Guys, I turned 30, and I got well and truly spoiled. If you read my 30 things I learned in 30 years post, you’ll know I was looking forward to turning the big 3-0.
I’m wiser now. I don’t experiment with hair dye and turn my locks bright orange, I’ve stopped wondering if I’m cool enough, I have a good job, and I’m the proud owner of a husband, a HONDA (that’s right, the world’s most reliable car) and two frickin’ adorable cats. Owner probably isn’t the right word for my hubster, but hey ho. Semantics.
Anyway, to celebrate my birthday and bring a little cheer to the world’s most depressing month, Luke whisked me away for a magical three-night break in the Forest of Dean. I’d made a passing comment about wanting to stay in a cabin in the woods some time ago, and Luke, the shrewd romantic that he is, made a mental note. I’d completely forgotten that I’d told Luke that, so it was a wonderful surprise when we rocked up at a retreat in the middle of a bunch of trees last Friday night!
When we arrived, we drove up the driveway and arrived at the ‘Retreat’, which acts as a reception, shop, restaurant and meeting point. We popped in a couple of times over the weekend, and the staff were really friendly. After we checked in and collected our key, we set off in search of the cabin. Luke had chosen one at the far end of the site, which meant it was nice and secluded and there were no nosy parkers overlooking our terrace*.
*I myself am a nosy parker sometimes, so no offence if you’re one, too.
By the time we arrived it was pitch black, which made carrying everything from the car to the cabin interesting. There were definitely a few near misses with me and an enormous muddy puddle. My little blank ankle boots were practically quaking. Anyway, once we’d managed to get everything inside, we wasted no time in getting settled in.
There wasn’t any phone signal in the cabin, which pleased me no end. After a busy few weeks, it was amazing to disconnect from normal life and just enjoy my birthday weekend without a million and one distractions. I’m talking about you, Instagram.
Inside, there was a gorgeous living area with floor to ceiling windows, a large corner sofa, a wood-burning fire, and a big TV, where the reception desk could leave us messages, or we could watch videos about the site (FYI – there’s a very funny video featuring Chester and Hazel, two squirrels who don’t know how to use the hot tub safely. I’d recommend it if you go). You can watch regular TV, or you can use some cables and wires to hook it up your phone or tablet. As you may have guessed, that’s Luke’s area of expertise, not mine.
As well as a gorgeous living area we had a well-equipped kitchen, which was great for us as we like to cook. It even had a dishwasher, which meant we had very minimal pots to wash that weekend. WINNING. There was also a little pack of eco-friendly kitchen supplies waiting for us, nice touch.
The bedroom was very comfortable, with a double bed, plenty of wardrobe space, and again, a floor to ceiling window. There was also a little dressing table in the corner, where I plugged in the oil diffuser to make it even more relaxing.
Finally, the terrace. Ah, the terrace. It only had a flippin’ HOT TUB ON IT. I was practically giddy at the thought of shoving my hair up, setting the jets to maximum, and being pummelled into ultimate relaxation. There was also a BBQ and outdoor furniture, which I’m guessing would be great if you went in August. Maybe July, at a push.
I’ll tell you what, something else which made me giddy was underfloor heating! I repeat, UNDERFLOOR HEATING. It was so toasty that when we arrived and I was cold from carrying all the stuff in, I just curled up in a ball on the floor and let the heat soak in.
We spent our first night (and the rest of my birthday) hanging out on the sofa, eating my favourite meal of sweet potato and mushroom fajitas, opening all of my amazing presents and watching The Mindy Project. #bliss.
We stayed in the Forest of Dean for three nights, and here’s what we got up to…
- Listening to the rain pitter patter on the many trees surrounding our cabin
- Hanging out in the hot tub
- Enjoying a mug of lemon and ginger tea outside where the squirrels (probably Chester and Hazel) were frolicking
- Going for walks in the forest
- Eating a LOT of chocolate
- Getting an Indian takeaway, bringing it back to the cabin, throwing some logs on the fire, and having a cosy night in
- Playing Scrabble*
- Exploring the sweet nearby town of Ross-on-Wye
- The night-time wildlife walk Luke booked us onto as an extra surprise – more on that below
*We learnt that we’re not very good at Scrabble. There are probably worse players, and I’ll be honest and say I was pretty chuffed with ‘patented’ but overall, we didn’t do too well coming up with words of more than five letters. It’s a good job my livelihood doesn’t hinge on my ability to write. *Ahem*.
Night-time Wildlife Walk
Forest Holidays offer a number of activities that you can get involved in during your visit. Luke booked us onto an awesome night-time walk in the forest, which I was very excited about. If there’s a chance for me to see animals in their natural habitat, I’m on board. We trekked up to the retreat at the entrance to the site, where we met with Gerry, a Forest Ranger, who was leading the walk. Equipped with our night vision equipment, we set off into the wilderness. We saw loads of deer, including a muntjac, which I spotted (gold star, please), and a tawny owl. We didn’t see any wild boar unfortunately, but we did head out very early the next morning and hear them snuffling around in the forest.
At the end of the walk Luke and I headed back to Gerry’s cabin where we met Professor, Gerry’s barn owl. He’s a cutie, and I even got to hold him!
Luke and I had such an incredible time with Forest Holidays, we’ll definitely be making a return at some point soon. Now, time to carry on being a responsible 30 year old…