Sunday, July 8, 2007
More Sunshine!!! And a day off to enjoy it. But first things first, a morning of rest and recuperation at home. For me that meant a big pot of tea, and reading the program from the night before. Yum.
Then a little tourism! Veronica and Jenny and I went on our way to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Slottery, which is about a 20 minute walk from Stratford. First we stopped into Hall’s Croft which was the residence of Dr. John Hall, the husband of Shakespeare’s eldest daughter Suzanne. We had a fascinating tour guide named Andrew, who sat with us for quite a time telling us about the world of medicine in the early 17th century. Fascinating. A reminder of some of the lectures of Suzie Turnbull that I was party to at The Ark last year. The house is one of the Shakespeare Trust houses, and as members of the RSC Company we are allowed free entrance! Perks!
The garden is absolutely gorgeous, and we are welcome to use it at anytime. So I hope to take advantage of it once the show is up and running, because it is just around the corner from where we are staying.
Then we went off to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. A lovely walk along a footpath through the suburbs of Stratford. Again we were given free entry, and the opportunity to see this beautiful thatched house, and yet another enthusiastic and amazingly informed guide. These people really create a rich experience of these remarkably preserved heritage sights. We learned about trenchers, and bed bugs, “sleeping tight”. And of course, about the famous “stop gap” !
I must share one piece of information: in the parlour of the Cottage is a table called a “board table”. It consists of a trestle frame and a loose board that is placed atop this frame. One side of the board is polished and the other is not. This “board table” is the root of many sayings: board games, chairman of the board, etc. And among the other amazing facts about this table that I didn’t know, is that when roving bands of players would come into a village or town, the people would bring their “boards” out from their houses and erect a stage out of them, upon which the players would perform. And this is where the theatrical expression “treading the boards” comes from. Cool, eh?
After the Cottage, I got Jenny and Veronica lost in the tree maze, but they were found again. And then we headed off for tea and scones and clotted cream at the little cafe across the road. A perfect English summer’s day. The clouds were chasing us all the way home, but we made it safely into our houses before the skies opened.
And now it is a cool, still evening as I look out over the Avon River with not a soul in sight except a few swans and ducks making their gentle wakes in the water.
It’s a bit like a pilgrimage. This whole experience.