On my first trip to the UK, I had to go to Stratford. For theatre people (directing, building, painting and even a little acting) Stratford is like a mecca for those who love the stage. After pulling into town, the information center made arrangements for my bed and breakfast. (In the off-season, you can go most anywhere without reservations.) I dropped off the car and suitcase and walked downtown to the playhouse and asked for tickets to anything Shakespeare. Luckily, I got a great ticket to see Much Ado About Nothing for that very night! So I had some time to kill and walked around town. Retire with the Bard? Now there’s an idea!
Birthplace to William Shakespeare, Stratford has become a popular tourist destination. The Royal Shakespeare Company lives here and is one of Britain’s most important cultural venues. The town itself is an old market town, founded in 1196, surrounded by farmland and the quite near another tourist destination, the Cotswolds. Tourism is the largest ‘industry’ in Stratford.
But would I like to live here, even for a little while? You bet! The mild weather (33 F in the winter and in the low 70’s F in the summer) is a big draw to retirees from the north. They get about 24 inches of rain per year. About 25,000 people call Stratford home and 18% are over the age of 65. I easily found a 1 bedroom furnished flat for $900 US a month. Stratford is about a 100 miles northwest of Central London and is accessible by train and bus.
This whole area of the country is connected by canal boats that can be hired for holidays (vacations). The Stratford-Upon-Avon Canal runs 25 miles from Birmingham to Stratford through 54 locks and is about a 3 day trip. A gentleman told me I can start in Stratford and make my way to London, all on the canal system!
By the way, the play was excellent. I sat next to a young couple from Oakland, California and had a nice chat. I might decide to retire in Stratford-On-Avon, even for just a little while!