The drive down to Loughborough for Cat’s latest University interview was much more pleasant than the Derby trip, although they are pretty close to each other, presumably because we weren’t trying to force our way through rush hour traffic.
And here I’ll make a quick ‘by the way’ for my American readers (Hi, Viv!) – Loughborough is pronounced “Luff-burrer”, not “Lowg Bo Ro”.
On registration, Cat was given an interview time two hours later, which gave her enough time to come and check out the town with me. Yay for me, since she’s marvellous company. Plus – hey, sunny day! Win all round.
One of the first things we spotted was that there seems to be a large (or at least ‘noticeable’) Chinese community in Loughborough, as evidenced by, well, the large number of Chinese people we passed, as well as various establishments like the Yi Ming chinese supermarket here. The town centre is but a ten minute walk from the campus, maybe even five if you’re not stopping all the time to go “Oo, look at the interestingly shaped and coloured buildings yonder, behind Sainsbury’s!”
– in amongst the usual chain stores, like this big Costa on the corner just opposite the town hall. The interesting mix of shops continued throughout our exploration, and was a big factor in our enjoyment of the place.
This odd statue, over on the right there, graced the Market Place nearby, and appears to be a bloke sitting on a bollard, wearing nothing but a strategic leaf (a sycamore, I believe, for you tree fans out there) and a sock, which he seems to be extremely impressed by. Later Googling found that this is indeed “The Sock”, created by the sculptress Shona Kinloch, having been commissioned by Charnwood Borough Council “to provide an attractive feature and focus of public interest”.
His sock is symbolic of Loughborough’s hosiery industry, and the rest of the sculpture contains images from the town’s history. Apparently, The Sock was far from universally admired when unveiled but “hearts have warmed to it and it is now a well loved feature of the Loughborough scene”. We loved it. And now here’s a big old shot of the Market Place, looking lovely in the Spring sunshine…
Further up a little way past the flags and the naked chappie with one sock, we came across The Reel Cinema (see what they did there?), which impressed Cat because (a) it looked like a cinema from fifty years ago, and (b) the names of the films currently showing had obviously been put up there by the highly technical method of someone climbing a ladder with some adhesive lettering. In light of (a), lets try looking at the cinema in sepia, shall we?
Just above this time warp, we found Cat’s favourite shop of all. I don’t think I need to tell you anything other than the name of this shop for you to be able to judge its attractiveness and wow factor – yes, its…
The Cheesecake Shop!
Meanwhile, down at the other end of town, this corner seemed to encompass the place – the white building being a combination of a Chinese Medicine Centre and, of all things, a stationers. Next door sits “The Cheese Cottage”, and emporium of a wide variety of said comestible. Past the cheesy vendors and we’re into Church Gate, which leads unsurprisingly to the parish church. But more of that anon, for what is this delightful establishment? Oh yes indeed! Handmade chocolates, and a chocolate café, where you can sit and enjoy all sorts of hot drinks accompanied by chocolates made to order. Mmmmm. But on to the church, which sat very prettily amongst budding trees. In a month or so, when the trees are in leaf, and the cherry and apples amongst them are full of blossom, I’ll bet it will be a lovely sight. As it was, we found a large number of these harbingers of Spring:I’m sure if I tried I could come up with a snappy title all about birth and death, but to be honest with you I just can’t be arsed tonight. Now, although we took many more photographs (oh so many), I think I’ll limit myself to just this one before Cat and I walk back up to the University for her actual interview – yes, its Cat’s favourite source of lunch again. This time however, they had sold out of her favourite sandwich! Oh noes! But wait, the young whippersnapper behind the counter (whom Cat described as “a puppy!”) offered to make her one from scratch, so hurrays all round.
The interview itself, Cat reports, was her hardest yet, given that they asked her many questions for which she had to think on her feet. She reckons it went quite well, though. The town itself was a big hit with Cat, who said it was the sort of place she’d be really happy living in. Here’s a summing up: