The International Steam Pages

Malt Shovel Memorabilia, 2012

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.

It's been a mild winter as the previous two stories attest. In the garden, the fuchsias were in flower into January and the first snowdrop of 2012 was out by the middle of the month:

Its arrival coincided with a spell of clear, cold weather which froze the pond in the garden:

At the same time though, the muddy paths have firmed up offering perfect hiking conditions in the middle of the day once the morning chill has eased. So after the usual late breakfast we put on the second pair of socks and the boots and headed up the hill to a new destination, Ruardean, One of the saddest effects of the current economy drive by the County Council has been the closure of the local Outdoor Education Centre, "The Wilderness". At the time of writing it has been occupied by 'activists' whose impromptu schedule of visitor attractions will no doubt achieve some much needed publicity for the place but no more.

It's not just we who appreciate the conditions, the horses have had the benefit of freshly grown grass:

Skirting the north side of Drybrook we passed 'Euroclydon', a mansion, built by a local coal master, Mr. C. W. Brain in 1866. It is named after the strong wind which blew a ship off course carrying St. Paul from Palestine to Italy and is currently a nursing home. Once we had reached the Wilderness, our path was about as level as it gets in the Forest of Dean, there were glimpses of views to Herefordshire and Worcestershire although the morning mist had yet to clear completely in the distance:

Approaching our destination, we were treated to some marvellous views across the Wye Valley into Wales. Take your pick, with or without the English lady:

 The village is pleasant enough, but the church is the stand out building, the spire is visible from miles away:

The church has a modern sun dial and the lych gate bears a warning to those who think that earning yet more money is the answer to their and the world's problems:

"Redeeme thy precious Time which steals
So fast away and in gods Hous forgiveness
Ask, and for Salvation Pray. May ye 10th 1743
James Mutlow & Hendrey Heane, Churchwardens"

The Malt Shovel's owner collects 'classic signs' which look somewhat bizarre in a building that dates back some 900 years. We were made very welcome with complimentary pork ribs for nibbles to accompany local beer from Hereford's Wye Valley Brewery:

Those of a certain age may remember 'Horlicks' - - its inventor came from the village and allegedly did the early experiments which led to the drink in a shed behind the pub. We passed on the ruined castle (two medium sized grass mounds near the church) and all too soon, we had to board our regular 24 bus home, at this time of year by 15.00 the sun is almost down and it's too cold to enjoy retracing our steps. This is definitely another walk we shall repeat.

This map shows the route, Mitcheldean is on the right and Ruardean on the left:

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson