dog friendly hotels, Dorset, the dog blog

Devon and Dorset – The Finale

The day had dawned when I had to say goodbye to my little Herder’s Hut.

I had arrived reluctantly for my two nights in what I had referred to as a shed on wheels (looking back I’m so ashamed). I’m not a great camper. I like big comfy beds that have been ‘turned down’ (whatever, that means). I like a belly busting evening meal, finished off with a whisky in a big leather chair by the fireside, and finally a short stumble upstairs to my hotel room. As a rule I do not like sleeping outside, with all it’s coldness, wetness, wildlife and creepy crawlies.

So it was a surprise to no one more than me when upon being introduced to my little hut it was love at first sight.

Two days of chillaxing. Reading books. Listening to the radio. Cosying up by the wood burner. Eating fish and chip suppers washed down with Prosecco whilst the neighbours looked on.

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Perfect.

But now, alas, it was time to say goodbye. During my time sulking about the glamping part of our holiday I had insisted that following our hut stay I needed one more night in a nice hotel before we headed home. As a result we had booked a night at the Plantation in Poole to give me my required final bit of holiday luxury.

So with a tear in my eye we bid adieu to our holiday romance and headed back out onto the road.

Our stop along the way was to be Lulworth Cove, and thankfully we arrived early. Even with an early start we still needed to be put in one of the many overflow car parks, but by the time we left the visitor numbers must have easily doubled. Making the most of the relatively thin crowds we managed to have a quiet walk around the cove. Truly beautiful. Although Grenson does personally prefer a nice sandy beach. Those pebbles aren’t good for paws.

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To make up for this we bought him an ice cream. In one of the shops we noticed a sign advertising Billy + Margot nutritional iced treats for dogs. How brilliant!? As if he was ever going to let us walk by that shop without picking him up an icy treat?

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We could have then (and really should have) followed the coastal path over to Durdle Door, but after En Brogue‘s experience at Baggy Point (See part 2) and a general feeling of lethargy falling on the group we decided to head on to our accommodation instead. I’ve since seen pictures of Durdle Door and realise that this was a bad choice, it is pretty stunning, but to be honest I think we were all beginning to feel that we’d been on the road for long enough. Morale was low. Maybe in hindsight the hut would have made a perfect end to our trip?

This feeling endured when we arrived at the Plantation. It was a lovely looking pub/hotel, but unfortunately there was a party going on so there was no space in the car park, meaning we had to park a few streets away and walk with our bags. Following this I noticed that there was an outside food hut in the garden offering pizzas and burgers. I decided a burger would really hit the spot, but then noticed a sign saying that they’d sold out. Finally whilst at the bar I read a black board offering a range of tasty bar snacks including home cooked pork scratchings. As avid readers will know, I’m a Black Country boy, there is no way that I will ever pass up an offer of scratchings. Happily I ordered, only to hear from the kitchen that they’d run out.

Very rarely do I complain or lose my temper with waiters or bar staff and the like. There was one infamous time at the airport on our honeymoon when I embarrassingly overreacted to a McDonalds employee who informed me that it was too early to be serving filet-o-fish (I wanted ‘filet-o-fish for my wife’ like in the advert at the time…I doubt anyone will remember that reference).  But the lack of scratchings pushed me over the edge ‘no burgers, no scratchings have you got anything that I want?!’ was my outburst to the stunned barman…I was tired and emotional. I apologise.

Luckily my mood improved when I was presented with a delicious steak for dinner. Who wants burger when steak is on offer anyway? Then a post dinner walk down to the beach suddenly made the extra day all worthwhile.

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Poole beach is so lovely. One of the nicest wide sandy beaches I’ve seen. Very impressed. Strolling along the prom in the evening sun, it felt like I could have been in Miami. I expected bronzed young hipsters to roll by on retro roller blades wearing shiny short shorts and listening to walkmans!

The only down side is that there isn’t much space for dogs to go on the beach. So eventually we dragged a frustrated Grenson back up to the hotel. He wasn’t complaining when we got back to our lovely huge room though. It was about the size of ten Herder’s Huts, complete with a settee at the bottom of the bed. Grenson quickly bagged this as his own bed for the duration of the stay.

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After a good night’s sleep all that was left was one final breakfast. Similarly to Salcombe and Clovelly, we weren’t allowed in the large main restaurant with Grenson and instead were restricted to a smaller area in the bar. This made little sense to me. The area we couldn’t go into had a tiled floor, whereas the area we were allowed in had a carpeted floor. Surely if you’re worried about mucky paws the non carpet area is easier to clean? It also made no sense as there was only one non-dog owning couple in the restaurant, with three doggie families squeezed into our much smaller area.

Shaking my head and grumbling under my breath I realised that I’d become a proper moaner. It was clearly time to go home.

Looking back we’d had a great time in Devon and Dorset. Yes it had rained pretty much the whole time but it had still been marvellous. That phrase ‘it rained the whole time…it was marvellous’, I must admit is copyrighted to En Brogue’s granddad (and you have to say it in a Welsh accent). Basically it’s a perfect phrase to sum up the attitude that you need if you’re doing a staycation in this lovely green and pleasant land. You may not have the sun all the time but from fisherman’s beer houses to herder’s huts, and from gorges to baggy points, you’ll find some amazing places that you can enjoy with the whole family… including the four legged members.

Lovely.

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The Man and the Dog.

 

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cafes for dogs, dog friendly cafes, dog friendly hotels, Dorset, the dog blog

Devon and Dorset – Part 6

Staying in a Herder’s Hut was not my idea. When I go on holibobs I am very partial to the luxury of somewhere like the very place we were staying before we went there, the  Salcombe Harbour Hotel. Roughing it, even if it is ‘glamping’, is not my idea of a holiday. However, En Brogue had been on the Canopy and Stars website and was convinced that a couple of nights in a hut would be ‘magical’. That’s what she said! ‘Magical’. How anything that involves a shared toilet could be described as magical I do not know!

With thoughts of roughing it ahead I decided that before setting off I’d make the most of breakfast. The Salcombe Harbour Hotel has a very impressive light and airy restaurant where a bountiful breakfast is served. Unfortunately if you have a dog you can’t go in there. If you have a dog you have to eat outside. This would have been fine, apart from the fact that IT RAINED A LOT ON OUR HOLIDAYS! As a result breakfast had to be done in relay again.

To delay our arrival at the hut a little further, I decided that we should go for another stroll around town. This turned out to be very fortunate as we stumbled across a perfect little deli. The Salcombe Delicatessen provides deliciously filled sarnies and amazing pasties, but most importantly for us, they also do their own range of doggie treats!

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Dog-gestive biscuits! How could we resist? I think the peanut butter fingers may have been Grenson’s favourite treat…ever!

Following our walk we ventured over to North Sands, a fantastic wide sandy beach leading down to the water with the brilliantly named Winking Prawn at its heart providing very tasty seafood lunches. Finally the clouds had parted and the sun was making a rare appearance. And here something strange happened. Suddenly, from being scared of the smallest of waves, Grenson found his water wings! In the end it was all we could do to get the crazy little fella out of the water. (I think those biscuits may be magic!).

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After this there was no putting off the inevitable. We (one of us reluctantly) set off to Dorset and to Laverstock Farm, near Bridport.

My idea of camping is rainy tents, surrounded by families having barbecues, playing loud music and allowing their kids to kick their footballs in my direction. On top of this I’d already been told that in the case of the hut we were staying in there would be no telly, no phone coverage…no electricity!

When we got to the farm we were led to the bottom of a field … and there it was … the most perfect little herder’s hut.

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It’s true that there was no electricity, but this meant that we had to use little lanterns which created the most cosy effect lighting. It’s true that there was no telly, but this meant that we spent a wonderfully atmospheric evening listening to Wales beat Belgium in the quarter finals of the Euros on our battery powered radio. It’s true that there was no phone reception, but it turns out that a couple of hours with no Instagram can be very therapeutic.

As for noisy neighbours? The only ones we had were a herd of cows (who found Grenson very interesting).

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Never let it be said that I won’t admit when I am wrong. When I woke up the next morning, to the smell of bacon sizzling on the camp stove outside, one thought came into my head…Magical!

To be Continued….

The Man and the Dog

 

 

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

Devon and Dorset – Part 5

I left you all in Part 4 with the tantalising promise of pie. Unfortunately pie o’clock wasn’t until midday, and so in an effort to speed up the hours after checking out of the Whitehouse  we travelled a little way to the nearby village of Slapton.

I’d heard tales of this village before we set off on our little road trip, and when I spotted the Sherman tank sitting opposite the long wide sandy beach, I knew I’d found what I was looking for.

