This tree is so perfectly proportioned, so neatly balanced, you'd think it was man-made. In summer it would make the perfect set for a production of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' - look at those low-slung boughs and strong branches to deploy your mortals and spirits in. It might also do for 'The Winter's Tale' if anyone was daft enough to attend an outdoor performance in sub-zero temperatures. I dunno, though. In Cambridge, the end of the academic year is marked by loads of outdoor performances, and audiences endure some pretty dreadful weather with great stoicism. One year, when I was Corvino in 'Volpone', we were lucky and had balmy evenings throughout the run, and the only problem was the great mouthful of midges you got every time you had a speech to deliver. The following year I was in the ADC's May Week offering, 'The Country Wife' in Newnham gardens. It pissed with rain all day every day, puddles collected on the stage, and the wooden set swelled so that its doors were jammed. Drenched, shivering actors, supposed to exit smartish, were forced to ad lib: 'egad Sir, 'tis locked, stap me vitals. Demme me, this'n too!' before deciding that jumping off the stage was the only option. Costumes were sodden and rank, mine especially, as the table under which I had to hide for the space of a whole scene stood directly over one of the puddles. It was a thoroughly wretched week, but audiences simply produced golfing umbrellas, blankets and flasks of soup and sat and watched us suffer. No wonder foreign students think the English are barmy.
The town centre seen from the Meadows. Imagine Cambridge, remove every ill-conceived modern monstrosity, then shrink it to five or six streets and a few tiny passageways, and you have something like Stamford.
The cobbled street above apparently features in the film 'The Da Vinci Code'. I haven't seen it, so I can't swear that this is the one. It also features in the BBC adaptation of 'Middlemarch', with which I christened my first DVD player. I hired the series from the video shop in Kalamata. The Greek title, wouldn't you know it, was 'Απαγορευμένο Πάθος', 'Forbidden Passion', one of the stock of Greek all-purpose titles for imported films, and lead no doubt to much disappointment among punters. To be fair, if you just transliterate the English title, 'Μίντελμαρτς΄, it would be pronounced something like 'mindelmarts', some US DIY chain, maybe. I can't myself think of a suitable alternative title because I can't remember a thing about it.
Through the first of the arches is a conveniently placed and well-maintained public bog. Twenty pence a visit, whatever your purpose.
Just so you understand that Stamford does do naff when it tries. Christmas tat festooned across the High Street, outside a sorry building remarkable for its lack of remarkableness.
The building over the bridge is Pizza Express. The company was sensitive enough to the location not to display garish signage. Pictures below of the Meadows. I'm fairly pleased with the birds on the third one down, although I wasn't quick enough to catch the full wheeling flock, and it was too bloody cold to wait for them to do it again.