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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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 🙂
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!
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/
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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/
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.
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.
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
No, it’s not a table selling bottled water! It’s quite the opposite…
The Water Table covers all different aspects of plastic, from pollution to alternatives, such as:
We also have a examples of clothing made from fully natural materials, such as cotton and bamboo. Natural microfibres biodegrade, so clothing such as BAM clothing (which is an example of bamboo clothing) are better for the environment than garments made from polyester (plastic).
A Deadly 100,000 book showing plastic’s effect on the oceans.
The reactions we’ve got from people visiting the table are just what we hoped. Many people are really shocked by what we tell (and show) them, especially when it comes to the ‘recycling red herring’ (see the above bullet list). It’s widely thought that a recycled bottle will be made into a new bottle, but this, like most things the bottle manufacturers tell us, is a bit misleading. Most bottles are down cycled into other items, such as fleeces and carpets (which have their own environmental issues), so only a very small percentage of new plastic bottles contain recycled plastic. We have in word from most bottled water manufacturers that they use no recycled plastic, and that is one of the most powerful things for most people.
Also in the pipeline, we’ve got Yestival in October and hopefully more festivals in the future to add to the list.
And to finish, one lady who was particularly interested in the Water Table and what we’re doing said a comment that perfectly sums up our campaign:
“So when we don’t see any plastic bottles in the supermarkets, we’ll know who to thank.”
Main Header Image Credit - Tim Bradley Photography
Festival Season is over… (or is it?)
So, the festival season is coming to an end, right? Wrong! There’s a bunch of post-summer festivals left to attend before the dark nights set in and we all officially get the winter blues. Some of these festivals are perfect for families to attend.
We love attending festivals together as a family; the kids love the range of activities on offer and the freedom, and we love the atmosphere of festivals – the feel good, feel happy – be happy vibe that permeates everywhere, and even infiltrates even the queues to the toilets.
On a serious note, outdoor festivals play an important role in, well, getting people outdoors! We are unashamedly advocates of the outdoors and all that comes with being outside, whatever the weather. And let’s be honest… we all need to spend more time in the outdoors, don’t we? … for our own wellbeing and happiness.
And when it comes to the younger – screen addicted generation, the issue of getting outdoors takes on a new dimension.
“Kids really need to get out more!
Too many kids are not encouraged to balance their screen time with green time, and the result is a generation disconnected with nature and more worryingly, not appreciating or valuing the natural world.
This is what takes us to festivals, and motivates us to go beyond just attending but to take the scary step to stand up and contribute, often to talk about the outdoors, and family adventure, or run bushcrafty-type activities.
4 of the best family festivals
Here are 5 festivals we will be visiting (and contributing towards) this Autumn; we’d love to see you at one or all of them.
We’ll be there talking about how families can make more time for adventures in the outdoors and sharing lots of ideas for families to take away and try. We’ll also be running a a fun bush craft workshop on mini raft making which involves learning some knots and lashings. The completed hazel rafts can be taken home and sailed in the garden pond or even in the bath! Amy and Ella will be demonstrating some simple steps for drawing animals in their very own drawing workshop for children.
Date: 2nd & 3rd September Location: Church Lane, Hawarden, CH5 3DF Website: Gladfest - https://www.gladstoneslibrary.org/events/events-courses-list/gladfest
The Good Life Experience
With our ‘Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champions‘ hats on (wooly ones if it’s chilly) we’ll be running a beginner’s map reading workshop that concludes with a fun treasure trail challenge around the festival site. Prizes (provided by Ordnance Survey) will be given out to those that complete the trail.
The girls are also being interviewed on stage about their Clear Plastic_UK campaign, raising awareness of the negative impact single-use plastic has on our environment and their hopes to convince supermarkets to offer alternatives to plastic bottles on the shelves. An interactive ‘Water Table’ with information and hands-on demonstrations about the issues associated with single-use plastic will be on display throughout the weekend.
Date: 16th - 18th September Location: Hawarden Estate, Chester Road, Hawarden, Flintshire, CH5 3FB Website: https://www.thegoodlifeexperience.co.uk/
South West Outdoor Festival (National Trust)
We hope it be trying out a few of the outdoor activities as well as offering our own contributions: a family talk on getting out on adventures as a family and a couple of bushcraft workshops involving making mini-rafts and cordage (bracelets) from natural materials.
