Strawberry picking at Claremont Farm

I've been planning out all the various blogs and vlogs that we've got lined up over the summer this past week or two. Lots of things to share, ideas, trips, reviews etc However, an unexpected last minute trip out to Claremont Farm to go strawberry picking has shoved everything on the back burner. 

Despite feeling a bit ropey this past few days, I even felt hungover despite not drinking (booooo!) Sarah suggested we goto Claremont Farm. I have, for one reason or another, never actually been strawberry picking before. Ever. 

I was honestly a bit mixed about it, felt rubbish, couldn't really be doing with dealing with too much but this place was like a cure for all ails. 

The whole process from waltzing in, picking up a basket, to just simply trundling down the straw lined lanes across the field was brilliant and made me feel tons better. 

It was great to just wander with my camera alone, a 35mm lens and that's it, no drones, no video, no lighting, no audio. Just back to the basics, shooting a photo story. Made me realise that photo stories flow more naturally and easier when its something I'm really into. 

We wandered and chatted, occasionally picking the odd one for ourselves (sorry folks!) and the rest for the basket. A couple of bonus raspberries and we paid up and went home to stuff our faces with meringues, squirty cream and the fruits of our labour (literally). 

Highly recommended for the mind and body. 

If you want to see what gear I use to shoot photo stories or what's in my kit bags for both personal and commercial work check out my kits here

Visit www.claremontfarm.co.uk for more info. 

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A Blustery Ol' Time down on Thurstaston Beach

Sometimes I adore just staying local at the weekends and not having to plod out for miles. We're super lucky to have some awesome natural places nearby. So we just stuck Jasper in the car and headed over to Thurstaston, down by the Dee Sailing Club. The weather was pretty blowy but it felt brilliant having the cobwebs blown away. The kids took no time in getting their shoes off and jumping straight in. Finn hasn't had a real pair of shoes on since we picked up his Turtles 'Crocs' from Primark he flippin' loves them and I will literally buy the kids anything with Turtles on them.

On a side note, kids and clogs (don't buy the branded crocs, they're an unnecessary cost and overpriced) are an awesome, easy going option for summer. They can get muddy, wet, sandy and they're always going to be fine. Super convenient for running in and out of the garden too. They're cheap as chips and come in loads of designs (way better than they used to be). Deffo pick up a pair (try supermarkets/Primark). 

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Woodland Park Camping Huts, Ellesmere

We've just arrived back from a chilly weekend away in Ellesmere staying at the Woodland Park Camping Huts. All 3 families on this trip, we hired out 2 of the 4 berth huts and the 9 berth hut (named Squirral, Stoat and Rabbit). We took the 9 berth as it has a bit more space for us to hang out in case it got cold. Quite glad we got it in the end because it snowed at one point!

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We checked in at the Lodges (they look rather nice too) and got our keys. Then its a short 2 min drive back out to the huts. The track down is pretty rough but it is off the beaten track and doesn't have any other traffic. We trundled down it in our Zafira regardless with no real problems, the odd scrape on the bottom but nothing more. Once there you can pull in by the shower and toilet block and unload the car. Once unloaded you've got to move the cars down the track out of the way (50m or so).

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There are 5 huts surrounding a small pond, the 7 berth and two 4 berths are on the right, whilst the 9 berth and another 4 berth are on the left. The huts are surprisingly fitted out with more than we expected. They're really solid and warm. They've got lighting and electricity outlets throughout too. We didn't know how many outlets so we'd taken extension leads in case, but we didn't need them. We slept in the 9 berth, upstairs there are two large doubles and a single space. Downstairs there are two sets of bunk beds and a small living area with some folding plastic chairs and two large tables. There's a work surface with an electric kettle, water container and a washing up bowl too. They were really clean and we'd hired a heater and bought some firewood for an extra couple of quid, both were sitting inside ready for us. The stairs are a bit dodgy with small kids, we blocked them off for Finn (2yo) and Erin went down on her bum most of the time.

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The toilet block is super clean, really nicely presented, warm. The showers are super powerful, better than ours at home and didn't require any tokens or anything. Outside the block is an outdoor (undercover though) washing sink and 4-5 great big bins for rubbish.

