Outwell Montana 6P, My Outdoor Castle

I could live in there permanently. Sell the house, move in, enjoy fresh air all year round (ok, including a backup for very cold winter nights). Our Outwell Montana 6P is a fantastic tent for a long term holiday, or something even longer than that.

Outwell Montana 6P and some camping equipmentFive years ago some friends showed off their newly purchased tent. It was huge, looked like a UFO and had the entire family in a camping craze. We were still unsure whether we should go for a camper or a tent, so we checked the website of that UFO-tent producer. Outwell, a Danish company.

After hours of comparing their various family tents we finally went for the Montana 6P. A choice we have not regretted at all, and talk about a camper has since then not happened in our family.

Outwell Montana 6P – that’s what it’s like

The Montana 6P sleeps six (in theory), we have used it for max. four so far. It is a huge tent for the four of us, and that was our intention when buying it: to have some space and a playground for the kids just in case it is pouring down outside.

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Your Chance: Sailing On A Pogo 2

Have you ever dreamt of a pretty cool ride on an even cooler sailing boat? This is your chance: get onto a Classe Mini sailing yacht (Pogo 2) and race on the Atlantic. Lina Rixgens will take you out for a day you won’t forget.

approaching La Rochelle (c Lina Rixgens)

approaching La Rochelle (c Lina Rixgens)

No matter whether you are a novice or an experienced sailor, this is a great chance for something unusual. Spend a day on Classe Mini “732 mini doc” and see what it is like to sail on the Atlantic in a (more than safe) nutshell like this.

Starting point of your tour will be mini doc’s current home base, La Rochelle. Depending on tide, general weather forecast and wind Lina will plan (with you) the day’s approximate route. After some additional thorough preparation for the boat and yourself you will head off – and more than very likely have a grand time. Continue reading

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Weekend Break On Als, Denmark

beach near SkovmoseNo surprise here: I love the Northern European landscape. It is not as lush, colourful, maybe impressive as the Alps or the Mediterranean. Still, the entire North in all its scarcity is great for being outside, and the island of Als (Denmark) is no exception.

Quite a while ago I have briefly described one of my beloved quiet spots, some friends’ summer cottage in Denmark. It is located in Skovmose, a beautifully quiet location on Als. A couple of weeks ago the four of us went there for a long weekend. This brief break was so fantastic that only two days later I took the chance to go back with the girls and spend another couple of days in peace and quiet. Well, whatever you might want to call “peace and quiet” with two young girls.

Hiking on Als

hiking place/hut for staying overnightThe entire island of Als offers lots of possibilities for one-day or longer walking trips. The cool stuff about hiking in Denmark is that you find those very basic huts (or whatever they might be called) along more or less every officially marked hiking trail. No need to put up a tent, simply throw your sleeping bag in there and have a rest. Another great thing both for hiking and sailing: barbecues can also be found almost everywhere, they can be used for free and are a perfect place for getting to talk to other folks. Continue reading

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Outwell Montana 6 Front Extension For Sale

It is the best add-on we have bought for our Outwell Montana 6P, and now it is up for sale after just three weeks of usage. Why? Because I bought the wrong one! This front extension is intended to be used with a Montana 6, not a Montana 6P.

Outwell Montana 6 front extensionThis spring we decided to extend our voluminous and large tent Outwell Montana 6P by a so-called front extension. This front extension is something I love having around wherever I “live”. You can stay dry during rain and still be outside. Fantastic.

Montana 6 Front Extension – our holiday saviour

In fact, this front extension has saved our summer holidays this year. During our three weeks’ holiday in The Netherlands we have had quite a few rainy days, more than all of the previous five years combined. The Montana 6 front extension has been a perfect gateway and dry path into the tent. It was also more than ideal for having meals outside despite the rain (or a glass of wine in the evening). Continue reading

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Polo Shirt For Lina’s Mini Transat Campaign

What on earth is that, just another polo shirt? No, it’s not. It’s a statement. A statement for saying “support this young lady on her quest to complete the Mini Transat 2017”. Would you like to make that statement as well?

polo shirt Lina Rixgens Mini Transat Campaign - frontInitially I thought this is an idea born to fail. Who would want to walk around in a polo shirt crammed with logos? After a brief design session with a local printer I changed my mind – and here is the result. A polo shirt where the original colour of navy blue can still be seen, logos are not too big and at the same time still fully present. Plus, two URLs on the back (well, they had to go somewhere and “inside” was not really an option).

Is this a great polo shirt for Lina’s Mini Transat campaign?

