Geocaching at Wells Next The Sea with Trespass

It seems ages since May half term – in reality it’s not but in returning to the schedule of everyday life, our week in Norfolk is now just a pleasant memory as we lurch into the frenetic activity that the end of the academic year undoubtably brings.

We ‘did’ Norfolk on a budget – our activities based around what was on offer in the vicinity of the hotel, using our National Trust memembership and making the most of our Geocaching Premium membership.  There are a load of geocaches in North Norfolk and after a morning of rain, we headed to Wells Next The Sea to visit the lifeboat and see if we could find the geocaches that were supposed to be located there.

The day before we left for Norfolk, the good people at Trespass had sent me a waterproof coat to review so I’d duly packed it in the car – only for the first 6 days of our break to be hoodie, rather than waterproof weather.  Sunshine, in May half term – who’d have thought it?!

I get through a fair amount of waterproof coats – other people have large collections of shoes/scarves/handbags etc – I have collections of waterproofs for all seasons.  I’m convinced that in the “what do you need when you have a baby” list, the line “a decent waterproof coat” should be added – and when I say decent, I mean one that doesn’t have you sweating at the mere idea of putting it on, doesn’t let the water run off and soak your jeans in an embarrassing manner and, ideally, one that you can zip a fleece into in winter.  Picky?  Moi?

I also like a waterproof that isn’t black or navy – in my Guide Guider capacity, if I am to stand at an event in the middle of a field, ideally I’d like the girls to see that it’s me – I don’t want to blend in.  It also helps in the playground at school – although it doesn’t help with the whole camouflage thing for animal photography.

The other thing that’s awkward for me is my size – I’m tall (6′), I have, as I’ve said before, an ample bosom but a small back and I also have hips – I don’t fit standard “lady fit” coats.  As a Guider I need a coat that covers my bum – not one that sits trimly at my waist letting the rain happily run down the back of my trousers.  Equally, I don’t want to wear something that looks like a bin liner…

Trespass kindly sent me through one of their Walensburg men’s waterproof jackets in Pine green.

http://i2.wp.com/www.trespass.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/small_image/1280x/602f0fa2c1f0d1ba5e241f914e856ff9/w/a/walsenburg-majkrai20004-_pne-a_copy_4.jpg?resize=627%2C627

Picture from www.trespass.com Walsenburg Men’s Jacket

In real life it’s definitely more green than the turquoise colour in the picture – but that isn’t a problem for me.  The fit is definitely for men – I need an XXL to accommodate the boobs which makes it big on the shoulders but then it’s snug on my hips – but it does keep me warm and dry and that’s very important.

As we set out in Wells to find the lifeboat, the sun was out but the wind was up – with the coat zipped up I was wonderfully windproofed – and the children took great delight in filling up the pockets with as many fossils as they could find.

On we went to find the geocaches – clambering across sand dunes studded with pine trees.

Wells Next The Sea, Trespass review, Geocaching

The view out at high tide

The geocaches are all large (plenty of trackables to be found) and relatively easy to find – our GPS coped far better with the trees than the geocaching app on my phone which was consistently about 5m out.  The walk through the woods is lovely – I’m not sure I’d fancy it with a pushchair but for the 4 of us (none of us known for our balance) we found it pretty good going.  It was pretty humid in the woods and the best thing was that in the Trespass coat I wasn’t instantly sweaty – the breathability that comes with such a high technical spec in the coat certainly did the job.  The difference was noticeable and made our trip out far more pleasant for me.

Wells Next The Sea, Trespass coat review, Geocaching

Amazing trees

There is so much scope for imaginative play in these woods and for great learning experiences for all ages with the trees, dunes, birds and nature that is all around you – all the time.  Cheetahs, visiting Gruffalo (what is the plural of Gruffalo?), Star Wars zombies and goodness knows what else joined us as we went round.

