Amy and I saw so many castles that we got castled out! Of course, the medieval times were awful and don’t deserve to be romanticized, but it’s still fun to pretend, as long as we don’t take our freedom and technology in the modern age for granted.
We visited Stratford-Upon-Avon, a town with a funny name which is where Shakespeare had his home base. They have a reproduction of the original Globe Theatre and we saw Othello and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. What fantastic shows! Thank goodness they weren’t showing Shakespeare’s “problem plays”. (Yeah, they’re not all good.) Otherwise, the town was too touristy for us. Not much is really known about Shakespeare as a person and boy, the locals stretch out what little they do know into a lot of venues and gift stop opportunities. Fortunately, there were plenty of attractions in the area, including Hidcote Manor Gardens.
Hidcote was good but didn’t compete with the splendor we’d seen elsewhere. I think Penshurst and Sissinghurst were so perfect that they made it look easy. Now we were getting a deeper appreciation for the effort that went into these gardens. Castle Howard was one of the nicest castles. A fantastic site!
To cap it off, we got visited my relative Alf Newman for 90 minutes. Start with Johnny Monsarrat, then go to my father, his brother, his wife, and her father, and that’s how close we are. He was eighty-something but quite active. He even co-authored a book on walking paths. He took us to lunch and we got to share his passion for “fish and chips”. Now that is a wonderfully authentic British experience! It was great to see him.