Sunday, 15 April 2018

Flask saves my life - Selfless Heroism

Just a quick post, walked the Malvern Peaks this weekend from the clock tower over North Hill to British Camp and back with Vic & Marc.

I was nursing a muscle injury in my neck/shoulder so was being very carefull, on the way back literally the last descent back to the car it is very steep and was slippy.   With literally no warning my feet went from under me I was mid air horizontal and came down really hard with my back hitting first into a rock!!

I was only carrying a small day pack with some gloves water and my Thermos Ultimate Flask, I was stunned for a few seconds, did the normal checks with my mates worried as they had seen me come down very hard on the rock.

I felt ok - stunned not hurt couldn't understand why I wasn't damaged when we got to the car I openend my pack and realised my flask had sacrificed itself for my back....  If it had been a solid flask I would have been hurt.

I was not even annoyed at the loss of the flask really, it was a cheap price to pay to save my back, it does however show that the thermos ultimate is not as tough as other flasks at the expense of it's lightness and performance!

From Flask

To dented hero

It's a real shame, I will buy another one at least I can keep the stopper and rubber bottome etc.. as spares!  I looked at pushing the dent out but the inner wall is compromosed touching the outer wall it won't ever work properly again!

Total damage to me:  Sore back muscules and a sore elbow that got banged as well!

Friday, 6 April 2018

When Slugs & snails attack!!

I was in the garden today, out of nowhere a snail got the jump on me, with little time to think I ran for it I was out of salt and in the vicious world of snails and slugs that means your unarmed and vulnerable....   I made it to garden table and chairs, an hour later the chase was still on he was still coming....

That was just fiction, it really didn't go down like that but the snail was real...  

I have been looking at a new sleeping bag for mid season summer use (my winter bag was now in it's new home) and had settled on the snugpak softie 2 expansion (the expansion should give you a clue).  I had just recieved my new sleeping bag and walked into the garden to open it out when I  happened across the snail of which there seem far less in the garden than slugs.

It's been pretty wet and cold this year and I was enjoying working from home sat in the garden over my lunch break I was doing some surfing looking at others reviews of Snugpak gear when I came across a post on Paul Kirtleys blog,  I always found his posts straightforward and commonsense (of those that I have ead) until his post mentions that some slugs bite Whhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!!!  Terrible memories flooded back of watching a film called Slugs where they had mutated in a toxic dump and made there way into a sleepy American town to eat people in their bedrooms.....  Seriously the film was terrible even then..

The Wolf Slug or Huntsman Slug
defending it's cabbage patch territory

After my head stopped spinning and checking for leaping vampire slugs hungry after the cold winter I did what any sensible outdoors orientated person would do, I hit google (well actually and began my search for the elusive biting slugs.

It turns out slugs do actually bite along with snails, and despite a forum post that talked of the wolf slug that bites and injects you with thousands of babies that hatch out leaving you in excruciating pain (from the forum and my googling it's a fake), they are pretty much harmless, go try nibbling on a local block of flats you will get the idea.

Rubbish I hear you say!!! slugs and snails don't bite!!!  Well here is a video I found of a snail attack on a human:

so indeed it is true that they do have teeth and are dumb enough to try and eat you, they are just not vicious enough to be a problem.  I have woken up to find slugs on my tent many times and now I am wondering if sleeping in a bivvy bag leaves me more vulnerable to that..... I will be keeping mine fully closed even in the future...

For those who have read further some actual facts:

1. Slugs are descended from snails and theoretically gave up their shells in environments without the necessary minerals to build them.
2. The Marbled Cone snail has enough venom in it's barbed bite to kill lots of people but not uk based and it is a sea snail so should be easy to spot in an aqualung.
3. They can carry diseases so listen to your mums advice and wash your hands if you come into contact especially clean out a wound...  Angiostrongylus -  rat lung worm

The best fact of all!!!

Friday, 30 March 2018

Thermos Ultimate 900ml review and some general advice on flasks

Recently I purchased a new flask, I have been using one that was given to me it doesn't come with a cup and whilst useful it doesn't keep the drinks that hot over a longer period of time it was also comparitvely heavy whilst not really holding a lot.

So I did some research and there were a few candidates:

SIGG Hot & Cold ACCENT Aqua 1.0 L 

This looked a good option but was expensive and I couldn't find the weight listed it did claim to keep your drink warm for many hours but didn't say how long on their official website...

Black Trail Break Biker

Now this was a serious contender I liked the design, again not cheap but specification wise it fell down firstly on the weight 610 g   220 grams heavier than the thermos ultimate and it stated would keep drinks warm for 18 - 20 hrs whereas the thermos ultimate stated 24 hrs warm.

Thermos Ultimate 900ml  

slightly less capacity than the other two I was considering, however it weighed in at only 380g and claimed to keep drinks warm for 24hrs.  After going through several youtube videos with nothing but good to say and backing up their claims I decided this one was for me.  

The Thermos ultimate is as expensive as the others however I managed to source one from Amazon for £20.00 because it was listed as used the packaging was damaged, as the packaging would have ended up in the bin this was a no brainer.

(Long term note:  as the flask is extreemely lightweight the walls whilst strong are more prone to denting than a traditional steel flask, it hasn't been a problem for me but something for you to consider.   I just ensure I store mine in the bag not on the outside and wrap it in something.)

Overall then my choice was easy, however I think the Primus Trailbreak is a great contender and if I had more stats on the Sigg I am sure it was also a serious contender, tbh unless weight is a major consideration I think they would all be a good choice.

 (Long term note:  I am consistently amazed at how long this keeps things hot it really does what it says on the tin!!!!) 

 (Long term note:  A feature I never really considered when buying but now find immensely useful is the way you can completely remove all the lids etc.. on this flask and designed so they don't break i.e. push button flasks, this makes it SUPER EASY TO CLEAN!!)


So finally some tips to share that I have gleaned over the years:

1. Preheat your flask, pour some hot water in swill it round let it stand for a minute then empty and then fill it properly.  This will keep your drink hot for the maximum time as it stops the cold flask initially dropping the temprature.

2. If your going to leave your drink for a long time don't add the milk in.  I don't drink milk but have added it for others to find that after hours in the flask the drink can tase like the milk is off.   Just carry the milk with you.   I tend not to put anything in, just hot water it means you don't have to clean your flask, maximum hot water.

3. Make a flask up before you go to bed, then you can wake up in your tent/bivvy and have a warm drink to get you going before you have to venture out into bad weather.

4. Cleaning your flask - crush up some egshell, put that a little warm water and a few suds put the lid on and shake vigourously - really works.

5. Don't leave anything in the flask for a long time - trust me it's never pleasant to clean out...

6.  If you aren't going to use your flask for a while, wash it and leave the lid off till it is completely dry inside.   If you leave it damp with the lid on for an extended period it will smell.

Storing a down sleeping bag

It's getting to that time of year when the tempratures gradually rise and your thinking of storing your down sleeping bag.  

I have a Montane Deep Heat Sleeping bag which I have had modified to be extra wide, I bought a Snugpak Winter Expanda panel and had it sewn into the bag and the existing zip reused, the material was such a close match no one can tell!!! the shop did such a great job on it.

I love the bag, but don't think much of Montanes customer service though there's a blog post about it so I won't bore you with the details.

Anyhow, I wasn't to happy with their storage bag as storing it that way and on top of a wardrobe means the bag is still compressed slightly and I wanted to ensure that it had the chance to fully decompress whilst stored.

After looking about for bags no one seems to make one that allows you to really let the bag breath and decompress.  I then had a little lightbulb moments and bought one of those underbed storage bags which cost me about £4.50 including postage from e-bay, the bag fitted in perfectly and can fully decompress.   It's stored on top of the wardrobe looks tidy so problem solved, a tip I thought I would pass on.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Camping In Norfolk - Christmas Night - New Bivy Bag - Sausage the ferretts first adventure

Dmitry a friend I met through work invited me on a mini adventure over Christmas, he had found a great campsite that was almost as good as wildcamping, with the promise that we would be the only ones on site.

This would be the perfect time to test a new piece of equipment I got for Christmas the Aqua Quest hooped Bivvy!

I arrived late at night to find Dmitry, Max & Michael already set up, it was very dark hammering down with rain so I got on with setting up the tarp and my new bivvy.   I was grateful that they had a good fire going and they put some food on for me on my arrival after a late night drive!

My tarp & Bivvy setup
 As you can see in the picture above, I had a dry night however the rain was so awful that the condensation inside the bivvy was awful, I should have taken a vbl (vapour barrier liner).
Did I mention Sausage the ferret joined us
This was a great adventure for Sausage, the guys were great with him and very patient we walked all the way through the woods to the sand dunes and beach and back with him, the locals were very curious.  Sausage loved every minute of it and showed no fear of the sea!
We took a long walk through some woods with  Sausage and
then down to the beach, this is Sausage swimming int the sea!

A curiosity in Kings Lynn

Michael, Max & Dmitry

Brighter Weather

Treating ourselves to a goodbye breakfast!

Dmitry with a mans breakfast soup
I will give a complete review of the Aqua Quest bivvy at a later date!

Saturday, 5 August 2017

The First Step in my bike Restoration - Stripping the brooks saddle &

Having a quick peek at the brooks saddle I saw plenty of surface rust etc.. on the springs so I decided I would start there and strip it down.  The intention being to soak the parts in oxalic acid to remove the rust, then clean and decide if they should be re-chromed.

Surface Rust

Not looking so good

Seat off and view from the bottom

checking out how it goes together
 Notice the screws at the top, I decided straight away not to try and just unscrew them, I soaked the whole assembly in GT85 and left it to penetrate.   Getting to the bolts underneath looked a challenge but it wasn't too bad in the end.

looking down the saddle at a single bolt
 That bolt at the end looked difficult to get too, not much room for a spanner.

Stem and mounts removed

Spring removal
 This proved less than the challenge I expected, GT85 had done it's work and I used the spanner to do the work not the screw so it stayed in good condition.

 It might seem obvious but I took a photo of the saddle hooks to make sure I put them back on the right way up.
 Look at those springs all still in good condition no breaks and that nut at the end looks clean so may be easier to remove!  In the end it was easy to move that nut but very slow as I could only get it about a 1/4 turn at a time due to the clearance.
 Rails removed seem in good condition but don't know what the chrome at the ends will come out like.

All Stripped

All parts bagged and labled
 I bagged and labeled the parts, being thorough I wanted the left spring to go back on the left side etc..

Notice the saddle it is actually green but looks black due to grime and possibly the wax/leather care that has previously been used on it.  I will ask on the forum if anyone has any ideas about bringing the colour back out.
Pics of the bell stripped off

the top bell badge removed
 I love this bell it works and sounds great but needs rechroming to bring it backs to it's former glory.   I am pretty sure I can bring those grips back up to bright and shiny, surprisingly they came off fairly easily.
This is the badge from the top of the bell, they don't make them like this anymore...  I am going to make sure a good job is done on this.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Lacing a brooks saddle

My brooks like others I have seen on the web seems to be sagging a little and more to one side so I decided to lace it.  After trying with the laces and some of the patterns online I was disatisfied with the finish and the results in terms of firming up the saddle.

I got hold of some orange paracord and a rope tensioner from an old tent and did it all in one, here's the result hope you find my approach useful.