You’d have been delighted with Copenhagen, San Francisco or Marrakesh. But alas, you’ve ended up with me and 24 hours in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Yes, this historic town, nestled in the heart of Warwickshire, is small and sleepy but also quaint and charming. Occasionally, you might wish the Stratford you lived in was upon the Thames and not the Avon and that ‘Anne Hathaway’s cottage’ was more The Devil Wears Prada than a Tudor farmhouse, but I’m here to show you that you can spend a very dreamy 24 hours in this honeypot. It’s the town where I went to school, had my first job and saw my first Shakespeare play – a love affair that will last a lifetime.
Breakfast: Sip on a steaming coffee at The Pantry at Cox’s Yard whilst enjoying the riverside views. This beautiful building is also home to a music venue where, aged 12, I went to my first gig – the folk band Ahab, whose chiselled members I had a serious crush on. If your inner hipster is craving some exposed light bulbs and industrial vibes then this converted timber yard is the place for you.
Morning mooching: Shakespeare’s birthplace might seem the obvious sightseeing destination but my personal favourite is the home of Shakespeare’s daughter, Hall’s Croft. Furnished with original Tudor furniture and flooring, you can literally ‘tread the same boards’ as Billy the Bard himself (can I hear an ooh?) Now, it’s time to make a pilgrimage to Holy Trinity Church where Will the Wondrous was baptised and buried.
Lunch: If you fancy some traditional gelato or a milkshake bigger than your own head then pop over to the famous Hooray’s.
Afternoon activities: If, like Sebastian Flyte, punting down the Cherwell with a glass of champers at dawn floats your boat then head over to Avon Boating. Hire yourself a boat for the afternoon and drift along the Avon under the majestic 15th century Clopton Bridge. If you happen to be called Helena or say – Hamlet then you can even find a boat with your name on it. Afterwards, soak up golden hour and flick through a synopsis in the Dell, an outdoor theatre area where I saw my first Shakespeare, performed by our very own OUDS.
Dinner: Dine deliciously at the RSC’s Rooftop Restaurant where you can survey this magnificent town in sumptuous surroundings whilst swilling a glass of red. *Warning* be sure to order your pud before curtain up!
Evening entertainment: Now, for the culmination of your day: sink into your plush red seat and delight in world class theatre. After the show, stroll over to the Dirty Duck for a pint, or five, and keep your eyes peeled for some thesps – during my time I’ve goggled at Hugh Bonneville, Ralph Fiennes and David Bradley (‘Mr Filch’). After a tough day of sightseeing, snuggle down in the Arden Hotel, situated conveniently opposite the theatre and right next to the Dirty Duck so your drunken stumble home need not be a long one.