Our quest to act more like tourists in our hometown* of Stratford-upon-Avon continued last week as Lisa and I went to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre to watch Hamlet after a pre-theatre meal at The Opposition restaurant. We had a great evening!
Having been on a road-trip in the USA recently (see our blog post about that here) this year we are determined to continue to act like travellers/tourists even when we’re at home by exploring the things we have right on our doorstep. And with the Cotswolds, Stratford-upon-Avon and surrounds all offering a fine array of things-to-do and places to eat/drink there’s no easier place to do this.
We call them micro-adventures and last week we started our micro-adventure with a pre-theatre meal at the Opposition (or The Oppo to locals).
I often ask our Go Cotswolds customers – joining us on a tour of the Cotswolds from Stratford-upon-Avon – where they dine and what their favourite places have been. The Opposition consistently comes up so it’s been top of our ‘to-do’ list for a while. And we certainly weren’t disappointed!
The food and service was excellent. The staff are well drilled in the knowledge that customers eating between 5.30pm and 7.00pm are heading to the theatre so they’re incredibly efficient and tentative without being intrusive. They even asked us which production we were off to see when we booked over the phone!
Lisa had garlic mushrooms followed by the sea bass and I had the leek and potato soup followed by pork wrapped in parma ham. Really excellent food and we were pleasantly surprised by the bill as it was very reasonably priced for such good quality.
After the Oppo we went to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre which was – and I’m rather ashamed to admit this – the first time I’d been there to see a performance since 1998 when I was still at school!
Despite going to the same school as William Shakespeare and hailing from the Bard’s town my interest in Shakespeare waned after studying my A-Levels. I would never have considered myself a huge fan at school anyway so, ever since, visiting the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon has not been particularly high on my agenda.
But recently, and thanks mainly to conversations I’ve had with our Go Cotswolds customers and reading Bill Bryson’s excellent biography of William Shakespeare my interest has been piqued. This has also been coupled with it being 400 years since his death – an occasion that’s being marked by a number of significant events around the World and in Stratford-upon-Avon itself.
So when the opportunity arose to attend a production at the RSC (through our local tourism organisation Shakespeare’s England which Go Cotswolds is a member of) we jumped at the chance.
Lisa and I swotted up on the story of Hamlet prior to the evening (if you can call asking Twitter followers and reading the Wikipedia page swotting up!) but I was still a little apprehensive about understanding the intricacies of the narrative on the night. My prior knowledge of Hamlet was slim to none and I still had memories of days sat in classrooms finding the Shakespearean language all a bit of a struggle.
I needn’t have worried. It was amazing. The language is, at times (and as a Shakespeare novice), a little difficult to follow but the production and acting is such that you don’t need to follow every single word to understand what’s going on. I was thoroughly absorbed for the 2 hours 55 minutes and we were soon vowing to come back again soon. It’s truly astounding that a play with such depth was written over 400 years ago.
Stratford-upon-Avon is a great town to spend a few days in or on a weekend break – not only to appreciate the town, its riverside parks, theatres and fantastic food/drink but to use as a base for exploring the wider area such as The Cotswolds nearby to the South and the rest of Shakespeare’s England. There’s loads to see and do. Like many locals we don’t always appreciate what we have on our own doorstep but I’m glad we’re getting around to doing it now.
Go Cotswolds provides day tours of the Cotswolds from Stratford-upon-Avon on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Even if you’re not staying in Stratford-upon-Avon it’s possible to join us on a day trip from London or Birmingham as we offer complimentary pick-ups from Warwick Parkway (Wednesdays, Fridays) or Moreton-in-Marsh (Sundays) rail stations. To find out more about our tours click on Cotswolds Tours above or visit http://gocotswolds.wpengine.com/tour-details. For details of how to join the tour from London and Birmingham read our blog post Joining a Go Cotswolds Tour from London and Birmingham.
*Alcester (6 miles West of Stratford-upon-Avon) is technically our hometown but as I went to school in Stratford-upon-Avon, spent a lot of my younger years there and is our nearest big town I allow myself to have two hometowns! 🙂