cafes for dogs, dog friendly cafes, London

Browns of Brockley

Tuesday was such a beautiful day in London that I decided that Grenson was due a nice long walk. First off we hit Ladywell Fields, which was being thoroughly enjoyed by a gaggle of mothers and babies, joggers, tennis players and dog walkers. (It’s also home to the 10,000 Hands cafe, as previously recommended on this blog)

We then headed up to Hilly Fields. Again, we found a park teeming with young families, exercisers (human and canine), and people just soaking up the spring sunshine. There is nothing like immersing yourself in the simple beauty of a city enjoying good weather to make you feel better about life. The news may show that there is evil out there, bent on destroying freedoms, but the majority of people in this world just want to spend time happily together enjoying a day in the park.

Feeling reassured about the human race, I carried on to my ultimate destination, Browns of Brockley.

IMG_6714

I had planned on lunch, as I have experienced their wonderful bagels in the past. Unfortunately, I managed to arrive bang on rush hour. It is quite a small space, so if you are lucky enough to visit when a table is free then I suggest you grab it and make the most of the experience. Despite there being no room at the inn, with quality Square Mile Red Brick coffee on offer (and after the long walk, with a return journey still to come), a takeaway was most definitely in order.

As we only spent a few minutes in there whilst waiting for my takeout, I began to worry whilst writing this that they may not have actually been a doggy friendly place. After all, as mentioned, it’s not a huge space inside, and a pack of dogs and small spaces arent always a great mix. Thinking back I tried to piece together a few clues on its dog suitability. First up was the art work on the walls.

IMG_6715

I figured that any place with a poster dedicated to pooches on its wall must be quite friendly to dogs.

My second clue was the fact that they provided me with water in a take away cup for Grenson. Again, any establishment that provides water for your dog is generally pretty friendly. This was also great for LOLs, as passers by would only have seen me coming out of a coffee shop then lifting a coffee cup to Grenson’s mouth. If they didn’t already judge him as a hipster dog then the image of him seemingly drinking a Red Brick flat white would have cemented his reputation.

Finally, upon closer inspection of the coffee cups I noticed my final clue as to the dog friendly credentials of Browns of Brockley.

IMG_6717

I’m guessing that having a dog on your logo is a surefire sign that you are fairly welcoming to dogs?

Of course, I could have just asked … If I had I would have found out that the logo model is a little superstar called Ludd the pug and belongs to the owner Ross Brown. One look at their Instagram and it’s clear this place doesn’t just welcome pups, they love them!

I still think guessing was more fun though.

So in summary, when the sun puts its hat on again and you’re feeling a bit down from world events, head out for some park life and make sure you get a coffee from this super cool little place. You won’t regret it … And if you don’t take my word on the quality of their brew, then just ask Grenson!

IMG_6718

(n.b. I’m not sure what the shadow is in this picture. I presume it’s not my head. Unless I’ve turned into an alien?).

The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

 

Standard
dog friendly pubs, London, pubs for dogs, the dog blog

The Plume of Feathers – Greenwich

OLD MAN PUB ALERT!!

Any avid readers of this blog will know that this alert, far from being a warning, is in fact a call of pure joy and approval.

I love an Old Man Pub. They’re always cosy. They always have comfy seats. They always have psychedelic carpets. They always have great ale. And they always have no nonsense bar snacks. In the case of The Plume of Feathers, it goes one further and supplies an electric fire for added cosiness. You don’t get much more Old Man Pub than an electric fire.

IMG_6680

But what did you expect? Of course The Plume of Feathers is a great Old Man Pub. It’s the elder statesman of all Greenwich pubs. Built in 1691 it is the oldest pub in Greenwich. It’s virtually a world heritage site. Not only do you get to experience a fantastic pub but you get a bit of history too. It’s an educational visit if nothing else!

The provision of high quality food is not necessarily a prerequisite of an Old Man Pub, however, The Plume doesn’t disappoint in this respect either as it provides a great pub grub menu. This can be enjoyed either in the bar or the lovely little restaurant room at the rear of the building.

IMG_6679

On top of all of this there is the added advantage for dog lovers of being just outside Greenwich Park. Grenson and I enjoyed a lovely walk, which is always good in my opinion for making your pint taste even better.

