I write these words, appropriately enough, in The Woolpack – the Slad pub that once claimed Laurie Lee as its most famous patron – with a pint of cider at my elbow. From one window, the view dips down into a valley, and you can see a path that leads into Stroud, where Lee was born in 1914. From the other, the churchyard, where he is buried beneath the words ‘He lies in the valley he loved’, is just visible. The cider I am drinking is, inevitably, pressed from local apples: ‘golden fire, wine of wild orchids and of that valley and that time and of Rosie’s burning cheeks’. It feels, as it often does in The Woolpack, as if the connections with the past, those generations before me who called this place home, are tangible ones, worn into the dark, musty, cider-soaked fabric of the place.