Stratford-upon-Avon is a medieval market town and the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Rory and I decided to travel to Stratford to celebrate our birthdays. Having only ever been once with school, and Rory never, we thought it was a great opportunity. I love Shakespeare; I have a passion for his plays and have read and performed many of his works. When I looked to see what show was being performed the weekend of our birthday I was slightly miffed; The Tempest, it was not one of my favourites, and in fact I had never read the play before. But, we booked anyway and hoped the stage would bring it to life.
Boy did it, a magnificent performance by all! I would like to highlight the three characters which for me stole the show; Prospero, Vertricula and Ariel. Ariel looked only about 18, but he was incredible, and I was in awe at his talent! I won’t spoil it for anyone who may be going but I will say it is worth going to! Highly technical and very well presented, great use of lighting and projection as well as use of the stage. Brilliant performance by all involved. Rory, who before going had stated his disliking of Shakespeare’s work, came out shouting about how incredible it was (believing GCSE English had “ruined Shakespeare” for him originally). The RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) will be performing Julius Caeser March to September next year and we are really hoping to get tickets!
Stratford-upon-Avon is covered with restaurants, all the way up Sheep Street and across Chapel Street (as well as many others I am sure). On the first evening we went to a pre-theatre meal at Sorrento’s, having been recommended by our B&B host (more about Paul later). A delicious well-presented meal; starting with Insalata Caprese, (mozzarella cheese with tomato and basil), as well as Bruschetta Sorrentina (garlic bread topped with tomato, basil and mozzarella); we combined the two and created a delicious new starter. For mains we ordered pan-fried chicken in a creamy mushroom sauce with chips, and a lasagne also with chips. The lasagne was delicious and had a pleasant surprise of meatballs within it. Finally, for dessert Rory had panna cotta topped with chocolate sauce, it was the best dessert he had all weekend, which says a lot, as you will read, we ate a lot! I had an apple tart, which was nice, but nothing special. Sadly I forgot to take my camera and couldn’t record any photos…
We stayed in a lovely B&B a very short walk from the centre called Hamlet House. I chose this B&B due to location, and great reviews, which turned out to be accurate. The room was lovely, the location great and the price reasonable. But the best part of it was the welcoming host and the incredible breakfast we got to enjoy twice! On the first day we both had a full English, and wow was it full. Creamy scrambled eggs, baked beans, sausages, bacon, toast, fried potatoes which were delicious and fresh orange juice, tea and coffee. Not only was the food incredible, they offered a range of breakfasts as well as homemade omelettes with herbs fresh from the garden, smoked salmon scrambled egg, many types of cereals and fruit. A great display of food and a great start to the day! You can view Hamlet House here.
On Saturday evening we made the error of not booking anywhere to eat. Oops. We really wanted to go to a new Thai restaurant, which had just opened up called the Giggling Squid. Unfortunately they were fully booked till 9.30pm. So we wandered down the road, after looking in many windows at hoards of people and many menus, we finally stumbled across a place called Wildwood. We went in at the perfect time, although the waitress said they were fully booked, after asking when they would have a table she asked her manager and we managed to sneak in and get a table. I am actually really glad as we would never have gone here if we had booked the Giggling Squid.
For some reason Rory and I can’t seem to order just a main, we always go for a full three courses. Our waistlines don’t appreciate this. To start with we shared garlic pizza bread with mozzarella and caramelised onion and a classic Bruschetta. The onion pizza bread was out of this world. A very simple dish but the best garlic bread I have ever eaten, it was delicious as it had the perfect amount of sweetness in the onions and the pizza dough. It made me really regret not ordering a pizza! The Bruschetta was also tasty but had a little too much oil for my tasting.
Then the mains, Rory ordered a meat calzone, a ginormous pizza covering most of his plate. A great base and a delicious sauce, he had no complaints. It was topped with garlic butter, which just hit the spot. I ordered tiger prawn pasta with a creamy white wine sauce. This may well be the best pasta sauce I have ever had, it was creamy and tangy, the prawns were cooked to perfection, it was delicious in every way.
Sadly the puddings for me disappointed, I ordered the Eton mess, it was an Eton mess Sundae which just didn’t really work for me, but Rory ordered an Oreo, Malteaser sundae which from his face he enjoyed thoroughly!
One thing I would say about Stratford-upon-Avon is that the food was without a doubt incredible, but it really lacked a good bar or pub. The pubs we went in seemed very Wetherspoonsy and served average wine at high prices. Even the oldest pub in Stratford, the Garrick, which was heaving with people, seemed pretty average. With such a huge tourist trade I would have expected a few high-end bars.
I am not going to talk about the Giggling Squid where we did end up going on Sunday, we ordered two tapas platters which were tasty enough but in my opinion it was overpriced and not the most incredible food I ate this weekend. It did however look incredible…
Finally, the tourism; Stratford-upon-Avon is heaving with tourists and tourist activities. We managed to complete everything we wanted in the short time we were there. I recommend Shakespeare’s birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s (Shakespeare’s wife) house and gardens. We bought a 3-house ticket online for £18 (here) and would definitely recommend. There also any gift shops and Christmas shops which are always fun to look around in. The MAD museum was fun but short. But the best in my opinion was the butterfly farm. Incredible to see such amazing colour and creatures; and a gecko or two as well!
Hope you enjoyed this post, and wasn’t too long for you! I could have said so much more! If you haven’t been to Stratford-upon-Avon I highly recommend you go and visit the RSC as well. I would say you can do everything in a couple of days with ease, but it’s a beautiful place to visit. Let me know what you thought of Stratford by commenting below. Don’t forget to subscribe if you don’t want to miss out on any posts. Thanks for reading! Like, comment, share and subscribe.