Cycling Tips For Every Beginner

The lockdown rules of 2020 meant exercise outdoors suddenly became a thing for those who never had the time, nor the desire in the "normal world" of society. So many new hobbies enjoyed by those of all ages, are plain to see with every passing day. It's truly lovely to see.

Entering the world of cycling is so rewarding. There is no greater feeling than whizzing down the road, the wind rushing by you, enjoying nature and getting that major endorphin rush. Cycling is a great activity to help you get in shape, boost your mental health and, since there’s so many group rides, charity races and more in virtually every city, a great opportunity to make friends and bond with other bike enthusiasts. Cycling communities usually have members and rides at every level, from beginner to pro, so even if you’re just starting out, you can find a group to fit into easily, which is a great idea - they’ll show you the ropes! 

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Cycling is very much a “club”, but it’s an easy one to join. Avid cyclists are always thrilled to bring new folks into their ranks. And it’s also a very much learn-as-you-go activity; you’ll pick up all sorts of things as you’re out on a ride. But if you’re wanting to start off on the right foot, we’ve got a few handy tips below on how to get the most out of cycling as a beginner. 

Get the Right Accessories
As we mentioned above, cycling is a bit of a club - some might even call it a religion. Cyclists are very proud of their bikes, their accessories, and their kit. Many prefer to wear branded accessories and kit that correspond with their bike, and others choose these items solely for being lightweight (if you’re a speed junkie). Whatever brands you choose are up to you, but you definitely want to have the proper accessories when you start out. This doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune, but you do want to buy good quality stuff that’s designed and made by an actual cycling gear company. These items include a Cycling Kit (kit refers to your cycling clothes - chamois, a jersey, and sometimes cycling socks), proper cycling shoes/cleats that clip in to whatever type of pedal you choose, cycling gloves, a properly fitted helmet, sunglasses to protect your eyes from flying debris, and a water bottle. No, a water bottle isn’t technically part of your kit, but you need one - never forget water when you go out cycling! 

You also want to have a small pack big enough to contain a safety kit (materials to change a tire/tubes, your ID, a few dollars for emergencies and mace are always a good idea), as well as having lights both on the front AND back of your bike. You need lights that are bright and have multiple flashing options. Many cyclists also have a Garmin on their bike or a similar app installed on their phone. 

Follow the Rules/Etiquette
Naturally, when going out on the road, you want to follow all local state laws as it pertains to riding your bike. For instance, in the state of Georgia, riders may ride two to a lane, with drivers required to give them at least 3 feet distance when passing. Laws for turning, signalling and so on are very much the same as they would be for a driver. But every state is different and for your own safety and compliance, brush up on these laws before you get on the bike. 

There are also rules of etiquette to follow when riding in large groups or with others. These include the infamous “on your left!” when passing a cyclist (never pass on the right; that’s dangerous), the rules of drafting (everyone takes a turn), and so on. You’ll learn these as you go, too. These aren’t just nitpicky rules; they keep everyone safe and add to the collective “club” or “family” feeling of cycling. 

Start Small, but Practice Makes Perfect
It can be tempting to immediately jump into the big rings and start trying for very long distance rides. Save that 50 mile charity ride or 35 mile solo-cruise for when you’ve got a little experience under your belt. While you may have the stamina for it, it’s best to get used to the bike and have some experience cycling on the road (getting used to cars, learning how to change a flat, and so on) before going out on long distances. This is for your own safety. 

Once you’ve got a few miles under your belt, you’ll be stomping up those hills with ease, and clocking 50 miles every Saturday afternoon. 

Take Care of your Bike
Bike care is a whole college course unto itself. It pays off to actually check out some videos online, or better yet, take an actual class to learn bike maintenance. You’re going to need to learn how to change tires, adjust fittings, replace chains, and more. Better to do it yourself than take the bike to the shop every few days.  If you're a tinkerer at heart, this is right up your street (or cycle lane!)

So, have you taken up cycling? If you have, I hope you continue to enjoy it when the pandemic eases off. Perhaps you'll ditch the car and start commuting on your bike!


This is a collaborative post.

