The sleeping fox

March 31, 2012 § 3 Comments

I am completely in love with this photo. Hello Spring!

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HOW TO: A guide to Glamping

March 30, 2012 § 2 Comments

The British have always had an affection with the ‘outdoor’ holiday. Whether it be camping in a rickety (or not so rickety) old tent, heading off on holiday in a caravan (there are over one million members of the British Caravan Club) or snapping up static caravans for sale by the sea through companies like Park Resorts, we’ve always been a fan of the great outdoors.

Now, a new type of camping is attracting customers and media attention: “glamping”. Glamping is, like the “staycation” a made up word drawing together good traditional camping, with a more comfortable, more luxurious approach.

Glamping is for those who like waking up in the morning and be just a step away from the great British countryside, but who also like being warm at night and sleeping in a proper comfortable bed. It is, without a doubt, the best of both worlds.

So what can you expect from a glamping holiday? Most sites are fixed and already built, many featuring large tepee type structures or Mongolian style yurt frame tents. These are great because they’re large and spacious, can have several rooms and sport a proper floor. In fact, there’s no real limit to the actual tent itself, although almost all feature canvas in some capacity.

Moving inside, many have some form of central heating, whether that be a gas fire or the more traditional wood approach (most glamp sites do have wooden fires set up outside during the evenings). You’re also almost guaranteed to be warm, and to have a proper mattress – the extra space afforded by the bigger tent is put to good use making sure you have a good nights sleep.

The final luxury on the list, of course, are washing facilities, and glamping sites don’t skimp here either. More sumptuous sites may have their own bathrooms in tents, but more likely than not you’ll see a shower block on the site – not an old, smelly shower block, but a bright, spacious, new one. In short, everything that anyone would expect when their ‘tent’ has a double bed in it.

Glamping sites so far are spread quite thinly across the UK, but new ones are popping up all the time, mostly because the current ones are almost always booked up. If you’re looking around for a holiday this summer and can’t decide what to do, why not try something new and different and book yourself a spot in a glamp site?

Image: Ivan Lian

REVIEW: Rivers of Britain

March 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

Did you know that there is an 11 degree magnetic anomaly below the Forth Bridge, because so much steel has been used in its construction? I do now, after perusing aptly named Stuart Fisher’s new book Rivers of Britain (£19.50).

Doing exactly what it promises, the guidebook goes into detail on every single river in the UK, from practical facts and figures to maritime folklore. So much history is included in its pages that this book is essentially a history of Britain from an aquatic perspective, which due to the industrial revolution and river trade means there’s a lot to say on even the smallest canals.

The descriptions and information provided on each river are very wordy and dry, but each page is scattered with beautiful glossy pictures, maps, drawings and even scraps of poetry, making Rivers of Britain a great coffee table book to flick through.

The book would be a great addition to the library of keen walkers, fishermen and kayakers as a change from simple guidebooks, and it opens your eyes to the sheer amount of beautiful, accesible riverways we have in Britain. However for people after picnic spots, cliff jumping and sunny riverbanks, I’d recommend something less academic, such as Wild Swimming by Daniel Start.

REVIEW: The GoPro HD Hero camera

March 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Snowboarder Simon Andrews waxes lyrical over his favourite bit of kit, the GoPro Hero camera.

GoPros are the camera of choice for surfers and snowboarders, and these bad boys have been steadily gaining popularity over the last few years in the outdoor sports market. For this review I am going to focus on using the camera for winter sports.

Out of the box, the Hero comes ready charged and good to go. All you need to do is plug in a SD card and you’re away.
On the front of the camera is a little screen. Here it shows what to someone who hasn’t read the instructions thoroughly is just code. This jumble of numbers and letters are all the functions and settings available to you. It’s not just about pointing and shooting video – there’s a time lapse function, a single shot mode, burst mode and a timer function for group pictures. Navigating through all these modes and settings can take a bit of getting used to, and lots of consulting the instruction manual is recommended.

