To be here or not be here - that is the...?

Trip Start Nov 27, 2012
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Trip End May 18, 2013


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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mankind has always jumped on the chance to make a fast buck out of a dead celebrity – think of all of the Elvis impersonators who inhabit our world, or the people who run walking tours to the Dakota building in New York where John Lennon was shot. Well.....here at Stratford Upon Avon it is all about the old Bard himself – William Shakespeare. Now before those of you with British connections all get up in arms, let us say this. The Brits know how to pay tribute in a certain style.

Sure, there are the tacky souvenir shops here, but show me any major city in the world which doesn't have these. The point is that this town is authentic in that Shakespeare really did live and die here, and they have the buildings and the historical documents to prove it. The place is full of all things Shakespeare, but the 'attractions’ are all very reasonably priced and they are run by people who are extremely friendly, proud and happy to share their considerable local knowledge.

Whilst here we visited the main Shakespeare attractions which were close to the town centre and which one can easily get to by walking. We went to Shakespeare’s House and Gardens, where he was born and grew up, to ‘Hall’s Croft’ which was the home of William’s daughter, Susanna and her wealthy husband Dr John Hall and finally we went to Holy Trinity Church which contains the graves of Shakespeare, his wife Anne and other family members. We could also have ventured further afield to visit Anne Hathaway’s cottage which is about a mile out of town, but we decided against doing this and The Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company also put on productions but again, we did not do this either - we feared  a Shakespeare ‘overload’!

Once again, we were amazed at the history of the place – for example, there has been a church on the site of the present one since the year 713 and the present building dates from 1210, with some sections of it being added to in the 1300’s. There is a bible in the church which dates back to 1611 and this year is the 400th anniversary of Hall’s Croft.

The town is also well placed to use as a base for a touring holiday of the area of England known as The Cotswolds. On our drive here from Bath we stopped at another beautiful old town called ‘Stow on the Wold’ which is full of antique shops, boutiques and tea rooms. This was only a fifteen minute drive from Stratford Upon Avon.

It is exactly what we expected from villages and towns in what we think of as ‘the English countryside’ and we have not been disappointed. In fact, we extended our stay for an extra night as Steve discovered its close proximity to a golf course called ‘The Belfry’.

As Del writes this, Steve is out there, somewhere on the course, in the rain (or maybe at the nineteenth hole). Del has done some shopping (as is usual when one’s husband is playing golf), and has had the gluten free Devonshire tea (scone, jam and clotted cream) for the second day in a row.

As William would have said – ‘A man can die but once’ – (from King Henry 1V, part 11, Act 111, Scene 1). So why not continue travelling, shopping, golf and eating?
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