Tuesday 28 April 2015

Thrupp/Radley Lakes 2015 update, Radley, Oxfordshire

Approx time: 1 hours
Paths: cycle path/footpath
Points of interest: lake, wildlife
Amenities: none on route unless you follow my old route from Abbey Meadows
Grading: any type of pushchair
Weather: most weather except after very heavy rainfall

In 2010 we blogged about our walk to Radley Lakes from Abingdon, this was just as Earth Trust took over management of the lakes and developed it into not just a wildlife haven but also an area for people to visit.

We took a very damp and wet walk just before Easter to see how things have progressed since. A lot of work has been done over the years by the trust and also volunteers and things have changed for the better, with more planned in the future.

view across the lake
This time we parked on the edge of Abingdon Science park (Barton Lane) right beside the cycle/foot path towards the lakes. There was limited parking beside the lakes, a few verges on the road in front of the entrance so to us the science park was a better choice.

quite wide open footpaths along some of the route
There are plenty of signs to direct you around the circular route of the lake now where as before you could not get very close, just peered over a fence between trees. Until you start walking round you do not realise how large a lake it is. Quite vast in size but a real haven for wildlife. There were various tracks around the lake, mud, gravel, and a board walk. The swans came so close to us whilst we were on the bridge. There was a bird hide to sit and watch from, but it was such a murky day the ducks we could see all seemed the same.

Canada Geese
There were plenty of places where you could get close to the waters edge for pond dipping, or testing new wellington boots water tightness as Charlotte demonstrated.

perfect for pond (child) dipping!
We were surprised by how many people we met on our walk round, runners, families, walkers and bird watchers. It was lovely to see the place so busy and well used.
Sadly all my photos are pretty dreadful because of the weather and aside from some daffodils I didn't spot any other spring flowers but I'm sure with the fine weather we have just had it will be looking more colourful now.

route signs
The Friends of Radley Lakes keep a very updated website with lots of details of the site, wildlife and stunning photos. Earth Trust also have information about the walk and a downloadable map of the walk.

Monday 27 April 2015

Keeping our heads warm with Buff Headwear

I had never heard of Buff headwear until a few years ago when my brother asked for a Buff scarf and I had to seriously question what he was on about. Few years on and I see so many people wearing them, for any outdoor people it's the headwear gear to be seen in for a good reason, you are kept warm!

It is a scarf, hat, ear warmer, pirate hat, what ever your imagination can stretch to, lovely layer of breathable, windproof, warmth.

keeping toasty warm necks in our buffs
Readitdaddy is always on the look out for a scarf that doesn't irritate his skin. The lovely people at Buff sent me some information all about the polygenine technology used in their products and said that they would send us an adult and junior merino wool buff for testing. I didn't even know they did junior ones and taking a look at their website there are even baby ones (amongst many other styles).

We loved the packaging both of our wool buffs came in, Charlotte thought this was excellent and was ultra excited by it and had it on looking something like this in seconds.

missing child alert!

A Buff is essentially a tube of 100% polyester microfibre (or in our case 100% merino wool) that can be worn in about 12 different ways (check out their youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/BUFFWEAR). After a few weeks of use we all found our most comfortable way of wearing it. Charlotte will drape hers round her neck and then when it gets really cold pull it up to cover her ears and nose with a hat over the top. It blocks out all the cold wind, you stay toasty warm and it's breathable. When she is annoyed with us she will just pull it over her head and be silly!

I hate hats but can't stand getting cold ears. I have my Buff used as an ear warmer, really cold winds on my ears and I just double the layers over my ears. Weather turns really cold, down over forehead, doubled on my ears and a bit over my head to keep the heat in.

The merino wool is ssssoooo soft. It is lovely against the skin, hand washed easily and dried really quick. It's lovely to wear, just how you want the perfect scarf to be.

a great ear warmer to keep the wind out

Readitdaddy was so jealous of our buffs I brought him a standard buff for Christmas. It does feel different to the wool, it's not as silky soft but it is up to the job of being breathable, warm and keeps the wind out. The standard Buff comes with the polygenine technology which has really helped readitdaddys skin, with no irritation. He had minor irritation from the merino wool (nothing compared to the irritation from a standard scarf though). More about the polygenene technology and the benefits are here http://www.buffwear.co.uk/faqs#question-14 and those at Buff HQ filled me in on a few more facts as well http://www.polygiene.com/faq-1.aspx#Is

this is how you keep the wind out on a cold walk

Wearing width I found mine perfect for round my head but if I wear as a high scarf it can be a little lose as I'm petite, but they do make a woman's slim fit. Charlotte's junior buff is 4-12 years (she is just 7 and also petite) and she has the same problem, but will easily grow into hers. They are so stretchy that I've put Charlotte's on and not actually realised and Phil can wear mine and I'll wear it after and its gone straight back to its usual shape.

There are hundreds of different patterns and styles you can buy a Buff in, I'm glad our decision to select one wasn't ours. Plenty of plain to unusual patterns, including football team colours, something to suit every taste. It's easier to wear than a scarf, especially for children, and folds or rolls up really small into a pocket. I don't think any of us can go back to wearing a standard scarf now, I find a Buff so much more practical and warmer. Asking at our local bike shop and a high street chain outdoor shop and they both rate them highly and say how well they sell.

I love the look of the infinity buff for more casual wear and is on my to buy list for next winter but for the summer they even do a range of UV protective items for adults and children such as bandanas, hats and insect shields. Take a look at the Buffwear website for more ideas.

These items were kindly sent to me by Buffwear in return for this review. This has not influenced by views in any way.