One of the strangest places I have ever visited was Gloucester. Don't get me wrong I'm not meaning that in nasty way, as I found it quite a pleasant place with some beautiful historic buildings but I also found it almost stuck in a time warp when I spent a couple of days there last month. It is is a city in the historical definition with its fabulous medieval cathedral but nowadays it is very much a West Country back water with the feel of faded gentility and past glories.
"Double Gloucester- the old and the new"
Gloucester has a long history due to its strategic defensive position close to both the Welsh border and the mouth of the River Severn making it one of the first places to ford the river. The Roman's founded a settlement called Glevum, and since then its has been inhabited. Humble Gloucester has seen its fair share of drama from monks and medieval royalty aplenty. Its been frequented by some of the biggest names in literature and in recent times has become infamous due to Fred and Rose West and the grizzly findings at 25 Cromwell Road.
Traveling to Gloucester is pretty easy. We chose to go by train which takes two hours from London Paddington but you can also get there by National Express coach. For those of you with a car it is close to the M5.On arrival I found the station to be fairly small for a city station. The other thing we noted was the lack of left luggage lockers. This was annoying because our hotel was a few miles out of town so we could either drag our bags around or go straight to the hotel. We chose the former.
"The best signed place in England"
Gloucester is a simple city to navigate for a couple of reasons. Gloucester seems to have grown up around four main streets simply called Northgate Street, Southgate Street, Eastgate Street and wait for it Westgate Street all meeting at a junction where the market cross stands . Unfortunately when we were there the Market Cross seemed to be under wraps of heavy duty covering advertsisng the HSBC or some other bank. Most of the places you will want to find in Gloucester with perhaps the exception of the docks are on these streets or just off them. If this simple street pattern was not enough Gloucester City Council have made sure you can not get lost by sticking signposts and maps every 100 yards. I was also impressed with all the interpretation boards in the main streets detailing the history of Gloucester. It seems it has a real sense of civic pride.
My first impressions of Gloucester were not great, as we entered by the Eastgate Street area which is the main shopping area. Here it is a clone town with all your usual suspects. I did like how the facade of the old market hall remains and integrated into one of the modern shopping centres.Our plan of action was to go to the Tourist Information first and grab as many relevant brochures and leaflets on what do do in Gloucester as we could then head down to the regenerated historic dock area of the city. One problem the Tourist information Office had shut at mid day and was not to reopen to the next day Luckily heading that way gave us our first glimpse of "Ye Olde Gloucester" with its fine medieval and Tudor half timbered buildings en route to the docks.
"Sitting on the dock wasting time"
The old dock area links with the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal. We had a wander round this regenerated area and it is nice but reminds me all too much of other dockland areas with all the old warehouses converted into trendy apartments and some nice little cafes. The dock area is very much a shopper's delight with both an antique centre and a retail outlet centre. I may have spent more time in this area if I was with my mother and sister but my boyfriend really was not interested in the shops. The other main attraction at the docks is the National Waterways Museum. We had been to London's Canal Museum a few weeks prior so a visit to this one would have been canal overload.
Pottering Round Gloucester
Gloucester seemed to be full of monks in the Middle Ages. Lying east and west of Southgate Street. lay the ruins of the abbeys of th Blackfriars and the Greyfriars although one of them now is incorporated into a new housing development. Lying to the north of the city between Westgate Street and Northgate Street is the one building you must see on a visit to the city. It really was the highlight of our trip. Gloucester Cathedral soars high above the rest of the city with its wonderful blend of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. Founded as an abbey during the 7th century it became a cathedral when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries. Its also the place of rest for both Robert of Normandy (William the Conquerers oldest son) and Edward the Second. Its truly an impressive building and well worth a few hours to go round the cathedral especially if you get a free guided tour, as it take you to places such as the crypt that you can not go on your own. and also the cloisters, as used in the early Harry Potter films. Best of all is it is free but please leave a donation.
