I went out drinking in Cheltenham on Friday night – it couldn’t be helped, it was with work colleagues and since I work in Cheltenham that is the obvious place to go.
It was a great evening, with a good bunch of people, but it re-enforced my view that Gloucester pubs are far superior. Now you may think that this is just my personal bias: after all, I am writing a book on Gloucester pubs, not Cheltenham pubs. However, those Cheltenham folk who I have persuaded to join me on my drunken rambles around Gloucester agree with me. I am beginning to see myself as something of a Gloucester evangelist.
I am not saying that Cheltenham doesn’t have any good pubs, clearly it does. The problem is they are not in the centre, you have to hunt them down on the outskirts: pubs such as The Jolly Brewmaster, The Kemble and The Bayshill. In the centre they have a very different feel. I think it’s because they mostly seem to cater either for the student crowd (although oddly they don’t have the type of disco pub found in Gloucester’s Eastgate Street) or the wine-bar set.
Any way, the reason for the outing was that a colleague and friend is about to leave us to work in London. She is young, attractive and enthusiastic, so I am sure she’ll have a great time in the Capital. As chance would have it, for one reason or another I have spent a good chunk of the last week in London and I’m not sure that it would be for me.
First I spent three days in the City with work, returning for just one day (and an evening’s drinking) before returning with my wife to visit relatives, this time south of the river. There are a lot of things I like about the capital: there are superb restaurants from all corners of the world, you can always find a show or concert and there are some terrific pubs. On the other hand, it is incredibly crowded, dirty and you need a second mortgage to afford enough beer to get drunk.
It wasn’t until we were on the way home though that we noticed what we’d really been missing. Leaving the motorway to join the A419 we were overwhelmed by the sight of rolling green fields. I realised that, even in the short time we had been away, I had missed this: I’m not sure I could get used to the monotonous man-made grey that London offers instead.
This is when I realised that I’m more of a small town kind of guy. Gloucester is big enough to offer most of what you need, and in the time that it took for us to drive from the M4, around the South Circular, to our destination in Sydenham we could have easily travelled from home to the Forest of Dean, the Centre of the Cotswolds, Bath or Bristol. This is surely much better for the soul.