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

The Cary Arms – Babbacombe

Recently it was our anniversary … that’s me and En Brogue, not me and Grenson.

As a result we decided to return to Devon for the weekend. As you may well have already read on this very blog, we had not long returned from a road trip to Devon and Dorset. When planning that holibob we had considered the Cary Arms, but after much calculator bashing, we had finally decided that it was the kind of visit that was only justifiable if attached to a special occasion. Now, a few weeks later, we came to the conclusion that a wedding anniversary fitted this criteria perfectly. So we all jumped in the car and after a short 7 hour drive (damn you M25), we found ourselves descending a familiar hair pin, vertically challenging lane, (that they love so much in this part of the country), down into Babbacombe Harbour.

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The problem with those cliff face descents is that it can only mean an equally hairy ascent awaits you at the end of your stay (see our previous Devon ascents here). Luckily all of those fears were forgotten due to the magnificent Cary Arms. It really is difficult to know where to start with this place. It’s like falling in love at first sight three times in a row. First with the stunning bay, then with the atmospheric bar and finally when presented with our magnificent accommodation.

I think I’ll kick off with our room, which in actual fact was a beach hut. Now if you’ve suddenly had an image enter your head of a small little wooden hut, half filled with deckchairs, and with a bbq pushed into a corner, then banish those thoughts immediately. I think the fact that they refer to their brand spanking new accommodation as ‘huts’ may be simply an affectionate touch. They are anything but hut like. Not that I have anything against huts, you’ll know that if you’ve read about our stay in a Herders Hut on our last expedition to Devon and Dorset. But check out the pictures below! This is no beach hut.

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With the most dreamy soft bed (facing the porthole that gives a view of the bay the minute you wake), a plush wet room, mini bar, HD TV, Wi Fi sound system, and balcony with a view to die for, this is accommodation on the luxury level.

And this isn’t even the fanciest of the accommodation on offer. If you really want to put your fancy pants on then there are suites available to hire too!

We were all very happy with our beach hut, especially Grenson who was provided with biscuits, a bed and a ball. Look at the bottom left picture above to see just how happy he was with all of this!

Once settled we enjoyed a complimentary sloe gin on our balcony and fell in love with the bay. Truly stunning. I always thought that they referred to this area as the ‘English Riviera’ in an entirely ironic way, but it turns out it’s totally justified. Apparently you occasionally get pods of dolphins in the harbour and there is even a bell that should be rung to announce a sighting.

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Unfortunately there was to be no ringing of bells during our weekend. Luckily though, we didn’t miss out on the sea-life, as there is a local celebrity seal called Sammy that regularly hangs around by the fishermen waiting for scraps. And he’s flipping magnificent!!

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We kept Grenson well away. With his new found love of the water he’d have been straight in there looking to make friends.

Finally the main building. It’s a ‘proper job’ type of place. The real deal. All dark wood and low ceilings giving the impression that it’s been here as long as the cliffs that circle the bay. It’s lovely to have the new mod-con, stylish, accommodation alongside a no nonsense main bar. I could have spent a lifetime in that bar looking out at the bay trying to spot dolphins.

And the food!! Flip me it’s tasty fare.

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Grenson also had a dinner brought out to him during our evening meals. Lamb and cous cous no less. Fine dining even for the dog!

He also managed to somehow get me to share a bit of that sausage with him that you can see on the mightily impressive breakfast above. It’s hard to resist him when he looks at you like this…

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As for doggy friendliness? This place is off the scale. As one fellow dog owning guest put it, many places advertise as dog friendly but turn out to be more along the lines of dog tolerant. This place is really and truly a doggy paradise.

Upon arriving Grenson was immediately greeted with a wrestle from a cute little curly haired blonde!

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Then we realised that pretty much all of our neighbours had dogs. And one of them turned out to be really quite special.

En Brogue returned from taking Grenson for a little morning walk in a state of unusual excitement. ‘I think our next door neighbour is Tuna the Chiweenie’ she exclaimed. As you can imagine, this caused a reaction from me that ranged from ‘Eh?’ to ‘…’. Who was Tuna and what the hell was a Chiweenie?

I was to find out later that evening as we met Tuna the little Chihuahua / Sausage dog cross in the residents bar. This was no ordinary dog. This was a mega star! It turns out that Tuna (or tunameltsmyheart as he’s better known) currently has over 1.8 MILLION followers on Instagram.

Here was I thinking Grenson was doing pretty well by edging nearer to 1000 followers, when this swaggering superstar has 1.8M! That’s ONE POINT EIGHT MILLION!!!

I immediately set Grenson to the task of picking up some tips.

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He obviously needs a fancy jacket and neckerchief!

From superstar dogs to celebrity seals, this place has it all. So if you also have a special occasion (or just fancy being fancy) then I can highly recommend you make your way to Babbacombe and this really special place .

Oh, and even the climb back up the hill wasn’t all that bad in the end. I don’t know what all the worry was about really!

 

The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Devon and Dorset – Part 5

I left you all in Part 4 with the tantalising promise of pie. Unfortunately pie o’clock wasn’t until midday, and so in an effort to speed up the hours after checking out of the Whitehouse  we travelled a little way to the nearby village of Slapton.

I’d heard tales of this village before we set off on our little road trip, and when I spotted the Sherman tank sitting opposite the long wide sandy beach, I knew I’d found what I was looking for.

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Back during World War 2 the military had basically commandeered this village and most of the surrounding area, forcing all of the inhabitants to leave their homes behind. The reason for this was the fact that Slapton Sands bears an uncanny likeness to the beaches in Normandy, in particular Utah beach. In 1944, the US army were conducting top secret dress rehearsals for D-Day – code named Exercise Tiger – in this area. Unfortunately on one of these practice runs they ran into a German E boat squadron, who attacked and sunk three of the vessels. This one incident led to the death of 639 soldiers and sailors. Due to the top secret nature of the preparations any survivors were sworn to secrecy.

(That is the very abridged version of events, to read more click on this link – Exercise Tiger.)

Many years later a guy named Ken Small heard from local fishermen about a strange object off the coast. He organised a dive and they found a Sherman tank. After much hard work and perseverance on his behalf, he eventually was able to buy the tank from the US army, get it brought to shore, uncover the history and set up this memorial. Basically if it wasn’t for Ken Small many US families would have never found out what happened to their loved ones back in 1944 off the coast of Devon, and the whole of Exercise Tiger may still be a secret. (Again this is the short version of the story, please do read his full story by following the link above, the guy deserves it!).

After this sobering little history trip it was time for pie, and so we travelled back to the Tradesmans Arms. Upon arrival it seemed as though we had inadvertently entered a Schnauzer festival. There were only two other couples in the pub, both of whom had arrived separately, and both of whom had a little schnauzer in their family.

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This shocking coincidence managed to distract me for a few seconds before I remembered why I was there – PIE. I placed my order and mere moments later was presented with this picture of wonder and beauty.

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Now that is a proper pie. Proper pastry, excellent chips on the side and washed down with a pint of Tribute. All was good….goodish. I have to admit that on closer inspection I was a little disappointed to find that the pastry was really only a lid, and once broken through, the filling was a little more watery than I would have preferred…but hey, maybe I’m becoming overly picky about my pies? (And of course by finding a fault it allows me to carry on my grail-like search for the perfect pie). At the end of the day, look at the picture – no one could be disappointed with that bounty for lunch.

Feeling a little wobbly after dinner (from food, it was only a Tribute shandy – which I fear is an admission that may well get me lynched by the real ale brigade), we headed over to the most fancy stop of all our accommodation on this trip, the Salcombe Harbour Hotel. And when I say fancy, I mean this hotel should be wearing fancy pants. For example, the car park is very narrow, so narrow that you can only really drive in one way and once inside it’s very difficult to turn to face the opposite direction. To combat this problem there is a revolving circle just outside reception, the cars simply drive on to it, sit still as the entire floor spins and then drive off facing the correct way. Can you imagine how much the small boy inside of every man staying there just wanted to play on that all day? Luckily the luxurious and comfy rooms manage to drag you away from this engineering marvel.

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Grenson absolutely loved his view of the harbour from the room and spent a very pleasant afternoon watching a sailing school messing about in their boats. Meanwhile I took advantage of the swimming pool (I didn’t just sit outside the room watching the turning circle car contraption thingy, honest), and En Brogue took advantage of the complimentary in room Gin (Warning: tonic not complimentary).

To be fair to En Brogue, that’s me being slanderous, she didn’t really just sit in the room swigging back G & T. She had a little wander around town and found a surprise place to book for our evening meal…then she came back and we swigged G & T together.

We also had a very pleasant pre dinner drink in the garden of the Ferry Inn, despite it not really being garden weather, what with the now omnipresent grey drizzle. But lets face it, if it had actually been as sunny as July is meant to be then we may not have got a seat in the garden (I think that is called grasping at silver linings).

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We then headed further down into the very pretty town to find our dinner destination. I was ensured that when I saw it, I’d know where we were going. This indeed was the case.

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How could we possibly not be eating at a place with an ‘A la Bark Menu’?

The Victoria Inn is as dog friendly as you’re ever going to find. Not only do they provide aforementioned a la Bark menu (pig’s ear, rawhide chew, bonio – all proceeds go to a hearing dogs charity), but also inside you’ll find towels and blankets alongside water bowls, and a fine array of doggy themed cushions. Grenson was in heaven as he curled up on his blanket under our table with a pig’s ear to chew on. As for us humans, the beer is pretty special too, and I highly recommend the Salcombe potted crab. Delicious.

Again, feeling very wobbly from over consumption we slowly made our way back to the hotel, and settled down for an early night with our complimentary gin for company.

I knew that I needed to make the most of this luxury, for over the next two nights En Brogue had booked us in to stay in a ‘Herder’s Hut’. I’d have no electricity for the next two nights, let alone free gin and floors that turn cars around. How would I cope?!

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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