We were lost in the woods, and there was no denying it...
SO I had failed on two counts. Standing in the middle of an extraordinary landscape of twisted, gnarly, knotted woodland, it was becoming clear that I had no idea of how we would get back out to civilisation.
Surrounded as we were by 14 acres of dense forest, peppered with a maze of paths between moss-covered boulders, tumble-down oaks and yew roots that bulged from the earth like veins on a boxer's hand – I felt the sinking realisation that we might be lost here for some time.
My 18-month-old son looked up at me with trusting eyes, while my wife frowned suspiciously – I had failed not only to keep track of the way out, but also to spot the word "puzzle" in the title of this stretch of hopelessly complex woodland.
Puzzlewood attracts thousands of holidaymakers each year, as one of the most intriguing attractions in the Forest of Dean, and as a filming location you will have seen the woodland used as a setting for everything from the CBeebies' series Tree Fu Tom to top Hollywood movies like Jack The Giant Killer – one of the promised box office blockbusters of 2013.
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But although the backdrop may be familiar to fans of the silver screen, with each corner you turn, you soon realise that each square acre of the forest looks identical to the last.
It's not long before you are hopelessly lost, and if you imagine there must be helpful little signs dotted around the woodland to help you to make your way back out, think again – you're on your own, and in Puzzlewood nobody will hear you scream – apart from your wife and child.
On the morning in question, we truly were on our own – we'd hardly seen any other tourists all day. My mobile phone signal was patchy at best, and our toddler was getting hungry and tired.
"Not a problem," I announced with faux confidence. "All we have to do is look at which side of the trees the moss is growing on."
My wife examined the trees around her, as panic began to hover in her voice: "But there is moss on every side of the trees!"
"Is there? Really?" I said, my cover blown. We were lost in the woods, and there was no denying it.
Suddenly my mind started to flashback to the abject luxury of our bolthole for the weekend – the wonderful Tudor Farmhouse hotel, just a mile or so down the road at Clearwell.
From the moment we had arrived, we were welcomed with such warmth by the attentive staff, dined in style at the hotel's chi-chi restaurant, where head chef Blaine Reed had demonstrated why he has built up an impressive reputation for fine, but unpretentious dining, which thrives on locally sourced ingredients and mouth-watering dishes.
The establishment, which partly dates back to the 13th Century, boasts two coveted AA rosettes – and is clearly the pride and joy of owners Hari and Colin Fell.
Our room for the weekend, The Loft, is the exquisitely renovated top floor of the one-time farm's ciderhouse, enjoying beautiful views across the Forest countryside – with hens and ducks waddling around the picture postcard gardens, while wild ponies gallop on the crest of the nearby hill.
There is plenty to do within a few miles of the hotel – from the family steam train rides at the Perrygrove Railway (a real hit with my little boy – as he himself said: "choo-choo yeah!") through to the subterranean wonders of Clearwell Caves.
It's a whole other world, just a short hop over the bridge from Bristol – and the Tudor Farmhouse seemed the perfect base from which to explore both the historic Forest of Dean and the nearby Wye Valley.
But the comforts of the hotel all seemed so near, and yet so far, as we continued to tramp through the verdant shade of Puzzlewood. The little man had walked enough, and so I found myself clambering up and down the muddy paths, holding a growing toddler in one hand and my camera in the other.
Just as I was giving up all hope of salvation – as I was beginning to consider setting up a feral existence in the woods – I heard the snuffling of the Gloucester Old Spots on the farm, the sun broke through as we reached the edge of the canopy, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
"There you go," I told my wife with a shrug of the shoulders. "I always knew we'd be fine if we just paid attention to how the moss was growing on the trees."
For more information about breaks at the Tudor Farmhouse visit the website at www.tudorfarmhousehotel.co.uk or call 01594 833046.