Bill Shakespeare and his wife and mother are now like family to me. I’ve wandered the empty space that was once his family home – not so empty since it’s filled with extensive gardens, sculptures, activity centres, but I actually stood on the spot he did much of his writing.
I’ve felt the sun beating down on my head as I’ve strolled his town, many of the buildings exactly the same.
I’ve mopped perspiration from my brow as I’ve strolled the market where I purchased a clever coin pendant with a ship cut out of its face.
I’ve sought out shade wherever I could find it: the huge oak (?) tree in the green that many sat beneath licking ice cream, a small tree in the Garden Cafe where I had Earl Grey tea and scone and cream, the overhanging lintels of the Tudor homes. In desperation I tried unsuccessfully once but later succeeded in slipping in to a canal cruiseboat, and just the sight of brown water sliding by was cooling. Enjoyed going through the lock particularly.
After seeing Will’s home AND his birthplace, I had circled the old town twice, my lower back was hurting and the sun was at its zenith. I made my painful progression back to my car and turning the ac to full blast headed to meet the man’s Mum: Mary Arden. Sadly, she’d passed on in Tudor times, but her family’s huge farm and outbuildings are behaving as if she left yesterday. Maids in aprons and mob caps feed chicken, weave, do dishes, and show off the Owl falcon and other birds of prey. Will would have collected chicken’s eggs for his grandparents here I’m sure.
After my second small tub of ice cream this day I drove to meet Anne Hathaway – his wife. Or her chocolate box of a thatched cottage. This rambling thatched building has been pictured on many postcards and souvenirs that I’ve seen over the years so it was wonderful to see it with my own eyes. The garden was at its very best – my favourite being the sprawling apple orchard laden with fruit. The house was cool (oh bliss) and full of interesting items: beds bequeathed to Anne and slept in by Will and her, the carving courting chair, the fabric and quills and kitchen items! I only bumped my head once – a miracle!
I went across the road to take almost the last cold drink from the cafe cabinet, and put the address of my next B&B in Apple maps. (My last in UK. I’m with friends over the coming week).
Just 15 mins out of town is Wellesbourne, and after some shifty manoeuvring I found myself upstairs in a small single room in full sun. Perfectly friendly hosts but even the fan did nothing much to alleviate the pounding oven-like atmosphere as I lay on that bed trying to rest. After an hour of gentle cooking and feeling a headache coming on I took myself down the road on the last burst of energy I had to the local pub. There I had a garden to sit in and a pint of cold ale to sip. Whew! Afterwards I enjoyed the best Sunday roast I’ve had in UK.
I’ve returned to chat with my host and take my book into the garden and read until the sun went down. It’s still hot and tomorrow, in London, will be the same I understand.