Robinson SquashD

Robinson's Squash is a big UK brand of soft drinks, which you dilute with water. They are usually sold in bottles containing a litre of concentrate.This is a super concentrated version - the bottle fits into the palm of your hand. You need much less than a teaspoonful to add to a large glass of water. There is no added sugar, only what is already part of the fruit.

I carry one of these with me in the car, or on my bike. It's easy to find water and you can make a refreshing drink without lugging a big bottle of juice with you.

Amazon link.

PlanetX Merino Beanie

PlanetX Merino Beanie. Price about £8 depending on style. Keeps your head and ears nice and warm. Fairly water resistant, but not waterproof. As it's made of Merino you can wear it for months and it will remain odour free. Wash at 30C. Mine survives he washing machine without shrinking, even though it's Merino

Buff Neck Warmers

These are a "Premium" product and priced accordingly. However, if you search for "neck warmer", you can find many cheaper clones.

The standard Buff is a simple tube made from some sort of stretchable fabric. If you watch their video, you can see how it can be folded to adapt to many different situations. In addition to keeping my neck warm, in summer I fold it into a bandana to operate as a sun hat/sweat band.

There are many different patterns/styles. I think we have about six of them in our family.

Note the standard Buff is a simple tube, not the balaclava shown in the link.

Buffalo Special Six

Winter Draws on ("Oh err Missus"), as Frankie Howard would have said. The first of a few posts about clothing suitable for the outdoors in winter.

Disclaimer my Buffalo gear was mostly given to me in the 1980's by Hamish who owned Buffalo.

Yesterday I spent most of the day in the fields in a combination of wind, sleet and freezing rain. I was really cold and I am someone who doesn't usually notice the cold. I should have been wearing my Special Six.

Buffalo gear has a pertex outer and a pile inner. It is specifically designed for use in cold wet conditions. It's not waterproof in the conventional meaning.However, your body heat keeps the inner pile layer dry and the pertex sheds rain/snow.

I have used it a lot in Scottish winters, where you go from freezing rain into driving snow as you gain altitude. I have never been cold provided I kept moving. I used it at home a few Christmases ago when it was -18C outside. Everyone else had about 10 layers on and was shivering. I had Buffalo salopettes and my special 6 shirt and was warm all day.

The gloves are toasty warm, even when wet.

The only downside to Buffalo gear is that it is much too hot in tmeperatures above freezing.

Kong Dog Toy

A very simple way of keeping your dog occupied for at least an hour! The Kong is hollow, with a hole at each end. You fill it with a mixture of dog food and biscuits and put it in the freezer. When it's completely frozen just give it to your dog. The idea is the dog can only get at the food inside the Kong with its tongue, so it lasts a long time.

Our dog normally takes about an hour to completely empty it. The material the Kong is made from appears to be totally indestructible. Our dog is capable of chewing his way through most materials, but the Kong is undamaged after more than a year.

Amazon link

Bicycle Repair Kit

I used to carry my bike repair kit in one of those wedge bags that fit under your saddle. However, these get wet and muddy in winter and the contents become rusty. Also as an n+1 person (number of bikes required is number you have plus one), I had to try and remember to shift the wedge bag to whatever bike I was riding. The bags are a bit of a faff to undo and re-connect and sometimes I would forget.

So, now I put my complete repair kit inside an old drinks bottle. This contains, spare inner tube, CO2 inflator and bottle of CO2, tyre levers, chain breaker, multi tool, chain quick link. Click on the photo to see what goes in the bottle.

All my bikes have two bottle holders and I hardly ever need to carry two bottles with drinks in them. Switching the tool kit between bikes only takes a moment. I pack the bottle with some paper towel, which stops things rattling and is useful to clean your hand with.

Beetle Boot Jack

Doh! Amazon links not displaying the correct picture!

It's a cast iron beetle for removing wellies. The idea is you wedge the heel of one boot between the beetles "horns" and stand on its back with the other foot. You can then pull your foot out of the boot easily.

This gets used in our house several times a day. The one we have used to belong to my father and is at least 50 years old, so we have had our money's worth from it.

Solar Panel Battery Chargers

I am wanting to charge a 12v Leisure battery, which is powering my Raspberry pi weather station. Depending on which Pi I use, it draws a maximum of 4 Watts.

I thought the motorhome and caravan owners on here might have some recommendations. We already have a unit that is supposed to keep a battery connected to an electric fencer topped up. It's is almost useless, but I suspect is down to the power draw from the the fencer.

PiHole

This is a very geeky item. It's basically an ad-blocker. However, it works at the periphery of your network, so you don't need to install anything on your client machines. As you might guess it will run on a RaspberryPi, but it will also run on just about any architecture.

It works by using a blacklist of advertising sites (automatically updated) and replacing adverts on the web page by a single pixel. It will work with any mobile device connected to your WiFi without any configuration on the mobile device.

I have installed it on a Linode VPS, together with OpenVPN. This enables me to use PiHole when I am using 4g. Not only are ads removed, but because this happens at the server end pages render faster on your device and your data usage is reduced. Also, as it's a VPN you can use any old dodgy wifi and know that you are secure.

It will work on a PiZero, which costs about a fiver. The instructions on the web site are pretty good, so installation isn't particularly challenging.

There is a nifty web interface which gives stats of the number of ads that have been blocked and allows you to whitelist sites if you really want to see their ads. https://github.com/pi-hole/pi-hole