Monday, June 25, 2012

Across the Pond

Greetings from the UK.  It's been a whirlwind few days, but we're down in my hometown of Neath in South Wales, enjoying very pleasant running weather.  It's so strange to be home - I've been away a long time.

It was a long flight from Austin, with a 6 hour layover in Chicago, but just let me say that the Chicago Children's Museum rocks!!!  They have a superb play area at the airport which burned through quite a few of those hours.

We spent the first few days up in Manchester with my brother, enjoying a typical Northern English summer (cold, gray, rain).  One of the first things I noticed was there were flags everywhere - a combination of the Jubilee celibrations, the Euro 2012 soccer tournament (which England got knocked out of last night on penalties - some things never change) and the upcoming Olympics.  Everyone is excited about the Olypmics, and you can feel the anticipation on the streets.

On the day we landed, we hiked at a beautiful National Trust park near Manchester called Lyme Park.  We went about 5 miles - starting at the deer park and heading straight up until we could go no further.  It was a magnificent view from the top.  Both Gavin and Dylan made the climb, and then we made a big circuit and ran the trail all the way back to the bottom where we found a fantastic adventure playground made entirely out of trees that had fallen during storms.

It started pouring with rain while we were there, but we played on regardless and had a blast.

We headed back to my brother's house soaked.  Both boys fell asleep in the car for the 15 minute trip back, though both later denied they had done so.

I should have been dead tired that night, and Nancy and the boys retired to bed early and collapsed, but I stayed up late with my brother.  It's been almost 5 years since we've seen each other, and it was wonderful to catch up.

We drove the 4 hours down to South Wales the next day.  The trip included a "clean up stop" after Dylan blew chunks everywhere. But by the time we crossed the border into Wales, the rain had stopped, there was a hint of blue sky peeking through, and there were no more bits of carrots for us to pick out of the seat belts!!!

Saturday morning I got up early to go for a run, and woke my brother up to go with me.  He was not happy, but for me it was a late start (6am).  It was fully light, in the mid-50s, and we headed up the Gnoll woods - a beautiful country park literally around the corner from my parents house.

Beautiful until you realize the first mile is straight up (then again, this is Wales - the only way you would avoid hills here is running circles around your block).  But when we reached the lake at the top and the forest trail with the cascading waterfalls it was well worth it. It was quiet, damp and tranquil.  We headed back down (much easier than going up), crisscrossed the town center and crossed the bridge over the canal out to the old college before looping back around and home.

The run was not as easy as it should have been.  I have barely run in the last month, and my weight has increased accordingly.

But more on that in another post. I enjoyed the run because I've never run with my brother before, and this may be the only chance I get this trip.  He had to drive home that night because he and the Stockport Harriers got to run with the Olympic torch the day after (and even got into the official Olympic relay function afterwards - how cool is that).

That afternoon we headed to my uncle's house.  We are home to celebrate my parents Golden Wedding anniversary, and he was putting on a party for them.  He has some large grounds, the boys got to run to their hearts content, and I got to spend some quality time with family and friends I haven't seen in years.  It was a great afternoon, and we ended with myself, Gavin, Dylan, my brother and my cousins rugby tackling each other on the grass.

Here are some photos from the afternoon.  More to come later.

Me with my dad and my cousin Nick

The boys with my dad

Nancy with my parents

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