Women's outdoor clothing guide



As the Scandinavians say "there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes", okay I think we can all agree at times there is very bad weather and we would rather stay at home but a bit of cold and rain shouldn't stop you from getting outside and the same can be said on very hot and sunny days, what is key though is being prepared so you can get the most out of your time outdoors.

If you read my blog you will know we love getting out come rain or shine, as a family and on my own and over the years I have invested in a few key pieces that have lasted me a really long time. So I thought I would put together a mini outdoor clothing guide, all about the basics one should have when going on a hike, to the coast or exploring somewhere new.

The layering system

As a rule of thumb, it's a good idea to use the layering system especially when your planning a longer walk, hike or spending time in nature with kids, this way you can remove items when your warm and add them when you get cold.

The layering system on a basic level is three layers including the base layer, a second mid-layer which used to trap warmth, such as a nice fleece and thirdly the Outer layer which is usually a waterproof jacket for wet weather or a down/windproof jacket when it's cold but dry.

Of course, if you know it's going to be very hot or you're visiting a warmer destination you can adjust this but having an extra layer on hand is a good idea no matter where you go, especially if your hiking up a peak as it's usually a few degrees colder at the top, even in places like Spain for example.

In colder weather, the base layer should help to draw moisture away from the skin so Merino wool or Polyester can be better than cotton but during the warmer months, t-shirts and vest can work well. There I love at the moment are

1. Patagonia Organic Tank Top currently on sale from Blue Tomato for £18.36 - not only is this organic but also fairtrade and Patagonia is apart of the 1% for the Planet alliance which donates to the preservation of the natural environment 

2. Howies Women's Merino Baselayer on sale at Howie's for £27.50 - Howies is an ethical clothing brand and this base layer is breathable, wicks away moisture and regulates body temperature. 

3. Rab Women's Maze Tank  £27 - A stylish outdoor tank top with an integrated support bra 

Midlayer Fleece

1. Damart Zip Fleece £25 - a nice cosy layer zip fleece with a high neckline to help keep the cold out. Easy to wash and dry and a great mid-layer

2. Just Togs Women's Gilet £25.50 - this stylish windproof gilet is great for layering and has a fitted hood with side popper pockets. 

3. Patagonia Snap-T fleece pullover £88 - this midweight double-sided fleece made using 85% recycled polyester and is fair trade certified. 

Women's Jackets

1. Carhartt Nimbus Pullover £105 - warm pullover jacket that is fleece lined with water repellent fabric and adjustable hood from a classic workwear brand.

2. Patagonia down hooded insulator anorak £158.86 - this Patagonia anorak is wind and water-repellent and very warm with an adjustable hood. 

3. Lighthouse clothing Bowline jacket £59.99 - this rubberised jacket is waterproof and perfect for festivals and anytime you want to keep dry. I have a yellow version of this jacket and its fantastic. 

When it comes to trousers it can be a bit trickier - for very cold days layering is also key and you can get some thermal leggings, othertimes hiking trousers or active style leggings will be fine and for summer shorts can be the way to go. 

1. Montane Terra Ridge Women's trousers £42.50 - these water-repellent and fast-drying pants are perfect for outdoor activities. They are tough wearing and have hidden pockets. 

2. H&M conscious collection sports leggings £19.99 - perfect for both indoor and outdoor activities, these high-waisted ankle-length leggings are fast-drying and super comfy. 

3. Damart adjustable shorts, on sale £8.50 - these stylish and practical shirts are adjustable so you can choose the length. They are also cool and light made from cotton twill as well as being soft and stretch at the sides for a perfect fit. 

The perfect outdoor accessories

1. Bambuddha Lollipops bamboo sunglasses £86.01- these cool and eco-friendly bamboo sunglasses come with a lifetime guarantee so it's a good investment not just for you but also the planet.  

2. Fjallraven Kanken backpack £79.41 - such an iconic backpack that are hard-wearing and water-repellent, with simple shoulder straps and practical design they are perfect for any outdoor adventure.

3. IsoBaa Merino beanie £30 - this double-layered beanie with keep you warm in winter and can fit under a helmet or hit, making it versatile and comfortable, plus it's quick-drying. 

The main thing is to research, be prepared and invest in long-lasting clothing because that will mean the difference between something lasting one season or a few years. 

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Exploring Chesters Roman Ruins



Since both of my boys have sparked an interest in Roman history we have made a few different trips to various parts of the UK to explore the remains of the Roman Empire in the UK, from the Roman Baths in Bath, the impressive Amphitheatre in Caerleon, Wales and the Wroxeter Roman City with the largest piece of free-standing Roman wall in the country, so it made sense to plan a mini-break to Chester which is rich in Roman history as well as many other medieval buildings.

So we packed a small overnight bag and headed from Cardiff on a more scenic route up through Mid and  North Wales to Chester. Just over the halfway point of our road trip, we decided to stop and explore Montgomery Castle, this beautiful cliffside castle ruin is located in the quaint village of Montgomery and is well worth a visit if you're in the area, plus it's completely free to explore.

After an hour or so rambling around the castle ruins we headed back on the road up to Chester and arrived in the afternoon and checked into the Travelodge Chester Central which as the name describes is very central, right in the heart of the city and near parking. We have stayed at many Travelodge's but this was the first time trying out of the SuperRooms which offer a few new perks such as a Lavazza coffee machine and rainshower. Once we spent a little time decompressing from the drive we headed into Chester for a bite to eat before an early night as we wanted to pack a lot into the next day.

For those who don't know the picturesque city of Chester was founded as a Roman fort named Deva Victrix in 79AD and ended up being a major settlement and elements of that can still be seen today including one of the best-preserved city walls which were built during the Roman times. A few other major features of Roman Chester that still partially remain is the Roman Amphitheatre which is the largest known military amphitheatre in Britain as well as a small part of the remaining Roman baths and columns which can be found in the Roman Gardens near the Amphitheatre.

There is also a very impressive Cathedral in Chester which is well worth popping into and even the kids appreciated the beauty of this huge grade 1 listed building with its intricate designs and breathtaking stained glass windows. For £1 you can also purchase a lego piece to be added to the Chester Cathedral in lego display and the fund's goe towards the Chester Cathedral Education trust which works with schools across Cheshire and further afield.

What also attracted us to Chester was the fact they run interactive Roman Tours and with my youngest dressing up as a Roman Centurian on a daily basis, having a tour with a legionary guide in full outfit was a must-do for us. The Roman tours are award-wining and very family-friendly, I had come across them online along with plenty of positive reviews. Throughout the tour, we learnt so much about Roman history but in kids-friendly sized portions and my boys were engaged throughout.

After the tour we spent more time wandering the beautiful high street of Chester and taking in all the stunning buildings. There is another Roman attraction called the Dewa Roman Experience but unfortunately, it was undergoing maintenance while we were there and was shut bit gives us more excuse to go back and visit it at another point. We really enjoyed our mini-break to Chester and checking out another Roman historical hub in the UK.

Roman ruins

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Trying exotic fruit from around the world


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exotic fruit

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The world is brimming with tasty fruits and I don't know about you but I love trying new things and whether you're on your travels and get the chance to taste a dish completely new or you come across a seasonal delight at your local market, why not give it a go. There are tasty plants and fruits that are totally unfamiliar to many individuals as each culture has its own local delicacies. If you're keen on delectable plants and fruits of all kinds, then you may want to put time into learning about amazing lychee, agave, pineberry, and dragonfruit options. These yummy fruits can be used in a variety of ways and ff you want to take your culinary concepts up a notch or two, then you should find out all that you can about these incredible things. It can help to zero in on all the different benefits of each fruit such as looking into the irresistible recipes that involve timeless pineberry syrup.

The perfect summer drink - Pineberry Daiquiri

 Pineberry is a joy to taste. It can also contribute to a syrup that has amazing flavour. If you want to revel in the magnificence of this syrup, then one recipe may be a game-changer for you. That recipe is for the enduring "Pineberry Daiquiri." People who want to put this beverage together need to get one ounce of Monin Pineberry Syrup, first and foremost. They also need to round up lime juice that's fresh and first-class white rum. They need one ounce of juice and two ounces of rum. Putting this recipe together is a pretty straightforward and quick thing. It involves putting ice inside of a serving glass. Once you do that, you can put all of the ingredients inside of a container for blending purposes. Shake the mixture up thoroughly. Introduce a bit of garnish to the equation. Voila. It's ready to relish.

summer cocktails

Fruits from around the world

Lychee is a fruit that's been a sensation in East Asia for a long while although growing up in South Africa it was very popular there and part of my daily life, unlike in the UK. It's also a fruit that makes an excellent part of many amazing recipes. If you want to savour the wonders of this fruit, you can test out all sorts of dishes. You can try your hand at salmon that's covered in lychee syrup. You can even prepare a jelly that consists of lychee. It doesn't matter if you're a fan of savoury or sweet, lychee can make your food preparation choices a lot more thrilling.

Agave is a plant that produces syrup that's known everywhere for its pleasant sweetness. If you're a fan of sweet tastes, then agave may be the next ingredient you use in the kitchen. You can use agave nectar in order to create all kinds of mouthwatering options. This nectar can be a joy for people who want to be able to throw together cocktails. It can be just as big a joy for people who want to create all kinds of irresistible baked goods as well. The natural sweetener can make getting dessert together with a piece of cake, no pun intended. If you want to wow everyone you know with cookies that are exotic, cosy and familiar at the same exact time, then agave nectar may be able to help you do so. It can help you create coconut oatmeal cookies too. You can even create classic and authentic chocolate chip cookies using agave nectar if you're interested in something a bit more conventional in vibe.

Lychee fruit

Dragon fruit is another fruit that can be a pleasure for all sorts of food and beverage applications. It makes a fine ingredient in any refreshing smoothie that can get you going in the early hours. If you blend together dragon fruit and all sorts of berries, you may be able to get something that's genuinely hard to resist.

If you want to enjoy dragon fruit but don't feel like going through time-consuming and stressful preparation of any sort, you can use it as a topping for any kind of plain yoghurt. It doesn't matter if you chow down on thick Greek yoghurt, thinner French yoghurt, or anything else. Dragon fruit may just make a wonderful finishing touch to the whole thing.

Other tantalizing recipes that often call for the use of dragon fruit are fruit salad, cheesecake bars, and salsa. If you're in the mood to try a fruit that's refreshing, then dragon fruit may be precisely what you are looking for.

smoothie bowl

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Getting back to nature - Family fun during the school holidays


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As we move through winter and edge towards the warmer months, the little ones and I are already thinking about half term and the Easter holidays which will no doubt be upon us in the blink of an eye. What I love most about half terms are all the possibilities for the kids to really reconnect with nature as part of a family; while they get plenty of outdoor time at school and on weekends - it's not quite the same. For this reason, I try to plan as many fun and exciting things to do that are budget-friendly and gets everyone outside enjoying the fresh air. Here is my mini school-break activity list.

1. Go Geocaching

One of our new favourite pastimes is Geocaching; it's perfect for all ages from toddlers to grandparents and best of all, this global treasure hunt app is free to download. For those who don't know what Geocaching is, it's a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game in which you find containers or "caches" of all sizes - from tiny micro button-sized ones to large containers big enough to store items to swap. In each cache is a small logbook which you sign; you can examine the entries and see when it was found last and by whom. We have discovered new places, from forest paths to urban walking routes via Geocaching and have even swapped a few things along the way. When you gain more experience, you can leave your own set of caches for people to find.

Kids who hike
My son and I at the Sugarloaf Mountain Trig point in the Brecon Beacons

2. Bag some Trig Points

Trig Points are dotted all over the UK landscape - mainly on top of prominent hills and mountain summits; both my boys love ticking a new trig point off. It's an engaging and fun way to encourage a proper vigorous walk - just remember to pack a picnic. I'm lucky that I live near the Brecon Beacons (a gorgeous walk!) but there are toddler and child-friendly mountain walks all over the country, and you would be surprised how fulfilling it is to reach the top of one as a group. You can read about our recent walk up The Garth Mountain and only last week my 9yr old and I hiked up Sugarloaf Mountain with stunning views across Abergavenny and the Brecons.

3. Get on your bike

There are some amazing traffic-free cycle routes all over the UK which you can find on the Sustrans website and this is another activity that can be enjoyed by all ages. I have been taking my boys out on the Taff Trail since they were toddlers. It's a great way to travel and explore your local area and you’ll be surprised by what you find along the way – my little one even came across a slowworm making his way across one of the cycle paths. If you're looking to go away over the Easter Holiday, there are some great places that are cycle friendly such as Center Parcs. With locations across UK and Ireland, Center Parcs has miles of which have forest trails and a range of bikes for you to hire, so there are no excuses to not get outside.

Taff trail cycling

4. Den Building

Another free activity that really only takes some sticks, leaves and a dash of imagination; head to your local woods and help your kids building their own den. If you want you can even take a few luxuries along with you - such as a big blanket and a flask of hot chocolate to enjoy inside your new construction once finished. This is also one of the things on the National Trusts 50 things to do before your 11 ¾ y/o. It encourages children to reconnect with nature and we have been enjoying gradually ticking ours off; in fact, we have less than 10 activities to do before we have completed them all!

kids outdoors

5. Get in the water

Encouraging your children to be confident in and around water is so important. While swimming lessons are the first port of call, supervising them on a trip to the beach to jump over waves or a spot of wild swimming at a local stream is a great way to boost their confidence in a natural environment. Like I said, safety is very important so be present and always supervise your children and be sure to research safe places to go. Most UK holiday parks have indoor (and sometimes outdoor) pools which you really should make use of and enjoy as a family. It’s the perfect group activity in your May Half Term break so make sure everyone packs their swimming costumes.

