Turtle Mat Tales

for lovers of the great outdoors

Turtle Mat Joins the Pignic!

On April 16th, 2015 Rebecca Wilson wrote on the subject of Tales from Turtle Towers.

It’s no secret that we at Turtle Mat love cute animals, so much so that we have a whole Turtle Mat range especially for our furry friends. So when we recently got wind of an upcoming event, exclusively dedicated to some of the cutest creatures around, we had to get involved.

We are excited to announce that Turtle Mat are partnering with Yelp for their Pop-Up Pignic. Coming up next month in London, the picnic will see a night of food, drinks and pig education. There will also be an adorable litter of new born piglets in attendance and the chance to win one of five Turtle Mats to wipe your muddy boots – or trotters – on!

There is also a more serious side to the event as PetPiggies will be there to educate the audience on exactly what pig ownership means. With the rise in popularity over recent years of so-called “micro pigs”, an alarming number of pigs have to be given up by their owners when the piglets grow up to be much bigger than expected and simply become too big for their homes.

Though pigs make for beautiful and loving pets, it is important that potential pet pig owners start with realistic size expectations and we hope that educating people on what pig ownership means will reduce the number of animals abandoned each year.

Farms Not Factories will also speak at the event about the true cost of factory farmed meat on pig welfare, human health and the environment. Their work aims to reduce the number of pigs being treated cruelly in animal factories and push for animal welfare to come first.

We are delighted to be part of such a great event that combines vital education with a chance to interact with these intelligent animals. PetPiggies kindly shared some of their cutest photos with us too:

Micro Pigs

Tickets cost £30 each and money from every ticket sold will go to Farms Not Factories. Sign up fortickets and find more information on the Yelp website.

How Healthy is Your Sleep Routine?

On March 11th, 2015 Rebecca Wilson wrote on the subject of In the Home.

With World Sleep Day taking place on March 13th, it is a good time to reflect on if we are doing enough to prepare our bodies for sleep in the evenings. We carried out some research recently into the nation’s pre-sleep habits and found that an alarming number of us are spending our evenings immersed in technology that keeps our brains switched on in a way that affects our sleep. In fact, around 86% of Brits are waking up less than fresh.

Not only that but we also found that many of us feel too busy to relax, with a further six percent of the population going as far as saying they feel guilty for it.

Speaking to Dr Michael Oko, consultant ENT surgeon and founder of the Snoring Disorders Centre, we were shocked to hear just how strong the effects of using technology before bed can be: “these devices emit blue light which stimulates the brain and inhibits melatonin metabolism for a few hours. This has the effect of resetting your body clock (circadian rhythm) and sleep cycle. If you do not get enough quality sleep you cannot perform at your best the next day.”

There is also the risk of major long-term health effects, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. As Dr Oko says, “We are yet to see the true long term impact on the younger generation of this recent advancement in technology.”

What do you do in the evenings to start winding down and preparing for sleep? We have put together a quiz that can help you to assess your own habits, banish the guilt, and make positive changes:

Whilst we are not quite relaxation gurus ourselves, we love nothing more than a bath before bed and will certainly be putting our phones down a little earlier from now on!

What result did you get and will you be making any changes? Let us know in the comments or over on Facebook or Twitter!

8 Thrifty DIY Christmas Jumper Ideas

On December 15th, 2014 Rebecca Wilson wrote on the subject of Crafts.

Christmas jumpers have never been more popular. No longer something we are begrudgingly forced to wear by relatives on Christmas Day, we can’t get enough of them these days – so much so that this year they even inspired a new addition to the Turtle Mat Christmas Collection!

In celebration of our new Christmas Jumper Mat we challenged a talented group of crafty bloggers to transform a plain jumper into a Christmas wonder. All of these fantastic Christmas jumpers were created with just a plain knitted jumper and a budget of £5 or less. Click through to find the full tutorial for each and create your own handmade Christmas jumper!


Bah Humpug! Pug Motif Jumper by Oh Hi DIY

Pug Motif DIY Christmas Jumper


Sew-Your-Own Snowman Christmas Jumper by Cassiefairy

Snowman DIY Christmas Jumper


Reindeer Homemade Jumper by Time to Craft

Fluffy Reindeer DIY Christmas Jumper


Olaf the Snowman DIY Jumper from Boldly Gold

Olaf Frozen DIY Christmas Jumper


Polar Bear DIY Jumper from Lily Doughball

Polar bear DIY Christmas jumper


Elsa-Inspired Snowflake Jumper by Jennifer Grace Creates

Elsa Frozen DIY Christmas Jumper


Glitter and Sparkle Starry Christmas Jumper by Cookies and Cwtches

Gold Star DIY Christmas Jumper


Queen Elsa’s Snowflake Jumper by Rachael Jess

Frozen Elsa DIY Christmas Jumper


Will you be wearing a Christmas jumper this festive season? Let us know what you’ll be wearing in the comments below or over on Twitter!


Kate Humble in conversation with Francine Stock

On October 24th, 2014 Rebecca Wilson wrote on the subject of Uncategorized.

We’re very proud to be supporting the amazing work of The Haven (Hereford Haven Breast Cancer Support Centre) through their fantastic forthcoming Hereford event – Francine Stock in conversation with Kate Humble (Springwatch and Lambing Live).

This special lunch event includes a two course meal and a glass of Prosecco as well as the talk between Kate and Francine – for full details see below.

Francine Stock and Kate Humble in conversation

Get Crafty – Exclusive Dee Hardwicke Knitted Reindeer Pot Stand

On October 9th, 2014 Rebecca Wilson wrote on the subject of Uncategorized.

Get Crafty illlustration


We’ve teamed up with Dee Hardwicke to bring you this exclusive knitted reindeer pot stand pattern – perfect for Christmas entertaining!

We’re also offering one lucky knitter the opportunity to win a signed copy of Dee Hardwicke’s Little Colour Knits her highly successful knitting book in collaboration with Rowan yarns. Just send us your pics of your finished knitted reindeer pot stand on Facebook by 30/11/2014 to be in with a chance of winning.

Dee - Rudolph mat


Just click on the pattern below and then print to get started in creating your reindeer pot stand. You’ll also find all the instructions you need below the pattern.



All images, designs and charts © Dee Hardwicke 2014

Dee - Reindeer Pot Stand

Finished Size: 20cm x 18cm approx

Yarns: 1 x 25g ball each of Rowan Fine Tweed in Buckden 364 (A) and Bainbridge 369 (B)

Needles: Pair of 3.25mm (US 3) knitting needles

Tension: 26sts and 34 rows to 10cm/4in square measured over stocking stitch using 3.25mm (US 3) needles, or size to obtain correct tension.


Charts are read from right to left for a right side (knit) row and left to right for a wrong side (purl) row. Strand the yarn across the tile borders for this pot stand, and use the intarsia technique for working the reindeer.

The intarsia technique allows you to knit a motif on a specific area of your work, without the need to strand yarn across the entire width of a row as you would with Fair Isle colour work. When you come to change colour, you just need to make sure that you secure the old yarn with the new one to avoid getting any holes.

For a right side row:

Knit the row in your base colour until you get to the point where you need to change colour. Drop the working yarn, bring the new colour up from underneath and over the “old” colour, and knit with it. When it comes to changing again, simply do the same. Drop the colour you have been knitting with, bring the new colour up from underneath and over the old one, and knit with it.

For a wrong side:

Purl up to the colour change. Drop the old yarn, bring up the new from underneath and over the old yarn and purl the stitch with the new yarn.

Often you won’t be changing colour for a vertical line. As long as you always remember to bring the new yarn over the old, you will avoid holes for a more intricate pattern.

Pot stand:

Using 3.25mm (US 3) needles and yarn A, cast on 53 stitches. Working in stocking stitch throughout and using chart as a guide, work all rows of colour chart to complete pot stand. For neatness, we recommend knitting the first and last stitches of each row to ensure your pot stand sits flat. Cast off using yarn A.

Making up:

Block or press to size as preferred. Sew in ends.


All images, designs and charts © Dee Hardwicke 2014

WIN! A Signed Copy of Dee Hardwicke’s ‘Little Colour Knits’ Book and Cherry Tree & Leaves Breakfast Set

On October 9th, 2014 Rebecca Wilson wrote on the subject of Competition.

