It is a part of the country which was new to both of us, although many years ago I skirted the edge of the Forest on a family trip to Wales, during my childhood. As my good lady wife is/was a big fan of Premier Inns, I booked us into their Ross-on-Wye hotel, a couple of miles from the centre of Ross.
The strange thing is that earlier in the journey, as we were skirting around Gloucester, I recognised the crossing over the River Severn, some 57 years or so after I had first passed that way. How spooky is that!
region which occupies the western part of Gloucestershire. It forms a roughly triangular plateau bounded by the River Wye to the west and northwest, Herefordshire to the north, the River Severn to the south, and the City of Gloucester to the east.The area is one of several surviving ancient woodlands in England, and is characterised by more than 110 square kilometres (42 sq mi) of mixed woodland. A large area of the forest was reserved for royal hunting both before and after the Norman Conquest and it remains as the second largest Crown Forest in England.
We arrived at our Premier Inn base just before 4pm. We had pre-booked a table at the adjoining Beefeater Pub for 6pm, which didn't really allow sufficient time for exploring prior to our reservation, so we decided to leave a look around Ross-on-Wye until the following day. This was a shame, and contrary to my usual preference of getting to know the local area as soon as possible.
So it was the chicken and ham pie, with thrice-cooked chips and peas, for me, and a steak sandwich for Mrs PBT’s. Not surprisingly the beer offering wasn’t up to much, with the dreaded Doom Bar as the only cask offering. I gave it a go, and whilst it was clear, well-conditioned and reasonably fresh, to say it was bland would be an understatement!
Not wishing to see it go to waste, I valiantly said I would drink it, and whilst I am not normally a fan of wheat beers, I found that particular Erdinger to be tasty, enjoyable and possessed of far more character than Rock's "finest".
I’m sure the ardent pub-goers reading this will be disappointed, and I must admit that under different circumstances I would have liked to explore a few more pubs in both Ross and the surrounding area, but as I say, the Beefeater ticked the right boxes, apart from the beer offering.
Pilsner Urquell I’d bought earlier. The beer was reasonably chilled after several hours in the boot of the car, although if truth be known, it could have been a little colder.
To end though, I have to say that Premier Inns have fallen mightily in the estimation of Mrs PBT’s. Perhaps I ought to add, as qualification that their Ross-on-Wye outlet has. It was all down to the bed you see, or should I say beds, as despite the company guaranteeing everyone a good night's sleep, neither of us did - certainly not on the first night.
Left to my own devices, I would have slept like the proverbial log, but Mrs PBT’s experienced great difficulty in getting comfortable and consequently spent much of the night tossing and turning and, at times, positively throwing herself about. It seemed that if she couldn't sleep, then I wasn't going to either!
I suggested that Lenny Henry obviously hadn't tried that particular bed, and rolled over closed my eyes and went back to sleep. Like my father I can sleep anywhere - even in meetings at work, as my colleagues will gladly testify, but my good lady wife is a lot more particular as to where she lays herself down, and it certainly showed that night.
The following morning we asked at reception for the sofa bed, by the window to be made up. Great thought I, a whole double-bed to myself and with luck one contented missus. But no, the sofa bed was not only too hard, but it apparently had a ridge running down the middle. With one more night to go, I opted for the sofa bed and she went back to the double, but sleeping on the left-hand side which is where I'd slept on the first night..
So is Mrs PBT's love affair with Premier Inns finally over and, if so, can we go back to my preferred option of scanning Booking.com for somewhere that is more individual, cheaper and within walking distance of a decent boozer?