Once you have the camera up and running and have got used to the menus, things start to get exciting. The camera comes with a waterproof housing made of super strong polycarbon, which is waterproof to 60ft and tough enough to deal with all the punishment I have given mine – It’s been dropped in snow and a pint of beer, kicked around and been subjected to many many forms of water abuse and temps of -30. The lens housing also doesn’t get clogged up with snow and sheds water very easily, unlike some of the camera’s rivals.

MOUNTS:
Go Pro sell many different mounts for the camera, from simple helmet mounts to large suction cups for attaching it to surfboards. I own the tripod mount and the handle bar mounts. The latter is great for mounting the camera onto ski poles for point of view shots of the rider, whilst the tripod (as the name would suggest!) adapts the GoPro fitting to a standard tripod mount, which is awesome for filming time lapses.

I also use the latter for my homemade steady handle which is really useful for filming skateboarding and other people. The mounts are all made of good quality plastic and breakages seem rare, however if you’re riding through trees it’s worth having the camera tied to a bit of string in case a low branch swipes it off!

IMAGE QUALITY:
The image quality is, in short, amazing. The 1080p full HD gives super crisp clear images full of colour, and in tests the camera rivals many multi thousand pound pro level HD cameras. There are a few other modes such as 960p, meaning you can take advantage of the massive 170 degree wide angel, whist in the 720p mode you can film with 60fps (frames per second) for those super smooth slow motion shots.

The camera performs very well in all daylight conditions. At night it’s a little dark, but nothing that can’t be fixed with a few clicks in the editing process. The sound is a little jittery, but very good considering the size of the camera, and there’s an upgrade in the new model for external mikes.

One of my favourite shooting modes is the time-lapse function. The camera can be programmed to take pictures between every second to every minute, and then left. The result are beautiful, massively high res time lapses.

SUMMING UP:
Basically, the GoPro is a great bit of kit. It’s a massively versatile, tough and reliable camera, offering stunning quality and with loads of upgrades available. The controls take a little while to master, but once you’re used to them you fly. Iit’s also great value for money – To buy this kind of image quality in regular video cameras you would have to pay at least triple the price.

THE PROOF:
Check out Simon’s awesome 2011/2012 season edit!

By Simon Andrews

Snow girl style: the coolest looks for chilly weather

March 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Snowsports are definitely the most style conscious sports around, as Dolce and Gabbana are obviously aware, even if their lovely model has forgotten her trousers. Working as a seasonnaire in the Italian Alps, I’m constantly exposed to a fashion parade of girl skiiers and boarders in the latest look-at-me labels.

From vibrant clashing patterns to ultra colour-coordinated ski bunnies, there’s a look to suit every taste, and a huge range of gear on the market that will get you noticed in the snow. Before you go on a shopping spree, though, there are some sartorial ski rules that I suggest you adhere to, to avoid being laughed at on the gondola.

1. Onesies will never be cool. You can try all you like, but you’re basically wearing a padded boiler suit.

2. Highwaisted salopettes, in a similar way to one pieces, effortlessly divide skiers into those who care more about warmth and those who care about style. A higher waist will keep your kidneys warm and protect you from cold and iceburn. But they will also make you look like you are wearing a nappy.

3. Be wary of bobble hats. Striped and knitted numbers with a discreet pompom can look brilliant. Bridget Jones style Mickey Mouse ears are best avoided.

4. Shiny puffa jackets are. Just. Awful.

5. Fur and fake fur are tricky to pull off. A cute lining on your jacket in white fake fur like Jillian, good. Looking like you are Chewbacca, not so much.

There’s also a misconception that gear that magically manages to be both warm and stylish has to be pricy. Not true. There may be skiiers out there who are stupid enough to spend $3,600 on Chanel skis, but sensible shredders head to more reasonably priced places for their gear.

TK Maxx does a fantastic discount on last season’s salopettes and jackets, and is worth checking regularly for new deliveries, whilst Argos offer a huge variety of bright and beautiful women’s clothing, including ski jackets, ski pants and accessories at great prices, and brilliant baselayers from around £10. Online, the regular offers at Mountain Warehouse include big reductions on great basics, and Snow and Rock stocks all the big names.

If don’t mind spending a little more and you’re desperate to show off your love of labels, Roxy cater just for girls and are big on surfer-style colours and patterns. They’ve got a bevvy of pro girl boarders riding in their stuff, too, who are great to stalk for a bit of inspiration.

Fans of the elegant monochrome look should check out the collection at Sweaty Betty, including some gorgeous pieces by Stella McCartney, whilst less girlie girls should go for Billabong’s current winter collection, a great set of more boyish pieces (and absolutely nothing pink and fluffy).

Personally, I’m a big fan of bright, clashing patterns, graphic designs and primary colours. Not only are they more fun to wear, they’ll ensure your mates can spot you on the piste. This is my pick of the coolest stuff on offer this winter season.

1: Argos Billabong JACKET £150: A good jacket will get you through an entire season in style – this bright geometric number from Billabong at Argos is nice and cosy, and even comes with a choice of free ski pants included.

2: Anon Hawkeye GOGGLES from Snow and Rock, £75.99 Anon goggles are fantastic value for money, and these green beauties are super comfortable and reduce fogging and sun glare. Plus, you get to look like Kermit the Frog. What’s not to like?

3: Roxy Ollie Pop SNOWBOARD, $449.95: A girl can dream, right? The biggest problem with being a skiier is board envy – snowboards like this one are just so much more beautiful than skis, and none more so than Roxy’s stunning range for girl boarders.

4: Dakine Electra GLOVES from Two Seasons £34.99: My favourite feature of these cheerful gloves are the ‘nose wipe thumb panels’. Nice. Besides that useful extra, they are great for warmer days, have fantastic grip, and are perfect for bringing out your inner ski hippie.

5: Roxy Fiesch CARDIGAN from Extreme Pie, £70 Superwarm, fleecy and reversible, this red printed jacket is the cutest way to stay warm at après ski ever. With its stylish folky design, it’ll look as good in the resort as out.

6: Argos SALOPETTES £39.99 Make sure your mates can spot you on the mountains in these retina-burning neon salopettes – acid yellow is always a better sartorial choice than black, fact.

7: Ellis Brigham Miss Conduct K2 SKIS, £176: I am completely and utterly in love with the look of these skis. They have candy-coloured wolves, lions and deer on them, for god’s sake. Add to that the fact that they are ideal for shredding both park and piste, and you have the perfect all-rounder ski.

8: Argos Dare2b Drop Ear HAT, £14.99 Keep your ears warm and cosy in this gorgeous grey woolly hat. The folk print and yellow zigzags are adorable and the snug design is ideal for wearing goggles over.

9: Keen Snowmass BOOTS from Webtogs, £55: Super comfortable, fuzzy and miraculously, still stylish: these gorgeous Keen boots will be just as happy stomping around in the snow as taking you on mulled wine escapades.

Snow girl style: photos from the pistes

March 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

Check out what the coolest girl skiers and boarders are wearing in my resort, Cervinia.

I am in love with Frankie's gorgeous Roxy jacket and rainbow goggles

Chloe nails the snowboard chic look in a bright Bern helmet and a check jacket

It doesn't get much cuter than Becky's matching hot pink jacket and goggles

Take on the Arctic conditions like Jilly in a cuddly DC jacket and a furry hood

Add a tougher touch to your ski gear with an army-style print like Beth's

Angelica looks adorable in her candy-cane striped jacket, knitted hat and Skull Candy headphones

Karina pulls off bright blocks of colour perfectly

My personal favourites: my trusty O'Neill jacket and my lumberjack hat

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