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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.

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.
  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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Bad weather ‘most stressful part of UK car holidays’

Over a third of Britons find the poor weather in this country the most stressful part of driving to UK holiday destinations, research shows.

A survey carried out by boot liner manufacturer Hatchbag asked members of the public ‘What is the most stressful thing about driving around the UK on holiday?’.

More than a third (34.4%) named ‘bad weather’ as the most stressful element of holiday trips around the UK.

Despite the unpredictable UK weather patterns, the popularity of ‘staycations’ has rocketed among Britons in recent years. Research carried out by travel marketing group Sojern shows that last summer saw a 23.8% rise in UK holiday bookings compared with the same period the previous year.

Claudia Finamore, the commercial manager at Hatchbag, said: “More and more Britons are choosing to holiday in the UK – regardless of the weather – making the most of the stunning scenery and coastline that the country has to offer and increasingly embracing the great outdoors. And why wouldn’t they, Britain has some of the most beautiful landscapes found anywhere in the world.”

Camping, glamping, and idyllic forest-style retreats have put a new spin on domestic tourism. Increasing numbers of Britons are turning to the less expensive — and environmentally friendly — UK-based option and away from the hassle and inflated costs associated with holidaying abroad.

The shift has led to a significant boost in the UK tourist industry, with market analysts Mintel predicting that the caravanning and camping market will be worth £3.2 billion by 2020.

Another issue associated with UK holiday road trips was ‘space management’, with one in five people admitting to finding packing and unpacking the car vexing.

This was particularly true among 25 to 44 year olds — the demographic most likely to be holidaying with children.

In fact, cramped conditions and mess created by mud and sand brought into a vehicle were cited by 17.9%  as a point of stress.

Claudia explains: “Unfortunately the car journeys to and from British holiday destinations can be stressful, particularly for young families who are likely to fill every bit of space in the car with holiday necessities.

“One way to help make car journeys more pleasant is to fit a wipe clean, protective bootliner into the car. Aside from reducing the amount of mess that is brought into the car, bootliners also help simplify packing and unpacking luggage and equipment. Bespoke configurations also allow flexibility with different seating configurations, ultimately increasing passenger comfort on the journey.”

According to Tourism Alliance statistics for 2017, almost 20 million UK sightseeing trips were taken by car.

Best Winter Cars 2017

There are few things more frustrating than buying a car in the warmer months, only to have it let you down once the winter weather sets in. With the days now drawing in, the evenings getting darker and temperatures winding down, the roads often require a little more care from drivers. If you’re in search of a new car that’s able to tackle heavy rain, snow and ice-covered roads head-on, then take a look at our list of the best winter cars for 2017. Here at The Hatchbag Company, we can help protect the inside of your car, but you’ll want a vehicle that is able to grip roads and perform well when faced with rough winter conditions and offer the best to your daily drive even when roads turn tricky.   Dacia Duster SUV The Dacia Duster offers fantastic value for money. In fact, it’s one of the most affordable SUV’s available on the market at present. It’s not only comfortable and spacious, but also easy to drive. When ordered with the four-wheel drive option, the Duster is extremely capable off-road, while its strong grip makes it easy to drive safely over icy and leaf-covered roads. The Dacia Duster also includes anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control with traction control and power-assisted steering, which all goes towards making your winter commutes a lot less daunting! For our range of bespoke Dacia boot liners, visit: https://www.hatchbag.co.uk/boot-liners/dacia   Range Rover Sport If you’re looking for something a little more up-market, then the Range Rover Sport is the perfect option for winter. It’s cheaper than the full-sized Range Rover and yet offers the same level of luxury and off-road capability as its more expensive counterpart. This SUV has a stunning interior and drives exceptionally well on-road, even when winter is in full force.  Range Rover Sport vehicles include an intelligent “terrain response” system which controls the car’s ABS, traction control and electronic stability control. The SVR trim comes with a heated steering wheel and passenger seats to keep you and your passengers nice and toasty. To see all of our custom Range Rover boot liners, click here: https://www.hatchbag.co.uk/boot-liners/range-rover   BMW 3 Series The BMW 3 Series is one of the most celebrated cars available in the UK right now, offering a strong all-round performance in terms of style, driving experience and interior finish. You can choose from an extensive range of engines and trims whilst enjoying BMW’s strong badge appeal. The addition of four-wheel drive gives the current BMW 3 Series all of the extra grip that you’d ever need. The only downside is that this option is significantly more expensive than some of the other, as well as reducing your fuel economy in comparison to rear-wheel drive versions of the car. Our custom BMW boot liner options are available at: https://www.hatchbag.co.uk/boot-liners/bmw   Volvo XC90 If safety is your main concern during the winter months, then the Volvo XC90 is probably the most competent in this area. The Volvo model boasts a five-star safety rating, and it also includes a number of additional high-tech features to keep passengers and pedestrians out of harm’s way. You can put the car into “winter mode”, which will help a lot when you’re starting it up on slippery roads, as it allows you to put your vehicle automatically into third gear. There’s also a “safe positioning” system which is able to detect imminent collisions and respond by tightening the front seatbelts to reduce a passenger’s acceleration in the event of an accident. You can find our range of custom Volvo boot liners at: https://www.hatchbag.co.uk/boot-liners/volvo   Skoda Octavia Scout Today, the Skoda is more popular than ever, and there’s a reason that the Octavia has become known as the “family car”. Skoda’s Octavia Scout model is practical, reliable and very economical for a four-wheel drive. The car has slightly raised suspension, which gives extra traction and grip; something that you’ll find to be very reassuring when making your way down an icy road! It also includes additional ground clearance which is great for dealing with rougher rounds, and the Skoda Octavia Scout comes with a number of safety features as standard. These include lane assist, light assist for optimal illumination of the roads, hill-hold control, ABS and up to nine airbags. Our full range of bespoke Skoda boot liners are over at: https://www.hatchbag.co.uk/boot-liners/skoda     We hope that you’ve found this list to be useful. Safe and capable cars for winter can now be found whatever your budget and design preferences may be. Now that you know what to look out for, you can be ready for the cold season and make sure you’re fully protected against any pitfalls of winter driving. Here at The Hatchbag Company, we produce tailor-made boot liners for over 400 different car models, including the brands on this list. Each one is designed to fit perfectly whilst providing the car with a protective layer against dirt and scratches. We also provide a number of accessories to give car owners complete flexibility and cater to specific lifestyle requirements such as pets, tools or sports equipment.

