Stratford-upon-Avon | Beauty in the Sun.


Hello lovely readers, after a tedious wait, I am here to finally enlighten you with all the juicy details of my latest trip to Stratford-upon-Avon! 

My mother & I make it a point to go to Stratford every four, five or six months. It's become an escape to relaxation for the both of us as well as a special place. You see, my mother works ever so hard so these trips are her time to recuperate just like it is mine. It's also a time for us to really spend quality time together and I can't thank her enough for taking me there for the first time back in 2012. It was her idea in the first place after all. Little did either of us know that that trip would be to where I now long to live. What I want to say is, thank you, Mum for taking me in the first place!

So without further ado, here is my post about the up, downs and hilarity of my sunny week in Stratford. Enjoy!

I arrived early Sunday (7th July) morning in hopes that my room at the Holiday Inn would be ready. Alas,
as I expected it wasn't. Deciding to drop off my suitcases (yes, suitcases), I ventured out to reconnect with my No. 1 place to be. 

Given how early I’d departed, I was in a Next drape top and Primark sweatpants due to the cool morning weather. As soon as I hit outside, I regretted my clothing choice and unfortunately, my denim shorts were nestled in my big suitcase. 

Unable to stand the heat radiating around my legs I sprinted to New Look and bought myself a couple pairs of shorts; one denim, the other, grey cotton. 

After grabbing a quick lunch, I wandered around for a bit until I stumbled across the annual Stratford-upon-Avon River Festival

It has been a very, very long time since I’ve attended a festival so I found myself a deck chair, just metres away from the music stand, dug my kindle out of my bag and relaxed for a few hours. 

The highlight of the music was a band (I cannot for the life of me remember their name!) performing Adele's 'Skyfall'. The time I spent sunbathing was the hottest time of the day. It was painful to see dogs out in the terrible heat. One poor Plott Hound was trying to find shade in front of me whilst his owner proceeded to drink three bottles of wine. 

By the time I got back to the hotel, the Male Singles Wimbledon Final was on. The lounge was packed with a variety of people shouting at the plasma TV in the center of the room. Having already had my ears burst from the festival, I took to a chair outside beside the river and edited Temptation Bites. I was deep in the midst of writing when the lounge of guests erupted in applause that could most likely have been heard across the center of Stratford. Of course, I'm talking about Andy Murray's magnificent win.

What a positive way to start my vacation!

The next day – feeling utterly knackered from travelling the day before – I went for a swim first thing in the morning to wake myself up. The problem in my plan? I had to go down five flights of stairs (very steep stairs, might I add) to get there because the hotel had just started reconstruction.

I was exhausted when I finally got into the pool. Instead of doing any laps, I opted for an intense session of muscle awakening and soothing in the scorching jacuzzi. (There was also a swimming lesson going on, I didn’t want to disrupt the mentor and his students.)

An hour later I found myself sat having breakfast in my favourite Stratford café. I am of course talking about Hobsons Patisseries. As silly as it is, I sighed with happiness when I arrived there. I was still exhausted from the chaotic week I had prior and decided instead of trekking around the city that I'd buy myself a fruity lunch and lounge in a deck chair beside the River Avon for the entire afternoon.

I only left my chair once during that time and that was to go on a forty minute boat trip with the Avon Boating crew. I was never a huge boat fan myself as I used to suffer with a fear of them but I love them now! It was lovely to sail up and down the river, passing the Holy Trinity Church and beautiful houses, without anybody speaking. Perfectly peaceful.

That night when I reluctantly left my spot by the river around five, I grabbed dinner at the Pen & Parchment. (Do you remember the last time I mentioned the Pen & Parchment involving a Jeremy Kyle guest? Don’t remember? Click here to read!) I was slightly irritated that the place barely had any food that night. The festival most likely had cleaned them out but they should have been able to stock up ready for the day after. There was practically nothing left. It came to the point when you actually had to ask what they had because anything you ordered was not available.

Later that night when I'd returned to the hotel I did a bit of researching on things I could do in Stratford. I wanted to broaden my horizon. To explore more. I was aware there was a shopping centre nearby so after finding it, I was all set to dedicating Tuesday to shopping in Maybird Shopping Park.

After a short breakfast at Hobsons, I set off on route to Maybird.

It was a quaint shopping park that caters to a shopper’s every need. The moment I stepped out the car I came face to face with a huge New Look shop. It was a shopaholic-jaw-dropping-serious drooling moment.
If you know me at all, you know that I am lethal when surrounded by shops. So you can quite imagine how gleeful I looked when I arrived at Maybird. Rebecca Bloomwood, eat your heart out!

I went slightly mad with shopping fever. My favourite item I purchased was a black pure-leather biker jacket. I'd been searching for a nice leather jacket that fitted me perfectly. It was fate that I found one in New Look; especially at the amazing price of £37, reduced from over £100!

After an hour or so of non-stop shopping, I had to call it a day. I was quite lethargic. So what better than to have a bite to eat in the delight that is pizza parlor?

As soon as I finished, I went back to the Stratford center and spent the afternoon beside the River Avon once again.

Soon after devouring a classic British meal, I returned to the hotel for an hour-long, leisurely swim. Considering it was evening time, I was surprised to find the swimming area completely empty. Nothing like a pool and hot tub all to myself!

Wednesday came so quickly that I was already beginning to feel depressed that I would be leaving in a couple days. Though I decided not to dwell on it and was determined to enjoy the day I had planned.

First on my list was to go to the RSC to see if anything was on and what do you know, only the production of HAMLET was playing that same night. I can't tell you how excited I was. I'd seen the play in various adaptions and had read the book but never watched it live on stage, let alone at the RSC!

With that done, my next stop was to a pace I was rather hesitant to visit: Anne Hathaway's Cottage. I was amazed by all the beautiful flowers and nature architecture that surrounded the house. In truth, I was slightly disappointed with the house itself given that only two rooms were present when Anne was a resident. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed it.

I was exhausted from the visit to the cottage so after a bite to eat, I went back to the hotel to simmer down. Four episodes of Fresh Prince of Bel Air later, I was getting ready for the show.

If you haven't experienced Shakespeare plays then you're in for a shock. HAMLET began at 7pm and finished at 11pm. Also, if you can't handle the intensity of insanity then you definitely need to prepare yourself for this one. 

When I found my seat, I was delighted to discover I was only two rows from the stage! However, this proved to be both a blessing and curse, what with having Hamlet's father's ghost stood menacingly beside me.

Only a few minutes into the first act and I was already in love with the adaption. No one has ever fixated on the aspect that leads to the ending (as far as I'm aware): Fencing. It was absolutely fantastic!

The play as a whole was amazing. Although, I have a comical story to tell you though.

During the interval I happened to look to my right and found myself staring at a man on his laptop. Completely mesmerized and astonished into laughter, I was slightly shocked. So what did I do? I took my phone out and took a photo. Only I forgot to take the flash off. Common sense has never been my friend. So not only did it catch his attention but he also looked me straight in the eye in which I made an attempt to pretend I wasn't taking a photo of him by angling the phone at the ceiling.

After the play I came to the conclusion that he was writing an article. I apologize to whomever this is but I could not not reveal this photo (above.) Regrettably, that is not the only story I have of that night.

When the show finished, I came out and it was pitch black. The RSC outside stairs have concrete indentations and at the time I was wearing heels.

You can probably see where this is going.

Instead of gracefully walking down them, my heel became caught in an indentation. One thing lead to other and I found myself hopping like frog down them and then landing on my heel funny. So not only did I take a photo of a stranger but I almost broke my leg and ankle.

Anyway.

Every time I visit Stratford, I have a rule to spend my last morning in the Butterfly Farm. I broke this rule this time and instead went there Thursday.

With it being a beautiful, brisk morning, it made walking across the bridge that overlooked the River Avon & RSC special moment.

Stratford should be nicknamed Dog-City. Seriously. That morning whilst walking across the bridge, I was surrounded by cute canines of all sizes.

Upon entering the Butterfly Farm, I always expect it to be different. Each time I step into that tropical baking-in-an-oven heated world, the scenery is somewhat different. The time I spent in there was wonderfully tranquil and I’m not lying when I say it’s almost as if I’ve wandered into a chapter of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. However this time my visit was cut short for three reasons:
  1. I was exhausted from the night before.
  2. The heat was unbearable with the addition of outside’s temperature also.
  3. Five classes of excited infants bounded in.
The latter solidified my decide to leave. My claustrophobia would have hit the roof. I adore children to bits but in a boiling, small space with many of them screaming; I think I'll take a rain check. 