Fun Things to Do with the Kids When Lockdown is Over


As nurseries, schools and colleges remain closed due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, millions of people are dreaming about what they’ll do when the current crisis is over. If you’re feeling cooped up at home, planning how you’ll spend your time post-lockdown is a great way to calm your mind. For inspiration, take a look at these top ways to have fun with your kids when lockdown is over…
Travel
Currently, only essential travel is permitted which means no holidays, days out or even trips to family member’s and friend’s houses. Due to this, travel is bound to be at the top of your list when it comes to activities to enjoy after lockdown. 
With so many places you’ll be eager to visit, the only trouble you might have is deciding where to go first! If you want to ensure that your child hasn’t missed out on learning due to the restrictions, educational travel could be your best bet. Visiting notable sites or planning trips to destinations related to their curriculum won’t just be a fun way to enjoy your freedom, it could be a great incentive to encourage your kids to crack on with their schoolwork while they’re at home. 
Have a picnic
As well as being restricted in terms of where we can go, lockdown means we can’t enjoy meals with our family and friends either. With many people desperate to see their loved ones in a face-to-face setting, a picnic is the perfect post-lockdown activities. 
In addition to enjoying the great outdoors, you can share an alfresco meal with your nearest and dearest when you opt for a picnic lunch or dinner. Whether you head for your local park, take a trip to the countryside or incorporate it into a fun-filled day, you’ll be relishing the opportunity to grab a bite and relax with friends and family in the sunshine.

Visit the coast
There’s no doubt about it, being stuck inside for so long makes you long for nature’s finest sights. If you’re dreaming of watching the waves roll in and breathing in the salty, sea air, then a trip to the coast is your top post-lockdown priority. 
As national travel is likely to be permitted well before international travel options are available, you can make up for missed vacations and minibreaks by heading to UK seaside towns and coastal retreats with the kids instead. From the White Cliffs of Dover and the Cornish coves to Norfolk’s Broads and Scotland’s sea lochs, there is no end to the delights on offer. 
Keeping Kids Entertained During Lockdown
If you’re struggling to find ways to keep your kids entertained throughout the lockdown period, ask them to plan a list of all the activities they want to do. As well as helping you to create a custom post-lockdown itinerary, you can find innovative ways to modify their favourite activities. With a little ingenuity, you’ll find many activities can be customised to fit within lockdown restrictions and will keep your kids busy until normal life can resume.

Stay safe x

This is a collaborative post

What causes stress as a mother?

As a mother, you’ll know just rich the experience can be. It’s full of love and joy and pride, and there’s no doubt that you wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. However, it’s not as if the whole motherhood experience is a stroll in the park. There are difficult moments too. On some days and weeks, it can feel as if it’s nothing but stress. While there’s not much you can do that’ll get rid of stress entirely, there are things you can do that’ll at least keep it a minimum. One such way is to simply be aware of what causes the stress. If you can identify the triggers, you’ll be able to wrestle back some control. Below, we take a look at a few of the most common stress-inducers.


Natural Reponses

Perhaps the most important thing to know about parental stress is that it’s entirely normal. While we might hope to be in a state of constant bliss and happiness, that wouldn't have much benefit in an evolutionary sense. In other words, it’s important to feel stress, because it ensures that you’ll take great care of your little ones. So if you feel stressed even though nothing seems to be wrong, then don’t worry -- it’s just your human body doing what it has to do.

Time Management

You’ll have a million things to do when you’re a parent, and, alas, there are only so many hours in the day. Of all the complaints that mothers have, none are quite as common as the problems they have with time management. How are you expected to take care of everything during daylight hours? While you’ll never be able to skip from one task to the next, you can increase the chances of getting everything done by getting as organised as possible. Having a notepad that outlines your daily tasks will help ensure that nothing gets missed. If possible, try to get into a rhythm that stays the same each day, too. 

Relationship Issues

Before you had a baby, it was all about you and your partner. After you’ve had a baby, it’s all about you and your little one. It’s normal that we spend a huge chunk of our time doting on our little sons and daughters, and, as a result, our relationship with our partner can suffer. There are things you do that’ll help to keep the connection alive, however. For example, perhaps the two biggest things you can do are: make time, and communicate well. It’s really important to set aside some time to spend quality time with your partner. It’ll help ensure that there’s still something to hold onto once your child is a little older.

Home and Car Problems

If you’re going to raise your child as smoothly as possible, then you’ll need to have the setup that helps you to achieve this goal. For example, a nice home and a fully functioning car. However, sometimes these things stop playing ball. If we have big problems in our house, or our car won’t work, then life will be much more difficult. Alas, when these things go wrong, it usually requires a fair amount of cash to fix, and that can be problematic if you don’t have any spare money sitting in your bank account. It’s important to remember that there are always options, however. You could get a loan from Buddy loans, direct guarantor loan lender, for example. Or you could ask to borrow money from your friends or family, or even dip into your savings account. These situations are far from ideal, but should be handled promptly; it’ll make your life much more straightforward.

