Our first day in Stratford-upon-Avon and a day full of meandering around the town meant that we took full advantage of a lie-in the next morning before packing up our stuff and checking out of the hotel. But we weren’t straight off home, we had booked a late afternoon train home and wanted to make the most of our weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon. After spending time the previous day watching people enjoying themselves on the river, we intended to make the most of the sunny morning and headed down to the river with the intention of hiring a boat.
As we got down there we found a little Sunday morning market and so spent some time browsing the various food and gift stalls.
After browsing but no shopping (very restrained of me), we went to get a crash course in rowing. My boyfriend had never been in a boat whereas my only experience was a very poor attempt at rowing in St Mawes with friends where we basically rowed in circles and tried desperately to avoid the ferry boat that goes across the bay to Falmouth. So I wasn’t too hopeful about our chances of getting anywhere fast – plus there were tourist boats to avoid! We had the choice of half an hour or 45 minutes. Realising that our chances of getting anywhere were slim, we opted for 45 minutes. A quick introduction later and we were being pushed off and into the open water where I was sure we’d float for 45 minutes before having to be rescued.
My boyfriend started off in control of the oars while I was supposed to be navigating us through the right arches in the bridge and away from the banks of the river, other boats and waterfowl.
He did a pretty good job, I did less well in my job as navigator as my boyfriend protested that I was more interested in taking photos and selfies than making sure he didn’t row us into one of the low hanging trees on the side of the river.
After a while though it was time to switch places so that he could sit back and let me do the hard work for a while. It turns out that he wasn’t the best coxswain, occasionally telling me the wrong oar to pull harder on. Nevertheless we made it down the river and back up again a few times, seeing the riverside from a different perspective and on one occasion making a goose duck out of the way of one of our oars (oops).
After returning to shore we decided to reward ourselves for developing new rowing skills by going for afternoon tea, even though it was probably only just the afternoon, after all, we did have a train to catch. We chose the Hathaway Tea Rooms as I’d read good things about them online and who can resist an afternoon tea with prosecco?
We chose three different kinds of sandwiches and heaps of them arrived together with plain scones (there was a choice of plain or sultana) and dainty little cakes on top. Perfect. Halfway through we must have looked like we were struggling as one of the lovely waiters told us that if we didn’t manage it all then they could box what was left up for us to take away, which is exactly what we ended up doing with some of the sandwiches and two of the cakes – afternoon tea is always much more filling than you think it will be!
Full and happy, we had time for one last stroll around Stratford and a bit of shopping time (dinosaur biscuit cutters had to come home with me). I love places with lots of non-chain shops, so much more interesting than your bog-standard high street.
But before long it was time to return to our hotel – the Mercure Stratford-upon-Avon Shakespeare – and collect our suitcases in time for our train home. We happily tucked into our little afternoon tea picnic and shared some of the fudge that we had bought as we headed back to the city.
Just a wonderful weekend. Luckily we don’t have to wait for too long for our next minibreak jaunt as we’re off to Margate next weekend for a night.
Is there anywhere else you guys would recommend for a weekend getaway?