Once again I have failed my (three? four?) readers and not posted anything in several weeks. I apologize. Once again, it is not because I had better things to do. Actually, the only reason I’m posting now is because I now have better things to do and need an excuse to procrastinate. If you remember, I was last having issues getting to my destination of Stratford-Upon-Avon. Here is the conclusion to that not-so-suspenseful cliffhanger.
By the time I got to Stratford it was pushing 4:00. It was also still very cold, and it was still snowing. There were at least two inches on the ground already, though not on the roads or sidewalks—I’m pretty sure they salted them. I got into the bed & breakfast and napped awhile before we headed out to a chip shop our host recommended. It was a pretty legitimate fish & chip shop where the chips were piled up on some pieces of butcher paper with the fish on top, and all of it was given a liberal squirt of vinegar and sprinkle of salt.
We consumed our fish & chips as we watched Casino Royale, the prompt for this being that Victoria had never seen a Bond movie before and wanted to watch Skyfall before she went to the castle they used on Skye. Well she wasn’t going to watch Skyfall first—she at least needed Casino Royale under her belt before that one.
The next day we got up bright and early for a full English breakfast served by our funny French host Pascal, who introduced all of the parties staying in the Bed & Breakfast. Then we set out for Palm Sunday worship at Holy Trinity church, where William Shakespeare and most of his family are buried. They had a dramatic reading of the traditional Palm Sunday scripture, which somehow seemed more dramatic when it was read with British accents. The cathedral was gorgeous, of course, and we had to go back after lunch to visit the grave of one William Shakespeare, which is actually in the church.
We then wandered around the downtown area a bit (there isn’t all that much to do on Sundays) and went to an Italian chain for dinner that we were expecting to be more on the Pizza Hut end of the spectrum and ended up being closer to the Olive Garden end, which was a pleasant surprise.
On Monday after another English breakfast we headed out to the main tourist attractions of Stratford. There was a Shakespeare… museum… interactive… video… thing? It played clips of a bunch of famous performances and gave a bunch of really basic info on Shakespeare and had a few cool artifacts, okay? That sort of guided us to the house that Shakespeare was born in, which was turned into a pub for awhile but then restored. It was all set up with period furniture and everything, and there were people in period clothing giving demonstrations and impromptu scenes from various plays. The actors were pretty impressive—one of the guys was working on having multiple scenes from every Shakespeare play (that’s 37) memorized so he could do them on the spot. He was working on Titus Andronicus and only had a few more to go.
We also went to Hall’s Croft, which was Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna’s house (actually technically it was her husband John Hall’s house), which had a bunch of information on the medical practices of the time (Hall was one of the best doctors in England at the time). Hall’s medical practices were actually a lot more scientific than I think a lot of people would imagine (probably part of what made him one of the best doctors in England). There was still definitely superstitious stuff in there, but he kept extensive case notes of all of his patients and their symptoms, what they were diagnosed with, what they were prescribed, and the results of the diagnosis and prescription. We took a turn about the gardens outside, which feature an enormous 150-year-old mulberry bush. The garden was pretty, but it would have been much prettier if we’d have been there a few weeks later when everything was in bloom (the only things even sort of in bloom were the crocuses and the poor frozen daffodils).
Overall Stratford-Upon-Avon was a charming little town that I could see myself living in. Or perhaps retiring in. The town itself is pretty quiet, but there’s always good theatre going on and London isn’t too far away by bus or train. Too bad there’s no market for research psychologists.