Monday, 31 March 2008

Book Borrowing

Cheltenham Library is an impressive building and I've had several photos of the place for a while now. I've been trying to find out a bit of the buildings history before posting the photos but I seem to have drawn a blank. I'll tell you what I know.

The permanent building, at the junction of Clarence Street and St Georges Place, replaced the temporary Free Library on the High Street. The Free Library opened in October 1884 and three years later the foundation stone of the current library was being laid. The new Library was designed by William Henry Knight and was opened on 24th April 1889. It boasts columns, balustrades, carvings, statues and a tower. The Library is attached to the Art Gallery and Museum, part of which is in the Library building.

Below is a photograph from the opening of the Library in 1889.
The other photos I've taken show more of the buildings detail. I'll post these when I find out more of the Library's history!

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Cookie Monster

All the treat seeking shoppers are testament to the success of the newly opened Millie's Cookies. The shop opened last week at the main entrance of the Regent Arcade Shopping Centre and has been an instant hit. Millie's Cookies have over a hundred branches, the first one opening just over 20 years ago at Selfridges in Oxford Street, London. Millie's bake a tasty selection of different cookies including double chocolate, raspberry and white choc, and orange chocolate. They also offer muffins, hot drinks, ice cream and gift boxes. I didn't have time to queue to buy a cookie or two. I'm going to go back tomorrow to sample Millie's Cookies! Now, what flavour....?

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Read All About It

The headquarters of Cheltenham's daily newspaper, the Gloucestershire Echo, is in the heart of town on Clarence Parade. The paper started out in 1873 as the Express & Telegram and was the towns first regular source of local news. In 1883 the paper changed its name to the Gloucestershire Echo. The newspaper was bought in 1929 by the Northcliffe Newspapers Group, it is now owned by Gloucestershire Media who also publish The Citizen (Gloucester's daily paper) and The Forester (the weekly newspaper for the Forest Of Dean.) The Echo (as its known) is a good source for local news, as well as classified listings and also has a weekend supplement with a 'Whats On' guide containing reviews of shows and restaurants. In my experience The Echo don't always get their facts right and it sometimes feels like they try to make a minor story into something as important as the end of the world! That's local media, I suppose!

Friday, 28 March 2008

Cheltenham Nightspots - 6

O'Neill's is one of the only Irish pubs in Cheltenham and is a fantastic place to go for a few pints on St Patrick's Day. It was the other choice for my post that day but I settled on a Guinness Toucan instead! The pub is on Montpellier Walk and takes advantage of the wide pavement for extra tables, on warm summer evenings the place has a huge crowd outside. O'Neill's is part of a chain of pubs named after the number one Irish jockey Jon Jo O'Neill. He is now a racing horse trainer and I should imagine he gets a good renumeration package for the use of his name!

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Through The Garden Gate

Opposite Thai Emerald, the restaurant I showed the other week (the one with the elephants on the roof), is this residential building, Chelsea Court. The red brick building dates from 1869 and was built as St Mary's Hall, the Female Training College; part of St Paul's College. It then became known as the Shaftesbury Hall and was a venue for arts events, exhibitions and theatre. I went there once to visit an exhibition on Science and Rocks. I was still at school then and the exhibition must have been something to do with part of the curriculum. It's not something I would be interested in seeing now! The building is now surrounded by new apartments and forms part of Chelsea Square. The redevelopment of the Hall took place in the early 1990's and the apartments within are some of the most expensive in the heart of town. I wouldn't mind a pad there, as long as it didn't involve science or rocks!

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Cowardly Lion

One of things I love about Daily Photo Blogging is that you take a photo of something you've seen dozens of times, go to post it and realise you know nothing about it. A quick look on the Internet soon fills in the blanks, and you've learnt something new about the place you call home.

This coat of arms is above the porch of John Dower House, in Crescent Place. The building is now the headquarters of the government body The Countryside Commission, but the coat of arms belongs to one of Britain's former Kings. The imposing building was built in 1820 and was opened as Fisher's Boarding House, but it was soon renamed Clarence Hotel. The renaming was due to a stay in 1827 by Adelaide, Duchess of Clarence. She was the wife of the future King William IV. In 1858 the County police force set up its headquarters in the former hotel and stayed until 1970. The Countryside Commission moved into the building in 1974 and has been there since.

