The Vault Regulars

Friday, November 29, 2013

Down Gilet

Last year i spent ages looking for a down gilet that wouldn't cost me the earth as the big names do. Eventually i bought one from Uniqlo.
However since then i regretted not buying the one with a hood.
So when i came across a gilet with a hood and at such a low price, i thought snap it up quick.

I must admit its very very good, better than it looks in the photo. And i have no complaints apart from a minor point which i will come to  ↓.

The gilet is called the Noorvik - Puffa. and it cost £19.99!
(Andy Howell may like to add this to his compendium of low cost gear).

The medium size that i have weighs 240 grams. It contains 90% duck down and 10% feather.
Both inside and out the material is polyester. The main zip has a baffle behind it and a chin guard.
The hand warmer pockets are zipped and deep.The zips are unbranded but are sturdy.
Inside it has 2 wide and deep pockets that easily takes an OS map.
All the hems are Lycra bound including the hood.
My only point and its not a complaint, is that i would prefer the hood to be a little tighter around the face. Looking at the hem it may be possible to add an elasticated cord with grip adjusters. But don't let this point put you off.
If you are looking for a low cost, light, warm gilet and your not bothered that it hasn't got a big price name tag, then grab this while stocks are good.
Of course at this price and quality you will have already guessed it was Made in China. But beggars can't be choosers as the saying goes.

They also do a down jacket at £29.99. You may find this of interest too. HERE.

It doesn't collapse quite as small as the Uniqlo vest and on balance i prefer the Uniqlo version. Uniqlo are currently selling the un-hooded version for £29 but considering this one is £10 cheaper its a good deal.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The ADX stove

Being in post operation state and having caught an infection which was far more worrying than the actual operation, has given me lots of time to do nothing.
The Penicillin started to work on the infection in about 36 hours and improvement has been gradually improving. The biggest problem i have had is boredom.

I've read lots of your blogs old and new and come up with a number of ideas to try out in the future.
As readers will have gathered, i am not averse to making my own gear so when i read Gordon Green's post on his favourite Evernew DX stove it raised my spirits to find out more.

I knew i had enough materials in the shed to have a go at making a copy of the stove but i didn't know measurements and it would be made from aluminum and not titanium. Gordon kindly provided me with burn height and from a number of web sources including Evernew's own page i managed to put together a decent copy which i christened the ADX stove.

Having made it, which is pretty easy, i can see exactly why Gordon likes it. It's a neat design, the upper body fits inside the lower body and the stove fits inside too. Then all together it fits inside your pot and there's not much can go wrong with it.

So i came to try it out and was full of hope that it would prove to be better than my 12 - 10 stove with a cone windshield. Its always nice to make something yourself which proves to be at least as good as the shop bought.

Sadly it wasn't to be, i tried it with my trangi burner, my cat can and my 12-10 , all with and without a trivet. I used Evernew 600ml pan. The problem as far as i can tell is the loss of heat through the top slots of the upper windshield.
I found that it took approximately 30% more fuel and about the same 30% more time to boil 400ml of water than my 12-10 and cone windshield.
 My attempt at a DX stove, so much heat loss through the top slots, with or without a trivet.

I tried putting a secondary shield around the pan but it didn't have a positive effect, it just burned less efficient and generated more soot.
I was quite sad really after my effort to make the stove. I was hoping for better things. I suppose that if my backpacking trip was short or fuel readily available then i would use my version of the stove but i wouldn't take it on longer trips where you need to be as frugal as possible with fuel.

In the same vein as Gordon's post got my attention then so did Robin's post about Bio Gel alternative fuel. 
I became aware of Bio Gel fuels a little over a year ago when my local garden centre put on a demonstration of alternative house fires. They used bio gel and the brochure was highlighting things like, less soot, less smell, eco friendly etc.
I thought then about getting some and trying it in the trangia. However at the time i couldn't buy it in small quantities. I think it was something like 12L was the minimum purchase.
I checked the internet and this seemed to confirm the volume was not available in 500ml purchases or pouches as in Robin's post. I didn't pursue it any further but just kept the idea in the back of my mind. Then Robin rekindled that train of thought.

Lo and behold bio ethanol was now available in small quantities and i went for the liquid rather than the gel. I got it from Gardeco via Amazon. Price was reasonable at £2.49 for 500ml.
I have done just a quick test comparison with methylated spirits and the first impressions are good. They both boiled 400ml of tap water in about 5.5 minutes. But this was done in my kitchen and so i need to try it in the field to get more realistic results but for now i would say it has potential.

One thing i did notice though, was it still had a smell when burning and it wasn't too dissimilar to meths. I have a thought that it might require a little more oxygen, so i will make a second cone with more slots in. I don't want to corrupt my current cone as it works well with meths and the 12-10.

All good fun and reduces my boredom at having to stay indoors.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hi Tec Zuuk footwear.

The Zuuks have won this years TGO Footwear of the year accolade.

