On the Blog!

Children in Need Pop up cafe

Blacks are sponsoring Children in Need this year and this is a charity that we regularly support and try to fundraise for. Therefore it made sense as Blacks family ambassadors that we don our Pudsey hats and head for the hills for some fresh air and fundraising.


Countryfile have been encouraging people to arrange sponsored rambles to raise money for the Children in Need charity. Since we love the Great Outdoors and spending time in the fresh air, we eagerly decided to arrange our own ramble but put a different spin on it. We plotted out a four mile hike across the Kinder Plateau in the Peak District to a popular hot stop called Kinder Downfall where we set up a Pudsey Pop Up Café serving free coffee, tea and hot chocolate.

We sat for a couple of hours in the winter sunshine providing fellow walkers with warm drinks. Serving them in reusuable mugs meant that we not only avoided using single-use plastic but encouraged people to stop, chat and admire the view. Snowdon may have a café at the top but on this day Kinder Plateau had a Plastic Clever café at the top.

This ramble was rewarding in so many ways; we enjoyed a walk in the fresh air, spent time together as a family chatting along the way, provided a service for thirsty and cold walkers and raised £59.17 for a worthwhile charity.

Children in Need

BBC Countryfile Ramble

Blacks Children in Need Pudsey hat

Celebrating Going Outdoors – sponsored post

Why going outdoors is important

We’ve been a family who love the outdoors for a few years now, and we are constantly striving to spend as much time together outside as we can, regardless of the time of year, season or weather. Why? Well, it’s simple, really: being outdoors makes us all feel happy, and relaxed and contented.

Whenever we are outdoors together we feel alive and free. And in actual fact, it was our craving for outdoor time and family adventures that was a fundamental reason why, very recently, for nearly 3 years we left the rat race (work and school) and went travelling together – by caravan and motorhome. We had great experiences together; we created shared memories that will last forever; and we helped our children to maintain a healthy balance between ‘screen time’ and ‘green time’. Sometimes the simple things re the most important.

We’ve returned to a ‘normal’ life again now, but our enthusiasm for adventure and outdoor time is still alive and kicking: making us feel alive and giving us the kick we need to get outside and do more!

Enthusiastic but not expert = help needed

And this enthusiasm, or passion, for the outdoors has lead us into many an outdoor retailer or distributer over the years; after all, you need some essential kit to make sure your adventures and experiences are safe and as comfortable as they can be, right? And without naming names, it is fair to say that not every retail experience has been good or better than average, never mind great. You see, as non-outdoorsy experts like us (NB. being enthusiastic doesn’t = expert), looking for clothing or equipment for an outdoor activity can be a difficult experience. After all, outdoor kit can be expensive so making the right purchase is important.

Thankfully, it became apparent to us during our first of many visits to Go Outdoors Leicester, that two of our criteria as shoppers were bring met:

  • There was a range of equipment at discount prices
  • The staff were both knowledgeable and friendly

Since then, and as we travelled the UK we always look for a Go Outdoors whenever we need to replace kit or buy extras. And nearly a year to the day of writing, when we arrived back from our European travels to Nottingham we were excited to see that Go Outdoors had opened a new shop very close to where we live. So, it will be no surprise to read that I’ve since made several visits in the year we’ve been back and GO have been open, whether to go in to get DofE advice for a new group a colleague have set up, price up and buy new kit for our family adventures or to just go in and browse.

Celebrating an anniversary

When the team from GO Nottingham asked me to help them celebrate the 1st anniversary of their Nottingham store, it was a no brainer. I went in to chat with the staff to learn about how heavily they invest in their staff (training and morale) to ensure us, the customers, get the service we are looking for (and our (above) shopping criteria met). And with a modest voucher to spend, I went with a particular mission to get some new footwear for every day adventuring with a key requirement being they need to keep my feet warm and dry – I was heading to an outdoor weekend festival and the weather was looking wild (Storm Brian was on his way).

Sam from GO talked me through a whole range of options (how does he know about so many different shoes!) and guided me towards a reduced pair of Salomon X Ultra 2 GTX Men’s Hiking Shoes: waterproof and reduced from £115 to £85.

This is how they looked as new
This is how they looked as new
After a weekend with Brian
After a weekend with Brian

Thankfully, after a weekend of being up to my ankles in mud and slop, my feet remained warm and dry – thanks Sam for the recommendation!

Time for YOU to help GO celebrate the first anniversary of their Nottingham store


The team at GO really would like everyone to help them celebrate, and leave their store on their birthday weekend with a smile on their face. Be that from the fun activities they have planned for kids: face painting and more, or the free discount card and extra discounts they are putting on EVERYTHING over that weekend.

So, get yourself down to grab some bargains on outdoor clothing, equipment and accessories for a whole range of sports, including: camping, walking, climbing, cycling, riding, fishing, skiing and running.

Maybe I’ll see you having a great time in the great outdoors soon?

Fun weekend: 28th and 29th October
10 % off everything in store from the 27th – 30th October
Discount cards will be free for all over the four days
 Mansfield Road, Arnold, Nottingham,
 NG5 6BP

Clear Plastic Bottles – the Running Total

44,700 pieces of plastic (the big 4 polluters) collected to date!

We’re aiming to pick up 100,000 plastic bottles, lids, cups, straws (and microplastics) from all around the globe – beaches, forests, road-sides, anywhere we find them. Why 100,000 – this is the number of sea mammals killed each year from being trapped in plastic or eating it.

We’re doing this as part of our UN Global Goals and The World’s Largest Lesson-inspired learning and ‘take action’ project we’ve called Clear Plastic UK.

Along with others who wish to help us reach our total, and do their bit for the planet, we’re making progress –  all of which is recorded below.

The hall of Fame

117 Beverley Beck
19.10.17 Got the kayak out again and picked up litter from a canal in Yorkshire. 117 to add to the total.


Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 22.09.19
5.11.17 Went for another paddle on the River Trent and collected and removed 137 pieces of plastic litter.
An amazing 783 to add to the total from Newquay Beach combing.
257Sherwood Pines
14.10.17 Another trip to Sherwood Pines to walk the trails and pick up the plastic litter. 257 to add to the total.
24/09/17 After a run and cycle in Sherwood Pines, we picked up 183 pieces of plastic litter, mainly bottles and coffee cups left by people using the cafe.
Jason 76
Thanks again to Jason Rawles for adding more to the total. Another 76 bottles.
Trent litter pick 250
17.09.17 Collected litter whilst paddling along the Trent. Along with an array of bits and bobs collected 250 pieces of plastic.
Litter pick at the Good Life Exp 5
16.09.17 Inspired after the girls talked at The Good Life Experience festival, this little girl went and picked up litter at the festival and collected 5 pieces inc the bag. Super star!
jason smith 163
Jason Smith @ChallengerWSM. 3 men on a boat for four days collected 147 plastic bottles and 47 plastic bags.
spurn point pick up
27.08.17 Another beach clean on Spurn Point. Collected 1186 pieces of plastic.
25.08.17 Musselborough beach clean with MCS Scotland and Exxpedition. 100 pieces of plastic along with various other beach litter.
24.08.17 A beach clean on the very popular and clean-looking Portobello beach near Edinburgh. Collected 207 pieces of the big four.
23.08.17 Whilst walking alongside and paddling (both kayak and SUPs) on the Forth and Clyde canal we collected 86 pieces of plastic as well as many glass bottles.
21.08.17 44 pieces of plastic litter collected in the school grounds of Mearns Primary after the girls had been in to do a talk.
20.08.17 Joined locals Christina and Stella for the monthly beach clean at Arrochar, a village at the end of Loch Long that gets layers and layers of plastic dumped on it with each tide that comes in from the Firth of Clyde. Collected 2040 of the big 4 along with a lot more!
19.08.17 Garelochhead – a village at the end of the Loch Gare where the tide washes up plastic on a daily basis. We collected 1189 pieces of plastic litter to add to the total.
18.08.17 Family beach clean in Fairlie, Scotland – somewhere we passed through when walking the 100 mile Ayrshire Coastal path. Collected 42.
Dan Waters pick up
Thanks to Dan and friends for picking up litter in Peterborough. Along with lots of other rubbish they collected 375 pieces of plastic to add to the total.
15.08.17 Collected 263 pieces of plastic on Ayr beach (plus some unusual items!)
13.08.17 Another canal. This time we collected 170 pieces of the big four plastic polluters.
Tim's 294 Cardiff Pointe
12.08.17 Returned to Cardiff Pointe to collect another 294 pieces of plastic litter.
Cardiff Bay 1820
11.08.17 Joined Exxpedition and Keep Wales tidy for another litter pick event at Cardiff Pointe and collected 96 bags of litter! Reckon there was at least 1820 pieces of the plastic big four!
09.08.17 Heading up the coast now and stopped to pick up litter in the Exeter canal. With two of us walking alongside and two in the inflatable kayak we collected 75.
08.08 Managed to fit in another beach clean further up the coast from Plymouth. Can you guess how many?
07.08.17 Joined Exxpedition and a group of local children to clean up the shores near Plymouth University Marine Station to collect 350 pieces of plastic litter (along with a lot of other stuff!).
plymouth litter pick up 36
6.8.17 Arrived in Plymouth and did a local pick up in the harbour. Collected 36 to add to the total.
Plastic patrol 64
6.8.17 Joined Plastic Patrol today and along with others on SUPs removed 64 pieces of plastic from the canal.



Luke Hull and son pick up 46
Look at that smile! Thanks Luke and Ollie for adding another 46 to the total.
Jason pick up 38
Thanks once again to Jason Rawles for picking up 38 pieces of plastic litter in his local area. Keep up the good work.


Trent litter pick 442
23/7/17 Picked up 442 (a fraction of what was there) by the River Trent
25 Hope Kitchen
Thanks to @ObanHopeKitchen for picking up 25 from a local beach


Skipton academy 887
July 2017 Skipton academy did a local litter pick and collected 887 pieces of single use plastic beverage items – taking us over a third of the way to the total!!
167 Tim's litter pick
14.07.17 A local pick of 167 pieces of single-use plastic
pick up on the kayaks
09/07/17 Used the inflatable kayak again to collect 117 pieces of plastic (mostly bottles) from the canal in Nottingham
2017-06-25 14.24.02
25.6.17 Collected 22 bottles from the River Dove whilst out paddling.
Davies family 544 18th June
The Davies family astounded us again collecting 544 pieces of plastic!
Catherine Gemmell picked up 17 bottles during a recent beach clean.
Catherine Gemmell picked up 17 bottles during a recent beach clean.
Rebecca Brough picked up 2 bottles during a forest walk.
Rebecca Brough picked up 2 bottles during a forest walk.
Trent bridge litter pick 383
14.05.17 After a day at Trent Bridge watching the cricket we couldn’t leave without picking up some of the abandoned litter. Collected 383 bottles and cups and that was in only one stand.
Arnold pick up 82
14.05.17 Did another local pick up on the nearby streets. Collected 83 this time.
Davies family 172
14/05/17 They’ve done it again! Another wonderful collection of plastic litter from the Davies family. 172 pieces of plastic (along with a wheel trim, 2 beer glasses, 5 take away trays, 15 poo bags, 20 glass bottles, 87 cans and countless wrappings)


Davies 72
07.05.17 Another big thank you to Davies family who collected a tremendous 72 to add to the total.
Arnold week 1 - 82
07.05.17 Sunday evening litter pick of the local streets and we found 82 pieces of plastic litter, mainly bottles and bottle tops.


