BY ANUBHUTI RANA
Quaint, quiet, peaceful, serene, idyllic…these adjectives, at the cost of sounding repetitively synonymous – or –synonymously repetitive (ha!), do describe Stratford at first glance. Only. Dig deeper and you’ll discover literary history. Not in the making, rather, already made. And, teashops!
Needless to say, my first stop was at the Swan Theatre for a performance by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). A memorable evening was spent watching the performance of The Two Noble Kinsmen, a tragicomedy attributed to John Fletcher and William Shakespeare. For a first timer at such an outing, every single detail of the experience, in keeping with the theatrical setting, appeared to be larger than life. Right from the packed and rapt audience to the cute souvenir shop. To get right down into the mood, this was followed immediately by the devouring of a sinful Affogato at Carluccio’s – a popular restaurant serving Italian cuisine. The day ended over some quiet contemplation of the evening around the cosy fireplace at my abode during the stay, The Shakespeare Hotel. The understated old world charm of the hotel added so much more to the trip.
Right, one normally hears of people doing pub-hopping and the like. I decided instead to experience tea-room hopping. Turned out to be my wisest move ever! Move over regular cafes, England’s – or rather – Stratford’s – tea-shops are here to stay. At least in my memories for now. I mean, really, one would have stopped off first to visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace, The Shakespeare Centre, his wife Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, in that particular order. Yet here I was floating from one tea room to the other. Mid-morning tea and scones followed by a lunch of scrambled eggs on toast, downed with some delicious cappuccinos, in the plural please. The tea rooms of Stratford are not just any cafes. Each one of them is unique in its theme and interiors. Though one thing remains common: the cozy and welcoming environment. The images will provide a better feel and description where words may not.
One does need to work up any appetite to eat so much, or to justify it in the very least. The street shops in the bye-lanes and some hidden nooks and crannies provided me a little exercise in between meals. I meandered around for hours on end in these lanes, with some shopping thrown in. The beautiful gift shops were way too inviting to be content with only browsing. Come to the end of the market street and one can walk along the Avon river or sit on the benches in the sun and watch the ducks in the water. Despite being a cold autumn day, the sun was shining down making everyone smile. How does one end such a perfect day? By enjoying a meal in one of the many delightful restaurants dotted all along the main street.
Let’s say cheers to Stratford-upon-Avon with a glass of red, shall we!