6. Try something new

Is there an activity your kids have always wanted to try? Why not make this year the year you finally do it? Last summer I took my boys kayaking down a canal in West Wales; it was a lovely and gentle introduction to the sport and we spotted so much wildlife and birds along the way. My eldest also had a go at stand-up paddleboarding on a lake during a taster session which, incidentally, only cost around £10. When he joined us after, we noticed how it had really helped to boost his confidence in the water. If your kids are thrill-seekers then how about going on a treetop aerial adventure, ziplining from tree to tree? We tried it in the Forest of Dean and we all had an absolute blast.

Standup paddleboarding

All of these can be done right here in the UK so don't feel like you have to go far or spend a fortune for a memorable adventure. It’s also worth noting that there are plenty of holiday parks in the UK that offer an array of outdoor activities from summer through to October half term breaks. Keeping things simple is often the best route. It opens up the opportunity for quality family time, as well as doing things that are beneficial to the overall mental and physical wellbeing of your whole family.

kids outdoors

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How to Bring more Hygge into your life



Danish way

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Most people by now have heard of the Danish word Hygge which is used to describe the Danish way to living well-valuing cosiness and togetherness. It touches on the ideas of slowing down, simplifying life and taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things. With the Danish being one of the happiest countries in the world it's a good time to take a leaf out of their book and bring a little bit more Hygge into your life.

No matter where you live there are small ways we can embrace the Danish way of life, which is said to improve your general wellbeing, self-esteem, sense of belonging and that can only be a good thing right? So here are a few tips to embrace Hygge

1. Candles

Is there anything more cosy and relaxing than listening to music or sitting down with a hot drink and having so lovely candles burning in the background? When the Danes were asked what they associated most with Hygge, 85% mentioned candles and you can see why as it's such a simple pleasure and even more so in the colder months and helps to set the scene.


2. Switch off and focus on Togetherness

Hygge is all about focusing on being present, quality time and togetherness, with yourself and the ones you love. So why not find time twice a week where you put your phones away, turn off the TV and just have time together, you could be doing your own things such as reading a book but be in the same space, so simply discuss how your day has been or play a board game.

3. Enjoy food

One should enjoy good hearty food in the company of good people, even if that just means a cup of hot chocolate with all the toppings. Hygge is about being kind to yourself and giving yourself a break, not about guilt or calories but about simple moments. Cake, pastries, fresh bread and hot drinks are all commonplace in Danish homes.


4. Hygge Home touches

As many know the Danes love good design and simplicity as well as a love of small spaces such as a cosy nook with plenty of blankets and cushions. Fireplaces are also a focus so if you are lucky to have one in the UK take advantage of that on cold evening nights. Having a space to keep your favourite things is also important such as a good bookshelf and space for your CDs or record player.

5. Bring nature in

The Danes love wood and elements of nature in the home which can be seen in most Scandinavian homes straight away with beautiful wooden flooring and house plants aplenty. It's a proven fact that wood makes us feel closer to nature which is probably why it's so embraced in Denmark from burning firewood, wooden furniture and even wooden toys are all popular.


Having a few things on hand for those unexpected quiet moments means you can embrace Hygge even more so always have some of your favourite tea or hot drink in the house, warm jumpers, a good book or favourite music album and a nice blanket and your set to go. If you want to learn more I also recommend The Little Book of Hygge.

Danish life

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5 Ska Bands to Listen to in 2020

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playing trumpet

Ska music originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s, with combined elements of jazz, rhythm and blues, Caribbean mento, and calypso. It's gone in and out of popularity, revived in the UK in the late '70s becoming ska-punk by adding a punk edge and then again, in the late '80s and '90s with ska bands birthed across the globe. Ranker.com lists The Specials, a revival band that recently celebrated the 40-year anniversary of their debut album as No. 1 on its list of "Greatest Ska Bands of All Time."

But who are the top bands to listen to today?

The Slackers

Formed in New York City in 1991, The Slackers are often named among the very best ska bands around today, with a prolific career highlighted by their second album that was released in 1997, "Redlight," which ranked No. 7 on the Billboard's "The Year in Music" list that year. The current band members, Vic Ruggiero, Ara Babajian, Marcus Geard, Dave Hillyard, Jay Nugent, and Glen Pine occasionally perform in other bands too. Ruggiero performs as a solo act that includes reworked Slackers songs and original compositions, although the band is currently touring North America together.

