Stratford-upon-Avon, situated on the river Avon in the English county of Warwickshire, is decidedly an idyllic town. Best known to be the birthplace and hometown of William Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon is a town where time meanders slowly, cut off from the cantankerous spirit of a bustling city. As you enter this town’s winding little streets you will notice that Shakespeare still continues to dominate the place. The five Bard-linked properties: Shakespeare’s birthplace ( image below), Nash’s house, Hall’s Croft, New Place and Anne Hathway (Shakespeare’s wife) Cottage remains the heart of this town and it continues to draw travelers from all over UK and world even now.

Shakespeare's House UK attractions

Our first stop was Henley Street, where stands the famous landmark—Shakespeare’s birth house. It is quite easy to spot the house. Among the plethora of new age shops, tiny, intimate cafes and teahouses stands a half timber house where Shakespeare was born and brought up along with his brothers and sisters. As you enter the house, you will first notice a hall of fame which includes names like Judi Dench, Star Trek’s Patrick Stewart and former Doctor Who David Tennant, all of whom have enjoyed acclaim in Shakespearean roles at Stratford in addition to their on-screen stardom.

In the Courtyard, between the reception centre and the House, you would see costumed actors performing snippets from some of the best-known plays. The managers who run the show today have made quite an effort to retain the authenticity of the house; you will notice how the parlour, the hall, Shakespeare’s dad’s workshop and bed chamber are furnished as they might have looked in 1574 (unfortunately, there is a no photography policy). An exhibition runs which tells us about the times gone by and explains how part of the house became a public house in 1601. My favourite bit of the house? A literary graffiti featuring autographs of literary gems like Ivanhoe’s writer Walter Scott’s signature. This, I thought truly made the house a literature haven.

stratford-upon-Avon UK attractions

UK attractions Stratford-Upon-Avon

From here, we headed towards the Holy trinity Church in-between stopping at the Stratford Upon Avon Canal, which was built between 1793 and 1816. A spot to enjoy some peace and quiet, the Canal does not offer much except wind-swept trees looking rather stupendous in twilight, clear water, panoramic view of the town and a peaceful silence to keep you for company.

The Church and the canal is separated by an intimate garden. A gurgling stream giving out a beautiful reflection of the Church, evening winter mist hanging around its vicinity and tall, almost kissing trees on both sides gives this place an almost eerie feeling but it somehow added to its uninhibited, natural charm.

UK attractions travel

Holy Trinity Church UK travel attractions

The Holy Trinity Church also popularly called Shakespeare’s Church is the place where Shakespeare is buried. The Church has an attractive approach; with its pathway lined by trees that represent the tribes of Israel and the 12 Apostles. Holy Trinity Church was one of the first churches in England where an admission fee was charged; even in 1906 visitors were asked to pay six pence each to enter.

Shakespeare, apparently died on his 52nd birthday of a fever which was said at the time to have been the result of a ‘merry meeting’ with fellow poets Ben Jonson and Michael Drayton. It is believed they all drank too much in that meeting.

Holy Trinity Church, UK attractions

As night was falling rapidly, we decided to call it a day and started our way back home but we walked past the old town briefly stopping before Hall’s Croft formerly the home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susannah and her husband Doctor John Hall. This White painted carved house lends the street a dignified character; it also feels that the place is slightly struck in a time warp with vintage style houses flanking its sides. Wondering how Shakespeare’s lineage ended? The death of childless Elizabeth (his granddaughter) in 1670 brought Shakespeare’s direct line of descent to an end.

UK travel attractions

Stratford-Upon-Avon is a town steeped in history, natural beauty, legacy and literature. It is also the town where theatre continues to mushroom. The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) runs four theatres here: the Courtyard theatre, the Royal Shakespeare theatre, the Swan theatre and the other place. Unfortunately, because of time constraint we couldn’t experience the theatre scene but that gives me a reason to go back.

Starting tomorrow some of the most beautiful people from around the world will be swarming in London as the London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2014 would start at Somerset House. While the big-wigs of fashion industry and bloggers would be a definite fix in the LFW shows; the rest of us need not feel so left out—it is London after all and there is plenty to do this week that will keep the fashionistas happy whilst fueling curiosity among non-fashionistas. Remember—fashion is not just in dresses. Fashion has to do with ideas. Here are some of the things that I hope to go to in the coming weeks.

