The Retirees go Abroad – Visiting the Cotswolds – Stratford-on-Avon and Evesham

We have visited Stratford previously and took in the Shakespearean sites so this time we strolled looking at the architecture of the quaint old buildings. As you would expect they make a living out of having these old buildings for us to gawk at. However we started with a monument to theatre and then the birthplace of the bard – bloody tourists buggered up my photo. Onto the library and the Shakespeare Bookshop, a cafe and kebab shop. A jewellery workshop, the Shakespeare Charity Shop, and the Old Thatch Tavern. Whilst we were checking out the tavern the driver of a Ford Ka hesitated about running a yellow light. Not so the bus driver following who was unable to avoid the now stationary Ka and pushed it through the pedestrian crossing. Time we moved on.

Just across the road another monument. It looked like someone had chopped the top off city hall. Down the road we found Garrick Inn and beside that Harvard House. We then made our way to the Avon and the canal basin, then back past the Tudor Museum, and past the Bard’s House – no tourist queues. Enough site seeing – two pasties and the world’s thickest milkshake (4 scoops of ice cream and two teaspoons of instant coffee blended – one milkshake).

We returned to the bus but by 1.00pm our departure time two dopey old sheilas had not returned. Fifteen minutes later they wandered up – oh we thought it was 2.00pm they said. The bus driver makes a habit of not giving too much information which I find frustrating but this is why – dopey oldies who don’t pay attention or had the attention span of a gnat. We travel to Evesham. Never heard of it – neither had we. But it was founded in 700AD with a monastery which was destroyed in part during the reformation (Henry VIII’s answer to Rome about divorcing his first wife). So the town has old buildings like the Round house (its square actually), a remaining gate from the Norman period of 1130 AD two churches once part of the monastery, All Saints and St. Lawrences. The Abbey has gone but the land remains as parkland. After that we strolled through the town until joining our river cruise on a canal boat. Very relaxing. The following photos trace our path to the canal boat and up the river.

Back to the hotel to rest up for another hectic day tomorrow. We will visit three sleepy villages. If you suspect I am being sarcastic you are correct. The only good thing is that doing this tour is cheaper than staying in a hotel and buying meals but the boredom is mind numbing.

The Retirees go Abroad – London in July – Tower Bridge and Globe Theatre

We had attempted a visit last time we were in London with David and Veronica and missed the opportunity by being diverted. Not this time.

From Tower Hill tube station we walked past the Tower of London down to Tower Bridge. Built 1886–1894 it is a combined bascule and suspension bridge crossing the River Thames The bridge consists of two bridge towers tied together at the upper level by two horizontal walkways, designed to withstand the horizontal tension forces exerted by the suspended sections of the bridge on the landward sides of the towers. The vertical components of the forces in the suspended sections and the vertical reactions of the two walkways are carried by the two robust towers. The bascule pivots and operating machinery are housed in the base of each tower. The bridge deck is freely accessible to both vehicles and pedestrians, whilst the bridge’s twin towers, high-level walkways and Victorian engine rooms form part of the Tower Bridge Exhibition.

Entering upon the bridge from the north bank we proceeded to the first tower and after paying our fee we entered an elevator taking us to the top of the tower and a video presentation on the creation of the design for the bridge. From there we walked on the eastern gangway to the other tower stopping to view the river from the glass floor and to take pictures of London high above from the middle of the Thames. From the south tower we circuit back across the western walk way and then down the stairs and onto the engine rooms. As we do a boat travels through the open bridge. Quite a remarkable structure.

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It is then quite an easy walk along the south bank past Hayes wharf where there is a metal work sculpture of something that looks like it is out of a Jules Verne novel onto Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. Here we did a guided tour after visiting the museum. Unfortunately I could not take photos as they were doing a rehearsal for that night so we got to watch the last three scenes of the play.

