Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Shakespeare's Country

"Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none:" 
 William Shakespeare

After a full morning visiting Blenheim Palace our next stop was Stratford-upon-Avon...Shakespeare's birthplace.  We were fortunate that our hotel was within walking distance of the center of Stratford so that we could return on our own time.  Our bus dropped us off near the childhood home of Shakespeare.  Ray was not feeling well.  I suggested he take the bus back to the hotel and rest, but he was determined to carry on.

The first thing I heard after leaving the bus was a man shouting quotes from Shakespeare.  He was speaking from an upstairs window of Shakespeare's home. 

We entered the house and began our tour watching a woman making gloves.  William Shakespeare's father had been a glove maker and part of the house was used for his shop.  We wove through a few rooms...one had a window with signatures that visitors had signed. If you look closely you might recognize some names.  After the windows were crowded with many so signatures someone decided to provide a book for people to sign.

I took a picture of this window pane.  Henry Irving's signature is in upper left corner, written at a slant.
This is a picture of the pane of glass with Henry Irving's signature.

 We walked past the kitchen, and then upstairs to see the bedrooms.  It was here that we learned where "getting up on the wrong side of the bed" might have come from.  The parents' bed was a trundle where a young child would sleep.  So...you must be careful not to get out of bed on the side of the trundle or you might step on your child.
Pictures of Shakespeare's Birthplace.  Upper left, looking out a window, next is a bedroom, next is woman making gloves,
upper right is actor shouting lines from Shakespeare, lower left is the house and lower left is another view of bedroom.
I wanted to get pictures of the wallpaper.

After we toured Shakespeare's birthplace we bought some cold medicine for Ray and he walked back to the hotel.  I wandered around the village, stopping at the many market booths.  I bought a pair of earrings and magnet.  I usually don't buy many souvenirs...I figure my photographs are my souvenirs...and always bring memories when viewed.  Ray always downloads (or is it uploads?) the photos to a digital picture frame so we have a continual slide show.  I think I did buy some fudge...just to get a taste of the area. :-)
On the left is an actor reciting lines from Shakespeare.  On the right is the patio area outside Shakespeare's childhood home.
On the left is the market area filled with street vendors.  On the right is the river.
Street  Performer

 Ray sent a text telling me that he made it back to the hotel but had gone down the wrong road.  He hoped I did not make the same mistake.  It was such a pretty day, I strolled by the river.  The ducks and geese were hoping for some treats...but I was stingy with my fudge and told them I was sorry.  Of course, they just pestered some of the other tourists who had better treats to share.  It was getting close to dinner time, so I headed back, taking Ray's advice and making no wrong turns.  He had been able to take a short nap and hoped dinner would help him feel better.  We had a long drive in the morning....heading to the English Lake District.

Anne Hathaway's House (Shakespeare's wife)

"Good night, good night!
 Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night
Till it be morrow."
William Shakespeare
Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/williamsha155061.html#xdM6REkDcowhy4Qt.99

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Blenheim Palace: Birthplace of Winston Churchill

Blenheim Palace Gardens
From Sudeley Castle we traveled to Stratford on the Avon River.  It was close to dinner time, so after we got settled in our hotel, we had dinner and then relaxed the rest of the evening.  We were going to Blenheim Palace in the morning and then spending the afternoon and evening visiting Stratford.  It was going to be another busy day.

Our hotel, Alveston Manor, was one of my favorite.  It felt almost like stepping back in time.  We stayed in the old Tudor section with beamed ceilings and multi-paned windows.  The first performance of  "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is rumored to have been performed near an ancient cedar tree on the lawn of the hotel.  Ray was not feeling well so was glad to be able to get to bed early.

Alveston Manor, Stratford

I must admit that I was not prepared for our visit to Blenheim Palace.  I knew that this was Winston Churchill's childhood home, but that was about it.  Ray was not feeling well at all and I thought he might need to spend the morning resting instead of going to Blenheim Palace.  What was I thinking?  He is such a history buff, he was not about to miss this.   Any illness that Ray had seemed to disappear as he bopped from place to place in the gardens taking pictures.  At places this large, we often go our separate ways so that we can get our own pictures. 
Here is a short slide show of the inside of Blenheim Palace.


