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New craze rocks the Forest of Dean with its fun and creativity

Posted on 24th September 2017

Gloucestershire has a new craze which started out in the Forest of Dean and is only gaining in popularity.

painted rocksAmy Sampson, a mum from the Forest of Dean, is responsible for rocking the county with a new creative activity involving the painting of pebbles.

The new hobby is somewhat of a viral sensation, and started when Amy encouraged others to decorate rocks and then hide them in different public locations for people to find. The aim of the game is simply to bring a smile to the finder’s face.

After just four weeks of starting a Facebook group called Forest of Dean Rocks, the page has nearly 5,000 members and has inspired similar groups to pop up in the nearby towns of Gloucester and Bristol.

Amy, a wedding photographer, came across the craze herself thanks to a friend in Yorkshire and has been speaking about the county’s new favourite pastime (via Gloucestershire Live):

“I only started it about three weeks ago and it’s gone crazy,” said the mum of four from the Forest of Dean.

“I had a feeling it would be really popular but I had no idea how fast it would spread once I started. It’s been amazing.”

“I’m really pleased because it’s such good fun. It’s great to see so many people enjoying it and knowing I played a small part.”

People all over the county are now creating, hiding, and finding decorative rocks and then posting images on Facebook, with some participants getting incredibly creative with their designs. If you’re going to find yourself in the area soon, perhaps while staying at a holiday cottage in the Forest of Dean, why not keep a look out and join in the fun?

As Amy so nicely put: “It’s a really good way of getting people of all ages and abilities out and about having fun and being creative.”



Watch a free film at a Gloucestershire cinema

Posted on 20th August 2017

Do you want to know how to see a free film at a Gloucestershire cinema? Then keep on reading.

Cinema audienceFor those in the area, or those looking forward to a holiday at a Forest of Dean cottage, having the chance to see a free film during your time in Gloucestershire might sound exciting indeed.

Well, you can now do just that when buying promotional packs of chocolate. The deal is valid for Sundays at participating cinemas: Cineworld in Gloucester and Cheltenham, and Merlin Cinemas in Coleford.

To get a chance of seeing that film you’ve been eying up for free, all you need to do is buy a pack of Minstrels, Revels, Maltesers, M&Ms, or Galaxy Counters. Just make sure that they have the ‘Sweet Sundays’ banner on the packaging.

We all like buying some goodies to munch on when watching a film at the cinema, so this is certainly a deal worth capitalising on. Customers just need to purchase five small bags (100g-165g) or two large bags (184g-300g) in order to get the complimentary ticket.

These bags can be found at most major supermarkets, and luckier still, they are even sometimes on offer, providing further savings to your cinema excursion.

Having  purchased the promotional packs of chocolate, just head to the Sweet Sundays website and input the code on the inside back of the pouch.

Vouchers are then emailed or posted to participants, and these can be redeemed either online or at the cinemas themselves.


Where to spend New Year’s Eve in the Forest of Dean

Posted on 21st December 2016

With the holidays just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to celebrate the coming of the New Year. The Forest of Dean may be more famous for its wild woodlands than its wild parties, but there are plenty of exciting events to enjoy for the New Year, whether you live in the area or are on a Forest of Dean cottage holiday. So, take a break from the last-minute Christmas shopping and check out these New Year’s Eve events in the Forest of Dean, from parties to plays.

New Year’s Eve parties

Toasting drinks

If you’re looking for a classic New Year’s Eve party with a twist whilst avoiding the rush of the capital city, then Gloucester is the place to be on December the 31st. Various events ranging from pub quizzes to club nights will be occurring across the district, so whatever your style, there’s sure to be a soirée to suit you.

Liquid Gloucester Masquerade Ball

On the evening of the 31st, Liquid-Diva Gloucester will be hosting a full-blown New Year’s Eve party at their Masquerade Ball. If you fancy heading out with a group of friends to dance in 2017, look no further. Expect a champagne bar, performers and dancers, a full club transformation to recreate the theme and professional photographers ready to capture your best moments all night. In Liquid, dance to club anthems of 2016 with laser lighting, Co2 cannons, stilt walkers, pyrotechnics and confetti cannons. In Diva, expect iconic tunes from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, plus retro giveaways.

