Pecha Caka

June 10, 2017

In our continuing endeavour to see if *everything* can be improved by adding cake, or just most things, the Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland is following up its successful Cake Summit with a Pecha Caka evening – aka a Pecha Kucha event of short talks, but where everyone has to bring cake.

cake spread

Actually, bear with me, there is a serious point to it, and it’s not just that we like cake. Just like at the Cake Summit, bringing food to share, and eating food that others have given you, is a powerful way of building an atmosphere of warmth and supportiveness (and possibly a little bit of rivalry over recipies). As our teachers never tired of telling us at school, ‘companion’ comes from the word for sharing bread, although we’re with Marie Antoinette on the whole bread issue. As we’re asking people to stand up and give presentations, what better way to soften your audience than to have stuffed their mouths with chocolate brownies beforehand? Hopefully it will create an atmosphere where the dreaded ‘public speaking’ becomes less daunting, a matter of standing up and talking to new friends, rather than presenting to an anonymous audience, their arms folded, waiting to be entertained.


Let them eat cake

And that’s not all. We are aware that one* of the barriers to having more women speaking at conferences is that women are – for whatever reason – more likely not to put themselves forward for something because they don’t feel they’re qualified to do it well (clearly they’ve never sat through the sorts of conferences I have where speaker after speaker has stood up and read his powerpoint slides to us at great length, so they have no reason just how low the bar can be). So we’ve tacked on a short workshop beforehand, to give potential speakers at this or any other event a chance to practise their public speaking skills. With cake, obviously.

cake and coffee

So if you’re in Edinburgh next week – mark your diaries for Thursday the 15th June. The workshop is at five, the main event at seven. It’s free, as long as you bring cake, otherwise a donation will suffice. You can book here

And after that? Well, as we’ve almost certainly got another general election looming in the not-too-distant future, I’m already musing how we could make the whole thing a bit less painful with the addition of cake…

*Obviously the main barrier is them not being asked, and nobody thinking that it might be a problem until they get an #allmalepanel hashtag on twitter, by which time it’s probably too late.

As it Turns Out, it Was we Who Ate All the Pies

May 31, 2014

Well, I don’t know quite what happened there, but through some existential mix up with the weather gods we had the most glorious weather today, despite the fact that I had invited a bunch of people from all corners of the country to join me on a 45-mile ride. And despite the best efforts of my bike to scupper the outing by getting its chain jammed all but irrevocably behind the cogs, we made it to our lunch stop in reasonable time, where the ordering got a little complicated as we totally cleaned them out of pies.

setting off from the train station

Then it was over the hills and far away, via Papershop Village (naturally) to home, where they all but cleaned me out of cake.

cake remnants

And then, for the die hards, we did the final loop around the reservoir to make up the last miles and enjoy one of my favourite rides of all time, although now sadly bereft of its statues after one of them got nicked last year.

road ahead

All in all a good day’s riding, although by the time I’d ridden up the road and back to see some of my guests off I found I’d overshot a little…

GPS reading - 46 miles

There are worse mistakes to make. And worse ways to mark the passage of the years.

Anyone else make a point of riding their age?

The Better Part of Valour

October 31, 2013

clothes drying outI can’t help but feel it was a teeny bit unfair of the Weather Gods to wreak their revenge on me just as I was cycling home from a climate change demonstration – but then again, perhaps the Weather Gods are all for climate change as it gives them the chance to create even more havoc than usual. As it was, they did at least hold back on the hailstorms, freak blizzards and plagues of frogs and confined themselves to ensuring that I was thoroughly soaked from stem to stern, paying extra attention to making sure that my shoes filled up with water so that my socks had to be wrung out before being hung along with pretty much everything else I was wearing on the Rayburn.

At that point, with the rain still blattering down, and realising that I was going to have to go out in it all again to get to choir, I gave in and texted a fellow choir member for a lift. I can increasingly put up with worse and worse weather on the bike these days – but I draw the line at going out and getting soaked again when I had only just got myself into warm and dry clothes.

Today was better – dry enough to wash, re-apocalypse-proof, and dry my jacket and venture out again to help lead 24 11-year-olds through the streets of Bigtown (we walked the bikes for the horrendously hostile first 100 yards outside their school) and up to the local campus where they could cycle in relative comfort and safety while loudly disputing whether or not doing a wheely while riding down the middle of the (fortunately empty) road counted as riding single file in the strictest sense of the term. Having clarified my instructions (single file, with both wheels on the ground, and over to the left, and no, doing skids on the leaves is neither big nor clever and does not count as a controlled descent down a steep hill) we got everyone back to school in one piece and with only a few extra grey hairs on the part of the ride leaders.

coffee and cake

That left only one piece of unfinished business: my fifth coffeeneuring stop, this time at the Polka Dot Vintage Tea room where the coffee may not be that fancy but the china is exceedingly pretty (and no, I’ve no idea why the tearoom is described as vintage; the coffee seemed pretty fresh). A well-earned slice of cake and a good hour of gossip masquerading as discussing cycle campaign matters soon restored me for the ride home, where I was further rewarded for my efforts by the opportunity to test out the re-proofing of my jacket…

So now I’ve decided to simplify things and just have two outfits on the go: the one I’m wearing and the one drying out on by the Rayburn. All I ask is that I manage to go long enough between soakings that the last lot have dried out before I have to change again. That doesn’t seem too much to hope for, does it?

afternoon sky

This was supposed to be a photo of some geese flying overhead but by the time I’d got the camera working they had almost gone

Total distance cycled: 18 miles.

Coffee, Cakes and Cycling

June 24, 2011

A bit of filler here (quite literally), but I have to flag it up. The world of cycling can be quite tribal, with the roadies not talking to the mountain bikers and the cycle-chicstas not talking to the lycra-clad ones – and that’s before we’ve even started on the H word. But there’s one thing that I think all cyclists can agree on and that’s the importance of cake. Whether you eat cake in order to cycle, or whether you cycle in order to make room for more cake, whether you’re a member or not of the CTC*, there’s no doubt that cake and bicycles are made for each other.

Which is why Patisserie Cyclisme fills such an important niche in the cycling blogosphere. Cafe reviews by cyclists and for cyclists – what’s not to like? With so much out there that divides us, it’s time to celebrate what it is that unites us. What better excuse can there be this ‘summer’ than to get out on your bike and find a cafe to review? And remember, (for those of us who care): cake (or bacon) fetched by bike has zero calories, as every schoolgirl knows.