Saturday, June 13, 2009
Well, it was our last full day in Cheltenham. (Note that the posts will be erratic from here on out, as it's our last day of free Wi-Fi too.) We started out right at Gusto, with some fantastic tomato and chickpea soup, followed by anti-pasti trays. We'd bought coffee and a croissant from the shop on the ground floor earlier in the week, but the first floor is a restaurant onto itself -- incidentally, I regularly confuse their use of ground and first to describe first and second floors, even though we often have main and first floors at home; go figure -- with plenty of sunlight pouring in from windows on both sides. Tea particularly enjoyed the Teapigs loose tea bags.
Then it was off to the shopping that Tea had queued up over a week of looking in the windows of closed shops -- Oh, we'll have to come back here on Saturday, she'd say. The town has a different feel on the weekend; particularly on such a sunny Saturday, no doubt: the park in front of the Queen's was full of people, as were the streets and shops.
Some of the shopping highlights included: House of Fraser -- which reminded me of Macy's -- with its £600 suits (no, I didn't buy, or even touch, one); Tea got a fabulous pink handbag (my approximation of what I think she'd write); and Waterstone's, where I got a copy of Seth's It's A Good Life, If You Don't Weaken; in one of those strange coincidences, I'd read a review of it in The Walrus a few weeks ago, and then, just the other day, I read that very line in Graham Greene's Brighton Rock. (I didn't realize that that's where the title came from.) Anyway, that was all the excuse I needed to pick it up.
Inside St Georges Vault
Tea also picked up some shoes at Jones Bootmaker, and admired the dresses in Primark. I ogled a beautiful Davley flask with collapsible shot glass, and then it was time for a break. We ended up at St Georges Vault, which, I have to say, was one of my favourite spots of the trip: the bartenders were really friendly, the locals were entertaining; it was the perfect spot to kick back with a couple of bitters -- we weren't surprised by them being at room temperature thanks to Holly :-) -- and play some cribbage. I won both games and was very reserved in victory, as the photo to the right indicates.
They don't serve food at St Georges, so we headed out for some sustenance after our second game and round of pints. One of the few recommendations that we hadn't tried up to that point was the Thai restaurant, Shon Thong. We tracked it down without too much difficulty, and enjoyed a great meal that included both hot and sour soup, and green curry (again). Tea preferred the soup, curry and ambiance at Thai Emerald, and I would second two of those: I actually preferred the green curry at Shon Thong, by a nose.
Packing for the trip back to London was looming large in our minds at that point, so we started heading back to the apartment. On the way back to High Street, this terrific amount of yelling and squealing assailed our ears; we turned a corner to see a mob of pink and black undulating in the distance. I immediately started wandering in that direction, at which point Tea said, "Wrong way, Jae;" I was uncharacteristically witty with my, "No, I think this is the way," as I took a last look at the 'stagette' party moving toward us. We passed a group of lads and heard one of them muttering, "Scheisser," as he caught sight of what blocked his path. Godspeed, man.
One final note: it actually brought a lump to my throat to see flowers laid at the foot of the World War I memorial in front of the municipal buildings. It's one thing to see such a display in November, and quite another to see it in June. I really like this town. (If you are interested in looking at more photos from the day, check out our album.)