Lack of Free Time

The idea of free time is something of a joke to mothers, and that’s understandable. However, it is important to still make time for yourself, even when you’re looking after a little human. If not, you could begin to feel like your life is spinning away from you. While it’s true that you won’t have hours to play with, it’s likely that you’ll have at least some time throughout the day, such as after your child goes to bed. Make the most of this time. Reading your favourite book, watching a show you like, or simply taking the time to slow down and reconnect with yourself will all do wonders for your sense of self.

It can be stressful as a mother, but it’ll all be worth it -- and don’t forget that the stressful period won’t be around forever, either! 


This is a collaborated post.

4 Things To Look For In A Family Car

Finding the perfect family car is tough because there are so many different factors to consider. Every family has different needs in terms of space or features, and you need to make sure that you can actually afford the car! You also need to consider safety if you are driving your kids around in the car. Finding a car that meets all of these needs can be tough, but if you follow this guide, you can find the perfect car for your family. 

Budget 

Setting a budget is the first thing that you need to do. Most people cannot afford to buy a car outright so you will need to take out a finance package. Consider how much you can afford in monthly payments, so you can get an idea of what kind of car you can afford. Once you have a budget in place, you can start looking at your different options, like a Vauxhall Personal Contract Purchase or a car loan from a bank. It is also important that you consider the other costs associated with buying a car, like the insurance and the fuel costs. If you don’t add up the extra costs, your budget will not be realistic and you may find yourself in financial trouble. 

Space 

Space is one of the most important things to consider when buying a family car, especially if you have a big family. If the car is small and cramped, the kids will end up arguing on long drives, so make sure that there is enough space for everybody to be comfortable. You need to find a car with plenty of boot space as well so you have enough room to pack everything for family outings or holidays. In our case, we need to think long and hard about how Finley's adapted buggy would fit and whether anything else would go in there with it!

Safety 

Safety is another vital concern when choosing a family car. It’s important that you choose the right car seat, but you also need a car that has good safety features as well. Modern vehicles have great safety features, like automatic braking and parking sensors that often come as standard. However, you may need to pay extra to have these things added on, so make sure that you include this in your budget when you are working out the cost. Even though it is tempting to skip out on the added extras to keep costs down, you shouldn’t cut any corners where your family’s safety is concerned. 



Interiors 

As a parent, you already know that kids are messy, and you need to take that into account when looking at the interior of a car. You don’t want any materials that are easily stained because there are likely to be spillages. It’s also a good idea to avoid leather because it needs a lot of maintenance and it is expensive to replace if it is damaged. Cheaper, durable materials that are easily cleaned are always best for family cars. 

If you can get all of these aspects right, you can find the perfect car that meets all of your family’s needs and keeps them safe on the road. 

Stay safe everyone x


Disclaimer: This is a partnered post.

Carson's Corner: My cake recipe!

This is a post written by Carson himself as part of Carson's Corner


Hi Everyone!

Today I want to tell you all about my cake that I made on Saturday. It's a Vanilla Sponge with Raspberry Buttercream. It went down a treat with my mum, dad, nin and grandad (and if I say so, myself!)

So first off, Mum went and bought all the ingredients we needed like real butter, icing sugar and - important this one - SEEDLESS raspberry jam. We had a lot of the stuff in already to be fair though.



The recipe is crazy easy to remember. It's just 3 equal parts!

Cake recipe
225g self raising flour
225g butter
225g sugar
4 eggs
vanilla beans in a grinder

We don't have any electric whisks or mixers in our house so it was hard going to get it right. I even had a cake mix-splosion a couple of times hahaha! But mum gave me a little help and we did it in the end. Literally put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix like mad! Done. 
Oh, the vanilla is to taste apparently. I just ground it in until I saw a nice even spread of black dots in the mixture, seemed to work perfectly to be fair!



I put some greaseproof paper on the base of the cake tin so it didn't stick and then poured the mix inside the tin.

It took about an hour on gas mark 4 to cook (because mum said our oven is rubbish and we need a new one!). To test it was ready we did the knife test. So what you do is jab it in the middle and if it comes out clean  you know it's ready.

Buttercream recipe
140g butter
280g icing sugar
Half jar of seedless raspberry jam



Creaming together the butter and icing sugar was hard just using a spatula or a wooden spoon but keep doing it as the flavour will be worth it. The jam needs to be stirred to make it go like a sauce so it's easy to drizzle over the top too.

I'm obsessed with baking at the moment and I'm going to practice for a whole year and apply to enter junior bake off.

I thought the final result was amazing (big head!). 

What do you think?