16 October 2009

Stratford-upon-Shakespeare and a host of non-sequiturs

* standing on a podium * 'It's been a week since my last blog post...' * smattering of applause *

Brussel sprouts are the big Christmas thing here. I'm just now realizing this, despite having spent Christmas here last year. I was looking through seasonal cards at Borders last week, and half of them had brussel sprouts on them. In the shape of Christmas trees, snowmen, reindeer. I also learned that brussel sprouts taste better after they've been bitten by frost, which is why they're harvested so late in the year. No doubt another reason they're served at Christmas. All of them. At once.

Last week in Edinburgh I got a book by Alisdair Gray called Ten Tales Tall & True. A rhyme adorns the fifth page: 'This book contains more tales then ten/so the title is a tall tale too./I would spoil my book by shortening it,/spoil the title if I made it true.'

This rhyme is the reason I bought the book.

I'm in Stratford-upon-Avon this weekend for a wedding. Everyone in London exclaimed when I told them I'd be here, 'Oh, Stratford, how beayoooootiful!' 'What a precious, quaint little town!' 'Did you know that's where Shakespeare is from?' 'There's a lovely river running right through it!' Interestingly enough, none of these reporters had actually ever been here. This makes me love Stratford for no other reason than its fine marketing job.

So far it seems neither little (by, say, Upton or Peebleshire standards) nor quaint, and I've seen more carparks than theaters, but I also haven't gone properly into the town center yet, so my opinions (currently) aren't worth a grain of proverbial salt. I hope to explore it more thoroughly Sunday morning, when all wedding festivities have calmed and the town isn't yet awake. I'm sure I've missed the precious bits in my fly-by drive. * determined to find precious bits if it kills me *

Right now I am in the lobby of this huge, gorgeous hotel-spa-golf-course-resort-thing less than five minutes outside of Stratford, where the wedding reception is to take place tomorrow night and consequently all wedding guests have congregated. The gardens are beautiful, really something, straight out of Pride and Prejudice, labrynths and roses and cobbled paths and ponds and fall colors and a bite in the sunny air, and I feel that if I were to stroll about the grounds, it would only be a matter of time before Mr. Darcy materialized. I can finally understand, looking out over the jointly manicured-yet-rugged landscape, why grounds-strolling used to be an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. 'Would you like to take a turn about the garden?' 'Why, yes, I would. The pond is looking positively lively this fine fall morn.'

It's 12:34 at this exact moment in time. I don't know why that excites me since I'm not ten anymore, but there it is. Excitement.

Speaking of excitement: a porter carried my bags to my room for me this morning. I think this is the first time that has ever happened to me. I felt like a princess swishing through the lounges as he wheeled his trolley subserviently behind me. I imagined people murmuring in our wake as we swept through. I also felt alarmingly Californian--unusual since I'm not from there, originally-speaking--as it struck me too late that everybody else--given their stares--probably carried their own bags, and I looked very tall against the porter's diminutive stature, and also self-entitled. But he offered, and I'm only human. (And by 'human,' I mean, 'lazy.') I also no doubt had 'American overtipper' stamped all over my regal forehead. However, as a result of all these attentions, and the manor-like setting, I do feel like a princess--or at the very least, an Elizabeth Bennett--and this is my court, and soon I will be taking a turn about the garden to improve my constitution. After which I shall take a turn about the spa to check out the facilities that I won't be using, then returning here to a tall armchair in a window overlooking my sunset grounds as a waiter-with-a-white-towel-on-his-arm proffers me a list of scotches to ease me into my evening. (That I won't accept, of course, Mother.)

Now if you'll excuse me, I have centuries to time-travel...and I think the portal is in that garden. Maybe Stratford-upon-Avon is magical, after all...


lezmcq said...

brussel sprouts are delish with leaves separated and stir fried with bacon . . . but isn't everything better with bacon?

Alissa - the Big Sis said...

I hope you'll have more pictures than just the one of leaves!!!

sassymum said...

haha, I can just picture you...struttin' your stuff. Head raised high in the air,and nose pointed at the ceiling.
Walk the labrynth for me,I have always loved the notion of them but have never seen one.
Have Fun!

Tom Gray said...

When we lived there, brussel sprouts were one of the three fresh veggies available in winter, along with carrots and potatoes.
Christmas dinner: turkey, brussel sprouts, potatoes, brussel sprouts, figgy pudding, brussel sprouts and, if lucky, whiskey.

alison mcquade said...

with cream too lez!

see you in january sharona!

Rona said...

Lez, you are totally right: everything IS better with bacon. And then with Alison's suggestion of cream... * drooling *

Papa Gray, the winter veggie selection does not seem to have widened at all since you've been here! Thank goodness I'll be spending this Christmas on the road in the middle of American somewhere, where I can get a Moons Over My Hammy at the local Denny's...