Shakespeare country over here in Warwick, and it's absolutely lovely and charming!! We arrived yesterday around noon and met up with our Stratford expert (among many other expertise that she has) Jasia, pronounced ya-zah. She's a cute English-polish tour guide with a throng of talents and a wealth of knowledge. She took us to Shakespeare's birthplace. With an excellently done video montage of how Shakespeare still affects people today, the exhibit was wonderful! They have one of the home's original Windows that has been graffitied over the centuries. That's right, folks--graffiti has always been around! I also learned where the phrase "sleep tight" comes from: until age 5, children slept in the parents' room on the trundle bed that slid out from under their own, and every night, they had to tighten the ropes that supported the child. Cool, huh?
We then ventured farther out to Anne Hathaway's cottage (Shakespeare's wife), which 13 generations of Hathaways lived in until 1911. We saw the three original rooms, but the best part was the lavender maze. I got very excited when I saw this sign because I love lavender! But when we found it, the gardeners were tearing it up. When they saw how disappointed we were, the head gardener told us that we could each pick a bushel, so I now have a nice lavender bouquet resting on my desk. This is the best smelling hotel room I've been in :) After a tea in the cafe, we had to drop Jasia off at the train station so she could jet off to France for a family vacation. Merci beaucoup, Jasia! The rest of the day was relaxing; I walked around by myself exploring the shops and the town before meeting Ivor for dinner. And afterward, I went down to the Dirty Duck, a pub known For the actors that frequent it, to do some people watching and writing! I'm trying to get in as many literary cliches as I can into this trip, if you couldn't already tell :)
Today was equally as fantastic! We drove out a bit further to Mary Arden's Tudor farm (Shakespeare's mother). Apart from the awe of being in the place where Shakespeare began, this was my favorite Shakespeare exhibit. William would've never visited the farm that his mother grew up on since his grandparents died before he was born, but it was marvelous! They have fantastic actors who have so much knowledge about the time period! We saw a goose herding (back then they would've herded the geese all the way to Nottingham on foot for 4-5 days), a falconry show with a barn owl (also called a ghost owl or in Wesley's case, a boomerang owl because every time he tried to launch her into the air, she just came back to his arm for food), a unique house tour, and then a table board lunch demonstration-how the people of the Tudor time actually would have composed themselves at the dining table. So much fun!
This afternoon, we walked to Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare is buried. On his headstone, he has engraved, "Blessed be the man that spared these stones, and cursed be he that moved my bones" because apparently it was a common practice to dig up bones and throw them out so the church could resell the land. I guess The Bard freaked everybody out enough with his curse because his and his family's bones are still there, as far as we know... It's also a gorgeous church, and worth a walk along the Avon River. We took a canal-river cruise to follow this up and wrap up our afternoon-nice and calming-lots of swans and duckies to look at.
Note to future travelers-do your Stratford shopping during the day. Most shops close by 5:30 at the latest, even on a Friday night. So what do people do, you might ask. They go to pubs and performances of course! I convinced Ivor to go back to the Dirty Duck, and we had a fantastic meal there on top of the classic pub atmosphere.
I can't believe tomorrow is my last day with Vorscot Tours! It's amazing how quickly time flies. I'm convinced time moves faster on this side of the Atlantic.
See you in Windsor,