Thursday : Thai, Warm Trees and a Wheel

Leaving the YHA in Stratford-upon-Avon again I wondered that window has really survived nearly eighty years as a YHA or whether it’s been restored. It’s a reassuring thought that the window has survived several generations of younger and perhaps more exuberant visitors.

The Gower Monument located in Bancroft Gardens, a bronze and stone monument of William Shakespeare designed by Lord Ronald Gower and L. Madrassi between 1876 and 1888. It was located nearby in the gardens of the Memorial Theatre, but that burnt down in 1926 and so it was moved to its current location in 1933. They also took the opportunity to move the four smaller sculptures (Lady Macbeth representing tragedy, Hamlet representing philosophy, Prince Hal representing history and Falstaff representing comedy) a little further away from the main monument.

I thought I’d pop into Wetherspoons for breakfast and all was well with this little culinary arrangement. There are usually three coffee machines in the pub for customers to serve themselves their refillable hot drinks, but this morning there were two that were being worked on by an engineer. The engineer had a clear plan though, send everyone to the other coffee machine. Which then promptly broke. I was quite amused at the engineer trying to fix coffee machines as fast as he could, but eventually he got all three working. Then he left and one broke. I accept that isn’t a particularly interesting story, but I like people watching and I enjoyed watching the variety of stomping about from customers trying to get their caffeine fix.

Thai food seemed a suitable lunch-time choice and Pick Thai is very well reviewed and also offers a lunch menu.

The only beer that they had was Singha and I was pleased with this to the extent that I haven’t had it before, or at least haven’t listed it on Untappd and I consider that the same thing. I’m not going to go hunting for this beer in the future, but it was drinkable and sufficiently refreshing.

I went for the two-course lunch menu of salt & pepper squid for a starter and then a green Thai curry. I’m not sure why they brought both courses over at once as they didn’t for other customers, but it didn’t much matter. This batter was beautiful and the squid was cooked appropriately so that it wasn’t rubbery. It was a very acceptable starter and although there wasn’t quite that melt in the mouth texture from the squid that is a pure delight, it wasn’t too far off.

The rice was included in the lunch deal and the curry had a range of textures and had a modicum of heat to the arrangement as well. Tender chicken, rich flavours and I liked the historic building that the restaurant was based in as well which added to the atmosphere. There was a younger waiter who hovered near the tables but managed never to look like he was in the way, which meant that the service was efficient and not too over-attentive. I don’t like over-attentive, it stops me feeling comfortable.

The outside of the restaurant, all quite understated, but it was quite busy for a mid-week early March lunchtime.

The town hall in Stratford-upon-Avon, with the words “God Save the King” written on the side of the building. The building itself was constructed in 1767, but it’s unclear when the words were painted onto the side.

I went back into the town’s library to get some work done, reminding myself what a beautiful building it was from the exterior. One day some bright spark from the council will perhaps try and sell this building given its position near to Shakespeare’s Birthplace, turning it into something commercial and inappropriate. But, for now, the residents have a charming library.

Library staff had commandeered the local history room for non-history related things which wasn’t ideal, but the reference room was still available for use and the library wasn’t that busy.

The eyes on this Shakespeare statue look rather sinister to me….. It was donated to the town by the sculptor Lawrence Holofcener and is called ‘Young Will’. The sky was overcast, hence the slightly drab looking colours in the photo.

The town’s old tramway bridge, designed by John Rastrick and opened in 1823. The line was taken over by the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway in 1847, but closed in 1881 and it’s now in use as a pedestrian bridge.

Another one of the town’s lovely warm trees.

One of the locks on the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal, which meanders for 25 miles into the suburbs of Birmingham. Stratford-upon-Avon’s growth was aided by just how well connected it is, with trains, buses, canals and decent road access.

The Stratford Big Wheel, which is currently closed and I’m not sure entirely fits into the historic landscape, but I’m sure it offers some extensive views over the town.

Walking back to the YHA, this is the beer selection at the Spar at Tiddington. It wasn’t too bad at all, it’s definitely an area of the store where sales are increasing judging by how shops are stocking much much. In some stores the beer selection is overtaking the wine selection in size, and well, what a time to be alive…. I perhaps need to get out more.

My decadent evening meal, as I thought I’d had enough with the breakfast at JD Wetherspoon and the Thai lunch. The rather rustic reduced price sandwich was more agreeable, at least it didn’t seem mass produced.

I did wonder what Stratford-upon-Avon would be liked without William Shakespeare, as it’s undeniable that his legacy is one of the most important draws for the town and has been for over two centuries. I imagine that it might have had a history like that of Warwick, an attractive market town which would draw in tourists, but not to the same degree. The older buildings in the town would have likely mostly been torn down, it was only the Shakespeare connection which saved some in the nineteenth century. I can’t think, but will perhaps later on, of any other town that has been so reliant on the legacy of one man. Even key figures in the country’s history such as Oliver Cromwell wouldn’t be considered as a tourist draw, even though much of his heritage in Ely and Huntingdon remains.