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Now completely exhausted we dragged ourselves across the Millennium Bridge over to Blackfriars tube station and home

The Retirees go Abroad – Shakespeare and Dickens in London


We started the day with a visit to St Paul’s Cathedral. The Cathedral is massive and has the traditional dome. We were told later by our guide Corrina on our walking tour that Wren the Architect fought with the Bishop about the rebuild of the church after the Great Fire of London (1666)

Wren wanted a dome like catholic cathedrals but of course this was an anathema to the Bishop of the time. The Bishop wanted an English spire not a dome but Wren outlasted the Bishop hence we have a large dome and two spires on the cathedral today.

It is costly to visit the cathedral but we found the crypt which was free to enter. Here is the coffee shop and gift shop amongst the columns and vaulted ceilings together with statues and monuments all accessible at no cost. After coffee we returned to the St Paul’s Tube Station entrance to meet Corinna. Corinna is an actress also but in the twilight of her career and she does these tours for interest and to keep her active. The weather was a little kinder today. The sun was shining most of the time but the wind had picked up and it was chilly.

Corinna started the tour by taking us across the street to the remains of a church destroyed in WW2. This church had been rebuilt by Wren after the Great Fire but devastated in WW2 and turned into a memorial garden. The bell tower has recently been converted into a residence (sold to the current occupier for 4 million pounds). She sat us down and said “London was to Shakespeare and Dickens what Paris was to Balzac. It held them in its thrall, was both their canvas and their inspiration, their workshop and their raw material. They in turn made it their own, imaginatively colonising it. And, like “special correspondents for posterity”, bequeathed it to us. Today, despite the ravages of time, riot, bombing, and especially fire, traces of their London – shipwrecks from the past – still abound in the City. Everything from superb half-timbered Elizabethan dwellings to the magnificent early 16th-century gatehouse where Shakespeare went with his plays to the offices of the Elizabethan Master of the Revels. And from London’s grandest Tudor manor house to crooked little alleys which fed the fires of Dickens’s “hallucinating genius”.” (an extract from the advertising on the web site)

We admired the gardens and looked at various pictures which Corinna handed round. Then off she went; she may have been in her senior years but she was not slowed by them. We chased to follow her to the Candle Makers Guild building, then to the Mayoral carriage on show near another guild hall, then down some alleys to a small garden where a statue of Shakespeare stood. In fact it is a memorial to John Hemminge and Henry Cordell who are credited with compiling and publishing the First Folio in 1623 being the first collection of Shakespeare’ s works. It is located near the Pewterers’ Hall another guild hall this time for makers of pewter.

After a short stop she charged off again passed a remnant of the wall of London but no time to stop just a quick photo. Onto a memorial to people who had died rescuing others. After that we entered Little Britain St and walked passed St Barts Hospital and through the gates to St Bartholomew Great Church where we paused to hear another anecdote on Dickens as around this area Dickens set a number of his stories. Quite frankly I cannot recall exactly what the anecdote had to do with but everything we were seeing was new and fascinating.

As we left the church yard Corinna pointed out the seamstresses and embroiderer’s guild and then the Hand and Shears Hotel – this had been the sewing and cloth district in the times of Dickens.

We ended up near Farringdon Tube Station. But before she let us go Corinna had to do a little song and dance to finish her tour so here on the footpath in public view Corinna starts singing and dancing – no doubt the residents are used to this performance but I was taken by surprise and delighted. After giving directions to the tube station and the local hotels she vanished.

We elected to go to the oldest looking establishment we could find – the Jerusalem Tavern.

Jerusalem Tavern
Jerusalem Tavern

It was tiny and inside it was busy with workers from nearby, the floors were worn and the layout was higgledy piggledy but we were able to order lunch and a drink and rest our feet as we sat at the table in the bay window of the pub. After answering natures call I bumped into one of the other tourists on our tour and suggested he join us – tables were in short supply. Andrew did join us and he turned out to be an Aussie from Sydney an actor by profession and visiting his girlfriend in London, We chatted away out of the wind in the warm atmosphere of the pub and after finishing lunch bid Andrew adieu and headed for the Tube station and home.