07/2/13

Blue Wembley

I woke up at 8 am on July 2, 2013 since I thought I heard a knock on the door.  But, I guess I was just worried that we would wake up late.  Ivan got up since he couldn’t go back to sleep.  I was supposed to wake up at 8:30 am, but I was tired from waking up earlier than planned and slept until 8:45 am.

Ivan and I had our breakfast which included the lovely trifle, apple juice, tea and poached eggs with smoked salmon. 

Ivan drove me to my hair appointment at Havens.  My blue and aqua highlights have been turning green and yellow, so I needed to fix it.  I don’t remember my hairdresser’s name, but she was a nice English girl with long blonde hair.  I spent hours getting blue highlights in my hair. 

Me with foils on at Havens

I was reading my magazine and thinking about life.  I also got a haircut since it’s been ages since my last haircut.  I always seem to forget my hair cut when I’m traveling.  My hair looked good, but not as obviously blue as before.. not as chunky, but it looked good.  It looked dark blue, but the girl said it would lighten up after washing it a few times.  I guess we’ll see about that.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I walked to find a place for lunch.  Ivan thought The Opposition Bistro looked good.  The place next door looked good, but it was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Sat down in The Opposition Bistro which was looked great inside.  Lil Dave got a banana salad.  Ivan and I each got the set menu.  We both got a tomato and aubergine soup for our starters which turned out quite lovely. 

Salmon at The Opposition Bistro

The main course was salmon with asparagus, mashed potatoes and a pea sauce.  It was a wonderful meal.

I walked to the post office with Lil Dave.  Ivan went to 3 to get a USB internet stick.  I bought lots of stamps for all the postcards I was sending out.  We also seem to send out so many postcards at once.

I was waiting for Ivan to come back and was browsing the postcards.  The Stratford-upon-Avon postcards aren’t very good.  I’m surprised there’s not any pictures of the river and the swans on the river.  That’s very Stratford-upon-Avon to me. 

Ivan started driving us at 2 pm towards London.  Tonight, we’re going to be seeing Robbie Williams for the second time.  It’s awesome that our first night we got to see him and our last night of of our English road trip. 

It was another overcast day.  It started raining at 2:30 pm.  We arrived in Sussex at 3:30 pm. 

The Airbnb apartment was right near Wembley Stadium which was perfect since that’s where the concert is tonight.  Wembley is where Queen performed and where the original Live Aid was. 

We parked our car at the Airbnb apartment.  Too bad we couldn’t check in until 6 pm. We started walking towards Wembley Stadium.  It was really crowded. 

Ivan did his research online and found out that you could go in different gates that didn’t match your ticket.  One didn’t work, so we weren’t sure if it would work on a different one.  It started showering.  Ivan found one that actually worked and called me over since I was trying to hide under the roof. 

We got in without joining the long line at the gate that matched on our ticket thanks to Ivan’s smart thinking.  Thankfully, we got into the Golden Circle without a special ticket or people checking for wristbands. 

We got our two wristbands to re-enter later on.  Ivan and I sat down in two seats and played games on our phones.

At 6:30 pm, Ivan and I went to get dinner.  We had delicious peri-peri chicken which came on a skewer that was on top of a tortilla filled with rice and vegetables.  There was so much food in the tortilla that you couldn’t really make it into a taco that could be easily eaten.  I tried, but it started falling apart toward the end. 

We had more time to spare and sat playing our games and chatting while sitting down. 

Later, Olly Murs came on at 7:30 pm.  He was good, but I think he was sick since he couldn’t really hit the high notes.. also, he said that he was so tired. 

Robbie Williams Concert

We started walking up to the toilets when “Troublemaker” came on since it’s his last song.

It’s great that Wembley Stadium has lots of food stalls and toilets.  But, it’s always smart to go early for the ladies toilets.  I still don’t understand why it takes women so long to use the loo. 

Robbie Williams came on at 9 pm.  He once again made a grand entrance by ziplining down into the stadium.  This time the stadium was filled with 75,000 people.  He’s so popular in Europe with a backlog of wonderful songs.. so he can still fill up the stadiums for multiple nights in a city. 

Fire coming out of Robbie's head

It was another amazing concert, so glad that we got to see him twice.  Robbie walks around and definitely puts on quite a show.  He’s a cheeky, funny guy.  He sang lots songs like Millennium, Hot Fudge, Me and My Monkey and Come Undone.  Olly Murs came out and sang Kids with him.

Colorful graphics on Robbie's head

His encore was the same with Feel, She’s the One and Angels.  Robbie told us to think of any loved ones who have passed on before he sang Angels.  Everybody was singing along during Angels.  I was crying thinking about a few friends who have passed on.  Also, I think I was really enjoying the concert as well and it made me all emotional.  What a beautiful night of lovely entertainment by Mr. Williams.  If you ever get the opportunity to see Robbie Williams, I wouldn’t hesitate to go see him.

The Wembley arch looks pretty lit up at night.

Wembley Stadium arch at night

Ivan and I walked 5 minutes to get to the Airbnb apartment.  We talked with the girl there while her boyfriend wasn’t that chatty.  We talked about Las Vegas, the concert and London before going to bed.

07/1/13
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Mad Shakespeare World

On July 1, 2013, Ivan and I had the breakfast at the Moss Cottage at 9 am.  We had the tasty Moss Cottage trifle which is Greek yogurt with granola, dried apricot and honey.  We also got toast, poached eggs with smoked salmon and juice.  I picked apple instead of orange since I’m not the biggest fan of orange juice.  The apple juice was really nice.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I left the B&B before 10 am.  Ivan found a car park and we parked the car there.

Walked to the Swan Fountain and arrived before 11 am. 

It was a big group of 30 people and 1 monkey for the Stratford Town Walk.  Our tour guide was a local lady named Barbara. 

We saw the Royal Shakespeare Company theatre. 

On Market Street, they painted a red post box gold since a guy form Stratford-upon-Avon is a gold medalist. 

Two gold post boxes

There’s two post boxes, but the other one was left red and it looked funny next to the gold one, so they painted that one gold as well.

Barbara showed us different thatch houses and let us know if they were old or new.  It was hard to tell sometimes.

Thatch houses

Barbara took us to our first stop which was William Shakespeare’s birthplace.  You can take a tour of the house for an entrance fee.  Barbara told us about his life.  Shakespeare married at 18 to Anne Hathaway who was 26 years old.  Anne had Judith and then later two twins Susana and Hamnet.  Shakespeare went away from 1595-1592 which were his Lost Years and nobody knows what he did or where he was.  Hamlet died when he was 11 years old – Shakespeare wasn’t there.  He turned up later writing plays in London. 

Judith married a guy who was a drunkard.  Shakespeare didn’t like him since he thought he was a gold digger. 

Old Thatch Tavern is the only building in Stratford-upon-Avon to have a thatch roof.  Thatch is wood which can burn very easily.  The people who worked at the Old Thatch Tavern would always get the guy who wanted to them to get rid of the roof really drunk, so that he always forgot what he came in that tavern for.  Thatch is quite warm, so the cats and dogs would snuggle up in it.  But, when it rained it got really wet, the cats and dogs would jump from the roof.  That’s where we get the term “it’s raining cats and dogs”.

We also learned that The Teletubbies were actually created in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Our group saw lots of lamp posts from many countries around the world that were given to Stratford-upon-Avon. 

Israel lamp post

The best one was from Israel which had a few characters from Shakespeare’s plays.

We stopped at Nash’s House and the site of New Place.  New Place was a big house that Shakespeare bought when he came back to Stratford-upon-Avon in 1610. 

The site of New Place

He died 6 years later in 1616.  A guy lived in Shakespeare’s place after he died and he was harassed by people wanting to see where Shakespeare lived and died.  He kept going to the council to get help, but they didn’t do anything.  He eventually got fed up with asking for help and nothing happening… so, he moved away.  He told his servants to tear the house up.  So, eventually it was demolished.  The council didn’t get anything and it was gone.  Such a sad story because of a selfish man.  I’m all for keeping history alive for future generations to see. 

We saw a scene on the river that Barbara thought was beautiful and was the perfect postcard for Stratford.  Too bad they don’t sell this picture in the souvenir shops.

Stratford-upon-Avon scenery postcard

We also saw boats that you could rent with names from Shakespeare’s plays like Ophelia, Rosalind and Juliet.

Boats on the river in Stratford-upon-Avon

The big group went to the grounds of the Holy Trinity Church.  Barbara told us that the churches in Stratford would do a recycle and take the bones and create a bone fire.  That’s where we get the term bonfire. 

Holy Trinity Church

Shakespeare was worried that this would happen to him and his family.  So, he bought land inside the church to have his family buried there.  He put a curse on his grave as well which you can read on the top of the picture below.

Shakespeare's grave

He certainly had a way with words.  Usually its £2 per person to get in, but with the tour we got in for £1 each. 

It was great to be able to take pictures of the grave.  We also got a few minutes to take pictures in the church.  I do like church architecture. 

Beautiful glass stained windows

I really do love stained glass windows since they seem mysterious and cool to me. 

Ivan asked if the Shakespeare bloodline still existed.  Barbara said that it actually was dead.  An inn owner said that she had Shakespeare’s child.  He was also the godfather.  So, maybe there is some Shakespeare blood out there somewhere.

We stopped outside of Susana’s house.  Susana married well and Shakespeare was happy about that.  She married a doctor.  If a person had a sore throat, he would hold a frog over a patient’s mouth.  The frog’s saliva would drop into their mouth.  The frog’s saliva has antiseptic qualities.  Barbara said that this is where we get the term “frog in the throat”.

