My sister, older by 11 months, and I would go to the nearest sprout field, about a mile away from home. One of us pedalling furiously, the other standing on the bar at the back. We would collect beautiful patterned and coloured snails, put them in the little basket on the front handlebar, swap over and pedal home. The snails were expected to ‘race’ down the slope from the small back yard, into the garden. We loved watching the snails tentatively emerge from the shells, displaying tiny eye stalks. After our ‘races’ we were under strict instructions from mum, to return the said snails back to the sprout field.
My next memorable bike was amazing. Not only because my sister and I had one each, but because my genius dad built them both from old parts. He had a shed at the bottom of the garden, and once home from work, he would disappear into the shed, and for weeks we were forbidden to enter, which added to the mystery. My Grandad had a Garage, so my dad was brought up watching Grandad make parts for cars coming in for repair. My dad, in turn, learnt how to use all the tools and machinery.
When we finally got our ‘new’ bikes they were magnificent. Dad had bought lots of ‘old’ bits of bikes and stripped and rebuilt 2 bikes out of the parts. They looked brand new. Mine was green and white. When I started Secondary school, I cycled the 3 miles there and back winter and summer. When I started work, just after my 17th birthday, I used to cycle to work.
It was in the days before it seemed necessary to lock up your bike. Sadly my bike was stolen from the bike shed.
I remember being so grateful for those bikes, which from an early age, gave me so much independence. The Trike was bought at a time when there was little extra money in the home, the second
bike involved so much of my dad’s time, sourcing parts to strip, sand, paint, polish, oil and re assemble into ‘new’ bikes.