Essentials for a Hike

by: Eliza Susan (reading – 1.3. - 7.3.)

When on a hike, safety is your biggest concern. You could get injured or even lose your way. Sports watches with GPS help to navigate yourself back home. Similarly, with that, here is a short list of essentials to pack light, smart and be prepared for a safe and pleasant hiking journey.

A good breakfast. You must have already heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Yes, it is true. Your morning meal before a hike should include a cereal (oats or wheat), which will give you the necessary carbohydrates for energy. Your energy level can be kept on track throughout the day by sipping on water as well as munching onto fruits and nuts.

Inform someone about your plans. Never take off without informing your family or a friend that you are planning to hike and which direction you intend to go. In case you are not back in time, rescuers will have an idea where to find you. You could also use your GPS enabled watch to navigate back. Never post your itinerary anywhere on your car as this can attract thieves.

Weather update. Be informed about the weather conditions within your trail. Accordingly you should be clothing yourself to keep you warm and dry. If the weather turns out to be worse than expected, always choose to return home. Do not risk your life for anything. The mountains are always going to be there on the same trail.

Hiking equipment. A compass is a very valuable tool but you could also carry a sports watch with GPS instead because those come with inbuilt compass as well as additional navigation tools. A map and a guidebook will also be helpful.

Light source. Headlamp or a flashlight is extremely essential even if you don't intend on staying out till dark. Twist your ankle or take a wrong turn and your hike will take much longer than expected.

First aid kit. Just basic stuff such as bandages, adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, gauze and pain relief tablets should be sufficient.

Lots of water. You need more than the normal daily intake of water required because you are exercising. Not only do you feel better with water, your body also functions better when you stay hydrated.

Duct tape. This should be your secret weapon. Wind it around your water bottle to make sure it stays close at hand. A tear in your tent or a hole in your canoe can be saved with duct tape.

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14 Fast Facts About Leonardo Da Vinci

by: Joanne Perkins (reading – 8.3. - 14.3.)

1. Da Vinci was the first to explain why the sky is blue, having realised how the air scatters light about.

2. He is widely credited with coming up with the idea of contact lenses, which he did so in his 1508 publication Codex of the eye, Manual D.

3. He was a vegetarian and believed animals should be free; as such, he would often purchase caged birds just so he could then set them free.

4. He created designs for many things that would take centuries to be realised, including helicopters, solar power technology, tanks and calculators, to name just a few.

5. He was fascinated with form and this fascination can be seen in one of his most famous pieces, The Vitruvian Man, which sets out the proportions of the human body.

6. One of the many things da Vinci studied was river erosion; from this he came to realise that the Earth was in fact older than what was claimed in the Bible.

7. He disproved another Biblical story by claiming that it wasn't Noah's ark that was responsible for fossils being found on mountainsides, but actually falling sea levels.

8. Though undoubtedly one of the greatest creatives ever to have lived, da Vinci didn't have a particularly high opinion of his many contributions to human knowledge.

9. Even though da Vinci is exceptionally famous for his paintings, just over a dozen are currently thought to still be in existence.

10. A number of da Vinci's designs have actually been built; some were found to work, while others were found to be impractical.

11. Making extensive notes was something that da Vinci had the habit of doing. Throughout his lifetime he made thousands upon thousands of pages of notes, including over 200 on corpses he gained permission to dissect.

12. Undoubtedly his most famous painting is the Mona Lisa. Arguably the most famous painting in the world, no one to this day knows exactly who the subject of the painting is. There have been plenty of theories put forward, of course, but none have been proven yet.

13. At one point da Vinci was nearly sentenced to death for sodomy. No witnesses came forward to speak against him, so the case was dismissed and da Vinci was permitted to live.

14. The Mona Lisa has been on permanent display at the Louvre in Paris since 1797 and is seen by over 6 million people a year.

About The Author

Joanne Perkins is a Berkshire-based artist with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art. She specialises in painting Berkshire landscapes and loves capturing the natural beauty of her local countryside. She is happy to accept all queries and questions. For more information about Joanne, her work and her current projects visit: [] Joanne can be found on Facebook.

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12 Fast Facts About Vincent Van Gogh

by: Joanne Perkins (reading – 15.3. - 21.3.)

1. He wasn't interested in art for most of his life; it wasn't until he was 27 that he started painting, though he did many drawings throughout his childhood and early 20s.

2. He wasn't afraid to cast himself as the subject of his paintings, creating over 30 self-portraits in the space of four years.

3. The last 10 years of his life were extremely prolific; during this time, he created over 900 paintings, which works out at one painting every 40 days.

4. There are conflicting stories about the famous ear incident; it's commonly believed that Vincent cut off his own ear after having a fight with a friend, though others believe his artist friend Paul Gauguin, a famous painter in his own right, was responsible for cutting it off. Many believe his whole ear was cut off; in fact, it was only a small part of his ear lobe.

5. Unlike lots of other influential and famous artists, Van Gogh was mostly self-taught and had very little artistic training before he started creating his works.

6. However, he did attend an art school in Antwerp. He did this for a few months before his death. By this time in his life, he'd produced most of his masterpieces.

7. The Red Vineyard is the only painting he sold in his entire lifetime; it wasn't until after he died that he started to gain popular appreciation and his paintings started to sell in huge numbers.

8. His most famous painting, arguably, is The Starry Night, which depicted the view from his bedroom at an asylum for the mentally ill in the French town of Saint-Remy-de-Provence.

9. Throughout his lifetime he suffered from various mental conditions. The culmination of these afflictions happened in 1890 when Vincent shot himself; he died two days later aged 37. However, some people claim he was actually shot by a local teenager.

