As Cornwall is such a long drive from where we live, we decided to break up the journey and visit a few places along the way in the first few days. We started in Stratford Upon Avon, on to Bath, and then Glastonbury and Street as our final destination. 3 days, 3 nights. Here we go.
First up Stratford Upon Avon. I had been before, on a very quick overnighter to see David Tennant in Hamlet at the RSC, as you do. I remember that it seemed to be a lovely place so was very much looking forward to exploring it more. We headed straight for the river and strolled along the banks, admiring the weeping willow trees and canal boats, eating lovely ice cream along the way.
When it started to rain we ducked into the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company in case you didn't know) and were lucky to be able to join a behind the scenes tour. (I'd recommend booking this in advance to ensure you do get a place as I think we lucked out being able to jump onto the last tour of the day). Every tour is different, depending on what is happening in the theatre on the day, but we were very fortunate to see the very quick changeover from Othello (the matinee performance) to Merchant of Venice (the evening performance, with just 1.5 hours for the change over). As people in a theatre group it was fascinating to watch the extremely efficient crew wield giant mallets and manoeuvre mirrored flooring into place. As was seeing the control room (massive! we have a teeny tiny TV monitor backstage and cans) with its gazillion computers and other techy theatre stuff. Lots of interesting stories and tales from the tour guide and an opportunity to have a good old nose around. I would definitely recommend it and at £8.50 for well over an hour, a total bargain to boot.
The next day, based on a road sign cos that's just how we roll, we decided to visit Anne Hathaway's Cottage. I knew absolutely nothing about it at all so was utterly delighted to lay my eyes upon this:
The word charming doesn't even come close. It was simply lovely! We were actually the very first people there and so were lucky to stroll around the gardens all alone for quite a while. I think that added to the charm and delight even more. I didn't stop smiling the whole time we were there. The gardens are beautiful, and you get to see inside the cottage and go up and down a few windy staircases and duck your head under the beams. So cute! We topped the morning loveliness off with a coffee stop over the road at the café, where you have a lovely view of the cottage, and some very tasty coffee too. Highly recommended.
Onto Bath. We had planned to see both the Abbey and the Roman Baths and thoroughly enjoyed both things. Again, the Baths is well worth a visit, lots to see and excellent value for money. I would recommend getting there early, or booking ahead, as the queues get bigger and bigger throughout the day. By the time we wandered back around mid-afternoon time they were snaking right down the street!
The Abbey was beautiful inside, and I was particularly taken with the ceiling.
I'll let you into a little secret about me. I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to posh restaurants. I feel really out of place and not at all comfortable. I know it's something I need to get over, but in the meantime I prefer some good old pub grub where there are no tablecloths for me to spill my food all over and only one set of cutlery. Dave is very understanding of this quirk of mine so was all on board when I suggested getting takeout pizza and sitting in the park in the evening sunshine at the Royal Crescent. Turns out it was an absolutely rockin' idea and the pizza was one of my most favourite meals of the trip. Polished off with yet another ice cream (it's the rules that you must have one every single day of a holiday, you know!) and some evening lounging in the grass, a thoroughly enjoyable evening was had by all.
Next up: Glastonbury. Not for the festival I hasten to add, that was the week before. I went to the festival once in 2001, loved it, but that's a whole other story probably. For this one we planned to climb the Tor, and I fancied a trip to the Chalice Well Gardens. If there was an ice cream thrown in at the bottom of the Tor all the better really. It was steeper than we thought so some serious lazing around was needed at the top to catch our breath.
The Chalice Gardens were lovely. A little haven hidden from the road, where silence and meditation are encouraged, but remember you need to remain fully clothed at all times (!) We basically moved from one bench to another, enjoying the sounds of birds singing and looking at all the pretty flowers. Sadly there was no coffee to be found so we plodded back to the car and set off for our hotel for the night.
Which was located in Street. The hotel was as cute as a button as we were housed in a cottage away from the bustling pub, with a window seat (and wifi!)where I could catch up on some blogs and some quiet time.
We took a stroll along Street later that evening but it was quite unimpressive really. The main focus was this Clarks Village as that's where the shoes were made apparently. I texted Rachel to let her know we were in the home of her favourite shoes and she was suitably impressed. As for us we headed to bed ready for our next big adventure - the Cornwall days. More tomorrow...