Shakespeare Country, Stratford-Upon-Avon June 2014
Having been educated in Scotland, we never heard much about Shakespeare. I was intrigued to find out more!
Its not the quickest or most straightforward journey from Edinburgh to Stratford-Upon-Avon but it was worth it!
From Edinburgh Waverley we set out by train on the five hour journey, anticipating the few train changes ahead, with all the upheaval and anxiety that entalied. As we departed each train through the crowds on the platform, straining our eyes to find a monitor. Within minutes we had located one and on to the next train! "That went smoothly" we both said in unison. Our bodies sank into the seats in relief.
The journey in the quiet carriage was uneventfull, as I sat by the window watching the world go by.
We arrived just after noon, it felt like we had arrived in foreign lands. The heat was arduous. The ten minute walk into the centre couldnt come quick enough. We located the bus stop and waited patiently for the bus. The bus arrived "ah air conditioning".
Twenty minutes later we arrived at Hemmingford House. The grandeur of the white georgian building surrounded by wheatfields took us by surprise. We had seen the photographs and read the reviews, however we felt we had arrived at the wrong place. Inside the paranaque flooring, stain glass windows followed by great customer service upon check-in.
It was very quiet but not to last, we jumped back on the bus full of anticipation of what we were going to explore first.
Stratford-Upon-Avon is a market town and has been for 460 years. The cattle market no longer takes place in the centre but the weekend market has something for everyone. The sun was still beating down, time for some ice cream. It wasn't hard to find an ice cream as we walked past the locals and toursits alike with theirs. In the canal basin there was Shakee's Riple Ice Cream boat. Delicious!!
The centre is very easy to walk around and admire all the tudor buildings. Its hard to imagine that they have stood the test of time and how it must have been for William Shakespeare in the 16th century. The birth place of Shakespeare is in the heart of the town along with his own home (Nash's house) and the home of his daughter Susannah and Dr Hall. Just ourside you can also visit Mary Arden's Farm home of Shakespeares parents and also Anne Hathaways Cottage (William Shakespeare's wife), a further bus and fourty minutes later you can also visit Warwick Castle.
We had read the raving reviews of The Vintner Restaurant. Wow, the meal, service and ambiance was incrediable. A reservation is highly advisable.
Day two; We took the city sighseeing bus, I throughly enjoy hearing about all the history and antidotess, as well as that Mary Ardens Farm and Anne Hathaways Cottage is not in the centre. (This is the best option to get there). We had heard that there was lots of entertainment and medieval happenings going on at Mary Arden's Farm, so we went there first. The dancing, birds of prey show and fairy hunting were enough to keep anyone busy! Their were people in traditional dress and the aromas coming from the pigs, goats and sheep transporting me back to what I imagine it would have been like to live in the 16th century.
Upon arriving back, we ventured on a canal boating trip. The tour took fourty minutes, with no commentary. At £6 pounds it past the time and you can't visit the area without taking in a boat trip. There are lots of boat trips to choose from and I imagine there are better ones than this one. However it was a lovely late afternoon and nice to watch the world go by.
Day three; We had booked the tower and Shakespeare theatre tours for early doors. What an experience! As well as everything that was mentioned we got to talk and ask questions to one of the lovely ladies in the wig/hair department. The wigs are made with real hair and can take up to several weeks to make. During performances the wigs are washed and styled like real hair and put into performance/actors wardrope section. Unfortunatley there was a great fire but some of the original building can still be seen. It was incredible to hear that the original stage flooring has been re-used in the public areas, which can be seen today. This year is the 450 birthday celebrations of Shakespeare, back in April there was a parade hosting the most unusual floats. One of the pieces can be seen in the main foyer of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Here you can also dress up in the dressing room and sit at any of the stage prop pieces.
Stratford-Upon-Avon is charming beyond all expectations. We had no idea how much time we would need to explore all the wonders it holds. We will definitely be returning and purchasing the group ticket for all five properties. The value is exceptional!