Mark Cummings: I have a new relationship to tell you about

Mark Cummings with his dog Tyler

Me and my shadow - Credit: Mark Cummings

with BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s Mark Cummings 

Me and my shadow 

I have a new relationship to tell you about. I’ve known this chap for 12 years, but we’ve recently become inseparable best buddies.

When we sadly went from two dogs down to one, the remaining mutt took a while to adjust. Instead of having company, he was left all alone in the house until my return from work at lunchtime. Instead of having a fellow Lurcher to chase around the field, he plodded dejectedly, hoping just maybe there might be another dog somewhere he could make friends with.

Gradually, he’s come to realise that I can fill that role – a duty I’m very happy to fulfil. Knowing he needs this interaction has changed my whole day. I come back from work giddy with excitement at the prospect of enjoying the six hours we share together before the boss gets back from a busy day at work. We are like an old married couple with a set routine of games, food, sleep and a walk. It goes a bit like this:

  • 12.30pm I come home to a delirious welcome of licks, barks and tail wagging. Then it’s into the garden for a quick piddle. Occasionally Tyler has one as well.
  • I then play the chicken game where I race around the house with a piece of chicken and he has to find me. I then let him into the lounge; a room he’s not allowed in when left alone. I sit and have lunch with him, then I’m off to bed at 1pm.
  • At 2.30pm we sit in the garden together while I wake up with a pot of tea.
  • At 3.30pm we go for a walk with more chicken-related ribaldry.
  • 4.30pm is sleep time for him and work time for me.
  • 6.30pm is time to listen very carefully for the footsteps coming down the drive, scarper off the sofa neither of us are allowed on and shower the boss with heaps of affection. 
Sculpture Trail in the Forest of Dean

Take a walk along the Sculpture Trail in the Forest of Dean - Credit: Candia McKormack

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After a couple of grim years, our domestic tourism industry is now looking ahead with huge optimism to the summer of 2022. On the day he was visiting the Cotswolds, I had the delightfully-named Nick de Bois on my show, the chairman of VisitEngland. I grilled him hard on my favourite hobby horse.

As a man proud of the whole county of Gloucestershire, I keep banging on about using the Cotswold brand to get people here but then to send them off to Stroud, Gloucester, and the Forest of Dean once they’ve sated their appetite for the classic Cotswold offerings.

To illustrate this a few years ago, I rounded up a group of tourists in Bourton-on-the-Water and offered them a free coach trip with a few surprises. I took them via Cirencester to Minchinhampton Common where the Americans couldn’t believe the image of a golfer lining up a putt with a cow a foot behind him on the green.

We read passages of Cider with Rosie at the Woolpack Inn gazing over the Slad Valley before a rather ‘tight’ journey cross country to the stunning Painswick churchyard. This was followed by a Harry Potter tour of Gloucester Cathedral and a literary walk around the Gate Streets of the city. We rounded off with a wonderful walk along the Sculpture Trail in the Forest of Dean. Tourists from all over the UK and the wider world loved every minute, so here’s to a summer of love where the ‘attract to disperse’ tourism technique works its magic. 

Alex on his paddleboard, Gloucester

Alex on his paddleboard commute - Credit: Dan Ayers

Dreamy commute

Alex lives by the canal in Hempstead in Gloucester. He works at Quayside Wealth Management who, as the name suggests, are in the heart of the Docks.

One day, fed up with his frustrating commute, he decided to get out his paddleboard and float his way into work. He arrived serene, invigorated yet calm, and now won’t travel any other way. Inspired by this I spoke to many other crazy commuters, including a dad who roller blades to school with his children in the ‘coolest dad’ sort of way. He told me the headteacher has given him permission.

Mario from Cheltenham takes top prize in my book with his electric unicycle. He uses it to get to Cheltenham railway station, gets off at Gloucester, hops on the bus which takes him to Mitcheldean where he whips out his bike again and unicycles through the Forest of Dean to work.

Gloucester incinerator

Fancy a tour of the Gloucester incinerator? - Credit: BBC Radio Gloucestershire

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Fancy a tour around an incinerator? That’s the offer this month, folks. You know the one; it’s that beast of a building you can see at Junction 12 of the M5. You can spy the green and grey behemoth from the Forest of Dean, the Stroud Commons, the Severn Bridge, and Mars.

Those who’ve already been say it’s a fascinating tour into the belly of the beast and really educational about how our waste is now dealt with. It was a controversial project but it’s here now and we need to learn to live with it.

How does it compare to other places my listeners have experienced locally and around the world? Can it beat the Severn Trent sewage works, the Mythe Water Treatment Works, an abattoir, the Morelands Match Factory, the Severn Bridge, Hempsted tip? One lucky listener even got to visit the Toilet Museum in South Korea.