Saturday, July 13, 2013

UK2013: Heading South

It was time to leave Yorkshire and head south to my parents in Gloucestershire. Of course, the day I was to leave Yorkshire, it dawned with bright sun and clear blue skies. So Diane and I took a quick walk back up the path for a look over the valley in the sun.

We found a few minutes to hang out with Diane's cats in the back garden. Here's Ubu, mid-meow.

This is Chloe, who is tiny and a little shy, but she likes the sunshine.

All too soon it was time to catch my train. Diane waved me off at the station. I thoroughly enjoyed our time together, and being able to explore a part of the UK I hadn't known at all. Thanks, Diane!

The train took me from Hebden Bridge back to Leeds. From here I was to get on a bigger train, direct to Cheltenham Spa. I was lucky at Leeds; it's a big station but my inbound and outbound train went from different ends of the same platform - no stairs for me this time! When I got to where I was meant to be, this train promoting the James Bond film 'Skyfall' was parked at the next platform. The whole train was painted like this; each carriage had the '007' although without Bond's image. The train is also officially named 'Skyfall'; it was named on the black plaque you can see at the nose of the train. Pretty cool.

I enjoyed a nice train ride south; read my book and watched the world speed past. We stopped at several cities along the way but soon I was in Gloucestershire. My father picked me up from the station and took me for lunch, after which we headed over to the new Whole Foods store. Anyone reading this who lives in Austin will be well familiar with this grocery store; their headquarters are here. They've been expanding into the UK and have a few stores in London. Cheltenham is (currently) their newest UK store. (Incidentally, I wrote to them about three years prior to this one opening, suggesting they should open one in Cheltenham. Good citizens of Cheltenham; you're welcome!)

It seemed about the same size - maybe a little smaller - than our local South Austin store. Right away I could see the common themes in the branding and presentation of the store, however very few of the products were familiar to me. Whole Foods prides itself on selling local produce, so whereas we get a lot of Central Texas foods, Cheltenham is blessed with a wide array of local produce from Gloucestershire and surrounding counties. In fact the only thing that I spotted that would be sold in Austin was the Amy's range of frozen meals. Not a single other product.

As with the Austin stores, this one has a bar! Highly civilised. I like the stained glass backdrop; very British, if perhaps more London pub than Gloucestershire local. Not too sure about that bar stool though, it looks a bit lower than would be comfortable... The bottles in front, underneath the Champagne, are the UK equivalent of Growlers (4 US pints). I think they called them Flagons, and they held a smidgeon over two UK pints. You can have the bartender fill one from the beer tap and take it home.

That dodgy looking character standing at the bar is my father, who proceeded to purchase a Flagon of Stroud Brewery's finest, which we enjoyed later on that night ;-)

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