What’s new in the kit bag? SKIING AUSTRIA

Six countries, fifty-four hours of driving and many frankfurters later – we are all home after an incredible two weeks. In August this year my Dad proposed the idea of a skiing road trip for the Christmas holidays, inviting all the ‘kids’ (of whom I am the youngest) plus partners, friends… whoever fancied it. And so we did. A week before Christmas day my dad and I packed up the truck (nicked named Truck Norris in our family) with everyone’s kit and hit the road for a 3 day drive to Austria (via Switzerland to collect my brother and Vivian who now live in Zürich).

Despite having grown up skiing, my skis have hardly touched snow over the last five years while being at uni (i.e., skint). Which, unfortunately for my bank account meant my kit bag needed some updating. My skis, boots and poles were all still intact thankfully – but my old ski pants and jacket were so worn and miserable looking I wasn’t up for trusting them to keep me warm.

SO – on the list was new ski pants, a jacket, thermals, goggles, gloves and socks. Which was just enough to almost bankrupt me for the year. But good kit is worth the price tag if it’s going to last years upon years.

Deciding what to get was so tricky, ski trends change ALL the time and it’s too expensive to ever keep up. But I am really really happy with what I ended up buying so I thought I’d share some pictures and info about the kit I got. (My only regret is not going for something brighter, but hay ho). I decided on something a little more glam than I’d usually wear, really fitted and supporting a bit of faux fur – there’s a first for everything and I loved it!

Jacket £399

Poivre Blanc Women’s Stretch Ski Jacket

Thumbs up

  • Very insulated and warm – I only needed one base layer underneath
  • Fitted and flattering
  • Three way stretch fabric was great for movement
  • Weatherproof and breathable
  • Good pockets (ski pass, phone, + 2 more)
  • Stylish and technically good
  • Long sleeves and long body – perfect for tall girls (I’m 5ft10)
  • Detachable hood/fur

Thumbs down

  • Snow skirt didn’t go tight enough around my hips
  • Pockets aren’t big enough for a spare goggle lens

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Ski pants £199

Poivre Blanc Women’s Stretch Ski Pants

Thumbs up

  • Waterproof and warm (no needs for thermal bottoms)
  • Elegant cut and well fitted
  • Although being tight, they are as stretchy as gym leggings!
  • Inside snow gaiter worked perfectly
  • Zippered gussets at the ankle for ease when putting boots on

Thumbs down

  • Slightly short on my leg – but not really an issue when wearing ski boots

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Goggles £180

Smith I/O MAG (bought from Tiso)

Thumbs up

  • Magnetic lens changing system is so quick and easy you can do it without taking the goggles off your face!
  • Includes bright light and low performance lenses
  • Lenses didn’t fog up at all
  • The photochromatic lens works virtually in all conditions and the rose lens is a game changer in flat light
  • Fit comfortably on my face and around my nose without any air gaps

Thumbs down

  • No complains at all – i’d highly recommend these goggles to anyone

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Thermals £110

Icebreaker 250 Vertex Long Sleeve Half Zip

Thumbs up

  • 100% merino wool
  • Extremely soft, flexible and comfortable for wearing all day
  • Lightweight and very warm – I wore only this under my jacket
  • Half zip was perfect for temperature regulation
  • Seems are offset from prone rubbing areas

Thumbs down

  • Zero complains – it’s the perfect base layer

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Gloves £75

The North Face Women’s Montana GTX Mitt

My hands are badly affected by raynauds disease which causes quite a bit of pain and discomfort when they get cold, so finding a good glove was really important. I’ve waisted so many hours in previous years sitting inside mountain restaurants trying to defrost my hands – but I have finally found the solution in these gloves.

  • Completely waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX insert
  • Insulated inner with inner glove separation for maximum warmth
  • High rise wrist to stop any snow or wind chill getting into the glove
  • Wrist bands were really handy when pulling gloves on and off (usually to take photos!)

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Socks £28

Falke Women’s SK2 Ski Sock

All round great skiing sock – merino wool mix – warm and breathable!

Overall,

I was extremely happy with all of my new and old kit on holiday. Having good quality kit really makes a difference in enjoyment as well as safety in the mountains. Getting cold is always miserable in my experience, and I never last long once the cold reaches my hands – those North Face mitts were an absolute find! And fingers crossed, now that my kit bag is full I won’t need to top it up or change it for many many years.

Huge thanks to Tiso for all their help and advisement before my trip. I was kindly gifted my ski jacket this season in exchange for a review, which I am extremely grateful for.

Thanks for reading – if you have any questions feel free to send me a message on Instagram @ronamcmillan

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Christmas Day attire

 

 

TMF more than just a festival

Hands down, Tiree is my favourite of the Hebridean islands and also home to my favourite event of the year. Tiree Music Festival is a haven for Scottish trad music, supporting both new and established bands from all around the country. What’s really magical about this festival is the location; Tiree is a paradise of white sandy beaches with incredible surf, lush green fields and meadows of wild flowers. I heard so many people this year describe it as the ‘Hawaii of the North,’ and it’s true – Tiree really is an idyllic location whether festival-ing or not.

It is also a known fact that Tiree, along with its neighbouring island Coll receive more sunshine than anywhere else in the UK. Which I can vouch for 98% of the time – although with the sun comes immense wind, and since Tiree is extremely flat… temperatures don’t quite reach those of Hawaii. IMG_8766The adventure of TMF begins in Oban harbour, where hundreds of festival go-ers catch the 6.15am boat… only this year Callum and I missed the service update and turned up at 7.15am for the normal sailing (which was obviously canceled for the festival timetable) DOH! Luckily CalMac were running two boats that day, and we caught the second. IMG_2079Unlike most years, we are without the adventure camper van… so we hired a car from MacLennan Motors which worked out cheaper than taking our own car over… somehow! Tiree is deceivingly bigger than it looks on a map, so having either a bike or a car/van is really handy if you want to explore all its endless hidden gems.

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RIP Rusty – we miss you

Thursday night

We arrived on the late boat, pitched our tent and headed to Balevullin for some sunset steaks cooked on our super high-tech BBQ.

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Friday

Began with some coffees and cakes for breakfast from Yellow Hare on Scarnish Pier.IMG_2070Followed by half an hour of faffing with sim cards – incase you didn’t know signal is pants on the west coast… so we thought we’d swap to Vodafone for the weekend. Which worked well for signal, but 3G/4G was really just fakeG. IMG_2096We then ditched the car at Caolas and walked down to the beach that meets the Gunna Sound, as we were yet again in search of basking sharks… and the sound is known to be a hot spot for the sharks at this time of year.IMG_2100Our luck doesn’t seem to change with b sharks, so we were unsuccessful AGAIN. Even after sitting perched on a small rocky island between Coll and Tiree for an hour shark watching… or wave watching it turned out to be! IMG_7892IMG_2214So – in the afternoon we packed up the boards and drove back to west side of the island to our favourite free diving/snorkeling spot… this one is remaining unnamed im afraid since not many people seem to know about it… yet. Processed with VSCO with c7 presetThat evening we headed back to the festival, stalling to have some predrinks in the boot of our car… if that’s allowed? If not, this isn’t us… IMG_7639And that night we had tunes from Beinn Lee, Ho-RO and Trail West – among many many others. IMG_7659

Saturday

A wee bit hungover, so some animal therapy to cure the sore heads and a wander at a few beaches before a prolonged snooze in the car at Balevullin.IMG_7618_Facetune_13-07-2018-11-17-06IMG_7614IMG_7891IMG_7533IMG_8754SHOWERED and back in time for tunes from Rura and Skerryvore. S/O to Kirsty, Louisa, Rowen and Katherine for having us round to their house for bacon rolls and a shower – nothing like west coast hospitality! IMG_7746IMG_7727

Sunday

We drove down to Hynish for a wee swim and picnic before the madness of Sunday night began, and met a few bonnie coos on the way… IMG_7859IMG_8755…round three beginsIMG_7771_Facetune_15-07-2018-17-53-24IMG_7800Also, did I mention the food at TMF? What other festival serves champagne and oysters from Loch Fyne? SO GOOD!  IMG_8756And for our Sunday sesh we had tunes from, Elephant Sessions and Skipinnish. What an incredible final night. IMG_7179

It gets better every year, and whatever the weather… we will see you next summer!

Rona and Callum X

@ronamcmillan

@ahoycallum

 

 

How to spend more time doing what you love with the people you love

Plan your days and weeks ahead – there’s nothing more exciting than having a calendar full of things to look forward to.

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Tiree Ultra Marathon – Vivian

Check the weather – getting organised to make the best use of good weather is a million times better than being stuck twiddling your thumbs on a sunny day because everyone else is already off up hills, on the water or in a beer garden… FOMO really starts to kick in.

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Surf wake improvisation – Callum

Stick to your word – there’s nothing worse than really needing an adventure, and plans get cancelled. Doh! Sometimes we really rely on other people to get us going, so a cancelled plan can be a real downer.

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Firewood mission – Ewan & Angus

Don’t be afraid to contact people… even when you’ve not seen them in a long time – more often than not they’re going to be delighted to get that message. Better still, give them a call.

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The outdoor beauty – Emily

Go the distance – what a bummer when one of your best friends or family members moves across the country… but how appreciated is it when they make the effort to visit?

My mum is a 5 hour drive from Glasgow – the trip is pretty tiresome, but always worth it because I love her company, and I know we will always get up to something fun together.

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Red Point – Mum

Do things, that aren’t ‘ya thang’ – what if someone suggests meeting up to do something that you don’t really fancy doing? If not for any other reason, do it because they’re going to enjoy it.

My family was really keen to go and explore caves last weekend; I totally didn’t see the appeal of climbing into dark, damp smelly caves… but I went with them and actually really enjoyed it.

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Old mining caves – Kishorn

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And we found a cute newt!

Being present – how often do you turn into a tech zombie and realise you’ve been staring at a screen for an hour. I do, all the time – but having no signal up north is helping this problem!

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Tiree – Emily and I

Silence is ok – this is something my mum and I were chatting about recently. We are both relatively quiet people and find it pretty tricky when it comes to small talk… not because we aren’t friendly and interested in other people… we are just fairly shy. But once we decided we didn’t need to try and make conversation ALL the time – silence didn’t feel awkward, it was actually pretty nice.

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Sunny Applecross – Ewan

Encourage other people in things they do – going along to be a support for someone is hopefully going to be helpful for them, and also inspiring for you.

Last weekend my brother ran up the Bealach; my mum and I drove half the way up to give him water, I took some snaps and we met him at the top when he finished. It was really great watching him achieve something – even though the run was no bother at all for him, it would be something I would find difficult and now I feel pretty egged on to do the same run.

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Running up the Bealach – Angus

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Tiree Ultra – Angus and Gary

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Ultra running super Mum

And after all that – time alone seems to feel different. My itching restlessness is gone and I’m feeling content and pretty chilled. Being around other people who love doing what I love doing generally makes me a more productive and happier person.

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Beers, poems, hammock!

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Just a couple dudes I love – The Bros

Thanks for reading

R x @ronamcmillan