The International Steam Pages
Round and About Mitcheldean Town
For convenience I have now grouped lifestyle illustrated features by topic:
This page is just one of several describing aspects of our '2011 new life', for earlier and later pages use the West Gloucestershire link above.
Why Mitcheldean? (There is a map below showing where we are, about 200km west of London not far from the Welsh Border which runs roughly south to north between Chepstow and Monmouth.) Once the decision to move to the UK had been taken, there was never any real doubt in my mind that not only did I want to move to Gloucestershire (and the Forest of Dean in particular) but I was as certain as I could be that it would suit Yuehong too. The only remaining question was 'Where?' and in the end it came down to Drybrook and Mitcheldean, two 'large villages' on the east side of the Forest, where we identified two properties within our budget, one a period cottage and the other a bungalow - I let Yuehong make the final choice. Her heart initially said the cottage but in the end her head won and we have the bungalow, it's been a decision for which we've not had a moment's regret so far.
Like Drybrook, we have a medium sized Coop supermarket, a Post Office and a doctor's surgery, all of which are within 5 minutes walk. Importantly, we have an hourly bus to Gloucester just 12 miles and half an hour away on which I travel free after 09.30 and Yuehong pays GBP2.90 return. We must be almost the only people in our road (maybe village) without a car, many houses seem to have at least three. From time to time, I try to explain patiently to people who doubt our sanity that if we wanted one, we would have to go out to work to pay for it and that usually does the trick.
It's a pretty quiet place, the old Rank Xerox factory is technically a business park, but underutilised and people tend to commute out to work. There's perhaps a higher proportion of retired people than average who appreciate the relaxed and unpolluted atmosphere, but still plenty of younger people who keep the primary and secondary schools full - both perhaps not surprisingly given the environment and catchment area have excellent reputations, I would also say that they greatly benefit from not being too big and impersonal.
This is my favourite view of Mitcheldean, taken in the late afternoon from the north-west side looking towards the Vale of Severn:
Less attractive is this view from a nearby position which shows the large former Rank Xerox factory:
We have public footpaths all around us, arguably even too many as some are very overgrown from under-use. However, about 100 metres behind our bungalow and near the top of the hill runs the Wysis Way - a long distance footpath between the Rivers Thames and Wye. Here our bungalow can be seen bottom left through the trees, we get a similar view clear over the top of every other house in this picture:
Historically, Mitcheldean was a town, on the left is the 300 year old town hall, on the right is the White Horse pub, one of just two left. However, until the 1960s it had hardly changed in size since, hence today's normal description of 'large village'.
Nearby is the old brewery now used by a number of small businesses:
The county has plenty of more picturesque villages but most are on the east side of the River Severn, Mitcheldean's few older houses are not particularly attractively sited:
Sometimes it seems Yuehong is taking the 'Life in Britain' test she faces a little too seriously as she dresses the part of an English lady for 'church', but actually this was just a jumble sale from which she came away with three china napkin rings, of course they had roses on them, what else? The church (not surprisingly St, Michael's and All Angels) is large as befits its town status, it's currently undergoing a lengthy and expensive restoration and this was a case of every little bit helps.
The town 'does the job' very adequately, but the true glory of our new home is the countryside around it, shown on the other pages.
Rob and Yuehong Dickinson