Friday, 21 November 2014

Perfect hot chocolate thanks to Mountain Warehouse

The new Mountain Warehouse Autumn/Winter 2014 catalogue landed on my doorstep along with a surprise present of a thermos flask. Readitdaddy straight away had visions of using it for coffee but a little voice beat him to that with "oh I can use that for my hot chocolate". We often finish a walk with a piece of cake and hot chocolate to warm up.

Charlotte fell in love with trying out the very cool looking open closed click. Press the middle for open and the outer rig for closed. All very simple and even possible with gloves on, the lid serves as a little cup.
the click open and close system (© Mountain Warehouse)
I did a leak test at home before use over the sink. Didn't leak at all but one little trick. After pouring your drink, click close and then pour again and a drop more comes out.
a perfect hot chocolate
In use, we filled the flask at 10am for our walk, with milky hot chocolate. Not boiling but drinkable. Charlotte and I had a cup full each at 1pm and was perfect for me and a little warm for her so in 3 hours no temperature change. The flask was still half full. We had another cup each at 4pm and it was a pefect temperature for both of us. This flask will easily keep your drink hot for 6+ hours and we got 4 cup fulls of drink out (very small cups, more 2 standard cups in total). The double wall worked as you would expect as the outside was not hot.
This will be saving us quite a bit of money and our waistline as we won't be tempted by those cakes when we go to buy a hot chocolate!

There is a wide selection of children's clothing in the catalogue, anyone tempted by skiing this season there are children's clothing packages. Lots of snow boots too. Charlotte loved the look of their hats

Owl hat (© Mountain Warehouse)
 I know she is really envious of our adult softshell jackets and wants her own. We brought cheap adult ones not realising how much we would use it and now she wants one. I'm seriously envious of how fluffy this one looks. We are finding our soft shell jackets excellent as they have so many uses keep out wind and waterproof enough for showers. We also use ours as an extra layer under a really good rain coat.

Arctic printed kid softshell jacket (© Mountain Warehouse)
I know Charlotte likes that Mountain Warehouse isn't all pink for girls, she still loves to wear her purple summer shore trousers, no arguments when I ask her to pop them on with a pair of thermal leggings now its winter. They now have a lined pair for winter or you could opt for some waterproof trousers. They also have some great looking fleeces... to stop me rattling on go have a look yourself

The thermos flask was kindly sent to me by Mountain Warehouse. This has not influenced my views in any way.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Wolvercote Lakes, Oxford, Oxfordshire

Wolvercote Lakes is a very small but beautiful area in a village on the edge of North Oxford a place to to sit and relax and to also explore wildlife. Pond dipping, bugs, birds and ducks.

Approx time: 30mins
Paths:  grass and mud
Points of interest: wildlife, lakes, trains
Amenities: on road parking opposite, buses from Oxford, 2 pubs close by
Grading: any buggy but the drop by the gate is tricky
Weather: all seasons (but liable to flood)

map of Wolvercote Lakes location (click for larger map)
We decided to walk the oxford canal starting in Jericho and ending in Wolvercote, a village to the north of Oxford. While in Wolvercote we fancied a nice restful sit down at the lakes before our return journey (the distance doesn't seem so long when you are driving into Oxford City center).

Map and history of the Wolvercote Lakes
 The lake area was smaller than we expected but quite lovely. There were a number of  new notice boards (the site had only opened a few months before this review), one with a map and history of the site, and others on the animals that live in the area. It is right beside Oxford railway line so it's not a circular walk.

Great Western Railway Boundary marker
The site was owned by the Kirk family and was at one time home to a number of traction engines. There was once a house on stilts on site which when the area flooded could only by accessed by punt. But sadly all this has now gone but what has been passed onto the Oxford Preservation Trust to manage is to be cherished.

Commemorative seat to the Viv Kirk
There is a bird hide which is well used with those noting their sightings on the board. There are a few platforms to stand on against the waters edge.

bird hide
It's is a great family walk for 5mins fresh air or 30mins if you are allowed to sit and watch the heron, birds, ducks and I bet some great bugs to find. The gate in isn't the easiest to manage with quite a drop down but most of the site is buggy friendly aside from the odd footpath.

platforms over the lake
It looks like the volunteers who work on this site really must love and care for it and the villagers too, as we saw quite a number having a late afternoon stroll.

What will you spot?
There is on street parking right opposite, another car park beyond 2 pubs also (there is also The Trout PH not far along the road (across a narrow bridge) which often appears in Inspector Morse and many guidebooks as it nestles beside the Thames. The opposite side of the road to the lake is port meadow. Originally a Bronze Age burial ground but now a haven for wildlife and ponies graze all year round. You can explore the common, the Thames to the west side or burgess field to the east. You could make a circular walk of it as we did from Jericho or the city center where the canal starts and return via the Thames or port meadow, our route was about 4 miles long starting at Walton Street in Jericho.