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Back during World War 2 the military had basically commandeered this village and most of the surrounding area, forcing all of the inhabitants to leave their homes behind. The reason for this was the fact that Slapton Sands bears an uncanny likeness to the beaches in Normandy, in particular Utah beach. In 1944, the US army were conducting top secret dress rehearsals for D-Day – code named Exercise Tiger – in this area. Unfortunately on one of these practice runs they ran into a German E boat squadron, who attacked and sunk three of the vessels. This one incident led to the death of 639 soldiers and sailors. Due to the top secret nature of the preparations any survivors were sworn to secrecy.

(That is the very abridged version of events, to read more click on this link – Exercise Tiger.)

Many years later a guy named Ken Small heard from local fishermen about a strange object off the coast. He organised a dive and they found a Sherman tank. After much hard work and perseverance on his behalf, he eventually was able to buy the tank from the US army, get it brought to shore, uncover the history and set up this memorial. Basically if it wasn’t for Ken Small many US families would have never found out what happened to their loved ones back in 1944 off the coast of Devon, and the whole of Exercise Tiger may still be a secret. (Again this is the short version of the story, please do read his full story by following the link above, the guy deserves it!).

After this sobering little history trip it was time for pie, and so we travelled back to the Tradesmans Arms. Upon arrival it seemed as though we had inadvertently entered a Schnauzer festival. There were only two other couples in the pub, both of whom had arrived separately, and both of whom had a little schnauzer in their family.

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This shocking coincidence managed to distract me for a few seconds before I remembered why I was there – PIE. I placed my order and mere moments later was presented with this picture of wonder and beauty.

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Now that is a proper pie. Proper pastry, excellent chips on the side and washed down with a pint of Tribute. All was good….goodish. I have to admit that on closer inspection I was a little disappointed to find that the pastry was really only a lid, and once broken through, the filling was a little more watery than I would have preferred…but hey, maybe I’m becoming overly picky about my pies? (And of course by finding a fault it allows me to carry on my grail-like search for the perfect pie). At the end of the day, look at the picture – no one could be disappointed with that bounty for lunch.

Feeling a little wobbly after dinner (from food, it was only a Tribute shandy – which I fear is an admission that may well get me lynched by the real ale brigade), we headed over to the most fancy stop of all our accommodation on this trip, the Salcombe Harbour Hotel. And when I say fancy, I mean this hotel should be wearing fancy pants. For example, the car park is very narrow, so narrow that you can only really drive in one way and once inside it’s very difficult to turn to face the opposite direction. To combat this problem there is a revolving circle just outside reception, the cars simply drive on to it, sit still as the entire floor spins and then drive off facing the correct way. Can you imagine how much the small boy inside of every man staying there just wanted to play on that all day? Luckily the luxurious and comfy rooms manage to drag you away from this engineering marvel.

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Grenson absolutely loved his view of the harbour from the room and spent a very pleasant afternoon watching a sailing school messing about in their boats. Meanwhile I took advantage of the swimming pool (I didn’t just sit outside the room watching the turning circle car contraption thingy, honest), and En Brogue took advantage of the complimentary in room Gin (Warning: tonic not complimentary).

To be fair to En Brogue, that’s me being slanderous, she didn’t really just sit in the room swigging back G & T. She had a little wander around town and found a surprise place to book for our evening meal…then she came back and we swigged G & T together.

We also had a very pleasant pre dinner drink in the garden of the Ferry Inn, despite it not really being garden weather, what with the now omnipresent grey drizzle. But lets face it, if it had actually been as sunny as July is meant to be then we may not have got a seat in the garden (I think that is called grasping at silver linings).

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We then headed further down into the very pretty town to find our dinner destination. I was ensured that when I saw it, I’d know where we were going. This indeed was the case.

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How could we possibly not be eating at a place with an ‘A la Bark Menu’?

The Victoria Inn is as dog friendly as you’re ever going to find. Not only do they provide aforementioned a la Bark menu (pig’s ear, rawhide chew, bonio – all proceeds go to a hearing dogs charity), but also inside you’ll find towels and blankets alongside water bowls, and a fine array of doggy themed cushions. Grenson was in heaven as he curled up on his blanket under our table with a pig’s ear to chew on. As for us humans, the beer is pretty special too, and I highly recommend the Salcombe potted crab. Delicious.

Again, feeling very wobbly from over consumption we slowly made our way back to the hotel, and settled down for an early night with our complimentary gin for company.

I knew that I needed to make the most of this luxury, for over the next two nights En Brogue had booked us in to stay in a ‘Herder’s Hut’. I’d have no electricity for the next two nights, let alone free gin and floors that turn cars around. How would I cope?!

To be continued…..

 

The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

 

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