Outdoors

How taking care of sporting equipment can save more than money

climbing equipment

High-adrenaline extreme sports are increasingly popular here in the UK, with more and more people heading out to the back of beyond to leap, climb, scale and ride and ultimately push themselves to the absolute limit.

As any fully-fledged boy scout will tell you, the first rule of hitting the great outdoors is to be prepared, so taking time to seek out the right training and source the correct specialist gear is essential. Investing in high-quality equipment will undoubtedly help improve performance and keep you safe, but it’s not going to do its job if you don’t take proper care of it.

Cleaning, maintaining and safely storing equipment between uses is far less exciting than using it to scale a vertical rock face, but it will help prolong its life—not to mention yours! There’s no point buying top-of-the-range equipment if you’re going to just dump it in the back of your car, so it’s well worth investing in protective storage for transporting it. Wipe-clean bootliners will stop equipment from rattling around in transit and help prevent unnecessary damage—to both the gear itself and your car.

To learn more about why looking after specialist sports equipment is important, we spoke to Richard Goodey, co-founder of Lost Earth Adventures. As a qualified rock-climbing instructor, Mountain Leader, Level 2 Caving Leader and mountain bike instructor, Richard knows a thing or two about extreme sports. He’s also wilderness first-aid trained, a white‑water rescue specialist and has a Recreational Avalanche Certification—making him the perfect person to talk to about equipment safety.

Here’s what he had to say:

How important is it to keep specialist equipment in good condition?

Richard: People rely on us to guide them and keep them safe, whether we’re mountaineering, caving, canyoning or mountain biking in the UK and the highest mountain ranges on earth. Nothing is worse than a crampon slipping off when climbing a steep ice face, leaving you to precariously climb hundreds of metres one-footed, or your brakes failing while descending the longest mountain bike descent on earth at high speed above a cliff! Both of these problems could be fatal so spending a lot of money and time getting the right kit, maintaining it and educating yourself about it is incredibly important.

Obviously not all cheap kit will kill you and budget is always something to take into account, but it is important to get your priorities right with adventure sports and make sure you have efficient, professional and top-quality gear. Most adventurers have spent long, cold nights in sub-par waterproofs in a downpour or had shoulder straps break on their rucksacks with 10 miles still to hike at the end of a long day. You don’t need money to be an adventurer but if you want to push limits or give people a successful and enjoyable time in the mountains, you need to make sure everything is A-OK.

Do you have any tips for preventing equipment from becoming damaged in transit?

Richard: Keep it away from battery acid and other chemicals. Most kit gets thrown in the boot of a car then taken back to a storage unit or an instructor’s house for cleaning. This would normally be stored in duffel bags to protect it against any foreign liquids or sharp or moving parts.

Old head-torch batteries should be kept separate from any fabric equipment or ropes as battery acid destroys rope by making it brittle. The worse part is you might not notice the battery acid has affected the rope until it’s too late. Always check ropes before every use and treat strange stains with caution as chemicals can cause rope to degrade.

Apart from that, just keep your kit away from anything that isn’t mud, rocks or water. Outdoor kit is designed to be wet and muddy and if it isn’t constantly then you should get out more!

Once you’ve committed to a particular sport, should you buy or hire equipment? What are the pros and cons of each?

Richard: If I’m committed to something and keen to progress in the sport and spend regular time on it, I would always buy my own kit. Rental gear is usually heavy, doesn’t fit quite right and isn’t that glamorous. However, I regularly rent mountain bikes because if I’m away for a few days I don’t want to leave an expensive bike in the boot of my car.

Sometimes it’s better to split costs with friends if on a budget—for example, you can buy the climbing rack and your mate buys the rope. You can always do things on the cheap—climbers are known for that! If you’re going to be climbing on a shoestring, spend all your money on climbing gear and sleep in your car to save on accommodation costs—it’s about prioritising the right things.

walking on rocks

Does equipment you hire out often come back damaged?

Richard: Yes, people never treat rental kit like their own. What’s that mountain biker's expression? Ride it like you rented it!

What’s the main cause of equipment getting damaged or broken, whether while it’s being used or through improper maintenance/storage?

Richard: Our main issues are excessively worn ropes, broken headlamps and damaged mountain bikes. The ropes get worn quickly due to people not being as careful as if they were their own. Rushed set-ups and not taking care on rough rock means ropes wear out more quickly—you can buy padding to put round ropes on rough rock. Headlamps are delicate and people are heavy-handed with them and don’t shut the battery door properly so water gets in.

Often big groups on some kind of celebratory adventure go hell for leather and they fall off and break parts (and themselves). Most other outdoor kit is pretty hardy though so we don’t have many other issues.

What measures can people take to ensure their specialist equipment lasts as long as possible?

Richard: Clean it after every use, wash grit out of it and store it in a dry, well-ventilated place out of harmful UV rays from the sun.

How often should you expect to replace equipment such as ropes, harnesses and clips?

Richard: Ropes and harnesses can last up to 10 years if stored properly and barely used but somebody climbing twice a month would normally get three years’ usage. We replace our ropes every year if they are out several times a week. Metalwork will be good for 10 years normally but you should always check the manufacturer’s recommendations as every manufacturer is different and by law will have recommendations on when to replace after different amounts of use.

Many people share Richard’s passion for the great outdoors—although not always to such an extreme! But whether you’re more suited to a gentle stroll through the countryside or a full-on white-knuckle experience, the principles remain the same—look after your equipment and it will look after you.

33 top tips for taking the stress out of camping with kids

There's no doubt about it, having children makes you do things differently – holidays being a prime example. Unless you have unlimited funds, foreign jaunts invariably go on hold when there's a young brood to cater for, presenting the question of how to find a cost-effective yet fun holiday to suit all members of the family.

One great family holiday option that ticks all of these boxes is camping. Not only is a brilliant way to escape from reality, it's the perfect way for kids to connect with nature, develop some valuable life skills and ultimately let loose and simply be kids.

The benefits of camping with kids

Far from being Enid Blyton idealism, camping really does put a different spin on spending time together as a family. We are all guilty of wasting too much time on our electrical devices – children included – so getting away from our screens and back to nature is a welcome change for many families, as numerous studies carried out by The Camping and Caravanning Club highlight:

  • 98% of parents said camping makes their kids appreciate and connect with nature.
  • 95% said their kids were happier when camping.
  • 93% felt that it provided useful skills for later life.
  • 4 out of 5 parents believe that camping had a positive effect on their children's school education.
  • Almost three quarters of parents think social media is affecting children's ability to interact and engage with others.
  • 64% of campers believe that taking their children camping improves social skills and mental health.
  • Over 50% of campers felt cooking when camping had a positive effect on their children's learning.

Despite these facts, camping does not appeal to everyone, not least parents of small children. This is no surprise because for first-time campers the idea of sleeping under nylon and cooking over coals can sound pretty daunting. With this in mind, we have compiled a 'camping must-have' guide, complete with 33 useful tips to help camping newbies work out what to buy, pack and prepare for a stress-free family camping trip.

baby in a tent

33 top tips for stress-free family camping

Where to start?

  1. One of the best ways to venture into the camping world is to talk to – or even tag along with – friends with children who have camped before. Learning from other families' camping successes – and failures – is a great way to get a realistic view of what to expect.
  1. Before investing in all of the camping gear it is worth trying to beg, steal and borrow as much equipment as you can to see if you actually like camping. More often than not, seasoned campers will have refined their 'must-haves' and worked out what gear is necessary, which will give you a good idea of what to buy if you decide to commit to tent life.
  1. There are a wide range of campsites available, all offering different amenities and attractions, so think about what you want out of your holiday. Very basic sites are great for 'wild' camping but they may be a little ambitious for first-time family camping. In most family-friendly sites you can expect to find showers, toilets and pot-washing facilities; many also have a small shop in case you have forgotten any essentials. Some sites have playgrounds and arranged activities, while farm sites often allow children to interact with the animals.
a car boot full of equipent
  1. Another benefit of choosing a family-friendly site is that other campers will be sympathetic if your little darling decides to throw a midnight wobble. The camping community is generally a friendly bunch, who will have most likely experienced exactly the same with their own children at some point or another.

Choosing the right equipment

  1. Before going wild in your local outdoor store, consider the size of your car. Although most camping equipment is designed to fold down flat – even a large tent can pack away into a pretty compact holdall – it will still fill a car boot pretty quickly. Investing in a roof box for stowing lighter belongings may free up valuable space inside your car.
  1. When selecting your tent think about how you will use it in regards to your children's ages, sizes and needs. Tents with individual sleeping pods positioned around a living area are especially helpful in bad weather when the whole family has to be inside the tent in the evening, or if toddlers have daytime naps. Families with older kids are also likely to benefit from the additional privacy these extra compartments offer.
  1. Everything is better after a good night's sleep – not least dealing with small children – which is why it is worth investing in good-quality air mattresses and sleeping bags. Unless you are hiking to your campsite, roll mats aren't really advisable and they may take the concept of 'connecting with nature' a step too far for family camping!
  1. Plastic storage boxes are a lifesaver when camping for keeping belongings dry, clean and insect-free. Use separate boxes for food, cooking equipment, toiletries etc. so that everything can be easily accessed then stacked neatly away to maximise space in the tent.
  1. Camping with little ones will undoubtedly be easier if you have an electric hook-up. Not only will it make heating up bottles – or making a well-needed brew – much easier, it is also much less stressful than constantly monitoring boiling pans of water on the stove.
  1. An electric cool box is another reason why you may want to invest in an electric hook-up. It's a great way to ensure that food stays fresh throughout your whole trip, not to mention keeping drinks ice-cold for essential BBQ refreshment. If you prefer a traditional cool box, double up on freezer blocks as many campsites have facilities for refreezing.
  1. Boot liners are invaluable for protecting the interior of your boot from mud, water and damage from lugging bulky equipment in and out. They also transform your car boot into a storage area for muddy boots, wet-weather gear and play equipment – basically everything that you don't want cluttering up your tent.
  1. Tent carpets may sound like a gimmick but they really add to the cosiness and comfort of the tent, especially if children want to play on the floor. Alternatively, as a cheaper option you could use a few plastic-backed picnic blankets to cover the tent floor.
  1. Even in the nicest weather the grass is likely to be wet with dew in the morning so don't rely on picnic blankets as your only seating method. Telescopic canvas chairs and camping tables will certainly make meal times and child entertainment easier.
children by a campfire

