Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Day 9 and the bus ride from hell

Right. So I didn't ride my bike today, but I do have a semi-decent excuse...

Today we woke up bright and early to attend an appointment in the neighbouring town of Clevedon, it was a tough morning as no one had slept well but we made it out the door in time to make our bus, only to get a call that it was rescheduled on the way to the station. All that fuss and work trying to make an appointment only to have it cancelled was a little frustrating so we decided to catch the bus anyway and make the most of the day, by trying to find a place for my Mum to live, as she arrives next week.
We stayed busy until early afternoon, then stopped at the grocery shop, grabbed some food and headed to the bus stop, but we'd missed our bus and had a wait of about an hour and a half ahead of us. Usually we would go for a walk or find something to keep us busy but today our push chair (stroller) decided to give up the ghost, so less walking was better as it was terribly hard work to push. We thought it would be nicer to spend two hours on a heated bus, than 1.5 hours in the cold waiting, so we jumped the bus on the opposite route and went sight-seeing. This was an excellent plan until Jack started complaining about "water in my belly", it was a very twisty, narrow road and I was wondering if he was trying to explain the feeling of nausea to us, when he started throwing up, all over himself and me.
We made it home about 40 minutes later, reeking to the high heavens, by this time it was about 7pm and my priorities lay with comforting a very miserable little boy.  I was thankful today for the kindness of strangers as our driver and fellow passengers were all very nice and helpful, helping to keep Jack entertained and providing every spare tissue available. Hopefully tonight we all get a good sleep as the appointment is rescheduled for tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Day 7 & 8 of 31 - Bicycle Jewelry?

Yesterday's ride was a destination trip to my Doctor's office, today I will be cycling down to the R.S.P.C.A. charity shop to volunteer a few hours, both short trips, but they are still helping me get in the habit of daily riding which is awesome.

Kyle and I have been playing around with the idea of creating bicycle inspired jewellery, we can make these using silver, copper or gold coloured wire, with lovely semi-precious stones and each one would be a handmade original. I have some more to share too, but ran out of time today. Your thoughts?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Day 6 - All aboard the Strawberry Line

The entrance to the Strawberry Line.
Day six and I finally got to see the Strawberry Line, even today in drab overcast conditions it was a thing of beauty and we had a lovely time. It's part of the National Cycle Network which spans the U.K. with 14,000 miles of pathways selected for cycling and walking routes, it was officially created in 1995 with a grant from a national lottery. Sustrans started right here in Bristol in 1977 and they have a lot of worthwhile projects to encourage cycling, healthy neighbourhoods and green spaces.

Sheep grazing in the fields, it will be especially nice in lambing season to see all the babies playing.

Today we only did a short part of the Strawberry Line, which starts here in Yatton about a block from our front door, I am completely hooked! It was still a little muddy which isn't surprising considering Britain just enjoyed it's second wettest year since records began. In some spots it was very muddy but we made it through without having to get too dirty, I know mud is half the fun for some people, but they probably don't have sleeping toddlers on the back.

As a practical solution to sleeping toddlers in car and bike seats has yet to be invented, I used my shirt to cradle the edge of Jack's helmet so he had some neck support. It actually works surprisingly well and if he wakes up he can lean back and push it off easily, but it eliminates his head from jerking about madly and possibly straining his neck.

There were a lot of other families out enjoying their day today, great to see so many kids cycling and riding on the back of their parent's bikes.

Next weekend I want to get a little further down the line, there are numerous picnic opportunities, coffee shops and villages along the way so it would be nice to make a day of it. We headed back shortly after Jack fell asleep, made a stop at the Strawberry Line Cafe to grab a slice of Victoria Sponge cake I'd seen mention of on Facebook earlier in the day and then headed home for a hot cuppa tea. The Victoria Sponge cake was delicious by the way, if you are local go grab a slice! Glad we had a lovely ride today, hopefully another one is in the near future.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Day 4 & 5, Plus a Mini Boda Boda Review.

Nothing blog-worthy about my ride yesterday, a short trip to say "I rode my bike", not a good habit to get into, but better than completely submitting to the "don't feel well enough to move" mood I had been subject to. Kyle on the other hand did a useful trip on the Mundo to the co-op and got a few items we needed.

Jack rode his bike for about 30 minutes while we waited for Kyle, he's getting pretty speedy now!
Today Kyle volunteered at the R.S.P.C.A. charity shop, he enjoys the break from home, escaping the nagging spouse and nattering two year old...which is precisely why I filled out an application to volunteer too, I will enjoy a morning escape now and again. Until we're busy with jobs we thought it would be a good excuse to meet people and give back a little. Jack and I stayed home all morning, had a nice clean up and then I strapped his bike to the Boda Boda and we took off for a joy ride, with a final destination of the charity shop to meet Kyle at closing time.

