Keep Calm and Cast On

Yarn Swap and Knit In!

Swap your unloved skeins of yarn, eat cake and knit…and it’s for a great cause! We have raised our target so any funds from this event go directly to equipment and funding for http://www.mamababyhaiti.org/

What’s happening:
We would love you to join us on Saturday the 16th of July between 10am and 6pm for a “knit-in” and yarn swap at the amazing Darn it & Stitch, Blue Boar St (off St Aldates) Oxford( http://darnitandstitch.com/).

Rachel and Nina are going to be in the lovely upstairs room all day knitting squares to raise money and create much needed blankets and hats for babies in Haiti. Needles, yarn and basic tuition will be available for those that would like to knit with us for a little while (so please bring your non-knitting friends!). Beautiful homemade cake, lemonade and tea will be available on  a donation only basis.

As well as oodles of knitting (and cake), we’ll be holding a yarn swap. We know that every knitter has a dirty secret; cupboards full of yarn that seemed a good idea at the time but you will never use… and this is our solution!

Bring your yarn and swap it for a new set of inspiration. Basic grading will be done on the day and we suggest donations of £1.50 to £3.00 per swap (up to 3 skeins depending on size).

We already have our own cupboards of shame to start off the stash… but any donations are more than welcome. Please bring these on the day or we are more than happy to collect them in the Oxford area (email nina_vanschaick@hotmail.co.uk)

The Amazing Falmouth Bake Off!

Well, we certainly have been busy! Last weekend we travelled south to Cornwall for an intensive fundraising weekend. This began (far too early) on Saturday morning with the Truro  car boot sale. We raised almost £200 selling of things sourced from the houses of friends and family as well as our own. It was all a bit terrifying when they sounded the claxon (yes, a claxon). As people started running (yes I do mean running), towards us I was a bit worried, but it calmed down from there and turned into not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning.

Nina driving a hard bargain...for a good cause

Sunday saw us in Falmouth where Nina’s AMAZING cousin Phil and friend Tessa orchestrated a lovely day full of cake and fundraising.

The Fabulous Foursome, Rachel, Tessa, Phil and Nina

We had the enviable task of judging a cake baking competition before they were all auctioned off to a generous crowd.  Generous businesses of Falmouth donated some excellent raffle prizes,

The lovely prizes donated by friends, family, and local businesses

The cakes were amazing both to look at and to taste..it was a tough job but someone had to do it!

The Cakes

We also enlisted visitors to help us by knitting squares which will become receiving blankets that we will take with us in August. We even had someone learning to knit on the day.

Concentrating

and fun was had by all!

We were very touched by the generosity and support that we found during the bake off, so many people helped in different ways, and the cake purchasers were very generous. A big thank you also to everyone at The Courtyard Deli for being such wonderful hosts. Thanks to the excellent auctioneering skills of Rhys and everyone who helped on the day we raised £375 through the auction and the raffle. And of course to Phil and Tessa, without whom this would never have happened.

Lastly we would like to take the chance to thank every one of our donors to date, you have all helped us reach our £5000 fundraising target. We are humbled by your generosity, and will continue to fundraise until we get on the plane, for money to buy life-saving medical supplies and equipment with us to Haiti.

Paris = Done!

WE DID IT!!! 311 kilometres, not all of them fun!

Look! There it is!!

Day one:

We triumphed over the extremely not-flat London to the Coast leg. It was a very long, hot day full of scary motorist antics. We took on both the Weald and the North Downs and emerged reasonably unbowed – this is post lunch and we are smiling because we have no idea how far away the coast is!

Luckily we were hosted brilliantly that evening in Eastbourne by Ben’s mum and Hazel which greatly eased our pain!!

Day two: A quick little cycle from Seaford to Newhaven on a brisk south coast morning then on to the ferry! Bye Bye blighty!!

Arrive in Dieppe, put bike back together, don sexy cycling gear and set off! Allons-y!!!!

A lovely stretch on the avenue verte (flat with no traffic!!!!!) lead us to Neufchatel en Bray where our support vehicle was waiting (contentedly sitting in the sunshine with a beer!).

Day three: This was a whopper (50m)!

We took our preparation seriously:

Obligatory action shots from our faithful support driver!

Luckily the countryside was beautiful, rolling (and some not so rolling) hills covered with poppies. We saw myriad French wildlife – Deer and even a Hare – not too many cars! After a long ascent (one of the two serious hills meriting a mention in the route instructions) which involved a pea stop for R and B we reached a well-earned lunch spot.

The were very tasty!

Meeting our faithful support driver for lunch we avoided the rain to picnic next to a church car boot sale– much to the amusement of the vendors!

Resisting the urge to buy the random assortment of merde on sale we forged on and through the rainy afternoon. Arriving at the tiny hamlet of Fay-les-Etangs (Etang being our new French word meaning Pond – pretty but not particularly useful). We passed a restful night after an enormous meal with the other guests of the B&B and the friendly resident dog!

Day four:

We made the decision to split the final day into two sections to save having to stay a night in Paris (trop cher) and boy are we glad that we did! Today’s section was really challenging – not least because we chose to set off after lunch to rest our legs and to let the torrential rain ease off!

The day started in the French equivalent of Surrey which was all very bucolic and ended in the equivalent of Shepherds Bush – not so nice with very confusing roads. I number my experience of dual carriageway cycling today as among my top five near-death experiences! After surviving this we were very grateful for bedtime in Poissy! This is the nicest view in Poissy – The Seine – in the dark!

Day five: Up bright and breezy to mount the final assault on Paris. It was a rainy, windy morning but we were heartened by the thought of a cycle through the bois and lunch under the Eiffel Tower.

Hmmm, well. Almost both of those things happened! This was the most challenging day in terms of navigation. A special mention must go to Ben for his navigational efforts on the whole trip but especially the seemingly identical circular roads of the outskirts of Paris. He got us through the woods, past the retail parks and through the suburbs to the Seine!! The cycle through the five (yes five!) different woods was to be recommended.

Beautiful Bois on the way to Paris

It was very peaceful in contrast to the main roads leading to the city centre (we could hear them sometimes thundering in the distance). Plus, we got to encounter some elderly Parisians on their morning constitutional- and they in turn got to laugh at us huffing and puffing up some unexpected hills!

Eventually we got our first glance of Paris – in a misty murky sort of way!!

Our lunch dreams were shattered when the support driver found that he had left his suitcase in the hotel in Poissy. Hmmm. We raced to take some photos under the tower aided by a passing Parisian:

Then in a final act of architectural torture had to climb the steps of the Trocadero (lots!!!!!!!!!) carrying our bikes to meet Bubs at the car. Rachel and Ben had some time to kill before the Eurostar and managed a civilised celebration lunch. Nina and Bubs raced for the suitcase, Dieppe and the ferry with minutes to spare!!

We would like to thank everyone who supported us in our training and sponsored us. It was a challenge, but we all enjoyed it and all of our kind sponsors made the hills a little bit easier!!

We’re off……………..It’s a long (steep) way to Pareeee

So.. day one is done. Some incredible uphill action out of London and out across Surrey. We took on The Weald and won (sort of!) An overnight stay on the south coast and then we ferried to sunny France today.

A gorgeous cycle along the avenue verte today brings us to Neufchatel en bray and we are all about to fall into our very well earned beds. Pictures and possibly video evidence of these events coming soon!

A long day awaits us in the morning but we can smell Paris (almost!)

Thanks for everyone who has donated, your pennies have kept our spirits up – particularly when the wrath of English and French motorists alike threatens our composure!

Please donate if you haven’t already.

Beaucoup d’amour

Nina and Rachel

We’re Halfway There!!

Our fundraising total is now a wonderful £2824, which means we are over half way to our fundraising target. We would like to sincerely thank all of our generous donors, and encourage all of you who haven’t gotten around to donating to do so soon. The time for booking flights and accommodation is fast approaching!

After the success of the Oxford Brookes bake sale we are hoping to hold another sale at Brookes. We are also looking for other opportunities for bake sales so please do contact us with ideas and inspiration for bake sale goodies!

Practicalities have led to a change in date for the London to Paris cycle ride. The date is now set for the weekend of the 4th of June. Our training is going well and tomorrow is the big 50 mile cycle ride! This has been our training goal and we are very excited to be reaching it.

Also in June, a Raku pottery workshop and lunch in Wadebridge, North Cornwall June 10th, and  a cake baking competition and auction in Falmouth, June 11th.

Please contact us for further details on any of our upcoming events. And keep watching the blog for more information and the compulsory embarrassing cycling photos!

Bake sale bonanza – “never, never, never”

Wow, what an awesome week….

Part 1: CAKE

So, Brookes very kindly allowed us to hold a bake sale on a big hand-in day. We baked, baked again and then we baked some more. Then just when we thought we couldn’t stand to see another cake we baked again. As Rachel pointed out ” Never was so much baked for so many by so few”. It made us giggle but I think we were a bit hysterical by the end! Of course we were not alone, the wonderful Rowena, Amy and the inimitable Becky all added their creations and for this and all their help we are very grateful.

This is just a taste of what cakeland looked like at Nina’s house – cats and husband alike simply moved out for the decorating marathon:

Cakes and sofa and Rachel looking blurry because she is moving so fast with those dolly mixtures:

Then we moved the whole lot to Brookes. Everyone was lovely, bought cakes and said encouraging things.

 
  

It was so much more than we were expecting, we only took a couple of really lonely cakes home and both staff and students were very generous. Thank you everybody who helped us out in so many ways.

Part 2: Vivas

Both Nina and Rachel had vivas for the Brookes elective bursary on Bake Sale Day (as it will henceforth be known). We were grilled by our tutors who had lots of questions about our reasons for doing this trip and what we had done in terms of research. Scary stuff!

We are thrilled to announce that we must have done something right because they have awarded us £500 each. This is a massive boost to our total (not to mention our confidence). We are still a way off our target but its encouraging to be supported by our uni.

Part 3: Cake 2

Nina received a cake commission for a royal wedding street party on friday. The wonderful individual involved gave us a cheque for £100. She said that she really thinks we are worth supporting. It was amazing and very touching.

Part 4: The usual ask…..

We are all off on a 40m jaunt through the Cotswolds tommorrow. Happy days – less happy bottoms and legs. :-). But its still less than we are going to do in a day en route to Paris. Please sponsor us!!

N and R xx