Saturday, 29 March 2014

Stratford Upon Avons of the World

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? 

Did you know, there is more than one Stratford-Upon-Avon in the world?
The most famous, being the birthplace of playwright and poet 
William Shakespeare, 
 but Stratford-Upon-Avon, Victoria, 
is Australia's lesser known equivalent...

Well sort of...

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date . . . .  
"Sonnet 18," 1–4

Celebrating connections Stratfords of the World, Victoria
When you arrive in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Victoria, 
or as the Aussies prefer to call it, Stratford by the river,
you notice immediately, how proud the town is to be one of 
Stratfords of the World...

But apart from a big silver monument to sisterhood, a Shakespeare festival each year, oh and a river called Avon, they are worlds apart...

"The course of true love never did run smooth".  Midsummer Night's Dream (Act I, Scene I).

In my local Aussie Stratford, 
the township dates back to the Gold Rush in the 1850's. 
Old by Australian standards, 
but you don't quite get the spectacular heritage like you do in England...
They do it their way:Shakespeare with a twist! 

Stratford, Victoria Artists Walk
For instance what is this Aussie chap below doing?
He forms part of the Stratford Artists walk - Shakespeare through the Ages.
This is a 3km walk around the town
I guess you can find out more by hiring an audio tour, 
but when we were there, all the batteries in the Ipods (MP3s) were flat!

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks". Hamlet (Act III, Sc. II). 

Artists walk Stratford, Victoria with River Avon behind
Visiting Stratford Upon Avon, UK by contrast is to 
step back in time up to 800 years. 
I love the rich heritage and the William Shakespeare connection.
 I still shudder at the thought of my schoolgirl Macbeth,
but I can recall every word of Portia's Merchant of Venice speech!!

“The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest..." 

Ok so I'm showing off now.. 

A couple of weeks ago, during my quick return visit to the UK, my brother bought Mum and I tickets to see Hilary Mantel's Bring Up The Bodies at the Royal Shakespeare Company's Swan Theatre. He also bought us a night at the wonderful Arden Hotel and the next day we had a very successful morning of birthday clothes shopping! 

"I bear a charmed life". Macbeth (Act V, Sc. VIII). 

Our tickets were standing room only 
on opposite sides of the theatre,
which shows how popular the sell-out play is, 
not how much he loves us...

Standing room only, is quite an evening out. 
Mum had a rich burgundy velvet perch to relax back on 
and I had a bar to lean forward on
(but not the sort that served a nice Gin and Tonic...) 

Well by the time we had reconnected at the interval, 
Mum had made friends with everyone on her perch, 
and I had muscled in on a spare bit of perch on my side of the theatre
(thank goodness!!)

"Bless thee, Bottom, bless thee. Thou art translated" Midsummer Night Dream (Act 3, Scene 1)

Swan Theatre stage, Stratford UK
This photo above is looking down on the stage, 
the perch seats are to the left behind the wooden balcony
and if you look carefully you can see the bars to lean on...

Talking of bars, oh were we? 
Here is a quaint British Pub in Stratford. You can take your pick. 
On my previous visit to the UK I met my old University friends at Stratford,
It would be possible to do quite some pub crawl if you were so inclined... hic!

"Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't." Hamlet (Act II, Scene II). 
Shakespeare is everywhere in Stratford Upon Avon, UK

It is the impressive Tudor architecture of Stratford, UK 
which makes it rather special, 
olde English tearooms abound, 
and you could happily wandered around for days admiring the setting...

"I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it" - As You Like It (Act II, Scene IV).

Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK Public house

So off on the other side of the world, Aussie Stratford has one Avon hotel and bistro with a rather uninspiring mostly Chinese menu, 
but what they lose in setting and Michelin stars
they more than make up for in humour.
Here is the sign on the outside...

Aussie Stratford Upon Avon,

And another...

It is a probably a tad unfair to compare these two Stratfords? 

"To be, or not to be: that is the question". - Hamlet (Act III, Scene I).

Aussie Stratford would win hands done on the meteorology front.
My visit in 2012 saw the British town flooded!

Aussie, Stratford clearly likes to piggy back on the fame of it's elder sister in the tourism stakes...

"Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; 
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him". - Julius Caesar (Act III, Scene II). 

Aussie Stratford town views
There is an ideal opportunity for all Stratfords to celebrate,
 as next month is the 450th anniversary of the birth of 
world's most famous playwright, on 23rd April in 1564. 

You could always join us to visit the town for the upcoming Aussie
Let's Go!

Maybe if someone could remember to put some new batteries in their MP3 players and then the town will be ready!

“All's well if all ends well.” 

I hope you have enjoyed my little tour around the two Stratfords that I know, 
Do you have a Stratford near you?
Or maybe I should just finish now...?

“You speak an infinite deal of nothing.” 
― William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

"Brevity is the soul of wit". -  Hamlet Quote (Act II, Scene II).
Linking with Our World Tuesday. With thanks to our hosts

Linking with Alphabe Thursday S is for Stratford
Thank you to Jenny Matlock

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