Thursday, 24 October 2013

I'm a cyclist. And a mother.

I've just got back from the Hervey Bay police station, after having a very near miss with another car this morning. There have been a number of incidences since I started cycling in Hervey Bay (after years of cycling on the much narrower, more congested and busier London roads). While the other incidences have been due to the lack of care and ignorance of the drivers, this one was reckless and possibly even malicious. Worse yet, I had 2-year old Pickle on the cargo-bike with me.

I follow the road rules. Unfortunately it appears that many local drivers aren't aware that cyclists are legitimate road users. That we are allowed to take the centre of the lane on a multi-lane road*. I had been keeping to the left even on multi-lane roads, but found the ridiculously close passing put me in more danger than if I kept to the middle of my lane, though I now receive aggressive horn blasts and abuse hurtled at me through open car windows.

Don't get me wrong, the majority of drivers are friendly, safe and welcoming. In fact, on the way home a car slowed down and waved encouragement - this was not the first time. In addition to favourable goodwill from drivers, I've also had enthusiasm from motor-bike riders and pedestrians; young, old and middle aged people.

So why, when it takes an entire 15-minutes to drive from one end of Hervey Bay to another, do some drivers have such an aggressive sense of entitlement on the road?

The Amy Gillett Foundation has a vision to eliminate bicycle related fatalities and is spreading the word about 'a metre matters'. There is currently an e-petition that will be put in front of the Queensland Legislative Assembly in four days time, advocating for a minimum safe passing distance - I would love it if (as a Queensland resident or citizen) you would please sign it. Aussies can also easily write to their MPs (templates and contact details).

Others have written more eloquently about a cyclist always coming off worse
in a collision with a motor vehicle - there's not only the unprotected impact, but the risk of being thrown into - under - the path of another car. Though I can't seem to find any links to the articles at the moment, unfortunately. (See update below).

I'm a single mother, caring for a two year old. Part of simplifying my life, not least reducing the exorbitant
costs of car ownership (purchase price, tax, insurance, petrol, maintenance etc) has been to go car-free. I'm also physically and mentally healthier, am introducing Pickle to a healthier way of life in an era of increasing obesity, and just generally enjoying our day-to-day life more fully.

How do we get a message out to drivers that cyclists are not only legitimate road users, but (in my case) also someone's mother, daughter, sister, friend???

Cheers, KangaRue :)

* this is not meant as legal advice; road rules can differ from state to state within Australia.

UPDATE: An incredibly well put article: In the US and the Netherlands, two children on bikes are struck by cars—and the responses couldn’t be more different. 

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Best Babychino in the Bay (so far)

As promised, here are my further investigations on Babychinos in the Bay...

Enzo's is on the left, Grandparentals on the right

Enzo's on the Beach is arguably the best location in the Bay. Central, on a lovely stretch of beach where the Grandparentals go for their daily morning walk and catch-up with friends. For the energetic, you can hire Kite Surfing equipment or a Stand-Up Paddleboard (I have set my challenge to do this before next winter, and will blog my expected embarrassment). If Enzo ever decides to sell, then my brother Wayne may be enticed over from the UK to take it over in his "retirement". Which would be a good thing, as not only would I get to see more of him, but I'd get him to sort out the coffee. Unfortunately it is my least favourite in the Bay. I'm not sure if it's burnt or perhaps the blend is just not to my taste, but it's been consistent over a number of occasions. I also felt my chicken, asparagus and brie open-melt was a little over-priced considering tinned asparagus was used and the cheese was a slither, and while the gluten-free bread my friend had was home-baked and delicious, the steak it was surrounding was on the gristly side. I'd be willing to try the Caesar Salad on my next visit, as I've only found a couple of places that do them in the Bay so far. Babychinos come in at a reasonable $1.50 with a marshmallow. The saving grace is their delicious fruit frappes - $5.80, but they are huge and enough for Pickle and me to share; a blend of mango and strawberry is our favourite.

On the rare occasion I get to the beach early enough to meet the Grandparentals, I tend to wander across the road to Bean Beat for their coffee, and return to sit at one of the beachside tables to enjoy it. Their babychinos are $1.00 and include a small biscuit, though it is .50c extra for soya milk... which I find annoying for the small amount of milk involved, but as it falls within the average price range, I bear it occasionally.

