A SLUMMERS GUIDE TO CHELTENHAM

I stayed in Cheltenham last night, largely so that I no longer had the embarrassment of not having been to the National Pub of the Year.  I also wanted to get to grips with a town that never seems as posh as its reputation, particularly if you’ve even been to Whaddon Road or the Adam & Eve.

I booked into Central Studios near the station.  £29 for a room with shared WC, reminiscent of the rural Hungarian hostel Mrs RM and I enjoyed once. Perfect.

A walk along Honeybourne Line, the path of the old railway, is only moderately scary at 7pm, and the street art a bit half-hearted as you approach the High Street.

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Street Art, Cheltenham

It may be the least attractive High Street in the country, along with Durham.  I know that’s because all the interesting (and smart) shops are in Montpellier, but that doesn’t make it any less grim.

As the chain names peter out, you enter Cheltenham’s own little Mill Road or Ancoats at the bottom of the High Street.  Alongside the Beer Guide pubs, there’s this gem.

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The Vine, Cheltenham

Back in the chain-land, I had a very pleasant hour (really) in the company of a professional drinker in the best of the two Spoons (his view as well as mine). Over a £1.85 pint of Gloucester pale (NBSS 3.5) I heard his entertaining complaints about the closure of Spoons drinkers pub I Gloucester, and the falling quality of Curry Night.

Despite an excellent barman who promoted his beers in an engaging way, the Bank House had no diners I could see at 9pm, which is a worrying sign.

My own mission is to find a good Chinese in every town of course, and the west end of the main street revealed this classic. I was drawn to the Wah Dou, a  takeaway version of Pontfaen’s Dyffryn Arms, complete with lovingly handwritten menus and black & white TV. A classic, straight out of the Northern Quarter curry café textbook, or so I thought.

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Wah Dou, Cheltenham

While waiting, I noticed the Adam & Eve was around the corner and couldn’t resist the much lamented Arkells.  This pub was a classic back-street local when in the Beer Guide until a few years ago, under another octogenarian landlady.

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Adam & Eve, Cheltenham

Dot may have gone, but the Adam & Eve is still very close to the archetypal community pub, with skittles, darts matches and a disco as well as determined drinkers.  Four Arkells beers on the bar, of which I’d only heard of Moonlight (NBSS 3).  What’s happened to 2B and 3B ?  I loved it.

My notes say “tinge of ginge”, but I’ve no idea what that means.  Simon Everitt will no doubt solve that riddle.

The Wah Dou produced the first really disastrous Chinese takeaway of the year by the way.  They’re not on Trip Advisor.

I did see the attractive parts of Cheltenham in the morning, but why bore you with those ?

13 thoughts on “A SLUMMERS GUIDE TO CHELTENHAM

  1. Walked the Ridgeway. Every pub in the Wiltshire parts were Arkells. Every pint was god-awful. Nothing pleased me more than when I reached Oxfordshire. Need to check out the Adam and Eve… Nearly made it last year when we went to the Wychwood Festival.

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  2. Walked the Ridgeway. Every pub in the Wiltshire parts were Arkells. Every pint was god-awful. Nothing pleased me more than when I reached Oxfordshire. Need to check out the Adam and Eve… Nearly made it last year when we went to the Wychwood Festival.

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  3. To avoid the crap Chinese next time you are in the area, simply go to the curry house down the road from the railway station. According to the menu it is called Spices.

    Whaddon Road is ace. It is the only place I have seen a foul committed against a City player, the referee wave advantage, play to move on to the other end and City score, at which point the referee sent off the Cheltenham player off from the foul a couple of minutes earlier as the goal was the first break in play. I look forward to going back there when we end up back in the fourth division. Football grounds should not be posh. Not even London Road.

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      1. Yes I can. Even with my preference for Indian over Chinese, it is entirely possible I would have used the same reasoning to arrive at the same decision.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The Adam & Eve was the last but one pub on my final weekender afore lockdown. The last was the tarted-up Railway round the corner for an expensive but nice Thai and local craft pints. The A&E was as good as ever, I arrived at the dot of opening but was still 5th at the bar (something you’re familiar with I believe). I had something pretending to be big hopped in that way family brewers beers never are. Nice though. Within hours the place would’ve been awash with Gold Cup boozers so I consider myself very lucky to have missed them.

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    1. Oddly I was also there the week before lockdown, staying in Gloucester just before the Festival and fearing the worst.

      I’m all for Thai and craft pints. About time I revisited the Adam & Eve, though it’ll never be in the Beer Guide again.

      Simon and I both note this “How did they get in ?” feature, often observed in micropubs that unexpectedly open later than they say but then open up early for regulars anyway.

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