Traveling on the road so much and being in hotels all that time, I have developed a few needs I look for in my temporary homes. I’m a simple fellow who desires but a few things to make my stay comfortable:
Nice pillows – Feather preferably but as long as they’re not tired old flat things that have long outlasted their usefulness. At least two; one for my head and the other to prop up my arm as I sleep on my side. What can I say; I’m getting on in my years.
An air conditioner that has a fan option that stays on. Some units will stop after reaching a set temperature and come on intermittently thus you’ve got the fan sound or ‘white noise’ coming on then shutting off, coming on then shutting off. Some do it in excruciating random patterns that annoy me while lying in bed in a noiseless room. Others will only stay on if you put on fan setting then if it’s below freezing outside you just have to hunker down in the blankets provided and hope you don’t see your breath in the morning when you wake. Due to my ‘rock n’ roll’ level that I perform at, I always go to bed with a slight case of tinnitus so to offset the ‘ring’ in my ear I require the fan’s ‘white noise’ to cancel it out so I can sleep more soundly. (That is an odd choice of words, I know)
Good Shower head – This is such an asset for a hotel I believe. Some of its ancillary properties include steady water temp but you need to have good pressure too. The hotel I had in London by far had one of the best shower heads I’ve ever experienced. As I got into its modern layout with glass doors and neutral earth tone big tiles, I noticed at first that there was a ‘wand’ or hand held shower head. I refer to these as ‘Euro-showers’ due to the ubiquitous nature of them placed in hotels of all levels; be it stars or economic standing.
So I step in and start to man the controls, adjust my water temperature and water starts shooting out the wand’s end. I do notice this third dial on top of the ‘hot and cold’ handles, so I turn it and ‘Whoosh!’ and sudden downpour is hitting me directly on the crown of my head and it’s unbelievably consistent in both density and warmth. This is AWESOME!!! I had failed to notice the round ‘Sunflower’ like shower head place right in the middle of the small rectangle space that is the shower in the room. Then I notice the temp-governor dial and I turn for more heat and it responds! I’m starting to consider turning this vacation in London to a ‘stay-cation’ in my London hotel. Plus the mirror in the ‘loo’ is one of those heated ones so when you get out of your shower there’s a clear no-fog square in the middle. I’m starting to see the reasoning behind the 4-star rating. Totally legit in my book. Soap dishes are always a welcome ditty as well so I’ll file that under 3a as things I want in hotel rooms. Now on to the trip.
Today my hostess is providing me a ride in her car up to the little hamlet of Stratford-Upon-Avon.
It’s a quiet little tourist town with a quaint little river bisecting its small center and charming canal boats that float down it. I’m interested in this locale because it’s also the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Born here and dying here, his shadow is long and far reaching. It’s Shakespeare’s insight into our humanity that intrigues me most as well as his command and cadence with the English language. On this gloomy day of overcast clouds and a bit of a biting wind adding to the chill we feel, we wander about Stratford window shopping and gazing at the ‘touristy’ trinkets and such being sold in the name of Shakespeare and his legacy.
We stroll down to the area where the canal boats dock and see a few waterfowl languishing around and in the pond. There’s a butterfly house that we venture in, a bit of an escape from the ‘All-things-Bill’ in the town and we find it lovely inside; what with the frigid temps outside and the tropical moistness for the butterflies, we’re pleasantly amused by the extremes. We then come upon this tree that stands in a park that people have knitted together patches and have set about sewing them together around and on the tree. With its trunk covered and most of the lower branches wrapped, the tree gives off this colorful painted appearance when seen from afar only to notice it’s not paint but fabric adorning it. Really cool I have to admit. I can’t exactly remember the cause or organization that’s behind this wonderful undertaking but I like it. I’ve just been informed the cause is called ‘A Remembrance Tree’, funny I couldn’t remember that.
It’s getting close to traditional ‘Tea Time’ in England, 4 pm, so my hostess tells me we’re going to do a ‘Cream Tea’ today. Sounds yummy. Cream Tea is a pot of tea, duh, and two scones along with a portion of cream along with some jam, strawberry is given at this establishment. I choose the tea, Earl Grey, and after they present with our tray with everything on it, we ascend to a charming room upstairs. It’s a lovely time and we kind of review what we’ve seen today and start to talk about departure time to head back into the city. We both realize we haven’t seen much of anything ‘Shakespeare-like’ except for this birthplace and home and we comment wryly on how ‘touristy’ the town is set up but we both agree we’re not here when more activities towards the favorite son would be in full swing; namely the summertime. For now we drink the last of the Earl Grey and with it being so close to 5 pm now, the sun gone and sky growing darker and darker, we make our way back by bus to the parking lot her vehicle is parked at and we start our drive back to London town.
On the way back she puts in a Natalie Merchant cd, I’ve always liked her, even back in the early years when she was with 10,000 Maniacs, but I haven’t heard much of her solo stuff other than her radio hits. They are pleasant and perfect songs to listen to while riding on a dark lazy rainy night. We get into town on the heels of rush hour and she drops me off at my hotel and I ascend the stairs and go to bed. Wow, today I was standing in front of Shakespeare’s house. Wow.