This past summer saw us wrapping up our four years in France, and this particular quatorze juillet – la fête nationale -( what we foreigners call ‘Bastille Day’ )- I turned 40. We spent the weekend of my birthday in the breathtakingly beautiful village of Val d’Isere – as there was a trail race that I wanted to see if I could finish.
On the Saturday there were some kids races. Our kids were kind of nervous about it…seeing that they’ve only ever been in one other race – and it sure didn’t look like this one. It didn’t help when the other kids started to show up – and a bunch of them were wearing their running-club warm-up gear, and shirts from previous alpine trail races.
(but…if I may boast a bit…..[our kids beat them!])
All three of them did amazing. Their races were not easy – but they ran so hard – it was truly impressive.
Sunday the 13th was our race. The ‘big’ race (65km with over 5000m of elevation gain) started at 5.30 or something. Our race – 32km and close to 3000m of elevation – didn’t start until 8.00 or so. Basically – I told Susan “If I wake tomorrow on my birthday – I will be in better shape when I’m 40 than at any other point in my life.” It was the “if” part that made her nervous.
While I was punishing my body with high-altitude endurance racing…my kids were doing this….
..which is probably fair. It was my mid-life crisis, not theirs, after all.
and…yes I did finish. (and also…did wake up the next morning.)
Val d’Isere is just a spectacularly beautiful part of the world – no matter how you look at it.
It was a pretty fantastic week-end. And defiantly a memorable way to spend my 40th birthday.
I shot some video along the way – that I’ve thrown together here. No editing or anything – so it’s a full 5 minutes…but if you want it gives a bit of an understanding of the absolutely breathtaking scenery we ran through.
On our family’s last full day in London, we took the train out to the Royal Air Force Museum.
NOTE: If you're wondering "why are they telling us about what they did in April?"..it's because this blog has in many ways become a family photo album for us. It seemed like there were too many good memories of our last few months in France - that we didn't want to miss.
The RAF Museum was pretty amazing. Not only was there an almost overwhelming collection of planes – but they presented them with enough information, films, and so many other completely immersive displays that even if you don’t really care about planes – it’s still pretty interesting.
Obviously a huge area of focus is WWII – but there were pieces of aviation history from the very beginning of maned flight -up to the present.
There was also a big area of hands-on displays that showed the kids the mechanics of how helicopters are controlled, the physics behind what keeps planes in the air, and lots more
just one of the hangars
Then the next morning (VERY early) it was back to Gatwick and time to get home.
It was an amazing family trip. We saw so much in the amount of time we where there. London has some of the best museums in the world -and almost all of them are completely free. You feel like you are in a foreign culture – but you can speak English to people! And- at least compared to what we were used to – everyone seemed so friendly! We even found a fantastic church to attend on Easter Sunday.
Of course our trip would not have happened if it wasn’t for some very generous friends who allowed us to take over their house while we were there.
So massive thanks to Stephen & Derv – and London…I don’t think you’ve seen the last of us.
The rest of the week in London was equally amazing. (click HERE for Part I of our family trip to London)
Our next full day we started by heading to the Tower of London.
We stopped to have a closer look at the Tower Bridge
Spent a bit of time wandering through Tate Modern
We just happened to be in town during the 450th birthday celebration for Shakespeare,
It was an amazing event right in Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. It was all pretty amazing for Jonah as he was just studying Shakespearean-era London in History & Literature.
They put on some plays right in the Globe, had the entire place opened up, and had all kinds of extra fun stuff for kids to do, as well as all kinds of other things going on.
We got a bit of time in the British Museum – but not much. The ‘closing time’ meant when the main atrium with the gift shops etc closes – the actual collections closed something like an hour before that. But we did get a chance to see a few things – including some massively important pieces of history….
At one point we needed to catch a train – and were close to King’s Cross station (which would be an amazing station in its own right – as well as St Pancras station, which is practically next door.)
This is where Harry Potter catches his ride – so we stopped in for the photo-op.
platform 9¾ Kings Cross station
Man – that seems like a lot. I think that must have been two days mushed together here. Feel free to break it up in ways you see fit.
Yesterday our family took part in a run to raise money for some projects that a local church is doing in Burundi. So we decided it would be a good idea for us to Run for Burundi.
The Run for Burundi was a 5K fun-run – so we all decided to run it together – but some of us <cough-Matea-cough> are so incapable of doing anything at any speed other than as-fast-as-possible – we did split up a bit.
The kids actually really surprised me at how quickly they finished. None of them had ever done a run this long before – so I guess I was expecting a pretty walk-ish pace. We all finished between 32 and 36 minutes for 5 km – not bad for short legs in my opinion.
The other cool thing that happened was that we met a man named Caleb, who is from Burundi. He and his family fled during the civil war, and ended up in Canada after a long time in Kenya. Not only did he have connections to Burundi, and had lived in Bujumbura – but he had worked at Hope Africa University – where I am going to teach. We even knew some of the same people there!