Monday, June 4, 2012


At Anne Hathaway's Cottage. There we viewed both the "Courting Bench" and the "Courting Chair," mythic sites of the Bard's courtship of the elder Anne.  We don't know much about their courtship, but we do know that they married in haste because of Anne's pregnancy.  No evidence that they repented in leisure.

At Mary Arden's Farm (where Shakespeare spent some happy times with his mother's family) observing the hoof cleaning of Ellie, a "Gypsy Cob."  Neither of these Elizabethan farm workers were very good with horses.  It took them forever to get Ellie to lift her hoof.

Delys and some students talking falconry with the resident falconer at Mary Arden's farm.  Later, during his presentation, Delys got to put on the gauntlet and call a barn owl to her hand.  Unfortunately, we didn't get a good photo of it.

Paying my respects at Shakespeare's grave in Trinity Church.  It's the high point of our pilgrimage to Shakespeare's birthplace. His wife, Anne, is buried next to him.  Whatever separation they experienced during his career in London, they ended up together in the end.

However, perhaps the true high point of any pilgrimage to Stratford-upon-Avon is visiting the Royal Shakespeare Company theatres to see a Shakespeare play performed.  This year, we saw Julius Caesar and Richard III.  Here Delys is enjoying some lunch from the Baguette Barge (ham and brie) in the park fronting the theatres on the Avon before attending one such performance.

Here are my Birkenstock-shod feet "treading the boards" of the old stage at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre before the theatre renovation, a stage where all the greatest actors in the UK once played, including Richard Burton and Laurence Olivier among many others. 


On our way back to London we stopped at the Cotswolds for a taste of the most pristine and picturesque part of England, unspoiled by the Industrial Revolution and kept vibrant (and solvent) by tourism.

We also stopped at Oxford for a visit to one of Delys's favorite places, the Bodleian Library, before finally driving those last 30 miles to London. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

We'll Always Have Paris

Even the Honorable William F. Cody took the occasion to visit Paris and the iconic Tour d'Eiffel.  Here I am with a facsimile of Buffalo Bill himself at the top of the tower. We westerners should stick together.

Here's the night view of the Tour d'Eiffel from the window of our hotel room at Hotel Kensington. Another example of why Paris is called the City of Light.

Palais Garnier (Paris Opera House of Phantom of the Opera fame) is yet another interior example of Paris's enlightened reputation.  No phantom in sight, although Andrew Lloyd Weber keeps trying to resurrect him to see how much more money he can make from the troubled, disfigured organist.

The entrance to Versailles, presided over by a statue of a mounted Louis XIV, the Sun King, the greatest of all the French monarchs, who famously declared, "L'etat, c'est moi" as well as the prophetic, "Apres moi, le deluge."

A propros of the flood, here's Delys on the Seine, with Notre Dame behind her, on a brisk and cloudy afternoon after a taste of gelato on the Isle St. Louis.

And here I am, in the same location on the Seine, contemplating the joys of the City of Light this year with those of the Eternal City, Rome, last year. It is a weighty subject of comparison.  I must say that in the end I much prefer Paris, although Rome had one thing last year that Paris lacked this year:  Travis and Heidi!  Rome with them may even eclipse the realm of the Sun King.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Chyral and Tracey in London

On their way to a week-long Norwegian cruise departing out of Dover, my mom and sister Tracey stayed with us several days in our cozy little Finborough flat.  Here they are with Delys outside the Tower of London with the Tower Bridge in the background.

Even though my mom's approaching her 84th birthday, she's still game and rode the buses and the tube with aplomb.  She even perfected a graceful little jump over the gap whenever she alighted from the tube.  Besides the Tower, they went to the British Library and British Museum and National Art Gallery (the latter all on their own, by the way).

They departed this morning for Dover in a hired car. By now they're working their way through the buffet anticipating tomorrow's visit to some fjord.  I hope my mom doesn't ask the captain to steer a little closer to some calving glacier.

Friday, May 4, 2012

It's spring in London, but so little chance of experiencing actual hay fever, that we decided to take in a Noel Coward play by the same name.  It continues to be cold and windy and rainy.  We must be paying now for the pristine spring weather we had last year. The play, thanks to some outstanding special effects, even concluded with thunder and rain dripping down the outside of the set's windows. We had an excellent dinner in China Town, braving  huge umbrella-wielding crowds and the Chinese-only speaking staff at our restaurant.

Our play list so far:  Traveling Light (National Theatre), Moon on a Rainbow Shawl (National Theatre), Hay Fever (Noel Coward Theatre), and Matilda the Musical (Cambridge Theatre).  Favorite thus far?  Moon on a Rainbow Shawl.  Set in Trinidad with a wonderful cast in the intimate Cottlesloe Theatre.  Least favorite thus far?  Matilda.  Long on spectacle and talent but short on coherent script and direction (despite excellent novel and film to work from).

Truth in advertising notice: the striking floppy red hat on the poster did not appear in the show, so hat fanciers be warned!  The understudy, a straw hat, was solid but much less sexy in the lead millinery role.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Possible Harry Potter Sighting

I was walking past St. Pancras / King's Cross station on the way to the British Library to see if, at long last, they had the Beowulf manuscript on display, when I thought I caught a glimpse of a flying car, of all things, circling around the clock tower behind me.

Then Delys and I went into King's Cross Station and found the famous Platform 9 3/4.  Alas, the cart wouldn't push all the way in.  I expect we needed a ticket for the Hogwart's Express.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

This Time Last Year

We've happened upon a dreary and rainy London this spring, although everyone from the BBC weather people to persons on the street will say the UK is still in a serious drought situation.  Whereas last year we had cool but unseasonably sunny weather, with a total of three or four rainy days, this year in six days we've been here, we've had rain every single day.  Yesterday afternoon around Leicester Square, where we went to see Noel Coward's Hay Fever, we waded into a sea of multicoloured umbrellas held up by hundreds and hundreds of people--just down the street from the stage revival of Singing in the Rain.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

London Calling

Squared Away is back in the saddle after a long hiatus on the occasion of another spring to be spent directing BYU's London Theatre Program.  Keep up with our activities on my daily posts.