Date: 23rd-25th September Location: Heddon Valley,Parracombe, Barnstaple, Devon, EX31 4PY Website: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/days-out/regionsouthwest/south-west-outdoor-festival
This year the girls are involved in helping the festival to become the first Plastic-clever festival; there will be no single-use plastic bottles, cups or cutlery. They will be promoting this and their Clear Plastic UK campaign in an opening-night talk as well as through their ‘Water Table’ throughout the weekend. We, but particularly the girls, will be involved in Dream Camp, a magical corner for youngsters, giving talks, leading workshops and interviews as well as playing games!
Date: 21st-23rd October Location: Chichester College, Brinsbury Campus, North Heath, Pulborough RH20 1DL Website: http://sayyesmore.com/yestival/
And should you not be able to make any of these events…
We’ll be giving two talks entitled “Screw work (and school); it’s time for family EdVenture” in association with Ellis Brigham. During these talks we will offer insights and advice to others based on our experiences (and mistakes), and whilst doing so cover some of the following themes:
- How to focus more on the 5 to 9, not the 9 to 5 and enjoy more fulfilment
- Why kids really need to get out more
- Why disposable time is the most valuable of commodities (so spend it wisely)
- If you live for the weekends, then you at least should make them worth living for
- How to have mini BIG adventures and reach new heights (often literally)
Come and join us, ask questions, and find out how a brave decision to live differently has opened lots of doors and presented exciting opportunities that they never could have expected.
7pm – 8:30pm
7:30pm – 9:00pm
Here’s the link if you want more information.
Image credit: Good Life Experience image by xantheberkeley
Walking back to 1892
How an 83 year old Prime Minister could have walked up here, I thought as we reached the Gladstone Rock, was incredible. Whilst the walking up the Watkin Path hadn’t been steep or hard underfoot, it still surprised me that an elderly politician had managed to climb a quarter of the way up Snowdon – to open a path. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why the rock he spoke from is now named after the legendary William Gladstone.
The Watkin Path, named after its creator Edward Watkin (a friend of Gladstone’s), was the first designated footpath in Britain. At the time of its construction, there was no path to the actual summit of Snowdon, only a path just over a quarter of the way up to a quarry. Over 2000 people gathered on the side of Snowdon in 1892 to witness Gladstone opening the Watkin Path. From on top of an impressive 12ft boulder, the Prime Minister delivered a speech on Justice for Wales, not to mention sung some ‘Cymric hymns’ himself. A plaque fitted to the front of the boulder commemorates what was sure to have been a memorable occasion, announcing that indeed William Gladstone had stood upon the rock.
Today, the Gladstone Rock is still alongside the Watkin Path, and it’s almost impossible to resist clambering on top and delivering your own address to the imaginary masses. Which, of course, is what my sister and I did, proudly posing as important people and shouting our own speeches on various topics, into the wind. Although we very clearly didn’t resemble William Gladstone to any passers-by, it was still a fun way to imagine what happened on that historic moment in 1892.
The story of Beddgelert
As the dog let out a dying howl, a baby cried. Prince Llywelyn of Wales knew he had done the wrong thing.
This is my interpretation of the story:
Gelert was a hunting dog – the favourite and most loyal dog of Prince Llywelyn of Wales. The prince had recently had a baby, the heir to the throne. When the prince went out hunting he left Gelert behind, to protect the heir. Gelert lay patiently beside the baby all day until he sensed danger approaching; a wolf had discovered the house and snuck inside. The wolf lunged at the baby but Gelert jumped in front to protect it. They fought until the wolf died. Gelert, hurt from the battle, had blood on his mouth. The walls were splattered too.
When the prince arrived at the house, Gelert ran to greet him, happy to see his master, pleased with how he had protected the baby. Llywelyn was confused, seeing the blood on Gelert’s mouth. He ran into his house and looked his baby. He was nowhere to be seen. Prince Llywelyn was furious at Gelert. He unsheathed his sword and plunged it into the dog’s heart. Gelert whimpered and let out a dying howl just as a baby cried. Prince Llywelyn of Wales knew he had done the wrong thing. He searched again and found the baby lying next to a dead wolf, slain by Gelert himself. Gelert hadn’t killed the baby. He had saved the young child and Llywelyn killed him, assuming the brave but innocent dog had done wrong. Prince Llywelyn felt distraught. It was said that he never smiled again.
The moral of this story is to never jump to conclusions; expect the best, not the worst.