Love the Aquavue coffee cups too
Aquavue challenges Enzo's for location, and has very good coffee and their babychinos are also $1.50 including a marshmallow. Service can be a little patchy, sometimes enthusiastic and other times uninterested... but their sticky date muffins are divine.

Zarraffas is one of the better coffees in the Bay, up there with Liliana's and Toast in my books, though their shopping centre locale isn't quite as enticing. Their babychinos are $1.35 with a marshmallow hidden inside, which is a fun surprise for Pickle.

And last for today's post, but certainly not least, is Simply Wok - so far the best babychino in the Bay. At $1.00 not only does it fall into the lower price range,
Pickle enjoying his Simply Wok babychino
but is a regular coffee cup size, comes with a couple of marshmallows AND a biscuit AND a colouring book with crayons and stickers! Outstanding value. Food is mid-range in pricing, but fresh and delicious flavours and generous serving sizes. While the name would lend you to think it is an Asian restaurant, I'm reliably told they make the best burgers in the Bay, along with delicious BLTs, Steak and Club Sandwiches; the salad menu also looked delicious - I went for the salt and pepper calamari with chips, garlic aioli and salad... there is also an all-you-can-eat Asian buffet for $15.90 of an evening, which is fresh and tasty (for children under 15,they charge their age). My coffee was also good, so this will definitely be my go-to venue with Pickle.

Cheers, KangaRue :)

So do I approach Creations Cafe over their whopping $2.50 charge for a babychino with no extras?

Friday, 4 October 2013

Pickle's Ponderings

I believe that Pickle ponders. He may only be two years old, but he has an amazing recall and I do think that he reflects. I try and spend some time at the end of each day remembering the good things he experienced and his achievements throughout the day. I'm not saying he's amazingly gifted, though perhaps he is (hey, I'm a proud Mummy after all)... and maybe I've been encouraging Systems Thinking without even realising it.

After watching the below video - which is part of my current study materials - perhaps I'm not so barmy after all.  The concepts in this video blew me away, and is well worth the ten minutes of viewing - I honestly do not know anyone who couldn't learn something from it...

Simple concepts, and something I would love to see more involved automatically throughout education, needless to say the wider community (I won't start ranting about Australian politics and the media, promise!).

So what do you think, is it possible for a two year old to ponder? Are there any other ways you can suggest I can include Systems (Reflective) thinking with Pickle?

Cheers, KangaRue :)

Thursday, 3 October 2013


One of my guilty pleasures in life is good coffee. As a new mummy, it was great being able to go to coffee shops with Pickle in his pram (ideally napping) while I relaxed over a cafe latte or an iced coffee. Things got a little trickier when he started to crawl, and then to walk... just as well he's cute and a notorious flirt. But now he's old enough, he loves having a babychino, ideally accompanied by a marshmallow - one of his favourite treats.

Back in London, most coffee shops provide babychinos free with an adult purchase; encouraging a family-friendly environment is a great incentive for parents to frequent a venue. I was surprised this wasn't the case in Australia.

One initiative in the Bay I think is great is Creations Cafe, a hospitality
Creations Cafe does a great
banana bread, served hot
with cinnamon butter
training facility. It has good coffee and reasonably priced food options - there's a great $5 coffee and cake offer before 11am. However, I was shocked at the $2.50 charged for a babychino, especially as it doesn't come with any marshmallows. I did query the cost with management and was brushed off with "that's what the local charge is". So I decided to investigate further. Having discovered the disparity in pricing, I again approached management at Creations Cafe and let them know of a few other prices in the Bay. However, they have maintained their pricing and didn't seem open to reviewing their current pricing. For a tiny cup of foam, I think this is a real liberty and I won't be going back if I've got Pickle in tow.

So far, I've only discovered one venue in Hervey Bay, Coffee Club, that offers a free babychino with purchase. Their coffee is good and they have a good selection of cakes, though the main food items are a little on the pricey side. As Pickle has a dairy-protein allergy, he has a soya milk babychino and sometimes Coffee Club charges .80c extra for this, they do come with a marshmallow though.

Not the sour cream and apple,
but delicious nonetheless
One of the most charming coffee shop locations in the bay is the Homemade Cafe, with an eclectic mix of tables and chairs set outside overlooking the water.  While their coffee isn't great, so I'm far more likely to choose tea or another option, their cakes, most notably the sour cream and apple cake are homemade (hence the name) and absolutely delicious. And at $1.00 for a babychino including a marshmallow, with no added charge for soya, it's definitely one of my first options when out and about with Pickle.

One of my favourite coffee shops is Toast. While not on the beach front, they do have really good coffee, along with a good selection of snacks and fresh sushi. They charge $1.50 for a babychino including marshmallows.

A toasted turkish bread sandwich at Toast - note my
fab cargobike in the background!
Lilliana's is definitely my favourite coffee shop, they roast their own beans on site and will grind the beans to your particular type of coffee maker for use at home. Delicious. On the higher end of the range with babychinos costing $1.50 including marshmallows and an additional .50c extra for soya milk, I am more likely to go on my own than with Pickle. Their food is lovely though, and definitely one of the better Eggs Benedict I've had in the Bay (I think reviews of the local Eggs Benedict offerings are an opportunity I can't say no to in the future!).

Creations Cafe definitely comes in at the most expensive babychino so far at $2.50 (and outrageously with no marshmallows included)... I'll continue my investigations and will check out the culinary accompaniments (cake!) and will report back in due course.

So what do you think is a reasonable charge for a babychino? Should soya milk be extra when there's so little milk involved?

Cheers, KangaRue :)

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Car-free at last!

It has been a while since I've blogged. Many apologies to my discerning readers... while I doubt many (any?) of you have been waiting with bated breath for my next installment, I do have lots to tell you.

The beautiful bride, Pickle's
Aunty Catherine & his new Uncle
In the interim not only have I been studying, but Pickle and I travelled across the country to see my Outlaws, for a family wedding and so BoyWonder could visit with Pickle too. Pickle was obviously a hit, they were very welcoming, it was good for that side of the family to get to know Pickle more, and was relatively angst free. Sure, there were some *ahem* challenging moments, but considering the situation (divorce, annual visitation etc.), it could have been a lot worse.

I've given up trying to find paid work in the Mental Health industry - the jobs I have applied for have each had 135+ applicants. As a Student Placement is required to do the next few subjects and in order to complete my counselling degree, I decided it would be pertinent to offer myself up as a volunteer. Now, being a hard-working, enthusiastic, engaged advocate for all areas of mental health, with a Distinction average for my subjects, you think I'd be snapped up, right?

There was lots of opportunity
to try out Pickle's "muddy puddle
boots" (I blame Peppa Pig)
Apparently not in Hervey Bay. I've called upward of SIXTY organisations, with no luck so far. Some have seemed promising, then the return phone calls dry up. Frustrating only begins to describe it. I'm pondering whether there is any point even trying to finish my degree.

On a brighter note, I now have my cargo bike. Pickle and I are car-free! Avid readers and my Twitter followers (those I mentioned earlier, hanging on with bated breath, no doubt) will recall my moaning about the disastrous saga that started almost a year ago with the first cargo bike company I dealt with. The Dutch company based in Melbourne was a complete customer service fail. Firstly an incorrect stock count meant none of my first four colour preferences were available, then shipping delays (admittedly out of the distributor's control)...

So the bike that I had hoped to receive in early December, then promised pre-Christmas 2012, eventually arrived on 12th January 2013. Except it wasn't the e-bike I had ordered and paid for. And that's when the somewhat patchy customer service to this point, took an absolute nose-dive; I was talked-over, condescended to and insulted. So it was arranged that this bike would be sent back and I would get the new bike in two to three weeks.  I was promised - in three separate written messages - that the bike would arrive fully assembled, and I would only need to put four bolts in to attach the box to the bike.

And then the bike arrived on 4th February 2013. Not only was it not assembled, it was missing not only the lights, but the entire braking system... a somewhat key element to safe riding, don't you think?

Our first ride on our
Christiania cargobike!
Needless to say, the bike was returned and I went back to the drawing board... and via Twitter, I was recommended the lovely Peter at PSbikes.

You can fit a surprising amount
in the cargobike!
While there was a delay in getting the bike, it was more than made up for by the charming customer service I received with door-to-door delivery, fully assembled and customised! The Christiania bike is made in Denmark, and I believe the Scandinavian engineering is slightly superior. Both Pickle and I love the bike and it's been getting lots of attention on our outings.

Pickle "drumming" with BigTed
On an even brighter note, things are going really well with BigTed, but
more on that later...

Cheers, KangaRue :)