Practical Theory - The Origin
The Scholars in CyberEnglish
ToDaY's MeNu - Ted

Sunday, August 29, 2010

To Stratford upon Avon

To Stratford upon Avon

We woke at six and left the hostel by half six to get Heather to the airport for her 9AM flight. The roads were clear and we made it without a hitch. The airport was crowded as would be expected. After dropping off Heather I headed to car drop off. After dropping the key, I headed for the Glasglow flyer, the bus to Glasgow. I arrived at Central Station at half seven. It was from here I was to catch the half eleven to Birmingham and transfer to a train to Stratford upon Avon. I walked through the empty city to the Cathedral. I stopped in a store to pick up supplies for the train. I walked around the cathedral grounds. Walking back to town, I stopped to get a proper Scottish breakfast. I made my way back to the center to catch the City tour bus. My ticket from yesterday was still good, so I killed some time taking the tour again. I was the only passenger for the beginning of the tour and sat up top as we viewed an empty Glasgow. A far different sight this morning as compared to yesterday. Seeing these streets empty, especially Buchanan Street was refreshing. After the tour I made my way to the Weaver's Shop on Buchanan and St Vincent's Place to get some MacLeod scarves. It was 1110 when I got to Central Station and the train I wanted was just announced. I made my way my seat which had a table and electricity on the window. The other three seats were empty and I was going to get a seat mate at Carlisle, the first stop. Glasgow is a lovely city and we look forward to returning to it again.

We are cruising along at a good clip. As we were aligned with a motorway, we were flying by the cars that are probably going at about 60-70 mph, which means we are probably traveling at 90-100 mph. It is impossible to get pictures, but the eye takes it all in. The pastures are plenty. Some have sheep others have cows. In one pasture all the cows are grazing, their heads to the ground as they stroll through the pasture. In the next the cows are all lying down. In another a mother is cleaning a new born that is sleeping all curled up. The same goes for the sheep. In one field they are grazing in the next all lying down. The cows are of different variety from pasture to pasture. The sheep are pretty much of the same variety. I'm not seeing the sheep variety here that we see in the highlands or the islands or elsewhere. More cows here than sheep, actually. The care of the pastures varies. In some I see rolls of hay and then black rolled bales of hay in the next. Some pastures are well manicured by the livestock while others seem to be left alone. It seems as if they have just had a cutting as I see fewer fields of hay then those with cut and rolled bails in them. The lay of the land varies as we pass along. Severe hills with paths carved into them and then a slew of rolling soft meadows and gentle paths made by the sheep or hikers. Bike paths follow the train tracks fro village to village. Each village offers lovely snapshots of life as seen in their backyard gardens, play sets, and laundry lines. The one constant in all of this are the stone walls. The number of stone walls, the care of them, the height of them and the power of them is very evident. Some are augmented by a hedgerow, another with a wire fence. The gates that allow passage from one pasture to another are sometimes ornate, other times just functional. In the mountainous area of Scotland, the evidence of good practice in lumbering is evident as I see the plan for harvest and also the replanting scheme. Another beautiful sight are the windmill farms that dot the landscape. I a awed by them for their beauty and function. Clean energy is such an important way. I'm still wondering how politicians and others can be against these beautiful instruments of power when we know the damage coal mining in all forms and its use is so bad to the environment and how oil drilling and using are also so bad for the environment. Sure money is to be made in the latter forms of energy and that may be the cynics response. But that is not enough today as we see the affects of the Gulf spill by BP and become more aware of similar disasters all over the world in the backwater areas of South America where the crimes of the oil companies are hidden deep in the jungles and away from the eyes of the world. Or in Africa where corrupt leaders keep their dark secrets by using force and murder to quiet the noise of the people who are affected. As we leave Scotland and get into England the density of mankind is growing. I'm still in the outer island frame of mind of empty roads and beaches, in spite of our gentle entrance back via Glasgow. The stops are coming fast and furious after Carlisle which was an hour after we started. Then a Lake District town, Oxenholm and then a very dense Lancaster. I'm still amazed at he narrowness of the roads as they make there way through under and over the train tracks and follow the train then suddenly veer away in the undergrowth only to reappear further down or in some passing village. The stops aren't very long. No sooner have we stopped then within minutes we are off again. The same was true of the ferries on the islands. Very efficient. I've been on the train for two hours now and have three hours left.

