A Tale of A Thousand and One Trips - The Never-Ending Trip Report

dolphingirl47

In Search of the Tag Fairy
Joined
Dec 25, 2007
OK, I may be exaggerating a little. I doubt that there will be a thousand and one trips to report on nor will this be never-ending as at some stage I will hit the page limit. However, rather than doing a separate trip report for all the mini trips I am doing this year, I wanted somewhere where I could collect them.

The Cast

First things first. For those of you who don't know me, my name is Corinna and I am 41 years old. My main passion in life is travelling and particularly cruising.

We have been predominately cruising on DCL, but strayed from the Mouse last month and tried Royal Caribbean and absolutely loved it. This has opened up all kinds of exciting opportunities for us. We realised in 2010 that we were covering a significant part of the world when during two cruises we covered Barcelona to Malta and then Barcelona to Port Canaveral. We added to this in 2011 with Port Canaveral to Los Angeles and in 2012 with Los Angeles to Hawaii. Although we have done a lot of cruises since, we have not really been able to add to this, but now want to pick this up again. Hopefully we will have completed our circumnavigation of the world by 2020. However, those exploits will be covered by separate full-blown trip reports.

Apart from travelling and cruising, I love everything Disney, photography, history, architecture, bird watching, dolphins and snorkelling. I also have developed a real passion for Arabic culture and I have borrowed from this for the title of this trip report. Over the course of the year, all of this should be covered with the potential exception of snorkelling, but if I can sneak some in, I will.



Supporting Cast

My husband Graham is 57 and is normally my travel companion. He shares most of my interests, but we are still working on instilling a love of all things Disney in him (Who am I kidding?). The reason that he has been relegated to supporting cast is that for the most part he is the reason why I am travelling such a lot this year. At the moment, his work is taking him all around the country and he is only home on the weekends. If I have two days off midweek, I go an join him and do the tourist thing while he is at work.



The Script

That is the scary stuff, but also somewhat exciting. There is no script. I am normally a compulsive planner and not knowing where the year will take me or when I somewhat scary. If the first two trips of the year are anything to go by, I often will only find out a day or two beforehand where I will end up. So there is little scope for planning anything and I will just have to go with the flow.
 

dolphingirl47

In Search of the Tag Fairy
Joined
Dec 25, 2007
All The World's A Stage - A Wander In Shakespeare's Footsteps

This trip report actually covers two trips that happened a week apart, but as they thematically fit together, I decided to cover them in a single report especially as I did not do a great deal during the first trip.

My first trip took me to Birmingham. However often I visit this city, it continues to fail to grow on me. We have so many interesting towns and cities in the UK, but in my opinion Birmingham is not one of them. So if my travels take me to Birmingham, I just tend to relax in whatever hotel we are staying at. However, this time round, I was planning to travel home with Graham and had to check out of the hotel at 11:00. So I needed to spend some time in Birmingham. Within a few hours of each other, two people had mentioned the library in Birmingham so I decided to check this out.

The library is still relatively new and opened in September 2013. In 2014, it was the 10th most popular visitor attraction in the UK, which indicates that this is something a bit special. My first impression was not entirely positive. The building is ultra-modern and considering that it is surrounded by beautiful historical buildings, it appears to be be a bit of an eyesore. However, I had come all this way so I figured I may as well have a look inside. Once I was inside, my take on this changed very quickly.



I decided to head to the top floor first and make my way down. There I found a real gem: The Shakespeare Memorial Room. As a literature graduate and one who specialised in Shakespeare in the final year, this made my heart beat quicker. This room had a very checkered history. Birmingham has had a Shakespeare Memorial Library since 1864. The objective was that "it should contain (as far as practicable) every edition and every translation of Shakespeare; all the commentators, good, bad, and indifferent; in short, every book connected with the life or works of our great poet." They definitely did a good job with this and they soon had 7000 volumes. Unfortunately in 1879, the library that housed the Shakespeare Memorial Library burned down and with it a lot of the collection. Fortunately thanks to donations from all around the world, the collection was built up again and by 1884 it was back to its original size. When a new library was built in 1882, it contained the Shakespeare Memorial Room, which housed the new collection. By 1906, the collection had outgrown its space. When the old library was demolished in 1974, the interior of the Shakespeare Memorial Room was put into storage and when the new library was built, it was installed in the golden cylinder on the top of the building. Who would expect that something so beautiful is hiding in there.













This is however not the only gem at the library. On the seventh floor they have a rooftop garden called the Secret Garden. Even in winter, this is a beautiful and serene space and I really want to come back in spring or summer.



























There is another outdoor area, which is the Discovery Terrace on the 4th floor. Again, I can only imagine how pretty this is during the spring or summer.















The interior of the library is pretty stunning as well. It goes to show that you should never judge a book by its cover.





 

dolphingirl47

In Search of the Tag Fairy
Joined
Dec 25, 2007
When Graham sent me a booking confirmation for a hotel in Stratford upon Avon for the following week, the memory of visiting the Shakespeare Memorial Room was still very fresh. So I was keen to explore this subject a bit further. Our hotel was ideally located just across the river from the Royal Shakespeare Company. This was my first stop on the first morning. The theatres there have the reputation that they are fully booked months in advance so we did not really expect to get tickets on such short notice. However, I had looked on their website the previous evening and all did not seem lost. As soon as I was out and about, I went across the river to their box office and managed to get two tickets for this evenings showing for Wendy and Peter Pan. I was over the moon. I emailed Graham the good news and then I had a look around the theatre.

















The weather was pretty awful that day so for the next hour or so, I browsed in the shops. I had not brought anything suitable for going to the theatre either so I put this right. In the end, the weather brightened up a little and I did make it across to the Shakespeare Centre and Shakespeare's Birthplace.







I got myself a pass that includes all the properties owned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in the town centre plus Anne Hathaway's Cottage, which is in one of the surrounding villages. The pass is valid for a full year and as one of the properties is currently closed, I may have to go back within the validity of the ticket. You enter the birthplace through the Shakespeare Centre, which is essentially a visitor centre with various memorabilia and a film about the life and works of Shakespeare. They also have a cafe there with actors and actresses reciting passages from the plays.













You then go through the garden to the house where Shakespeare was born. The garden is very pretty and I was surprised that I found a rose in full bloom in January.













Then it was time to enter the birthplace itself. The structural elements are still like they were in Shakespeare's times, but the furnishings were either replicas that were made using the same techniques that were used in his times or furniture that comes from this period, but that was not necessarily in the house when he lived there. It was still fascinating.









 
  • dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    I was amused by those hidden Mickeys.





















    After visiting the birthplace, I decided to call it a day. It had turned wet and cold again and I decided to head back to the hotel to warm up. When Graham got back, we headed over to the theatre. I was absolutely captivated by both the theatre and the play. This was something very special. We both really enjoyed our evening in the theatre. The play was very funny. I was quite surprised that when I talked to one of the volunteers at one of the houses the next day that she commented that some other guests had commented that they found the play offensive. Yes, there was some slight adult humour, but this was so subtle that it would have gone straight over the heads of younger children. This is actually a technique that Disney employs as well to add little things that just speak to part of the audience. I have noticed this in Villains Tonight on the Disney Magic and also in Aladdin at California Adventure. I am absolutely convinced that the fact that Disney can do this so skilfully adds to their universal appeal. The same was true for this play as well. The children that were there seemed to enjoy it and the adults did as well.

     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    The first stop the next morning was Anne Hathaway's Cottage. When I had bought the ticket the previous day, I had not realised just how far out this is. It is walkable from the town centre in about 35 minutes, but I still did not trust the weather and the path goes pretty much through open countryside with nowhere to shelter if it starts to rain. So I decided to take to the hop on hop off bus. The first stop for this was near our hotel so this was easy.

