Friday, 14 July 2017

Outdoor Revolution Ozone 6.0XTR Air Tent - Experience-based review


Following the disastrous experience with another brand of air tent, read the review here, you would have thought that it would have put me off them for life! But, following a visit to the camping centre, some excellent customer service, a significant amount of time having tours and reviews of other air tents, we chose the Outdoor Revolution Ozone 6.0XTR. 

The guy in the camping centre (his name was Paul) listened to the needs that any new tent had to meet:
  • Accessible needs for someone with mobility disabilities / issues
  • Space, to prevent this person falling into things and causing themselves harm
  • Two bedrooms, one for the carer and one for the disabled person
  • One person had to be able to put the thing up by themselves
  • And a little future-proofing extra, namely additional ease of access, without a large 'step' to gain entry, just in case it's needed in the future
About the tent
A family tent that can sleep six, with a large living area. Five oxygen air tubes and a 'Vario' front door (which means you can move its position in the tent itself. Both wheelchair and pushchair friendly. Intelligent Frame (IF) Release Valve, which prevents the user from over inflating the poles. The list goes on, go check it out here on the Outdoor Revolution website

Having said all that, this tent meets all those needs. So here are my pros and cons list:

The plus points
  1. It is possible for one person to put this tent up, with little or no assistance
  2. It has two bedrooms, one sleeps four persons, the other two persons
  3. The IF system gives you a sense of security that you're not going to burst the poles by over inflating them.
  4. Windows, and oh wow does it have amazing windows! Lots of
  5. Zip down curtains instead of zip up, so they fall to the floor ready for rolling up, much easier than having to roll the bloomin things up from the bottom, which meant that my person with specific needs could open them without help. OK so I had to roll them up for safety, but that was no great hardship
  6. Wasted space it at a minimum. Meaning, walk to the edge of your tent, when your head touches the sides, check that dead space from your feet to the wall of the tent. This includes the bedroom space.
  7. Palatial beyond nothing I have encountered before.
  8. Two additional side doors, one with an eye-brow for that added protection from the weather
  9. The front section has a number of ways to leave open, two panes or just the one.
  10. Mesh on the two side doors
  11. Tinted windows
  12. 'Snug Rug' aka carpet (optional extra) has joins that come with safety mats to eliminate / reduce trip hazards.
  13. Zip in mesh door (optional extra), which can be used at the front instead of the window, the window can them be moved inside to divide the living space, or vice versa, its your own choice.
  14. Storm straps come with it, well, because you never know
  15. Sewn in ground sheet from the back of the bedrooms, right to the front door!
  16. Lounge liner (optional extra), offers an air gap on the roof of the 'living' area to keep the cool in and the warm out, an extra bit of shade
  17. You have an extra option of a third bedroom if needed (need to purchase this if you want it)
  18. Air poles are exceptionally sturdy compared to another brand
  19. Poles are pre-shaped, so the didn't distort in the wind
  20. It was still keeping out water after 18 hours solid of driving rain
  21. Footprint! Always get a footprint!
  22. Storage bag has wheels - cool!
  23. I'm sure my list will grow, but I think that just about covers it for a moment.
The negatives
I'm going to have to find some, so here goes:
  1. It weighs a lot! Had to be rolled in and out of the car by this here weakling 
  2. As with any big tent, you do need a little help packing it away

Did I mention it was palatial?


In conclusion:

If I put you off air tents with my previous review of another brand that uses the air pole system, then fear not, all is not lost, there are exceptional ones out there, and I think this is it for me!

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Blog name change

Hi all

I felt that, just calling this my "gardening" blog, was somewhat too restrictive. So, from today, it shall be known as my Great Outdoors Blog.

It will still involve a lot of my garden but will also include outdoorsy posts not specific to my garden.

I hope you enjoy the more varied entries

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Zempire Aero TXL Air Tent - Experience-based review


I want to take time out of my usual garden and baking blogs to bestow upon you a little review of this product, based on personal experience.

About the tent
This is the largest of the inflatable tents that hail from Zempire, a company based in New Zealand and breaking into the UK market. The following is a quote (direct copy) about Zempire from their website:

"We [Zempire Camping Equipment] have now done extensive research on the specific requirements for international markets, such as the UK and Europe and have ensured our tents are designed specifically to withstand the rigours of the Northern Hemisphere weather extremes."

About us - the users
I am a carer for someone with mobility issues and other specific needs and I needed to be able to erect the tent - by myself.  With this in mind, this tent had to be able to accommodate both carer and the person being cared for, two separate bedrooms for a start, which is why this tent was the tent of choice. Space, two bedrooms and easy to put up.

What is to follow is my own, personal review of the tent, based on first hand experience.

The plus points:
  1. It is possible for one person to put this up with little or no assistance from a second person.
  2. It has two, generous sized bedrooms
The negative points:
  1. I'm guessing I should have realised there were going to be issues when the pump, supplied, didn't have its pressure gauge and the porch poles were missing! I had to borrow a pump with gauge to ensure the 7psi was reached.
  2. The two poles at the rear of the tent, even though pumped to the correct PSI, could not maintain their upright status and kept flopping all over the place.
  3. These two poles were deflated and re-inflated in order to reshape them - without success
  4. This left the two bedrooms unusable and a makeshift sleeping area had to be made in what was to have been the 'living room' at the centre of the tent.
  5. During the night, it leaked! Which I expected with it being a new tent. This instigated a 20 mile drive to purchase extra towels to place at the bottom of the poles where the water was pooling.
  6. When we arrived back we were welcomed by the inside of the centre air pole (see images below) that had burst out of its casing and also the zipped compartment that attached it to the tent. I undid the outer case and made an attempt to make a 'fix'.
  7. The pole front of centre (see below) had distorted in shape.  Little did I know that it had already burst out the its internal casing and was only being held in place by the casing of the tent material.
  8. Strange little tearing noises could be heard and before I knew it, this second pole burst out of its tent casing material and ripped at the side of the zipper whilst the zipper stayed zipped up.
  9. This now meant that it could not even have received a temporary fix
Centre air pole



Front of centre air pole distorted before bursting out of tent casing


Front of centre air pole whilst bursting out of tent casing


What happened next
  1. It was to late to pack it up and come home, but the person I was caring for needed somewhere to sleep so ...
  2. A B&B was needed for the night. But, alas, there was no room at the inn so to speak, therefore ...
  3. Another 20 mile trip ensued on a hunt for a replacement tent of any description. Found one and pitched beside the one we couldn't sleep in. This had turned out to be a most expensive weekend.
Two other air tents, that use the same system but by a different manufacturer withstood exactly the same weather conditions as this but maintained their structural integrity without any issues

In conclusion

I cannot give you a reason for this happening but this tent needs further work and research because, in my personal opinion, this tent at least was incapable of withstand the 'rigours of the Northern Hemisphere weather extremes', I'd go as far as to say it cannot withstand a gnat's fart!

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Bees and Butterflies


Here's a bit of a pictorial update on the flower bed in my garden. I'm making every effort to turn ot over to bees and butterflies.

DIY Fly Screen


Here is the UK, our window and doors are not made to easily accept a fly screen. It's seems our planning people and architects don't readily accept that, in some urban / countryside areas, we have more than one or two flies.

Where I live, right outside my back yard / garden, grows many trees. It's warm and damp in amongst those trees, animals live there, leave their daily activities behind, and some die there. Leaving the almost perfect breeding ground for flies!

My kitchen door leads right out to that.

Our houses are also not built with air conditioning already installed and it's rather expensive to have installed.

With this in mind, and because it's been unusually warm here of late, it's was not possible to open windows and doors to get air in the house, without these little beasties paying unwanted visits - I needed screens.

The image above shows the fly screen on the back door, prior to the clean up and the addition of a door closer.


The windows had a frame made from 2" x 1" batten to fit inside the window. This was covered in a fine mesh to keep out the flies, it also, unfortunately, had to be covered in 1cm squared metal fine wire, this was to keep out the neighbours cats.

These are not fixed. They are wedged in so they can be removed, from inside, to open and close the windows. A little annoying, but it works.

The door was made by a carpenter.  We had 2" x 2" wood for the frame, the poor carpenter had to work with what I could think of, this frame was fixed outside of my back door frame.

The door was made with the remaining 2" x 1" batten left from the windows. It was made with stabilising bars across the middle and reinforced with metal work on the corners.

Again, covered in fine mesh and the very bottom of the door also has a panel of wire mesh for the cats. I've noted that there is stronger fine fly net out there, but the budget does not allow today, this will be added at a later date. 

A suitably coloured wood preservative was used to blend it in with the brickwork of the house.

An automatic door closer was added as a reminder the ensure that the door needs to be closed at all times to be effective.

So far so good

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Reclaimed, revamped water feature


When browsing around old junk yards, we came upon a beaten up old cast iron garden 'sink' thing.

It had rusted in places and the paint was peeling off, but looking behind its tatters, we saw something that would be perfect and fit in with the ethos of my garden.

It was rubbed down to remove all the rust and flakey paint ...


It was then primed ...


... And given a few coats of black metal spray paint ...


It's absolutely solid and weighs a lot, as you'd expect. The back was not sprayed and left in the green. It still has the old copper pipe in imperial measurements, which caused one or two problems because we've gone all metric lol. But we managed.

Once the last coat of black had dried, I dry brushed it, using a sponge and some white paint ... Also suitable for metalwork.


All the while, it had to lay on its back because it was simply far to heavy. Once it had a few coats of gloss lacquer, it was ready for fitting.

A heavy wooden frame was made to bolt it onto. We also purchased a small, electic pond pump as the sun jet water pump I have simply would not do. 


I cleaned out my water barrel, to use as its reservoir and refilled it. I ended up with pipes and gunk all over the place ... Don't you just love that green slime that grows when you neglect something? 

The sink hole was already blocked up, so we left it as it was. When the sink part is full, it runs off into the barrel making a wonderful sound! No doubt, it would have had a brass tap on it at some stage in its life, I've put a simple little "L" fitting where that would have been. This also helps with the direction of the runnjng water.

It's so heavy, a length of wood was used to hold it on top of the barrel, as well as it being bolted to its frame and then to the fence. I also put my little ugly guy in there! It looks like he's having a bath. 

A new outdoor electric socket was fitted to plug it into. I'm thinking of using the spare plug for some night time lights, but I'm not sure yet.

I'd like to say I did this all myself, but this is not true, my daughter took most of the photos whilst my better half did the spraying and, well, we all had to lift it.

I think it's a rather handsome addition to my garden. I just need to sort out the flower bed that it's nestled in. Better late than never!



A massive thank you goes out to all those that helped me achieve this spectacular, reclaimed water feature.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Rustic Pergola


This is how my son and I made my outdoor living room pergola. I hope it inspires you as I found the process much easier than anticipated.
I am not a woodworker and, quite honestly, sometimes haven't got a clue. But I had the plans in my head so my son had to do his best to give me my vision. I'm also terrible CGI creator too so I will apologise in advance for my little drawings in here :)
I was mostly the labourer and tea maker for this project.
The whole ethos of my garden is ... Everything reclaimed, reused, recycled or upcycled. Where possible, only essential base materials are purchase from the DIY store.
Please click on the robot link for the full details on my Insructables



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