Just as we found the last geocache the rain clouds that had been gathering decided to dump their contents on us.  Up went my hood and once again I was warm, dry and didn’t have the annoying thing that comes with other hoods that they dump the water straight onto my glasses.  We returned to the car, I shook the coat – the water ran off it in droplets and I could put it in the car almost dry.  Perfect.

Trespass Walsenburg coat review, Geocaching, Wells Next The Sea

BritMums Live 2015

“What are we doing at the weekend Mummy?”

*pauses*

“Well I’m going to BritMums Live”…

Jeez, that’s come around quickly – this time last year I was just out of hospital having had surgery on my ulnar and was off to to fulfil my “Butterfly” duties with a very purple cast on my arm and a bottle of morphine in my handbag.  This year I am heading back to done my butterfly badge and am, despite the escalator incident, pretty well – for me.

The one thing that I have struggled with a bit since the escalator fall, is the fact that the scar on my leg has taken ages to heal – it’s 10 weeks on Thursday since the accident and it’s almost closed now.  I’ve got a dent in my leg and some of the scar is looking great – but the last cm is healing from the inside up and taking what seems like forever.

I was lucky enough a few weeks ago to have an afternoon in Kingston Upon Thames with the oh so gorgeous Tanya (T) – aka Mummy Barrow courtesy of Taking Shape and Hotter Shoes.  I’m not good with clothes shopping at the best of times (tall, big boobs, small back, variable size) and had demanded of T that utter honesty was required if any trying on was required.  My eyes may have leaked a bit in the process but you’ll find me at Britmums Live wearing these.

http://i1.wp.com/d2cwp0zuo8ttpp.cloudfront.net/uk/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/446x585/17f82f742ffe127f42dca9de82fb58b1/A/U/AUTLINENPANTS_0002_1.jpg?resize=364%2C509http://i2.wp.com/d2cwp0zuo8ttpp.cloudfront.net/uk/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/A/U/AUV20036_0014_1.jpg?resize=378%2C529

Obviously I haven’t got the shapely ankles or the model pose but hopefully I’ll be carrying it off ok.

My choice of footwear is going to be dependent on the weather (I’m such a practical girl…) – I’m loving the Hotter Leanne trainers as I can wear them without socks and my feet don’t get too hot.

http://i2.wp.com/www.hotter.com/wcsstore7.00.00.480/ExtendedSitesCatalogAssetStore/images/products/large/LEANNS1.jpg?resize=350%2C350

Leanne Trainers (they come in Extra Wide fitting too)

I’m also loving (seeing as the weather hasn’t quite read the ‘summery’ instructions yet, the Mist walking shoes with Goretex which have already proved they are worth every penny out on photography walks in wet fields and on some particularly miserable school runs.

http://i2.wp.com/www.hotter.com/wcsstore7.00.00.480/ExtendedSitesCatalogAssetStore/images/products/large/MISTXDPTEAL-LS.jpg?resize=350%2C350

Mist shoes – perfect for anything outdoors

I love working with Hotter – I’ve been blogging for nearly 4 years now and one of the main things that I’ve really focussed on is working with brands that I believe in – I ‘get’ them and they ‘get’ me.  That’s very much on my mind this weekend as I head off for Britmums – relationship building is really important – and if that relationship isn’t one that we (that’s the brand and I) can make work, I’d rather walk away.

So – what am I hoping to get from Britmums this year?  I’m looking forward to seeing many of the bloggers who I’m now delighted to call friends (rather than ‘other bloggers’), I’m going to be making a forray into the craft area to see what I can learn in a bid to support my “evenings off line policy” that I implemented after half term and I’m hoping to join Hayley from Down’s Side Up on her table discussion (if she’ll have me).   I’m also looking forward to meeting up with the other Butterflies and hopefully making the Britmums experience a little less daunting for first timers

As for what the children are doing this weekend… I suspect it will involve a trip to the swimming pool and a secret lunch at the place that secret lunches are had when Mummy’s at a conference where the secret lunch products usually have names that start with “Mc”

 

BritMums

 

Photography for Bloggers – Camera Bags on Test

I’ve been fortunate enough over the last few months to have been able to put a few camera bags through their paces in my (what seemed) never ending quest to find a bag that

a) held all my kit

b) didn’t cause me a hernia/slipped disc/neck ache

c) didn’t shout to the world in general “Hey! Look!  This is a camera bag full of expensive kit to nick”

d) also held my purse, phone, keys and the general ‘stuff’ that goes with being out and about with children.

