Family Adventure Project and
Family on a Bike e-newsletter
Welcome to our
September 2005 update
Read it online at: http://www.familyonabike.org/Newsletters/NewsSeptember2005.htm
Well, it's been a while since we've been in
touch and we wish we could say that not much has happened. But
since we last wrote to you in June we've travelled nearly ten
thousand miles by car, boat and train; touring the amazing National
Parks of West Coast USA; sampling the beaches, forests and mountains
of Beautiful British Columbia; and seeing the sights of Lost Angeles,
Last Vegas, San Fransisco, Seattle, Chicago, Washington, Boston
and New York. It still takes my breath away just writing that
down. Oh and then we came home, just in time to get Matthew ready
to start school and Kirstie ready to deliver the baby.
So, no wonder we've not been in touch. But we've
finally found a few moments to pen this update before the chaos
of our first school term and a new baby takes hold. And with home
on our minds, we hope to give you a flavour this time of what
it's been like to come back. And if you want to know more about
how we got on in the States and Canada, then give us a call, send
us an email, drop in for a coffee or have a browse of our USA
and Canada postings on the website.
And just in case you're wondering, no, our family
adventure project won't be ending here. We figure a new baby just
means a new chapter and we're looking forward to figuring out
just what we might get up to with three little helpers to travel
with. Got any ideas? Do let us know. But for now, it's time for
us to settle in for a while in our old new family home.
Home sweet home
The boys were on the edge of their seats, straining
out the window of the bus for their first glimpse of home. I wondered
if they'd recognise it after all this time, particularly Cameron
who seemed so small and young when we left and is now a proper
little big boy, way too big for the clothes, shoes and toys he
"Are we in England yet?" he asked, scratching away at his hair,
all tousled and bleached from nine months in the sun.
"Yes, we're in England. We've been in England for six days now,"
I explained patiently. Somewhere along the line Cameron got confused
about England and decided it was the village he lived in. His
grasp of geography was still shaky even after or perhaps as a
result of all our travelling. "And now we're coming into the village
we live in. Look there's your friend Holly's house."
"Ohhhhhh, Holly's house, Holly's house" he squeaked. "Is that
it Dad, that one?" It wasn't.
The bus turned and headed out into open countryside, down the
country road that led home, past cows, sheep and goats grazing
in fields, old slate topped farmhouses, and quaint stone cottages.
I'd forgotten what a pretty place home was.
"Yes Dad I recognise it," shouted Matthew jumping off his seat
and riding rodeo at the front of the bus. I knew he would remember.
I'd tested him on the colours of the carpets in our house on the
flight up from London and he'd got them all right. "That's Holly's
house and Megan's and we used to play there. We're nearly home
now. And I recognise that tree and those cows and that house and
that road." he jabbered away excitedly. "That's where we used
to go to the little choo choos down there."
"Is this England?" asked Cameron again, trying hard to get a fix
on his home.
"Yes sweetheart, this is England and we're very nearly home. Your
house is just down here." I replied.
I put my arms around the two of them and enjoyed their excitement
at coming home after travelling thirty four thousand miles around
the world together.
"Is that my house?" asked Cameron pointing wildly out the window.
"No Cameron, that's the pub," said Matthew, "our house is on the
"Is it a big one?"
"Yes Cammy. Look, over there. That's it. And look there's someone
As one family adventure ends... another begins as we await the
imminent expansion of the family
"Look there's Mummy," said Cameron
as the bus pulled up at the stop. Kirstie was over the road, standing
on the doorstep, waiting for us with her friend Kate. She'd had
to take the train home by herself because her bump was too big
to fly but she didn't return home alone; a welcoming party of
two good friends from the village surprised her at the station
and helped her home. Friends and relatives have been so supportive
throughout this trip, running us to the airport, keeping an eye
on the house, turning over the car, sending messages of support,
not to mention keeping us up to speed with village gossip and
the latest news from Heat magazine. I don't think we realised
what good friends we had around us until we went away.
"Who are those girls with Mummy?" asked Cameron.
"That's Holly and Megan," explained Matthew, "Holly is your friend."
"Is she the big one or the little one?"
Inside the house looked in good
shape, much cleaner, tidier and better decorated than I remembered
it. I'd forgotten about all the work we'd done to get the place
into shape before we left. And friends and relatives had been
in to freshen it up before we got back, hoovering, dusting, making
up beds, stocking the fridge, putting flowers on the mantelpiece,
champagne and chocolates on the dining room table. I couldn't
imagine a nicer space or more thoughtful group of people to come
It didn't matter whether Cameron
remembered Holly or not. Within a few minutes of arriving the
shyness was gone as the four young playmates tore around the house
rediscovering playrooms, bedrooms and bathrooms and unearthing
long forgotten delights from creaky old toy boxes.
"Oh look, lego, we've got lego and a train set, with trains and
a Thomas train."
"Hey mum, I've got a dressing gown and pyjamas."
"And we've got bath toys and a bath and bubble bath, lots of bubble
bath and story books for bedtime. Can we have stories at bedtime
"And there's a cot in Cameron's bedroom Mum. Is that for baby
The excitement was palpable, like Christmas, birthdays and Easter
all come at once. I felt it myself as I wandered around, but something
about the place wasn't right. I remembered something my sister
said about the house in one of her emails, "Your place looks terribly
clean but what it really needs is some toys spreading about, and
a layer of biscuit crumbs on the sofa, and toys in the bath and
clothes on the stairs and an overflowing laundry basket.........it
is crying out to be lived in again, to come alive with a family."
Now I understood what she meant. Still it looked like it wouldn't
take the boys long to put that right.
"Daddy, Daddy. I've got a bike and a scooter, an action man scooter,
a big one," squealed Cameron as he ran in from a recce in the
"No that's my action man scooter Cameron," screamed Matthew tailing
in behind him, "You can have the small one. Dad, tell Cameron
the big scooter is my one."
Since we got home the boys have really enjoyed catching up with
friends and relatives
It's a strange sensation coming
home after so long on the road. There's a fleeting sense of unfamiliarity
in a very familiar place, a short time in which you see your house,
home and possessions from a distance, like they are not your own,
at least not yet. I guess it takes a little time to mentally arrive
home, to slip back into a more settled and homely way of living,
accepting and enjoying the material comforts I'd forgotten we
had. It feels for a while like a game of 'Through the Keyhole',
taking a voyeuristic, up close glimpse at the fixtures and fittings
of our life before the Big Trip. And after so long on the road,
living a simple life with just a couple of changes of clothes
and very little else, it's a good time to question the need for
some of the trappings of modern life before we stop noticing them
again in the flow of everyday living.
And in those first few hours home,
I wandered around and surveyed our castle, peeking in cupboards,
browsing shelves and wondering why we needed a breadmaker; why
we had so many clothes, dishes, mugs, pots, pans, toiletries;
what was the point of a telephone in every room; what need we
really had for a dishwasher, tumble dryer and two toasted sandwich
makers. But for everything I questioned there were things I felt
pleased to be reunited with too: like the cafetiere; washing machine;
that nice big family dinner table; the comfy sofa; my desk and
computer; my piano; our bed, clean sheets and soft duvet; the
bikes and kayaks in the gear loft. And beyond the niceties noticed
too the pressing realities of things deferred that now needed
to be faced: the roof that leaks, a falling down chimney, the
rot in the cellar. But there's plenty of time for all of that
once we've settled back in.
There's plenty of unpacking today as
the expedition gear returns home
I reckon it will take quite a few
weeks to get things back to a kind of normal; to unpack stored
clothes and possessions, sort through the mail, get the phone
working, settle bills and get the car back on the road. And when
we've done all that I guess we'll have to create a new normal,
with Matthew starting school, Cameron off to playgroup, the baby
due before the end of September and questions of work and money
to address too.