Three alternative activities for the whole family this summer

With just over three weeks of the summer holidays left, we at Hatchbag appreciate the need to get out of town, enjoy new experiences and create some family fun memories. So, with your boot liner in tow, making sure that your car boot’s interior stays in tip-top condition from mucky shoes, clothes and four-legged-friends, we have come up with some alternative activities for you and the whole family this summer. Trampoline Parks One of the fastest growing trends in the UK are trampoline parks, so, instead of just bouncing around your back garden on one trampoline, you can now go to one of the many trampoline parks/locations across the UK and get the ultimate work-out by bouncing across numerous trampolines, undertaking obstacles or participating in a trampoline style workout. Flip-out currently offers thirteen trampoline parks across the UK and is looking to open three more sites in the near future. At flip-out you can experience the different areas to bounce around or if you’re looking to do something with the older members of the family, then why not try out their Flip Fit exercise class, which will test your strength, balance and flexibility. Zip-Wiring For the adrenaline junkies within the family then here’s an activity to get that heart pumping, zip wiring. Zip World currently have three locations and are just about to open a fourth in London, for all those daring individuals who want to zip-wire through the sky. Each location offers a different zip-wiring experience, so, you can either choose the location that takes your interest the most, or, work your way round all four locations. So, whether you want to zip-wire across at Penrhyn Quarry, which boasts at being ‘the fastest zip wire in Europe,’ or, take on Titan, in which you and three others can experience the zip wire together at the ‘largest zip zone in Europe,’ or, Fforest Caffi, where you can zip wire through the top of the trees, there is surely something for everyone. And, for all thrill-seekers in the big City, soon you will be able to zip-wire down London Southbank and take in the sights of London. Outdoor-Obstacle-Course For all those who like an outdoor challenge, enjoy being harnessed in, as well as taking on different obstacles then Go Ape’s outdoor adventure could be the right choice for a family fun day out. Go Ape have over thirty-one locations in the country and offer obstacle courses in the trees. So, strap yourself in, complete the obstacles and all whilst taking in the breathtaking views of the forests. Go Ape offer two versions of the obstacle course - Tree Top Adventure for those 10+ and Tree Top Junior for those aged between 6 and 12. Therefore, young and old alike can all experience the thrill of being up in the air, climbing around the obstacles. Just don’t forget to bring a spare change of clothes and shoes in case you all get muddy or wet.   Whatever you and the family get up to this summer, we love seeing your photos so don’t forget to share them on our Facebook page, Twitter @HatchBagCompany or on Instagram @thehatchbagcompany.

Preparation tips for a road trip with kids

Whether you’re going on a day trip, taking a staycation or driving to the airport for a holiday in the sun, bringing children along for the ride can be a challenge. From cries of ‘are we there yet?’, to requests for snacks, to car sickness, there’s a lot to deal with when you’ve got little ones in the backseat. But you don’t have to dread your next road trip with the kids. Follow our tips for a smoother car journey and happier memories. Check your car seats When it comes to kids, safety should always be the first consideration. Remember that until children are 12 years old or 135cm tall, they must be strapped into a car seat. Before you set off, make sure you have an appropriate car seat for each of your children and check that they’re fitted securely. Ensure that seatbelts aren’t twisted, harnesses aren’t too loose (you should only be able to fit one or two fingers between the harness and the child’s chest) and if you’re using an Isofix seat, make sure all the points are connected properly. Pack sensibly To avoid ransacking your car looking for your toddler’s favourite toy or having to stop the car to get nappies out of the boot, pack in a way that means you’ll have what you need to hand throughout the journey. For example, keep a changing bag (with essentials like nappies, wipes and a change of clothes), a snack box and a busy bag full of toys and activities close by so you can keep your kids comfortable, dish out nibbles and drinks and rotate the sticker books, sorting puzzles and rattles whenever you need to Plan breaks Little kids are likely to get very irritable if they’re made to sit still for too long. To avoid sibling squabbles and fretful tots, plan in some pit stops along your road trip. Allow your children to get some fresh air, stretch their legs and burn some energy by stopping off at playgrounds, parks or other open spaces along the way. Motion sickness Unfortunately, car sickness is common in children from the ages of 3 to 12. Taking headrests that will prevent your child’s head from moving too much or putting acupressure bands on their wrists might be a good idea. You should also encourage them to look at a stable object such as the horizon or close their eyes if they’re feeling unwell. Calm music may also help your child to relax. If your children struggle with motion sickness, you may need to give them medication before you set off. Ask a doctor or pharmacist for more advice. Protect your car If you’ve been on a long road trip with kids before, you may be familiar with their ability to transform a pristine vehicle into total chaos. While you’re bound to get the odd crumb on the floor, you can do some damage limitation with a few simple tricks. Firstly, always ensure you have a bag for rubbish in the car. You should also take a packet of surface wipes so you can mop up spills and reduce the risk of stains. Lastly, don’t neglect your boot. If you’re transporting prams, bikes, trikes, scooters or rollerblades, you’ll want to ensure you have a boot liner that can protect your upholstery and keep your boot clean.

Where to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks

When the Christmas festivities are over, it’s time to look forward to bringing in the New Year with the ones you love. If you haven’t decided what to do yet, then why not see one of the UK’s best firework displays? We’ve made life easier for you by shortlisting the ones we think sound the best.

Manchester 

The city of Manchester is always lively on New Year’s Eve, with the city acting as a magnet to residents and visitors from the local area, who are attracted to the bright lights on Oxford Street or the buzzing nightlife down Canal Street. The Manchester New Year fireworks display never disappoints, with a spectacular display on Oxford Street. Make sure you catch these fireworks for yourself, or, if you’re not close enough you can watch the display live here.

London

Over the years, the popularity of London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display has rocketed, and for good reason too. Thousands of spectators will line the Thames to watch an incredible fireworks display as well as viewers across the UK. Each year the London New Year fireworks display is broadcasted via most major UK news sites to officially bring the New Year in. The last chance to get tickets for this year’s event is Friday, December 2nd costing £10 per person. If you don’t fancy paying, there will be five viewing areas along the Thames, Waterloo Bridge and Westminster Bridge too. pexels-photo-50632

Edinburgh

Why welcome in the New Year with just one firework display when you can enjoy four spectacular displays in one night. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is Scotland’s world-famous New Year festival featuring a three-day line of up of spectacular events, fantastic live acts and of course, incredible firework displays. Check out the full line-up: Edinburgh’s Hogmanay

Birmingham

Taking place at Centenary Square, it will be all eyes to the sky for residents in Birmingham this New Year’s Eve as the city promises to host a dazzling fireworks display. Taking place just around the corner from Birmingham’s vibrant Broad Sheet, you can find a list of fantastic venues to watch the display here. The Hatchbag team wish each and every one of you a Happy New Year and the best of wishes for 2017. We do kindly ask that you make sure any pets are kept indoors this New Year to avoid them being scared by the fireworks.

The top 3 holiday destinations in the UK

With summer well and truly upon us  you may be thinking of ‘jetting off’ and enjoying the sunshine abroad. However, with UK staycations on the rise be sure not to overlook the beautiful British destinations right on your doorstep: No. 1 Abersoch, Wales Home to the annual wakeboarding and music festival, Wakestock, Abersoch has quickly become one of the places to holiday in the UK. This fashionable seaside resort is well known for its water sport credentials and beautiful, sheltered beaches. The town is also adorned with boutique shops and stylish eateries, all of which are family (and pet!) friendly. Click here for more information about Abersoch. Abersoch No. 2 Isle of Arran, Scotland The Isle of Arran is often referred to as a miniature Scotland. Located off the South West coast of Scotland, the North of the island is home to rugged mountain ranges, while the South enjoys a softer landscape. The island has a wealth of activities from enhanced walking trails, ancient monuments and traditional whiskey distilleries. Click here for more information about the Isle of Arran. IsleofArran No. 3 Looe, England Located in South East Cornwall, Looe is a hidden gem on the Cornish coast. With a flurry of narrow streets lined with boutique shops and tea rooms, Looe is one of Cornwall’s best kept secrets.  The beach is ideal for families and a range of boat trips operate from the harbour during the summer season. If you are in the area, be sure to make the spectacular walk along the coast to Polperro. This enchanting place is a quintessential fisherman’s village bursting with culture and history. Click here for more information about Looe. Looe Wherever you decide to holiday this summer, be sure to take your Hatchbag boot liner with you and protect your boot from those sandy towels and flip-flops. For more information about our boot liners visit our website here. And, if you think you have uncovered one of the best holiday destinations 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, it could feature in our next blog!

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 ebook 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! btn-view-now

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.

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 Fun If 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.