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Whitstable – Waves and more

We recently went away for a weekend break with our good friends Daisy and Gav….AND COUSIN ALF!!!

There is no real reason for me to write anymore, after all, you just want to see a picture of Grenson and Alf together, and who am I to deny you?!

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Yes this post could simply be filled with gratuitous cuteness, but that would be unfair, because I’ve lots to tell you about Whitstable.

First off, if you haven’t been then sort it out, you need to go! Secondly if you do go then check out Waves self catering holiday cottage. Not only is it a beautiful little cottage and super dog friendly…

…but it also happens to be in the most amazing location, with a brilliant little dog friendly pub literally stumbling distance from the front door!

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Good pubs, with scratchings and pool tables literally across the road are always going to make me and Gav happy. Alf too was having a good time, as he realised that he was able to steal big cousin Grenson’s lamb dinner (turning his white beard a shade of orange!), and then spend the night climbing all over his Uncle!

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Where do I start with what makes Whitstable so great? Is it the oysters that are as fresh as they come? Or the beach that even in the snow is still lovely?

Well actually for us it’s probably the shops! I mean you can’t really go wrong with Ruskin, a shop that not only welcomes dogs but also has a copy of one of En Brogue‘s books in the shop window!

I have to say for me the cafes and breakfast stops are also a highlight. We found a lovely one just around the corner simply monikered Cafe + Kitchen, that did a brilliant bacon sarnie.

Then we found the Windy Corner Stores & Cafe on the last morning, a cute little retro corner shop/cafe that was very much appreciated after a brisk walk along the beach. The mushrooms on toast went down a treat!

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Oh yes! There are also the pubs and food!!

A visit to the Lobster Shack is an absolute must for all seafood (and beer) lovers.

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And we can highly recommend the Pearson Arms too. We popped in for a lunchtime drink and found more dogs in there than people!! Any place that dog friendly is going to get our custom. So we booked for dinner, and boy we did not regret it.

Absolutely deee-licious!

So there you have it. So much to see and do (and eat and drink), and I didn’t even have time to tell you about the wine shop with a fine selection of sweets! But no fear, we plan a return trip in the Summer, this time adding our other friends and their little ones into the mix (that’s kids, not dogs). So I imagine sweet shops will be high the list for the kiddies (and the wine will be a priority for the adults!).

Meanwhile Grenson finally taught Alf the joys of Schnauzer wrestling. This led to Alf spending the entire last two days jumping on Grenson’s head until eventually we had to prise them apart and make them take a break and have a drink of water…before they went straight back to wrestling.

BFFs!!

 

The Man and the Dog.

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cafes for dogs, Dog Friendly, dog friendly cafes, dog friendly hotels, Dog Friendly Shops, Kent, Margate, pubs for dogs, the dog blog

Margate & the Botany Bay Hotel

Margate! Margate! Margate! I am of the firm opinion that when saying the name of this little seaside town it is the law that you must say it as Danny Dyer would say it. Margate! Try it – it’s fun!

Anyway, Margate (did you do a Danny in your head there? I hope you did) seems to be the latest ‘in’ place if you spend a little time scanning Instagram. Everyone seems to have been going there just recently.

Well, clearly En Brogue, Grenson and I needed to go and see what all the fuss was about (baaaa!).

We arrived and parked up next to the Dreamland theme park.

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It’s basically this place that has brought the onslaught of Instagrammers. Dreamland is a retro, kitsch, seaside theme park for hipsters to create great ‘content’ in. They even have an event called ‘Hipster Seaside A-Go-Go’ happening later this year. In all honesty it does look well cool (as I believe literally none of the kids say anymore). As I myself have a beard I’m virtually a hipster too so I’m totally down with this place…unfortunately dogs aren’t allowed. So we quickly moved on, vindictively hoping that all those hipsters get candy floss tangled in their beards.

Strolling along the sea front, Morrissey entered my head and wouldn’t get out. Specifically a certain line from one of his most cheerful songs found itself on repeat in my head:

‘This is the coastal town, that they forgot to close down’

To be fair, I don’t imagine that there are many coastal towns that are looking their best in the first week of January, but I had been led to believe that Margate would offer more than just boarded up shops, tired amusement arcades and ‘caffs’ that probably haven’t had a new menu printed since Del Boy came on his jolly boys’ outing in 1989.

Luckily it didn’t take us long to find our first planned stop, a sweet little coffee shop called The Proper Coffee House (you can’t go wrong with a name like that!).

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At last things started to look up, not only does a ‘proper’ coffee always help, but we found this sign very welcoming.

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Take note Dreamland!!

Our next stop was the Old Kent Market and the slight uplift in morale nosedived again. There is no doubt that this is a cool little place and I’m sure that it is a brilliant, vibrant, hang out in the summer months. However, on a Thursday afternoon in January it’s somewhat lacking its spark.

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As we began to think that we had caught Margate at a time when it really should have been in hibernation, we wandered down a side street away from the sea front and the attraction of the place revealed itself. Suddenly we were surrounded by the most beautiful shops.

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Not for the first time we came across antique shops that welcomed Grenson inside with open arms. I have to admit that this does surprise me. At times I’m not sure whether or not even I should be allowed inside antique shops. I fear that at any moment I may spontaneously fall over, dragging a cabinet of priceless glassware down on top of me. They make me nervous. And yet, very much like when we visited Rye (click on the link for a read), all the shops seemed to be totally relaxed about Grenson having a peruse around inside.

TAKE NOTE DREAMLAND!!

En Brogue now went into retail mode.

Morale then went through the roof when she spotted Doggie Apparel. O…M…flippin G!

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In this amazing little doggie nirvana you can watch the collars and leads being handmade at the back of the shop. And beautiful they are too. Needless to say, Grenson got utterly spoiled in there. But it’s virtually impossible for any dog person not to pick up something, from doggie bottle stops, to felt doggies. Personally I’m surprised we left without the woolly schnauzer in the window display.

Thankfully, when we did eventually leave it was with merely a small fortune spent rather than a flipping massive fortune. Heaven help the bank balance when their online shop is up and running!

Suddenly, Margate had come up trumps. We decided to end our visit the only true way that any self respecting traveller can. A visit to the pub.

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The Lifeboat Ale and Cider House (what a great name) was a perfect venue. A fine selection of ales, craft beers and ciders (as you’d expect from that name I suppose), and a hearty menu on offer. The only downside was the sawdust on the floor. It played havoc with Grenson’s beard!

It was now time to head to our accommodation for the night. The Botany Bay Hotel situated just along the coast, on the way to Broadstairs.

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This, my friends, is where the madness of going away on a damp Thursday at the beginning of January suddenly makes sense. We got a double room here with breakfast included for £64 (+ extra £5 supplement for Grenson). You cannot argue with that.

On top of that bargain price you can add the fact that it’s a lovely hotel too. Very friendly and helpful staff, comfortable spacious bar, lovely clean rooms, top-notch breakfasts (unfortunately we were not allowed in the main breakfast area with Grenson, but our set up in the bar was probably a better view anyway), and some prime dog walking beaches literally on the doorstep.

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It really was a great visit, and I haven’t even told you about the meal we had at Wyatt & Jones in Broadstairs yet! Because that requires a whole blog post of its own.

Until then, despite a bit of a rocky start, our little trip had been a roaring success. And it’s at this point that I wanted to cleverly sum up our satisfaction by referring to a happy Morrissey lyric…unfortunately I couldn’t think of one.

So instead I’ll just use this picture of Grenson. Could there be a happier doggie?

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The Man and the Dog.

 

 

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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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