Ska Band

Top Shelf Shake

As you'd probably expect, there are some great Los Angeles ska bands too like Top Shelf Shake. The three-member band from Chino is made up of Aaron Zuniga, Brandon Caudle, and Zac 'Green Mile' Gram. They formed in the spring of 2014 and are known for having a distinct style of their own that combines ska, punk, rock, and reggae. Their latest release came in 2018, "Strange Radio EP" with songs inspired by the current state of the world, personal struggles and pop culture.

Bumpin Uglies

The Bumpin Uglies are an east coast band from Annapolis, Maryland featuring Brandon Hardesty, Dave Wolf, TJ Haslett, and Chad Wright. Currently touring across the U.S., they've put out a long list of albums, with 2018's "Beast from the East," their latest. Many fans note that it's the best, most polished of their work to date with "game-changers" like hip-hop infused "Hard Liquor."

Ska music

The Pandemics

The Pandemics are an eight-piece band with roots in Long Island and Westchester featuring both veterans and members who are newer to the scene, debuting in December of 2010. Their albums to date include "Brain On Tap," "Lonely Like the Sun," "Hard Headed," and "The Patient Zero.

The Crombies

Hailing from Chicago, The Crombies are a 2-Tone ska band that includes members Dave Simon, Karl Gustafson, Mike Park, and Vee Sonnets. They come from popular ska bands like Deal's Gone Bad, Lord Mike's Dirty Calypsonians, The Civilized Age, Anger and the Sonnets. A popular dance ska band, they can frequently be heard playing around the Windy City. Their debut album "Dance Crazee," featuring The Specials' Roddy Radiation, includes 11 cuts of "classic British second wave 2-Tone ska," and was released on February 8, 2019.

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Sugar Loaf Mountain Wales - Family Friendly Hikes


Sugar Loaf Mountain Wales

The Brecon Beacon National Park is well known as an adventure destination in the UK, with an array of hikes, waterfalls, rivers to canoe and mountain summits to tick off, you can easily see why. I feel incredibly grateful to live less than an hour away and it's a place we spend many weekends exploring.

As my kids start to get older we are embarking on slightly more demanding adventures and as always love to share and encourage others to get outdoors and embrace all that the UK has to offer.

If you're looking to take on a few mountains this year, with your kids in tow, The Sugar Loaf in Abergavenny is a great place to start. The Sugar Loaf is one of the highest peaks in the Black Mountains, standing at 596m (1955ft) but it's also very family-friendly and you often see very young children walking up with their parents.

My eldest who is 9 wanted to have a bit of one to one time with me so despite it being a pretty chilly day we headed to The Sugar Loaf as despite the drop in temperature it was clear skies which meant the views from the top wouldn't disappoint. As you approach the mountain you make you way up a narrow winding road which eventually leads to a free National Trust car park. There are a variety of ways you can reach the summit including a circular walk although as we had arrived after lunchtime and with the sun setting early in winter we decided to go on a more direct route.

I would like to make note that there are no toilets at the carpark so we usually make a pitstop at the large Waitrose around 10mins away and also you want to allocate around 2-3hrs to get to the top and back if your with children (I usually do this within 1 1/2 hours on my own).

Brecon Beacons mountains

Sugar Loaf Mountain

Even though Sugar Loaf doesn't look too daunting you still need to take care as at the end of the day it's still a mountain and physical effort will need to be put in to reach the top and mountain rescue has been called out many times to those who come ill-prepared. You want to have decent walking boots and it will be colder and winder on top so extra layers is a must as well as a bottle of water.

We decided to go up one way and come down another with the added bonus of finding some Geocaches along the way. The initial walk to the base of incline can be a little boring for children so I always try and make it fun by trying to spot any wildlife, we saw some birds of prey during our walk.

Sugar Loaf Mountain Wales

Sugar Loaf Wales

Packing a few snacks is also always key especially when with kids, I've done The Sugar Loaf on my own and don't take breaks but kids will want to have a stop every now and then and there are plenty of big rocks to sit on along the way. What is lovely about this peak is that there is always a consistent flow of people going up so while it's not too busy in the off-peak months it's not lonely either.

The views from the top on a clear day are incredible taking in the Brecon Beacons, South Wales and West England plus and you can spot The Skirrd, a small mountain which is also great for hikes and in the distance Pen-Y-Fan the tallest mountain in South Wales. For those who bag trig points, there is a very nice trig on the summit which is also popular with people taking selfies.

If you're looking for a bit of a challenge and want to get outdoors and explore somewhere new then I highly recommend a hike up The Sugar Loaf in the Brecon Beacons National park.

Hiking Kids

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