After a few months off, I’m back with another in my normally-quite-regular Currently Loving series. In these posts I choose ten of my favourite things right now… things that are bringing me joy at the moment.
I was going to write a Christmas gift guide this month instead. Over the last few years, I’ve offered a gift guide for outdoor lovers (or two) each December, to provide a few ideas to help you buy for those in your life you’d like to encourage to spend a bit more time outside. But when I read back through last year’s post, which featured a bunch of idea starters, and then over some of my previous “experiences not gifts” guides, I realised I’d probably peaked.
But you never know, this might still inspire you if you’ve not quite done all your Christmas shopping yet!
As always, my Currently Loving post includes things of varying types that make me smile. This time around we have my shiny new MacBook Air plus a couple of accessories, some adventure books, a pair of trainers, and some other bits and bobs.
Currently Loving | December 2021
01 MacBook Air
You’ll have seen in my Weekly Blog Episode 90, when I shared what I got for my birthday, that I have gone all in with Apple and now have a lovely shiny new MacBook Air. This thing is a revelation – it’s so fast, so clear, and so nice to use. While I’m very much still getting used to its quirks and specifics (especially the keyboard shortcuts), the 13-inch screen, M1 chip, and well-designed keyboard are worth the effort. I’m not new to Macs, it’s just been a while since I used one on a daily basis.
If you’re interested in which spec I got, it’s the 13” MacBook Air with M1 Chip with the 8‑core CPU and 8‑core GPU, 16GB unified memory, and 512GB SSD storage, in space grey.
In switching from a tablet to a laptop I hoped I’d find opportunities to be a bit more productive, and so far, it’s working. This thing is a dream for writing, editing photos, and organising myself. I also have a much nicer screen and speaker set to watch Disney+ and YouTube, so you know, it’s good for wasting time, too!
02 Microsoft Mobile Mouse
The track pad on my MacBook Air is very good; I like how you can use various finger/direction combinations to perform different functions – although it took me ages to learn I could swipe up with three fingers to see all open windows. But when I’m sitting at a desk rather than using the device on my lap, I always prefer a mouse. It’s just much easier to edit photos, and generally navigate around windows and files.
I received the Microsoft Modern Mobile Mouse in a lovely mint green for my birthday. I didn’t choose it, but I had seen one in the Microsoft store in London and had commented on how nice it seemed. It’s your standard three-button mouse, really, but the very slim and low-profile design means it’s nice to look at and hold. It connects to my MacBook via Bluetooth, the battery is supposed to last a year, and it works absolutely perfectly.
I know that I have ended up with a Microsoft-made mouse with my Apple-made MacBook, but have you seen how much Apple charge for their scrolly clickers?! I don’t need or want a particularly high-end mouse, and so this reasonably priced option, coming in at around £25, is absolutely ideal for me.
One tip is that I installed Scroll Reverser so that my mouse wheel scrolls the right way, because you can’t switch the mouse/track pad scrolling independently with the native MacBook settings. I don’t know why, but I can cope with click and drag up/down on the track pad, but I can’t get my head to scroll the same way with a mouse.
03 MacBook Air Case – Handmade from Etsy
I want to be able to travel with my MacBook and so a case is a must. I was going to put one on my Christmas list, but realised I wanted to carry my new toy around with me before then, and didn’t want to risk even the smallest dint from having it loose in my backpack. After a bit of looking, this sleeve is what I ended up choosing.
Cases for MacBooks from the big players just seemed, well, ugly. I didn’t want something the MacBook is in permanently (that may come later, but not for now), that was bulky, or that had loads of pockets. I also didn’t want something made of plastic, or which had a heavy price tag.
Because it’s worked for other things in the past, I turned to Etsy, and asked the search engine on there for an eco-friendly MacBook sleeve. It threw back a surprising number of handmade cases to choose from, and this one by CushCaseDesigns caught my attention.
The outside is waxed cotton, in a lovely khaki green colour, and the inside is a soft fleece, in orange. It has a layer of foam in the middle which does the protecting, and a flap to close the case with Velcro to keep it fastened. It’s nothing fancy, not over designed, just a perfectly sized, well-made, sleeve.
It’s gone up in price by a couple of pounds since I bought it, I think maybe I checked out during a Black Friday event. Even so, I think £33 is a decent price, and I’m very happy with my purchase.
04 Packing Cubes
(PR gifted item)
You know I love a packing cube. Anything to help keep my stuff organised when I go away, whether that’s road tripping or flying. I love my old and trusted Flight001 packing cubes, they are good and strong and big enough for plenty of clothing. But what’s better than plain packing cubes? Packing cubes with maps on!
Ordnance Survey have recently launched this set of three National Three Peaks themed packing cubes as part of their own outdoor gear range (I featured some of their other orange mappy products in this post). They’re made from a thin material which makes them much less bulky than my other ones, and the set comes with three different sizes. These were a gift from the OS team, which was especially nice of them as they were already on my wish list.
I had to check if they’d got the sizes in the right order… the big one is Ben Nevis (44cm wide), the medium Snowdon (35cm), and the small Scafell Pike (28cm). Yep, my perfectionist self is happy with that attention to detail! The different sizes mean these will be perfect for fitting in my motorcycle panniers, or in my duffel bag, or in my suitcase, or even in my little backpack I use on overnight trips, depending on where I happen to be heading.
They are made from a soft-feel polyester fabric, are very lightweight, and each has a handle to make them easy to grab and pull out of your bag. Each has a double zip to make them easy to pack into. Oh, and each one has a mesh panel for air flow… your clothes aren’t going to fester in these!
At £32.99 I think they’re reasonably priced for the set, and would make a most excellent gift for someone you know who likes both maps and holidays! I shall certainly be getting a lot of use out of my set.
05 Twelve Poems About Walking
This lovely little book of poems was a recent gift from a friend, and it was the thing that made me want to write a Currently Loving post again – it’s just so lovely I had to share it. Twelve Poems About Walking is exactly what it says on the cover… a small book with 12 poems all about walking.
Published by Candlestick Press, this is one of a large series of mini anthologies designed to be sent instead of cards. There’s a bunch with different themes, meaning you can choose just the right one for the person you’re sending it to, or the situation they might be in. And my friend did just that.
Mine features “Old Man Travelling” by Wordsworth, “Lake” by David Constantine, and ten other lovely poems all about my favourite pastime.
I’ve bought a couple of these for friends this Christmas, which are winging their way to them as I write; I hope they enjoy their poetry books as much as I enjoy mine. If you’re looking for something a bit more than a card to send to someone you know, this really is a lovely option. (There are some Christmas titles, too.)
06 The North Face Vectiv Trainers
As I mentioned in Weekly Blog Episode 92, I gave into temptation big time recently by treating myself to some new The North Face Womens Vectiv Futurelight Exploris Leather Shoes. I’ve had the Cotswold Outdoor web page open on my computer for weeks, and when we went to the store to get shoes for my husband, I simply couldn’t leave them behind.
These shoes were certainly a bit of a splurge, even with the vouchers I received for my birthday and a 10% off code I had, but I really like them. Thankfully there was no breaking in period, they were comfortable straight from the box, and I’ve already been wearing them on a daily basis since bringing them home.
They have all the silly sounding technical specification you might expect from modern hiking trainers. The OrthoLite footbed and Surface CRTL outsole promises comfort and grip, and the Futurelight membrane promises waterproofing – and so far they are living up to expectation. And while they are made for hiking, I think they also look good – they will get plenty of casual wear from me.
Clearly I can’t review these trainers just yet, I’ve maybe walked 15 to 20 miles in them rather than the 100 or so I’d want to walk to recommend them to you. But they easily make it into my Currently Loving because, well, I love them! I am a very big fan of good trainers, and these definitely fit into that category.
07 Adventure Revolution by Belinda Kirk
(PR gifted item)
Warning… this book may make you want to ditch your normal life in favour of adventure even more than you might already want to.
Belinda is a fellow GetOutside Champion and quite an amazing professional adventurer. Her new book Adventure Revolution speaks about the power of adventure and what impact it can have on everyday life. She sent me a signed copy to read, which I’m very grateful for. It’s a very good read indeed.
