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Triathlon 2017

Triathlon 2017

Last year we completed a triathlon of the width of GB, kayaking the Great Glen Canoe Trail in Scotland, walking the Hadrian’s Wall National trail and cycling the Trans Pennine trail.

This year we are aiming to complete another triathalon, this time doing the conventional trio of running, cycling and swimming but the mileage that we cover will be greater. It’s 2017 so we’re aiming to complete 2017 miles: running 1000 miles, cycling 1000 miles and swimming 17 miles. As with other DIY (Do It Your-way) adventures we’ll be completely the miles together as a family. We will seek opportunities to #getoutside whether by foot, bike or in cossies and will be recording how we get on below.

Current total:

Run = 117 miles    Cycle = 0 miles   Swim = 0 miles

#Run1000miles

Running is a subject that divides us a family – some of us love it with passion and some of us hate it with vengeance – but it has become something that unites us as we have chosen to take the Trail Running magazine’s #run1000miles challenge (http://www.trailrunningmag.co.uk/run1000miles/).

We are aiming to complete the 1000 miles as a family, not individually, so over the weeks and months we will find places to run, and events to join in that will mean the miles will trickle in and we’ll record them below. Running for us is about spending time together in the outdoors, getting exercise and fresh air. We are not aiming to compete but enjoy it. Who knows, those of us that hate it might even end up changing our minds?!

It can be difficult to stick to New Year’s resolutions or challenges that you set yourself but being part of an organised challenge will mean we should be able to stick to this.

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Cycle 1000 miles

The second part of our 2017 triathalon is the cycling challenge. We are aiming to cycle 1000 miles during the year. Last we cycled the TransPenine trail as part of our Width of GB triathalon (LINK) and will be looking to find suitable family-friendly routes that will allow us to clock up the mileage in order to complete this part of the challenge.

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Swim 17 wild miles

Swimming in the outdoors is not something that we have a lot of experience of but are looking forward to this part of the triathalon as much as the others. We’ll be looking for various places (lakes, rivers, lidos and the sea) around the UK where we can swim various distances that will total 17 miles. Although it is the smallest amount of mileage to cover, this might end up being the most difficult!

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6. Wild Run

BaseCamp Adventure 6: Wild Run

Project BaseCamp, for us, is all about finding a balance between work and play (or family adventure time as we call it); looking for opportunities to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. This week we wanted to #getoutside for some exercise and to appreciate the environment by doing a wild run!

Running with a view

Wild running or trail running is a sport that involves running in the outdoors on trails away from roads, in more rural environments. You can follow set routes or create your own and you don’t have to be an ultra-elite athlete to be able to do them! So if you’re going to run, it makes sense to choose trail running or wild-running since it not only gets you outside exercising but enjoying the views at the same time.

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Getting outside for a run is an easy family adventure; all you need is a pair of trainers. Then find a nearby location to explore. Since the sport of trail running is becoming increasingly popular, it is possible to find set routes to follow at places such as Forestry Commission sites if you don’t want to make up your own.

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Trail run through the woods

Sherwood Pines 5km route
Last weekend for our family adventure we left Basecamp and drove to Sherwood Pines, a nearby Forestry Comission site, popular with cyclists, dog walkers, families and now runners. They have a Wild Run trail – a circular 5km route that winds through the woodland. Whilst the rest of the country seemed to be threatened with snow, we were lucky enough to bathed in winter sunshine and certainly enjoyed the beauty of the woods as we ran together as a family. We all completed the first circuit but some of us went on to complete it a second and even third time, clocking up a total 23 miles! 

Running is going to play a large part of our lives in 2017 as we try to complete the Trail Running Magazine’s #run1000miles challenge. We enjoyed this trail and will no doubt return to run it again as well as look for similar ones.

 

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

25 Basecamp Adventures

25 Basecamp Adventures

We are a family that love to get outdoors and do adventures together. In the past we’ve done 100 Family adventures  and various projects outside. Our latest project is called 25 Basecamp adventures.

Why Basecamp? Well, we love the concept of having a base from which to travel from and return to after a family adventure whether its a house, caravan or motorhome. Our base is our home or should we say our home is our base and this is something that has changed quite a lot over the last few years as we’ve moved from caravan to motorhome to caravan and house.

DIY Adventures

We strongly believe in doing not having and rather than dedicate time to DIY in a house, we’d rather dedicate time to DIY (Do It Your-way) adventuring: adapting ideas and making adventures family-friendly.

