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Shakespeare’s home town

In Shakespeare’s day Stratford-upon-Avon was a thriving market town and his father was a market trader making and selling gloves. Today it’s still a beautiful Tudor town perched on the edge of the Cotswolds with wonderful cafes, pubs, restaurants, hotels and of course famous theatres.

You can’t visit Stratford without following the Shakespeare connection – where the town’s most famous son was born, where he’s buried, an empty space where he lived in later life and the beautiful Anne Hathaway cottage. But nearly everything you hear about Shakespeare will be speculation because virtually nothing is really known about any aspect of his life.

All we know for certain about Shakespeare are his plays and sonnets, they are the only definite evidence about his life (although even the authenticity of these are questioned by some) so any visitor should really stop off at the splendidly revamped Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and Swan theatres. As well as Shakespeare, they perform work by his contemporaries, other classics as well as some modern works.

Even if you don’t enjoy the theatre the RSC is still well worth visiting for its riverside terrace, rooftop restaurant, viewing tower or just letting the kids (or childish adults) play in the dressing up box in the foyer.

The Arden is hotel is the RSC’s recommended hotel, perfectly located directly opposite the theatres and the River Avon. It's an elegant and sophisticated 45-bedroom boutique hotel and its recent multi-million pound refurbishment has made it smart and slick in every detail. Its Waterside Brasserie is not only a popular place for evening dining but breakfast is freshly cooked and served to order – no stewed buffet offerings here.

The Arden is also a popular pre and post theatre dining venue and because it’s so close, some theatre goers order interval drinks and nip back across the road to avoid the theatre queues – how cheeky, or smart, is that?

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I’ve been writing about travel for the past 14 years and have travelled extensively from [A]ustralia to [Z]imbabwe. I’ve been around the world a few of times and have written widely for the international press in America, Australia and the UK, for newspapers, magazines and websites.I am also the author of a definitive guide to Wildlife Conservation Volunteering (Bradt, 2012) and have worked on volunteer projects in South America, Africa, India and Europe. Working from a riverboat on the Amazon has to be my favourite conservation project – a bit of comfort and luxury at the end of the day after getting filthy ploughing through the muddy jungle.I think the best way of getting around is travelling by train, not just because it’s eco-friendly but because I enjoy the journey as much as the destination. I’ve written a lot about train travel and am a contributing author to Great Railway Journeys of the World (Time Out 2009). My enthusiasm for travelling on trains culminated in 2011 – 2012 when I travelled around the world by train - from London to Sydney. This was the most amazing trip I’ve ever done and I spent three months because I couldn’t stop myself getting off to explore what couldn’t be seen from the window.Naturally it’s now a book!

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