Brief: Provide an insider's perspective on the Cotswolds for travel site www.morenativethanthenatives.com
Delivery: Disrupt current perceptions of the Cotswolds by showcasing some of the more progressive aspects of local life.
Proud of Stroud: Welcome to the Cotswold Town Like No Other
When imagining the Cotswolds it’s natural to conjure up images of sprawling lavender fields, sun-drenched yellow-stone cottages and twee countryside folk. It’s true that there’s a lot of beauty and old-school charm around this part of the world. However, a mere hour and a half train ride from Paddington will lead you to Stroud, one of the Cotswolds’ quirkiest and most popular destinations.
For many years the town was synonymous with the alternative. Alternative food, alternative shops and an alternative way of life. However, with the increase in people living more organically, sustainably and ethically, outsiders are being to learn what natives already knew: Stroud was simply ahead of its time. Now Stroud is over-flowing with artists, writers, celebrities and people looking for a quieter, yet fulfilling, life outside of London. They’ve come to the right place.
Here are just five of Stroud’s best bits:
1. Raise The Roof
From its humble beginnings of a childhood dream, Nell and Toti Gifford created Giffords Circus, a beloved summer tradition that returns to its hometown of Stroud every year. Clowns, trapeze artists and a live band combined with a wonderful comedic flair, set to a different theme each year, make for a great night out for the whole family. Shows are often sold out and this hugely entertaining show has to be seen to truly understand the unique magic that keeps visitors coming back year after year.
2. A Rather Jolly Nice Place to be
What was once a dilapidated filling station on the main road from Stroud to Cirencester is now one of the best brunch spots in Stroud. Killer coffee, delicious burgers and drool-worthy bacon baps await you. All to be enjoyed in cosy heated yurts or, in warmer weather, in the picturesque picnic meadow. With the focus on local, organic and homemade, and a lovely little deli selling local artisan food and drink, the Jolly Nice Farmshop and Cafe is one gem not to be missed.
3. On Common Ground
The National Trust commons of Minchinhampton and Rodborough, along with nearby Selsley Common, sit high above the Stroud Valley and offer breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding area. Between Marking Day in May and the end of summertime in October, around 500 cows, 5 horses and a donkey, named Alfie, roam free. It's not uncommon to come face to face with grazing Highlands or to be held up in a traffic jam as cars wait for the herd to leisurely cross the road.
In the spring and summer months, or any time of year to be honest, a walk on the common wouldn’t be complete with a stop off at Winstones Ice-Cream factory. One of the longest running ice-cream companies in the country Winstones is simply scrummy. Definitely a welcome reward at the end of a good old stomp.
4. In the Market For Something Special
Farmers’ Markets are pretty commonplace in towns these days, but the multi award-winning Stroud Farmers’ Market definitely tops the list of must-do Saturday morning activities for the natives. Some of the Cotswolds’ best loved artisan food and drink brands sell their fabulous goodies each
week. Choose from a wide variety of organic fruit, veg, bread and dairy products along with gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian produce to enjoy on the hoof or at home. Insider tip — get there early for the best of the best.
5. Oh Hoppy Days!
You can’t get more local than the Stroud Brewery which makes its own organic beers from barley grown on the hills of the Cotswolds. The Brewery hosts a family friendly bar, from Thursday to Saturday with live, acoustic music on Saturday nights adding to the welcoming, laid-back vibe. The beer is matched only by the delicious sourdough pizzas served up by Velo Bakery. Great beer, great pizza — what more could you want or need? Kids clear out around 8pm which is a fair arrangement. Families get a kid-friendly meal and adults get grown-up time later on.
All in all, Stroud is a gem all of its own and its uniqueness sets it apart from your average Cotswold town. Balancing its location in an Area of Outstanding Beauty with progressive ideas and creativity, there’s so much more that make the natives fiercely “proud to be Stroud”. Not that they’re likely to share them all with you. After all, you might not want to leave.