My Currently Loving feature has always been designed to give me an opportunity to share a few of my favourite things of the moment. It’s a very traditionally blogging kind of post to write for go-outside-and-do-the-thing focused blogger, but I genuinely enjoy putting it together. This is never meant in the sense that I get to tell you what you should be buying or doing this month, but rather to give me a personal opportunity to stop and consider the things that make life a bit easier, more interesting, or very simply make me smile.
As you know, I’m very much an experiences over things kind of person, and while I will certainly be recommending you treat yourself and your loved ones to experience vouchers this Festive season rather than lots of things that aren’t really needed (BuyaGift vouchers are valid for 20 months – affiliate link), I do love having nice things in my life. I might have reduced the amount of stuff I have in my home and bag, especially in the last couple of years, but I’m certainly no minimalist. So, bring on this semi-regular feature!
In my Currently Loving list for November I’ve got some lovely bits and bobs I’ve been enjoying this month that might also double as idea starters for your Christmas shopping, if you’ve not already done all that. My annual Gift Guide for Outdoor Lovers should also be live next week, too, if you can wait for that.
Currently Loving | November 2020
01. Great British Outdoors Scratch Map
(PR gifted item)
A gift from Maps International (read my review post here), I think the Great British Outdoors scratch map is utterly lovely. As someone who gets her kicks from spending time exploring different outdoor spaces all over the country (and world… when we’re allowed), this has really brightened up my home office wall and has been the perfect excuse to plan my next set of mini adventures.
The map is designed as a celebration of the natural spaces the UK has to offer. It shows our 15 National Parks, 54 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), and 40 of Scotland’s National Scenic Areas on a map of the UK. That’s 109 (can I count?) natural places to visit here in the UK before you’ve even noticed that they’ve included the UK’s National Nature Reserves too, marked by teeny ducks all over the map!
02. One Hour Outside Stickers
(PR gifted item)
Aren’t these stickers fabulous? I feel all proper having actual branded stuff. These are definitely in the Currently Loving category of things that really make me smile, and it’s excellent timing that I should share them in November (just), my One Hour Outside challenge month (nearly there!).
They are a gift from a lovely little sticker specialist, Sticket It. These guys do all kinds of cool things with stickers. They offered me a handful of stickers for my One Hour Outside project and they’ve already made their way onto my motorcycle top box, water bottle, flask and phone case… don’t sit still too long or you’ll end up with one on your forehead!
The logo is my own design, of course, but the stickers are great quality. I’ve got the waterproof versions, and so far they’ve held up really well on my bike and water bottle, both of which have been washed since I applied them.
I don’t know what you’d need stickers for yourself, but if you do, then I would recommend Sticker It to you.
If you’ve been taking part in my One Hour Outside challenge this month and would like a sticker for your own water bottle, I have a handful here and would like to share. Drop me a line (contact form here) and I’ll work out how best to get you one.
03. Sherbet Pips
My family know me well. Just look at this massive sweet shop-sized tub of sherbet pips I received for my birthday! It’s huge. And delicious. Happy Zoe!
I have to admit this doesn’t even represent the only packet of pips I received, either… I also received a quarter pound bag in a little paper bag (along with some flying saucers, yum yum). No complaints here about that.
I think sherbet pips are some of the best sweets around, they bring back memories of shopping at Benji’s in Canterbury on my way home from school, and countless seaside holidays as a kid when we’d be allowed to buy sweets from a proper sweet shop in little paper bags.
This lot should keep me going for a while, but probably not as long as they ought to. I’d love to know what your favourite old-fashioned sweets are, are you with me on this one?
04. Arai Tour X4 Motorcycle Helmet
I’m so pleased I chose the Arai Tour X4 as my new lid. It’s comfortable, has a massive visor for great visibility, has lots of ventilation providing excellent airflow for warm days on the bike, an, I think, looks great. While I haven’t ridden as much this year as I would have liked, my new helmet definitely makes it into my Currently Loving post this time around.
It is, of course, very comfortable. That’s the main thing. I guess I’m rather loyal to the Arai brand, this is my third of their lids, because I find the shape and fit is right for my head. I also find the double d fastening easy to use and secure, the removable cheek pads useful, and the airflow excellent.
