After the day we had yesterday, it definitely felt nice to sleep in and not concern ourselves with hiking logistics for the day. I got up at 7:30 to write yesterday's blog, Lara woke about an hour later, and the kids slept until a little after 9. Lara went to a 10 am yoga class at Tribe Yoga - she said it was very good. The teacher wanted to take a picture with Lara after the class. The kids and I opted for an awesome vegan meal instead. We packed up some and in the process found Jonah's rain jacket in his pack exactly where it was supposed to be. So while I will take credit for passing down whatever gene it is that makes one prone to losing things, I recuse myself from responsibility for his dodo gene! A little after 10 am we left for the cafe. Holy Cow is a fairly new vegan cafe about 1/2 mile from our lodging.
We ordered some delicious smoothies, some veggie BLT's, some hot chocolate, and a cappuccino for Olivia.
As our smoothies came, Jonah pointed out that the sign on the door said 'Cash Only'. Oops! I hadn't seen that sign; I had only seen the Am Ex, Visa, and MasterCard stickers on the door and assumed those were accepted. A bit confusing. The owner was very friendly and told me not to worry, that there was a cash machine 2 blocks away. I asked for the total tally (including 4 desserts to be ordered for the train ride) and went to the machine while the kids waited for the food. Unfortunately, I don't know my PIN, so couldn't take out any cash - Lara has been the only one taking out cash with her card. So I ran back to the cafe. By then the food had arrived. I quickly ate and then left the kids there while I ran back to the Premier Inn to get Lara and money. We finished packing, brought all of the bags to the train station, and Lara took out the necessary money. I left her there with all of the bags and ran back to the cafe to pay, collect the kids, and get the four desserts for the train. Unfortunately, the amount the owner had originally said was about 8 pounds shy of the actual amount. The gracious owner said not to worry and gave us the 4 desserts anyway. We ran back to the train with 30 minutes to spare before our 12:52 train. Jonah then noticed that he didn't have his phone! So ran back to the cafe to find his phone. This is how I looked:
It wasn't there! So back to the train station I went to give the bad news. Then Jonah looked under the seat in the waiting room, and there was his phone - again, the dodo gene of my otherwise very intelligent son. ;-) All in all, I probably got 3 miles of running in, an easy day compared to what we have been doing.
The kids were thrilled to be traveling first class on the Virgin train to Birmingham. Booking early enough made it practically the same price, and I knew that the kids would appreciate a little extra pampering after 10 days of hiking.
Relaxing trip, with reading, journal writing, blogging, and dancing in our seats.
Oh yes - can't forget the devouring of the Holy Cow desserts: berry cheesecake, chocolate caramel pie, banana cream pie, and chocolate peanut butter cake! We're going to have to cut down on the desserts now that we aren't hiking anymore. ;-(
The conductor came by to collect our tickets and said, 'Smashing.' Love it! So be prepared that the Heimanns are coming back with three new expressions that we plan to use regularly: 'Brilliant', 'Splendid', and 'Smashing'! And we love that the Brits even found a way to add some humor to the train bathroom experience!
We arrived at Birmingham New Street station at 5:15.
We walked over to The Warehouse, a nearby vegetarian restaurant where we met up with Alex and Kate (our hiking companions), Kate's mum (need to use the Brit spelling here!) and her sister Lucy. We spent a splendid 2 hours with them eating burgers and fajitas, and of course topping those off with vegan chocolate brownies with soy ice cream. This is clearly turning into a dessert eating trip for charity with a little bit of hiking along the way.
After dinner we headed back to Alex and Kate's house for the night. They were kind enough to turn over the house to us while they slept at Alex's parents' house. Or maybe they just realized that a family who had just been hiking for 10 days would probably be really stinky and it was best to clear out! ;-)
Lovely home and a perfect respite after the adventure we just had. While hiking, Alex had promised Jonah that he would take Jonah for a spin in his Porsche 911, a wedding present from his dad, who works on/designs/rehabilitates sports cars. I knew this would be the highlight of Jonah's trip so we jumped at the opportunity to go back to Alex's parents for this ride. Not only did Jonah get to ride in it, Alex was kind enough to let Jonah take over the steering a bit while they drove around his parents' field.
We also met Alex's father, a robust, kind, and life-affirming man who greeted us as though we had known him for years. BIG hug! Thrilled to get the opportunity to spend some time with him. When he heard that Jonah liked cars, he took us back to his garages where he had a few dozen stored cars (mostly other people's collections that he was working on). It was a car enthusiast's dream. Among Jonah's favorites was this Ferrari.
We spent a good hour walking around and learning about those cars. Before we knew it, it was after 10 and time to head back to Alex's house.. Soon after Alex dropped us off, we were all fast asleep. All in all, a smashing day!
And now some observations from my fellow hikers. Today I'll include the kids' thoughts. Tomorrow is Lara's turn. And I'll add my own overview/final thoughts on Friday.
Although I really enjoyed spending time with my family (especially my brother), and feeling like a kid again, I definitely enjoyed the England C2C more overall because of the scenery, the variety of terrain, and because I felt proud of myself after completing those 202 miles. Still, there were many parts of this year's C2C that I loved, like climbing Arthur's Seat. I really love hiking, but I'm like a mountain goat, and because this hike was mostly on flat land and only once fulfilled my craving for a climb, I cannot say I liked it all that much. The hike did continue to challenge me and reteach me how to persevere though- I do now appreciate that. Sorry John Muir, but even though I would love to do Wainwright's C2C again, I would not want to do this one another time.
Then I asked him for a little more detail and this is what I got:
Liked - One thing I liked about this hike is that I got to spend time with my fam. This summer I am going to 3 sleep away camps and I won't really be able to see them a lot, so I'm happy that I got this time with them.
Disliked - While I loved talking with my sis on the long days, I guess I just don't really see a point in aimlessly walking.
We definitely have one child who is our hiker, and one who puts up with it as part of the family. Jonah loves being with his us, and especially his big sis'! As long as she is there he is game to do anything.