Sunday, 22 March 2009

Warwick, Stratford and Good ol' Bill.

Up at the crack of eight today. It's so funny because these tour groups pick up international students from all the various universities in the area and we are always the last ones so we can sleep in AND we always get dropped back first - GO RHUL! The... how many?... seven or so of us Royal Hollowayians piled onto the bus and we set off to Warwick Castle. You would think being an international student that coming to England seeing Shakespeare's grave and so on would be the most important thing to see... but I guess our group of internationals didn't seem to think so. Sadly, Leonore wasn't on this trip she was too busy being in Wales *shakes fist*. But we still have Miranda, Victoria and Tyler. It's crazy because Tyler is actually finished now and is heading home in just a week! I can't fathom that... I totally don't feel finished here. There's too much to see and do! It's a shame uni gets in the way of that at times...

Anyway! I get so off track don't I? On the bus for a couple of hours and we reach Warwick Castle. In England it's common to spell things one way and pronounce it another. Warwick is no exception. It's pronounced "warrick". Just like Egham is pronounced "Egg-am". Probably should have mentioned that earlier... So Warwick Castle! Wow. It's big. Built by William the Conqueror in 1068. It's old. It's also really awesome to look at.
Keep in mind that these pictures were all taken from inside the castle. It's very big. So this is the huge-ness from many different angles. Pretty impressive! We decided to take a walk around the walls which, in total, have 500 steps - whoopee! 500 steps which include awful tiny, narrow and dark winding staircases of death. I really want to know how many people back in the day actually died from falling down (or up) these ridiculous stairs. Judging from the tiny doorways people were a lot smaller back then. I mean even I was having to stoop to get inside the doorway. I didn't think about it at first and almost grazed the top of my scalp off. Pleasant. We arrived and the top of one of the many towers and observed the view of Warwick town. At the top we then asked a random stranger to take a photo of us all with this backdrop. I don't know how we managed it but we were all looking directly in the sun and it's not a very flattering image. Here it is anyway. It makes me laugh.
We look so squinty. We then trooped down and up many other flights of stairs and arrived at the exit and into the entry of a display of wax figures in medieval get up. These wax figures begged to be made fun of. So we complied. Tyler suggested that this was the new Madame Tussaud's and that all these figures were actually celebrities. I like to think that that's me next to a medieval looking Brad Pitt. Anyone? Maybe if you squint a bit? At one point there was a guy dressed up in medieval garb who said "good morrow" as we walked past and Victoria goes "Was that a real guy?" and the guy goes "I was last time I checked" and she freaked out. It was SO funny.
We then moved into another part of the castle which was inhabited by Winston Churchill at one point. It was very grand inside. I'd live there I suppose. I think the whole castle would make an excellent party spot. All that's needed is a jumping castle. Maybe there was one that I just missed... Henry VIII's royal jumping castle. Within this house were various bits of history. One such bit was the actual riding saddle of Elizabeth I! I saw the thing that her royal derriere once rested upon. Then we found a stuffed bear. I only found this out at this very moment in time but, apparently, the mascot of Royal Holloway is a bear! I need further research because I haven't heard anything about bears around campus. Are there that many bears in England?
Moving rooms we found ... *drum roll* ... costumes! Is this the best interactive castle or what? Most of the costumes were tiny sized (not that that would stop me) so we tried on many hats coming up with hilarious scenarios including me as a drunken spinster and Victoria and I in sailor costumes acting as Miranda's wee children. Tyler was Abe Lincoln. Next we trooped up a big hill and loved the view but particularly loved the sword in the stone which none of us managed to get out. Because we couldn't get the sword out we ended up in the stocks. Bummer. Change locations! After some lunch and a quick look through the quaint little town of Warwick we set off to Stratford. Stratford upon Avon! Birthplace of... ? Anyone? SHAKESPEARE! Woo Bill! For some reason we started with his grave. Here it is. One of England's most important people. It was pretty exciting. See the plaque about the grave? Shakespeare put a curse on his own grave. He was so scared that after he died people would bury him or dig him up and bury him in Westminster Abbey. I don't really see what's wrong with that but I guess he wanted to be near his family as the other graves next to him are his wife and daughters. The curse reads "Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare, To digg the dust encloased heare, Blest by the man that spares these stones, And curst be he that moves my bones." In other words - Move my bones and I'll bone you.

We then went to have a look at his mansion that he bought and lived in in the last three years of his life. Funny story about why it isn't there anymore. Once Shakespeare died Reverend Francis Gastrell bought it and lived there only to have people knocking on the door day and night wanting to have a look inside the house of Shakespeare. People wanted to see the house and the garden 24/7 so Gastrell felt that the best way to put a stop to this was to burn the place down. That's the most sensible thing to do isn't it? The townspeople were so mad they ran him out of town. The garden is still there and this artist recently made abstract metal sculptures depicting symbols from various Shakespeare plays. We walked around and tried to guess each one. I was surprised by how much and how little of Shakespeare I knew. I was actually listening in school and university - who would have thought?

Finally, we took a stroll to see the house Shakespeare was born in. You could pay six pounds to go inside and have a look around but the tour guide said it wasn't really worth it. Instead we all trotted about the high street buying various Shakespeare souvenirs. Back on the bus and back to RHUL as we got dropped off first - woo!

This was an exciting day but also somewhat sad too because this is my last tour with our tour guide Susanna who is SO LOVELY. Over the past several months we've got to know her and about her husband. She's the nicest lady and she knows so much history but in a really accessible way. Thank you so much Susanna!
Now this blog is far too long and my tiny fingers are sore from typing. I hope you've enjoyed it! Bye!

1 comment:

  1. haha. miranda's got a bit of capn popeye action in that squinty shot.