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Happy Record Store Day

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Six years ago today those crazy folk in the USA conjured up the day of all days for music lovers around the world – the craziest part is that we didn’t think of it first! Celebrating music in it’s finest form we unite on this day with pounds in our pocket and a hop skip and a jump in our step toddling off to our local record store. With the decline of the super giants in this current climate it is time that we invested in what we’ve got left on the highstreet. Independent record stores are here to stay and Rise in Cheltenham is by far my favourite in the Cotswolds. Fashion, music, books and stationary, what’s not to like!

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This music shop has been around for a few years selling cds, books and the occasional music memorabilia, and to be honest I thought it would go down the same route as Zavvi, right down the recession drain. But it has upped its game and tapped into a market that is so dated, but so now. We’re living in the age of  dusting off our vinyls, reliving our heritage and investing into keepsakes, and Rise have hit the market so well in a town that is so eclectic. Cheltenham has its posh parts in Montpellier but also high street names too, so finding a shop like this is a goldmine.

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Me and the boyfriend were putting the world to rights the other day and talking about how retailers overprice charity shop hand me downs and pass them off for vintage, but Rise is well priced, caters for males and females and utilises the best of both worlds with my too passions, music and fashion. Stumbling across a Radiohead vinyl for £6 and difficult to find new releases for about a tenner I could honestly spend hours in this place waiting to find something new. The clothes are beautiful and I couldn’t help tap my toes to the soundtrack playing on the shop floor. Its sister shop in Bristol also holds live gigs now and again and have had the likes of Mumford and Sons and The xx play instore, showing that its passion really does lie in the music and doesn’t shut its doors at 5pm.

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I’ve never been one for collecting vinyls, this one time I had a thing for stickers, so maybe this could be the time to invest in something new and try my hand at djing with music that not only sounds great but looks beautiful too. Not only is this a chance to ditch the digital downloads and buy into music in its puritst form, it’s about buying from an independent music store right on my doorstep. Oh yeah, the website is very cool too, ok geek moment over.

Teacakes and Talk factoid: Rise was voted as the Best Independent Music Retailer in the 2010 Music Week Awards.

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Black Books Cafe Stroud

It’s a Sunday, our good old roast was delayed and I was in need of a frame so popping into Stroud was essential after my country walk around the village to get the Sunday newspaper. How very prim and proper. The reality of it was that I was woken up by a text message at half six in the morning and in need of some decent coffee, of course the other bits were on the list too but I was more interested in my caffeine fix. After seeing my cousin Kelly over Easter she was telling me about her latest venture in Stroud, The Black Books cafe, which has been around for quite some time now.

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And after hearing all about it I thought to pay a visit and appreciate just what a brilliant idea it is. Coffee, cake and books – you’re onto a winner. Dragging my mum to the top of town in the old Soap and Suds building, which is a beautiful art deco extraordinaire, I walked into the cafe in amazement at just how big it was and how unique it was. Old leather sofas, kitsch decorations, books from ceiling to floor and a tea list the size of Manhattan it really is a treasure of Stroud.

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Opting for a vanilla coffee and mum an orange juice we revelled in the classical music and diversity of people in the Black Books Cafe. Computer enthusiasts making the most of the free wi-fi, family, arty types and then the two peas in a pod (me and mum) it just goes to show that Stroud really is a melting pot of culture.

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The coffee was creamy but not too sweet and I was certainly eying up the cakes on the counter a treat, I’ll just have to stop by another time. The gingerbread syrup is also on my next to try list. The tables were decorated with colourful old pages and the chairs were so comfy you could sit there for hours. Not too pricey and it certainly beats going to a chain coffee shop, sticking by the ‘shop local, be local’ ethos. Definitely worth the trek up to the top of Stroud. At the end of the day I never did get that frame, but I certainly got some lovely indulgent coffee.

 

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Cotswolds Events: This Weekend

Ahead of the big reveal for the Teacakes and Talk show line up launching this Saturday, here’s some events to look forward to this weekend in the Cotswolds. 

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Stroud Ceilidhs Present Bedlam at the Stroud Sub Rooms – Pulsating, fiery and at times sensitive, Bedlam are without doubt one of the most exciting and highly acclaimed dance bands on the scene. They blend traditional British, French and self penned tunes with driving rhythms and powerful harmonies to create their unique and highly inspiring sound. The very popular Phil Bassingdale is calling. 8pm £10.

Vintage Handkerchiefs Exhibition at the Museum in the Park – This delightful exhibition shows handkerchiefs spanning the decades of the 1920s to the 1960s, all from the private collection of artist Marion Mitchell. Marion bought her first ‘vintage’handkerchief in the late 1960s at Leicester Flea market. She was studying Fashion and Textiles at the local art college and was fascinated by the vibrant colours and patterns of the elegant printed fabric squares. Over the years, she built up a beautiful and eclectic collection, full of vivid and varied colours, motifs and designs which echo the changing fashions of decades past. Runs until 21 April. Followed by a Printed Textiles Family Worlshop with Liz Lippiatt at Studio Seven at the Museum in the Park 2.30-4.30pm.

