cafes for dogs, Dog Friendly, Dog Friendly Accommodation, dog friendly cafes, dog friendly hotels, dog friendly pubs, dog friendly restaurants, Dog Friendly Shops, Fashion, pubs for dogs, the dog blog, Whitstable

Whitstable – Waves and more

We recently went away for a weekend break with our good friends Daisy and Gav….AND COUSIN ALF!!!

There is no real reason for me to write anymore, after all, you just want to see a picture of Grenson and Alf together, and who am I to deny you?!

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Yes this post could simply be filled with gratuitous cuteness, but that would be unfair, because I’ve lots to tell you about Whitstable.

First off, if you haven’t been then sort it out, you need to go! Secondly if you do go then check out Waves self catering holiday cottage. Not only is it a beautiful little cottage and super dog friendly…

…but it also happens to be in the most amazing location, with a brilliant little dog friendly pub literally stumbling distance from the front door!

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Good pubs, with scratchings and pool tables literally across the road are always going to make me and Gav happy. Alf too was having a good time, as he realised that he was able to steal big cousin Grenson’s lamb dinner (turning his white beard a shade of orange!), and then spend the night climbing all over his Uncle!

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Where do I start with what makes Whitstable so great? Is it the oysters that are as fresh as they come? Or the beach that even in the snow is still lovely?

Well actually for us it’s probably the shops! I mean you can’t really go wrong with Ruskin, a shop that not only welcomes dogs but also has a copy of one of En Brogue‘s books in the shop window!

I have to say for me the cafes and breakfast stops are also a highlight. We found a lovely one just around the corner simply monikered Cafe + Kitchen, that did a brilliant bacon sarnie.

Then we found the Windy Corner Stores & Cafe on the last morning, a cute little retro corner shop/cafe that was very much appreciated after a brisk walk along the beach. The mushrooms on toast went down a treat!

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Oh yes! There are also the pubs and food!!

A visit to the Lobster Shack is an absolute must for all seafood (and beer) lovers.

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And we can highly recommend the Pearson Arms too. We popped in for a lunchtime drink and found more dogs in there than people!! Any place that dog friendly is going to get our custom. So we booked for dinner, and boy we did not regret it.

Absolutely deee-licious!

So there you have it. So much to see and do (and eat and drink), and I didn’t even have time to tell you about the wine shop with a fine selection of sweets! But no fear, we plan a return trip in the Summer, this time adding our other friends and their little ones into the mix (that’s kids, not dogs). So I imagine sweet shops will be high the list for the kiddies (and the wine will be a priority for the adults!).

Meanwhile Grenson finally taught Alf the joys of Schnauzer wrestling. This led to Alf spending the entire last two days jumping on Grenson’s head until eventually we had to prise them apart and make them take a break and have a drink of water…before they went straight back to wrestling.

BFFs!!

 

The Man and the Dog.

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Dog Friendly, dog friendly pubs, Dulwich, London, pubs for dogs, the dog blog

The Crown and Greyhound – Dulwich Village

We recently decided to take our afternoon walk in a more (for want of a better word) posh direction. So off we trotted to Dulwich Village.

For those of you who are not aware of this pretty little spot, think of an upmarket town in the Shires and then imagine it dropped slap bang in-between Catford, Peckham and Brixton.

If nothing else it’s worth a visit just to have a good nose at the plush houses. Every once in a while the kind owners may leave the curtains open and the lights on, so that you can have a good old gawp at their fancy kitchens (note: Man About a Dog Blog does not in any way condone snooping or peeping Tom-ing, just good old fashioned appreciation of interior design).

But the real reason for us dog lovers to visit begins with the exquisite Dulwich Park. There is almost 31 hectares of wide open spaces to be explored here, and if your dog is anything like Grenson, they will attempt to sniff/wee on every hectare.

Our favourite part is the nature walk that goes all around the outer edge of the park, but venturing into the centre to check out the pond is also well worth your while.

Of course the greatest thing about a nice big long walk around a beautiful spacious park such as this, is the fact that you can then feel totally justified in visiting the pub!

