Outdoors

Take the plunge with open water swimming

Taking place along the iconic shores of Lake Windermere and attracting around 10,000 participants, the Great North Swim is Europe’s biggest open water swimming event. Over the course of three days, the Great North Swim annually attracts thousands of swimmers of all abilities. Providing an array of health and well-being benefits it is not surprising that more people than ever are taking the outdoor plunge.

The first Great North Swim took place in 2008 and attracted 2,200 participants. Back then, jumping into a freezing cold lake during the British Summer (let alone winter), was far less fashionable than it is today.

Since then, popularity around outdoor events such as mud runs and triathlons have gathered pace and the idea of outdoor swimming is just as much for the novice athlete as it is for the accomplished swimmer.

Starting on the 10th June, participants of all abilities will take the plunge in stunning Windermere. Participants can choose from a range of distances, including a 10k course; a new addition for 2016.

Swimming is one of the best all-round cardiovascular exercises, as it uses (and tones) all the main muscle groups simultaneously. The average swimmer can expect to burn approximately 240 calories for every 30 minutes of moderate swimming.

When you add in the outdoor elements, swimmers can expect to enjoy a feast of benefits including improved well-being, reduction in stress and an increase in endorphins – the outdoor swimmer ‘high’.

But isn’t it dangerous? No, not if you know where you’re going, what to expect and are wearing the appropriate gear. The website www.wildswim.com is a great resource; listing places near you recommended for open water swimming and notes advice from local swimmers.

If you fancy swapping the warm waters of the indoor pool for the al fresco delights of open water swimming, then click here for more information on the Great North Swim.

Don’t forget to pack your Hatchbag boot liner to protect your boot from those water logged wetsuits. For more information about our range of boot liners be sure to check out our full product range here.

101 Ideas for Having Fun with the Kids this Summer

It is our pleasure to introduce the Best of British 101 Ideas for Having Fun with the Kids this Summer eBook. With the winter months finally behind us and the summer sun starting to warm our backs it’s time to look outdoors and plan our summer adventures.

Put together with the help of more than 100 of the best British bloggers, each of the ideas found within this e-book come straight from the heart and is one of the longstanding loves of each blogger involved. So, without any further hesitation, welcome to the gateway of summer adventures that you will remember for a lifetime. Oh, and if the good old British weather doesn’t quite hold out, don’t forget your Hatchbag!

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Blooming marvellous: designing your dream garden

With the Chelsea Flower Show just around the corner, inspirational ideas for your garden will be sprouting up everywhere. From small urban spaces to rolling country lawns, we have inspiration and practical insights for designing your dream garden.

Cottage Gardens

The beauty of cottage gardens is that they don’t look like they have been designed to a T. Their roaming, free flowing nature is a key feature of their quintessentially English charm. However, achieving this effortless style does require some careful planning and organisation.

To achieve this type of look avoid planting in straight lines or defined patterns. Let plants cascade over paths and each other, as this really adds to the charm. Be sure to keep it traditional though; think roses, pansies and hollyhock. Cottage gardens emulate an essence of romance and charm, all of which is achieved by the flowers you choose to plant. Soft pastel shades create the perfect romantic backdrop.

When accessorising your cottage garden be sure to use antique or shabby chic items. Contemporary rattan furniture could easily look out of place, so, opt for vintage pieces such as worn wicker or painted metal instead.

Urban Space

For those of you with small spaces, fear not, you can still get your green fingers dirty. Whether you have a roof terrace or Juliette balcony, there are lots of ways to bring your urban garden to life.

Creativity is key in ensuring you get the most out of your precious outdoor space. Maximising the amount of light in the area creates the illusion of more space. And this is achievable by opting for light reflecting materials such as glass or steel. If you are short on floor space then plant vertically by using wall-mounted planters. If you are feeling particularly crafty, why not make your own?

Urban locations are often vibrant places, therefore, don’t be afraid to embrace colour. Indulging in a vivid colour palette can act as a key focal point of the space.

