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Mercure Warwickshire Walton Hall Hotel and Spa

Mercure recently got in touch to inform us that some of their hotels are now doggy friendly, and to enquire whether or not we’d like to stay at their Warwickshire Walton Hall Hotel and Spa, and do a review. Well, as luck would have it this was also around the time of the anniversary of the day En Brogue became my better half. So what a perfect time for us to take advantage of such an offer.

Now, I’m not quite sure what I was expecting. I didn’t know much about Mercure but was pretty certain that it was part of a large chain. I had visions of an identikit group of hotels that would provide a standardised amount of quality but very little in the way of unique charm . However, whatever misconceptions that I had quickly evaporated as we made our way down the driveway. By rights we should have swapped our car for a Bentley and had staff in the back of the car rather than Grenson. It felt like we were entering the set of Downton Abbey!

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Now be aware. Not all of the hotel looks like this. There is a much larger red brick wing round the back that houses many more rooms, the swimming pool and spa, and the restaurant. But if you’re lucky enough to get a room (and to be truly accurate ours should really be referred to as an apartment!) in the hall then you too can spend the weekend pretending to be Lord of the Manor like Grenson did.

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It’s fair to say that Grenson was in heaven. Not only was he greeted by a luxurious sized bed…

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… but he also got to choose from his own menu in the restaurant. He opted for a ‘Clean Eating Chicken Protein Immune Booster’ as he was feeling healthy (Raw Steak Tartare or Salmon Sashimi were the other options!!). His verdict was that it was flipping delicious!

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But the real clincher for Grenson was the grounds. They are pure doggy heaven, with acre upon acre to explore.

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Although, it wasn’t all sweetness and light in the great outdoors. Grenson did have a close shave when he explored a wasp a little too closely and ended up getting it stuck in his beard. Ten seconds (that felt more like days) of shear panic then ensued as we both hurriedly tried to pick out the offending beast without getting stung. Luckily I eventually managed to flick it out before any damage was done (we were both expecting Grense to end up with a swollen disfigured face for days). What can I say? Hero Daddy to the rescue.

The other fantastic advantage to this hotel has to be it’s location. There is an absolute wealth of nearby places to explore.

First off we headed over to Stratford upon Avon to take in a bit of old Willy.

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If old relics are more your thing then you could go to nearby Warwick or Kenilworth for some good old castle action.

Alternatively you could avoid any of this history and culture and simply head to the pub.

We can heartily recommend the Peacock in Oxhill, although trying to obey the request for not feeding Henry is a Herculean task (just look at those eyes!).

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The Fat Pug in Leamington Spa was a fantastic pub full of character, although sadly no fat pugs on our visit. Judging by the hearty breakfasts that I saw being consumed whilst we were there I’m surprised that all clientele aren’t of larger proportions to be honest, not just the pugs. I would have loved to have indulged if I hadn’t already hit the hotel buffet. Next time!

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And to round off the weekend what better way can there be than a Sunday lunch at the Tom o’ the Wood in Rowington. This place is the kind of dog friendly place where it seems like the dogs may have brought the owners here rather than the other way around. Great grub too.

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You can then try to work off a little of your indulgence with a walk along the Cut (AKA the canal, for you none Midlanders).

All in all, an absolutely lovely way to celebrate our anniversary. But don’t worry it doesn’t have to be a special celebration. You can go any time. Go on. Spoil yourself. you deserve it. And so does your four legged friend.

 

Thanks Mercure!

 

The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dog Friendly, Dog Friendly Accommodation, dog friendly pubs, pubs for dogs, the dog blog, Uncategorized

The Horse Guards Inn – Tillington

As you all know by now, the Man and the Dog spend a lot of time between the Isle of Wight and London. This means that we spend a lot of time on the M25 and the A3. This also means we spend a lot of time in traffic jams.

If we are ever lucky enough to be forewarned of trouble ahead, we have on occasion diverted our path and braved the ‘b’ roads of West Sussex. This generally leads to an even longer journey, but at least we’re not spending all our time in stationary traffic. The other advantage is that by diverting from the beaten path you do sometimes discover things you didn’t know were there. Little gems. Gems that you would have missed forever if you’d stuck to your usual route.

One such gem that we’ve recently found is The Horse Guards Inn in Tillington.

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Set in a quiet little back road opposite the quintessential village church, this is not a place you find easily, but once you do, you’re never going to forget it!

If you happen to visit at a time when the weather is being kind then there is a wonderful pub garden.

If, however, the weather is being typically British, then enjoy the beautiful interior instead (but booking ahead is advised).

What you must certainly do is try the food. The first time we visited it was meant to be a stop off, just for a quick drink and a break from driving. However, once we saw the menu and blackboard of local suppliers, a light lunch could not be avoided; I chose a venison burger from the herd at Petworth Park around the corner, and Hannah had an incredibly delicious crab linguine. Once we had tasted the food, a return trip was duly booked in for a proper full on nosh up!

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On the second occasion, we brought along the in-laws as we knew they’d love the place too (they did). And as always with those two in tow, it led to an amusing story.

