We have been lucky enough to have @David_Tennant write a guest blog for us and below you will find an insight into the impact that David Tennant has had on Stratford in his previous visits;

David Tennant will star in Richard II in Stratford-upon-Avon from Thursday 10th October to Saturday 15th November 2013. During that time, including previews, he will play 39 performances before the production transfers to The Barbican Centre in London for another 46 performances.

This will be the fourth season that David has played for the Royal Shakespeare Company. The first was in 1996 when he played Touchstone in As You Like It, Jack Lane in The Herbal Bed and Colonel Hamilton in The General From America. During 2000 he played Jack Absolute in The Rivals, Antipholus of Syracuse in Comedy Of Errors and the title role of Romeo in Romeo and Juliet

Of course his most famous season in Stratford was in 2008 when he played the title role of Hamlet, as well as Berowne in Love’s Labour’s Lost. Hamlet, and David especially, received great reviews from both theatre critics and audiences. In fact, The Guardian theatre critic called David ‘The greatest Hamlet of his generation.’

Each of the performances that season were sold out and queues for returns formed for each performance, even midweek. Towards the end of the run people even slept overnight outside the theatre (in November!) in order to get a return ticket and some changed hands on eBay for several hundreds of pounds despite the Royal Shakespeare Company’s best efforts to stop profiteering.

Reports about the Press Night for Hamlet was an item on the front of most of the broadsheet newspapers the following morning and it was even mentioned on Newsnight on BBC Two! David’s fame as the most popular Doctor Who actor was so extensive that a Stratford fish and chip shop put a photo of a Dalek in its window with the sign ‘Exterminate your hunger!’ and even that was mentioned in some national newspapers! The then Prime Minister Gordon Brown even attended the First Night too!

That season the Royal Shakespeare Company announced on the first night that both David and Patrick Stewart (who played Claudius) would only sign Royal Shakespeare Company merchandise but, after the first preview. When it became obvious that it was David Tennant that people had come to see, Patrick did not appear at the stage door again during the run. David signed for about 10 minutes after most performances and a barrier was erected around the area to make it safe for the large crowds that gathered. By the end of the run, lots of fans realised that the only way to get an autograph was to start queuing during the performance so they would go to the stage door on nights when they were not watching a performance!

It was during the interval of a performance of Hamlet in October 2008 that David appeared from the stage door in Stratford to accept the Most Popular Actor Award via a live satellite link to the National Television Awards in London and it was during his acceptance speech that he announced that he would be leaving Doctor Who the following year. He then returned to play the second half of Hamlet with nobody in the audience aware of the bombshell he had dropped!

The RSC’s annual accounts noted an increase in profits during that season and local hotels and traders reported the same which they are hoping will occur again this year.

That seems likely to happen because, as soon as David was officially announced to play Richard II, the Royal Shakespeare Company reported that they had experienced a massive surge in applications for Memberships as fans knew from last time that that was the best way to get tickets.

When tickets went on sale, both for Members and later for the general public, the Royal Shakespeare Company website could not cope with the demand and, despite turning off the rest of their website, fans reported it was taking over an hour to process their orders so that people lost the seats they had as all transactions had to be completed within the hour.

There were fears by some regular theatre-goers during the 2008 season that fans of David might disrupt the performances, but, despite even having some young children in the audiences, this never happened as they all complied with theatre etiquette and were well behaved.

Even now the Stratford Walks walking tour of Stratford mentions the great effect that David Tennant had on the town that season, as does a backstage tour of the theatre even though David played in the Courtyard Theatre.

If you are lucky enough to have secured tickets for Richard II or you would like to join in the chilly queues for the chance of a returned ticket a warm welcome is assured for you at Avonlea.

To celebrate David Tennant’s return to Stratford we are offering 1 night FREE Bed & Breakfast accommodation when you book 5 or more nights in total. This offer is available Thursday 10th October to Saturday 15thNovember 2013. www.avonlea-stratford.co.uk

We would like to thank @David_Tennant for this wonderful insight into the effect David has had over the years on Stratford. If you would like to learn more about David’s work please see the following site https://davidtennantontwitter.com/ and follow @David_Tennant on Twitter

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David Tennant - To Visit Stratford Upon Avon

Since moving in we have spent much time and effort planning our refurbishment.

Last year we changed all of the beds, we had great fun finding “the right bed”. The only way to test the true quality of a bed is kick your shoes off and jump on and lay as you would at home. We did get some funny looks. In the end we found the ideal bed whilst staying at a hotel, we slept so well, in the morning we looked under the sheets to find out where it had come from. We contacted the company and arranged for them to meet us at Avonlea. They had a vast range and we ended up choosing their stylish deluxe divan base with luxury pocket sprung mattresses. This was the best investment we made in our 1st year as many of our guests say it’s “the best nights sleep they have had in a long time”

We knew after changing the beds there would be a long list of changes still to come and the biggest job was to redecorate the whole house. Fortunately we know Charlie, a local decorator who told us the job would take at least a month. Unfortunately this meant that we had to close in the New Year and have a holiday ourselves, what a shame! (more about our holiday in another post)

So at the beginning of this year we closed for 7 weeks so we could re-decorate and re-carpet throughout the whole house. Charlie lent us his colour chart so we could choose the best colours; I never thought choosing the right shade of cream could be so difficult. (50 shades of cream springs to mind!).Whilst we were away Charlie and his team including a Spaniel called Freddie, set to on the work.  After returning from our time away we were blown away by how light and airy the house looked, all that time choosing the right shade had paid off!