As you come out of the cathedral go through a little archway into a narrow picturesque old fashioned lane. On your left is an old fashioned shop that was home to the Tailor of Gloucester immortalised in one of Beatrix Potter's stories. She was inspired to write the book after visiting her cousin in Gloucestershire. I was quite interested in visiting, as I had written my Master's dissertation on Beatrix Potter tourism in the Lake District. The house has some nice little displays about th tale of the Tailor of Gloucester and Potter's links with the city but really it was a glorified shop selling every single bit of Beatrix Potter merchandise conceivable and took us 20 minutes maximum to go round. I'm glad it was free to visit, as I would have felt cheated if there was an admission charge.
Encounters with a Pig
A trip to a new city is not complete without a museum visit. The main City Gallery was closed until August so we plumped for the Folk Museum on Westgate Street. It's one of the most stunning timbered buildings in the city dating back to the 16th century. The museum cost £3 for adults to visit and was a good old social history museum complete with trades of Gloucester and how we used to live and a lovely model of a Gloucester Old Spot pig! We found the new retro room with jukebox a bit strange in this lovely Tudor building. Its the sort of place that is mildly interesting but not riveting.
A pilgrimage to Gloucester's historic pubs
By just after midday we had visited most of Gloucester's tourist attractions. It really is a day trip place. I might suggest a day in Gloucester and a day in Cheltenham or a few days in the Cotswolds if you are based in Gloucester for more than a couple of days. So with time to spare it was time to do a pub crawl round Gloucester's many historic pubs. Firs off was another beautifully patterned timbered building in Southgate street. Robert Raikes Inn is another Tudor building and a really beautiful spacious pub. It's also a Sam smith's pub so character and cheap beer suited me perfectly. Its named after Robert Raikes, the founder of the Sunday School movement who lived there in the 18th century. I find it quite ironic that his former house is now a pub, as he is the type of person who would be teetotal.
Moving north to Northgate Street we found the new inn which is a misnomer as it is rater old. The New Inn is set in a courtyard and dates back to the 15th century when it was a stop on the road for pilgrims visiting the shrine of Edward the Second at Gloucester Cathedral. Its a galleried pub like the George in London and like the George was an early theatre. It is rumoured William Shakespeare himself performed at the New Inn but it seems he performed at every ancient inn between Stratford and London. We had a very nice afternoon pint sat outside in the courtyard watching the world go by.
The Cat's Tale
For those of you that thought Dick Whititngton was a fictional character think again. He was a real person and he was from Gloucester. . The Dick Whittington pub on Westgate Street is an amalgam of a couple of buildings. The frontage is a handsome 18th century building but behind it there's a 15 medieval wooden building that was the home of the Whittington family. The Dick Whittington was undoubtedly my favouurtie pub in Gloucester due to the atmosphere. The bar staff were friendly and welcoming to locals and visitors alike. There was a nice selection of reals ales with at least a couple of local ones. I can heartily recommend Cotswold Way from the Wickwar Bewery. This ale was so smooth and flavourosme perhaps one of the best pints I have drunk and certainly th beer of the weekend for me. The Dick Whittington was the type of pub I could spend all day in, as the sofas were very comfortable indeed. I will remember the Dick Whittington for its fine display of clocks on one of its walls and to top it all off there was even a beautiful resident black and white cat .
One thing I will remember about Gloucester was how hard it was to find something to eat when we fancied a late lunch around about 3 p m. Most of the pub's' kitchens seemed to have shut and it looker like it would be McDonalds, or Subway for us until we found the New County Hotel that did very nice big sandwiches. Later on when we fancied just something light for dinner to soak up some of the beer we found it difficult finding what we wanted. We did not want a huge or expensive meal , as we had had a 3 course meal in the hotel the night previously so in the end ate in a Wetherspoons clone.
My other abiding memory of Gloucester was the randomness of some of the shop keepers adding to the parochial feel. Across from the Tailor's House there was a specialist off license with a nice range of local beers. I decided not to buy any the first time we visited as it was fairly early on in the day and did not want to carry the beers around with me. I did enquirer what the opening hours were to nip back and purchase some Gloucestershire beer. It was charming that this little shop had a break for lunch reopening at 3p, so went back to find it still shut. We tried again later with no joy. Later still we found the owner in the pub. He must have decided just to shut up shop early. I found that very quaint!!