    Anne Hathaway was Shakespeare's wife and members of her family lived in what is now know as Anne Hathaway's Cottage until 1846. It was then occupied by tenants until 1892 when it was purchased by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. In Shakespeare's times, it was known as Newlands Farm. When Anne still lived there, the house was much smaller than it is now. However, a lot of the extensions happened during her lifetime. Anne Hathaway's Cottage is surrounded by extensive gardens including a lavender mace and a sculpture garden, but as it was winter and it had rained quite a lot the previous day, I just concentrated on the house and had a quick look at the cottage garden on the way through.























    This is the Hathaway bed, which is one of the two contenders for being the "second best bed" that William Shakespeare left to Anne in his will.









    This is the other possibility for the famous bed.



    This is the famous courting chair. Legend has that this is the chair Shakespeare sat in when he came to visit Anne during the courtship period. However, modern tests have revealed that it is not old enough.









     
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    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Then it was time to head back into town. On the way, we passed Mary Arden's Farm, which is where Shakespeare's mother Mary grew up. Unfortunately this is only open seasonally and won't open again until just before Easter.

    My next stop was Hall's Croft. This was the house Shakespeare's daughter Susanna lived in with her husband Dr John Hall after they got married. After Shakespeare died and Susanna inherited the estate, they moved into New Place, which is pretty much just around the corner, but was bigger. Of all the houses I saw on this trip, Halls's Croft was by far my favourite.

























































    My plan had been to visit Holy Trinity Church next as this is at the end of the same road, but when I got there, I found it closed for a funeral service. So I ended up backtracking and visiting the last house on my ticket first. I came back later to visit the church.
     
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    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    I walked back towards the town centre and towards what I had planned to leave until last: Harvard House. This is not actually linked to the Shakespeare family as such, although Shakespeare would have known the family that built it. Thomas Rogers served as an Alderman alongside John Shakespeare, William’s father. However, it is not that connection that makes it interesting. Thomas Rogers was the grandfather of John Harvard, who in 1637 emigrated to Massachussetts with his wife Ann. When Harvard died, he left half of his estate as well as his library to a college that was in its infancy and was subsequently named Harvard in his honour.

    The Rogers family owned the house until the mid 17th century and it was then occupied by a number of different tradesmen over the years until 1871 when it became an office for an estate agent. During those times, it was known as Ancient House. In 1909, it was purchased by the American millionaire Edward Morris of Chicago. Ultimately, it was given to Harvard University and became known as Harvard House. The House has been cared for by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, on behalf of Harvard University, since 1990. Normally Harvard House is not open to the public, but as one of the properties owned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is currently closed for extensive renovations, Harvard House has been added to the multi-house passes. Once Nash's House and New Place reopens to the public later this year, Harvard House will no longer be open to the public. So I timed this perfectly.











































    My next stop had absolutely nothing to do with Shakespeare, but I had not eaten anything since I had breakfast at 7:00 and it was now gone 15:00. So I figured it was time for a snack. Fortunately there is a Gelatto shop right next to Harvard House so I stopped there for this yummy treat.

     
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  • dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Then it was time to go back to Holy Trinity Church. Holy Trinity Church is also referred to as Shakespeare's Church. This is where he was baptized and buried. He may also have been married there, but no entry has been found on the register there or at any other church. I have to say, I pretty much only went there to complete the tour, but I am glad that I did as I found a real gem. In the end Shakespeare's grave actually was of the least interest to me. As soon as I walked into the chancel, I spotted misericords or mercy seats. They have 26 15th century misericords in the chancel and they are the best preserved ones I have ever seen even though half of them have suffered extensive water damage. If I had not been told this, I would not have realised this.



















    The fact that I not only showed an interest in the misericords, but obviously knew what I was looking at and the significance of this brought a whole bunch of volunteers down on me. I think they are very much used to people swooping in, taking photos of Shakespeare's grave and swooping out again. So somebody who appreciates what else the church has to offer created some interest. I was left to pay my respects to Shakespeare and when I came out of the chancel, I was stopped and we had a lovely chat. They become even more interested when they realised that I had lived in Beverley, which is famous for its misericords although the ones there are nowhere near as well preserved then those once were. I did rather enjoy our conversation and time flew. By the time I left the church, it had long since closed.















