Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Stratford and Shakespeare

Welcome to Stratford, Shakespeare's birthplace!
After a two hour train ride, we arrived in Stratford and walked to Shakespeare's house.The house has undergone great renovations in order to preserve the house. Many houses in Stratford are as old as Shakepseare's house, and require a great deal of work to preserve the house.
The house was furnished, some with original furnishings, and some with furnishing from the time. One of the interesting items in the house was a glass window where some of the first visitors to the house in the 1800's would scratch their names, including some famous authors and individuals. In the garden behind the house were several actors, playing music and chatting with the visitors about Shakespeare and life in Stratford.
After touring Shakespeare's house, we took a bit of a hike to Anne Hathaway's house on the outskirts of Stratford. Anne's house, popular because of her marriage to William, was beautiful. Her parents were sheep farmers, so the house has all sorts space for gardens, which are beautiful.
Another view of the gardens at Anne Hathaway's cottage.
There was also a beautiful wood walk near the rear of the property that was extremely peaceful and beautiful. Some local schoolchildren had made pictures and figures to represent characters from some of Shakespeare's work, which were hung throughout the path.
 In addition, the gift store had these AWESOME magnets, which cost a bit more money than I was willing to spend. However, I thought a photo would help me remember, and even make my own magnets. Gotta love Shakespearean insults. 
In addition, these Shakespearean love quotes were also interesting, though not as funny as the insults. Which do you prefer, the love quotes or insults? And which one is your favorite?
 After we walked back to the main part of town, our group stumbled across this wonderful little shop.
 Note, please excuse the brief Harry Potter focus but it's necessary. 
While I don't believe that this is the actual recipe for Butterbeer (it's not dark enough in color), it was still very delicious, especially after all the walking we had done earlier.
The shop was very cute, selling many different types of magical items mentioned in the books, including a large selection of WANDS! Needless to say, several people of our group were 'geeking out' in their excitement.
Alex also found this very fun sign - facial expression not included however. N
For supper, we went to eat at the Black Swan as a group. It was a lovely restaurant, and  we were seated on an enclosed patio.

Now for a new quiz: What's England's favorite dish?
A. Curry
B. Fish and Chips
C. Meat Pies
If you answered Curry, you're right! I was surprised to learn this fact from one of our guides, and was a little nervous to try the dish. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the curry, especially with the rice.

We left Stratford at about 7:15, and occupied ourselves reading a couple papers we picked up along the way. I loved riding through the countryside - the land was so green, the small towns quaint, and farms and hedges lining the roads picturesque. I was so thankful for the opportunity to get out of London, to see more of England than just the populated areas.

Maybe on my next overseas visit, I'll stay in the country. Perhaps even in the Lake District, with only an occasional visit to the 'big city.' Guess you can't take the country out of the girl

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