Well we spent quite a while in Stratford-on-Avon which is probably our favourite spot so far. We were moored up on the Stratford Canal - right between two pubs but it was very quiet and with a Marks & Spencers on the main street right at our back door it was a perfect spot. To add to this we had one of the few shady moorings which was handy as it was really really hot.
Tourists everywhere - narrowboats are quite a novelty and I'm sure we feature in photos going all over the world. We became very cultural - going to two plays - one being Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing (but set in the present day) and another play A Mad World My Master written in the 1650s but set in the 1950s. This was at the very old Swan Theatre with the actors appearing from all over the place during the play which was very crude and lewd but extremely funny and very well performed.
Shakespeare's grand house right in the heart of the main street of Stratford
On the Saturday and Sunday there was a 'River Festival' on the banks of the Avon River. We have never seen so many people in one place crammed into the park enjoying the music provided by different groups playing in the bandstand over the two days. Much bare skin on show by the Brits which was a pillarbox red shade by the end of a very hot sunny weekend! The event ended with an illuminated boat show up and down the river then fireworks enjoyed by the crowd on the river banks. Estimated 40,000 people were at the Festival.
Decorated narrowboats at festival
Caught a local bus to Anne Hathaway's cottage which she grew up in before marrying Bill
Shakespeare back in the 1600s. We had been there before back in 1994 and nothing much had changed (no ..... the kitchen and bathroom hadn't been renovated since we were last there!). Very pretty cottage garden and veggie patch surrounding the cottage.
Anne Hathaway's Cottage at Stratford
On Wednesday we caught the train down to London (2-1/2 hours) for Olive's 4th birthday. On Thursday we went to her end-of-year concert at her play school. The school has a few different groups and Olive's group did 'Under the Sea' which was surprisingly good seeing they were only 4 year olds who will be starting primary school in September after the Summer holidays.
The birthday girl in the backyard on the day of her big day.
Iris - a Picasso in the making!
Sooz and Ten had arranged tickets on Friday for us to go to the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show which is the largest flower show in Europe with 32 ACRES of flower displays, garden ornaments, equipment, gazebos etc etc. Took a couple of trains to get there and then a walk along the Thames with 1000s of other people. Spectacular displays - the flower colours and sizes are just amazing.
Spectacular flower displays at Hampton Court
Saturday - another hot day- was Olive's party in a nearby park (which was more like a wood with lots of shady trees and winding paths). It was left to the local community by a rich fellow many years ago and residents have to pay £8 a year to get a key for access. Over 25 children (and their parents attended) and of course the children loved being able to run around out of sight. Tendaka had organised a treasure hunt with lots of clues hidden in the trees which was a great hit also.
Birthday Cake in the park
On Sunday we caught the train back to Stratford and early Monday morning left to head down the Avon River towards Gloucester. Had quite an audience standing on the bridge watching us go through the lock onto the river.
Leaving Stratford - going past the Shakespeare Theatre Company building
Cruising down the river which is a bit wider than the canals in most places in perfect weather was superb. Still some locks to go through while the river goes down weirs on the side of the locks.
At one lock a young couple with a baby in a pram were watching me struggle to close the gate after the boat had gone through. "Wouldya loke a 'elping 'an luv? she asked then proceeded to tell her fellow (who was built like he spent most of his time working out in the gym) to "go 'elp the lady'. He came down and waved me aside - leant on the gate and then said 'sh##%%'. After he had pushed for a while and gone red in the face he said "Geez - they ain't 'alf 'eavy ain't are they!" Made me feel really good - having done so many already.
We've stopped overnight at the villages of Bidford-on-Avon, Evesham and Pershore and are now at Tewkesbury. Each village has something special to offer. Went to The Regal Cinema at Evesham - saw The Great Gatsby which was a bit of a disappointment but the Cinema was a work of art. Done in art deco style - downstairs it was tables for 2 or 4 with a bar at the back so you could have a drink or a platter to nibble on while watching the film. Upstairs it was 'loveseats for 2' and then some normal single seats. Quite an experience. (Sort of similar to the Ruffy Hall!)
Lots of black and white cottages leaning at odd angles along every street - it's incredible that they are 100s of years old and haven't fallen over. Also there's amazing displays of vibrant coloured flowers baskets and planters in every town.
Just one of the many bridges on the Avon River - some built by the Romans.
Some of the window traffic passing by at Bidfod-on-Avon
The welcoming party at Pershore
Moored opposite the weir at Evesham - 100s of ducks, Canadian geese and swans
Just come back from seeing Tewkesbury Abbey - a huge church built in the 1100s - just beautiful with the choir practising to add to the occasion.
There is so much to see here at Tewkesbury that we will probably spend a couple of nights here before setting out for Gloucester, now travelling on the Severn River.
Moored up at Tewkesbury on the Severn River.
Just heard the forecast and it looks like the hot weather is continuing this week with just a few thunderstorms predicted. Life's good!!