Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Travelogue: Stratford Upon Avon

Stratford was a delight from the minute we arrived until we left two days later. In reviewing our photos to select the ones for this posting, I'm struck by the overall silliness of them--from the photo of Poundland (the UK's equivalent of the Dollar Store) to the posing with the many statues of Shakespeare and his characters that dot the town.

Of course, visiting the shrines around town was a treat. I especially liked the birthplace, which is part of the Shakespeare Center that provides a diorama type exhibit with various artifacts that might have been Shakespeare's. There's a lovely garden on the site where the New House once stood, and the church where Shakespeare and wife and one of the daughters is buried was really lovely. We took a bus out to Anne Hathaway's cottage and loved it and the gardens surrounding it. We didn't have time to visit Mary Arden's farm, but rode by it on the bus back to town.

This is a bird-scarer from the garden at Anne Hathaway's Cottage.

We got to see a Royal Shakespeare Company production of As You Like It, which I consider one of the best if not the best productions of a Shakespeare play I've seen despite it being performed in a makeshift theatre while their main theatre is being renovated. The acting was superb, the set fantastic (basically just trapdoors and ladders), and the overall experience terrific...until an usher announced, at about ten lines from the end of the play, that a fire alarm was sounding and everyone had to vacate the building.

Our B&B in Stratford was our second favorite of the trip. The proprietor, Pascal, was a delight and he made a point of introducing all of his guests as each arrived in the breakfast room each day. He also was a wealth of information about the town, and steered us to the type of restaurants we were in the mood for.

Stratford was also memorable for the plethora of gifts, tacky and otherwise, we were able to find. Our refrigerator now boasts a goofy Shakespeare magnet surrounded by a collection of the best insults hurled at each other by his characters. Sarah acquired a really good reference book that provides synopses and interesting tidbits for each of the plays. I decided not to waste the £1.95 for the complete works of Wm Shakespeare as printed on newsprint paper and guaranteed to disintegrate on the first usage.

We loved walking around the town itself. Picturesque, interesting, and very walkable, and there were plenty of real (i.e., not touristy Bard) shops to completely satisfy us. Sarah finally got to shop in an H&M and wore the outfit she bought to As You Like It. We had a wonderful high tea and were amused by the biker-chick owner who kept on scolding the poor pretty waitresses who were silly enough to work for her. We strolled along the Avon and people and bird watched to our hearts content.

This is one of my favorite pictures from the whole trip, taken atop the bus we rode out to the Cottage and Farm, and it typifies the giddy feeling we had during our 48 hours in Stratford Upon Avon.


  1. Now I am totally jealous and want to go back to Stratford myself. I've seen the RSC perform Shakespeare's Histories (Richard II, Henry IV part 1&2, Henry V) and it was an experience I'll never forget. This company is truly gifted and amazing at what they are doing. Just by what you are saying, I can picture the little streets and shops again.
    One of my anecdotes from Stratford is that my friend and I were having lunch by the river and one of the seagulls attacked me and snitched my sandwich. :P
    Looks as if you're having a great time - awesome!

  2. Oh, wow, how I would love to see the RII through HV by the RSC. I love your story about the sandwich-snitching seagull. Doesn't surprise me in the least. It's definitely a charming town.