Review: Leatherman “Wave” Multi-tool

review - leatherman wave multi tool

Some say that your not a real man until you’ve got a multi-tool. I started with a pen-knife that my dad bought me from a shop in Oban (in Scotland) when I was 12. That was the moment when I felt properly grown up. His words of advice were “be careful with that, its so sharp you will cut yourself just by looking at it” – he wasn’t wrong. It was a great little knife and got years of use, although I lost the little tweezers and toothpick within a few weeks (doesn’t everybody?).

Leatherman long nose pliers, perfect for unhooking sea bass or making fishing rigs

So given the chance to review the popular “Wave” multi-tool made by Leatherman, I was once again that 12 year old boy opening up the various blades, saws and tools packed into the steel handles of the Leatherman. Although I was a bit shy at first (I didn’t want to scratch or ruin my new multi-tool), I soon realised its capabilities, and was cutting, bending, hacking and sawing away with every confidence in the quality of the tool.

leatherman wave has serated knife and penknife, and also has a saw

The saw has two rows of teeth, although quite short, it does the business and is perfect for cutting down branches of up to 10cm in diameter easily. The perfect buddy to have when getting firewood or shelter making. The bottle opener gets some use too!

The long nose pliers come in most handy when making fishing rigs, and also for unhooking some of the bigger fish that I catch. I think it may be a good idea for me to attach the Leatherman to my belt with a stretchy bungee cord, as I would be annoyed if I lost it in the sea.

The Leatherman has a double toothed saw that cuts like a dream

The Leatherman Wave includes all of these useful features, all of which are well constructed from stainless steel. It gets the job done with no nonsense!

  • Serrated Knife
  • Needlenose Pliers
  • Regular Pliers
  • Wire Cutters
  • Hard-Wire Cutters
  • Saw
  • Scissors
  • Wood/Metal File
  • Diamond Coated File
  • Large Bit Driver
  • Large Screwdriver
  • Small Bit Driver
  • Ruler
  • Bottle/Can Opener
  • Wire Stripper
  • Lanyard Attachment
  • Clip-Point Knife
  • 2 Double End Bits
  • 100% Stainless Steel
  • Weighs: 8.5oz
  • Closed Length: 4″
  • Leather Pouch

Verdict and Thanks:
I would like to say a big thankyou to Whitby & Co for sending me the Leatherman Wave for review, this is a must have for outdoor enthusiasts and professionals, and this has become a permanent addition to my fishing bag. The quality of the multi-tool far exceeds any of the cheaper brands that I have used, and will clearly last me for years (even under the tough pressure I will be putting it under). The Leatherman wave is available here at Whitby & Co for £109.95

Visit Leatherman athttp://www.leatherman.co.uk/

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Freediving for Crabs in Cornwall – Preparation and Equipment List

freediving in Cornwall for spider crabs

One of my top 5 outdoor activities to begin this year is free diving for crabs here in Cornwall. The warmer waters around the South West coast arecaused by the Atlantic gulf stream. This gives us a longer crabbing season, and so my search for diving equipment and physical preparations begin.

I will be targeting Spider Crabs (Maja squinado) and Edible Brown Crabs (Cancer pagurus) of which there are an abundance of both here in Cornwall so I’m hoping for some good success. I will be using two methods; free diving and collecting in a mesh bag, and I will also drop an unmarked crab / lobster pot which I will dive to empty (as I don’t have a boat).

I have a few local spots picked out, and with some further research I will be compiling a list of “Hot Spots” to hit over spring and summer. Google Maps (Satellite View) is great for surveying the coastline for accessible diving areas. It is easy to see whether there are darker (rocky or weedy) or lighter (sandy) areas of sea bed.

My Free Diving Kit List
Wetsuit
Diving Mask
Snorkel
Fins
Gloves
Diving Weight Belts
Diving Torch
Diving Knife
Diving Watch
Float
Crab / Lobster Pot
Diving Bag

Physical Preparation
Cardiovascular Exercise
Breathing Exercises
Swimming Training
Water Pressure Training

Diving for edible crab in Cornwall, watch out for the claws

I will post further updates on my progress shortly, along with any top-tips from my experience. Freediving can be dangerous and I will be taking things slowly until I have confidence and skill enough to offer tips and advice.

First tip: always know the tides and weather conditions before you enter the water. (be safe kids)
Second Tip: watch out for the crab claws, seriously!

