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Outdoorsy Christmas Gifts Guide 2017

Yes it’s that time of year again – when you start finding yourself singing tunes from the Muppets Christmas Carol, wanting to live in a nest of blankets, and eating your own weight in mince pies. It might also be the time where you spend days staring blankly at your friends or family wondering what to get them, but fear not! Here’s my guide to the best Christmas gifts for outdoor lovers – perfect for climbers, hikers, adventurers and anyone just a little bit wild.

Close up of wild garlic flower

Foraging for Wild Garlic

It’s spring time, and you currently can’t walk more than about half a mile in the countryside without coming across wild garlic. Here’s one of my favourite recipes that makes great use of the pungent plant.

Emily in Wistman's Wood, Dartmoor

Exploring the wilds of Dartmoor

If you’re in search of tiny picturesque villages, miles of rambling over open heathland and more local folklore than you can shake a stick at, then Dartmoor is the place to go. I spent a week swimming in rivers, exploring the wild moors, and generally pretending I was in a gothic horror mystery novel. Spoiler alert: at no point was I eaten by a giant hound.

Porthgwarra Cove

A Poldark Tour of Cornwall

As anyone who knows me could tell you, I love a bit of Poldark. When I was little most of my family holidays were spent in Cornwall, so seeing the beautiful coastline, beaches and moorland on screen in the recent BBC series gave me a real craving to go back. (Ok I admit it, Aidan Turner’s torso helped too). So south I went to the land of fudge and pasties, where I spent most of my time wandering round the county in search of locations from the series.

Blackthorn blossom in spring

May Day folklore

So spring is apparently here, although in the past week I’ve been rained on, snowed on, and so cold that I’ve considered going back to my winter jacket. With all this inclement weather I decided to spend the day digging around in my old folklore books – because although reading about May Day celebrations isn’t quite as good as actually heading outside to enjoy the season, it is marginally less likely to give me pneumonia.

Mulled cider winter warmer

According to most people I know, January is the worst month of the year. The Christmas holidays are long gone, it’s dark, it’s cold and summer still seems like a long way off. Fortunately my birthday at the end of January usually cheers me up, but even if you don’t have presents to look forward to there’s still a way to cure the winter blues (clue: it involves booze).

Blackberries in autumn

Foraged Blackberry Cake

Autumn has well and truly arrived, and the hedgerows around here are dripping with blackberries. If you’re anything like me you’ve probably collected enough to sink a small ship, but fortunately I’ve found an easy (and tasty) way to use them up.

Horseback archery

Horseback Archery

It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you want me to wake up pre-8am, the best tactic is to bribe me with ponies. If you then add another quirky sport into the mix I might even be enthusiastic about it – which explains why I was up at the ungodly hour of 5am a few weeks ago so that my lovely co-adventurer Siân and I could drive over to Hertfordshire for a day of Horseback Archery. (Yes it is a thing. Yes it is awesome.)

Plaid Shirt: Basting and Sewing

On to the fun part – actual sewing!

Obviously when starting to assemble your garment you need to pin or baste your fabric pieces together first. I can be pretty lazy when it comes to basting, so for the ‘simpler’ seams (i.e. long straight edges) I tended to just pin the pieces together. To make sure I’m getting everything lined up, I find an ‘intersection’ or corner in the plaid and stick a pin straight down through the fabric.

I then lift…

Plaid Shirt: Laying out and Cutting

Hopefully you’ve got your fabric and pattern all sorted out now, so it’s on to the fun part: cutting out your pattern pieces! This stage is worth really taking your time over, as it will be the foundation for your garment’s success (personally I see it as a good excuse to marathon episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer while I work).

My first step was to take a good look at my fabric. I could see pretty easily that the…