pubs for dogs, the dog blog

The Orchard – Brockley

We visited The Orchard on a Saturday afternoon, and despite it being what can only be described as ‘bustling’, we managed to grab a prime position on one of the leather sofas next to the Christmas tree. This comfortable spot prompted Grenson to immediately fall into a deep sleep whilst stretched out on En Brogue (or Mommy as she may be referred to in private…in relation to the dog obviously…that’s not a pet name that I have for her…that would be weird!)

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With Grenson doing his famous sleeping pub dog routine, I set about ordering a beer from the extensive menu of craft beers (and also noted the ‘let’s get quizzical’ sign. Two great things in one – a pub quiz and a cheesy pun. Must return on a Sunday and make up a team with Grenson).

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As we were in Brockley it felt only right to go for the local Brockley Pale Ale. After all, we all know that famous saying – ‘when in Brockley, drink Brockley ale’ (I think it’s famous anyway). I can report that it is a mighty fine ale indeed.

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But it’s not just the beer menu that is impressive in this place; it’s really much more of a good foodie establishment. There’s an open plan kitchen so that you can watch the chefs at work (and be assured that none of them are picking their noses whilst preparing your dinner!), all food is prepared on site or bought from local artisan suppliers, and ingredients are sourced from independent local suppliers, too.

In short, this is a great all-round independently run bar, selling local ales from local breweries, and producing food sourced from local family run businesses. So really it’s the very definition of a modern ‘local’.

I also noted that the brunch is served until 4pm on a Saturday, so you can wake up late, then indulge in a full English, complete with secret family recipe baked beans (hello!!), or alternatively if the mood takes you (and you’re a bit of a lush) you could start the day with a Breakfast Martini.

Grenson and I will definitely be returning soon. Special baked beans and a martini sound like the perfect prep for getting quizzical! We just need to brush up on Grenson’s general knowledge…and try to keep him awake long enough to participate…

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The Man and The Dog.

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pubs for dogs, the dog blog

The Richard The First – Greenwich

Much like the subject of my last post (The Dacre Arms), this pub, The Richard The First, used to be a proper ‘old man’s pub’. You would often venture into the small front bar and find your only company to be two old timers playing dominoes (ok, the dominoes may be a figment of my imagination, but you get the gist). It was great. But with my fears about The Dacre’s survival in mind, The Richard The First probably couldn’t really go on as it was. Apparently pubs can’t survive simply on my annual visit, no matter how much I spend at the bar.

As a result, they’ve given the place a makeover, and have added a large dining area at the back plus an equally large beer garden complete with on-trend beach hut-style seating. It’s all been done with great care and looks really good. The food – pub grub with an upmarket twist – is lovely, too. Expect to find dishes like duck cottage pie and pheasant Kiev on the menu, for example. But the best part is that they have somehow managed to maintain the homely feel of the two front bars so that any passing domino players will also still be satisfied. Brilliant.

 

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Grenson and I found ourselves a prime position in a window seat at the front and settled down with a pint of Young’s Royal Hill, one of the various special Christmas/Winter Ales on offer. Little touches like this make this pub one of my favourites during the festive period. It has become a traditional Christmas pub-crawl destination for the family ever since we ended up singing carols in there one Christmas Eve afternoon.

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To be fair, it was probably the locals doing most of the carol singing (possibly the fella in the checked suit behind me in the picture above; top sartorial choice), but we definitely hummed along to The Holy and the Ivy…and may have even clapped in time to We Three Kings.

Anyway, I am very thankful that The Richard The First is still around this Christmas, because yes, it is a chain pub, and yes, it could probably be called a gastro pub, but it’s still a blimmin’ good pub. When you think of the alternative – maybe turning it into luxury apartments – then a good spruce up and the addition of delicious dining facilities is no bad thing at all.

Grenson and I like it very much, (he fell asleep again), and to top if off, on our way out we noticed a picture of the Queen Mum pulling a pint hanging on the wall. I mean, that’s almost as good as Mickey Pearce…almost.

 

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The Man and The Dog.

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The Dacre Arms – Blackheath

The Dacre Arms. Now this is what you call a pub. This is what you call A Real Pub. In fact, it’s what I call ‘an old man’s pub’ – and that is in no way a bad thing at all in my book. It’s the type of pub that the majority of the time you can guarantee that upon entry you’ll find one old fella in the corner, nursing his pint of ale and studying the local newspaper. This means that you are free to find your own snug little corner to nurse your own fine beverage…whilst doing a crossword…or even reading a novel (I know this, I’ve done it myself!).

