Bristol, dog friendly cafes, dog friendly hotels, the dog blog, Wales

Minibreak Part 3 – Bristol

I woke up with a little pounding drum inside my head that hadn’t been there the night before. Those Stereophonics boys know their ale. Only one thing could help. Hotel breakfast!

I can only state that the Welsh breakfast (the sausages included leeks) at Llechwen Hall is an absolute life saver.

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If this hotel didn’t already have my seal of approval then the scrambled eggs alone would have qualified it for highly recommended status. Black pudding AND a hash brown. And that is a healthy and very agreeable portion of beans I think you’ll all agree, (without a separate pot in sight).

Feeling more alive, I remembered that having bored Grenson in the pub during the entirety of the previous night, I had promised him a decent walk. Luckily for me, Llechwen Hall is situated on a mountain with acres of good walking land all around it. So we set off and found a lovely walk virtually on our doorstep.

The Welsh weather was doing its thing with drizzle and high winds, and after an hour walking around the green green grass of home, all cobwebs had been blown to smithereens! Bracing!

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It was now time to begin the long journey home. However, a pitstop would be needed along the way for paw stretching and lunch, and I had the perfect little place in mind. Basically, if you are ever in the vicinity of Bristol there is only one place to go for lunch. The Pear Cafe.

En Brogue (my wife) and the owner of the Pear Cafe, Elly Curshen (Elly Pear), have recently become firm friends (mainly cultivated through a shared love of brogues and Breton stripe tops). As a result we went for  a visit last year and I was presented with this thing of beauty…

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There is chicken crackling in that sandwich! A sandwich with CHICKEN CRACKLING in it!!!

How could I not make a slight detour for the chance to experience a sandwich of that genius again? Frankly, if I’d have been in Edinburgh I’d have still considered a detour not unreasonable.

You won’t only love this place if you are a chicken crackling fan like me. Elly is in fact a Pescetarian so you can find plenty of vegetarian and vegan choices too.

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From these suggestions I am also willing to give a glowing character reference for the Grandma’s Egg and Onion filling.

Obviously after the Welsh breakfast I’d consumed merely hours earlier, I felt that personally I could only opt for yet more read meat … and chicken crackling. Have I mentioned the CHICKEN CRACKLING?!

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Notice also in this picture a very subtle advertisement (it’s a slippery slope I know).

Elly has her first book coming out on April 7th Elly Pear’s Fast Days & Feast Days full of great recipes based around the 5:2 diet. Follow the link to pre order from Amazon, and also note that it is already a #1 best seller. Well done Elly! Whoop!

Due to the fact that I then followed up the above sandwich with one of her deadly chocolate brownies (sorry no picture, it was too delicious for wasting time on that nonsense) I will be pre-ordering immediately. I think I could do with 2 months worth of fast days let alone 2 days.

My only defence is to misquote Ross from Friends – We were on a mini break!

And a very nice and enjoyable mini break it was too. We’re both already looking forward to the next one.

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The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

 

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

Minibreak Part 2 – Pontypridd

After our less than successful evening in Devizes, consisting of strange half shut pubs and severely disappointing fish and chips, I am pleased to say that things improved in the morning.

First up we set off to the Kennet and Avon canal and enjoyed a lovely crisp morning walk alongside the canal barges that were spewing out some fantastic smells as the Bargers? Bargees?…people inside, cooked up their breakfasts. We then found the indoor market in a place called The Shambles (great name) and made a few choice purchases including 7 doggy chocolate bones for £1. Bargain!

With the morning taken care of, thoughts soon turned to lunch. I made a plan to find a place somewhere along the rest of our journey to stop for refuelling. A quick consultation with the invaluable website doggiepubs.org.uk and I found a suitable looking pub called The Old House at Home , which is in fact not in a village named Home as you may guess from the name, but actually in a place called Burton near Castle Coombe. (Go figure!).

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I didn’t bother quibbling with the name too much, as once inside I realised I’d stumbled across a gem. When entering I had in mind a nice light lunch. Maybe a soup of the day, or a sandwich. A light snackette at best. Once I looked at the menu however, I ended up with this …

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I’m not resisting belly pork when it’s on the menu; washed down with a Butcombe ale shandy and I’m pretty much in pub food heaven. Delicious!

As I waddled back to the car I noticed the accommodation, which looked very nice indeed, and made a mental note to stay here on my next mini break over this way.

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My accommodation in Pontypridd was in a place I had never heard of during the three years I’d spent living in the town as a student. Of course not, my world consisted of the house I lived in with all my friends and the student union. We would maybe venture into Cardiff if feeling extravagant, but truth be told, most of the time even the student union was too far away. The pool table in the pub opposite our house was pretty much where we spent the entire three years. Great times!

As a result it was a bit of a shock when I left the A470 and started climbing into the mountains. I half expected to find a ski lift when I finally made it to the top. What I did find was Llechwan Hall.

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If any of you have seen the film The Lobster with Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz then that is how I felt when entering this hotel. I wasn’t sure if Grenson was my dog or my brother!

Don’t get me wrong. That is not meant to signify that I didn’t like this place. Oh no. Oh no indeed. It was flippin brilliant! Lovely grounds for walks (more to come on that in part 3), incredibly comfortable beds and staff that were so friendly and helpful that Grenson must have thought he was in heaven. The ‘fuss’ levels were through the roof! And whilst he was happy with all that, I was very pleased to see that they had a little residents’ bar. I love a little residents’ bar!

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I had no option but to grab a pint whilst waiting for my taxi to take me to meet my friend, Craig, in town. At that point the staff pushed Llechwan Hall into the doggy friendly stratosphere. The young guy on reception came over and asked me if I wanted dinner. I declined saying that I was eating out. He then clarified that he was actually asking if Grenson wanted dinner. He was going to ask in the kitchen if they had any meat for him! Unfortunately for Grenson I’d already given him his evening meal (I’m sure he’d have received much more tasty morsels from the kitchen than what I’d given him). But super bonus points were added for this kind little touch.

Grenson and I dragged ourselves away from the hotel bar and down into the valley to meet up with Craig. The pub he took us to was called The Bush Inn, a pretty rough and ready looking pub from the outside that he wasn’t even certain dogs were allowed in … he needn’t have worried. There were already two other dogs in there and within 30 seconds a big fella at the bar was showing me a picture of his dog on his phone.

A most enjoyable evening was spent drinking a local ale that was brewed by the Welsh band The Stereophonics?? (with a little help from the Brains brewery).

As for the pub? It was great. A proper local community pub. The clientele were a good mix of genders and age groups, (and as already mentioned, a few canines mixed in too which always makes for a nice atmosphere … but I would say that wouldn’t I?). In one section of the very Tardis-like pub there was a quiz taking place. In another area someone was being hustled at pool, and over in the corner three old guys were deeply concentrating on their game of darts (I imagine they’ve been playing regularly on a Tuesday might for the past 30 years!). Add to all of this beer produced by local rock bands and you’ve got a pretty decent little pub (that is actually much bigger on the inside).

Unfortunately the ale flowed so well that I didn’t even think about taking pictures for the blog until the next morning. I wasn’t really expecting to find a place that warranted such a glowing review in all honesty.

So I’ll have to leave you with this picture of Grenson and Craig at the end of the night. Grenson is clearly ready for home and bed. It had been a big day!…And his daddy may well have been a bit drunken! hic!

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Part 3 to follow including breakfasts, mountain walks and one of my favourite little cafes!

The Man and the Dog.

 

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