Glamour in Gloucestershire

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If you ever find yourself driving up a long hill somewhere in the northernmost tip of Gloucestershire County, be sure to look over to your left. You might find something on the side of the road similar to what is pictured here.

While they may look ragged and lost, think twice before judging them too harshly. They are probably just on their way to the nearest bus station. Which happens to be a 45-minute walk away from the beautiful, but damp, afternoon they just spent at Hidcote Manor Gardens.

This is the first secret to having a fun weekend on a budget in Stratford: walk, take a bus, walk, open your umbrella, and walk some more. Working full-time often doesn’t leave you with a lot of time and energy over the weekends, but England is full of tiny surprises that are all just a 4-pound bus ride away (or 8-pound round trip). The bus websites tell you to bring exact change, but miracles do happen, and there might be four sweet, elderly women on the bus with you that will all rummage through their purses in a heartbeat to find the right change.

Then, if you can’t figure out the bus schedule, and you’re starving, and it’s at the awkward time of day between lunch and dinner when the pubs aren’t serving food, and the whole village only has five streets and one tiny supermarket, get creative (see below). This is the best 5-pound meal in England. For two people. Plus leftovers (it would be important to note here that there were no leftover biscuits– you will never have leftover biscuits.)

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Now you can have a fancy picnic at the bus station while you wait for a couple of hours. Buses to these tiny towns are few and far between, but they do eventually come! You can even memorize Hamlet’s monologue to pass the time like one learning intern who-shall-not-be-named did. This is the last secret to your weekend on a budget: remember you are paying for the experience. Even if you get poured on, or stranded in the middle of nowhere, you will have one amazing story to tell and a lifetime of memories.

Here is the bus information I learned from this experience:

  • x18 Stagecoach bus is best for getting south to Warwick, Leamington, Coventry, etc. Memorize this pdf. Best places to catch it are Wood Street or NatWest Bank https://bit.ly/2ZoMzg2
  • 15 does pretty much the same thing but from different stops https://bit.ly/2WGjHOG
  • Nobody will have heard of the Hedgehog community bus, and it is less regular, but it is small and green and does local stops at grocery stores or neighboring villages. Just tell the driver where to drop you off. https://bit.ly/2F9ophV
  • Go talk to the Tourist Information Centre, they have all the maps and people who know what they are talking about. It’s at the end of bridge street, right before you cross over the river.

Take a bus and have an adventure! We hope you make the most of the time you have here.

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