10. Sunset at Montmajour was publicly unveiled in 2013 as the most recently discovered Van Gogh painting. It's now on display at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

11. Vincent's closest friend was his brother Theo. He wrote over 800 letters to his brother throughout his life. Theo financially supported his brother while he tried to make himself a success. The two are buried side by side.

12. It's thanks to Theo's wife that we know of Vincent's work today. After Vincent's death, she became determined to make Vincent's works get the recognition she thought they deserved.

About The Author

Joanne Perkins is a Berkshire-based artist with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art. She specialises in painting Berkshire landscapes and loves capturing the natural beauty of her local countryside. She is happy to accept all queries and questions. For more information about Joanne, her work and her current projects visit: [] Joanne can be found on Facebook.

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11 Fascinating Facts About Art

by: Joanne Perkins (reading – 22.3. - 28.3.)

1. Red Vineyard at Arles was the only painting that Vincent van Gogh sold during his lifetime. Though he didn't enjoy much success throughout his life, after death he went on to become one of the world's most popular and influential artists. While Vincent van Gogh was alive, he created over 900 paintings, as well as over 1,000 sketches and drawings. His wife dedicated herself to getting his work recognised. It's safe to say she succeeded.

2. The word 'art' is very subjective; the Oxford Dictionary offers 12 definitions of what art actually is.

3. Paint tubes may not seem that important today, but without them, art as we know it would be a lot different. The invention of paint tubes allowed artists to venture outside with their painting supplies and capture the world around them more easily. This led to the Impressionist movement, which continues to influence and inspire many artists all over the world to this day.

4. Studies have found that children who study art are more likely to have higher grades than those who don't study art.

5. If Monet's father had had his way, his son would have been a grocer, not a painter.

6. Pablo Picasso completed his first drawing when he was nine. It was of a man riding a horse during a bullfight. He completed his first serious painting, which depicted his father, mother and sister kneeling at an altar, when he was 15.

7. Michelangelo worked for a total of nine consecutive popes. His art career was extraordinary in itself: he worked for some 70 years and was widely regarded as one of the leading creatives and visionaries of the Renaissance. Pope Julius II was the first pope Michelangelo worked with and Pope Pius IV was the last.

8. Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night is a depiction of the view of Saint-Remy-de-Provence, a small town in the South of France. Vincent van Gogh created this painting while staying at the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole, a psychiatric hospital. The painting is actually the view from his window.

9. The Scream by Edvard Munch is a very famous painting, but did you know the artist actually created five different versions of this painting? He created the first two in 1893 using crayon and tempera on cardboard and the third with pastels. The fourth version is a black and white lithograph. The fifth version was created owing to the popularity of the previous versions.

10. Before the 19th century, artists would have to mix their oil paints by hand whenever they wanted to paint.

11. The Olympic Games used to award medals for works of art inspired by sports. These medals were handed out in the games from 1912-48.

About The Author

Joanne Perkins is a Berkshire-based artist with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art. She specialises in painting Berkshire landscapes and loves capturing the natural beauty of her local countryside. She is happy to accept all queries and questions. For more information about Joanne, her work and her current projects visit: [] Joanne can be found on Facebook.

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Three Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training

by: Pete Stout (reading – 29.3. - 4.4.)

If you are looking for a new workout regime, or are just looking for some new challenges, high intensity interval training (HIIT) might be for you. It's an interval style training featuring quick, intense bursts, followed by short recovery periods. You give it your all during the short bursts, take a quick rest, and then repeat the cycle. Don't be fooled by the short nature of the intervals, if you do it right, these short bursts will leave you sucking wind. This training technique that has caught a lot of attention in recent years, and for good reason. Here are three great benefits of HIIT workouts.

More efficient

First and foremost, high intensity interval training is much more efficient than a typical workout routine. This holds especially true for people who have limited time to workout. 20-30 minutes is a sufficient amount of time for a HIIT workout. Even though you may not be spending as much time in the gym, the intense bursts will make up for it compared to steady state workout, such as a long run.

Better cardiovascular fitness

Subjecting yourself to high intensity interval training works wonders for your metabolism because your body burns calories during the workout and for hours afterwards. This leads to more fat loss if you are trying to lose weight or if you are just toning up. Additionally, high intensity interval training is great for your cardiovascular health as you are cycling between your peak heart rate and then back down to a normal heart rate. Over time, your cardio system will become much more efficient at lowering your heart rate immediately following an intense burst. You'll start to notice yourself being in better shape to handle the HIIT workouts, and your cardio will be in better shape too. This leads to improving your endurance as an athlete. If you are training for a marathon, mixing in HIIT workouts with your regular training will help you build your endurance faster.

It grows with you

This is often overlooked, but high intensity interval training grows with you. Most other workout regimens cause the participant to plateau once they've reached a certain level. This is seen by people who train the same way over and over again - their bodies have adapted to that level of workout, and it isn't challenging enough for them to see great improvements. This is not the case with HIIT, as it grows with you. You're all in for the intense bursts. 100%. Maximum effort. As your endurance and athletic abilities increase, what once was 100% for you may now be only 70%. As you improve, so does your peak. This means that you'll break through plateaus and get in better shape fast, and improve faster, compared to standard workouts.

HIIT offers many advantages compared with normal workout regimens. They are very time efficient, greatly improve your cardiovascular health, and allow you to achieve new levels of fitness due to its inherent nature of growing with you. Now that you know a little more about the benefits of high intensity interval training, it's time to get out and start bursting!

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