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To Ayrshire, via Stratford-upon-Avon going home

Home -> Europe -> Scotland -> Travelogue Scotland -> 27 to 29 June 2009

Saturday 27 June, to Ayrshire, via Stratford-upon-Avon going home

Glencoe GlencoeToday we are already heading south on our way home and leave Scotland. It is cloudy when we leave but as a result we get to see fantastic skies that hang over the Glencoe area which turn the green to take on all sorts of hues through the play of light and shadow. And it is still reasonably warm and dry. The past week we had really good weather, that has been different on other Scotland trips.
Landscape along the A82 Landscape along the A82The plain beyond Glencoe is becoming increasingly vast and barren, it is a very special area, sometimes it looks like a lunar landscape. Hardly any shrubs or trees grow and we rarely see sheep.
At Bridge of Orchy the mountains are coming a bit closer and the landscape is changing again.
A little further, at Crianlarich, we have to make the choice whether we take the left or right turn to head south: right via the Loch Lomond area and left via Stirling, again two completely different landscapes. Usually we go left here so now we take the right.
Dumbarton CastlePast Loch Lomond at the coast on the Clyde we pass Dumbarton Castle built against Alt Clut, the rock of the Clyde. This rock is about 335 million years old and was originally the solidified lava plug that closed off a volcano. The edges of the volcano around it eroded, but the plug is still a massive rock in the landscape.
Around 450 AD this place was already inhabited but most of the buildings date from the 18th century. We take a few photos on the outside but do not enter them.
And then we are at Glasgow and for some reason the Tomtom gets completely confused. Except for the Garmin which broke, we luckily also had this navigation system with us but at Glasgow that does not help. Before we know it we drive into the city instead of around it while we have really entered a more southern destination. When we finally leave the city one and a half hours later, we first want to take a break because it was quite busy and chaotic on the road. The first place we encounter is Paisley so we are looking for a parking spot.
Paisley PaisleyPaisley is located approximately 11 kilometers southwest of Glasgow city center and is the chief town of the Renfrewshire council. We park a bit outside the city center and as we walk through the shopping streets towards the Old Dunn Square I notice after a while that almost everyone we see walking here is fat. Enough Scots are a bit sturdy anyway but here it is extreme and there are almost no exceptions. We make quite a lot of jokes about it that we can not repeat here and hopefully we have just chosen a wrong time to be here. We do not show these photographs here.
Thomas Coats Memorial Church, PaisleyAfter a coffee break on the only terrace in the center with exactly two tables (and that while it is over 25 degrees!) we walk on the way to the car past the Thomas Coats Memorial Church, a 60 meter high and imposing Baptist church. The church was completed in 1894 and built in Gothic style. It can hold almost 1,000 people, but it seems that the church may have to be closed because the church congegration is becoming too small and such a building is of course relatively expensive to maintain.
An abandoned truck in Ayrshire Geese crossing the road, AyrshireAfter our break in Paisley we drive further south and our route is being determined by the roads we have not driven before on the map. In this way we get through abandoned areas where a lost truck stands in a field. This way, we are on the road for hours before arriving at Carlisle in the evening, just across the border from Scotland. There are 3 Travelogdes around and we have not written down enough detail so it takes some time before we get to the right one. But we are back in England, that feels a bit like the holiday has already ended...

Sunday 27 en Monday 28 June, a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon, the town of Shakespeare and back home

We start the return journey but I have planned a nice visit in between: after 5.5 hours of driving we pass Stratford-upon-Avon, the birth and death place of Shakespeare. That seems like a perfect place to stop and have a break.
Stratford-upon-Avon, home of Shakespeare Stratford-upon-Avon, home of ShakespeareDespite the beautiful weather and the landscape, this trip is always a bit less fun because we are going home again. That is why a somewhat longer stop in Stratford is quite a nice solution to make something of the day, so it becomes more than just a travel day.
It is almost 30 degrees and it is great to get out of the car for some time. As soon as we have parked the car and walk to the old center, it is clear that Shakespeare is held in high esteem here, if only to attract tourists.
Live theatre, Stratford-upon-AvonWhen we arrive near Shakespeare's birthhouse, we are surprised there is street theater being played: a scene from the Midsummer night's dream in which the king and queen of the fairy, Oberon and Titania, argue, now literally on the street. It is wonderful to see how the actors use the entire street between the watchful and shoppers to show their act while it still is easy to follow by the spectators. We stay watching quite enthralled and many more people also.
A Christmas shop in the summer, Stratford-upon-Avon A hedgehog in a shopwindowIn addition to Shakespearean things, there is more to see such as a real Christmas shop that sells only Christmas stuff even in the summer.
But we want to buy the hedgehog in the display case, which fits well with the other hedgehogs that we brought from Fort William.
Stratford-upon-Avon Stratford-upon-AvonWe walk around a bit in the center where many old buildings from the time of Shakespeare have been preserved and you see that they like to please the tourists. No wonder, because tourism is now virtually the most important source of income with around 2 million visitors a year.
Stratford-upon-Avon Stratford-upon-Avon2 million visitors per year, that's 5,500 per day on average. And in the summer there will be more people than in the winter so then the crowds are actually not as big as could be expected right now, in the middle of the summer.
We are fully enjoying this stopover but actually one and a half hour is far too short and we promise ourselves to take more time for a visit another time.
Stratford-upon-Avon, home of ShakespeareWe have experienced 2 fantastic, crazy weeks and seen a lot. As 'fools' we drove all over Scotland again and our last picture of the holiday is very appropriately of the Shakespearean fool, a character that is very common in his pieces. And he, although of low origin, is often smarter and wiser than most other characters. But the use of a fool could also come in very handy because fools did not have to follow a fixed pattern, no character steadiness like the 'normal' characters in the piece and thus could cause dramatic turns in a plot.
Leaving Stratford-upon-Avon we travel to Ashford where we have booked a hotel and we still have all kinds of adventures such as almost missing the boat because of a bizarre car-search through customs after which I drive away with the doors and trunk open but the next evening we are back home again and we still have time to see our granddaughter and put the hedgehog statues in the garden. It has been another great trip.


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