This weekend we decided to take a little trip away from regular life and drove down to Stratford Upon Avon – which is about an hour and a half from where I live in Stoke. I’ve only been to Stratford once before and really enjoyed it, so I knew it was the ideal place to head to, which was a little bit different and also where we couldn’t spend too much time distracting ourselves with shopping (which is what I usually do whenever I go anywhere). Even though Stratford does have a few high street shops, you spend more of your time by the river and soaking in the lovely Olde buildings.
We stopped in the beautiful Arden Hotel, which is right by the water side. Our room was at the front facing the lake and was so spacious and luxurious. Not what I expected when I booked it as a ‘secret hotel’ on Late Rooms! I assumed those rooms are just going to be rubbish and the ones they can’t book up otherwise. It cost £84 and included breakfast, which usually would have been £20 alone. When weighing up the price of this hotel against the dives you’ve get in London for a similar price, it seems almost ridiculous to go there over somewhere a bit more quirky like this.
All the rooms were named after trees, which was reflected in small details such as the wallpaper and throughout the interior decor. We stopped in the ‘Redwood’ room, which had the deepest bath I’ve ever had the pleasure of soaking in (complete with a Lush bath bomb which I went out and bought after I caught the size of the bath, haha). To be honest, I would have felt like the trip was worth it just for the hotel, and would have happily stayed in there all day and night in the complimentary dressing gown, but we were there to explore afterall so soon popped our shoes on and went out…
In the spirit of Stratford we hired a boat and rowed (badly) across the river. It ended up with me rowing us in to the wall by the ‘foot ferry’ and the man who was running that also ended up shouting at me! Mate, I did my best! Turns out it’s nothing like the rowing machines at the gym, despite my best efforts to row my personal best of 2000 metres in 12.09 minutes…. The magic of the woeful row was captured below… and we went in to the side of the river about 3 seconds later. Perhaps if I’d concentrated harder on my technique over singing ‘F*CK LAND I’M ON A BOAT MOTHER F*CKER’ I maybe would have done a little better.
Of course, after we completed our peril filled adventure at sea (read; little row on a quiet river) we had to refuel, so thankfully I packed these Corker Crisps which actually felt a bit wrong to eat as the river also had a few ducks in residence… So eating duck flavoured crisps probably wasn’t the best idea. The Mixed Veg Crisps however, went down as more of a treat and I think vegetable crisps are slowly taking over as my new favourite savoury snack. Yum. I got sent a whole box of different flavoured Corkers Crisps and they were all so crispy and tasty, I’ll have to get some more. Crisps are my weakness.
We wandered all over Stratford exploring Shakespeare’s Birth Place, The Dirty Duck, the oldest pub in the land and explored the Butterfly Farm. The weather couldn’t have been better for this time of year either! Although there was a slight chill in the air, the sun stayed out and there wasn’t a hint of rain.
The next day we nipped by the the Tudor Museum, which funnily enough, was all about the Tudors. It was a bit pricey for what it was – costing £5.50 per person and we must have walked around it within half an hour! But as it’s a small, local tourist attraction I don’t mind paying it to help keep it running. The staff were all really friendly and you could tell how passionate they were about the history of Stratford. Something which a lot of bigger cities forget. I got to hang out with me mates Henry and Liz on the throne and even got to smell the plague (you can see my Instagram account (username: HelloTerriLowe) to find out what that smelt like though)
All in all I had a bloody great time. The only unexpected part of the trip was that Stratford was hosting it’s annual ‘MOP fair’ which we didn’t see advertised anywhere before we went. Unfortunately the fun fair took up a majority of the streets meaning we were left a little disorientated when trying to find our way around. We did go to some splendid place to eat though, which I’ll show off in another blog post.
If you’re looking for an affordable little break away from the city then definitely give Stratford Upon Avon a go. Shakespeare isn’t all it has to offer y’know!