Gloucester was a funny old, likable place. Its slightly off the beaten track but well worth a visit if you enjoy a fabulous cathedral or love old timbered buildings and good pubs. You can easily "do" Gloucester in a day. I really enjoyed our visit there but will not be rushing back too quickly as I have been there done that an there are just oo many towns and cities in Britain to explore.
A very interesting place is Gloucester: a city steeped in history and tradition, and blessed with some fascinating museums and excellent shops. The problem, though, is that many people are so repelled by their initial contact with the place that they never get that far. The main culprit for this is the truly, utterly filthy bus station. It's a brutal concrete structure shoehorned in between anodyne 1960s blocks, and even manages to make Digbeth Coach Station seem luxurious, which is really saying something (and Digbeth is being demolished soon, thank God). There are huge piles of pigeon droppings everywhere - and I mean *everywhere* - which appear never to be cleaned up. There's nowhere remotely comfortable to sit. The exciting new bus bays with equally exciting blue railings are terribly confusing as to where to wait. The lighting is poor. In the evenings, some very strange characters inhabit the place. And, most unforgiveable of all, the timetable information is, to put it mildly, abysmal. At Gloucester Bus Station, the "information" consists of a series of noticeboards, on each of which is posted a great slew of paper timetables. The design improvements which have affected bus information elsewhere seems to have passed Gloucester by: the timetables are in no sensible order, are badly printed, are monochrome, and are in tiny print. There's also no guide notice to tell you which board to look at for the bus you want. (Well, there might be, but if so it's awfully well hidden). Frankly, the facilities would be a disgrace to a small town; for a city they're staggeringly feeble. Perhaps, hearing all that, you'd prefer to come to Gloucester by train? Well, this isn't so great either. Gloucester station has several disadvantages, the most immediately obvious being the confusing layout of the station. Quite apart from meaning that the service from a place as nearby as Bristol is pathetic (once every two ho
urs if you're lucky), the platform on the far side of the tracks is a normal one, but that on the booking office side is enormously long; long enough in fact to count as three consecutive platforms, which means a very long walk in many cases. This wouldn't be so bad if the station facilities themselves were better - when I was last there a few months ago, the booking office was closed after 5.40pm (5.40, for heaven's sake!) for the entire week due to staff shortages. The cafe looked mediocre at best. The Gents toilets were, to be charitable, filthy (the staff inspection chart appeared not to have been filled in for a fortnight). And there appeared to be no decent shop. All in all, not good enough. The next problem is finding the city centre. This is not at all easy for the pedestrian - Gloucester doesn't win any awards for signposting, and in fact the main sign for the station was helpfully completely hidden behind a large cypress hedge. On top of this, the city planners clearly had motorists, and only motorists, in mind when they developed the road system - to get from the station to the centre takes absolutely forever because of the number of pelican crossings intervening (there appear to be no subways, which I suppose is something). Anyhow, a little way past the bus station comes a rather arresting sight - what seems to have been designed as a fairly large pond, such as one might find in a park rather than a city centre. Well, it would be, if it wasn't (usually) completely empty (other than those ever-present pigeon droppings), which makes all the "no swimming or paddling" signs somewhat superfluous. I hope this was just a temporary state of affairs - someone did tell me that it was going to be cleaned up, eventually - as it tends to confirm the visitor's first impression of a dirty, ill cared for city. Phew! This is all rather gloomy, isn't it? Luckily, if you can escape the "pigeon belt&quo
