Thursday, 26 January 2012


" Kya likh rahe ho?" Shyam asked a sleepy question. " Mujhse pada nahi jata."  
As he uttered this, I knew I'd do it for him! Aah, the bliss of making people do what they don't like! I owe this to Shyam. For quite some years now he has been asking me the dreaded, "Are you forty yet?" The chap & his nagging ways! 

Shyam is one of the most affectionate people in my life. The undiluted fondness he extends to me & my family humbles me. He lets me bully him & get away with it. He is family to me in this distant land. He was, also in India.That does not give him the right to make me feel old. So I decide to write this for Shyam. And make him read it. " Mujhse pada nahi jata" eh? :D

When I finally went to pay homage to the Bard, one of my life's purposes was fulfilled. Having studied English Literature & then taught it for many years , this was nothing short of a pilgrimage. My visit to my Mecca, Stratford-upon-Avon. The birthplace of William Shakespeare.

Who else but P made it possible!Of course with due guidance from Above!If that hadn't happened, we might have reached another Stratford of London! And not Stratford-upon-Avon!  But that's another story.
The train from London Marylebone takes four hours to reach Stratford-upon-Avon. 

The journey is peaceful; there is a song in the heart & some more in the iPod. The train chugs towards our destination while we admire the vast stretches of perfectly manicured greenland. This has always amazed me. How beautifully Nature is preserved here. I am still to see any wasteland in London or whatever countryside I have seen so far. Everything is so immaculate that you almost don't notice the deathly silence or the lack of warmth. Welcome to a cold country with cold food & cold people had been our welcome note. You forget all that as the beauty around enamours you, leaves you with a serenity that money can't buy. 

If you are a literature lover or a globetrotter or both, this is the first site you want to start from After the prelims, you want to find a decent accommodation so you go here . We found our cosy comfort in Royalyn @ £60 per night. Ahmad is an exceptionally warm host; the rooms are warm; the food fresh & the locale strategic.

Hairdryer & TV in all rooms
Please book before travel
Our morning tea
Satin sheets :)
English Breakfast - Veg

We stayed there for 2 days & 2 nights which should be an ideal time considering the size of Stratford. All attractions are within walking distance, must to the respite of the harried traveller. Any ticket that you buy helps you see five points of interest & is valid for a year. Enthusiasts can make multiple visits over the next 365 days. With so many new places to see, I see the futility of the offer. While we were initially excited about this, we have never revisited a place! Any holiday that comes by invariably takes us to a different destination. This offer should be useful though if you have visitors; you can save on your own ticket then.

We walked from our B&B to Nash's House, New Place, Shakespeare's home from 1597 until his death in 1616, It was pulled down in the eighteenth century but its foundations and grounds can be seen, including a beautiful Elizabethan-style garden, created eighty years ago.
The site is approached through Nash's House adjoining, which contains exceptional furnishings of Shakespeare's period. 
Nash' House
The New Place garden

 The Dig For Shakespeare project lets people soak in history as you participate in the excavation in the New Place site. Find out before travel if the project is still on, it can't possibly go on for ever!

The walk along the Avon takes you past boats named after Shakespeare's heroines. We took the Miranda across the Avon for 50p. The Stratford Food Festival was on the other bank! Gastronomical delights galore!

The boats named after his leading ladies

The famous Royal Shakespeare Company stages all his plays the whole year round. You can get a standing ticket for a fiver, if you can stand for over 2 hours! Pre booking is the wiser option , tickets vary depending on the play.

Royal Shakespeare Company
The world's a stage

The Gift Shop @ RSC
Don't be too particular about the order of your visits. We reached Shakespeare's birthplace after we had seen two other places. Just soak in the experience; breathe Romanticism; let the moments freeze in time. Who cares about chronology in a place like this!

William's birthplace

Things come to those who wait, they say! We had the exotic French Market experience, it being a weekend. The light August drizzle did nothing to mar the flavour of cheese & pastries here! Travel tip: Always carry your umbrella in UK no matter what month you are travelling in!
Weekends give you this experience
The Clock Tower stands majestic on the city centre & does what it's meant to do! Shakespeare's jester mocks the world in the town square. It's like being transported back in time. Except that there was no Morrison's in 1564! Or McDonald's!

Jester in the town square

Stratford upon Avon's Clock Tower

The five houses, & the other attractions, related to Shakespeare are managed by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. These include Hall's Croft (the one-time home of Shakespeare's daughter, Susanna, and her husband Dr John Hall) and Nash' House, which stands alongside the site of another property, New Placee, owned by Shakespeare himself, wherein he died. Near to the town are Anne Hathaway's Cottage at Shottery, the home of Shakespeare's wife's family , and Mary Arden's House (Palmer's Farm), the family home of his mother. The Trust sure does a commendable job! The upkeep is what keeps it an old world. 

William's wife, Anne Hathaway's family home

Shakespeare's daughter & son-in-law's house

Steeped in history

The Holy Trinity Church
Shakespeare's funerary

My pilgrimage album in Fb gathered rave reviews.  For a few days afterwards, I was almost speaking the Thou language. And as I regaled Shyam with my Stratford stories, he gave me a bemused, " Have you seen Anonymous? Watch it! All your Shakespeare fascination will vanish!" The pest!

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