The next day dawned beautifully sunny, but after our night drive not only did I feel tired, but the cough and cold which had been stalking me for a while had come back with a vengeance, and even though after my trip to Scotland last winter and spring I am much more for doing things as soon as the sun shines – on the basis it may disappear at any second – this morning I just could not raise the enthusiasm. But eventually I roused myself and set off to check on my tickets
I was fortunate that the sun continued to shine for me, and the scooter which had been sulking and refusing to start sometimes now seemed happy to take me on my travels, and because of our long trip was also nicely charged up. I popped into the tourist information office which was not far away, and thought it a nice touch that set into the Stratford pavements were little roundels at regular intervals to keep you on the right path. The girls in the office were very helpful, and armed with maps and places to visit I crossed over to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
I have to say the whole building and area seemed changed, and I learned later that it had been the object of a huge improvement scheme a few years ago, which I feel was a highly successful one.
Tickets pocketed I went up to the restaurant, which the lady at the ticket office told me had wonderful views. Although I was late and they were getting ready for early pre-theatre diners they kindly let me sit at one of the tables, even though all I bought was a coffee, and a very nice and reasonably priced one it was too. They even opened the doors so I could walk along the balcony afterwards to take some photos. There are not all that many large concerns that would take so much trouble for one single coffee, so full marks to them, for service and politeness.
The fine bridge spanning the river there and carrying the main road traffic of huge artics and double jiggers is even more amazing when one finds out that it was built in 1480. Financed by Hugh Clopton of Clopton House http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clopton_Bridge it replaced an earlier timber bridge and was described by Leyland the 16th C historian as
a great and sumptuous Bridge upon Avon at the East Ende of the Towne, which hath 14 great Arches of Stone and long Causey made of Stone, low walled on each side, at the West Ende of the Bridge.
Driving through Stratford without stopping, as I have probably done many times, one is totally unaware of the elegant and understated simplicity of this wonderful structure which has lasted over five hundred years and is still continuing to do service for loads impossible to entertain when it was designed .
The day, although sunny had a definite chill in the air and my cough and cold was beginning to drag at me again so I gratefully headed back to Thebus and some warmth, before getting changed to sally forth again for my evening’s entertainment.
Love’s Labour’s Lost was terrific. The set and scenery plus the costumes were all top class, and as expected, the acting wonderful. The director, Christopher Luscombe had chosen to place the play in the period running up to the First World War, and it worked very well, plus one had the elegance of the Edwardian dresses for the ladies. Most enjoyable.
Back outside it had now started to rain so it was a quick dash back to Thebus so as not to get too cold and wet, especially as I had put on a skirt and pretty jumper rather than my normal thermal underwear, corduroy trousers, a couple of wooly jumpers and thinsulate beanie hat.
During the night I felt dreadful again and next morning woke to incessant heavy rain, which was probably just as well as it gave me an excuse to spend the entire day indoors, mostly in bed before sallying out for the second of the plays usually known as Much Ado About Nothing, but renamed for this duo of plays as Love’s Labour’s Won.
And if yesterday’s performance was excellent then this was a triumph. The cast really go into their stride and carried the audience along with them, and received a standing ovation at the end, well from those who could stand easily.
Thank goodness it was a better night for riding the scooter back to Thebus, though this time I had elected for the corduroy and cable jumpers complete with scarf and beanie hat.