Oxford and Stratford-Upon-Avon
Wednesday morning we bade farwell to our excellent hosts and made our way to St. Pancras station to pick up our car rental for our country excursion. I had most definitely, absolutely, positively rented an automatic car, as we'd figured it was going to be too difficult to have a manual transmission when first trying to drive on the other side of the road.
"But oh, no no no, ma'am, it says here you have definitely reserved a manual. We don't even HAVE automatic cars available here." AAAAAAHHHHH! We spent the next hour driving out of busy London traffic in mortal terror. But we made it! And then eventually it became more comfortable, until finally it was completely easy and not a problem at all.
We stopped at the Eagle and Child pub to have lunch with the masters: Tolkien and Lewis and the rest of the Inklings spent many an hour here spinning some of the greatest stories of the modern age. David had the corned beef and I had fish and chips, and I have to say, they were most excellent.
That, unfortunately, was the most we saw of Oxford. We had to get to Stratford in time for the theatre. Driving through the countryside was breathtaking.
Outside Shakespeare's home
This is heaven, right?
We couldn't take pictures inside, unfortunately.
The garden is filled with plants and flowers that are referenced in Shakespeare's plays.
Definitely heaven. We had really good Indian food after this, which was good because by then I had contracted a wonderful head cold that only Indian spices could assuage.
About seven months ago, we had the amazing luck to get the last tickets in the house for the RSC's Hamlet starring Patrick Stewart as Claudius and David Tennant as Hamlet. You may not know Mr. Tennant here in America, but in the UK, he is Dr. Who, and is a huge, huge star. The audience was filled with breathless teenage girls. He ended up being well worth the hype. The production was flawless.
We started our night in the standing seats in the rafters but were lucky enough to sit in the fourth row for the second act. The show was tremendous. The performances were inspired. This is modern Shakespeare at its absolute best. I don't even really know what to say about it except that I wish I had a film of it to watch and study over and over.
Walking home afterwards in the misty night air through a lovely village with Shakespeare on our minds = bliss.
DRIVE ON THE LEFT! The signs even have to remind you.
I am more ridiculously jealous than I can describe that you got to see that Hamlet.
Random person here (via Google alert for Tennant and Hamlet) plus big Doctor Who fan. Hi! :-)
"New" Doctor Who has been going for four seasons now, each 13 episodes and with some Christmas specials, so it is manageable. Do not be daunted! In the first season, Christopher Eccleston was the Doctor, but he regenerated into David Tennant for season 2.
I personally thought season 3 was great - a new companion means the Doctor is introduced again (3.1 "Smith and Jones"), so it is a good place to start for a new viewer. Season four is excellent but I think you'd get more out of it if you've seen the others first.
If you can, borrow or rent the box sets as they have some good extras - each episode has a commentary and David Tennant's video diaries are fun!
I saw Hamlet and was blown away by all the performances and the clarity, freshness and humour - I never knew it could be *so* entertaining!
Hope this helps in making a start with the Doctor!
Totally agree - no need to catch up on the old stuff. The references they make in the new series are nice if you're familiar from way back but it's all just a bit quaint now if you try to go back and catch up. I grew up watching Tom Baker, Peter Davison, etc... so the new one was a stretch. Honestly it comes into its own when Tennant steps in, really. There are a few missteps but generally REALLY well crafted full season arcs with easy to digest individual stories as well.