Wednesday, 31 October 2007

All Hallow's Eve!

Well, it is Hallowe'en. What else did you expect!
Here are some Hallowe'en facts to impress your friends with. 1) Hallowe'en is one of the worlds oldest celebrations, dating back 2000 years. 2) One reason given for the colours orange and black being linked to Hallowe'en is orange for Autumn harvests and black for death. 3) 99% of pumpkin sales are for Jack O' Lanterns. 4) The heaviest pumpkin in the world weighed in at 1446 pounds in Ontario, Canada in 2004. 5) Ringing a bell scares away evil spirits. 6) Worldwide over $2.5 billion is spent on Hallowe'en, second only to Christmas. 7) Trick or Treat began in Ireland when people would go door-to-door asking for food to contribute to the towns All Hallow's Eve feast. 8) To meet a witch put your clothes on inside out and walk backwards on Hallowe'en night. 9) The original Halloween film made in 1978 cost $320,000 to make. It has now made over $50 million. Happy Hallowe'en everyone. Hope you have a ghoulishly good time!

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Supportive Ladies

One of Cheltenhams most famous features are the Caryatids in Montpellier Walk. There are 30 of these armless ladies spaced all the way from the curved entrance to the Walk up to the Rotunda buildings. They are based on the Caryatids that supported the Acropolis in Athens, although Cheltenhams Caryatids were put in place to support the heavily carved cornices above their heads instead of pillars between each shop. The original ladies at the entrance were installed in 1843 and were made of terracotta by London sculptor Rossi. By 1850 the remaining Caryatids were situated along Montpellier Walk and were created by W.G.Brown of Tivolli. Of the first terracotta Caryatids only 3 remain, one of which was removed in 1969 to be used as a model for further concrete replacements and now lives in the Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Leaves Alone

This period building, on the Promenade, is available for lease. Its locked up in preparation for a new tenant and the fallen leaves from the trees, that line The Prom, are safe from being swept up. The Council sweeps up leaves on all the main pedestrian areas of town everyday, so there isn't that much of Autumn under foot. These leaves fell on the right side of the fence.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Observe The Mystery

Here is another shot of the Cheltenham Ladies College. This is the Observatory that can be seen in Tuesdays photo. The photo is taken from The Promenade, through two other buildings. The street it is actually on is just a minor thorough fair, rarely used. I'm sure that many Cheltonions don't know this tower, with its clock and copper dome, even exists. All I know is the building is built in a French-Gothic style. I've tried to find out more about it using the Internet and books about Cheltenhams history, but to no avail. I guess I'll have to visit the Ladies to find out more. If anyone knows anything about it please let me know.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Italian Tranquility

This is the Italian Garden in Sandford Park. I stood on the top of the steps, that lead down to this wonderful sunken pool, to take this picture and right behind me was the constant flow of traffic on Bath Road. The contrasts of Cheltenham just feet apart. The pool has a line of 5 fountains down the middle and, as you can see, is lined by 4 clipped Yew trees on either side. The Italian Garden forms part of a park that is split in two by College Road. This formal part, on the west side, has other pools and fountains, and is used by office workers for lunchtime peace. On the east side of College Road is a larger, open space, adjacent to Cheltenham General Hospital, used for dog walking, sports and the landing site of the air ambulance. The park also has the River Chelt running through it, but more on that another time.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Cathedral Shopping

The Regent Arcade in Cheltenham has, in the past, been described as "a Cathedral of shopping" because of its 600 foot high barrel roof. It was built between 1982 and 1984, opened in 1985 and cost £23 million. With 78 shops under cover it soon became the most popular shopping centre in town, although before its construction it had considerable opposition with a petition against it of over 20,000 signatures. More recently the building has been in the news, and a topic of much debate, due to the current owners redevelopment plans. The most controversial being the replacement of the roof. Plans have been passed by Cheltenham Borough Council for the removal of the present one and a flat glass roof to be put in its place. Its hard to imagine what the Regent Arcade will look like without its most impressive feature but its going to happen in 2008.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Out With The Old In With the New

At this time of year the council removes all the summer bedding plants from the beds, boarders and gardens around Cheltenham and replace them with pansies, polyanthus and wallflowers. This is a massive undertaking and uses many hundreds of plants to ensure winter and spring colour. The majority of plants are raised at the council nursery at Hayden Lane in Cheltenham. In the Long Garden, in front of the Municipal buildings, half a dozen or so gardeners were hard at back breaking work ensuring that Cheltenham remains green and pleasant.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Moving Day

