Newsletter - October 2006
Inspiring families to live adventurously, promoting independent family adventure

The Family Adventure Project and Family on a Bike e-newsletter

Welcome to our October 2006 update
Read it online at: http://www.familyonabike.org/Newsletters/NewsOctober2006.htm

I can't believe it's a year since we've last been in touch. Sorry, but the overwhelming demands of routine took over; you know the kind of stuff - work, washing, banking, shopping and the daily demands of trying to create order from chaos in a house full of the joys of three young children. Sometimes it makes the prospect of cycling 50km uphill in the rain pulling a trailer quite appealing.

I think I said last time that a lot can happen in a year. Well, it's true. Since our last newsletter our baby has turned into a toddler, our toddlers have both started school, and Kirstie has reinvented herself as a feature writer. Inspired by our travels in New Zealand, we tried to write a book, wrote a radio play instead and realised we probably enjoyed the research more than the writing. We spent a fortune getting a new roof over our head (without moving house) and too much time moaning about all the other things we could have done with the money if we'd been living in a tent.

Still, as we sit and contemplate autumn, with all the gloomy forecasts about more frequent extreme weather events, perhaps a decent roof isn't such a waste of money. At least we can be confident we'll stay dry.. at least if we stay at home. If only that was something which came more easily.

Sponsored by Burley

Spring was made brighter this year with news of a sponsorship deal with Burley, an Oregon (USA) based cooperative that designs, manufactures and markets trailers, tag-alongs, tandems, recumbents and road bikes. Burley are well known for their focus on the family market and sell a wide range of gear that makes it possible for families to get out riding together with kids of any age. We've used Burley trailers for years; they were home from home to the boys for six months, and we were delighted by their offer of sponsorship.

As part of the deal Burley generously provided us with a Rock 'n Roll tandem fitted with kiddie cranks. Our bright 'Maize' yellow tandem arrived in March and enabled us to reconfigure our riding arrangements and solve the problem of how to tour with three. The kiddie cranks mean an adult pilot (tandem lingo for the one at the front) can ride with a child stoker (the person at the back), and with one of the boys riding up on the tandem, we've finally got a trailer free for baby and a contribution to the powertrain from the boys. The new arrangements have been a great success; after six months, the only recurring problem is the boys fighting over who's going to be stoker. unless it's raining when the argument switches to who gets to go in the trailer.

So, thanks to Burley, we're still on the road, now more of a travelling circus than ever; two adults, a tandem, a bike, two trailers and three children - the all new same old Family on a Bike.

Guilt Trip Spawns The Family Eco Project

When we talk with others about our 'Big Trip', we often get asked what we learnt from it or how it changed us. But apart from making us an obviously bigger, poorer but richer family it's quite hard to say whether or how it changed things. Sometimes it feels like the whole thing may just have been a dream. But travelling with so little for so long, seeing first hand how mankind is reshaping the planet, experiencing the realities of subsistence living Samoan style and contrasting it with the overconsumption of the West does leave a more profound mark. And that combined with a growing sense of guilt about the carbon debt incurred by flying around the world has seeded a personal commitment to reduce our family eco-footprint. And while we recognise it's unrealistic to save the planet or change the world, we figure we should be able to curb our own carbon emissions and change a few household habits through our latest venture, The Family Eco Project.

Conceived in a long hot bath (now that will have to stop), The Family Eco Project is another kind of family adventure, one that you do at home. It's an experiment in living and learning through which we're starting to take a long hard look at our family carbon footprint, examining all aspects of family living - energy consumption, waste, water, travel and leisure - learning more about the impact our way of living has upon the environment and making changes to our lifestyle to reduce it. It's a long term mission and we're just starting out but we've started intermittently blogging and intend using our travels to learn more about more sustainable living, travel, tourism and development. If you want to know more, take a look at the website where you can read a little more about what we've been up to so far. And as always we welcome your feedback, ideas and contributions.

Home made sticky toffee pudding Cumbrian Eco Tour

While the arrival of Maizie took away the last excuse we had for not hitting the road once more, the conception of The Family Eco Project meant we had to look again at where and how we travelled. And since going green means going local, Easter 2006 saw us off on a two week tour of our own backyard, Cumbria. And so it came to be that we spent the coldest two weeks of our lives on a home made Eco-Tour, cycling to a schedule to meet people and visit projects that are working to make Cumbria an even deeper shade of green. You can read more about the tour, the people we met and places we visited on the website, including a feature on the tour published in Cumbria Life. We're still defrosting material from this experience and we'll be adding more to the site once our fingers have thawed.

Human Powered Dar åt Skogen Tour of Western Sweden

After touring in the ice age at Easter, we vowed to go somewhere a little warmer for the summer. But the furthest we could bring ourselves to go without flying or overdoing the carbon emissions getting there was Western Sweden. And so we spent a month pedalling and paddling around the beaches, lakes and forests of Bohuslan, Dalsland and Vastgoterland on our circular Human Powered 'Dar åt Skogen' (Back to the Forest) Tour. The highlight of the tour was a five day wilderness canoeing journey in the Dalsland lakes and canals system. So if you're curious about how to get two adults, three young kids plus enough food and camping gear for a week into two canoes, then you may be interested in our tour reports and photos from Sweden. There's some material already on the website and we'll be adding more stories and features in the coming months.

Features in Print and on the Web

We've had a run of success in getting features commissioned and published, some of which are also available on the website. Recent published features include:
> The invisible green, Cumbria Life
> An adventurous pregnancy, Practical Parenting
> Lee Ho! Learning the ropes, Wilderness Magazine
> Power to the people; the Heron Corn Mill hydro scheme, Cumbria Life
> Changing the world one gift at a time; Freecycling in Kendal, Cumbria Life
> The waste not want not generation, Cumbria Life
> Adventures with a laptop

We now offer a feature and copy writing service, and can also licence existing material for use elsewhere. Further details are on the website.

The site now includes galleries of inspirational images that may whet your appetite for a little adventure of your own. You can access these from the home page. We are also able to offer licences for the use of images on request. Contact us for details.

Finally, we're still looking for contributions from families who would like to share stories of their adventures on The Family Adventure Project website. Do get in touch if you have a story you'd like to share or a site you would like us to feature or link to.

New Coaching Service

We've also launched a new coaching service, aimed at families looking for help in making their family adventure happen. Through the service we offer information, advice, encouragement and support that will give you skills and know-how you can use to create, realise and enjoy your own exciting family adventures. So don't struggle alone. If you have a family adventure dream you want to come true, get in touch and let us help. You can find more details about our coaching options on the website in the Our Services menu.

UK TV Company Seeks Adventurous Families

Do you dream of taking a year out and exploring the world? Do you hanker after foreign adventures and new experiences outside of four star hotel rooms? Do you want your children's education to take in the best of what the world has to offer and not just the four walls of a classroom? Would you be interested in having your travels recorded for posterity for a major UK terrestrial channel?

If so, you may be interested to know that Monkey TV are currently developing a new documentary series for Channel 4 in which they want to follow one of the growing number of British families who are putting day-to-day life on the back burner, packing up and setting off to see the world with their kids in tow. According to Monkey TV, "In this exciting series, we hope to follow one family as they travel the globe experiencing a diversity of cultures and lifestyles, not necessarily found in guidebooks. Catching up with our intrepid grown-up gappers at key points during their trip, the series will seek to reflect all the challenges and (more importantly) rewards of such an adventure."

If you're a UK based family considering a round-the-world trip and want to know more then why not get in touch with Monkey TV. Call Vicky on 020 7749 3180 or email: vickym@monkeykingdom.com

Until next time,

Well that's it for now. As always we welcome your feedback, comments and news. You can send us a message by replying to this email newsletter or by mailing us at mail@familyonabike.org

Hope to hear from you soon. Until then, all the best.

Stuart, Kirstie, Matthew, Cameron and Hannah
The Family on a Bike

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The Family Adventure Project
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