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Where's the Big Green Guy?
Hulks Parlour (Lydney)
Member Name: SWSt
Hulks Parlour (Lydney)
Advantages: Lovely, well-equipped cottage; very friendly owners
Disadvantages: Road outside the property can get quite busy
Last September, Mrs SWSt and I ventured to a part of the country we had never really visited before - the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. We rented a holiday cottage - Hulks Parlour which was located on a farm on the edges of the small village of Lydney. A bungalow property, it is ideal for small parties of 2-4 people looking for a nice relaxing holiday in a lovely part of the country.
The biggest problem we had with this cottage was actually finding it! The instructions we received from Cottages4You (through whom we booked it) seemed to assume that everyone would come from either Gloucester or Chepstow and the instructions reflected this. If you do approach from these towns, the instructions are excellent and you should have no problem finding it. If (like us) you come from a different direction, things are not quite so good. Road signs in the immediate area around the cottage were not particularly helpful. Mrs SWSt and I both have a very good sense of direction, yet we spent around 30 minutes driving around trying to find the place. We even unwittingly drove past it a couple of times, not realising we had arrived! Thankfully, after this minor hiccup, things looked up and the cottage proved a great place to stay.
Things got off to a good start when we received a friendly welcome from the owners (who live on the same site). They met us in the cottage when we arrived and showed us around; reassuring us that we could call on them if there was anything that we needed. Their tour of the property was ideally pitched; they gave us enough information to make sure we knew where everything was, without over-burdening us with too much. It was also exactly the right length, and having given us the brief tour, they left us to unwind and unpack, which we really appreciated after a long, tiring journey.
From the outside, Hulks Parlour looks quite small. In fact, it is deceptively large because the space available has been used really well. The whole house is self-contained, complete with its own garden. Going through the front door takes you immediately into a lounge, which is relatively compact, but extremely homely and comfortable. Equipped with an armchair, two sofas (one of which doubles up as a bed), it is relatively sparsely furnished, but more than enough for its needs. There's also a TV, DVD player and Freeview box provided. It's also a really relaxing room in which to sit reading/watching TV or whatever.
The kitchen is also surprisingly spacious and well-equipped. Large enough for all the usual kitchen paraphernalia, it is also big enough to easily take a table and four chairs, providing a pleasant environment in which to sit and eat meals, should you choose to do so. It's also a lovely light and airy room (a feature of the property in general), as there are windows on both sides of the room.
The kitchen was also very well equipped. When staying in holiday cottages, we have grown used to taking all sorts of tools and utensils along with us, as often only the basics are usually provided. Hulks Parlour is an exception and most of the stuff we had taken with us remained unused throughout the week we were there. As well as big stuff like a dishwasher and washing machine, there's also a good selection of utensils and crockery.
The sole bedroom also offers a surprising amount of room, more than big enough for a very comfortable double bed and various other bits of furniture. It's not the biggest bedroom I've ever had use of, but given that all you really need to do is sleep in it, it's fine. Storage cupboards are fairly minimal at the property, but there should be enough for most people (unless you are one of those people who feel the need to take every single item of clothing you own on holiday with you!)
Finally, at the very far end of the property lies a really large bathroom, complete with toilet, bath and shower. Once again, this is a really well-designed room, which makes the most of the space available and provides good facilities. Once again, this was a really light and airy room and definitely one where you could take nice, relaxing baths at the end of a hard day's walking in the Forest of Dean.
In addition to the lovely cottage and warm welcome, there were several other nice touches provided by the owners. A vase of fresh flowers was on the kitchen table when we arrived, a container on the kitchen worktop contained a few small sachets of coffee in case you needed a drink urgently on arrival and didn't have/hadn't yet unpacked your own supplies; whilst in the bathroom there was a small bottle of body shop shower gel ready for you to use. The owners didn't need to do any of these things, but the fact they took the time to do so showed how much they want to make their guests feel welcome.
As noted above, the cottage is also well positioned to make it easy to to anything you like. The Forest of Dean is just a couple of miles away, whilst the cottage sits very close to the major routes to both Gloucester and Chepstow, giving you easy access to most of the major places you are likely to visit. South Wales (including Cardiff) is just over an hour away, meaning you have the best that two countries have to offer within easy driving range.
There are only a couple of small issues. Hulks Parlour sits on a road which has a surprising amount of traffic on it and some people might find the sound of traffic going past a touch distracting (all of the rooms in the cottage are on the side closest to the road). In fairness, the road is mainly busy during the day and after around 6.30pm it quietens down significantly, so it's unlikely you'll be kept awake at night.
The other main issue is that you need to accept that this is a working farm and that the cottage is part of this site. The owners live next door to the cottage and another family relative lives in another building. These houses both overlook Hulk's Parlour, so the cottage is not the most private place and if (for example) you are in the kitchen, the owners can clearly see you through the windows from their yard or kitchen. Again, this was not really an issue for us and the owners were very discreet and respected our privacy, so unless you absolutely hate anyone being anywhere near you, this shouldn't concern you either.
For a week's stay, we paid just over £320 for a week's stay (at 2010 prices) and in comparison with other similarly priced properties, proved to be very good value. It was a lovely place to stay and if we ever head back to the area, it's extremely unlikely we would bother looking for anywhere else to stay.
Oh - the only complaint: for a place called Hulks Parlour, I didn't once see the Big Green Guy running around smashing things up in the whole week I was there. Shame that!
© Copyright SWSt 2011
Summary: A fine place to stay for smaller parties
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