Tuesday 30 August 2016

Husqvarna AutoMower - Security

We have a public footpath running through our garden so one of our main concerns about the Husqvarna AutoMower was security. Mark talks about the security features on this latest video.

Cycling in Dumfries

We had a lovely week in Dumfries and did plenty of exploring on our bikes whilst we were there. We mainly stuck to the roads but we did do some mountain biking in Mabie Forest. It was a hard slog but we were rewarded with some fantastic views when we reached the top.

Dress Your Head Up

A few weeks ago we received a lovely box of craft items from Energizer along with some headtorches so we could take part in their "Dress Your Head Up" project. Luke enjoys crafts and quickly got started using some cardboard as a base for his design. He spent the morning decorating his headtorch and said it was fun doing something a bit different. He also suggested that I get the Cubs to have a go at decorating headtorches next time we are on camp, I always ask them to bring a headtorch so it will be a great activity and will hopefully keep them occupied for a while! 

When we looked in the box there were plenty of different materials to use on the headtorch. Luke especially liked the glitter glue pens and after he had played around with a few different designs finally decided just to use the glitter pens on the cardboard creating a rainbow effect.

This is his finished headtorch.

William also had a go at decorating one too, he has three pipe-cleaner circles in his design which I thought was perhaps influenced by the Olympics however when I asked him he said it wasn't! 

The headtorches are great, they are comfortable to wear and can be adjusted to fit all sizes of head. The torch has a really bright beam and there are three different brightness settings and the beam can also be angled. It takes 3 AAA batteries.

We will get plenty of use out of these headtorches especially as the nights start drawing in once we get to September.

Disclaimer - we received headtorches and craft items for the purpose of this review but all words, photos and opinions are our own.

Monday 29 August 2016

Cala Lily

Whilst I was shopping at Aldi on Saturday I spotted some lilies. I bought a couple of the Cala lilies as I thought they would be perfect in the blue planters at the top of the steps. I have planted them and they look great.

Collecting Grass

The grass in the field had got quite long so John mowed it this week and Luke has been collecting it with the quad and trailer. He started off doing it on his own but Charlie and Daisy soon spotted him and came to help. It was nice seeing them all playing together and having lots of fun collecting the grass and having rides in the trailer.

Dad was telling them how he used to have to make hay by hand when he was a boy and they didn't have quads, trailers and machinery to help!

They have spent a couple of days collecting grass as once they had collected the first lot we mowed it again on a lower setting so they had to collect all the new grass although they really didn't seem to mind as they were having such a good time and the weather has been nice. Luke found a frog in the grass and it stayed still long enough to have a picture taken.

Wednesday 24 August 2016

Fun in the Sun

We have had a couple of nice days so Luke has been making the most of the warm weather and has had lots of fun playing on the water slide.

We have been taking advantage of the better weather and managed a full day in the garden. Since the council started charging to remove garden waste we chose not to pay as we already compost most of the garden waste and we only really use the bins for weeds. We don't particularly want weeds on the compost heap so I have been giving the weeds to the hens who seem to enjoy them!

We spent quite a lot of time clearing a neglected part of the garden and collected a reasonable amount of rubbish, so never needing much of an excuse to light a fire, William volunteered. We burnt all the rubbish as well as lots of buckets of weeds, as there was way too many for the hens to get through.There is still a lot of work to do but now all the rubbish is gone it looks much better. We are hoping for a dry day this weekend so we can get some more work done.


Monday 22 August 2016

Husqvarna AutoMower Part 5

We have been trialing the Husqvarna AutoMower for a couple of months now and this video shows how to change the blades.

Sunday 21 August 2016

Lunchbox Ideas

Luke takes a packed lunch to school every day and I try to vary the food he takes. This is a typical lunch for Luke, he usually helps prepare it so he knows what he is having for lunch each day and as he has chosen his food it generally all gets eaten. 

We generally include the following items in his lunchbox

A drink

Spreadable cheese and crackers or a sandwich/wrap 



Jelly or yogurt

It is important to have a good water bottle that doesn't leak, Luke has had this bottle from Mountain Warehouse for a couple of years and it is the perfect size for his lunchbox. It has a good seal on the lid and as long as the lid is screwed on properly it doesn't leak.

Luke has no enamel on his front teeth so we try and avoid sugary snacks so the Hartley's No Added Sugar Jelly pots are a perfect treat for him, there are lots of flavours to choose from and his favourite is raspberry.

I always try and include some fruit or sticks of vegetables for Luke. He especially likes cucumber, carrots and peppers which I put in a small lidded pot. Luke likes lots of different fruits and he will take pots of grapes, strawberries or raspberries too.

If we have time we sometimes make our own sausage rolls which he will have instead of a sandwich. 

