It was a belated Christmas Present from my Dads partners family, and it was posh, and it was incredible. I caught the train up to Stratford Upon Avon on the Saturday and met everyone there. I can't even explain how lovely the little town of Stratford Upon Avon is. It's gorgeous, filled with old school built-back-in-the-day buildings, bulging out at the seams. There are all the high street stores you'd expect, as well so many amazing little boutique places. A Sweet Store, complete with Wonka Bars? Me and my cousin Morf brought a ridiculous amount of sugar, and then we sat in the sun on deck chairs by the river and ate them. So good. We also hit up the MAD (Mechanical, Arts and Design) Museum, which was BRILLIANT. I had loads of fun, and there were heaps of things to touch and play with. Delightful, honestly. We also visited the Tudor Museum, which the lady described as 'atmospheric', but was actually creepy and gross. It wigged me out, so pass on that one if you're out that way.
So, SUA is where Shakespeare was born, lived and died. His presence pretty much dominates the town. It's a very sweet little town. Last time I was there I wandered around all the touristy places, but this time it was more about comfort. We had dinner at The Arden, and woah buddy, the food was exquisite. Delicious, perfectly presented, very very posh. Adored it. It's also conveniently across the road from The Royal Shakespeare Company. A Theatre house that is phenomenal in the world of Shakespeare. We saw the Tempest, and oh oh oh it was amazing. We had great seats (although, they were a little uncomfortable as they were raised, so for part of Act II I stood), and I think it was one of the best theatre productions I'd been to. The actors were beyond amazing. I'd read no more than the synopsis in passing, but I was so drawn that it didn't matter that I didn't "know" the Tempest. Loved it, absolutely loved it. From Ariel, and his singing and mischief done in the hope of freedom, to Tinculo and Stephano, the two drunks and all that happened in between.
I also really liked that the RSC had all sorts of fun support acts, like the Tempest Tricycle. 'Tincolo' and rides around the theatre on this outrageous bike, looking for Prospero. Really it's the start of a treasure hunt for kids, but I enjoyed seeing elements of the show outside the theatre. I thought it was fun.
We hit up the Rooftop Restaurant the next day for lunch, which is above the theatre. Honestly, I was spoilt for amazing food and wine. Loads of delicious British fare (though the wine was French), and I had difficulty with my menu selection. It was all that good. I also especially liked trying their English deserts (Pond Pudding, which is a syrupy lemon pudding made of pastry, and Eve's Pudding, very traditional mix of apple + Victoria Sponge with custard). So very very tasty. Enjoyed myself immensely.
The rest of the afternoon was spent in the sun, it was such a glorious day. Blue skies and sun! Morf and I went rowing down the River Avon, in a dinky little wooden dinghy. That was a fun mix of avoiding passenger barges and figuring out how to row in a straight line. Took me a bit to figure it out. People along the side were amused to see a girl rowing with the boy sittin quite happily passenger side. After I rowed, I think I started a trend because there were loads more girls rowing boys on the river after we got half way down. There are many gorgeous houses with little riverside piers, and there was a marathon happening. I started cheering from the river, especially when I saw that someone had stopped. I know that cheering always helps me run, so I out and yelled, and got a few thank you waves back. I quite enjoyed it, actually. Being on the water was quite fun.
There was also a brass band playing the rotunda, which was brilliant. We must have stood there entranced for a good while, listening and enjoying the music and the sun. It really was quite picturesque. So good, honestly.
It was just an incredibly pleasant weekend. I felt spoilt, really. Amazing food, delightful company, a great show and people willing to let me try all of things I wanted to do (like rowing old school style down a river). Fantastic.
Stratford-Upon-Avon. One of those places that I'll probably forever have a soft spot for.
The price breakdown: The place that sold Wonka Bars was Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe at 39 High St. Wonka Bars were about £3, but if you were like us you'll easily spend well more than that. It was £2 to hire a deck chair by the river, but you can come and go once you've paid. Sit in a deck chair, and the man to pay will come to you. Much easier than trying to find him. It was £10 to hire a row boat for two for an hour. We rocked up river side just down from the RSC theatre, talked to the lady and were good to go. for the Tempest at a 7pm Saturday show, circle seats (one of the higher chairs in the back row) were £32 each. Book with the RSC well in advance, they will sell out.
Eat at the Rooftop if you can, mains are around the very reasonable £13-£17 mark. The Arden was bit more expensive, with mains around the £20-£25 mark. I can recommend the chicken, or the pollock. Also, best butter + homemade breads I've ever eaten in my life.
And last but not least, it was a £25 return train ticket from Marylebone in London with Chiltern Railways. It's about an hour forty five to two hours. A pretty easy commute, with pretty amazing views.