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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cafes for dogs, Devon, dog friendly cafes, dog friendly pubs, dog friendly restaurants, Dorset, the dog blog

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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