Our 25 Basecamp adventures include various adventures around the country as we find locations to travel to in our Swift Basecamp caravan; this is the base from which we adventure. The adventures can and will be done as a family; some of which cost very little (or are completely cost-free) and some of which will require a provider. Hopefully they’ll give others an idea of adventures that can be done together as family.

The adventure list

 


5. Scooter Safari

BaseCamp Adventure 5: Scooter Safari

It’s been a while since we last got the scooters out, so this adventure was one we were all looking forward to. What made this scooter safari extra exciting was that Amy and Ella were bringing a friend each along to join in. After all, there’s nothing better than having an adventure together with your mates!

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We headed out of BaseCamp with the scooters in our van and into Nottingham. This may sound like an odd choice, but the plan was to have a safari that mixed both rural and urban landscapes, and being a linear route, it meant we’d have to work out a way of getting back to our start point. The answer, split up: one group is dropped off at one end of the route while the other group then drove to the other end. Two start points meant two end points, and one group finishing where the van was left and therefore able to drive to pick up the other group when they finished (and of course, we’d pass each other somewhere near halfway).

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A route that mixes rural and urban adds variety and interest. Following a river makes the journey even more interesting with sights ranging from a nature reserve, house-boats, heron and sparrow hawks to football stadia, impressively engineered bridges and canal systems that take you below the hustle and bustle of the busy city.

So, get those scooters out – or borrow some if you don’t have your own – and go on safari! It won’t cost you much (perhaps, only an ice-cream or two).

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

4: Orienteering

BaseCamp Adventure 4: Orienteering

Project BaseCamp, for us, is all about finding a balance between work and play (or family adventure time as we call it); looking for opportunities to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. This week we wanted to look for an activity to try in our local area, and one that Amy and Ella could invite a friend each along to enjoy.

So, we headed out from the BaseCamp with maps, walkie-talkies and some food and an abundance of enthusiasm, to a local park that had a permanent orienteering course. NB visit a local orienteering club website to access a selection of courses to try and print off the course maps.
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To give our orienteering activity a bit of a fun but competitive element we split into three teams: two teams of two kids (the girls and a friend they’d invited) and an old fogie team (me and Kerry). The challenge was to complete the full course of 33 checkpoints and aim to be the first team back. OK – I know what you’re thinking: how can two parents clearly past their athletic best compete against four keen and energetic youngsters? Well, we knew the kids could map read (they are Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champions after all), but we also knew they’d spend some (maybe much) of their time gossiping and catching up – and that this would slow them down. Whereas, Kerry and I would not be distracted by idle chit-chat (I am a bloke after all and blokes do that) and this would give us the edge we needed!
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Of course, the outcome of our orienteering performances isn’t important, but what is… is the fact we all finished with smiles on our faces and colour in our cheeks. We’d had a few hours fun running, laughing, enjoying and appreciating the outdoors and each others’ company – we got to see some wildlife too (rutting deer, squirrels, geese and even a close encounter with a heron).

Ever stuck for an idea of something to do in your local area, then look for an orienteering course to try and as well as the checkpoints you’ll hopefully find, you’ll certainly find a family-friendly outdoor activity that will put a smile on your face and make you feel good!

Thanks to Nottinghamshire Orienteering Club for helping us find an appropriate course this weekend.

For more information about Nottinghamshire courses, visit: http://www.noc-uk.org/
For more information about Swift's Basecemap, visit: swiftbasecamp.co.uk

3: Park Run

BaseCamp Adventure 3: Park Run

This family adventure required a bit of an early start (for a Saturday morning), but it was well worth the effort!

On a cold Winter’s morning, it’s quite tempting to stay beneath the duvet where it’s warm and comfortable, isn’t it? Having said that, sometimes it’s even tempting to stay indoors and not venture outside at all.

That was how we all felt this morning when the alarm went off to awake us in time to get dressed, washed and off to a local Park Run. We were warm and snug at BaseCamp, and the thought of getting up and heading outside FOR A RUN was not one that filled us with excitement.
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But the good thing about having a challenge like our Base Camp 25 Adventures Challenge, is that it gives you a goal to aim for and an incentive to get up and get outside. And we set ourselves this challenge exactly for that reason to get outdoors and active together as a family (knowing that we will actually all enjoy the activities and be glad we did them – admittedly, sometimes in a type 2 fun kind of way).

