National Experience Week 2017

Big dreams, big prizes with National Experience Week 2017

National Experience Week is back for 2017! Between the 17th and 26th April 2017 we are encouraging everyone to experience something new. Whatsmore, with our massive National Experience Week competition, you don’t just dream about the experiences ever, you win too them!

National Experience Day dream experiences

Don’t just dream about those fab experience days…win them!

Yes, it’s that time of the year when you can officially throw caution to the wind and actually do that activity you’ve always fancied doing. Maybe you’ve not had the gall…the money…or the time to before, so with National Experience Week it’s all about encouraging you to really go for it. And, the by entering our competiton, you could make your dream experiences a reality.

What prizes are up for grabs for National Experience Week?

One lucky winner will walk away with a bundle of their wishlist of favourite experiences worth up to £1000. Another two social media-savvy bods will be awarded with a £100 activity gift token to spend on any experience day on our website.

So, how do you enter IntotheBlue’s £1000 National Experience Week 2017 competition?

All you have to do is build a WishList of at least two products, and then post on Twitter or Facebook (or both!) and tell us how you’re celebrating National Experience Week. You do that by browsing our products and adding the ones you want to win to your personal WishList.

When you’ve found an experience, simply click on the ‘Add to Wish List’ button (which you’ll find just to the right of the activity name) and after you’ve entered your email address, you will have created your WishList.


Add your favourite experiences to your WishList

You need to add at least two experiences to your WishList to be eligible for the competition and to validate your entry you just need to our Facebook page or Tweet using #nationalexperienceweek and tell us what you’re doing to celebrate.

WishList creation

Steps 3 and 4 to creating your WishList

Remember, the maximum experience bundle value you can win is £1000, so pick your experiences carefully…

Need more info?

All the information you need to enter the competition is available on our 2017 National Experience Week page. This is also where you’ll find all the small print and those dull, yet essential, terms and conditions.

More chances to win

As well as giving one lucky winner their wishlist up to the value of £1000, we will also be giving away two further prizes. Two runners up will each receive a £100 gift voucher to use on our website. So, if you don’t win the main prize, you could still be in with a shout of winning.

Here’s a little Facebook post to give you an idea of the sort of thing you can do…

Facebook competition post

Posting on Facebook to enter the £100 token National Experience Week competition

Need some WishList inspiration?

Now you know how to you enter our 2017 National Experience Week competition, let’s get the ball rolling with some brilliant experience ideas that you could add to your WishList.

See your name in lights when you sign up for a Neon Workshop. Spend a day cutting and shaping glass tubes to make your neon sign, then fill it with noble gases. Enjoy that amazing moment when you switch it on for the first time to quite literally light up your life with your very own neon light creation. It’s a bargain too, as the experience is on offer at moment, reduced to just £45, including taking your light that you get to take home with you.

Neon Workshop

Add a Neon Workshop to your WishList and light up your life

That leaves you plenty of scope for adding something rather fancy like an exclusive yacht charter day, where you and your friends or family set sail from Brighton marina to spend a day on the open seas onboard a lovely sailing yacht. The boat comes complete with crew, so you can just chill and enjoy the views, or get stuck in with sailor duties on deck. It’s all totally bespoke to you, as the yacht has been exclusively chartered just for your group.

Yacht charter

How about chartering a private yacht for the day? You could win this!

If you’re more of a land lubber, how about a weekend break in an Airstream? These authentic 50s and 60s American caravans give glamping a new, authentic twist on the Isle of Wight. Each Airstream is an original and every one has been individually furnished, right down to the 1950s board games and classic stripey cloth deckchairs on the veranda. Breaks for two are offered at £199 for two nights.

Airstream weekend

Living the Airstream dream – add this to your WishList and win a weekend away in an Airstream

Those who constantly feel the need for speed, will love our Shredder experiences. These are the latest slightly madcap gadgets to ride. More rugged than Segways, with double tracks like a mini tank, it’s a bit like snowboarding with the stance you adopt on the board. As you can probably tell, it’s easier to actually ride a DTV Shredder than it is to explain what it’s all about. A great experience to add to your WishList if you’re a bit of an adrenaline hunter.

