Get out with the kids Wed, 22 Oct 2014 18:28:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 “Kozi Bear” Kid’s Fleece Review – Perfect for keeping your little ones warm Wed, 22 Oct 2014 18:28:04 +0000 “Kozi Bear” Kid’s Fleece Review – Perfect for keeping your little ones warm

We have been trying out this Kozi Kidz Soft Pile Fleece, and once again, Kozi Kidz have designed another great item to keep kids warm outside.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

“Kozi Bear” Kid’s Fleece Review – Perfect for keeping your little ones warm

We’ve been putting this Kozi Kidz soft pile fleece to the test…

Kozi Bear Kids Zip Up Softpile Fleece Review

We’ve become big fans of the Kozi Kidz children’s clothes. The Scandinavians certainly know how to wrap their kids up so they stay warm and dry.

With the colder weather now here, we’ve been testing out the Kozi Kidz Zip-up Hooded Soft-pile Fleece.

Why you should consider this fleece

There are plenty of kids fleeces around, but once again, Kozi Kidz has a few design items that make this stand out.

  • It’s really thick and warm – just what you want from this type of fleece.
  • It has a hood for extra insulation as a lot of heat can be lost through your child’s head.
  • Pockets are provided too making this practical as an outer layer on dry days.
  • Elasticated hem around the waist helps keep heat in and cold draughts out.
  • Zipped front making it easy to get on and off, or just to undo if they start to get too warm.
  • Thumb holes in sleeves help keep insulation in around the arms and help keep hands warm, and also if your child puts their thumbs through the holes and then puts an overcoat on, the fleece stays where it should be and doesn’t disappear up their arms! Absolutely love this feature.
  • Machine washable of course.
Kozi Kidz Hooded Fleece Features

Putting the Kozi Bear Fleece to the test

The Kozi Kidz fleece got a thorough testing
Our little lad has been out and about in this fleece of the past month, and it has performed really well.

It works well as an outer layer when it is dry, and also as a mid-layer underneath a coat.

One of the times it really impressed was on our October Microadventure, where we slept out on a Welsh hill side. As the temperature dropped towards freezing, the Kozi Kidz fleece kept him warm through the night.

Our Rating

The Kozi Kidz Zip-up Hooded Fleece is another great item for kids and gets the thumbs up from us.

Get Out With The Kids rating of 5 out of 5

More Information

Thanks once again to the guys at Kozi Kidz for providing us with this soft pile fleece to review. Keep up the great work on designing outdoor clothes that keep everyone’s kids warm and dry.


This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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10 things to do with conkers Thu, 16 Oct 2014 06:56:20 +0000 10 things to do with conkers

During Autumn conkers are a favourite of kids to collect - but what do you do with them all? Here's 10 ideas of things you can do with all those conkers.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

10 things to do with conkers

There’s loads of things for kids to find when going out on those Autumn walks. Conkers are a favourite of kids to collect – but what do you do with them all? Here’s some ideas…

10 things to do with conkers

Autumn tis the season for collecting.

It’s hard for kids to resist walking past a conker tree and not collecting the shiny bounty on the ground.

Glam Conkers
On our way home from school we always stop at our favourite tree and come home with pockets full of conkers (tip always take a bag, you always come home with more than you think! )

So what do you do with the conkers when you get home? We’ve  come up with some ideas to make use of them.

1 Use conkers for practising counting

Can you count in 2, 5, 10’s etc. For little ones which is the biggest, smallest, shiniest. You could also make patterns, shapes, pictures from them.

2 Play that good old fashioned game of conkers

Just remember to play safely and keep away from eyes.

3 Paint and decorate them

Conker Painting

We painted some then decorated them we shiny craft bits that we found at home.

This simple activity kept our youngest busy for a few hours!

We tried printing with them. This works best with flat conkers.

4 Fend off spiders

It is said that placing conkers around the house on window sills keeps the spiders away. Not sure how true this is and not tried it, but maybe worth a go to keep the spiders at bay!

5 Kick a conker as you walk

Good when out walking to motivate tired little legs to keep walking that last little bit. Can you kick it all the way  home? back to the car? or wherever you are heading for.

6 Make conker people

A conker rabbit
Use natural materials that are around this time of year to get crafty leaves, twigs, acorns  to make conker people or animals.

7 Play a game with them

Set a target for example a stone who can roll their conker the closest  to the target wins!

