What I knew about Shakespeare before visiting this famous English town could probably have been written on the back of a postage stamp! Now, I’m not saying I now know that much more but I did have a very enjoyable day out in Stratford-Upon-Avon with my girlfriend and parents on my first trip into Shakespeare country.
First up was a quite lengthy walk to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage & Gardens. This was a rather nice little thatched cottage where a young William Shakespeare courted his future wife. The guide kept things brief, lively and informative which was news to my ears as some tour guides do have a tendency to waffle on and on.
With there being few records of Shakespeare’s private life there’s been considerable speculation about certain parts of his life but the guide was very honest about this and words like may, might, could and expressions like ‘its thought that’ were used a lot.
As an English teacher it was good to hear how certain idioms originated from within this place such as sleep tight and a fair few more which I sadly have forgotten.
Back in the main centre of Stratford we had yet another pub meal before heading to the Shakespeare Centre & Shakespeare’s Birthplace. More than satisfied with his wife’s cottage and not wanting to fork out the entrance costs we decided against going in and it was probably a wise decision as we worked out which was his house. That may sound easy but given that there’s just an entrance building with no signage on the house next to it its not so clear and we hadn’t done our research in advance. Furthermore, we got to see the back of the house too by entering the gift shop to the right of Shakespeare’s place.
There really is no escape from Star Wars as inside the shop there was a display advertising a book by the name of ‘Verily, A New Hope‘ (below) which is written by Ian Doescher and is basically the original Star Wars story told using William Shakespeare’s stylised language. A style which is something I’m unable to get my head round!
Even with little knowledge or interest in Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon is a lovely place to wander round with its fine black and white timber framed buildings, the shopping on Henley Street, the river Avon and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre which is one of Britain’s most important cultural venues.
Many of my Japanese students have some mis-conceptions about Britain and one of the most common ones is that ALL Brits have afternoon tea every day! Soooooooooo not true for the majority of people but having said that we did indeed have afternoon tea and scones (below right) in a very nice tea-room before making the visit back home.
That evening I managed to just about find enough room to accommodate a fish finger sandwich (below left) as I was keen to show my girlfriend a British food classic! The next morning we sadly had to leave my hometown. Another day would’ve been nice but I guess its best to leave while you’re still enjoying it and not bored. We had train tickets booked to take us down to the nations capital and news of that will appear ‘England 2013 Pt V’.