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Monthly Archives: April 2013

  • So You Want To Try Camping #2...A home from home. Zzzzz.

    Well, Easter 2013 got a bit too chilly for most tent campers in this area but we're getting a bit warmer now, and we're just topping up the lake for a few days before we have our first heat wave.

    So, we've got the tent to suit our plans and now need to think about what we need to make it comfortable to live in, within our budget.


    There's a wide choice of sleeping bags on the market. If you are planning to camp in summer on a campsite that's not halfway up a mountain, you could just bring your duvet  from home and then make sure that you are well insulated from the ground... but assuming you want to get a sleeping bag.

    Basic sleeping bags cost very little and do the job well in mild conditions. They usually have an indication as to how warm they are and a temperature or season rating, take this with a 'pinch of salt', we are all different and there are enough variables to make this rating very approximate, it's just a guide. If you are car camping and weight is not a consideration, you can always take a fleece blanket or buy a liner for the bag to give you flexibility as to temperature control. A bag's loft, its 'fluffiness', is important for keeping the warm air in and the cold at bay; when you compress a bag it loses this insulating ability, so don't pull it in too tight around you, that won't help. Likewise you will need to have insulation underneath you, where the bag is flattened on the cold ground, it won't keep you warm.

    A down sleeping bag (down as in bird down!) is the most efficient, but is an expensive bit of kit and it's probably best if you are new to camping to stick with synthetic filling, a bit bulkier but easily washed.

    To help insulate you from the cold ground, a closed cell 'Campermat' will do the trick. You can also get a posher version which is self inflating, be wary of the inflatable airbeds which are comfortable but won't keep you warm, the air in them drops to the ambient temperature, they won't provide insulation.

    You should never leave a heater on overnight, the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning is very real and there were several incidents last year in this area, and sadly, this year has already seen its first deaths. Ventilation is also important to keep your tent as damp free as possible, especially during the night, keep the air circulating as much as possible.

    At Catstycam, The Outdoor Shop we stock a good selection of sleeping bags, sleeping mats, bag liners and airbeds, as well as many other accessories to help make your first expeditions into the wonderful world of camping as enjoyable as possible.

    After your first good night's sleep under canvas you will be looking forward to a hearty breakfast in the clean, fresh Cumbrian air.

    So... the  cooking arrangements?

    Next time.

  • Oops! The Law Of Unintended Consequences

    I was looking at the OS map for our area (OL5) and came across 'The Bungalow' in Martindale, near the southern end of Ullswater. You can stay there if you want, but it's not a modern dwelling, not by a long way.

    Families, eh, what are they like?

    You don't really get a choice, do you? At least you get to pick your friends, but not your kith and kin, your clan, your tribe.

    Bear with me, this is going somewhere.

    You can take one of the Ullswater "Steamers" to Howtown and take a very pleasant walk to see The Bungalow, it's over a century old and was built by the Earl of Lonsdale, the Yellow Earl : he wasn't a coward or anything, it's just that yellow was his favourite colour, and that's why the Automobile Association's livery is yellow, he was its first president, and that's why Penrith Tories wear yellow rosettes, not the usual Tory blue.

    The Earl actually painted one of the early steamers yellow so that he could use it as a "Royal Yacht" for a very special guest who visited the area at the beginning of the 20th  century... before that family argument that started in 1914 and lasted till 1918.

    In fact not only did he paint a boat he actually built a hunting lodge, the Bungalow, so that his honoured guest, one of Queen Victoria's many descendants and cousin of King George V, could enjoy a spot of hunting before it all kicked off a few years later.

    Meanwhile, somewhere in eastern Europe (Sarajevo) some disgruntled individuals were planning a shooting outing themselves. They managed to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in June 1914 and in so doing set off a chain of events which ended up, due to a whole mess of treaties, alliances, ill judged promises and massive egos, in what we now call  'The Great War', the first world war, with an estimated death toll of over five million.

    By the way, the honoured guest was Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, 'Kaiser Bill' who was shortly to become the enemy, fighting his cousins King George V and Tsar Nicholas II... bet they didn't see that coming the Christmas before... hope they kept their receipts.

    These days when I go for a walk in the hills, I tend to stick to old favourites so I don't need to keep digging the map out and try to find my specs. I remember from the old days when trying to find my way to a chosen destination how easy it can be to take one wrong turn, and end up in all sorts of trouble.

    But that wasn't the end of the story for the 20th century, was it? The 'war to end all wars', wasn't.

    That troubled patch of central Europe, Germany, had a few more trials and errors to work through.

    The myth had spread in 1918 in Germany that the politicians had betrayed the Nation, and that Germany had not been defeated on the battlefield.

    Communists, capitalists, anarchists, nationalists and all sorts of -ists were fighting in the streets, the economy was a dog's breakfast and something needed to be done.

    Big business and the ruling classes genuinely feared a communist revolution, as had happened in Russia, something definitely needed to be done!

    Enter the Charlie Chaplain lookalike Adolf Hitler. Big business saw how he appeared to have the common touch and was genuinely popular, they could slip him a bit of cash, give him their support, let him sort out those pesky commies, then drop him when he had done their dirty work and all would be well, order would be restored, and they could get back to some serious empire building.

    Well, we all know how well that plan worked.

    It has been estimated around 100 million people were killed in wars in the 20th century.

    Thank goodness we've moved on since the 20th century.

    Kaiser Wilhelm is long gone, a young man with something to prove, who was given a highly militarised, disciplined nation, ready to follow him without question. He had at his disposal the latest technology and was able to use this to wage what was at the time the first industrial war, mechanised weapons, chemicals, telecommunication, flying machines!

    Sound vaguely familiar, somehow?

    The "Dear Leader", Kim Jong-il, has passed on to his son, Kim Jong-un, a nation united in its hatred/fear of the outside world. A 'Million Man Army' and a worrying amount of nuclear technology has also been left for him in his toy-box to experiment with, to help him to make his mark in/on the world.

    Oh well, at least the Americans are watching the situation closely, and what with their stealth bombers, warships, and Patriot missiles , coupled with their sensitive even-handed diplomatic skills, we can all sleep safely in our beds.

    You looking at me?

    What could possibly go wrong?

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