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Following a long week at work, every Friday should finish with a trip to the forest!

Get right in the middle of nature
Get right in the middle of nature

On approach to Keldy forest cabins, the 2.5 mile single track road meanders elegantly to unveil one piece of the picture perfect countryside at a time. Around the final corner sits six stunning log cabins to the right, and a magical carpet of wild flowers to the left.

After a swift check in, we make our way to cabin six, a Silver Birch, backing on to the forest and overlooking a naturally wild meadow. It doesn’t take long before we relax to the sounds of the crickets, birds and good conversation.

Within easy reach from our cabin are many beautiful walking and cycling routes – and if you’re as active as my other half, you can feel free to run them. You’ll be treated to the site of much wildlife, from delicate birds to the mighty deer.

Adding to the eco credentials of the site is the local organic produce on sale in the onsite shop, and the commitment to recycling is high on the agenda and has contributed to the site winning a ‘gold’ award for green tourism.

Keldy is one of the most recent Forest Holiday developments and sits on the edge of the Yorkshire Moores with over 50 cabins on site. If a family break is what you’re after, children are well catered for with a selection of nature trails, shelter building expeditions and ‘ranger’ led activities (which attract an additional charge.)

Caution is needed for hidden ‘extras’ at Keldy – be sure to pack your own towels as they come at an astonishing £4.50 hire charge each, bike hire comes in at £17 per adult per day and you’ll need your own washing up liquid! If you book a cabin with a hot tub then be aware that they are on constantly during your stay – probably not the best eco credentials we’ve seen from a ‘gold’ award winner!

Keldy is a great place to relax and get away from the stress of the city – getting close to nature should be indulged in more often.

To book your stay visit forestholidays.co.uk where you can view a whole range of accomodations across the UK.

I blame Diane and her mid-life crisis.  Clinging to the vestiges of a past life, attempting to reincarnate youth.  Oh, if it were as simple as taking an elixir to recreate that past era.

camping

Camping is in the blood.  As a child, I went camping to Scotland.  Dad dug trenches around the ridge tent, adjusted guy ropes day and night to avoid flooding, tricks learned as a boy scout in the 1930’s.  DDT was used to kill the bugs.  Cooking was on a one- ring burner.  Milk came in cartons from a machine on the main street of Fort William.  The equipment we needed fitted neatly into a Ford Prefect.  Every year the same ritual: set off at 5 a.m. to avoid the non-existent traffic, breakfast at Lauder consisting of traditional Scottish mutton pies and onwards to Pitlochery, singing, ‘Over the Sea to Skye’.  This was in the days before the Forth Road Bridge, reliant on the ferry from Queensferry.

When my children were young we decided to take them camping – experience the good life.  We paid a mere £100 for a second-hand frame tent and all of the equipment.  Yes, a frame tent!  We could only dream of one of these luxury items when I was a child.  Yet again, setting off at 5 in the morning, breakfast at Lauder  (although husband refused the mutton pies), disappointment at having to buy milk in a shop, equipment fitting neatly into a Renault 11.  But this time, as a parent, immense satisfaction at introducing the offspring to the wonders of nature, instilling in them a passion for the outdoors.

Oh Diane!  What have you started.  One simple statement,

“Guess what, we’ve bought –  a tent and we’re going to start camping.”

          “Aaarh!”

A few months earlier it was a Harley Davison.  This is Diane who only ever travels 5 star.  This is the Diane who has weekly facials and manicures.  How could Diane possibly be going camping?  Diane does not camp!  We camp… well, used to camp.  Let’s face it.  Lots of people used to camp.  Say what you like about the outdoors and getting back to nature, when you can afford to give up camping, you give up camping.  I like my 5 star luxury hotels, with waiter service, en-suite complete with toiletries, maid service, mints on the pillow and complimentary champagne and fruit.

Imagine then the panic!  Camping!  Diane had invited us to a camping exhibition.  There should have been a warning sign – no males over 50!!  I saw the gleam in his eye, the excitement as he prowled from tent to tent.  And there it was… it lured us in – ‘The Bear Lake 4’.  The Rolls Royce of tents.  No simple, lightweight, cheap, ‘don’t mind if you’re never used ‘ tent.  This tent begins at £500.  It has breathable fabric with holes that close when it rains!  It has windows with curtains and tie backs and mosquito nets, its own doormat and matching windbreak.  Irresistable to any man over 50. I could sense his return to youth, the excitement, the outdoors, back to nature, shed the trappings of modern day life.  The money was handed over so quickly.  The return to camping had begun.  But, we have no equipment!