This brings us to the second reason to visit Dulwich Village. The magnificent Crown and Greyhound.

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This is a proper big old London pub. You can totally imagine horse drawn carriages pulling in for the night on their journey into London.

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I love all the dark wood interiors and the ornate ceilings. It’s definitely the type of pub that you could lose yourself in for an entire afternoon. Literally, actually. It’s huge, with not only a large seating area out front, but an even bigger one out back.

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It’s a perfect spot for a summer pint, but I have to admit that I’m particularly partial to visiting here during the cold months to enjoy a winter ale and bar snacks in one of the nooks and crannies that you can find indoors.

Oh and what’s that you say? Tell me more about these bar snacks? OK then, I will. They are flipping wondrous!!

Hannah went for the fish croquettes and a cup of tea, but none of that fancy stuff for me thank you very much. If someone is offering me a plate of pork crackling, then I am having a plate of pork crackling and nothing, nor no one, is going to stop me! The marmalade/apple sauce thingy to dip them into was pure genius. I admit that by the time I finished the plate I was beginning to feel a little sick, but it was well worth it!

Oh, and we also spotted comedy superstar Micky Flanagan sipping a pint in there too. He left quite early though so he mustn’t have been ‘out, out’ (an in-joke for Micky fans there).

So there you go. I can’t guarantee that you’ll see a comedy celebrity when you visit but if you’re up for property porn and plates of pork you can’t go far wrong.

Enjoy.

Grenson Dulwich

 

The Man and the Dog.

 

 

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Christmas, Dog Friendly, the dog blog

The Annual Christmas Gift Guide – 2017

It’s that time of year again . The time you’ve all been counting down the sleeps until. It’s the Annual Man About A Dog Blog Christmas Gift Guide!! Yay!!

We’ve got quite a few stocking fillers to tell you about this year. There are a number of new products and brands that we’ve found or been introduced to in 2017, and there are also a few old favourites that just keep getting better and better.

So without further ado, let’s step into Christmas.

Cornish Ware

Cornishware, Dog Bowl £25, Treat jar from £32.

Starting off with a nice bit of crockery. For the very stylish kitchen, head to Cornishware to pick up a dog bowl and treat jar, then spend an extra £5 to personalise them! Which doggie doesn’t like to eat from his/her very own bowl?

 

Sweet William

Sweet William, Dog Bowl £20.95, Mug £15.95

For more obvious doggie paraphernalia we absolutely love Sweet William Designs, mainly because the woofster on the water bowl could have been modelled on Grense, but also because we can get ourselves a mug for a nice cuppa.

protect my pet

Protect My Pet, Gift Box for the Dog £14.99

This online service, Protect My Pet, allows you to subscribe to a service which sends you your dog’s (or cat’s) flea and tick protection at the same time each month, making sure that you don’t forget (not that any of us ever forget….). They’re also doing this snazzy little gift box for Chrimbo.

Canine Travel Kit £22 PetsPyjamas_preview

Pets Pyjamas, Canine Traveller Kit £22.00

If you’re a fan of pressies in a nice box then the Canine Traveller Kit from one of our favourite travel experts, Pets Pyjamas, is for you. You can even personalise it, and I think we’ve already established that personalised is very much en vogue in our house.

 

Dog Treat Co

The Dog Treat Company, Trio of Tins £20

We were sent these recently by the Dog Treat Company, and I have to say Grenson absolutely loves them. A new discovery but if it’s up to Grenson they’ll be on the shopping list in future.

 

Lillys kitchen

 

Lily’s Kitchen, 3 bird feast £1.99, Christmas Cracker £3.49, Advent Calendar £9.95

A long time favourite of Grenson’s is Lily’s Kitchen and they have pulled out all the stops for this Christmas. Not only does Grenson give them the paws up for taste, but all of these goodies look absolutely fantastic.