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We had two dogs with us and as were the only ones there we let them roam freely around the woods and huts. They absolutely loved it. It was our first trip with both Jasper and Remy, both had a really great time. Nice little test before we go canvas camping in April.

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It's pretty muddy (more so because it's February) so the kids were covered in warm and waterproof gear all day and they just roamed freely too. The mud gets everywhere, so learn to embrace it. The huts have brooms, dustpans and brushes and a mop and bucket too if things get too bad. We just gave the place a quick broom every now and then.

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The firepit was awesome, had it going most of the time. Don't forget firelighters/newspaper etc to light it. Though it really did get cold at times and ended up in the living area of the 9 berth. Adults in the main bit and kids in the bunks all watching a DVD at night time. The heater was great and the huts were super toasty.

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All in all a great little trip and our first of the year. The weather was against us, but then it was February. You do genuinely feel quite isolated out there, we took all our food and everything we needed so didn't leave the site once. Remember, they're just huts. You need to bring all your camping gear with you like chairs and gas cookers etc. We tied all our food up in a tree outside to keep it cool (it nearly froze though). The surrounding forest isn't really very extensive. We decided to head off into the woods only to be met by near impassable terrain within 100m of the huts. It's very quiet and the stars and moon look awesome here.

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We heard that they're expanding it, not sure how I feel about it, hope it still feels as intimate as it does now, but we're all planning on going back later in the year, so we'll find out then :)

Thanks for reading!

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The Eastpak Provider Backpack

I'm a bag lover, no doubt about it. Ive had my fair share of school bags and ‘manbags’ - but obviously my life has been pretty much ruled by camera bags.

So when it came to needing a bag for camp trips I was pretty excited to NOT be buying a camera bag. 

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When I was in school most people had sports backpacks or record bags but a small number of cool kids had Jansport bags and Eastpak bags. I’ve no idea what made them so cool, perhaps the low slung, slightly grimey, skateboardery thing they had going for them. Either way, I wanted one and never did manage to persuade my mum to buying one (I ended up with a Berghaus day sack FYI).

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Roll on 15 years and I’m on Amazon looking for a backpack. Something I can cram loads of stuff in, clothes, travel electrics, maybe a laptop and what if I could pack my drone in there? That would be super easy for just quick runs out on my bike filming? A day later and the Eastpak Provider arrived on my doorstep. It was a little more than I wanted to spend (its actually come down in price as well recently) but I figured I was going to spend nearly £200 on a drone backpack so this would be a cheaper alternative.

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For our first test, I took it out on a small hike with the kids to build dens.

The Provider has 3 compartments, A large main compartment, a shallower secondary compartment and a smaller pocket compartment on the front with extra netting and accessory holders inside too.

The large compartment also has a laptop compartment, which I’ve managed to get my archaic old Dell XPS 16.5” into, no problems. It runs down the back of the pack. I left it empty for this trip though. Clothes, coats went into the main compartment. This section also has 4 compression straps, two with clips, two with buckles meaning that you can compress it right down to super thin. I can’t get over how great those straps are, it made the pack much more compact and managable.

The secondary compartment is outside of the straps, so harder items such as water bottles went in here, packed lunch too.

Finally the front pocket housed my Fuji x100s, batteries, knife, phone, wallet, keys and a Google Nexus 7 tablet too with space to spare.

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It got scuffed and marked by trees/branches, but the fabric is thick and durable, the marks just rubbed straight off. I opted for the Sunday Grey, don’t know why Sunday has to be grey, I always thought Sundays were kinda orangey?! It looks great and works out in the woods or strolling through the street. The shoulder straps aren’t quite camera bag comfort, but then they were never going to be. It’s still comfortable though, not sure I could proper backpack with it, but its a great airline traveller for sure. Its got a super handy rubber grab handle on the top for shifting in and out of the car

I really like this bag, it feels great, looks great and has so much space. It’s perfect for camping, hiking and yes. It fits my DJI Phantom 4 in. JUST. ;)

PS. None of these gear posts are sponsored.