The Vault Regulars

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Air tight seal bags.

These Pour and Store bags are brilliant and most of all cheap. A box of 8 bags cost me £1.08p from Tesco. I have used them for a couple of years now and depending on what you put in them you can reuse them time and time again.
I put personal items in them for example my wallet, phone,GPS etc and they keep everything dry and they are strong enough to withstand rough treatment.
I also use them to put dehydrated food in and also my porridge.
They are not effected by boiling water or freezing conditions as this is what they are made for originally in the home. The good thing as well is that they are light at 10gr.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Manchester Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone. Thanks to all who have been on the blog and sent emails etc.
Sheila and I usually go away for Christmas either to Scotland or to the Lake District. This year we didn't book either. As it turned out it was a good idea. The driving conditions in Scotland would have resulted in the trip being cancelled and us losing our deposits.
We decided to have Christmas on our own this year. The first time ever. It was decided that we would have a busman's holiday and be tourists in our own town. We checked into the Midland Hotel in Manchester. We have stayed in many of Manchester's hotels but we have agreed that this hotel has come top of the list so far.
The rooms, staff, food and the bar were excellent. What more did we want.
Well that was the good part. Manchester city centre was something else. We had booked 3 nights in the hotel and was looking forward to the towns Christmas festivities. Christmas eve, Manchester was dead. No pubs open, well not that we could find. Christmas day the odd pub was open from 12 o'clock until 3.00pm. We expected the pubs on Christmas day to close early so we were not too disappointed that the city was again dead. It seemed surreal walking around with nobody in sight and all the streets empty of cars. There was fog in the city and it reminded us of the old streets of london scenes from the victorian times.
We had booked our Christmas Lunch in Chinatown and it was a very enjoyable banquet. We were a bit shocked at how few people were booked in for the meal. When considering that thousands of apartment have been built in Manchester, where was everybody?
Boxing day, we were all set up in the Old Monkey on Portland street for a few beers. There was a good crowd in and we didn't even mind it having a few city supporters in. The game had just finished with the blues winning but enough said about that. The atmosphere was very good when we were told that the pub was shutting at 8.00pm. The pub went silent for a second and then "what" was heard from all around. In total disbelief we had just 15 minutes to get another pint, drink it and leave. There were people coming in, one's and two's and big groups and being told it was shut. Turning out a full pub has got to be madness.
Having left the pub we wandered round trying to find another watering hole which we did, Wetherspoons was open, just off Albert Square, until 9.00pm !!!! wow. After 2 pints here we ended up going back to the Midland Hotel bar. Nothing wrong with that but we like the pub atmosphere.
We later found out that there was some refreshment palaces open in the Gay Village. By then we were a bit worse for wear anyway so it didn't matter.
All in all we had a very stress free break and would do it again, but we were disappointed with Manchester's lack of festive spirit. Cheers to everyone at the Midland.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

This weekend trip

With a poor weather forecast predicted we decided to do a quick dash up to Cumbria and stay over at Sheila's mums. We drove up 1st thing Friday morning and it was very cold as we set off. The car said -4 degrees. On the way over we decided to go up Whitfell as its only a quick bimble. The views were fantastic although not as much snow as we thought there would be.
When we picked Dorothy up we decided to go to Wastwater and take some photo's. (Some pics in the gallery) It was a beautiful clear day but very cold and windy and you needed to be well wrapped up. We had a bit of a stroll as it was too nice to miss but the thought of a nice malt scotch and a pot of coffee was called for. We got back to the car and headed off for the Screes pub at Nether Wasdale. Pity i had to drive but i would make up for it later in the Gosforth Hall hotel.
One of the reasons we went was to try out the Golite Fly trail shoes. They surprised me how good they were, even on frozen ground . I thought i would slide everywhere but they were quite stable. Another good buy.
Driving back today, we decided to go over Birker fell and get some photo's of the Scafell range. When we got up there the cloud base was too low and we couldn't see any of it. More's the pity.
We then headed over to Seathwaite, Duddon valley to deliver christmas presents. From here we headed home just as the weather was turning stormy.

Thermos Flask Ultimate

My Thermos flask which i use on day walks has started to leak. It was only a cheap thing so i didn't expect it to last as long as it did. About 8yrs.
We decided that we should replace both mine and Sheila's with something a bit more decent. After a search on the web i came across this flask. It's a Thermos Ultimate. 0.5L capacity and the weight is 0.29kg if you remove the rubber strips. The good thing about this flask is that it keeps drinks hot for 24 hours. Lots of other flasks only manage 8hrs.
Not many places had this flask on offer but i found it at Asda on line for £20.
Having received it i was pleased at just what a quality piece of kit it is. It's double skinned and insulated. The stopper has no buttons or flip up pourers which are basically leak spots anyway. It just has the 2 side grooves so when you unscrew it you can pour out the contents without removing the stopper completely. The cup/lid is not too big but i think its just an ideal size.
The flask is guaranteed for 10 years and the bumf says it is dent proof. Well we will see about that in the future. All in All we are pleased with our purchase.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Petzl E+Lite