Wildlife Friendly

Why not create your very own nature reserve in your back garden? A wildlife garden is much more than just an overgrown, unkempt space; it is an opportunity for wildlife to flourish.

To attract as much wildlife as possible then make sure your garden offers a variety of habitats. Long grass provides a great habitat for egg laying, while water features act as a great bathing and drinking hang out for birds and dragonflies.

Ensuring your new guests have somewhere to shelter from the great British weather is of equal importance. By growing climbers against walls you provide birds and smaller mammals with a welcomed retreat from those inevitable rainy days. Similarly, plant stems tied in bundles are excellent nesting sites for smaller creatures such as ladybirds and butterflies.

Feeling inspired? For more information about how to make the most of your outdoor space, visit the RHS Chelsea Flower Show here.

If you have a beautiful garden worthy of recognition (no matter how big or small) then why not tweet us your pictures @hatchbagcompany for a chance to feature on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

Walking in Ireland

We are seeking to uncover the best walking paths that the UK has to offer. Last month we wrote about the breath taking walking paths of England. This month, we explore the enchanted isle of Ireland.

Ireland has a diverse selection of walking terrains to choose from. While walkers looking for a challenge flock to the hills, those who prefer a more leisurely stroll might head to the coast or national park.

Burren Coastal Walk

The Burren Way is a 71 miles walking trail located in County Clare. Don’t worry, we are not suggesting that you must complete the whole path. For the best views of Ireland’s coast, we strongly recommend the coastal section of the walk. The trail follows the line of the cliffs and conveniently passes through the grounds of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre; the perfect pit-stop for a pot of tea and a slice of cake.

Millstreet Country Park

Millstreet Country Park is a great day out for all the family. The park boasts a range of amenities and unique experiences including an organic deer farm, archaeological sites and field study laboratories.

The park boasts a range of wandering trails, from garden walks to historical paths. Our favourites are the various orienteering trails the park has to offer. And, by using the specially prepared maps, you can navigate your way around the various trails the park has to offer.

To find a walk best suited to you, visit the park website here.

Carrauntoohil

As the highest peak on the island, this walk is not for the faint hearted. Carrauntoohil stands at 3,406ft high and is the central peak of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks range, located in County Kerry.

The climb to the summit is one of the most rewarding in Ireland, but be sure to pack your waterproofs as the unpredictable Irish weather isn’t forgiving.

As a reward for all your hard work, be sure to stop by Cronin’s Yard on your decent. The tea room is a comforting welcome-break following the hike.

Wherever you decide to walk this spring, be sure to take your Hatchbag boot liner with you and protect your boot from those muddy wellies and walking boots. For more about our boot liners visit our website here.

And, if you think you have uncovered one of the best walks in the UK then why not share it with us? We love to hear about your adventures so be sure to tweet us @hatchbagcompany. You never know, your walk could feature in our next blog!

How to train for a marathon

Last weekend 36,000 runners took to the streets of London to complete the London Marathon. Now in its 36th year, the event is arguably one of the key sporting highlights in the UK. The event attracts a range of entrants; from professional athletes to fun runners. Regardless of your ability, training for a marathon requires the same dedication and drive. If last weekend’s event inspired you to enter a marathon, then read our top tips below to help you with your training.

Training Plan

Whether you are an experienced runner or a complete novice, there is a training program for you. The key is to be honest with yourself about your current ability level. Adopting a training plan that is beyond your current ability could result in injury, which could hinder your ability to train long-term.

As a general rule, you should look to slowly increase mileage, incorporating rest and recovery into the plan. Allowing your body to rest and recover is just as important as training. You should look to rotate hard workout days with easier days. A great way of doing this is to incorporate a range of training techniques into your training plan. So, why not take a break from the treadmill and opt for a low intensity yoga class; the results may surprise you.

The London Marathon website has a wealth of resources, including a range of training plans tailored to suit various abilities. Click here for further details.

