Monday, 27 October 2014

Plucky in Puzzlewood - Beware the Weeping Angel

So I’ve been here twiddling my thumbs not knowing what to blog about next… thinking I’d have to wait until all my photos are uploaded from my trip to South Wales for another adventure. Anyway, I was trying to free some space up on my phone when I came across my recent August trip to Cardiff which I had completely forgotten about. I had entered a competition on Twitter for the chance to win an overnight stay at Future Inns hotels, and to my surprise, I won! I had the choice of hotel and date so I picked Cardiff Bay hotel (of course) and picked mid-August, praying for a sunny day. Luke also won another meal token so we had yet another ‘date night’ in Zizzis restaurant in the Bay, definitely recommend – and ask to book a seat by the window for lovely views. 
Because we had arrived during the summer, the Bay had transformed into a beach, with sand, deckchairs, cocktail bars, BBQ’s, fairground rides and lots of kids running around screaming with delight. We decided to head over for a nose following our meal, and found ourselves in the ‘Funhouse’. I had never been in one before, but it was sooo much fun (guess that’s where they get the name from!!)… I pretended I was in the movie ‘Grease’ for the whole 20mins, whilst Luke acted like a child spinning round on revolving plates and hugging soft rotating pillars! We then resided in Eddies Diner for a cocktail, and called it a night. 
The following morning we took advantage of our free breakfast (which was delicious – courtesy of Future Inns) and headed to the city centre. As usual, we didn’t spend much time shopping and quickly decided it was time to bring our little trip down to Cardiff to an end. After all, I was eager to visit a Doctor Who location we passed on the way, which I had been trying to persuade Luke to take me to for a long time.
 This location was Puzzlewood, nestled in the Forest of Dean. It has been used in various media including Doctor Who and Merlin, Jack and the Giant Slayer and Atlantis, amongst others. It was easy to find using the postcode provided on the website as GL16 8QB, and from there we just followed the brown tourist signs. If you are coming from the West, Puzzlewood will be located on your right, just after the signs for the steam train in Coleford.

 Prices into the wood were £6.50 for adults, £5.00 for kids aged 4-16 and FREE for ages 3 and under. They have a few animals on the farm and a park for the kids to play in of which you can wonder through first, with Shetland ponies, goats and donkeys.
 From here, we headed into the forest. Luke was annoyed because he wasn’t really interested in being there at all, so he is pictured storming ahead of me on the majority of the photos, whilst I took snapshots everywhere I looked. The main reason I decided to head to Puzzlewood was due to my love of the Series 5 two-parter ‘Time of the Angels/Flesh and Stone’. The scenes which took place in the Byzantiums Oxygen factory/forest were filmed here, where Amy is shown struggling against the Angel imprinting on her brain.

  The forest itself was such a picturesque, magical place. I had never seen anything like it, no wonder it has been chosen as a location for much loved TV and film over the years. It’s a hidden gem which I feel privileged to have visited, and I really recommend others to go visit in the future. However, I would advise that suitable footwear should be worn at all times, I had platform trainers on with hardly any grip, and I kept slipping over due to unsteady pathways and slippery wet rocks, especially on the man-made steps! I saw others in flip-flops struggling to get around, and those with little mobility finding it difficult to tread. However, due to those who own the forest not wanting to touch or alter any of its beauty, I understand why creating better walkways is being resisted.
 We were looking for anything which looked familiar to the episode, but with no clips/shots from the episode itself to hand it was impossible, and unfortunately we couldn’t find the exact spot where shots were filmed. 

The forest is a bit like a maze, I was worried at one point as we started to look as if we were going round in circles. We wondered through caves, up spiralling steps, across man-made bridges, and over stepping stones whilst wooden foot paths circled us from above, I couldn’t help but liken the place to the Star Wars franchise. (And have since found out that there have been strong rumours that the new Star Wars movies have been filming in the area).
 The only place I did recognise is the wooden bench below, of which Matt Smith and Karen Gillan relaxed on during a break in filming, which I didn’t realise they sat on until we we’re driving home and I looked up pictures from when they filmed there.
All in all, once Luke had calmed down I think he really liked the forest, and I absolutely loved it. We spent about an hour here but I could have easily spent much longer. I definitely recommend it to anyone for a visit; not just Doctor Who fans, it is not like anything you would have ever seen before! For more information or to plan your day out, please head to the Puzzlewood website:-

Really appreciate the lovely, new and exciting places a Doctor Who location fan gets to explore :-)

Plus, on a side note, I really recommend the hotel in which we stayed. It is located near to The Red Dragon Centre, a five minute walk from Cardiff Bay. It is a lovely, clean hotel with spacious rooms and a spotless en suite. Book your stay here:-
So that was just about it for my short break in Cardiff, but I have since returned from a birthday stay in Swansea, where me and Luke visited some more locations in South Wales. I will hopefully blog these to you soon, but I have just started my new job as a Marketing and Communications Officer in the NHS, so that will have to be my main priority until I am settled in... wish me luck!
Thanks for reading, blog to you all soon :-)