When I travel I always take ... my solar-powered radio

I hate being alone so a radio has always been an essential piece of kit. Even though you can buy a portable radio for only a few pounds, I ended up buying one that cost more, demands regular wrestling and threatens to die just as the headlines are read.

Why? Because it is extremely handy not to need an external power source.

What's more, for me at least, there is a satisfaction that comes from self-sufficiency.

My Freeplay Ranger AM/FM radio comes with a mains adapter, so I can plug it in to recharge the built-in battery. But it is the alternative power sources that make it special. The solar panel will power it in direct sunlight or trickle-charge the battery even in the depths of winter. It plays continuously in full sunlight or a 30-second wind-up will power it to run for up to 35 minutes. Designed for the outdoors, it's rugged, weather-resistant, and light.

The radio really came into its own recently when my husband and I went to a friend's party in a field in Wales, miles from the nearest power point or car radio. The bonfire was roaring and the sausages sizzling, then the generator for the lights and music system ran out of fuel. Within seconds we'd tuned in our radio to his iPod transmitter (that seeks out radio signals) and the music was played through the radio's speaker. We danced to the light of the bonfire and the evening was saved.

You can also buy a digital wind-up radio, but given that the power drain is much greater (one hour of FM radio or five minutes of digital radio from a one-minute wind-up) it is rather fortunate that it too has solar and rechargeable options.

Model: Freeplay Ranger AM/FM £29.99+postage
Model: Freeplay Devo DAB £79.99+postage
Available: www.simplyradios.com - (01273) 440 948

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