08 July 2012

A weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon (including photo tour!)

I thought I would take a bit of a break from my Japan posts and write about a recent trip I did to Stratford-upon-Avon – also known as Shakespeare country. If you have been following my blog you’ll know that the last time I was here was via a very packed full day tour that didn’t leave much room to explore this lovely town. But I certainly had the opportunity to explore this time round!

I love Shakespeare. My favorite play is Twelfth Night and top of my wishlist was seeing it at the Globe Theatre in London. Sadly, it has been totally booked out – yard tickets (standing room only) are now being resold for 4 times their original listing price, that's crazy! So I thought, why not try and see it in Stratford-upon-Avon? The Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) theatre isn’t the Globe Theatre but I like the connection of seeing Twelfth Night in Shakespeare’s home town. While I was on the RSC’s website I stumbled across a Social Media Call. Basically it was an open invite for anyone who has a blog, facebook, twitter, tumbler,  instagram etc account to submit their details to be considered to attend an event run by the RSC focusing on their new play. I’d only seen the posters of the play and it honestly didn’t appeal to me but I thought why not? To my surprise I was selected and was offered a free ticket to see the play before the social media call – read more about that in my next post here.

I guess being selected was a catalyst for my trip to Stratford-upon-Avon (Stratford-upon-Avon). I booked my train tickets and accommodation for the weekend and was off! The journey from London to Stratford-upon-Avon took just over two hours and went through rolling green countryside. Both Marylebone and Stratford-upon-Avon train stations are cute and have old world charm – I really must do a post on London Railways at some point, most visitors don’t give them a second glance but the architecture can be very charming. Anyway Stratford-upon-Avon!  The river Avon, its parks, swans, ducks and beauty. The weekend markets in the old square or by the river selling fudge, crafts, antiques and miscellany. The architecture and Tudor houses. Shakespeare's Birthplace and resting place and its curse in the Church. Anne Hathaway's cottage and Gardens’, Halls Croft and much more. Finally I was doing something touristy outside London
OK here is a tip that will save you a bit if you are planning to see all the Shakespeare trust houses. Pick up a leaflet at the train station that gives you 50% off the 5 house ticket. It’s good for one year and you can go back as many times as you like on that one ticket! Bargain! Using that ticket I went to see Shakespeare's Birthplace again, Anne Hatahway’s Cottage (the gardens are well worth a look) and Halls Croft. I still have Nash’s house and Mary Arden's farm to see next time I'm in Stratford-upon-Avon – maybe when the weathers a bit better!
I took a lot of photos while I was in Stratford-upon-Avon, mostly of the different buildings – some of which were visibly leaning where they shouldn’t. I also spent a lot of time just walking around and just taking in the bits and pieces that you will only notice if you have time to look. So, rather than me typing anymore I’ve put together a photo tour of Stratford-upon-Avon. Enjoy!

Photo tour time...

By the river Avon



The houses and architecture of Stratford-upon-Avon

Halls Croft - Road view

Halls Croft - Garden view
Shakespeare's Birthplace - front
Shakespeare's Birthplace - Garden view



Guild Chapel
Harvard House

Row of cottages on the way to Anne Hathaways Cottage

Shakespeare's grave (Holy Trinity Church and grounds)

Shakespeare's grave and "curse"

Where Shakespeare was baptised

Anne Hathaways cottage and grounds

Lavender maze

Stratford-upon-Avon around town

A quaint little town station

Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre
Gower Memorial - Shakespeare seated and surrounded by four characters from his play. It original location was near the Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre before it was burnt and rebuilt

American Fountain (monument/clock tower in the town square)
Once the home of Shakespeares daughter...now a Crabtree and Evelyn
Shakespeare themed narrow-boat selling ice-cream
I love the quote!
Lampost near the Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre
The Falcon pub appears to be a bit confused
The paper says "much ado about ice-cream"

Oh and one last thing, I have to say a big THANKYOU! to Claire and Rob who are the owners and hosts of the B&B I stayed in while I was in Stratford-upon-Avon. I’d never stayed before and i have to say, I really enjoyed it. It was a cute little place called Avonlea Guesthouse and Claire and Rob were just lovely. Claire is a such a warm and friendly person; my last morning there I had a few questions about the B&B and she sat with me over breakfast, answered them and even told me some stories about some colourful characters that had come to stay. Also, she didn’t bat an eyelid when I (completely mortified and going very red) had to tell her I’d accidentally spilled olive oil on the bedspread the night before (dinner was antipasto from the local Sainsbury) – bad VP! I did offer to pay extra for dry cleaning but she just waved away the idea with a laugh and said they had a company that did the laundry and not to worry. The previous day at breakfast I was being naughty and eavesdropping on a family who were trying to organise accommodation in Oxford. Claire was really helpful; she let them use the B&B laptop (even sat with them to look at some places) loaned them the B&B phone, gave them advice as best she could and was really friendly and nice about the whole thing. So rare these days! It really was such a nice place and I will definitely be staying there on my next visit (no antipasto dinners this time) and should you happen to find yourself in Stratford-upon-Avon, i totally recommend staying there. Thanks Claire and Rob!


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