We also used the time whilst we were closed to change all of the flooring throughout. We decided on plush carpets for the bedrooms so that they would feel warm and snuggly under foot. In the hallway we decided on sisal because we love the look of this fantastic natural fibre. We wanted to change the breakfast room to hard wood but when a previous extension had been added it wasn’t put on the same level so this ruled hard wood out. We found a fantastic product called Karndeen that looks just like real wood but is flexible this meant it would go down our slight slope from the conservatory.

All in all we are happy with the new look of the B&B, there was just one more thing that needed doing….curtains. So I asked round some friends and found a lovely lady called Fiona. Fiona came round and helped us choose the curtains for each room, the only thing we told her is that they had to done in be black out material (a must in our opinion). She came up with some fantastic choices and 6 weeks later we had some lovely new curtains. We think this has now finished off all of our hard work, making Avonlea look stylish and comfy yet not detracting from the buildings Victorian heritage.

We are just now waiting for our photographer to return from holiday and we will be able to share with you all how wonderful Avonlea now looks, I did consider taking the pictures myself but I do not think that I would do any of the work justice. So watch this space for a future post with picture of the B&B.

www.avonlea-stratford.co.uk

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We have reached a milestone we now have 100 reviews on TripAdvisor.

We wish to thank all of our previous guests who have taken to time to rate us on TripAdvisor. Not only has this meant that we have reached the milestone of 100 reviews we have moved up a massive 20 places from when we took over Avonlea a year ago.  We are now 13th out of a possible 90 B&B’s in Stratford Upon Avon which is a great achievement in just a year.

Also last week we were honoured to be mentioned in Vanishing Points “Globetrotter Postcards” blog. Why not see what she has to say about Avonlea B&B and also visiting Stratford Upon Avon in general.

We really love to hear everyone’s feedback about their stay at Avonlea so we know what we are doing right and any future improvements that can be made to make your stay in Stratford even better.

The Chef’s Dozen an Amazing restaurant just 20 mins drive from Avonlea B&B and worth the trip.

When we first decided to recommend restaurants to our guests we decided that they would have to be within walking distance from Avonlea. However we were so blown by the Chef’s Dozen we have decided to add it to our list.

I have wanted to go to the Chefs Dozen for ages now, it had been recommended by a friend and after seeing their website and reviews I got very excited. We finally got the opportunity to go and I was hoping that it would live up to the high expectations that I had set for it.

All I can say it that it didn’t only meet expectations it dramatically exceeded them. We walked in and were warmly welcomed by the front of house half of the 2 person owner/partner team (Solanche) the other half being the Chef (Richard). Many times I have been to restaurants where a chef had decided to set up on their own have their partner working out front and it just does not work because the partner does not have the knowledge to run front of house. It was quickly apparent that this was not the case as we guided through the unique menu and offered some fantastic wine that had been personally chosen by her.

We decided to go for the 5 course option as this was the best way we could get to try every dish on the menu by sharing everything between us. The idea is a sort of build your own tasting menu from any of the 12 dishes on offer.

Now down to the food we were firstly presented with a pre appetiser that was a curried parsnip ice-cream, we all instantly knew we were in for a treat. From then on every course was faultless even dishes we were slightly unsure about when reading the menu surprised us and were fantastic. My favourite dish was Brill with lovely crispy skin and a lovely zesty lemon a perfect marriage. Another awesome dish was the Shropshire chicken with wild garlic and candid walnuts that were just sublime.

We were sat finishing our meal deciding exactly where in our “best ever meal list” the Chefs dozen would rank the only this we could agree on it that with would be in our top 5. We love to dine out and we have eaten a many Michelin 1 star and even 2 star restaurants (and one 3 star for myself) and we have even worked for Michelin star restaurant so to be in our top 5 is something special.

I truly believe that the Michelin man will be knocking on the door of the chefs dozen very soon. Part of me does want him not to find them in this sleepy Warwickshire backwater just so that I can get a table but I think with cooking as fine as this very soon they will have many accolades from not only Michelin but AA and Hardens and I will have to start to plan well in advance when we want to go back again.

Olympic news from Stratford Upon Avon (NOT Stratford east London)What’s been happening happening near Avonlea B&B

At the beginning of the month the Olympic torch went right past the door of Avonlea. In the centre of town the crowds were out in force and some people were 10 deep trying to get a view. We thought with all the other Bed & Breakfasts on our road it would be hard to get a space too. But fortunately we managed to get a great spot right outside the front of the B&B.

There was a great atmosphere and all of our family who came to visit for the occasion had a really great day. It really made us realise the countdown is on. The next big Olympic event in Stratford Upon Avon is the installation of the big screen in Bancroft Gardens just a 5 min walk from Avonlea. The screen will be up on the 27th of July to celebrate the opening ceremony and they will be a part in Bancroft gardens too. If the weather finally decides to surprise us with “summer” we are looking forward to a great atmosphere.

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