IMG_6312

I don’t need to say much more about this beautiful pub as the following two pictures sum up both my own, and also Grenson’s feelings…

IMG_6681

IMG_6678

I think both pictures accurately convey our total satisfaction in this pub.

So if you feel the need for a bit of history, a walk around one of the best parks in London and to top it all off with a fine ale in a fine, fine pub (and personally I reckon this would all be enhanced with a Sunday roast, after all, what in life isn’t improved with a Sunday roast?!) then hunt out The Plume of Feathers. For you should always remember the famous old saying ‘You don’t have to be an old man to enjoy and Old Man Pub’ … (Note: it might not be famous, I may have just made it up, but it’s still true).

IMG_6676

The Man and the Dog.

 

 

Standard
Bristol, dog friendly cafes, dog friendly hotels, the dog blog, Wales

Minibreak Part 3 – Bristol

I woke up with a little pounding drum inside my head that hadn’t been there the night before. Those Stereophonics boys know their ale. Only one thing could help. Hotel breakfast!

I can only state that the Welsh breakfast (the sausages included leeks) at Llechwen Hall is an absolute life saver.

IMG_6565

If this hotel didn’t already have my seal of approval then the scrambled eggs alone would have qualified it for highly recommended status. Black pudding AND a hash brown. And that is a healthy and very agreeable portion of beans I think you’ll all agree, (without a separate pot in sight).

Feeling more alive, I remembered that having bored Grenson in the pub during the entirety of the previous night, I had promised him a decent walk. Luckily for me, Llechwen Hall is situated on a mountain with acres of good walking land all around it. So we set off and found a lovely walk virtually on our doorstep.

The Welsh weather was doing its thing with drizzle and high winds, and after an hour walking around the green green grass of home, all cobwebs had been blown to smithereens! Bracing!

IMG_6540

It was now time to begin the long journey home. However, a pitstop would be needed along the way for paw stretching and lunch, and I had the perfect little place in mind. Basically, if you are ever in the vicinity of Bristol there is only one place to go for lunch. The Pear Cafe.

En Brogue (my wife) and the owner of the Pear Cafe, Elly Curshen (Elly Pear), have recently become firm friends (mainly cultivated through a shared love of brogues and Breton stripe tops). As a result we went for  a visit last year and I was presented with this thing of beauty…

IMG_3422

There is chicken crackling in that sandwich! A sandwich with CHICKEN CRACKLING in it!!!

How could I not make a slight detour for the chance to experience a sandwich of that genius again? Frankly, if I’d have been in Edinburgh I’d have still considered a detour not unreasonable.

You won’t only love this place if you are a chicken crackling fan like me. Elly is in fact a Pescetarian so you can find plenty of vegetarian and vegan choices too.

IMG_6572

From these suggestions I am also willing to give a glowing character reference for the Grandma’s Egg and Onion filling.

Obviously after the Welsh breakfast I’d consumed merely hours earlier, I felt that personally I could only opt for yet more read meat … and chicken crackling. Have I mentioned the CHICKEN CRACKLING?!

IMG_6547

Notice also in this picture a very subtle advertisement (it’s a slippery slope I know).

Elly has her first book coming out on April 7th Elly Pear’s Fast Days & Feast Days full of great recipes based around the 5:2 diet. Follow the link to pre order from Amazon, and also note that it is already a #1 best seller. Well done Elly! Whoop!

Due to the fact that I then followed up the above sandwich with one of her deadly chocolate brownies (sorry no picture, it was too delicious for wasting time on that nonsense) I will be pre-ordering immediately. I think I could do with 2 months worth of fast days let alone 2 days.

My only defence is to misquote Ross from Friends – We were on a mini break!

And a very nice and enjoyable mini break it was too. We’re both already looking forward to the next one.

IMG_6571

The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

 

Standard
dog friendly hotels, dog friendly pubs, pubs for dogs, the dog blog, Wales

Minibreak Part 2 – Pontypridd

After our less than successful evening in Devizes, consisting of strange half shut pubs and severely disappointing fish and chips, I am pleased to say that things improved in the morning.

First up we set off to the Kennet and Avon canal and enjoyed a lovely crisp morning walk alongside the canal barges that were spewing out some fantastic smells as the Bargers? Bargees?…people inside, cooked up their breakfasts. We then found the indoor market in a place called The Shambles (great name) and made a few choice purchases including 7 doggy chocolate bones for £1. Bargain!

With the morning taken care of, thoughts soon turned to lunch. I made a plan to find a place somewhere along the rest of our journey to stop for refuelling. A quick consultation with the invaluable website doggiepubs.org.uk and I found a suitable looking pub called The Old House at Home , which is in fact not in a village named Home as you may guess from the name, but actually in a place called Burton near Castle Coombe. (Go figure!).

IMG_6562

I didn’t bother quibbling with the name too much, as once inside I realised I’d stumbled across a gem. When entering I had in mind a nice light lunch. Maybe a soup of the day, or a sandwich. A light snackette at best. Once I looked at the menu however, I ended up with this …

IMG_6563

I’m not resisting belly pork when it’s on the menu; washed down with a Butcombe ale shandy and I’m pretty much in pub food heaven. Delicious!

As I waddled back to the car I noticed the accommodation, which looked very nice indeed, and made a mental note to stay here on my next mini break over this way.

IMG_6561

My accommodation in Pontypridd was in a place I had never heard of during the three years I’d spent living in the town as a student. Of course not, my world consisted of the house I lived in with all my friends and the student union. We would maybe venture into Cardiff if feeling extravagant, but truth be told, most of the time even the student union was too far away. The pool table in the pub opposite our house was pretty much where we spent the entire three years. Great times!

As a result it was a bit of a shock when I left the A470 and started climbing into the mountains. I half expected to find a ski lift when I finally made it to the top. What I did find was Llechwan Hall.

IMG_6569

If any of you have seen the film The Lobster with Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz then that is how I felt when entering this hotel. I wasn’t sure if Grenson was my dog or my brother!

Don’t get me wrong. That is not meant to signify that I didn’t like this place. Oh no. Oh no indeed. It was flippin brilliant! Lovely grounds for walks (more to come on that in part 3), incredibly comfortable beds and staff that were so friendly and helpful that Grenson must have thought he was in heaven. The ‘fuss’ levels were through the roof! And whilst he was happy with all that, I was very pleased to see that they had a little residents’ bar. I love a little residents’ bar!

IMG_6568

I had no option but to grab a pint whilst waiting for my taxi to take me to meet my friend, Craig, in town. At that point the staff pushed Llechwan Hall into the doggy friendly stratosphere. The young guy on reception came over and asked me if I wanted dinner. I declined saying that I was eating out. He then clarified that he was actually asking if Grenson wanted dinner. He was going to ask in the kitchen if they had any meat for him! Unfortunately for Grenson I’d already given him his evening meal (I’m sure he’d have received much more tasty morsels from the kitchen than what I’d given him). But super bonus points were added for this kind little touch.

Grenson and I dragged ourselves away from the hotel bar and down into the valley to meet up with Craig. The pub he took us to was called The Bush Inn, a pretty rough and ready looking pub from the outside that he wasn’t even certain dogs were allowed in … he needn’t have worried. There were already two other dogs in there and within 30 seconds a big fella at the bar was showing me a picture of his dog on his phone.

A most enjoyable evening was spent drinking a local ale that was brewed by the Welsh band The Stereophonics?? (with a little help from the Brains brewery).

As for the pub? It was great. A proper local community pub. The clientele were a good mix of genders and age groups, (and as already mentioned, a few canines mixed in too which always makes for a nice atmosphere … but I would say that wouldn’t I?). In one section of the very Tardis-like pub there was a quiz taking place. In another area someone was being hustled at pool, and over in the corner three old guys were deeply concentrating on their game of darts (I imagine they’ve been playing regularly on a Tuesday might for the past 30 years!). Add to all of this beer produced by local rock bands and you’ve got a pretty decent little pub (that is actually much bigger on the inside).

Unfortunately the ale flowed so well that I didn’t even think about taking pictures for the blog until the next morning. I wasn’t really expecting to find a place that warranted such a glowing review in all honesty.

So I’ll have to leave you with this picture of Grenson and Craig at the end of the night. Grenson is clearly ready for home and bed. It had been a big day!…And his daddy may well have been a bit drunken! hic!

IMG_6521

Part 3 to follow including breakfasts, mountain walks and one of my favourite little cafes!

The Man and the Dog.

 

Standard
dog friendly hotels, dog friendly pubs, pubs for dogs, the dog blog

Minibreak part 1 – Devizes

Another week, another fashion city for En Brogue to jet off to. It’s a hard life for some. As a result Grenson and I decided we might as well head off on another minibreak of our own. En Brogue and the fashionistas may have Paris in the Springtime but Grenson and I will always have Ponty!

Good old Pontypridd in South Wales was where En Brogue and I met (student love, aren’t we cute?!). I thought Grenson would enjoy researching a bit of family history. I could also meet up with my old school friend who now lives there and enjoy researching a bit of pub history.

However, despite Grenson being an excellent traveller, I decided a stop off on the way would be a good idea to break up the journey. As a result, the first part of this break was spent in Devizes. No specific reason for choosing this town other than it felt like a pretty decent halfway point between London and Wales, and also … well it’s just an intriguingly strange name isn’t it?

We settled on the dog friendly accommodation provided by The Hat Apartment. Tip: if you go on Booking.com you can filter for pet friendly accommodation. Very useful.

If I had to choose a word to sum up this choice of abode, then the stand out winner would be…characterful. First off, it’s in a row of houses built circa 1550!

IMG_6553

That alleyway is surely the sort that unsuspecting tourists may wander into and inadvertently end up being transported back in time, like Nicholas Lyndhurst in Goodnight Sweetheart, (a very confusing TV show from the 90s which was inexplicably popular despite being completely ridiculous).

The apartment was through the iron gate on the left and comprised of one room with a little self contained kitchen and dining area, and another room with bedroom and bathroom in the eaves.

(n.b. notice Grenson just escaping shot above).

I loved it. However, I did find the fact that the iron gates mentioned above were the only front door. i.e. there was no front ‘door’. It spooked me out a bit, I don’t mind admitting. I’m still not entirely sure that I didn’t miss the big door that was meant to be shut behind the gates?!

Anyway despite the gate/door conundrum, you can’t help but love a place that provides doggy treats on arrival and crockery of such devastating brilliance as that shown below.

IMG_6556

As for Devizes itself … it’s an interesting place. Prior research led me to The British Lion which was apparently a stalwart in ‘The Good Book’. Alas, they only allowed me in the beer garden (overgrown grass, wobbly benches, next to car park) with Grenson. This was very disappointing as the pub looked great (friendly locals, good ales, pool table).

The next pub, recommended by the lady at The Hat Apartment, was the Black Swan. This improved my mood no end. It was no ordinary pub at all. In fact it seemed to be an antique shop that also sold beer and food!

IMG_6560

Basically everything inside was for sale!

IMG_6557

How brilliant? I enquired about food and was told that the kitchen opened at six and there was no need to book. So I ordered a pint of Wadworth 6x (Devizes is overshadowed by the brewery so drinking anything else would have been sacrilege … it’s also handily a big favourite of mine), and settled down, before heading back to freshen up for dinner.

IMG_6558

However, upon my return I found all of the curtains drawn. This was odd, but then again, it is a place that sells everything inside, so odd was relative. I hesitantly entered to find places laid out and candles lit on the tables. I found a few people sitting at the bar and enquired about a table for 1 (plus dog). They looked at me as if I’d walked into someone’s living room and asked to sleep on the sofa. After a second or two of awkwardness, when I wondered if I was actually talking to paying guests rather than the owner, I was finally informed that the kitchen was closed. This was at 8:30. Either the kitchen was only open for 2 hours per night, or something strange was going on. Grenson and I left promptly. Not feeling in the mood for any more pub confusion we ended up getting a fish and chip supper to take back to our apartment. This was purchased from ‘The Best Plaice’ fish shop. I would suggest a name change to ‘The Soggy Batter And Manic Depressive Chips Plaice’; what it lacks in pun-tasticness it makes up for in accuracy.

So not the best of evenings, to be honest. Still, the bed was comfy and the next day we rode for Ponty!… Part 2 to follow.

IMG_6566

The Man and the Dog.

 

Standard