Hartley's Jelly Pots is championing the back to school period with a new campaign called Hartley's Your Lunchbox. The campaign motivates parents to turn their hand to brilliant lunch creations and from July if you collect 12 special edition green lids from the No Added Sugar Jelly Pots you can claim a free lunchbox and stickers. The lunchbox will be perfect for all the new starters in September.

What do you include in your child's packed lunch?

This post is an entry for BritMums #HartleysYourLunchbox Linky Challenge sponsored by Hartley's Jelly

We received the lunchbox, stickers and 2 pots of Hartley's Jelly for this challenge. 

Friday 19 August 2016


Buddleia is probably the best known shrub for attracting butterflies and ours has been attracting plenty this week. 

80 Years of Adventure at Great Tower

On Wednesday we travelled to the Lake District to help celebrate 80 years of Scouting at Great Tower. Close to the shore of Lake Windermere, Great Tower Scout Activity Centre is set in 250 acres, with plenty of woodland to explore as well as natural rocky crags for climbing. We have spent many happy summers as campers on various large and small camps, have helped develop the site as members of the summer staff and done lots of work inside and out as members of the Crew. We also have lots of great memories of the festivities at VFB, our annual Christmas party. Mark also did a stint on the GT Management committee helping to develop GT when West Lancs County Scout Council ran the site.

Now West Lancs don't run the site we don't go very often and it has been a while since our last visit so we were pleased that the celebration had fallen on the week we were off work meaning we could go. Unfortunately with it being a Wednesday a lot of people who have worked on the site over the years were unable to attend but it was nice to see a lot of the older Scouters who were able to go. We were at the 60th birthday camp which really doesn't seem 20 years ago! The celebration started in the traditional way with a brew and biscuits in the Bield where there were plenty of old photograph albums of the site. We managed to find a few photos of me but we couldn't find any with Mark in but it was nice reminiscing and spotting familiar faces. There was a nice service in the chapel which John Seed led and a rousing rendition of If I had a Hammer with Brian Rollins on guitar.

After the service long service awards were presented to Steve Mather and Pete Sturgess who have both done a lot of work at Great Tower. We then had a lovely lunch in the sunshine before a walk around the site.

We walked up to Tower Rock, one of my favourite parts of the site. The views over Windermere were stunning and it was nice sitting in the sun and sharing memories of GT with friends.

Stig was on hand to help transport the older members of the party up to Tower Rock and we had a photo taken of us all on Tower Rock.

No birthday party is complete without a cake and there was a beautiful cake that had been made by one of the staff at GT.

We had a lovely day out and I am sure we will be there again in 20 years to celebrate the 100th birthday.

Tuesday 16 August 2016

Vango Tempest 200 Video Review

William recently reviewed the Vango Tempest 200 tent, it was quite a windy day but you get all sorts of weather when camping so it got a good test. Weighing just 2.9kg it is light and compact enough for backpacking and Explorer Scout expeditions. 

The tent is a tunnel tent and you pitch the flysheet and inner tent together, this makes it very quick to put up which is handy when you are pitching your tent in bad weather. The first time they put it up it took about 5 minutes but now they are familiar with it it doesn't take as long.

It has a 70 denier, 6000mm lightweight polyester groundsheet which as you would expect is waterproof and hard wearing. The poles are Vango PowerLite 7001-T6 alloy poles, again these are lightweight and helpfully colour coded. We especially liked the patented Vango TBS®II Tension Band System which ensures the tent performs in adverse conditions, especially in strong, changeable winds. When tensioned, the bands brace the pole at 3 points, and prevent sideways movement. 

The Venturi Vent System provides a constant flow of fresh air through the tent, by creating a chimney effect to draw stale air out and fresh air in, this could be very useful when you have two Explorer Scouts sharing a tent!

There is a decent sized porch which will keep boots and rucsacks dry and the tent also has rain stop flysheet doors which are structured to prevent rain dropping into the inner when opened. A flysheet door vent helps to ventilate the porch.

Inside the tent is plenty of room, William is 6' 3" and still growing and he found the tent was comfortable to sleep in.

William really likes the tent and I am sure he will have lots of adventures in it. I have always found Vango tents to be high quality and last well, we have some Vango Force 10 tents at the Scout Hut that we bought over 25 years ago that are still going strong, they are very faded but still great tents with plenty of life still in them.

We received the Vango Tempest 200 tent for the purpose of this review.


I have lots of sunflowers growing in the garden and a lot of them have appeared in the hanging baskets and tubs. I can only assume that these have come from seeds dropped by the birds as I haven't planted any of them! This one has just come out and looks beautiful in the sunshine.

Happy Birthday William

We were in Scotland for William's birthday, I did consider taking the ingredients and a cake tin to make a birthday cake however there wasn't space in the car so we decided it was easier to buy one on the day. We rarely buy cakes from a supermarket as we can make much nicer ones so it was quite difficult choosing one, we finally settled on a Thorntons cake which was really nice.