Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire, England

I had been told not to bother going to visit Stratford-on-Avon but as it is only eight miles or so from Alcester were we were staying and I’ve always been keen on Shakespeare, we definitely didn’t want to miss it out, even if it was a tourist hell.

Actually it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Yes there were legions of schoolkids from all over the world it seemed but it wasn’t as tacky as I thought it would be. We didn’t do the touristy things though so – no Anne Hathaway’s cottage for us. Shakespeare’s birthplace is more or less in the centre of the town though and we were walking past it when Jack noticed the sign – so here it is.

Strangely it doesn’t seem to be open to the public, maybe the wear and tear on it would be just too much.

Shakespeare's birthplace

This photo is of a fairly modern theatre which is more or less slap bang next to Shakespeare’s birthplace, definitely incongruous looking but you often get that in Britain and I don’t suppose places really should be preserved in aspic, modern life goes on. Anyway, I really like this motif which is decorating the front of the theatre.

modern  motif

This terrace of houses is right opposite The Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre and I wanted a photo of them just because of the amazing tree like climbing plant which is spread across them. It looks hundreds of years old, I wonder what it is.

Tree on house

It was still chucking it down with rain on and off but we were determined to have a good walk along by the river. I love bridges, old and new.

river & swans

I also love the old wooden building on the right of this photo. It must originally have been some sort of boating pavillion I think, in Edwardian times, very stylish. Now it’s a Thai restaurant!

bridge at Stratford

I have a penchant for fountains, old and new so I had to snap this one which is close to the river and theatre. Swans are a popular theme.

swan sculpture

A modern bandstand. I’m keen on bandstands although I prefer the old Edwardian ones and I once intended to go about photographing them in public parks, before they all got pulled down, but I never did get around to it. This one is quite stylish despite being modern.

bandstand

These scullers went past us at an incredible pace, I’m quite surprised that it came out at all. I hope they never fall in the river because the Avon is fairly manky. For some reason English rivers seem to be very polluted compared with Scottish rivers. I think the English water authorities must be putting a lot of unmentionable stuff into them. It’s a real shame. As you can see the area around the river is well planted with weeping willow trees, they grow so well in damp areas and I think they’re favourites with just about everyone.

scullers

So that’s Stratford. The town itself is fairly big and has the usual chains of shops that you see everywhere but I’m really not interested in shopping nowadays as I’m trying to de-clutter, not accumulate more stuff. Stratford was nicer than I thought it would be.

It was when I was looking at Shakespeare’s birthplace that I remembered that Anne Hathaway had been 30 years old when she married the 18 year old William – a shotgun wedding of course. It would be described as child abuse by quite a lot of people nowadays and must have caused a lot of gossip in Stratford at the time. In those days a 30 year old unmarried woman was very much an old maid and ‘on the shelf’. I’m just mentioning this because Lisa May over at TBR 313 was writing about couples who had large age gaps between them and I had forgotten about William and Anne. Of course that marriage wasn’t exactly a successful one.