Friday, 29 July 2011

Summer Adventure #3

Anne Hathaway
by Carol Ann Duffy
'Item I gyve unto my wife my second best bed ...'
(from Shakespeare's will)

The bed we loved in was a spinning world
of forests, castles, torchlight, clifftops, seas
where we would dive for pearls. My lover's words
were shooting stars which fell to earth as kisses
on these lips; my body now a softer rhyme
to his, now echo, assonance; his touch
a verb dancing in the centre of a noun.
Some nights, I dreamed he'd written me, the bed
a page beneath his writer's hands. Romance
and drama played by touch, by scent, by taste.
In the other bed, the best, our guests dozed on,
dribbling their prose. My living laughing love -
I hold him in the casket of my widow's head
as he held me upon that next best bed.

 Goodness last sunday seems a long time ago right now, it was blue skied and scorching then. Today is rather muggy and grey, but I can escape by posting about sunnier days. Last sunday we went to Stratford (if you hadn't guessed) and visited Anne Hathaway's Cottage before seeing the open air performance of Taming of the Shrew  at the Dell in town. 

Top: what may or may not be 'The Second Best Bed'. The other bed I included because I just loved that quilt...

The cottage was absolutely lovely, it was obviously very well looked after, the guide was brilliant and knew so much! Even told me a thing or two I didn't know about Oxford, so I was mightily impressed. We managed to get there early and so avoided the big coach groups for the most part, so I managed to get some clear pictures of the gardens. These definitely deserve their own post, it was so beautiful. All the sweetpeas were out, something like 40 varieties; there was an orchard, a sculpture park, a woodland walk. And there were cute little Shakespeare references literally (and literarily) everywhere. A few years ago the Trust had built a willow cabin in the garden, and recorded actors reciting four of Shakespeare's sonnets for visitors to listen to while sat there. On top of that, all the plants that were labelled in the garden had a little Shakespeare quote relating to them underneath. It was details, and the gorgeous weather and flowers blooming everywhere that really made the day. Plus I got to wander round in a new floral dress and my straw boater and feel wonderfully stereotypical English-student. What more could a girl ask for?
 Once again the Gloucestershire Youth Players were incredible, the energy they had was even more impressive on a sweltering day (I for one am still a tad on the burnt side) and to add even more of a challenge they decided to do the play in the round for the last weekend. And pulled it off magnificently. They get a rest now, until the Autumn when they're going to be doing a schools tour in Gloucestershire, and may be back at Stratford (perhaps even in the RSC theatre itself??) Best of luck to them all! 

The calm before the storm...

All ready to go...

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