Shakespeare left most of his estate to his favorite daughter Susana and nothing to his other daughter.  He left Anne his second best bed.  The best bed was for the guests.  The second best bed was the marital bed. 

Barbara was a wonderful guide.  I highly recommend the Stratford Town Walk.  It’s great to see some of the Shakespeare sights, hear about his life and see the lovely town. 

I really do find Stratford-upon-Avon quite charming.  It’s nice to walk everywhere you need to go.  We didn’t know there would be so much to do.  If Ivan knew this, we would have booked a stay for longer.

Ivan and went to The Church Street Town House for lunch.  Ivan and I shared a Mediterranean vegetable and goats cheese sandwich & a crab, spring onion and Gruyere cheese sandwich and a mushroom soup.  The vegetable sandwich was really good while the crab sandwich lacked flavor.  The mushroom soup was beautiful. 

We used the free internet for awhile in the restaurant.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I walked to the Bancroft Cruisers.  We saw a male swan roaming around and he wasn’t afraid of humans and went really close to us. 

At 4 pm, we got on to the boat.  A swan tried to pop its head into the window. 

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We thought it was really cute.

Ivan and I got a Fresh Scone Cream tea and another tea.  The scone was quite tasty with the cream and jam. 

The guide talked about what we were passing.  He wasn’t very chatty probably since it was his last boat ride of the day.  He went off on a tangent about how cows shouldn’t eat corn. 

The outside of Holy Trinity Church

We saw the RSC, Holy Trinity Church and lovely houses along the river.

Bridge in Stratford

The scenery was really quite beautiful.  I really love this town.  I hope that I get to come back to visit. 

We chilled for awhile at the B&B.

Later, we walked to the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).  Ivan picked up the tickets at the Swan Theatre box office. 

It was time to see a farce.  The play was called Mad World My Masters.  It’s about a guy who is the nephew to a rich man.  The guy is quite mad and wants to claim his inheritance before his rich uncle dies.  So, he concocts a plan to impersonate a Lord and then raid his vault. 

Another storyline was about a woman who was in love with another man who wasn’t her husband.  Her sister was a con artist who was actually a prostitute pimped out by her mother. 

The two stories eventually intertwined.  It was a funny farce.  It was slow at times, but it was entertaining. 

Ivan and I walked back to Moss Cottage.  We had some tuna pasta dishes at the B&B.  We watched some tv while we used the internet.

06/30/13
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Spice Village

On June 30, 2013, Ivan and I had breakfast at 10 am at the B&B.  It was a lot of food – pancakes, boiled egg, cereal, orange juice and tea.

We packed everything up and left Abel’s House.  Ivan started driving out of Caernarfon towards Gwynedd.

It took us 30 minutes to reach Portmeirion Village.  It was £10 per person for the entrance fee.  Good thing, Lil Dave hid in my bag or we would have paid an extra £6 for the monkey entrance fee.

The village has colorful buildings. 

Portmeirion mermaid

The logo of the place is of a beautiful mermaid who I presume is Meirion.  It’s a terrific place. 

Portmeirion plaza

The designer Sir Clough Williams-Ellis wanted to pay tribute to the Mediterranean and created an Italian village. 

Ivan in the lighthouse

Ivan, Lil Dave and I took a walk down to the waterfront.  I thought the trees were wonderful.

Tree with a big muscle

I felt one with nature.  Ivan didn’t feel the same way though.  He did find it beautiful as well though.  But, he thought it was expensive to get in which I agreed. 

I saw lots of beautiful purple flowers.  I don’t know the name of the flower though.

Beautiful purple flowers

There was a sign saying that it’s dangerous because the tide is really fast.  We did see the tide come in very fast.

Lovely greenery in the distance

The mountains and greenery were lovely in the distance.

We walked back to the plaza and then went back to the car.

Driving with lovely scenery around us

Ivan started driving us even more towards the Wales-England border.  We stopped at a restaurant, but it only had Sunday roast for lunch. 

We stopped at Cwpan Pinc in Welshpool.  Ivan and I shared a Welsh rarebit and a jacket potato with tuna. 

Welsh rarebit

Both tasted good, but I really enjoyed the Welsh rarebit.

Ivan drove us more and we were in England.  We drove on and arrived in Stratford-upon-Avon at 6 pm.

We checked in to the Moss Cottage B&B.  The owner Bill is so very friendly and chatty.  He told us how to get around the town and different things to see in town.  We also talked about our trip. 

Ivan and I used the internet for awhile before heading out to get dinner.

Ivan and I walked to an Indian restaurant called Avon Spice.  We shared poppadums with chutneys.  Chicken tikka came out next.  Our main courses were chicken jalfrezi and chala masala with rice and a roti.

Chala masala and chicken jalfrezi

The chala masala was beautiful, but the chicken jalfrezi didn’t have much flavor.  It was a good meal.

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