The time is really speeding by and I’m already thinking of home; in fact, dragging a bag up to Stratford was the last thing I felt like, but I was looking forward to the evening so needs must.

We’ll come back here together, but never in summer. Any sense of Shakespeare is completely ruined by the queue outside the birthplace and the other major attractions. I foreswore tourist traps and went for a walk instead, doing what I cold with the camera, given the grey old day. I think one of the things I have learned on this trip is that you carry a camera for photography, not happy snaps. If you want a memento, an iPhone is fine, or a good point and shoot. Forget all the crossover stuff. If it is worth shooting, it is worth dragging a real camera; and if it is worth areal camera, then it is worth the time. I followed Luke’s advice and took some time, and decided to take the best pictures after dark, when the lack of light wold make no difference.

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Like all English towns, there is a contrast between the heritage bit and the real life of the town. Step outside of the centre and there are factories and council houses, while even the town itself has a bit of interwar blah and postwar blechh. The kitsch factor was well in evidence: who would stay in a B and B called Hamlet House? I would be worried about poison in the ear, would obsessively check behind curtains and worry about the cutlery at breakfast.

The bits that are truly nice are down near the river. The integration of the old theatre and Elisabeth Scott’s building i beautiful and the river itself picture perfect.

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I wandered along the longboat quays and marveled over the lock mechanism. From here, canals could take you down two-century old waterways to London, Birmingham, Liverpool and beyond. The better pubs were outside the centre (thanks for lunch, Dirty Duck) and the walk along the banks to Holy Trinity Church better than the tourist talk would have you believe. There were only fifteen people in the church when I got there. The rest were still queuing for Shakespeare’s Birthplace.

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The hotel was excellent, especially for the money. I had a big room in the newer section, behind the 1540s half-timbered bit, which faced the Guild Church and King Edward VI Grammar School, very familiar territory for bardolators. There was no point shopping, because I had not room in the pack and much of what I found was tat. I was taken with a mug and tie from the RSC but someone would be bound not to get the joke when I turned up with “CHILDREN ARE MAGGOTS” on my coffee or a tie printed with Shakespearean insults. Life is rather dull.

The evening was rather better but needed sharing. I had great meal in the Rooftop Restaurant. The show was a knockout but I really need the program to comment in full — and it’s in my bag! Have to finish with photos.

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