Davies 136 pick up with number
30.05.17 Thank you again to the Davies family for collecting another 136 pieces of plastic (34 bottles and 102 microplastics)
Davies pick up 19 in 15 mins! with number
29.05.17 Thank you to the Davies family for collected 19 pieces of plastic in 15 minutes!
Jason 238 pickup with number
30.05.17 Thank you to Jason Rawles for collecting 238 pieces of plastic litter in his local area.
Mum and Dad pickup 269
29.05.17 While the girls were away at Scout camp us parents went for a litter pick up along the local roads, collecting 269.
230 from Hermione helena and Charmaine DOE
A great haul from DOE girls Hermione, Helena and Charmaine – thank you!
jo royle 47
Thanks to Jo Royle for picking up 47 plastic items of beverage litter (amongst lots of other litter) whilst on a beach in Skye.


Arnold pick up 220 with number
12.04.17 Just a walk in the local area and we managed to pick up 220 pieces of plastic litter.


Gavin and Kate Matthews 19
Thanks to Gavin and Kate for collecting 19 whilst out walking the dog.


Kirsty Cavill 48 with number
Thank you again to Kirsty for another 48 towards our total.


Luke and Ollie 52 with number
Thanks to Luke and Ollie for collecting 52 plastic bottles whilst out on a canoe trip.
Newborough beach 152 with number
09.04.17 A beach clean whilst in Wales. 152 pieces found on Newborough beach on Anglesey.
Another fantastic contribution of 450 from Donna Rainey.

20 plastic items amongst the bags of rubbish collected during a beach clean. Thanks to Polly Small.

393 A1 pick up
02.04.17 Stopped at a layby on the A1 that had no bins and was covered in rubbish. Didn’t take us long to pick up 393 pieces of plastic.
Matthews 7
19.03.17 Thank you to Evie (@minimatthewsontour) for collecting 7 plastic bottles on a canal walk.
Thanks to @barefootaleks and runners @thebeerultra for adding 32 to the total whilst running their 6th lap.

A big thank you to the Wild Brothers for collecting 16 pieces of plastic litter.

Spurn Point selfie 1187
18.03.17 Another whopping collection of 1187 pieces of plastic at Spurn Point.
Another thank you to Donna Rainey for collecting 120 bottles on roads near here.

Thank you to Rozzy and the Duke Of Edinburgh girls who have collected 1200 so far this year. Keep up the good work!

Thank you to Lena in Garvagh who picks up litter 100m from her home and collected a total of 184 in 2016.

1226 litter pick on 12th March with number
13.03.17 Somewhere we often find litter is on the roadside, discarded by motorists. We managed to collect 1226 pieces of plastic litter by a busy road, taking us over a quarter of the way to our total!
Haynes family beach clean Spain with number
March 2017 – The Haynes family collected 1000 pieces of micro plastic on a beach in Spain during their family travels. A fantastic addition!
Rutland pick up 183 with number
11.03.17 Collected 183 pieces of plastic litter whilst cycling and running 17 miles around Rutland reservoir.
Jason's pick up 301 by lake Lyn with number
09.03.17 Fellow Get Outside champion Jason Rawles has done it again! Whilst out on a walk around Lake Lyn he picked up 301 pieces of plastic. Thanks Jason.
Banks family pick up 550 with number
The Banks family are travelling around Europe and, shocked by the amount of plastic on Greek beaches decided to do something about it, contributing 550 to our total. A big thank you!
Jan Wells 64 with number
Jan Wells (and her pooches) have been collecting litter since January and we are grateful for her contribution of 64 to our total.

Once again thank you to Kirsty Cavill for another 42 pieces of plastic litter found.
jim newman 1000 with number
Thank you to Jim Newman for the 1000 plastic pieces of litter that he’s collected on the roadside near his house.
two min beach clean at Fraisthorpe 5th March with number
05.03.17 This was our two minute beach clean on Fraisthorpe beach. Amongst the pile of rubbish that we collected were 13 plastic beverage items.
Donna Rainey 750 at magilligan with number
05.03.17 Another big thank you to Donna Rainey for collecting 750 plastic bottles as well as other litter on Magilligan beach in Northern Ireland.
914 roadside pick up with number
04.03.17 Amazing how much rubbish you can find at the side of roads. 914 pieces of plastic beverage litter in fact!

Sawston pick up 2nd March 60
02.03.17 A local litter pick along the road and by the river.
Lizzie with 1000 bottles
Lizzie is one of the Kids Against Plastic Ambassadors and a fellow OS Get Outside champion. She collected 1000 plastic bottles when paddling by SUP the length of England.
Excel 23
February – you can find litter everywhere. We collected 23 on our to the Excel in London when talking at the Oceans Festival.
Jason beach clean Feb 15th (17)
15th Feb Another 17 from Jason Rawles who’s aiming to collect 1000 by the end of the month!
Outdoor bloggers big clean up with number
January The Outdoor Bloggers did a Big Clean Up week (20th – 27th January) and collected hundreds of pieces of plastic litter, adding 700 to our total.


Impact Marathon pick up with number
February A big thanks to Nick from Impact Marathon collected 8 plastic bottles littering Shivapuri National Park

Nikki Triggs 38 1st Feb with number
1.02.17 Thank you to Nikki Triggs and family for their 38 pieces of plastic litter collected during their January litter pick.
29.01.17 kirsty 26
29.01.17 26 more plastic bottles to add the total, thanks to Kirsty Cavill.
587 roadside pick up with number
29.01.17 Picked up 587 plastic items by a busy road and there’s still plenty more to go back for!
Donna 200 with number
28.01.17 Another fantastic collection from Donna of 200 plastic bottles collected by the roadside.

