Back to that strict chronology you ticking types like, and a first exodus on this blog into the Forest of Dean, armed with your best wishes for my safe return.
I felt FoD, or whatever locals call it, may have more to explore than anywhere else in the UK.
You might be interested to see the state of my Beer Guide by this stage. To think it was still pristine when BRAPA and I met up with Beer Leeds last November.
Half a dozen pubs in the Dean, spread over 3 visits, gave me a chance to get to the heart of the Forest. I failed.
Stuck between posh Chepstow, Monmouth and Gloucester, and packed with Guardian reader friendly activities like tree climbing, steam trains, Prosecco picnics and arguing over misread maps, you expect it to be bijou and chintzy despite the mining heritage.
Which it isn’t.
There weren’t many Guardian readers in Lydney, which I bravely visited despite the lure of a Guide pub. But it’s a gem, scarred only by something called Lydney Brew which happens to be an artisan coffee house. Elsewhere, all is crumbling buildings with trees growing out of them.
Evidence of a strange, medieval language comes from the house clearance shop.
Bathurst Park was a little gem, despite the legal requirement to be in possession of a dog that prevented me entering.
Pop expert Mark Crilley will be able to tell me the spurious connection between The Beatles and Lydney. Perhaps Ringo’s most famous songwriting was inspired by the octopus found in the town Marina in October ’66.
I walked there now, with that lovely smell of ferns after rainfall you wish you could bottle. The OS map takes you past the harbour and up to the weirdly named Naas.
It was by turns bewildering and bedraggled, and I was glad to find signs of life as the scary Naas house gave way to the golf course.
As I always say, if you want to see the world, just walk aimlessly. But take an OS map and tell Mrs RM you won’t be back for tea.
The steam train, which takes you back to 1975, was running, which makes it more efficient than Northern Rail, anyway.
Up the road in the Forest proper we have Moseley Green’s Rising Sun, local Pub of the Year, which sometimes means it has seven handpumps too many. I was nearly run over by an Old Boy in a Morris Minor as I walked up the drive, always the sign of a Proper Pub.
Five beers, two you’ve heard of, and some weird jam jars proving that all their beers are identical. Phew !
Five minutes later the Old Boy came in.
“Good Morning Mrs Heatherley” (names changed)
“Good Morning Mr Blenkinsop” (ditto)
“Sorry, I’m late, my trousers were falling down”
All very BRAPA, and there followed a long conversation about a planned Pub Outing to Porthcawl that may well have involved a charabanc. It would certainly not have been allowed in a Humphrey Smith establishment.
The debate turned to the landlady’s attire.
“Will she be putting her bikini on”
“Oh no, she’ll come out in goosepimps”
My Butty was good too (NBSS 3.5), but the banter was worth far more than the £1.65. I was half tempted to follow them down to Porthcawl.
A promising start. But as I left, the regulars wishing me safe passage, I’m sure one of them said “Steer clear of Cinderford“.