By: Blonde Two

Do you remember that I told you a while back about my much loved “Uncle Tom Cobley”  Well he was a lover of walking, travel and adventure and I was reminded at the weekend that a few years before he died, he had bequeathed us some pieces of equipment that were once part of his treasured adventure kit.

My favourite is his down sleeping bag.  I had thought that these were a modern invention but of course, feather and down go back a long way and were around way before more synthetic fillings came into fashion.  I can remember being tucked up in bed under a shiny paisley eiderdown – I didn’t realise for years that “eider” was a type of duck and “down” was feathers.


I am not exactly sure how old this sleeping bag is but I do know that it was a key element in an expedition to Iceland around the time that I was born (no I am not going to tell you when that was).  I get the impression that sleeping bags then were utilitarian rather than pretty and its cotton outer is a rather drab beige colour.  It was made by Black’s of Greenock who sound familiar to you for good reason, it is the same company as Blacks and Millets today.  These days Black’s of Greenock make rather splendid canvas Scout tents (I have a hankering after one of these).

It is a very clever sleeping bag in that it folds into its own hood to form a pouch that you can imagine being strapped to the outside of a rucksack.  I did climb inside to see how cosy it was and warmed up pretty quickly but not as quickly as I did in my new “Big Orange” (Mountain Equipment sleeping bag).  Zips must have been a fairly new feature in sleeping bags back then because it has a label announcing the “full zip”.  The “Icelandic” (excellent name) must be feather or a mixture rather than all down as it is quite a bit heavier than “Big Orange” and doesn’t squash up as much.DSC_0119

I won’t be tempted to try out the “Icelandic” on our next Two Blondes Winter camp but I will be taking good care of it.  It is lovely to know that it was part of the adventures of someone that I was very fond of.  Uncle Tom used to laugh at Mr B2 and I and the amount of equipment we carried in our rucksacks.  He laughed even louder when he had to pick us up half way through a two day Yorkshire walk because of torrential rain.  I would like to have been able to show him “Big Orange” – he would have been fascinated and it would have probably given him an excuse to laugh at me even more.