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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

Meditation garden is a winner all round

Posted on 01st July 2017

Bordering the Forest of Dean, The Howle Hill Nursery may look unassuming, but it is actually rather famous for a large collection of Japanese Maples. However its prowess within the design community and success in show gardens is bringing continued attention to the area.

Japanese Maple

The latest accolade was awarded from RHS Malvern, where Peter Dowle and his team stunned judges with his offering ‘At One With… A Meditation Garden’ and received a gold for their hard work. At a recent interview, Dowle – the managing director and co-designer, praised the innate connection between people and the land, and how a garden links the two:

“Gardens and gardening provide a way of connecting the mind and body to the environment and the spirit, and including the five senses, provides a bridge for these connections. Treating the body and mind holistically provides a connectedness with the self, but a major component for many in healing is a connectedness with the environment and creating an environment that facilitates the healing process.”

He added, “We are delighted our vision was so widely appreciated, a fantastic result and testament to our skilled construction and planting teams for capturing the essence of the design.”

So many of Howle Hill Nursery’s designs combine an undeniable sense of serenity married to the best of the natural world, and though the company has 11 Chelsea Flower Show gold medals to their name, they design for gardens of every size and style. With five more gardens to construct in celebration of 50 years of Gardeners World Live, it looks to be a busy summer for the team.

For designing expertise or high quality plants, Howle Hill Nursery is a wonderful jaunt when staying in a Forest of Dean holiday cottage and is the perfect place to gain inspiration for your own garden.

Image Credit: cocoparisienne


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)

British woodlands beyond bluebells

Posted on 08th May 2017

A spring stroll in a blue carpeted wood is a tradition so British it should be served with strawberries and cream, and has even been immortalised in verse. However, there is more to our woodland floors than these spring bulbs. Every child who grows up somewhere rural or enjoyed a Forest of Dean cottage holiday will know the joy of running through the dew-soaked flowers, but while they are pretty to enjoy en masse, there are other plants to seek out this spring. Here are a few of our favourite flowers to scout out during the British springtime.


Common Bugle

Another purple flower that can easily get lost among the bluebells, the Bugle is an evergreen with a ground cover habit. The lowly Bugle had its place as a medicinal herb historically, used to cure everything from liver ailments to ulcers.


Yellow Coltsfoot

Part of the daisy family and native to Europe, Coltsfoot has long been visible in our woodlands.

The flowers appear some weeks before the leaves which gives this plant many of its common names, such as horse hoof or bull’s foot. It is also known as coughwort as the leaves were once used to make a tea that was thought to soothe colds.


Ramsons or Wild Garlic flowers

Ramsons are also known as wild garlic and you will be able to smell these before you see them. Related to the onion family they look a lot like the alliums you can grow in your own garden. They are edible and taste strongly of garlic and spring onions – the perfect addition to fresh salads, garlic mushrooms and much more.


Toothwort flowers

This is a parasitic plant, and, having no green stems or leaves, it will only be found on the bases of certain trees. It is often found at the base of alder, hazel and beech where it taps into the root systems. Often overlooked by longer-stemmed flowers, it is a sign of old forests.

Image Credit: Katja Schultz, Shenandoah National Park, Jerzy Opiola, Mark Coleman