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Travelogue: Stratford-upon-Avon 
8th-Aug-2008 10:01 pm
sheep sign
I think I'm caught up with LJ. I've tried my damndest, that's for sure. Let me know if you've not gotten a comment from me. (If you have, I've read through your recent entries. :) ) I should also say, some may not have, yet I have read your entries, but didn't see an obvious place to jump in.

So, Mel (the flatmate) and I went South.

It was a little scary. I must say there is something in the water in Scotland that makes you love Alba and feel at least a twinge of loathing for the land south of the Wall. Mel and I were a little sad to leave Scotland and happyhappy to return.

So, here goes.

Monday 28 July

We rented a car and headed South. Mel's mother was a MacLellan so we jaunted over to Kirkcudbright to have a go at seeing MacLellan's Castle. Well worth seeing, but probably not the best idea since there were multiple detours on the A75 and it took us 6 hours to get from Carlisle and back during this side journey.

We finally made it to Leeds and the roads, again, defeated me. I swear, I can't drive in that city. I've driven in NYC, London, Edinburgh, Chicago, Atlanta, and various other points and never had the trouble I have in Leeds. It's truly bizarre.

The brother-in-law had to come meet us in car park in order to lead us to his flat. *sigh* Fail.
Since we were so late getting in, we chatted for a bit and then went to bed. I wish we'd gotten in earlier, I don't see Jack often.

Tuesday 29 July

We headed out from Leeds and went to Burghley, the estate given to Lord Cecil by Queen Elizabeth I. Interestingly, that Cecil is related to the Cecils that own the Biltmore in Asheville. It's an impressive estate and house. Some of you may remember it as Rosings from the recent Pride and Prejudice film. Tom and I had been by there on our last trip south, but it was closed for the season.

From there, we drove on to Cambridge and met up with piercylove. She showed us around, particularly in Johns where she's been working until late. Very excited to see the college. We then went punting on the Cam. I paid with a Clydesdale £10, prompting one to ask his co-worker, 'are we allowed to take this?' *sigh*

We went home and met up with the other half of the Piercys and had dinner at an amazing curry house in Great Shelford. Yum.
Then, a round of Phase 10 before bed. Sweet.

Wednesday 30 July

We went onwards via the M4 to Bath. This was the first place in England that I felt like I could love enough to live in. Seriously having a love affair with the city. :) How could you not love a place where the church bells ring Hyfrydol to mark 5pm?

Also exciting as I got to visit the Roman Baths there. We did have to listen to these dorky phone like things to get the info, but ah, well.

Also did a bit of 'spot the places from the Persuasion film' while walking about. The colonnade above is where the kiss was filmed.

Drove on from there to S-u-A. Got in about teatime and had some decent pub food across the street before crashing.

Thursday 31 July

Had a bit of a walkabout in Stratford. Saw Trinity Church which is unchanged since last I saw it.

Drove north to Kenilworth Castle which is associated with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Very impressive ruin.

From there we went south to Hailes Abbey. I'm impersonating the BVM in the pic above. Sacrilicious. (For shame!)

We drove back to Stratford to gussy up for the Hamlet performance. Because of my scraped knee, I was not in the finery I'd picked, but it worked out during our return in the pouring rain post-play.

The play was fantastic. I was entranced by Patrick Stewart as I'd imagined I'd be, and was impressed with David Tennant, having not seen him in anything previously (no, I'm not a Who fan...amazing, I know).
Ophelia was played a little differently and while her death brought a tear as always, she wasn't as convincing as others in the part.
Horatio was impressively good, however. I don't usually pay much attention to him, but this actor really gave him life like no other.

We decided not to try to brave the crowds in order to see the big name actors preferring to surreptitiously ogle the other players in the Dirty Duck. We were outside when Horatio came out for a smoke and I got to tell him, quietly, that I enjoyed his performance.

I think I spent my enthusiasm for celeb-stalking on Alan Cumming when he was in Aberdeen.

It started to pour and we headed back to the B&B, hoping for a chippie and being denied. We ended up with petrol station sammiches, which honestly weren't too bad.

Friday 1 August

Started the long trek home.

We stopped near Manchester at Lyme Park. It's another of the places used in Pride and Prejudice, but this time from the Colin Firth version. It stood in for Pemberley.

From there, we went up the A6 to catch the ring road round Manchester, but managed to miss the signage and...well, it was not good. No offense meant to any Mancunians, but if I never go back to Manchester, it will be too soon.

We drove on and tried to find the Swinside stone circle near Broughton-in-Furness in the Lake District, to no avail. It didn't help that the clouds decided to take a nap on the hills making visibility almost non-existent.

We drove on to Penrith and saw Long Meg and her Sisters, a stone circle in Little Salkeld. I'd seen it before, but at sunset it was very atmospheric.

We ate at what I'm going to call the best Mexican in the British Isles (until shown proof of better) at a place on Castlegate in Penrith. Yum.

We drove through the night arriving at Aberdeen around 2:30am.

Saturday 2 August

Tom and I set off in the rental car for a go at the Deeside on Sabbath afternoon. We saw ever so many things. Amazing how the scenery in Scotland seems to always be in shades of green, grey, purple, and yellow. I love it.

The most amazing find was at the Parish of Upperdonside. We stopped on a whim at the church and discovered the gravestones were very, very old and interestingly carved.

We did a bit of rural exploration at Wardhouse. The Wardhouse mansion is abandoned but sits atop a hill still looking quite impressive. We couldn't figure out how to beat our way through the prickly undergrowth, but walked around the perimeter of the house.