    This is supposedly the original fond of the church and the one in which Shakespeare was baptized.







    At that point, I called it a day. The sun started to go down and it suddenly got rather chilly. I walked back to the hotel via some back streets and the riverbank.
     

    PrincessInOz

    Thanks for my avatar, Mary Jo!
    Joined
    Feb 8, 2010
    Oooh! Lucky you.

    Marking my spot in the queue and I'll be back to take a more detailed look of Stratford on Avon. It's been years since we last visited.
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Welcome.

    Oooh! Lucky you.
    I don't feel quite so lucky this week being home alone and nursing a cold that I brought back as a souvenir.

    Marking my spot in the queue and I'll be back to take a more detailed look of Stratford on Avon. It's been years since we last visited.
    This was my first proper visit to Stratford upon Avon and I have to say I was impressed.

    Corinna
     
  • dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    I was there in '75 and '79. You pictures are beautiful!
    That is a long time ago, but I don't think Stratford is the kind of place that changes a great deal.

    No time to read, but marking my spot to come back and check it out.
    Plenty of time. I just found out today that a trip I had kind of counted on is not going to happen so it will be another month or so until I have something to update here.

    Corinna
     

    Pinkocto

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 22, 2011
    Sorry I'm so late, I haven't been online much this week.

    Your pictures brought back so many memories from my visits to England. On each trip I went to Stratford Upon Avon and absolutely loved seeing your pictures. All that history just leaves me in awe. Thank you so much for sharing!

    How fabulous you were able to get tickets for the theater. :)

    The library in Birmingham was gorgeous!
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Sorry I'm so late, I haven't been online much this week.
    No reason to be sorry. This is not going anywhere.

    Your pictures brought back so many memories from my visits to England. On each trip I went to Stratford Upon Avon and absolutely loved seeing your pictures. All that history just leaves me in awe. Thank you so much for sharing!
    I can see the repeatability of this place. I instantly fell in love with this and we are blessed with history in this country. What really got me is when Graham pointed out that the bridge right by the hotel is actually older than the USA. It is still in use and used by cars and pedestrians.

    How fabulous you were able to get tickets for the theater. :)
    I could not believe my luck.

    The library in Birmingham was gorgeous!
    I was really surprised by this. I have been to many a library, but this is the nicest I have seen.

    Corinna
     

    franandaj

    I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!
    Joined
    Nov 15, 2009
    Sorry your trip was canceled, but now it gave me the chance to get caught up! How lucky that you have so much History and a wealth of treasures nearby. The play sounded wonderful, and all of the Shakespeare era artifacts were so interesting!
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Sorry your trip was canceled, but now it gave me the chance to get caught up!
    I am good with this. It would have been a work trip and although I would have fit in some fun stuff, it would have been pretty intense. Instead it looks like I will have two mini trips in March instead of one.

    How lucky that you have so much History and a wealth of treasures nearby.
    Yes, sometimes we take it for granted. I literally live and breath history every day. Our apartment is in a converted cotton mill dating back to 1794. Here in Manchester there is a lot of industrial history, which is very interesting, but you do not have to go very far to find some gems going back to medieval times. Even here in Manchester we have some ruins going back to Roman times.

    The play sounded wonderful, and all of the Shakespeare era artifacts were so interesting!
    The play was amazing and I was really enjoying being able to immerse myself into Shakespeare's time.

    Corinna
     

    jedijill

    Chiefs fan living in Bronco country
    Joined
    Jan 17, 2005
    I missed the link but I'm here and caught up! That library in Birmingham is amazing! I really want to visit Stratford some of these days! I was able to see the Globe Theater in London but those houses in Stratford look so cool. How nice you got to see a performance!

