Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I know, I suck at blogging (Stratford-upon-Avon)

So I've been putting off just about all of my responsibilities since I got home for Easter break last Wednesday afternoon, like reading and writing papers, facebooking, responding to emails and phone calls, and as you've probably noticed, blogging. It's not that I don't have anything to say, I do, honestly...I couldn't be bothered to turn on my computer (which is where I keep my pictures!) And since I won't be knitting tonight due to my stupidity leading me into a Kromski booby trap for index and middle fingers that has left me unable to spin/knit/crochet/play with beads, I guess I'll just blog.

So here's the Stratford-upon-Avon information smackdown. Stratford-upon-Avon, not to be confused with Stratford (tube stop on the district line) is a city on the river Avon, and is famous for it's somewhat famous ex-resident. You might have heard of him, I think his name was Will...William...William...hmmm...what was his name....Spear....doh! William Shakespeare. Anyhoo, I decided to spend a few days there before I made the trip back to the US and was so glad I did. I went alone since nobody wanted to go with me (they all went to Amsterdam, I chose culture over pot) and started out really early on Saturday morning and was in Stratford-on-Avon by 1, and checked into my B&B and doing touristy stuff by 2. The first stop was Anne Hathaway's Cottage, which was about a 3 mile walk up the beautiful river shown in picture 3. The house itself is in picture 1, it is one of the few houses in Stratford-on-Avon to still have a thatched roof. Apparently they get all sorts of critters living in them and catch fire very easily. So there are a whopping 2 buildings with thatched roofs still in Stratford-on-Avon, and this is one of them. Anyhoo, Anne Hathaway was Shakespeare's wife. She was (I think, don't quote me on this) 11 years older than dear William, and they apparently didn't get along well at all. I think their marriage might have had something to do with William's father being a loan shark and Anne's father ending up in a lot of debt. Luckily, both Anne and her mother were in that day, and were both willing to hold the Monkey sock.
I swear this isn't a postcard, Stratford-on-Avon just really is this beautiful.The river Avon and a random boat. I got lost and followed the river for 12 miles. The wrong direction.The beautiful swans of DOOM! (They bite. Hard.)The Garrick Pub. The oldest Pub in Stratford-on-Avon. Has three ghosts including Lucy, one of England's most famous ghosts. She was an 8-year-old pickpocket and was caught by the witches of Stratford-on-Avon (not a fabrication, they still have a VERY active Pagan community there that can trace it's heritage back to the Tudor era) and burned. She then went into shock, and then a coma and was presumed dead. They sold her body to the local doctors who were studying the digestive system. They disemboweled her and then she woke up. Died of infection. I felt her small hands around my ankle in the old Tudor building on sheep street, where her ghost spends most of it's time. That's another freaky story...I went in this haunted building from the 1500's, which had been the house of a William something (not Shakespeare) and the house was given to him by the King. He was one of the King's favorite hit-men, and his statue stands inside the front door of the house, depicting him holding a bow and arrow. It's custom to say hello to William, acknowledge his presence and ask for his protection from the 39 other spirits in the house. William and Lucy and the only two spirits that the medians have declared to be "positive" spirits, as in the "they mean you no harm" kind. There are much darker things that lurk in that house than William and Lucy. After you pass William's statue (and ask for his protection) you walk up the staircase. A man was tortured and hanged on the staircase, and many people have said that the bottom two stairs feel squishy, like you're walking on a body and not a plank of wood. Luckily, I didn't get that. We passed the red tower where the spirit of a lady in red haunts the top of the stair case and moved to the Dead Room. While they don't think anyone died in there, there is enough mysterious activity to make you pee your pants. The guide asked all of us to take out our cameras and take a picture of the room to see what showed up. So we all got out our digital cameras and unanimously came to the same realization- we couldn't turn our cameras on. Or our cell phones. Our watches had stopped ticking. Nothing worked in this room. A woman asked if I was all right and I asked her why. She said that over my shoulder there was a man with long hair and a bow and arrow. The tour guide said that was William the Archer, the positive spirit. But he stood behind me to defend me from something much worse. We left the room immediately. I'm getting chills now writing about it. The next room had been the pub where dear Lucy did most of her pick pocketing. Before the guide explained this, I felt a pair of small, cold hands around my left ankle. Then he explained what happened in this room. He said that Lucy searched for the people who had the most comforting air about them, she looks for people because she's afraid. I told her it was over and they couldn't hurt her anymore. Her hands stayed on my ankle for another 30 or 40 seconds and then she put her hand in mind. It was by far the strangest thing I have ever experienced. It still terrifies me to think about what happened in that room, but I'm glad that I am open enough to paranormal activity to experience Lucy and William. I went back the next day in daylight and took a tour through the house by myself. All of the same spots that had worried me the night before still terrified me. The man working, one of the local practicing Pagans, said that it was the Equinox, and they were much more active than normal. I was glad to know it wasn't just me. He sent me into town looking for a gypsy witch who would read me my fortune. (I know there's a lot of skeptics reading this, but I have to tell you, go to that house, see this woman, and you will be a believer) I met the gypsy woman and she sat me down and immediately told me I had a lot of choices to make, and while one was a bigger leap, it was the only one that would make me happy. I immediately thought of my potential employment opportunity. She said I was considerably more in tune with the paranormal than most, but the person who was even more in tune with the other side was my brother. She went on telling me about Clay. She told me that he had experiences before he even knew what they were, and he continues to have experiences that he assumes are normal, but aren't. We knew this to be true about his early experiences with hauntings, our house in France had a strange presence in his room, and like clockwork, he would run down to my parent's room every night telling them about the man sitting on his bed. Strange things happened in that house, much of it revolving around Clay. I know he wishes he wasn't open to this kind of thing, but the gypsy could sense it from another continent. It must be pretty strong.
Primroses at Shakespeare's mother's house, which is still a working farm where people live in Tudor clothes with no electricity or other modern inventions. It's amazing that someone would chose to spend a year or more of their lives like that. They seemed to like it, too!Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare is (was?) buried.The church is on the river Avon, and frequently, bodies that were buried in the graveyard are found downstream as the river cuts deeper into the earth and carries the bodies away. Nobody will check Will's grave though, for there's a curse on the person that disturbs the bones (click on the picture to see it bigger)Hall's Croft, home of Dr. John Hall and his wife, Susanna Shakespeare Hall. Really cool on the inside, including a museum of Tudor medicine. John Hall is known as the first man to cure scurvy, by treating it with watercress and beer. He didn't know why it worked (watercress is full of Vitamin C) he just knew that it did. Scurvy only affected the richer people, as they ate mostly bread and meat. Poorer people often ate vegetables because they couldn't afford meat or breads, and so poor people never got scurvy (maybe those vegetarians are on to something!)The Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly GardensLook who I found checking me out!

