Thursday, 26 June 2014

A Day Out of London: Stratford, The Cotswolds and Oxford

The second half of my trip involved spending money to see pretty things, basically. But oh boy was it worth it.

Mum booked a 1 day tour with Golden Tours that brought us out to Stratford-upon-Avon (henceforth known as just stratford in this post), The Cotswolds and Oxford.

Stratford is known for being Shakespeare's hometown, all the way there our tour guide was verbally worshipping the dead bard. It was pretty ironic, because he said that Shakespeare wouldn't have liked people to put him on a pedestal, but then went on to recite several of the monologues in Shakespeare's best plays IN FULL. Prospero's epilogue never made me so emotional.

Anyway, we only stopped for an hour or two at each stop. At Stratford, we went into Shakespeare's birthplace (pictured above). It's this quaint little house, furnished with what his house probably looked like back then. It felt like I was in a life-sized dollhouse, and there were actors dressed up around the compound, shedding knowledge on each room and acting out whichever scene from any play or sonnet you wanted!

The town itself is beautiful and extremely English, there's no other way to describe it. The cobbled streets are lined with Tudor houses and their signature black beams, and it was nice to just sit at one of the cafes and watch the world pass by.

Our next stop was The Cotswolds, where we drove through the countryside and stopped at a little town called Bourton-on-the-Water which has a little stream running through it. There were ducks and kids waddling around the stream, students having picnics and old people everywhere. People usually imagine heaven to be white and fluffy but to me, heaven is a great big city with gardens everywhere... Bourton looks pretty much like a slice of my heaven.

Also, we had lunch in a little family run restaurant called The Chestnut Tree and boy was the waiter dishy. Sorry I just had to use that pun. He's probably the son of the owners or something. I call him my Cotswolds Cutie and I know I'll probably never see him again. Such is life my friends. If the owners of The Chesnut Tree ever read this, I only have two words: well done.

Lunch was decent, I had a serving of mac and cheese... honestly at that point I was so hungry that anything edible would have been fine.

The final leg of our day tour was by far the most beautiful - Oxford. We visited Christ Church, and I was just pretty blown away by the history and architecture of the college. Imagine walking into the dining hall for your meals, knowing that you're in the place that inspired the Great Hall in Harry Potter movies. Or sitting on the steps where McGonagall first welcomed Harry into Hogwarts. I didn't get to visit the WB studios while I was in London, but this was pretty hard to beat.

I was thoroughly impressed by our tour guide - his name is Pete, and besides the amazing amount of Shakespeare vocabulary in his word bank, he handled so many crises so well.

I've never been on such an unfortunate tour honestly, the day began with a delay because some family was late. Then the Japanese tour guide on our bus lost her phone. Then there was a road block just 5 mins away from our lunch stop so we had to take a half an hour detour. Then one family went missing in Oxford so we had to leave without them. Cock-ups piss me off so bad but Pete had this way of making problems seem insignificant and manageable with his wonderful London brand of charm and humour. Major props to this guy.

I thought I'd be able to wrap up my London trip in this post, but there's still a little bit more left that I'll be putting in another post!

Next up - more shopping, Ripley's Believe it or Not! and a West End musical.

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