Stratford upon Avon – tourist hell?

Stratford upon Avon. The birthplace of Shakespeare, home of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and beautifully situated along the River Avon. What’s not to love?

Well, let’s add ten hundred million gazillion tourists to that scene and suddenly the market town goes from idyllic to I-don’t-know-why-I-came-here.

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This week we had the joy that is bank holiday Monday in the UK; the day when office workers get to lie in and bask in the glory of a three-day weekend. (We often forget that this day is just like any other for the millions of shift workers in the country and it’s probably worse than any other for those in the hospitality sector. Sorry folks.)

Usually, for me, bank holiday weekend involves sitting in traffic as we try and squeeze as much as possible in to the long weekend. We plan ahead, we book cottages, visit friends, book restaurants… we travel. This bank holiday weekend, we did nothing. Nothing.

Or, almost nothing.

Saturday I spent all day in my pyjamas. I ate quesadillas and drank champagne for lunch (see insta for evidence), spent the day wedding planning with my most favourite man, and we ate curry for dinner. On Sunday I did more nothing; there’s a good chance I ate another quesadillas and then ate a steak dinner whilst binge-watching Braindead (an Amazon Prime series which is flippin’ brilliant) before having an early night.

So for some reason, I thought we should ruin that sense of calm by going to one of the most touristy towns in England.

After sitting in traffic, enduring slow service during an expensive pub lunch and listening to more steel drum music than I ever need to hear as I walked through the weirdest street market I’ve ever seen, I started to wonder why I’d broken my own rule and insisted on doing “something” this bank holiday.

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Feeling a little disappointed by Statford upon Avon, I was pleasantly surprised by this excellent hare. And also the best vanilla ice cream I’ve ever had. Then, shortly after these two highlights, we found one more. A short walk to the river (which we pretty much directly next to, but it took ten minutes to get through the hundreds of thousands of people also trying to get to the river) and we got ourselves a row boat!

Hoorah! Peace, quiet, and water. If there are row boats to be found, R and I will find them.

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Normally when we row boats, he rows and I sit back and look at the view. (What? I have chronic pain okay?!) But today, I had to steer. Now don’t be fooled; don’t think this is a token job to keep the kids busy. It requires focus, forward-planning and, most importantly, hands that don’t break from excessive rope burn. I could share a picture of me smiling and looking super relaxed, but I think this picture more accurately shows the effort I went to steering the boat. That’s right guys, I worked hard today. Totally deserved that ice cream.

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An hour on the river was totally worth the two hours on the road and two hours in the crowds. Really, it was. Because on the river we get to daydream about living in a house with a river at the bottom of a garden, owning a row boat and, ideally, a cat who can row us upstream.

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