 

Charley Chau Snuggle Bed Velour Cloud from £85_preview

Charley Chau, Dog Snuggle Bed in Velour £85.00

There is nothing that Grenson loves more than snuggling under a blanket. This snuggle bed from Charley Chau, has it’s very own blanket attached. Heaven!

 

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Furbo, Dog Camera £155.00

For those of you intrigued to know what your pooch gets up to when you’re not there, try this gadget from Furbo. You can watch the camera on your mobile via an app, talk through the mic and even throw out treats. And it looks pretty nice around the house too. (And in case you were wondering, Grenson spends most of the time staring at the window waiting for us to get back. Bless him.)

 

Ruffwear

Ruffwear, Knot-a-Long Leash £32.95

This is the leash that we use every day on our walks. We absolutely love it, especially because the safe carabiner clasp provides peace of mind when you’re walking your dog in the city. Ruffwear leashes come in various styles but we love the climbing inspired design of the Knot-a-Long and with a length of only 30 inches it makes controlling your dog by your side much easier.

 

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Fetch and Follow, Winter Dog Coat Sunshine Yellow £60.00

We couldn’t leave old favourites Fetch and Follow out of our Gift guide could we? I’m also aware that I couldn’t get away with a blog post without a picture of the main boy. So here he is in action pose in his very snazzy winter jacket. Doesn’t he look smart? Everywhere he goes in this jacket he gets admiring comments. I’m pretty sure that once he puts it on his normal walk morphs into a full on strut.

So there we go. Hope that gives you some inspiration.

Above all else though, we both hope that you and your four legged friends have a flipping lovely Christmas and an ecstatic New Year.

See you all in 2018.

The Man and the Dog.

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Mercure Warwickshire Walton Hall Hotel and Spa

Mercure recently got in touch to inform us that some of their hotels are now doggy friendly, and to enquire whether or not we’d like to stay at their Warwickshire Walton Hall Hotel and Spa, and do a review. Well, as luck would have it this was also around the time of the anniversary of the day En Brogue became my better half. So what a perfect time for us to take advantage of such an offer.

Now, I’m not quite sure what I was expecting. I didn’t know much about Mercure but was pretty certain that it was part of a large chain. I had visions of an identikit group of hotels that would provide a standardised amount of quality but very little in the way of unique charm . However, whatever misconceptions that I had quickly evaporated as we made our way down the driveway. By rights we should have swapped our car for a Bentley and had staff in the back of the car rather than Grenson. It felt like we were entering the set of Downton Abbey!

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Now be aware. Not all of the hotel looks like this. There is a much larger red brick wing round the back that houses many more rooms, the swimming pool and spa, and the restaurant. But if you’re lucky enough to get a room (and to be truly accurate ours should really be referred to as an apartment!) in the hall then you too can spend the weekend pretending to be Lord of the Manor like Grenson did.

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It’s fair to say that Grenson was in heaven. Not only was he greeted by a luxurious sized bed…

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… but he also got to choose from his own menu in the restaurant. He opted for a ‘Clean Eating Chicken Protein Immune Booster’ as he was feeling healthy (Raw Steak Tartare or Salmon Sashimi were the other options!!). His verdict was that it was flipping delicious!

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But the real clincher for Grenson was the grounds. They are pure doggy heaven, with acre upon acre to explore.

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Although, it wasn’t all sweetness and light in the great outdoors. Grenson did have a close shave when he explored a wasp a little too closely and ended up getting it stuck in his beard. Ten seconds (that felt more like days) of shear panic then ensued as we both hurriedly tried to pick out the offending beast without getting stung. Luckily I eventually managed to flick it out before any damage was done (we were both expecting Grense to end up with a swollen disfigured face for days). What can I say? Hero Daddy to the rescue.

The other fantastic advantage to this hotel has to be it’s location. There is an absolute wealth of nearby places to explore.

First off we headed over to Stratford upon Avon to take in a bit of old Willy.

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If old relics are more your thing then you could go to nearby Warwick or Kenilworth for some good old castle action.

Alternatively you could avoid any of this history and culture and simply head to the pub.

