Sunday, 9 September 2018

The weekly brew 13

Despite the weather deteriorating a little from the fine conditions on Thursday/Friday this week, I decided it would be much nicer to hold off Fridays planned walk and go yesterday instead so that Louise could accompany us.

After a week of 04:45am starts, it was a gloriously lazy morning with no alarm clock going off like a shotgun in my ears...and the fresh coffee and bacon rolls set us up nicely for the short pootle down the motorway.

For a couple of reasons we decided to head for the Grey Mare's tail just outside Moffat. First, Louise had never been here before and was looking for another decent length "weekend" walk that she can take Nellie on when my shift pattern has me working Saturday and Sunday. Second, this was also the first walk with a decent amount of ascent all in one go that I'd done last year shortly after my failed Not The West Highland Way attempt. As mentioned previously it turns out that my Sarcoidosis was, unbeknownst to me, flaring at the time. I have since been back on the steroids to bring my lung function back under control. As the steroids themselves have pretty bad side effects I'm now slowly replacing the steroids with another drug called Methotrexate. So far everything seems to be going well so I thought it would be good to repeat the walk to compare my performance and I'm pleased to say that there does appear, to me anyway, to be a large improvement.

After getting all the climbing out of the way we enjoyed a pleasant bimble along the Tail Burn until we reached Loch Skeen (sometime written as Skene). And as per usual the stove came out for us to enjoy a hot brew. This time it was Ainsly Harriet's spicy lentil soup which was surprisingly good, thick and tasty for a 'cuppa soup' style soup. Would definitely take these again.

I was a little disappointed that the mist didn't lift for Louise to see the view properly but I suppose that's just an incentive for her to come back again herself with Nelliedug.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

The weekly brew 12

It's been a long time since anyone has been in here. Especially me. Over a year in fact. There are reasons for that which I'll mention briefly but won't go into great detail about.

Basically life got in the way (as it often does) and it's fair to say that a lot has happened since I last took the notion to document getting out for a decent wander. Since my last blog post (a first look, for me at least, at a Locus gear Khufu) my health started to deteriorate. Specifically my Sarcoidosis was flaring and my lung function nose-dived. This may go some way to help explain (at least to me anyway) why my NTWHW attempt failed spectacularly. My mother's health also took a worrying turn for the worse around the same time. Since then, Louise and I also sold our flat in Hamilton and bought a small house out in the lovely nearby village of Glassford, or "The Glessart" as its known locally...and most of my spare time since the move has seen me with a paint brush in my hand.

Anyway, things have settled down with the house move. I'm responding well to different medication and my mothers health also seems to have recovered for the time being. So with my breathing (sort of) working again and being extremely bored of home DIY, I decided to take advantage of Fridays weather window, get out for a walk, get acquainted with a new friend and re-acquainted with an old one.

Being out of practice, I took my merry time packing a daysack and printing off a map of my intended route only for Kype Muir wind farm to put spanner in the works. Irritated as I was, Nellie dug and I weren't going to let it ruin our day as an old favourite (Dungavel hill) was only another few miles down the road anyway.

For it being the first time in a long time that I'd been out with a pack on my back and covering a decent mileage I was pleasantly surprised at being able to keep up a decent (for me anyway) pace. I felt like the cobwebs were suddenly blown away and I was back to being my normal self again. It never ceases to amaze me just how powerful something as simple as getting out for a good walk can be for the mind.

Even in the lee side of the large summit cairn it was quite blustery up on the top which was the perfect excuse to test pitch my new tarp (an Alpkit 2ig 3.5). My reasons for replacing my trusty old red companion, is that I had been getting increasingly irritated pitching it as it was made from spinnaker and therefore had no stretch or give to it. This can mean an awkward pitch if the ground isn't level. I also felt something with centre panel lifters would make for a much more useful space underneath (especially if there are two of us in there). I won't review it or go on about it as it's an ancient model that everybody is well aware of and I doubt I could add any worthwhile insights into it after 1 use anyway. I was mightily impressed with it though, and am pretty sure it'll be my pack almost every time I go out these days.

We (the dug and I) lingered on that summit for a good long while on Friday afternoon taking in the view, the fresh air and playing with meths stoves. In fact several cuppas were drunk before we reluctantly had to pack up and head home for dinner.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Locus Gear Khufu and inner tent first look

After the being amazed at the Japanese postal efficiency and then Parcelforce’s subsequent lack of it, a package finally arrived a few days ago for me. I could barely contain my excitement as I knew exactly what it was. There’s a feeling you get about a new tent purchase that’s quite special (like in the same way that a new car is) I find that you don’t quite get with other outdoor kit.

I’ve had a good fondle and my first impressions are very good indeed with the pack size very compact and weight down at 455 and 395 grams respectively for the fly and the inner tent (both in their stuff sacks). The quality of the stitching is immaculate with no loose threads or bits that look bodged. I ordered a 2/3rds sized inner to go with it along with the carbon fibre version of the gizmo for using 2 poles when pitching.