I’d looked for a long time for camera bags designed specifically for women – they were beautiful, expensive and wouldn’t stand up to the rigours of a trip to the zoo or a long day out at a National Trust property.  I also, personally, like a bag that I can put over my shoulder – a tote bag of camera stuff does not make for easy photography – unless you’re in a studio setting – and, as you know, that’s not what I do.

Kalahari Kapako K-31 Camera Bag

Kalahari Kapako K-31 Camera Bag, Review

Kalahari Kapako K-31 Camera Bag

This has been my kit bag for over a year – it’s got a ridiculous number of pockets, plenty of space to secure my phone/purse/kids meds plus separate pockets for memory cards, filters, paperwork etc.  Inside the space can be divided as you wish and it’s got a zip inside as well as the top flap of the bag.  It’s been discontinued by the manufacturer but can be purchased here on Amazon at the moment.

The good bits– loads of pockets, robust, light when empty, not conspicuous, can be worn cross body and is versatile enough to take pretty much anywhere.  Really easy to change lenses and grab and go.

The not so good bits – I’m 6′ tall with, erm, shall we say, an ample bosom.  Wearing this cross body wasn’t flattering but the strap was long enough which can be an issue.  It was fine for a DSLR body and 2-3 lenses, but I’ve got more than that now and it wasn’t big enough for my needs.

Booq Python Slimpack

Booq Python Slimpack, camera bags, review

Booq Python Slimpack

I’ve been testing the Booq Python Slimpack for a couple of months now – I’ve wanted to give it a good go out and about and to give it the chance to sell itself to me.  You know that you get honest reviews on this blog and this bag for me has definitely not made the 5* rating – however, it definitely shouldn’t be written off.

The good bits

This bag is awesomely light and made in what seems to be pretty bombproof nylon – as well as coming with a built in waterproof cover – which is great until you need to get into the bag in the rain (the joys of being an outdoor photographer!).  It’s slim, discreet and ergonomically designed, the padding inside is excellent and it comes with it’s own tracking barcode that you can register so if you bag ever gets lost, you can be reunited.

The not so sure bits

The spec on the website tells you the combination of camera bodies and lenses that you can fit into the Slimpack.  Now, this may just be me, but I have no idea how you could get everything in – unless all your lenses are small and your tablet computer has an element of bend in it.

The not so good bits

The Slimpack totally failed my “stuff” test.  It’s so slim and compact that once it’s got all your camera kit in (if you manage to fit it all in) there is no room to put your purse, car keys or phone.  There is a little keyring loop but I have more than one key and there’s definitely nowhere to put a drink.

Although it’s ergonomically designed, I couldn’t find a combination of the waist and chest straps plus the shoulder straps that were comfortable for me.  I think it’s very much a bloke’s backpack – for a gadget loving, slimish guy who keeps his keys and wallet in his pocket, this would be perfect.

Fox Talbot Large Gadget Bag

Review, Fox Talbot Camera Bag, Jessops

Fox Talbot ‘Vintage’ Camera Bag

The Fox Talbot Large Gadget Bag is available from Jessops and I do love it just a little bit.  Now, the phrase ‘large’ I think is a bit misleading – it’s certainly larger than the ‘medium’ bag that they do, but it’s certainly not large enough for the amount of kit I have (and I only have one DSLR body).