"How you doin'?"

So that's my trip in pictures. I had a wonderful time and posted another 100 or so pictures on facebook, but it's just not possible to put them all on the blog. So if you've got me as a friend on that, check them out! Thanks for reading and I'll try to be a better blogger!

8 comments:

Craftyfox said...

Thanks for putting this up I went a long time ago and I've enjoyed seeing it again.

dominic said...

Holy Trinity is one of those beautiful rareities, in that for a church that is not huge, it did have a large college of canons, and has twenty eight, 15th century misericords. Sadly, these are not often seen, as people don't usually look under the choir stalls.

francie said...

I so enjoy your pictures and blogs about England. TFS

Bearium said...

I've never been to Stratford but I've always heard it was lovely. Glad you liked the fibre too :)

Jaclyn Bailey said...

I can tell you from personal experience that living life without "modern conveniences" actually kind of rocks! It is amazing how much more personal interaction you have when you dont have electronic distractions! Plus the clothes are alot more comfy than our modern clothing. Even a bodice is comfy if it is properly made for you...

Glad you enjoyed your trip to Stratford-upon-Avon!

And dont worry about not blogging on vacation! You really needed this break and we can wait!

laurie said...

holy cow----great pictures and nice writing about your adventures.

I don't know if I could take kindly to the spirits--I am a frady cat!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.