Fashion is Fake Art Show:

Credit: Indra and Samia Blog

Credit: Indra and Samia Blog

The project is started by artist and women’s wear designer Samia Malik. The project started out as an activism related to ethical trade in the fashion industry; which later on branched out into questioning general aesthetics of the fashion industry. Since 2011, Fashion is Fake project has developed into artwork, street art, performances in public areas, and art show performances. The thought-provoking art show opens tomorrow and will go till May at the Indra and Samia Gallery (E1 1NB).

The story of textiles:

Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Jack Mitchell

Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Jack Mitchell

Fashion and style for me above all is a form of art. Artist Textiles Picasso to Warhol at the Fashion and Textile Museum (SE1 3XF) traces the history of 20th century art in textiles. It will explore the works of some prominent artists like Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Sonia Delaunay, Ben Nicholson and Andy Warhol. The exhibition will feature examples of key European and American art movements like Fauvism, Cubism, Constructivism, Abstraction, Surrealism and Pop Art. The show will also explore how ordinary people were once able to connect with modern art in a personal and intimate way through their clothing and home furnishings. Intriguing isn’t it? Open till 17th May.

London Fashion Weekend:

Credit: London Fashion Weekend

Credit: London Fashion Weekend

After the fashionable frenzy of LFW has died down explore the heady mix of fashion and style up, close and personal at the London Fashion Weekend. This event allows people to get a taste of London Fashion Week with catwalk shows, discount designer shopping and my favourite– trend spotting. The event runs from February 20 to 23 and tickets start from £20.

People-watching:

Credits: Wikimedia Commons/ Danny Robinson

Credits: Wikimedia Commons/ Danny Robinson

Fashion or not, nothing is more interesting or inspiring than people watching (yes, there is a great way to do it but that’s a post for another day). Head towards King’s Road in Chelsea to see some of the most affluent people going about their everyday life in style (because apparently that’s the only way to live here). You might go green with envy but you will have a better perspective of human nature, I guarantee that. Check in one of the cafes or if you are lucky head towards any of the intimate, leafy gardens and see life in action.

Situated on the undulating valleys of Derbyshire (Dale district of Derbyshire), is a little known gem—Bakewell– quaint little market town, known for its tantalizing walks, cycle paths and mouth-watering puddings. Nestled on River Wye, Bakewell is a firm favourite with adrenaline-junkies, bikers and cyclists as well as poets, lovers, painters, bird-watchers, artists and of course, the true vagabonds.

River Wye

River Wye

As soon as you enter Bakewell, a  rapidly changing skyline welcomes you—undulating valleys, beautiful foliage, old houses turning into small delis, shops and pubs; eye-catching meadows and greenery in various hues teasing your senses. You are likely to feel like walking into a picturesque postcard.

The old bridge

The old bridge

A Vintage Wrangler

A Vintage Wrangler

Bakewell is steeped in history; legend has it that town was probably founded in Anglo-Saxon times. The Bakewell Parish Church, a popular attraction and Grade 1-listed building, is said to have been founded in 920, and has a cross which dates back to 9thcentury – reason enough for its heritage status. The popular Bakewell market was established in 1254, while its five-arched bridge over the River Wye, also Grade 1 listed, was constructed in the 13th century. With so much history around, it is hard not to fall in love with the town.

Bakewell is known as one of the best walking destinations in northern England and it’s an honour not wasted. Wander along the banks of the river Wye littered with snowy winter leaves and aquatic birds happily crackling away on its water, or through the town’s many delis and vintage shops. The melancholy parish church sitting atop the hillside is a breath-taking sight and is a treasure trove of many little wonders: wooden shields, pre-Raphaelite windows, the sanctuary and altar.

It’s only natural that your stomach starts to growl after giving your limbs so much exercise and this is the place for all food lovers – particularly the sweet connoisseurs amongst you. Bakewell is the birthplace of the famous Bakewell pudding. There are many little bakeries all claiming to be the origin of the pudding; ditch the need to find out the truth because all of them are equally good. Also don’t forget to sneak a peek inside the famous Rutland Arms Hotel, where Jane Austen penned her legendary work Pride and Prejudice. Maybe the writer inside you will come alive.

