News & Features

The latest happenings from in and around Belvedere House

Magnificent Bluebells in the Forest of Dean


The Forest environment never ceases to amaze and bring joy, no matter what the season. Whether it’s the colour fantasia of the autumn leaves, or the crisp, clean beauty of the white frost covered trees. Spring is the time for deep emerald greens, topped with highlights of white that is the flowers from the abundant wild garlic. And right now, its bluebell time! There are many places in the forest that one can enjoy the abundance of bluebells, but Helen and myself have recently discovered somewhere rather special near the village of Staunton. This is the best show of bluebells we have ever seen and we have been very lucky to enjoy some lovely walks in bright sunshine. Though not a heavily scented flower, the air is stained with their scent, such is the abundance of them in this area. As an added bonus we were also able to watch a local herd of deer as it moved through the forest. Make a date in your diary for next year, come and stay at Belvedere House and we’ll tell you where this wonderful place can be found.

 

 

Best day yet!


Its forecast to be the best day of the year so far and it’s certainly started that way.

Our glorious view is even better since we had some of our trees pollarded. As this early morning panoramic shot shows, we now have pretty much a 180° uninterrupted view of this beautiful valley. This area is renowned for its wild garlic, which carpets much of the forest at this time of year and is a wonderful backdrop to the rich blue hues of the bluebells that are early this year.

Come and see and enjoy it for yourself!

The Force Awakens in the Forest of Dean


Yes, its true, the Forest of Dean really is out of this world!

So, many of you will have seen and enjoyed the new Star Wars film, but did you know that one of the locations was actually filmed right here in the FoD? The action took place at the fabulous Puzzlewood; a 14 acre ancient woodland that was once a Roman iron mine. It’s also reputed to have been visited by JRR Tolkien and to have inspired the fabled forests of Middle Earth. Numerous other films and TV shows have used this location, including Merlin, Doctor Who and Atlantis to mention just a few. This magical place is a favorite of ours and only a few miles from Belvedere! Why not book a stay with us and discover its beauty and mystery for yourself.

PUZZLEWOOD GULLEYc

What the Heck is Geocaching ?


Countyfile video about Geocaching

Geocaching is a world-wide activity and there are many caches in the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean, often at some of the most scenic and interesting places.  Visiting caches is a great way to learn about our area.  There are nearly 80 caches within 4 miles of The Speech House, often regarded as the centre of the Forest.  Within 10 miles of Monmouth there are over 200 caches up and down the Wye Valley.

 

The best way to have a go is to create a free account here, put in your area of interest and go discover. Why not tell us how you got on on our facebook page!

Medieval Banquet in a Castle anyone?


Now this is something that’s bound to appeal, even if you’re not particularly a foodie!

Book tickets for the Caldicote Castle Medieval Banquet and live it up like Lords and Ladies of a bygone era.

Held on dates at the end of November and early December, check out further details and sample menu here. Why not make a few days of it and stay at Belvedere House. You’ll sleep like a baby and eat breakfast like a King, or Queen!

Christmas at Puzzlewood


Helen and myself are great fans of Puzzlewood. It’s like entering a mystical world or maybe it’s Middle Earth! If you’ve never been, you must make the effort when in the area. Stay at Belvedere House one weekend in December and enjoy the added magic of Christmas, Hohoho!

In solidarity with our French brothers and sisters


 

I hope you won’t mind my posting this article, but I’m sure there is no one in the civilised world who has not been moved by the recent and tragic events in Paris. Addressing the terrorist group who claimed responsibility for the massacre, Mr Leiris wrote a heartfelt open letter on his Facebook page, which has now been shared more than two hundred thousand times.

This open letter so well sums up the futility of the action of a few and what must surely be our response to such people.

 

Here is the full text…

On Friday night you stole the life of an exceptional being, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you won’t have my hatred.

I don’t know who you are and I don’t want to know – you are dead souls. If this God for which you kill indiscriminately made us in his own image, every bullet in the body of my wife will have been a wound in his heart.

So no, I don’t give you the gift of hating you. You are asking for it but responding to hatred with anger would be giving in to the same ignorance that made you what you are.

You want me to be afraid, to view my fellow countrymen with mistrust, to sacrifice my freedom for security.

You have lost.

I saw her this morning. Finally, after many nights and days of waiting. She was just as beautiful as when she left on Friday night, just as beautiful as when I fell hopelessly in love over 12 years ago.

Of course I’m devastated with grief, I admit this small victory, but it will be short-lived.

I know she will accompany us every day and that we will find ourselves in this paradise of free souls to which you’ll never have access.

We are two, my son and I, but we are stronger than all the armies of the world.

I don’t have any more time to devote to you, I have to join Melvil who is waking up from his nap. He is barely 17-months-old.

He will eat his meals as usual, and then we are going to play as usual, and for his whole life this little boy will threaten you by being happy and free. Because no, you will not have his hatred either.

 


If anyone has an interest in Christmas crafts/markets, they may want to consider the Gloucester Quays Victorian Christmas Market. Click the following link to find out more. Or, better still, why not combine your visit with a stay at Belvedere House and discover what else this wonderful area has to offer!

Nature’s Fanfare


Autumn is a wonderful season, when all nature shows off its magnificence before it fades once more into its winter dormancy. Living in an area like this makes one appreciate the riot of colour that abounds as the leaves descend like an early gentle snow. Its a beautiful time of year, why not come and enjoy it with us?

The Forest Makes You Twitch!


 

 

Helen and myself have always been interested in bird watching and such was my interest that as a child I joined the RSPB for a while. In fact, I even sponsored a duck at one stage, only to have notification a few months later that it had been shot! Oh well, I won’t bestow my bad luck on another one of our feathered friends. Prior to moving to the Forest of Dean we lived in a variety of medium sized towns and had to be satisfied with the usual starlings, sparrows, blackbirds etc that one would expect. At one point we even lived within walking distance of a nature reserve so got visited by a few more interesting species. Moving to the Forest and Wye Valley area however, has been like a massive step forward into the natural world. The dawn chorus is sometimes so loud that the word deafening comes to mind. The less common birds that we have sighted (listed below) are not just occasional sightings, but regular visitors living and breeding within our grounds and the surrounding area. It’s been a real delight sitting on the patio at the front of the house and watching the baby birds flitting about and the parents feeding them. We’ve started setting targets for the next bird we want to see. We were already getting various types of tits, robins, blackbirds, thrushes etc. so our first target bird was Nuthatch, tick, next woodpecker, tick (Great Spotted). Now it’s Green Woodpecker and we’ll let you know when he appears. With both the River Wye and the forest literally on our doorstep you don’t need to travel far or even at all to see plenty of birds. If you are however a bit more serious about your twitching, then you’ll want to visit the RSPB’s Nagshead reserve about 5 miles from Belvedere House in the heart of the forest, or go to Symonds Yat Rock where they have a viewing station set up with telescopes for you to watch the nesting Peregrine Falcons.

Why not dust off your binoculars, dig out the bird book (or smartphone app) and book a short break at Belvedere House and enjoy some exciting bird watching in this beautiful countryside.

What we’ve seen so far,
Blue, Great, Willow and Long Tailed Tits
Swallows, Martins and Swifts
Wren’s
Dunnock (Hedge Sparrow),
Robins
Nuthatch
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Cormorant
Grey Wagtail
Buzzard
Goshawk
Tree creeper (seen near Symonds Yat and in the woods at Beachenhurst)
Jay
Canada Geese, Swans
Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Green Finch and Bullfinch
Mandarin Duck
Pheasant
Tawny Owl (heard not seen….. yet)
Mistle and Song Thrush