Rita had generously offered us the use of her car while she was at work in Stratford today, so we gratefully accepted both the offer and some of the travel tips she suggested.
The plan was to spend the day in Stratford and catch a show at the festival if possible. All in all it worked out pretty well.
After dropping Rita at work, the first stop after parking with a view of the rather swollen Avon was the tourist information centre. Interestingly one of the things we were interested in was the museum about which there was almost no information for some reason. The best we could do was to get the attendant to show us where it was on the map - quite a distance out of the centre of town for some strange reason. The same map allowed us to identify the location of the major theatres in which the late season festival shows were playing.
In order to digest the information and make plans we went to Balzac - a cafe Rita suggested. Quite atmospheric - and fine coffee. On the way we walked through much of Stratford's downtown, which has the gentrified air of many well- touristed towns - gift stores, jewellery, cafes, tourist info, Scottish store etc. With the aid of the map and a free local tourism website we decided we would do a walking tour of town - using an on-line audio commentary and the free wireless for local sites, then check out the museum, then go to the box office (to see if we could get seats to Superstar - or failing that, The Misanthrope by Moliere) then lunch and a few errands, then the show.
We dodged from doorway to doorway in the rain to do the tour of downtown, which was heavy on architectural rather than historical material - but still quite good. We drove out of town to the museum, which is in a restored home with a new addition at back. Being late in the season has some advantages, with the undivided attention of the sole member of staff on duty. I found the display of old agricultural equipment, and the work on wartime propoganda most interesting.
When we went back into town for the 12 noon ticket "rush" , Anne discovered that there was no rush, and that we could wait on a line to see if there were any tickets returned. We decided to go to the main theatre to watch Moliere, so bought the tickets, returned to Balzac for lunch (when you are on a winner.... ) visited the local toy store Family and Company (another Rita recommendation) to get a couple of gifts for Tobias' and Krystal's girls Brooke and Kaylee, and tried in vain to find an apple pie in town for dessert in the evening, and then headed for the theatre.
The Festival Theatre is a fine venue, on parkland along the Avon. Anne and I brought the average age for the matinee performance at 2 down by at least 10 years! The play had a magnificent translation in verse and the performances were good, but I have to confess that after all the fresh air in the morning, I slept through a good part of the session up to interval. I was much better behaved for the second session.
We zipped back to colect Rita, stopped along the way to do some shopping - including pie! - and helped Rita finish off the evening meal - much of which was well under way in the crock pot, with Ron getting some of the other things started. Tobias and Krystal and the girls joined us for the meal. It is quite uncanny sitting with a fine young man and his lovely family when the last time you had any meaningful interaction with him was when he was about three. Two things that have lasted are the absolute passion for farming and the facial expressions. Ron kept us quite amused during dinner with some very self deprecatory stories. I'll leave Anne to describe these.
A: Ron, whose attention was constantly required by Brooke and Krystal and who ran from room to room amusing the two of them, announced in the way that only Ron can, that he had "Show and Tell". This was yet "another short story" and concerned the canny purchase of sunglasses. Ron had decided he needed new ones and went to a store and tried on several pairs which he described graphically. He then described his delight on spotting a pair for $ 5.99 reduced from the original price. He thought he had a bargain and so proudly brought them home to discover that they had sparkles on them - he was told they were women's sunglasses! This when coupled with a later story about a new coat he bought which had the zipper on the wrong side made for much amusement and the implication that Ron loves to dress up in women's clothing! You will find a picture of the offending items above.