Friday, 20 November 2015

The exciting fortnight ahead...

Hello Dear Reader,

We have a number of events coming up that we'd love to tell you about.

For ten minutes this weekend you will find us sitting in front of a flowering plant counting pollinators for the national Wild Pollinator Count.

This Saturday 21st of Nov we're in Tumut at Night Owl Books for a reading and signing at 3pm.

On Wednesday 25th of Nov we're in Yass at their public library for a book event there.

On Friday 27th Nov of we'll be speaking to ABC Canberra radio live to air at around 2pm.

On Saturday the 28th of Nov we're in Canberra at Paperchain Books, Manuka for another foraging walk and book event.

On Sunday the 29th of Nov we're joining the People's Climate March at Parliament House.

On Wednesday 2nd of Dec we're giving a talk as part of Green Drinks at The Moose Hub in Bowral.

On Saturday 5th of Dec we're in Sydney where our book will be introduced by Kirsten Bradley at Florilegium in Glebe at 3pm.

On Sunday 6th of Dec in the morning we're teaming up with Diego Bonetto for a foraging walk along the Cooks River.

On Sunday 6th of Dec in the afternoon Patrick is giving a performance at SNO in Marrickville as part of the Non Objective Writing exhibition.

On Monday morning 7th of Dec we will be interviewed live from Channel 7 and Channel 9 television studios.

On Thursday 10th of Dec we will be appearing at Gleebooks in Blackheath in the Blue Mountains.

We hope you can join us at one or more of these events.

May all your winds be tail winds,

AaF xx

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Picking up and setting down new and old friends (from Violet Town to Jingellic)

Leaving David Arnold's highly productive Murrnong Farm was difficult. We worked for a few days within a (micro) global village where kid goat feeding, beer bottling, pancake and sourdough making, elder flower champagne producing, last season's chestnuts into hummus creating, mulberry picking and orchard netting activies flowed between stories and laughter and shared meals. Thanks Dave, Nils, Benny, Shyeni and Coufong.

Not wanting to burn ourselves out early on this 20 event book tour in 90 days, we rode to the Violet Town train station and made use of the bike and dog friendly train services again before they dry up in NSW. NSW Rail don't allow non-human kin on their trains (with the exception of assistance dogs, and bikes, annoyingly, have to be flat packed meaning that's it's a ridiculously big job to undertake as bike parts have to be taken off and specialty tools and excessively large cardboard boxes have to be carried.) We arrived in Wangaratta and headed onto the Wang to Beechworth rail trail. We visited the same abundant Mulberry tree as we did in 2013,

and hunted the same (possibly) Charlie carp in one of the creeks. He outcarped us again.

Taking off again in spring has many advantages. New possibilities for life are everywhere and we are lead by a general atmosphere of renewal.

We made camp at the disused community tennis courts at Everton Station,

and landed at our guest digs in Beechworth,

at Pete and Anni's place. They'd heard of our travels and got in touch. Thanks so much kind hosts and kind dogs!

Meg and Woody helped out in their veggie patch,

while Patrick helped Pete sort out the felled radiator pine into useable parts,

before we all had a wash, Woody in his typical fashion.

Our book event in Beechworth comprised of a lovely crowd, hosted by Diane at her excellent independant bookshop.

On the way out of Beechworth an invitation to stay in Wodonga was shouted from a passing car, and although we quickley exchanged social media handles, we were headed for Yackandandah to stay with Warm Showers hosts Matt, Michelle and Tarn. Sadly Matt had left for work before we took this photo:

We were a perfect match with this family. Woody and Tarn soon became good mates,

and so did we with a portion of the town folk. What a darn friendly village Yack is!

We had a second night down by the Yackandandah Creek,

before pushing off the next day and copping our first puncture.

Woody wants to know everything and asks his parents a thousand questions every day. Not quite a thousand answers, his parents have much to learn too, such as, what is this fruit? Is it a parasite, a geebung or wattle nut?

With air back in all four tyres we treadlied to Albury where a dude Patrick used to play football with at university lives and invited us to stay. Patrick hadn't seen Mick for over 20 years and hadn't been in contact and what's more we didn't even get to meet him as he was away for work. We stayed with his gorgeous wife Bernie and tenacious teen Paris and they embraced us like long lost kin. Thanks Bernie, home from a morning's run!

And thanks Mick, who hooked us up with the Border Mail to do a story. He also insisted we get in touch with pollinator guru and local permaculturalist Karen Retra and her man Ralph,

and we were given a tour of their pollinator-friendly, south-facing 1/4 acre that is either all under food production, under habitat creation or both in the same breath.

Karen in turn hooked us up with ABC Goulburn Murray and we were interviewed at length about our adventuring before we collided with Roy, a cycle tourer from Japan.

Roy accompanied us to our 5th book event where we met a lively cross-section of local sustainability activists, permies and ecologists. What an awesome crew!

Our community friend Mara met us in Albury and we rode with her and Roy along the majestic Murray River Road crossing back into Victoria.

What a joy it was to ride with these happy bike-campers along such a quiet, almost carless road,

and to wake to such mornings.

To top it off our book was 'Pick of the week' in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

We farewelled Mara at Kennedy's Reserve and Roy at Jingellic where he videoed an Artist as Family jam sesh,


before we settled in to one of the prettiest free camp sites in Australia, cooking up plantain, sow thistle and flatweed to add to the evening pasta, breakfasting on carp and dandelion coffee,

and generally hanging out, getting to know the virtues of the Upper Murray River.