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Review: Mens Polarised Sunglasses – “Pilot” by Maui Jim

review - Maui Jim Pilot sunglasses

When it comes to sunglasses, I’ve never really been lucky enough to have a really good pair (small violin plays), and those which I have treated myself to have always come to a quick and painful demise (usually crushed or snapped). When I recently had the opportunity to get a pair of Maui Jim polarised sunglasses, I really was over the moon.

The Maui Jim website is really informative with really good product images (including a 360 degree view), which is really important when it comes to buying sunglasses online. It can be tricky to know if they will suit your face, but detailed product specifications allowed me to get fully clued up on material, frame size, colour and lens spec’ before I made my choice.

When the courier delivered the parcel, I chatted to him for a while (as he also owned a pair) , he commented on how great his pair were for Carp fishing, the polarised lenses were really good quality and cut pretty much all glare and reflection off the surface of the water. His words were re-assuring that I’d made the right choice as I also intended on wearing my new “Maui Jim’s” while fishing.

Maui Jim sunglasses- back and side pofile

Style #: 210-17  Colour: Silver / Neutral Grey
Frame Material: Stainless steel, a sleek, sturdy and non-corrosive metal known for its light weight and strength; non-corrosive nickel/silver temples with nylon temple tips
Finishing Treatment: High-gloss for a smooth, sophisticated look and feel
Hinge: Anti-corrosive stainless steel/bronze spring defies the elements and offers a secure, comfortable fit
Bridge: Fixed saddle-style with double cross-bar and adjustable, non-slip, rubber nose pads for comfort
RRP – £225.00 GBP

I decided on the “Pilot” sunglasses, actually an obvious choice as they look fantastic. They have a slightly curved (or wrap around) semi-rimless aviator design, the curved profile protects from light sneaking in through the sides and also gives an unobstructed view. They also have Maui Jim’s own PolarizedPlus2™ lenses, I chose the neutral grey colour, but they also come in HCL™ Bronze or Maui Evolution™.

During this scorcher of a Cornish summer (so far), I have worn them pretty much every day since they arrived. The “Pilot” sunglasses fit perfectly, really comfortable and well balanced. The rubber nose pads add extra comfort (there’s nothing worse than red marks on the side of your nose). The glasses have proven great for everyday wear and also my sports interests (fishing for sea bass around the Cornish coastline).

The PolarizedPlus2™ lenses (mentioned earlier) really are the star feature of these sunglasses. I had a good understanding of how polarisation worked (from my days working as an optical assistant), but to wear a really good pair of high quality polarised sunglasses like these is a visual sensation, they cut the glare off of everything!. The lenses and the stainless steel frame are salt water safe, which is crucial for me as I often get splashed with waves.

The lenses are fantastic for driving, especially after some rain when there is a lot of light reflection on the road. I have also noticed that it takes the glare off of other drivers wind-screens, so now I have a clear view other drivers (and what they are doing whilst driving).

Verdict: the “Pilot” sunglasses are outstanding in terms of quality, comfort and performance. I have been converted, long gone are the days of wearing 15 euro sunnies from the “looky looky man” - Wearing the Maui Jim “Pilot sunglasses has enabled me to improve at my sports fishing, and most importantly, I look great in them!

Maui Jim logo

Visit their website here
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Review: Bosch Rotak 43 Ergoflex Lawnmower

Bosch Rotak 43 Ergoflex Lawnmower

I have owned a few mowers over the years, hover, cylinder and rotary. The hover mowers were never very good, and I often got a better cut from swinging them around sideways than pushing them
in a straight line. A stripey lawn is not possible with a hover mower (so far as I have tried).

Cylinder mowers are great but do make for a high maintenance cost. (annual sharpening and setting etc) And up until now the rotary mower did the job but not very well.

I was fortunate enough to get my hands on one of the Bosch Rotack 43 mowers to try out. With my curved lawns front and back (normally a 3 hour job with the hover mower), I put it through its paces.
The mower is poweful (1800w) but much quieter than my previous hover mower. The blade cuts a good width (43cm) and gets very close to the edges. I can now cut a striped lawn and a brilliant cut too, no need to go over the same spot several times (like with my old hover mower).

cutting close to the edges with the Rotak 43

The grass box is easily big enough for my requirements, I’m spending more time mowing than emptying, but removing the grass box is a bit fiddly particularly when full.
Assembly was fairly easy apart from the grass box, that was quite difficult but got there in the end. – Everything else fits together very well, and the 15 metre power cable means that I no longer require an extension lead to reach the bottom of the garden.

