A POEM based on memories of growing up in Stroat has seen the light of day after eight years.

Eric Lewis wrote A Trip Down Memory Lane in 2007 but it was only two weeks ago the final verse 'came to him'.

Mr Lewis, who is 95, moved to Luton in Bedfordshire in 1946 after a friend told him there was work available in the town. He had just returned from a few months in Canada where he went after leaving the army at the end of World War Two.

Mr Lewis settled in the town and went on to get married and have two children, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

He said: "A Trip Down Memory Lane is about my memories of growing up in Stroat and although I wrote it eight years ago I have never been able to complete the final verse until the lines came to me a couple of weeks ago.

"I was reciting the poem while sat in the chair at home and it literally just came to me, I was so pleased.

"The standard of education in our little school was exceptionally high. We learned a bit about practically everything. I like to think of my poem as a tribute to 'our governess' Mrs Baldwin. She was very strict but very fair and also kind. She taught me mental arithmetic and that stood me in good stead in later life."

He added: "My heart has never left the Forest of Dean."

Mr Lewis is currently learning Spanish and set himself the goal of singing several songs at his 95th birthday party in front of around 40 people.

His elderly sister Cath still lives in the family home in Stroat.



By W Eric Lewis

I sit in my chair and close my eyes,

And take a trip down memory lane,

And once again I am a boy,

With n'er an ache or pain.

And I walk to the top of Rosemary Lane,

On a glorious summer morn,

And I pass a spot so dear to me,

Rose Cottage, where I was born.

I pass the little grey stone school,

Where I learned to read and write,

Mrs Baldwin was our governess,

She gave us homework every night.

She taught us how to show respect,

And never answer back,

And if you really misbehaved,

With the cane you got a whack.

And I walked to the church at Tidenham Chase,

Where on Sunday we went to pray,

And I visit the little churchyard,

Where at rest our parents lay.

And I walk across the common,

Where decreed in bygone days,

That folk were allowed to put,

Their animals out to graze.

I see the new ferns springing up,

They'll grow so green and tall,

But soon they'll turn to bracken,

For bedding in the fall.

I'll walk past broom and gorse and heather,

And here and there I'll see a hole,

Where long ago some folk had dug,

To find some outcropped coal.

I'll sit on a rock by the "Beacon Ash",

Near to ancient fir trees,

I'll feel the warmth of the early sun,

And the kiss of a westerly breeze.

And I'll gaze at the vast panorama,

Spread out before my eyes,

I'll see the Cotswolds in the distance,

Where the horizon meets the skies.

Down below I see "Sabrina",

With her treacherous rapid tide,

I'll see black seaweed covered rocks,

And sand banks long and wide.

Tall ships plied the river once,

Despite the dangerous sands,

Bringing wheat and many other things,

From distant, far off lands.

War came in nineteen thirty-nine,

And we served in foreign parts,

But this land between two rivers,

Was ever in our hearts.

Now back down memory lane I'll go,

Not in sadness or in sorrow,

If all goes well, I'll sit in my chair,

And do it again tomorrow.