Over the last few years I’ve become more aware of what effect I’m having on the environment. The idea of being “green” encompasses a lot of things – turning our televisions and computers off completely rather than leaving them on standby, buying local produce so food miles are reduced, choosing organic because of concern over the use of chemicals, that sort of thing. But what about my shoes? Are they environmentally friendly?
The other day I noticed that Spartoo have a category of shoes that are considered green. I’ve thought in the past that eco-friendly shoes tend to be a bit hippy in design – strange colours and patterns and perhaps a little frumpy in style. But as I browsed this category I was really impressed at the range of shoes available, and found myself wondering what made the selection better for the environment than my leather Dr Martens or canvas Converse.
Brands in the green category include Birkenstock, who’s brand manager Christina Piazza is quoted as saying: “Our products and production processes have always been sensitive to the environment. This sensitivity extends into everything we do — in our manufacturing process we strive to create minimal impact on the environment.” On their website they point out clearly that they are not new to the “green” bandwagon – they have been eco friendly for 230 years.
Other brands included in the category include Dream in Green and Snipe (and others too), who also make known their environmentally friendly values which are very commendable. I’m not saying that other brands, like some of my favourites, aren’t environmentally friendly – no doubt many have similar values and suitable production practices, but I find it interesting when a company stands up and says “this is us, this is what we believe it, come with us”.
Would you choose an “eco-friendly” shoe brand over another simply because of the values expressed by the company? What do you think makes a shoe green?
I have a good selection of Brasher socks now and I have to say right at the start of this review that I really rate them. I have learnt over the last few years that if you buy decent socks and shoes your feet will thank you. This time I am reviewing the Brasher Hillwalker socks – the women’s fit – and I like them a lot.
Hillwalker socks are designated as two season – spring and summer – and are designed for hiking and hillwalking for as many miles as you fancy. They have ThermoCool fibres which are said to optimise the foot’s natural thermoregulation – in other words they have been made to keep your feet warm when it’s cool and cool when its warm. The ventilation panel on the top of the foot keeps feet cool and dry (and therefore smelling fresh!), and Brasher have included some lycra support in these socks to keep them pulled up and stop them moving around as you walk.
The thing I particularly like about these, and the reason I will be buying a couple more pairs for myself, is the extra cushioning/padding for the heel, toes, ball and top of the foot. I found this cushioning made these some of the most comfortable socks I’ve ever had. Not exactly what Brasher had in mind for them I’m sure, but the part across the top of the foot makes these especially comfortable for wearing with motorcycle boots. They are ideal for wearing with hiking shoes and boots, of course, and are also comfortable for wearing with trainers.
A little while ago I was sent a lovely parcel of tea from Tea India so I could try out their black tea and their Cardamom tea, both of which I really enjoyed. The other day I received a very similar looking parcel from them, this time suggesting that I tried some baking with tea.
I know people use tea in lots of cooking but I have never done so. Earlier in the week I made some Spicy Black Tea Cookies which are described as “oaty cookies packed full of taste that evoke the aroma of an Indian spice market”. Ok, so I’ve never been to an Indian spice market but I have an idea in my head of what it might smell like, and I like the idea!
- 2 Tea India Black tea india (leaves only)
- 125g butter
- 100g soft brown sugar
- 70g self raising flour
- 120g oats
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1.5 tsp mixed spice
- Cream the butter and soft brown sugar
- Add the oats, flour, Tea India Black tea leaves and spices, and mix until well combined.
- Roll the dough into a log shape 5cm in diameter. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 5 minutes.
- To bake, remove from the fridge, unwrap and slice into 12 even sized pieces. Place on two baking trays lined with baking paper.
- Bake at 160 degrees for 15-20 minutes (mine took 20) or until the edges are golden brown.
- Allow to cool on the baking tray before serving warm.
These cookies smelt amazing when they were just dough, when they were baking in the oven, when they were cooling, and and when I was eating them! They do have an Indian spicy flavour to them, but it’s not so much that they overpower a nice cup of tea. They are seriously good cookies.
Thanks once again Tea India for making this blogger smile.
Just one question… is it ok to dunk tea cookies in your tea?!
Oh, and if you like the idea of trying Tea India tea if you go on their facebook page before 6th June (be quick!) and get some for free with their You & I with a cup of Chai campaign. Let me know if you try it.
PS – I’ll let you know what I think of the Masala Chai another time!
You all know I’m always taking photos, and that I use instagram to share my shots (mostly taken on my phone but not always) with anyone who cares to view them (you can find me on instagram here if you’ve not already). Recently I was invited to try out the service offered by Instantgram, who turn your Instagram images into lovely little magnets.
These 5cm x 5cm square magnets cost $17 for nine (making a square of squares, of course) and are delivered free anywhere in the world. To get your magnets you simply allow Instantgram access to your instagram account and select which nine shots you want to turn into magnets (or you can have nine of the same image if you like).