Cooking and eating

  1. Preparing food whilst camping doesn't have to be daunting – realistically it is just a simplified version of how you would cook at home. You will only need basic cooking equipment such as a stove, BBQ, kettle, frying pan, saucepan, plastic or tin crockery, cutlery, utensils and a chopping board.
  1. The key to eating well on a camping trip is to keep it simple. Think picnics, BBQs and easy-cook staples like baked beans or pasta. Cooking outdoors on the BBQ or gas stove is one of the best parts of camping, but it is certainly not the speediest way of putting food on the table. With this in mind, make sure you bring plenty of snacks and nibbles to keep everyone going between meals.
  1. Don't forget a washing-up bowl, cloths, tea towels and washing-up liquid. Get the kids involved in outdoor pot-washing, making the most of the fact that camping crockery is practically indestructible! The washing-up bowl can also double up as a splash bowl for toddlers.
dirty feet

Practicalities

  1. An absolute must-have for any camping trip is a first-aid kit. Stock up on plasters, bite and burn cream and antiseptic wipes, as well as kiddy-strength paracetamol and ibuprofen.
  1. Trekking across a field in the middle of the night to take a small child to the loo isn't ideal so don't forget a potty – or a lid with a bucket – plus lots of loo roll to facilitate night-time toilet trips.
  1. Although most campsites have shower facilities, wet wipes are a godsend for keeping little ones – and big ones – clean and fresh.
  1. Insect bites can sometimes be a nuisance when camping so it is well worth stocking up on insect repellent spray and lighting a few citronella candles to keep bugs at bay. Seasoned campers swear by putting a bunch of sage on the campfire as an additional deterrent.
  1. Torches and lanterns are also essential, both for lighting the tent at night and finding your way to the amenities after dark. Low-light night lights or battery-operated fairy lights can be helpful for comforting young children at bedtime as there will invariably be unfamiliar noises during the night.
  1. If you are able to park your car close to your tent it is a good idea to leave the bags containing clothing inside the car and take items out as and when you need them. This will prevent clean clothes from getting unnecessarily damp or muddy.
  1. Modern tents come complete with many useful features, but blocking out early-morning daylight isn't usually one of them. Being forced awake to entertain small children at daybreak can be pretty brutal so investing in sleep masks for the whole family might prove to be a real sanity-saver. Obviously sleep masks aren't advisable for babies and toddlers but you could try positioning a portable blackout shade by their cot to reduce the glare.
splashing in puddles in wellies

Weatherproofing

  1. Always check the weather forecast before you go and be realistic about whether camping in gale-force conditions or 30-degree heat is a good idea! If in doubt, pick a site that isn't too far away – worst-case scenario, you can always pack up early and come home.
  1. Although there is nothing better than glorious sunny weather for a camping trip, it is easy to get sunburned without realising when you are outside all day. Make sure you pack some high-factor sun lotion and sun hats and, if possible, create a shady play area for the kiddies so they can escape the fierce midday rays.
  1. Extra blankets always come in handy on a camping trip. Aside from being great for snuggling up in around the campfire, they also double up as makeshift sun shades, pillows, picnic blankets or even play dens.
  1. Wet-weather gear is also worth its weight in gold if the heavens open. Drying sodden clothes can be a real chore in a tent so prevention is definitely better than cure here. Dress kids in lightweight waterproofs and they can enjoy the great outdoors regardless of the weather, whilst keeping clothes dry underneath.
  1. Even if the weather is glorious in the day, temperatures can plummet at night so take plenty of layers to wrap up in. It's also advisable to pack a hat and gloves just in case. Fingers crossed you won't need them but it's better to have them unused in your bag than not at all.
children walking on a trail in the woods

Entertainment

  1. Don't forget to pack some games suitable for playing outside the tent – balls, skipping ropes, bubbles, Nerf guns, boules etc. can provide hours of entertainment. Calmer activities such as board games, colouring books and playing cards also provide welcome entertainment in the evenings or if rain stops outdoor play.
  1. Windbreaks can be handy for cordoning off a play space for children whilst obviously providing protection from the wind.
  1. Another great way of containing tiny tots who may be prone to wandering is to multi-task their travel cot as a play pen.
  1. Research the area and see if there is anywhere local that could provide a family-friendly outing. While away the walk by creating a simple scavenger hunt, challenging the kids to tick off sightings of streams, flowers, wildlife and landmarks.
  1. Finally, don't forget to bring a couple of home comforts such as favourite toys or special blankets to help your little ones settle into the unfamiliar environment.

The essential checklist for your next camping trip

Dog and dog owner camping near a lake

With summer in full swing, now’s the perfect time to pitch a tent and spend a few days exploring the outdoors.

Planning a camping trip may not be as relaxing as staring into a flickering campfire but there’s a good reason why you should put some thought into what you pack. With few of the usual creature comforts of home available at campsites, neglecting to bring an important item could turn your much looked-forward-to getaway into a damp squib.

Avoid holiday misery with our handy checklist.

The tent

Obviously, you’ll need a tent (or tents) big enough to accommodate your party. If you already have one, dust it off and check it before you travel as you may have forgotten that tear from your last adventure needs to be patched up. You should also set it up and pour water over it to ensure it’s still weatherproof. If your tent is new, practice pitching it at home first so you know exactly what you’re doing when you arrive at the campsite.

Accessories

Check you have all the poles, mallets, pegs and groundsheets you need to keep your tent upright. Bring spares too.

Bedding

If you want to protect your back and get a comfortable night’s sleep, an airbed or sleeping mat and some comfy pillows are essential. If you don’t want to mess about with pumps, then you may want to invest in self-inflating roll-up mats and pillows. You could also opt for a camp bed if you want to be raised off the ground. Don’t forget sleeping bags too - you can get mummy sleeping bags for ultimate warmth, couples’ bags and ones in junior sizes.

Furniture

If lounging on the ground isn’t your thing, pack portable camping chairs and a table to create an air of civilisation in the great wide open and a perfect spot for socialising and al fresco dining.

Kitchen equipment

If you plan on cooking, you’ll need a stove or a barbecue, gas or charcoal and some matches or a lighter. You’ll also need pots, pans, utensils, crockery, cutlery and water containers. A basin, some bin bags, a coolbox, a tin opener and a bottle opener should also come in useful.

Lights

City dwellers may be surprised by how dark it can get in the countryside. Pack a few lanterns, torches and headlamps to help you stay safe on those night-time trips to the loo and make rooting around for your pj's easy.

Power supplies

If caveman-style camping doesn’t appeal to you, you’ll need power supplies. Whether you plan on Instagramming your trip via your smartphone or you’re hoping to use a handheld GPS for hiking, you’ll need a portable electronics charger to keep your devices topped up with juice. Or if you just can’t live without a morning brew from your instant boil kettle, make sure you have a mobile mains kit to get power from an electric hook up.

Health and safety

To keep you and your family healthy and happy, take all your usual medicines, a first aid kit, insect repellent, sunscreen and after sun. Stay clean with antibacterial hand sanitiser, body wash, wet wipes and toilet roll too.

Waterproof duct tape

Whether you need to mend a rip in your groundsheet or your waterproof fishing trousers, this stuff is bound to come in handy.

Boot liners

Tent poles, fishing gear, golf clubs, bikes and other such equipment can take its toll on the upholstery of your car boot. Protect it with a boot liner so memories of your trip aren’t imprinted on your vehicle forever.

Tricks that every in-the-know cyclist uses

The number of people taking up cycling is on the rise and it’s no surprise why. If you want to boost your fitness levels, build muscle, save money and help the environment, it’s time to get on your bike and join the many cyclists already on the road.

Whether you’re a complete novice or you’ve recently caught the cycling bug, to being a keen cyclist, these tricks should help you to get more from your new hobby.

Dress the part

If you think that Lycra-clad cyclists are just trying to make a fashion statement, think again. If you want to cycle long distances, improve your speed and protect yourself against the elements, tight-fitting, breathable, moisture-wicking clothing that allows for movement is a must. To prevent chafing and reduce shock absorption, make padded cycling shorts your new best friend. To improve your speed, ditch the backpack and get a cycle jersey with pockets in the back for carrying essentials like pumps, inner tubes and energy gels.

Invest in a power meter

If you think power meters are just for the pros, you’re mistaken. In recent years, these training aids have become more affordable, allowing amateurs and casual riders to measure their power output and track their performance effortlessly. These gadgets can motivate you to become a stronger rider and help you to discover your strengths and weaknesses, get the most out of your training and prepare yourself for races. What’s not to love?

Go clipless

If you’re among the uninitiated, you might be confused when experienced cyclists talk about ‘clipping in’. What they’re referring to is the use of clipless pedals, which can improve comfort and boost pedal efficiency. If you find yourself having to re-position your feet as you cycle, clipless pedals can help. They keep your feet in touch with the pedals for the whole revolution, which can improve your handling and help you reach a high cadence without wasting energy.

Use a boot liner

Transporting your bike by car may be convenient but it can result in wear and tear to your upholstery and tough stains, especially if you enjoy off-roading. If you want to chuck your bike in the boot of your car for a cycling weekend away or a journey to a cycling event, use a boot liner. With their wipe-clean surfaces and durable material, they make easy work of removing dirt and can help you to keep your car looking like new for longer.

Work out without your wheels

Every cyclist worth their salt knows that if you want to stay balanced physically, you need to train muscle groups that aren’t used when you’re on the bike. Activities like running, yoga, pilates, resistance training, weightlifting and swimming can help to build strength and flexibility in parts of your body that aren’t being worked by cycling. Cross training exercises like these can also help you to improve fitness, prevent injury and promote recovery.

We hope these tips have inspired you to take your bike out of storage and get on the move. With the summer in full swing, there’s no better time to explore your surroundings on two wheels.

6 Activities You Can Enjoy With Your Dog

If you’re a regular visitor of our blog, you’ll know we’re somewhat enthusiasts when it comes to our four-legged friends. After all, like Frederick the Great of Prussia once said, “a dog is a man’s best friend”.

But, did you know just how much a dog can benefit from activities carried out with us humans?

There are many activities that can help a dog. For example, dogs that regularly exercise are less likely to become bored. Dogs that suffer from boredom are more inclined to carry out destructive behaviour in the home or worse still, suffer from mental issues.

At Hatchbag HQ, we’ve shortlisted 6 great activities you can enjoy with your pet pooch.

Dog parks  

Parks that allow dogs to roam free are becoming increasingly popular, especially in cities or built up areas. For the most part, parks are securely fenced, have safety signs posted with park rules and require you to pick up after your dog if it makes a mess, so be sure to carry doggie bags with you.

Dogs that are sociable enjoy meeting other dogs, and you might even make some new friends too? 

Doggy Day Care

If you work long hours or if you have just one dog that often spends long periods of time on his/her own, it might be worth looking into a doggy day care service.

Doggy day care can best be explained as a short-term boarding service for dogs. Usually, dogs will stay for the day, and the whole experience differs from kennels and boarding facilities. The whole day is centred around play, activities and exercise, keeping the dogs entertained rather than simply providing accommodation.

Fetch 

Playing fetch is a win-win for your dog. After all, dogs love both playing and pleasing their humans, and playing fetch involve both of these things.

Some dogs instinctively understand how to play the game, realising the need to retrieve the ball in order to run again, however, some don’t. So, you might need to do a little training with your pooch.

Here’s a great blog post that can help you train your dog to be a fetching pro.a dog sitting on the beach

Hiking

From moorland to canal towpaths, coastal walks to mountain peaks, the UK boasts a variety of stunning walks to enjoy with your four-legged friend. Better still, if you come across a National Park, you’ll more than likely come across rare wildlife too.

Check out the National Parks website to find a great route near you.

Holidays 

Gone are the days when you’d need to banish your beloved pooch to the kennels when you go on holiday. These days, dog-friendly hotels are aplenty, with some even offering pet services such as walking & playtime, just for dogs.

Go for a drive

For some dogs, a car ride can be the highlight of their week, however, not all dogs love the car. For some dogs, a car ride is one of the most nerve-wrecking experiences that leaves them shivering and tense.

If your dog does love the car, then be mindful that they might appreciate the ride if you’re just planning on going for a short drive.

Note: Please don’t ever leave your dog in the car alone and make sure you bring water, food and their lead just in case you do end up needing to stop anywhere.

Whatever activity you end up doing with your doggies, we would LOVE to see. Send us a snap or tag us in your picture by finding us on @HatchbagCompany on Twitter, @thehatchbagcompany on Instagram and The Hatchbag Company.

The UK's Best Bank Holiday May Festivals & Parades

May Day is a public holiday usually celebrated on May 1st. It is also a traditional spring holiday in many cultures, with dancing, singing and cakes usually making up a part of the celebrations. With the May Bank holiday fast approaching, we’ve shortlisted the best celebrations to get to this weekend.

Jack in the Green May Day festival, Hastings

The Jack in the Green Festival is an annual event that takes place in various parts of the seaside resort. Attracting thousands of attendees each year, the festival spans a total of four days, and, if the residents of Hastings are anything to go by, it truly is an event not to be missed.

The long weekend promises to deliver music of all genres and dance performances, as well as numerous activities to keep the whole family entertained. The weekend is topped off by the main event on the May Bank Holiday Monday with the Jack in the Green parade itself.

Setting off at 9:45am from the Fisherman’s Huts on Rock-a-Nore Road, you’ll see traditional folk dancers and music throughout the afternoon. The festival finishes with the slaying of Jack to release the spirit of summer for this year.

Sweeps Festival, Rochester

Sweeps Festival is a modern mix of music, dancing and entertainment with more than 60 Morris performances and entertainers celebrating throughout the three-day festival.

The festival began back in 1868 after the Climbing Boys’ Act 1868 made it illegal to employ young boys to carry out the trade of chimney sweeping. During the days of underage chimney sweeping, the boys were allowed one holiday per year which was May 1st.

The festival year on year promises to recreate the joy and laughter enjoyed by the chimney sweeps from April 29th – May 1st with multiple dance performances.

At the festival, expect to find a jam-packed programme with The Mayor of Medway officially opening the festival with a dance showcase at Guildhall Museum Forecourt.

Full details can be found here.

Festival of Fools, Belfast

The Festival of Fools promises to be a festival like no other with daredevil street performers, fast paced acrobats, heart-stopping Hip Hop dancers as well as laugh out loud comedy acts.

With more than 120 performances taking place across the streets of Belfast City Centre and Cathedral Quarter, you’d be crazy to miss this.

The line-up won’t disappoint with world class acts coming from all over the world including Poland, Italy, France, Spain, Germany, USA, Canada, Ireland & Holland.

If you live in Belfast, get ready to gather up your loved ones and come join in for the best weekend of the year.

Beltane Fire Festival, Edinburgh

Celebrate the first signs of summer with the Beltane Fire Society which marks the changing season with a wild mix of drums, fire and physical theatre.

According to the festival organisers, “as darkness falls and the fire torches are lit, our drums will thunder and the May Queen will awaken. Across the night She leads her court around the hill and through great arch of fire; the Green Man will be stripped of his winter guise and reborn, and together they will light the traditional Beltane bonfire.“

To find out more or to buy your tickets, visit the website here.

Whatever activity you end up doing this weekend, we’d love to see what you get up to. Send us a snap or tag us in your picture by finding us; @HatchbagCompany on Twitter, @thehatchbagcompany on Instagram and The Hatchbag Company on Facebook.

Happy May Bank Holiday!

Spring is in the Air

After what feels like the longest winter ever, spring is finally upon us. Gone are the days of leaving work at 17:00 in darkness to now leaving with the sun in our sights to do more things outside. And in all the excitement of the new season beginning, here at Hatchbag, we have come up with a few things you can do to kick-start your spring.

1. Spring Cleaning

The beginning of spring is the perfect time to sort out anything you no longer want or need and to give your house a good spring clean. And with the brighter and longer days, it is the perfect time for doing a car boot sale, taking old stuff to the tip or taking unwanted stuff to a charity shop. And, we can guarantee that once you have done your spring clean, you will feel so much better for it.

a dog waiting to come inside

2. Gardening

Spring is the perfect season for gardening as the soil warms up and flowers begin to bloom. Pop along to your local garden centre and pick out some new plants and seeds to brighten up your garden. Then once you return, don some old clothes and get your hands green, while enjoying the perfect spring weather. Best of all; bring some of your spring garden indoors, by picking your own beautiful spring flowers.

3. Walking & cycling

At last, it no longer feels that the day is over at 17:00. So after work, why not grab the whole family for an evening walk. What better way to end the day than enjoying the lovely spring weather after a day in the office or at school. Or, why not dust off the bikes in the garage or shed and go for a pedal with the family. It doesn’t matter whether you are walking/cycling around the block, down a quiet country road or across an open field; it’s just great to make the most of this perfect weather.

two children walking ourdoors

4. Making the most of rainy days

We all know that April showers gets its name from somewhere, but, don’t let this put a downer on what you have planned this spring. Instead why not make the most of it and be sure to brighten up your little ones day with the following activities;

  • Getting muddy – kids and four-legged friends alike love jumping and rolling around in the mud. And for those who like making things then why not make a mud pie. Just make sure you have a spare set of clothing with you, once your outdoor adventure has ended.
  • Puddles – find your reflection, splash in the water or see if you can spot any outdoor treasure.
  • Take a look at nature – Once the kids have stopped jumping into puddles and making mud pies then take a look around to see what nature is out there. In wet weather, all kinds of creatures take to the surface, so, go and see how many you can find?

Whatever the weather this spring and no matter what you get up to, one thing is for sure, your Hatchbag boot-liner will come in very handy; whether it be stopping your boot from getting damaged as you spring-clean, or, preventing mud from getting into the carpet from a day at the garden centre and also from wet and mucky dogs and clothes alike.

Let us know what you love most about spring on our social media sites by tagging @HatchbagCompany on Twitter, @thehatchbagcompany on Instagram & The Hatchbag Company on Facebook.

Happy spring everyone!

6 Activities to do with the Kids this Easter Holiday

We all know that kids and adults alike love Easter, whether it is for the endless supply of chocolate, egg hunts, cute animals, or just spending time with loved ones. Easter is a firm favourite calendar event. Plus, as the Easter holidays are now upon us, we’ve rounded up the best Easter activities for kids that the whole family will love.

1. Sea Life London Aquarium - London

Step into a colourful aquatic world at one of London’s busiest attractions. When you’re standing outside County Hall – a previous dull looking council building - it’s hard to imagine that behind the doors lie sharks, penguins, tropical fish and many other fascinating underwater creatures.

This Easter, you’ll learn more about the wonderful world of jellyfish in a new permanent exhibition ‘Ocean Invaders’. Here you can discover interesting facts about the often dangerous species and the little ones can even create their own digital jellyfish.

And don’t worry, if you are not in the London area this Easter, as there are 13 Seal Life locations within the UK & EIRE, where you can also experience an aquatic adventure.

Find your nearest centre here.

a turtle swimming

2. National Botanic Garden of Wales - Carmarthenshire

Set in the beautiful Carmarthenshire countryside, the National Botanic Garden of Wales incorporates a fascinating blend of themed gardens, exciting play areas and packed programmes, which are sure to delight your little ones.

Across the bank holiday weekend, the Llanarthne site in Carmarthenshire will be host to everything from duck herding to magic shows, meerkats as well as Easter egg hunts.

Admission is £9.75 for adults, £4.95 for children over five and free for ‘Garden Members’.

3. Edinburgh Zoo - Scotland

Dare to book something a little on the wild side for your kids this Easter break? Why not book your little ones onto a week of spring schooling at Edinburgh Zoo?

The Spring School allows your kids to enjoy over 700 animals from all over the world, with favourites such as chimps, hippos and zebras. Here, the kids will learn more about the animals and their habitats as well as different cultures of Africa through to zoo trails, games, arts and crafts.

The sessions are held at the park, from the classrooms of the Education Centre to the African Plains and the Budongo Trail.

To book your place, visit the website here.

4. York Chocolate Festival - York

This activity is sure to get your taste buds tingling this Easter holiday. Enjoy a fully guided tour into the Easter of York Past and uncover fun facts about the chocolatiest holiday of all and all while the chocolatiers create delicious delights for you to enjoy.

On the tour, you’ll discover the origins of chocolate, how to make chocolate, how to taste chocolate like an expert and even the sustainable future of chocolate.

To book your place, visit the website here.

5. Seal & Wildlife watching trips - Kent

Spoil the kids by visiting one of the UK’s largest active seal colonies. Organised by the National Nature Reserve, the trips coincide with tidal flowers for the best chance of seeing these wonderful mammals.

This adventure is brilliant for families and makes the perfect day out. Don’t forget to take your camera with you, to capture some beautiful memories that will last a lifetime.

According to the website, early bookings are advisable to avoid disappointment.

For more information and to book your place, visit the website here.

a sea lion

6. Alton Towers - Staffordshire

Perfect for those little thrill seekers in the family, Alton Towers is home to Britain’s most loved theme park rides with great kid’s attractions, special events and so much more.

Add to that, the two fantastical hotels, a wacky indoor waterpark with gallons of fun, a luxurious spa and an extraordinary golf course too, the Alton Towers resort has something for everyone.

If you are planning to go this Easter then make sure you book your tickets to avoid disappointment.

Visit the website to book online.

Whichever activity takes you and your family’s fancies, be sure to take your Hatchbag boot-liner with you to protect your boot from family adventures. Also, we’d love to see pictures of what you get up to. Send us your snaps to @HatchbagCompany on Twitter, @thehatchbagcompany on Instagram & The Hatchbag Company on Facebook.

3 ways to celebrate Mother's Day

With Mother’s Day fast approaching, March 26th, 2017 to be exact,  the team at Hatchbag have come together to round up the best activities to enjoy with your mother. With the flowers starting to blossom and the glimmer of sunshine on the horizon, why not celebrate your mother AND Mother Nature? Here are 3 ways to spend Mother’s Day outside in 2017.

SIGHTSEEING

Castles – Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire

What better way to spend Mother’s Day than by learning about our British history and one of our famous castles such as Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire, England.

Derbyshire in itself is known for its beautiful scenic landscapes and expansive greenery that is sure to take anyone who visits breath away. As you make your way down the spectacular drive to Bolsover Castle, you’ll realise that the fairy tale Stuart mansion that is Bolsover Castle has been designed to entertain and impress.

With plenty of activities to keep all entertained, make your life easier by planning your day here: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/bolsover-castle/

We have chosen Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire as part of our roundup, however, why not take a look at the Top 10 English Heritage castles here. View the website here.

EXPERIENCE NATURE

Kew Gardens – Richmond, Surrey

There’s no better way to enjoy Mother Nature than with your own mother, surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers. One of our favourite places to visit in the UK is Kew Gardens in Surrey.

Discover the secret life of bees at The Hive, or, absorb the artworks ranging from Henry Moore to Marianne North. If art isn’t your thing then you can simply take in the fresh air, the beautiful gardens and the sweet scent of the flowers which adorn most paths around the grounds.