The Boda Boda is a completely different ride from the Mundo, to be honest I still find it a little squirrelly because the handle bars are very wide and I'm not exactly the most graceful of individuals. It has a very traditional "sit up and beg" style as my cockney Mum calls it, and reminds me of the style of bike people ride in comedies like Last of the Summer Wine, where some old guy loses control of it and shoots off the road into a ditch. Today I took a very narrow path that cuts between houses, high hedgerows and chain-link fence on each side, half way down the path I discovered a nice old Gent and his Jack Russell taking a stroll. I stopped so I could get a bit closer to the fence and we passed each other without incident, but when I went to cycle off I got the wobbles and almost ended up in the hedge. These things happen more than I'd care to mention, I guess we still have a learning curve together, but it sure is lovely to ride. I find it to be far more nimble and well suiting to me personally, the gearing is more than adequate for gentle hills, it's very lightweight at only 35lbs and it encourages me to sit upright which has eliminated mid-ride back aches for the most part. It is really gorgeous too and I have noticed it makes people smile, people are kind of drawn to it and the Mundo.

The ride home was a quick dash as we don't have front lights yet (our lights all got stolen during our moving sale) and it was getting close to dusk. We strapped Jack's bike on the Mundo and away we went. Day 5 already in the past, only 26 left. I'm hoping tomorrow we can go for a longer ride, maybe on the Strawberry Line.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Day 3 of the January Challenge

For today's ride we headed out rather later than usual, took a quick around town and picked up some groceries from the co-op.

Earlier in the day we went to Clevedon and I found a nice woven bag in a charity shop for a few pounds which I thought would work great as a front basket.
Another stop at a army surplus stall in the street market and I had a lovely canvas pannier (1942 army rucksack) for only five pounds. Adding it all up, I managed to sort out all my cargo carrying needs for about ten pounds ($17).

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Boda Boda Basket

Before I got the Boda Boda I knew I wanted to add some wicker to it, so when I saw this little laundry hamper for only three pounds I knew I had to grab it! I chopped out the side so it would fit with the Peanut Shell and used some zip ties to attach it. Of course the integrity of the basket is weakened because of the cut, but I think it will last a while. Can't wait to find something else to brighten up the other side too!

I added Jack's rain cover today so he can stay snug and dry when we head out next time.

Kyle took a quick trip late tonight so he can check off day 2 of his 31 day bike challenge.

Tomorrow morning we're off to Clevedon, a small town on the coast, located between Weston Super Mare and Bristol. I know it will be easy to get Jack motivated in the morning when he knows we're taking the bus.

Day 2 - A terrible ride

What a horrible ride! Only yesterday I was saying it's not possible to have a bike ride and not feel better for it, that apparently is not true, so here I am eating my words.

This morning I woke up after a restless night and realized it was Toddler Group today, so I hurried Jack out of bed, showered and generally rushed around to be there as soon as they opened. Jack has been missing his friends back in Washington and constantly talks about wanting to go to Toddler group, every single time we go he gets sick and has to miss the following week, so we only get to go once a fortnight and it is truly the highlight of his life. So with that in mind you can only imagine the joy and elation he felt at getting on the bike and riding to playgroup this morning!

Nothing stopped his enthusiasm, not even the misty sea rain that seems to soak you to the core in a matter of seconds, nor the slight downhill part that left me feeling even colder- no, he just yelled "weeeeeeee" all the way down the hill. So when we arrive and I notice there are no cars in the parking lot I have to optimistically hope that everyone decided to walk there today, but alas another lady waiting for an appointment tells me all the doors are locked. For Jack all this is still unknown, he's waiting for me to get him off the bike and when I turn to him and say "I'm sorry there is no one here" he erupts like a volcano into a screaming, shaking, flushed red terror of little fists pummelling my arm. It only took seconds for me to realize offering my condolences in the form of kisses and cuddles wasn't going to help at that moment, so I took off on the bike with him screaming bloody murder behind me. Passers-by looked on in wide eyed amazement at the sheer volume of his screams and a large dog barked nervously, probably wondering what exactly I had on the back of my bike- lets not forget Jack was wearing his Gruffalo fleece, complete with horns and ears!

Anyway we made it home and I snapped this picture before he dismounted, this was his attempt at smiling! We shuffled back in the house, had a snuggle on the sofa and switched on his favourite cartoon.

Day two is done.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The 31 days of January

One of my favourite parts of 2012 was the 30 day's of biking event in April. It was an amazing, empowering month for me and really made me feel like I was finally a "cyclist"and part of a community that I will always feel so appreciative towards.

This year promises to be full of change and challenge, I'm very excited about it. Kyle and I know it will have many rough spots, but it's hard to not be optimistic when we're starting it off in England finally, I can't express how much I love it here.

In an effort to get us off to a good start we have decided to commit to cycling everyday this month.  Yes, WE have decided- Kyle is joining me.  This might be a bit of a challenge as I have to go to London to pick up my Mum from Heathrow on the 16th, but I'm just going to take it one day at a time. I thought last April would be impossible and it turned out to be easy peasy! Of course we may encounter some less than perfect weather too, but so far this winter it has been very mild.

My favourite things
There really is no way to get off your bike and not be happier than when you got on it, I really don't believe it's possible. We went for a ride, it was slightly sunny, it was wonderful! Riding a bike is so much more than getting from A to B, its just so much fun exploring new paths and muddy corners of the neighbourhood, chatting with the locals and the occasional wandering cat.

Sitting here listening to Adele, drinking a cuppa tea, I am in awe of how far we have made it in this last year and find myself very optimistic that 2013 is going to be a great year, but that might just be the bike ride talking.

Sun shine! Sock-hands in absence of mittens.