Park Run is a great initiative that organises free, weekly, 5km timed runs around the world. They are open to everyone, free, and are safe and easy to take part in. Starting 2004, Park Run has grown from strength to strength, and every time we have taken part in one of them we have always felt welcome and supported. It doesn’t matter what your age, size or running ability, Park Run is for every one.

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After our initial reluctance to get up this morning, our Park Run turned out to be a great start to the day: we ran and chatted to strangers, got lots of support from the volunteers and marshals, and came away red-faced, a little tired but very satisfied and fulfilled.

Remember, Park Run is not about being the fastest runner, it’s about just being there and taking part.

Find your local Park Run and get your weekend off to a great start!

For more information about Park Run, visit: http://www.parkrun.com/
For more information about Swift's Basecemap, visit: swiftbasecamp.co.uk

2. Door to door navigation

BaseCamp Adventure 2: Navigate door to door

We wanted to keep this adventure local and cheap – we also liked the idea of a a ‘car fee’ day – so we headed out from BaseCamp to explore the local area via one of the routes suggested on the OS Maps app. The idea was to get from door to door and in between walk at least 7 or 8 miles than enabled us to take in part of the local area that we hadn’t been to before.

As Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champions we love to get outdoors – and encourage others to also do so – we love any kind of outdoor adventure, particularly if it’s a bit strenuous and we get to enjoy it together as a family. It’s a bonus if it requires navigating using a map and compass (doesn’t that just make it feel more exciting).

So, we headed out, ‘tucksack’ filled with stove, food to cook and hot drinks; oh, I didn’t mention the fact we also wanted to eat out, and I mean ‘out’… in the outdoors.

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When we found a suitable spot for lunch, Amy got the stove out and rustled up some tasty Quorn and Mozzarella veggie burgers, before serving up warming hot chocolate.

I love the fact the girls are happy to ‘rough it’ a bit… able to cook some food on the go and cope with making do with less than perfect scenarios – like cooking burgers while in the squatting position :)

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Four hours or so of walking, chatting, stroking various dogs we met and enjoying food cooked at a convenient tree trunk later we returned red cheeked and with clear heads.

It’s amazing how good for the mind and soul a simple family ramble can be after a grotty week: it’s true, sometimes the simple things are the best (and they often don’t cost very much either).

Oh, and we also managed to pick up some single-use plastic beverage items for our ongoing ‘Clear Plastic UK Campaign‘.

So, all-in-all, a productive and fulfilling day’s adventuring!

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For information about Ordnance Survey's mapping app, visit: https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/shop/os-maps-mobile.html
For more information about Swift's Basecamp, visit: https://www.swiftbasecamp.co.uk/

Clear Plastic Bottles – the Running Total

18,322 bottles 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

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.
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08.01.17 @julndevon tweeted a photo of their liter pick with 11 to add to the total. Another big thank you.
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08.01.17 A beautiful walk in the woods spoiled by litter. Picked up another 49 to add to the total.

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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.
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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.

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23.12.16 – 74 pieces of beverage litter collected in a festive beach clean. Another big thank you to Kirsty Cavill for six more
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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.
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26.11.16 Picked up 22 bottles whilst out on a walk in the countryside. – most of which were found on the roadside.
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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.
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06.11.16 Astrid Shepherd picked up 89 single use plastic beverage items (plus a couple of supermarket trolleys on the way!)
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13.11.16 – 94 bottles collected walking around London (note the Shard in the background!)
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3.11.16 – 30 bottles collected by Eddie the Hedgehog (mascot of Home Ed group, Daventry)
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10.10.16 – 98 pieces picked up at two service stations on the M6

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

 

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

 

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11.9.16 – 7 MORE bottles collected by Kirsty Cavill!

 

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10.9.16 – 27 pieces of plastic collected from a beach in Anglesea (with Jason Rawles!)
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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.
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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!!!
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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.
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23.5.16 – 36 bottles collected by Steve Blethyn!
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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.
Michelle9
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!

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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!

 

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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)

 

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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.

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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!

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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.
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24.4.16 – An awesome 22 bottles collected by Elizabeth Peters.

 

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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.

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6.2.16 – 27 bottles collected from roadside in Tournehem, France
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8.2.16 – 20 bottles collected from roadside in Guignicourt, France
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22.2.16 – 16 bottles collected from cycle route to Aime, France
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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
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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.
Fontvieille
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.
Villanova
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.

