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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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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