Life & Culture

The peril of beer and bikes on hols

Judy Silkoff wanted to try some new things. But was an electric cycle the best place to start?


I’ve Just returned from a two-week self-catering holiday in the North Yorkshire Dales, And I’ve got the bruises to prove it.
Just a few days before we set off on our holiday, I read an article stating that people who seek out new experiences and challenges in life tend to live longer. Thus, I embarked on the trip resolving not to be a stick in the mud. Unfortunately, this decision left me just that — stuck in the mud, or more precisely, the sheep poo.
I was fully aware that mountain biking in the Dales is not for someone with my level of fitness, even on those trails labelled as “gentle and suitable for the beginner”.
Not wanting my husband, a keen cyclist, to lose out, I decided to be brave and try out the route on a rented emtb — a power-assisted electric mountain bike that promised to have me zipping up and down those hills with ease.
It turned out that me and the emtb were not destined to become friends though; halfway up the first hill I found myself starting to roll backwards, and then, in what felt like slow motion, sideways, into the thankfully soft landing of a field full of droppings.
Not one to give up, I did get back on the bike, but promptly fell off it again, and admitted defeat, with no option but to take the emtb on a lovely country stroll back to the hire centre.
That evening, in the country pub that once doubled as a set for the 1970s version of All Creatures Great and Small, I decided, for reasons unclear even to me, that it was time to eschew my usual namby-pamby Diet Coke and Bacardi and learn to drink beer. I eased myself in gently using shandy as my gateway. Sadly, my Yorkshire-brewed ale and lemonade tasted very beery indeed and I did not like it one bit, but I had greater success with a half of Australian lager the next evening. One point to me on the “trying new experiences” scoreboard.
Most of my successful new experiences involved food. Kosher self-catering involves intricate levels of planning, combining knowledge of what items can be purchased in any supermarket in any part of the country, with what must be brought from home. Schnitzel was on the menu one night. I had brought along the collapsible frying pan and spatula, the turkey breasts and the matzo meal, I had purchased the eggs and the oil, but alas I forgot to pack the panko crumbs needed for a really crispy schnitzel.
What to do? Let me tell you, crushed ready salted crisps make an excellent crunchy schnitzel coating.
An even more exciting new experience was the discovery of an ice cream we could actually eat in the kiosk at the end of a long hike in high temperatures. Given that we eat or drink only dairy products made with supervised kosher milk, we are usually restricted to boring ice lollies.
I genuinely think the discovery of a kosher-supervised vegan choc ice nestled among the verboten Cornettos was my holiday highlight.
Now that we are back home again, my bruises have started to fade and I once again have all the joys of kosher North West London at my disposal, my enthusiasm for trying out new experiences nonetheless lingers. This week I embarked on a new job, and while I get to grips with that, I will be steering well clear of bicycles and sheep poo.
You never know though, I may well celebrate at the end of the first week with a lager shandy. L’chaim!

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