Verdict: In short I would recommend The Bosch Rotak 43 to anyone, It is a wonderful machine, and now mowing the lawn is no longer one of my “oh maybe i’l do it tomorrow” jobs!
Available from Notcutts for £205.00

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The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall

The vegetable gardens in bloom

Spring is finally here in Cornwall, and to celebrate the extra 2 minutes and 20 seconds of daylight each day, I made a pact with myself to get out and about visiting some of the attractions in this beautiful county.

One of my favourite outdoor day trips (apart from the Eden Project which I will cover in another post) is the Lost Gardens of Heligan. I had always wondered where these gardens were after hearing about them so many times, and apparently the perfect place to get some desperately needed inspiration for my garden makeover.

There is also a beer names ‘Heligan Honey’ which is brewed by the local Skinners brewery, the description on the back of the bottle describes how the ale is made using honey from the bees which are kept at the gardens. I have sampled ‘Heligan Honey’ a few times, but I never actually visited the gardens themselves. The entrance fee of £12 was OK considering that they have free parking, and I made a large packed lunch (cheese and Marmite sandwiches) to keep me going throughout the day. The address for visiting is The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Pentewan, St Austell, Cornwall, PL26 6EN.

The lost gardens of Heligan
The gardens were absolutely stunning, and the whole estate is kept in pristine condition, even the productive gardens where they grow all manners of vegetables and fruit were neat and immaculately presented. The story of these mysterious gardens spans back 400 years, where at one point they seems to disappear into rack and ruin following the first world war. The Tremayne family set about restoring the gardens, the area was worked on by dozens of specialist gardeners and labourers in a huge effort to bring the gardens back to life.

the flower gardens in spring

Apple blossom

Productive Gardens
The fruit and vegetable gardens were definitely one of favourite parts as I have a small vegetable plot at home and I specifically wanted to see how it was done properly. The gardens once met almost all the needs of the Tremayne family and their guests at the big House. Today over 200 varieties of mostly heritage fruit, vegetable, salad and herb are lovingly tended to supply the Heligan tearoom with fresh, seasonal produce throughout the year.

The vegetable gardens are an enticing stage for a glorious array of traditional crops and growing methods, I learned about putting seaweed on the vegetable beds as a brilliant soil fertilizer, and it also acts as a mulch to stop the soil drying out (something I will incorporate into my own vegetable plot). There were some enormous glasshouses growing fruits such as prize tomatoes of every variety and also wonderfully juicy peaches. I also learned about Victorian crop rotation methods, which were very similar to the methods I was using at home, but obviously on a much smaller scale.

Apple arches in flower

crop of juicy broad beans
In the Jungle
The jungle sits in a steep-sided valley, creating a micro climate at least five degrees warmer than the northern gardens. Here the exotic palette of plants brought back from across the world, both by the intrepid Victorian plant hunters and more recent collectors flourish before your eyes.

Chusan palm tree flowering

banana plantation

The Ancient Woodland
There are over 80 acres of ancient woodland at Heligan to get lost in with a carpet of Bluebells and other woodland plants like moss and ferns.

The sheltered pathway is brought to life with giant woodland sculptures that have become part of the flora and fauna; I actually did a comedy style double take as I noticed a giants head with plants for hair and bright blue eyes emerging silently from the beautiful natural landscape. Also the Mud Maid and Grey Lady (photos included below) wait to be discovered along the woodland walk.

the mud maid sleeping in the ancient woodland

an ancient tree - all knotted and gnarly

The Lost Valley
The Lost Valley is home to some beautiful but slightly scary looking ancient trees, with giant knots and tangled branches, some of them reminded me of the Whomping Willow from Harry Potter. Two large and tranquil ponds in the lost valley, stocked with a healthy supply of fish like sticklebacks and Rudd, offer the perfect fishing spot for the otters and the kingfishers that live there year-long. I also saw many other small birds and squirrels dashing in and out of the foliage, probably gathering food and nest material.

The tour guide leaflet also explained about a healthy population of nocturnal wildlife in the woods including many species of owls and also bats. I love owls but I’m not a keen lover of bats; however I did appreciate the work that was being done to help conserve these sometimes misunderstood creatures. The wildlife experts at Heligan have installed over 60 bat boxes, which can seen can be throughout the woodland area. They provide shelter to many resident species such as brown long-eared bats, greater and lesser horseshoe bats, and if I had to have a favourite, based on the name, the Pipistrelle bats.

shepherds hut in lost valley

an evening pheasant out for a stroll

sunset view over Mevagissey

 

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Exploring the Arctic with Quark Expeditions®

Exploring Spitsbergen in the Arctic

I’ve watched countless wildlife documentaries about the lives of amazing creatures that live in polar climates, but to actually explore the Arctic or Antarctic always seemed to be more or less inaccessible to the average person. I was quite surprised to discover that there are a wide variety of expeditions available with Quark Expeditions®.

They offer Arctic cruises around Greenland, Iceland, Canada, Norway, and the most ultimate lifetime voyage of all to the North Pole. Their 11 day Spitsbergen cruise appeals to me the most, aboard the luxurious Sea Spirit cruise ship, approved for polar waters and equipped with Zodiac RIBs (rubber inflatable boats) and sea kayaks – awesome! But you can’t explore whilst sat on a big warm ship and so I would definitely be one of the first to disembark.

Expedition activities include polar desert exploration, snow-shoeing and hiking on the Arctic Tundra, and Zodiac cruising or kayaking around Arctic icebergs in the continuous daylight. The thought of seeing polar bears, seals, whales, walrus, reindeer or many of the other unique species of wildlife in the flesh is truly amazing (not forgetting that we are just visitors, and to watch from a distance).

Interactive guide to the Arctic

Click here to view the interactive guide to the Arctic by Quark Expeditions®
This fantastic guide (screenshot above) shows an interactive view of the Arctic circle, which allows you to click on icons and highlight:

  • Arctic wildlife habitats
  • Geographical locations
  • Climate and northern lights
  • Polar exploration landmarks
  • Terrain
  • Voyage destinations with Quark Expeditions®
  • Interesting Facts

You can also enter a competition to win a trip to the Arctic (This competition closes at midnight on May 31 2014)

Arctic icebergs - Quark Expeditions

Some of the wildlife that interests me the most are those that are not so commonly mentioned, Arctic Hares and Arctic Foxes, the Arctic Tern, Beluga Whale and of course the Narwhal, all of which are possible to see on an Arctic exploration with Quark Expeditions®

Arctic Tern - one of the prettiest sea birds ever

Artcis Hare lives on the Arctic tundra all year round

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Top Tip Tuesday: Raw Eggs, Happy Vacuums and Positive Negatives

HOUSEWIVES. Wean your husbands onto raw eggs without them realising by removing the sand from your egg timer one grain at a time.

VACUUM CLEANER manufacturers. Put a smiley face on your machines. It really makes us laugh at six o’clock in the morning when the lead gets tangled around chair legs and keeps overbalancing.

PHOTOGRAPHERS. Confuse Boots employees by taking pictures of your negatives and developing positive negatives.

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Review: Typhoon Yalu Wave Buoyancy Aid – Chelston Direct

Typhoon Buoyancy Aid from Chelston Direct

My days of risk-taking are long gone now that I have a family (and that I don’t have any life insurance). – If you sail or kayak one day you will end up in the water!

With this in mind, I have been reluctant to get out on my new kayak at all until I got myself a buoyancy aid. The sea must be respected as it it a dangerous place even for the most confident swimmer.

Chelston Direct kindly sent me a buoyancy aid to use and review. I chose the Typhoon Yalu Wave Buoyancy Aid due to trusting the brand name. The Yalu Wave comes in two sizes, I went for the largest size for 70kg and above.

  • S-M / 40-70kg (chest size 34-42 inches)
  • L-XL / 70+kg (chest size 42-50 inches)
  • Shoulder and side adjustment straps
  • Front Zip
  • CE approved
  • Crotch strap compatible
  • Priced at £29.99 at Chelston Direct

The Typhoon buoyancy aid has a nice fit, very comfortable and the straps are easy to adjust. I am quite a large person and it fitted me perfectly. All of the stitching was perfect and appeared to be a well made bit of kit (I am going to be trusting my life with it after all).

Buoyancy aid with front zip fastening

Buoyancy aid adjustment straps

Things to consider when buying a buoyancy aid or personal flotation device (PFD).

  1. Always wear the correct size, if the buoyancy aid is too small it will not hold you up, and too big it will slide up and cover your face.
  2. Test it in a safe environment first, make sure that you know it will hold your weight afloat before venturing out into open water.
  3. Make sure that you can move your arms freely, both in and out of the water.

