Walking the fields around Cheltenham Racecourse is one of my all time favourite things to do. Stomping about those ground is like my therapy. It’s one of a handful of places I go to when I’m feeling out of sorts or I’m seeking an answer to something or simply when I need to put my thoughts back into order. On this day, after what felt like months of bizarrely mild and miserable Autumn weather, Mother Nature had blessed us with the most beautiful day. The kind of day that makes your heart sing, where the weather is glorious and the world fields at peace.
Although the to-do list was beckoning I gifted myself a long lunch break and with camera in hand trundled on up to my usual spot. I had however forgotten that the Cheltenham Races were on that day. Hmm… I had visions of gridlock nightmares and no parking to be found but actually the opposite was the case. Because everyone was already in the Racecourse instead what I found was more akin to a deserted town in an old western move. It’s a strange phenomenon that I’ve noticed during race times. In the build up to everyone arriving at the racecourse the atmosphere and hubbub of activity is almost electric and then once everyone’s inside the town is left in an eerie silence.
I decided for a bit of a change to take the path up towards the Ellenborough Park Hotel, although I shall forever probably call it by its previous name the Hotel de la Bere. Incredibly seeing as I’d been walking these field nye on fifteen years I’d only actually been up this way once before. And on this day for the first time me and my camera ventured all of the way up to the hotel itself.
Now I’ve never actually been to the hotel but it’s infamous in Cheltenham for being a beautiful spot to hold a wedding and I have to say, finally being faced with it up close I certainly can’t argue with the status it’s been given. It was a spectacle to behold indeed. The collection of classically Cotswold style buildings stand like its own little hamlet depicting the epitome of quintessential Englishness. The scene in front of me conjured up images of English fairytales and romantic happenings. I suddenly found myself wanting to know all of its secrets.
As I meandered back down from the hotel towards the racecourse pondering over what tales those buildings must hold within the mortar of their walls, I could hear the commentator over the tannoy in the distance belting out the happenings of the current race and a roar from the crowd as the winner crossed the finish line. It seemed so strange to me that just yards away were ten of thousands of people all excited and pensive anticipating their fortune left unbeknownst in the hands, well hooves of a horse and yet here I was wandering the most beautiful land and soaking up the most glorious Autumn afternoon.
We don’t have enough Autumn days like this in England. When I scroll through umpteen numbers of photos on Instagram of stunningly sunny fall days in other parts of the world I always feel a slight tinge of sadness that Autumn for us usually brings dampness and gloom. So days like this day, well, they’re a rare kind of magic that I feel I have to immerse myself in completely, savouring every last glint of that magnificent golden light because another one may evade our grasp for a very long time indeed.