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Archives for January 2014

Stratford, England: Shakespeare’s Home

The memories of high school english classes of reading Shakespeare plays come swarming back at me as we hopped off the tour bus in Stratford. And here it is, in Stratford upon Avon, the birth home of Shakespeare.


The home itself was a humble home of the time, small living quarters with a kitchen and the bedrooms upstairs. It remained under ownership of the family until the late 1600s, until there was no descendants to pass it down to. Shakespeare’s great-granddaughter had no children, so left the home under care of Shakespeare’s great-nephew. home_shakespeare_stratford_england_day_with_kaye

Shakespeare’s father was a glove maker. If you had gloves with lots of embellishments, you had reached a certain stature during that time. Here is his workshop.

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Each room in the house had someone who would explain into detail what would go on in that particular room, and maybe some stories of the household. Here is what goes into being a glove maker.

Then we moved on upstairs. Not all the items are original to the home, such as, there would be heavy tapestries on the wall to insulate the home, instead of just wallpaper.


This here is neat. When they first turned the home into a museum, guests would etch their name on the window glass. The earliest signature dates back to 1806. They removed the window pane, but is in a display case. When space ran out, guests would sign their names on the walls. They discontinued this and went with a guest book, and painted over the names. Slightly sad about that. You would have truly “made a mark” in history.


The last room we walked through before making our way out is the bedroom they claim where Shakespeare was born.


With what time we had left after going through the museum, we walked around the town, which also in the middle of setting up and preparing for the Christmas Market. Gosh, timing is everything. It would have been fun to visit London with it already set up in the different towns we visited.


As in all the towns we visited during this trip, there always were charming names for their stores and restaurants.



Last but not least, a jump to commemorate the visit.


Happy travels friends!

Warwick, England: Warwick Castle

We had the pleasure of visiting another castle during our stay in London. Day 2 of touring began at Warwick Castle.

In the past this castle used to be “under the stewardship of the Earls of Warwick and later the Greville Family as a private home until 1978.” After that point, the Tussaud had ownership of the lovely castle. Tussaud may ring a bell when I say – Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. Any bells ringing? Yes, that family. As we toured a section of the castle, the wax figures were in use.

First things first: the castle itself!


Here is the Great Hall and a few staterooms for housing and entertaining its guests. In the rooms now, it showcases the collection of paintings, armor and furniture. (Sorry for the goofy lighting in some of these photos, it seems that as a whole castles want to preserve its tapestries and paintings, and natural sunlight messes with the works.)





This room here was constructed in the 1600’s to be used as a private dressing room for the the state bedroom (above). The originals that remain in this room is the ornate ceiling (carved in the 1670’s), as well as the carved decoration on the walls.

The Grevilles hung their collection of Hans Holbein paintings in this room, recognize any of them?

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And in one of the rooms, I was able to get a glimpse out the window to see what type of scenery these people would have had. If you like looking at nature, it’s not a bad view at all.


Then on the way out of this section of the castle, there were beautiful stained glass windows with the family shield/crests on them.



Part 2 of being at this castle, we climbed the towers. Yeah, that “circular building” in the back there. We climbed all of that.


After climbing the first tower, you climb back down and follow the trail where the people are in the photo below and climb up the 2nd tower. With the steep stone steps, you had to be careful!


Here’s a video of about a 270 degree view from the top of the 1st tower.



Between walking from tower to tower, another cool thing to see was the way to attack and defend the castle.


The sign reads: “If the enemy made it past the first portcullis, they would find themselves trapped in the narrow passage below known as “the killing zone”. Defending soldiers could throw rocks, oil and excrement on the trapped men. Even if they survived this, archers would fire at them with deadly arrows.”


Here’s where the archers would have been placed.


This image just gives a closer visual to what the archers would have seen to aim at their target.


Pretty interesting, if you’re into this type of stuff ^_^

There were open holes at the top of the towers with grates… just in case you wanted to know how high up you were =P


After coming down from the towers, and headed back to the bus. There were peacocks running around in the garden!

Now I’ve seen peacocks before, but it’s rare to see them “running wild and free”. I’m sure there’s someone on the grounds taking care of them.


On to the next adventure! Happy travels friends!

Bath, England: Roman Baths

The Romans did have its glory days in nearly conquering the world. Because in this small town, we have Roman Baths by Britain’s only hot spring and one of Europe’s best preserved ancient sites.

While the baths aren’t in actual operation, as in, jumping in the water for some relaxation, the hot waters are still flowing through, so yes, it is still functioning.



Way back when, this facility has the tallest roof, which had people be in awe of its high ceilings. Here are the remains of the front of the temple of Sulis Minerva. People came here for prayer and healing and to bathe in the waters.


Here is a model simulating the different chambers: bath, spring and temple.




As mentioned earlier, the baths still have the water flowing from the spring. Since it was about 40F, you see the heat rising from the water.


Surrounding this ancient site is a little town, and here are a few fun facts.

The area where the scaffolding is in the front of that building, was the home of the writer Jane Austen.


There was a point in time when there was a “window tax”. Apparently, the wealthier you were, the more windows you had, and therefore were taxed for it. The solution? People closed out windows, and even painted on fake windows to get around it… as in these photos I got.


The window to the right is just painted on the building. Great detail work.


The town was setting up its Christmas Market. I was slightly bummed we were there just a few days too early to peruse through. But, in the way we travel, it is what it is.

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Happy travels friends.

London, England: Stonehenge

Check off another location on my bucket traveling list – Stonehenge!

To paraphrase our guide’s words, “We will spend only 30 minutes at Stonehenge. You may not think this is much time, but you will soon realize you are standing in the middle of an open field staring at a bunch of stones.”

Har har har. In truth through, that’s pretty much what it was like.


And here it is, the “bunch of stones” that still begs the question of its true purpose: pagan ritual ground, calendar, or burial ground. Then there’s the other thought of how the stones were transported. Lots of unknowns of this place. I think that may be why it is on the list of the Seven Wonders of the World (note: the “wonders list” has been changing over the years).



It’s official, I jumped at Stonehenge. Darn my long hair. I have an odd looking mustache happening >_<.


Our guide was right about the time length. We circled around the grounds and went through the audio guide with just a bit more time to get warm in the souvenir shop and head back on the bus.


There are other guides available where you can go beyond the ropes and touch Stonehenge. If you’re into being jam packed with locals and tourists, there is also a festival called Stonehenge Summer Solstice, one of the select few days of the year where you can go up and touch Stonehenge as well.

Happy travels friends.