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Travelling all along the UK ( Part I )

Headquarters: Stamford

Stamford is the finest “built-of-stone” town in England. After spending a whole week here, staying in a Bed & Breakfast opposite the St. George’s Church, right in the St. George’s Square, all I can say is: if there is such a thing called “Heaven”, then this is it. I had excellent lunches and dinners in different pubs and restaurants, I’ve visited important historical places in Stamford and its surroundings, and I’ve met a lot of interesting and extremely kind people. I can say Stamford has been, to an extend, my headquarters.

The place where I’ve stayed for ten days is, in fact, the St. George’s Church rectory. Its owners, a lovely couple with children, have been extremely kind and I’ve felt all the time like being home. Stamford is peaceful and you can skip the town centre and wander around the meadows or the fields in less than a minute, whether you are accompanied or not, and have a rest under a tree or even going to the Mark & Spencer supermarket chain and buy some supplies and have such a lovely picnic outdoors.  I did so myself, and I have to admit I’ve never been as relaxed as I’ve been right here during all these incredible days.

Rutland OpenAir Theatre

Quite close to the town of Stamford, there’s a charming venue called Tolethorpe Hall , where the Shakespeare Stamford Company is settled. There, an enormous canopy protects the audience from getting wet during rainy evenings, during the magnificent Shakespeare plays that take place in that natural – yet technically altered – amphitheatre. Thus, after reading a leaflet talking about this venue and the sort of plays I could find there, I decided to book a taxi – I made a phone call after visiting the absolutely helpful Tourist Information Centre to gather taxi companies phone numbers -, and I went to Tolethorpe Hall in order to enjoy that genuine British experience. Despite the weather – it was pouring indeed -, all was absolutely amazing, the acting stupendous and the stage amazingly set up. I attended Hamlet, and I have to say sometimes was tricky to catch – don’t forget it is old English -, but thanks to the actors – they were all really good -, I could make out some words and expressions, and thus I understood the whole thing.

Tolethorpe Hall main lawn and fountain. At the far end, the canopy.

According to the Shakespeare Stamford company history, they started quite early (1965), doing plays on St. George’s Hotel, right in the town of Stamford. Now, the entire place belongs to them, and apart from the excellent lawns where it is allowed to picnic, there are a bar, a restaurant and a small shop where one can have hot drinks – coffee, tea, white coffee or whatever -. In its natural amphitheatre, an enormous blue canopy impedes any play from being cancelled because of a rain. I have to say I, myself, witnessed that: during the Hamlet play, there was a downpour, but the play did continue as if there was a perfect clear sky above us all.

As soon as the play was finished, my taxi driver, Hassan, was waiting for me outside the venue. It was pitch black but he was right there, so I have to admit that was really kind of him. I know it was business – he is a taxi driver after all -, but it would not be fair to write about my experiences in Stamford and not to mention him briefly. If anyone needs a taxi around the town, just call him: Hassan, 00 44 7516119660 .

Cambridge & London & Peterborough

I’ve been in London, strolling around the South Bank of the Thames River; I’ve travelled a lot on the tube and on different trains; I’ve been in Cambridge where a kind guide told us all about the King’s college, Queen’s college, among others; and last but not least I paid the Peterborough Cathedral a fair visit, buying even a ticket in order to be told about the place. It turned out it was built more or less 900 years before! Amazing. Bear in mind Catalina de Aragón is buried there, and I was almost upon her tomb, whilst my guide was joking about the fact the only Spanish tourist in the group was a bit lost in history. No one is perfect! Before leaving Peterborough, I went to a restaurant called Jim’s Bistro, where I said farewell to a Catalan waitress I met, out of the blue and quite by chance, in another restaurant placed in Stamford: Jim’s Yard. I’ve been in an Elizabethan old huge mansion, called Burghley, a mile from the town of Stamford, and I wandered its impressive garden and I saw with deer my own eyes!

The Peterborough's Cathedral

Today, about 10pm, I’m going to a pub called The Hole In The Wall, an incredible place where I had dinner twice and lunch just once. Its owners have invited me to go tonight, in a sort of a social event, and I’ll be introduced to the regulars. I think this is a hell of a farewell, because tomorrow I’ll be headed to Liverpool Lime Street, by coach: about 6:30 hours on the road! It is really amazing to be here, abroad, completely on my own. Sometimes there are people asking me about feeling lonely. No way! I can go wherever I want to; I am not using my language at all, so the language immersion is almost complete. Of course I think I missed my home, but I’m far from getting homesick. Two more weeks abroad, now in West Kirby, and I’ll be home again.

So, I hope my English will be capable of coping with tonight’s social event. In case it won’t, at least I’m gonna have a real local dark beer, served fairly cold, and I’ll see my friends one last time before bidding them my last goodbye.

As ManOwaR put it some years ago: Hail, hail To England, hail, hail, haiiiill………………………!!!!!!!

I have to say, however, that despite all has been absolutely fine and amazing, at the time of me visiting it appeared to be a plague of mosquitoes, above all in the evenings, probably because of the River Welland. So, if you are planning to visit Stamford during the summer, please be warned of mosquitoes!