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Gloucester Comic-Con has moved to a new venue

Posted on 19th July 2017

The venue for Gloucester Comic-Con has changed with the event now moving to the Kingsholm Stadium.

Kingsholm Stadium

The event, which is to take place on September 9 and 10, needed to be relocated as it had outgrown its city centre venue.

Moving proceedings from its old venue of the GL1 Leisure Centre to the Kingsholm Stadium will allow the organisers to now show movie cars and other large outdoor exhibits.

Fans have been reassured that the tickets purchased for the old venue will still be valid at Gloucester Comic-Con’s new location.

While the venue may have changed, the date and guests will remain the same, with the event ready to entertain all those in attendance and visiting while on holiday at a Forest of Dean cottage.

Guests at this year’s event include The Honky Tonk Man, professional wrestler Wayne Farris, stand-up comedian Norman Lovett (known for playing Holly in Red Dwarf) and actor James Mackenzie from the children’s series Raven.

Tickets are available from Skiddle.

Image Credit: Nicholas Mytton

Smallholding opens accessible activities

Posted on 16th June 2017

When travelling with multiple generations or large groups of people, it can be hard to accommodate everybody’s needs. However now holidays to Forest of Dean cottages do not have to involve a compromise. Weekly ‘open farm’ days and gentle walks with level paths ensure everybody can be involved regardless of mobility issues.

Lamb scratching ear

The Orchard Trust Smallholding in Lydbrook is doing much to connect those with limited mobility to livestock and an outdoor environment in a gentle and safe manner. While someone with mobility issues may enjoy the leisurely pathways, children will delight in the livestock. Extra wide and level paths offer space for two wheelchairs and buggies to pass. For those who do not use wheelchairs yet are not fully comfortable walking unattended, they can be supported on both sides.

A sensory garden increases the enjoyment of those who are visually impaired, as the garden focuses less on a person’s sense of sight to connect with the garden. Instead, they can enjoy the environment through other senses. The addition of livestock has proved popular, especially among those with sensory difficulties.

The Orchard Trust Smallholding is a joint venture that has seen much support from the local area. A wishing well was designed by Neil Perkins and made by local Carpentry Students at Gloucestershire College. Entry to The Orchard Trust Smallholding is free of charge, however, a donation in the wishing well is much appreciated to keep this wonderful facility open to everyone.

If you plan on visiting The Orchard Trust Smallholding, please see their website for contact details, as the ‘open farm’ days are open weekly while the walks are held on certain days a month.

Image Credit: Noel Reynolds (Flickr)

Free mining in the Forest of Dean

Posted on 19th May 2017

The ancient title of ‘free miner’ has long been attached to the Forest of Dean area and has had a complicated history that has seen off industrial revolutions, invasions and royal interferences.  A free miner is a title given to those who eligible to mine their own gales (portion of land), paying royalty to the crown for each tonne of material raised. Dean Miners Laws and Privileges, a document known locally as the Book of Dennis dating from the early 1600’s, references much earlier originsinsinuating there was an original free mining charter.

Clearwell Caves Cart

The Dean Forest Mines Act of 1838 states the eligibility of a free miner must be:

“All male persons born or hereafter to be born and abiding within the said Hundred of St Briavels, of the age of twenty one years and upwards, who shall have worked a year and a day in a coal or iron mine within the said Hundred of St Briavels, shall be deemed and taken to be Free Miners.”

This was stated after the Industrial Revolution shook the traditions of the free miners to the core. The Industrial Revolution ensured that coal and iron were much sought-after materials, making the untapped reserves in the Forest of Dean enticing. Though the parliamentary act changed little in terms of eligibility, it did allow the free miners to sell their gales (personal plots of land) to non-free miners and thus open the area to outside investors.

During the 18th century, The Free Mining Law Court – the system that had regulated free mining for centuries – was put under enormous pressure as other coal mining families wanted access to the Forest of Dean. The court became inundated with disputes as well as constant stress to allow outside interest. This all culminated with the theft of the Mine Law Court records. Without these, the Free Mining Law Court was unable to continue. The records were later recovered in the possession of Crown Officials.

