Dog Friendly Shops, Fashion, London, the dog blog

White Stuff Clothing – Battersea Store

Over the period of writing this blog I have on occasion been approached by companies requesting that I try out their goods, or write a review of their latest product launch, or produce a blog post that they can then use on their website. Generally, as you would probably guess, these companies are very doggy focused. However, intriguingly I (or rather Hannah, a.k.a the wife, a.k.a En Brogue, who I’ve somehow acquired as my unofficial agent) recently received an approach from the White Stuff Clothing Company…Clothes?! A clothing brand?! Why would they be getting in touch with Grenson and me? Surely they had mistakenly asked for us, (the very much dog focused bloggers of the family), when they really wanted En Brogue herself, (the very much shoe and fashion focused member)? I sent my ‘agent’ away with a flea in her ear, ‘it’s not us they want you fool, the enquiry is clearly meant for you’.

En Brogue quickly came back, ‘It IS meant for you, there is NO mistake, and never call me a fool again if you know what’s good for you’. (She’s mean when she wants to be, it’s what makes her such an excellent agent).

It turns out that White Stuff branches are all doggy friendly! Yay! They were interested in finding someone to pay a visit to one of their stores to test this out, and also check out their new Autumn/Winter 2016 range whilst they were at it. With this in mind they made the wise choice of seeing a man about a dog! Fancy new clothes? A dog friendly store? We were indeed exactly the right man and dog for the job.

After looking at the various stores across the land (and there are more additions as we speak with new openings occurring right now; check out the store locator on their website for details) we decided that we’d visit the Battersea store. This was due to a number of facts, as follows;

a) It was the very first store that they ever opened in the UK

b) It had recently undergone a full re-furb so would be looking all shiny and new

and,

c) It was pretty easy for us to get to on the train.

Upon approaching the store the dog friendly credentials were justified before even walking through the door.

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Brilliant! We already loved the place.

It never ceases to amaze and surprise me which establishments I can and can’t go to with Grenson. Pubs? Yes, that’s easy, especially in London, it’s more unusual to find one that won’t let dogs in. Cafes? Yes, generally fine as long as the dog is well behaved. Fancy restaurants? Increasingly the case is ‘yes come on in, we’ll get your dog some water, would sir prefer still or sparkling?’.

However, try to step foot inside a supermarket/corner shop? ‘You can’t come in here with a dog sir.’ A fish and chip shop? ‘You’ll have to leave the dog outside.’ The Post Office collection depot? ‘Guide dogs only!’ (I suppose dogs and postmen do have history).

Any shop that thinks I’m going to tie Grenson to a post outside whilst I come in to peruse their wares can think again. Of course I’m aware that this was the norm a few years/decades ago, but so was leaving your toddler outside in a pram. At least the toddler was generally asleep and unaware that it was being left alone outside the Post Office whilst mum nipped inside to pay the electric bill. Dogs generally tend to be awake when on a walk and so remain keenly aware when tied by the neck to a post and cruelly abandoned!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware that not everyone likes dogs. Some people are scared, and if they own the shop and don’t want to be confronted by their biggest fear standing in front of them wagging its tail then that’s their prerogative.

But banning dogs on the grounds that they may wee on the floor, or tread mud into the shop, or drool on the sale items, or be really noisy and irritate the other customers, applies twofold to toddlers if you ask me. If toddlers are allowed into an establishment then dogs should be allowed in too. That’s my opinion! There, now I’ve said it.

With all that in mind the warm welcome we both received upon entering the White Stuff store was much appreciated. Even if the shop had turned out to be shabby and the clothing horrible, I’d have still been quite happy to have a walk around just because I could. Luckily for the successful outcome of this blog post, the store is super cool and the clothes are equally impressive.

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Now, I must admit that I had never been in a White Stuff store before. I used to work near Lamb’s Conduit Street and almost exclusively shopped at the boutique stores that can be found in that area. Clearly this signifies that I’m very, very, trendy…and also skint! Even when waiting patiently all year and then taking full advantage of the sales these designer brands are not cheap. They are fantastic quality though, and I’m generally wary of going elsewhere and suffering a drop in standard (a snob? me? never!).