Having had a glorious lie in, by the time I left the Butterfly Farm, it was gone half-past twelve which of course meant it was lunch time! This trip I tried out different restaurants instead of eating at the hotel. So after a short dawdle around, I settled for a Greek restaurant named El Greco

I thought I would have a calm and uneventful meal but oh no, being the woman that is a prime example of the saying "never a dull moment," I have a funny story to tell. 

Twenty minutes later after ordering a jacket potato the waitress returned with a huge beef burger. How you get "beef burger" from "jacket potato," I don't know but that's besides the point. After explaining the mix up, the chef suddenly arrived. This man had one killer accent but he was sadly not easy on the eyes. He repeatedly apologized and in a record time of five minutes came back with not only my original order but with a fabulous ensemble salad including proper olives. I was stunned by such a divine arrangement in such a small amount of time. I graciously thanked him in which he went on a spree of compliments, making me remove my glasses so he could see my "beautiful eyes." Honestly, it was as if nobody else was there. But hey, who doesn't like a good confidence boost? 

The rest of the afternoon was consumed by leisurely shopping in the centre of Stratford to buy some treats for not only myself but for the family and a few friends. Having enjoyed my evening in the pool on Tuesday, I had another lengthy swim before heading out to The Red Lion for my final dinner of my stay. It saddened me to come to the realization that in twenty-four hours I would be leaving. 


Friday had finally come. 

The bags were packed. 

The suitcases had been rolled into the luggage room of the hotel. 

In my New Look Aztec dress and leather jacket, I sat in Hobsons with a drink in my hand and wandered off into my own little world world. 

I thought about what my life could be like, waking up every morning to the sight of the River Avon. Jogging down the road in my sweats. Just living there. It felt like a dream just out of reach. It was only when a lovely waitress appeared with my breakfast that I was pulled from my deep thoughts. 

As my year-pass for Shakespeare’s Birthplace would be coming to an end, I left Hobsons as soon as I’d finished my breakfast and strode off to go on the tour of the house for a final time. I was hoping that it would be quieter since it was early morning.

I was very much mistaken.

When I walked through the entrance door of the actual house, there were thirty or forty Spanish tourists filling the tiny room. My mother had to go back out due to the narrow stairs and amount of people. Neither of us are great with the extremely narrow stairs but with all the tourists, she would definitely not be able to do it.

So I roamed around the house by myself, squished between people. It seemed to be much quicker than usual but I think the claustrophobic feeling that was bubbling inside of me must have made me look around quicker. Whilst I was in the house…I made a vlog. I have no idea what possessed me to do it and I am still currently in the process of deciding whether to upload it.

After a nice conversation with one of the actresses working at the birthplace, I grabbed lunch at this sweet French restaurant called The Food of Love just across from the birthplace. I think one of the best things about Stratford is the mixture of accents and culture. They seem to induce a smile from me.

In the afternoon I lounged around with some lovely girls I'd befriended earlier in the week and it turns out that one of the Avon Boating guys was not just lovely James that I'd met but James Roe; the paralympic rowing gold medalist.

The afternoon flew by, much to my annoyance. But luck was on my side in the form of my driver since he was delayed in traffic. So I went into Sainsbury's to buy something to eat whilst I waited. I was strolling down the isles when all of a sudden two actors from the RSC popped up in front of me. I stood dumbfound and completely brain dead. For a couple seconds I thought I was seeing things. And then I chuckled to myself. My time in London had been filled with bumping into actors from shows I'd seen. But this was different. I was in Sainsbury's for god's sake! Being the polite woman I am, I just moved past them and carried on with my food hunt. 

When I finally left Stratford I was once again overcome with sadness. I don't think I'll ever be ready to go back to my hectic life after being in Stratford. Roll on the next trip! 

One More Thing:

After numerous requests, I am revealing my Stratford-upon-Avon playlist. To match the serentiy, I often listen to folk like music. One of which was sung by all the buskers in Stratford. A few of them have been installed into this post so just click the pink tab on top of the page!

Read my previous adventure in Strattford:

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