t;, things improve markedly (not hard, I grant you). After a short walk, you emerge, past a highly odd stone sculpture that resembles a zombie on a skateboard (I have no idea what it actually represents - there appeared to be no explanatory plaque), into a pleasant, spacious pedestrianised shopping area. If only the bus station was like this.... Gloucester has a good range of shops, and so it should being the size it is. From my point of view (and, let's face it, as I'm writing this op it's the one that matters, so stop complaining) the star of the show is Bookends. This is a sprawling bookshop near the central crossroads, which sells both new and second-hand books. Anyone, like me, who still mourns the loss of the sister shop in Worcester a few years ago can find comfort here - especially in the huge £1 room at the very far end of the building, which is crammed with non-fiction books of every description, and is an absolute godsend for last-minute birthday shopping and the like. (Not that I'd know, always doing it in good time and all. Ahem.) The other shop that stands out is also a bookshop - Ottakar's. This is a smallish national chain, which is well known for its high standards of service. There's less of the cold multinational feel you get in places such as Waterstones these days - it's not quite up to the standard of a real local bookshop, but it's about as close as you'll get in a chain and well worth a nose around. One other thing that is very obvious in Gloucester, and rather revealing about the wealth (or lack of) of the populace is the extraordinary number of charity shops. They are absolutely everywhere, which is very handy for cheapskates like myself, but is a little worrying in terms of the implied standard of living of Gloucester's citizens. Away from the shops now. As I live in a town on the Severn myself, the obvious attraction is Gloucester Docks. There has been a port o
f some description at Gloucester since Roman times, and significant commercial trade only ceased relatively recently. It's a very interesting complex to wander around, as there's an attraction in pretty much every building: the National Waterways Museum, the "Glorious Glosters" Regimental Museum, a museum of packaging, the Gloucester City Council offices... well, maybe not. There are also the inevitable "trendy" restaurants and shops - anyone who's been to Liverpool's Albert Dock will get the general idea. The most interesting museum in the city, though, is in the centre: the Gloucester Folk Museum in Westgate Street. This is housed in a timber-framed building, parts of which date from the 15th century. It's definitely an institution of the "let's shove a huge pile of interesting stuff in here and give the visitors something to look at" tradition, which is as it should be - far better that than acres of reading matter and hardly any exhibits. There are exhibits on cheesemaking, fishing, the Civil War, pin-making, treen (no, nothing to do with Dan Dare - it means small wooden items)... and yes, there's the inevitable Victorian Classroom. The Folk Musem, and the City Museum and Art Gallery, operate an interesting admissions policy. Each museum costs a couple of pounds to visit (for adults - children get in free), but joint tickets are available at a discount, and you can pick up a season ticket for just four quid. The council did also adopt the policy, common elsewhere in Europe, of allowing free admission for the last hour of opening - but this sensible setup seems to have been dropped now. Gloucester residents get in free all the time, though that information's probably of little value to visitors. As you'll see, then, a visit to Gloucester does have much to recommend it, and if you can endure the ordeal of slogging through the dreadful public transport interchanges - and
believe me, ordeal and slogging are "les mots justes" (the right words) - then your perseverance will be well rewarded.
I live in Gloucester. Therefore, maybe I'm biased. But I've been to some really awful places in my time, and in my top 100 worst places to be, Gloucester rates somewhere about number 28, slightly better than Hiroshima 1945, but worse than in a locked freezer. Why do I feel like this? Let's take a virtual tour, shall we? Most visitors to Gloucester arrive at the bus station via the National Express. Ok, have we got off the bus? Good. Now, try to avoid all the pigeon shit that seems to rain from the roof, and hold on to your wallet. When the bearded man who hasn't changed his clothes since 1987 comes towards you and demands alcohol, run. Do not try to hide in the Photo-me booth because there's already a heroin addict in there, and he's not good at aiming the needle. Once you've run out of the bus station, you hit the taxi rank. Dodge the speeding cars and cross over to the next street, where the local buses stop. Feel free to trample on the dozens of hooded-topped 12-year-olds outside Games Workshop, avoid the strange urine-like smell coming from the back of MVC, and then you enter into King's Walk, Gloucester's answer to Harrods. Some of the shops are alright, I mean, they've got an HMV, an MVC, an EB. Step out into Eastgate Street. Avoid the homeless person with the big dog outside BHS. Now, let's have a quick look at the endearing people of Gloucester. Notice how they all look extremely pissed-off about something? That there are large amounts of unfeasibly ugly women with legions of kids trailing behind, complaining? This is the problem with Gloucester. There's very little to do here except procreate, which makes the problem worse really, but never mind. Otherwise you've got a choice of the variety of pubs at the bottom of Eastgate Street, and there's Liquid, which is someone's attempt at creating a low budget nightclub. It's conveniently loca
ted next to the bomb site that is Gloucester Leisure Centre under construction, which has been under construction for the last 2 years, and looks to be set that way until the legions of kids learn how to drive. Next to the bus station is the big car park, Gloucester's major tourist attraction, and conveniently located underneath is Crackers, Fred West's idea of a good place to go for a night out. Remember him? The guy who raped and killed loadsa women? He lived in Gloucester. If you want to go and see something in Gloucester, I suppose you could do worse than try the museum or the Cathedral. Both tend to be completely empty because Gloucester people 'don't want nuffin' to do with that there fancy book learning'. To be honest, the Council have tried to improve things. I mean, we nearly got an industrial waste incinerator put between the hospital and the major residential areas, but this wonderful plan has been put on a back-burner for a while. If you're really at a loose end, you can go to the cinema, which is conveniently located too far away from the town centre. Dining opportunities: Gloucester offers the very best in British and American cuisine, be it the roast pork van or the delights of MacDonald's and KFC. Sarcasm aside for a moment, there are some great curry places in the city which are worth a look at, and Deep pan does do excellent pizzas. The city is also a major cultural centre for the south-west region, being a base location for Peruvian panpipe players, homeless guitarists, and even features people who will put coloured things in your hair in exchange for large sums of money. At the Guildhall, you can also see tribute band after tribute band, and the lesser known art of shouting at people is well supported. Gloucester has a lot to offer in terms of sport. On Friday and Saturday nights, gloveless boxing takes place outside many establishments
, with the focus on spectator participation. The park, safely located next to Fred West's old house, provides a perfect location to perfect your football skills as you dodge the hypodermic needles (remember to bring your ball pump!), and Gloucester even has a multiple sports terrain next to the River Severn. In the summer months it is used for rugby and football, and in winter, swimming and water polo are options when the river floods and covers the field completely. Perhaps though, the best thing about Gloucester, is the number 94 bus that takes you to Cheltenham. Providing, of course, the bus is running that day.
I've been to Gloucester twice. I have friends who live there and my visits encompass a stay, over a weekend, catching up with the latest family news and gossip and exchanging old memories. I never really "looked", at Gloucester until just lately; the second time that I visited. Did you know that it is home to Britain's most inland port? I only found out, during conversation that it recently celebrated its BI-centennial, which is techno speak for 200th anniversary. Once the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal had been built to link the City with the Bristol Channel, giving grain ships access to the docks, the area never looked back - at one time, ships would apparently queue for miles along the canal waiting to unload grain and timber. This does not happen any more but there are about 15 red brick, Victorian warehouses which stand, like guardians, around the three basins of water and, today, provide homes to fascinating attractions. The National Waterways Museum is appropriately placed in the restored Llanthony Warehouse and covers the 200 years of life on Britain's inland waterways. You can try your hand at steering a narrowboat - on a simulator of course! - along the canal, but watch out for the locks, they're trickier than you think! The museum is full of simulators, models and displays, all bringing to life the people who once worked on the canals. If this isn't enough, the museum continues outside with a variety of colourful narrowboats and barges as well as a massive steam dredger. It may be that a trip along the canal or River Severn is more to your taste instead of the simulators. The Queen Boadicea II, one of Dunkirk's "little ships", runs regularly, every day, throughout the summer. I prefer to be taken on a cruise by someone that knows what they are doing as I once experienced a day out on a tributary of the Medway in Kent. We spent all day opening and closing lock
gates to the exclusion of enjoying the beautiful view along the riverside. The Gloucester Antique Centre is found near the lock. A warehouse full of impressive tables, grand cabinets and elegant desks. On the upper floors are small shops selling everything from books, porcelain and clocks to jewellery, glassware and paintings. In the heart of the Docks you'll find, Merchants Quay Shopping Centre, with specialist shops which will meet all tastes and waterside cafes and restaurants, including the aptly named, Dr. Foster's. From the eponymous poem, Dr. Foster went to Gloucester.....(You remember the old nursery rhyme?) All this is only five minutes walk from Gloucester's city centre with its majestic Cathedral. I feel that I was missing out on so much over the years and will, in the future, tell you more about my visit during which I saw so much more of Gloucester, a beautifully friendly, ancient and modern City. Gloucester is ideally situated on the M5 and therefore it is so easy to get down into the West Country, Devon and Cornwall for instance. It is also on the River Severn, just over the bridge is Wales. Just a few miles away is the Wye valley and the beautiful towns of Hay and Ross on Wye are accessible during an afternoon drive. We visited Symonds Yat (named after a local worthy, a Yat is local, old English, for a gateway or entrance) The Yat is an opening in the hills above the Wye Valley and there is a viewing point at the crest of a 500 foot high Rock from where you can look over three counties, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Monmouthshire in Wales. The view is fantastic, the river Wye curls across the landscape and around the hills in the foreground whilst across the valley ?Twitchers? (Bird watchers to you and me, watch Peregrine Falcons wheeling above and diving down to their eyrie in the cliff face. Drive around and through the Forest of Dean - not as many trees as there once was bu
t the countryside is unique and beautiful nonetheless. The ?Forest? is about 27 miles square and full of little villages, mostly mining communities where coal and tine were once mined and, in some cases, are mined to this day. ?Foresters? have a language or at least a dialect which is all their own and are probably quite in-bred keeping the local families to themselves. Across the valley through which the M5 runs and only a stones throw away is the beautiful University town of Cheltenham whilst, just a few miles north is the old historic town of Tewkesbury. More about Glorious Gloucester when next I visit.
Our weekend stay in Gloucester was the first time I have been to this city and we were very pleasantly surprised. The first impression on driving through the town was the amount of space everywhere. The roads are wide and the houses are set back from the roads to give a feeling of spaciousness. There was no traffic congestion and everywhere was well sign posted so it was easy for us to find our way around. On the Friday night the city centre was alive with youngsters out enjoying themselves and it appeared that there were quite a few pubs and clubs for them to go to. We had no trouble finding a restaurant to eat at, in fact the biggest problem was making a choice of where to eat. There was a choice of Indian, Chinese, Thai, Greek, American, Italian and British. On the Saturday we saw the great selection of shops in the town with a good selection of large chain stores and small independent shops. As well as a large pedestrianised area there are two indoor shopping centres, the Eastgate Shopping Centre and Kings Walk Shopping. Around the town there were also numerous unusual market stalls giving a festival feel to the whole town. Everywhere in the town centre is within walking distance and it is very pleasant to wander the great variety of shops. On the Sunday we felt there was a more tourist feel to the town with most of the activity around the restored docks area and the Cathedral. Everybody seemed very relaxed and the whole pace of the town was very casual. Throughout our stay we found that the city had very cleverly combined the history and traditions in the town with the advantages of modern facilities. This has obviously been done with a lot of thought and the blend of old and new is balanced really well. We found the people of Gloucester were very polite and we felt the whole town had a very welcoming feel to it. We know that there was a lot of the city that we did not see and I am sure that it will
not be long before we return to see some of the attractions that we missed out on this visit.