I took it up to London for a day out – and after the initial “it looks a bit like a gas mask box” comment from the kids I got on with it pretty well.  It’s big enough for a camera body, my 55-300mm lens and one other with a bit of clever organisation.  I could also manage a combination of the body, a couple of smaller lenses plus my purse and keys – so a partial win on the ‘stuff’ test.

The good bits

This bag looks and feels lovely – the detailing is clever and stylish and it doesn’t scream ‘camera bag’.  I would be take out the protective inner and use it as a handbag if the need arose – so maybe not so much of a bloke’s bag – I’m not sure.  To grab and go with the camera, a spare lens and a small amount of “stuff”, this has become my bag of choice.

The not so good bits

It’s definitely not ‘large’ but it is larger than the alternative so that bit is true.  If you’ve only got a DSLR and a couple of lenses or a bridge camera it’s perfect – if you want storage space for filters, cleaning stuff etc this might not be the bag for you.

The bag can be worn either as a shoulder bag or cross body.  The strap was only just long enough to go cross body (and produced the gas mask comment) – but wearing it on my shoulder, when full, wasn’t comfortable as the weight just wants to pull it downwards.

Unless you wear it cross body, you have to put it down to change lenses and it depends on your style of photography as to whether you  have time for this.

 Make Your Own

Hotter handbags, Deana, camera bags for women

Deana Bag with Protective Insert

There are some occasions where you (I?) really want to take my camera out but want to be discreet – or you want a bag that will coordinate with an outfit that will still take your camera.  I guess weddings and parties are the best example of this and with a bit of help from my friends at Hotter we created this bag to give you an example of what you can do.

The camera bag inserts are available from Amazon (and other retailers!) and come in a variety of sizes, widths and depths.  We used the Koolerton Waterproof Padded Foldable case and the Hotter Deana handbag.

The good bits

The insert is a one-off investment and can be used in bags, rucksacks and pretty much anywhere else.  The choice of handbag is yours – choose your colour, style and size and as long as the two are compatible (check your measurements carefully before ordering) you’re away.

Choosing a bag with bigger dimensions than the insert gives you enough room for ‘stuff’ and makes it flexible for any occasion.

The not so good bits

This sort of bag isn’t going to be suitable for carrying all your kit on a regular basis.  For a body and a couple of lenses for an event it’s perfect but if you were to buy a large bag and all the inserts you require for a full kit, it’s going to be expensive.

Oh, and you might need to buy shoes to match.

Lowepro Flipside 400

Lowepro, Flipside 400, Camera bag, camera bag for women, Jessops

Lowepro Flipside 400

Of all the bags I’ve tested this has to be my favourite.  It’s available from Jessops and really surpassed everything else I’ve tested, even on the first use.  I guess the advantage is that Lowepro specialise in camera bags and sometimes it’s those years of experience that really show in product development.  It has a pockets on the outside for your drinks, space for a small laptop or tablet, room for my purse, a snack, keys, phone and I’ve even been able to take out a complete set of meds for the small one without issue.

The good bits

The absolute winner for me is the ‘flipside’ aspect of this backpack.  Not only does it mean that you can lie the backpack on the ground to change lenses and the straps don’t get wet, but, if you use the waist strap and fit it well, the base of the rucksack is wide enough for you to ‘flip’ the rucksack over securely while it’s still on your waist – and change lenses without have to put the bag down.  Genius.  Absolute genius.

The straps are comfy, there is more than enough room for my kit and with the waist strap on, the weight is taken on my hips rather than my shoulders which makes it easier on the back.

The not so good bits

It is quite bulky (and rightly so in terms of protection and the amount it holds) but the family did note that when I took it away it took up a bit more space in the car than they would have liked.

I use a cross body strap for my camera (more on that in another post) and with the shoulder straps of the backup and the cross body strap it does feel like you’re a bit of a pack-horse, although, a very comfy packhorse!

 

So there you have it – top prize to the Lowepro with all the other options having strengths and weaknesses.  What’s your favourite camera bag?