I was reading the January edition of TGO magazine and was very surprised to see the reviews of head lighting did not include the Petzl E+Lite. For some reason better known to Chris he has omitted what i consider to be one of my best pieces of functional lightweight backpacking gear. Maybe he reviewed it in 2007 i don't know or maybe because its not brand new. However it should be compared because its so good.
The E+Lite is so small and light but perfectly formed. It weighs in at 28gr and has 45 hour battery life. It is waterproof down to 1m. It packs away in its own case, nice and tidy and you can keep spare batteries here as well.
It costs £21 generally, but you can get it cheaper if you search the web.
For me this head torch is one that all backpackers should have and we never leave home without it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Golite fell shoes

Just been into TK Max and they are selling Golite Fell shoe/ running shoe (Trail Fly model) for the bargain price of £21.50. Hurry up and grab an early christmas present for yourself. They had all sizes and lots of them and in a number of colours.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Vaude Odyssee Winter

This is our backpacking tent of the last couple of years. We like it very much. It's an ideal tent for 2 persons as long as you are not too tall. 5ft 10 max i would say. We looked at other manufacturers and other designs and decided in the end that this suited us best. The main criteria was 1st the weight, 2nd the materials and running very closely was the cost.
The stated weight was 1.8kg and this is acceptable for sharing by 2. I have made some modifications to the guy lines and cleats and we don't use the bag provided. I changed 4 pegs for lighter ones, although the pegs provided are very good. Now it weighs in at 1.6kg. Fly: 40D Polyamid Ripstop 240T bothside siliconised 3000mm
Inner: 30D Polyester Ripstop 285T
Floor: 40D Polyamid Ripstop 240T PU laminated 10000mm. Great groundsheet.
Poles: Al 7001 T6; Featherlite 8.8mm.
Putting the tent up in adverse weather is very easy and one person can do it while the other is making a brew. There are 2 main poles and one small cross pole to keep the porch supported.

The tent stands up well in high winds and ours has not leaked from either the flysheet or ground sheet at any time. The worst weather we camped out in was Feb 2008 in Langdale. The forecast from MWIS was for atrocious weather so we decided it was ideal to see what it could do. The wind howled and the rain was stair rods for most of the weekend. Langdale flooded as usual but we were prepared for this happening and pitched on slightly higher ground. The forecast said gusts of up to 70 miles per hour and i guess it wasn't too far from reality. We had to put some rocks on the pegs to stop them flying out but the tent was fine. After a few beers in the Old DG we didn't hear the wind or rain anyway.

The saturday night temperature dropped down quite fast and i guess it was just above freezing. Quite a bit of condensation was on the inner tent and i reduced this by leaving the top of the doorway open slightly just underneath the peak of the porch. We don't use a groundsheet footprint as we believe that this is defeating the object of being lightweight. If you want an extra groundsheet then just buy a stronger tent.

We paid £225 for it from ultralight outdoor gear but i have seen it this year for sale at £170. Bargain. We certainly won't be changing it any time soon.
Q. Would we consider a tarp.
A. Nope.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


This weekend my mum and brother travelled up to Cumbria for a couple of days. We were staying with Sheila's mum so it was good to have us all together for a change.
Mum and Les were both walking pretty badly so we decided to go to Brantwood on the eastern bank of Coniston water. This is the former home of John Ruskin. I've had it on my mind to visit this house for quite a few years but because we are usually out walking i hadn't had the chance to go there. Brant is the Norse term for Steep, hence steep wood.
Ruskin bought the house in 1871 and lived there until he died in 1900.

We had a good drive there. Going over Birker fell and then up Kiln bank into Broughton Mills. Over Broughton Moor to Torver and then into Coniston. We never met one single car all the way. How unusual was that. Coniston village was like a ghost town.

Brantwood was very quiet. Mainly staff cars in the car park. We had the house to ourselves. Its a fabulous house, especially the views from the dining room and the turret bedroom. Views across to the Old Man of Coniston and north to Wetherlam and Swirl How. There was a covering of snow on the tops and the mountains stood out well against the clear blue sky.

The furniture was a big favourite with our crew, especially in the study and dining room. However i am not sure if this is original or not. After Ruskins death the house was left to the Severn family. They went against Ruskins will and sold off most of the fine art work and then later auctioned off the remainder of the contents.

What a brain and social conscience Ruskin had. Its a pity our politicians don't take a lead from his book.
He instigated so much its amazing just how he managed to find the time to do everything. It puts modern man to shame.

We couldn't take any photo's inside the house so have a look at the Brantwood website for more info.

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