But for now, to all those who ask,
"Are you pleased to be home?" we all say a resounding "YES WE
ARE." Travelling was great and home is too. But for those of you
who we meet in the coming weeks and months, as we catch up with
friends and renew old acquaintances, a word of warning: there's
only one thing we really dread about being home and that's the
questions we will never be able to answer about our experiences
over the last year, namely "What was the best bit then?" "What
are you going to do now?" and "How did you find the time and energy
to get pregnant while doing all that cycling and living in a tent
with two toddlers?" So please don't ask because I'm not sure we
What's new on
We obviously lied when we said in the
last newsletter that updating the web site would be a piece of
cake in the USA. Well technically it was but somewhere on the
road we began to lose the will to write and you may have noticed
our postings getting fewer and further between. Anyway, we've
caught up a bit now and if you want to know more about roadtripping
and railroading around the USA and Canada take a look at our postings
from the road at: http://www.familyonabike.org/familyonabike/InSearchofTour/FOAB2004Storyindex.htm
If you want a few highlights then try
some of the following. You can read about:
- a strange obsession that took hold of Cameron in 'Driving
- going caving with toddlers and pregnant women in
'Duck down a lavatube'
- camping in bear country in
'The bear necessities'
- the kindness of strangers in 'Family
- feeling blue in the city in 'My
kind of town'
Over the next few months we'll be adding new
content to other areas of the site as we write features and articles
about different ways of adventuring together, profiles of some
of the amazing families we met and reviews of research on the
benefits of family adventure.
We've also got a couple of feature pieces
being published in the USA and New Zealand over the next couple
of months. If you subscribe to Adventure Cycling Magazine (the
magazine of the American Adventure Cyclists
(www.adventurecyclist.org) you can read a piece we've written
about family cycle touring in New Zealand. If you can get your
hands on a copy of New Zealand's Wilderness Magazine (www.wildernessmag.com)
you can read our piece about Family Adventure in Far Northland.
Let the editors know if you like what you read. we might be able
to get a commission for another one!
The relentless generosity of friends, family
and strangers continued to the very end of our travels. Thanks
this time to all the following.
- Navraj, Pritpal, Kavita and Neelam for taking
us for a traditional American style nosh up at Chilli's and picking
up the tab;
- Shelley, Kevin, Kyle and Corey who shared some toys with the
boys and some stories of their adventure in living with us;
- May, Jimmy, Anne, Len and Val, who put us up and put up with
us for a wonderful family weekend, jammed with us in the music
room and charmed the boys playing skippedydoo;
- Chris, Erin and Ethan for taking the time and trouble to drive
four hours each way to come and catch up with us in Chicago;
- Dave for wowing the kids by making their rucksacks bulge with
Discovery Sci fi goodies;
- Kate, Julia, Angela, Joe, Mark and Lynette who made our home
homely, put food in the fridge and flowers on the table to welcome
- Annabel for keeping a watchful eye on the house and looking
out for our visitors while we were on the road.
and to all those who said hello, brightened
up our day, gave us a bed for the night, or cooked us a meal.
We won't forget you thinking of us even if we've forgotten to
mention you here. Thanks also to all of you, for reading our newsletters
and postings and getting in touch with your messages of support,
gossip and other news from home. here.
Back to the future
So, we're back home at last with just a few
weeks to unpack aspects of our old lives, get Matthew and Cameron
ready for school and playgroup, and prepare for the arrival of
the new baby. Well it stops us moping about feeling miserable
about the end of the trip.
And as we settle back in it's still great to
hear from people from near and far so don't hesitate to drop us
an e-mail or call in on us if you're in the area. You can send
us a message by replying to this email newsletter or by mailing
us at email@example.com
Until next time,
Stuart, Kirstie, Matthew, Cameron, baby Wickes
and Puppy The Wuppy
The Family on a Bike
our other newsletters here
The Family Adventure Project
families to live adventurously
us: www.familyadventureproject.org or www.familyonabike.org
us: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
to our free newsletter: send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
a donation to the project:
If you know anyone else who would like to receive
this newsletter, or you want to make sure you get future editions
(if youre not already signed up), then get a subscription
to our newsletter service. Its free and easy; all you need to do
is send an email to: email@example.com and our regular updates will
arrive effortlessly in your inbox. You can of course unsubscribe
at any time, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org