What do you think, does it look like a winner polo shirt? Or the exact opposite? I really like it. And that is also the reason why we have decided to offer it to anybody interested in getting one (‘we’ meaning Lina and me; read more about Lina’s Mini Transat campaign). The catch is that we won’t be able to sell it for small money and ship it to anywhere on this planet. So if you would like to support Lina’s Mini Transat campaign plus get the polo shirt, then there are (a minimum of) two ways to do that: Continue reading

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Wales vs Belgium And A Long Weekend Tour

Wales vs Belgium: show just before gameThe Euro 2016 (football) in France is history, and I had been lucky enough to watch one of the best games of that tournament live: Wales vs Belgium in Lille. Without knowing who might play on that quarter final we bought the tickets beginning of the year. A good idea it was indeed, same as to not travel for the game only but for a long weekend.

wet and rainy but bbq up and running

wet and rainy but bbq up and running

Chap no. 1 picked me up on Thursday afternoon, and after a “let’s get going” espresso we set off for the long weekend. On our way to Ghent we stopped in Osnabrueck to pick up chap no. 3 (having arrived by train from Berlin). The remaining drive passed rather quickly, the main concern for the day being: Will the camping site still be opened when we arrive or will we need to camp outside? The real reason behind that question was not concerning toilets or shower, but rather electricity for keeping the beers refreshingly cool. It’s all a question of priorities.

Just 15 minutes after a wonderfully charming and relaxed welcome by the receptionist at Ghent Blaarmeersen Camping we had our barbecue up and running – late check-in, late dinner.

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Eatable Wild Plants For A Yummy Meal

Starved… that’s one way to phrase what would have happened to me if I had relied on my skills of getting food directly from mother nature (wild berries, wild plants). It was a try, it was yummy, and it certainly was not enough to drive my hunger away.

looks nice, tastes nice - part of my backgarden

looks nice, tastes nice – part of my backgarden

The initial inspiration came from a book called “Essbare Wildbeeren und Wildpflanzen” (eatable wild berries and wild plants), all in German and by Detlev Henschel. I bought this one after having read a rather remarkable book by the same chap, He paddled long distances with his kayak, the book I read was a tour on the Baltic Sea, with him only eating what he found wherever his day ended.

I do know a few wild plants and berries, however, apart from my own, parents’ or friends’ garden (and, of course, the local market) I have not really plundered nature’s huge resources on eatable wild plants. This little book was going to the basis for my personal cuisine-adventure – that was the plan, and it kind of worked well. Continue reading

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Waste At The Bottom Of The Arctic Ocean

One brief paragraph of a recent study by the AWI has left me absolutely speechless: “In comparison, even the lowest values from the Arctic seafloor are ten times higher (than the waste concentration in the so-called garbage patches)”. They must be joking, I thought. No, they’re not!

plastic bag bottom of arctic ocean 2500 metres depth (cMBergmann)

plastic bag bottom of arctic ocean 2500 metres depth (cMBergmann)

First of all, how cool is that: You are on a ship, and every 30 seconds you get a new picture from the ocean ground beneath you. The OFOS (Ocean Floor Observation System) is the technology behind this, drifting a metre and a half above the ocean floor and delivering still and moving pictures.

In the past, the scientists from AWI have observed the ocean bottom for sponges, sea cucumbers, fish or any other living creature down below. In recent years, however, their attention has also been grabbed by litter on the ocean seafloor. Once they started having a look also at the waste in oceans, they produced some worrying numbers: between 2002 and 2011 the waste on the ocean floor in one square kilometre more than doubled (2.500 metres beneath sea surface). Continue reading

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Still Needed By Lina For Her Mini Transat Campaign

Hardly ever do I ask you to have a closer look and share articles with your friends. This post here is different, and maybe you know someone who knows someone who knows someone… Lina Rixgens is still looking for support in various areas of her Mini Transat campaign.

Lina has come a long way since her very first thoughts and ideas about participating in the Mini Transat (here is a small part of her story so far). She has, however, still quite a few tasks ahead of her. With a boat now available things have moved in the right direction. I am sure you are well aware that simply having a boat does help – but it is not everything. Lina has produced a list of things “still needed”, and if you (or a friend of a friend…) can help her and tick off one of those below it would bring her another big step closer to sailing and finishing the Mini Transat.

Apart from the items listed below, and my apologies for mentioning it again, every little helps – even the smallest donations. If you would like to support Lina, please try this link here and mention “Lina’s Mini Transat” in the subject line.

Please spread the word, share with your friends and make a young lady very happy… thank you! Continue reading

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Strawberries – Picking, Jam And Tummy Ache

some of the freshly picked strawberriesFreshly picked strawberries – so sweet, tasty, yummy. The same is true when enjoying them with whipped cream or chocolate, in ice cream or smoothies… the list could go on. To show the kids where their favourite strawberries are coming from I took them out for an afternoon of strawberry picking – plus some “work” afterwards.

Looking back at it, the “strawberry picking event” turned out to be a ninety minute happening (with not too much happening at all). The agitation and excitement of it all had been much greater in the couple of days before, as is so often the case. When it came down to actually doing it, it was kind of boring. So I’ve been told afterwards by those three young ladies having joined me.

