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 and Dorset – Part 4

We awoke to find that the drizzle of the previous day had disappeared … to be replaced by a full on downpour. Not to worry. On the way to The White House we had stopped at a service station called Ashby’s. On entering the shop we were amazed to find that it was in fact an Aladdin’s cave of ALL the outdoor clothing and equipment you could ever need (including doggy lifejackets!). I was very happy for the opportunity to rectify my mistake of relying on the British summertime, and purchased a rather snazzy new ‘mac in a sac’.

We had planned a walk in Dartmouth for our morning adventure, and the rain was not going to stop us, not now that I had my trusty waterproof jacket. Smugly I removed it from its ‘sac’ and shook it out … only to find two legs of a pair of trousers unfold themselves! Damn it! Off we set on a detour back to Ashby’s with the full intention of trying to negotiate an exchange. By the time we’d driven there through the pounding rain the more sensible option was clearly to get a coat as well as the trousers. In fact Hannah and Grenson were so jealous of my full on waterproof suit that they had to purchase themselves waterproofs too!

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Who was it who said ‘there is no such thing as the wrong weather, only the wrong type of clothing’? Whoever it was they were an idiot.

Our walk took us up a path around the back of Dartmouth Castle and on to Compass Cove following part of the South West Coastal Path. The walk itself wasn’t too bad but I’m sure the views of the harbour would have been much more impressive if not covered in cloud. To make matters worse, halfway along our route we found our path blocked by a gang of very suspicious looking cows. We didn’t like the look of them. They looked shifty.  So we abandoned the walk and turned back.

It wasn’t a full disaster. The woods were lovely, the totally justifiable use of full wet weather gear is always good for making you feel like a proper adventurer (Bear Grylls eat your heart out), and Grenson loves a walk in long grass and the rain. It is guaranteed to send him ‘cracker dog’ (i.e. he runs around at full speed with his bum tucked in under himself, like his front legs can’t quite keep up with his back ones!).

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Another reason for our return to the car may have been to do with a recommendation we had been given for a fish and chip restaurant in nearby Beesands. By now it was way past lunchtime and there is nothing like a bracing walk to whet the appetite (even if it is only half a walk).

The Britannia @ The Beach is also known as ‘The Shack’, and when I first caught sight of it I realised why.

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We were shown to a table in the gazebo that serves as the main dining room. My expectations weren’t soaring, but by now I was literally starving (and by literally I mean I was slightly hungry having not eaten for a matter of hours).

There was no need for fear. I should know by now that unassuming little places like this often serve up the best food you’re likely to find, and this place did not disappoint.

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Look at the batter on that haddock. GET IN MY BELLY!!

We returned to our accommodation and an afternoon snooze may or may not have been enjoyed by all.

Once we awoke we decided that a nice evening stroll to the local pub was in order.  The Tradesman’s Arms was flipping brilliant.

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We found ourselves a couple of stools at the bar to perch on, and having not long consumed our fish and chips settled for a couple of packets of crisps with our liquid refreshment (dinner of kings). However, whilst sitting at the bar enjoying my beer I spotted the pies that were coming out of the kitchen. Oh my! They looked absolutely delicious. Add to this the fact that behind the bar hung the sign pictured below.

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That settled it, we immediately booked ourselves in for lunch the next day.

Tune in next time for a full pie review!

To be continued…..

The Man and the Dog

 

 

 

 

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Devon and Dorset – Part 2

Having finally managed to escape the climb out of Clovelly we decided that we’d spend the morning investigating more cliff faces (this time on foot rather than in the car!). So we headed over to the brilliantly monikered Baggy Point that sits just above the beautiful Croyde Bay.

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It offered stunning views, a breathtaking walk along the coastal path, and enough fresh air to blow out all of our cobwebs…it’s also a National Trust site so yet another free car park for us..bonus!

We found that a particular highlight of the walk was finding the lovely little wooden doors carved into tree trunks along the way. They look like tiny fairy homes and if you gently open the door you’ll find a little offering of pressed flowers. Isn’t that lovely?

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Anyway, before I completely lose my carefully procured macho image lets move on.

Once you’ve completed your walk, which should take no more than an hour, (unless you get a bit freaked out by some of the edges like En Brogue did and need a bit of a sit down), you’ll find the brilliant Sandleigh Tea Rooms waiting for you back at the car park.

