New bike for christmas…

December 27, 2014 at 20:49 | Posted in bicycles | 2 Comments
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bykChristmas. Such an exciting time. I can still remember the thrill of coming down on Christmas morning to find a pair of bikes parked in the lounge – one for me, one for my brother. I was probably about four years old, and the bike was way to big for me – as I recall my father had to tie blocks of wood to the pedals so I could reach them. It was a Raleigh Champ, a cool red and gold affair with chopper handlebars and a banana seat.

So it was with great pleasure that I was able to recreate that momentous day for my own daughter this year. She was a bit less excited about it that I remember being when she first saw it – in part because she’s a dedicated scooter rider, and never really got the hand of the balance bike (which my younger one now hares around on with extraordinary grace and expertise – it’s quite something seeing a three-year-old practically doing a track-stand on a tiny kids bike), and in part because it was clear from the get-go that her younger sister was envious, and dying to have a go.

Still, she did finally give it a go, and in the end really enjoyed it, especially when I took her over the park and she could ride on a wide, flat path. Indeed, she asked to go back there later in the day to ride some more.

The bike is a BYK 350, which I bought without taking Girl Chillikebab #1 to the bike shop to try out. However, she’s just over a metre tall, and nearly five years old, so she is right in the middle of the range of that bike as it is advertised. However, I do have this niggling feeling it’s just a bit too big for her.

Part of the reason for this is the coaster brake. When she’s on the bike, she can’t get her feet down. No a big drama; she has training wheels, so she climbs onto the seat and starts to pedal. Except that if the pedals are not the right position, she can’t. With a coaster brake, she can’t pedal backwards to get the pedal in place to start, and she can’t scoot the bike forward with a foot on the ground to get it rolling and move the pedal forward.So I have to keep giving her a push start.

She pretty quickly got the hang of the regular brake levers, so I am wondering if I should somehow disconnect the coaster brake. Or even if such a thing is even possible. It was a problem I never really thought about, given I haven;t ridden a bike with a coaster brake since I was about eight. (My Raleigh Champ had just one hopeless front brake, and I survived. I even remember doing deliberate front-wheel skids on gravel with it. Kids these days are just spoiled, with their small-reach, tektro-alloy, machined-rim v-brakes…).

Still, she’s four years old, and loving riding a bike that’s a bit too big for her. Such is the spirit of Christmas.

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Honey Jumbles

January 14, 2011 at 20:24 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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Honey Jumbles come in a rather unprepossessing pack. They are decked out in the blue packaging that Arnott’s use for ‘novelty’ biscuits, and the lurid pink icing tends to reinforce this notion. The cartoon bees also don’t do much to promote these as a grown-up biscuit worthy of serious consideration.

The biscuits themselves are quite thick (a full 12mm at the thickest point), and are variously topped with white or pink icing that is splodged on fairly roughly. There are twelve biscuits in a pack, and in the review pack there were only three white ones. The other nine were pink.

So what do you expect when you eat a Honey Jumble? I for one was expecting a very sweet biscuit, probably crunchy perhaps with honeycomb or hokey pokey pieces ‘jumbled’ inside.

If you’ve never tried a Honey Jumble, perhaps you should stop reading now, as eating your first Honey Jumble is an interesting experience if you come at it from that perspective. I took a bite, and the first thing I thought was ‘it’s soft‘. They are very soft – more cake-like than biscuit. All very strange. And then the flavour. It’s not honey, no no, something else. Ginger. Yes, definitely ginger. Actually quite strong; goodness these are really quite hot and gingery!

Then it suddenly hits you. They are gingerbread. Actually rather nice gingerbread; soft texture, light and open, with a good ginger kick. It just takes rather a long time to get to that realisation, because you expect something so different. It’s a bit like eating a piece of parsnip that you mistake for potato when you put it on your fork. It just tastes wrong for a few seconds until you work out what it really is.

Why on earth Arnott’s call these things ‘Honey Jumbles’ I have no idea. They certainly have honey in them, but it’s far from the dominant flavour. And the whole ‘jumble’ thing is just a bit odd. They should call them ‘Ginger fancies’, or perhaps even more to the point, ‘Gingerbread fingers’. Ditch the pink icing (which tastes the same as the white, by the way), put them in more sophisticated packaging and present them as upmarket continental treats, and I’m sure they would sell better. They could even go the whole hog and call them ‘Pain d’épices‘ (although this might cause confusion, looking to Australians more like some sort of orthopaedic complaint than a sweatmeat).

I rather like Honey Jumbles. They are a sophisticated treat. Don’t be put off by the packaging and the name; when you fancy some gingerbread they are just the ticket. I’m going to give these eight out of ten, but deduct a mark for having a silly name.

 

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy

August 26, 2010 at 11:47 | Posted in books | Leave a comment
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One of the joys of fatherhood is being able to read books together with my daughter, and this book from Lynley Dodd is absolutely charming.

The pictures are simple enough to capture the interest of a six month old, yet interesting enough to engage an adult; they are beautifully drawn with some real touches of humour.

The words have a repetitive, lilting rhythm with rhymes and alliterations that makes it fun to read out loud. There are some real surprises in the story too, which adds to the emjoyment.

We all love this book, and read it often. Indeed, I can now recite if off by heart. And there’s the added amusement that ‘Hercules Morse’ looks just like my friend Dave.

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