8 Play catch

If you are outside play catch with them, good for those catching skills! Maybe a little tricky for very little ones.

9 Make some jewellery

Drill two holes in them and thread some stings through and you have a bracelet or necklace.

10 Have a go at a conker and spoon race

Could be a simple race or for older ones make a obstacle  course they have to tackle as well!!

Making Conker People

There are lots of things to do with conkers.

What do you like to do with them we would love to hear your ideas.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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Our Autumn Microadventure Kit List Tue, 14 Oct 2014 16:05:19 +0000 Our Autumn Microadventure Kit List

Here's our microadventure kit list. We list the things we took, what worked well, and what worked less well. Check list for your micro-adventure planning.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

Our Autumn Microadventure Kit List

Here’s a list of things we took on a recent microadventure. If you are planning something similar, you may find this useful…

MicroAdventure Kit List

My little lad and myself recently completed a microadventure by sleeping out on a hill in Wales in mid-October. If you’ve not read about our microadventure yet then click here.

Someone commented that we must of had amazing sleeping bags. We did not. We just used what we already had.

So here’s some of the kit we took.  This is by no means the best kit you can take, but it’s what we made work, along with what didn’t work too well.

Hopefully it will give you some ideas for your own microadventure.

Sleeping Bags

Vango Wilderness 250 - Packed
Our sleeping bags were Vango Wilderness 2 season bags.

It was a clear night and so the temperature dropped to just above freezing, which is beyond what is comfortable in these bags. However, we weren’t relying on just the sleeping bags to keep warm and made sure we layered our clothes well.

The good thing about these bags was that their exterior was slightly water resistant. When everything got damp in the cold night, the outside of the bags were damp, but the inside stayed dry. This made these bags ideal.

The other thing you need to think about is carrying your gear. I was having to carry two sleeping bags. These Vango Wilderness bags packed down small enough, and there was no way I could take our 3 or 4 season sleeping bags that are much bigger.

Sleeping Mats

HI Gear ultralite lightweight sleeping mat rolled up
Our sleeping mats were Hi Gear Ultralight Self Inflating Mats.

These pack down small and a good choice when taking two sleeping bags and two sleeping mats in one backpack. Our best SIM is not designed for backpacking; so it stayed at home.

The comfort the SIMs provide isn’t what’s important: it’s the insulation from the cold ground, which can sap the heat right out of you.

These SIMs are relatively inexpensive, and didn’t have the high insulation properties of more expensive SIMs.

A problem that we encountered was that our ‘shiny’ water-resistant sleeping bags would slide down these mats on the slight slope we were sleeping on (it’s hard to find a hill in Wales that has flat bits). In the end, most of our bodies were off the SIMs to avoid sliding, negating their insulating use.

On the Ground

Easy Camp Picnic Rug
Now here’s something that you may not of expected: a picnic rug!

We have an Easy Camp Insulated Picnic Rug and have been very impressed at how well it insulates from the ground. Considering how using the SIMs was a fail, this picnic rug probably saved us from getting extremely cold.

Underneath the picnic rug I had a plastic tarp to use as ground sheet as I knew it was wet and muddy.

I also took a wool travel blanket which I wrapped around my lad’s sleeping bag. As well as helping to keep him warm, it had the added benefit of making it easier to lift him after he slid down the slope!


High Peak Tarp 2
The weather forecast was for a clear night – but you can never rely on forecasts completely, especially when up a hill, and especially in Wales ;-)

For this I grabbed our High Peak Tarp that we’ve been using for camping this year.

This is a massive 4m x 4m that we have been using as the shelter for our family camping kitchen. I needed a shelter big enough to cover both of us and our bags, but this was way larger than we actually needed. However, it is lightweight and folded down smaller than the plastic tarp we were using as a ground sheet.

Our evening camp and shelter for the night
I didn’t take any tarp poles, instead we had some trekking walking poles. Simply extend the walking poles to the full height, and secure the tarp.

The shelter won’t be high enough to stand in, but you can sit and get in and out of your sleeping bag OK….or so I thought.

As the night got damper, water collected on the tarp, which became heavier and lower. Condensation was on both sides of the shelter and I would soon have a wet head!

Our little lad also wanted to bring the tarp from the Bear Grylls Dangerous Den set. This was hung over the front of our shelter to make a door that could be closed at night.

Other bits and pieces

First brew of the day
The Trangia with the Bio Ethenol fuel gel worked really well, and lit with no problems when it was cold.

The mess tins with the hexi stove was a bit of nostalgic fun for me, and my little lad liked cooking on it. As usual though, they’re only really good for warming food.

For water we carried it in water carriers/bottles. For one night there was no need to bother with water sterilisation.

Plastic bags / bin bags. Can’t do without them. Leave no trace. All our rubbish, and even the washing up, came out in a plastic bin bag (which you can see at the end of the video).

It’s Simple

As you can see we didn’t need to take a lot of fancy gear to do this microadventure.

If you are doing it in the colder months, you will need to layer your clothes, and a good base layer is essential.

Hopefully this has helped you plan your own little microadventure.

Our Kit List

Here’s my little check list I made of items to take. Use it as a basis to build your list for your own micro-adventure.

  • Tarps x2 (One for ground, one for roof. Could use one big one for roof and ground.)
  • Insulated Picnic Rug
  • SIMs
  • Sleeping Bags
  • A few tent pegs
  • Tarp clips (didn’t need them though)
  • Bungees
  • Head torches
  • Glow sticks (for our little lad)
  • Plastic Bags
  • Trangia, fuel, matches
  • Spork / Cutlery
  • Mess Tins & Cups
  • Hand gel and wipes
  • First aid kit

There are of course more items you could add to the list, such as a folding shovel and a folding saw. However, for one night’s adventure, you don’t need too much gear.

You can find more ideas on a microadventure kit list on Alastair Humprheys website.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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An Autumn Microadventure – Wild Camping on a hill in Wales Sun, 12 Oct 2014 17:39:00 +0000 An Autumn Microadventure – Wild Camping on a hill in Wales

Just because it's autumn it doesn't mean your adventures have to stop. Our Autumn Microadventure was night on a hill, and we saw some amazing sights.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

An Autumn Microadventure – Wild Camping on a hill in Wales

Mid-October is not a time of year many families go camping, let alone camping without a tent and on a remote hill in Wales. But if you don’t, you’re missing out…

Autumn MicroAdventure
squeeze in a small adventure at the weekend
With all the day-to-day busy-ness of schools, work, after-school clubs, homework, etc., it can be hard to find time time to take your kids on adventures. However, you can sometimes squeeze in a small adventure at the weekend. That’s the spirit behind Microadventures.

Do something different, and do it within the time you have available.

A one night doesn’t diminish the experience, as you’ll see…

An Autumn Microadventure

Here’s a little video we made of our adventure.

Our MicroAdventure Diary

14:00 – Assemble Our Kit

Ideally we would have got our kit together ahead of time, but the busy-ness of day-to-day life got in the way (as usual). Fortunately we already had the kit; it was just a matter of getting all together. Click here for a run-down on the kit we took.

I was going to have this microadventure with our youngest, or ‘Bear Grylls Junior’. He had been really exited about the weekend, and was going dressed in his Bear Grylls clothes, taking some of the Bear Grylls Dangerous Den Kit. The plan was a Bear Grylls themed microadventure, but the adventure turned out more than that…

I had to essentially carry the equipment for two people, which presented a few challenges, though BG Junior was carrying as much as he could in his backpack (plus insisted on taking his ‘army’ water bottle).

16:30 – Arrive at Location

We set off on our microadventure
Much later than planned, we arrived at our location, which was just over the border in Wales.

With our feet sinking into the mud we set off on our hike.

17:30 – Sun Starts Setting (already!)

The views were amazing. We were quite high and on the distant horizon were the mountains of Snowdonia.

storm clouds parted and the sun’s rays lit up the countryside
The storm clouds parted and the sun’s rays lit up the countryside.

It was spectacular.

Storm clouds part

The sun was getting low in the sky. Time to head off to where we were spending the night.

18:00 – Making Camp

Technically wild camping is illegal in most parts of the UK (Scotland and Dartmoor are exceptions), though there are some places where it is tolerated if you abide by some simple rules.

We knew the land owners who had kindly gave us permission for us to wild camp on their land.

Our evening camp and shelter for the night

We decided to take a spot higher up the hill where we could take in the views. This turned out to be a good decision, but did mean there were no trees to attach our tarp shelter to.

We secured the tarp against the slope of the hill on one side, and used walking poles to hold up the tarp at the front. Now we would be protected from any rain showers.

18:30 – Sunset

Who wouldn’t want to sit and take in a view like this?
We were treated to a glorious sunset. Who wouldn’t want to sit and take in a view like this?

A camp with a view
Sunsets are not just for summer

18:40 – First Aid

Somehow I had managed to slice the end of my finger when setting up the Trangia. Fortunately we always carry an emergency kit with a basic first aid set.

BG Junior knew what to do and helped tape my finger up.

18:50 – Time to Eat

As part of his ‘army’ experience, I’d bought some mess tins with a little hexi stove.

Sausages and Beans on Hexi Stove
sausages and beans in the mess tins
Although you can get a wide variety of foods for backpacking, we kept things simple and heated some tins of sausages and beans in the mess tins.

We also to the simple meal approach with the Trangia and cooked up pasta and sauce from a ‘just add water’ pack.

19:30 – You know it’s cold when…

You know it’s cold when the chocolate bar you brought makes and audible crunch when you bite it
…the chocolate bar you brought makes and audible crunch when you bite it – just as if it had be left in a cold fridge.

A clear night was forecast with temperatures a few degrees above freezing (plus we were up a hill). We had dressed well with appropriate layers, including some good base layers.

As the temperature dropped, the BG shell jacket was swapped for the thick Kozi Kidz fleece. This is a great outer layer when it is cold but dry, and kept our BG Junior snug.

20:00 – Milky Way

Not the chocolate bar but the galaxy (again, not that chocolate bar).

The Milky Way right above our head, just 25 minutes drive from home
You may have seen in books, the internet, and TV pictures of people camping with the sky lit up by millions of stars, and a big cluster of them that stretches across the sky. That’s the Milky Way, and it was right above our head, just 25 minutes drive from home.

transported from being on a hill side to flying through space
I tried capturing it on camera, but failed and only managed to get a few stars. A good picture, but just does not show what we saw. We had been transported from being on a hill side in Wales to flying through space. Evening the opening titles of Star Wars doesn’t show anywhere near the number of stars we saw.

Night time above our wild camp
giving your kids moments like this is what it’s all about
Although that wasn’t the only impressive sight in our microadventure, our little lad said that seeing all those stars was the best bit. It’s giving your kids moments like this, is what it’s all about.

20:30 – Bed – Slide – Bed

The area we were sleeping in was flat…for a hill.

As soon as our sleeping bags went on the self-inflating mats, we slid down the hill, and even poked outside the end of our shelter.

So after a bit of repositioning ourselves, we eventually found a position where we didn’t slide – so much. A number of times in the night I had to lift BG Junior back up to his bed.

21:30 – What’s that noise?

Just how many different noises can owls make?

05:00 – Very cold

It’s always coldest before dawn and I started to feel the cold creeping in.

I wasn’t properly cold, but I could feel it starting to bite through the sleeping bag, and my face sticking out of the mummy sleeping bag felt the same as when it freezes in winter.

I’d been checking our little lad throughout the night. That Kozi Kidz fleece worked really well. Even when he left his hands sticking outside the sleeping bag, they remained warm.

Extremities like hands and feet are the first to feel the cold as your body tries to keep the warm blood flow at its core. As his hands were warm, I knew he was warm. Mine were cold.

07:30 – Wow!

I had been laying in bed not wanting to wake our BG junior.

This is what we woke up to
When he did wake, he looked out of our shelter and said “Wow!”

This is what we woke up to.

Islands in the Sea of Fog
islands in the Sea of Fog
The cold damp air had settled in the valleys below leaving the hills looking like islands in the Sea of Fog.

07:45 – Breakfast

First brew of the day
First brew of the day. Coffee, porridge, and more chocolate for BG Junior (at least he wasn’t taking this BG thing too far and trying to eat the bugs!).

First brew of the day

08:15 – Everything is wet

Porridge Coffee and Smarties breakfast
The problem is when camping out this time of year is that the cold damp air makes everything wet. Our sleeping bags, sleeping mats, and of course, the tarp shelter.

Fortunately this was only a one night camp, so I could pack things up sufficiently for our hike out, and clean and dry things when we get home.


It was Cold & Wet but Utterly Fantastic

If you take the right gear, you can handle cold and wet. The cold and wet is soon forgotten.