Art and Photography Workshop with Peter Scott at Slimbridge Wetland Centre, 9.30am Saturday and Sunday.

Wooden Horse playing at the Prince Albert – Comprised of the powerful vocals and guitar of Jamies Knight and the bottleneck and finger-picking skills of Ben Church, this duo use various instruments and arrangements to perform a mix of country blues, bluegrass, Americana and original, all filled with classic harmonies and great playing.

Vintage and Craft Fair at Gloucester’s Blackfriars priory which is just one pound for adults and children get in for free and that’s from 10am-5pm at Blackfriars Priory, Gloucester. Brimming with vintage treasures, handmade goodies and live entertainment I’ll be sure to report back on that one here.

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Afternoon Tea at Cowley Manor

As a belated Mother’s Day present I treated my dear mum to afternoon tea at Cowley Manor. It’s something she’s wanted to do for a while and as a newbie myself until earlier this year I’ve come to appreciate the tradition of afternoon tea. It’s something us British do very well, especially in the Cotswolds, and after toying between two different locations I came to decide on this one. Featured in Vogue magazine for its best boutique outside of London, award-winning spa and its five star rave reviews as one of the hot-spot hotels in the are, the contemporary interior with a classic exterior invited me in with its bright colours and modern decor.

Pulling up the driveway of the manor house it soon came to my attention that this surprise location was no surprise to my mum, for she had visited the manor house in her childhood days as a brownie, but of course since its multi-million pound renovations some years ago, Cowley Manor is quite the ticket. Allured by its cow print seats, how very fitting, and paper mache faux animal figurines it had a certain charm to it that I’d never seen before.

Choosing a pretty petite table in the bar-cum-dinning area we didn’t foresee the size and scale of the afternoon tea to come. Unlike my previous visit to Ellenborough Park where you could hand select what tea you wanted, at Cowley Manor you were stuck with traditional Earl Grey, but champagne was on the menu of course if you wanted (shame I was driving, otherwise it would have made for quite an experience). Served up on a three tier cake stand, just how it should be, we indulged in four types of finger sandwiches; egg, ham and mustard, cucumber and my favourite cream cheese and salmon, this afternoon tea had a twist in the form of an espresso cup-sized mushroom soup which was delicious. Next it was onto the traditional cream and jam scones, fresh from the oven and still warm they crumbled in your mouth with lashings of toppings, complemented very well by the copious amounts of tea. And for the pier de resistance the selection of cakes and fancies, this was by far the best part. Food envy by all the onlookers with there skinny salads, the luminous pink battenburgs and mini chocolate eclairs were presented with a unique take on a classic, with the millionaires shortbread and bakewell tart forming a delicious quartet of sweets that mum couldn’t quite finish off. That’s the thing with afternoon tea, the portions look minuscule upon first glance but after finishing each later one by one you soon before rather full, but with a sweet satisfaction in the most stunning of locations.

Going for a post afternoon tea stroll we glanced at the manor house shop that stocked local produce and had a peek at the spa and outdoor pool that looked simply inviting. I can only imagine what kind of relaxation treatments you would walk away with from the famous spa. Then heading back to the car my eyes were fixated on the dozens of Hunter Wellingtons waiting to be borrowed for country walk, these are definitely on my wish list so my form of borrowing would last a little longer than a weekend break (I jest of course). Despite the down pour of rain afternoon tea at Cowley Manor was a delight for the eyes and the tummy, and definitely sits on my must visit list of the Cotswolds – especially if your from the bustling city in need of a country retreat.

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A Day At The Races

Being a country girl all my life I have always wanted to go to the Cheltenham races just down the road from me and at the age of 22 this was my year. The weather was unpredictable, the stakes on the horses were just so and the cider was flowing alongside the fine champagne, Pimms and pork rolls. As a first time race goer my tactic for choosing a winning horse was based on what name took my fancy, as I’m sure it is for many people, and sadly this tactic well and truly failed. One fellow attendee went by what outfit they liked the best and that one worked to a tee as the horse went on to win the whole Gold Cup!

Getting the train from Stonehouse to Cheltenham the streets were buzzing and the double decker buses were a great help when escorting us to the famous race grounds for just a couple of pounds. Starting the day off with a hearty bacon sandwich and a Guinness, it was the St Patrick’s Day celebration after all, we strolled to the promenade of the races and indulged on cinnamon and maple waffles and winter Pimms. Following our losing streak between the three of us we sipped on Processco in the cosmopolitan bar and restaurant Copa, a strawberry daiquiri in Vodka Revolutions and one of the lads endured a spontaneous massage in All Bar One, easing the post race strain away.

There was such an atmosphere to the Cheltenham Races and it’s brilliant to think that it’s right on my doorstep, and even more bizarre when you see all these celebrities flocking to our hometown. From Russell Brand to Alan Carr and even Kate and Wills it was well certainly the place to lay your bets and don your best monocle and hat. Would recommend it to anyone by far, just make sure you save up beforehand to really make the most of it and eat, drink and be merry to your hearts content.

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