stratford upon avon (looooong; grab a cuppa)

in mum's last week here in the UK, I took a few days off work to spend with her (as mentioned last week) before she left for another two years (accurate; she will be back). a few months ago we'd planned to spend part of that last week with Rebekah's aunty in the Cotswolds, and hoped to get out to Stratford-upon-Avon while we were out that way. unfortunately, things weren't able to go to plan, and when we saw some cheap train tickets to head out there anyway, we decided to just go for the day instead. so on Tuesday, we did!

it's far away, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. from Marylebone station it is over two hours by fast train, and Marylebone is about an hour from my house. so, pretty far. but, totally worth it when you finally get into the Stratford station, take a short stroll from the station past perfectly flowery and theatre-themed town pubs, and end up standing right outside William Shakespeare's house. so... pretty cool, no? also, how gorgeous are the Tudor buildings that line the mostly-cobbled streets in this bustling little village? answer: very gorgeous.

Mum headed off for an open-top bus tour while I had a wander along the Avon (I'd done a similar tour before and the cheapskate in me didn't want to pay again), and checked out the gift shop inside the Royal Shakespeare Company building; I bought some birthday gifts for friends (loved the Team Capulet/Team Montague badges!) and also some yellow nail varnish from a charity shop in one of the back alleys. it was a terrible waste of £1 as it was thick and clumpy and would have been returned if bought from an actual shop. pretty colour though!

after that I met up with mum and we went off to explore all the things she'd just learned about on her tour. we discovered the King Edward IV school that Wills used to attend as a kid, which is still a working school to this day (there were kids waving at us through the windows!), which was right by his last house and gardens, and where he finally died in 1616. as we rocked up the gardens, we noticed there was a chap dressed up as The Bard himself (that, or Cap'n Jack; hard to tell, we just assumed) regaling a group of school kids about the life and times of the man himself, and so naturally, we stood by and listened to what he had to say. when he moved on from the school we saw him walk past the most pretty little pub, so... we bunked off following the chump in the costume, for a well-earned country pub lunch instead!

ok so maybe it was a quaint little wetherspoons-esque pub and not the luxury London lifestyle we're used to (ha), but the windmill inn offered one of the cheapest pub lunches I'd ever seen - and bloody filling too! mother and I both opted for the deli lunch option, which was basically a fancy sandwich, a side, and a drink all for six quid. let me tell you this; a pint of cider was four quid. that made my sandwich and chips two of your Great British Pounds. barrrrgain. I had the southern fried chicken while mum had the pulled pork and slaw, and we both had a fizzy cider to wash it all down with. "yummo!" as my mum always says.

our final pit stop for the day before heading off was the Holy Trinity church where Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway are both buried. the last time I went to Stratford it was the dead of winter, and the church was closed. or... something, so we missed out on seeing their graves. a bit morbid, I suppose...oh wells. the church itself is super pretty inside and out - very gothic architecture, but with these stunning stained windows all the way around. very, very pretty. outside, there was a tree. I climbed it. the end.

the one thing I will openly begrudge Stratford-upon-Avon for is the lack of frequent transport back to the City. so, when we bought our tickets online, we just grabbed the ones on offer and picked the train times that suited from the bunch we were offered. so when it came to about 3pm and we were pretty tired of walking the same square mile, and started thinking about making our way back to London and I checked the trains going back that we could use our tickets for... one every two and half hours. we'd missed on at 3:05 and the next one wasn't until 5:35...

longest. wait. everrrrrrrr. thanks be to the bard himself for the always handy costa coffee located not too far from the station, where we found ourselves camped out for the next few hours while we waited for our ride home... Stratford, you were pretty but my gosh did you take up a lot of energy!

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