Should you not live near the area, check out this handy guide to find a garden near you: The English Garden.

GO FOR A WALK

Ty Coch – Mofra, Wales

 Why not visit one of Wales’s most famous pubs Ty Coch; which is also a National Trust listed building – and enjoy the tranquillity of there being no cars in sight before tucking into a lovely Sunday lunch?

Park your car in the Molfra car park and take a beautiful coastal walk along the seafront, taking in the sights and sounds of one of Wales’s most adored gems before finding Ty Coch where you can tuck into your favourite Sunday carvery.

Helvellyn – Lake District

If you’re looking for a bit more adventure this Mother’s Day then why not pack up the hiking boots and take to the wild with the best woman in your life in hand?

Helvellyn in the Lake District - although not the highest peak in the Lake District - can still stake a claim as the most beautiful. Loved by the likes of Wordsworth, Wainwright and generations of walkers, you’ll have a lovely day walking along the flat summit on a hopefully warm Spring day. What better way to spend Mother’s Day?

Whatever you do this Mother’s Day, we’d love to see what you get up to. Send us your snaps to @HatchbagCompany on Twitter, @thehatchbagcompany on Instagram & The Hatchbag Company on Facebook.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the lovely Mum’s out there.

Scotland Named as the UK's Favourite Staycation

This year many families will be deciding whether to jet off in search of some summer sun or to opt for the ever increasingly popular UK staycation. Thus, Hatchbag asked 1000 people all about their summer plans for 2017.

Staycation vs Holiday Abroad

Staycation

In total 46% of the respondents stated that they plan to stay in the UK this summer, opting to explore what Great Britain has to offer. In comparison, 54% revealed that they would still be seeking their dose of summer sun abroad this year.

Popular Destinations

So, with 46% of you choosing to stay in the UK this year, we wanted to know which areas of the UK are most likely to benefit from staycations.

Hatchbag

Interestingly, the most popular area is Scotland, which received 25% of the vote from the 1000 people we asked. Charmed by culturally steeped cities such as Edinburgh, stretches of stunning sands in The Outer Hebrides and the breath-taking beauty of the rugged Cairngorms, it is no great surprise that Scotland has come out on top.

But, Scotland is not the only one set to profit from domestic tourism with the South West of England and Wales closely following in second and third position.

With the South West of England playing host to popular coastal resorts such as Torquay and Cornwall, it’s perhaps unsurprising that 21.4% chose it as a preferable location. After all, Cornwall experiences the highest temperatures in the UK over the summer months.

Wales offers an eclectic mix of places to visit. From the medieval city of Tenby to the striking scenery of Snowdonia National Park and picturesque towns and villages such as Hay-on-Wye, there’s certainly plenty to explore. So it’s no wonder 20.2% would want to have a staycation in Wales.

In comparison, the area least likely to profit from a rise in the number of staycations is the West Midlands. Only 1.9% claimed that they would be likely to visit this particular region. It seems that many of us are not drawn to the city sights of Birmingham or the rolling Shropshire countryside.

Similarly, the East Midlands and Northern Ireland aren’t likely to benefit from people holidaying on home soil.

Staycations by Age

Staycation by age

The age group most likely to opt for a Staycation in 2017 are 45-54, closely followed by 35-44-year-olds.

In contrast, those in the 25-34-year-old category and 65+ are more than likely to choose a holiday destination abroad over a staycation in the UK.

Why are more people choosing to holiday in the UK?

Expense

18% said that they would be opting for a summer holiday in the UK because they feel that foreign destinations are too expensive. This could be influenced by the falling value of the GBP.

Those aged 35-44 are the most likely to shun a holiday abroad due to expense, while 55-64-year-olds cited cost as being the least influential factor.

Preference

17% are choosing to stay in the UK simply because they prefer it. Males are the most likely to stay in the UK out of choice, with 57% claiming that the UK is their preferred holiday hotspot.

20.9% of those who stated that they prefer to holiday in the UK are aged 45-54.

Terrorism

The threat of terror attacks is also a factor that is having an impact on the number of people who are choosing a staycation over a foreign holiday. 8.2% of respondents claim that the threat of terrorism will stop them from travelling to their preferred destination this summer. And, it is actually males that are more than likely to be put off holidaying abroad by the threat of a terrorist attack compared to females.

If you’re opting for a staycation this summer, be sure to take your Hatchbag boot-liner with you to protect your boot from any nasty spills or damage from suitcases and hair from your furry friends. Also, we’d love to see pictures of your favourite UK locations. Send us your snaps in on social to @HatchbagCompany for Twitter, @thehatchbagcompany on Instagram & The Hatchbag Company on Facebook.

Methodology

Hatchbag surveyed a sample of 1000 respondents who varied in age and gender from across the UK. The aim of the survey was to research attitudes towards staycations and to investigate which areas of the UK are most popular with domestic tourists.