There’s something about being in the birthplace of William Shakespeare that makes me self-conscious about blogging. But the town of Stratford-upon-Avon is so charming that I’m setting aside all inhibitions and a
fair bit of sleepiness to post a new one. Sorry I fell asleep! We’ve ticked most of the cliché check boxes – the accents, the fickle weather, the polite conversations, and admired the pretty cottages, well-preserved over hundreds of years, the aura of Shakespeare, and gushed over the food, all in the span of half a day.
We barely checked into our room at the Adelphi Guest House that I wanted to set out right away, having learnt that places would shut by 5 pm. The weather stayed lovely all afternoon, and we had energizing walk to Anne Hathaway’s family cottage. This is not Anne Hathaway of Hollywood fame, but Anne who was Will’s wife 400 years ago. The circumstances of their wedding were as probably fit for drama by themselves. Anne was 8 years older than William, and 3 months pregnant with his child on the wedding day. William was a minor and had no means to support his wife, plus he needed his father’s permission to marry. A little scandal is a must in every creative person’s life, I guess! The cottage itself is pretty; I loved the shape of the roof. There’s a nice lady who tells you some of the stories of the Shakespeare and Hathaway families, and interesting origins of some English words and phrases. Like the ‘dining’ table in the house had the top board completely separate from the trestle below. As furniture was precious in the old days, only the head of the family got to sit in the proper chair with armrests, and that was the origin of the term “Chairman of the Board”. The table top was also used by kids to amuse themselves with ‘board’ games, in which all hands had to be placed on the top edge to show that they weren’t cheating (hence “aboveboard”). Cool, huh? Ok, back to the quaint cottage, and its lovely gardens with the lavender maze (not in full bloom, sadly, because it’s October), and the little hut where Souvik enjoyed a few sonnets.
We had a delicious coffee and cookie at the Garden Cafe, at which point the weather changed from bright and sunny to quick shower just as we were chatting about what a nice day it had been. Thankfully it cleared up again, and we walked back via the nearest rainbow, towards the Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre to be or not to be in the audience that evening. Hunger and jet lag took over, so Sheep Street was next, to Vintner, for a fabulous meal of ale and goat cheese pastry for me and lamb shank for Souvik. It was a long day, and our shadows were longer. We’ve never been so tall and thin, and never will, but where there’s a Will, there can be a ‘play’!