When I was small, my parents were very keen caravanners and all our family holidays were spent in the same familiar few cubic metres of plywood which we took around with us, One of the problems with owning a caravan though is what you do with it when you're not on holiday...
After a couple of false starts, our solution was to moor the van permanently in a woodland area of the Forest of Dean that the Forestry Commission made available for exactly this purpose. We'd go and stay in the van most weekends, which led to the strange sensation of growing up with two homes — the weekday home in the Welsh Valleys and the weekend home in the Forest.
Since I was so close, it seemed worth a day trip to get all the nostalgia buzz. There was less than I'd anticipated though since either the Forest or my memories of it had changed significantly in thirty years; there didn't seem to be the same wide scattering of nature trails, opportunities to explore and Coleford, the local town, felt more down-at-heel than the place of my memory.
There used to be many waymarked trails around the forest. These seem to have faded, but one that remains is the Sculpture Trail where pieces of art have been tastefully integrated into the landscape along the 4.5 mile route.
That makes it sound as if I'm disappointed. I'm not. Dean has always been a working forest and as times change the place needs to evolve to stay relevant too. It may not be the place I remember as a child any more but it's one that's more suited for a new generation and a new century and that's got to be worth celebrating.