Friday, April 04, 2014

Gloucester Mini Break

A short break to see the sights around Gloucester. We started with the old docks (Gloucester Quays - sorry, boat trips only available Sundays) and then moved on to our hotel (Mercure Gloucester, Bowden Hall Hotel "Your bathroom fan doesn't work? Sorry, it only comes on in the mornings and after 6 pm" .. er, no actually, it was broken and this was the second room we were offered where the fan didn't work).

Gloucester at first sight looks like many small English towns: way too many pound shops and betting parlours; the odd drunk hollering from a bench; badly-mixed architecture - some concrete-hideous which only Jonathan Meades could love; a general air of shabbiness. However, there were positive signs: some decent new houses going up adjacent to the town centre and some signs of middle-class colonisation. Perhaps the direction is up.

The next day we drove to Chedworth Roman Villa (which we had in fact visited before), then proceeding to Chastleton House near Chipping Norton. In fact we had a sparse lunch in Chipping Norton, looking out for Jeremy Clarkson's house (surely a blue plaque?) and wondering if we'd see any evidence of David Cameron or other denizens of the 'Chipping Norton set' (badgers?). It all looked quite ordinary though, albeit more prosperous than Gloucester.

Chastlelton House is a Jacobean country house which apparently needed a fortune every generation to keep intact. Such fortunes not being in evidence, it failed to upgrade over the centuries and thus preserves its original appearance and furnishings as they were in Shakespeare's time - what a gem!

Back to Gloucester then for the Museum and The New Inn, an Elizabethan Coaching Inn on the Northgate where standards of service have not much advanced ("Earl Grey tea? Sorry, we do do fruit infusions.")

This morning we returned via the pretty "Westbury Court Garden" - a water garden rescued from terminal decline by the National Trust. Smug and twee it may be, but such good work has to be done Mr A. A. Gill! 

Here are some pix - eat your heart out, dear reader!

Clare at Gloucester Quays

The author at Gloucester Quays

Clare gets down with the sheep at Chastleton House

Our hotel - the breakfast was quite good

Chastleton House - a Jacobean Manor (NT)

The Water Garden at Westbury Court (NT)