hangout with views out over the bay, tables made from old surf boards and a cosy fire in winter.
A pretty, sheltered beach near Mumbles which is really beginner-friendly, as the surf is big enough to give you a challenge but small enough to stop you wiping out mid wave. There’s year-round reliable surf, easy parking and a cosy little cafe serving amazing hot chocolate to get rid of the water’s chill. GSD surf school operate from here if you’re looking for a lesson – their instructors are all patient, knowledgeable and, erm, pretty hot (although I was concentrating on learning to pop up, of course).
Newgale, nestled in St Bride’s Bay in Pembrokeshire, is a gorgeous little picture-postcard beach – long, sandy and perfect for all levels of surfing. It’s in the national park, which means it’s well maintained, and it’s a few minutes’ walk to the village of Newgale which has some good coffee shops and pubs. The local surf shop, Newsurf, issues a daily surf report and hires out cheap boards and wetsuits to learners.
One of the most consistent surf breaks in Wales, this beach has it all – reefs, point breaks, sandy beaches and an abundance of wildlife. Outer Reef surf school operates from here, so if you’re unsure of your ability, it’s worth getting a lesson and some local knowledge from them before heading out, as the waves can sometimes be a bit overpowering – watch out for warning red flags on the beach which mean it’s unsafe to swim.