Monday, December 7, 2009

The Forest of Dean: the Sculpture Trail

We started Sunday in style with chocolates from Black Peter – yup, he managed to find Tea's shoes all the way across the pond – and pancakes made with Aunt Jemima's mix – Thanks, Michelle! Unfortunately we discovered that the washer wasn't working, but when I suggested that we might hit a laundromat, Tea snorted and began bandying about day-trip ideas. Given the nice day over our heads – have I mentioned how much I love our windowed 'conservatory' lately? ;-) – we quickly settled on the Sculpture Trail in the Forest of Dean.

The Forest of Dean is just a short half-hour drive from us, through some truly picturesque countryside. The small town of Cinderford, in particular, just calls you to pull over and explore (which we did on the way back – but I'm getting ahead of myself, as usual). The information centre sells a nice map of the Sculpture Trail with pictures and descriptions for £1, so we picked up one – as three excited dogs competed for our attention (we love this dog culture) – and hit the trail!

The first sculpture is tough to miss – I think they want to get your confidence up: the chair is enormous, with a fantastic view of the surrounding forest. Any worries that I had about the trail being hokey were quickly dispelled by the second sculpture: Dead Wood really spoke to me; while it wasn't cold, the stark stumps and blanket of pale needles reminded me of those horrific scenes from the Battle of the Bulge in Band of Brothers.

It started to rain partway through, but seasoned as we are now to English weather, we simply pulled our raincoats out of the backpack and continued on; with proper gear, you don't even notice it. Some of our favourite sculptures were the House, Raw – this block looked like something out of a horror flick; I was happy that the sunset was still many hours off, even though I had a flashlight – Echo, and Hanging Fire (see my Best of December 2009 album for pictures of them); but we both agreed that the Cathedral was the most impressive by a good margin; particularly the way the light hit it at that hour of the afternoon. It was truly breath-taking!

On the way home, we decided to stop at the White Hart Inn in Cinderford for a pick-me-up. This was a whim – yes, I do leave the house without the Good Beer Guide on occasion! – but as soon as we stepped inside the cozy front room, we knew we had a winner. The bartender got up from the table of folks she'd been chatting with and served me a pint of Butcombe Bitter and Tea... well, some tea. :-) We sat back by the fireplace beside the other full table, and at one point Tea and I shared a look and laughed out loud: I don't know where they were from, but we both felt we could've been in any Mom 'n' Pop shop in Newfoundland. It was great!

Once home, we decided to clean up and walk over to Zizzi's for a bit of a treat; an Italian restaurant inside a converted church, the atmosphere can't be beat – well, maybe by their delicious breads and pastas. A tasty end to the weekend!

1 comment:

  1. Oh my! Excellent job with the blog and pics. Thanks very much! Hope you're having a fab day - we've got more snow coming, and it's much warmer today than yesterday. Only -5, not -15. :)