Back to school: Scooting is the fun way of keeping kids fit as they start the new school year

As back to school is almost here, dad of two Mark Jennings and his children, Amber, ten and Jacob, three, take some scooters out for a test ride.

Amber and Jacob testing out the scooters

Amber and Jacob testing out the scooters

With September fast approaching, that only means one thing for kids... Back to School. If you have a tween then you'll know they grow up so much quicker these days and want independence far sooner than when we were kids.

This includes the gradual process of your beloved child backing off from giving you kisses and hugs when you drop them off on the school run, to them not wanting you do be within a 10 meter radius in fear of embarrassing them in front of their friends and then not wanting you to walk them to school at all.

At first our daughter Amber, ten, wanted to ride her bike to school, but with not much experience at cycling, we weren't convinced she would be steady enough on a big bike and this would detract her concentration from the traffic. So (still slightly reluctant) we compromised. She could come home from school on her scooter. No soon as confidence on both parts was restored, Amber was moaning that her scooter wasn't up to scratch (it was on old scooter of mine that my wife bought me when they became fashionable in the early noughties) and the back wheel had started to fall off, so what great opportunity to try a few models out.

Zinc Chozen 'Team Series' Scooter - £149.99

The first of 3 differently priced stunt scooters Amber tried out was the 'Zinc Chozen' available in 4 colours, it simply looks awesome with it's colour coded parts and cool graphics. The 10mm high bounce wheels make for a smooth ride and you can pick up a fair bit of speed thankfully kept under control with the fender brake. Spec includes 50cm chro-moly 'sea gul' steel handle bars that turn 360 degrees held in place by an chunky aluminium quad clamp. The dual down-tube makes for a solid scooter built for skate parks, so you can be totally confident in it's durability being able to take up to 100kg in weight! For further information please visit: www.zincsports.com

Mongoose Stance Stunt Scooter - £59.99

Another stylish and colourful medium budget stunt scooter is the Mongoose 'Stance'. The Mongoose brand has been with BMX since the 1970's and pride themselves on being an 'aggressive brand with products that push the limits of what a rider can do'. The steel 360 degrees handlebars are a Y-Bar in design and slightly narrower than the Zinc Chozen at 47cm held in place by a triple clamp collar. With extra grip on the flat down bar as well as the alloy deck gives you some extra standing area and steel brakes make for steady but controlled breaking. For further information please visit: www.halfords.com

Evo Stunt Scooter - £29.99

For a budget option and ideal for beginners, the Evo stunt scooter won't do anything to harm your child's street cred with it's striking black and orange colour scheme. Lightweight yet strong it picks up on all the needs of more expensive scooters. Quick and easy to assemble this is great value for money if you're on a tight budget. For further information please visit: www.houseoffraser.co.uk

Micro Floral White Scooter - £159.95

Now, for something a little more lady-like, the Micro White Floral Grey Scooter not only brings elegance but practicality as it can fold up for easy storage and carrying. Larger 20mm wheels produces a more comfortable ride and having a bigger frame makes it more agreeable for taller riders. Other attentions to detail include a front mud guard to protect you from the British weather and a stand gives you that more grown-up impression instead of just leaning it against a wall. This scooter is not just ideal for pre-teens but adults too, with petrol prices sky high (and if you're brave enough) why not use it for the short daily commute? And men haven't got the excuse it's 'too girly' as it come in a black and white option too! For further information please visit: www.micro-scooters.co.uk

The Amazing Spiderman Folding Scooter - £29.99

One for the little ones now. Our son Jacob, three, didn't need to be asked twice to try out the Amazing Spiderman folding Scooter by D'Arpèje. Suitable from the age of 4 this bright and colorful scooter not only has the famous web-shooting superhero livery, but cool light up 12mm wheels too! Very easy to set up and fully adjustable you'll be sure to get the right height handle bars for your young child and being foldable you can easily keep it in your car to keep him or her entertained when you're out and about. This sturdy scooter is ideal for younger kids and great value for money. For further information please visit: www.ebuyer.com

...and let's not forget safety helmets

We now accept that children should wear helmets when they ride their bikes, but I still see many kids not wearing a helmet when scootering. Some of these stunt scooters can go pretty fast, so it's important to get the message through to the kids that safety comes first!