We have much gratitute for those we meet along the way. Those who come to ride with us. Those who put us up for the night. Those that nourish us as food. The roads we travel. The fellow campers. The community of the living that fuels all this possibility.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Another family of bicycle travellers

Recently, at the talk we gave at the Local Lives, Global Matters conference in Castlemaine, a woman approached us. We met Krista while we were cycling through Orbost at the end of last year. She and her family were planning a cycle touring expedition in France.

We often meet families who have travelled all the way to Europe where they perceive the roads are safer for, and the drivers kinder to, families on bikes. But after sharing with Krista a little of our experience, she and her partner Sam and their two youngsters, Daisy (two and a half) and Banjo (four), decided to tour a little closer to home.

As bicycle advocates wanting to spread the word of families on bikes, we invited Krista to be a guest blogger, to share her insights and anecdotes of her family's three month bike-camping adventure from April to June this year, from Goulburn to Urungu. Over to you, Krista Patterson-Majoor:
In the mornings we busy ourselves making breakfast, stuffing sleeping bags, and packing our belongings until the sun reaches us. More often than not, we seek the sun. One morning we cross a frost covered oval to bask in the warm glow. We make a bench seat from old fence rails and we sit silently, worshipping the sun.
We wear multiple layers while riding. Gentle uphill slopes are a blessing as they help us keep warm. Steep descents are torturous - the icy winds and misty rain collide with clenched fingers and squinting faces. There comes a moment when all feeling is lost. An unexpected warmth rushes through our rigid fingers. It's a feeling that brings memories of early morning newspaper delivery runs, another character building experience involving bikes.
In the evenings, we rely on each others body warmth to stay cosy. Daisy and Sam on the edges, Krista and Banjo in the middle. Three mats, three sleeping bags zipped together as one. Until Daisy stabs a mat with a tent peg. Fortunately it is repairable. On another occasion a Banjo and Daisy game splits a seam in a down sleeping bag. A cloud of feathers fills the tent. White fluff rushes up noses and into open mouths, causing hysterical laughter until we discover the source. On cold nights every single feather is important!
Some days we wake up and we don’t feel like riding, or packing the tent, or loading the bikes again. On days like these, something small often makes us realise how lucky we are to be where we are; a patch of sunshine, a quiet stretch of road, a Daisy song from the trailer, or perhaps another hour long Banjo story from the back of the bike. There’s also something bigger; the growing belief that cycling offers a unique opportunity to journey together as a family. 
No sooner than one journey ends, thoughts of others begin to grow. We're deeply impressed and inspired by the way in which Banjo and Daisy have embraced this journey, and grown as a result of it. As a friend from home pointed out '... they don't know they're little, and are supposed to be playing in the sandpit'. Although they may be little, they have played a big part. We think they make wonderful companions. We are thankful for having had this opportunity to spend so much time with them.
Thank you Krista, Sam, Daisy and Banjo for sharing your story. Happy riding! We hope lots more families follow in your wheel-paths. xx

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Salsify days (from Trentham to Violet Town)

Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius) flowers have been out in great numbers this year, lining the roads between Daylesford, Woodend and Kyneton. They are a great source of free food if you can identify them before they flower. By now the roots have become too woody to roast. The flower seeds however can be toasted and used in a salad and the petals make a great edible garnish.

We arrived in Woodend with an afternoon to relax before introducing ourselves to Woody, co-owner of New Leaves Bookstore. He had set up a prominent stand of our books before a nice little crowd gathered. Thanks Woody!

We were invited back to the Earthstar's home where we were treated to delicious food from their garden, a fine bed and the chance to enjoy Sam and Woody, both 3 years old, playing together. Thank you sweet family!

We left Woodend early attempting to beat the storms, but got wholly drenched anyway and thus reinitiated into the vagaries of cycle touring life. We loved it, especially as it remained warm and the ride along the old Cobb and Co coach road was quiet and virtually carless until we arrived in Kyneton and pulled up at Aesop's Attic Bookshop, greeted by the store owner, Clare.

From Aesop's we took a small group out on a foraging walk identifying over 20 edible species within a short walk from Clare's well stocked bookshop (that sells excellent books such as Dark Emu), 

before returning to give a reading and Q & A to a lovely bunch of book punters. Energised by our first two events we rode on towards Pastoria, coming across this wonderful signifier of chemical-company-embedded environmentalism — get your government-funded carcinogens cheap!

We made camp behind the Pastoria CFA,

slept soundly, woke up, had some breakfast, stretched down, 

took to the road and momentarily became muddled with all the possible routes we could take.

We've been finding this trip that if we have a few nuts and some dried fruit in the mornings, ride for an hour or two, then cook up a big billy of porridge we get away much earlier and do more riding in the coolest part of the day.

The road from Tooborac to Seymour was fairly uninteresting, punctuated regularly by roadkill in varying states of decay. When we arrived in Seymour we put Zero in a regulation travel box and for the first time we were all legitimate travellers on the state's public transport.

We got off a few stops along the track in Violet Town, where 2 weeks shy of 2 years ago we arrived in this little town. We found the same friendliness and abundance of street accessible fruit.

In 2013, at 14 months of age, Woody fell in love with loquats in Violet Town, and the passion hasn't waned.

And once again the town offered up free camping,

free power, and one of the local shops was giving away the most delicious grapefruits.

We set up the Artist as Family merch stand on the main drag and sold a few copies of our book,

before we ran our second foraging walk for the tour and our third book event. These two gigs occurred at Dave Arnold's Murrnong Permaculture Farm.

Before we say farewell for this leg of the trip we want to tell you we've found an error in our tour map. So, for all you Southern Highlanders, please note our event is on the 2nd of December in Bowral.

OK, so we said we weren't going to blog much this trip. Let's update that to we'll blog when we can because we'd like to. We hope, Dear Reader, that your days are filled with things you like too, that your winds are fair and your hands are sticky from overhanging fruit.