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The bike bus. Without this we wouldn't have even got started. Excellent service!

I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for some time – I’d made a booking with the brand new Edinburgh bike bus to take myself and Iain (aged 10) for some fun biking at Glentress!

Having collected him at 8 (I had to ride there with lights and he looked like he had just fallen out of bed), we made the short trip over to the pick up point. I had a moment of panic when the driver, Karl, said “does he need a booster seat?” What?! I don’t drive, I had no idea … luckily, he did, and had put one in just in case – phew! We were soon safely ensconced and on our way.

Good work on a short rocky climb

I wasn’t sure how Iain would cope with the first long climb, so was pleased to find that we got dropped off at the top and picked up at the bottom! 🙂 We set off from the near-deserted car park to ride the blue route. I was immediately impressed with the improvements since last time. He was putting in efforts to get up  hills, using his gears properly and not giving up at the first difficult bit. We were at Betty Blue before we knew it and I was delighted that it was declared ‘really fun’ and that the following fast fire road descent was equally exciting; “I’ve never been so fast on my bike before!”

Unfortunately the first tumble followed soon after – it’s heart stopping watching from behind as someone else’s child that you’re responsible for suddenly goes shooting forwards like superman, whilst the bike somersaults away …. Luckily no harm was done and we were soon snacking on a cereal bar and laughing about Iain’s attempts to learn to fly! 😀 Another climb and we were at the top of Blue Velvet – a bit he had been looking forward to all day. We started off at some speed and I was very impressed at how he handled the turns. Until … oops … another ‘flying’ attempt. This time a little more serious, as complaints about a sore wrist were persistent. After some cuddles and words of encouragement we set off again. Luckily Iain wasn’t so traumatised we couldn’t give it another go – slower! And much slower on ‘crash corner’!

Looking like a pro!

Berm Baby Berm came next – now that the sun had come up and everyone else was out of bed, this section was proving popular; kids, teenagers and grown ups alike were queuing to go down. We had a good first run and were soon climbing up for another go. And another one. A slight squeak from me as Iain nearly flew off the edge of one giant berm, but it was well rescued. I had decided that the best general policy was to let him experiment and learn for himself where his limits are – within reason! – whilst picking trails of an appropriate grade. I think it worked and he will soon develop the judgement he needs and become better and better.

One thing I especially noticed was how well Iain responded to instruction. By the end of the ride we were on to standing up, level pedals, knees out and looking ahead. He really looked the part! What an opportunity to help someone young acquire all the skills I wish I haven’t had to battle to learn as an adult. I also realised I was being copied, so I was very careful to have perfect positioning myself!

Given the choices of heading down for cake before we left, or doing more riding and having ice-cream back in Edinburgh, Iain opted for more biking straight away. Must have done something right. The final run down to the bottom was fast and fun. After some hesitation and a discussion of line choice, the steep bridge was conquered (“Did you like it?” “I was scared!” “Never mind, next time it will be less scary and more fun!”) and we did a good job of racing back to the bus to arrive, ahem, just a few minutes late.

Iain’s parents were right when they joked that they should have charged me for the loan of their son – I can’t wait to take him again! I’m already thinking what might make it even more fun – knobbly tires? Less air pressure? New bike?!

Just rewards for hard work and super riding!

ps If you like the look of this ice cream, thick Spanish hot chocloate and churros, then you can find it all at The Chocolate Tree. Very tasty!

Ginger Biscuits and Salty Chocolate

Last week during our Italian class, we had to talk about what typical things we would offer guests to our house.

One girl suggested ‘biscotti alla canella’ (cinnamon biscuits). Malcolm next to me went for ‘biscotti alla mandorla’ (almond biscuits). Now, I love biscuits, which is why I almost never buy them because they would get eaten too quickly and they are not full of healthy things, like cabbage is (which I was eating at dinnertime today, in a cider, cream and mustard sauce with butterbeans, leeks and thyme, served with stove-top butternut squash scones … but I digress).

The best tasting ginger biscuits?

So I chipped in ‘mi piacciono molto i biscotti al zenzero’ (I really like ginger biscuits). I didn’t get round to explaining they have to be the ones with big chunks of stem ginger in them.

Next thing, I’m being asked by the lovely Carlo (our stand-in teacher for the week); ‘se veniamo a casa tua stasera, ci serviresti i biscotti al zenzero?’ (if we were to come to your house tonight, would you serve us ginger biscuits?). Unfortunately, no, I have no ginger biscuits in the house (see above). But, luckily, I have something else very special. ‘Non, ma offrirei il cioccolato alla sale. Solo cioccolato che è fatto di 70% cacao, minimo’.

Salty dark chocolate. Ranks up there only with soft salty caramel wrapped in dark chocolate. I’ll also eat dark chocolate with chilli, lime, spices or orange. But it has to be dark.

For any evening

For special occasions


According to Carlo, I’m very ‘cutting edge’, but I have to admit I was introduced to these delights by someone else, to whom I am forever grateful!

* Apologies for any language gaffes. It’s so much easier to hide mistakes when it’s not written down!

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