One of the websites I looked at refereed to the Lion as being like the one from the Wizard of Oz! I agree!

Something I can't answer is - Who was/is John Dower?.... Something else to discover...

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Courtyard Shopping

Cheltenham is well known for its speciality shops and The Courtyard is brimming with such shops, as well as cafes and restaurants. The sunken piazza is on Montpellier Street and is quite different to the surrounding Regency buildings. It was built in 1985 and the famous architect Sir Hugh Casson was a consultant for the design. The Courtyard suffers from the same problem as the rest of the Montpellier shopping area - it is just outside of the town centre and isn't visited by the number of shoppers it deserves. Its a great place to pick up an unusual gift or stop for a coffee and soak up the cosmopolitan feel at an outdoor table. Next time you're in Cheltenham pay The Courtyard a visit, you'll be pleasantly surprised!

No. I'm not working for Visit Cheltenham. Perhaps I should be!

Monday, 24 March 2008

Marley In Bath

I spent Easter Saturday visiting some friends in Bath, a town about 55 miles South of Cheltenham. Bath is quite similar to Cheltenham as it also has lots of Regency buildings and is renowned for its Spa history. Here are a few of the photos I took. I hope you enjoy them.

The world famous Royal Crescent.

One of the lions on top of the gated entrance to the Royal Park.

A violin playing, tightrope walking street entertainer.

The front of Bath Abbey.

The inside of the Abbey.

A more detailed photo of the stunning stained glass window.
Bath is a favourite haunt for tourists from all over the world and Saturday was no exception. The town was heaving with people. There are loads of things to see in Bath and it would have been nice to be able to explore with a few less visitors, but I still had an excellent day.
Back to Cheltenham photos tomorrow. Come back to see what I can come up with!

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Egg-cited About Easter

I'm not a religious person so Easter for me is about chocolate eggs and a nice roast dinner. The photo today is from the window display of Cavendish House (department store) on the Promenade. I'm hoping to get a nice big chocolate egg, like the one shown! (hint, hint!)

Here are five egg-traordinary facts about Easter Eggs -

1. The egg is recognised as a symbol for resurrection, first used in Ancient Egyptian times.
2. The first chocolate Easter Egg was made in 1873 by Fry's.
3. Around 80 million Easter Eggs are purchased in the UK.
4. The most popular Easter Egg is Cadbury's Creme Egg, with 300 million produced worldwide each year.
5. The UK spends £500 million on Easter Eggs every year.

Happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, 22 March 2008


These houses on Queens Road, near the train station, wouldn't look out of place in a seaside town. Most of the houses in and around Cheltenham are painted white or cream, so these colourful homes are a welcome change to the norm.

I hope you are all enjoying your Easter weekend. Tomorrow its chocolate time!

Friday, 21 March 2008

Hot Cross Buns

Today is Good Friday and it's tradition to eat a Hot Cross Bun today. The buns contain spices and currants and the cross on the top represents the cross used in the Crucifixion of Christ. The first recorded use of the term Hot Cross Bun dates from 1733, though they are thought to have been made long before this. The Hot Cross Bun even has its own song -

"Hot cross buns,
Hot cross buns,
one ha' penny,
two ha' penny,
hot cross buns.

If you have no daughters,
give them to your sons,
one ha' penny,
two ha' penny,
Hot Cross Buns"

The buns in the photo are from my local Supermarket (though they still taste good!) but I've got a treat in store for me at work today. A woman I work with is bringing in homemade Hot Cross Buns! Yummy!

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Marley In Manchester - Day Three

Its my final day of photos from Manchester. Today's pictures are from the Manchester Wheel. Its a smaller version of the London Eye that goes faster and shakes around a bit! Once you get used to that though the views are fantastic.

The Manchester Wheel.

Manchester Cathedral.

The Hilton Tower. The bottom part is an hotel and the top is apartments. The top part sticks out from the bottom and the frame work on the roof is the counterbalance. You can see it better from the side, but I didn't get a photo of it. Typical.

This pub is built on a concrete platform so the whole building can be moved. And it has been!

