Water waits. Water wins.

More rain on the horizon. While I was watching the local weather report, which showed heavy rain all morning and a bright and sunny afternoon, blue skies surrounded the cottage. I guess that proves the theory that the best weather report is the one taken out your kitchen window.

The Forest of Dean Heritage Centre

We decided to go and visit Cinderford (mainly because there’s a supermarket there and we need loo paper) with a detour on the way to see The Dean Heritage Centre which is highly praised in all the literature. Driving through the forest was lovely, particularly as we drove along the scenic route.

The Heritage Centre is at the site of the old Camp Mill. Before the site was handed over to the Dean Museum Trust, it had been a scrap metal yard, a sawmill, a leatherboard factory, a corn mill, an iron foundry and forge and a gypsy camp. The Trust has done a lovely job with it. I was particularly keen on the working overshot water wheel. But then, I’m a bit sad.

Detail of beam engine

The main mill building has been transformed into a series of museum floors which trace the history of the area back to prehistory. Gallery 5, in particular, features a full size beam engine with lots of models dotted around it which work with the press of well timed buttons. Told you I was sad.

What pleased Mirinda more, however, was the Forester’s Cottage. Except when she realised it was probably no smaller than our house. I quite liked the sign which said the family would ‘eat, talk, read, bathe and play in the kitchen’: Apart from the piano, which was in the front room. There was no obvious toilet so we assumed it was the tiny room way down the hill, near the stream.

We wandered up the wet, muddy trails, taking in the pole lathes (something I know Dawn wants to try), the Freemine and the charcoal burner’s hut.

Freemine set up at Forest of Dean Heritage Centre

The Free Mines related to the fact that miners who had worked in the area continuously for a year and lived within the forest were given mining rights. These meant they could dig virtually anywhere they wanted in their spare time. Just what you’d feel like doing on your one day off. There’s one been made at the centre with a cute little truck on rails.

We enjoyed the centre but decided to ruin the rest of the day by visiting Cinderford. Ugly little town. Made Mirinda quite miserable. We wandered around enough to realise how truly ugly it was then went to the Co-op for essential groceries before heading back to Pope’s Hill. While in Cinderford and while leaving, the rain returned with big threatening black clouds. So much for the BBC weather!

Rather than go on about why no-one would visit Cinderford except by accident, I should discuss the bathroom at Rose Cottage. As bathrooms go, it seems fine but in the manner of these things, it’s always in the using that the truth is revealed.

The shower. When the power is removed from a power shower, this is what you get. Water straining against gravity to climb the coily pipe and squeeze through those tiny holes. In effect, it’s a slightly reasonable dribble with no pressure. Standing under it has little effect at all. Holding the shower head and reducing the height works a bit. The water temperature is very good. The biggest problem with the bathroom, however, is only apparent after you’ve had a couple of baths. I was sitting in the lounge, typing merrily away and suddenly I heard these big, thumping drips. I went into the kitchen and found a torrent dripping from the light fitting. I immediately shouted up, asking Mirinda if the water was overflowing the bath to which she said “NO!” Yes, she was that emphatic. I put a towel under the drip and crossed my fingers. Eventually the dripping stopped but not before a damp line appeared across the ceiling and water started gathering along the length. I have to assume there’s a problem with the overflow, making the water leak into the ceiling cavity. It then finds the easiest way down which is via the conduit and through the light fitting. The rest (and more patient) of the water sits on top of the plaster and waits to seep through. As heard from Dr Who last week “Water waits. Water wins.

Anyway…we had lamb chops for dinner with Welsh chips (as ordered by Mirinda because we are so close to Welshland here) which would have been better had the cooker grill been built a bit better rather than cheaply. And we watched Voyager and went to bed. Weather pretty awful.

But don’t take my word for how bad Cinderford is. This is a quote from the official town guide: “Cinderford it would be fair to say has no real architectural beauty…“. And here’s a quote from The Forest of Dean by Humphrey Phelps: “On a winter’s day with the wind blowing and the rain slanting down its uninspiring streets, Cinderford can be bleak and cold and dismal. Straggling, workaday Cinderford with no pretensions to conventional beauty, apparently without charm…” and he likes the place!

Cinderford, Forest of Dean

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