Across the Pond: Days 3-5
Whew, sorry about that lag. I’ve been off in the Wisconsin woods camping with a bunch of teenage girls. But I’ve resumed life as usual. Shall we continue the England recap? Yes, let’s. Days 3-5 took us up the country a bit into an area known as the Cotswolds. (Warning: From here on out, it’s pretty much all sheep, all the time.)
The Cotswolds experienced a boom in the 1600s when the price of wool sky-rocketed. Merchants helped grow these small market towns and donated money for the building of churches, then termed “wool churches.” When cotton came on the scene, the Cotswolds and their wool livelihood died almost overnight. The area fell into a time warp for nearly 300 years, until it was rediscovered in the early 1900s as a charming, untouched tourist destination. Thankfully, since all the buildings, including the shingles, are build from local limestone, everything is still as it was more than 400 years ago.
We stayed in the charming one-pub town of Snowshill and spent the days walking the public footpaths with the sheep and discovering other small towns by car: Chipping Campden, Stow-on-the-Wold, Upper Slaughters and Lower Slaughters.
The Stanway House is still occupied by Lord Stanway, but he opens it up for a few days a week in the summer. Judging from his ancient kitchen, he is a fan of Rice Krispies. Also, he needs to fix that leaky kitchen faucet.
The Cotswolds are famous for those thatched roofs.
In nearby Stratford-Upon-Avon we saw the birthplace and grave of William Shakespeare. We got there just as everything was closing, but managed to snag two tickets to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Merchant of Venice in their newly renovated theater. We were too cheap to buy a program, so we were a bit surprised when the show began and Elvis came onstage. It was a modern adaptation set in a Las Vegas casino. We were even more surprised when Shylock walked onstage and began speaking. We recognized that voice from somewhere. Seth and I leaned forward. “Is that?” Seth asked.
It was. Patrick Stewart, of all people, playing Shylock.
Needless to say, it was a pretty spectacular show. Stewart gave the most commanding stage performance I’ve seen to date. And of course after that we had to buy a program.
Our final day in the Cotswolds took us to Blenheim Palace (where Churchill was born) and on to Oxford, which was lovely and Hogwarts-appropriate.