Big thank you to Mary-Ann Ochota, Joe and Meridith for their Christmas Clean up of 60 plastic bottles – another great addition to the total.
27 bottles Zoe Homes @spoldz on 28th
28.01.17 Another super contribution of 27 bottles from fellow OS Get Outside champion Zoe Homes (@Splodz).
OS walk 5 on 27th Jan
27.01.17 Amy and Ella picked up 5 plastic bottles and cups whilst out on an organised Ordnance Survey walk with fellow Get Outside champions.
Craft Invaders 24 pieces
25.01.17 Thank you to Craft Invaders for their latest litter pick up and another 24 to add to the total.
Four Acorns pick up of 14 plastric items 25th Jan with number
25.01.17 Four Acorns joined in the Big Clean Up and collected 14 plastic items whilst our on a walk. A big thank you.

Friasthorpe beach with 159 number
22.01.17 Family beach walk and managed to collect 159 plastic pieces of litter swept up on the beach
Jen and Sim 40
20.01.17 First day of the Big Clean Up and thank you to Jen and Sim Benson (@jenandsim) for collecting 40 plastic items (along with other rubbish) whilst out on a run.
Donna with number
15.01.17 This is an amazing addition to the Wall of Fame. A big thanks to Donna and pals for their collection at Larne Lough.
Barefootphotographer 43 pieces with number
14.01.17 Thanks to @BareFootPhotographer and Eysa (the hound) for their collection of 43 plastic bottles from Scilly Rocks.
08.01.17 @julndevon tweeted a photo of their liter pick with 11 to add to the total. Another big thank you.
08.01.17 A beautiful walk in the woods spoiled by litter. Picked up another 49 to add to the total.

02.01.17 – 25 plastic litter items collected by the Hull family (along with a load of other beach litter). A big thank you to them.
02.01.17 – Surprising how much you can find on one beach. We didn’t even make it to the end of Spurn Point and collected 564 pieces. As well as this some other volunteers on the beach collected 200 – a big thank you to them.

23.12.16 – 74 pieces of beverage litter collected in a festive beach clean. Another big thank you to Kirsty Cavill for six more
4.12.16 Amazing what you can find chucked at the side of country roads! 273 pieces of single plastic bottles, lids, cups and straws.
26.11.16 Picked up 22 bottles whilst out on a walk in the countryside. – most of which were found on the roadside.
13.11.16 Thanks to Kirsty Cavill for her continued support with another 61 single use plastic bottles and lids to add to our total.
06.11.16 Astrid Shepherd picked up 89 single use plastic beverage items (plus a couple of supermarket trolleys on the way!)
13.11.16 – 94 bottles collected walking around London (note the Shard in the background!)
3.11.16 – 30 bottles collected by Eddie the Hedgehog (mascot of Home Ed group, Daventry)
10.10.16 – 98 pieces picked up at two service stations on the M6

9.10.16 – 1,680 pieces picked up by Matt Heason and friends during a village clean up!
6.10.16 – 101 pieces picked up around Blackshaw Moor


507 pieces of plastic picked up while walking into Blackpool
101 pieces of plastic collected during a walk around Liverpool.
11.9.16 – 19 bottles collected on the way back from a Sunday lunch!


11.9.16 – 7 MORE bottles collected by Kirsty Cavill!


10.9.16 – 27 pieces of plastic collected from a beach in Anglesea (with Jason Rawles!)
9.9.16 – 40 bottles collected by the awesome Polly Small and her son Frankie!


13th Beach Clean Denmark (83+69)
13.8.16 – 152 pieces of plastic collected on the North West coast.
5th August Rob (68)
5.8.16 – 68 bottles collected by Rob and his amazing son!
12th Aug 2min becah clean Denmark (13 + 22)
12.8.16 – 35 pieces of plastic collected during a 2 minute beach clean
2nd Aug Astrid (25)
2.8.16 – 25 more bottles collected by the amazing Astrid.

31 July Elizabeth Peters (12)
12 bottles collected by Elizabeth Peters
2nd Aug 2016 (46) Astrid
2.8.16 – 46 bottles collected by Astrid and friends.

18.7.16 – 29 pieces of plastic collected from a park in Arnold.
watchwood pickup147
14.7.16 – 147 pieces of beverage litter collected in different forests around Nottingham
Astrid 11
18/6/16 – 11 MORE bottles collected by the brilliant Astrid Shepard, with the help of Andy McLean, Jane Attard, Becky and Mark, Luke Hull and Ollie, Dave Selby and Max Gruening. Thanks guys!!!
About 10 bottles picked up as part of the 2 Minute Beach Clean
Fraisthorpe 11th June 109
11.6.16 – 109 pieces picked up from Fraisthorpe beach
Steve Blethyn Bottles
10/6/16 – 28 bottles collected by the brilliant Steve Blethyn!!!
191 Southport 30th May
30.5.16 – 191 pieces of litter found on Southport beach.
Beach clean 98
8.6.16 – 98 pieces collected from Hornsea beach.
SteveBBottles copy
23.5.16 – 36 bottles collected by Steve Blethyn!
13262145_10154203461176306_309983308_o copy
23.5.16 – 16 bottles collected by the awesome Eleanor Williams!


11 May Ben LAwers 27
11th May – 27 bottles, tops and lids collected on the way down from Ben Lawers.

10 May Drive to Maragowen 55
10th May – 55 pieces picked up from lay-bys on the way from Fort William to Killin.
May 2016 – 9 bottles picked up by Michelle Williams. Thanks so much Michelle!

Ieva Balode Isel of Skye 22
May 2016 – Ieva Balode collected 22 bottles when on the Isle of Skye. Go Ieva!
Yes Tribe IOW 201
May 2016 – an amazing 201 items picked up by the YES Tribers during their microadventure on the Isle of Wight. Yay! – thanks guys!

5.5.16 – 1201 pieces of beverage litter (in particular bottle tops!) collected from Strathclyde Country Park.
Eleanor WIlliams 3
May 2016 – 3 items picked up by the brill daughter of Eleanor Williams!
Elise 3
3 bottles collected by Elise Downing during her (ongoing) around the UK run!


