cafes for dogs, Dog Friendly, dog friendly cafes, dog friendly hotels, Dog Friendly Shops, Kent, Margate, pubs for dogs, the dog blog

Margate & the Botany Bay Hotel

Margate! Margate! Margate! I am of the firm opinion that when saying the name of this little seaside town it is the law that you must say it as Danny Dyer would say it. Margate! Try it – it’s fun!

Anyway, Margate (did you do a Danny in your head there? I hope you did) seems to be the latest ‘in’ place if you spend a little time scanning Instagram. Everyone seems to have been going there just recently.

Well, clearly En Brogue, Grenson and I needed to go and see what all the fuss was about (baaaa!).

We arrived and parked up next to the Dreamland theme park.

img_0250

It’s basically this place that has brought the onslaught of Instagrammers. Dreamland is a retro, kitsch, seaside theme park for hipsters to create great ‘content’ in. They even have an event called ‘Hipster Seaside A-Go-Go’ happening later this year. In all honesty it does look well cool (as I believe literally none of the kids say anymore). As I myself have a beard I’m virtually a hipster too so I’m totally down with this place…unfortunately dogs aren’t allowed. So we quickly moved on, vindictively hoping that all those hipsters get candy floss tangled in their beards.

Strolling along the sea front, Morrissey entered my head and wouldn’t get out. Specifically a certain line from one of his most cheerful songs found itself on repeat in my head:

‘This is the coastal town, that they forgot to close down’

To be fair, I don’t imagine that there are many coastal towns that are looking their best in the first week of January, but I had been led to believe that Margate would offer more than just boarded up shops, tired amusement arcades and ‘caffs’ that probably haven’t had a new menu printed since Del Boy came on his jolly boys’ outing in 1989.

Luckily it didn’t take us long to find our first planned stop, a sweet little coffee shop called The Proper Coffee House (you can’t go wrong with a name like that!).

img_0253

At last things started to look up, not only does a ‘proper’ coffee always help, but we found this sign very welcoming.

img_0252

Take note Dreamland!!

Our next stop was the Old Kent Market and the slight uplift in morale nosedived again. There is no doubt that this is a cool little place and I’m sure that it is a brilliant, vibrant, hang out in the summer months. However, on a Thursday afternoon in January it’s somewhat lacking its spark.

img_0135

As we began to think that we had caught Margate at a time when it really should have been in hibernation, we wandered down a side street away from the sea front and the attraction of the place revealed itself. Suddenly we were surrounded by the most beautiful shops.

img_0256

Not for the first time we came across antique shops that welcomed Grenson inside with open arms. I have to admit that this does surprise me. At times I’m not sure whether or not even I should be allowed inside antique shops. I fear that at any moment I may spontaneously fall over, dragging a cabinet of priceless glassware down on top of me. They make me nervous. And yet, very much like when we visited Rye (click on the link for a read), all the shops seemed to be totally relaxed about Grenson having a peruse around inside.

TAKE NOTE DREAMLAND!!

En Brogue now went into retail mode.

Morale then went through the roof when she spotted Doggie Apparel. O…M…flippin G!

img_0259

In this amazing little doggie nirvana you can watch the collars and leads being handmade at the back of the shop. And beautiful they are too. Needless to say, Grenson got utterly spoiled in there. But it’s virtually impossible for any dog person not to pick up something, from doggie bottle stops, to felt doggies. Personally I’m surprised we left without the woolly schnauzer in the window display.

Thankfully, when we did eventually leave it was with merely a small fortune spent rather than a flipping massive fortune. Heaven help the bank balance when their online shop is up and running!

Suddenly, Margate had come up trumps. We decided to end our visit the only true way that any self respecting traveller can. A visit to the pub.

img_0261

The Lifeboat Ale and Cider House (what a great name) was a perfect venue. A fine selection of ales, craft beers and ciders (as you’d expect from that name I suppose), and a hearty menu on offer. The only downside was the sawdust on the floor. It played havoc with Grenson’s beard!

It was now time to head to our accommodation for the night. The Botany Bay Hotel situated just along the coast, on the way to Broadstairs.

img_0262

This, my friends, is where the madness of going away on a damp Thursday at the beginning of January suddenly makes sense. We got a double room here with breakfast included for £64 (+ extra £5 supplement for Grenson). You cannot argue with that.

On top of that bargain price you can add the fact that it’s a lovely hotel too. Very friendly and helpful staff, comfortable spacious bar, lovely clean rooms, top-notch breakfasts (unfortunately we were not allowed in the main breakfast area with Grenson, but our set up in the bar was probably a better view anyway), and some prime dog walking beaches literally on the doorstep.

img_0264

It really was a great visit, and I haven’t even told you about the meal we had at Wyatt & Jones in Broadstairs yet! Because that requires a whole blog post of its own.

Until then, despite a bit of a rocky start, our little trip had been a roaring success. And it’s at this point that I wanted to cleverly sum up our satisfaction by referring to a happy Morrissey lyric…unfortunately I couldn’t think of one.

So instead I’ll just use this picture of Grenson. Could there be a happier doggie?

img_0265

 

The Man and the Dog.

 

 

Advertisements
Standard
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.

img_9269

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.

img_9272

img_9268

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.

img_9270

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!

img_9309

(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)?

img_9316

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!

img_9274

 

The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard