Stratford-upon-Avon | A Voyage of Exploration.



Hello lovely readers, it has been a mind-numbingly painful wait but luckily, the delay is over! Earlier this year, I was whisked away to Stratford-upon-Avon for a few days of TLC and ultimate relaxation. Yet, as it happens, what was meant to be a relaxing trip became a thrilling adventure and now I’m here to tell you all about it!

It had been a trying start to the New Year; what with having numerous projects on-the-go, a tight work schedule and only a small time gap for blogging. So myself and my mother decided to take a week off from work and life in general to flee to our tranquil retreat.

I was terribly out of sorts this time. I completely forgot to take my jacket, my sandals and my toothbrush! When we arrived in the early afternoon on Saturday, I purchased a hoodie and a pair of kitten heels from M&S and a toothbrush from a cheap store to act as a makeshift for the week.

Having planned the trip with Mother’s Day included meant that I had to think of ways to spoil my mother. It was difficult to think of what to do. Even the most creative would have a hard time! Fortunately though, I remembered that she’d been raving about George Michael’s new album and had a particular soft spot for Disney sensation, Frozen. With two presents under my belt, I decided to also treat her to a special dinner at her favourite restaurant in Stratford, The Red Lion.

It was probably the most content I’ve seen my mother in a while!

The next morning, I gave my mother one more present. As I’m one who likes to explore in my own way and time, I’ve never liked tour buses. But I finally buckled and gave in to becoming a proper tourist for the day.

As much as I wish not to admit it, I had a wonderful time. Sitting in the open air section of the double-decker, we had brilliant views of all the stops. From the Shakespeare houses to the Jester statue to the Holy Trinity Church, we both were educated thoroughly by automated narrator speaking in our earphones.

The year before we decided to visit Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and sadly, we were disappointed and weren’t going to return. However, since it was one of the tour stops and there wasn’t as large a quantity of people like the previous time, we decided to explore it once more.

I enjoyed it a lot more, mostly due to the fact there were only few people among the tiny rooms. For me, the most fascinating portion of the house is the original wall that has been kept preserved beneath a glass screen. It gives you and inkling of what architecture was truly like all those centuries ago. Then again, the fact I was followed by an adorable feline throughout the house may have also been a factor into my enjoyment. *chuckles*

Later in the day, after we’d officially finished our tourist-oriented time, we hopped back onto the bus and were dropped off at my favourite shopping mecca in Stratford, Maybird Shopping Park. Surprisingly though, I didn’t go as mad as I did last year and purchased only a couple of items; a blouse I’ve been searching for for months, a check collar dress and a new food matt for my little terror, Belle.

My mother and I decided to do our yearly bout of exercise the following morning and visit a place that I have always wanted to see; the Holy Trinity Church, the burial ground of Shakespeare and Hathaway. Visiting a church is highly unusual for me as I tend to avoid them as much as possible but this was the exception. I’d seen glimpses from boat rides and the tour bus and now it was time to finally see it in all its glory.
The trek towards it was the equivalent to an assortment of hills, ultimately leaving my mother and I regretting our choice of footwear. Although it was a steep walk, the scenery was simply divine. From a quaint swans nest to a vacant building, it made the journey all the more pleasurable.

When we eventually arrived at the church, I was just in awe of its serene enormity and stunning arrangement. I have almost a hundred snaps of the grounds alone in my storage. (My only inhibition is the feeling that I was stepping on people. Silly, I know. But what was even more humorous was me tip-toeing across the grounds.) I have never known a church to have as many doors as Holy Trinity does. I believe we must have passed several, at the least, doors until we found the entrance.

I was in my very own version of Wonder Land. The tranquil atmosphere was infectious on the soul. What made the experience all the more spiritual was the white doves that hovered over and perched on the church.

Inside the church was further spectacular than the exterior. The close attention to detail in the design was breath-taking; the ceiling being my favourite section of pattern. When we reached the room in which Shakespeare’s monument lay, it truly fitted for Shakespeare to be buried there, especially with the statue of him embedded into the wall. Among some of the fellow great, Shakespeare and his wife lay side by side.