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Lina’s First Classe Mini Solo Regatta

Sailing single-handed is one thing, racing solo on the Atlantic on a small boat you hardly know is something quite different. Despite having had a couple of days training only Lina’s handled the first two regattas pretty well.

Lina Rixgens first single handed regatta on Pogo2 mini doc

(c) Lina Rixgens

To say Lina Rixgens is new to solo regattas would not really be true. She is a World Championship-experienced sailor in class Europe, but sailing on a Classe Mini Ocean racing yacht is a different story. Just after Easter she has started sailing on mini doc, a Pogo 2 she will be training and racing on for the next two years up until the Mini Transat 2017.

Lina had a couple of days to find her way around her boat when the first regatta came up: the 150nm “Bretagne Sud Mini Lorient” (BSM) a two-handed race starting in Lorient. 76 Minis at the starting line, winds up to 40kn and a very tight time limit – well, only about a third of all series boats managed to cross the finish line in time (mostly brand new ones, and not mini doc). Lina’s partner on this storm training session was Katrina Ham, an Australien Mini-sailor with thousands of miles Classe Mini experience (including Mini Transat).

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Some More Facts About Marine Debris

When looking at the career pages of the AWI (Alfred-Wegener-Institut, based in Bremerhaven, Germany), the requirements for getting a job with them seem to be quite challenging: PhDs, Science Officer, Master Students, and a doc for their Antarctic station… There is a good reason for that: They are experts and extremely good at what they are doing. One of the items they keep looking at is marine debris and its origin, distribution and impact.

The text below answers a couple of fundamental questions on marine debris. This is rather similar to a previous post here on Active Outside (basic Q&A on waste in oceans), yet it does give more details and background information on various topics. All of the below (plus lots more) can also be found on the website of AWI. Some of their answers I have shortened a bit, and the reason for including it here as full text instead of including a link is also quite simple: I’d like to keep the content, even if AWI decides to (re)move their page.

Their researchers and scientists are doing a more than fabulous job, and their realistic view on this matter is something I value highly (e.g. their comment on estimated numbers of marine debris floating on the surface of the oceans).

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Hansajolle – Back To The Roots

yes, that's me at the tiller

yes, that’s me at the tiller

Having sailed on quite a few different types of dinghies, a planned tour with a Hansajolle on the river Elbe had me wondering whether this really was a good idea. The Elbe can be quite nasty, especially when tide runs against wind. The Hansajolle, however, had been planned and constructed with those challenging conditions in mind.

With “back to the roots” I don’t really want to imply that sailing on very old or ancient type of boats is my cup of tea. The reference is more in the direction of keeping it simple, reliable and easy to handle. This is something that always comes to my mind when sailing with small boats – with the exception of Classe Mini racers, of course.

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Beaches, Boats And Horses On Fehmarn

Keeping the kids busy and trying to avoid “death by boredom” (their wording) during school holidays can occasionally turn into a challenge. One week of this year’s Easter school holidays turned out to be as much fun for the parents as it was for the kids.

deserted beach on FehmarnOk, my kids are not really that bad when at home. They can go without parents for hours, only needing help when it comes to food and drink. This is usually fine for a couple of days, but two weeks can get very long in the end. So we spent one week of that Easter break near the Baltic Sea, an hour’s drive from home. It was on Fehmarn, one of my favourite islands round here.

It was the second week in April, spring having not really arrived yet, sunshine and rain playing hide and seek on an hourly basis, a nasty cold wind blowing – not really a combination to have the kids roam around outdoors. There was, however, not a single day with the kids asking for more action. The reason: horses!

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Chance Encounter: Two People, One Goal

A very long time ago (January last year, actually, but it feels a lot longer) I spent quite a few hours browsing the web to find some information on the costs of a Mini Transat campaign. I managed to pull some data together and came up with a pretty neat cost estimate – however, that is a different story. While doing my research I stumbled upon a couple of Classe Mini sailors’ websites, one of them being Lina Rixgens. What a goal she has set herself, and what a story it has been so far!

Lina Rixgens enjoying the first day of sailing with Classe Mini 732The very first information I found was a flyer for Lina’s Mini Transat campaign. Her project idea sounded pretty cool, and I was indeed a very happy person after she had rather quickly replied to an email and answered a couple of questions. Soon after I published a first article about Lina and her plans for a Mini Transat campaign. But – who is she, what’s her background? In brief:

  • young medical student, German, living in Belgium
  • has been sailing for more than half of her life, including Optimist, Europe, crossing the Atlantic with “High Seas High School” and racing around the Baltic Sea with ‘Haspa Hamburg’, a Judel/Vrolijk designed long distance cruiser-racer
  • regatta-proven, including World Championships in class Europe
  • highly organized, with a clear view on her goals and aiming to reach them asap (that is my personal view, though it may sound like taken from a consultant’s CV).

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