Wednesday, June 24, 2009

June 24 -- Stratford Upon Avon

“Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you traveled.” - Mohammed

"Going to Bill's house?" the station conductor asked us as we checked with him about return times to London.

"Yes," we answered, beaming.

"He's not there, you know," he quipped.

Today I made a trip every English teacher dreams of taking ... time travel to the birthplace of William Shakespeare. A place lost in the seventeenth century, where timbers and mortar make up the essence of a place that is soundly seared into the English language lover's ear ... a place where immortal characters awaited their entrance upon the consciousness of all Western culture ...

where instead of a Dollar Tree, there is Poundland ... and you can order ice cream at the "As You Like It" ice cream shop, whose speciality is "William's Shakes." Where there's a line in front of the Burger King, and diet Cokes are sold without ice. Where for a mere 7 pounds 95 pence, you too can be taken back to Will's day via film and recorded voice. Where erasers are inscripted with "Out, damn spot," and you can have William's signature scrawled across your chest in a cotton polyester blend t-shirt.

Okay, it wasn't all that bad, truthfully. We decided to forego the "Shakespeare Experience" and instead walked over two miles to visit the more genteel Anne Hathaway's Cottage. What a delight! I wish I could record the scents and aromas of the garden! Not just flowers (roses, hollyhocks, daisies, honeysuckle, etc.) but the spices (rosemary, parsley) and the rich smell of well tended loam. I was almost loathe to go inside, but inside I went and found a very well preserved home with lovely English guides who left you alone to wander, but were full of little tidbits of information that made life in the 16th and 17th century come alive, if only for a moment.

And the highlight of the day? Two lovely ladies (a mother and daughter) from New Forest overheard us discussing whether to walk back to town or order a cab graciously offered to give us a lift back in town. Nor did they just drop us off on the main road -- they drove us directly to the train station. With swollen feet and grateful hearts, we bid good-bye to them and to Stratford on Avon, catching the Chiltern train for the two and-a-half hour trip back to London.

Greeted by the Bard himself.

William's birthplace

The Avon Canal.

Anne Hathaway's cottage (Shakespeare's wife)

1 comment:

  1. Hey Jeannie,
    I am contemplating going out to Stratford myself next weekend. We'll see - after hearing about your adventure, it seems like something to do.