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Babe'sin the wood; Everything he does, he does it for you. DAN BEAVAN enjoys a break in the forest with his wife and baby daughter.


BRYAN Adams has a lot to answer for. Everything I Do (I Do It For You) is stuck in my brain. This is a bad thing. But as I'm pretending to be Robin Hood, it's perhaps to be expected.

I'm trying to remember what the archery instructor at Forest Holidays' Sherwood Pines site told me about relaxing my bow arm as I aim at the gold circle on the target 20ft away - but it's difficult with a power ballad running through your head.

My wife Jane and I have brought our nine-month-old daughter Eve for a four-night break at this collection of luxury lodges, nestled in a small Nottingham wood a short drive from the pretty village of Edwinstowe, where, legend has it, Robin married Maid Marion.

Sited down a twisting drive and rough dirt track, we'd pulled up outside 'The Retreat', a wooden-fronted building that serves as a reception area, cafe and small shop where you can pick up essentials you might have forgotten.

Ten minutes later, we were walking through the front door of our home for the week.

Dan takes while daughter enjoys the Forest Holidays lodges come in three categories, Copper Beech, Silver Birch and Golden Oak. All are stylishly decorated with open-plan layouts and well-equipped fitted kitchens. Silver Birches, like ours, and Golden Oak lodges come with your own personal hot tub.

All boast wi-fi, large flatscreen TVs and integrated entertainment systems - you can even order movies, pizza and spa treatments via your remote control!

With a small baby, our days of heading out for a meal and a few drinks are a distant memory, but after putting Eve to bed it was bliss to enjoy a dip in the hot tub, watching squirrels scampering in the trees as the sun dipped below the horizon, before cuddling up on the sofa to choose a movie and wait for our pizza to arrive. Neither of us had felt this relaxed in months.

up archery Eve wildlife The days were equally laidback. But no trip to Nottingham is complete without visiting Sherwood Forest and our first morning was spent wandering through the woodland, stopping to take pictures of the Major Oak, an 800-year-old giant boasting a hollow trunk.

The Robin Hood Visitor Centre is rather less impressive. Many of the tired exhibits featuring Robin, Friar Tuck and the Sheriff of Nottingham look like they were knocked together in the mid 80s using left over C&A mannequins. It does serve to give an outline of the legend, but those used to interactive displays and audio tours will find it all a little basic.

Much better is Sherwood Forest Art and Craft Centre, in a beautifully converted coach house and stables belonging to the former Edwinstowe Hall. There are 11 studios enclosed by a glass foyer, with six more in the courtyard outside.

We watched a jewellery designer put the finishing touches to a new piece and picked up hand-made chocolates as presents for friends before stopping in at the excellent, if unimaginatively named, The Cafe in Sherwood Forest.

Jane and I tucked into a cream tea and a coffee and delicious carrot cake for less than a tenner before heading back to our lodge to enjoy the sunshine on our patio and an early evening dip in that hot tub.

Next morning we stretched our legs at the remains of the Cistercian Rufford Abbey, dating from around 1170, set in 150 acres of historic parkland. The scenery was stunning but Eve was more fascinated by the ducks, geese and swans waddling about.

An afternoon visit to White Post Farm, where children can get up close and personal with the residents, proved our daughter's obsession with animals was not confined to wildfowl.

Goats, horses, meerkats, piglets and llamas were all greeted with a rapturous reaction.

This attraction has all the facilities you could want but is not so slick that it loses the feel of a working farm. We watched older children bottle feeding baby goats, and sat on the swings, feeding chickens in the kids' play area.

After another lazy evening watching a movie (note to self: horror films are a bad choice when staying in remote cabins in the woods), I got up slightly bleary-eyed and headed to the The Retreat for my archery lesson. I'd booked it after our visit to Sherwood Forest, carried away by tales of Robin and his Merry Men, but I worried that nerves and dubious hand-to-eye coordination would get the better of me and I'd spend the session picking arrows out of my foot.

All of which leaves us where we came in, with a taut bow string cramping my arm and a Canadian soft-rocker nagging my brain.

I let go and to my surprise, the arrow thudded into the target. Not the centre of the target, but definitely not a spectator. With some handy pointers from instructor Robert Alwyn Burton, I was actually getting quite good as the lesson went on and I was disappointed when the final arrows were collected.

Eat your heart out, Kevin Costner.

NEED TO KNOW | DAN BEAVAN was a guest of Forest Holidays, who offer luxury lodges at nine locations throughout the UK. See or call 03330 110 495 for latest prices. Archery lessons are PS20 for an hour.


Dan takes up archery while daughter Eve enjoys the wildlife

The Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, said to have been Robin Hood's shelter

The Silver Birch cabin at Forest Holidays' Sherwood Pines site comes complete with its own hot tub, below
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 28, 2014
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