Oh the woes of figuring out a cell phone alarm clock! Day Two in London was actually an escorted day tour to Warwick Castle (pictured above), Stratford-Upon-Avon, and Oxford. I set the alarm clock on my phone to go off at 6:45 AM because I had to be at Victoria coach station before 8:45 AM. Plenty of time, right? Not for the people who don’t know how to set their alarm clock! Turns out, you have to actually Enable the alarm before it will activate. Silly modern technology…
The next morning I wake with a start. Immediately check the time on the phone…8:02 AM. Exactly 43 minutes before I’m supposed to be at the station. So it’s going to be a repeat of Day One, huh? It’s like that now? My mind is racing. It normally takes me an hour to make myself presentable. The math doesn’t add up right there alone. I’m screwed.
If nothing else though, this girl is a fighter. I’m not giving up that easy! Fortunately. I end up taking the shortest shower in history, spend about 8 seconds blow drying my hair, and call the front desk for a cab. Make-up gets done in the cab on the way to Victoria station. My hair isn’t as “finished” as I like it to be, but at least it’s clean.
I make it to the station just as they’re walking out to the bus. Hallelujah! I fall in line like I’d been there the whole time and within 30 minutes or so we’re off to Warwick Castle. The guide is quite knowledgeable and charming, telling us about our surroundings as we drive out of London.
Leaving the city there is gorgeous countryside. Beautiful green, rolling hills. Pastures of sheep grazing. The farmhouses are those of storybooks. Typically old stone homes sitting atop a sweeping hill with the green pastures rolling gently on every side. I can’t keep the smile off my face as I gaze out the window. This is part of the England I came to see.
I was aware that Warwick Castle had some form of reenactment programs they put on. I was not aware it was so kid-oriented and was slightly disappointed when I discovered this. It’s somewhat Castle Disney. Regardless, it’s interesting and some beautiful scenery.
I finally found that knight in shining armor I’ve been looking for…
Has to be my favorite photo of the day. This is some of that pretty scenery I was talking about.
After about an hour and a half self-touring the grounds of Warwick Castle, we begin on our 20 minute journey to Stratford-Upon-Avon, birthplace of the one and only William Shakespeare.
There’s a certain pedestal I guess I’ve placed Shakespeare on in my mind. I’m a reader. And in some small corner of my mind, I fancy myself a writer. Books of older generations are my favorites. Bronte, Austen… I even collect old hardbacks. There’s something in the language. It’s like writing in those days was an art form of another level. Take this for example:
‘I’ve had some powerful dreams in my life.’
‘I’ve dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after.’
The latter is Emily Bronte. It’s so much better, isn’t it? Prettier. It makes me want to dream myself, dreams that will stay with me ever after.
When I think of Shakespeare, I typically focus on the lyric of his words. What a beautiful, ornate use of the English language he had. I focus on the slight adoration I have when I think of the type of stories he wrote and how controversial they had to have been in his day. Plays alone were considered morally corrupt. Shakespeare wrote plays, but plays about interracial relationships (Othello), young love that defies family and social customs of the day in the name of love itself (Romeo & Juliet). There are so many societal boundaries he overstepped. I’m sure these things happened, it’s just no one talked about them. At least in my mind.
And off on a tangent I’ve gone. Sorry. Ok, so Shakespeare’s somewhat on a pedestal in my mind. You can imagine my dismay when our guide kind of drug him through the mud during our ride over. He talked a lot about Shakespeare’s personal life. Marrying an older woman, having three kids with her, and then running off to London for years when he did his writing. I like Shakespeare on his pedestal in my mind. I didn’t want to know he was human and could’ve been a deadbeat dad. Come on! ‘Done to death by slanderous tongue was the hero that here lies’. (Much Ado About Nothing) Thanks, tour guide.
Anyway, Stratford. Shakespeare’s birthplace.
A view of the street Shakespeare’s house is on. That would be it there, first on the left.
The house is small, naturally. And once inside the first room, you find you are not allowed to take pictures. *sigh* So the only one I took was this…
I find some amazement in the idea that this is the same window William Shakespeare also looked out years ago.
Unfortunately, the tour involved a small space with lots of people in it. Most were high school students. Probably goes without saying, I quickly became jaded and hurried my way through the rest of the house. The highlight for me was actually the actor in the garden after my tour of the house who I watched recite two Shakespeare pieces.
There’s magic in those words, I tell ya.
After the tour I had lunch in a little restaurant across the street. An excellent panini with chips. Bacon, cheese, and mushrooms. Yes, it was worth mentioning.
And finally we’re off to Oxford. A town known for its university (collection of individual colleges), and of course, Christ Church where part of Harry Potter was filmed. Where the other towns were basically drop-off self-tours, in Oxford we were led on an escorted walking tour. The same guide who dive bombed my Shakespeare pedestal just two hours before, took the group on a tour around the city pointing out buildings of interest and telling stories of the histories.
Can’t remember which college this is. It was where we unloaded from the bus.
And this would be the “tour” we had of Christ Church. A view of it from a mile off. I’m not a Harry Potter fanatic, but if you’re going to bother mentioning it in the tour description, tour the damn thing.
After the disappointing 10 minute walk to that view of Christ Church, it was another 15 minute walk back to the bus where we then headed back to London. They at least were nice enough to drop us off at tube stops that would take us back to our general area. And this time, I didn’t get lost!! Yay for paying attention!
All in all, it was a much better day than my first. I did enjoy the tour. Met a nice Canadian lady who I chatted with periodically during the tour. It was a good day.