The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

A Child In A Toy Shop

When was the last time that you visited an outdoor retailer and were offered a cup of tea the moment that you entered?

For me, that was in June 2003 in Portree (except it was coffee that I was offered on that occasion).

I’m sure that it’s something that more than one retailer offers, but I bet that they don’t all produce a steaming mug of tea and a tin of home made biscuits do they?

And so began our visit to Bob & Rose at

Now, if you follow other outdoor blogs and the various outdoor forums then the chances are that you will already have seen many comments singing the praises of Bob & Rose. In my opinion there is only one reason for so many independent raves about how good they are: it’s because they really do go way beyond the service provided by your average outdoor retailer.

The week before Easter I had a lengthy chat with Bob & Rose about backpacks. I’d decided rather late in our LEJOG preparation that I might like a new backpack for our excursion and BPL stocks a few models that had caught my attention. During the course of this conversation they dragged out kit and answered all of my questions. They also suggested a few other packs that I’d either considered and discounted or hadn’t even considered.

The result of that conversation was that on Maunday Thursday a box full of backpacks arrived, which distracted me at length from the paperwork that I was supposed to be doing. More about the backpacks separately, though.

Needing to return a couple of packs to BPL, I found that the cost of insured carriage with Royal Mail was such that it would be more cost effective to get in the car and drive them back myself. The bonus was that I could kill two birds with one stone: return the packs and take my first foray into the Malvern Hills.

Over the first cup of tea and a biscuit I tried on practically every pack that BPL stocks. Over the second cup of tea, we explored various other goods. Two and a half hours later, having well and truly behaved like children in a sweet shop, we left with:

- A backpack (the original objective)
- A Montane Featherlite Smock*
- A Triad stove
- A midge head net
- A length of dyneema cord
- Some Pot-cosy material off-cuts
- Some heat-shrink material
- A stuff sack of the exact size required to fit an MSR kettley thing with a Bushbuddy inside of it.

Not only did some of those items get very generously thrown in as freebies, but we also left with the obligatory BPL sweeties (Jelly Tots today).

I’ve been buying from BPL for a couple of years now and have never had anything other than a positive experience in so doing. However, today they really demonstrated their customer service to the maximum. Two and a half hours of informed one-on-one service, tea, biscuits and freebies. Even if you were the pickiest customer ever, is there anything more that you ask for in an outdoor retailer?

(*Hmm. Despite having said just last Friday that I wasn’t going to be buying a Montane Featherlite, I succumbed. I can trace the origin of this weakness quite clearly to Blogpacker whose Blog alerted me to the fact that BPL was selling the 2007 model off at a bargain price. At the price, it seemed rude not to buy one…)


  1. Those visits can be quite, quite fatal :-)

  2. Gayle, you should read Andy's tip for the Triad here

    As I point out this may allow it to be used with 1 fl oz of fuel. I need to try it. But I did manage to light it with 1.5 fl oz, which wasn't too bad.

    I find using the Triad with the MSR Titanium mug is a good mix.

    You will find with the off cuts, making a lid for the MSR mug is a good idea, along with making a custom windshield for the Triad.

    Hope you have fun with it as I have.

  3. Looking forward to reading about the packs you tried out and the one you eventually went for.

  4. The bob effect strikes. You'll need to break your LeJog half way to get another fix!

    Re the Montane w/shirt. Once you;ve started to use it you'll wonder why you never had one before. They are so infectious. Preapre to ditch some of your other tops as you get used to tits benefits

  5. Ahem...

    Mr Hee. How did your tits benefit?