But it’s also the kind of place that you could equally push open the little unassuming wooden door and be hit with a blast of warm good cheer from a pub bursting full of groups of friends, families and neighbours, all enjoying the communal spirit (usually served on the rocks). It can at times feel like a throwback to a bygone age. I imagine during Christmas Day lunchtime it may well be full of actual Dickensian characters calling for warming drams of whisky on the way to transporting the largest goose from the market back to Mrs Cratchit and Tiny Tim.

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On the visit I did with Grenson, as you can see from the above picture, it was one of the times when a novel would have been a good thing to have brought along. Which suited us just fine. In fact, Grenson felt so at home in the calming, cosy surroundings that he promptly fell fast asleep.

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No one should bother visiting The Dacre if they want large screen TVs, gambling machines and burgers served on wooden platters. However, if you fancy a nice pint and the choice of a comfy seat or a beer garden that during the right time of year may contain morris dancers dancing the old morris (I know this I’ve seen it myself!) then you should definitely make the pilgrimage.

And if that doesn’t convince you to pay a visit then maybe I should also mention that there is a signed picture of Mickey Pearce from Only Fools And Horses on the wall. No idea why. But why not? Genius!

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The only down side to a visit to The Dacre is that while enjoying your hassle-free relaxed beer, the fear may begin to buzz around the back of your mind that this cosy relaxed atmosphere surely can’t last for long in today’s commercially profit-driven era of gastropubs and brewery chains. In which case you should take the only responsible action: order another drink and help keep this bastion of real pub life alive.

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We like The Dacre Arms. We like it so much that one of us went to sleep in there!

The Man and The Dog.

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Arlo & Moe

Its not just about booze folks! Oh no, I am also of the strong belief that coffee is an equally essential nectar of life. Especially if it is a smooth flat white with excellent latte art. (I was once given a Christmas gift of enrolment on a latte art course by En Brogue ……unfortunately I still end up with a non-descript white blob when I try and make my own!).

So I decided that Grenson’s second adventure would be to a coffee shop. As I’m still having to do a Paris Hilton (carrying him around in my arms), and also, as Grenson is definitely getting heavier, I was very lucky that the coffee shop I had in mind was just around the corner from home.

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Arlo and Moe have been providing quality coffee to Brockley residents since 2012, and so it was with much excitement to Hither Green espresso lovers when rumours surfaced that they were to open a new branch in our little corner of London. In late October this year the doors finally opened and the newest addition to the burgeoning H.G. cafe culture was welcomed with open arms.

Luckily it wasn’t too full when we visited and we managed to get a chair by the large front window, which kept Grenson very happy as he watched the world go by. In future (and warmer days) there is also a rear garden for extra seating as well as seats outside the front of the cafe.

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I indulged in a delicious slice of chocolate brownie (well it is almost Christmas) as well as the customary flat white (brewed on a Rancilio machine for all you coffee officionados). As well as the plentiful cakes there are also hearty lunches on offer including warming soups and stews, sausage rolls, and a very enticing looking frittata.

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According to their Facebook page they are even starting burger nights, with the first one tonight (9th Dec). (Unfortunately tables are all booked up, but maybe a take away will be in order?).

The overall vibe gives off a cool retro feel, with my personal favourite touch being the quirky salt and pepper shakers – there are different ones on each table.

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Grenson seemed to very much enjoy himself, especially the various loving glances and cooing attention that he received from fellow diners and staff. It’s safe to say that we are both very happy to have such a great little coffee shop on our doorstep. Thankfully we were told we were welcome back anytime. No need to worry on that score, I think it’s safe to assume that we’ll be regulars….and lets face it, it’s not like I’ll be producing my own latte art anytime soon!

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First pub visit – The Station Hotel, Hither Green

It’s still a week and a half until Grenson gets his final jabs and is, at last, allowed out for an actual walk. Until then I am having to carry him around the streets, which is not only causing people to stare and enquire about his health, but also making me feel a little like Paris Hilton (admittedly wearing pink isn’t helping!).

