Monday, October 24, 2011

Cycling = community

I have certainly been spoilt by living right by the Yarra bike trail: I can ride into the city anytime, in complete safety and comfort (apart from the odd renegade lycra-cycla or kamikaze duck). However, I think this lucky state of affairs has left my road cycling skills somewhat lacking.

On the weekend, I had to cycle from Williamstown to North Melbourne, along some very busy stretches of road. Man, it was scary. Most of the time I was pedaling like mad on my big ol' Pashley, fingers mentally crossed and breath held as a truck/motobike/car seared past me. Every time I got onto the footpath after such an encounter, I would release my breath and say a little prayer of thanks.

It got me thinking, why don't we have more bike paths around Melbourne? Not just a laneway painted on the side of the road which might, for instance, COME TO AN ABRUPT END HALFWAY ACROSS A BRIDGE WITH NO FOOTPATH (hello Maribyrnong city council), but proper cyclist/pedestrian only paths that are separate from the road? It would certainly go some way to encouraging timid or new cyclists to take more journeys by bike, which has multiple benefits for everyone involved, as well as society in general.

Less congestion. Less pollution. More space. More freedom. Better health. Less expense. More enjoyment!

The cynic in me thinks that politicians aren't interested in supporting cycling infrastructure as it doesn't provide any source of revenue. If only they saw that investment in the quality of our collective environment and lifestyle will have it's own many knock-on benefits.

Lately I've been getting more involved with the Melbourne cycling community, which is made up of various interesting people from all walks of life; families, sporty types, alternative thinkers, hipsters. I'm proud to be associated with The Squeaky Wheel, a fantastic volunteer group that's all about promoting cycle culture in Melbourne. Next weekend we start the My Bike program, where we'll be working with migrant communities to pair up young people with bikes donated by the Victorian Police.

One of the things we'll be doing is teaching them about road safety. I could brush up on this, myself.

I can't wait!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Stolen cumquat marmalade

Walking around my neighbourhood on a regular lemon raid - if they're hanging over the public walkway, I declare them mine under the little known 'footpath bandit' act - I came across bunches of these gorgeous orange delights dangling tantalisingly over a head-height fence. Being a true neighbourhood bandit of the solitary and sneaky kind, I looked each way for spies who might be taking note of my interest, calculated that I couldn't carry as many as I would need*, made a mental note of their location and concoted a plan to return later with a plastic bag to cart off my booty.

Black polo neck and camo make-up optional.

Post fruit-burgulary, I decided to make some marmalade with my haul. The end result was the first time I've attempted a jam, and oy, there's a lot of labour involved. But the end product is so good, it's worth it.

2 cups cumquats, washed and sliced
2 cups water
juice of 1 lemon
1.5 cups sugar (more if you don't like your marmalade 'sharp')

Wash and slice fruit finely, removing the seeds for safe-keeping (warning: this take ages). Place the fruit in a large saucepan, cover with water and soak overnight. Put the seeds in a mug and soak in a small amount of boiling water overnight.

Next day strain the liquid from the seeds into the cumquats. Discard the seeds. Cook the fruit gently on a low heat until the fruit is tender and the liquid is reduced by half. Add the sugar and lemon juice. When all the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat and boil rapidly until the mixture jells (around 30-45 minutes). Stir often, or the marmalade will burn.

I tried the test where you put in on a cold plate to see if it sets, but I just stopped when it seemed thick enough and my arm was about to fall off from stirring.

Pour into hot sterilised jars (to sterilise: wash in hot soapy water and dry in a slow oven for 20 mins) and seal.

I got 2 big jars from this. Larga vida al bandido de frutas!

*Wasn't sure what I 'needed' them for at this stage, just had a vague idea I would need more than two grabby handfuls.

Monday, October 03, 2011

This video tells you everything you need to know about having little brothers

It's EXACTLY like this. Multiplied by many years interspersed with lots of cork legs, arm punches and giggles.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...