On entering and being shown to our table I remarked how familiar the waitress looked. A number of times I wondered aloud if she was an actress. Several times I enquired if she was the girl who starred in Foyle’s War. Despite these constant pleas for help in discovering why she looked so familiar, it wasn’t until dessert orders were being taken that my fellow dining companions suddenly noticed that the waitress looked familiar. ‘Is she an actress?’ they all asked. Realising that I had been ignored for the entire meal (and probably for the last 20 years, in all honesty), I exclaimed that I’d been saying that she was the actress from Foyle’s War for the past hour! At that point a neighbouring diner on an opposite table piped up that it wasn’t actually her (Honeysuckle Weeks) it was in fact her younger sister (Perdita Weeks), who is also an actress.

This intervention was very welcome as it helped to solve the mystery, but also made us wonder how much of our conversation for the last hour had the entire room been earwigging in to!

Anyway, it then happened that a few weeks later we saw Perdita on the old tellybox in an episode of Grantchester, which just so happens to be written by our very good friend Daisy Coulam!

So what do you think of that then? Small old flipping world isn’t it?

I can’t guarantee that when you visit you will be served by someone off the telly, but if you are, at least you now don’t have to rely on earwigging neighbouring tables to set you straight. You can just concentrate on enjoying your time at this fantastic pub.

 

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Get your eyes off my beer Grenson!

The Man and the Dog.

 

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Yorkshire – The Devonshire Arms & The Lamppost Cafe

A lot of hotels these days advertise themselves as ‘Doggy Friendly’. Just recently, as you all know very well if you’ve been reading this blog, we’ve tried out our fair share of them. Many, like the Cary Arms in Babbacombe and the Old Swan and Minster Mill in the Cotswolds, truly live up to that billing, with doggy treats, doggy dinners, staff that are dog crazy, and basically canines pretty much everywhere.

However, The Devonshire Arms is, I’m afraid, going to have to be put in the category of, ‘Doggy-Tolerant’.

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Now don’t get me wrong, it is a great hotel to stay in with your pooch. They provide a few treats in the room – even a four-poster bed if you request it – and the grounds are plentiful for a good walk (although they do insist that dogs stay on a lead).

They also have the most magnificent dog themed lounge.

It’s very difficult to grumble when you can sip cocktails in a  room with doggy wallpaper.

However, as you may have all realised, Hannah and I are a bit soppy with our little Grenson. He’s part of the family. And unfortunately at this hotel one family member isn’t welcome in any of the dining areas. It’s common even in the most doggy friendly establishments for there to be places that are off limits. That’s fair enough, not everyone is as potty about dogs as we are. But at the Devonshire the only options are to leave your pooch in the room whilst you dine, (not very nice for the other guests if he howled constantly for a couple of hours), or leave him with the staff at the reception desk. To us this is akin to saying we could leave our toddler chained up in reception or in a room on their own for a few hours.

Normally we would have gone elsewhere, but we’d booked this place specifically for the restaurant as our stay coincided with Hannah’s birthday, and we’d been looking forward to a bit of fine dining. So on this rare occasion, we decided to be brave and leave Grenson with the reception staff.

The meal was delicious, but of course we both hardly concentrated on it at all, as our little boy was sitting in reception tied to a lead wondering what he could have possibly done that had caused us to cruelly abandon him and leave him out of our plans. He was convinced that we’d all been having a lovely time and he hadn’t been a bit of trouble. As we rushed back to retrieve him, we found him sitting patiently looking for us with a pained expression somewhere between, ‘how dare you leave me’ and ‘please don’t leave me again, I’ll be good’.

On the second night we had room service!

It could have been worse. During breakfast, (that Hannah and I had to do in shifts, so as not to leave Grenson on his own again), the full English was disturbed by an irate cocker spaniel desperately searching the room. It had been subjected to the reception treatment, but had managed to bite through its lead, escape, and come looking for its owners!

One place that definitely should never have it’s doggy friendly credentials brought into question however, is an amazing little cafe that we found in Hebden Bridge.

The Lamppost Cafe.

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This place is truly doggy nirvana.

Not only do you get hessian sacks for the dogs to sit on. Not only do you get a choice of plain old water, or doggy beer for your furry friend…

…but your canine companion also gets a choice of their very own cake to enjoy alongside you!!

Isn’t that flipping amazing?! Now that is what you call doggy friendly.

Oh and the human coffee and cake wasn’t bad either!

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We absolutely loved this place, and cannot recommend it enough if you’re ever in Yorkshire and you and your four legged friend are feeling peckish.

Which just goes to show, dining and doggies don’t always have to be separated. And if you really want to earn your doggy friendly stripes, you could even go the extra mile and make them their own meal too! I know one pooch who would definitely appreciate it.

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The Man and the Dog.

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Holidays

Any of you following our Instagram account will be fully aware from the barrage of beach/pub/cow snaps that we’re currently enjoying our holibobs! As a result I’ve been a bit slack with the old blog posts. Rest assured that we are storing up enough research for quite a few new posts that will be coming soon.

If you just can’t wait, you could always check out our guest blog on the Wight Locations website all about the top 6 pubs and beach walks on the Isle of Wight. 

Can I also just bring your attention to the fact that we are featured in the current issue of InStyle magazine!!?


How very flipping exciting!!!??

The Man and the Dog

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