We woke up and left Haworth on a coach headed for Ironbridge. Ironbridge is a preserved Victorian town just outside of Stratford. It's one of those living history places where they have actors who play to shopkeepers and townspeople and you wander around and learn about the time period and hopefully buy overpriced period reproductions. Normally, I find this stuff kind of hokey, but I enjoyed Ironbridge a lot. Maybe that's just because I'm in a good mood.
Anyway, at the bank you could exchange your modern English money for Victorian style money: 12 pence to a shilling, 20 shillings to a pound, a pound and a shilling to a guinea, etc. (Guess where JK Rowling got her inspiration for the wizarding money system.) I ended up buying some postcards at the printer's shop, mostly because the guy there was a really good actor, and some candy at the sweet shop (sherbet lemons! Yay!). Laura--a girl in our group who got engaged right before coming on the trip and is getting married three weeks after we're back--bought a garter at the milliner's shop. :D Two actors from a local theatre place did two scenes from Shakespeare: the balcony scene
from Romeo and Juliet and the players scene from Midsummer Night's Dream. They needed two volunteers to help with the players scene, so Joni and Chris Bennion got to do some play acting. It was really hillarious, especially when Chris (15) got to object to playing Thisby because he had a beard coming in. We all laughed so hard.
After Ironbridge, it was another long coach ride up to Warwick where we're staying for two nights at the Warwick Arms hotel. I love staying in hotels; I think I'm going to be too spoilt for youth hostels after this week. The only thing about this hotel is that it's in a really old building and all the floors and ceilings are sagging. Nothing's built at right angles and the angles between walls and floor change as you walk, giving the illusion that you're walking on a ship or something.
We cooked dinner at the local church, and then had a poetry reading by Terry Gifford. Even though I don't traditionally like environmentalist poetry, I really liked his stuff because he really has a good grasp of storytelling and making poetry accessible. I also liked his view that the
sciences and arts shouldn't be separated. He said that a good poet should also be a good scientist. Hurray! Just for that I bought his book The Unreliable Mushrooms. (I finished the Bill Bryson book, so I needed a new one anyway.) I love the English Earth Warriors poem--it's about English people who litter the countryside in creative ways to make a statement about modern life and nature. There's one guy who puts golf balls in unusual places and a group of nurses who put nestboxes on every tree in an entire forest. Fascinating stuff. I recommend the book.
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