I’ve not yet wild camped in it let alone pitched it, but when I do I will give it a proper test and review. To be honest I know that there’s probably not much I’ll be able to add to the wealth of knowledge already out there about the Khufu as it’s a tent that’s now well established and been on the market for a while. What is new however is that the inner tent was custom made to my requests. It seems Locus Gear have changed their minds and decided that they will now fit an inverted “T” zip to their inners despite their fears that they would break as it seems plenty of customers (UK ones I’m guessing) request it. Dealing with Locus Gear themselves was an absolute joy and they were very patient and informative when I was discussing my needs/wants for this tent. Their customer service truly is top notch.

My only word of caution at this point would be to beware that the orange silnylon I decided to have the floor of the inner made in, truly is as eye wateringly bright as the photo’s here would may wish to pick another colour! In my defence I was wanting a lighter colour as in my opinion tents should be bright and cheery places and it helps with finding objects on the tent floor in poor light without having to switch on a torch/headtorch. Honestly, it looked a good bit more subdued on their website pictures on my screen! It’s what I’m stuck with though and now that I’m over the initial shock it’s weirdly starting to grow on me a little.

More later when I’ve had a chance to pitch and use it.

Edit* this post was actually written almost a fortnight ago. It’s late for the reason briefly mentioned in the previous post below. I’m hoping to get it seam sealed and escape to hills in it very soon.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The weekly brew 11

I’ve not been outdoors at all over this last week or so as life has suddenly had an extremely worrying spanner thrown in the works and family is far more important than creating content for this place. Nellie dug still needs walking though and Louise being the super thoughtful wife that she is, remembered to grab a couple of snaps last week when they were out. There’s no outdoor stoving going on but 1, the weather’s a little warm for hot cuppas and 2, playing with stoves outdoors is really more my thing I think.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Repairing leaky Exped Synmat UL7

After 2 wild camps and with a slow sinking feeling I had to come to the conclusion that my sleep mat definitely appeared to be leaking. However, being the engineering sort that I am (read cheap here), I prefer (where possible) to repair things rather than just replace them. A quick Google revealed quite a few descriptions and guides all over the internet (including an Exped one) but I thought that I’d document my own real life go at it to prove that if I can do it, anyone can.

Materials required...

1, leaking sleep mat.

2, A bath or if in the hills a lochside, lochan or even a large puddle would do.

3, A way of marking the hole or puncture.

4, Some seam grip or textile glue (usually supplied with the mat).

5, Gloves or a lollipop stick/spatula.

6, Talcum powder.

First I ran a bath about 2/3rds full so that I could get the mat submerged, taking care to remove all sharp objects (like Louise’s tweezers) as we don’t want to be making any more holes in the mat. Next I inflated the mat until it was quite firm and then starting at one end, submerged part of it under the water, taking my time to visually inspect it, looking for bubbles and listening carefully for any hissing. As the hole may be very small the bubbles might be very slow so make sure to check both sides of the mat. A good tip here is to wipe a bubble away while it is still under water and watch to see if it reappears.

When I got to the foot end of the mat on the bottom side I found a small but steady stream of bubbles near the corner. I made sure to check the rest of the mat just in case there was more than one puncture. Once I found the puncture I marked it using a biro so that I could locate it again later.

Once the puncture was identified I deflated the mat slightly so that there wasn’t really any internal pressure but enough air to keep both sides of the mat apart. I then dried off the mat with a towel and also used Louise’s hair dryer around the puncture itself as I was pressed for time and wanted to be sure that it was thoroughly dry before using any glue/adhesive. Be careful if doing this and definitely don’t use the heat setting as I suspect you could damage the bonding on the interior and potentially de-laminate the mat.

Wearing gloves I then applied a large pea sized blob of the Exped textile glue supplied with my mat but any textile glue would do. Exped themselves even state that Mcnett’s Seam Grip is also perfectly fine to use. The gloves probably aren’t 100% necessary as a small brush or spatula (lollipop stick) would work fine I imagine. I had the gloves at my disposal though and decided to just use my gloved finger. I quickly massaged the glue into the fabric ensuring that the puncture was well covered and that had covered the area of about a 50 pence piece with the pinhole in the centre. As per the Exped instructions I then left the glue to “go off” for about 10 minutes before applying the next coat.

While I was waiting I made sure to screw the cap back on the tube of glue and ensure the air had been pushed out. After about 10 minutes I checked that the glue was tack free and then applied a second coat, this time applying the glue to an area just a little wider in diameter than the first time. After another 10 minutes it got a third and final coat. I then left the mat alone for a few hours to let the glue really dry before giving it a dusting of talcum powder to try and prevent it sticking to itself when packed or stored with the added bonus that my mat should now smell quite pleasant.

I then gave the mat a few more pumps so that it was firm enough to hold its own shape and stand up against the wardrobe (away from any heat sources, direct sunlight etc) where I could leave it so that the glue could properly cure overnight. Exped say that maximum bonding strength is achieved after 8 hours. My mat has now been standing up against the wardrobe lightly inflated since Thursday afternoon (3 days ago) and still appears to be just as firm. I’ve not slept on it yet to properly test but will report back after my next wild camp.

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