Leamington Spa - Shakespeare country

Trip Start Aug 20, 2011
Trip End Sep 27, 2011

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What I did
Visited Warwick Castle & Stratford upon Avon

Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Sunday, September 4, 2011

We drove from Devizes to Warwick via lots of small villages and late morning arrived at Warwick Castle which is a huge complex surrounded by the ancient castle ramparts and moat as well as having the state rooms of Henry VIII, the dungeons and the towers on display for everyone to see there were many other activities from the time being demonstrated. These included Jousting, Falconry, Archery and the huge catapult called a trebuchet. We sat on the grass and watched a half hour jousting show which was quite entertaining and light-hearted fun and then all gathered in the central courtyard to have lunch. We climbed to the top of the main tower which gave us a great view over the inner castle but gave our legs a thorough workout with the never ending spiral stone stairway.

After a few hours we were ready to move on so back on board the bus we drove the short distance to Stratford upon Avon the birthplace of William Shakespeare. The crowds were huge and it took us quite some time to find somewhere to park the bus. We walked the pedestrian area for some time and took the touristy photos of the house where Shakespeare was born and all the other Tudor style buildings from the 1500's. I bought a Bobby’s police helmet and wore it through the streets much to the amusement of the others. A relaxing coffee watching the passing parade revived us we went in search of Anne Hathaway’s cottage some three miles from town.

What a beautiful cottage, begun in medieval times by the Grandparents of Anne Hathaway and it stayed in the family for eleven generations right up to 1911. Anne lived here until her marriage to Shakespeare, he was 18 and she was 26 and pregnant and so the marriage was rushed.

A guide gave us a detailed description of the house and the family’s early life there and we explored the tiny rooms with their low beams, crooked floors and well preserved features. The thatched roof was particularly impressive with its decorative capping on the apex. The garden was thick with cottage plants, vegetables and there was an accompanying orchard of fruit trees of every kind imaginable.

On to Leamington Spa on the outskirts of Warwick and to our accommodation for the next two nights, the Best Western Falstaff Hotel. There happened to be a wedding reception in progress with a very interesting crowd, including the tattooed bride and so parking was limited to the back street. We got settled in and around 7:30 all went to the centre of Leamington to find an eatery. The Cafe Rouge was our choice and it turned out to be a good one. Geoff had French onion soup and chicken Caesar salad and I had deep fried camembert with redcurrant and cranberry sauce with salad and a small chicken Caesar salad too.

Finally back by 9:30 and the wedding still in full swing but with bad karaoke, we retreated to our room for the night, it had been a long day. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite over, just after 1am we were jolted out of our skins by the loudest fire alarm we have ever heard and quickly evacuated with everyone else. The wedding party was still in full swing but looking worse for wear and as we all loitered around trying to make sense of it all in our semi conscious state, the head receptionist was telling the staff by phone from her home how to turn the alarm off! It did go off but then started up again! We found out next morning that one of the party goers had walked past the emergency fire alarm and punched through the glass...just for fun!

Sunday saw us at Royal Leamington Spa Bowls Club, the Royal in their name granted by Queen Victoria, a regular visitor to the spa town. They gave us a lovely Ploughman's lunch and then beat us convincingly.
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