The land of Shakespeare

So I was taken away on a special weekend trip… A lucky girl indeed. Although English Lit courses at uni are a distant memory, I was excited to be taken to Stratford-upon-Avon, the home of Mr William Shakespeare himself.

We bought the Five House Pass [2-for-1 if you’re a Direct Line customer! or 10% if you book online], a combined ticket that gets you access to all the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust sites, which we think is good value if you visit two or more. We started with the cottage he was born in. It is a lot bigger now, though…

Shakespeare's Birthplace

Below is one of the two downstairs rooms original to the time of Shakespeare’s birth. There is a real sense of history as you experience the house, although it is pretty packed with tourists like us!

Inside Shakespeare's Birthplace

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An impromptu Saturday

This was an unexpectedly fun day. With no real plans, we checked a few of our favourite sources for inspiration (we’ll do a post on these soon).

We found a series of sessions called Daylight Music at the gorgeous Union Chapel in Islington. From 12 noon, they have an eclectic mix of up-and-coming artists. This was our first visit, but we imagine it encompasses quite a range of genres, and also features a pretty amazing café at the back, with proceeds going towards a homeless charity. They serve endless cups of tea, home-baked cakes and bacon sandwiches [!!!], with an informal atmosphere. We saw the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment‘s Experience ensemble perform Haydn, a slightly too intense guitarist/singer/songwriter, and The Swingles (previously the Swingle Singers), in an amazing line-up (which, to be fair, isn’t a typical weekly occurrence!).

Union Chapel, Islington
The OAE performed brilliantly, but the Swingles were the real highlight. They sang some of their well-known material and some new, but they interestingly described their technique of live looping, where they sing something once and their sound engineer instantly records it and replays it. This enables them to layer their vocals even further and develop their rich sound.

Inside Union Chapel, Islington

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A quiet day in

Today was just a quiet day in; it was Holocaust Memorial Day so we watched a fascinating documentary called “Holocaust: Night Will Fall”, which is about a film detailing the Holocaust that was made during the War but never broadcast.

Jewish cross at American War Cemetary in Cambridge

We then ventured to the cinema; the one of our choice is generally one of the Everyman cinemas. It’s a fantastic chain with comfy seats, a great bar and the option of having food brought to your seats. Word of warning, though – not all Everymans (Everymen?) were created equal [the best ones have sofas, but it depends on which venue and screen you go to!], so check before you book.

We went to see The Theory of Everything, which we’re sure you’ve seen by now, but if you haven’t… Go. I, for one, cried throughout – it was emotional as predicted, and beautifully acted by Eddie Redmayne [it was an incredible performance]. It reminded us of this photo we took of the chapel at St John’s College in Cambridge, where the movie was filmed (although not actually set [he studied at Trinity Hall during his time in Cambridge]).

Inside St. John's Chapel, Cambridge

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