Today marks 2 years in our new home in the Forest of Dean. The move away from East Yorkshire, family and friends, was planned and chosen, but none the easier for that. But it was the right time and, we hoped, the right place. Somewhere to settle for our retirement. A place where we could walk and become part of a community whilst living in a village surrounded by forest.
It’s proved to be everything we hoped for. We arrived in the middle of winter. So far, we’ve had one day with a dusting of snow and a few morning frosts. Not bad for two years in England. We’ve discovered over 50 walks we can take from our front door, with a public footpath leading into the forest about 80 yards from the front of our house. The local shop and post office serves our immediate needs and we can reach it most days with a walk through lanes that take us off the road.
There’s a medical centre with doctors and a pharmacy; essential as you grow older. The local garage services and repairs the car. There’s a decent fish and chip shop, a good hairdresser catering to both our needs, and a local pub at the bottom of the hill. That’s just been taken over by new management and food will be served there soon.
The village hall is a hub of local activity, with the drama society putting on a few performances each year; entertaining and comic. I’ve become a trustee of the charity that overseas the venue and we meet monthly to discuss how we can improve and better use this wonderful facility.
Valerie is a member of the local bowls club and enjoys busy summer seasons, travelling to local clubs for matches with her teams.
The day started at a reasonable hour as I rose just before 08:00 and spent an hour or so in my study, writing the second book in my Generation Mars series. I managed around 1300 words before breakfast. Afterwards, we both returned to our computers and Valerie continued her research for our family trees whilst I turned out another 1200 words for the book and dealt with emails, Facebook, etc.
Just before we were due to set out for lunch, Sid Phelps popped by for our signatures to nominate him as the Green Party candidate for local council elections. He’s a local man with plenty of knowledge of the forest, so ideal for the role.
We donned walking shoes, stuffed our ordinary shoes in the small backpack, and set off for the Royal Spring, where we’d booked a table for lunch. It’s an interesting walk about 2 miles away, with climbs and descents along tracks, paths, some lanes and a couple of sets of concrete steps.
The sun was occasionally present on our trip up to the pub and we had a good walk, arriving with the feeling that we earned our lunch. A quick stop at one of the outside tables to change our walking shoes for ordinary footwear and then into the bar to be greeted by landlady, May.
We were seated in the porch, with views over the valley of the River Wye, and May brought our bottle of celebratory Prosecco whilst we chose our meals. I indulged in the wild boar sausages and Valerie, who doesn’t eat meat, plumped for the day’s roast, without the meat, of course. The food was, as always, very tasty and, once we’d finished our wine, we ended with white chocolate cheesecake. Wonderful.
The walk back was by a slightly different route, since we were no longer concerned about the time. A little further but full of interest, even though the sun was now in hiding behind grey clouds. On the way, we popped into the local pub at the bottom of the hill leading up to our house, as some locals in the Royal Spring had mentioned that the new management of the Jovial Colliers were doing a Sunday Lunch tomorrow. Normally, one meal out a week is more than enough for us, but we want to support local ventures, so we went in to book a table. We discovered booking was unnecessary as this is an experimental effort, to see what sort of response they get.
So, another lunch tomorrow. That will see the month out for us as far as meals out are concerned! Whilst there, a young woman arrived looking for the new proprietor, Matt, as he’d offered to help her move a piano into her cottage up the road. He was otherwise occupied and not home, so we volunteered to help as the place was on the way up the hill back to our home. With six of us around the piano, we eased it out of the van and into place in the house, meeting another couple of new neighbours in the process.
Back home and back to the computers to continue our morning sessions. So, a good day.
It’s hard to believe we’ve been here two years. In some ways it seems like only yesterday we made the move and in others we feel as if we’ve spent our lives here. Looking forward to another interesting year as 2017 unfolds.