 

There was no way I was going any further on this Devon trip without a cream tea. You can see above that the one I got was truly top notch. It was a beautiful morning (little did we know it was going to be our only one!), and with plenty of outdoor seating and much needed water bowls on hand it scores highly on the dog friendly chart.

Our ultimate destination today was Palmers Barn B&B in Tavistock, which involved quite a drive South to the outskirts of Dartmoor.

On the way we planned to stop off at a site that we had heard a lot about. A magical sounding church that stood at the top of a Tor surrounded by an Iron Age fort. Brentor  is indeed stunning. Especially when you consider that it is still a working church, with the flock clambering up here for services every Sunday. Unfortunately at the time of our visit the roof was being repaired which meant the entire church was covered on all sides with scaffolding! Oh well the views of Dartmoor from up high was worth the stop off anyway.

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Palmers Barn was just a short drive away and we were very pleased to be shown our room and catch a sneak preview of the breakfast room (we’d read that breakfast was pretty special and weren’t to be disappointed, any place that provides Dorset Cereals gets a thumbs up from me, I’m a sucker for a fancy cereal).

Alas it was not breakfast time when we arrived and so in need of evening sustenance we headed down the road into Tavistock.

We very quickly stumbled upon the Cornish Arms. What a great find. Very welcoming to Grenson with the staff bringing him over a bowl of water, and then for us humans probably the best meal we had on the entire journey. I had a simple pork chop, with some sort of tarragon sauce and a side of apple sauce and deliciously crisp chips, and Hannah had chicken curry which was head and shoulders above your average pub curry (which to be fair is usually pretty good anyway).

 

After this we popped into a lovely little local shop filled with an aromatic smell of local lavender. They sold a great selection of local beers and wines, so we decided to stock up and take it back to the B&B, for this was the night that England were to take on the mighty Iceland in the Euros…..the less said about that the better!!!

To be continued…..

 

The Man and the Dog.

 

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PO41 – Isle of Wight

Much like Feargal Sharkey and his problem with hearts, a good coffee shop can also be hard to find. Of course, that statement doesn’t hold if you happen to reside in a major city. If that’s the case then you’re likely to trip over a trendy barista led establishment at regular points along your walk to work/the shops/the gym/school … do school kids drink coffee? Is there a minimum age? It wouldn’t be right for a ten year old to have an espresso surely? Or are they only interested in fried chicken until the age of 16?

I digress.

If you don’t happen to be in the big city then, as Feargal almost says, a good coffee can be hard to find. And so it was a very pleasant surprise, whilst wandering around the lovely little town of Yarmouth on the Island (you know me well enough by now, you know my affinity with the Isle of Wight, I think we can start calling it by its more familiar name ‘The Island’) to find a little place called PO41. (See, you can already tell that it’s cool, it’s named after its postcode…like East 17… and you don’t get much more cool than that).

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It also happens to be situated in the old post office, so there is possibly a more profound reason for its name, rather than trying to emulate a ’90s boy band…both work for me to be honest.

The coffee they serve up (and also sell as beans or ground for take away) comes from Union hand roasted coffee, and was delicious. They also have an array of quality teas and I’ve heard that the hot chocolate is pretty special. I noticed a blackboard advertising panini and tasty bakes, but unfortunately food wasn’t on my radar. I’d already been in the deli down the road and all I can say about that is, my oh my, their gala pie! (I’m a poet and I didn’t know it).

But apart from all of this deliciousness, what really makes this place stand out for me is the affiliation that they currently have with the local artist Shaun Cuff, also known as The Constant Doodler. His speciality is doodles that are basically one constant line (hence the name). One of his artworks adorns an entire wall of PO41.

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It’s very cool. Grenson definitely seemed to like it.

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If only he had thumbs. He’d definitely be giving the old thumbs up in the above pic if he had.

And you don’t have to eat in to appreciate the art. He has also done a design for their take away cups. Unfortunately this led to me appearing even more silly than usual. Whilst enjoying my drink on a bench in the square I was following the line on the drawing, amazed at how it had been produced without the need to lift the pen from the page. This involved me, open mouthed, staring at the cup, as I turned it around before my eyes. Before too long some kind lady (also known as a wise ass) came over and informed me gently that ‘it is a paper cup’. I mumbled something about constant doodling and moved on.