Café Rene

For something a little more traditional, Café Rene is the perfect place to visit on New Year’s Eve. Nestled in the cobbled Southgate Street in Gloucester, this venue offers a spirited setting for the evening, with two floors providing revellers plenty of space to dance all night, or enjoy a casual drink if you prefer. As SoGlos report, past New Year’s Eve themes at Café Rene include musical genres spanning from house beats to indie anthems, so this is set to be a great place to be come midnight!

Eating and drinking


As well as a variety of fantastic local pubs and restaurants spread throughout the Forest of Dean area, several venues are hosting specialist themed nights for the festive season. So, if you’re not a party-goer, yet would still like to indulge in a tipple or a delicious meal, the Forest is a fantastic place to spend your New Year’s Eve.

The Grand Tour Dining Experience at Aunt Martha’s

Possibly the most unique food and drink experience in the Forest of Dean area for New Year’s Eve is to be found at The Grand Tour Dining Experience at Aunt Martha’s. This Victorian-themed venue is set to undergo a transformation on the 31st, transporting guests into three unique time periods like no other in one immersive dining experience. Aunt Martha’s has created three exclusive dining areas – the ‘Oriental Tea Pagoda’, an ancient Egyptian temple and the imperial Indian palace anti-room. Complete with original artefacts and unique dishes, this is set to be an unforgettable experience for the taste buds and the imagination alike!

Family events

Clearwell Caves

Image Credit: Penny Mayes (Wikimedia Commons)

Of course, New Year’s Eve isn’t all about the adults, and so if you’re in search of the perfect family activity, the Forest of Dean is full of opportunities. With acres of fascinating woodlands and plenty of family-friendly attractions, there is something to keep everyone happy here!

Evie’s Aeroplane Christmas Fantasy at Clearwell Caves

Spark the imagination and creativity of the little ones this New Year’s Eve with ‘Evie’s Aeroplane’ at the Clearwell Caves. This delightful fantasy creation is a charming story about a little girl and her toy aeroplane, following their adventures during the Christmas season. Track the displays telling the enchanting story of ‘Evie’s Aeroplane’ created through nine impressive caverns, all designed by children’s book illustrator Heather Holland. The adults can also enjoy an underground Christmas market selling seasonal gifts and decorations and an underground Café as the kids explore.

Whitemead Winter Woodland

Situated at the heart of the ancient Forest of Dean, Whitemead Forest Park is the perfect place to spend a few hours during the day of the 31st, in a classic countryside setting. Between strolling through the enchanting woodlands, take a spin on the synthetic ice rink and visit craft stalls for trinkets and artisan dishes. There are also several adrenaline-pumping activities to sample, such as archery, fencing, body zorbs, snorkelling and much more, plus a children’s indoor play area. To toast in the New Year, a bar is open daily, and if you decide to visit on New Year’s Day, you can even enjoy a delicious Sunday carvery.

Outdoor activities

Ice skating

For many, New Year’s Eve means champagne and Auld Lang Syne, but for others, the best way to welcome in the New Year is by ending 2016 as you mean to go on. If you’re a fan of outdoor activities and trying new things, why not sample these slightly more unusual activities on the 31st?

Ice skating at the Gloucester Docks

Head to the Gloucester Docks on New Year’s Eve to show off your skating skills on the ice rink for the evening. Perfect for anyone ages three or above, ice skating is a fun and festive way to celebrate the New Year. Plus, until the 2nd of January, skaters receive a special reduced price admission to the National Waterways Museum, Gloucester, which has recently been renovated and shares the history of Britain’s canals and rivers with boat trips and more.

Wild bird feeding at Slimbridge Wetland Centre

The perfect pastime for families with young children, or a day out with elderly grandparents, the Slimbridge Wetland Centre is hosting a special wild bird feeding session on the 31st December. Relax in the comfort of the heated observatory and learn from the warden’s commentary as he feeds the thousands of wild birds and hundreds of Bewick’s swans that have flown all the way from arctic Russia to Slimbridge for the winter. You can also take a walk around the reserve, getting up close to rare and exotic birds, mammals and the largest collection of amphibians in the entire county. From canoe safaris and an outdoor water play area to otters and flamingos to see, this is the perfect activity for all.