 


Weekend Adventure with friends

Last weekend, we escaped the city and headed into the Derbyshire Dales for some much needed countryside and fresh air. This is what we do at the weekend – seek out places to go to explore, whether it’s on foot, wheels or water. We love being outside in all weather, sharing time together. But this weekend had an added twist; the girls each brought a friend along. They chatted on the way in the van and played games to fill the time. There was a different buzz of atmosphere.girls-on-stepping-stones

Before long, we arrived in Dovedale car park ready for a walk along the river Dove and up Thorpe Cloud. This was the first ‘hill-walking’ that their friends had done and it was the perfect day for it; blue sky and warm Autumn sunshine that cut through the chill of the November temperatures.

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Thorpe Cloud is a small hill in the Derbyshire Dales that, on a clear day, provides gorgeous panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. It doesn’t take long to get to the top but we stopped every so often to take in the views and snap some photos to remember the day by. Amy and Ella, who first climbed the hill when they were toddlers, were great ‘mountain guides'; they both encouraged their friends along the way, checking on them regularly.girls-with-friends-on-thorpe-cloud

Before long, we reached the top and took the obligatory photo to celebrate, and then began the walk down. You’d think the fun of the stepping stones, or the view from the top was enough of a reward but we topped it off with an ice-cream – after all it’s never too cold for an ice-cream! The girls stood around licking their ice-creams, with a healthy glow on the faces and one of the girls’ friends remarked how proud she felt on climbing her first hill! Let’s hope this has given them a taste for more and that they will be joining us more family weekend adventure in the future.


The Nottingham Post Environmental Awards

The Nottingham Post Environmental Awards

On the 20th October there was an environmental award ceremony run by the Nottingham Post and sponsored by The Wildlife Trust.  There were ten different categories and the two finalists for each category were invited to the award ceremony. We are very proud to have been selected as finalists for the Education and Environment award, sponsored by Cemex, and went to the ceremony pleased with being made finalists and excited about the possibility of winning.

We are proud to announce that we won our category! This is a big step forward in our campaign and having won this award means so much to us. The other worthy finalists were Asquith Primary School, who have made their school grounds more eco-friendly by putting in flower beds and planting lots of vegetables and flowers in the school grounds.

This award ceremony celebrated what people are doing to protect the environment and it was a pleasure to be invited. There many fascinating ideas that were put forward at the award and we have come away surprised at what the people of Nottingham are doing to protect the environment.

Our campaign, ClearPlastic_UK is trying to tackle single-use plastic beverage items but in particular plastic bottles because of their negative effect on the environment. Find out more at: www.dotrythisathome.com/category/clear-plastic/

We are going to launch our own website for ClearPlastic_UK soon.

1. Go Below

BaseCamp Adventure 1: Go Below

We stood in the depths of the Welsh Slate mines with seven others and our two guides staring at the chink of light above us – the exit back on to the Welsh mountainside where we had started our caving adventure a few hours earlier – disappointed at the thought of having to return after an exhilarating underground adventure.

Caving is something we have tried only once before as a family – a short taste in the Peak District about 5 years ago. This time we ventured into northern Wales and experienced a wonderful blend of history and adventure with Go Below. This really was an ed-venture – a mixture of education and adventure – and a chance to create exciting memories together as a family in the outdoors.

We love doing adventures as a family, getting outside, exploring and pushing our comfort zones – it is very rewarding. It is a healthy past time and brings you closer together as a family.

entering-the-cave

Amy’s thoughts:
The last head torch, belonging to our instructor, flickered off, plunging us into darkness. I heard gasps and uneasy laughs around me as we looked around, trying to see the cave wall, or even the person next to us.
“Wave your hand in front of your face,” our instructor said, and I did so. “Can you see it?”
A chorus of ‘no’s. I could imagine him grinning.
“Then we’re in pitch black. People talk about it being pitch black at night, but you often have the stars, the moon, a kind of light source enabling you to see something. But it’s only when it’s this dark – so dark that you can’t even see you hand in front of your face – that it’s pitch black. There’s no light managing to get this far under the ground.”
He turned his torch back on, dazzling me. “Come on, let’s go.”