Both Kiddimoto and Micro Scooters offer an amazing range of cool helmets that conform to en1078 safety standards which will convince even the most stubborn child that it's cool to wear a helmet.

For example, the 'Official Evil Knievel' helmet (£34.99) from Kiddimoto is quite frankly retro-tastic and you'll be the envy of your peers at either home time or at the skate park, I would have loved one of these in the not so safety conscious 70's! And the pretty 'Mirrored Purple' helmet (£24.95) from Micro-Scooters is simplistic but very striking in the way it catches the natural light.

www.kiddimoto.co.uk
www.micro-scooters.co.uk

Let's rock: Summer music festival camping essentials

With the annual summer music festivals underway this month, there's a feast of major hard rock and pop events coming up: 'Glastonbury Festival' (25th June), 'Sonisphere' & 'Wireless Festivals' (4th July), 'V Festivals' (16th August) and 'Reading & Leeds Festivals' (22nd August) so here are some really great and useful pieces of kit that will make outdoor survival a little more comfortable and enjoyable having not to worry about anything apart from which band to see next ...and don't to forget to check out these websites for 1'000's more super festival and camping ideas!

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Vango Ark 300

3 Person Tent - £100

The main qualities you need for a festival tent is something light to carry and easy to put up. You need to find that premium space quickly otherwise you'll end up pitching by a walkway or even worse by the toilets! As the Vango Ark 300 has only 2 poles it can be put up in less than 5 minutes but has all the usual high spec that you'd expect from Vango tents, plus helpful extras such as colour coded poles and reflective webbing picks if you're erecting your tent in poor light. The Gothic arch styling not only looks cool but gives this 3 man tent a little extra height and the large 2 metre wide window at the front gives you ease of access and plenty of social interaction when chilling out with friends.For full specifications of this compact, but spacious tent, please visit: www.vango.co.uk 

Craghoppers Mantua

Packaway Jacket - £50

The 'Mantua' packaway jacket from Craghoppers is a perfect example of what type of waterproof coat is necessary for our very changeable British festival weather. Stored neatly in a stuff sack until required, this breathable jacket can be simply thrown on with cuffs, hems and peaked hood fully adjustable tight to your body to keep out the wind and rain. The Velcro fastening storm flap makes for a tight seal on the main zip and with additional zips on the pockets makes it more secure for valuables not to be pinched by busy hands!

These handy packaway jackets are available in black or pink, for more information, please visit: www.craghoppers.com 

Feetz

Pocket Wellies - £9.99

If you want to risk not taking wellies as you've got far too much to carry then theseingenious 'Feetz' pocket overshoe wellies are just perfect for you. Launched at the end of last year with the idea that sometimes when you're out and about for a long time and caught out by the weather, you can just reach into your bag and slip these lightweight (350g), water and mud-proof wellies over your shoes. These aren't just carrier bags you shove over your feet, but well designed reusable footwear with hard non-slip soles and drawstring tops to give you maximum protection from the wet stuff.

These handy (feety) pocket wellies are available 4 colours and various sizes, for more information, please visit: www.feetz.co.uk 

iWalk Extreme 10'000 Duo

Back-Up Battery - £59.99

The 'iWalk Extreme' rechargeable back-up battery was designed for the iPod, iPhone and iPad but is compatible with all USB smartphones and devices. With two charging points and big on power you may want to keep this charger a secret from your friends otherwise they'll be wanting to share! The '10'000 Duo' (10'000mAh) has handy charging lights to show you how much percentage of power you have left and an LED flashlight to help you out in the dark. Finding the right cables isn't a problem either as this sleek looking battery comes complete with Apple and mini USB charging cables.

Fore more information and other great products please visit: www.iwalkuk.com 

OnePiece

Camouflage Onesie - £129

OnePiece onesie's are simply awesome and you may excused thinking they're not particularly cheap, but you're paying for high end fashion and superior quality! I tried out the 'Camouflage' Onesie and it just made me smile, thinking this is categorically perfect for lounging and chilling out in and I even look pretty cool too! OnePiece Onesie's are unisex and made from premium supersoft cotton with attention to nice details such as embroidered branding which is also included on the strong canvas zip pulls on the pockets. The front 2-way zipper is a must especially if you're a man and having a few festival drinkies (you don't need to be a genius to work it out) and it even zips the hood shut tight - great for getting some early shut eye on bright lazy summer mornings. These onesie's of course aren't just stylish and practical but very warm and comfortable too, take a look and treat yourself from the great range available at: www.onepiece.co.uk

Pacsafe Walletsafe

Travel Wallet - £34.99

Outfox the pickpocket with the cunning 'Pacsafe Walletsafe'. This brilliant tri-fold travel wallet can be attatched to an item of your clothing such as a belt loop via a sturdy metal chain connected to a twist lock dog-clip. There's plenty of compartments for your credit cards, paper money and concert tickets, plus a window for your photo ID so you can get served at the beer tent! There's even a zipped compartment on the outside for all your loose change, so for that extra piece of mind this seems to be a no brainer at a busy outdoor festival.

The Pacsafe Walletsafe is available with 100's of other great outdoor products from: www.safariquip.co.uk

Kelty LumaPivot

360-degree Directional Lantern - £55

I you need light and lots of it, this 'LumaPivot' 360-degree directional lantern by Kelty will give you 60 lumens for 12hrs or 110 lumens for 6hrs and it's not just the power from the rotating LED panels that makes this lamp special but the adjustability of the light output. Lightweight enough to pack easily this lantern can be placed stable on a surface or be hung by the handle with each panel pivoting 180° and rotating 360° for customised illumination. Not only is this lamp useful for your personal needs, but if you have a gazeebo, great for social gatherings.

The LumaPivot requires 6AA cell batteries, for more information please visit: www.smgeurope.com 

Veho 360 Degrees

M4 Bluetooth Speaker - £35.99

I must say I'm impressed by this amazing little bluetooth speaker from 'Veho', when I first saw it I thought it couldn't possibly sound any good due to it's size but how wrong was I? This ultra small 360 rechargeable 2 x 2.2 watt speaker is absolutely ideal for travel or camping and plays music either by line-in, micro SD card or blutooth up to a 20 metre range! Smart looking and well designed, the simple volume and track controls make it easy enough for any technophobe to use. Sound quality isn't just loud, but crisp on all levels of music, I should know as first tested it on Pink Floyd then Iron Maiden!

Fore more information and other great products from Viking please visit: www.viking-direct.co.uk

Coleman Pathfinder

Lightweight Sleeping Bag - £59.99

Another slightly bulky item to carry are sleeping bags, but the 'Coleman Pathfinder' has been developed with this in mind when it comes to storage and travel. Firstly this lightweight mummy style sleeping bag comes in a clever dry bag with compression valve, so you can push all the air out when repacking and keeps it dry in the wettest conditions. The sleeping bag itself has ample room but feels cosy - the large size fits me well and I'm 6ft and a tad overweight! Made from 3 different layers of Coletherm® hypoallergenic micro insulation it offers great protection from the elements and with the pull strings around inner body and hood, you will really fill snug as a bug!

For more information on this and other Coleman camping products please visit: www.coleman.eu 

Olpro

Beach Hut - £99

Now you've got your main sleeping tent but what about this 'Beach Hut' from Olpro for a good festival idea? If you're going to a festival with a group of friends and you've only got small tents then why not club together and invest in this funky 'pop-up' hut to get changed or washed in for that extra privacy (especially the ladies). This lightweight hut transforms from an 80cm disc in it's carry bag into a 2m² cube and can be erected in seconds! Fully waterproof with an attached ground sheet, this attractive panel effect beach hut comes with a roll up front door and rear window, plus being UV 35+ will protect you from the sun when you're hanging out back at the tents with your mates.

The Olpro Beach Hut comes in red, blue or yellow. For more information and pictures please visit: www.olproshop.com

VARTA Indestructible Torch and Portable Power range

£9.99-£29.99

For a powerful, reliable torch that's not too bulky the 'Indestructible Torch' from VARTA is just the light source to carry in your back pack for when you return to where you thought your tent might be! Being water and shock resistant this robust torch won't let you down when you most need it; rummaging around between guy ropes when you've had a few festival drinks. Two power modes, 140 lumins and 40 lumins for power saving means you you've got the power when you need it and when it's time to chill out in the tent you're battery won't be zapped.

VARTA also offer a wide range of powerpacks ideal for instant charging for your mobiles and tablets. These are great because their so small, you can pack them and forget about them until needed in an emergency. The Mini Powerpack for example which is compatible with all micro USB and Apple (30-pin) can give you 1hr of extra talktime whilst the 'AlkalinePowerpack' is slightly more heavy duty and can give you 7hrs extra talktime with 100% phone charge.

For more information on these and other VARTA power products please visit: www.varta-consumer.co.uk

Follow mark on twitter: twitter.com/OurFamilyLifeUK

Tried and tested: Gardening equipment

Mark Jennings tried and tested some helpful gardening equipment that make life a whole lot quicker and easier.

As a stay at home dad of two young children, I have to spend a lot of time concentrating on general household chores with little time when the wife's off work to spend in our size-able garden with over-complicated garden machinery and equipment.

It finally looks like summer's here and quite frankly apart from mowing the lawn once a fortnight, little work is done to compliment our adored, but slightly neglected garden. I wanted to try out accessible products that are not only popularly priced, but easy to use being appropriate for today's busy young family.

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Gtech ST05 Li-Ion Cordless Grass Trimmer - £69.95

The Gtech 'ST05' grass trimmer is not only very good looking (yes I need to get out more) but very lightweight, only 1.5kg and the small but powerful 14.4v battery Li-Ion battery with 30 minute running time is incorporated neatly into the handle. Being cordless it's ideal for larger gardens like ours, so no need for the inconvenience of extension cables and having had string trimmer heads in the past that constantly snap and tangle instead of uncoiling, the plastic blade option is much less hassle that leave you with nice, neat edges.

But one of the things I liked most about this proficient trimmer is the adjust-ability, not only can you swivel the head through 180 degrees, adjust the handle for comfort, but there's a telescopic shaft that extends and shortens for those hard to reach places or just for comfort making it a genuinely versatile trimmer.

See more at: www.gtechonline.co.uk            

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Kärcher 'WD3.500P' Wet & Dry Vacuum Cleaner - £149.99

When it comes to uncomplicated simplicity, you can't go wrong with Kärcher's 'WD3.500P' Wet & Dry Vacuum Cleaner. Let's face it, when you want to vac out the car for example, you don't really want to do it with the house vac. This powerful 1400w heavy duty cleaner not only sucks up ample debris, unblocks sinks and water spills but has a blower function that can be used from clearing leaves to blowing up inflatables.

It really does pack a punch with an airflow rate of 68 litres a second and I had no problem clearing up some wood chippings from my front garden in no time at all. Also included is a handy power tool adaptor that means you can plug the 2 metre suction hose onto the back of a jigsaw for instance, plug into the machine and it switches on and off with the vac - ingenious!

See more at: www.karcher.co.uk            

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WOLF-Garten 'CSA700' Li-Ion Power Chainsaw - £179.99

Another 'handy' item for the garden is the compact cordless 18v Power Chainsaw from WOLF-Garten which is really good for sawing through wood with a diameter of around 70mm is ideal for people like me who've never used a chainsaw before. After you've charged the battery, it takes only a few minutes to set-up and once you've added the chainsaw oil (available separately) and read the safety instructions you're off.

From full charge the Lithium-Ion battery should last you around 40 minutes running time which you can do over 100 dry cuts at 70mm. It's nice and light and at just over 2.5kg you won't get stiff or tired and safety being a must you have piece of mind with the 2 hand safety switch and assured grip. Once perfecting my technique, the quality Oregon cutting chain made light work of of the pile of quite sappy conifer branches that I'm drying out and saving to use in the future.

