For our first wedding anniversary we decided to return to Stratford-upon-Avon for another week's holiday. We went there on honeymoon, but only got 5 nights away due to difficulties getting time off work, so didn't get to half the places we intended to. We booked to stay in the same flat this year as we'd liked it so much.
We travelled down on the Saturday and found a lovely independent bookshop in Thame on the way, called the Book House. It has two puffins sat outside its front door, one called the Fat Puffin, one called Muffin! I would love to live near a shop like this - it had a great range of books, including an enormous children's section and a little garden you could sit in too. I bought a copy of the Morville Hours by Katherine Swift too, a book I've been meaning to read for ages.
On Sunday I went to church at Holy Trinity, Stratford, where Shakespeare is buried. It was fun going somewhere different to my usual church - at this one they sang the hymns twice as fast as at home!
Then we went to The Lunt Roman fort, just outside Coventry. c. 2000 years ago this was the frontier of the Roman empire (slightly hard to imagine now, with the traffic noise from the A46!). But it's a fun sight, lacking all the usual tourist amenities (no overpriced tourist tat on sale, no extortionate admission fee but there are loos and a few picnic benches). Bits of a mock Roman fort have been built on some parts of the archaeological dig, so you can climb on the ramparts and pretend to be a Roman legionary, and go in the gyrus (a horse training ring, this is the only known example in Britain).
And on to Coombe Abbey country park, once the site of a monastery until the Reformation in the 16th century, then a country house, with grounds designed by Capability Brown in the 18th century, the park now belongs to Coventry City Council, although the house itself has been sold off and turned into a hotel. And it's really lovely. Although the part around the car parks and visitor centre are quite crowded, it's easy to get away from those into peaceful woodland. You can walk part way round the lake, and visit a bird hide (parts of the site are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and there are lots of herons nesting). There are formal gardens and a deer park to explore (but we only saw some sheep). There is also the pleasant and reasonably priced herons café on site, where we had lunch, and later a cup of tea.
On Monday, we did some shopping in Stratford town centre, then went for a walk along the River Avon, up one way, crossed over, then walked back along the other bank, stopped to watch some barges go through a lock on the way. One barge was called "Cheeky Monkey" and had monkeys in the window...
Tuesday we headed over to visit Charlecote Park, a National Trust property not far from Stratford. It dates from the 12th century, although most of it is mock Tudor (actually 19th century) in appearance. The rooms are huge and there is a restaurant in what was the Orangery, as well as a garden centre (at which I may have indulged).
We then drove on into Warwick, where we had a cup of tea conveniently close to Warwick Wools and I bought some Sirdar Simply Recycled DK to make one of the patterns from the summer Interweave Knits. We also visited Warwick Books, where I picked up an Alan Titchmarsh gardening book. We also had a look in Warwick Museum - which was rather good. Small and free, but well thought out with displays aimed at all age groups. If you're in the area it's well worth a look. I took a picture of a plesiosaur, which died out about 65 million years ago, as it reminded me of reading Remarkable Creatures for reading group last month.
Then it was back to the holiday flat ready for an outing to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre to see the Merchant of Venice. Unfortunately the OH had done his back in that morning so I ended up having to go on my own. And WHAT a disappointment. Bad signage meant I couldn't find the entrance I was supposed to use, then I was sold a programme for a different play (despite showing the seller my ticket), by the time I'd sorted that out and found the entrance the play had started and they'd given my seat(s) to someone else and I got shoved behind a pillar! Then it turned out to be the biggest load of complete rubbish I think I've ever seen at the theatre - involving an Elvis impersonator, Batman, Robin and a blue teddy bear cavorting round the stage. I left during the interval...
To be continued....