Friday, 30 November 2007

Brewing Barley

At the entrance to The Brewery complex is this striking piece of art, entitled Barley, by Sophie Marsham. The brushed steel sculpture stretches and twists up to one of the cut outs in the roof of the development, as if reaching for the light. The Brewery is built on the site of the form Whitbread (yes, you've guessed it) brewery. The brewery was founded in 1760 and was then known as Gardeners Brewery. In 1888 it was registered as The Original Cheltenham Brewery and in 1963 became Whitbread Flowers Brewery. Brewing of beer stopped on the site in 1998. The Whitbread Brewery was tied in with over 1300 public houses and many pubs in and around Cheltenham still have the Whitbreads glazed pottery tile displayed by their front doors. Whitbread no longer exists as a company, selling to Interbrew in 2000/01. Plans for the empty site divided Cheltonians, but after lying derelict and in serious disrepair, a mixed use leisure and retail plan was decided upon. To the North and West sides of the new construction the old Malthouse walls have been kept and create a facade to what lies behind. The Brewery is now home to a cinema, gym, restaurants and a few shops (including Habitat, as previously posted). As the site is off the beaten track retail units aren't being snapped up but it is filling up slowly. In commemoration, of what once was, I think they should open a Whitbread pub!

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Statler and Waldorf

Cheltenhams very own grumpy old men live on the side of St Mary's Church in the heart of town. When I first saw them they reminded me straight away of Statler and Waldorf from The Muppets. I can't find anything on whom these carvings might be based, so I'll tell you about the puppet versions instead! As most people may know, Statler and Waldorf are named after two New York hotels - Statler Hotel and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. In The Muppets Waldorf's wife was named Astoria and, when she made an appearance, looked just like Statler dressed as a woman (minus the moustache!). The feisty duo are renowned for their cutting comments and constant moaning about the show, but turn up every week to watch! The characters were originally performed by Richard Hunt and Jim Henson, until their deaths, and have appeared in nearly ever episode. When The Muppet Show moved from the theatre to a T.V studio Statler and Waldorf watched from a retirement home!

For more on St Mary's Church click on 'st marys' in the labels below. Still not sure how to create a link within the blog!

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Fishy O'clock

The Wishing Fish Clock in the Regent Arcade in Cheltenham continues to fascinate children young and old. The clock, designed by Gloucestershire artist Kit Williams, is over 45 feet long and weighs 3 tons and is said to be the worlds largest mechanical clock. It is suspended over the main walk way through the Arcade and always has a crowd underneath awaiting the bubbles. The large white duck on the very top lays golden eggs, which are carried down in red egg cups, and dropped into the spinning wheel, that rotates round the top of the clock face. The eggs are then deposited into the 6 foot square body of the clock and cause mice to poke out of the four corners of the clock. The clock face only has one hand, with the moon on the end, showing the minutes past the hour. The hour hand is represented by the sun moving round the face. When the clock strikes on the hour, and half past, it plays "I'm forever blowing bubbles" and the fish blows out all those eagerly awaited bubbles. Catch a bubble and make your wish!

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Royal Rooms

The Queens Hotel, positioned at the top end of the Promenade, is something of a local landmark. It is a hotel full of grandeur and opulence and its reception and lobby are quite impressive (by Cheltenham standards at least!). The hotel was built in 1837, at a cost of £47,000, and opened the following year. The hotel, to be originally named The Royal Victoria Hotel, sits on the site of the Imperial Spa. The spa was bought in 1830 by Robert and Charles Gearrad who designed and built the hotel. Over the years the hotel has played host to many famous visitors to Cheltenham including Edward VII, Margaret Thatcher and Bob Hope. During the Second World War the hotel was home to the American Services Club. More recently french chef Raymond Blanc has opened a brasserie in the hotel which I can recommended for an excellent meal.