Built on the premise that adventure is essential to our wellbeing, Belinda draws on lessons from years of experience leading expeditions in the wilderness, as well as the latest findings in neuroscience and behaviour. She speaks about how adventure helps with managing anxiety and overcoming fear, finding self-worth, building interpersonal connections, and being happier, healthier, and more playful. And she talks a lot of sense. This lady knows what she’s talking about!
If you feel like you need a little fuel for your motivation or a teeny bit of inspiration for your next adventure, then I absolutely recommend this book. Very happy to lend my copy to someone if you fancy it?
08 Wanderers: A History of Women Walking by Kerri Andrews
My Currently Loving has been quite book heavy this time around, it’s rather nice to be able to share some inspiring reads which have helped keep me entertained whilst also trying to listen to my body and rest (read Weekly Blog Episode 91 for my B12 story).
I received a copy of Wanderers: A History of Women Walking from a friend and colleague for my birthday, and it’s a lovely and very appropriate read. She didn’t know it, but it was on my to-read list, but I’d just not got to it yet. The book features ten women who have found walking essential to their sense of themselves – women just like me.
Taking a look at 300-years of walking history through women such as Elizabeth Carter, Dorothy Wordsworth, Nan Shepherd and Cheryl Strayed. The chapters explore these women’s lives and talk about how each was (is) happy to be outside and moving forward. I’ve not quite finished all the stories yet, but already feel inspired and encouraged that walking really is the medicine I believe it to be.
09 Black Diamond Storm 400 Head Lamp
(PR gifted item)
My head torch has been temperamental for the longest time. This came to a head when I was trying to set up my tent in the dark at Borrowdale YHA after a very long and hard day on the Coast to Coast hike. Thankfully a guy staying in one of the pods (which looked amazing by the way, I want one of those next time) lent me his to get my tent up, and I was able to sort a temporary fix on mine so it was still good for any more night-time walking for the rest of the trip. When I got home, I got rid… and this is my replacement.
It was a gift from my friends at Ordnance Survey, which was super nice of them. They’ve just started stocking lots of outdoor gear on top of the orange and mappy themed bits they already have, including walking poles, camp kitchen gear, and outdoor lighting.
This is the Storm 400 Headlamp by Black Diamond, a mid-range head torch (c£50) with a single adjustable elasticated head band, that has 400 lumens of LED light housed in a waterproof and dust proof case. It runs on four AAA batteries, which is my preference as it means you can carry spares and not worry about the charge running out (as might be the case for a rechargeable one).
In practice, it’s very bright, easy to use, and comfortable to wear. There are six lighting modes, and there are red, green and blue lights integrated to aid with night vision. I particularly like how you can go from any light setting to full brightness with a tap on the casing – nice touch which will make it super useful when both hiking or when mooching around camp.
I’ve not done any night hiking since I got it, I try not to do much in all honesty, but I’ve used it plenty doing outside chores in the dark evenings. It’s hanging up by the front door ready and waiting for when it’s called upon… and there will be no complaints from me not being able to see when I next have to put my tent up in the dark.
10 Lush Bubble Bars
This is not news to anyone who’s been reading Splodz Blogz for a while, but I absolutely love a soak in a hot bath. It is, by far, my favourite way to destress and relax after either a long hike or a hard day at work. And so, bath products tend to find their way into my Currently Loving post reasonably often – this time around I’ve got two Bubble Bars from Lush.
These are the Rainbow and the Blue Skies and Fluffy White Clouds Bubble Bars, which were a gift from my sister for my birthday. The former foams up with a patchouli (mint) and frankincense scent and turns the water a bright blue, and the latter is lemon based and turns the water a ridiculous pink colour.
Lush Bubble Bars are really great, and while not cheap, I think they’re well worth it to treat yourself to. You only need to crumble a little under hot running water to get a bath full of bubbles (I’ll get several baths out of each bar). I love them both, but I think that blue one is my new favourite, or maybe it’s second to Milky Bath, which is just so soothing.
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 packing cubes and head lamp were gifted by Ordnance Survey, and the book was a gift from the author, for which I am very grateful. I have therefore marked this post as gifted, but it is not sponsored – they did not ask to be included in my Currently Loving feature, I did that because I’m genuinely currently loving the items.
There are affiliate links on this page, the funds from which help me go on the mini adventures that make life interesting.