Today we meet the Parrott family: Tom, Lucinda, Arthur (4 ½) and Matilda (just 3).
Lucinda and I are another ‘down from London’ couple. I didn’t have a bike in London and hadn’t cycled for ten years until in 2011 I made a bet with friends that I would ride from London to meet them in the Swiss Alps for a holiday. I got an old, cheap, wholly unsuitable Raleigh Team Banana road-bike and put panniers on it. It took nine days solo cycling first to Brighton, then through France to the mountains, carrying my tent and camping, but I made it!
Afterwards I turned the Banana into a single speed bike for short trips around London. When we moved to Winchester in 2015, I donated the bike to a local charity but mounted the saddle and handlebars which I’ve kept as a form of ‘bike taxidermy’!
We started cycling more in the past few years as a practical way to get around as a family without having to drive or park in town. We soon found it is much more enjoyable than using a car – in particular, not having to do battle so often with children’s car seats! We invested in a second-hand cargo bike which could take both the children and all their stuff, and it has become a much-loved member of the family. We also use a vintage Brompton folding bike which belonged to Lucinda’s mother. Both these bikes have had a series of child seats on the front and back as the children have grown.
Arthur is now cycling himself, and Matilda chases after him on her balance bike.
Stop press: Matilda can cycle too!
Arthur likes wearing his coat to look like Superman while riding his bike.
It is great that they can both get to school (Arthur) and preschool (Matilda) on bikes, but the lack of crossings on the main roads (especially Worthy Road) makes it a challenge and we also have to make use of pavements and footpaths in many places.
Hopefully things will change and the city become much more bike-friendly; given the wide range of benefits cycling provides, it seems obvious (to me, anyway!) that the local authority should encourage it as much as possible.
Finally, we would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to the team at Bespoke Biking. Our expertise in bike maintenance extends only as far as the most basic issues, and often doesn’t even extend that far. For anything else we have taken our bikes to Bespoke Biking for their help, and they’ve got us back on the road as quickly as possible.
Happy cycling, everybody!