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. 

1f107-mdt_6992.jpg
16788-mdt_6994.jpg
7b98e-mdt_7002.jpg
1ce74-mdt_7007.jpg
d961f-mdt_7026.jpg
46299-mdt_7031.jpg
e9706-mdt_7039.jpg
4f94d-mdt_7153.jpg
3cfe6-mdt_7049.jpg
2bb1b-mdt_7069.jpg
e6fbf-mdt_7138.jpg
65a28-mdt_7059.jpg
1bc15-mdt_7159.jpg
55ae1-mdt_7172.jpg
c1cc8-mdt_7118.jpg
15b00-mdt_7120.jpg
bdcb6-mdt_7099.jpg
fd028-mdt_7204.jpg
3f301-mdt_7148.jpg
d67fe-mdt_7219.jpg
4fca3-mdt_7225.jpg
b68b3-mdt_7232.jpg
31749-mdt_7251.jpg
57ccb-mdt_7253.jpg
461d9-mdt_7299.jpg
d84b7-mdt_7330.jpg
e2cb2-mdt_7334.jpg
64619-mdt_7338.jpg
8fad0-mdt_7343.jpg
3f9b8-mdt_7352.jpg
19deb-mdt_7353.jpg

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). 

4ef88-img_4301.jpg
3a75e-img_4234.jpg
7e514-img_4236.jpg
06720-img_4240.jpg
412a8-img_4244.jpg
2502c-img_4253-2.jpg
743dd-img_4254.jpg
def2c-img_4261.jpg
20b37-img_4263-2.jpg
f0025-img_4269.jpg
f37f6-img_4282.jpg
15bd7-img_4295.jpg

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!

82b51-img.jpg

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).

50fa7-img.jpg

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.

6331f-img.jpg

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.

f9746-img.jpg

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.

02f84-img.jpg

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.

4ffe7-img.jpg

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.

b8083-img.jpg

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.

d1c8f-img.jpg

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!

96eae-t4_0332.jpg
de65a-t4_0375.jpg
4ee07-t4_02241.jpg
1eabc-t4_0030.jpg
94f80-t4_0038.jpg
e8f3f-t4_0049.jpg
4c7e0-t4_0077.jpg
0b67e-t4_0087.jpg
07765-t4_0091.jpg
d4196-t4_0117.jpg
8144d-t4_0128.jpg
2b332-t4_0145.jpg
d5738-t4_0152.jpg
f3ceb-t4_0154.jpg
8b23f-t4_0215.jpg
44919-t4_0218.jpg
ef594-t4_0224.jpg
a4341-t4_0263.jpg
76538-t4_0275.jpg
2d762-t4_0304.jpg
cb4ac-t4_0324.jpg

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. 

94f90-eastpakprovidereastpakprovider.jpg

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).

ebc32-eastpakprovidereastpakprovider.jpg

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.

dfdc4-img.jpg

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.

0d292-img.jpg

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. 

Platts Farm, Llanferfechan

When did we go?

24th/25th April 2015

Who can pitch there?

11 Tent Pitches over two fields. 7 in the Coed Field and 4 in the Afon Field. There's also a camper van pitch or two. There's also a bunkhouse that sleeps 10. We didn't go in, but it looks pretty good. Especially if you've got a large group looking for a base in Wales for a few days.

How much does it cost?

Adults: £8

Children (3-16): £5

Dogs: £1

Electric Hook Up: £4

Fire basket, logs, kindling, firelighters: £7.50

Cooker Hire: £10

You can check out their price list here.

Can we have a campfire?

Yep, using your own off the ground fire pit or hire one from the site. Logs are available on site too.

Can we have a BBQ?

Absolutely.

Can we take our dog?

Yep, £1 a night :)

4cec5-img.jpg

It's still out of season, April is still pretty chilly and the weather is all over the place. We wanted a site that would give us a place to shelter if the weather turned grim. We found that Platt's Farm ticked the boxes we wanted. Big under cover area and not too far from us.

dec3e-img.jpg

We arrived late Friday and had no problem driving on in and getting setup. We were pretty much the only people on the site, bar a campervan on the next field. We were given 3 pitches on the Afon field (to the right as you go in). On the field is also an enormous covered barn, two of the sides are open, but it was sheltered from the wind. The barn is lit and has a few picnic benches for cooking and eating at. We knocked on the farmhouse (reception was closed) and met Sam who sold us a few bags of wood, kindling and firelighters. We hired a fire basket too and set it up in the barn. We hung out in the barn most of the evening, sheltering from some wind and rain. The barn really is great, nice high roof meaning you can cook, have a bbq, firepit "inside".

In the morning we had a walk around the site, there's a walled garden that has some great history behind it. Sam the owner will gladly tell you all about it. The kids had a run around there whilst we washed up. Showers are super clean and hot. There is a large under cover washing area to do the pans and plates alongside a drinking water tap. Hot running water too, I can't believe that elsewhere there are campsites that DON'T provide hot water for washing. Amazingly there are fresh eggs both chicken and duck next to an honesty box at reception. I've never had a duck egg before and it was ace!

a37cb-img.jpg

The weather was pretty grim but we had a 3rd birthday party in one of the barns for one of our little ladies, complete with balloons and cake! The site is right in the middle of a small village so there's a few shops, chippies and pubs nearby if you need them. The seafront is only 10 mins or so walk away too, though we didn't get down to it. A Duke of Edinburgh team turned up on Saturday evening and took up most of the other field but they didn't once bother us and were all fast asleep by 10pm. Bless 'em. They used the 2nd big barn to dry all their kit, the barns rescue the day again.

11a07-img.jpg

Sunday arrived and the with it the weather, glowing sunshine always arrives on the day you've got to leave doesn't it? The kids played with the frisbees whilst we supped coffee and warmed up in the sun. The place is pretty much enclosed so letting the kids roam was great. They marched off into a small wooded area for a good hour just playing with sticks. The tents dried off and we slowly packed everything up. We had not seen the chickens or ducks whilst there and the kids were a little puzzled as to why. The owner then magically turned up with one of her trusty hens to sit and have a stroke with everyone, a really nice little touch and we're really thankful for it, the kids loved it.

1d909-img.jpg

Overall, a great little place, especially for an out of season / possible rainy camp. The barns are the absolute seller of this place. They really do give you a good option of hanging out together (especially if you're camping with a group like we were) even whilst the weather is terrible. The bunkhouse and fields can be hired exclusively too making it a good option for large groups/organisations. I think the pitches are pretty close together, so I'd recommend going with a few friends and booking pitches next to each other.

76568-img.jpg

I wish it'd of been nicer so we could of checked out the beach and a bit more of the surrounding area so maybe we'll head back towards the end of this season again. Good stuff Platts, looking forward to the return trip :)

(PS. The scaffolding in the pictures is temporary restorative works taking place, didn't affect our stay at all)