Spending New Years with The Bard
Sometimes, being wonderfully spontaneous and last minute, isn’t so wonderful after all. Take New Years Eve for example. We started planning a little trip away, on Boxing Day. We knew we didn’t want to go out and get drunk; I’ve spent my past few NYE’s working in a night-club, so that’s the last place I wanted to spend the first NYE with Steven! We looked at everything from Disney Land Paris, to London, to Alton Towers, but everything was booked, or far too hard to organise at the last minute. As is often the way, I gave up after a few non-starters, and Steven just got more and more determined. His method in the end involved simply searching for places that happened to have spaces for New Years Eve. And thus we ended up in the Ambleside Guest House in Stratford-Upon-Avon for our first ever New Years.
After being stuck in traffic food what seems like forever (I am so impatient!) we get to the B&B and it's every bit as lovely as promised by reviews. We're greeted by Ruth who is just the nicest lady. She annotates a map for us of all the places we might want to see & do and shows us to our room. She shows us how to use the shower, a simple on/off system but the thought is appreciated and leaves us to settle in. I am amazed by the little touches such as face wipes in the bathroom & tissues next to the bed. It's so homely compared to big chain hotels. It felt like you were in the guest bedroom of a family members house and that was such a lovely feeling for the time of year.
We spent the afternoon mooching around Stratford, which, as Steven exclaimed many times, is incredibly ‘quaint’, though I wouldn’t expect anything different from the birthplace of The Bard. We ended up down a ‘Magical Alley’, where we bought a Butterbeer (Verdict: NOM!) and the MAD Museum which was certainly a highlight for me. The ‘museum’ was full of kinaesthetic sculptures, some that ran constantly, others that required the visitors to do something to put them into motion. The place is not very big, but boy, do they pack a lot of sculptures in! This is one of those wonderful and rare places that really can be enjoyed by any age. A few of the exhibitions were not working, but that’s to be expected with the nature of them, and there really are so many things to see and do that you don’t really miss the odd one or two. We spent well over an hour here, which, when you look at the size of the space, really is impressive.
It’s nice to be a place that you may have visited (or at least heard about!) as a child, when you’re an adult, because you feel super cultured and fancy! Even if you don’t actually do much Shakespeare related (except gift shops… Sorry!)
Because we are incredibly romantic, we snuck a McDonalds (which took ages to find because the roads were confusing!) into our room (Sorry Ruth!), opened an old bottle of cheap champagne that my mum had given to us (it was so old it didn’t even ‘pop’ and tasted like dead woodlice… I assume) and rewatching episodes of Sherlock. (in preparation for the new episode airing the next day!) We saw 2014 in, in this way, with the fireworks on the telly, are were asleep within the hour in the incredibly comfy bed!
Breakfast was so homely. Instead of huge buffets of mass-made food (don’t get me wrong, I do LOVE breakfast buffets!) the food was completely fresh, brought to you by the owner with friendly conversation. We were so enchanted by everything, that when we told the owners we would be back, we really do mean it.
When we left we decided to pop to Anne Hathaway’s house but the rain put us off, so we headed to Shakespeare’s burial place… Which was closed for the holiday. (Who knew graves could be closed?!) which was a shame, but it gives us an excuse to come back!
I couldn’t recommend this B&B any more, it really was wonderful! I assumed I was a hotel girl (y’know, with all my experiences of hotels… that i could count on one hand…) but this place really opened my eyes to the beauty of B&Bs.
It also helps that when everyone else woke up covered in their own vomit, with a coldsore from kissing strangers, Steven and I could pretend we were cultured and grown up having spend the time in such a historical place - no one needs to know we spent the time eating Maccys and were in bed by 9pm!
Image Source: MIKI Yoshihito, Flickr