Thursday, August 01, 2013

sunny day in shakespeare town

I woke up this morning to a delightful little sound: kids running up and down the stairs. Usually when you stay in B&B's they're run by little old ladies with lots of tea cozies and commemorative platters of the Queen. The Linhill B&B is run by a much younger family, and I loved hearing their noise and chatter in the morning. It made me homesick. This little guy kept checking in on me. I loved it.

I led the group to the Shakespeare birthplace and parted from them there. I've been there so many times that I wasn't sure I could listen again to that overblown multi-media presentation you have to sit through before you can actually go through the house. I knew the students would love it - it's great the first time. So I quietly excused myself and wandered the town.

I made a stop at the Falstaff Experience Museum, which claims to be housed in the oldest house in Stratford. I've never been in this place, even though I've passed it a hundred times. I thought I would give it a shot. It's really pretty funny in there. It's billed as a "Tudor experience" but it's one of those places, mostly aimed at kids, where awkward waxy mannequins come to life and tell you about the plague, horses chatter at you from the stalls, and there are rooms with Elizabethan toilets full of poop and flies. I got a kick out of it. Not sure I'd go back without a child with me, but it was still pretty fun.

I had a few hours before the matinee, so I walked down by the river Avon. It was very warm today, and there were people everywhere; along the riverbanks, boating on the river, even swimming in the river. It was a great day to be out. I walked along the river path until I found a place to eat my lunch and read my book for a bit. It was quiet and peaceful and I had a giant Twix.

Our matinee today was All's Well that Ends Well, which did not begin or end well by any stretch. I had such high hopes after Titus last night, but this one just lumbered along awkwardly. And it was hot in the theatre and the audience was at a median age of 85 and I really struggled to keep my eyes open. All's Well is a tough play anyway, so you really have to grab us and keep us focused or you'll never get us back. I tried, and they probably tried, too. But they never got me back.

We boarded the bus and drove about an hour to Oxford for dinner. We split in several directions for food, though I stayed with a group of five who wanted Cornish pasties. We ate them in the park in front of Christchurch college; about as picturesque a spot as you can find. Lots of bees, though! Bees everywhere, including all over our food. Oh well, somebody has to make those flowers.

We met up with the full group and I gave a truncated, but essential, tour of the Oxford campus. Everyone sighed under the bridge of sighs, and Ames spotted two lovebirds making-out on the campus walls. Literally, lovebirds. Not people. "ohhhhhhhhhhh!" said everyone. I love walking through the back streets of Oxford. You feel like EM Forster or JRR Tolkein or someone is always about to come around the corner on a bike and run you down, but in the most awesome and literary way. It's a charming place. Of course, I always see it in the summer.

We were back in London by 9 pm. I was too tired to go out and do anything, so I puttered around the flat in my dorkiest clothes while I washed the rest of everything I have here. I feel clean now. I ate Hobnobs and caught up on emails. Quiet night in.