What won’t be forgotten so readily, especially for my little lad, was sleeping out in the wilderness (like ‘Bear Grylls’), seeing the sky filled with millions of stars, and waking up to find ourselves looking down on islands in a sea of fog.

Now it’s your turn

You might not be prepared to sleep out during mid-October but don’t dismiss doing something like this. Make a mental note, and when next summer comes around, why don’t you take your kids on your own microadventure.

If you think you need a lot of kit for a microadventure, think again. In the next article we go through some of the kit we took, what worked well, and what worked less well. It includes a little check list of things to take that you can use as a basis for your own microadventure.

Part 2: The Microadventure Kit List >>


This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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Bear Kids Core Softshell Jacket Review Sat, 11 Oct 2014 07:56:01 +0000 Bear Kids Core Softshell Jacket Review

Looking for something to keep the wind off and another layer of the winter? This Bear Kids softshell jacket is a great bit of outdoor kit, kid size.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

Bear Kids Core Softshell Jacket Review

Do you have your own little adventurer? Kit them out with this soft-shell jacket to keep them warm on their adventures…

Bear Grylls Kids Softshell Review
clothes can act as a motivation for kids
We’ve written before how some clothes can act as a motivation for kids to get outside. Put them in something they’ve seen on TV and immediately they transform. However, this is no Star Wars character dressing up costume, but chief scout and TV adventurer, Bear Grylls.

It’s not only motivation though, this is a real soft-shell jacket, and not just some over-priced imitation with a celebrity logo.

Why a Soft-shell Jacket?

Soft-shell jackets are lightweight and provide a great wind barrier keeping you warm.

They are called ‘soft shell’ as they have a softer feel than ‘hard shell’ jackets.; they don’t have a hard waterproof coating. These jackets are water resistant enough for light showers.

great jackets for windy days exploring the hills
These are great jackets for windy days exploring the hills, and are designed for easy of movement, unlike coats that are bulkier.

You also use soft-shell jackets in winter as they are thin enough to use as another layer underneath an ‘outer shell’ jacket, providing much better insulation in cold weather.

get two uses from one jacket
So you effectively get two uses from one jacket: a lightweight jacket for windy days when it’s not too cold, and better insulation for much colder days in winter.

I am Bear Grylls

The Bear Kids Core Softshell Jacket

Soft-shell jackets are a ‘technical’ piece of clothing, i.e. something specifically designed for the outdoors, and as is typical, not many companies make proper outdoor clothing for kids. You may find imitations on the high street, but many don’t use the design and technical materials necessary for the outdoors.

VIew BG Kids Shell JacketThis kids Bear Grylls jacket is made by Craghoppers, who have years of experience making proper outdoor clothing for adults. They’ve used the same technical materials and design of the adult ranges, but scaled down to kids size.

Our little adventurer loved it
We’ve been very impressed with the BG soft-shell jacket. Our little adventurer loved it too, and instantly transformed into a little Bear Grylls (though fortunately not eating all the bugs!).

The jacket is fleece lined inside, has zipped pockets, and cuffs and collar can wrap your kid up to keep heat in and the cold wind out.

It’s machine washable too.

At the time of writing it was only £35 from Craghoppers, and available in sizes from age 5 to 13 years old. You can get the jacket in blue.

It get’s the thumbs up from us.
Discount code: N/A

Craghoppers Temple Range is back up to 60% OFF Selected last season styles and colours. Valid until 31 October 2014 23:59:59 Visit Web Site

It goes well with the Bear kids fleece.

And Dad doesn’t go without either, as there’s an Adult Bear Core Softshell Jacket too ;-)


Thanks to the guys at Craghoppers for thinking about kids that enjoy the outdoors, and thanks for sending us the sample for us to review.


This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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Decent Winter Walking Boots for Kids – TNF Kids Walking Boots Reviewed Wed, 08 Oct 2014 06:46:44 +0000 Decent Winter Walking Boots for Kids – TNF Kids Walking Boots Reviewed

Tired of kids with cold wet feet during winter walks? Want something with grip and support? These kids walking boots may be just what you are looking for.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

Decent Winter Walking Boots for Kids – TNF Kids Walking Boots Reviewed

Tired of your kids complaining of cold and wet feet when you go for hikes in the winter? Want something that’s going to support their ankles and give good grip on slippery surfaces? These boots may just be the solution…

Proper Kids Winter Walking Boots

It wasn’t very long ago when it was really hard to find decent outdoor clothing for kids. A lot of high street shops focus more on ‘fashion’ clothing, that may look ‘outdoorsy’, but are completely useless as soon as a bit of wind and rain hits them.