The pastures are beginning to give way to the occasional playing field of cricket and soccer. More walkways over the roads and highway for walking appear as trailer parks pop up now and then. A car pulling a trailer has a smoking engine as it is stopped on a bridge, bad luck. The occasional train passes going in the other direction. I'm not on that side of the train. I sat going backwards for the first hour and switch to ride going forward the next hour. Preston is filled with row houses and is a real industrial town. Civilization is always marked by the ubiquitous steeple spires. The horizon is filled with the red brick row of chimneys and then lanes of tracks leading from Preston to other points. We are speeding into the density of England too fast. Crowds join us at Preston. One thing about these trains is people have reserved seats. We are at the halfway point. I know when we are arriving in Wigan because the soccer stadium is in clear view on our right and soccer fields dot the town on the left. I have abandoned my seat and taken the other reserved seat and now one of the available seats has been taken by a young man with a book about Ozzy by Ozzy. Before Crewe we pass a large nuclear power plant with eight stacks in the middle of nowhere. After Crewe huge stand of tall oaks trees following by corn fields. Now the pastures are speckled with huge solitary trees and more green houses. The stone walls are getting smaller and more manicured. Community gardens are surrounded by playing fields with boys playing pickup soccer. Industry is replacing agrarian. And suddenly a canal with locks. An occasional barge is spied and strollers along the tow path on this lazy sunny Sunday in the Lake country near Kidsgrove. The train has slowed down to as little as 15 for a long stretch as we are changing tracks. The speed enjoyed earlier has tempered itself to average 60 and even 40 for long stretches. Once through the switching we get back to proper speeds expected. Into Stoke-on-Trent and a lovely station, the home of Slash and the Stoke City footballers. Now I see the signs indicating speeds of 85-100. The stone walls have given way to wooden fences, wire fences, and hedgerows. It is as if we are in hyperspeed now as the vegetation by the tracks is that blur as represented in our sci-fi films. The backyard gardens are getting more and more beautiful and so elaborate. The landscape has become more rural again with pastures of cows and sheep, and rolled hay. More canals are seen as well.

Caravan storage and sales shops have now begun to appear. Barges are aplenty now and four of them are lined up waiting their turn at the lock. At Nuneaton we lose lots of passengers and the train is relatively empty. We have another hour before Birmingham New Street where I transfer to the train to Stratford. During the train ride a man has come along the train to collect trash. At Rugby we are resting here for 20 minutes and crews of cleaners come through and collect all the trash and neaten up the empty seats. Again, I am in a pac where one sees no trash in the streets or even at the train stations. I don't see garbage bins, and yet I don't see trash. In NYC, we have trash cans everywhere and we have trash all over the streets. Maybe we should just get rid of the trash cans, since we don't use them. NYC is a filthy city. It's trains and busses and its streets tell me this. The only places I've seen trash have been around McDonalds. Seems like trash is one of our great imports.

Heather should be landing soon. And I haven't even got to Birmingham yet. We are about 40 minutes away. We are now going back the way we came. I suspect we will take a spur line that puts us in the Birmingham direction. How strange. Quickly we are in Coventry which has a large crowd waiting for our train. A large number of people get off and since more people are getting on, the seats fill. Not much old stuff in Coventry except the famous spires that are about all that made it through the German bombings of WWII. Approaching the stop before mine, Birmingham International, so it is time to gather a of my stuff before we enter Birmingham proper. The last time I was in Birmingham was 24 years ago when I took the train from Brighton and then caught a bus to Stratford. This time I will take another train which will take me an hour.

The walk from New St to Moor Street was easy and got me outside and up into a bright warm sun. The Moor St station is some out of the past. Immediately I see A Thomas the Tank Engine type train on the tracks. After passing through the turnstile to get to my train and getting to my platform, an old stream engine pulls an old train into the station.It is the Shakespeare Express. This is not my train. My train arrives and it a more modern three car train. Stratford is the last stop and I will be there in about an hour.

When I arrive in Stratford, I'm immediately taken by the new buildings by the train and the large hotel. I walk out of the station and to the traffic lights to Arden Street where I cross the street and turn left. One hundred yards is my B&B, The Arden Park B&B. Mark, my host, greets me at the door and helps me settle in. I have a lovely room on the third floor. After unpacking and getting myself organized I head into town. I am amazed at how much this place has changed, the traffic at half seven, and all the new construction. I recognize little. Using the map Mark gave me, I find myself at the Avon in front of the construction of the main theater. I follow the construction to the Dirty Duck. It has not changed as I go up the winding stairs and into the Actor's Pub. I get a pint and wander around only to notice a new addition on the back, more restaurant space. I retire to the patio to have my pin t and look across to the Avon to the newly made park. I can barely see the spire of the church where Shakespeare lies. After my pint I continue onto the parish. So much new stuff I can barely see the parish. I turn up Old Town pass Hall's Croft to Church Street and see the Shakespeare Institute, where I spent much time 24 years ago, and the Windmill Inn, another old haunt. It is unchanged, except the back yard has been improved and I find a table back there to sit. I get a pint of Flowers and order sausage and mash. I stroll back to the B&B and head off to sleep. It is 10 already and it has been a long day for me.

Heather has arrived home safely.

No comments: