Hello, it’s me again after all this time (oops)! Did you miss me? 😛
I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while actually, but, me being me, I procrastinated, forgot, and just plain couldn’t be bothered to actually get round to it.
I’m such a great blogger clearly But, after over a week of writing little bits when I could be bothered, here’s a post on a recent trip of mine!
(Warning: this is a very long post with a lot of pictures, so apologies for that!)
For those of you that don’t know, I recently visited Stratford-upon-Avon with my mum for a little holiday whilst my brother was away on Scout camp. We arrived on the 24th of July and came back home on the 26th, and did most things on the Monday.
Since I love love LOVE Shakespeare, I was naturally very excited to go to the place where he and his family lived. As well as the Shakespeare aspect, it is such a gorgeous place, with lots of old architecture still intact making it really interesting to look around. One of the buildings I particularly liked was a library (obviously, I love books) which is the top left image in the collage of various old buildings I saw below. It was just so pretty and cute and YASS I LOVED IT. I didn’t go in though, because Stratford is a looooooong way to go to return a book… 😁
Speaking of old buildings, I visited several whilst touring around. There is an open top bus tour that you can get to take you around the town and surrounding area, with a spoken commentary that you can choose to listen to on your journey. It stops off at most of the big attractions around the town, and you can hop on and off whenever you like during the day (or longer if you pay for it). My mum and I took this bus around and stopped off at (in order): Anne Hathaway’s cottage, Mary Arden’s farm, Shakespeare’s Birthplace and Hall’s Croft, all of which were so pretty with beautiful gardens (and even animals in the case of the farm)!
Before we caught the bus on our day out, my mum and I first walked into town and visited the cutest little tea room. We both just had earl grey tea as it was a bit too early for cake
it’s never too early for cake idk why my mum thought that and it was really nice! I loved the way the tea room was decorated too – very fitting with the whole Shakespearean times theme.
After having a little wander around the town to get to the tour bus stop, we bought tickets for the day and hopped on the bus (after I spent forever looking at the stuff in the gift shop because THERE WERE TINY BOOKS THEY WERE SO CUTE). We stayed on the bus until it got to Anne Hathaway’s cottage, which – as I mentioned above – was the first of four big attractions we visited on the bus tour.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage
Anne Hathaway’s (Shakespeare’s wife’s) cottage is so. gorgeous. ohmygosh. First of all there are the gardens, which are huge and full of flowers and AGH SO PRETTY I WANT THEM. Naturally, I took loads of pictures because everything was just too pretty not to tbh. All the photos below were taken in the gardens, and I really like the bottom right one because you can also see the cottage.
The cottage is typical of the Tudor/Elizabethan period because it has black and white/cream walls and a thatched roof, and the inside fits with the period too because it is decorated as it likely would have been during the time Anne Hathaway lived there. I took a few pictures inside the cottage too because I loved how it looked, especially the windows! The little table setup was so cute, and I loved the little tea set (bottom picture). I also liked the fireplace area, which was really big and open (third picture down on the right).
I didn’t buy anything at the cottage gift shop, although there were so many pretty things that I would’ve definitely bought if I had an unlimited supply of money! 😁
Mary Arden’s Farm
After we had looked around the cottage and its grounds enough, we hopped on the bus again to go to Mary Arden’s Farm. I really enjoyed looking around the farm because not only does it have a lot of things to look at related to the time (I love museums and stuff hehe), it is actually a running Tudor-style farm with animals and gardens and things! As with the cottage, my mum and I went for a look inside the buildings, and everything was very interesting and we learnt quite a few things (including the origin of the phrase ‘left on the shelf’) and the kitchen smelled SO NICE (it was close to lunch time so they were making traditional Tudor food for their meal that apparently you can watch them eat?)
Whilst at the farm, we had some lunch in the little café, which was really tasty and looked really nice too! I had a .bacon tudor knot'(pictured below), which was just a bacon sandwich on fancy bread, but it was so nice!
There was also this really weird owl that practically didn’t move at all, just blinked occasionally, and I did get a video but I can’t post it on here 😦 So here’s a photo instead:
I also liked the noisy chickens because they were cute, and there were some cute pigs too.
After lunch, we headed back to the bus and next stopped off at Shakespeare’s Birthplace, which was so fascinating, and, like the other houses, so pretty! They also had Shakespeare’s will on display in the building next to the house, so that was really interesting to look at as it showed a lot about the times and how he felt about his family (he didn’t like one of his daughters all that much).
Unlike the other exhibitions we visited, Shakespeare’s Birthplace had a large entryway with a video playing in part of it. The video was really fun to watch, so we sat and watched it, then went on to look at the few artifacts in the other part of the entryway, then on to the gardens.
