Review: WakaWaka Power+ and Light

I recently went on holiday for a week to the New Forest – not everso far, I’ll admit, but for me, that counts as an overseas trip. We stayed at Sandy Balls holiday park (yes really) on the western edge of the National Park, right by the Avon river valley.

Knowing I was going to be staying in a holiday park, and likely to be doing some walking in a more rural place than I normally hang out, I took with me a couple of new bits of kit that I’ve recently acquired. The WakaWaka charger and light are solar-powered devices, one is a combo of phone charger and LED torch, and the other is just a torch. I left behind my normal 10000mAh charging brick and took these two relatively light gadgets instead. Continue reading Review: WakaWaka Power+ and Light

Review: Hi-Tec Trek Plus Activity Tracker

These days I’m out and about a bit, so I got myself a fitness tracker from Hi Tec to see how that worked. I had a rival tracker last year for a while (Misfit Shine), but eventually gave up with it, as it wouldn’t communicate with my phone in any meaningful way. So with a new year, I decided to make a new start – and strapped on the Hi-Tec Trek Plus Activity Tracker.

The wearables market is a crowded one, with a whole load of different companies vying for the attention – and the money – of those comfortable, techie middle-class folk who like to imagine exercise is downloadable. Now I’m not a great one for exercise for its own sake – but I do sometimes get to do some exercise in the course of my work. And I don’t just mean pushing that heavy, heavy mouse around. I was interested to see how the Activity Tracker dealt with that.

It’s now been two months, so it’s time for me to report back.

Continue reading Review: Hi-Tec Trek Plus Activity Tracker

The Ranger re-booted

I’m hoping to spend a lot more time out patrolling the countryside this year, and so I have been on the lookout for a new pair of boots. And given the wet winter we have had, I’ve been looking quite hard at the Hi-Tec waterproof range. So these last few weeks I’ve been testing out a nice new pair of Hi-Tec Altitude Pro walking boots. Are they just stylish weekend hiker-clogs; or reliable workhorses? My old plates have been finding out. Continue reading The Ranger re-booted

Book review: A Year in the Woods, Colin Elford

A friend bought me ‘A Year in the Woods: The Diary of a Forest Ranger‘, by Colin Elford. I picked up the book with a certain apprehension – the second-hand bookshops’ natural history shelves are stuffed with glossy tomes under that kind of title; giving accounts either uncomfortably twee or tediously focussed on shooting, fishing, horses or birds. The cover gave me some hope, being a gentle New Naturalist-style linocut rather than a breathless photo of some generic deer in the leaves.

A Year in the Woods, Colin Elford

Once I began to read, my concerns evaporated within a few paragraphs. For this is a direct book. Colin Elford writes succinctly, writing as much as he needs to and no more. The reader can almost feel and smell the forest and its hidden life as Elford’s measured voice describes it with the kind of understated eloquence that one might be more accustomed to hearing from David Attenborough. Continue reading Book review: A Year in the Woods, Colin Elford

Book review: Urban Mammals – a concise guide

In 2010, the People’s Trust for Endangered Species produced Britain’s Mammals – a concise guide, which I said was “a rich delight to read”. So when I heard that another book in the same series was on its way, I was naturally interested. That book is Urban Mammals – a concise guide. Unlike its predecessor, the cover credits the author, former biochemist and erstwhile Edinburgh Fringe performer David Wembridge, who works as Surveys Coordinator for PTES.

Urban Mammals, a concise guide (PTES)

Urban Mammals is an interesting and well-presented tour through a selection of mammals that might be found in Britain’s urban environments. In the introduction, it gives the striking example of Jennifer Owen of Leicester, who in 30 years managed to identify over 2,500 species of plants and animals in her own suburban garden, including four that were new to science. This leads on to an interesting discourse on the extent and value of urban habitats, and the inevitable difficulty in defining them. Then it is onto the guide, which forms the main body of the book. In this, a selection of mammal species are given a page or more of description. Interspersed amongst these guide pages are various boxes and case studies which add background – for example, two pages on bats in buildings by another author. These are valuable but sporadic, and do make it difficult to know whether the book is best used as a guide that one should browse, or a reference book to read through systematically and enjoy. Continue reading Book review: Urban Mammals – a concise guide