Sunday, February 13, 2011

Stroud: Leonard in England

Since Saturday was supposed to be the nice day of the weekend, we made sure we were up somewhat early, and after picking up Matt, made our way to Stroud for their famous farmers' market: supposedly one of the best (the best?) in England. Once parked, we made our way to the nearby high street -- through the train station, I might add; guess how we'll be getting there next time -- Celtic notes filling the air. The Bucket Band was almost through a set, two little girls skipping 'round a little boy just in front of them, like something out of a Newfoundland tourism ad.

After picking up a CD, we wandered the market, taking in all the fabulous sights and smells. Even in the middle of winter, it was substantial. Can't wait to go back when more's in season. We bought olives and focaccia, and after sampling some sausages straight off the grill, a few packages for home -- cookin' them up as I type this, actually; they smell so good! (And I'm cookin' 'em up, too; look at me! *wink*) Plus, we got chatting to the chap from Warcop Brewery in South Wales, and Matt and I grabbed half a dozen of their stouts and porters between us; sounds like he's there year-round, so I know where to go if I like it.

Speaking of ale, we thought it'd be the perfect way to wash down our sausages and rest our feet. Tea's CAMRA app. told her the Queen Victoria was good choice nearby, so off we went. As we sat outside, enjoying our pints -- the excellent Cornish Mutiny for me, and Anastasia's Exile Stout for Matt; the latter's by Ascot Ales, which deserves special mention, as their Alligator Ale came in my most recent CAMRA Beer Club box, and it's excellent) -- a guy approached, asking whether we had any papers to spare, mistaking us for smokers.

He had more success inside, and came out to share a pint with us. As we chatted, he showed us a newsletter he'd just finished for an upcoming series called Lorca In England, celebrating the work of the Spanish poet, Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca. The town has a rich history of supporting the arts, we soon discovered. He'd moved out from London 22 years ago, and fallen in love. He said that now, many of those artists make up the local business community, running coffee shops, pubs, etc. When he found out we were Canadians, he immediately gushed praise for Leonard Cohen, talking about how he's still writing verses for Hallelujah, his ordination as a Buddhist monk, and his bankruptcy. (Much of which was news to me, I have to be honest. Matt easily kept pace, though.) Before leaving, he recommended we check out the Golden Fleece, and hoped to see us there later.

Next on our list was the snowdrops in Colesbourne Park, but we'd passed through Painswick on the way to Stroud, and decided it was worth a stop coming back. After wandering the beautiful grounds of the Church of England parish church of Saint Mary -- with its literally fantastic yew trees -- we stopped for a bite to eat at the Royal Oak, enjoying the fruits of Stroud Brewery -- Budding and Tom Long, specifically -- two bowls of butternut squash soup and a burger between the three of us.

It isn't hard to see why Colesbourne Park is getting so much attention on local radio and television: the snowdrops were more than plentiful. Because of that, I think our later arrival, with an hour 'til closing, worked out really well: the crowds were dying down, and we still had plenty of light to take some great photographs. A great way to end the day.

Check out our Picasa album for more pictures from the day.

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