Nutrition

A good diet can help you go that extra mile. Healthy eating doesn’t have to mean rabbit food, as healthy meals can be wholesome and tasty. Endurance training requires a calorie intake that reflects the total volume of your training. This means that your calorie intake should depend on the volume (or intensity) of your training on that day.

If you need a little helping hand with your diet plan, visit the BBC Good Food website for more information.

Gear

Apart from the obvious essentials (such as running shoes), there are a few extras that may be worth investing in:

  • Sunglasses: These aren’t just a fashion accessory; they are an essential part of your running kit. The average runner takes 4 hours to complete a marathon, during which, your eyes will be exposed to the elements. Sunglasses provide protection against UV rays, dirt and can prevent eye fatigue.
  • Wearable Technology: Advancements in technology mean you can now gain a wealth of data about your training. Whether it is a heart rate monitor or diet tracking app; digital technology can provide you with that added insight to boost your training.

If you are training for a marathon then be sure to send us your pictures and training tips. You can tweet us @hatchbagcompany or tag us on Instagram @TheHatchbagCompany.

Good luck and happy training!

Make the Most of the May Day Bank Holiday

With your out-of-office on and the stresses of everyday life a distant memory, it’s time to make the most of the upcoming May Day Bank Holiday. To alleviate the stress of ciphering through hundreds of events and things to do this Bank Holiday, we have compiled a list of the top things to do this May Day!

Foodie FunIf you are a passionate foodie or just enjoy good food then food festivals are a great way of tantalising your taste buds and broadening your pallet.

These festivals are usually a great place to discover local produce and support your local community. Every year, there are hundreds of Food Festivals, from specialised cheese fests to larger celebrations of all things food. Thankfully the Festival Food Finder has compiled a list of all the fabulous gastronomic events. To find an event near you, simply click here.

Go Outdoors!

When was the last time you got lost?  Built a camp fire? Went fishing? We are all guilty of not making enough time to go out and explore, so why not make the change this Bank Holiday and get out there. If you have children, the Woodland Trust have a lot of ideas to help you get out and make the most of the outdoors come rain or shine.

Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

When was the last time you did something for the first time? The UK is bursting with activities from surfing to zorbing, so you are sure to find something to suit all ages and abilities. If you are booking as a group then be sure to check/ask whether you are entitled to a discount, as most activity centres offer cheaper rates for parties of a large number.

Get Cultural

All across Britain, its rich history can be experienced, whether it be by visiting one of the numerous museums, an enchanted castle of watching an outdoor Shakespearean play, you’ll be sure to find something cultural for you and your family. For more information on activities in your area then visit the following sites: Visit England, Visit Wales, Visit Scotland and Discover Northern Ireland.

Whatever you get up to, be sure to pack your Hatchbag boot liner and protect your boot from muddy shoes, dogs and picnic hampers. Don’t have a boot liner yet? Check out our product range here.

Be sure to keep us updated with your adventures this May Day Bank Holiday or if you have discovered an activity or event worthy of a mention? Then tweet us @hatchbagcompany using the hashtag #hatchbagadventures.

Walking in England

From Coast to Coast to the Lizard Peninsula, the UK is bursting with breath taking walking paths and trails. Over the next few months, Hatchbag will seek to uncover the best walking paths the UK has to offer.

Hell & Heaven on Earth

It might not be the highest peak in the Lake District, but Helvellyn is a romantic mountain masterpiece. Helvellyn breaks the mould when it comes to what mountains normally look like, as it has a flat summit. In fact the summit is so flat that in 1926 John Leeming and Bert Hinkler landed a plane on it. And if you find Scafell Pike to be a little too daunting then Helvellyn is a great peak to explore.

From One End to Another…

As Britain’s most southerly points, Land’s End and the Lizard Peninsular compete against one another in where has the most iconic view out over the southwest coast. And to be honest, they both provide unique views of the beautiful British coastline. So, why not go and visit both and be blown away by the nature (and quite literally if the British weather isn’t on your side).

In the Firing Line!

Usually signs warning of unexploded ordinance are a good reason to run (never mind walk) in the opposite direction.  However, the Ministry of Defence is inviting ramblers to walk across its 590,000 acres of land. For more information about areas now open, check out their website here. Word of Warning: Be sure to speak to an access officer before heading out across the land and remember that a red flag indicates live firing.

Wherever you decide to walk this spring, be sure to take your Hatchbag boot liner with you and protect your boot form those muddy wellies and walking boots. For more about our boot liners visit our website here.

And, if you think you have uncovered one of the best walks in the UK then why not share it with us? We love to hear about your adventures so be sure to tweet us @hatchbagcompany… You never know, your walk could feature in our next blog!

National Gardening Week

Today marks the start of National Gardening Week. Launched five years ago by the Royal Horticultural Society, National Gardening Week celebrates all things green. Taking place from Monday 11th April to Sunday 17th April, the aim of it is to encourage people and organisations to come together and help keep their neighbourhoods, environments and shared spaces beautiful through gardening. There are lots of ways for green fingered enthusiasts to get involved, so take a look at the events below for more information:

The Big Glennfield Dig in Cambridgeshire | 13th -14th April

Taking place at the Glennfield Care Centre, which has been open for just over seven years, this event aims to transform some tired and neglected areas of the care centres gardens. Some of the areas of the garden have not been touched since before this time, which has left the soil in poor condition and the shrubs tired and woody. The aim of the event is to dig out the old plants, improve the soil quality and replant the gardens with shrubs and flowers. In order to add interest and colour to the garden throughout the year. For more information about this event, click here.

Open Gardens Day | 15th April

On the 15th April, many of the RHS Partner Gardens will be throwing open their doors and letting the public visit and view their beautiful gardens for free. Gardens taking part include Wisley in Surrey, Hyde Hall in Essex, Rosemoor in North Devon, and Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire along with many local gardens. For more information, or to find a garden near you, click here.

Organise Your Own Event!

Are you a green fingers enthusiast with a blooming beautiful garden that you would love to show off to the world? Then why not organise your own event and share your love for gardening? For more information on how to organise your own event, click here.

A full list of events taking place throughout National Garden Week can be found here.

If you have a beautiful garden worthy of recognition (no matter how big or small) then why not tweet us your pictures for a chance to feature on our Facebook and Instagram pages or you can tweet us @hatchbagcompany

TOP TIP FOR OUR GREEN FINGER FRIENDS:

If you are thinking of getting involved in National Garden Week then why not invest in a Hatchbag boot liner and keep the soil in the flower bed and out of your car boot! Our Hatchbag boot liners are tailor made to prevent those pesky leaves and petals roaming free in your boot. Check out our full range of boot liners here.

Muddy Good Fun: How to Train for Your First Mud Run

Over the last few years, the commonly known “mud-run’s” popularity has soared. Move over 10k Park Runs, hello, gruelling, obstacle course racing! Obstacle races such as Tough Mudder and Iron Man have grown phenomenally, but training for these seemingly heroic races can feel a little more daunting. We have put together some top tips to help your mud run training feel like a walk in the park!

Tip 1: Don’t Underestimate It!

Obstacle course racing is serious stuff. Yes, it is meant to be fun, but don’t forget the scale of what you are taking on. Preparation and a well-defined training plan is key. There are loads of great training blogs and apps out there to help you stay on track and we recommend that you increase your weekly miles by 10% each week to prepare.

Tip 2: Become a Burpee Guru

The words “I get knocked down, but I get up again….” spring to mind. It will come as no surprise that you should expect to spend a good percentage of your time on (or very close to!) the floor. Whether you are tackling “The Block Ness Monster” or a barbed wire boulder field you will need to perfect the power of bouncing back with the trusted burpee.

Tip 3: No Such Thing as Bad weather; Just Bad Clothing

Remember, mud running isn’t a fashion show; everyone looks like they are wearing the latest “mud inspired” get-up after the first obstacle. The key to getting through your mud run with some kind of smile on your face is being dressed appropriately. For cold, wet days think thin layers and lots of them!

Tip 4: Don’t Forgot Your Hatchbag

the thrill of the race being over, the doom of where to put those mud induced, squelchy trail shoes and soggy kit sets in. But fear not Hatchbag owners! You can rest assured that your boot is safe! Not a Hatchbag owner, then click this way to discover what you are missing.

Tip 5: Remember to have fun!

The whole point of taking part in the race is because it is meant to be fun! Long after the mud has washed away and the aches and pains have faded the memories will still be there!

Good luck to all those running a mud run this year. We love to hear from you, so remember to send your mud run pictures to us via Twitter @hatchbagcompany or tag us on Instagram @TheHatchbagCompany.

Getting Fit Outside of the Gym

Getting fit doesn't have to mean spending hours at the gym day in day out, sweating over a running machine and lifting heavy uncomfortable weights. Although the gym can be an effective way of getting fit for some people, for others it remains a chore that can loom over us during the day until we’ve managed to lug ourselves down to the gym for a workout.  If this sounds familiar to you, then why not try these alternative ways of getting fit outside of the gym that are just as effective and you will actually look forward to doing!

Just take a Walk

Walking is a brilliant way in keeping fit for a number of reasons, for a start it can be done anywhere with minimal preparation or equipment, all you need is a comfortable pair of shoes and off you go. It can also be a great way to get to know your neighbourhood or town, walking around your local area allows you to venture to parts that you wouldn't normally see in your day to day life. Not only this, but, it can be a brilliant way to catch up with friends and family, setting aside time to go for a leisurely stroll or fast paced walk offers the opportunity for some quality time together. And finally it's completely free!

Try Hiking

However if a leisurely walk around your local area isn't quite enough for you and you fancy a bit more of an adventure, then hiking might be more for you. A hiking trip requires a little more preparation such as planning a route and a pair of hiking boots, but it is still a fantastic way to get fit whilst discovering a new area. National parks offer lots of hiking opportunities with standardised and graded routes and are great way to start off your hiking experience safely. Hiking can be an especially good choice for getting fit if you own a dog, as you can both embark on an adventure together. And at the end of your hiking trip, you can protect your car boot from any muddy dog paws and mucky walking boots, by using one of our custom fit boot liners.

And if you are worried about starting this hobby alone or even just want to meet some new like-minded people there is an abundance of hiking groups all over the UK that offer guided hiking experiences. Just search for a walking group in your area.

Tackle an Obstacle Course

A new exercise craze that is becoming more and more popular are organised obstacle races as they combine fitness with fun and adventure. Obstacle courses involve a number of activities in a race to the finish, such as climbing over walls, wading through open water, swinging over streams, crawling through barbed wire and even jumping over fire!  These courses exist in a range of difficulty levels, locations and age groups, so just about anyone can take part and get fit in an exhilarating way!

Take up Biking

Mountain biking is another way to reap the fitness benefits but on a more adventurous level than average cycling. There are specialised biking trails all over the UK that offer off-road biking experiences for free, as long as you have a bike of your own. And all you need to do is load up your car with your bikes and travel to the nearest trail. If you’re worried about damaging the upholstery of your car boot from your muddy bikes or riding gear then Hatchbag have the solution for you with a boot liner, which will protect your car boots interior.

Join a Team

Are you someone who finds motivating yourself to do exercise difficult, then try joining a sports team. There is a huge choice when it comes to joining a sports team, ranging from competitive sports such as rugby, hockey and netball to non-competitive sports such as a running club or climbing club. Team sports are a brilliant way to get fit, meet a new group of like-minded people and most importantly to have fun.

Getting fit and staying fit doesn't have to be a chore and instead of finding excuses not to go to your next workout, you’ll be finding reasons to add in an extra session whenever you can. After all exercising should be enjoyable, so it's worth finding the right activity for you to make sure you stay motivated and committed to getting fit.