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.

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