We can heartily recommend the Peacock in Oxhill, although trying to obey the request for not feeding Henry is a Herculean task (just look at those eyes!).

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The Fat Pug in Leamington Spa was a fantastic pub full of character, although sadly no fat pugs on our visit. Judging by the hearty breakfasts that I saw being consumed whilst we were there I’m surprised that all clientele aren’t of larger proportions to be honest, not just the pugs. I would have loved to have indulged if I hadn’t already hit the hotel buffet. Next time!

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And to round off the weekend what better way can there be than a Sunday lunch at the Tom o’ the Wood in Rowington. This place is the kind of dog friendly place where it seems like the dogs may have brought the owners here rather than the other way around. Great grub too.

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You can then try to work off a little of your indulgence with a walk along the Cut (AKA the canal, for you none Midlanders).

All in all, an absolutely lovely way to celebrate our anniversary. But don’t worry it doesn’t have to be a special celebration. You can go any time. Go on. Spoil yourself. you deserve it. And so does your four legged friend.

 

Thanks Mercure!

 

The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dog Friendly, Dog Friendly Accommodation, dog friendly pubs, pubs for dogs, the dog blog, Uncategorized

The Horse Guards Inn – Tillington

As you all know by now, the Man and the Dog spend a lot of time between the Isle of Wight and London. This means that we spend a lot of time on the M25 and the A3. This also means we spend a lot of time in traffic jams.

If we are ever lucky enough to be forewarned of trouble ahead, we have on occasion diverted our path and braved the ‘b’ roads of West Sussex. This generally leads to an even longer journey, but at least we’re not spending all our time in stationary traffic. The other advantage is that by diverting from the beaten path you do sometimes discover things you didn’t know were there. Little gems. Gems that you would have missed forever if you’d stuck to your usual route.

One such gem that we’ve recently found is The Horse Guards Inn in Tillington.

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Set in a quiet little back road opposite the quintessential village church, this is not a place you find easily, but once you do, you’re never going to forget it!

If you happen to visit at a time when the weather is being kind then there is a wonderful pub garden.

If, however, the weather is being typically British, then enjoy the beautiful interior instead (but booking ahead is advised).

What you must certainly do is try the food. The first time we visited it was meant to be a stop off, just for a quick drink and a break from driving. However, once we saw the menu and blackboard of local suppliers, a light lunch could not be avoided; I chose a venison burger from the herd at Petworth Park around the corner, and Hannah had an incredibly delicious crab linguine. Once we had tasted the food, a return trip was duly booked in for a proper full on nosh up!

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On the second occasion, we brought along the in-laws as we knew they’d love the place too (they did). And as always with those two in tow, it led to an amusing story.

On entering and being shown to our table I remarked how familiar the waitress looked. A number of times I wondered aloud if she was an actress. Several times I enquired if she was the girl who starred in Foyle’s War. Despite these constant pleas for help in discovering why she looked so familiar, it wasn’t until dessert orders were being taken that my fellow dining companions suddenly noticed that the waitress looked familiar. ‘Is she an actress?’ they all asked. Realising that I had been ignored for the entire meal (and probably for the last 20 years, in all honesty), I exclaimed that I’d been saying that she was the actress from Foyle’s War for the past hour! At that point a neighbouring diner on an opposite table piped up that it wasn’t actually her (Honeysuckle Weeks) it was in fact her younger sister (Perdita Weeks), who is also an actress.

This intervention was very welcome as it helped to solve the mystery, but also made us wonder how much of our conversation for the last hour had the entire room been earwigging in to!

Anyway, it then happened that a few weeks later we saw Perdita on the old tellybox in an episode of Grantchester, which just so happens to be written by our very good friend Daisy Coulam!

So what do you think of that then? Small old flipping world isn’t it?

I can’t guarantee that when you visit you will be served by someone off the telly, but if you are, at least you now don’t have to rely on earwigging neighbouring tables to set you straight. You can just concentrate on enjoying your time at this fantastic pub.

 

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Get your eyes off my beer Grenson!

The Man and the Dog.

