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Cirencester, Gloucestershire: The capital of the cotswolds.

NB. I have also submitted a similar article at Cut Out + Keep.

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The best thing about Cirencester (or Corinium) is its history. It was the second largest Roman town and has a bunch of historical sites in the town and surrounding villages.

On Cotswold Avenue is the site of a Roman amphitheatre. It’s still buried but retains its shape. It’s great for a walk and for taking photos from the top!

The Corinium Museum in Cirencester is, as you’d expect, dedicated to the Roman history of the town but also national history. If you have a couple of hours free, it’s well worth a visit.

There are a few parks in Cirencester, but probably the most well known two are The Abbey Grounds, situated behind The Parish Church – which is beautiful inside, really worth a visit.

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In the Abbey Grounds grounds you will find a lake, impressive trees and greenery and a section of ancient Roman Wall. The other is Cirencester Park, home to the Bathurst Family.

Both have beautiful landscapes. I enjoy walking around both, sometimes taking a book to read or a sketch book along with me. Also both are great for a picnic and the former for a bicycle ride.

We also have a castle, well technically it’s an old barracks, but is known as The Castle to locals. There’s a Victorian era outdoor swimming pool nearby.

castle

The Sundial Theatre, part of Cirencester College, (where I studied) hosts drama and musical events by community groups and professional companies. I’ve seen quite a few shows there, mostly amateur productions.

Shopping

The high street in Cirencester is home to the typical high street shops, such as New Look and Dorothy Perkins. But I’d recommend checking out the back streets: Swan Yard and Black Jack street which are home to the more independent shops and have lots of nooks and crannies to explore. Be sure to visit Pick-A-Pot-And-Paint, where you choose your ceramic from their extensive range, paint it on site and they glaze and fire it for you. There is also a lovely art shop (Coln Gallery), an independent book shop specialising in children’s books (Octavia’s Bookshop) and Simply Crystals (selling gemstones and jewellery). There’s so much to explore here.

swanyardYou should also take a look down the bottom end of the high street and visit some of the independent shops down Cricklade Street, like Manns which is a family run jewellers and Sew N’ Sew.

A couple of my favourite shops for more unique gifts are Lock Stock & Barrel and Surprises both found in The Market Place.

If you’re bringing children with you or are a kid at heart… or perhaps love Lego (like I do!), be sure to visit Crocodile (a traditional toy shop) in Cirencester’s Wool Market, which has been in Cirencester for as long as I can remember. They sell a wide range of toys and have a Lego room on the 1st floor. ;)

It’s worth noting that The Wool Market isn’t actually a market (it was once upon a time)! However, a market is on in the high street on Monday and Friday.

Eat

There are various caf├ęs in Swan Yard and Black Jack street. The Swan Yard cafe has to be one of my favourites, with it’s roof terrace giving great views of that part of town. Sometimes Jessie Smith’s Bistro have a BBQ outside their butcher shop.

If you’re willing to splash out a bit, Made By Bob in The Corn Hall is fantastic. I quite often go there for breakfast.

The Black Horse on Castle Street has become my local over the years. Great for a bite to eat or to grab a drink and hang out with friends. Another notable, is The Crown in West Market Place

A trip to Cirencester isn’t complete without a visit to the Candyman, who sell traditional tuck shop sweets as well as some American favourites – like Twinkies mmm.

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Otherwise, there’s the Cornish Pasty Shop off the main high street and plenty of coffee shops.

Arts and Crafts

The two parks I mentioned are perfect for crafting in. Whether you like drawing, painting, photography or something like knitting even, would be perfect to do there.

New Brewery Arts in Cirencester (which as the name suggests used to be a brewery) is a craft and art exhibition for local crafters and artists to display and sell there work. If you’re looking to learn a new craft skill this is the place to be, they offer various courses and one off workshops.

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There’s a craftmans market in The Corn Hall on a regular basis. Which is worth a look. I’ve gotten many things from local crafters there.

There’s one lady who sells stained glass ornaments, I have a few that hang on my Christmas tree and one in my bedroom window.

Souvenirs

Perhaps something Roman themed from the museum? Or also inside the museum you’ll also find the tourist information centre, where you can buy Cirencester based nik-naks and postcards.

Where Next?

There are many villages to visit around Cirencester, a few of my favourites to go to are Bourton-On-The-Water (home to the only King Penguins in England), Lechlade (with its own Christmas shop), Bibury (be sure to visit the trout farm!) and Burford (which has a wildlife park nearby).



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I’m a DVD/Blu Ray collector. I like to own physical media over electronic copies of anything, including books and music. However, my growing collection has taken over the living room.

Here’s one of our bookcases – the tidiest one!
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Problem is, even though our bookcases are generally tidy. I can never find the DVD or Blu Ray I want to watch. There’s no organisation. When we moved into this house, we simply piled them on, along with our books.

Resulting in some shelves like this:
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I had thought about putting them into DVD binders or into filing boxes, after reading numerous ideas about this on a bunch of blogs about DVD organisation and media organisation. However, I like my collection on show. Especially to showcase some of the signed items I have.

I decided to rearrange them all into ‘genres’, another idea was alphabetically but when I go to watch a film it’s usually with a type in mind rather than a title.

Genres I used were:

  • Superhero movies – Marvel, DC Comics, etc
  • Horror/Thriller
  • Action/Adventure
  • Children’s/Disney/Pixar
  • Sci-Fi
  • Anything by Joss Whedon ;) (although Marvel’s Avengers Assemble and Cabin in the Woods went in their generic categories)
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Firefly
    • Serenity
    • Dollhouse
    • Angel
    • When it eventually comes out on DVD/Blu Ray – Marvel’s Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D
  • Romantic Comedies/Comedies
  • TV Shows/Documentaries

While re-arranging, I also purged my collection. Finding some duplications in my collection!

I ended up needing to move some of my Stephen King book collection (he’s one of my favourite authors), to the small bookcase in the small bedroom. At some point, my plan is to re-vamp the bookcase, it’s vintage and has been in my family since my uncle was young, so it’s over 60 years old.

Currently, it’s painted blue as this was the colour scheme of my bedroom as a teenager! No ideas on what to do with it, specifically, yet. – More on that another day :)

Here’s how that shelf I posted above looks now – so much better. :)
NB. This is an in progress photo.

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I love vintage items of furniture – recently I purchased a vintage foot stool20140622_181456 that I aim to re-upholster once I find a fabric I like for it and this vintage writing desk / bureau…

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Not a fan of the colour scheme (bit of an understatement), but my plan is to strip the paint off and re-stain the wood. The idea with this writing desk is it will replace Artur’s current computer desk in our spare bedroom.

Day 1.

I had a few options available to me to get rid of the green. As said before, my plan was to strip the paint off and re-stain the wood, but now I might re-paint it. Which, will still require me to strip the paint somewhat.

Stripping the paint

There were a couple of options I considered for this:

  • The chemical method – Using traditional ‘paint stripper’ from our garden centre / DIY store
  • Sanding

I went for the latter option(!), it was harder than I anticipated and I ended up chipping the wood slightly while sanding! There must have been a small crack ib the wood, that came away while sanding.

So, I had my first go at using wood filler with this project! It was relatively simple to use and the main problem was trying to match the food filler to the colour of the wood.

As I used wood filler, I was no longer able to re-stain the wood as an option. :-( So, I browsed painting ideas on Pinterest and found a dark red and also a beige colour scheme I liked. Artur prefers the latter.

Day 2.

Painting