That’s what I loved about Go Below – the blend of adventure and history. I’m pretty mad about both of these things, so I loved the zip wire over the lagoon, the traverse and abseil into a cavern and the raft across water 60ft deep, but I also enjoyed just as much the history side of the adventure. Passing rotting mine carts, being shown crumbling shoes left in the mines for good luck and never collected, the demonstration of how dark it would have been without the lights we rely so much on. That made it just as good an experience, for me, as the adventure.

zip-wire-2
traverse

Ella’s thoughts:

My favourite part of our Go Below adventure was when we turned a corner and through the darkness saw a beautiful underground lake. A dinghy was sat waiting and, after putting on life jackets on, we boarded the boat and were handed an oar. As we paddled the short journey across the lake, our guide told us how the water below us was 60 feet deep. Lumps of jagged slate were sticking out from the ceiling. The water, when illuminated by our head torches, was a lovely aqua marine; it was beautiful!

 
rafting1

I also enjoyed the challenging traverse on slippery rock, 20 metres off the ground. Even though we were told the best footholds and were securely clipped onto a rope, it still felt exhilarating!
rock-scramble-2
When you looked down you could see huge blocks of slate below and smaller slices, discarded by the miners. After the traverse we abseiled down from a ledge into a vast open cavern. It was then you could see the size of the boulders. Most of them were bigger than me!

Near the end of the trip we climbed a waterfall – this was a wet climb and I’m glad we were wearing waterproof trousers. Some poor people in our group weren’t so they got wet!

The last part of the trip involved walking up an incredible underground river before climbing a ladder and emerging out of a trapdoor at ground level again. There was much more to this jam-packed caving trip, but these were just my favourite bits.

Trip organised by AXA Insurance as part of their Live Boldly campaign.
http://www.axa.co.uk/insurance/personal/liveboldly/

Time in the Outdoors – a great topic for a Health & Wellbeing festival

Talking at festivals

Recently we’ve been touring the country talking at various festivals about our story, the life changes that we’ve made and what is important to us: family time and getting outdoors. The last three festivals that we’ve talked at have been a literary festival, an outdoor / adventure festival and, most recently, a health and well being festival. Each festival had a different agenda, audience and outcome but each proved to be a valuable platform to talk about and share ideas for spending time with your family in the Great Outdoors.

Why the Great Outdoors is good for you

The natural world has long been associated with health; it can have a positive impact on us both physically and mentally. The problem is that we live in a modern world that increasingly pulls away from nature and time in the outdoors. Science tells us that spending time in the outdoors helps both our bodies and our brains – getting outside makes us happier – but so many of us struggle to balance our work with other aspects of our life, so many children spend less and less time outdoors.

rspb-report
In fact, RSPB research in 2013 found that only 1 out of 5 children have a connection with nature. It highlights that being connected with nature has a positive impact on education, physical health, emotional well being, personal and social skills and helps towards becoming responsible citizens. This is reiterated by Richard Louv (author of Last Child in the Woods) who said,”the human costs of alienation from nature, among them: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of emotional and physical illnesses.”
UNICEF happiness report has identified British children as some of the unhappiest amongst the world’s richest nations and the IKEA play report in 2015 identified that British parents and children “feel that they do not have enough time to play together, with stress, mobile technology and work getting in the way of family time.” They surveyed over 1,000 British children to find out what would make them happier and help bring children and their parents together. Getting outside together was second on the list (after parents coming home from work earlier).We understand the need to spend time in the outdoors from a personal level and through continued reading of research, as above. It is also a topic that we highlight in the talks that we give around the country, whether they are at literary festivals or adventure festivals. It seemed particularly apt at our last venue:

Pennine Lancashire Health and Wellbeing Celebration

This well-organised, professional, and well-executed conference on September 29th, aimed to highlight good practice and innovation that has taken place in the area over recent years, as well as offering the chance to hear about exciting developments happening right now. A mixture of health and social care professionals, service users and members of the public spent time mingled amongst the impressive surroundings of Blackburn cathedral, promoting ideas and services with each other, and sharing stories. We were invited to share our story and promote the health benefits of the Great Outdoors.

The girls also had their own slot and talked about the health issues associated with single-use plastic.
girls-clear-plastic-talk
Their water table providing further information about the issue was set up throughout the day and had a regular flow of visitors.
water-table

We felt honoured to be asked to be part of the day; we benefited from the opportunity to hear other fascinating talks throughout the day and were impressed by the event overall and its organisers.

Photo credits: timbradleyphotography.com