cafes for dogs, Dog Friendly, Isle of Wight, the dog blog

Off the Rails – Yarmouth,Isle of Wight

Ok I’ll admit it. I have written about this place before. I apologise (but it is a good’un).

Way back at the beginning of summer a company called Wight Locations asked me to do a guest blog post for their website. Grenson and I compiled our top 6 cafe/restaurants on the Isle of Wight for dogs …. well not quite for dogs, more for hoomans that are with dogs, but you know what I mean.

If you look hard enough you may be able to still find it somewhere out there on the world wide web.

Anyway, as I was looking through old piccies I came across the ones that I had taken for that blog post and quite frankly it made me nostalgic for those heady days of summer. (Listen, Christmas is over, all I’ve got immediately ahead of me is never ending months of darkness. I need something to look forward to!)

One of the places we visited jumped out at me as we had recently been back there after a nice long Christmas walk (to the pub). On that occasion I had a delicious coffee and walnut cake with a top quality flat white to wash it down. (Which reminds me, I also have lots of trips to the gym to schedule in during this season of gloom).

However, I don’t want to talk about cosy winter walks and warming coffee and cake (not today anyway), I want to take us all back to the days of crickets in the long grass, of swallows dive bombing in the blue skies, and of ice cubes slowly melting in late evening drinks. Let’s all go back to summertime!

(Cue: wavy fade back to the past).

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I mean!! Look at us!! I’m wearing shorts and t-shirt and jauntily hanging shades around my neck. Grenson is panting from the heat. There is even a hint of colour on my face rather than my current deathly pallor.

Good times. Hot summer good times.

And where are we enjoying this glorious sunny afternoon?  Why, the wonderful ‘Off the Rails‘ cafe in Yarmouth, of course.

This place pretty much has everything.

Its location is a dream for dog walkers. Grenson and I are particularly fond of the trek along the old railway line from Yarmouth to Freshwater. Keep the river on your right and head away from Yarmouth car park, keeping an eye out for kingfishers along the way. This path eventually leads you to a bridge, at which point if you turn right you’ll come across the Red Lion pub. A perfect place for a refreshment stop (and another place I wrote about for Wight Locations that I may need to revisit in the future for this blog too).

If you then retrace your steps and take a right before the old mill building, you’ll end up back at Off the Rails for further refreshments. After all, it’s always important to stay refreshed when on a walk.

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Arriving at this cafe via the old railway path is most fitting, as this place is situated in the old Yarmouth railway station (Off the Rails, see what they did there? Clever).

From the outside it seems like the station has remained untouched since the steam trains were regularly pulling up outside. Indeed, you’ll still find the platform out front, but instead of commuters and tourists hurriedly disembarking, you’ll find diners leisurely munching on cakes and sandwiches.

Inside, the retro railway feel continues with seating booths styled like 1950s carriages complete with luggage racks overhead.

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The booths are great in the winter but as we’re time travelling back to summer in this post, take a look below at the seats on the platform. What an idyllic view to enjoy your lunch beside!

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Oh, and as if great walks, quirky historic surroundings, delicious coffee, cakes and lunches, all enjoyed beside beautiful countryside views weren’t enough to confirm my assertion that this place has everything, then take a look below. They even have a menu for your pooch!

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Of course, with this place open all year round (closed Mondays & Tuesdays except bank holidays) and even open until 10pm on a Friday and Saturday (bookings necessary) there is no reason not to enjoy this special little place any time of the year.

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So don’t wait around for the sun to shine (it may be on holiday for sometime yet); head there as soon as you can…you can always make another visit when it’s shorts and T-shirt weather again!

The Man and the Dog..

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Dog Friendly, dog friendly restaurants, London, the dog blog

Mac & Wild – Great Titchfield St

As you probably already know, Grenson’s mum doesn’t only spend her days making delicious meatloaf for his dinner and smothering him with kisses, oh no; she also finds the time to be a super successful fashion journalist whilst also being the flat shoe blogging sensation, En Brogue. As a result, most weeks she can be found heading off up west to meet up with other fashionistas to assess the latest trends, and basically just swank around town looking grand (apparently it’s all in the name of research?!).