Habitat opens it new and relocated Cheltenham store today at The Brewery. I was drawn to the outside of the shop as all the windows and doors were covered over to make it look like one huge packing box, it even had 'This Way Up' on part of it. (If only I had taken a photo from the other side of the street to show the full effect). When I took this photo on Monday I had a sneaky peek through the half open door and it looked like the staff had their work cut out to get it ready for today. Packing boxes everywhere.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Ladies Learning

This is The Princess Hall, viewed from Montpelier Street, which forms one of the oldest parts of Cheltenham Ladies College. It was built on the site of Royal Well Pump Room, Cheltenhams first Spa, between 1895 and 1897. The buildings architecture and stone masonry give it great grandeur. The Ladies College dates back to 1853 and one of its most famous Principles was Miss Dorothea Beale, who lead the college from 1858 to 1906. The college now educates around 860 girls and employs 130 or so teachers. If you are interested in sending your own daughter there it costs £8,176 for a boarder per term. I'm sure it's worth every penny! As far as I know the roof just in the photo on the left belongs to the Library and the domed roof on the right is the Observatory. The Princess Hall is home to a large pipe organ on the upper rear gallery and hosts choirs, concerts and conferences.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Minotaur And Hare

This bronze statue in The Prom has, in the past, been the cause of some controversy. It was originally installed in 1995 as part of a temporary art exhibition featuring the work of Sophie Ryder. As the exhibition drew to a close it was decided that a piece of her work should remain in the town. The Minotaur and the Hare was acquired in 1998 by public subscription (cost £50,000), and it has stood in The Prom ever since. Standing at over 7 feet tall it's hard to really miss it as you walk through The Prom, although locals rarely give it a second glance. It is good to see that it still interests some people.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

A Model Village

Behind The Old New Inn in Bourton on the Water lies a model village of, you've guessed, Bourton on the Water. This 1/9th scale replica is one of Bourtons most interesting and unusual attractions. It was constructed in the early thirties and includes the River Windrush, St Lawrences church and a host of shops. The photo shows part of the model village that makes my head hurt. A model village with a model village in it, with a model village in the model village in the model village! Brain ache!

Saturday, 20 October 2007

March Of Winter

This little chap will soon be reminded of home, as we've finally had some cold weather in and around Cheltenham over the last few nights. It feels like winter is coming. The Penguins at Birdland in Bourton on the Water, east of Cheltenham, are one of the most popular stars of the feathered show. The King Penguins here are the only group in England, and the only others in the UK are at Edinburgh Zoo. All the inhabitants of the Penguin enclosure have their own name and the keeper says they all have their own personality too, which just adds to the fun at feeding time! Feeding time is at 2.30pm daily except christmas day. I presume they feed the birds on christmas day, its just closed to the public. Its well worth a visit as you can get up close to the Penguins as they are only surrounded by a low wall. The park is also home to over 500 birds including Flamingos, Pelicans and Parrots. A good day out for kids of all ages.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Can't See The Paper For The Trees

Just incase you've forgotten that paper comes from trees here is a tree with papery bark. This is variety of Acer, the name of which escapes me, renouned for its unusual bark. The main trunk had its bark rubbed away by eager hands but the higher boughs had a plentiful covering of paper. It certainly stood out from the crowd.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Pixie Palace

Here is a photo of toadstools taken at Westonbirt. Everyone knows that toadstools are home to pixies, imps and fairies. Any pixie would be proud to call any of these three home. Westonbirt is home to flora and fauna alike and you don't have to look very hard at the arboretum to find mother nature at her best.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007


Here is another photo from Westonbirt. This Acer is just a one of the many trees that make up the pallet of colours in autumn at the Arboretum. Westonbirt Arboretum, just outside Tetbury (home of Prince Charles), has one of the largest collections of trees in the world and is England's national arboretum. It is renowned at this time of year for its autumn colours and attracts thousands of visitors. The Arboretum is split into two parts - the Old Arboretum and Silk Wood. The Old Arboretum was created in the 1850's by Holford and includes many rare and exotic trees. Silk Wood is a more traditional woodland and can be traced back to the thirteenth century. It has many more common trees including Oak and Ash. It is also home to the National Japanese Maple Collection. The Silk Wood also contains a 2000 year old Lime, which we managed to miss!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007


Visited Westonbirt Arboretum, as you can see the colours of autumn are amazing.
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