The teeny little box arrived just a couple of days later, and the nine magnets inside are super cute. They are thinner than I was expecting – very flexible – but the print quality is great and the colours have come out as I would have anticipated.
They stick perfectly well to the usual suspects – fridge doors, radiators, metal cupboards, you know the sort of thing. I’ve used mine to hold paper in place, but I wouldn’t think they’ll hold anything much heavier than a single sheet. I’ve got mine sat in a square on the cupboard by my desk at work, I think they look fab and brighten the area up nicely.
I think these are a great idea and I’m really impressed with how easy they were to order and how quickly they arrived. They would make a great little gift for yourself (we never get photo prints anymore do we?), and would be a lovely way to share your photos with family and friends. Just remember they are only 5cm so they are small – but that means one would easily slip inside a birthday or Christmas card.
Following the experiences of a number of our motorbike trips over the years, being sent a completely waterproof pouch for my phone to review was incredibly useful – thanks Mobile Fun! And, as expected but not wanted, when we woke up on Tuesday last week and it was teeming it down I reached for my Beachbuoy, sealed my phone inside, and didn’t worry about it for the rest of the day.
This waterproof pouch is designed for taking your gadgets underwater – down to five metres. It is totally and completely waterproof thanks to the two grip seals, and you can use your touch screen phone while it’s inside. I’ve seen this sort of thing before and have always thought one would be useful.
Before you use your Beachbuoy to put your phone in the manufacturer advises you complete the tissue paper test… just to make sure. Basically you put a tissue inside the pouch, seal it up, and dunk it in water for a few minutes. Then you take the pouch out of the water, dry off the outside and your hands, and open it up to see the state of the tissue inside. Completely dry, very impressive. As long as I made sure the grip seals are done up properly, which was very easy to do, I could be confident my precious phone wouldn’t get water damage.
In real life use it worked too. Good job really! My phone was very safe inside the pouch even when the rest of me was slowly getting wet through (mmmmm damp pants…), and I could take the phone (in the pouch) out of my pocket and use it in the rain also without worrying about it – there was nothing to stop me tweeting even on that day! You can also use the phone camera through the pouch as it is clear front and back, a definite bonus for me.
There are a couple of negatives I have found. One is the size. To be fair this isn’t just designed for the iPhone and can accommodate all sorts of phones and compact cameras, but it is quite wide and so was a squeeze to get it in my bike jacket pocket. It does have a neck strap, though, so you can wear it around your neck or attach it to something else to make it easier to carry. The other is that while I can happily use my phone when it is inside the pouch, the completely sealed construction that makes it waterproof means making a call (hearing the person you are talking to) is not that easy – the sound is a bit muffled.
Those two small things aside, this is a great accessory for anyone who does anything that involves getting wet and really wants to take their phone with them. The fact that it is totally waterproof means it’s not just good for activities like walking, cycling, motorbiking etc in the rain – it can also be used for water sports like swimming, sailing and canoeing.
The Beachbuoy is just one of the iPhone5 covers available from Mobile Fun.
I do like a nice sea view.
When my grandad was alive (it’s still very raw saying that, I do miss him) he would take us for a drive to see the sea – to check it was still there. It’s something that’s stuck; I can’t go too many days without seeing the sea. I’ve mentioned my love of the sea on here before several times – there is just something about it – it’s peace, it’s power, it’s life.
Over the last week while on the Graham Homes Memorial Ride (I hoped you followed the ride blog while we were on our trip) I’ve seen loads of sea views all around the country. Every time we turned a corner and there was a bay or a view over a cliff or that smell of salt water I would smile. The nature of our challenge meant that I was guaranteed at least four sea views, one at each of the four compass points of mainland Great Britain, but there was no telling whether we’d have clear days or nice conditions. We were lucky with that for sure, even the brown murky waters and cloud filled skies of Lowestoft gave us a decent scene and made me smile.
Lowestoft Ness, most easterly point of mainland Great Britain (Saturday)
Lizard Point, most southerly point of mainland Great Britain (Sunday)
Ardnamurchan Point, most westerly point of mainland Great Britain (Wednesday)
Dunnet Head, most northerly point of mainland Great Britain (Thursday)
It wasn’t just the four compass points, we travelled along the Devon coast, and along the east coast of Scotland. The Northumberland coastline offered some lovely views on the way home too. We are so lucky here in the UK, we have some spectacular coastline scenes to look at, and even when right in the middle of the country we are not that far from a decent sea view.
East Coast of Scotland (Thursday)
From Holy Island, Northumberland (Friday)
I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to see so much of Great Britain over the last week, not least because I got to fulfil my everlasting craving for sea views and amazing scenery. It has been good for the soul, and has given me some images now stored in my memory to inspire me over the next months.
I hope it’s not too long before I get to see the sea again – just to make sure it is still there of course.