Dee logo and WIN





WIN – To celebrate the launch of Hawthorn, our latest addition to the Dee Hardwicke collection, we are offering one lucky winner a signed copy of Dee’s Little Colour Knits book as well as a Dee Hardwicke Cherry Tree & Leaves breakfast set worth over £135.

Hawthorn Turtle Mat doormatThe lucky winner (as well as two runners-up) will also receive the Hawthorn Placement design Turtle Mat, new to our Dee Hardwicke collection.

Click here to find out more and to enter:  http://www.turtlemat.co.uk/dee-hardwicke-competition/form.aspxIllustration - rain cloud and wellies

Closing date for entries: 30/11/2014


Walks We Love: Walks in St. Ives, Bingley

On October 7th, 2014 Rebecca Wilson wrote on the subject of The Great Outdoors.

Here at Turtle Towers, we simply love the Great Outdoors. With the Cotswolds being right on our doorstep we take any opportunity we can to get our walking boots on and head out into the countryside. To us, there are few better ways to spend a weekend than a long walk followed by a cosy pub lunch.

The view from Druid's Altar, Bingley

St. Ives Coach House, Bingley

There are so many beautiful parts of the country to muddy your boots in. To share our love of walking and exploring our heritage, last weekend we set up our very own ‘Turtle Trek’ and invited along a lovely group of bloggers to join us. And where could be better than walker’s paradise, Yorkshire?

Walking around St. Ives, Bingley

Autumn Berries

Coppice Pond, Bingley

With a little help from our friend Cedric at Walk in Yorkshire, our bloggers put on their waterproofs and, braving the autumnal weather, set out to conquer the trails of St. Ives in Bingley, West Yorkshire.

Druid's Altar, Bingley

The St. Ives Estate, Bingley

Turtle Trek at St. Ives

St. Ives Country Park has a long history dating back to the Neolithic era. Today you can see the mansion house, Coppice Pond, and a woodland trail dotted with intricate wooden carvings. Heading out towards the moor, there is Druid’s Altar with stunning views over the Aire Valley and over to Ilkley Moor.

Chainsaw Carving at St. Ives, Bingley

Our walk ended with a well-deserved feast at the Brown Cow in Bingley town. The creative presentation, delicious fare and great company were a perfect way to recover after blowing out the cobwebs on the trek.

Lunch at The Brown Cow, Bingley

Lunch at The Brown Cow, Bingley        Lunch at The Brown Cow, Bingley


Thanks to Anna, Tilly, Jen and Fran who joined us and to Natalie for the photos included here – we can’t wait for the next #TurtleTrek!

You can download the St. Ives walk for yourself here.


What is your favourite country walk? Let us know in the comments or over on Twitter!


How House Proud is the UK?

On July 31st, 2014 Rebecca Wilson wrote on the subject of In the Home.

Here at Turtle Mat we quite understandably spend an inordinate amount of time with shoes, doorways, and mud on our minds. Having been providing mats for the entrances of homes up and down the UK for twenty years now, we decided to do some research into your habits and attitudes; do you keep your shoes on or take them off before you enter your home? We were also curious to find out about how guests are received into our homes – do we ask them to remove their shoes too or are we too polite to inconvenience them? In our quest to find the most house proud cities in the UK, we also uncovered some unexpected findings. We learnt that just a few miles’ distance can lead to a completely different attitude. We also learnt that no matter how house proud some of us are, being polite and giving our guests a warm welcome can be far more important. Here are the full results: Turtle Mat House Proud Survey Results How do things compare in your home? Share your thoughts below!

The Cotswolds’ Top Picks: B&Bs

On July 3rd, 2014 Rebecca Wilson wrote on the subject of The Great Outdoors.

With picture-perfect thatched-roof cottages, medieval churches, honey-coloured limestone and miles of arable fields, it is little wonder that the Cotswolds was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) almost 50 years ago. But like many British AONBs, the region is replete with B&Bs and hotels vying for your attention and the choice available can seem overwhelming. So how can you find the place for you?

With this in mind, we’ve put together a rundown of the best B&Bs the Cotswolds has to offer. Our choices are based on consistently high TripAdvisor ratings, personal experiences and distinguishing features that put them ahead of the competition.

