You are more likely to see the sign “Baby on Board” in the back window of a car than on the back of a motorised bicycle and you definitely would hope the baby was strapped in – but John Balchin’s “baby” is not your typical nipper in nappies.
The retired bus driver ferries his four-legged “baby” Pickles – a mixed miniature doberman pinscher – around on the back of his electrical pedal cycle for short trips to the shopping centre nearest to his Walmer home.
Balchin no longer drives a bus or even a car. Although only 61 he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative brain condition that causes memory loss and dementia.
His wife, Hilda, has kitted him out in a bright reflective vest for his journeys with a note pinned to the vest with his name, address and contact information in case he forgets where he is going, or where he is.
He rarely goes more than a few kilometres from home.
But he still seems pretty sharp: when quizzed on the three bottles of sherry sharing the carrier with Pickles yesterday, he said they contained lubricant for his bike – not for the cyclist!