In the end, or at least at one of its ends, it was not quite the fearsome creature the legends speak of. Still, it was – the local guide insisted – the very beast of so many stories and tales told in those parts. Even though, in the end, what was meant to be some kind of large black cat the size and ferocity of a panther, turned out to be a hamster.
A poorly-painted hamster, at that.
Times, though, are hard all over these days; even the tourist industry is feeling the squeeze and having to look for more diverse sources of income. Which is why the recently renovated medieval castle at Silage on Severn does not much resemble the medieval fortress it supposedly is. Despite this, the guidebook claims it was built to keep the rampaging Welsh on their side of the border. However, to the untrained eye, it looks a lot like a former fish and chip shop, fallen into disrepair, even if the local guide swears the crenulations were there yesterday, but they fell off.
What is more, the picturesque market town of Puddle on the Squib now has a fully-restored and historically accurate branch of Woolworths opening soon. The shop is completely and lovingly restored to recreate the heady shopping experience of the ancient times of around 10 years ago. Even specially trained local children engage in the historically accurate spectacle of nicking the pick ’n’ mix for tourists to witness.
There is talk too of a museum in the former industrial heartland of the North-East that is – we are promised - going to put on an exhibition of some genuine rope from the last century, all for a very competitive entry price.
So, please visit these attractions soon and give generously to keep this great island’s heritage alive.