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Monthly Archives: November 2012

  • Let's Just Leave The Walrus Out Of This For Now.

    Catstycam, The Outdoor Shop has recently taken on an old apprentice, Piet.

    As part of his ongoing staff training, Mr Italic, the Staff Development Officer, is talking with Piet in the Glenridding shop.

    As a valued member of the team, and so that he will be able to carry on Catstycam, The Outdoor Shop's fine tradition of  service to its customers, today Mr Italic plans to get a little technical with Piet...

    Right Piet, we've got you introduced to your colleagues and our two shops , a general idea of what we do and our ethos. So...

    ' The time has come,'  the Walrus said,

    'To talk of many things:

    Of shoes - and ships - and sealing wax

    Of cabbages and kings'.

    Oh I see. Are we diversifying in order to survive in the ever-changing economic circumstances of the 21st century? Adapt or die, it's a jungle out there..


    Er, not quite.

    When I say waterproof to you Piet, what do you think of?

    Walruses? They'll definitely be waterproof, won't they?

    Let's just leave the walrus out of this for now.

    Sometimes an apparently straightforward question,  just isn't.

    What, like ,'Why are we here?'

    I was thinking more of:  'Is this waterproof ?'

    Not quite so metaphysical, but not quite as black and white as you might think.

    Wellies are waterproof, plastic macs and buckets...

    Perhaps the question should be : 'Will this keep me dry?'

    A plastic mac will stop the rain from coming through it and getting you wet, it won't stop a build up of moisture on the inside which has been generated by your body's natural cooling system, i.e. sweating.

    Wellies won't stop your feet sweating, they won't keep your feet warm and they smell.

    You can't wear a bucket safely (and it's not a good look).

    The honest answer to that question would be something like : 'That depends'.

    There are materials now which, on a microscopic level, are a two way barrier. They allow the moisture produced by your body during exercise to pass through them into the great outdoors, but also provide an obstacle to water, usually rain, landing on them from outside and largely stop that water from getting through to the inside and making you wet.

    Perfect, problem solved!

    Not really, because there will always potentially be a point at which the water coming from the outside ( maybe with a following wind ) will ignore the ' No Entry ' sign and go the wrong way up the one-way street.

    Where's a policeman when you need one, eh?

    C'est la vie, mon ami!

    How can I tell how waterproof an item will be, if, as you say, it depends.

    Upon what, pray, does it depend?

    Well, as a guide you should check its hydrostatic head.

    Do you know where to find that?

    In the hood?

    At Catstycam, The Outdoor Shop we always display that information with the garment, you'll soon get to know that sort of detail. But as part of your training...

    Imagine your bucket without a bottom. Stretched across the bottom part of the bucket is a piece of the waterproof, breathable material. You fill the bucket with water and nothing leaks. So far, so good.

    Now the bucket grows upwards ( same circumference), only now it's five meters high and full of water, still doesn't leak. That's a hydrostatic head of 5000, in other words it can keep the water out even under that pressure.

    So the higher the hydrostatic  head the more likely it is to keep out the water?

    Pretty much. But eventually it will start to seep in as the pressure increases.

    OK, think I got that.

    Getting wet on occasion is hardly the end of the world, as long as you keep at a reasonable temperature.

    That's it and you need to make sure you have the right kind of clothing under the outer shell to help the whole process along... but that's for another day.


    Now, just run that walrus thing by me again, could you?

  • Free Postage and Christmas Vouchers

    The season of goodwill is fast approaching and we want to help all of our friends to make the most out of Christmas. We are readying our shops for festive times and we have some great deals lined up. If you are unlucky enough not to make it to Ullswater then we are giving free postage on everything on until Christmas.

    If you are in the Lakes, thinking about what to get 'Aunty Ethel' or 'cousin It' for Christmas, pop along to either of our shops by Ullswater. Our Glenridding shop is open every day and the Pooley Bridge shop is open Friday to Monday for a long weekend. We have a great range of affordable gifts, and a few special bits for people that have been very good.

    If you can’t decide what to get your walking friends for Christmas - we have Gift Vouchers that can be used in the shops or online. We have put them in Patterdale Mountain Rescue Christmas Cards that we have bought for you and we will give a £1 donation to the Team for every voucher bought.

    So I would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for a prosperous New Year.

  • Ad Montes Oculos Levavi

    I could be stating the blindingly obvious here when I say that one of the great drivers of our society is based upon the requirement to make people feel dissatisfied with their lives. On 'hoodwinking' them ... a falconry term describing putting a small leather hood over the eyes of the hawk so that it doesn't know where it is and won't react to its surroundings (by flying away??) until the falconer is ready to hunt.

    By projecting an image of the 'ideal' relationship, the 'ideal' lifestyle, the 'ideal' body and succeeding in making us believe these things to be real and achievable, society lays for us the foundations of our misery and feelings of inadequacy. We are, in effect, small children looking up to  find a hand to hold,  a hand which will, if we hold on tight enough, guide us to a safe and happy place.

    We will now all stand and sing hymn.....

    Ok, ok enough already.

    But let's not beat ourselves up. We weren't born with these ideas in our heads, they were put there deliberately. The economy has to keep pushing forward, it can't be allowed to stall, if the earth stops spinning we all fly off into space... and that's a cold dark place.

    So why the latin title?

    Well, that's the motto on Cumbria's coat of arms. Loosely translated it means : ' I shall lift up my eyes to the hills'. Psalm 121 and a little later comes a bit like: ' From whence comes help'

    So I could go one of two ways now, couldn't I?

    One where I say we are all trapped in an unhealthy, complex system designed to perpetuate an artificial longing for the unattainable, doomed to tread the hamster wheel of life etc, etc.  And the only way to escape is to run for the hills.

    But not today.

    Today I'll try to be a little more practical, even helpful... because that's what we are like at Catstycam, The Outdoor Shop.

    In fact, we know some other people who are extremely helpful.

    We speak with them on a regular basis and try to help them out when we can. They come from amongst us and yet are rather exceptional folk.

    The Patterdale Mountain Rescue team is made up of volunteers, as is the Penrith Mountain Rescue team, people from the community with a strong sense of service to their fellow human beings.

    They are on call 24/7 and receive no payment for their efforts, they go out in all conditions and at all times of the day or night.

    They save lives.

    So let's take some positive message from this.

    It's not all about consuming and keeping one step ahead of the neighbours. There are those amongst us who understand that co operation and offering a helping hand is a sign of strength, of a mature society.

    The next time you get out into those hills bear in mind that if you get into trouble, even if it's your own daft fault, there will be help. It will be offered without the expectation of any reward or acclaim.

    It will be there because you need it,

    not because you can pay for it,

    or you are entitled to it,

    but because someone is willing

    to give it.

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