Saturday 18 February 2012

Naming Baby

We're having a baby. We even have a due date – Tuesday 8 May at the maternity wing of SJS Cycles in Bridgwater, Somerset. It's a long way to go to have a baby delivered, but we hear the facilities are excellent.

We're more fortunate than most parents, in that we get to choose the sex of our offspring – he, she or just plain it. However, it complicates choosing a name – should it be a male name, female or simply something neutral?
The Beast of Burden

Two-wheeled transport comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes
I grew attached to the name of my previous offspring – The Beast of Burden. I've toyed with The Beast of Bridgwater given the origins of this one, but I sense it's not working for Judy. I think she quite likes the maleness of it, that this baby will carry us thousands of kilometres on his broad shoulders, uncomplaining and with a sense of sturdy reliability. But she's uncertain about giving a baby such a long name.

Part of me would prefer a female baby –one that has a caring, nurturing side to her nature and will be there for us through thick and thin. And maybe a name that reflects our kiwi heritage.We've been casting far and wide.

The most famous cyclist/travel writer of them all, Dervla Murphy, had an inspired choice with Rocinante, the name of Don Quixote's horse. Anne Mustoe had Condor and Bettina Selby took the bicycle manufacturer's name to call hers, Evans. Currently, Loretta Henderson is riding around the world on Pandemic – The Magic Bicycle.

  Given that our offspring will be almost as long as a car, we've toyed with the name Stretch, as in Stretch Limousine. It has a certain simplicity and is gender neutral. And what about Coupling? After all, we are a couple, and our offspring will couple and uncouple so we can take it on planes with us. And Coupling also has a Kipling (as in Rudyard) sort of ring to it, which appeals.

We've had a text from an old friend who says her 9 lb 2 oz grandchild – just born – has been nicknamed Chunky Monkey until the parents come up with his real name. It has an endearing quality, but we hope to have settled on a name well before our birth.

Any thoughts anyone? If so, let us know in the comments below.

Monday 13 February 2012

The Decision to Go


It was quiet voice, hesitant but she had my attention immediately.

“I'm not as happy as you might think,” said Judy.

I glanced across to the driver's seat and wondered what was to come. It didn't sound good and desperately I cast my mind back to see what I might have done to upset her. Blank. I knew better than to ask. Whatever was on her mind, it was coming.

“You just looked so free back there. And I felt so sort of .... trapped. I'm never going to be able to travel.”

So that was it. Travel and freedom. Two magic words. And 'back there' had been Twizel, where we'd stopped for coffee on the long drive from the McKenzie Country to pre-quake Christchurch. I'd chatted to a fellow cyclist and spent some time going over her bike - the way it was set up and especially its in-hub gears which looked a much more practical option for touring that the standard dérailleur system on most modern bikes.

For me it was fascinating and an opportunity to day-dream about the possibility of another big bike ride, maybe even longer than the six month one I had just finished. For Judy, the conversation was a delay on our journey back home as her fortnight's holiday drew to a close.

So we talked. We had plenty of time – two and half days as we finished the drive to Christchurch then travelled by train to Wellington and on to Auckland. And it was serious stuff. There was no doubt that we were both committed to each other – that was never in question.

Wandering the hills of Central Otago, contemplating the future
But the future looked unsettling. For the first time in months I was facing the reality of returning to a career I no longer enjoyed. Judy was upset that she could see no change from the daily grind, even though she found considerable satisfaction in her legal career.

She felt trapped by circumstance – locked into a professional career and a way of life where she couldn't contemplate surviving without a regular income.

I was more casual, arguing that we were more fortunate than many people and maybe it was time to make some bold decisions.

“When were you going to travel?” I asked. She looked nonplussed. So we talked about how we might travel; by foot, bicycle, or a bike and a Vespa (maybe Judy could tow me up the hills). What about a tandem? We pondered that one, and I promised myself I'd research it.

And when? Somehow a date seemed important. Otherwise we'd just talk about it and never do it. So we picked a date (later, we brought it forward).

And we talked about happiness and personal growth. Would we enjoy travelling together for a long period. And what else did we want from life or feel we should try to accomplish.

Now, on the verge of our big adventure we'll soon learn whether uprooting ourselves and hitting the road is the answer to happiness. And maybe along the way we'll be able to answer some related questions; what is happiness, should we be striving for it, is it

Where ever the road leads us
important or simply selfish of us, is the search for happiness just some fanciful western concept in a world filled with suffering where many struggle simply to eat. All questions we will have plenty of time to ponder on the long road stretching before us.