On the first day we really got some exercise. From our little apartment, we walked 3 miles or so up the disused railway line (known as The Greenway) to the historic heart of Stratford, finding a geocache along the way. We walked many of the old half-timbered buildings, plus the renovations underway at the RSC's Swan theatre. (Trust us to pick about eh only week of the year when no plays were on in any of Stratford's 4 theatres ...) We stopped and sat outside with a drink at the Dirty Duck pub (better than it sounds) before enjoying the New Place Garden. In it there are ten or so large sculptures added in recent years, each of which explores characters from Shakespeare's more famous plays. It's amazing how the sculptor has managed to weave together faces and props and set decorations.
The next day we took it easier, and drove to more small villages on rivers; Bidford-on-Avon looked a good place to try, but having got there decided it was a rather ugly dump, and left after a few minutes. We had much better luck in Henley-in-Arden, where we pottered around for half the day.Our walk started by checking out the Church of St. John the Baptist, where we discovered this amazing stained glass window, presented to the church by the town in 2000. We then headed up to St.Nicholas' Church (ca.1170), and climbed up behind the graveyard to Beaudesert Mount, where we couldn't find any remains of the Castle, and then wandered down the side over some scrubland to the side of the River Alne, and walked along it admiring the backs of the properties between it and the High Street. Here are a few photos:
We lunched at The White Swan Hotel (serving since 1361 but now with mod cons like WiFi) and had coffee and danish at Matricardi's on a very comfortable sofa. Both recommended. The Henley Ice Cream Parlour also looked good but we didn't go in.Several friends or family have or are wondering about moving to this sort of area: from driving around it seems Binton, Henley, Alcester, Welford-on-Avon as well as Stratford itself would all be 'pretty places' to live. However, whether they'd have enough going on to suit would be down to individual taste.