Fortunately things may be changing, as more outdoor brands are turning their attention to producing kids clothes, with the same technical qualities that can be found in adult versions. This is good news for all our kids.

We were lucky in summer to equip ourselves with decent summer walking shoes from the high street. Now the Autumn hiking season is starting (and small feet have grown again!), it’s time for new walking boots.

The North Face is a well recognised brand for outdoor clothing. Did you know, they also make kid sized walking boots? And decent ones too.

What’s more, you get them on the high street from Blacks, and are available in both boys and girls styles.

Chilkats Walking Boots for Boys

The North Face Boy’s “Chilkats” Walking Boot

First impressions of the Boy’s Chilkats Boot is that it’s really well made.

It comes in two parts, with the lower half looking like a ruggedised welly boot, so you just know puddles aren’t going to be a problem. In fact the entire boot has been treated to be waterproof and all the seams have been sealed.

Heatseeker thermal lining in boots
The inside of the boot is padded and insulated, which is going to be great for family hikes in winter. The North Face claim this could keep the feet warm even down as far as -25ºC …though we’ve not tested them when it was that cold!

The grip on the soles are very good too. We tried these boots on a variety of terrains. They had pretty good grip when going on a spot of bouldering at Snowdonia in Wales.

This is The North Face’s Winter Grip technology that they claim works well on icy paths too. With the waterproofing and insulation, plus the winter grip, these boots are going to be great when the winter hits, even in the snow and ice.

Unlike shoes, the high sides of these boots means they give plenty of support to your boy’s ankle.

When our little lad first wore them he did find walking in them a little funny, since they added nearly an inch to his height. However, he soon got used to them, and was running around and climbing over things in no time.

These boots certainly get the thumbs up from us.

Get Out With The Kids rating of 5 out of 5

You can get these in a number of sizes, from size 10 in Children’s up to size 6, and are available from Blacks.

If you don’t like the black colour you can get them in beige, though we think the black works well for this time of year.

At the time of writing these boots were available for £50 from Blacks, though check their website for the last price and offers.

McMurdo Girls Walking Boots

The North Face Girl’s McMurdo Walking Boot

Fortunately the girl’s don’t get left out, with the McMurdo girl’s walking boot.

As with the Boy’s Chilkats boot, these are fully waterproof, and designed for cold wet weather that you find in the wintery months.

They are well insulated too, using the same Heatseeker technology as the boy’s boot, but in addition come with a faux-fur collar to the boot, which our daughter found very stylish.

Once again, we found these boots to be well made, comfortable, and had plenty of grip.

There’s plenty of support in these boots for hiking across un-even terrain, and with good toe protection, should protect the feet of your kids even when they’re not paying enough attention to where they’re walking.

These are another great kid’s walking boot for winter, and get the thumbs up from us.

Get Out With The Kids rating of 5 out of 5

The Girl’s McMurdo Boots come in a number of child sizes, and are available from Blacks.

Discount code: BLACKS10

10% off Full priced items only, excludes gift cards. Valid until 1 January 2015 00:00:59 Visit Web Site

Many thanks to Blacks for providing the samples so that we could conduct this review.


This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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Deer Rutting Season Mon, 06 Oct 2014 16:25:58 +0000 Deer Rutting Season

Get the kids out for a walk this autumn. Not only pick up some leaves, conkers, etc., why not see some deer rutting too?

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

Deer Rutting Season

Take the kids on a walk this Autumn and go spot some deer rutting…

Frontal view of red deer stag (Cervus elaphus) roaring during the rut, mouth open, in England

Autumn is a great time of year to get your family out hiking. Wrap up warm and enjoy those autumn colours.

But it’s not all about falling leaves and pumpkins; the wildlife haven’t gone into hibernation just yet.

October is deer rutting season for some of the larger British deer, where the stags fight for the does, the female deer.

Dawn and dusk appear to the best time of day to see them, but you may get a glimpse of rutting at other times of the day too.

Finding Deer

Depending on where you live, finding deer in the wild can be difficult.

