Monday 16 July 2012: Has this man got the best job in the world?
The day dawned bright and sunny, and as this is the first time since we've been here, we were up and organised for off quite early. The bikes were coming out today!
I adjusted the seats. The Aussies house swappers must be very tall! They are fantastic bikes, with a sort of uni-sex fairly low bar across the middle. This low bar is not quite low enough for me to get my leg over it with any amount of ease or delicacy. But once the leg was over, it was fine. I would have to look for good places to dismount, out of public view.
We had a wee hurl up our road, and togged up in the obligatory helmets and set off. The roads are ideal for cycling. Flat, with wide cycle tracks marked on every road. I came to a bigger road and stopped, deciding which way to turn. Behind me I heard, well, a sort of clatter... I looked around, and there was JR, sideways with the bike, on the pavement!
I think she forgot to get off the seat and put her feet down when she stopped. She denies this, but can't really explain the sideways topple. A grazed knee, sore hand and a bruised eye later, we walked back (luckily only a few hundred yards!) and the bikes were put away for the day. When we laughed about it later in the day, JR discovered sore ribs to add to the injury toll.
Actually, I've never been much of a bike rider. I never got on as a child, although I asked for one every Christmas (deprived childhood) and so I'm not very confident on them. When in Amsterdam on a bike (as you do) I managed to bump into a taxi. It was stationery at the time, but the taxi man was not happy, claiming I had marked his paintwork. I pretended I didn't understand and he gave up. So bikes and I do not have a long and happy connection. But JR was raised on bikes.
We had planned to get bikes in Edinburgh, to bike along the nice flat canal paths. I pointed out that if she topples sideways on a bike on a canal path, she'll end up in the water! Maybe bikes are not such a good idea, really. However, we will try again once the nerves have settled.
I got JR settled in the sun by the pool, leg up, ice on the eye bump, and went for a walk to the river. If you don't mind litter, big smelly black bins, road works, scaffolding, fag ends all over the place, not forgetting chewing gum, then you may not like this place. It's clean and tidy and well kept. I love it.
Chatted to lots of locals, and they all tell you where to go, in a nice way. You can't get lost.
I met Mick, the man who must have one of the best jobs in the world. He's a Postie. On a motorbike. Whizzing along the footpaths. I wondered if I could have a job like him, but he says the young ones now don't have the same conditions of work, lots of cutbacks, (but I note that the QLD politicians have awarded themselves another pay rise - sound familiar?). I told him about UK posties and lots of tenements and stairs to climb. He said they just wouldn't do that, and actually, it makes sense. Much more efficient and labour saving, no wonder the UK Royal Mail runs at a loss.
We had a long chat- Mick obviously wasn't working to any deadline. Eventually I asked Mick what time he finished work, and it suddenly sounded like a chat up line, with the possibility of coffee, and yes, maybe even a scone on the cards... I quickly elaborated and asked what time he started too. The hours sound ideal - start early and finish early.
He thought the weather was a bit cool still. He had on four tee shirts, a jumper AND that big yellow fleece. He doesn't know what cold is!
A wee DRIVE out, in a car, with four wheels, is the plan for this afternoon.