But mostly, I just love the look of it. The adventure style is right up my street, and looks spot on when I’m atop my F650GS. The peak is great, it provides some great shielding from the sun, and even helps protect your face from the rain, too. You can wear this helmet without the peak, but I’m not sure why you would want to (unless you decided to go onto a racetrack, which I’m not likely to do). The only downside of that peak for me is it does mean the helmet creates more noise than my old lid, and I think that’s been the main compromise for me when I swapped from my Arai entry level Axces 2 earlier this year. But I wear earplugs, as all riders should, and so that’s not terrible.
I still need to get the speakers in the right place to get the best from my intercom system, but that’s more about my lack of ability to work out where my ears are (!) than there being a problem with the helmet itself. A task for this weekend, I think.
It’s actually the first plain white helmet I have owned. I normally go for a more colourful lid, not a race replica but something with a painted design. Not this time, I couldn’t warrant the nearly £100 more on the funky versions. So, the question is, should I put a One Hour Outside sticker on it?!
05. Targhee III Boots
(PR gifted item)
You know I love me a good pair of hiking boots and a fair few of them have made it into my Currently Loving posts over the years. And I want you to know that the Meindl Bhutans I included in this recent iteration haven’t gone away or are no less of a favourite, the Targhees are just different.
The Targhee III hiking boots (here at KEEN, here at Cotswold Outdoor), the waterproof version, were a present from KEEN to celebrate their 15th anniversary earlier this Autumn. And I have to say, there is a reason that KEEN have been making these boots for 15 years; they are excellent.
These are a lightweight, waterproof, and large fitting hiking boot with a reasonably low ankle height designed for any kind of hiking you choose to do. They are grippy enough, flexible around the foot, bouncy underfoot, and have a nice big toe box great for keeping your feet happy all day long. They are not heavy-duty full leather hiking boots like my Bhutans (and are half the price…), but as such they do a different job, and have proved to be excellent for hiking in muddy woodland, up winding hill paths, and across open moorland.
I’ve even used them in what I would describe as quite extreme weather conditions (thanks Storm Aiden), and they held up very well. While I wouldn’t grab these for winter mountain conditions or serious scrambles, I will pick these up for pretty much everything else.
The latest iteration of the Targhee are more eco-friendly than before, and it is great to see KEEN take this seriously. There are no PFCs in the water repellent coating, in favour of an eco-friendly alternative, and the inner lining and sole an anti-odour treatment that utilises a safe, naturally occurring probiotic proven to be just as effective in odour control as the chemical alternatives.
06. Salomon Trail Shoes
(PR gifted item)
What, more shoes?! Oh yes. You just know I love my outdoorsy shoes, and based on the sheer amount I’ve worn these brilliant trainers over the last two months, they just had to be included in my Currently Loving post this time around!
These are the wonderfully brightly coloured Salomon Women’s XA Pro 3D V8 GTX shoes. They are lightweight, waterproof, grippy, and comfortable. And yes, they are muddy in this photo, I do clean them, but as soon as I do they end up back on my feet and across the local fields again… it’s a never ending battle against the dirt!
These were comfortable straight from the box and have such a no-nonsense way of dealing with the trail I’ve been happy to wear them on all kinds of terrain. I see these as my daily hiking trainer, rather than something for the hills, a comment on my ankles rather than their ability to help keep me upright.
Anyone who read my post about my woes with my Haglofs trainers will know that I walk several miles a day, and so far the XA Pros are showing no signs of wear at all – other than being a little less brightly coloured than they were when I first got them.
You can read more about where I’ve taken these shoes so far in my recent post about my outdoorsy October.
07. Vanilla Lime Scented Candle
I see scented candles as one of those things that sits in the category of unnecessary luxuries. I mean, no-one actually needs a scented candle, do they? They are nice to look at, and nice to smell, but they are indulgent. Anyway, when I do have a scented candle, it’s normally this one; a Yankee Candle in Vanilla Lime (here at Yankee Candle, here at Boots). So not extravagant by any means when it comes to candles, but still.
I love the Vanilla Lime scent, it’s just the right amount of sweet and citrus for my home office or living room. I got this particular one for my birthday, and have burning on the window ledge as I write this post, it’s a very nice-to-have item.