This apartment building is amongst the most expensive to live in, at the very heart of the city.
That's Manchester then. A city going through much change and redevelopment but still holding on to some of its amazing heritage. Its a fantastic place to visit, Phoebe and I had a great weekend. Thanks to AJC and DJ Groin Strain for letting us stay with them and showing us around. See you both soon.
Back to Cheltenham tomorrow and something for Easter. Any guesses?

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Marley In Manchester - Day Two

More photos from my weekend trip to Manchester. I hope you don't mind seeing them, normal service will resume on Friday.

This post box was one of the few things left standing after the IRA bombing that destroyed much of the City centre in 1996. It now has a plaque marking its miraculous survival.

The Arndale shopping centre, also destroyed in the bomb blast, now rebuilt.

A statue over the doorway to one of the City's designer shops.

The entrance to Manchester's colourful China Town.

One of the canals running through the City. Although there are lots of new buildings going up there are still plenty of derelict ones.

Tomorrow will be my last day of Manchester photos. If you look closely at the Arndale photo above you can make out the reflection of the Manchester Wheel. More on that tomorrow!

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Marley In Manchester - Day One

I've just spent the weekend in Manchester and I took lots of photos. Over the next couple of days I'm going to post a few of them. I know this isn't really what you're supposed to do but I hope you enjoy seeing them.

The John Ryelands University Library and its new wing.

The inside of the new addition cleverly attached to the old part.

A gargoyle high up on the side of the Library.

Manchester Town Hall and Albert Square.

An interesting art installation of two blue men climbing up the side of a building with one on top holding the ropes.

Tomorrow I'll show you one of the few surviving things from the IRA bomb blast that destroyed much of the centre of Manchester in 1996.

Monday, 17 March 2008

St Patricks Day

The 17th March is the day that the world celebrates St Patricks Day. I was hoping for a 'green' themed photo to mark the day but it didn't happen so today's picture is from an advert outside the Midland Hotel (Betfair Arms) by the train station. The Toucan was used in the advertising of Guinness in the 1940's, a jingle from the time went "Toucans in their nests agree/Guinness is good for you/Try some today and see/What one or toucan do." The Toucan was reinstated in 2000 to promote the fact that Guinness was brought to the British mainland direct from Ireland. Guinness is the drink most associated with St Patricks Day and the Irish, but Ireland is not the biggest consumer of the Stout in the world. That accolade goes to Africa, who drinking their way through 40% of the worldwide production of Guinness. Canada is the fastest growing market and on St Patricks Day in 2006 more Guinness was sold in Canada than in Ireland! I hope you enjoy St Patricks Day, have a couple of pints of Guinness and see what one or Toucan do for you!

Come back tomorrow for some photos of my trip to The North!

Friday, 14 March 2008

Going For Gold

Today is the last day of racing at Cheltenham racecourse and the race everyone is waiting for is the Gold Cup. Martin & Co jewellers in the town centre displays the array of cups and trophies available to the winners in their window. I've got a feeling that this Gold Cup is a replica of the real one, as the photo I've seen of the real one has engraving on it. The Gold Cup is the highlight of the National Hunt season and the winner is guaranteed a place in racing history. In the past a few horses have won the Gold Cup several times, the likes of Best Mate and Arkell spring to mind, and last years winner Kauto Star is looking to join them in the Hall of Fame today.

Did you follow my tip yesterday? If you did, congratulations on your win!! Yes, that's right. Master Minded won in the Queen Mother Champion Chase!
Marley's Daily Top Tip - Kauto Star or Denman in the Cheltenham Gold Cup at 3.30pm. Best of luck!

I'm away to The North for the weekend so come back on Monday for something Irish! Have a good weekend.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Ladies Day

Today its Ladies Day at The Cheltenham Festival and if you are lucky enough to be going there is the added bonus of seeing extra races. Yesterdays racing was cancelled due to the strong winds and the postponed races are being held today and tomorrow. This is the second Ladies Day held at Cheltenham Racecourse with awards given to the ladies with the best outfit, best hat and best accessories. An award is also given to the lady who has given an Outstanding Contribution To Jump Racing. Last years prize was given to Heather Atkinson who has been the Senior Nurse at the Jockey's Hospital at Cheltenham Racecourse for more than 30 years. The photo shows the window display of Marks & Spencer on the High Street. Even the big chain stores get in on the act during race week.