Not a surprise to me really because they are very very good for our needs as backpackers. I love them.
 I am so pleased because i reviewed them earlier in the year here.
Another reason i am pleased is the name, Hi Tec. There is so much snobbery when it comes to gear labels, i'm glad that a name that is usually mid table has taken top spot. Well done all those who voted and well done Hi Tec.

Update June 2014.

After taking them on the TGO Challenge i now have changed my opinion on them for trips longer than a weekend or so. After a 2 weeks trip i was very disappointed at how slow the shoe was to dry out. Having used them for river crossings and general evening in camp i did expect them to dry out in a couple of hours but they were still wet after 8 hours.
When you dry your feet after a long day you really don’t want to put your feet back into a shoe thats wet.
So, I am now using Vivi Barefoot shoes without the sock and find them far better.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Walna Scar shepherds meet 2013.

This years Shepherds Meet event was held on Saturday 2nd November 2013 at Seathwaite in the Duddon Valley, Cumbria.
Its an event we really enjoy and it gives us a chance to have a chat, a laugh and a joke with the local farmers and the numerous friends we have made there over the last 30 yrs.
We had been invited to stay with friends Tina and Alan for the weekend.
Friday night saw us at Nick's Italian in Gosforth, again renewing acquaintances from where Sheila's mam lived before moving down to Manchester. We had an excellent meal, it was a busy night and the staff did well.
Saturday morning Tina and Alan were up early as they are part of the organising team. Licences have to be filled in regarding the moving of livestock and this takes quite so time.
Alan was helping the get the big marquee tent up and sort out the historical picture boards that portray the event from years past.

By 10.00am when we made it into the field most things had been done. Alan was in position on the gate.
The sheep were in the pens and the farmers were having a last brew huddled under the tent whilst the first of many heavy cloud bursts made its presence.
At about 10.20am it was decided to get things underway whilst the rain had eased just a little.

There are basically two breeds of sheep in this region, Herdwick and Swaledales. The farmers show their stock to the judges and they decide who has the best. Judges are usually from neighbouring valleys. There are lots of classes to judge and its all very serious.

Here are a few of the classes that I can remember so that you can appreciate how complicated it can be.

Three aged ewes.
Two gimmer lambs.3 sheep in natural colour.
Tup and gimmer lamb bred by the exhibitor.
Male and female bred by exhibitor.
Female champion.
Best group of sheep.
Overall champion.
And there's more.

Most of the morning the weather was mixed between heavy showers, light rain and gusty wind. We paid quite a bit of time drinking coffee to warm up and dashing out during the calmer moments to take some photo's.
A very rare and unusual double twist horned Herdwick tup
A couple of the young farmers were debating about the coarse for the hound trailing event. The clag  was down quite low and the route which was to go between Caw and White Pike was engulfed in the white stuff and it most most miserable. Anyway the coarse was set. Hardy souls these guys.

Lunch for exhibitors is a set menu so we decided to get ours out of the way before they all came in. The Newfield Inn being host for lunch.

Just after the event resumed we had a tremendous down pour. The most severe so far. Then we had a hail storm. The event just carried on but a lot of the visitors and hound trailers departed to the pub. We stayed out to show the farmers we were supporting them.
The wind picked up, the leaves were being snapped off the trees and it was getting a touch wild. The sheep were shaking themselves to get rid of the excess water and the farmers in their oil skin type suits were looking a bit washed out.

Then an almighty gust of wind lifted the marquee tent clean up in the air about 10ft and deposited it upside down on the other side of a barbed wire fence. Myself and a number of others ran to help but the wind picked it up again and carried it clean over another barbed wire fence.
All the items which had been inside the tent were now being spoiled. The photograph boards, the numerous cakes, tea and coffee etc.
Eventually we caught hold of this 1 ton tent and managed to wrestle it into submission. It was disassembled and folded away in about 2 minutes. Luckily it seemed to be undamaged.

There was some doubt now if the kids pet show would be held but between the showers it was held and somehow every enterent won something. Great.
The hand made crooks were judged and prizes awarded and then the hound trail was underway.

This always causes lots of excitement as the owners wait with binoculars pointed into the high fells to see them first appear.
You can hear the barking long before you see them and as they approach the finish the owners whistles and the shaking of the food tubs seems quite manic.
Then there is always the last one, the one that has gone astray. The owner standing on his own staring into the gloom for any trace of his hound. Minutes pass by and still nothing, then 10 minutes. Eventually someone spots it working its way slowly down the gullies and over the rocky outcrops. The whistling and shaking of the food tub starts again until the hound is back safely.