Winston Churchill's Birth Room: (Sorry the pictures are poor. I did not have my camera set right.)
I happened to see a little boy running to keep up with his parents.  He made me think about how Winston Churchill might have run  through the halls.  When I saw Ray's pictures, I found that he had taken a picture of the same little boy.  Ray had had a similar thought.  

Winston Churchill, ca. 1880. Copyprint. Broadwater Collection,
Churchill archives Centre, Cambridge, U.K. (12.1). On right is the
little boy that reminded us of Winston Churchill.

We were unable to visit the top floor of the palace because we wanted to see the gardens.  I have some videos of the gardens and I seem to like the words 'huge, beautiful and amazing'.  Of course, the pictures, like those taken at a place like The Grand Canyon, do not do convey the beauty and size of these gardens.  When visiting Chartwell, the home where Churchill lived as an adult, we were told that his wife was concerned about the cost of renovating it.  After seeing Blenheim Palace, I wonder why she thought that he was being too extravagant.This video is of the front of the palace.

This video is a really short one of a clock chiming.  We happened to pass this clock right when it began to chime.  I was only able to record part of it.

Panorama of the Formal Gardens

Ray took a picture of me sitting on a bench looking at the pool and fountain.  I did not know he had done that.
Then I see him on the other side of the pool as I look through the arch of the fountain.
The next two videos are of the Formal Gardens.
 We wished we could have stayed at Blenheim Palace for the whole day.  We were glad that we arrived  early in the morning because only a few people were there.  We were able to see a lot and take pictures that did not include hordes of tourists.  Ray's energy was ebbing.  We still had lunch and then the afternoon in Stratford on our schedule.  We feared that Ray had caught the cold that a few of our fellow travelers had...and hoped that a lunch of soup and sandwich would help him feel better.

Ray and I in the Formal Gardens at Blenheim Palace
Anyone visiting England must take time to see Blenheim Palace.  We hope to get back there on our next trip.  Now...off to Shakespeare country!

Sudeley Castle

Sudeley Castle
It has been a long time since I wrote a post about our Elegance of Great Britain trip.  I want to write about all of the places we visited, but feel like I am running out of time. We will be headed to Alaska, New Mexico, and other parts of Europe in June and July.  I need to finish writing about this trip so that I have time write about the others...and this time I WON'T get behind!  The reason I got behind was because I took part in the March Slice of Life Challenge where I wrote a post a day on my blog  Family Trove.  So most of the following posts will be more of an outline of our travels in the UK.

After my adventures in Avebury, dodging the sheep manure and taking part in the fracking protest, we drove through the Cotswold hills to Sudeley Castle.  I have always had an interest in British Royalty...and this castle is packed with history.  It was the home and burial place of Katherine Parr (the sixth and last wife of Henry VIII...she outlived him).  This is the only private castle in England to have a queen buried within its grounds.  The gardens were magnificent...it seems that everyplace we visit has amazing gardens.  Here are some pictures of Sudeley Castle.

Here aresome of the gardens at Sudeley Castle.  I think it looks like I am walking through two big gumdrops.

This is the chapel where Katherine Parr is buried
Here are a couple of videos of gardens at Sudeley Castle. 
Walking through the Hedges
This sculpture is called Brontosaurus, by Alexander Calder.  It reminded us of a sculpture in front of the Toledo Museum of Art.  Through the wonders of  Google and an iPhone, we found that it was the same man.  The sculpture in front of the museum is called Stegosaurus. 
Brontosaurus by Alexander Calder

Stegosaurus, by Alexander Calder:
 picture by Brooklynn, Home Sweet Home on Pinterest 
Not only is this castle full of British Royal history, it was also discovered that two Roman villas were here two centuries ago.  Here is information on that, plus a picture of the mosaic that was restored.
We left Sudeley Castle feeling that we could have spent the whole day exploring, but knew the bus awaited and we were NOT going to be late.  Our next stop is Stratford, the birthplace of William Shakespeare.