Day 12 - July 6 Birmingham to Stratford-upon-Avon

Another glorious day in the UK.  Walking through the rain with numb hands feels like a distant memory.  Got up early to hang the clothes out to dry that Lara had washed last night. In the US, clothes dryers are pretty common place but in the UK they are rare, even in most upscale homes and B&Bs. Most people hang dry their clothes.  We also have found that most outlets have on/off switches.  Makes complete sense to avoid draining electricity.  It is no wonder that we Americans consume so much of the world's energy.

I made porridge with fruit for the family and then passed the rugby ball with Jonah while Alex's mum came over to do some yoga with Lara.

Then, Alex's dad, Graham, came by to take us to drive some sports cars! How cool is that!  We went back to his house/garage and all got to drive in a Ferrari 550 and a Porsche 911 and also sit in several other cars including a Lotus and a VW Porsche combo car from the 70's.

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While the kids were out driving, Lara and I were back at the families chicken coup hanging with their rescued factory farm hens.

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Then it was our turn to go for rides in the sports cars. 

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While Lara and I were out driving, the kids were having fun driving a little dumpster tractor with Patty, a nice older man who lives on Alex's family's property.

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Then Graham was kind enough to drive us to Stratford-upon-Avon, where we are spending the next two days.  He dropped us off at the Crowne Plaza, our lodging for the night. We dropped off our bag, and then went out for lunch. Zizzi's is a great Italian option for vegans at Stratford - special vegan/vegetarian menu with great pizza options.  Because Lara has gluten issues, I decided to split a gluten-free pizza with her. No amount of love can overcome the jealousy of watching your children eat a regular crusted pizza while you try to enjoy a gluten-free crust! Lesson learned. ;-) Here is a picture of the kids' scrumptious pizza. 

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While at lunch, I read Lara and the kids a synopsis of Titus Andronicus, the show we would be seeing that night. I knew it to be the bloodiest of all of Shakespeare's plays, but didn't realize just how gory it is.  There is a reason that Disney has never thought of making an animated version.  And I believe Tarantino even turned down making a movie version because it was too bloody! ;-) It is safe to say that anyone on the fence about whether taking our kids on a 134-mile hike across Scotland would count as child abuse would be fully swayed with the additional information that we took them to Titus Andronicus!

After lunch, we went back to the room for midday naps so we could get charged up for an evening at the Royal Shakespeare Company. A little after 5 we were back out walking around and getting some pre-theatre Thai food at The Giggling Squid.  Funny name, but great food with plenty of vegan options!

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Then we headed to the theatre, prepared for some blood and gore - we found out that at most performances, at least one person faints.  Fortunately, we didn't get seats up close where the fainting was happening. Being prepared for the worst made the blood and gore seem not so bad after all. Jonah did decide to go back to the room at intermission, but that was mainly because he didn't like how evil Aron the Moor was - the character does make Iago seem like a harmless cherub. 

The rest of us enjoyed the second half, though Olivia would have preferred it not to have been a modern version (it was set in present-day and had characters with cell phones.)

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When we got back to the room, Jonah was in good spirits, watching TV and playing on his phone. Phew - no damage done! After another long day, we all went to bed fairly quickly and easily.


Lara's hike observations:

This hike, while not as pleasurable overall as our first hike in England, was extremely special because of the family time and witnessing the sweet bond that our kids share. To take two weeks and be with just our family is a privilege. I felt truly grateful for all (or at least most of!) the moments over the last two weeks and there is a powerful simplicity - walking with my family, carrying our packs, sharing meals and rooms- of just being together that I will remember most. The Scottish scenery and towns  were beautiful and the weather only challenged our spirits on one day. I think the details of the hike will be less important to me than this heartwarming appreciation of having my family all to myself and hiking in nature with them.