Cold sucks the joy out of you. A week or two ago we went to Stratford on Avon along country roads dense in fog and mist. Stratford itself was clear under blue skies, but it was bone-frozen cold. When it’s really cold you walk, muscles clenched and sinews taut. Even my teeth were cold.
Under these conditions you find yourself immune to history and culture. It comes to something when the highlight of the day was a Cornish pasty. It was peppery, with just the right combination of swede and beef. And it was hot.
I consoled myself we’d been to Stratford before, in happier, warmer times. Even so, there is always something of interest, and besides I had my new iPod touch with a rather fine camera to test.
This is Shakespeare's birth home where his father worked as a glove maker.
I’d like to say it was warm inside, but it wasn’t. I was though attracted to the hearth, for obvious reasons, and also because these were the original stones where the boy Shakespeare and his siblings would have parked their bottoms, fought over a pasty and sought to stay warm.
We went to ‘New House,’ Shakespeare’s grand residence in his later years. This now consists of a facsimile gate, a knot garden along with a slightly larger garden behind, and an exhibition hall where there are myriad gems like this.
But no actual house. That was knocked down years ago. The Cavern suffered a similar fate.
Finally we went to John Hall’s house, the residence of Judith Hall, Shakespeare’s daughter. John Hall was the local Apothecary with a clientele of over two and half thousand. Uncomplaining souls the lot of them.
Recipe book and mixing tub. Eat your heart out GSK and Pfizer
John Hall kept a detailed casebook of his prescriptions. One was for a woman called Cooper Marit who, ‘ perceived vapours or wind rising ascending from her Feet into her Stomach,’ as she suffered from swooning. John Hall prescribed her a powder made from hart’s horn, ivory, ginger, coriander and nutmeg. Ibuprofen it was not.
Time for another pasty (untouched by John Hall) and home