Bakewell has something for everyone. It is a paradise for those who wish to discover vintage charm, eat good food, or simply wander the many cobblestone paths and meditate amidst the valleys and parks.

(There is no direct transportation from London to Bakewell. So, it is advisable to start early. Take an early cross-country train from Kings Cross and head to Sheffield; from here there are plenty of buses heading to Bakewell)

Nostalgia has kicked in and before going on my break, I thought I will do two nostalgia posts. Here, I bring to you my top travels of this year. French writer, Gustav Flaubert, has once said, “Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” This year was all about that realisation and broadening my horizons intellectually and spiritually; something which traveling always teaches me.

Travel and Living

1. Kerala: It is God’s own country after all.

2. Amsterdam: The coolest and the most liberal city I visited this year.

3. Paris: Because Paris is always a good idea.

4. Longleat Safari Park: As I am a through and through nature’s girl.

5. Barcelona: A vibrant city which teaches you the art of doing nothing, enjoying everything and living.

6. Ibiza: Not just a clubbing heaven but pristine beaches, sparkling blue Mediterranean waters and scrumptious food.

7. London: My new work place and perhaps the most pulsating city in the world where you can never get bored.

8. Bombay: Truly a city that never sleeps and as Dorothy said, “there is no place like home.”

9. Oxford: A wonderful walking city and the seat of knowledge and learning.

Hope my next year is also as adventurous as this one and I am able to tick off few more places in my travel bucket list.

Have a great day and wish you all a Happy New Year.

As a style-lover and a compulsive people watcher, I love exploring a city’s markets.

 

The famous London Eye

 London Eye

For me, they are the ultimate representation of a city’s personality. Away from the comforts of fancy ad gimmick and stripped of any artificial airs, markets are where you see the city in its true colours while indulging in some shameless people watching. Exploring a market is not just about shopping it’s about experiencing a city’s raw character, coming in touch with its rugged personality and getting acquainted with its many shades. Markets unlike malls also have uniqueness to them that can never be matched up. Of course, the fashionista in me is always beaming after getting her hands on that one unique piece.

London, as we all know, is one of the best shopping places. Whilst names like Harrods and Selfridges have put London as a shopping paradise for the swish set; there’s definitely more to London’s shopping landscape than the glittery malls. I bring to you three of the best shopping and people watching haunts of London—the Brick Lane Market, the Camden Market and Spitalfields Market.

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Brick Lane Market: A study in culture and contradictions, this market is located on the northern end of Brick Lane along Cheshire Street in East London. In Brick Lane, posh boutiques stand in sharp contrast with rickety stalls selling a plethora of eclectic goods from old books, antique cameras, and vintage clothes to cutesy bric-a-brac. This place is popularized by bargain hunters, art students and curry houses, It’s unpolished, little wild, rough around the edges and definitely unafraid. And true to London’s multicultural fabric, Brick Lane is a place where people from all different cultures, backgrounds come together to clash and cherish. Brick Lane’s vibe can be summed up in two words—wild and eclectic.

Camden Lock

 

Camden Market

 

 

Camden Market

 

Camden Market: One of the oldest markets of London, it has been the home ground for musical legends like Ian Drury and Amy Winehouse. Situated between Camden Town and Chalk farm, the Camden Markets give you a sneak peek to the city’s vibrant street culture. Saunter around its narrow pathways and you will soon realise that this is a place where alternative culture could have born. You will see an array of shops selling everything from Goth, Punk to vintage lifestyles.

 

Via: Wikimedia Commons

Via: Wikimedia Commons

Spitalfield Market: The Old Spitalfield Market (pictured above) located in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, closest to Liverpool Street tube station, is home to an old-fashioned community of over 30 independent and large traders and a plethora of chic bohemian businesses. The market is a treasure trove of eclectic interiors and design, scrumptious street food and quirky art.Nothing represents the consumer’s diversity and individuality like this market and at the same time it is a cultural and entrepreneurial melting pot.  If you love antiques – especially  Victorian ones then this market should not be missed. But a word of caution: the real antiques market is open only on Thursdays and like every other market in the world, there are numerous vendors who will try to fool you with their “iconic” finds. So have a discerning eye. If you are tired of rummaging through retro finds, then give your taste buds some exercise by digging into some farmers’ cheese and other delicious delights.