However, when I headed inside the White Stuff store I could immediately see that this brand offers easily comparable quality, but with the bonus that it’s all within a much lower price bracket. Even before we talk about the clothes you can just feel that this is a classy company from the newly spruced up shop. They’ve done a great job. I really liked the little touches; the vintage radios on the walls, the boiled sweets behind the counter, the scandi-style furniture, and the very relaxing seating area with complimentary drinks and biscuits for all those weary and, maybe less enthusiastic, shoppers who find themselves being dragged around the stores.

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Grenson found the biscuits very interesting, until an actual dog biscuit was magically produced from behind the counter for him to enjoy instead (see?! dog biscuits! They’re really not joking about this dog friendliness).

As for the clothes? Let’s just say there is a new brand on my wardrobe block.

And now for the really exciting bit about doing a post on a clothing company: I get to pretend to be a true fashion blogger. Which can mean only one thing…standing awkwardly in front of a full length mirror wearing my new purchases and pretending to be a model!

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(Jeans, belt, shoes, glasses, beard and dog are models own!)

Hell yeah! Check out that thumb almost in pocket on the t-shirt and waistcoat shot! I’m thinking that might be my ‘signature stance’.

It’s arguable that the pictures could have been improved if I had actually looked up instead of at the phone, and maybe Grenson’s ‘help’, wasn’t all that helpful in hindsight. But it’s the clothes you should be focussing on anyway.

The shirt is a flannel fabric (£47.50) so perfect for the colder days that are now arriving. The waistcoat (£69.95) seems to be a big thing in their new collection. I have to say I thoroughly approve,  I’m quite partial to a smart waistcoat these days. I’ll probably pair with a shirt but I think it almost works with the polka polo (£37.50)? Then of course there is the big cuddly jumper (£55.00) on the right, ideal for a winter evening in front of a roaring fire.

Last but not least how could I possibly resist ‘Howling Wolf‘ socks (£9.95)?

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I am aware that I have only focussed on the men’s range. Sorry girls. We are MAN about a dog though. We didn’t spend much time in the ladies section if I’m honest, but from the items I saw the quality and style seems an equal match to the men’s items I’ve highlighted above.

So there you have it. The perfect shop for all of us who love fashion as well as love dogs.

Get you and your pooch down to your nearest branch is what I say…at the very least you might get a biscuit each!

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The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

The Cary Arms – Babbacombe

Recently it was our anniversary … that’s me and En Brogue, not me and Grenson.

As a result we decided to return to Devon for the weekend. As you may well have already read on this very blog, we had not long returned from a road trip to Devon and Dorset. When planning that holibob we had considered the Cary Arms, but after much calculator bashing, we had finally decided that it was the kind of visit that was only justifiable if attached to a special occasion. Now, a few weeks later, we came to the conclusion that a wedding anniversary fitted this criteria perfectly. So we all jumped in the car and after a short 7 hour drive (damn you M25), we found ourselves descending a familiar hair pin, vertically challenging lane, (that they love so much in this part of the country), down into Babbacombe Harbour.

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The problem with those cliff face descents is that it can only mean an equally hairy ascent awaits you at the end of your stay (see our previous Devon ascents here). Luckily all of those fears were forgotten due to the magnificent Cary Arms. It really is difficult to know where to start with this place. It’s like falling in love at first sight three times in a row. First with the stunning bay, then with the atmospheric bar and finally when presented with our magnificent accommodation.

I think I’ll kick off with our room, which in actual fact was a beach hut. Now if you’ve suddenly had an image enter your head of a small little wooden hut, half filled with deckchairs, and with a bbq pushed into a corner, then banish those thoughts immediately. I think the fact that they refer to their brand spanking new accommodation as ‘huts’ may be simply an affectionate touch. They are anything but hut like. Not that I have anything against huts, you’ll know that if you’ve read about our stay in a Herders Hut on our last expedition to Devon and Dorset. But check out the pictures below! This is no beach hut.