DTV Shredder

The DTV Shredder – the gnarliest little tracked vehicle ever

And of course, we’re well known for our massive range of great value flying and driving experiences, with everything from drifting days and drives in fast Ferraris, to exclusive Spitfire events and wing walking experiences. So have a browse and choose your dream experience days to win.

And the competition closing date…

Our National Experience Week competition for 2017 closes at midnight on the 26th April 2017, so get hunting out those experiences, add them to your WishList and tell us (and everyone) about it to be in with a chance to win them all.

Good luck and we will announce the winners on here and through our social media after the competition closes.

National Experience Week social wall

Enter our National Experience Week competition and see yourself on our Social Wall #nationalexperienceweek

how cricket bats are made

How are cricket bats made?

So you don’t know how a cricket bat is made? Well that’s just not cricket is it! Described as the quintessential English sport, in the game of cricket they say nothing beats ‘the sound of leather on willow’ but what does that expression actually mean? Well it’s all about the cricket bat and how it’s made with the best quality wood.

cricket game

Howzat?! The wickets fall in the wonderful game of cricket

Are crickets bats really made of willow?

They certainly are. Willow is the best wood to make a cricket bat with and, to be more precise, Salix Caerulea or Alba Var English willow is the wood of choice to make a professional grade cricket bat. Some of the long-established English cricket bat manufacturers even have their own Willow tree plantations, to ensure they grow the trees the way they want to.

Once the tree has been chopped down what happens?

The tree trunks, with the bark still on, are taken to the saw mill and milled to the right length, with one flat side and one ‘domed’ side, so the basic shape of the bat is already there. This piece of wood, called the cleft, then goes off to be graded.

How does grading a cricket bat work?

This is the key moment of quality control for a cleft in order to grade what standard of cricket bat it’ll be. Before it’s even been shaped, skilled cricket bat makers examine the grain and colourings of the wood. The top quality bats the professional batsmen and women want have the straightest and most even grains, with not much overall colouring in the wood. Although it’s naturally occurring, wavy grains means a lower quality bat.

cricket bat grading

Before they’re made, cricket bat clefts are graded according to the quality of the Willow

What happens after the cleft has been graded?

You need to reduce the moisture in the wood by drying it out. This is an exact science rather like regulating the temperature in a cave so that your wine matures nicely. The temperature to dry out cricket bat willow is generally between 20 and 22 degrees, with around 50% humidity. Consistency is the key here, so the wood should be dried in a very controlled environment to regulate the moisture content to perfection.

Oh and the handles, which are made out of cane with cork and rubber, also need to be dried at the same time to the same parameters, otherwise you’ll have problems when you put to the two woods together (for example wood splitting) if the percentage of moisture is not the same in the two elements.

What happens next in the process to make a cricket bat?

After drying out, it’s time for the edges and faces to be shaped. This could be done by hand, using traditional tools such as drawknives and spokeshaves, or by machine. Once this has been done, the cleft is pressed to compact the wood to a particular point, according to batting preference.

shaping a cricket

Shaping the cricket bat by hand at Millichamp & Hall

What difference does the amount of pressing of the cleft make to the finished cricket bat?

The harder pressed the wood is, the harder the ball comes off the bat. A slightly lighter pressing gives more feedback in the hand of the batter, which is what some cricket players seek from their bat. It all depends on what sort of game they play.

How does the handle get attached?

We thought you’d ask that. A ‘v’ shape called the ’splice’ needs to be cut in the top of the cleft. Again this can be done by machine, or by hand. In the high quality cricket bat manufacturing workshops, the handles are fitted by hand.

cricket bat building

A skilled craftsmen attaches the handle to the cricket bat by hand

And after that’s done is that it? Is your cricket bat ready to hit a few sixes?

