8 October 2009--Leave Castleton, bound for Stratford-upon-Avon. Stop in Ashbourne to check out the market.
Nice enough town, one of many along the way. I manage to skirt Birmingham without making too many wrong turns.
Stratford seems alarmingly large, driving in through the 'burbs. Find my B&B and park in a nearby one-hour zone while I check in. My host is an affable ex-Parisian named Pascal, who spends a very long time explaining the workings of the B&B, and the numerous attractions of Stratford. I'm starting to worry that my car will be ticketed before he's done. But it's hard not to appreciate his ebullience and his dry sense of humor.
A walk around the downtown core reveals it to be more compact than I'd thought. I find Cox's Yard and buy a ticket for this evening's show, then have dinner at the Garrick. It's the oldest pub in town, dating to the 16th century.
When I was planning this trip, looking to see what might be on, I found John Kirkpatrick playing as part of the local music festival. I have to confess the name didn't ring a bell at first, but when I looked into his credits, I realized that he's well-represented in my music library, having played with Richard Thompson, Martin Carthy, and many others. In truth, he's an icon of English folk music, whose name should certainly have been familiar to me--I saw him in Thompson's band in the mid-'80's. He got his start playing with a Morris dance troupe in his native London. This evening, he is solo, playing button accordion, melodeon, and concertina, and singing, all unamplified. It's a fine show.