Sunday, 25 November 2007


I was originally going to post this photo of Cheltenhams War Memorial two weeks ago to commemorate Remembrance Sunday but due to the sudden and tragic death of my step-father I haven't been posting for a while. I would like to dedicate this post in remembrance of him. Mark, aged 53, was killed in a road traffic accident in the early hours of Saturday 10th November and leaves behind a shocked and devastated family. He was a man who lived life to the full and loved sport, running, music and real ale amongst many other things. His passing is an immense loss to family and his many friends, but all of the many happy memories of Mark are helping us all through this difficult time. At present I'm spending alot of time at my mums house so future posts will be intermittent.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Out Of Action

Due to the sudden death of a family member I won't be posting for a while, but I will be back.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Market Day

The Promenade plays host to the award winning Cheltenham Farmers Market on the second and last Friday of each month. It is open from 9am until 3pm and with around 30 stalls, selling everything from the usual fruit & veg to sausages and chocolate desserts, it's a big hit with Cheltonians. The market is an excellent opportunity to buy quality food and support local farmers and food producers. When visiting the stalls you can ask questions and try before you buy, something you can't do at the supermarket (they don't tend to like it when you open a packet and start nibbling!). I was a little disappointed when I visited yesterday as my favourite local vineyard wasn't there. I had to make up for it by buying lots of naughty sweet treats instead. The chocolate mousse was delicious!

Friday, 9 November 2007

Friendship Circle

This cast iron rhomboid forms part of a public art feature in Sandford Park. The Friendship Circle was one of the first Council funded art installations in Cheltenham, installed in 1993, by South African born artist Neville Gabie to represent the twinning of the town with other towns around the world like Anncey, France and Cheltenham, America. The work contains a flat plan, made of iron laid in the concrete, of one of the rhomboids and then has three rhomboids in different stages of completion. The four main paths in the park cross through the Friendship Circle. Its great to be able to get up close and touch or climb on this really interesting piece of art.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Gunpowder, Treason and Plot

Yes, I know its not a photo of Cheltenham, but I forgot to take the camera with me to the South West biggest fireworks display at the Cheltenham Racecourse on Saturday night. The fireworks were excellent, but you'll have to take my word for it! As its the 5th November it is, of course, Fireworks night or Bonfire night or Guy Fawkes night. They all mean the same thing - the night we celebrate the failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill the King and law makers of Britain in 1605. Now you understand the link to the photo! Took this photo from the London Eye in March this year. I'm away for a few days visiting family, so check back on Friday for the next post.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Suspended Habitat

I finally paid a visit to the newly opened habitat store in town, at The Brewery, as featured in last Wednesdays post. The store is huge, around 1,760 square metres, it is the largest retail unit on the site, and is nearly 3 times larger that the old store in The Promenade. The main feature instore is the specially commissioned art installation, as shown, made up of over 250 products suspended from the double height ceiling. This is truly impressive and contains all sorts of things from cutlery to chairs. The shop is laid out with all the trimmings for Christmas as well as the usual stock and I can't wait to buy a few Christmas decorations nearer the time!

Saturday, 3 November 2007

There's Something About Mary

St Mary's Church is the parish church of Cheltenham and lies right in the heart of town. It is encompassed by Clarence Street and the Lower High Street and is adjacent to Cheltenham Library. Where, as once, it was visible by all in the town, today it is surrounded by shops and offices and is hidden from view. It is accessed by Well Walk and several alleyways from the High Street and is defiantly worth venturing off of the beaten track to find. The church is the oldest building in town and the only surviving Medieval one. St Mary's was built by the abbey of Cirencester in the early 12th century although the majority of the church is from the 13th and 14th centuries. In 1859 the church was closed by the Rev. E. Walker as it was deemed no longer fit for public worship. It under went extensive work and renovations and reopened in 1861. The Parishioners were re-homed at the tin church of St Matthew's, which was eventually replaced by a stone church between 1872 and 1895. The two Churches are now linked as Cheltenhams parish church and under take many significant religious programs, including the creation of schools in Africa. There are many old grave stones and plaques in the graveyard one of which reads - "To the memory of John Higgs, died 1825. Here lies John Higgs, A famous man for killing pigs, For killing pigs was his delight, Both morning, afternoon and night, Both heats and cold he did endure, Which no physician could e'er cure, His knife is laid, his work is done, I hope to heaven his soul is gone."