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Despite the danger of ridicule it’s still a really great design. See above. Again, Grenson seems to be a big fan.

So there you go. Marketing does work. It does on me at least, especially when it’s really good art. Because after all, as Feargal almost said, good art these days is hard to find!

The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

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Sugar Pot – Kennington

Since starting this blog I’ve come across quite a few fellow social media users that are dedicated to finding cool places that you can go to with your pooch. One of my favourites is an Instagram account called dog_friendly_london  If you haven’t taken a look at their feed then you should go and take a peek … Yeah, big shout out to my fellow dog friendly establishment seekers posse, keeping it real … (oh I’m sorry, I’m not sure what came over me there. I went a little, ‘late night pirate radio shout out massive’. I do apologise and hope it will never happen to me again!).

Anyway … one establishment that they visited on their recent ‘South London Week’ caught my eye as I idly wondered where to take Grenson on my planned adventure into the big city. That establishment was The Sugar Pot in Kennington.

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A small family run coffee shop. Only recently opened. Walking distance from Waterloo. Perfect…Unfortunately that last bit turned out to be a matter of opinion. Me looking at the map before setting off was of the opinion that it was a short walk, me after doing the ‘short’ walk was no longer of that opinion.

Luckily once we arrived it was very much worth it. The Sugar Pot is a lovely little place complete with a La Marzocco machine brewing up organic locally roasted coffee, and a board full of delicious sounding toasties.

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Grenson was also impressed when the very kind lady who took our order also produced a bowl of water for him, which he literally lapped up (and when I say literally I actually do for once mean literally!).

I opted for the cheese toastie with serrano ham.

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Oh yes. The spot was very squarely hit.

This little beaut of a coffee shop has only been open for  matter of months but if this quality is anything to go by (and the high volume of customers) then it is very much here to stay.

It has a very welcoming atmosphere and I for one could have stayed there all afternoon. Looking down at Grenson (who is not used to these warmer days yet) it was clear that he’d have been happy to stay there for a good while longer too.

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But I had plans. One of the other major plus points to the Sugar Pot for any dog owners is the fact that it is directly opposite Kennington Park  So not only did Grenson get a day out ‘up west’ with all it’s myriad exotic smells to investigate (and probably taste too unfortunately) he also got to have a run around in an inner city park!

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After all of this excitement, walking, and running (and bearing in mind the ‘short’ walk back to Waterloo) I felt an inaugural trip on the London underground was needed.

He didn’t totally hate it … but next time we’ll maybe try the bus.

All in all, he thought it was a great adventure. Thanks for the recommendation dog_friendly_london and keep up the good work. Shout out to the dog friendly posse whoop! … (oh I’m sorry there I go again, I do apologise).

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Word.

The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

 

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You Don’t Bring Me Flowers – Hither Green

You Don’t Bring Me Flowers is THE original Hither Green coffee shop.

When Hannah (En Brogue) and I first moved to Hither Green back in the summer of 1860 (or the mid noughties) there was literally nothing here. And when I say ‘literally’ I obviously don’t literally mean literally, there were of course houses, shops and a few pubs, but there was nothing at all that was cool, (not even tepid!). No Arlo and Moe. No Archibalds. The Lord Northbrook was just a twinkle in the landlord’s eye, and The Station was still the type of pub that you had to drink in whilst constantly moving around, otherwise there was a real fear that you’d end up sticking to the carpet.

Yet one shop shone out like a beacon, blazing a trail and lighting the way (yes, I’m aware that my metaphors are getting confused, and that they may well actually be similes anyway…bothered), calling out to all these fine establishments and bringing them over to the wilderness of SE13. And that shop was You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, or YDBMF for those in a rush.

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This small little retro beauty was the place that we took every one of our friends who came to visit. Yes, we’d moved to Hither Green (a place that it seemed that no one in the whole of London had ever heard of), but it was still a nice place, and YDBMF was the proof.

Luckily for us it turned out that our one and only cool shop happened to be the most ‘on-trend’ little retro coffee shop that you’re ever likely to find, and all before little retro coffee shops where anywhere near a trend let alone ‘on’ it.

