Over the Bank Holiday weekend I ventured to the homeland of my favourite bard. In the last two years, this was the fourth time that I’ve returned to Stratford-Upon-Avon for a short break. The reason is not that I am obsessed with William Shakespeare, for all his positive attributes, but that I find it such a lovely restful place and it refreshes my mind.
Last time I took in Shakespeare’s birthplace and the fairytale childhood home of his wife Anne Hathaway. This time I took my family walking the paths of Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth I in Charlecote Deer Park. We even visited the home of Will’s mum, Mary Arden, for some Tudor farmyard fun. We also went to the Old Town and pottered around Halls Croft, which was home to Shakespeare’s daughter and her physician husband and happens to be located just a stone’s throw from the bard’s resting place. Then, as there were no plays on the lawns of Halls Croft’s exquisite gardens that day, but there was nothing on at this time so we crossed the Avon on a foot ferry and had a gallop on the carousel. We also made time between reciting sonnets for a few ice creams and some fish and chips.
In fact now I come to think of all of my holiday destinations of late have had a certain bookishness about them. I have managed to work a literary visit in to the itinerary wherever we have been and I must say I have been mastering this with some success. It has not only taken me this long to figure out the pattern but also Pete has not seen fit to complain even once.
Just last month I was in Amsterdam over Easter. While my partner was keen to sample the capital’s less reputable cultural offerings, on the contrary I was all fired up to visit Anne Frank’s annexe and an unforgettable experience it was to.
Before that I was whisked off to Bath for a spa weekend for my birthday. Relaxation, good food, lovely hotel, plentiful gifts but ahead of all of that I was keen to get in a trip to the Jane Austin centre as soon as we arrived. The year before I remember going to Ashdown Forest, Kent for my birthday. This is where A.A Milne set his adventures of my favourite story book characters, Winnie-the-Pooh and chums, and while in close pursuit of Heffalumps I managed to stop by at Pooh Corner for a smackeral.
Just previously we went on a trip to Oxford where first on my to-do list was Alice’s shop where I got in the know about all things Lewis Carol and that was on a short stop-off before we ventured to Snowdonia. Here I was so awe-inspired by the natural beauty of the Welsh valleys and cascading waterfalls that I began to scribble poetry again while my partner negotiated our little car through the mountains roads and I decided that I was going to leave my full-time position as a marketer for a global publishing company to follow my heart as a freelance writer.
Come to think of it while taking my mum on a birthday treat to London a few weeks ago (she was keen to see the Stephen Jones millinery exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum which was incredibly good as it turns out) I even managed to swing by the Manbooker Prize exhibit. Some might say it’s an addiction. I maintain that it’s a passion.
It must stem from the fact that following the literary masters, particularly poets, has become unavoidable for me; they seem to be everywhere I turn. John Keats wrote The Eve of Saint Agnes after taking inspiration from Chichester Cathedral, Charles Dickens was born in nearby Portsmouth, Rudyard Kipling wrote about Manhood End in Eddi’s Service and William Blake lived in Felpham.
Then I moved close to Hardy country to attend University. Don’t get me wrong, I chose Bournemouth because it had a brilliant reputation and offered the Communication course I wanted to do not because I had a thing about Hardy, who reportedly felt disdain for the seaside town in any case .
Well there you have. I love a good book and I love writing and I surround myself with the ancestry of some of the greatest writers of our times for business and pleasure. I think it’s good to find out more about the people who wrote the great novels, poems and plays and seek inspiration where they once found it. It can only help improve my copywriting skills can’t it?