We did a bit of hiking at Dunnydeer and saw stones there as well as various other points.

By the time we got back we were tired, but very happy.

Sunday 3 August

I'd discovered the joy of the Ordnance Survey maps and Tom and I went off to find a few places marked on the Aberdeen/Banchory map.

The first, Muchalls Castle, is actually someone's home now. Oops.

Our search for the standing stone and two stone circles was a bit more fruitful.

When we stopped to see the stone, we ended up in conversation with the farmer that owns the field that it is set in. He walked out to the stone with us as he was keeping a post-Caesarean cow in the field and wanted to make sure that we didn't bother her or her, us. Very interesting guy, if a tiny bit incomprehensible right at first. I'm used to Tom's Lanarkshire accent and a strong Doric one always takes a bit of brain adjustment for me. :)

Of the two stone circles, the first we saw was the better preserved. There were three concentric rings, with the outer ring composed of large, pointed standing stones, while the inner circles were smaller and squarish.

We decided that we'd better go back home after all this hiking about since Tom needed to pack for Vietnam.

And I'm done. Whew!
8th-Aug-2008 10:37 pm (UTC)
We drove on to Penrith and saw Long Meg and her Sisters, a stone circle in Little Salkeld. I'd seen it before, but at sunset it was very atmospheric.

We ate at what I'm going to call the best Mexican in the British Isles (until shown proof of better) at a place on Castlegate in Penrith. Yum.

My Gran was born in Penrith - I spent many a happy childhood summer (and Easter and whatever other weekends we could get) in an old house on Castlegate that no longer exists :-(

Her gran was from Little Salkeld and I've played around Long Meg and her sisters - they're very difficult to count, you know.
9th-Aug-2008 02:04 pm (UTC)

I'd like to spent more time in that area sometime. Seems like so many interesting spots down there.

We didn't try to count the stones. Not that we were afraid of the witches coming back, but it was very moist from the rain. :D
9th-Aug-2008 02:19 am (UTC)
Rosings=Biltmore. D'oh! I knew I recognized it, but never ever ever would I have figured it out. The fees are so astronomical that I haven't been on the grounds or in the house since I was wee, though I should probably have figured it out from all the pictures of the place I've seen ...

Anyway, it sounds like a fabulous trip! You're making me homesick.
9th-Aug-2008 02:02 pm (UTC)
No, Rosings wasn't Biltmore, Rosings=Burghley. The connection is that the Cecil family is associated with both. :)

Biltmore is out of control. It's so much cheaper to see things here, which is odd.

Speaking of homesick, I'm to Skye next month.
10th-Aug-2008 01:53 am (UTC)
D'oh! I would have sworn I read that carefully enough the first time. But that makes much more sense. NC is many wonderful things, but it doesn't look much like England.

Wave hello to the Cullins for me! :)
9th-Aug-2008 07:04 am (UTC)
I have not had a comment :( Although I know you read all about my kitty so that's all that matters!

I adore Bath too, went through a phase of thinking about moving there.

Am off to see Mr Tennant in Love's Labour's Lost in october. I've seen him in theatre before. He was a "serious actor darling" before he sold his soul for that Who crap ;-)

Glad you had a good time
9th-Aug-2008 02:01 pm (UTC)
You were in the first batch. Then, I got distracted. Then, I went to England. *sigh* LJ kills me recently.

V. jealous of LLL. I wish I could see Shakespeare more often.
9th-Aug-2008 07:40 am (UTC)
Sounds and looks like a fab trip! You've got a good eye for photographs.

My husband always gets a light in his eye when we head 'home' for Scotland. There's a definite spirit there.

Enjoyed your thoughts on Hamlet. We've got tickets for it when it comes to London.
9th-Aug-2008 01:59 pm (UTC)

It's a great show. Bring binoculars if you're not close enough to see expressions from the seats you have. :)
9th-Aug-2008 08:00 am (UTC)
Glad to have you back! :D

I love reading your travelogues and looking at the photos.
9th-Aug-2008 01:57 pm (UTC)
9th-Aug-2008 09:00 am (UTC)
What a fun looking trip!
9th-Aug-2008 01:57 pm (UTC)

I did read on your journal, fyi, but didn't leave a comment there or at the other. Bad me.
9th-Aug-2008 10:24 am (UTC)
Quite the adventure. Considered a spot of geocaching while your on the OS map trails ? You can't really blame the person for asking "can we accept this weird paper I've not seen before ?" though, can you ? May have to hit up the mexican in penrith, any clue as to the name ?

the hatter
9th-Aug-2008 01:56 pm (UTC)
My aunt does geocaching. Maybe I'll get into it.

I don't blame people for being surprised about Scottish money on the one hand, but on the other, I still am.

I think it's called Salsa. It's address is 3 Castlegate, I know that for sure. :)
9th-Aug-2008 04:00 pm (UTC)
You've had so many incredible travel experiences- how exciting! :) The pictures are marvelous. ♥ [xx]
10th-Aug-2008 06:55 pm (UTC)
Wonderful photos!

I should go back to Stratford. I spent a year there as a student (and worked in the Dirty Duck) and have never quite managed to go back.

DT is going to be in Love's Labours Lost? I must go see. I swithered over Hamlet as although the cast sounded wonderful... I really, really dislike the play. Cannot make myself like it. I know this is sacrilege coming from someone with an MA in Shakespeare Studies, but so it is.
10th-Aug-2008 11:14 pm (UTC)
We all have the plays we love and hate, I think.

I really like Twelfth Night, which is apparently quite reviled by some, so no judgement from me. :)
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