Oh, how times have moved on.  We are now the proud owners of an electric hook-up, an electrically inflated air-bed (double height), high tech cooking facilities, a camp kitchen, matching crockery complete with tray stored on shelving unit, an electric cool-box, electric kettle – no more whistle – I miss the whistling kettle.  All of this for a mere £500.

And now, the latest addition – a new car to put it in!  Not any car but a carefully structured piece of engineering that was longing for owners to take it camping.  This is the Rav4.  The cheap holidays that we can have as we move into retirement….has now cost us a further £24,000!  Not quite the £100 of days gone by.  At these costs we will have to use it!

Scotland, mutton pies at Lauder are beckoning… can’t wait.

Hope there’s a hotel nearby in case it rains.  I’m sure I can fit the hair straighteners in….television……en suite bathroom……..

Christmas has been and gone. A time of celebration and goodwill, often accompanied by increases in eating, drinking and spending. If all has gone well this combination will have resulted in a lot of merriment, but unfortunately it will can also result in an estimated 3 million tonnes of waste.

Topical heat
Topical heat

It is estimated that up to 1 billion Christmas cards could end up in the bins across the UK, and combined with the all the wrapping paper, extra drink bottles, cans and containers, it is no wonder that overflowing dustbins and extra bags of rubbish are a common sight after in the New Year.

However it would appear that it is not just in our homes that waste needs to be minimised.

Recent news reports have shown that high street stores have been accused of an astonishing waste of energy and money after an investigation found that some of them are as hot as tropical holiday destinations.

A survey of the major chains on Oxford Street found the Topshop branch had a temperature of 80.9F or 27.2C.   That is more than ten degrees warmer than the ideal ambient shopping temperature of 64.4F or 18C, as recommended by the Chartered Institute for Building Services Engineers.  Other stores found with temperatures above 77F (25C) included Bodyshop, Debenhams, Esprit, HMV, Clinton Cards, Boots and Monsoon.

Why do the shops maintain such high temperatures in the winter?

According to Professor Ken Parsons, head of Loughborough University’s Human Thermal Environments Laboratory, one of the reasons stores choose to maintain the hot temperatures is because they may see it as a way of enticing potential customers in from the cold.

He also added: “It may be because the workers wish to wear light fashionable clothing or provide what is called ‘thermal pleasure’ to customers.  Thermal pleasure is a transient phenomenon felt when a person moves into a cold environment when too hot or into a warm environment when too cold. In the winter the first impression for the shopper who may be generally cold or have cold skin on the hands and face for example, will be the pleasure of moving to a warm and hence welcoming environment.”

But he warned: “After twenty minutes or so, this affect will wear off and unless clothing is reduced the customer may well become unpleasantly hot and even sticky.”

However it is not just the issue of an unpleasant shopping experience that needs to be considered.  With many stores cranking up the heating and yet leaving their doors wide open, a thought needs to be given to the millions of pounds being wasted, and also the damaging effects on the environment.

Jonathan Elliott, the managing director of Make it Cheaper, commented: “Retailers wanting to outdo each other in creating the most enticing Christmas shopping experiences are wasting huge amounts of energy.   Even in hard times, this is the stage of the year when retailers literally throw caution to the wind, no matter how Arctic it is, opening their doors – wide open in most cases – and crank up the heating.  Throw extra lights into the equation and extended opening hours, and you have exceptionally heavy business electricity consumption for the entire Christmas season.”

However, Tom Ironside, the British Retail Consortium’s business environment director, said: “Retailers want to minimise energy waste as it leads to environmental and financial costs. Individual shops make store temperature judgments based on a range of factors, including customer and staff comfort as well as product requirements.”

Yet, can such tropical temperature levels in stores really be justified?

Personally I would have to say no, however, this year I think I shall take a break from the traditional high street shopping experience and high temperatures, and perhaps try the online virtual oxford street shopping experience provided by Near.

Using the latest 3D video-game technology Near enables you to walk the streets, browse and buy from retailers, watch concerts and films and share information with your friends, all in a beautifully realised environment, and all from the comfort of your own home.

Not only will this mode of shopping save you time and travel costs, but you will also not have to endure the soaring store temperatures and hustle and bustle of the mass of New Year bargain shoppers!   Check it out here.