Now time for Marley's Daily Top Tip. Today I'll give you two tips! You lucky things!

Yesterdays tip - Master Minded in the Queen Mother Champion Chase now at 2.20pm today and - Don't Push It in the Racing Post Plate at 4.05pm.

Now, I know I'm not having much luck with this giving tips business (what with stopping horses and high winds) but I've got a good feeling today. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Outlandish Advertising

As I said yesterday, everyone is promoting or selling something in Cheltenham this race week. The Festival is a big money spinner and the pub above must have got something in return for sponsorship like this. The Midland Hotel (which is a pub not a hotel) is situated by the train station and has been renamed The Betfair Arms for the week. Betfair is an online betting company and all these sort of businesses make huge amounts of money, so paying out for a bit of advertising is just a drop in the ocean to them. Even the footbridge (shown below) across the tracks in the train station has been used for advertising this week. As soon as racegoers get off the train they know what its all about - Money.

Now its time for Marley's Daily Top Tip - Master Minded in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at 3.15pm. If you followed my tip yesterday then I apologise. Sizing Europe pulled up in the home straight and came in practically last! Better luck today!

...Today's racing has been cancelled due to the high winds and the worry that the tented village might take off!!

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

First Past The Post

The National Hunt Festival starts today at Cheltenham Racecourse and its all about the winners. The four day meeting is one of the biggest in the horse racing world, only out done by The Grand National. The event brings 230,000 people to town, wagering £600 million, eating and drinking more goodies than you can imagine. It it big business for the town - every bar, pub and restaurant has boards advertising their offerings, with marquees attached to buildings to accommodate the crowds. The Festival provides the Cheltenham economy with millions of pounds and helps some businesses survive the year. You can't go anywhere in town without the races cropping up, whether its the traffic, the crowds or the atmosphere. The place is buzzing.

I've not been to the races before and unfortunately can't go this year, but to help all you punters out there here is Marley's Daily Top Tip - Sizing Europe in the Champion Hurdle at 3.15pm. (I take no responsibility if you bet your life savings and it falls at the first jump!)

Come back tomorrow for more of The Festival.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Storm Of Yellow Crocus

This is what spring is all about. These lovely yellow Crocuses are at the back of the Royal Well Bus Station in front of a Beech hedge. The area was tidied up in 1998 as part of a commemorative garden for Princess Diana. The unsightly trees and over grown shrubs were replaced with a Beech hedge and a dozen Silver Birch trees. This renovation in turn revealed the Royal Crescent buildings and opened up the whole area. Its just a shame that in front of one of the Countries finest Georgian Crescents is the Cheltenham Bus Station!

I've also posted this photo to take my mind off of the worst storm of the year that is due to hit us today. We are told to expect gale force winds of around 80 mph and torrential rain, so that'll be nice!

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Art Gallery & Museum

Here it is then, Cheltenham's Art Gallery & Museum. Not very large, or even impressive to look at, but inside its very interesting. The Art Gallery was built in 1899, adjoining the Library on the left, after former Cheltenham Member of Parliament Baron de Ferrieres gave his collection of 43 old master paintings to the town. In 1907 a Museum was opened on the top floor. Although the building is the original I think the front must have been remodelled as it seems a bit too modern for 1907! (I've just checked - it was replaced with an extension in 1989.) Its free to visit the Gallery and inside there are numerous exhibitions and displays including an excellent history of Cheltenham, Dutch artwork, Jewellery and Costumes, and the award winning Arts and Crafts exhibit. The Museum links into the Library, giving more space for display, although a lot of the artifacts are in storage and can be viewed by appointment. Last year the Gallery ran a competition to design a new extension to the building, to be built to the right of the photo, replacing an area used as a meeting room. See the winning design at Through its 100 year history the Art Gallery & Museum has had its successes and its failings but the future looks bright. I can't wait to see inside the new look building once construction is completed!

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Arty Entrance

The sign above the entrance to the Art Gallery & Museum is quite funky for Cheltenham. I like the lettering (I think it lights up neon blue at night) and the metal work above the door is a sculpture in itself. The gallery isn't the biggest in the world but you'll have to check back tomorrow to see it in all its glory and find out more about the place. I'm short on time today!

