Monday 13 June 2011

The Forest of Dean

Question: When driving from Bristol to Gloucestershire, both places in England the last time I looked, why do you have to enter another country to get there? Why do you have to pay £5.70 to cross the toll bridge into Wales? Why do you then drive 15 minutes through the Cymru countryside before re-entering England (thankfully minus another toll)?

Nah, we can't figure it out either, but let's just say it caused much amusement on Saturday. Well £5.70 worth of amusement, that is.

It's true I have somewhat of an uneasy relationship with superlatives but I'm not afraid to say that we had a FANTASTIC time in the Forest of Dean. First up there was a spot of sightseeing at Symonds Yat, which is tucked into a bend of the River Wye. It produces these kind of views across the green and pleasant lands of the Forest and Wye Valley:

Then we retired to Anita and Gary's house, Rose Cottage, the kind of place that in some people - me included - causes spontaneous weeping.

Later, Anita's dad and his wife joined us for dinner at the kind of country pub that England does so well.

Much, much later (and after excessive imbibing of alcoholic beverages), we joined the handful of regulars to do silly things with the publican's hair.

There was indeed the 5.00am wake-up call on Sunday when we drove to the famous Cheltenham Racecourse for a carboot sale. Yes, any time is a good time to shop.

Shame the weather gods were en vacances because from the moment we arrived, it peed down. Hard angry drops that provided the sound-track to our haggling and purchasing. Sadly it meant fewer traders but those that did show were, unsurprisingly, keen to offload their goods as quickly as possible (case in point: the five cool old suitcases we snaffled for 14 quid). Photos to come this week.

We called it quits about 9.30am and retired to the evil empire of McDonalds (the only place open) to drink hot chocolate and plan our next outing. A lovely weekend and a painful reminder of how much I'm going to miss the friends I've made in Blighty.

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