Horse and Groom – Bourton-on-the-Hill

Cotswolds B&B Map - Bourton-on-the-Hill“Best all-rounder”        

Average cost (double occupancy): £120 – £170 per night

Location: Bourton-on-the-Hill (near Stow-on-the-Wold)



Food: Full restaurant


Horse and Groom

Situated in the chocolate-box village of Bourton-on-the-Hill, this handsome Georgian inn is a peaceful, simple, thoroughly modern and chintz-free option. It was established a decade ago by brothers Tom and Will Greenstock and has attracted praise from professional critics and travellers alike, with most heaping praise upon Chef Will’s ever-changing blackboard menu, carefully considered ale and wine selection, and seasonal, locally-sourced produce.

Overnight guests frequently comment on the inn’s impeccably clean and stylish rooms, thoughtfully considered amenities and personalised service. This sentiment is echoed in its TripAdvisor ratings, where 85% of guests afforded a rating of “excellent” and 11% “very good”. For a breath of fresh air, the inn’s grassy beer garden offers glorious bucolic views.

The Horse and Groom’s central Cotswolds location means easy access to the region’s attractions and the bustling market town of Moreton-in-Marsh – with its plethora of antiques shops and tea rooms – is a 45-minute walk or five minute drive away.

Room at the Horse and Groom


The Wharf House – Over

Cotswolds B&B Map - Over“Best for waterways”

Average cost (double occupancy): £85 – £149

Location: Over (near Gloucester)



Food: Full restaurant


The Wharf House, Over

If waterways, rambling, cycling, good food and green living are on your agenda, then The Wharf House is for you. This solar-powered, charity-owned ‘restaurant with rooms’ is situated on the Hereford and Gloucestershire Canal Basin and all seven bedrooms command impressive views of the River Severn. Gloucester town centre, with its docklands and Waterways Museum, is within walking distance and a 25-minute drive will take you to the Slimbridge Wetlands.

Miles of rural footpaths and cycleways surround the Wharf House and the nearby bus stop runs regular services to a number of tourist destinations. The property is owned by the Hereford and Gloucester Canal Trust and as such is the only UK’s only AA Red Rosette establishment owned and run by a charity. What’s more, the property boasts one of Gloucestershire’s largest arrays of solar panels and all profits generated are used for the betterment of the Hereford and Gloucester Canal.

But don’t think that The Wharf House’s green credentials mean that luxury falls by the wayside. Fresh, locally-sourced produce goes into all the restaurant’s meals and guests who want a ‘bit of everything’ can enjoy foods from the tasting menu or light bites from the Sunday tapas menu. A cocktail or bottle from the extensive wine list can be enjoyed on the riverside terrace and those retiring to their rooms will appreciate underfloor heating and spa baths.

Room at The Wharf House


The Old School – Little Compton

Cotswolds B&B Map - Little Compton“Best for country character”

Average cost (double occupancy): £120

Location: Between Chipping Norton and Moreton-in-Marsh



Food: Breakfast, dinner, supper, lunch hampers


The Old School at Little Compton

With accolades including “magnificent,” “heavenly” and even “un petit bijou,” it is little wonder that The Old School – which 288 out of 290 TripAdvisor reviewers awarded the top score of “excellent” – is on our list. Formerly a Victorian schoolhouse, The Old School’s stained glass windows, arched wooden beams and neo-gothic architecture meld a sense of lofty opulence with the rooms’ timeless and cushy furnishings.

The guest house is particularly suited to those looking for a slower paced break in a more intimate setting. It is owned and operated by Wendy Veale and John Scott-Lee, whose breakfasts, dinners, cakes and teas (all home-made from locally-sourced ingredients) were described by one guest as “unforgettable”. For travellers requiring more flexibility, picnic hampers complete with rugs and umbrellas are provided. For those with evening plans elsewhere, convenient ‘supper trays’ of sandwiches, savoury tartlets and puddings can be provided in lieu of a cooked dinner.

Guests who wish to laze away the day can enjoy boules or croquet on the lawn, afternoon tea in the garden or wander down to the orchard to observe the rabbits and chickens. A ‘mini concierge’ service is provided by the owners with theatre bookings, car hire and other arrangements made on request.

Room at The Old School


The Wheatsheaf Inn - Northleach

Cotswolds B&B Map - Northleach“Best for style”

Average cost (double occupancy): £140 – £180

Location: Northleach (near Cirencester)



Food: Full restaurant


The Wheatsheaf at Northleach

Bang & Olufsen televisions, freestanding tubs, power showers, room service, an onsite spa and a poker room. These all sound like the makings of a palatial London hotel, but they come as standard at The Wheatsheaf: a rural inn that doesn’t do things by halves. The painstakingly-considered décor strikes a perfect blend of rustic, opulent and unabashedly modern. But whilst style and luxury come as standard, pomp and circumstance do not. Unlike many other establishments, both dogs and small children are welcome at The Wheatsheaf.

A stroll through the exquisite walled gardens leads to the Treatment Room, where guests can take a glass of champagne with a range of massages, aromatherapy session or make-up lesson, manicure and pedicure or wax treatment.  Whilst many guests will be reassured by the English mainstays of cooked breakfasts and roast dinners, the restaurant also offers juice blends and oysters at breakfast, chateaubriand steak at dinner and fruits de mer seafood platters on its late-night “feast menu”.

Bathroom at The Wheatsheaf

Do you have any top picks for the Cotswolds? Or have you visited any of these B&Bs? Let us know your thoughts below or over on Twitter!

Open Sea Swimming Guide – 4-Week Training Plan

On July 2nd, 2014 Rebecca Wilson wrote on the subject of Tales from Turtle Towers,The Great Outdoors.

TM WavesTM Waves

With Turtle Mat employee Heather taking part in MCS’s charity open sea swimming event the Big Sea Swim, we decided to offer a helping hand to anyone who is taking part in a swimming event to get the most from their training. Working together with Olympic and Paralympic coach Dr Gary Brickley, we have created a four week training plan for those looking to give their training a boost in the last run-up to their event.

Open water swimming presents a different challenge to our bodies than pool swimming so it is vital to be fully prepared for the day. Whether you are swimming for charity or for yourself, a structured plan in the last stretch before race day can make all the difference:



Open Sea Swim Training Guide - Intermediate



Open Sea Swim Training Guide Advanced


A lot depends on how much time you have available and if you have access to water.  The swims are a great guide to build your endurance going into the race and to develop your confidence in swimming in open water. Ideally you will have someone watching over you or helping to set the pace.

Being prepared for a swimming event also means know what to do on the day and how to best give your body chance to recover afterwards:


On the day preparation:

  • Don’t sit in your wetsuit for any longer than you need to. If it’s a sunny day, you can overheat
  • Get into the sea for a quick swim beforehand to get used to the temperature
  • When you get in the sea for the first time, get your head under early and turn your arms over fast to warm them up and to stretch out in your wetsuit
  • Get your bearings of the course, what will you line up with?
  • Don’t eat too much before the race, it will be over quickly and you can eat straight after but trying to sea swim with anything in your stomach is not ideal
  • Get on someone’s feet whilst you are swimming, this will make sure you don’t have to keep looking up and it will save some energy as the person in front will break the water in front of you.


Post-race Recovery:

  • When you finish your swim try not to just collapse when you cross the line. Jump back in the sea and swim easy for 5 minutes or so to loosen off your muscles and to gradually drop your heart rate. You may decide to take your wetsuit off and just stretch out in your swimming costume.
  • After each session you should ideally be eating within 30 minutes of swimming to make sure you can restore your stores. A mixture of high quality protein with some carbohydrates is recommended. You can of course use sports drinks but something like a milkshake would be ideal. If you have been in the water for around an hour you may sweat up to a litre of water and this may need replacing with an electrolyte drink to ensure you are rehydrated.
  • Have a good stretch out on land as well as in the sea afterwards and then look forward to your next big swim. Hopefully you will have hit your goal whether they are completing or doing your best possible swim.
  • Have fun!


Dr Gary BrickleyOur guides were created in conjunction with Dr Gary Brickley. Gary is a senior lecturer in exercise physiology based at the University of Brighton in Eastbourne. He is an accredited sport and exercise scientist and an accomplished swimmer. He has swum the English Channel in a 3 man relay; completed the 26km Lake Zurich swim coming 3rd in the masters category; is currently the Brighton Pier to Pier veteran cup holder; has swum the 19.6km Rottnest Island swim in Perth and also did the 24 miles swim, swimming 1 mile every hour for 24 hours.

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