We had a 2:1 parent – child ratio this past weekend. The girls were invited back to the cottage for the weekend, in order to give P and H a surprise visit actually. So at home it has been a little quieter for B6, Andrew and me. B6 was a little disappointed when he heard where they were off to, but we have kept him busy and had a good time doing it.
On Saturday the poor lad was subjected to a morning of shopping, but it was in a variety of locations including Sugar Mountain! It wasn’t my idea, but Andrew’s choice of candy shows that it was strictly for research purposes. They came out with cinnamon balls, aniseed balls, cola balls, sour apple (B’s choice) and Turkish delight (to please me!). After the shopping we decided to make use of our new family membership for Ottawa’s public pools and went to an outdoor one close by. I did laps, B and A went off the diving boards.
On Sunday mornings during the summer several roads are closed off to cars so that bike riders and in-line skaters can use them. We haven’t made use of this privilege before so the three of us set off yesterday morning. Bear in mind that Andrew has been riding to work for a few weeks now, I have been averaging one bike ride a year. We had an initial hitch when Andrew promoted B6 from his cool red bike up to the next in line. It is the perfect size for him, but it is not so cool and it is purple! Convincing him that a bigger bike would make the ride much easier was not helped by the fact that across the road there was a boy riding his big, cool, black bike.
Once we were down the street, through the park and over the bridge, the tears had dried and we were all enjoying riding on the road beside the canal. There were all sorts of people out, those taking it easy, those training for the next triathlon and everyone in between. We made it down to the market and decided to wander around downtown for a while. The ride home was a little tougher; it was up hill in places and into the wind but we all made it and agreed it was manageable and fun.
The weekend is over but we still have only one child here. The girls are having a few more days away. B6 and I got out the bikes again, and rode to the pool for my laps, his jumps off the boards! The ride was nowhere near as long as yesterday so we handled it with ease.
What a special time the 2:1 ratio made possible over these recent days! It was fun to read and imagine sharing; but if it was shared, that would have detracted from its special nature. However, your story “Weekend” generated a varied collection of memories for me.
My first bicycle was along time in coming, particularly when compared to most of the local kids, many of whom had smart machines on which they commuted to school and played around the neighbourhood after school and at week-ends. My first bicycle was a second hand or pre-loved machine which had been very thoroughly restored by my engineer father. It was equally efficient as any of the smart machines of the local kids, but it was hand painted – bright blue and yellow!! It was not quite what I had dreamed of having. It looked very different from the smart factory painted models of my friends and so I too felt very different.
As I remember that brightly painted cycle, I remember how difficult it was for my parents to provide many of the things that I wanted in my desire to keep up with some of my peers; But I don’t think there was any child in our neighbourhood who had a father more capable of re-cycling (forgive the pun) something old and discarded to produce an item as good as anyone else’s, that worked as well or better, and was on occasion the envy of others.
Part B of that memory was the wonderful occasion, several years later, when my brother and I were directed to the garage on Christmas morning, there to find the most wonderful gifts, sparkling new Malvern Star bicycles with factory painted design, chrome handle bars, a padded seat and dynamo generated lighting systems. A photograph taken a few days later as we set off to play tennis records the joy of the occasion and our pride in the gift.
That cycle took me on some long journeys, cycling across Melbourne to many events and to the mountains and the seaside on holiday picnics. But which was the better bike. For me, it is still very much ‘The Tale of Two Cycles.’
The second memory generated by your “Weekend” story occurred many years later with H’s elder brother, D. Life for me had become increasingly busy with many responsibilities at evenings and weekends encroaching on family time and limiting the opportunities for what today is called ‘bonding’, but then was simply having fun with the family.
D, then about ten or eleven years, and I set of by car to explore some of the high country of Central Tasmania, visiting some of the hydro-electric centres, travelling the bush tracks and mountain passes, preparing our meals by a camp fire and sleeping in the back of the car. Though it was not winter season, I had not realized how cold it could be at night in the Tasmanian Midlands. We discovered the intensity of cold as the temperature sank to sub-zero overnight and in the morning the car and all the surrounding area was covered in a thick frost coating. We had spent the night trying to sleep inside an ice-block. As the early morning sun filtered through the trees we rebuilt our fire to prepare some breakfast.
Again, I have some photographs to stimulate the memories of that adventure, but as I read of your weekend and B’s reactions to some of the happenings, I wonder how he will remember in years to come that special weekend when his sisters went away and he had special time with his parents.
I must ask D if he has any memories of our special visit to the Midlands. Does he remember only the bitter cold? Or was it perhaps a special time with Dad?
I was telling B6 as we rode along that the bike I was riding was only the third bike I had ever owned. He was a little surprised as he was riding his third bike at age 6!
My first bike had belonged to Liz H. before we got it and I was in grade five. It was also a “Malvern Star” Having had no experience riding a bike, I remember practising around the church yard. I helped pay for my second bike, a Peugeot, which I had into my adulthood. Andrew’s sister, a keen rider, gave me my current bike when she upgraded to a new one.
I love reading the memories that our stories stir up for you. I just shared the “Tale of Two Cycles” with Ben and it prompted some smiles here and there.
Well to blog or not to blog. That is the question. Seems like a few days in bed with the flu can lead to catching all sorts of other problems. Virtually anyway. I have now managed to enter the world of stamping and cards – again, only vitually! As well as catch up on a few months of extended family activities and cottage holidays. Made me feel even more sick – with jealousy, that is – looking at the photos of the lake.
My kids have also experienced the neverending spiral of hand-me-down bikes. It seems like the only way we have broken that cycle in recent times, is both older boys having their bikes stolen.
If we are sharing cool bike stories. I have a few. Travelling in excess of 85 kms hr on my Malvern Star GT, 3 speed, with twin halogen headlights, down Mt Ainslie Road in Canberra. Fiona getting her first bike at age 30 and riding into a hedge to stop it. Marcus riding from our home to Canberra hospital (15kms) at age 4. Grace, Marcus, and Luke riding their unicycle all round the place.
As for a weekend holidaying in the high country of Tasmania and sleeping in the back of a holden station wagon, I must say, my main memories are frozen in time – well frozen toes anyway. I remember it being lunch time before I could move them. But I do remember it being a special time of father and son alone, exploring lots of big pipes and turbines.
Fiona is doing a mum and kids thing this week. Tomorrow at 5am, she will arise with Marcus and Grace, and head to Mt Selwyn for 2 days skiing. They havent done this in 4 years. Sadly, I cant go as I am still recovering from a sever muscle tear. Luke is angling to join them and have a go at snowboarding. Maybe, but he can pay!
I’m so glad you dropped in. I am sorry you are sick, but glad you had time to read about our comings and goings. My bicycle memory of you involves the photos of you and Mark and Don setting off to ride down the coast. The bikes don’t stick in my mind as much as the hairstyles!
I am very impressed that your children can ride a unicycle, I’ve never tried, but I can’t even ride my bike without hands so I don’t know how well I’d balance.
It’s funny to hear of your children going skiing while mine are swimming but in six months it will be reversed of course.
Great to hear from you, please come again.
Well, here I am again. A bit of background to the unicycling. The primary school has been running a circus performing strand for the past 2 years. The children can learn to ride unicycles, juggle, do clowning and more. It has been an excellent program and both our youngest have become proficient in riding on one wheel. I’ve been amazed at what an unusual skill they have mastered, and so encouraged Grace to save her pocket money and put it toward buying her own. She saved for over a year and then we matched her $ for $ and she purchased her own unicycle earlier this year.
On the topic of $ and saving. Both our older boys now have jobs. Luke works at a personal training gym, cleaning bathrooms. And Matt works in the deli at the local Supabarn. This has meant considerable income for them both, and two major purchases. Both boys have purchased new surfboards, one being specially custom made by an Hawaian shaper! Though we live a good 2 hours from the ocean, they still seem to be progressing well. On a recent holiday they enjoyed surfing a break near Foster accompanied by at least one member of the current World Surfing tour! Grace and Marcus have also learned to surf – yes, standing up – but arent yet up to paddling out on their own.
I have not been able to keep up with the boys in the surf, despite having bought a wetsuit and owning a quality body board. Seems I keep getting injured. Here is a catalogue of some of my recent injuries at the beach:
March 2007 – Grade 3 tear to aductor longus (still repairing) while playing touch football on a sand spit across the channel from Tuross Beach. Had to be rescued by boat!
January 2007 – caught in a heavy set of waves at Burrill Pines and suffered many abrasions on the rocks.
January 2006 – broken toe, while running to get fishing rod at Burrill Pines.
January 2005 – torn medial ligament, as my knee twisted badly while straining to get through some sets of waves.
STAY AWAY from the beach you say…
August 2004 (or was it 2003?) – fractured elbow, while skiing at Mt Selwyn, as my skis dug in on a deep powder turn and I landed on the only exposed rock on the slope.
The moral of all this – 45 year olds shouldnt think they are 25 year olds!
Ah! It’s all so clear now. When we saw you downtown by the canal and honked and waved (yes, that was us in the car!) our girls’ first question was, where your girls were.
Glad you had a good outing, purple bike and all.