 

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Yorkshire – The Devonshire Arms & The Lamppost Cafe

A lot of hotels these days advertise themselves as ‘Doggy Friendly’. Just recently, as you all know very well if you’ve been reading this blog, we’ve tried out our fair share of them. Many, like the Cary Arms in Babbacombe and the Old Swan and Minster Mill in the Cotswolds, truly live up to that billing, with doggy treats, doggy dinners, staff that are dog crazy, and basically canines pretty much everywhere.

However, The Devonshire Arms is, I’m afraid, going to have to be put in the category of, ‘Doggy-Tolerant’.

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Now don’t get me wrong, it is a great hotel to stay in with your pooch. They provide a few treats in the room – even a four-poster bed if you request it – and the grounds are plentiful for a good walk (although they do insist that dogs stay on a lead).

They also have the most magnificent dog themed lounge.

It’s very difficult to grumble when you can sip cocktails in a  room with doggy wallpaper.

However, as you may have all realised, Hannah and I are a bit soppy with our little Grenson. He’s part of the family. And unfortunately at this hotel one family member isn’t welcome in any of the dining areas. It’s common even in the most doggy friendly establishments for there to be places that are off limits. That’s fair enough, not everyone is as potty about dogs as we are. But at the Devonshire the only options are to leave your pooch in the room whilst you dine, (not very nice for the other guests if he howled constantly for a couple of hours), or leave him with the staff at the reception desk. To us this is akin to saying we could leave our toddler chained up in reception or in a room on their own for a few hours.

Normally we would have gone elsewhere, but we’d booked this place specifically for the restaurant as our stay coincided with Hannah’s birthday, and we’d been looking forward to a bit of fine dining. So on this rare occasion, we decided to be brave and leave Grenson with the reception staff.

The meal was delicious, but of course we both hardly concentrated on it at all, as our little boy was sitting in reception tied to a lead wondering what he could have possibly done that had caused us to cruelly abandon him and leave him out of our plans. He was convinced that we’d all been having a lovely time and he hadn’t been a bit of trouble. As we rushed back to retrieve him, we found him sitting patiently looking for us with a pained expression somewhere between, ‘how dare you leave me’ and ‘please don’t leave me again, I’ll be good’.

On the second night we had room service!

It could have been worse. During breakfast, (that Hannah and I had to do in shifts, so as not to leave Grenson on his own again), the full English was disturbed by an irate cocker spaniel desperately searching the room. It had been subjected to the reception treatment, but had managed to bite through its lead, escape, and come looking for its owners!

One place that definitely should never have it’s doggy friendly credentials brought into question however, is an amazing little cafe that we found in Hebden Bridge.

The Lamppost Cafe.

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This place is truly doggy nirvana.

Not only do you get hessian sacks for the dogs to sit on. Not only do you get a choice of plain old water, or doggy beer for your furry friend…

…but your canine companion also gets a choice of their very own cake to enjoy alongside you!!

Isn’t that flipping amazing?! Now that is what you call doggy friendly.

Oh and the human coffee and cake wasn’t bad either!

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We absolutely loved this place, and cannot recommend it enough if you’re ever in Yorkshire and you and your four legged friend are feeling peckish.

Which just goes to show, dining and doggies don’t always have to be separated. And if you really want to earn your doggy friendly stripes, you could even go the extra mile and make them their own meal too! I know one pooch who would definitely appreciate it.

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The Man and the Dog.

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cafes for dogs, Dog Friendly, Dog Friendly Accommodation, Scotland, the dog blog

Lakes and Lochs – part 2

So was it to be a wasted trip? I’d promised Hannah and Grenson stunning scenery and breathtaking views, but hadn’t we already had all of that during our stay in the Lakes? Had my memories of the Highlands become over exaggerated in the intervening years since my last visit? Most importantly could we have just stayed in our little hut and done without this extra drive?

