Words fail me as I sit down to write about our weekend at Stratford upon Avon. I knew it to be a peaceful little town built along the banks of the river Avon. I knew it to be the birthplace of the great Shakespeare. I knew all the famous sites that I wanted to visit. What I didn’t know was that I would experience an explosion of sentiments as I get to walk over his very footsteps at the places where he once dwelled!
Each time I entered one of the five houses associated with him, a feeling of intense awe crept up my spine. To look out the windows of Anne Hathaway’s cottage where she must have sat waiting for her lover to show up and to look at the original pieces of furniture of the house where he was born and even to look up at the thatched roof of their abode, was sheer magic.
The gardens were beautifully landscaped and the staff at each house was insanely passionate about Shakespeare. The information they shared was simply invaluable. For instance, We often use the phrase- “Getting down from the wrong side of the bed.” Did you know that this expression may have originated from the fact that during the earlier times, the chamber-pot was usually placed at one of the two sides of the bed. So, if unfortunately that side be yours and you accidentally stepped inside it first thing in the morning after waking up, you are unlikely to have a very joyful day ahead. It would surely stink- Pun intended!
The expression “Goodnight, sleeptight” This may be result of a clever way the furniture was made during those times. Beneath the mattress, a wooden frame of the same size was fitted with numerous ropes bound very tightly with each other. It provided support to bear the weight of at least two people lest it collapses in the middle of the night.Hence, sleep tight!
These are just deductions made by learned people over the years but I think that they do make real sense.
The time spent at Mary Arden’s farm ( she was his mother) was a lot of fun. We were transported back to the year 1579 and indulged in farm-activities like milking of cows, feeding goat babies, archery and the tudor wedding. It was great for nature lovers like my husband and me. The whole staff was dressed in the colorful shakespearean outfits and I got very nostalgic when a live actor performed the scene of Caesar’s burial from the play Julius Caesar. As he narrated Marc Antony’s speech with utmost grief, each word reminded me of the time when we had memorized this very speech for our English teacher back in school. I was shaken out of my reverie though when the actor’s cell phone began to ring and the crowd burst out laughing merrily!
Shakespeare was the oldest surviving son of his eight siblings. He even survived the severe plague which hit the country when he was three years of age, while thousands around him perished. If he hadn’t, what would have happened to the history without this man who has continued to dazzle us over centuries by his amazing writing skills? THAT- REALLY IS THE QUESTION!
It was a fabulous trip and as Justin Jordan has correctly stated- “There is something slightly unreal about Stratford upon Avon!”