When I asked the girls what they wanted to do this summer I was delighted when Abigail said she wanted to go in search of Shakespeare in Stratford Upon Avon, finally somewhere I'd not been before and somewhere I'd always wanted to visit. We booked the Kings Head in Wellsbourne through Virgin Experience Days, not knowing it was 4 miles away, not that it would have been a problem but taxis charge £20 to go 4 miles in Stratford Upon Avon, in fact the first taxi we got in from the station I later found that he started the meter at the Christmas Day tariff, this is not the first time I've been conned by a taxi driver when visiting somewhere but it makes me so glad we have Uber in Newcastle, actually even the buses around Stratford Upon Avon were more than I usually pay in Uber fares! Suffice to say that we arrived on Wednesday afternoon, left on Friday morning and spent over £100 in local taxis and buses, my top tip if you don't drive would be stay in central Stratford or even Tiddington which is just a mile and a half walk, Abigail and I walked there on Tuesday night as there were no bus stops between Stratford and Tiddington!!
Anyway, I don't want you to think that it ruined our mini break because it didn't, we had the most brilliant 48 hours in Stratford Upon Avon, we visited 3 out of the 5 of the places owned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, we visited Mary Ardens Farm, Anne Hathaways Cottage and Shakespeare's birthplace, a sightseeing bus (around £20 for 1 adult and a child for 24 hours) provided our travel solution to get to Mary Ardens Farm and Anne Hathaways cottage which are a few miles from the centre of Stratford. Abigail's favourite place and mine too was his birthplace, I think because you just feel so near to Shakespeare, after all Mary Ardens Farm was the farm of his mother and he never lived at Anne Hathaways cottage, he merely visited there, and that's why it's called Anne Hathaways cottage and not Anne Shakespeares cottage.
When you go into Shakespeare's birthplace there's a presentation of various quotes and pieces of his plays, many of them from our popular culture like The Simpsons or some of the many TV and film adaptations I've watched over the years, I have a great love of Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing being my favourite play and a good oration of "Shall I compare thee to a summers day?" (Sonnet 18) will have me in tears, it's just the most beautiful soul wrenching sonnet about love and existence and everything else, if you want to win my heart just read that aloud to me or give me a present with it printed on something, not a penny though, I actually had the sonnet printed on a squashed penny so that I could carry it with me always, I am an old romantic without hope of a cure.
Everywhere you go in Stratford is like a postcard from the past, quaint buildings from the 15th and 16th centuries line the shopping streets and there's history at every corner, we visited the church Shakespeare is buried in, sadly I can confirm he is actually dead at present but at least his final resting place is next to his life, his love, his other half.
Whilst we were in Stratford we thought it only right that we should see a play, although the RSC had a play on offer which was just a little too serious for holidays so we skipped across to the attic fringe theatre to see a magical performance of the Wind in the Willows loved by children and adults everywhere. A quirky, happy, bouncy performance by a young cast of no doubt future stars, Abigail said just for a while she was returned to a state of childlike wonder and even I who never stops thinking found myself transported to a magical world, the riverbank, the land of Ratty and Mole and Toad, just for a while.
These adventures I've had with my daughters this summer have been the most worthwhile, wonderful mini breaks, they've cemented the reasons I adore spending time with my daughters, their quick wit and often hilarious impressions of me have kept me rolling in the aisles, Abigail wants to start her own blog or vlog called "Things my mum says" when Looby and Abigail are together, they are quite the double act, I've never laughed so much as I have this very special summer.