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!).
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 …
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.
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.
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!
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!
Part 3 to follow including breakfasts, mountain walks and one of my favourite little cafes!
The Man and the Dog.