Thursday, August 04, 2011

wet and dry in warwickshire

Woke up this morning to dribbling rain outside my window, which I hoped would have been a fleeting thing. Turns out, it wasn't. A big gray front had parked itself over London, and that usually means it's here to stay. For some reason, I love rainstorms in Utah but I hate them here. In Utah it rains in a big way, and then it's done. Here it just sort of drizzles on and off all day. And we are so busy that we are always going in and out of the rain. Today was our trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, and I wanted some good weather. But I'm not in charge of that.

We all hopped on a coach, which was big and beautiful and clean, and our bus driver was Tony, who we immediately liked. Lots of personality. Lots of jokes on the intercom. He also turned out to be an epic snorer, but more on that later. Tony was awesome.

Oxford was beautiful as it always is, but just super wet. Something about wet Oxford makes it even more beautiful, but you don't want to spend as much time looking at it. We sort of breezed through town and nominally saw the sights. Just to say we were there. I was a bad tour guide, or a good tour guide, depending on your definition. Hard to focus on the Bodlein Library when your feet are wet. So I let everyone do their own thing. Some went to the Oxford Market, some found food, and I hid out in the second story window of a Waterstone's bookstore. I read the opening pages of Brideshead Revisited, and then shifted to a parenting manual which succeeded in making me feel like the world's worst father.

At noon I met up with a pack of students at the Eagle & Child pub, where we all had a great lunch. I had my usual sausage and mash, and it was so nice to be warm and dry and fed, even though they only had Pepsi on tap. You know that feeling. Also, we played a few rounds of "Old Peter" again, and the losers were Daniel and Zoe:

By the time we got back on the bus the rain had stopped, and a little sun threatened to shine through. This boded well. By the time we hit Mary Arden's farm the rain had closed in again, which is not the best thing to walk around a working Tudor farm in. But everybody made lots of jokes and kept their spirits up, and all these positive vibes flew to heaven and stopped the rain for good. I'm convinced. We did the kids crafts (they were INSIDE) and made fun of the ladies who were so terrible on the recorders. We studied the apothecary plants. And then it was time for the falcon show, where Bonnie and Greg were flown over by a beautiful white owl. This means, apparently, that they will have six kids. Those are lucky kids.

Next up was Anne Hathaway's cottage, which also looked beautiful after all the rain. Our tour guide was the guy from last year who performed outside on Shakespeare's patio. He was a little less excited about being a tour guide than he was performing, but he did a nice job.

After dinner at the Dirty Duck we walked to the RSC to see A Midsummer Night's Dream. The RSC renovation is finally done, and the new theatre is awesome. It looks just like the Courtyard, but it doesn't feel temporary like the Courtyard always did. It's big and it's all glass and chrome outside, Elizabethan inside. I was impressed. I also liked the show! I had read that it was a really angry punk, screechy version, but I was pleasantly surprised that it was not. I loved the staging of it - lots of found space objects and colorful lighting (reminded me a lot of my Macbeth for Utah Shakespeare Fest...a lot of the same type of looks) and it was innovative in a lot of ways. The actors were, at first, a little boring. But they grew on me. Bottom was fantastic, and we loved Snug the joiner. He had a squeaky shoe that was hilarious.

After the show we made our traditional visit to Shakespeare's burial church by night. But tonight we had a lot of energy, so we did what anyone would do: played Ghosts in the Graveyard. In an actual graveyard. It was a riot. So, so scary. So dark. But fun. Robbie won the first round, but Josh did pretty well also. There's something really exciting about hiding behind tombstones from the 17th century. You know how I am about ghosts. And then we sat and told scary stories under the spires of Holy Trinity. I think Shakespeare would have loved that.