See more at: www.wolfgarten-tools.co.uk

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The Handy 2400w Impact Shredder - £99.99
The Handy 2600w Garden Blow Vac - £41.99           

After chainsawing your conifers or other trees, you're left with the problem of easily getting rid of all the unwanted smaller branches, but 'The Handy' 2400 impact shredder will shred all your garden waste up to surprising 40mm in diameter! You may think of shredders being incredibly noisy and dangerous, but with a little common sense are perfectly safe and I expected it to be a lot noisier. Minimal setup is required and it's very easy to move around the garden and use. Just feed the branches into the top of the machine hopper and the powerful 2400w motor with it's sharp steel cutting blade makes it easy work. The blade has two cutting edges, so when it finally becomes blunt can reverse it to use again. You can then either use the waste for composting or it makes for easier compact transportation up to the local tip.

When upon it's time to clean up all the mess 'The Handy' 2600 garden blow vac is perfect for the job. Not only can you either suck up garden waste into the 35L collection bag (can compact leaves 10 times smaller to their original capacity), but also precisely blows any debris away to the corners of your garden perimeter. This blower/vac is very simple to use and the single speed 2600w motor is extremely powerful. With a shoulder strap it makes it effortless to walk around in comfort and with 6 metres there's plenty of cable to access a wide area of your garden. For the casual gardener like myself, this really is a useful product and great value for money!

See more at: www.notcutts.co.uk

 

A 6th Sense from Whirlpool

"..hands that do dishes can feel soft as your face..erm, not for me they don't!"

When you've got a busy, young family and have to wash up about 10 times a day your hands are far from soft. And when our dishwasher of 10+ years decided enough was enough and went pop, I was left with piles and piles of dishes everyday from tea stained cups to baked on Weetabix, a dishwasher is just one of those items you can't do without!

When you've got a busy, young family and have to wash up about 10 times a day your hands are far from soft. And when our dishwasher of 10+ years decided enough was enough and went pop, I was left with piles and piles of dishes everyday from tea stained cups to baked on Weetabix, a dishwasher is just one of those items you can't do without!

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Upon choosing a new machine, we wanted to try out a reliable, energy efficient model and when you think of quality kitchen appliances, Whirlpool are among the best in the world. The ADP 8693 is a part of the Whirlpool Green Generation that's not only energy efficient, but water efficient too using just 11 litres of water in a typical wash giving it an A++ rating.

This large capacity appliance holds up to 13 place settings and I was surprised when I overloaded it with my Sunday dinner remains how crisp and clean the results were. You can adjust both racks so you can arrange your crockery to suit your needs, I particularly liked the adjustable flaps in the top rack for my wine glasses that were always too tall and kept falling over or breaking in my previous washer.

Whirlpool prides itself on their exclusive 6th SENSE PowerClean technology which senses and then adapts to measure how dirty the water is, saving you up to 50% on energy and time.

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Having our last dishwasher for such a long time, I was very stuck in my ways - probably out of repetition, so I was slightly apprehensive on re-educating myself on something I used automatically. I was instantly put at ease by the uncomplicated control panel and features and was glad of the LED wash time display with digital countdown indicator for that all important advice on the 8 different wash programs.

For an extra thorough clean for really baked on food (eg: a shepherds pie), there's the option for Whirpool's unique PowerClean jet system which uses 28 water jets at the back of the lower rack to blast away any stubborn dried-on food without using any extra water.

As well as being intelligent and super efficient, this Whirlpool is very hygienic for your family too, it's antibacterial hygiene wash and rinse kills 99.9% of all bacteria and even has a self cleaning wash filter for continuous optimum performance. I found this a very quiet (about 42dB, so ideal for open plan living) and a low energy machine that doesn't compromise on cleaning and drying even on the rapid 30 minute wash and I couldn't believe the intensive wash, my glasses came out looking brand new and have never been so clean!

Priced at £449. For full product specifications and information, please visit: www.whirlpool.co.uk

 

Kids love cycling: Get on your bike this summer

Need help choosing the right kids bikes? Save £££'s online and instore from Halfords. Stay at Home dad, Mark Jennings, reviews 2 children's bikes.

Jacob and Amber on their bikes

Jacob and Amber on their bikes

As it seems that finally the British weather is starting to warm up, there's no greater way to get the kids fit having fun in the garden by updating their old cycles with the latest great models and fantastic offers at Halfords. Our 9 year old daughter, Amber, is growing up fast and our 2 year old son, Jacob, is getting more and more boisterous and mobile. So when I checked on the bike situation in the shed, Amber's was far too small and rusty, plus this would be our sons 1st proper bike. When it comes to piece-of-mind, you can always trust Halfords to deliver quality, safe products.

The cycle recommended for our maturing pre-teen was the cool looking Apollo 'Krypt' Girls Mountain Bike. Our daughter's into 'Green Day' and 'Blink-182' at the moment so she loves the Gothic-Style decals which perfectly harmonize with the metallic silver/purple paintwork. With a good spec for a childs bike the 'Krypt' boasts front suspension for a smoother ride, 18-speed 'Shimano' gears, front disc breaks for complete but careful breaking all housed on a solid steel frame with 24" wheels!

Amber on her Apollo Krypt Girls Mountain Bike from Halfords

Amber on her Apollo Krypt Girls Mountain Bike from Halfords

Our daughter found this very easy to ride and with a change of gear for the grass, was whizzing around the garden in no time at all and this well made bike gave her total confidence immediately. Now when she comes home from school after her homework she asks if she can go out and play on her bike instead of her games console, so that makes us very happy!

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www.halfords.com

Our little boy's choice of bike was the adorable Apollo 'Firechief'. What budding trainee wouldn't be thrilled to get straight into the action on his wicked bright red Fire and Rescue wheels complete with with siren, megaphone and emergency tool box!

With safety in mind, there's full chain and mudguards so busy fingers don't get dirty or trapped, front and rear brakes for extra confidence and detachable stabilisers for eventually when your little one has enough firmness to try two wheels only! Our son was fearlessly straight onto this bike encouraged by the brightness and interest in the extra gadgets. It's recommended for ages 3-5 so when his little legs get a bit stronger I'm sure he'll be off in no time at all!

Jacob on his Apollo Firechief Boys Bike from Halfords

Jacob on his Apollo Firechief Boys Bike from Halfords

Apollo Firechief Boys Bike - 12" WAS £159.99 NOW £69.99 SAVE £90.00 www.halfords.com

Helmets have become a necessity especially when it comes to the safety of our children and Halfords have got a range to suit every age and style. For our daughters bike the MET Crackerjack 'Pink Hearts' Bike Helmet goes well and is very in tune with her age group. Well fitting, It features an anti-pinch buckle, a safe-t-twist retention system for easy adjustment and an LED rear flashing light! And for our sons bike the Apollo 'Firechief & Police Patrol' Bike Helmet, with it's action and emergency scene decals makes it the perfect match. It has a dial-a-fit system so is easy to adjust without stress, adjustable straps under the chin and plenty of ventilation holes to keep them cool. He loved it so much he screamed his head of when i was time to take it off! Both helmets of course conform to EN1078 safety regulations.

 

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MET Crackerjack Bike Helmet - Pink Hearts (52-57cm) WAS £34.99 NOW £27.99 SAVE £7 www.halfords.com

Apollo Firechief & Police Patrol Bike Helmet (48-52cm) WAS £17.99 NOW £14.39 SAVE £3.60 www.halfords.com

Halfords also offer a FREE 'Bike Build & Safety Inspection' on all new bikes which you can see all about this in this short video, so you really don't need to worry about all those nuts & bolts, seat heights and tricky gear adjustments.

Prices are web exclusive - Save While You Shop on All Bikes* ?*Spend £100 save £10, Spend £200 save £20, Spend £400 save £40, Spend £600 save £60. Discount Applied in Basket. Offer ends Tuesday June 11 2013.

Kärcher puts on the pressure...

When you think of big brand names for certain products, you think of Sony for Walkman, Dyson for bag-less vacuums and Kindle for e-book readers. But even I have to admit Kärcher wasn't yet in my limited vocabulary when it came to choosing pressure washers. Don't get me wrong, I'd always new those bright yellow machines existed, but I always forgot that name!

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Alfred Kärcher invented the high-pressure cleaner in 1950, with the introduction of the 1st portable devices in the early 1980's. Kärcher originally set up his business in 1935 and in 1939 the company moved to Winnenden, Germany, where the family still has its headquarters to this day!

