Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Midlands

After being in Plymouth for a couple weeks, Baxter and I decided to travel inland a bit.  We hired a car and set out to explore the Midlands including Solihull and Stratford-Upon-Avon.  We had fun with a LandRover Experience adventure and Baxter drove a Defender along the historic track that has been testing Land Rovers since 1947.  Through waist deep waters, across logs, up rocky hills and down steep slopes and staircases, the course was challenging and fun but no problem in the vehicles that were designed for this terrain.  To see a short video of the adventure, click here.

Next, we were off to the home of Shakespeare who was born, grew up, married, and died in Stratford-Upon-Avon.  Baxter and I have read and learned so much about Shakespeare that we wanted to visit this historic town.  After traveling around Ireland, we have realized that tours are a great way to get the lay of the land and learn things that might not be obvious by seeing the sights yourself.  When we arrived, it was a downpour, so we opted for a "hop on/hop off" bus tour.  Through fateful events, the bus driver ended up leaving before we could hop on.  So instead, we headed for the starting point of the walking tour, hoping the rain would end soon.  We also thought that since it was pouring rain, we would be the only participants on the walking tour.  Nope - just as crowded as any other day with at least ten people ready to know all the secrets of this small village.

Our tour guide, Barbara, has lived in this town for over 40 years and provided excellent details about Shakespere, his family and the origin of many sayings and words that are used in every day life.    Though he left Stratford-Upon-Avon for London when he was in his twenties, Shakespeare returned here to his wife and children after becoming a successful writer and actor and eventually died here.  We walked around for hours exploring different stages in his life and pivotal events that formed who he was as a writer and a person.  Every time we pick up a Shakespearean classic, we will always think back to the images and places in this quaint little village in the middle of England.

Click here for a quick video of the Land Rover Experience

Shakespeare's birthplace and where he lived with his wife and children, along with his parents, until he left for London in his twenties.
The Shakespeare family Coat of Arms

The Harvard House behind the grey van.  John Harvard's mother lived here in the 1600s and the family donated the money and land for what would become Harvard University.
The new house Shakespeare purchased upon returning to Stratford-Upon-Avon

This is the New Place that William Shakespeare purchased and moved his family to after returning as a rich and famous writer and actor

The Avon River.  The name Stratford-Upon-Avon means "The street upon the river Avon"
The door knocker on the church where Shakespeare is buried
The door is only about five feet high.  It's top is where the sign is in the middle of the arch.
The baptism and burial certificates of William Shakespeare.
The King James Bible was completed in 1610 when Shakespeare was 46 years old.  In Psalm 46, the 46th word from the beginning is 'shake' and the 46th word from the end is 'spear' (omitting 'Selah' which means end).  Coincidence, or did he have a hand in the revision of the bible? 
Shakespeare's Grave, along with his wife, one of his daughters and her husband

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