This is my third installment in Cheltenham. It was the year of 2000 when we first landed in Cheltenham for my [then-boyfriend-now-husband’s] work. Sixteen years on, I am slowly beginning to understand this town, and, happily, to enjoy it. Woohoo!
We were young and slightly confused in 2000 – that is, confused about what we were supposed to do here, and who we were. We found ourselves at that awkward stage between being university students still and playing being grown up, and not actually knowing what ‘being grown ups’ meant. Oddly, I think we both thought it predominantly meant we should enjoy DIY. Truth is we didn’t, and we were also utterly crap at it!
Anyway, the point is that we arrived in Cheltenham not very sure about who we were, nor what this provincial town had to offer. Coming from a diverse area of London, I was pretty blown away by the causal racism that was openly offered to me on my first night out. ‘Oh you’re from London. Lots of black people there. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that I’m racist. It’s just we really don’t want them living here….’
This was 2000. Cheltenham was, I think, pretty pants then. I never really understood the place, and we never really connected. The town didn’t really know if it was a high street, a place to eat, a cultural venue, or a racing town. In turn, I had no idea what I was doing with my life. I immersed myself in the local theatre scene, made some friends through work, and plotted my escape. We returned to London in 2004.
In 2007 we came back to the Cotswolds, avec baby. This time around, Cheltenham offered me new things and I was more in tune with my headspace. Things were-a-changing in Cheltenham, and I was glad to be along for the ride. It was cool, we had a good time, met some great people, and I played netball. We had grown up, and so had Cheltenham.
Then, boom! Off to the USA we decided to go. I get itchy feet and I needed to walk on some different grass for a while, and so three years in the States happened, and we relished every moment. How on earth would I cope coming back to suburban England? And, more specifically, back to Cheltenham….? I felt very, very apprehensive about coming back to the same place for the third time…..
But here now, in 2016, I think Cheltenham and I are in a good place together. We’ve matured, neither particularly gracefully, but we’ve found ourselves, and this time we’re connecting. I’m lucky to have work that allows me to socialise with diverse groups of people. I’m finding things out that I never knew existed and am part of networks that are welcoming and supportive. Cheltenham has grown culturally, and is, thankfully, much more diverse in its outlook. It’s definitely more exciting, more developed, more socially aware, and more socially responsible. And I’m beginning to enjoy rocking it in Cheltenham.
Rocking it in the Cotswolds this week are…..
Juicing in Cheltenham
One of my favourite things about the States were the juice bars. Oh yes, they were a ‘thing’ and were aplenty! However, I wondered if I would find somewhere to replicate my love of juicing, which, as you might know, is ultra-trendy for detoxing purposes.
Thankfully, smashing chap Dan Fivey owns a juice bar Not Just Juice in the lower high street in Cheltenham (more on that area of town in my next installment!) where you can order 1, 2 or 3 days of juicing online. I opted for two days of juices with the intention of flushing out the new year excesses.
Dan’s juices are designed to supercharge your body. You drink four juices a day and you can choose from, amongst others, Chunky Monkey: peanut butter and banana; Do the Splits: banana and strawberry; and Very Berry: blueberry, raspberry, strawberry. Delicious and delightful, and very detoxifying.
I, for one, am very glad there’s access to juicing here in Cheltenham. That’s progression, folks!
The Cotswolds Countryside
Ah, the English countryside in the Cheltenham/Cotswolds area! How do we love thee…?! Er, like loads!
These pics say it all!
Closeness to Oxford
Oxford: possibly my most favourite town in the whole of the UK and only 50 mins from Cheltenham (note to hubby – yes, I’d like to live in Oxford one day!).
There is something about being in a university town that I just adore. Plus, in Oxford, when you sit in the University chapel café it’s very much like being on the set of University Challenge. I imagine. Another bonus is that it’s half way for me to meet my London chums!
I love it when a plan comes together!