The story of William’s choice of grave never ceases to fascinate me. You see, when he was a young child, he had to witness the deceased being removed from their graves and tossed into an abyss of flames. With this memory emblazoned, he made certain to be buried within the church lest he suffer the same fate. To further the precaution, a curse was set upon the bard’s grave;

Good friend, for Jesus' sake forebeare
To digg the dust enclosed heare;
Bleste be the man that spares thes stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones

In his will, he paid his wife the same respect and ordered a grave next to his within the church.



History lesson over, we ventured back into the town and stopped by the RSC. Sadly, we’d missed part one of Henry IV but, since we both knew the story; we booked tickets to see Henry IV Part II that night. Unlike me, my mother enjoys the more comical side of Shakespeare and Henry IV Part II has exactly the right amount of comedy and sorrow to be but of our cup of teas. 

As expected, it was a wonderful production. I don’t usually enjoy modernization but the introduction was amazing. It was one way that social media should be used. (I also ended up walking back with the guy who did that scene as he was staying at the same hotel!) The cast was exquisite. In fact, the entire show was gripping.

Thoroughly exhausted from the adventures of the last few days, I spent the majority of our penultimate day in Stratford in hotel lounge writing and relaxing. Spending some actual time to simmer down and relish in being surrounded by peace was very much needed.

In no time, our last day had arrived and returning to the normality of chaos was all too near.

Like every trip to the wordsmith’s hometown, we visited the Butterfly Farm on our final morning. As usual, it is the equivalent to walking into an oven and just as gorgeous as ever. Whenever I find myself in the sanctuary, it often gives me a fresh outlook at things.

During our time there, I encountered a dragon-like, head bopping caterpillar, a fight between two Caligo Memnons over food and enduring multiple butterflies hitching rides on my shoulders.

Sadly, I also had the displeasure of witnessing the damage caused to these petite creatures by infants. They may be creatures but seeing them in such a helpless state without any way to aid them is both saddening and infuriating. It brings into perspective just how fragile life can be.

Anyhow, on a more positive note, we spent the remainder of the day wandering around the town. From sneaking into restricted areas of the RSC to going a bit mad with shopping fever in the H&M sales to calculating how much a life-size Dalek in a shop window would cost, it was a lovely day.

During our wander, we had the pleasure of discovering the delightfully quaint and quirky Anne Hathaway Tea Rooms. If you desire a peaceful afternoon with excellent service, delectable food and historical architecture, then this is the place for you!

Our final stop of the day before returning to the hotel was my favourite café, Hobsons Patisseries. It would be breaking tradition if we didn’t visit the best café in town! Since it was our last day, I decided to treat my mother to a belated Mother’s Day gift in the form of the rather large jam scone – or as I call it, the almighty scone. Hobsons always have an appealing selection of tasty treats and it’s fair to say, my mother absolutely loved that scone.

To end my time in Stratford and this post, I’d like to tell you a rather amusing story.

Back at the hotel, we were waiting with our luggage in the lounge beside the check-in desk when a hoard of men clad in suits filled the room. Apparently there was a function on but, not one to complain, I settled into my lounger and ogled the mass of suits. It was so entertaining that I began documenting it on social media. I believe I said the following:

They all have a smartphone in their one hand. It seems these men only need two things in life: A suit and technology. I feel as though I've entered the modern Mad Men world. Oh wait…one of the Suits is even smoking a cigar. I am raising Mad Men to James Bond.
It was comical and a few them ended up greeting me, either with a smile or wave. This is the part where I tell you that some of my readers were requesting photo evidence and this is how I caught their attention. *chuckles*

It was a brilliant way to end my week and as you can imagine, I was more or less wiped out for the next few weeks. But it was worth every ounce of payback!

Read my previous adventures in Strattford:

Beauty in the Sun
A Tale of Winter's Valentine


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Comments

  1. It sounds so lovely! I love the photos. The Anne Hathaway Tearooms sounds like my cup of tea... haha ;)
    So glad you had a lovely time, trips like this are what keep us going. Rest well xx

    Hayley-Eszti
    www.hayleyeszti.blogspot.com

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