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With the most dreamy soft bed (facing the porthole that gives a view of the bay the minute you wake), a plush wet room, mini bar, HD TV, Wi Fi sound system, and balcony with a view to die for, this is accommodation on the luxury level.

And this isn’t even the fanciest of the accommodation on offer. If you really want to put your fancy pants on then there are suites available to hire too!

We were all very happy with our beach hut, especially Grenson who was provided with biscuits, a bed and a ball. Look at the bottom left picture above to see just how happy he was with all of this!

Once settled we enjoyed a complimentary sloe gin on our balcony and fell in love with the bay. Truly stunning. I always thought that they referred to this area as the ‘English Riviera’ in an entirely ironic way, but it turns out it’s totally justified. Apparently you occasionally get pods of dolphins in the harbour and there is even a bell that should be rung to announce a sighting.

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Unfortunately there was to be no ringing of bells during our weekend. Luckily though, we didn’t miss out on the sea-life, as there is a local celebrity seal called Sammy that regularly hangs around by the fishermen waiting for scraps. And he’s flipping magnificent!!

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We kept Grenson well away. With his new found love of the water he’d have been straight in there looking to make friends.

Finally the main building. It’s a ‘proper job’ type of place. The real deal. All dark wood and low ceilings giving the impression that it’s been here as long as the cliffs that circle the bay. It’s lovely to have the new mod-con, stylish, accommodation alongside a no nonsense main bar. I could have spent a lifetime in that bar looking out at the bay trying to spot dolphins.

And the food!! Flip me it’s tasty fare.

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Grenson also had a dinner brought out to him during our evening meals. Lamb and cous cous no less. Fine dining even for the dog!

He also managed to somehow get me to share a bit of that sausage with him that you can see on the mightily impressive breakfast above. It’s hard to resist him when he looks at you like this…

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As for doggy friendliness? This place is off the scale. As one fellow dog owning guest put it, many places advertise as dog friendly but turn out to be more along the lines of dog tolerant. This place is really and truly a doggy paradise.

Upon arriving Grenson was immediately greeted with a wrestle from a cute little curly haired blonde!

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Then we realised that pretty much all of our neighbours had dogs. And one of them turned out to be really quite special.

En Brogue returned from taking Grenson for a little morning walk in a state of unusual excitement. ‘I think our next door neighbour is Tuna the Chiweenie’ she exclaimed. As you can imagine, this caused a reaction from me that ranged from ‘Eh?’ to ‘…’. Who was Tuna and what the hell was a Chiweenie?

I was to find out later that evening as we met Tuna the little Chihuahua / Sausage dog cross in the residents bar. This was no ordinary dog. This was a mega star! It turns out that Tuna (or tunameltsmyheart as he’s better known) currently has over 1.8 MILLION followers on Instagram.

Here was I thinking Grenson was doing pretty well by edging nearer to 1000 followers, when this swaggering superstar has 1.8M! That’s ONE POINT EIGHT MILLION!!!

I immediately set Grenson to the task of picking up some tips.

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He obviously needs a fancy jacket and neckerchief!

From superstar dogs to celebrity seals, this place has it all. So if you also have a special occasion (or just fancy being fancy) then I can highly recommend you make your way to Babbacombe and this really special place .

Oh, and even the climb back up the hill wasn’t all that bad in the end. I don’t know what all the worry was about really!

 

The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

 

 

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dog friendly restaurants, London, the dog blog

Art exhibitions and L’Escargot

We went ‘up west’ last week for a night out. Grenson and I had been into central London before, but this was our first real night out in the big city. And what a night we had planned!

En Brogue did a brilliant interview recently with The Honey Hunter (which involved quite a lot of the sticky stuff tasting … and by the way honey and cheese is a brilliant combination, you should try it!). She then wrote a whole piece about bees and honey for the September issue of Instyle magazine. As a result she’s become a bit of a crusader for the little stripy fellas.

So when the opportunity to attend the opening of a new exhibition by Jessica Albarn at the Lawrence Alkin Gallery  that was centred all around bees fell on her desk, she jumped at the invite. (The fact that her teenage heroes Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon were also likely to be there was just a bonus really). Add to this the fact that they said that it was ok to bring along Grenson and there was no stopping us.