 

The job in hand was to clean a very large stone patio, pathway, steps and parking area, so it really would put the 'Kärcher K5.800' that was recommended for us through it's paces. With our area recently being made a drought free zone, I had piece of mind that this model features an Eco switch which reduces energy and water by 20% and with the wettest drought on record, you even have the option to source water from you garden water butt!

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Minimal set-up is required out of the box, a simple click of the wheels and handle. The only screwing required is the dosage regulator (the unit comes with detergent if you so wish to use) and once you've attached the pressure hose and spray gun you're ready to plug in, attach the water supply and off you go.

You have a choice of 3 high pressure nozzle attachments depending on your cleaning needs. The 'Vario-power spray lance' which adjusts from low to to high pressure jet with just a twist at the end is ideal for all types of cleaning. The 'Dirt-blaster lance' is a rotary nozzle lance for seriously embedded dirt which uses a more precise and powerful blast (up to 50%). And finally the 'T300 T-Racer lance', which is an extended 'broom like' lance that works like a hovercraft, with 2 rotary fan jet nozzles and encloses the water so you don't get wet! This is recommended for patios and areas you don't want splash-back, but I personally preferred the 'Dirt-blaster lance' for the majority of the work.

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Immediately on start-up, I was slightly taken back how powerful the 'K5.800' was compared to the cheaper DIY shop branded pressure washers that I've had before, maximum pressure from this unit is powerful 140 bar. The 14.5kg unit weight doesn't feel particularly heavy as it's on wheels an you don't really have to move it much as the high-pressure hose is a very generous 9 metres in length. As I mentioned you have the option for detergent with the simple 'Plug & Clean' system.

Depending on your task there's 6 detergents available that can be placed easily into the visible chamber for cleaning use on either wood or washing & waxing your car. I didn't need to use the detergent this time as the 'Dirt-blaster lance' effortlessly cut through the black embedded dirt with ease and in one afternoon I was left with a gleaming white path!

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When thinking of those bright yellow pressure washers you see in the shops, think Kärcher, the 'Rolls Royce' of cleaning systems. For all types of cleaning jobs big and small, take a look at the fantastic range of Kärcher pressure washers on-line at www.karcher.co.uk and available from all good DIY stockists. 

Pump 'n' Pitch with Vango Tents

It's been nearly 30 years since I had my first tent and was allowed to camp in my back garden. I remember emptying all the tightly packed bits and laying all the separate poles out eagerly ready for construction. Over the years, tents have become overly complicated, with their incomprehensible instructions and bendy fibre-glass poles! Not anymore so it seems with the Vango AirBeam® range of tents, which offers an advanced 'no poles' structure. I was slightly sceptical that it was so quick and easy to erect a tent in under 5 minutes, but now you can.

 

Mark and Amber at The Hop Farm festival 2012

Mark and Amber at The Hop Farm festival 2012

I tested the 2 man tent, the 'Vango AirBeam® Velocity 200' and what better place than the Hop Farm Festival at Paddock Wood, Kent. The bag that it comes in seems on the larger size for a 2 man tent (as it also houses the excellent quality hand pump), but only weighs 7.5kg and can comfortably worn over your shoulder or as I found across your back.

Amber with the super speedy Vango AirBeam tent

Amber with the super speedy Vango AirBeam tent

Once you've pegged the four corners of the all-in-one tent (groundsheet already attached) you attach the pump to the base of each AirBeam® and inflate with only a few effortless pumps. The beauty of this apart from the speed is that if it's raining you can quickly jump in straight away before you have to complete the construction. After you've pegged the rest of the tent and guy ropes, you attach the inner tent with easy colour coded clips which takes seconds and hey presto, you're done, it's as easy as that!

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In complete honesty it probably took me about 10 minutes to erect, only because is was the first time, but would easily take less than 5 minutes now that I know what I'm doing. The only draw back to this is you've got to wait around for everyone else to put their tents up! One of the first things I noticed once the tent was up was the rigidity compared to all of the other tents around me, it was a windy day and it hardly moved. There's double entry doors for ease of access and extra ventilation on warm days that lead into a very ample porch space (enough room to even sleep 2 children) - the actual sleeping area being a large 210x140cm.

For more information and pricing of these remarkable tents, please visit vango.co.uk

Check out this cool video...