Friday, 7 March 2008

Have You Got 30 Seconds?

That's the question asked by these 'charity workers'. My answer is always "No".

Now I'm not uncharitable, bear with me. Cheltenhams High Street often has half a dozen or so people trying to get you to sign up to donating on a regular basis to one charity or another. As far as I am aware these people are not doing this charity work as a volunteer, they are being paid. I am quite happy to give to good causes but I don't like being trapped in the High Street by an overly friendly student, laying it on thick. I find nothing more off putting than this form of trying to raise money. I'm sure I'm not the only one, as people are often walking on by, trying to ignore the requests and saying "No". Surely the organisers of these charities must see this happening in their own town centres and realise it's not a good image to be promoting. What happened to the days of dropping a few quid into a collection pot?

There we are, rant over.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

View Point

I took this photo from the rooftop car park of the Regent Arcade. Its not an earth shattering photo, I just thought it showed off a few different things in Cheltenham. The little street is Ormand Place, it used to open onto the Promenade but the end was pedestrianised and recently a flower stall has taken up residence there. On the Prom you can see the taxi rank and past that, the yellow flowers in the Long Garden. Then you've got the Municipal Building (well part of it). And beyond the Council Offices, in the top right of the photo, is the spire of St Marys Church, Cheltenhams Parish church. As I said, not earth shattering but I hope you enjoy seeing a wider view of town.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Emerging Leaves

I like the first buds of spring. They tell you that the dark winter days are leaving us and the good weather lies ahead. Green growth is coming! These emerging leaves are on the Horse Chestnut trees that fill the pedestrian area of the Promenade. Cheltenham is quite a 'green' town, with lots of trees, parks and open spaces all helping the town breathe.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Emerald Elephant

This is one of the two elephants that sit on the roof of the Thai Emerald Restaurant in St Georges Place, Cheltenham. I've only eaten there once and I never even noticed the elephants. I was more excited about the food, as its meant to be really good (and it was!) We had a buffet, it was brought to the table, and there were so many dishes of lovely food. Delicious!

Below is the whole building. It doesn't look very big but the restaurant goes back quite a bit, and the inside is decorated with lots of oriental artifacts and carved wooden furniture. In the photo you can see a hammer above the front door so I guess the building may have been a Court Of Law or an Auction House in the past.
To see more elephants check out Ham's 'London's Elephants' series here - Its really good. Go on, have a look!

Monday, 3 March 2008

Pigeon Spa

Cheltenham owes it Spa town status to the humble Pigeon. According to tradition, Cheltenham's spa water was discovered in 1716 because local people noticed pigeons pecking at the salty deposits left around a spring in a field on the south of the town.

William Mason, the owner of the field, started to charge for the medicinal water and created the towns first Spa. In 1739 Masons son-in-law, Henry Skillicorne, created a deeper well on the site, installed a pump and built a brick canopy to shelter the drinkers of the water. As the site developed he constructed a Spa building and linked the well to the town with a walk way of trees, later known as Well Walk. The popularity of the Spa grew and the water was bottled and sold in Cities around the country. In 1788 King George and his family visited the Spa and this secured Cheltenhams popularity and its Spa status.

After the regal visit the Spa became known as the Royal Well (now the area occupied by the Ladies College). By the turn of the 1800's the Royal Well was supplying water to about two thousand visitors a year, and this success lead to nearly a dozen other Spas opening in and around Cheltenham by the 1850's. As the century moved on the water tasting and bathing continued but in the early 1900's the Spas began to close and the buildings were used for other businesses. Today you can still try the spa water at the Town Hall and the Pitville Pump Room, having tried it myself I can tell you it is salty and not very pleasant!

Without the pigeon, the bird that some people call 'rats with wings', who knows how different Cheltenham's history might have been.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Keeping Mum

Today in the UK its Mothering Sunday. The day to spoil your mum, thank her for all she does for you and tell her that you love her. These Gerberas and Orchids are part of the flower arrangement that I've got for my mum, I hope she likes them! If you've forgotten about today its not to late to get to the shops and buy a box of choccies or pick up some flowers. Go on, spoil your mum - she deserves it!
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