Anyway, I’ve been reading Puppy Raising Made Easy by Di Williamson and it has now become a bit of a bible for me. I’m clicking and treating away like a mad man wherever we go. Touching wood and crossing fingers, all is going well so far. The boy has done good in his first two weeks with us. However, the vital piece of advice that I have picked up from this book concerned ‘socialisation’ (chapter 3). Within this chapter Di states that even before the full vaccinations have taken place ‘you cannot sit at home with your puppy in isolation’. In fact, she goes on to say ‘a new puppy is the best excuse I can think of for giving your social life a boost. It is also an excuse to go to the pub!’…What’s that you say Di?? I should go to the pub?? God bless you Di, it is a wonderful book indeed!

And so we did the only thing we could do, we went to the pub:

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Here we are settled down in our local pub The Station Hotel in Hither Green.

To say The Station Hotel is dog friendly would be an understatement. Next to the jars holding peanuts, wasabi peas and pistachio nuts, you’ll find a jar full of these little beauties:

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Halfway through my very enjoyable pint of Guinness, the barman came over with two of these complementary dog biscuits (I’m pretty certain that Grenson is never going to let me take him in there again without procuring him at least a handful of these tasty treats). It was a timely intervention. His first pub visit was on the whole very encouraging, but at this very point he had become slightly restless. He started to climb up around my shoulders – at first I thought he was simply a little scared and wanted to get closer to me (ahhh, bless him), but then he climbed right over me and onto the windowsill behind and I realised he just wanted to see outside! Anyway, the biscuits helped greatly in bringing his attention back to the inside of the pub.

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And it’s a pub that deserves attention. The Station has been our local for over 10 years but it is only in recent years that it has been a pub I enjoy visiting. Before the refurbishment it was a ‘chicken in a basket’ type place that you may get stuck in if you didn’t leave quickly enough…and by that I mean you ran the risk of the soles of your shoes sticking to the carpets! Now it is all changed with a refurbished main bar area incorporating a railway station waiting room vibe and a huge eating area. Going for a meal with Grenson is a way off yet, but from previous experience I know that the food is good hearty grub. Past the restaurant area is a large garden, lovely in the summer, especially if you can get one of the beach hut-style seating areas filled with a party of friends. As soon as Grenson can go on the floor I think he’ll enjoy a summer evening in the beer garden.

The beer selection is excellent with an ever-changing choice of real ales. The only negatives are that getting served during busy times can be difficult (although a puppy in my arms may help to get the bar staff’s attention), and they could also do with a bit more seating for people who aren’t interested in a meal and simply want a beer. But again, it’s only a problem during very busy periods.

On the whole it is a thoroughly good pub and an excellent first pub for Grenson. He definitely seemed to like it. Which just goes to show that bribery does work!

Thanks for ordering us to go Di.

The Man and the Dog.

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the dog blog

Hello

I am a man. In fact I am THE man. A bold statement I think you’ll agree, but in the context of Man About A Dog Blog I can safely say that the Man part is down to me.

Here I am:

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Mark Rochell, 39 years of age, wearing glasses, sporting a beard and enjoying a beer. That pretty much sums me up. Until recently I was an accountant, but eventually the excitement became far too much for me and so I’m currently taking a bit of time out. This employment hiatus has led to a period of free time which has finally allowed us to bring into our lives the only part of Man About A Dog that any of you are really interested in…the dog!

Here he is:

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Grenson, 12 weeks old, miniature schnauzer, sporting a beard and enjoying a cuddle. That pretty much sums him up. When deciding to bring a dog into our lives my wife, Hannah, envisaged a small dog that would be very partial to cuddles on the sofa. I was also very much in favour of this, but my number one requirement was a dog that would walk to the pub with me and curl up at my feet as I enjoyed a beer and a read of the paper…possibly whilst sitting in a leather chair next to an open fire….probably with a packet of scratchings…each.

It is therefore my aim to get Grenson out and about to as many fine public houses, hotels, cafes and hostelries as I possibly can, as soon as I possibly can.

As a result of airing this plan to Hannah, (who is also in her spare time the flat shoe blogger ‘En Brogue‘),  she came up with the idea of me writing a blog about all the places Grenson and I visit in our quest for fine food, fine ales and fine times for a man and his four-legged friend.

And so I decided to give it a try. After all, no man needs to be asked to go out for a beer twice!!

I hope you enjoy.

The Man and the Dog.

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