Luckily my anxiety evaporated as soon as we hit Loch Lomond (Is it pronounced ‘Lowmund’ or ‘Lumond’? I’ve no idea so I just flit between the two and hope that I’m right at least half the time). On the morning that we drove by it was shrouded in mist and emanating the mystical beauty that only a Loch can. Lakes are beautiful, of course, but only a Loch can truly give off that magical vibe that leads you to half expect a rowing boat to slowly drift from the gloom carrying a druid with a magic sword!

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Afterwards we hit Glencoe and that was it, the deal was sealed. We were all head over heels in love with the Highlands. It truly is like no where else in Britain. ‘Stunning’ really is the only word for it.

 

 

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Our accommodation was to be a Bothy (a little shed) on the banks of my favourite named Loch – Loch Lochy (I’m imagining it was a pretty uninspiring afternoon in the ‘Department for the Naming of Lochs’ that day).

When I had walked the Great Glen Way I must have walked right past it. I imagine that by then my tender feet were giving me hell and as a result I didn’t look up from the path as I trudged on by. If I had have I would have spotted the most amazing little abodes and probably would have been very disappointed with my choice of B & B.  We were all very thankful this time around that we’d found this little beauty – our home for the next few days.

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Walking was the name of the game during our visit. I was keen for Hannah and Grenson to experience a piece of ‘The Way’. I had loved my time walking it, there is nothing like the satisfaction of completing a walk that has ‘Glen’ and ‘Great’ in its title. It’s also incredibly satisfying to walk from one coast to the other. The Great Glen Way goes from Fort William in the west to Inverness in the east. Basically, anything above the Way is essentially an island. Thomas Telford cut it adrift by creating the Caledonian Canal that links together Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness, allowing boats to sail right through rather than go around the top. Unfortunately, by the time it had been finished, vessels had moved on from wooden sailing boats to steam powered iron hulled ships and were too big to use it. So it was all a bit of a waste of time really, but then, it was the Victorian age; they did extravagant constructions that were a waste of time like no one else did.

The section we decided to do consisted of a beautiful old railway track all along the southern shore of Loch Oich. This area is perfect for walking and cycling and the path is a particular highlight for those not looking for gruelling climbs. Having said that, it’s by no means easy. When we’d finished we calculated that we’d done approx 15 miles, which must make it Grenson’s longest ever walk. By the end of it he even seemed slightly tired! Luckily, along the way there are many bench sitting and view appreciating opportunities. If someone has been kind enough to place a bench then it is your duty to have a sit and a bit of a look.

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After a well earned nights sleep we awoke with a plan to venture up to take a peak at Loch Ness. You simply can’t come here without a little bit of Nessie hunting. But be warned, it could easily become an obsession. At the far end of Loch Ness we passed the camp of Steve Feltham, a guy who gave up his life in Dorset 25 years ago to come and live in a van on the banks of the Loch, and dedicate his life to hunting the elusive beastie.

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Now some of you may feel that is a little extreme, but I can think of far less pictureque places to live. You may also say Nessie hunting is no way to spend a lifetime, but I imagine he would say that sitting in traffic jams on the way to work everyday is an even worse way to spend your lifetime. Each to their own I suppose? Before I could start fantasising too much about this radical life path Hannah dragged me away. Apparently she’d spotted Nessie a couple of times already, unfortunately I always seemed to be looking the wrong way and by the time I looked it had disappeared. Clearly I wasn’t cut out for the hunting life.

We were about to make our own equally exceptional discovery anyway. Halfway along the southern shore of the Loch we stumbled across The Camerons Tea Room & Farm Shop – an absolute oasis of delights.

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Forget Nessie. If you’re ever up in this region this place and their delicious teas and cakes are what you should be hunting out!

And why wouldn’t you be up in this region? Yes it’s a long drive. But it’s only really like driving to the South of France, except you don’t have a channel to cross and you don’t need a passport (or a doggy passport).

Seriously, if you live on this island and have never seen the Highlands then you need to sort yourself out. Put down that foreign travel magazine, the world will be there to explore later, first off take a second to appreciate the view from your doorstep.

It’s stunning!

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The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

 

 

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