BBC Radio Gloucestershire breakfast show presenter Mark Cummings

PUBLISHED: 12:43 03 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:39 20 February 2013

If you live within the Hundred of St Briavels in the Forest of Dean you are entitled to gather kindling from the forest floor.

If you live within the Hundred of St Briavels in the Forest of Dean you are entitled to gather kindling from the forest floor.

Mark Cummings on Steve Winwood, your Cotswold rights, and mysterious meetings in the Forest of Dean and at the top of Frocester Hill!

Blood-curdling near miss


When the email from the editor of Cotswold Life arrived inviting me to join the quest to find the best Bloody Mary in the Cotswolds, I thought long and hard about the prospect of a Friday afternoon of ribaldry and relaxation at the Wheatsheaf in Northleach. With a heavy heart I declined the offer and chose a long winters nap to refresh the batteries for a weekend of teenage daughter taxi duties.


Normally one to seize the day, it played on my mind that I might have turned down a spectacular session and no amount of virtuousness could get rid of the ever-lingering stench of a missed opportunity mixed with Tabasco. Imagine how I felt, thumbing through Decembers Cotswold Life, when one photo jumped out and slapped me around the face a photo of the man who had issued the invitation standing alongside a rock god whose records Ive bought for the last 30 years and whose music made me realise Id found my partner for life.


When I first met my wife I knew wed be together forever when her record collection contained all the Steve Winwood albums I had in mine. When we lived in Sydney we saw him perform an amazing concert and happily agreed it was the best night of our travels.


I could have spent a wild afternoon drinking cocktails whilst debating whether it would be cool or not to reveal my admiration. At first, I would have kept my dignity, but probably after the third drink I would have let slip my deepest feelings. Downing the fourth, Id be asking about the inspiration behind his Arc of the Diver masterpiece. By the fifth it would have been something like can you introduce me to Eric Clapton and by closing time no doubt Id have sung Keep on Running several times, invited myself to his Cotswold pile for a jam and no doubt slurred the words I wheely lurve you!


I started writing this piece feeling a deep sense of loss but now this cathartic conclusion has made realise my initial decision has possibly saved me from a sense of deep shame and being punched in the mush by my musical hero.


Have you got 20/20 vision?


I cant get my head around this new decade malarkey. It doesnt feel like the beginning of a new era that will be defined forever like the ones weve already lived through. I was born in the Sixties and like everyone, I have a very clear vision of those 10 years. I can visualise strikes and glam rock from the Seventies, Margaret Thatcher and the hand of God from the Eighties and Britpop and Blair from the Nineties. Weve come up with the Noughties tag for the past decade but what will we call the next 10? The Teenies possibly?


During the first week of this new year, we are speculating what the Cotswolds will be like in 2010 - will the Severn Barrage be a reality with new nuclear power thrown into the mix? Will any of our young sports stars have struck gold at the two Olympic Games? How much will the population have grown and will the extra housing demand mean Gloucester and Cheltenham merging closer together? It will make a fascinating week talking about the issues that touch our lives - we can confidently predict, however, that the nightingales will continue to sing in Highnam Woods, cheese will be rolled, shins will be kicked, Gold Cups will be fought for and, just as we leave the decade, another set of plans for the future of Kings Square in Gloucester will be published!


Your God-given Cotswold right


Fancy getting married in Gloucester Cathedral? Well you can if you have links with the Kings School, live within a certain proximity or have work ties to the building itself. Weve been investigating our local rights and have found many delightful quirks which add such a rich gloss to where we live.


If you live within the Hundred of St Briavels in the Forest of Dean*, you are entitled to gather kindling in the Forest. For 700 years, the freeminers of the Forest of Dean have had rights to mine anywhere in the Forest - their forefathers tunnelled under castle fortifications and earned them the right, by a royal decree. Did you know that as Coopers Hill is common land, the residents have commoners rights? These include 'herbage or pasture' rights that vary from dwelling to dwelling and include the entitlement to graze horses, cattle, sheep, goats or geese. Others include Estovers rights to gather wood or fuel. Turbury rights allow you to dig for roofing or fuel and Pannage rights mean you can let pigs loose to forage for acorns.


Some new ones we are trying to introduce include the right to claim your vehicle tax back if you get stuck behind a lorry on Crickley Hill more than four times a year and if you live within 100 yards of Kingsholm, you get to keep the rugby ball if it is kicked out of the stadium.


* A hundred is a geographic division which historically was used to divide a larger region into smaller administrative divisions.


Aint no mountain high enough


One of the most entertaining elements of my show recently has been the introduction of The Forest Belles. This is the name claimed by a collection of women from the Dean who get together in a mystery coffee shop deep in the Forest and talk about life from the female viewpoint. The latest offering involved a withering but very funny view on how incompetent most men are when it comes to domestic chores. I didnt realise until I heard them on the show that many women allow men to do the odd job badly and when we arent looking, correct our mistakes in private to spare our blushes. Loading the dishwasher seems the common denominator here.


However, for all men reading and listening I have good news to bring. At the time of going to print Im just finishing off the final touches to our shed where well meet to discuss the important matters of the day. Its located in a discreet spot near the top of Frocester Hill. This is exactly halfway between my house and a friends who shares the delight of having two daughters at the same stage of maturity - one teenager and one not far off!!! The planning officers at Stroud District Council are just about to confirm planning permission for four Sky dishes (well you cant have too many), a 24-hour alcohol licence and a firm guarantee that we will never have to include a wind turbine. If you have or have had the pleasure of negotiating the choppy waters of bringing up teenage daughters you are most welcome to join our gang.


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