Friday 9 May 2014

could this be the best bag - healthy back bag

I brought my small healthy back bag last year before going on holiday. It was one of my best buys for bags for sure and use it every weekend, so imagine my excitement at receiving the big bag healthy back bag. I brought my first healthy back bag for the versatile way of wearing it, across the body or on one shoulder, its safer than a rucksack due to the location of the zip and it hugs your body.

Textured nylon citron big bag
The first visible difference between the two was the size. I thought "this is huge, not sure it will work it's just too big!" I really needn't have worried as once it was on it fitted fine and I'm petite, that's the magic of a healthy back bag, its tear drop shaping just fits to your body, and stays close. The next thing to impress me was how many pockets the bag has (8 internal, 5 external). There are so many, and I've managed to utilise most of them to be extra organised. It really is perfect for a day trip or a week of exploring. The shoulder strap has more padding in this bag which is very comfortable.

a size comparison between small and big bag
 I love the spring/summer 2014 new bright colours. Mine is citron in textured nylon and I love the colour contrast of really bright with black zips and stripes at the base.

 The bag arrived bang on time for us having a week off work with lots of days out planned and also an over night trip to cornwall. So got put to full use.

I had pockets for plasters, pocket for my drink and one for Charlotte, the outside drinks pocket is insulated meaning a bottle of water did stay cool most of the day. Another pocket for a mobile, 2 key hooks, clear plastic pocket which was useful for bus/train tickets, a mesh pocket that was perfect for tablets, pen and lip gloss pocket. If you can think of it there is a pocket for it. Charlotte decided the detachable pouch was hers to keep her lipsalve and stone find in!

internal mesh pockets and silver lining
 The internal main pocket of the bag was HUGE. For a night away this was filled with jeans, chunky knit cardigan, top, wash bag, makeup and toiletries. I found the internal drink/umbrella pocket perfect for bottles you like keeping upright, and fitted 4 of those miniatures and a deodorant in.
This means the bag could easily be used as a swimming bag, or sports bag.

click for larger image
In the above image the bag contains: jeans, cardigan, t-shirt, keys (on key hook) sunglasses (in mesh pocket), ipad (in an internal side pocket), binoculars and toiletries in detachable pouch. Still lots of space left.

 I had the bag quite full most days, and only on one day did it make my shoulder ache slightly after walking for hours (London Zoo, London underground, those days when your whole body aches from not stopping) and probably not the best day to put a hard back book in. But we did manage A4 sticker/activity books, colouring pencils, snacks, camera, binoculars most days with no problem. We even got our portable potty in there one day, with room to spare and it wasn't uncomfortable. Most of the time I don't even realise I have the bag on.

bright colour contrasts worn across the body
 I had two minor quibbles with the bag, the first was with a big chunky knit cardigan every time I put it across my back one of the zips would pull the thread on my cardigan and get me tangled. Easily resolved with  a pair of pliers to nip the zip's tag clasp together more tightly when we got home. The second was an external pocket that would bow outwards as there was no zip or velcro to keep it closed, this wouldn't happen if you wore it on the opposite shoulder but it left this pocket a bit unsafe. On the other hand I did find it handy for easy access to tissues or guide maps, could even reach it when the bag was across my back.

My mum said the 3 outside pockets would be fab as a little pouch that could upzip to be used separately. But I don't think my mum has seen the baglett yet!

worn on one shoulder
 I have used this bag so much recently and loved it, I think it has replaced my love of the small bag and will use this one more often. It's that pefect bag for when you don't need a pushchair any more but the children are still at that age when you need more stuff than will fit in your coat pocket. It leaves hands free when walking when worn across your back, but can also be used on one shoulder when in shops, paying for items in a cafe or hugged to your body when on the underground train or bus. Even worn it across body on my front so I could give Charlotte a piggy back! Its a lot more versatile than a rucksack, safer to use and looks a lot more stylish.

I paid for the small healthy back back myself but received the big bag for free direct from The Healthy Back Bag Company in return for this review. This has not influenced my views in any way.

Saturday 3 May 2014

Hill End Play Day, Oxfordshire

We have mentioned Hill End before on this blog, it's an outdoor education centre in Oxfordshire and often used by schools and organised groups. They have started doing more family activity days during the holidays which we are always keen to attend if we can. We spotted the Easter play day on twitter, and thankfully they were running it on a day we had off from work. So out the sun came, we rounded up Charlotte, invited 2 of her friends and off we went exploring.

Hill End
On arrival the girls were given a sheet of 10 things to do at Hill End and a map of the site. There are plenty more things to get up to, but 10 fitted in with the time it was open... the girls would have stayed all day if they could.

First up make music in the sound garden, think old rubbish that makes a good noise. Xylophone shopping trolley for example.

Get lost in the willow maze. Not quite sure how the girls managed to get lost, but with lots of squealing and I'm leading they made it in and out. We found a willow den next to this and told scary stories!

telling scary stories
Get muddy on a stream walk. Oh they loved this, one girl came minus wellies, but with some swapping and phil carrying the 3rd so they were all in the stream at the same time they did not want to get out.

going on a muddy stream walk
Find your favourite tree. To them involved running around hugging trees shouting this one, no this one until the all agreed on a silver birch.

Have an adventure in the explorers garden. Climbing over tree trunks and a brilliant water recycling activity that we had to tear the girls away from.

where will the water come out
 I read ahead to find the next activity was "muddy", so I told the girls to run up the hill and find the perfect spot for our picnic. We were right beside some daisies so once they scoffed food they ran off to make daisy chains whilst we got a few moments of rest.

The girls rolled down the damp hill to the next task.

Make a mud pie in the mud kitchen. A lot of oh no and gasps and ew mud from all 3 of them. But after a little bit of encouragement they were making  a big apple crumble and adding extra crumble topping, I think they skipped the main course! They did get a little freaked over how muddy they were (and they were cleaner than most there) by the end but they loved it.

a mud apple crumble anyone
Walk to the top of the hill. They are 6 of course they ran, then rolled down (the next task) and then repeated, again and again.

Walk through the silver birches. Junior school did teach me something, this is about the only tree I know and all the girls loved them and their lovely colour. Charlotte now shouts out silver birch when she spots one.

Tell the time on the human sun dial, not quite sure the girls got this one but they loved looking at it, the numbers and months and standing in the middle. It was correct too.

It was 2pm we completed everything and our time was over, the girls did not want to leave.  They played in the sandpit until we were the only people left and we really did have to leave.

heave ho in the sandpit
 The girls loved the day and both mums reported back about how their daughter couldn't stop chatting about the fun they had. We have noticed charlottes confidence improve too with trying  new things. We spotted another stream a few days later and she was in it before we could even check how deep it was, not quite over wellies thankfully.

Check out the Hill End website for more family events coming up... hint, hint May half term.

Thank you Hill End for such a good day.
The "Hill" End
linking up with #countrykids
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall