Britain by Bike

August 19, 2010 at 10:11 pm | Posted in Cycling, Dick, George, Timmy, Travel | Leave a comment
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I’ve been watching and quite enjoying Clare Balding’s current BBC4 television series, Britain by Bike. She’s been following a series of rides recommended by 1940s cycling guru Harold Briercliffe and, in the words of the Beeb’s press release, is trying to re-discover Briercliffe’s ‘world of unspoiled villages, cycling touring clubs and sunny B roads’. So far his routes have taken Balding across North Devon, the Welsh Marches, the Isle of Wight, West Yorkshire and the Costwolds, and there is now just one ride left to go. While Mr Briercliffe may be inspirational (see the review of his collected guides on the excellent Cycling Books website), my own 1940s cycling gurus are, of course, the Famous Five.

Clearly Timmy runs rather than cycles, but he is nevertheless an enthusiastic participant in the variety of rides undertaken by the cousins (he even keeps up with them as they attempt to cover a ‘gentle’ fifty miles a day in Five Get into Trouble – is this even possible for a dog? Should the RSPCA be consulted?).

As some of you may recall, last year I went on my first Famous Five style cycling holiday with my friend James. It was modest in distance and James and I vowed to attempt something slightly more ambitious this year. So on Saturday we are setting off for a four day trip from Bath to Oxford (serious cyclists may laugh at my conception of ‘ambitious’ but beware, I will set Timmy on you if so). We’re only planning to cycle around twenty miles per day, giving us ample time to stop off and explore along the way. We’ll be going via Malmesbury, Cirencester and Burford and staying in a series of bed & breakfasts and coaching inns (full reports on their breakfasts and cycle-friendly credentials to follow). The Bobbin has been brought out of retirement and continuing my perverse urge to give my friends FF pseudonyms, James will henceforce be Dick (hello James, I hope you don’t mind). I won’t actually be able to keep a straight face and call him that – it is in spirit only, as James is often hungry and is good at solving mysteries, climbing down wells etc. I just hope he’s not as prone to punctures as Dick is…


Easter Hols and Hot Cross Buns

April 2, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Posted in Dick, Eating and Drinking | 3 Comments
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Hurrah for the Easter holidays! Two of my favourite Famous Five adventures (Five go to Smuggler’s Top and Five on Kirrin Island Again) take place over the Easter break, and even without adventures it’s lovely to have a long weekend at this time of year.

In honour of the ever-hungry Dick, and of Jesus, I am baking hot cross buns today (like our Saviour they are hopefully rising as I type this). These fruity, lightly spiced buns are traditionally made and eaten on Good Friday; Steven Jenkins, spokesperson for the Church of England says that they ‘are fairly full of Christian symbolism…You have got the bread, as per the communion, you have got the spices that represent the spices Jesus was wrapped in in the tomb, and you have got the cross.’

This BBC News piece discusses the disputed roots of the hot cross bun (variously suggested as Pagan, Jewish, Roman and Saxon in origin) and their transition from a seasonal treat to one that is available all year round, and in various guises – you can now buy orange and cranberry, apple and cinnamon and even (yuk!) toffee hot cross buns. Here are my more trad buns pre- and post-baking. I haven’t quite got the hang of yeast cookery yet but they tasted quite good nevertheless.

Lunchtime Poll Topic

July 25, 2009 at 4:37 pm | Posted in Polls | 1 Comment
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The Five

So, each of the Five have their pros and cons (see Characters) but who’s the best?

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