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And what a fantastic exhibition it was. There really were some beautiful pieces on show, from large interactive artworks to intricate little pencil drawings. And what a great theme. Think about it: bees are great. They make honey for flips’ sake. Imagine if flies started producing marmite, or moths came out with their own range of marmalade?! We’d think they were awesome and do everything to encourage them. Bees make honey, honey is delicious. Let’s save bees!

The exhibition goes on until 24th September, if you get a chance I highly recommend that you take a look.

After this we needed food. We’d heard that a local Soho institution was super dog friendly, and we were keen to put this to the test. So we headed over to Greek Street and the oldest French restaurant in London, L’Escargot.

If you’ve never been, then let me tell you that L’Escargot is pretty special. Step inside and you totally understand that the claim to be the oldest and most celebrated French restaurant in London is no empty boast. It is oozing sophisticated chic French style.

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The thought that this place would allow us to dine with Grenson under the table seemed a bit unlikely to me. However, as with the French in general it seems, they truly are les amis du chien! Within minutes of us being seated a big bowl of water arrived for Grenson (in fact I think he got his water before we did!).

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It’s a beautiful building and a refined atmosphere, and the food is great too. There was no way I was dining at L’Escargot and not having the l’escargot. That would be ridiculous.

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Verdict: hmmmm, not sure. My brain kind of expects them to taste of the sea, like whelks or some other shellfish. Instead they kind of taste more … earthy. I ate them all though and enjoyed them … in a weird way. There was no weirdness about my enjoyment of the parsley and garlic sauce that they were served in however. Absolutely delicious!

The rest of the meal avoided any weirdness and instead just stayed with the delicious vibe. At the end of the night we waddled out, unable to fit another thing in. The dishes aren’t huge but they are so rich in flavour they may require you to rush home quickly to put on your tracksuit bottoms.

So there you have it, art, Blur, bees, snails that aren’t fishy, and finishing it all off in your trackie bums. Just your average fantastic night up west really.

 

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The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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cafes for dogs, dog friendly cafes, London, the dog blog

The Archie Parker – Forest Hill

How has it taken me this long to try out The Archie Parker?

What a name! It’s so cool. Surely it has to be homage to a character from a swinging Sixties Michael Caine classic?  But no, it is even better than that, the truth is that the cafe is named in honour of a little guy even cooler than a Caine character…the owners’ Miniature Schnauzer!

A cafe named in honour of a Mini Schnauzer? What have I been playing at?

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The Archie Parker is a lovely quaint cafe with a 60/70s vibe that can be found just a few minutes walk from Forest Hill train station, along Dartmouth Road. Once there it is difficult to miss the influence of Archie, from the shop logo and the blackboard outside…

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…to the pictures adorning the walls.

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But my personal favourite is the little silhouette on the windows.

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That is pretty awesome.

Then as if this wasn’t enough the man himself arrived on a rare fleeting visit to the shop. Unfortunately the excitement was all too much and I failed to get a picture of the momentous meeting of Archie and Grenson. Some things are best left to the imagination…(I know, I’m a fool. Sorry. Maybe next time?).

Anyway, the reason to visit the Archie Parker isn’t limited to Schnauzer appreciation.

It’s a flipping great cafe!

I had a delicious steak ciabatta that Grenson almost sneaked off with whilst I was trying to take a piccie. (Serves me right I suppose, ‘food is for eating not taking pictures of’, so says Grenson).

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Luckily for me it wasn’t long before Grenson was brought out a little snack of his own.

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Wonderful. So there you have it. Full on Schnauzer appreciation, tasty ciabattas, doggy treats and smooth coffee (sourced from Dark Fluid coffee a local roastery, and also supplier of my essential Brockley Market coffee hit on a Saturday morning). If you need more convincing then bear in mind that this place is also stylish enough to get the Lewisham Card and South East London Journal seal of approval.

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Don’t be a fool like me. Get over there ASAP and check it out…and keep your camera nice and handy just in case Archie makes an appearance.

 

The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

 

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