Throughout my life, I have met loads of people who hate living in Gloucester. I have always lived here, and have no intentions of leaving. I may only enjoy the simple things in life, but Gloucester has everything I need. Tourism focuses on the history surrounding Gloucester, with its Cathedral and the Docks being the largest crowd-pullers. There are also many museums and exhibits within walking distance of the City Centre, with loads of others a short drive away. Perhaps, though, the thing that most people know Gloucester for is the serial killer Fred West. It is a shame that a City with so much to offer is remembered for one of the worst criminals of recent times. Many people criticise the lack of decent shopping facilities that Gloucester offers. It may not have the higher-class shops that Cheltenham has near-by (they seem to have a higher standard of living over there, maybe this is why), but almost every major chain (Boots, Woolworths, Smiths, HMV etc) have huge stores. Marks and Spencer even has two! There are also major developments in the pipeline, with a new complex being built in the Blackfriars area of Gloucester (walking distance from City Centre). With Bristol a thirty minute drive away, many people enthused about the Cribbs Causeway complex when it opened, but there isn’t anything there that Gloucester cannot offer. Leisure facilities are also on the increase. A new leisure centre is currently being built, but currently we are without a major sports complex. There are two ten-pin bowling alleys, and a six-screen cinema. A karting centre has just re-opened, and there are plans for another cinema/leisure complex in the Docks area. Nightlife does let Gloucester down, with only a handful of clubs to choose from. I am not into clubbing but I believe that Jumping Jacks is the best place to go, and to avoid KC’s like the plague. Cheltenham apparently has a much better choice. Entertainment could be better, as we only real
ly have the Guildhall that bands can play at. We are more likely to see an up-and-coming band than a really famous one, but occasionally a high-profile concert is staged. For the really big bands, Bristol and Birmingham are not that far away, so you usually end up there. Comedy is better, with a regular comedy night at the Guildhall, and many famous comedians visiting throughout the year. Sport in Gloucester is sadly overlooked by the national press. We may have a dire football team, but this is Rugby country! Gloucester is home to one of the best teams in the country, with surely the most passionate supporters. Anyone who has stood in the “Shed” at Kingsholm stadium will know what I mean. Our cricket team is also improving remarkably, last year we won all three major one-day competitions. Read any newspaper however, and you will be lucky to find a brief report on Gloucester’s latest rugby/cricket win. Naturally, not everything is great. There are many different areas of the City that you wouldn’t want to go in the dark, with the Park being one of the most common-place for assaults. The general atmosphere in the City centre can be quite depressing at times. Things have got better following the recent pedestrianisation, with entertainment regularly provided, but sadly, most people just walk straight past. If Gloucester is to become a major City, the investment needs to continue, but the residents also need to have a more positive attitude. We will never encourage people to our City if we continually slag it off. With its fairly cheap standard of living, Gloucester is the ideal place to live. There is all the bustle of a large City, with the added bonus that a ten minute drive will see you in wonderful countryside, with breathtaking views.
I know Gloucester is an historic town with a lot of heritage and nice places to visit but as someone who lived and worked there I never really want to return. I recently went back to the area to visit friends and family and I found empty shops, the same drunks still hanging around after I left 2 years ago and the same gloomy look on everyone`s face. The only good thing about it is the college Gloscat. In a town where shops and town centre cinemas are turned into pubs, a real pain when it`s your nearest cinema and you have an hours bus journey to get there. The leisure centre is closed completely while being rebuilt with no alternative public access sports centre. In 2 years it had changed out of all recognition, 70% of people I knew had lost their jobs and had been out of work for more than 12 months. It is a town unable to rely on tourism for employment as it`s tourism is very specialised. It is no wonder most people prefer to travel the extra distance to Cheltenham where the atmosphere is more relaxed and you don`t fear for your belongings as you walk down the street.