We live in a more rural part of the country, and have been lucky enough to come across deer a few times. However, one of the best places to see deer rutting is on one of the many organised guided rutting walks at some of the park land found up and down the country.

Our local National Trust Attingham Park for instance has a deer rut walk with the wards that runs between 5pm and 7pm at dusk at the weekend. (Details here).

Tips for Spotting Deer with your kids

  • A good time to watch is early morning and dusk as this is when the deer are most active.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and footwear. Camouflage colours help, as deer are easily disturbed.
  • Watch quietly from a safe distance. Some child-friendly binoculars are useful.
  • Listen out for the bellowing and whistling of dominant stags.
  • Look out for “buck rubs” on trees. Bucks remove bark from trees usually one to two feet off the ground to mark their territory.
  • The fieriest fights tend to happen towards the end of the rut when the Alpha male stag becomes weaker and others may try their luck.
  • It’s not an activity that’s suitable to bring dogs to.

Interesting facts about Deer Ruts

  • Stags crash antlers to claim territory, they don’t usually get hurt during the fights.
  • Stags mark their territory by stomping on the ground.
  • Bucks rub their antlers on a tree to remove the soft velvet that protected them when new, they become ivory-coloured at the tips.
  • A Red stag will go to a peaty bog or muddy pool to wallow covering itself in mud. This helps spread a strong rutting scent.
  • Rivals sometimes walk side by side to asses each others strength and size each other up.
  • The loud whistling sound the Sika deer make can be heard from 1km away.

Types of British Deer in the Country Side

Red Deer

Red Deer

Red Deer are native to the UK and are the largest deer to roam the countryside.

If you live in Scotland, the Lake District, or South West England you may be lucky enough to here the roars of red deer stags and watch them pushing and shoving to gain the upper hand.

Roe Deer

Roe Deer

Roe deer are also native to the UK, and can be found in southern England and Scotland, though not across the central part of the UK (the Midlands and Wales).

Although reddish, they are much smaller than Red Deer, and the males have smaller antlers.

Rutting season is in July and August though for Roe Deer.

Fallow Deer

Fallow Deer

Fallow Deer disappeared from the UK during the last ice age, but were re-introduced by both the Romans and Normans.

These deer have dappled coats and are medium sized. They are quite common in park land across the UK.

Sika Deer

Sika Deer

Sika Deer is not a UK native, but can be seen in woodland throughout the UK.

These are small grey-brown deer. The males have small antlers.

Muntjac Deer

Muntjac Deer

Muntjac Deer is actually a very old species of deer, and again, not a native of the UK, but can be found in southern and central England.

This deer is very small and is about the size of a large dog.

Chinese Water Deer

Chinese Water Deer

As the name suggests, these deer are not native to the UK. You can find these deer in Norfolk.

Their rutting season is a bit later, from November through to January.

They are very good swimmers, hence the ‘water’ in the name.

Sources and More Information

UPDATE: Pictures from our Deer Rutting Trip

So since writing this post we went out with a National Trust ranger at Attingham Park to watch the deer rutting.

It was a really good evening out; not something you would normally do!

We managed to get quite close to the deer. Here are a few pictures we took.

A buck defending his territory A buck standing his ground during the rutting season A fallow deer at Attingham Park

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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The Sleepy, a wearable sleeping bag Mon, 06 Oct 2014 06:54:33 +0000 The Sleepy, a wearable sleeping bag

We check out the Sleepy, a wearable sleeping bag that means you can get up in the morning when camping without having to leave your warm bed.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

The Sleepy, a wearable sleeping bag

The Sleepy Wearable Sleeping Bag

We’ve all been there when camping: you wake up in the morning, all snug and warm in your sleeping bag, but on your exposed face you feel the cold bite of the morning air.

do you stay just a little bit longer in your warm bed?
Decision time. Do you get out of the warm sleeping bag knowing that it’s going to be C O L D, or do you stay just a little bit longer in your warm bed?

However long you put it off, eventually you’ll need to get up for something. It may be to put the kettle on for the first brew of the day. It may be the call of nature. Or, may be you have kids and you don’t have a choice of when you get up ;-)

Fortunately the guys over at SLPY may have a solution, and sent us over a couple of Sleepy bags to review.

Stay in the sleeping bag

Is it a sleeping bag or is it a coat?

you can wear it like a coat
OK, so it’s most definitely a sleeping bag…but you can get up and move around, without having to get out of it, and you can wear it like a coat.