While this candle does appear in my Currently Loving list in its own right, it’s more than that on this occasion. Here it also represents the small benefits of having to work at home at the moment. The opportunity that gives me to dress in super comfy trousers and fluffy socks while doing my work, to have my favourite candle burning, to be close to my own fridge at all times, to be able to take deliveries direct from the courier rather than having cards shoved through the door and having to chase around the county to find out where they’ve taken it.
The pandemic has been challenging in so many ways, we have to find the positives and silver linings where we can, and burning scented candles is certainly one of mine. What are some of yours?
08. Hot Chocolate
I might be a tea drinker through and through, but I absolutely love a comforting mug of sweet and warming good quality hot chocolate. Especially in winter. Have you tried the Costa After Eight Mint hot chocolate yet? Would recommend!
For this Currently Loving post, though, I wanted to feature Whittards Luxury White Hot Chocolate, which is my favourite at-home choice. I’m not a fan of hot chocolate made with water, I don’t think there’s any point skimping on the calories when it comes to this comforting treat, and so while I’ll have a sachet or two of Maltesers hot chocolate for camping trips, at home I like to have a tub of this on the go. It is creamy, thick, and utterly delicious. So good.
Now if I had money to burn on things that are completely unnecessary (such as the candle above…), I would definitely have bought a Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser by now (slightly cheaper on Amazon). We tried one in a store in the run up to Christmas last year and I admit it does make superb hot chocolate, and I totally understand why people are lusting after them. For now I’ll stick with my Whittards powder, made with milk, and topped with mini marshmallows. Mmmmmm.
09. Isobaa Merino Crew Sweater – Again
(PR gifted item)
I think this is a first. Isobaa have made it into my Currently Loving post again (read my post from September 2020 here). In short, I received the blue and orange version of their Merino Crew Sweater as a surprise PR gift recently, and I love it even more than the grey one I already owned; I just had to add it into my November post.
Merino clothing is fabulous. A good quality merino piece will keep you warm when it’s cold and breathes well when it’s warm, keeping you comfortable whatever the weather. It’s also quick drying, naturally odour resistant and sustainable. The Merino Crew Sweater is made from superfine 9-gauge Merino, and is perfect for home, office, hiking, and everything else.
It’s just lovely; the goes-with-everything style, the a-line fit, and that blue and orange colourway. It’s possibly the perfect sweater. Isobaa really are doing merino clothing right, and have the ethics and sustainability credentials to back it up. Simple, comfortable and durable basics for every day that are worth the spend. I’ll stop now!
10. The North Face Thermoball Puffy Coat
My Currently Loving post might often include lovely shiny and new things that I have been excited to try out for the first time, but here we have something that is truly tried and tested. My black The North Face Thermoball puffy coat has been an absolute staple in my gear cupboard for years, seven outdoors-filled years to be exact, and it remains my go-to warm layer today.
It honestly is such a great puffy coat. It’s super warm, fits very nicely (mine is the original more boxy fit, which was replaced with a much more fitted version), and works as both a mid-layer and an outer layer depending on the weather and activity. Thermoball is a synthetic insulation which means it works even when wet, and it has a water repellent finish which means it will cope as an outer layer when it’s a bit damp outside. Importantly for me, the jacket packs down into its own pocket, meaning I can carry it as my warm layer on hikes, camping trips and road trips, without worrying about how to fit it in.
The only problem is my poor old Thermoball, having been used and abused over the last seven years, is now really rather thin and worn. I often think I should replace it with a much puffier new one, but while this one continues to keep me warm and is (mostly) intact, I’ll stick with it.
This is the latest iteration of the packable hoodie, which features updated eco credentials including recycled materials (very good to see), and looks as though it returns to the slightly more boxy fit The North Face moved away from for a while.
What are you currently loving this month? What do you think of my choices? Tell me in the comments below.
Want to see all my Currently Loving posts? This link should help.
In the interests of full disclosure for this Currently Loving post, and as mentioned within the text above, the Isobaa jumper, stickers, Salomon shoes and KEEN boots were PR gifts, for which I am very grateful. I have therefore marked this post as gifted, but it is not sponsored – no-one asked to be included in my Currently Loving feature. There are also affiliate links on this page, including all Amazon and Cotswold Outdoor links, the funds from which help me go on the mini adventures that make life interesting.