The surrounding hillsides disappear again and it goes black. Were in for it now a farmer shouts and almost instantly we are in a deluge. The rain was bouncing. The last few prizes were handed out within the cocopheny of the storm. Sheila decided she had had enough and so I told her to go and get inside. Towards Harter Fell the lightening was strieking followed by the almost immediate thunder clap. Again and again the bang was being ricocheted around the hill tops and the rain fell like stair rods.
Fortunately I was wearing my Brenig smock, not the Aran but the one with the aluminium lining. Its performance was nothing short of miraculous. In my blog post about this smock I said that it may not be suited to UK conditions for backpacking but would be suitable for more sedatory tasks such as marshalling, outdoor instructing etc and this event has proved it to me that this is the best waterproof I have ever worn.
The smiling winner of overall champion Anthony Hartley
Despite the weather and eventually being driven indoors we thoroughly enjoyed being here. Its so fulfilling to be a part of the community on this weekend.
In the evening there is much singing and story telling as well as lots of great crack or gossip depending on what part of the country you are from.

Once again our thanks to Tina and Alan for inviting us.

During the day I managed to speak to Steven Gorse, who farms at Hoses near Broughton Mills. I did a post last year when he had decided to start up a new camping site and i know a few of you stayed there.
He has now decided that this venture is not for him BUT, if any backpackers still want to use his fields for an overnight stop then he is more than happy to allow it. Just call at the farm and make yourself known.  Thanks Steven, that's very much appreciated.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Adlington to Abbey Village

  (Wednesday 30th October) was quite an autumnal morning, a bit nippy when standing around but nice when moving. It was clear and blue skies with the odd cloud. Rain was forecast for later in the afternoon.

Todays walk came about after an email from Martin. I was a bit busy trying to sort out Satmap and also my new printers Continuous Ink supply system which was leaking badly. I decided it might be a benefit to leave it all behind and go for a walk.

So once all 12 of us and 2 dogs had assembled in Adlington off we went at 10.00am. The route of the walk had kindly been put together by Reg from the LDWA plodders.

Leaving a housing estate behind we soon hit tractor territory with this fine condition David Brown.
David Brown 1390 2wd tractor in good condition.
Progress was made along pleasant green lanes and manicured fields where we turned left (N) along Long Lane for a short distance before crossing the M6 motorway. We had good views across to Winter Hill and Rivington pike.
The well known landmarks of Winter Hill and Rivington Pike.
We passed some rather splendid houses which Reg informed us had been built on what used to be Heath Charnock Isolation hospital for patients who had illness's like TB. The air being clean in these parts. Now passed by the M6 and the hospital is no more. Opened in 1901, It closed in 1982.
A little further on we crossed the infant River Yarrow by a splendid footbridge. 
Move along now.

Splendid views were had passing Anglezarke reservoir and across to Anglezark moor and Lead mines clough.

All too soon this pleasant green lane became a minor road leading towards Heapey and the disused railway line. Once again Reg had a story to tell of secret storage depots for retired steam engines. 
It was all quite fascinating and if you have time to watch the video its here.

There was lots of passing old railway lines and sidings and railway buildings, platforms, bridges, memorabilia etc but Brinscall was our next port of call and this was the pinnacle of the day. A fish and chip shop that Reg had previously arranged with the owners to be ready for mass onslaught. Well i think it was eleven of us for lunch anyway, (with two possibly sharing). And very nice it was. Fish and chips £3.80.
However we had some muddy fields to get through first.

We sat in the park and devoured said luncheon. Brinscall is a nice place with its reservoir, bird life and nature walks and this unusual snake gate.

After a good 20 minute stop we had the last leg of our day trip to do which was to Abbey village. Again this was mainly walked on the old railway line which was opened by the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway co. but it was closed down in 1960. There’s not much left to see at Brinscall of the old station except a stone wall but there is more to see at Withnell which we passed through next.
 The railway bridge at Withnell

Old Platform at Abbey Village
Info board at Withnell
This became the last bit of railway before we joined the mud fest. Our route into Abbey village and our bus back into Chorley was a bit of a trying affair. We tried to avoid the mud but it was useless. 
Even the tractor was caked.

Somewhere in the morass we missed the path which led through the farm. We ended up doing almost a full circle of a nearby field before some of us climbed a fence into a back alleyway whilst others walked further to more or less end up where they started. We soon joined forces and made our way along the main road to the bus stop where within 10 minutes we where heading into Chorley.

Still not got Satmap sorted out. I think it was 11 miles. Thanks for the invite.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Op over.

Thanks everyone for your kind comments. I am still here. Op went ok. Just enjoying my tea.

Sent from Samsung Mobile

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A cut above the rest

I have 3 posts to do to get up to date but i'm not sure just when i will catch up.

Tomorrow i go into hospital to have a lump removed. I'm told it will be an overnight job and out Tuesday. Recovery time est: 2 weeks.
I promise you there will be no pictures of before and after. I'm not as brave as Mike Knipe.

Anyway i am eagerly waiting a new book that will pass the time until i am walking. I will say no more about that until the official release has been made by the author. But i will say it's by a fellow blogger. Look out for it.

Find it Here

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