Since the tumultuous times of the 18th century, the Forest of Dean free miners have continued to this day. There have been recent pushes forward as the first female free miner was accepted in 2010 and since other applications for female free miners have been considered.

A great day trip while staying in a holiday cottage in the forest of dean is to Clearwell Caves where you can discover more about the area’s history of free mining. The working iron ore mine is open to the public and is a great educational experience for children, who can wander the museum and discover the industry of the Forest of Dean.

Image Credit: Ben Coulson (Flickr)

Surfing the Severn Bore

Posted on 24th April 2017

While the Forest of Dean is somewhere we associate with calm retreats, relaxing ambles through the forest and chilled afternoons in local pubs, the area has an adventurous side that is both surprising and exhilarating.

Surfers on the Severn Bore

If you wish to combine your relaxing Forest of Dean cottage holiday with an activity-filled itinerary, then bring your surfboards as riding the Severn bore is a rite of passage for any English thrill seeker. If you are expecting waves to rival Hawaii then you will be disappointed, however if instead you want to encounter a natural phenomenon on the front line and have an extended surfing experience, then this would be perfect.

The Severn River has the second highest tidal range in the world, measuring up to 50 feet. Due to the shape of the estuary and the conditions of the tides, a surge is created that ripples along many miles of river. The first person to surf the Severn Bore was Colonel ‘Mad Jack’ Churchill who made his own board and attempt on the bore in 1955 and it has attracted other adrenaline junkies ever since with growing popularity. It can get busy, with up to 30 surfers attempting to ride the wave at any time, so keep an eye out for others on some of the narrower stretches of river as people weave to keep ahead of the surge.

If you have little interest in participating, there are lots of places to view the spectacle from the safety of dry land. On the really high surges, there can be something of a party atmosphere in the different viewing spots, with people cheering on the surfers. The Severn Bore website not only gives you the best times to try and surf the Bore, but also the best locations to view it from and all the details on how to sign up to surf the Bore.

Image Credit: Tess (Wikimedia Commons) 

Fantastic pottery of every colour

Posted on 07th April 2017

If you go into the woods today you are in for a big surprise because, bordering the Forest of Dean and hidden behind the façade of an old-fashioned stone farmhouse, lies a storm of colourful ceramics. Mary Rose Young has settled on the outskirts of the forest, and brought all her creativity to bare.  Mary Rose Young

Bright tiles, striped beams and shelves of every colour display her vibrant and delicate pieces that, despite the retro patterns, still hold an organic element in their shape. While staying in a holiday cottage in the Forest of Dean, it is worth heading out to see this bright little gallery that makes you feel as if you are stepping into Oz.

From tiny bowls to chandeliers, Mary Rose has an ideal range for those looking for anything from a gift or keepsake to a statement piece for their home. There is an element of fairytale in many of Mary Rose’s pieces. Crowned tea cups are the norm, while roses cluster on many of her pieces, adding a hint of the romantic. She explains, “I wanted my pottery to have a cross between childlike wonderment and a fun party, and you see that when people walk into the gallery”. While there are sets of gold and white dinner plates available for traditionalists, there are also those with polka dots, stripes of every colour and the geometrically patterned for those who want to take a slice of Mary Rose’s fantastical designs home with them.

Mary Rose’s initial success was with department stores in the United States, such as Barney’s. Now, however, she makes an effort to keep it local. When asked why she lives in the Forest of Dean, she responded:

“I was brought up round here, and I have been here so long, always living around Gloucestershire, that now I almost feel like a local. In some ways, living in the forest, away from other creative people, stops me from feeling self-conscious. It is a good place to hunker down and look at what you are doing as an artist.”

Though she works on mainly smaller pieces, she does like to set herself the challenge of a larger project, creating chandeliers that are worthy of exhibition, but are instead commissioned for private estates.

Pottery Chandelier

Image Credit: James Young