May 26,1967 :North Wales to Stratford-on-Avon
Starting mileage 62369, 7:30 AM
We traveled the familiar route to Betws-y-Coed and then continued on the A5 to Shrewsbury. The wooded mountains east of Betwe-y-Coed were very beautiful - the most impressive country through which we passed. From Shrewsbury we traveled A458 to Bridgnorth, A442 to Kidderminster, A448 to Bromsgrove and A448, A435 and A422 to Stratford-on-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare.
We went to Anne Hathaway's Cottage and then drove downtown. There were a number of very attractive tudor-style buildings and a very well developed center around Shakespeare's birthplace
There was a sidewalk market in the city square and it and the rest of the downtown area were fantastically crowded, and its not even the tourist season yet!
We drove back to the car park near Anne Hathaway's Cottage and ate lunch. There were several ducks and a number of sparrows there begging crumbs. One cute sparrow had her two fledglings with her -they apparentlay were only recently "airborne". She had them staked out in two separate willow trees - on very limber twigs. When the mother managed to grab a crumb from the slow and clumsy ducks, she would carry it to one of the young ones, and while both bobbed up and down on the willow twig she would deftly poke the crumb down the eager chick's mouth.
We went through Anne Hathaway's Cottage, and although it was not so impressive as the show put on by the sparrows, it was quite interesting. It had many old furnishings, including wooden "trenchers" for eating and straw mattresses. I learned a few things from the guide's spiel. The house, tudor style, was built about 1450. The frame of timbers was put up first and the spaces filled with mud and sticks, which hardened like adobe. In Shakespeare's time they usually ate with knife and fingers, no fork, from hollowed out wooden plates called "trenchers". When the first course was over, they turned the plate over, flat side up, for the next course which was usually cheese.
Leaving Stratford-on-Avon, we drove down the A34 to the university center of Oxford. There were hundreds of bicyclists in the streets, and we soon found out why - the traffic is terrible and you can make much better time on a bicycle. We saw everthing from mini-skirted teenagers to a nun on bicycles. There were many distinguished looking businessmen on bikes, and we saw the District Nurse (Welfare Nurse) making her rounds on a bicycle. The city was too crowded and hectic at 4PM for us to stop and look around.We had planned to take the A429 out of Oxford but missed it and stayed on A34 to the intersection of A417. The A417 to Treatly was through fairly open country and very attractive. Near Streatly on A329 we saw some lads sailing and rowing on the Thames (see #679 film). From there the traffic situation deteriorated from bad to terrible at Reading - even worse than old Bankhead Highway in Atlanta. After finally struggling through Reading, we traveled south via A33 and A32 to Oldham. The A32 was open and very attractive. Otherwise it was built up - due to nearness to London - and not at all exciting. A287 to Farnham was uneventful but the A31 along the "Hogs Back" to Guildford was very impressive. From the road you can see for a long distance on either side. There are rural areas dotted with small developments in a lush green setting.
Guildford was very exasperating. It is quite a large and crowded town and A31 dead-ended with a choice of either A3 or A3100, both of which were wrong - we wanted A246. Taking A3100, we finally wound upon A248 and A25 and continued on our planned route. After an unsuccessful search for a Bed n' Breakfast, we had supper in Reigate and landed in the Warwick Hotel in Redhill. We had arrived in Reigate at about 8PM but it was about 9:30 when we settled in the hotel in Redhill.
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