Tag Archives: Warwickshire

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Shakespeare's BirthplaceLast week, we spent a few days in leafy Warwickshire (Shakespeare Country) and, since we lived in the area about thirty five years ago, took the opportunity to visit some of our old haunts. Stratford-on-Avon, where we spent many happy hours showing visitors around Shakespeare’s town (especially his birthplace, pictured), then on to Leamington Spa, where I used to work, and a day spent in the city of Coventry which, for me, was the highlight of our trip.

Coventry is probably best known for it’s medieval cathedral, which was bombed in November 1940 and left in ruins. At the end of World War II, it was decided to build the new cathedral beside the ruins of the old one as a symbol of hope, peace and reconciliation.  Unfortunately, the photo I took is too blurry to post, but there are many great images on Google if you’d like to check them out.

20190519_125326Another reason for Coventry’s fame is the story of Lady Godiva. According to legend, she was the wife of a powerful tyrant lord who demanded high taxes from the people of Coventry. Lady Godiva asked her husband to stop this tax since she knew it was causing such hardship amongst the people she loved. He allegedly told her that he would do so if she rode naked through Coventry.

Lady Godiva took him at his word, and with only her long blonde hair covering her naked body she rode through Coventry on market day. Pious and modest, Lady Godiva is said to have sent word to the townspeople that they should go inside their homes and not watch as she rode by. Because they loved her and knew she was doing it to save them hardship, they complied. Except one young tailor who couldn’t resist looking. He became known as Peeping Tom and was blinded by heaven for not adhering to Lady Godiva’s instruction.

On the plinth below the statue are words from Tennyson’s poem:

“Then she rode back
clothed on with chastity.
She took the tax away
and built herself an everlasting name” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Memories of Robbie’s Night

As you likely know, last Sunday was Burns’ Night, celebrating the life and work of the Scots icon, Robert Burns. Born in Alloway, Scotland on 25 January 1759, Burns wrote many poems but I didn’t know that he also wrote Auld Lang Syne. Well, you learn something new every day 🙂

The night always brings back happy memories. In the mid 1980s, AJ’s job meant that we had to move to Warwickshire (Shakespeare Country). We lived in a beautiful town not far from Stratford-upon-Avon and in the two years we lived there we had a very active and happy social life. We made wonderful friends, many of whom are still friends today, and were always out and about enjoying ourselves. We went to so many formal occasions – Masonic ladies’ nights, police balls, civic functions – that I splashed out on a really gorgeous evening gown. I still have the dress although, alas, I fear I could no longer fit into it. Nevertheless, just looking at it brings back a multitude of good memories and happy times.

One of the happiest occasions during our sojourn in Warwickshire was a Burns’ Night organized by a Scottish friend, Alec. It was a pretty raucous occasion and great fun. We still talk about it today. We stood by our seats at long tables while the haggis was piped in (I love the sound of bagpipes), followed by Alec reading the Address to the Haggis, the ode that Robbie Burns wrote for the dish. Back in those days I wasn’t yet a vegetarian, but remember not especially liking haggis.

During and after the meal, there were toasts to Robbie Burns and readings of his work. It wasn’t an especially serious affair and at one stage Alec, suitably dressed in his family tartan kilt, placed one foot on the table and made a toast. A little the worse for one too many whiskeys, he came dangerously close to revealing the answer to that age old question 🙂

It was a really fun evening, surrounded by good friends, good food (unless you count the haggis) and much laughter. I can never let the 25 January pass by without a toast to those happy times and wonderful friends.