2 bottles collected by Ieva Balode on Ben Nevis!


Eleanor bottles
4 bottles collected by Eleanor Williams.


Astrid 13
A baker’s dozen collected by the brilliant Astrid Shepherd!


81 2.5.16
2.5.16 – 81 pieces of beverage litter collected from our Hadrian’s Wall Walk (Rickerby – Bowness on Solway)


38 30:4 - 1:5
30.4.16 – 1.5.16: 38 bottles collected from along our Hadrian’s Wall Walk (Steel Rig – Rickerby)

28.4.16 – 3 pieces of plastic litter collected from along the Hadrian’s Wall Walk (Chesters Roman Fort – Steel Rig)

4 pieces of beverage litter collected by Aleks Kashefi.

27.4.16 – 52 pieces of beverage litter collected from along the Hadrian’s Wall Walk (Wall Houses – Chesters Roman Fort)


171 pieces of plastic litter collected by Jason Rawles!

227 pieces of plastic litter collected from the Hadrian’s Wall Walk (Newcastle – Wall Houses)


25th April 607
25.4.16 – 607 pieces of plastic beverage litter picked up from the cycle trail between Tynemouth and Newcastle.
190 bottles
24.4.16 – 190 pieces of plastic collected from Whitley Bay.
22 bottles
24.4.16 – An awesome 22 bottles collected by Elizabeth Peters.


3 peaks 22 april 203 copy
22.4.16 – 203 pieces of beverage litter (mainly bottles) picked up while walking the Yorkshire 3 Peaks.

22.4.16 – 7 bottles picked up by Jason Rawles.

6.2.16 – 27 bottles collected from roadside in Tournehem, France
8.2.16 – 20 bottles collected from roadside in Guignicourt, France
22.2.16 – 16 bottles collected from cycle route to Aime, France
24.2.16 – 21 bottles collected from cycle route to Bourg-Saint-Maurice, France
Lois & Macy
24.2.16 – 100 bottles collected by the Dyer Family in their local park
25.2.16 – 6 bottles collected from cycle route to Bellentre, France
2nd March Bourg St Maurice
2.3.2016 – 70 pieces of litter removed during a walk in Bourg St Maurice.
Nice beach March 2016
9.3.16 – 300 bottles etc removed from the beach at Nice and recycled.
11.3.16 – 7 bottles collected around our camping aire
St Marie Du La Mar
11.3.16 – 196 collected from St Marie Du La Mar beach
Astrid's bottles50
12.3.16 – 50 bottles collected by Astrid Shepherd on her way home from work.
15.3.16 – 245 pieces of plastic beverage litter (mainly plastic straws) picked up from Vilanova beach, Spain.
barlows 17th March
17.3.16 – 154 pieces of plastic litter picked up by the brilliant Barlow family.
Torre del sol
17.3.16 – 89 pieces of plastic drinks litter picked up along the La Torre Del Sol beach, Spain.
Alcossebre - 18th March
18.3.16 – 6 bottles removed from a coastal path in Alcossebre, Spain.
MAdrid 30 March
30.4.16 – 17 pieces of plastic litter removed from Madrid’s Parque El Retiro
Benicassim 134
22.3.16 – 134 pieces picked up in Benisassim
El Estorial 202
31.3.16 – 202 pieces of litter picked up near El Escorial.
100 pieces of plastic litter picked up by Kirsty Cavill over Easter
Salamanca 301
02.4.16 – 301 pieces of litter picked up in Salamanca, Spain.
Jason and Sarah bottle
3.4.16 – 7 pieces of plastic picked up by Jason Rawles and Sarah Stead
El Estral
4.4.16 – 360 pieces of plastic litter picked up at Tordesillas, Spain
Polly 20 4th April
4.4.16 – 20 bottles picked up by the brilliant Polly Small and her eight year-old son. Great work!
137 Wed 6th April Oyambre site
6.4.16 – 137 pieces of plastic picked up on Oyambre beach
plastic pick up alexandra moyes 75
75 bottles collected by the super Alexandra Moyes and Chris Barnes.

Wed 6th Kirsty Cavill
6.4.16 – 9 bottles picked up by the awesome Kirsty Cavill
13th April Fretters 10 bottles
13.4.06 – 10 bottles picked up by Jo Fretter and daughter. Well done guys.
astrid and ruthie 17th April 16 bottles
17.4.16 – 16 bottles picked up by Astrid and Ruthie (aged 4) in separate locations but towards a shared cause.
Bridlington 19th April 209
19.4.16 – 209 pieces of plastic litter picked up near Danes Dyke.
astrid 5 20th April
5 bottles picked up by Astrid Shepherd. Great job!


Kirsty Cavill 19th April 7
Another 7 bottles picked up by Kirsty Cavill!


Steve Blethyn bottles28
A brilliant 28 bottles collected by Steve Blethyn.


Rambling to raise awareness

BBCCiNramble Last weekend (Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th October) were the official days for the BBC Countryfile Ramble for Children in Need – a charity event that encouraged us to get outside and walk in the autumnal countryside. Nationwide, groups of people donned their yellow woolly hats and took to the trails.

Our chosen walk was a cycle trail that we chose to revisit from the previous weekend. Why – because we wanted to pick up all the plastic litter – mainly drinks bottles – that had been dropped along the route, discarded by people out enjoying the environment but spoiling it for others. Hidden amongst the autumnal leaf litter we many lots of the other sort of litter in the shape of plastic bottles, cups and packaging.

During our four-hour ramble we managed to pick up 257 pieces of plastic litter – another successful hoard to add to the total.

257Sherwood Pines

No yellow woolly hats this time but they are in the post and we’re looking forward to wearing them soon for another ramble!

Adventuring with Kids – 3 of 3 – Optimum time?

Part of being a parent involves making sacrifices. Life changes after children and some people embrace it better than others. We weren’t particularly adventurous before we had children but when the girls arrived we wanted them to have an adventurous mindset and a love of the outdoors and nature so from an early age we made efforts to get outside and do something interesting and challenging – a family adventure.

Anyone who has been on an adventure with others knows that everyone has different capabilities; age, fitness, experience / confidence and mental strength can all affect how someone approaches an adventure. The same thing can be said when adventuring with children. The age of the child will affect greatly what can be done and how; younger children aren’t able to sustain strenuous exercise for long periods of time, get bored more easily, get tired quicker, need food more regularly but that shouldn’t stop us as adults involving the children. A bit of creativity and flexibility means that adventures can be done together; they might be shorter, there might be more rest breaks, the kids might need help but they can be done. Then as the children become stronger and more able to challenge themselves further, the adventures then can become longer and more challenging.

Whilst running a workshop at the Basecamp festival we attempted to illustrate this with a graph! Scientifically speaking it may not be accurate, but it illustrates the differences that need to be considered when adventuring with children.


Our graph very simplistically shows the abilities of an adult and a child. Adults, obviously older, have varying degrees of capability but, in comparison to children will appear much higher on the graph. The ability of an adult will also fluctuate according to fitness, age and health but will realistically gradually decline. The ability of a child, on the other hand, will increase. It is important to note that the ability isn’t just physical but also mental. In the early the years, whilst the child is learning to do amazing things such as walk and talk, their ability to go on an adventure is low but this rises with age. There will be one point on the graph when the child and adult are almost equal – this will differ from family to family.

This might not be the case for everyone but this is the case for us. In the early years, we went for short walks and tailored adventures around what the kids could do. At age 4, Ella was able to walk up Snowdon but caught the train back down whereas Amy that little bit older walked up and down; their age difference meant that the challenge was adapted to suit them. Now aged 14 Amy is able to do challenges alongside adults. At age 12 she completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge in 12 hours and the National Three Peaks challenge in 24 hours. We as the adults in the last decade have probably slipped down the graph and are now at optimum point where all our abilities are about the same. How long this will last, who knows since the girls will no doubt continue to climb up our graph and overtake us!

So, for us this is our optimum time and we need to make the most of it!

Adventuring with Kids – 2 of 3 – Simplifying adventures

Stealing Ideas

We are avid magpies – stealing ideas from other adventurers and making them our own. All of us seek inspiration and we have many inspiring adventurers that we turn to for ideas, e.g. Alistair Humphreys, Dave Cornthwaite, Sean Conway and Anna McNuff to name but a few. The problem is that these hard-core impressive human beings are often doing exciting things that are beyond the realms of the every day family.

So with that in mind, we decided to steal the essence of adventures and make them our own. We’ve nicknamed this approach as DIY adventures – Do It Your way. See our latest adventure ideas here: www.dotrythisathome.com

Science-y bit

Whilst running workshops at the recent Basecamp festival we attempted to impress our participants with a bit of science – graphs! This particular graph attempts to illustrate (very simplistically) the way to approach adventuring with kids.


The y axis shows the length of time an activity or adventure can take, increasing as it moves up the page, while the x axis shows the difficulty, increasing as it moves right. These scales are not in anyway accurate and are relative to whatever content is put on the graph, but do give a rough impression of two areas of consideration when planning adventures.

Examples of more gnarly adventures would obviously appear in the top right corner of the graph – they take time and are at the difficult end of the spectrum; these are the adventures that would be difficult or impossible to do with younger children, e.g. Alistair Humphreys’ cycle around the world in four years. The idea is to find suitable alternatives that fit in the bottom left corner of the graph initially when planning adventures with kids. The time taken and difficulty will vary depending on the age and ability of everyone in the family and this will and does change as we get all get older (see next blog post – part 3). Who knows, one day, you might end up doing an adventure in the top right corner!

Kärcher Mobile Outdoor Cleaner: sponsored post

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner

When I was asked to try out the Kärcher OC3, I thought ‘why not?’. As a fairly outdoorsy family – with a fair bit of kit that we take out-and-about, it seemed like it might come in as a handy little thing to have. I mean, I thought – and it’s proved to be the case – that a portable little low pressure could be used to:

  • clean the mud off muddy boots after a walk
  • get the majority of wet mud and mess off a mountain bike or two after a muddy ride
  • hose down garden patio furniture

It’s also ideal for rinsing down anything you might want to put in your car to prevent you taking in mud, such as: the muddy wheels of a buggy, a gold trolly, any outdoor play equipment you might have, and even sandy/muddy/smelly children’s feet.

But once you have one of these compact and neatly designed gadgets, your mind starts wondering and wandering as to what other uses it might have. Surprisingly, we’ve found the washer so far most useful when we’ve been actually doing water-based activities! I know, this might sound a bit strange, but as anyone who paddles in rivers, the sea or lakes knows, when you take your boat/craft out of the water, the chances are there’ll be a fair amount of mud, silt, sand or all of the above both on the inside and outside. In such situations, a low power washer comes in very handy – OK, you still might get a bit wet when you turn your canoe upside down to put it on the roof rack, but at least it’s clean water that drips on you! Thought: maybe you could wash your craft with water + shampoo so that when you put it on your car roof, you get a soapy shower at the same time. (NB. not tried this).


Another use we’ve found for the Kärcher OC3 is for rinsing out – or should I say ‘flushing out’ wetsuits after a day of sailing, windsurfing and wild swimming when occasionally the wearers of said wetsuits may have taken a sneaky wee (as a relief or source of heat). C’mon, don’t react like that – we all do it …. don’t we/wee?




  • Well designed and very portable
  • Genuinely has some uses for outdoorsy folk
  • Fun to use (which means the kids will get involved in cleaning stuff after an adventure)
  • No more smelly wetsuits!


