London Diary – 1st Christmas in UK – Part2 Stratford upon Avon

Dec 26, 2015

It is Boxing Day!
Hope your Christmas celebration has been wonderful so far.
Our first Christmas in UK has been at the Welcombe in Stradford upon Avon.
Christmas Eve (Around the 50s. Sprinkling and overcast at times, mostly sunny and blue in the sky):
Afternoon Tea.
Last minute shopping in Stratford’s town center while Ben hit the gym.
Christmas Carol Concert in the evening by Girls’ Choir of St Mary’s Church in the main lounge of hotel, with champagne and canapes.
Candle light dinner and Ben tried his first Christmas crackers.
Wanted to but missed midnight mass, couldn’t stay up late enough.

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Dec 26, 2015

Christmas at the Welcombe continues.
Christmas Day (Overcast all day):
Breakfast.
Walking around the house, to the hill around the golf course, then to the higher hill where the monument is with nice view of surrounding towns and villages. An elderly couple who was there with flowers to commemorate their son pointed out Broadway of Cotswolds to us.
Buck fizz with canapés.
Christmas Luncheon, the “meal”, turkey was not the only option, and there was more crackers to pop.
Queens Speech at 3pm was over by the time we finished lunch.
Christmas cake was served afterwards, we did not have room for it.
After all those food, what else to do but nap, while Ben hit the gym.
After a “light” buffet dinner, it was time for either Downton Abbey finale, or Quiz and Race game. And it was Quiz and Race for the night. We won, 2 bottles of wine and bag of candies, woohoo!!

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Dec 26, 2015

Christmas at the Welcombe coming to an end.

Boxing Day ( Cloudy as usual. Very warm at high 50s I believe, which is not usual. And quite breezy.)

Went back to Stradford town center and did a walking tour, about 2hrs, our guide Barbara was friendly, informative and Interesting. She asked, what is the difference between a chapel and a church? Now I know😀 She also shared stories on the origins of the many Intersting proverbs. We walked to Shakespeare birth house, Holy Trinity Church where he was buried (Do you know? The dramatist he was, Shakespeare died on his birthday), Guild chapel, among others. The walk along the river near RSC not at its peak, I could see however how lovely it’d be in spring.

After lunch, our good son Ben hit the gym and the pool. We watched a bit TV, have to rest up for the big night.

Highlight of the day: black tie gala dinner and dance at night. Like most of others, we did suits instead and still look fantastic 😉  There was champagne to pass around by hotel servers before dinner. To our surprise, there was more champagne to come. Roslyn and Harold, from Wales, with whom we shared a table brought a bottle of champagne and insisted on sharing with us. They’ve been celebrating Christmas at the Welcombe for over a dozen times. And so between champagne, Old Fashion and beer, there’s lots spirit going on.

The Christmas party maybe coming to an end but we’ll vacation on. Tomorrow: Warwick Castle.

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Dec 27, 2015

Before heading back to London, there was one more thing to do, visiting Warwick Castle of Warwickshire, 15 minutes from Stratford upon Avon.

On the way, England’s castles I visited reeled through my mind. Windsor Castle in 2005 (part of a multi-destination day tour from London) which I couldn’t recall much detail. Berkeley in 2014, Sudeley Castle in June of this year and Dover Castle less than a month ago however are still vividly fresh in memory. So I was tepid in my expectation and spirit. That is, until I was greeted by a cool and chatty little birdie at the parking lot. As we walked up and Warwick Castle’s towers, ramparts and gate loomed in front of us, I became excitedly awake.

The day was an unimpressive overcast with occasional sprinkles. Nonetheless, imposing and steep in history, Warwick Castle won over the day. The best bird’s eye view of the castle and the great hall in its entirety, situated on the river Avon, would be from Guy’s Tower. The vaulted rooms on the lower level are quite evocative. Rooms on this level are set up to portrait the scenes of its past and does an intriguing job displaying its involvement and preparation for the Battle of Barnet and the final fate of its master, the king-maker Richard Neville. Resplendent and rich, staterooms upstairs are equally memorable and reflects its modernization by later owners.

Warwick Castle was definitely worth the visit. A tip, it is pronounced as “Warick”, ignore the second “w”.

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