May Day, the bank holiday, not a distress signal, was perfect.
Mr. Red and I drove just a short way to visit Stratford upon Avon, a picturesque and historical town that I love to visit. Let me share today’s experiences with you dear reader. We chose to drive in and used the park and ride. Park and ride really is the only way, unless you go by train, parking is not easy in the town so at £1.00 to park and £2.00 each return bus fare it is so worth the small fee. Whether you drive in or go by train, the park and ride is right by the train station I definitely recommend you do park and ride.
Our day began with a wander up and down the streets admiring a host of vintage cars, with everything from top of the range cars including Rolls Royce and Jaguar, classics including 1960’s Minis and VW camper vans that looked like they had travelled to the moon and back and a Barbie pink Barbie Jaguar which had been commissioned for the launch of the Barbie toy car and came with quite a history. I’m by no means a car buff but I did enjoy looking at the majority of the cars on display, although I did feel my age when I saw a 1980’s Ford Fiesta being shown as a ‘classic’….. that was my first car!
We then stoped at a wine bar restaurant called Loxleys on Sheep Street, a charming and quaint pub, with flagstone floors, friendly staff and fabulous food. We had called in for a bite of lunch and a drink, and it was surprisingly quiet. We had tried a couple of other places but they were simply so full as to make it no fun at all, so we persevered, I am so glad we did. The food and the service were exceptional. Keith had the steak burger, I had the lamb liver, oh my! That liver was sublime, as tender as patè and packed full of flavour, for me it was a treat although I do realise liver isn’t to everyone’s taste, I adore it and the liver at Loxleys is the best I have ever had. Our server was an absolute treat too, even though it was his first day at Loxleys, he was definitely a ‘people person’ and an asset to this lovely restaurant. Sometimes a sandwich or a salad is all that is wanted for lunch, and Loxleys do offer a posh sandwich with fries and a bowl of soup for £10. but for the quality and flavour of my lamb liver I’m going to say we made i right choice.
An after lunch walk along the riverside led us to the Butterfly Farm, via a market selling everything from street food to Lego art. It was incredibly busy, as everywhere was but it had a great atmosphere. The Butterfly farm had literally hundreds of butterflies in a tropical hot house as well as leaf cutter ants that were working hard. Mr. Red had a Butterfly land on his head as soon as we entered the hot house. I shall take the twins there this summer, it was very interesting, so many beautiful butterflies and even a room full of other creepy crawlers, if you like seeing that kind of thing. I know the twins will enjoy it, perhaps we could go for a river cruise too, as Mr. Red and I did not get around to that this visit.
A stroll back along the riverside past the theatre, bought us to The White Swan hotel on Rother Street where we enjoyed a half afternoon tea. The half afternoon tea is basically afternoon tea without the sandwiches, so Mr Red enjoyed a pot of tea with his scones and cakes, I washed mine down with a gin and tonic which was served with juniper berries. Once again a beautiful building. I think everywhere is Stratford is gorgeous. I can see why so many visitors come here every year.
The White Swan. Half afternoon tea. Interior.
Our day in Stratford was a lovely one, there was a sword swallower performing on the street behind the market, Morris Dancers had finished but we saw them in their outfits, complete with bells, and of course Shakespeare’s house, This really is a town worth visiting, its historic, it’s beautiful and the locals always seem very friendly, with plenty of lovely places to stop for food or drinks and so many buildings worth photographing. Even though it is only about an hour drive Stratford upon Avon really is a million miles from the hustle and bustle of Birmingham, yes it gets busy here in summer but it all adds to the atmosphere, and if you move away from fast food restaurants and chain pubs, there are some quieter places where you can enjoy great food in stunning surroundings, as we found out.