Discovering Shakespeare's Land

24 Feb 2013




Click on the player above the picture to hear the song inspiring this post.

This weekend my beau had planned a short overnight trip to Stratford-upon-Avon - the land of Shakespeare. He'd meticulously planned a fun & educative weekend. Here's what went awesomely, what went horribly wrong, and the fun facts we learnt!


We started by parking at a park & ride and taking the bus into town. A highly voted tour walk on tripadvisor was recommended, so we walked towards the meeting point. We were a bit early so we stepped into this Olde Sweet Shoppe and and newsagent where we met the lovely Russian girl who turned out to be Lithuanian! - like one of my good mates.

She was incredibly sweet and had the most beautiful eyes. She told us how she had two degrees but had to leave home as there's a lack of jobs there. If you're looking to employ you must. hire. her. We had a nice chat before it was time to meet our guide.



Is everyone in Stratford so nice? Our guide David was expressive and theatrical, with a brightening smile that seemed to warm everyone up a few degrees. Which came in handy because it had started to snow lightly.

He took us on a riveting and highly entertaining tour through town, stopping at the right spots to give us the right amount of background history mixed with his own witty remarks and throwing in some Shakespeare quotations and recitals.



The tour lasted just over two hours, though you can leave at any point, but it was testament to how good it was, the fact that everyone who joined the tour stayed till the very end. We even got some solid recommendations of places to eat as well as discount vouchers.

We visited places like the chapel and school where Shakespeare himself went to learn his latin (6 days a week from 6am to 6pm in the summer). I even got to sit where he would have sat at candlelight to learn from a hornbook in the sixteenth century.



We visited the house where Shakespeare was born and learnt about his marriage to Anne Hathaway when he was eighteen and she was twenty-six. Just six months before their firstborn came to the world. Back in the 1500's you would've been lucky to be born without complications, never mind surviving infancy. When Shakespeare was born, the Plague had just "arrived" in Stratford, so he was extremely lucky to have outlived it.





 Shakespeare's house.

The trip ended with a visit to Shakespeare's grave, which, contrary to what the sign says, is not open (for you to see inside) but rather it's allowing visitors. ;)

  




This trip is highly recommended for people who're visiting the UK or who live here already. It's an insightful and mesmerising experience outside of what London can offer. (Stratford Town Walk, link for tripadvisor tours are £5 per adult, other types of ticket available)

After our little trip we headed for lunch at the Black Swan - or how locals call it - the Dirty Duck. It's just past the Royal Shakespeare Company (pics below).




In the evening we strolled around town and found some little shops to potter about. Eventually we settled for coffee and cakes at the famous Hobson's.








Now super tired, we retired to the lovely Bread and Breakfast that had been booked for the night. It's in Snitterfield, just outside Stratford, and it's got to have the best views in the county.

The room was super comfy and just what we needed. All the luxuries within, we wrapped warm in white dressing gowns and watched some telly before unceremoniously falling asleep.



The next morning we woke up to the views, a pheasant roaming the patio, a fantastic full English breakfast, and a lovely couple from Southampton - fellow lodgers - with whom we chatted for about an hour and a half! (here's tripadvisor for Shakespeare's view, £80 per night)




We eventually moved on to visit Anne Hathaway's Cottage. The ticket we got was a 2 for 1 £21 entry to the five houses (Nash House, Shakespeare's Birthplace, Anne Hathaway's Cottage, Mary's living farm and New Place) that you can use for a whole year, unlimitedly.

Anne Hathaway's Cottage was again lots of fun, with super knowledgeable guides ready to answer all your questions and bring history alive before your very eyes. It's incredibly to look at these places laid exactly as they would have in the 1500's and think that all these things were used by these people. It's mind-numbing trying to imagine their lives. With their dresses all custom made because there was no manufacturing industry. With the beds being a sack on the floor or perhaps a wooden structure with ropes holding the bedding. With the fires being the only source of heat and at the same time a great risk of burning the house down!


Anne Hathaway's cottage 



I don't want to put all the pics of the interior and ruin your visit, though the fun is more in the stories than the actual things you see. For me it was well worth the money, and I'm definitely going back in the summer to see the farm and the rest of the houses I didn't see this time. I'd also love to see the orchards in bloom.

The only awful, awful thing about Stratford was that we just could not find anywhere to eat. All the decent places now become extremely busy so it's impossible to get a table unless you book (I'm talking about pubs!) and unless you're from there you wouldn't know this. As I point blank refuse to eat at Mc Donald's, I had to wait a good while before we left town and miraculously found a fantastic gastropub. But more of that another day.


6 comments

  1. Hi Caterina

    these are some very impressive shots, and it seems you had a very educative get-away! I used to live in the UK (one time in Yorkshire and one time in London) but never actually made it to Stratfort upon Avon, but always wanted to go. Since I partly also studied English literature I happened to stumble upon Shakespeare's works more than once. I liked it, but what I really loved was watching the actual plays in the theatre. Amazing.

    Oh, and I absolutely love your whole outfit (You might not want to do an outfit post on that one, twinkle twinkle ;-)) How you combine this girly - fairy-dress with the Hunters and the Barbour (is it Barbour? I am not sure) vest. Wow! It looks so so good!!

    Have a lovely evening!

    Love,
    Svenja
    Happybluebird

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    1. Thanks Svenja! Whenever you want to come back for a visit I'll be happy to host you :) You can hold me to that.
      About the outfit, it was just really really cold and I thought, "the more I put on, the better". My parka is a Zara number that's just hit the stores so you might still find it.

      http://www.zara.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product/uk/en/zara-neu-S2013/367501/1048577/COMBINATION%20LEATHER%20EFECT%20PARKA

      :)

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    2. Thank you & thank you!

      You are very kind!
      A visit to England is defo scheduled this year - but since I am going to start my new job only April 1, I will need to wait for six month (trial period) until I may go on holiday. I have to hold my hands off the keyboard and the online booking services ;-)
      Maybe we should have Sushi & drinks ;-)

      Thanks for the link!
      I'll check it out right now!

      Have a good week!
      Svenja
      xx

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    3. Aww, it is gorgeous, now I only have to find out whether it is on stock in Germany as well (Germans tend to be a little bit behind with everything fashion so now and then)

      Oh, and I so hope this Lithuanian girl will find a job soon! It is such a tragedy that in many parts of Europe, highly educated people run around and cannot find a job!
      I cannot but blame all the big multinationals who had nothing better to do and place their productions outside europe to rib off people in poor countries and pay poor salaries to these people. I believe in insourcing. When they get the plants back here (or NL or UK or wherever), factory workers will have a job, and new department leaders will be needed, and managers, and directors, and scientists etc. All here. I have nothing against production in lets say China, but then just for that very market....
      Luckily there is already a tendency that multinationals come back to their roots. I always wondered for example why Philips produced shaving machines in China, where almost no Chinese has to shave himself...

      ok. Enough ;-)
      I hold my fingers crossed for this girl to find a job soon. Gorgeous portrait photography again, Caterina!
      You really have talent!

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  2. Holy cow, am I jealous of your travels! These photos are beautiful as well. Glad I stumbled upon your blog!
    Jillian - http://epic-thread.blogspot.com

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    1. Hey Jilian! Thanks for stopping by!! Great blog you've got :)

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