Is a night out in Gloucester better than Cheltenham?
LAST Friday my wife and I went out for dinner with friends at the Tigers Eye at the Old Bell in Southgate Street. The food and ambience were both superb.
This gathering, as many before, was organised by our good friend Sal.
Like me, Sal works in Cheltenham, and indeed she lives on the outskirts of Cheltenham. Therefore, for most of the time I have known her, our socialising has taken place in Cheltenham.
However, in her formative years, Sal more often frequented Gloucester and, of late, she has started to gravitate back into the city for the purposes of socialising.
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She is a great ambassador for the city, encouraging and cajoling her Cheltenham colleagues to cross the dreaded barrier of the Golden Valley to give it a try.
This is something that I also try to do – particularly when recruiting groups to accompany me on my "research" pub crawls around the city.
Initially, suggesting to someone from Cheltenham that they should spend an evening in Gloucester is met with a similar degree of enthusiasm as if you had suggested that they spend the evening in a sewer works.
However, once you actually manage to drag them kicking and screaming into the city they find that they actually rather enjoy it.
It has been both of our experiences that these reluctant travellers quickly warm to the city's charms. They appreciate the great diversity that we have in pubs and restaurants, they enjoy the relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere, and they marvel at the wealth of history.
Almost invariably, they are keen to return.
For too long Gloucester people seem to have regarded their city as somehow inferior to the grandeur of Regency Cheltenham.
It is time we started to appreciate what we have and speak with pride about the good things the city has to offer and to encourage others, even those from Cheltenham, to give it a try.
If we all showed a bit more pride in our city we might find that others begin to give it the credit it deserves, and its reputation as the place to go for a quality night out could go from strength to strength.