Hooray, this one isn't much about photography, well just a little bit!
Plan A was to tell you all about yesterdays visit to the home of the Bard himself at Stratford-upon-Avon.
Plan B was to be about everyday photography and when we're lacking inspiration we should carry on clicking.
I've been a bit lost this last week, I'm not seeing and the Shakespeare visit didn't go well photographically speaking. A thousand photos paint one word (or something like that!) and I'm far too polite to type it, therefore I'll attempt to combine the two in a kind of "Dear Diary" style blogpost. So, here's Plan C;
A photograph per day and a little bit about how I arrived at said image. When I say Everyday Photography I mean just snaps, none of that "Glory Shot" stuff, just ordinary photos that will show I still take photos even though I'm going through a lean patch. I can reveal that even though I took photos everyday, finding just one for each day was a monumental task in itself, I definitely wasn't spoiled for choice! I will blab on about the home of Shakespeare at the end.
Day One - Thursday 3rd May
My mum is in hospital once again which leaves my dad out of sorts. I travelled down to Devon on the bike to keep him company which subsequently meant that both he and I would need to get a bus from his village to Exeter and then another to the hospital. I can tell you two things. Firstly, making sense of the timetable and knowing which stops to be at was a real challenge. Secondly, It's a long time since I was on a bus with my dad, probably over 50 years ago. I really enjoyed it, the challenge and the memories. Not much chance for photos, too busy looking at the bloody numbers on approaching buses -
Day Two - Friday 4th May
Well, Friday was like every other day of the year. Come rain, shine, hail, blizzard...the dogs have to be walked. I always take the camera with me and have literally thousands of photos of them running about being complete idiots. Of course this has to be a photo taken on the day and not one from the archives so not the best, but it keeps to the rules of this exercise.
Day Three - Saturday 5th May
We all set off for a walk together, me, Sam, Amélie, Louis and the dogs. The decision was to walk up one of Wiltshire's White Horse hills. Perhaps I'd find some inspiration? In the end I found perspiration and lost the ability to breathe! Many believe that these White Horses carved into the hillside are incredibly ancient when in fact they're mostly just a hundred or so years old.
Day Four - Sunday 6th May
In to Bath to find Amélie a new dress for her school disco, needless to say we didn't find one. We managed to get a coffee though, here I found out that we no longer give a napkin or serviette with coffee and a sandwich in England as everywhere else in the world does. No, the environment is shot and therefore a sign tells us to ask a Barista for one if required. He looked delighted to be interrupted from making whatever it was he was fussing around with (it's all basically coffee and milk no matter the fancy name they give to these concoctions) and so he threw a couple of napkins at me; No more overpriced Flat Whites form the Costa Coffee chain for me then. A standard Bath photo from that little outing -
Day 5 - Monday 7th May
A visit to Bowood House. Fabulous parkland to picnic in, a beautiful house and the added benefit of a huge adventure playground for the children to disappear in. Sam rested up and read her book "On The Bright Side" which is the secret diary of an 85 year old in a care home, apparently it's both very funny and touching. To be honest I wonder if she's thinking, no, make that planning something for me!
Day Six - Tuesday 8th May
My friend and fellow photographer Kevin Haggith got himself banned from Facebook once again. Well, they stopped him commenting, I don't care who it was that reported him for whatever remark, I worry about who it was from Facebook took that complaint and decided it should actually be acted upon. Seriously, he is one of the nicest guys you could possibly meet and I did in Toronto, a heart of gold and hilariously funny. What happened to Freedom of Speech? Not much for me to photograph on Tuesday so with his recent announcement in mind I took a shadow selfie, entitled it "Captured"and dedicated it to him -
Day Seven - Wednesday 9th May
Enough I thought. Time to get the bike out and head off somewhere. For some inexplicable reason I chose Stratford-upon-Avon, the home of Shakespeare. It's around 70 miles from my home and takes 1 hour and 45 minutes to reach, even on a motorcycle. The roads aren't the best, congested, narrow and bendy. Oddly enough the best part is a stretch of the Fosse Way which was built by the Romans. I travelled along an 18 mile part of it. It is a fabulous piece of road, total length is 182 miles (293 km) and it is never more than 6 miles (10 km) from a straight line. Remember that old Monty Python's sketch - "What have the Romans ever done for us?" Well, they built bloody good roads that's for sure. Anyway, I've never been to Stratford before so it might be interesting.
Generally when I arrive somewhere there's parking provided for two motorcycles into which three bikes are squeezed. In Stratford- upon- Avon there's parking for 150 motorbikes! That was the high point. I don't know whether I've become a little blasé about old places, but I found the whole experience lacking. When I was a child we lived in a 15th Century building, therefore I'm not going to be wowed by Shakespeare's Birth Place, Anne Hathaways Cottage etc. They're just old buildings. I do love Shakespeare though. Here's a shot taken around five years ago from an outside performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream in Lacock (it poured with rain, but I enjoyed every second) arranged by my wife as a birthday present -
Some disclosure required here - this was taken with a Canon 5D III and 70-200 L.
At Shakespeare's birthplace they tell you that there are 5 properties in all. It's £17 to enter his birthplace or £22 to access them all, Shakespeare's Full Story they call it. Some are quite some distance from the centre of Stratford, so your average tourist won't get the time to see them in any case. Their website gives a further 10% discount if you can get it to function which I couldn't. I tried sneaking in with a group of American tourists, they were in on the scam and we'd rehearsed the American accent, the lady at the till wasn't buying it and I certainly wasn't buying it, not at that price. In the end I decided that I'd go back to my bike and ride out to Anne Hathaways Cottage (I'd always thought she lived in Hollywood?!). I paid £10 to enter after persuading the lady that I deserved a 10% discount. It is an old cottage. They say with undoubted certainty that Shakespeare knocked at the front door for his first date and that he collected Anne from the cottage for their wedding. A hasty wedding by the way as she was 3 months pregnant, some things never change! They also tell you that in the 19th century the Hathaway family cottoned on to the connection with Shakespeare and realised it could be a moneymaking tourist destination. The family would get relatively new china plates, age them and sell on at a huge profit as original plates to unsuspecting tourists, the very plates eaten from by Anne and Bill the Quill would go the story. I see not much difference between the Hathaways and the current crowd running these Shakespeare worldwide tourist attractions - Much Ado About Nothing. Incidentally and some suggest that it is highly unlikely that William Shakespeare wrote all the plays and sonnets. It is more than possible though that they were written by a group, a syndicate of writers or apprentices; a bit of a spoiler there. I took some shots in the cottage and outside the various houses in Stratford-upon-Avon (the opener has Shakespeare's birth place as a backdrop). As much as I enjoyed the trip It wasn't good photographically, so my shot for Wednesday 9th May is this. A guy, lets call him Mercurio for the sake of argument, sat on the bank of the River Avon at Stratford with the hire boats all named after Shakespearean characters. I really do love Shakespeare, I just think that all those tourists should instead be spending the entrance money on watching some of his (the syndicates) plays -
As usual I would be delighted to read any comments and my sincere thanks go to anyone taking the time to read my blog.
All images can be opened by clicking on the thumbnails and are taken using a Leica M with a Summicron 35mm or Nioctilux 50mm lens fitted. Obviously there's that Canon one!
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