Stratford-Upon-Avon

This afternoon, JJ was writing in his journal. All of a sudden, I heard, “And curst be he who moves my bones.”

Funny what kids remember.

JJ was beyond excited to visit Stratford-Upon-Avon. He had done a report on Shakespeare at school (in 1st grade) and couldn’t wait to visit Shakespeare’s birthplace. Missa B, however, really wasn’t very interested. Our future English major and our future engineer — again, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

We got into town (after visiting Stonehenge) too late to see anything, but thrilled that our B&B was an easy walk into town. And beyond thrilled that our family room was actually two separate rooms, and the kids’ room had twin beds. We saw sleep in our future!

Our extremely outgoing B&B host gave us easy directions across the park and into town as well as several restaurant recommendations. We chose a typical English pub and got the last table available. As we placed our orders, we were surprised to hear our 9-year-old vegetarian order cottage pie. “It just sounds too typical not to order. I think it’s worth trying so I don’t regret it ten years down the road.” And, she ate the whole thing.

The Obligatory Telephone Booth Shot
Obligatory photos on our way to dinner
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The kids were floored that this used to be the only way to make calls when people were out and about.

A good day, a good dinner, and thus we assumed, a good night. Ah…”A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows he is a fool.” (Shakespeare)

Let it suffice to say we were fools.

Bedtime was a nightmare. I won’t go into details, but after about an hour, we had one kid asleep in bed, two frustrated parents, and one kid asleep in the car in his underwear. (Yes, don’t worry — there was a frustrated parent in the car with him.)

To top it off, when we brought a sleeping JJ back into the room, Hubs tucked him in and then leaned on the bed to kiss him goodnight. Upon which the bed promptly collapsed onto the floor. (Sorry — no picture although I should have grabbed one.) So, we had JJ on the floor with Hubs on top of him, one frantic mom running into the room, and one very startled, but still asleep Missa B, sitting straight up in bed wondering what was happening.

But, as luck would have it, I am married to an engineer. I took the now half-asleep JJ into our bed, and Hubs fixed his bed. After getting JJ back in bed, all I really wanted was a shower. Because showers don’t happen often enough on this trip.

So, I got ready for my shower and some general relaxation. Only to have no idea how to turn on the shower. I tried everything I could think of (because if Hubs came in and immediately turned it on, I would NEVER hear the end of it), and then called in Hubs. He also tried everything he could think of — no water. We looked up at a cord attached to a small box-like thing on the ceiling and asked each other, “Is there any way that could turn on the shower?” Since the box had a red light on it and looked exactly like an emergency call button in a hospital or nursing home, and it was already 11 pm, we didn’t end up pulling the cord. And went to bed smelly.

Turns out we should have pulled the cord. Lesson learned.

So, after pulling the cord the next morning and getting a decent shower , we went to the dining room to have a wonderful home-cooked breakfast with more hot chocolate and Nutella than the kids should ever have eaten if we had any hope of getting them to bed at night.

Heading out with full stomachs, we started at Shakespeare’s home and purchased the Shakespeare’s Five House Pass so we could get into the other included sites if we chose to do so. We all really enjoyed walking through his home, and the kids loved the fact that there were signs in each room with “Gross Facts.” Nothing like information about urine and manure to keep kids entertained!

When we got outside, we met an actor who would do a scene from any Shakespeare play requested. “It’s only 37 plays and 154 sonnets — easy to remember those!” Um…I have read all those plays and studied many of them, and pretty much all I remember is “Romeo, Romeo…”

When the actor saw two willing victims kids, he grabbed a trunk of clothes and excitedly started dressing them. He then had them perform the actions in front of about 25 people while he recited the words. Amazingly, he picked the same scene from a Midsummer Night’s Dream that JJ performed when he was in Montessori, so that kid had his death scene down pat. 

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Poor Pyramus, although Thisby may be grinning in the background…
The kids after their curtain call.
The kids after their curtain call.

The rest of our day consisted of going through the Harvard House (ok…wouldn’t recommend unless you had already purchased the Five House Pass), going through the Royal Shakespeare theatre, and taking a walking tour which we all enjoyed. The tour included Shakespeare’s grave where the phrase uttered by JJ tonight was found. I think my favorite part of that tour was learning the origins of some common phrases (didn’t verify these, so if they aren’t true, it’s still fun to think they may be):

  • Raining Cats and Dogs — when the rain came in through the thatched roof houses, it drove out the mice and rats. Guess who would come running to chase them?
  • Sleep Tight — there used to be ropes across the bed frame under the mattresses. These ropes would be tightened before going to sleep. Not sure I believe this one.
  • Bonfire — originated from burning bones on a fire…became bonfire.
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The tour ended right by the water.

And, we were thrilled to find that the town (which is adorable) had something for even the most skeptical among us.

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Missa B was won over by the Shakespeare Star Wars series.

Our next day was traveling to Ironbridge, but since we had the Shakespeare Five House Pass and wanted to get our money’s worth, we decided to stop at the Mary Arden Farm on our way out of town. Mary Arden was Shakespeare’s mother, and she grew up on this farm just a few miles out of town. We figured we’d make a quick stop and then be on our way. (See “fool” reference above or substitute with the equally appropriate, “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”)

We were pretty much the only people there when we arrived. Again, touring while the British schools were still in session was amazing! We stopped by the blacksmith first and then decided to catch the geese herding demonstration. A pair of period-dressed women came walking by with geese. They brought them into a fenced area and showed us how they herded the geese by using sticks. Supposedly they would do this once a year to bring geese to the big “nearby” market…100 miles away.

Then they asked us to give it a try. First the kids herded the geese, and then Hubs and I did. I have to admit it was kind of fun.

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We toured houses, saw falconry shows, visited the animals and searched, in vain, for the hay maze. Note to self: read the footnote that indicates the hay maze doesn’t open until mid-July before setting off on a 1.5 mile trail looking for it.

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What I anticipated to be a 1-hour stop maximum turned into 4 hours with the kids begging us to stay longer.

So, we headed out to Ironbridge once again behind schedule.

Although I prefer to think of it as living by the motto “Let every man be master of his own time.”

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8 thoughts on “Stratford-Upon-Avon

  1. Gramc July 29, 2015 / 6:23 pm

    Love the adventures and love to read your writing!

    Like

    • Sandy Huttas July 29, 2015 / 6:33 pm

      I look forward to reading about your travels, and the photos are super !

      Sandygram

      Like

      • navigatorof4 July 30, 2015 / 1:18 am

        Glad you are enjoying it! Hubs is definitely the photo taker!

        Like

  2. jeff evans July 29, 2015 / 7:32 pm

    I feel pretty comfortable commenting for all that read this blog: where is the picture of Hubs and Kimmy herding the geese?!?!

    Like

    • navigatorof4 July 30, 2015 / 1:56 am

      I wanted to add one, but either we or the geese were cut off…the challenge of having a 4-foot person taking the photos!

      Like

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