REVIEW: Cushe IT Boot Cuff

July 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

Shoe company Cushe sent me a gorgeous fuzzy pair of IT boot cuffs for me to kick about in. As the company is big on sustainability, comfort, and a chilled-out surf vibe, all stuff I like, I was more then happy to test them out and about.

The product description:

“Universal Traveller is our rugged, robust and hardwearing range designed for apres-outdoor sports and in transit. Inspired by the outdoors and adventure travel, we use premium, rich full grain leathers and protective features to get you where you need to be. The IT boots in particular feature an upper material of waterproof pig suede with a lambswool lining, waterproof seams and rubber toe caps to protect you against the elements.”

Test 1: On a country walk
In lieu of a Glastonbury review (due to the fact that the mud came up to my knees. Oh what I put up with for live music), I took my new IT boots on a wander through the Somerset countryside. Their thick soles are perfect for pretty much any kind of terrain, cushioning feet brilliantly, whilst the warm woollen lining is surprisingly airy – my feet felt cool despite a brisk walk up a hill in warm weather. The only thing I´d advise anyone getting a pair is to consider going a size up – I´m normally a 6 and whilst my Cuffs are just on the right side of snug, a size 7 would probably have more room for thick winter socks. The woollen cuff is also quite tight round the ankles, meaning it takes a tug to get the boots on, but the advantage to that is that once on the boots keep feet warm and rain away.

Test 2: In the rain
The Cushe ITs do not like mud, as I discovered on my first day at Glastonbury, before hastily returning to my wellingtons. Their lovely suede covering is, however, fine in the rain: I rode my bike through a downpour in them and they stood the test mightily whilst keeping my feet warm and snug. I dried them next to a radiator after their puddle experience and they looked perfect. I can´t wait to wear them in the snow.

Verdict
The perfect winter boot for the city. Completely waterproof with a thick rubber sole that laughs in the face of puddles and a super comfy lining that feels like wearing a woolly jumper on your feet, the IT boots are like a hug in shoe form. What´s impressive is that they also manage to be stylish – the soft fawn colour is gorgeous and they look fantastic with skinny jeans and a boyfriend cardigan. I´m in love and can´t wait for it to get cold so I can wear them constantly.

xx Sian

Top 10 Butterflies of the British Isles

July 4, 2011 § 4 Comments

The Painted Lady, the Red Admiral and the Grizzled Skipper may sound like characters from a sea-farin’ fairy tale, but they are actually the common names of three of the UK’s 50 varieties of butterfly. Each year, the first brightly coloured specimens of Lepidoptera are hailed as a sign of the beginning of the holidays.

As the poet John Masefield wrote, butterflies are “the souls of summer hours”, and in June July and August the delicate insects live out their brief lives in the sun, and are as much a part of picnics and nature rambles as sunburn and wildflowers.

The wait for the insects may be shorter this season, as the Butterfly Conservation charity, which charts and protects the fragile creatures, has reported that the unusually warm April the UK has experienced has sped up butterflies’ breeding cycles. As a result, this summer may see record numbers in gardens, woods and
grassy spaces.

Dr Martin Warren, Chief Executive of Butterfly Conservation, said: “This early crop of butterflies will lay eggs earlier than normal, meaning that we may see a second generation this summer. It’s the perfect time for people to get out and see what different species they can find.”

BRITAIN’S TOP TEN BUTTERFLIES
All photos by Jim Asher for Butterfly Conservation

Male Blue Adonis

Adonis Blue: Polyommatus bellargus
Small and rare but arguably the most beautiful British butterfly, the male Adonis’s wings are a vibrant azure that look like something dreamed up by the Avatar graphic designers. They live on chalk and limestone grassland.

Male Brimstone

Brimstone: Gonepteryx rhamni
Sulphur yellow wings shaped like leaves distinguish the Brimstone from other butterflies. One of the longest living varieties, they can live for up to 13 months. The story goes that the name ‘butterfly’ was derived from their yellow wings.

Comma

Comma: Polygonia c-album
The Comma takes its name from the white comma-like markings on its under wings, which resemble fallen leaves for camouflage. One of the more common butterflies in Southern England, they live in gardens and woodlands.