  • A bit more power would increase its versatility
  • You can’t transport it full of water (the valve on the top can leak)


For more information visit the Halfords website.

Adventuring with kids – 1 of 3 – the early years

When the cat’s away…

We recently went to Basecamp festival, an adults-only adventure festival in the Peak District. Yep we ventured out without the kids and spent a full weekend squelching around in mud with other adventure-seeking adults, listening to inspiring talks and chatting around the campfire. Ironically our first weekend away from the kids in a while was spent talking about them for large chunks of the time! Not because we were pining after them but because we were there doing a talk about Family DIY adventures and running workshops on Adventuring with Kids.

It’s NOT the end of the world as we know it (ref REM song)

Adventure doesn’t have to stop when you have kids. It might just have to be a little different! We spoke to a keen climber and adventurer at a festival once and he’d said that he’d had to stop all of his previous exploits when the kids came along. But why? – that doesn’t have to be case. A little creativity might be needed and yes some adult-only time to do the hard core stuff but adventure can still happen with kids.

KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)

The people that attended our workshops included those with and without children and the ages of the children ranged from babies to teenagers. So the first part of our workshop was how to adventure with really young children. We believe you can start to instill a love of adventure and the outdoors in children from young age. Taking the kids on hikes, bike rides and camping can and should be part of an adventurous family . Whatever activity you choose, it is important to make sure that young kids have fun and are kept comfortable – after all you don’t want to put them off at an early age. This might mean you limit the amount of time that is spent in the outdoors, prepare for all weather conditions to ensure that they are kept warm and dry and accept that the activity will be tailored around their capabilities. Most parents will take joy in watching their kids having fun so whilst it might not mean a treacherous scramble up a mountain or exhilarating mountain bike ride through the woods there are simpler family alternatives that will give the young ones the thrill of an adventure and you the enjoyment of sharing it with them.


Books are a great source of inspiration and let’s face it, there are plenty of them out there. One particular book that we loved when our girls were young was the Mission Explore book. It provides a list of short, fun, adventures that require little or no equipment and are easy to do.

Here are some of our favourites:

  • Go on a random walk. Every time you reach a junction, flip a coin to decide whether to go left or right.
  • Kick a football through the woods. Take turns kicking a football through the woods and follow where it takes you.
  • Let your dog take you for a walk. If you have one! It might mean crawling through bushes!
  • Draw a simple map of the local area. Place some treasure in a chosen spot and identify it on the map. Stick the map on to the back of a picture / photograph. Cut it up into pieces and send them to a friend who have to piece the jigsaw back together and find the treasure.

9 & 10. Sailing and Windsurfing

Basecamp Adventure 9 and 10: Sailing and Windsurfing

For us family life – or just life in general – is about some simple principles: being active, being together and being outdoors… oh, and most importantly, being happy. We are lucky that we all share these common values as it makes it super-easy for us to make decisions about what we do with our time collectively and with equal ownership and buy-in. We see time as a precious commodity, one way more precious than money… one we should spend wisely, and waste at our peril. This is one of the reasons we set ourselves the 25 BaseCamp Adventures challenge.

Windsurfing and Sailing

We always imagined completing these two activities during a single trip out in the Basecamp in the summer months as we are, I think we’d all agree, fair weather sailors (although I do anticipate or at least hope we’ll entertain the idea of windsurfing beyond the summer months – let’s see).

So, it was with excitement and anticipation that we parked-up by the side of an idyllically located sailing lake ready to sail, windsurf and of course, camp. And after two days of time on the water – OK, and at times in the water (to intentionally cool-down…ahem) – we were feeling sun and wind-kissed, and authorities on our tacks, gybes, tillers, kickers, dagger boards, skegs, super 7s and the capsize drill to name just a few of the technical vocabulary associated with these sports.

BC sail 2
BC sail 3

It’s true, sailing and windsurfing can be a bit daunting to beginners, and the terms and technical stuff can be a bit off putting, but remember …at the end of the day, whether you call a sheet a rope, or the rudder the ‘bit of wood that steers the boat’ doesn’t matter. What matters is that you give these sports a go. So, you fall in… so what. So, you do things wrong…. So what. Of course you need to make sure you stay safe: warm, in the right gear i.e. wetsuit and buoyancy aid, protected (you are covered by a safety boat), but that’s just common sense, isn’t it?

Our advice would be: go down to a local sailing club and take part in an ‘open day’ or a RYA ‘have a go day’. Give it a try. If you like it – great! If not, at least you’ve given it a go.

So that’s that – windsurfing and sailing ticked off in a single Basecamp adventure.

Now to go and get two-sheets to the wind – hic!

For more information about Swift's Basecamp, visit: swiftbasecamp.co.uk

RYA (for clubs and courses), follow this link.

Pump up the Fun

3, 2, 1 GO!! The crowd cheered as another group crossed the start line. We were amongst them, a family of 4, surrounded by men, women and children of all ages and sizes, dressed in lycra, tutus and tiger suits. Ahead of us loomed the first obstacle – a rubber inflated mountain that we needed to climb up and slide down the other side. This was the first of many because unlike any other race we’d entered this was a 5k inflatable!

Sounds fun? Well yes that’s exactly what it was. A running course that is interspersed with inflatable obstacles every 200 – 500m.

The distinctive black, red and white obstacles, aptly named with exciting titles such as Ripple Runner, Bish Bash and the Gauntlet involve crawling, weaving, climbing and sliding alongside fellow participants. It brings out the childish thrill of being on a bouncy castle or in a fun house and provides a welcome break from running for those that don’t enjoy it.

Each obstacle is manned by a friendly and encouraging marshall and there is a refreshment stand halfway around the course offering water, energy drinks and energy bars.