Gloucester is a city which is built upon, and crippled by, its past. The desire to hold on to its history has meant the city has never developed to the extent it should have done. From a historical point of view this is fine, but as a place to live and grow in, it falls down. It should by now be a modern thriving city attracting people to its vibrance. But it persists in keeping its feet solidly tucked inside its wellingtons, and stubbornly refuses to try shoes. Much is made of the Docks area of the city, with its huge old flour mills and small shopping and eating area. The mills are preserved in their original state and have been used as a location for a number of films. A few years ago they cleared away the entrance to the Docks in preparation for a new building. In any other city in Europe, this would have been the chance to construct something memorably artistic and interesting. To lead people into the basin of the Docks and make them feel they were entering an area of experience. A landmark which would stand unique and draw tourists to the city. But what happens? They decide to relocate the Courts there, and proceed to construct the most monstrous building in the whole of the South West. It's not awful because they tried something new and it backfired, it's awful because it is nothing more than a huge pile of standard sized bricks. Like a job lot from Fred Smith's the Builders. Who needs art when you can have bricks? If you want shopping, you should go to Cheltenham, which has a far wider range of interesting shops, in a far more pleasant environment to shop. To be fair they have tried to liven up the centre with street theatre and bands but the overbearing glumness remains. A walk round the centre on a Sunday afternoon is likely to be interrupted by manic skateboarders, shouting 'couples' and dodgy characters who haven't washed since decimalisation. There is no doubt that the Cathedral is a beautiful building
and shortly to become the setting for the Harry Potter film. But, not surprisingly, there are voices raised to stop this happening, with threats of picketing the filming. This is because they feel that the book embraces, and does not condemn witchcraft. Gloucester is so bound by its past, and its desire to leave things untouched, that it is slowly cutting off its own blood supply. The football team is sinking faster than an Elephant in porridge and the cricket team 'Gloucestershire' avoids the city like the plague. The one sporting beacon for the city is the rugby team, which has gone from strength to strength since taking on Phillipe St Andre as coach. Finishing third in the Premiership last season was a remarkable achievement for a team that flirted with relegation in previous years. It is a shame that the team don't get the coverage in the national press that they deserve. To get a flavour of the Gloucester person, spend an afternoon in 'The Shed' with the true locals. If you're interested in the Cathedral, history and being within easy access of the wonderful countryside of the Forest of Dean, then make Gloucester one of your destinations soon. If you're after shops, nightlife and easy style then you will find more for you in Cheltenham.
What can I say this place rocks! Situated in a quiet alleyway opposite McDonalds in the town centre of Gloucester, is the Monks Bar. An underground pub/club which is open till 2am. The place is subdued for the early part of the night, and is run be a former dj, who knows exactly what to play in order to help you mellow out. It's situation certainly helps it to feel relaxed and is a superb place to come and chill late on a Friday or saturday night, although saying that it is also situated near to nightclubs, and busier pubs if you do wish to move on. The selection of drinks is pretty much the same as you'd find at many pubs, ie, the whisky's, the beers, and such things as vodka etc. It also has a pool table, and on certain nights includes local dj's. If you wish to enter the monk's bar after 11pm though it will cost you £2, but before then entry is free. The first thing that will probably hit you about the monks bar, when you enter is the lighting, it is dimly lit, which adds to the atmosphere, and also makes the place a lot easier to relax in, also later on the place gets busier, and becomes more like one of the busier pubs, so you can relax in it, and enjoy socialising.
As a resident of the city for almost 20 years , I have never come across a city with so much history , culture and hertitage.Last couple of years has seen the sad decline in the livestock and shopping markets in the city centre , and the outward spread of retail parks into the greenbelt taking the attention away from the hive of culture in the city. Gloucester has so much to offer it's residents and visitors all year round , Historic Docks , The Waterways museum , The Beartrix Potter , The Catherdal . There is so much to do for younger people there is Minasota fats , cinema , toys'r'us , pizza hut and burger kind literally a stones throw from each other just 10 minutes walk from the city centre . So if you've got a spare afternoon it's well worth a visit . The 50 p Park and Ride buses go from the livestock market making it accessible to all and reducing congestion the the city .
Gloucester is a town piled high with historical importance. It has been an important dock for well over 200 years and continues to attract man people. The docks are stunning with beautiful, converted warehouses, in my oppinion suitable for penthouse flats but only occupied by buisnesses. In one of the many warehouses there is the National Waterways museum. It gives an informative insight into the history of britains waterways. Also another main attraction of Gloucester is its huge Cathederal, Also of huge historic importance. If you are not into the hstoric or architectual site of towns, there is always sport to think about. With rugby and cricket of high standards played regually thare is always something else to pass a quite evening.