Day 3: Shakespeare Town

Below is the third journal entry recording the events of the trip Carolyn and I took to England and France in July of 2006:

Thursday, July 20, 2006 London, England

Today we took the train out to Stratford-upon-Avon, the hometown of William Shakespeare. We took a tour bus which dropped us off at several places. First we went to the house where he was born, which was very cool. The garden there was extremely beautiful–diverse and brightly colored flowers all over the place! Actually the whole town was like that. It’s probably the prettiest and most scenic town I’ve ever seen!

Shakespeare's birthplace

We finally got more cash at the post office there in Stratford-upon-Avon, which gave us a lot more freedom and options. We took the bus to Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare and some of his family are buried. It was so neat getting to go there and see that. The church was beautiful and had a ton of artwork in it, much of it many centuries old. There was a sign there commemorating some guy who set a world record last year at the church by playing the pipe organ for over 33 hours.

Shakespeare's burial place

From there we went a few miles out to the farmhouse where Mary Alden, Shakespeare’s mother, grew up. It was beautiful rolling hills out there–it reminded me of Lancaster County in Pennsylvania, though not as green. The farm was nice, and we saw three pigs (one of them lying in the water trough, the other two licking the water in the cracks in the pen’s cobblestone pavement), ferrets, birds (falcons, eagles, owls), even some dogs lying in what looked like an office. There were also some cool coaches there, probably Victorian. The house itself had been mostly Victorianized (it had been lived in until very recently), but you could still see some of the original roof, wood, and stone from when the house was built in the 1400’s.

Anne Hathaway's cottage

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that we had turkey baguettes from a shop in town. They were good! I also forgot that before Mary Alden’s house we went to Anne Hathaway’s cottage. It was at least as beautiful as the other places we saw there. The garden was beautiful, the 15th-century cottage was extremely cool (one of the stone floors was the original one from the 15th century). There was a beautiful view of some mountains and a beautiful orchard–it seems the perfect place to live! We got some really tasty and refreshing iced cappuccinos from a little place across the street, where we also saw some baby ducks and a kind of weird-looking bird we’d never seen before.

After the tour, we headed for the 45-minute river cruise. Unfortunately, they had closed. Fortunately, we got a refund. We went to a really beautiful park across the street. There we got some unusual but yummy fruity ice cream. We stopped inside the Royal Shakespeare Theatre which–incredibly–is showing Shakespeare’s complete works between April ’06 to April ’07. Then we took a pleasant little boat ride up and down the river. It was so scenic! We went right by Holy Trinity Church, and it was really neat seeing it from the river. The water was full of ducks, geese, and swans.

I’d heard a legend that Shakespeare was buried 18 feet underground so that no one would ever dig up his remains. Today at his burial site–which, by the way, is actually inside the church toward the river–I asked the attendant there if the legend was true. He replied, “That’s impossible,” and went on to explain that the underground water level from the river was 10 to 12 feet below the surface of the church. From the boat in the river, I could see that this was true.

We stopped at a fish & chips place for carryout (“takeaway,” they call it). The man there obviously didn’t like people, and he charged us 10 pence for a packet of ketchup!

Poundland

We hurried to the train, and were unsettled when we saw the train sitting on the track and the gate closed and locked! We finally found a way through around the side of the station, and the train doors had already closed! Carolyn found a button to open the door and we made it inside just in time to catch the last train out!

On the way back we dozed, after the loud Italian teenage girls across the aisle disembarked. We made it back here around 9:45–or 2145 as they say here.

Tomorrow, the Tower of London!

Healthwise, today was much better. Less vigorous activity, milder allergies–and a big bottle of water with me at all times.

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Published in: on May 8, 2007 at 8:01 am  Leave a Comment  

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