Friday, 2 November 2007

Imperial Theft and Travel

I discovered this marble fountain while searching for something blue for yesterdays post. I had no idea it existed, and have never heard about it before. It sits, tucked away from the pavement, behind some railings, on the Broadwalk (as mentioned yesterday). It is the Imperial Fountain, also known as the Napoleon Fountain, and it was stolen from Italy by the French in 1800. It was then taken by the English while it was on its way to France. The fountain was then sold to Thomas Henney, a Solicitor from Cheltenham. In 1826 Henney installed it in Imperial spa, now the site of The Queens Hotel. In 1834 the water feature was on the move again, this time up the road to Montpellier Gardens. It stayed in its new home until 1902 when it was restored and moved, again, to the Town Hall. Not done with all the moving about, it then travelled to the Public Library in 1926. It is now owned by the Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum, and is on loan to the Council as part of their public art scheme. So, at the moment, the Imperial Fountain is back where it started out in 1826. I hope the Italians don't come looking for it!

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Theme Day - Blue

It's my first attempt at the City Daily Photo Blog theme day. I must admit that I found it quite a challenge, but I guess that is one of the reason to do it! This blue door isn't just any old blue door. It it a blue door on a building that was designed in the 1830's but not built until 1998. The lost plans for the remaining Regency terraces' alongside the Queens Hotel, on the South side of Imperial Gardens, were discovered in The Municipal Buildings in the 1990's. The Plans were refined to include underground parking and construction began. When The Broadwalk was built it completed the look of Imperial Gardens. Better late than never. Check out the other daily photo blogs around the world that have joined in with the theme day.

Boston (MA), USA - Cleveland (OH), USA - Philadelphia (PA), USA - Arlington (VA), USA - Cape Town, South Africa - Portland (OR), USA - Sequim (WA), USA - Selma (AL), USA - Arradon, France - Petaling Jaya (Selangor), Malaysia - Stockholm, Sweden - Singapore, Singapore - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Phoenix (AZ), USA - Seattle (WA), USA - Toulouse, France - The Hague, Netherlands - Moscow, Russia - Fort Lauderdale (FL), USA - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Saint Paul (MN), USA - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Stayton (OR), USA - Maple Ridge (BC), Canada - Detroit (MI), USA - Crystal Lake (IL), USA - Port Angeles (WA), USA - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Nelson, New Zealand - Bandung (West Java), Indonesia - Greenville (SC), USA - Hyde, UK - Radonvilliers, France - Albuquerque (NM), USA - Nashville (TN), USA - Manila, Philippines - Port Vila, Vanuatu - Saarbrücken, Germany - New Orleans (LA), USA - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Melbourne, Australia - Hobart (Tasmania), Australia - Forks (WA), USA - Wichita (Ks), USA - Barton (VT), USA - St. Louis (MO), USA - Joplin (MO), USA - Chandler (AZ), USA - Quincy (MA), USA - Setúbal, Portugal - Inverness (IL), USA - Christchurch, New Zealand - Toruń, Poland - North Bay (ON), Canada - Le Guilvinec, France - Chateaubriant, France - London, England - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Naples (FL), USA - Norwich (Norfolk), UK - Sydney, Australia - Austin (TX), USA - Mumbai, India - Boston (MA), USA - Santa Fe (NM), USA - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Paderborn, Germany - Montréal (QC), Canada - Jackson (MS), USA - Stavanger, Norway - Orlando (FL), USA - Grenoble, France - Cheltenham, UK - Forks (WA), USA - Mexico City, Mexico - West Sacramento (CA), USA - Silver Spring (MD), USA - Weston (FL), USA - London, UK - Jefferson City (MO), USA - Ocean Township (NJ), USA - Belgrade, Serbia - Paris, France - Shanghai, China - Montego Bay, Jamaica - Montpellier, France - Saint Louis (MO), USA - Wailea (HI), USA - Rabaul, Papua New Guinea - Auckland, New Zealand - Evry, France - New York City (NY), USA - Nottingham, UK - Las Vegas (NV), USA - Oslo, Norway - Minneapolis (MN), USA - American Fork (UT), USA - Cypress (TX), USA - Haninge, Sweden - Trujillo, Peru - Trujillo, Peru - Melbourne (VIC), Australia - Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation - Durban, South Africa - Brussels, Belgium - Anderson (SC), USA - Budapest, Hungary - Wellington, New Zealand - Prague, Czech Republic - Saigon, Vietnam - Ystad, Sweden
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