Thursday, 22 January 2009

Chocolate underwear?

My first mini review is the Chocolate Fish Taranaki 190 Fly front boxer short. Yes, I'm talking pants (perhaps nothing new there then!).

My normal boxers are usually cheap cotton jobies that are generally quite loose fitting. So it came as a bit of a surprise when I first put on the Taranaki boxers as they actually are designed to fit and do a splendid job of it too. It took me a while to get used to that very well supported feel but in the long run it is rather nice.

The boxers are made of superfine merino in a double panel construction designed for comfort and support. The waistband is about an inch wide made of thin elastic and initially I thought this might dig in a bit or become sweaty. Not the case at all. The only thing that happened was that the 'camouflage' (chocolate induced) covering my six-pack stomach caused the band to fold over on the front. This was not a problem and did not affect the comfort. The seams are serged for durability and double stitched for shape retention. Basically this means that they are very well screwed together.

To cut to the chase. They were very comfortable to wear, there was no tendency to ride up even during rigorous exercise (yes I do some occasionally) and they did not go baggy during extended wear. Now this may sound a bit horrible but I wore them for 3 days in a row to really test them out. As I said, they maintained their shape and as with all quality merino products they did not smell even after 3 days! Awesome. I didn't get too hot in them when I was moving around or in a warm room. In fact they kept everything at a pretty constant, comfortable, temperature.

My only quibbe about them is the fly opening. I'm not bragging here (much!) but I found the fly opening a bit tight and a little bit awkward in use especially when readjusting myself after going to the loo. This may be because they are new and need to loosen off a bit or it may be the design. It's not a major problem but a little annoying.

Overall I really like these boxers and will be getting more in the future to have as everyday wear.

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Monday, 19 January 2009

Timberland Earthkeeper boots

I recently bought myself a pair of canvas Earthkeeper boots from Timberland. I was lucky to get these in a sale at a greatly reduced price (almost £100 off RRP) because I had seen some of the blurb about them and thought they might be good for stalking.

The advertising will have us believe that these boots are for the rugged outdoors. They may well do that job for some but I'm pretty sure not for me!

Well I have now worn them a few times and here are my initial thoughts.

The first thing I noticed when they came out of the box is that they do not have a sewn-in tongue! For a waterproof, allegedly outdoor, boot this seemed to be a bit of an omission. What's the point of having a waterproof material in your boot when water will ingress as soon as you step into the nearest shallow puddle. Pointless in my opinion.

The sole is quite thin and flexible and has a very open tread pattern. They are fairly comfortable to wear and also can be quite quiet so have the potential for being good for stalking. My biggest problem with them is their lack of grip. When the soles get wet they are very slippery on a smooth surface - I nearly broke my neck this morning when I came back into the kitchen, having been outside, made a turn and lost all traction! Not impressed.

At least I now know that there is no way I will be using these boots for stalking unless it is a dry day and has been for some time. I know that these boots will slip when I step on wet branches or brash.

I am very glad that I did not pay full price for these boots as I would be totally gutted. They will be OK for general use and are quite comfy around town but I will not be using them very often for proper trips into the woods.


Friday, 16 January 2009

Chocolate Fish ...yum!

This morning I received a little parcel from Chocolate Fish stuffed full of yummy merino.

As you know I'm a huge fan of merino wool garments and with impeccable timing I have bought some more, just as the weather has got warmer. What can I say. It will all get a dammed good cold test in February when I'm in Poland.

Over the next few weeks I'll be putting the kit through its paces and will post up reviews when I have something constructive to say about them. Having said that I have had a good look at the construction and stitching and can say that I am very impressed. The stitching is extremely good and looks very secure and the material itself seems to be of the highest quality.

The service from Amanda at Chocolate Fish was superlative and very entertaining and the goods arrived when promised. They also arrived in reusable packaging which I think is brilliant. The best thing about their stuff though, is that it is all genuine New Zealand through and through. None of this "Made in China" lark.

I'll keep you posted about the joys of merino as the weeks progress. I'm wearing some of it now and in a purely subjective manner - it is lovely.


Thursday, 15 January 2009

Big cats in Forest of Dean

The Forestry Commission has revealed recently that there have been two reliable and confirmed sightings of large cats in the Forest of Dean. The information relates to sightings back in 2002 and 2005 and has only been revealed under the Freedom of Information Act.

Rangers using thermal imaging equipment saw large cats during deer census work and Deputy surveyor Rob Guest has said that they are reliable sightings. But Mr Guest said there was no sign of large cats during the most recent deer census in March 2008.

Despite lack of conclusive photographic evidence of big cats in the county, Gloucestershire police believe there are pairs living in the Forest of Dean and around the Cirencester area. The force has a wildlife and environmental crime officer, Mark Robson, who has been documenting sightings since 2002. He said the Forestry Commission sightings were credible.

I find this stuff really interesting and would love to see one for myself - then there would be a chance to track it! I live in hope of one day seeing the Exmoor Beast.

Let me know if any of you have seen large cats here in the UK or in places, you think they shouldn't be, elsewhere in the world.