Whilst in the gardens, we watched a few ‘Shakespeare Aloud’ performances, which was where someone who worked there would ask for suggestions of Shakespeare’s plays and would then recite a speech from the chosen play. We first requested A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which is my all-time favourite Shakespeare play, and we then requested Hamlet, as we were going to see it at the theatre that night (more on that later). Another group also requested Much Ado About Nothing, which I haven’t actually seen but the performance was still good, as were the other two! I found it really amazing how the guy knew the speeches and could just recite them pretty much on command, and he did them really well too! The sign can be seen on the far right of the images below, and another view of the gardens is on the far left.
Inside the house were lots of things to look at that said a lot about how Shakespeare and his family would have lived; you can even look in what would have been his father’s workshop with gloves and pouches hung up everywhere. As I said earlier, we also took a look at Shakespeare’s will, which was quite cool!
In the gift shop, I gave in and bought some absolutely gorgeous editions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, and The Sonnets and A Lover’s Complaint. They cost £30 because they were on a sort of buy-three-get-one-free deal (normally £10 each so they would have been £40 without the deal), but it was totally worth it because they are SO PRETTY, as you can probably see in the pictures below.
Our final destination on the bus tour – or did we walk? I can’t remember – was Hall’s Croft (there was another place but we didn’t have time to go), which was the house that one of Shakespeare’s daughters lived in with her husband who was a doctor. Because of his profession (and the people he treated, who were mostly very rich!), it was/is a very large and quite fancy house with a lot of paintings and things in it. I wouldn’t really mind living there myself, to be honest!
The gardens at Hall’s Croft, like the other houses, were again very grand, with a big old tree in the middle. I took the below two pictures outside in the gardens, and you can really see how big the house is in the right picture!
After visiting those tourist attractions, we stopped back at the hotel to get ready to go out to the theatre to see Hamlet. This was perhaps the most exciting part of the trip for me, and one of the main reasons why I wanted to go to Stratford in the first place. I mean, what could be better than seeing one of Shakespeare’s plays in his birthplace?!
Before seeing the play, my mum and I ate in the Rooftop Restaurant at the RSC (the theatre). The food was absolutely delicious, especially the Eton mess which I had for dessert (on the right below). I had lamb with fancy potatoes and gravy for a main course (on the left), mainly because I a) am a fussy eater and don’t like a lot of stuff and b) I couldn’t actually understand half of what was on the menu because it was all too posh. Oops! There was also complimentary water and bread, so that was nice!
After eating, we had a look out of the big windows at the view of the town (pictured below), then wandered around the gift shop for a bit. I bought a pair of really cute “quote mark” earrings (yes I had to put that in quotes because reasons), and then headed off to find our seats.
Although my view was slightly obstructed by a pillar and the seats were so close together agh (I think I accidentally kicked the old man next to me a few times oops), I had quite a good view of the stage.
And let’s just talk about the stage for a second.
THE STAGE MOVES. Well, bits of it can move, but it is SO COOL OMG. The stage and the wall behind it are in little sections which not only look really arty but mean all sorts of effects are possible. For example, at one point there was a hole in the middle of the stage, and then at another point there were people walking in one of the previously hidden parts of the wall. SO. COOL. I CAN’T.
And then there was the actual play, which was… Ohmygosh. So good. So brilliant. So well performed and AGH THE FEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. ALL OF THEM. ALL OF THE FEELS.
it’s clearly not obvious that I liked it and got emotionally involved. Clearly.
The actors and actresses were absolutely amazing, and I actually couldn’t form coherent sentences for a little while after (at least not actually about the play). The staging was amazing, the costumes were brilliant, basically everything was fantastic and everyone should see it because it is very very good k. Despite the odd language (I mean it’s Shakespeare so it’s not really going to be easy to understand), I could tell what was going on at least most of the time because I could properly see what was happening. I loved the almost paradox between the old language and the more modern clothing (one of the actresses had bright yellow high heels if I remember rightly).
Speaking of clothing (and staging actually), there was definitely some (I think) African cultural influences in everything, which was really interesting. It did work though, I thought, despite the play being set in Denmark. Like, everything just looked amazing and just AGH I COULD GO ON FOREVER ABOUT HOW BRILLIANT IT WAS AHHH I LOVED IT.
I still have the programme, so I’ll likely save it and maybe look back on it again sometime just to remember how brilliant everything was, because omg so good.
On the last day, I went shopping and may have accidentally spent most of my money (it’s nearly my birthday so it’s ok I’ll probably get more), BUT I did get some nice things and I don’t buy myself clothes that often at the moment so I think I deserved it. 😇
Before heading off home, we stopped for a muffin and a drink (I love blueberry muffins so much omg), so that was a nice end to a brilliant little holiday/trip thingy.
Sorry this post was so long, but I hope you enjoyed it if you made it to the end! Have you done anything interesting lately? Do you like Shakespeare? Have you ever been to the RSC? Seen Hamlet anywhere? If so, what did you think? I’d love to know!
xx Elly xx
(Credits to L for the title – minus donuts – because I am terrible at titles and he is not! He’s also nearly at 400 followers so go follow him!)