    Jill in CO
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    I really want to visit Stratford some of these days!
    It is worth a visit. I was really surprised how much I loved it, but I think this is the perfect time of the year to go. I think it will be a lot less fun once the main tourist season starts.

    I was able to see the Globe Theater in London but those houses in Stratford look so cool.
    I have only ever seen the Globe Theater in the distance while visiting other things in the area. The houses were amazing, but I think the church was the highlight for me.

    Corinna
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    My Home Is My Castle – A Wander Through Warwick

    One of the advantages of Graham working away from home at the moment is that it lets me combine visiting him and visiting all manner of interesting places when I have some time off midweek. One of those mini trips took me to Warwick a couple of weeks ago. The accommodation was interesting as we stayed in an old carriage house attached to a nice old pub.







    Warwick is a very old town and its origins may go back to Neolithic times. However, we know for sure that Warwick has been continuously settled since the 6th century. In 914, Ethelfleda, who was the daughter of King Alfred the Great built a fortification in Warwick. This was essentially just a fence, but a pretty impressive one. This was built to keep out the Danes, however they invaded in 1050 and burned down much of the town. In 1068, William the Conqueror build Warwick Castle. During medieval times, Warwick became a gated town and the East and West gates can still be seen today.





    Unfortunately fire was recurring theme in Warwick and 1694, the Great Fire of Warwick destroyed much of the medieval town. As a result, a lot of the town centre looks relatively modern. However, most of the buildings are actually from the late 17th and the early 18th century. Fortunately a few of the original medieval houses did survive. A major concentration of those can be found along Mill Street, which runs between the castle and the river Avon. If money was no issue, I would love to live in one of those houses. In the neighbourhood is Mill Garden, which is meant to be very pretty. Unfortunately it is currently closed, but I did take a few sneaky photos over the fence. With a bit of luck, I will get back to Warwick later in the year and then this is definitely on my to do list.



















    The sign posting in Warwick is a little suspect. Often a sign sends you down a road and when you get to the next junction, there is no indication on where to go. More often than not, I ended up heading one direction only to come across another 100 meters or so later that showed that I had gone in the wrong direction. Still, I stumbled across some gems in the process so it was all good. One of those gems was Lord Leycester Hospital. Despite its name, it was never a hospital or indeed any other kind of medical establishments. Originally it was a guildhall, but after the guild was dissolved 1546, it was turned into a retirement home for injured service men and their wives. The organization of this has changed over the years, but part of the building is still occupied by retired service men. The non-residential part can be visited and there is also a museum in the building. However, I never did find the time to have a look inside. This will have to be saved for a future visit. Another little gem is the old court house and the Pageant Gardens that are behind it. The court house is another museum nowadays and I bypassed this, but I had a wander around the gardens.













    One of the two main points of interest in Warwick is the Collegiate Church of St Mary. This is a beautiful building with a couple of very special features. St. Mary was originally built in 1123 on instructions of Roger de Newburgh, the second Earl of Warwick. The only part of this original Norman church that still exists today is the crypt. This is a fascinating piece of architecture.



















    The second special feature is the Chapter House. St. Mary’s is the only parish church in England that has an intact Chapter House. Most of this is taken up by the tomb of Fulke Greville. This fact may well be the reason why the Chapter House still exists.





    Not quite on the same level, but still interesting is the fact that the church may contain the only likeness of Richard Neville, the King Maker. Despite his power and influence during his lifetime, there is no known portrait or statue of him. However, there is a figure on the tomb of his father in law Richard Beauchamp that is widely believed to be a likeness of Richard Neville.





    Apart from those features, this church is also different for another reason. I have never experienced this in any church I have visited and there have been a large number of them over the years. Most churches that I have been to have a really peaceful atmosphere. Some of them and especially some of the more modern one have no atmosphere at all. This one feels oppressive and somewhat creepy. It literally made the little hairs on my neck stand up. I mentioned this to Graham in the evening and he felt exactly the same things when he visited the church a while ago.
     



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