(This isn't really worth posting as a blog; it's just a lengthy diary from when Bob and I visited the Forest of Dean earlier this year - I must check the actual date and add that)
Bob and I combined a bit of fun with our duty trip to see his parents in Aberystwyth. We managed to set off by 7pm on Friday and had a remarkably quick and trouble-free drive to Great Malvern - even beating the Satnav's initial timing estimate. We found the hotel easily and (after a tiny bit of confusion at the check-in desk) settled in to our lovely room, with an absolutely VAST bathroom! Bob enjoyed a nice soak in the bath, and I had a lovely hot shower the following morning. The view out of our window was rather nice, with the hillside visible in the dusk. Glad I saw it that evening - because all was veiled in heavy grey cloud and mist the following morning.
I ventured down to the bar before bedtime to bring back a bailey's as a nightcap - it was remarkably noisy down there, with a live musician (but none of the noise reached our room on the 3rd floor). Had a fairly early night, but we had a nice relaxed start the following morning. We went out to see if Waitrose was open already and to try to buy a few missing items. Managed to get shampoo, toothpaste and wrapping paper, but not socks.
We put Cadi in the car while we went in for breakfast - Full english breakfast for me, kippers and scrambled eggs for Bob. Hilariously OTT 'host' - who I misheard when he asked me about 'fido', and who mistook us for coffee people (shock horror!) I noticed one particular rather attractive stained glass window in the dining room.
We checked out shortly after 10am but were able to leave the car where it was and go off to explore the town. First we took Cadi for a proper walk in Priory Park, which proved to be a lovely green space right in the middle of the town. Then we put her back in the car and went in search of socks (and possibly shoes). We ended up walking all the way to the very top of the town and a remarkably old fashioned Department store called Brays. Bob found some socks that he liked and we left the shop - only to be lured back in again when I spotted some rather funky pink trainers I liked the look of (we weren't supposed to be shopping for shoes for me, but hey) We went upstairs to the Outdoor section and I tried on several different trainer/walking shoes. Ended up getting the light-weight pink ones, even though they're not water-proof (which the lime green ones were).
After Bray's we walked back down to the Tearooms we always go to, and had an earlyish and fairly small lunch.
We then headed off for Aberystwyth, and again the journey went very smoothly. We stopped for petrol and I rang to give an ETA - and we did indeed arrive shortly after 4pm.
Tea and cake in the conservatory, and later a longish walk all the way down to the sea via the converted railway track and back along the river. Back just in time for an evening meal of ham with special potatoes with onion and sauce, and peas - simply but tasty (and upside-down cake for afters). Conversation rather than TV all evening, and a fairly early night.
The next day was a bit more problematic. The weather was horrible, but nonetheless we headed for Borth (Emrys in the end didn't come along, as he had first planned to do) - it was cold, wet and miserable there - so we only took the dog onto the beach for a very short walk. And when we drove along to Ynys Las we didn't even get out of the car - it was so cold and wet! Back to the other end of Borth and a choice of tea rooms for a cuppa and a cake. My coffee was extraordinarily awful - I couldn't finish it - but the chocolate fudge cake was nice.
Lunch back at Cae Pant was cold ham and lots of nice tubs of salad. After lunch, we started to watch the River Pageant - and that turned into the whole of the afternoon. Perhaps an easy distraction?
The evening meal was a delicious casserole with fruit pie to follow (Cadi later managed to climb up and steal a bit of the left-over pie - oops!) In the evening, Bob played welsh scrabble with his dad while Peggy did a few crosswords and I dozed (due to too much alcohol!)
And that was that, really. The following day was just a matter of getting up, breakfasting, packing and setting off (we were away by just after 10am.)
My plan was to drive to the Forest of Dean via a different route than usual. The route worked fine BUT it took a lot longer than I had realised it would!! We stopped off for lunch at an outdoor place called the Georgian Garden in ??? (Cadi came with us, but she was such a nuisance whining and begging)
We had initially thought of going to one or two places en route, but in the end I just wanted to get to our hotel straight away. We found the George Inn in Ayleburton quite easily and (despite my worries) it turned out to be very nice. For some reason we were both very weary, so we ended up having a long nap until almost time for our evening meal. Not sure if we walked Cadi before or after our nap - I think it was after. We walked through the village and then back to the playing fields, with a path out into the fields beyond. Cadi loved it!
Our meal in the Inn's restaurant was excellent! Another very pleasant surprise. (chilli prawns and fish for me, with choc tort to follow; Bob had duck spring rolls, paella and lemon syllabub) We were both STUFFED! And I had a couple of drinks - zzzzz! Back to the room, and the Jubilee concert on TV, much to Bob's disgust, but I ended up watching it to the very end. Not a good night's sleep for Bob, and Cadi needed to be taken out very early (my fault, cos I didn't take her out last thing in the evening)
We both had a full english for breakfast (despite the big meal the night before!) Then we checked out and headed first for Lyney harbour - which (in Bob's eyes anyway) won the 'worst place we've ever visited' award! But Cadi liked it - and she did a poo, which was the main thing. We next set off for the Forest of Dean Heritage Centre (along a very scenic road), eager to spend one of our Tescoes days out vouchers! Cadi had to stay in the car, but that was fine, since it was cool and overcast. The Centre was good (and I vaguely remembered some bits from a visit several years ago. The pigs were adorable, the forester's cottage was great, and I liked the working models of various pumps, plus the 3D topgraphical model and the rubbing. Bob found a geological cross section which he liked and photographed.
We finished with a bite to eat in the cafe - a smallish lunch (we had 2 different soups). By now I had realised that I'd left my earrings back at the hotel, so we drove back to try to get them. And fortunately this didn't take too long - and we were successful.
By now the rain was coming down quite heavily, but I wanted to visit a National Trust Roman Villa along our route home (via the A40). The Villa turned out to be a LONG way from the main road along very narrow roads. Again the dog had to stay in the car. Bob was a bit too tired to be terribly impressed, particularly in view of the rain and the huge crowds, but I thought it was amazing! Extraordinary mosaics in situ - room after room. Very good new covered building, and the little museum was also a highlight. I also liked the water shrine. Time for another cup of tea and a cake, followed by a quick browse in the gift shop. Went back to the car and gave Cadi a very quick little explore (going along the public path at the far end of the car park, which led to a railway tunnel).
And that was enough - time to head for London. The A40 route was fine, with the M40 section allowing for some pretty fast driving (despite the wet conditions) Had to stop for another very short power-nap, to avoid falling asleep at the wheel. Got back home around 5.30pm. Very tired again (despite the power nap) so I had to go for ANOTHER nap!