So last week on my holiday I decided to head into the nearby city of Cheltenham (which I still cannot pronounce) for a day of shopping! As you can guess my small town isn’t exactly a mecha for getting your shop on. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few cute wee shops here in Broadway but they are definitely aimed at an older, and wealthier, clientele and tend to be based around either home decor or touristy types of items. Nice for browsing, but not what I had in mind.
I wanted to get my SHOP on and hopefully find some more colder weather clothing items such as more jumpers, pants and new boots. Out of these items only the only item I can really afford to buy in Broadway are the boots since we have a store called Pairs that has pretty amazing prices (ultimately I did end up buying myself a pair of black chelsea boots for 49 GBP).
Luckily my in-house gal pal and fellow Globie AJ was also in the mood for some retail therapy, so we made our plans and set off to catch the bus. To our amusement we ended up running into 5 other members of staff (4 Globies and a foreign worker) all of whom were also heading into Cheltenham so we all piled onto the heated bus for the hour and a bit drive.
Once there we separated from one of the Globies who was off to the train station and decided that food was needed. After some looking about we ultimately settled on a Tex-Mex restaurant called Chiquito which was literally the only place in the area that was serving Brunch. Despite the amusing spectacle of watching one of the guys attempt to smother a breakfast burrito in hot sauce both myself and AJ’s food proved to be relatively ‘meh’ in quality with a general lack of flavour being agreed on by both of us in regards to our meals.
After paying the bill we chose to part ways with the rest of the group who had decided to head off to go bowling with plans to start drinking nice and early (a common theme amongst many of my fellow Globies), while AJ and I headed off to get our shop on!
The two main shopping hubs of the city includes the three-storey Primark, which seems to be a staple of all larger British cities, and the two-storey Regent Arcade. These two main shopping locations are surrounded by many smaller privately run businesses as well as quite a few chain stores including the stupidly popular Boots (which doesn’t even sell boots).
Primark proved to be a huge success for AJ who left with a huge variety of bits and bobs, though it proved less successful for me. I find that saving for this whole trip has made me much more money conscious and now I only buy things that I either need badly or absolutely MUST have (in the case of this trip, a Batman jumper). With purchases made we headed to the Arcade next.
To be honest, I am not a huge fan of the Arcade as far as malls go. I just feel like it is severely lacking from the variety standpoint with only a few clothing stores (the biggest of which are H&M and Top Shop) and the rest being either touristy or food vendors.
Needless to say, we both left empty handed and having already been in Cheltenham for four hours, we decided to head home. Sadly, we had just missed the bus and with the next one not coming for another 2 hours, we elected to grab a taxi.
Cheltenham reminds me a lot of Kitchener, a city very close to my home town back in Canada. Both are a weird juxtaposition of classy shopping opportunities and shady side areas that you scamper through to get to the nicer areas.
Once you get through the less than savoury area you are met by the true heart of the city. Street vendors selling flowers, elderly Italian ladies calling out their wares, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee streaming in from the many cafes and restaurants all done up in a white pallet that just oozes the sense of refinement and class.
The outskirts shares this pallet but it seems less chic and more dated with its bars, strip clubs and dance clubs, to which personally I have been to one. When one of the more popular Globies was leaving we threw him a going away party at the oddly named MooMoo Clubroom – but that is a story for another time … or never. Maybe never.
Overall I wouldn’t say to give Cheltenham a complete skip as it does have its charms and areas that I have yet to explore, but I would say that it is on the lower scale of places to visit in the Cotswolds. It seems to be one of those weird cities that receives mixed reactions when you tell people you are headed there with some wrinkling their noses and others immediately wanting to tell you about the time they went. This is definitely one of those places that makes me want to keep my backpack on while I just fly on over.
*NOTE* All of the pictures in this particular post are from Google and belong to their rightful owners.
Next time on Backpacks and Broomsticks: The search for the best cake in Broadway begins!