When you are inside the sleeping bag you can reach up and unzip some holes to poke your arms through.

Next you can reach down and unzip the bottom of the sleeping bag, so you can pop your feet out.

go for a hike if you so desire!
You could walk (waddle) around like this, but better still, you can pull up the bottom of the bag to your waist where there is a cord that you can tighten like a belt, freeing your legs….enough to go for a hike if you so desire!

Yes, that might be a little bit further than you’d be prepare to go wearing a sleeping bag, but you can easily walk off to the facilities, make a brew, or sort the kids out – all whilst not actually getting out of your sleeping bag.

It’s also great at the other end of the day: pop into it whilst you are still around the campfire. You can then go to bed with your sleeping bag already warm and toasty.

Warming by the fire

What’s it like as a sleeping bag?

well made and warm
So you might be thinking this is just a gimmick, but we found the sleeping bags to be well made and warm. They were also comfortable.

The sleeping bag itself performed like a 2-3 season bag.

Mummy bags and slug kids

The Sleepy comes in small, medium, and large size. The two we had here were small and medium, with small aimed at children.

a warm fluorescent slug
Colours are quite bright, and as one of our daughters said, you looked like a fluorescent slug when walking in it, however, a warm fluorescent slug.

In fact, the only thing they wished was that SLPY made matching slippers!

Not just for camping

After coming back from camp our kids didn’t want the Sleepy bags to go with the other sleeping bags. Instead they wanted them to hand for lounging around the house watching movies and for taking to sleepovers.

So, if you are looking for something that’s a little bit different – and to avoid getting out of your sleeping bag first thing when it’s cold – then go check out the Sleepy. It gets the thumbs up from us.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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Eggy Stars Sat, 04 Oct 2014 06:53:20 +0000 Eggy Stars

Here's a simple and fun breakfast to make your kids when camping: Eggy Stars. A nice twist on 'eggy bread'.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

Eggy Stars

Here’s something simple to make the kids for breakfast when camping…

Eggy Stars Breakfast

If you don’t have to rush off, enjoying a warm breakfast when camping is a must – especially if you can warm up with a little campfire ;-)

Here’s a little twist to eggy bread we made recently to give the kids something different, and it couldn’t be simpler to make. Eggy Stars!

Remember to take a cookie cutter shape with you. You don’t want a cutter that’s too small (or one with fiddly bits!).

Cut out shapes from slices of bread.

Whisk up some eggs.

Fry the bread and pour the egg mixture into the hole.

You can cook this in the frying pan over a gas hob. We did this over hot coals in the fire pit and used the up-turned Dutch Oven lid as a hot plate. Sitting around a campfire or hot coals is not only good for the evening; it’s good to warm up by on chilly mornings.

Don’t forget to fry or toast the cut outs too!

We served with beans and ketchup.

Enjoy ;-)

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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Leaf Art Ideas to help with those Autumn Walks Wed, 01 Oct 2014 07:53:50 +0000 Leaf Art Ideas to help with those Autumn Walks

Autumn is a great time of year for family walks: little kids can stay motivated by finding different leaves. Here's some leaf art ideas that you can do.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

Leaf Art Ideas to help with those Autumn Walks

Your little ones collecting a lot of autumn bounty? Here’s some ideas to make use of all those leaves…

Leaf Art Ideas
Leaf Collecting Season
Autumn is a great time of year for walks, and if you need to give any of the younger members of your family some inspiration for coming out for a walk, Autumn is a great time of year to collect different leaves, acorns, conkers, and pine cones.

But what do you do with all the things they find?

I don’t know about you, but we end up with bags of items our youngest collects.

Well here’s one idea, which gives you an extra activity out of what they find: leaf art.

Leaf Art Ideas from around the internet

If you’re struggling for ideas, here are some great resources from around the internet.

Our camping leaf art

Leaf Art
Here’s one we made with a camping inspired theme, and may be something that could be done at the campsite if you are camping this autumn.

You simply need some scrap paper, a pen, and some imagination with what you find.

The good thing about doing this sort of thing at the campsite is that you don’t need to bring the stuff at home. Simply snap a picture of it on your phone, and then leave the things with nature. ;-)

More ideas

If you want more ideas, we’ve pulled together a Pinterest board. So browse and get inspiration ;-)


This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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