Not yet! This is when the shaping to finely tune the bat happens. Sometimes done by robots that can be programmed for specific shapes and styles, sometimes done entirely by hand, this is where the real characteristics of the bats are created. Some players like a very flat toe, others seek a high middle, whilst for come cricketers is all about the thick edges.

Shaping done, surely we’re onto the finishing touches now?

Yes. The binding is added to the handle, the bat is given a finish wax and polished, the branded stickers are added and your cricket bat has been made. All that remains for you to do is to stand at the crease and get ready to face a fast ball from the bowler…and that is how a cricket bat is made!

If you’re a cricket fan and would love to have a full-size grade 1 cricket bat custom made for you, top cricket manufacturer Millichamp & Hall will welcome you to their workshop at Somerset County Cricket Club in Taunton to have your very own English Willow cricket bat made for you as you watch.

M&H cricket bat

And here’s the finished product – a lovely professional grade Millichamp & Hall cricket bat

set feature mobile spa on wheels

Do mobile spas on wheels exist in the UK?

Mobile spas – bringing the world of beauty and holistic treatments to you…but with a difference.

Sure, if you Google ‘mobile spas’ you get lots of websites for therapists who come and set up in your own home. But we’re not talking about that kind of mobile, we want to know if a whole mobile spa room on wheels can come to you?

Mobile spas – big in the US, but what about the UK?

By all accounts, yes it does, but a mobile spa that literally drives to wherever you are is a pretty new concept and there aren’t many of them around in the UK. They have taken off in the USA though, where everything from Airstream caravans doing manicures, to former buses being converted into mobile hairdressers. It’s beauty rooms and treatment spas on the move.

Mobile spas on wheels

Mobile spas on wheels – big in the US, rarer in the UK

The advantages of a mobile spa on wheels

Actually bringing the spa room to you has many advantages over the more traditional concept of mobile beauty and spa treatments in the home. Of course, you do need space to park the luxury spa mobile and it needs to be somewhere flat too, but there’s no lugging around heavy table or treatment beds into your house and pretty much no set up time either. And you won’t no need to move furniture around to create a suitable spa area in your own home or office. After all, not everywhere can easily provide a 3.5m x 1.5m space complete with wall socket, which is usually what’s specified for home spa treatments.

One innovative spa therapist in the UK who has gone mobile is Caroline. She has converted a Mercedes Sprinter into a ‘self-contained, tranquil oasis, summoned to your doorstep’. Inside the decor is blissful, relaxing and warm, with golden hues, ambient lighting and soft music. Everything needed to provide quality and varied spa treatments is there and once you’re inside, it feels as though you are in a luxury five star treatment room.

Inside the spa mobile it's all about luxury and relaxation

Inside the spa mobile it’s all about luxury and relaxation

Caroline is based near Warwick and offers her deluxe spa service on wheels within a 50 mile radius. That means everywhere from Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Birmingham and Milton Keynes, as well as her home county of Warwickshire, are covered.

A huge range on on-board treatments

The eclectic treatment menu includes holistic treatments like Reiki and Crystal Healing, as well as more traditional aromatherapy massages and facials, with Caroline’s home-made oils. You can also enjoy a soothing reflexology treatment, or go for deep muscle relaxation with a hot stone massage. And, of course, all this is available wherever you want it. Mobile spa on wheels packages start at £65 per person.

Mobile spa treatments - from traditional massages to holistic therapies

Mobile spa treatments – from traditional massages to holistic therapies

Indeed, Caroline says her mobile spa is perfect for pamper parties for hen gatherings whilst the wellbeing at work package is much appreciated by stressed out employees when she parks up at their offices. Even Mother’s Day goes mobile with many a Mummy being treated by their family. And you can only imagine Mum’s surprise when she sees the plush spa rolling up outside!

Mobile spas on wheels – driving therapies forward for the future?

Whilst there will always be a place for the mobile beauty therapist on the move who can come to yours for a quick mani or pedi, the spa room on wheels takes mobile spa treatments to the next level. Let’s see if the idea of bringing the fully-equipped spa room to you truly takes off in the UK.


Mobile spa on wheels – bringing everything you need for relaxation to your door