Saturday, June 2, 2012

Stratford: Shakespeare Capital.

I spent this past Tuesday-Thursday in Stratford with the group. It was such fun to road trip on the coach, even if our driver friend was a little crazy and got us lost on occasion. Thank you, Fred. I enjoyed getting to know several of the girls even better, and brushing up on my Shakespeare history. Stratford is a very quaint little town, with very old buildings and many small shops, a beautiful stream running through the place, and lots of pubs with great food. Loved it all.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012:

We boarded the coach around 7am. Good ol' Fred was supposed to take us to Stratford by way of the Cotswolds, but he took the wrong highway so it didn't work out so well. That's ok, we ended up seeing the Cotswolds on the way home. When we arrived in Stratford, we were dropped off in small groups at several different B&Bs--the cutest little B&Bs I've ever seen. Mine was decked out with British flags in front, and I had a great view of Stratford from my bedroom window. Oh, and a dreamy bed. (Once again, no pun intended.) After we got settled, we headed to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre for a private tour of the place. We learned about all the behind the scenes work and the bells and whistles of both the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Swan Theatre, both of which were amazing. We explored the town a little after the tour; I shared a ham baguette with Taylor at the Baguette Barge, rowed boats down the stream with Hillary, Tay, and Caroline, and walked around several of the little shops. We met up with everyone for dinner at the Windmill Inn pub, which was my first ever pub experience. It was fun, but I'll take my Cafe Rio over pub food any day. :) In the evening, we saw an interesting production of Julius Caesar at the RST. It was an all African-American cast, and had some cool ideas, but for the most part it was slow-moving and a little boring. I think I'm getting more and more picky when it comes to critiquing shows, and I was picky to begin with. Uh-oh. Time to lower the expectations, especially now that I'm going home to community and university theatre again!

The gang!

Our cute little B&B.

Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

The Baguette Barge!

Let's just say the rowing took a minute for us to figure out.

Future roommates!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012:

The day began with an authentic English Breakfast, the must-try that everyone in the country talks about. It was an interesting combination, but really good! Baked beans, bacon (which is really just ham here), sausage, and tomatoes. I didn't touch the last two things, but what I ate was great. It was the first hot breakfast I'd eaten since I left home, and it made me really excited for Gregg's specialty pumpkin pancakes. Hope you're getting your ingredients ready, Dad!

My dear friend, Kyla Threlfall.
The rest of the day consisted of Shakespeare sites--lots and lots of Shakespeare sites. We went to the house of Mary Arden (Shakespeare's mother), Anne Hathaway's cottage (she was his wife; he got her pregnant and they had a shotgun wedding when he was only eighteen), Shakespeare's birthplace, his grave in the Holy Trinity Church, his "home", the home of Thomas Nash (his grandson-in-law), and the home of Susannah Hall (his oldest daughter). What a day, eh? They were interesting places. It was just funny because almost everything about Shakespeare is ambiguous and uncertain, so we'd hear things like "this was the ring that Shakespeare may have worn" or "Shakespeare may or may not have sat on this chair..." which made it a little less exciting knowing that it was mostly fake. But, of course, still very fun.

Mary's Farm

Falcon Show!

Anne Hathaway's house.

Susannah's home.

Holy Trinity Church.

Shakespeare's grave.

Hadley bo Badley.

Royal Shakespeare Theatre (again). 
For dinner, we hit up the Old Thatch Tavern pub, where I ordered an awesome chicken burger. And a very nice waiter man delivered it. After walking around a little more, then chatting in the park near the theatre for a bit, we attended Richard III in the Swan Theatre. If you've ever read or seen the play, it's extremely dark and tragic and gruesome. However, this particular rendition was a bit like a slapstick comedy, and I LOVED it. Richard had me laughing during the whole thing, and he's supposed to be the nasty murderer. Funny story about him, actually.... Phil (my program director) told me that when I fell asleep for a minute during the second act (oopsies... I was trying SO hard not to!), Richard was standing right by me waiting to walk onstage and glared at me for several seconds because I was snoozing, then looked at Andrea who was sitting next to me with a face that said "why on earth did you let her fall asleep!?" Having been in shows, I felt super bad about that, but it was really funny. Even funnier, Andrea completely fell in love with the actor during those two seconds of eye contact, and woke me up freaking out that her heart had jumped out of her chest. Oh man.... it was just one of those nights. After the play, about ten of us girls walked the streets of Stratford laughing our heads off about the silliest things, no doubt being mocked by everyone who passed us. Yes, we are the crazy Americans, thank you.

Thursday, 1 June 2012:

After another great breakfast, we boarded the coach to start the journey home. We went by way of the Cotswolds this time. The Cotswolds are a huge range of the greenest hills I've ever seen. It's an area of England that was untouched by the Industrial Revolution, so it's all very old-fashioned and natural. We drove to the tallest hill, where we found a random tower and a gorgeous view outlooking the area. We were only able to stay for a few minutes, but I think most of us would agree that it was our favorite part of the trip!

Fighting on a cliff... kind of. 

Next stop, Oxford University. For about two hours, we explored the unique campus of Oxford. For time's sake, we only stopped at Christ Church college and admired the pretty cathedral inside. That entire university is amazing. I'd love to go back someday and visit several other colleges. If I was a genius, I'd choose to be educated there.

Remember the Harry Potter scene where Ron "eats slugs?" Yes, that was here.

When we got back to the flat in London, I wrote my paper on Julius Caesar and relaxed for the remainder of the evening. Stratford was a great little getaway, but every time I leave for even a day trip, I love coming home to this little flat. Yes, the same one that I was so skeptical of at first. I love it now, because it really has become home. It's crazy to think that I'll be leaving in a week, and that this whole experience will be in the past. I'm sure I'll think of London often when I get back to Utah. I never knew that such a short amount of time would become such a big part of me.

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