Monday, February 12, 2007

What I wanted to say about the Forest of Dean

(For Marnie......)

On Friday we were snowed in.

We were seriously snowed in.

There were severe weather warnings and people who lived here but who were currently outside the Forest were being told not to drive home under any circumstances. It was bad. 10 inches of snow outside our back door alone. It was so bad that they were thinking of sending out some gritter lorries.

Cars were stuck on the road leading up to Monmouth from our house, unable to move because the ice wouldn't let the wheels do anything other than spin.

One car was stuck immediately outside our house. The driver looked at a loss as to what to do, and didn't appear to be making any phonecalls, or showing that he had a way forward.

Being a friendly sort of neighbourhood, people were looking on, wondering if maybe they should offer some help. No-one was actually doing anything you understand. But they were looking at him.

Being a brave sort, I decided to take the plunge.

I approached the driver of the car and asked if he needed to use the phone. He didn't. He was trying to get to Chepstow, and asked me if I thought that the road that links from here to the main road to Chepstow would be ok.

The road in question is a country road, which would not have been gritted and was probably, by the time in question, (3.30 p.m.) pure ice.

I suggested that it probably wasn't the best road to take. By this time a few other people had also ventured forward and were offering suggestions involving sticking to main roads, taking long detours to avoid the snow logged Forest of Dean roads, or leaving his car overnight in the village.

He looked at us.

Now do bear in mind you can't be a local in the Forest of Dean until you have four generations dead in the grave. Or is it five? You can't "become" a Forester, you have to be born a Forester. Conversion courses, immigration procedures, or citizenship exams just aren't available. However, as I have lived here for almost eight years, and as this is my longest stay anywhere throughout my entire life, I do feel a sort of loyalty to what has become my home - even if they do not yet accept me as a local. Even if they don't until fifty years after my great great grandchildren are dead and buried. It's my home, and I have no other. So I can be loyal to it.

So when the man in the car from Chepstow said: "I've been told that you shouldn't leave your car around here overnight" I felt mortally wounded, seriously hurt and extremely righteous all at the same time.

I wanted to respond "Actually, did you know that the Forest of Dean has one of the lowest crimes rates in the country and you would probably be safer leaving your car here overnight than virtually anywhere else in the world, the universe, in infinity and beyond. And actually, that is one of the things I love about living here."

I didn't of course, but I wanted to.


Asha said...

You should have told him that!!

You are lucky to be in that place where you leave your car anywhere and be assured it will not be stolen!!WOW!! in this day and age?!!

Sally Lomax said...

Indeed we are lucky!

enid said...

enid loves the way you've wrapped this into a story, sally. and she loves the forest of dean - you are lucky living there.

Sally Lomax said...

Thanks Enid. You obviously know the Forest then?

The very nice man said...

OK, that is it!! Now I really will have to come and visit you! What time is good??

john.g. said...

You shuold have told him, then gone back and nicked the stereo,sat. nav., etc....only joking, you samaritan,you!!

meredic said...

Yeahbut Nobut
What about the large carnivorous prehistoric monsters??
One of them would chew the tyre off as soon as look at you.

(saturday night ITV for those that missed it!)

swampwitch said...

You are a good person. Just would have been funny to have moved the car to a different location. Love the snow.

Beccy said...

I want that snow Sally!

One summer we took our bikes to the forest of dean and spent the day cycling around. It was a long time ago and I had a child on the back of my bike. I remember s steep hill.

Dillon vividly remembers it and is dying to go back.

Sally Lomax said...

VNM - Just give us some prior notice and that's fine!

John G - LOL!!

Meredic - Missed it sadly, but MIL rang to tell us about it - AFTER the event. Will watch it next Saturday!!

We have done the cycling thing. Beccy - The first time though, we set off in glorious sunshine to be half way round the LONG track with toddlers sitting in one of those buggies on the back, to be RAINED on. And I MEAN RAIN! We must have cycled for over an hour in a heavy torrent. We were very wet and had very grumpy children. Took quite a while to perusade all to go back for a second round!!! I still enjoyed it though. Next time you come back to do that, let us know and come and visit!


ChrisB said...

beccy has beaten me to commenting on our bike ride in the forest of dean, we were lucky and picked a hot day. We had a picnic by a lake very tranquil. You live in a beautiful area.

Karmyn said...

Oh - the gall of that guy - just for that, you should throw snowballs at him!

mjd said...

I love the way that you wove this story around the Forest of Dean and its inhabitants. Maybe the Forest is such a great place to live that the locals are protective of the community so that no outsiders can become insiders. Still safety is a great benefit.

Ignorminious said...

Bah! In crappy bristol we had very little snow! Most disappointing. I waited all day for a stranger to get stuck in our road so that I could either help him out or rob him of everything he owns.

Life isn't very fair is it?

Pamela said...

I read and think "maybe I know what she is talking about"...

gritter lorries

trucks that sand the road???

Isn't that something you getting all that snow - and we haven't had any mearsureable amount at all.

AND... you should have told him his car was safer than him after that nasty remark!!!!

Sally Lomax said...

Karmyn - I should have done!

Thank you MJD. Glad you liked it!!

Ignorminious - Bad luck Ignormious! To be honest though it's fthe first time I ever remember snow like this here.

Pamela - Yes indeed just that. Lorries that thow out grit/ salt stuff that melts the snow. Technically they should arrive as the snow appears - but I think they weren't on duty the day the big snowfall arrived - hence the lack of grit in the appropriate places! They were definitely thinking about it though.

Ailsa said...

How rude! Lets hope he got stuck in the snow later on...

The forest sounds like a lovely place to live. Must put it on my (long)list of places to show the children when we are in the uk.

Sally Lomax said...

Thanks Ailsa!

Susan S said...

I'm so jealous of all that snow! For goodness sake - I live in the Highlands of Scotland and we've had no real snow to speak of! No fair! I might be mad, but I love driving in the snow, everything so pristine!

Why is it always after the fact that we think about what we could have said? I find that I just don't get the nerve up to say what I want to say!

Sally Lomax said...

Susan - I know! I just muttered something about the fact that I live here and it's ok for us.... it sounded very weak compared to what I actually wanted to have said afterwards!

The very nice man said...

Happy Valentines, Sally!!