“Can’t you get addicted to heroine? It would be cheaper!”
This is a quote from my father when I was 17. Some 20 years later, not much has improved. My love of cheese is probably my only rival to my love of adventure, but it is a very close contest.
On January the first, I got out a map of the Forest of Dean, and searched out an undiscovered corner. My husband has some kind of map fettish so we have OS maps of practically the known universe. And historical ones! So we can compare how things have changed over time. (Ugh!)
Dad (aka my cheese pimp) arrived on Christmas Day charged with being responsible for the cheeseboard. He lives in deep, dark Somerset very near an independent dairy which produces incredible cheese. Westcome’s two main contracts are with Jaime Oliver’s restaurants and Waitrose. I won’t waste time telling you any more!
Of course, by the time you get to cheese boards on Christmas Day, everyone has got to the stage of never wanting to see food again so I found myself with about 6kg of the dairy delight.
Blaize Bailey is in the north East corner of the Forest of Dean. We parked down by the lakes and found people had set up little feeding stations for wild birds. The two boys loved hanging around, looking at the wildlife. They did not enjoy the steep walk up the hill but at the top, through pine forest slopes, we were treated to the most wonderful 180 degree panorama across the Severn Estuary.
We had lunch at an old Victorian look out of some kind. And as I sat there eating cheese and biscuits, it occurred to me just how long it had been since we had been able to go for a walk as a family. Sure, the boys had moaned up the hill, but as we left and wandered down the hairpin tracks through the forest back to the bottom, the boys went crazy looking for wild boar tracks.
“What is a wild boar?”
The boar must have been largely undisturbed in this area because you could see evidence of them everywhere. The 6 year old went crazy, seeking out clear footprints in the mud. You could see where they had ploughed through the undergrowth to find grubs and shoots, and all around were trails through the bracken.
The walk was short and sweet, but left us all feeling rejuvenated and energised. The 8 year old had descended from his teen like temper and had been skipping through the forest. Husband had lost his scowl and regained the power of communication. And I felt so inspired, I went home, like an idiot and signed up for the Forest of Dean 10k.
I have done 10k races in the past, but not for a decade. Now two stone heavier, with a dodgy knee no real spare time to speak of, I had fallen ill of the usual January 1st cycle of idiocy.