FOREST View was due – I was desperately searching for a theme, there was not an idea in my head, and we had to go off to the doctor at the Westbury NHS surgery, writes Dave Kent.

There used to be an NHS surgery in Newnham, but when this closed a year or so ago we were allocated to the Westbury surgery, four miles along the A48. 

In turn, the new Westbury/Newnham was shortly afterwards merged with the Cinderford and Ruardean surgeries to form Cinderford-based ‘Forest Health Care’, which at first seemed to make GP services even more remote from us.

But the latest rationalisation of services did not this time involve any closure of surgeries. 

There is a Forest Health Care (hub) in Cinderford, but the Cinderford, Westbury/Newnham and Ruardean surgeries are still operational. 

I’m surprised to say that in spite of my initial scepticism about this apparently bureaucratic exercise, it’s working very well, appointments if not immediate are reasonably timely, the Forest Health Care centre is very well equipped, the staff are friendly and helpful, and the service is much better.

The Westbury/Newnham Surgery is in Rodley Road, a site shared with Westbury Parish Hall outside the village on the Gloucester side. 

Our business at the surgery was conducted quickly and efficiently, and we emerged from the building to the car park outside.

We took in the view towards Westbury. 

And it was like being transported to pastoral 18th century England. 

Beyond the Rodley Road, there was a rare view of a completely unspoiled landscape. 

It was a magical view, like Wordsworth with his daffodils, but in this case we were not wandering lonely as a cloud.

Across the road there is a gently sloping hill, inhabited by a flock of sheep, placidly and timelessly grazing, and behind them the steeple of the Church of St Mary, St Peter and St Paul, Westbury. 

There were no signs of any humans or human artefacts. 

You could imagine that this view might have been exactly the same in the 18th century, perhaps with shepherds watching their flocks in a rural Arcadia to a background of river, church or trees. 

Sadly, there was no river in sight, although the water meadows of Westbury’s Water Gardens and River Severn were just out of view. 

Pastoral artists from an earlier age, especially Thomas Gainsborough, and Peter Lely, would have made something of this timeless view.

Landscape painters from the present age would also have been captivated by this scene. 

I have a painting by our great Forest local landscape painter, Doug Eaton, showing the River Severn estuary from Aylburton looking seaward. 

This painting shows fishermen on foot carrying nets at the edge of the river at low tide. 

The first Severn Bridge was in place then, so Doug Eaton’s painting included this recent encroachment on an idyllic rural scene, but the work is in the tradition of pastoral paintings. 

If Doug would like to go down to the car park at Westbury surgery, I’m sure that he would make something rather special.