Mince Pie Special at Dean Forest Railway

If you’re looking for a New Year’s Eve event that is truly local, the Mince Pie Special at the Dean Forest Railway is for you. Take a relaxing stroll through the surrounding forest to spot deer and wild boar, before enjoying lunch at the railway café. The main event, though, is a trip on the traditional steam engine train, where every passenger will receive a complimentary mince pie.


Gloucester’s wet November – Rainy day activities in the Forest of Dean

Posted on 22nd November 2016

Various regions of the British Isles have encountered flooding in the past couple of weeks, and today the Gloucestershire City Police among other organisations have released safety recommendations for residents and visitors travelling in the area. As of yet, the Forest of Dean has not seen any significant incidents, and luckily the area is well-prepared for extreme weather. However, if you are headed on a Forest of Dean cottage holiday, it is worthwhile keeping some basic measures in mind before setting out on the roads to allow you to enjoy your visit to the full.

Forest of Dean Lake

On Twitter, the Gloucestershire City Police reminded county residents, “Please be aware of standing water on roads. If you come across a flooded road, drive through highest section slowly. If in doubt don’t enter”. According to Gloucestershire Live, the RAC also released recommendations for drivers, including pointers such as ensuring windscreen wipers are fully functional, filling up with fuel before travel, carrying a mobile phone in case you encounter any difficulties during your journey and checking that your tyres are of the recommended tyre tread depth. If you are travelling up to the Forest of Dean area at this time of year it is good to keep these protocols in mind.

The Forest of Dean is a beautiful location to visit at this time of year, regardless of the weather. Get your wellies on and head out into the woodland to enjoy the rich colours of the leaves on the trees, and to catch a glimpse of the diverse local wildlife going about their daily lives. The Environment Agency are currently advising walkers to avoid rivers such as the River Lyd and Cinderford Brook during heavy rain, as these can flow quickly and occasionally flood.

What to do in the Forest of Dean on rainy days

Luckily, there is plenty to do in the Forest of Dean on a rainy day. Why not visit a local museum such as Gloucester City museum, where the kids can dress up as a Roman soldier and you can discover all about the background of this fascinating region? The Dean Heritage Centre is the perfect day out for art and history lovers, with five galleries exploring the history of the area from the Ice Age to the present day and a Victorian school room to spark children’s imaginations! Alternatively, Gloucestershire is full of fantastic theatres such as The Playhouse, and Cotswold Farm Park is full of adorable farm animals in warm, dry barns. For the adventure-lover, there are plenty of climbing walls, go karting centres and even a laser tag arena in Gloucester. Or, to while away the hours on a rainy afternoon whilst gaining a new skill, get creative and paint some pottery whilst enjoying a coffee at shops around the county.

So, whatever the weather, you’ll never be short of ways to spend some delightful days in the Forest of Dean!

Image Credit: Andrew Callow (Visualhunt)

Monmouthshire Show set to entertain Forest of Dean

Posted on 12th August 2016

The Monmouthshire Show is ready to welcome thousands of visitors to enjoy the best the Forest of Dean region has to offer. Labelled as the “Biggest One Day Show in Wales” by organisers, it is a chance to enjoy the agricultural heritage around the River Wye.

Horse galloping at Monmouthshire Show

Scheduled to happen on the 25th August, the show is a perfect destination for families enjoying a cottage holiday in the Forest of Dean. The event includes farm life events and demonstrations. There will be equipment, livestock competitions, horse jumping competitions and more.

In the main ring, there are some unique and exciting events to keep the crowds entertained. The Stampede Stunt Company will stage a medieval jousting tournament; ponies will race pulling scurry carriages in a fast and exciting event. There will be an appearance by the Monmouthshire Fox Hounds and Inter Hunt Relay.

A highlight of the day will be the Grand Parade. In the Main Ring, all of the prize-winning animals will be brought out for display to those in attendance. The champions from each section will be presented with their trophies and awards.

The grounds for the Monmouthshire Show are right on the banks of the River Wye – located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The event includes horticulture displays, dog shows, and a tremendous locally made craft and shopping marquee. The event will feature a food and drink hall as well.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, please visit the Monmouthshire Show website.

Image Credit: Keith Moseley (flickr.com)