Friday, October 24, 2008

timeless melody

wowee!! i'm in stratford-upon-avon. and in just a few short hours i will be seeing david tennant and patrick stewart in hamlet!

i booked my tickets (for tonite and also for tomorrow night's perf of love's labour's lost, with DT playing berowne) soooo long ago (back in december), and today i finally held them in my hands. but don't let's get ahead of ourselves, yeah?

i flew to london heathrow out of LAX on wednesday night at 6, via virgin atlantic. i had such a horrible experience with american when the squirrel and i flew to paris, i vowed never to use that airline again. friends recommended virgin, and i must say it is definitely better. the economy seats were still small, but nowhere near as horrible as the ones on american when we went to paris. the food was pretty good, and the wine was free (although i only had two glasses). the in-seat entertainment was bitchen -- i watched two episodes of "30 rock" and the iron man movie, which was actually pretty good until the end, which was just your standard CGI battle kind of thing, and a strange sorta letdown. but robert downey jr. was good as tony stark/iron man, and the script up to the end was lively comic-book fun.

anyway. it was a bit of a haul to stratford. i didn't really sleep well on the plane. we got in about 30 minutes late, and it took a long time for the rental car shuttle to come. i managed to stay on the correct side of the road and not kill anyone, but i missed the exit on the roundabout to the M25 (fucking HATE roundabouts ... HATE) and ended up going the wrong way ... for a while before i could turn around. i was pretty tired on the drive to stratford (about 90 minutes once i got going in the right direction), but i managed to get there before dark. people were pouring in for the play that night -- a midsummer night's dream -- and i got lost again, but by chance i happened upon the proper road and found the B&B, which is called ambleside and is on grove road.

the owners, peter and ruth, are very nice, and the place is really comfy. i have a quiet, spacious room with space for all my crap. peter suggested a pub down the road -- something like the old thatched pub, i forget exact name (and no time to look it up b/c jamming this entry out before i gotta get ready). so i walked over there, and it was the picture of english pub-ness -- small bar, cozy bar room with fireplace and rough wooden tables and comfy chairs, plus a small dining room in the back. i sat at a table in the bar area and had the pie of the day -- homemade steak and ale. oh boy was it good!! but i swear it was like six pounds of food. it came with tons of steamed veggies that were delicious and not soggy. i had a tanq & tonic too.

afterward i thought about walking on down to waterside, where the courtyard theatre is, but it was really windy out, and i was pretty tired. there was a funky street carnival going on during the short walk b/w the B&B and the pub. you know -- tilt-a-whirl type rides and throw-the-ball-win-a-stuffed-tiger type thing. with loud kind of dance-music type music, ahaha. it wasn't all that hopping in terms of customers -- probs due to aforementioned wind? i don't have the squirrel's capacity for asking billions of questions ... if she were here she probs would've bombarded the nice young lads behind the bar about the whole street carnival thing, but i was too tired and busy soaking up the atmosphere.

so, i fell asleep around 10:30 last night and woke up at 8. had breakfast at 8:45 -- delish! -- then got showered and dressed and went exploring. the forecast had called for rain, but it was actually a beautiful sunny day (though cold, in the 50s). didn't wear sunscreen and worried i got burned, but we'll see.

first i walked down scholars lane to the theatre and got my tix. i looked in the little shop but decided to buy my program later. then i strolled along the avon river to trinity church, where shakespeare is buried. had to donate 1.50 pounds to see his tomb, but that's ok. my picture of the tomb isn't great, but here's what is engraved in the stone (some call it a curse; i think it might be more like a warning?):

the church had lots of lovely stained glass, and i tried to take some pix -- i think they came out better than i thought at the time. what do you think??

wandered on and down by the water, watched a boat with three boys in it struggling to turn it round (almost shouted advice but figured they would be embarrassed, so didn't). some nice willow trees, yeah?

wandered some more on the nice tarmac pathways -- behind some posher apartment buildings and homes and all. and also past shakespeare's birthplace (pictured at the top of this entry). stratford is very woody and pretty, brick homes and winding roads. picturesque.

then i hiked to anne hathaway's cottage, about a mile from my B&B, along another tarmac alleyway-type path that at one point crosses a huge green field, lovely. i also walked past a long hedge that was humming with bees. anyway, anne was shakespeare's wife, and the cottage was her family home, where, the tour guide said, he would've visited her before they got married. he was 18 and she was 26 (and preggers with their first child) when they got hitched -- wowee, they even had cougars back in willie the shake's day! he was considered a minor still, so he had to get a special license to get married. the neighbors raised the money -- 40 pounds. whoa. that's a lotta dough 400 years ago. not cheap now, even. the tour lady said, in response to someone's question, that bill "knew" anne -- i guess perhaps she meant in the biblical sense, ahaha.

the cottage didn't take long to go through: it's just 12 rooms, most of them upstairs bedrooms. small and narrow (you're not allowed to take pictures inside), but i couldn't help thinking that some L.A. hipster would love to have a funky place like that and put loads of high-tech, high-priced appointments in it. in fact, that would be cool.

one can take pix of the outside, though, and so i did. lovely, yeah?

here's the willow hut where "famous actors" read sonnets. no one was there at the time, of course.

here's an apple tree in the orchard:

i didn't walk around the grounds as much as i could've -- had to save my feet for the hike back. during which i played the clay idols on my ipod and smiled to myself and also sang out loud -- b/c who cares if people think i'm crazy? anyway, i went to the dirty duck, the famous actors' hang, and booked for dinner tonite at 5:30. like the sign says ...

then i had some tea and gazed around and wrote in my journal. i am starting to feel a little fangirl-ish squee-ness for being in the same town as two of my favorite actors. can't really bring myself to entertain the notion of going round to the stage door afterward, but ... we shall see. maybe patrick stewart needs the attention, ahaha.

anyway, i wrote this and posted the photos in like 35 minutes, so excuse the typos or whatevs, cuz no time to reread.

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