Shakespeare’s Stratford

Stratford-upon-Avon is a wonderful town and no visit would be complete without a slathering of Shakespeare. It seemed logical to begin at the birthplace of the brilliant bard. William was the third of eight children born to John and Mary who owned the largest house on Henley Street.

1.Shakespeare's Birthplace

The early 16th century building also housed John Shakespeare’s successful glove making business.

2.Shakespeare's Birthplace

William lived here with his wife, Anne Hathaway, for the first five years of their marriage. After John’s death in 1601 William inherited the house and leased part of the property as The Maidenhead Inn. Photos of the interior weren’t allowed but they were as beautifully restored and maintained as the gardens and exterior.

3.Shakespeare's Birthplace4.Shakespeare's Birthplace5.Shakespeare's Birthplace

Of course, we exited via the gift shop.

6.The Shakespeare Gift Shop

We wandered along Henley Street, the shop windows already shining with Christmas decorations.

7.Henley St

The magnificent Tudor buildings have stood the test of time, despite many of them being destroyed by fire four times between 1594 and 1641.

We turned into High Street,

10.High St

the intricate timber frontage of The Garrick Inn was stunning. Dating back to the 14th century, the oldest pub in town is reputedly haunted.

11.The Garrick Inn, High St

Next door, Harvard House had an equally impressive façade, adorned with various carvings.

Crossing over Sheep Street, High Street changed its name to Chapel Street. The 4-star Mercure Shakespeare Hotel dates back to 1637 and each room is individually decorated and named after a Shakespearian play or character.

14.Mercure Stratford upon Avon Shakespeare Hotel, Chapel St

Shakespeare’s granddaughter, Elizabeth, married Thomas Nash in 1626 and they lived in a lovely Tudor house in Chapel Street

15.Nash's House

with a gorgeous traditional knot garden filled with herbs and aromatic plants.

16.Nash's House knot garden17.Nash's House garden

There were several sculptures depicting characters from the Bard’s plays and poetry.

18.statue Nash's House

I don’t know if Thomas enjoyed an ale or two but his house was conveniently close to The Falcon Hotel, built in the early 16th century with a second floor added in 1645.

19.The Falcon Hotel, Chapel St

Further on, the road name changed to Church Street where we encountered a row of almshouses. Built in 1417-18 by the Guild of the Holy Cross for old or needy members of the guild, they were transferred to Stratford upon Avon Corporation in 1553 and enlarged to provide 24 homes for the elderly. Following refurbishment in the mid 1980s, there are now 11 self-contained units .

20.The Almshouses, Church St

It wasn’t far before the Shakespeare story continued. William and Anne’s eldest daughter, Susanna (Elizabeth’s mother), married a local physician, John Hall in 1607. The rather impressive Hall’s Croft, built in 1613, was their home.

21.Hall's Croft22.Hall's Croft

We were running out of time and so, only briefly stopped at Anne Hathaway’s cottage. Anne was born here in 1556 and lived with her family until she married Shakespeare.

23.Anne Hathaway's cottage24.Anne Hathaway's cottage

It would have been nice to linger in the beautiful gardens but we were on a mission to visit Mary Arden’s Farm…. but that’s another post.

Arimia

We had worked up an appetite with a morning walk along the spectacular Meelup Trail and lunch at Arimia had come highly recommended. Australia’s most westerly commercial vineyard, the unusual name is a blending of the owner’s daughters, Ariann and Mia. The cellar door and restaurant were airy and welcoming.

1.cellar door & restaurant2.restaurant3.restaurant

We chose a table on the sunny deck

4.alfresco

amid the relaxing atmosphere of the peaceful bushland setting.

5.garden

Accompanied by winery dog, Bess,

6.Bess

we took a pre prandial stroll around the immaculate grounds.

7.garden8.garden9.veggie patch10.garden11.garden12.garden13.alfresco

We enjoyed our delicious meals and superb wine

14.meal

under the watchful eye of Bess.

15.Bess

A perfect way to end our wonderful Margaret River experience before travelling back to Perth, a back seat snooze inevitable.

Lyme Park

Leaving the beautiful county of Yorkshire, we made our way south to the equally stunning county of Cheshire. We couldn’t resist a visit to Lyme Park estate. The largest house in the county, surrounded by 6 hectares of formal gardens, is set in a deer park of 550 hectares in the Peak District National Park. The entrance gate was impressive, I love the mysterious padlocked door.

1.entrance gate Lyme Park

The house dates from the late 16th century and has been gradually developed since then, with modifications made by Italian architect, Giacomo Leoni, in the 1720s. The sweeping circular drive approaches the north front of the house.

2.north facade

The west front dates from the 18th century

3.west facade

as does the magnificent south front.

4.south facade

You may recognise this as Pemberley from the TV production of Pride & Prejudice. Who can forget the scene where, after taking a bath (fully clothed) in the lake, Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy encounters Miss Bennet, attired in his soaking wet, white shirt?

5.Lyme Park

Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, the gardens. The formal gardens were created in the late 19th century,

6.Lyme Park

the intricate Dutch garden was initially laid out as an Italian garden and is usually bursting with colour. Unfortunately, the summer bedding plants had finished in late autumn. The four cherub statues represent the elements of Earth, Fire, Air and Water.

7.Dutch garden

The Huntress, Diana,

8.statue of Diana

overlooks the Orangery Terrace

9. Orangery terrace

and an aged stone eagle majestically stands guard.

10.stone eagle

The Timber Yard is a cluster of buildings where we found a cosy café and quaint shops. Created in 1904, the café was once the joiner’s workshop and the ice cream parlour was the boiler house. During the war years, it was used as living quarters for the RAF. Some of the buildings are now residential cottages.

11.The Timber Yard

I can think of worse places to live.

Tepi Laut Villas

Unlike a great percentage of Australians (according to Redgum in 1984), we never had a desire to visit Bali. We don’t cope very well with heat and humidity and weren’t too enthused about the crowds. When our friends from Darwin said they were going with the family and renting a private villa with room for two more, it was the perfect opportunity to spend time with them and experience the culture across the sea. After a long day of travel (it’s a fair distance from Tasmania), we landed at Denpasar airport along with, it seemed, every other flight from across the globe, just before midnight. After obtaining a visa (that’s another story), we stepped outside into the stifling heat and, just before we were overcome with secondhand cigarette smoke, we spied our friends. They had come to rescue us in the villa car which was, thankfully, air-conditioned. Sitting in the middle of the back seat of the SUV, I had a perfect view of the chaos that is Bali traffic. I closed my eyes to prevent my heart from stopping and we eventually arrived, dazed and disheveled, at the villa. It was Nirvana. Awakened at 6am by the chanting from the temple in the neighbouring village, I peered over the balcony

1.from balcony2.from balcony

and made my way downstairs. The open living area was beautiful, there was no doubt we were in Bali.

3.living area4.living area

Our room was upstairs on the right,

5.outside

an air-conditioned sanctuary from the heat of the day.

The bathroom was exquisite, every amenity catered for.

There was plenty of space for lounging around the pool,

and the secluded bale was inviting on a hot afternoon.

The edge of the water feature at the entrance (or exit, depending on whether you are coming or going), was dotted with fresh frangipani blossoms.

17.entrance

There were five villas in the group at Tepi Laut surrounded by rice fields, away from the madding crowd, at Seseh Beach.

18.exterior

Our villa, Villa Sungai, was on the edge of the complex overlooking a river and the small fishing village of Seseh.

19.exterior

It was a pleasure to return to the tranquility after a day out,

the villa dog was probably the luckiest dog in Bali.

22.villa dog

The night lights were cute, like someone hiding in the foliage wearing a hat.

23.exterior

A relaxing dip in the pool was always welcome

24.view from the pool

and offered a different perspective of the garden.

We were well looked after by the wonderful villa staff and enjoyed some fabulous meals

28.dining table

prepared and cooked in our own kitchen.

29.kitchen30.our villa staff

We experienced a spectacular monsoonal downpour one day, a brief respite from the heat.

31.rain32.rain

It was fun to return after a day out to find a new menagerie awaiting us. Apparently, it is known as towel origami.

Voyager Estate

After visiting some of the boutique wineries in the Margaret River region, we thought it only fair to experience one of the more substantial enterprises.

1.entrance

The word that springs to mind when I recall our visit to Voyager Estate is ‘immaculate’.

2.Voyager Estate

Established in 1978, the regimented vines were patiently awaiting their spring foliage.

3.Vineyard

At the end of the long driveway, we parked the car

4.Voyager Estate

and made our way along the perfectly paved paths edging manicured lawns.

5.Voyager Estate6.Voyager Estate

The gardens and buildings were inspired by the Cape Dutch farmsteads of South Africa. The colourful plantings complemented the stark white buildings beautifully.

 

As we neared our objective, the flawless approach

10.Voyager Estate11.Voyager Estate

was lined with some intricate examples of topiary.

12.topiary hedges

We finally reached the Cellar Door

13.Cellar Door

and entered the inner sanctum.

14.entrance

The hallway leading to the restaurant was pristine (as were the bathrooms).

15.hallway

Private tasting sessions are offered in ‘Michael’s Room’, named after the late mining magnate, Michael Wright, who bought the estate in 1991.

16.Michael's Room

We settled for a few samples at the tasting counter and, of course, a purchase or two.

17.departing