Putting it to the test.
Before I launched the kayak I made sure that the buoyancy aid was correctly fitted, all of the straps were tightly pulled, and the front was zipped up to the very top. The waist strap has a large plastic
clip which is easy to clip together and to undo. I wasn’t overly keen to get cold and wet, put it was 100% necessary to test my buoyancy aid whilst also practicing a self rescue on my kayak.

To get into the water, I paddled out to about 20 feet of water depth (not too far from the shore) and purposely capsized the kayak by rolling sideways. Splash! – It was a bit of a shock to my system, the cold water hit my chest immediately taking my breath away, but seconds later I was happily bobbing around at the surface of the water with no additional effort needed to stay afloat. The buoyancy aid stayed in place without riding upwards (thanks to the correct fit and tightened straps). I was able to move my arms easily to swim and then climb back onto my kayak. – Job done, still alive!

Big thanks to Chelston Direct for sending the Yalu Wave. I thoroughly recommend visiting their website for good prices on outdoor and fitness gear at http://www.chelstondirect.com

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Review: HI-TEC Altitude Lite Kids Waterproof Walking Boots

Waterproof kids walking boots by HI-TEC

My oldest son is preparing for a school camp (in the bank holiday), and is looking forward to lots of hiking, camping and exploring. There’s nothing worse than a foot full of blisters to ruin a good walk, and so footwear is so important. This stylish boot provides support for the active youngster looking for adventure in the great outdoors. The boots fit really well with ample support for the ankle.

Our previous school trips have resulted in a broken collar bone, and various other scrapes and bruises – but now that he has his new Hitec boots, I’m confident he will have dry feet and hopefully sprain free ankles on his mountain and moorland expeditions.

A waterproof suede upper is complemented by leather and nylon accents, and completed by a padded leather collar and structured heel surround for comfortable ankle support. The Altitude Lite IV is built to last, with brass hardware that laughs in the face of rust, and a contoured carbon rubber outsole that is impervious to anything mother nature can throw at it.

  • Waterproof suede leather/nylon upper
  • Soft padded leather collar
  • Rustproof brass hardware
  • Durable carbon rubber outsole
    Priced at £29.99 from HI-TEC

Visit the HI-TEC website for outdoor and sports wear - http://www.hi-tec.com/uk/

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Review: Breo Sunglasses – New Collection

Breo sunglasses - new collection for 2014

Big thanks to guys at Breo for sending me a pair of their Betty Sunglasses (well, for my wife actually) - Just like the Breo watches that I previously reviewed, the quality is fantastic – built with really high quality materials and clearly designed to last. My wife is really pleased with the style and the fit. There’s always the chance when buying sunglasses online that they might not suit, but Breo have a “no-nonsense” returns policy if they don’t look quite right.

Great timing on the part of Breo sending these to me, as the sun is shining beautifully this week. It’s important to protect your eyes from the suns harmful UV rays, and it’s also important to look good. The new collection of sunglasses from Breo tick both of these boxes.

Breo Betty sunglasses in Charcoal

1. ULTIMATE UV PROTECTION
Filters out 100% of all UVA, UVB and UVC
2. TECHNOLOGY WITH STRENGTH – POLYCAR X®
Impact resistance against heavy objects at low speeds
3. FINISHED WITH STYLE
It’s called Soft Touch for a reason, because you can’t resist touching it!

Info
The Betty sunglasses are a contemporary, stylish shape consisting of soft rounded lenses and a durable, lightweight frame all finished in our unique Soft-TRM® finish. Available in 4 subtle colours, seen here in Charcoal, the Betty range also contain Cat 3 shatterproof polycarbonate lenses (PolycarX®) offering total UV protection for the eyes.

Features
Available in 4 colours (Pink, Clear, Charcoal, Navy)
Soft touch rubber
One size/unisex
Super tough shatterproof lenses
Microfiber carry pouch

Specifications
Frame: PC Frame
Sizes: Hor – 150mm, Vert – 60mm, Leg – 130mm
Lens: Smoked Polycarbonate
Weight: 31g
Filter: Filter Category No. 3
Protection: Total UV Protection
Tested: UV 400, BS EN 1836:2005, AS/NZS 1067:2003

Priced £25 - from the Breo Website

Breo Betty women's sunglaases

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