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

Devon and Dorset – Part 3

Upon waking, (and after a bowl of Dorset Cereal followed by a hearty cooked breakfast courtesy of Palmers Barn B & B), we idly leafed through our new National Trust book and happened upon a place near Tavistock called Lydford Gorge. Not wanting to miss any chance to get full value from our recent membership we headed straight there.

As we arrived the weather closed in again and the fact that I had only brought one coat, that wasn’t particularly water proof, once again attracted ridicule from Hannah (my arguments about the fact that it was meant to be summer were always a nonstarter, this is after all Britain). My initial thought was ‘to hell with the value for money, let’s just carry on to our next B&B’. Thankfully this profligate madness quickly passed. For I can say now ladies and gentlemen (and pooches) that Lydford Gorge is blummin brilliant. Simply walking by the river is breathtaking enough, but then you reach the gorge and enter a hidden magical gap in the rocks that has been carved out over millennia by the rushing water.

 

It’s amazing to think that for thousands of years this beautiful natural phenomena was probably only seen by a handful of people. It was just going about its business being quietly stunning without anyone noticing. Even today if it hadn’t of been for the overwhelming desire to get the most from our NT membership fee we’d have simply passed it by. If you’re in the area make sure you don’t make the same mistake, stop and take a look, you won’t regret it.

Having fed our eyes with beauty it was again time to feed our bellies with grub. So we hit the road and headed on to our lunchtime stop, The Ship in Noss Mayo. This involved yet more precarious narrow one lane tracks down into the estuary, (I’m not sure I’m cut out for country driving, give me a nice wide motorway any day). Once we’d made it down we then had the excitement of parking. We found a space easily enough but then spotted a sign warning of tide times, and looking around us realised that the car park was actually in the bed of the estuary. Not feeling like taking risks we moved the car further up the hill as we didn’t fancy having to get a boat back to the car!

Once inside, the pub made me really quite appreciate the drizzly horrible weather outside. I’m absolutely certain that sitting by the side of the estuary in bright, hot, sunshine (and watching the cars get submerged by the tide) would be fantastic. But to me this pub seemed like one that really comes into its own on a miserable day when it can offer a warm, welcoming shelter from the outside. I ordered an ale and the steak pie, what else could I do?!

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It was delicious…however, I must admit that I am a big fan of a proper pie. A proper pie in my opinion is not a meat stew with a pastry hat. I am willing to let them off this one time, as it was proper pastry (not a silly circle of puff pastry), and as I’ve already mentioned, it was very tasty.

Our accommodation for the next two nights was at the White House in Chillington. Once we’d found it (head off a narrow one track road and enter an even narrower lane!), we were given a lovely welcome, including a very barky hello from the three house dogs. Unfortunately the excitement may have become a little too much for Grenson as he promptly proceeded to wee up the wall near the bar. Very embarrassing. Luckily the owners were very nice about it and very understanding. Also very quick on hand with the disinfectant and mop. Oh the perils of travelling with your pooch!

The house is an impressive and grand Georgian building, and the style is the epitome of boutique hotel. You’ll find an array of interesting lighting and artwork, and Hannah was particularly taken with the wallpaper prints.

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(being En Brogue, obviously a pair of fancy flats had to be in shot too).

Our room was also suitably grand with a four poster bed and the ubiquitous roll top bath in the middle of the room.

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Clearly with this much luxury surrounding us there was only one thing to do. Stay out of the drizzle and head down to the bar to while away the rest of the night playing cards and sipping cocktails!

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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Devon and Dorset – Part 1

We’ve been on our holibobs!

Of course, holibob planning for us now is a little more tricky than it used to be. There is a Grenson in the family that we have to think about. With this in mind we put away the brochures for Thailand and Mexico and replaced them with ones for Devon and Dorset. Who needs tom yum or tacos when you have cream teas instead?

So we packed the car and set off on our little family road trip.

First stop wasn’t actually Devon or Dorset I’m afraid (it’s a long journey!). We decided to stop off along the way at White Horse Hill in Uffington.  On the face of it this stop was to give Grenson a leg stretching opportunity and to see the bronze age white horse, but in reality it had a lot to do with us trying to use as many National Trust car parks for free as possible, having recently become members (got to get your money’s worth).

Whether you’re a member of the NT or not this place is well worth a visit. There are plenty of great dog walking tracks and the white horse is indeed impressive, but it would be worth coming here simply for the view.

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No wonder they put their horse up here, it must have been a giant sign seen all around the land…maybe it was a bronze age Hollywood sign?

Leaving this brilliant theory hanging in the air, we loaded our wagon and set off again, heading for our final destination for day 1 – Clovelly in North Devon.

We chose Clovelly because… well it’s just so c-lovely (n.b. that has to be said in a broad midlands accent for the joke to truly work).

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Our accommodation was at the Red Lion, which is a quaint old 18th Century fisherman’s beer house at the bottom of town and overlooking the harbour. The town itself is like a time capsule. No cars are allowed, instead wooden sleds pulled by people (and sometimes donkeys) are used for deliveries. Within the Red Lion there are pictures of the townsfolk at the turn of the 19th Century…it looks exactly the same. Amazing.

 

I always find it a worry when staying at hotels with a pet that you end up with their worst rooms. This definitely did not seem the case here. Our little room had a prime view out over the harbour. Grenson loved it!

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There were two downside to staying here, however. The first was the fact that we could only go in the bar with Grenson and not the restaurant. That is usually fair enough (not everyone loves dogs after all…hard to understand but true), but unfortunately this also meant that we weren’t allowed the delicious restaurant menu full of the freshest fish you’re likely to find. Instead we had to make do with the bar menu which was basically your standard burger/scampi fare. Still, I made the most of it with a very pleasing surf and turf. It also meant we had to tag team for breakfast, which was only served in the restaurant, although it was delicious (and I smuggled a sausage back to the room for Grenson).

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I also enjoyed earwigging on some of the chat from the locals at the bar, and getting a close up look at the amazing old black and white pictures of the village that I mentioned earlier.

I’m pretty sure this fella was sitting behind me whilst I supped my ale!

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The second downside to staying here is the fact that it is at the bottom of the hill. This meant that the following morning we needed to drive up a perpendicular track to leave. I’m not fond of small track roads at the best of times, but when they are winding their way up a cliff face I like them even less. Luckily Hannah (wife, en brogue) came up with the idea of following a local taxi driver who was just about to leave. Thank God we did. All was going fine until a large lorry came out of a building site half way up the hill. Then a van came down the other way and we hit gridlock. Much precarious clutch control, dodgy reversing, and the lorry managing to hit a wall followed. Finally the taxi driver took control and instructed me to follow him as we did a bit of off road to get around the truck and van and leave them to their stand off.

It was a very stressful start to day two.

God bless that taxi driver wherever you are!

……to be continued.

 

The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

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Westow House – Crystal Palace

Yes, I am aware that many of you have suggested places for us to visit in and around Crystal Palace. Rest assured we do plan to visit them all. However, I think it would be wrong not to start with Westow House. Wrong because basically this is always the first place I go to when I visit the Crystal Palace triangle (for those that don’t know, there is a road system at the heart of Crystal Palace that creates a triangle full of pubs, bars and restaurants … very trendy). The reason it’s the first place I go to may or may not have a lot to do with being desperate for a drink after walking up that hill from the train station!

However, even putting dehydration and exhaustion to one side would still make passing this most inviting looking pub very difficult.

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Out front is a vibrant and constantly buzzing seating area which draws any passing drinkers in like moths to a particularly attractive flame. On a sunny Sunday afternoon like the one we visited, it would be downright rude to walk on by.

Inside can be just as alluring. We were lucky enough to find a fantastic trio playing a selection of  Django Reinhardt covers.

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Once you add to this a varied choice of craft beers, 8 ale pumps, a selection of rotating beers and a Sunday roast menu that included half a roast chicken, and I think you’ll agree that we were in Sunday heaven.

If all of this wasn’t enough, there are two other aspects to this pub that I really love. The first is that it is such a lovely big building. No matter how busy, (and bearing in mind the craft beers, 8 ale pumps, Django Reinhardt, half a chicken etc, it’s safe to say this place can be popular), you’re almost always guaranteed a space. If not in the buzzing large front garden, or the musical front bar, then you can always try the lovely eating area at the back of the pub, complete with leather chesterfields and chandelier. (And the ubiquitous wobbly lampshade to signify that this is indeed an Antic pub – see the East Dulwich Tavern review for in-joke).

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The final thing (and most important in terms of this blog) that I love is its dog friendliness. It’s always great to go to a place that doesn’t forget our canine friends.

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If a table of help-yourself water bowls and treats wasn’t enough to make this pub a favourite for Grenson, then the fact that it is the local of his new mini schnauzer friend Honey sealed the deal. To follow an afternoon in this great pub with a run around Crystal Palace park together (see our Instagram page @manaboutadogblog if you’re interested in live footage of this momentous occasion) made this one of his favourite days.

And just for a change, (as Grenson wasn’t in a posing mood that day) I’ll leave you with a little piccie of her instead.

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A real beaut I think you’ll agree.

The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

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Model Market – Lewisham

Model Market is the biggest thing to happen to Lewisham since … well … since ever really!

Now in its third year, the novelty of having such a fantastic event on our doorstep has still not worn off for En Brogue and I. And this year we get to introduce Grenson to the market vibe. For praise be, it’s dog friendly! Whoop!

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It’s run by the guys at Street Feast so if you’ve been to their Dalston Yard, Dinerama or Hawker House sites, then you’ll know what to expect from Model Market – tasty beers, super tasty cocktails and super super tasty food from the various street food vendors filling the stalls around the market. All of this is served up in an atmosphere of pure cool (I know. There is that word again! – see YDBMF post for in-joke details).

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What makes Model Market a particular favourite of mine is the fact that it is situated in an old abandoned 1950s market. I love that you can still see the old signs for electronics stalls or hairdressers alongside the modern signs advertising the street food on offer. It’s nice to be able to see a bit of the venue’s history, rather than having it all ripped out and the whole place sanitised. It also makes you feel very much like this is an organic event that has sprung up from the weeds to transform this previously abandoned and unloved site.

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I’m also pretty partial to the fact that it is just down the road from my house!

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The temporary nature of the whole experience is also enhanced by the fact that it doesn’t hang around for long. It’s open Fridays and Saturdays, 5pm to 1am (£3 after 7pm but free beforehand) for the few short months of the British summer time. It washes in like the tide, blooms for the summer and then is extinguished in time for winter (I’m throwing in mixed metaphors now for fun – see YDBMF post for in-joke details).

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The only problem with a visit to Model Market is that you may well find it very difficult to decide which one of the amazing aromas to follow to find your dinner. The choice can be overwhelming! You may find that you have to keep going back for more. After all, it’s only fair that you spread the love. Last night, after much deliberation (and libation) En Brogue and I opted for some burger action from Mother Flipper .

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Holy Moly! By rights you should really have a shower after eating the candy bacon, it’s so damned deliciously filthy!

As for Grenson, what did he think of his first visit to Model Market? Well lets just say that during his time there he had approximately 15,678 attractive young ladies (and men for that matter) come over to him and give him a cuddle! One of his favourite nights ever I think.

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We’ll be back again soon.

The Man and the Dog.

 

 

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The Gladstone – Borough

I have a confession to make. Our visit to the Gladstone in Borough actually happened a pleasant lunchtime in the distant past. There was no hint of Summer back then, not even a whiff of Spring. So why wait this long to write the post I hear you cry out in confusion? Well basically I forgot something. Something very important. Upon leaving I forgot to take this picture…

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… I know! Stupid, eh! How can you write about the Gladstone and miss out this fantastic painting on the side of the building? Without that giant piece of art most people would innocently walk on by and ignore this great little pub hidden down the back alleys of Borough.

In my defense I completely blame the pub and its tempting lunchtime deals. I had entered with the aim of a nice quiet lunchtime pint. Just the one to ease the soul after a walk around nearby Borough Market. My eye was then caught by the lunch deal of pie, mash, peas and gravy, plus a pint of real ale (wine, Becks or soft drinks for you none ale drinkers) for £9.95. Well, I wasn’t going to resist an offer like that, was I?

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So with a full belly and 100% more ale in me than I had planned, is it any wonder that I forgot to take photos when leaving?

This fantastic deal isn’t the only reason to visit this pub. It’s simply great. A real musical legend in the area – check out their live listings. You have a high chance of stumbling across an amazing new live act here, and catching them when they are basically giving you a private performance in your living room. That’s what it feels like, as the main bar is so small and cosy. An evening in here with a pieminister pie in your belly, a few pints of ale and top quality music, all delivered in a small candle lit atmosphere…heaven.

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Due to this bijoux character, you may find it a bit difficult during a busy evening if you bring along a big dog, (or even a little dog like Grenson when he’s in his ‘I’m going to stand as far away from you as possible and in the exact spot that ensures that everyone is going to stand on me’ attitude). However, there is an upstairs seating area and a roof terrace for the Summer months, there are chairs outside too, so I’m sure you could make it work. I’m also duty bound to point out that there is a pub cat! We didn’t see it on our visit but if your dog lives up to stereotype then be warned.

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Personally I prefer to visit during the day when, if you’re lucky, you can get the place to yourself and really appreciate the laid back style of this bar. Just be careful not to get a little too comfortable. The other downside to my extra pint, other than forgetfulness, was a full bladder. This is a difficult thing to deal with when it’s just you and your pooch. Grenson was also still at the stage where he would eat EVERYTHING he found on the floor (now it’s just 80%). This would not be a good thing in a men’s urinal. Luckily, as I was about to bite the bullet the  very kind barmaid saw me struggling to the gents and offered to hold him for me (the dog! stop making up your own jokes you filthy minded people at the back!).

I fully expected Grenson to be blissfully enjoying the company of his new female admirer when I returned. But to my surprise he was straining at his lead and crying for me, thinking that I’d left him. Bless him. He does love me after all!

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Well … he did then anyway, nowadays he’ll stay with anyone so long as they have treats.

So there you have it. Better late than never. The Gladstone. Fantastic live music, real ale, lunch deals, pies, art, cool decor and the possibility of bouts of forgetfulness.

Love it.

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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