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I mean! Study the picture above for a second. They’re playing Lou Reed on a vintage record player that’s sitting on top of the coolest blue vintage fridge. Look at the tables and chairs! They’re selling cool dead rock star tea towels. They’ve got some kind of green flowery thing hanging on the wall too, which I’ve no idea what it is but I bet it’s cool. And look at the flowers.

YDBMF isn’t just satisfied with being a brilliant coffee shop, it’s also a brilliant flower shop too.

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En Brogue has, on rare occasions, received a bunch of flowers from here, and every time she claims they are the nicest she’s ever had. (Note to self: I must treat her more often if I want to gain good husband points).

What I mainly go there for though, is the coffee. The retro theme extends to the coffee machine. A big, manual pump beast of a 1960s Gaggia. It always seems like the girls making the coffee are having to wrestle with this machine, and at points are having to put life and limb on the line to get it to give up its caffeine nectar. But I can assure them that the sacrifice is worth it.

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A lovely smooth coffee is produced that I generally like to accompany with a ham and chutney sandwich. Delicious.

Grenson certainly seemed to think so as he could barely resist it himself!

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If you’re not in a sandwich mood then fear not. There are plenty of delicious sweet things on offer too.

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So if you are one of those people who still haven’t heard of Hither Green (frankly what have you been doing? It’s in the ‘Shard Corridor’ darling, it’s well trendy now), then may I suggest a short train journey and a visit to the coolest little coffee / flower shop you’re ever likely to find.

N.B. Yes I’m aware that during the course of this post I have used the word ‘cool’ far too often. I am also aware that there is probably a much cooler word, that the cool kids use nowadays, and that saying cool isn’t actually that cool anymore. Well quite frankly I don’t care. This place is just too damned cool.

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We love it, and I’m sure you would too.

Cool.

The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

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Family Mini-Break – Rye

Last weekend, along with Grandma, Grandie, Uncle Joe and Auntie Zoe (don’t try to tell me Grenson isn’t human) we made our way to Rye for a cheeky little family mini-break.

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The in-laws had been suggesting a trip here for a while, but of course with the addition to the family of Grenson, accommodation was needed that would allow dogs too. When booking we figured that any establishment that has a pooch as part of its branding is highly likely to be  a good place to visit with your four legged family member, and with the Ship Inn we were 100% correct.

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Grenson was very pleased to find out that the dog friendliness stretched to his very own sausage at breakfast time. This was his personal high point of the stay. The low point was the several minutes he spent carrying out a Mexican stand off with the bulldog in the foyer, before eventually realising that it was porcelain and as a result not really that into ‘having a play’.

Thankfully for us dog companions the highlights aren’t confined to the ornamental pooches and breakfast porkers. The rooms, staff and grub on offer are also great and as well as being a lovely hotel it’s also a very stylish little boozer.

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It’s not just the Ship that is accommodating to our canine companions in Rye, the whole town seems to have an open door policy (barring a few stuffy old establishments). There is a wealth of great antique and brocante shops and they all seem to be fine with dogs browsing too.

However, I have to admit as Grenson kept getting ever closer to the tables covered with antique glassware I decided it was actually fine for us to stand outside.

In the town you’ll find plenty of great pubs and cafes that are more than happy to let you include your dog as part of your group; these include the Hope Anchor Hotel, The Globe Marsh, The Standard Inn and The Fig cafe (for your Monmouth Coffee fix). Out of all of them I would give a big shout out to Edith’s House. This is a dog friendly cafe in the heart of town that is oozing with quaint decor and bursting with flavoursome lunches. I (weirdly according to everyone else) went for a cream tea instead of a toastie. It wasn’t so weird when they all had a sample of my cherry jam. The cherry-iest cherry jam in all the world! Ha! He who laughs last, laughs last … or something like that?

When your pooch begins to get a little bored of wandering around town looking at priceless antiques (such as the programme for the 1986 Liverpool v Everton cup final…no price attached… didn’t ask… too scared), or sitting around scoffing cherrytastic cream teas, then a few minutes away is Rye Harbour. This includes a beautiful nature reserve and a lovely walk along the coastline that Grenson loved.

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You can also pop over to Camber Sands and eat cockles on the beach in the pouring rain…

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…if you’re insane like our family.

All in all I would say that Rye is a perfect destination for a family mini-break, especially when your family includes a little pupper.

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The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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