Running divides us a family; some of us love it and some of us hate it. I hate running and always have. I’m waiting for that moment when it becomes enjoyable and I just want to do more and more…but it hasn’t happened yet. So for people like me the inflatable race was perfect. There was a fun, friendly, relaxed atmosphere and the ten different inflatable obstacles pumped up the fun even more (pun intended!) There is no pressure to compete and many took the course at their own pace, some walking while other raced.

UK Running Events

The inflatable 5k run, organised by UK Running Events, takes places all around the UK throughout the year. You choose a starting slot and arrive approximately half and hour before. This gives you time to soak up the atmosphere, marvel at the course and take part in the Pure Gym warm up. All participants head to the start line a few minutes beforehand and after an enthusiastic count down the fun begins. This is not a timed event but those with a competitive streak can race against each other. At the finish line there is a choice of two obstacles: the Leap of Faith (a jump onto an inflatable area below) or the Plummet (a steep slide) then as you cross the line you are presented with a medal and a tee-shirt that proudly displays the Inflatable 5k logo.
2017-06-24 10.24.16

8. Cycling

Basecamp Adventure 8: Cycling

Our latest Basecamp family adventure  (number 8 out of 25) was one that involved a day of off-road cycling in the forest. Road cycling has never appealed as much since we like to appreciate the environment and escape into nature plus there are no vehicles to content with….only pedestrians and the odd tree root! We love cycling because it is something that we can all do together, some maybe slower or faster than others.

Riverside camp2

We chose a campsite (Camping and Caravanning site: Riverside Gardens) not far from the National Trust site, Clumber Park which meant that we could cycle from the site to the park and then explore the trails – a good warm up really.

Clumber chair
Clumber has a range of numbered tracks and a map providing the route. We entered the park and began following the nearest numbered track that took us around the perimeter of the park before gravitating towards the more populated central area where we stopped for the compulsory playground break. Taking a packed lunch meant we could stop and munch on food whenever hunger struck or we found a nice spot with a view.

Cycling is great exercise and a fun way to spend time outside. Unlike walking and running which we also love to do, you can cover more mileage. For this cycling trip we had no set route and spent a few hours exploring the park freely. In the past we’ve followed set tracks of varying distances and even completed longer trails such as the Trans Penine trail over consecutive days. There are all sorts of tracks and trails around the country of varying lengths – some of which are linear or circular – so there’s always somewhere to cycle!

Cycling through fiord

Cycling has become an increasingly popular sport but you don’t often see whole families out enjoying it together. We had our bikes stolen last year and certainly missed going out for pedal. We’ll be looking our for more places to explore by bike in the future.

For more information about Swift's Basecamp, visit: swiftbasecamp.co.uk

Five ways to make a weekend outdoorsy

5 ways to make a weekend outdoorsy

As a family that love to spend time in the outdoors we’re always looking for places, new and old, to visit and activities to do. So on a recent trip to North Wales we went in search of an fun-filled, action-packed weekend. Here are five ways we made it outdoorsy:

1. River / valley walk

There’s something magical about being near water and in Wales there’s plenty of chances to walk beside the sea, a lake or a river. The Welsh landscape has been sculptured by rivers cutting through rock to create valleys of lush vegetation.

We returned to the picturesque town of Beddgelert and walked south along the river Glaslyn from Gelert’s grave. The manicured, clearly defined track near the tourist town becomes a pebbly track that undulates alongside the changing river, offering beautiful views as you turn each corner and the chance to spot some wildlife too. Keep a lookout for an old mine entrance. It doesn’t venture far into the mountain side but is a fun detour.
Bedgellert river walk

2. Get Wet

canyoning in Wales

Rather than just walk beside the river, it’s fun to get wet and clamber over the rocks. There are various companies that offer gorge walking (also known as gyll scrambling or canyoning) in the area. Our chosen provider (and thoroughly recommended!) was Tom from Canyon Wales who was patient and understanding with those that struggled, knowledgeable of the area and certainly made it fun! 
Canyoning group photo

Gorge walking waterfall shower
We had a fun few hours dressed in wetsuits climbing over rocks, standing under waterfalls and squeezing through crevices. The water was cold and your feet do go numb but the excitement and adrenalin overcome it. It pushes you out of your comfort zone and, depending on who and where you go, can be a challenging as well as fun experience.

3. One pot with a view


When the weather is dry and clear, hiking up a hillside or mountain can be a rewarding experience. Rather than take out a crumpled sandwich or bag of crisps, sit and enjoy the view with a cup of soup or one pot that you’ve rustled up in the outdoors.

We love to cook up a one-pot with a view and made the most of a sunny day in Wales, walking up a hillside in Snowdonia, stopping to cook and eat while looking down on the valley below. The ‘tucksack’ carries a few essentials: basic, compact cooking equipment and a few simple ingredients.

4. Forage and cook with a wild ingredient

wild garlic

At various times of the year there are possibilities to gather or forage for ingredients for a meal or to simply munch on.

During out visit to Wales in Spring we found an abundance of wild garlic, growing in a valley. It is most commonly found in woodland with moist soils. Best picked in high up places (to avoid any dog wee!) we snatched a few handfuls to take back with us and used it in both or sausage casserole at teatime as well as a tasty addition to Welsh Rarebit (cheesy scrambled eggs) in the morning. Another interesting spot was wild sorrel which we were told is an expensive addition to those meals in posh restaurants. We munched on a few springs of those too!
Cooking with wild garlic in wales

5. Camp

Lastly, to stretch those weekend adventures over more than one day, spend a night or two under the stars in a tent, bivy, hammock or caravan.

Camping in Wales

We certainly didn’t want to leave Wales in a hurry and took both our Basecamp caravan and a four-birth Berghaus tent with us. Both were pitched up by the river at Dolgan campsite near Capel Curig – it was the perfect location for exploring all that the area had to offer and somewhere I’m sure we’ll be returning to in the future! The kids loved playing by the river and the surrounding mountains offered a fantastic backdrop for the evening sunsets.