Painted Lady

Painted Lady: Vanessa cardui
The attractively-named Painted Lady’s colourings are just as pretty as its name: a warm mix of orange and red with black tips and white spots on the forewings. Common throughout Britain, they are one of the easiest butterflies to spot.

Peacock

Peacock: Inachis io
Peacocks are a gorgeous red with tiger-like ‘eyes’, commonly believed to be an anti-predator mechanism, on their forewings. Widespread in Great Britain, a sighting of these large butterflies is believed to be a harbinger of spring.

Red Admiral

Red Admiral: Vanessa atalanta
A large and strong-flying butterfly, the Red Admiral’s dark black and purply-red colourings are unmistakable. They are commonly found in gardens, although their hardiness means they can be found throughout the British Isles.

Small Blue

Small Blue: Cupido minimus
Britain’s smallest butterfly has a suitably cute Latin name, and is rare and localised due to its selective wildflower diet. Its tiny wings are a soft dove grey-blue in colour.

Small Copper

Small Copper: Lycaena phlaeas
The bright and attractive Small Copper is indeed a coppery orange in colour, with brown spots and brown edges to its wings. This sun-loving butterfly is easily spotted on hot days, when it will settle on grass or flowers to bask in the warmth.

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshell: Aglais urticae
One of the most familiar butterflies in Britain and Ireland, the Small Tortoiseshell’s bright orange and black wings are a common sight in gardens and parks, although a decline in numbers has worried lepidopterists in recent years.

Speckled Wood

Speckled Wood: Pararge aegeria
Found, as the name suggests, in woods and forests, the dappled brown and white wings of the Speckled Wood are ideal for camouflage against trees. They are often spotted spiralling about in rays of sunlight in wooded areas.

xx Sian

REVIEW: The North Face Women’s Resolve Waterproof Jacket

July 3, 2011 § 1 Comment

My beautiful new green Resolve jacket (£64.99), courtesy of the fabulous people at Webtogs, came with me to Glastonbury last week, where we both managed to have a pretty fabulous time despite the rain. As the weather was horrible for the first three days, it was the perfect time to properly test out my Resolve, and see if it could stand twelve hours straight moshing in a field whilst keeping me dry.

The product description:
“The North Face Women’s Resolve Jacket is a classic waterproof, breathable and seam-sealed do-it all shell garment. You cannot get better quality than the Resolve for such good value we feel here at Webtogs. If you are just starting to get outdoors on a regular basis, and want to have a jacket that doesn’t break the bank, but will let you perform well and keep you dry, the North Face Resolve Jacket is ideal. It does this by using North Faces’ own HyVent fabric, which allows for an excellent level of breathability and water resistance. The North Face Resolve Jacket’s technology will ensure water stays away and keep you comfortable when out in the elements.”

Test 1: Hardcore festival wearing
I couldn´t have asked for a better jacket for festival wear then the Resolve. I wore it for twelve hours a day in the pouring rain, I jumped up and down in it, I stored my camera and phone in its pockets (dry as a bone), I wore it over my head on one particularly wet night when my tent decided to give up on being waterproof. The tough outer lining deflects even heavy downpour – you can see the raindrops form beads of water and roll right off. The elasticated cuffs and waist keep clothes dry and the jacket is warm and breathable. It even managed to be roomy enough to fit a jumper underneath and warm enough to stop me getting cold when standing around in a field at 3am.

Test 2: Cycling
The only minor issue I found with the Resolve is the design of the hood, which is quite large and boxy. Whilst ideal when walking and trekking, as it keeps your face dry by protecting more than just your head, it wasn´t ideal when cycling through traffic in the rain – it had a blinkering effect that meant I couldn´t see properly behind me or check out other lanes. I ended up cycling with it down, arriving with soaking wet hair but a snug torso. If you´re after a jacket for commuting in the rain, go for something with a hood that sits closer to your head.

Test 3: Washing
After a particularly wet Glastonbury my jacket was caked in mud, baked beans and some other things I didn´t want to think about, but after a wash it turned out like new.

Verdict
The most suprising thing about the Resolve is the price – it really feels like a more expensive jacket, as it is pretty much totally waterproof without compromising on comfort or breathability. I am totally hooked and wear it around even if it isn´t raining, it´s so comfy. Perfect for festivals, walks and adventures – I´ll be taking it to Finland with me next month to go and meet some moose.

xx Sian

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