I have not posted lately because the past few days have been extremely busy. Monday was my first day of class and that afternoon we toured the City of London Museum. The museum was different from the others we have visited. It was very modern and had interactive stations at each display. Each section also showed an introduction video where you could learn more about the events that greatly impacted the city such as the great fire and the black plague. One thing I particularly enjoyed was the display of an original copperplate map of London, extending north to south from Shoreditch to London Bridge. These plates are the only known surviving sections of a much larger picture map. Although the maps cannot be dated precisely, they are believed to be circa 1559 and represent a portion of the earliest known map of London.
The next morning, we left London at 8 a.m. for Stratford Upon Avon. The whole trip to Stratford was dedicated to all things Shakespeare. Tuesday was spent by seeing back-to-back plays at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre by the Royal Shakespeare Company – go figure. The RSC has long been recognized as the world's leading classical theatre company and its annual repertoire of productions features plays by Shakespeare, his contemporaries, other classical playwrights as well as many new plays specially commissioned by the RSC. We got to see the matinee performance of “As You Like It” and the evening performance of “Julius Caesar.” Both, of course, were fantastic. “As You Like It” had the most creative set. At the beginning of the play, the stage was bare, a white floor and a white back wall. Through the course of the play it gradually transformed into the Forest of Arden.
After each performance we walked down to this little pub called the Dirty Duck. It reminded me of Sundown in some ways, but it wasn’t as dirty. In between the plays, I got to meet a charming little woman named Joyce, who comes to the river and feeds the ducks and swans every evening. Each day, she collects the discarded food from her neighbor’s trashcans and saves it so she can feed the birds. She is definitely the nicest local I have met since I have been here. I also met a mean old man who ran an original chain boat ferry. I tried, various times throughout the afternoon, to strike up a conversation with him. I even went across the river and back but he was just plain grumpy…but in a charming way nonetheless. If I lived there, I know we would be friends.
Wednesday, again, was an ALL Shakespeare day. We toured 6 different estates that were connected to Shakespeare including his birthplace, Mary Arden’s house (where his mother was raised), Anne Hathaway’s Cottage (where his wife was raised), Halls Croft (where his daughter lived) and Nash House (where his granddaughter lived). We finished the Shakespeare day with a visit to Shakespeare’s grave at Holy Trinity Church.
After the tours I took a nice long walk down by the river. It was the perfect remedy for some much overdue alone time that I desperately needed. Stratford is such a peaceful place; a place I will remember. I was sad to leave.
Stay tuned: My next post will be on our day at Oxford --and all the cool Harry Potter movie locations I saw!