On one such occasion recently, I decided enough was enough, it was high time that Grenson and I got in on this game too.

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From the look on Grenson’s face in this picture you can tell that he wasn’t entirely happy with the idea. For a start, it meant we had to go on a train (which he’s not too keen on) and secondly, I had neglected to put him in his fanciest coat! ‘Really darling how do you expect me to socialise with the fashion crowd without my best clobber on?’

So after a few appointments, including one that Grenson and I had been personally invited  to (see we’re cool too!), for a look at White Stuff’s new SS17 collection which I can confirm is very nice indeed, it was decided that we’d stop for lunch and then take a walk around Regent’s Park whilst En Brogue finished off the rest of her ‘to do’ list.

But where should we go for lunch? There is of course a wealth of choice in the big city. Luckily for us, we managed to stumble across a place that happened to be described as “the best restaurant in the world” by Giles Coren, no less (if their website is to be believed).

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Mac and Wild is a Scottish restaurant (yes I know! I didn’t know that was a thing now either). The only Scottish restaurant I’d encountered previously was that one that has a clown serving burgers … at least it sounds Scottish anyway.

We bagged a table outside as the weather was unseasonably mild and waited for a menu that I expected to consist entirely of haggis and battered chocolate bars.

What a fool I was! I hadn’t realised that I’d accidentally entered a meat nirvana. There was even a burger on the menu that had been voted the ‘Best Burger in the UK 2016’ at the National Burger Awards!! (yes I know! I didn’t know that was a thing now either)

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It’s fair to say that if you’re a veggie, this may not be the best place for you to visit. If, however, you’re the type of person that appreciates dishes such as ‘bread & dripping’, ‘venison chateaubriand’ and ‘dirty buttery mash’, and you also appreciate knowing not only where your meat has been farmed, but also who butchered it and even who shot it, then you’ve come to the right place.

The meatiness shouldn’t be a surprise; the guy who founded this place, Andy Waugh, is the son of a venison butcher, hence the concentration on fine wild venison dishes. A lot of us Brits have never tried wild venison and I have to admit that the thought of hunting those magnificent beasts may have put me off in the past. But this isn’t some trophy hunter wanting to feel big by shooting  a defenceless animal and posing for photos. If you read Andy’s blog on the Mac and Wild website, you realise that this is all done ethically, based on a yearly cull to keep numbers manageable and healthy for themselves and the environment. Also, if we don’t eat it then the Norwegians and Dutch will, as they currently buy up nearly all of it.

As already mentioned, the award winning ‘Veni-Moo burger’ had immediately caught my eye, so I ordered that along with cheesy chips and a Brewgooder Clean Water Lager, which is a craft beer that donates 100% of its profits to clean water projects around the world (so you can get drunk and do your bit for charity at the same time! Bonus!).

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Oh Em Gee!

You could really understand why this burger was award winning. But to be honest, I’d also give those fries and the cheesy dip an award too…Nobel Peace maybe?!

I hadn’t thought of it as we had enjoyed our mighty fine bounty sitting outside, but while writing this post I became a little worried that dogs may not have been allowed indoors. This would have been a disaster as I aim to try not to include anywhere on here that you can only enjoy with your pooch if the weather allows, and having to leave out this place would have been a travesty. Luckily, they confirmed via email that small dogs are indeed allowed indoors (it is, after all, a very small indoors, so a Mastiff for instance may actually fill the place!). I shouldn’t have really worried, as there were telltale signs that the place was a fan of our four-legged friends – mainly the door stop.

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So there you go. If you find yourself on a fashionable day out in central London and in need of an award winning Scottish meal, then look no further. And I suppose if you do have a dog that couldn’t accurately be described as ‘small’ you could always follow our example and sit outside. They did seem to have blankets on offer and there are outside heaters. If all else fails you could warm yourself up with a whisky, and where better to do that than in a Scottish restaurant?!

 

The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

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cafes for dogs, dog friendly cafes, London, the dog blog

Brick House Bakery – East Dulwich

The in-laws came to visit Capital City recently, looking for a good time. So obviously we took them to look at a load of old graves!

Nunhead Cemetery is a great example of a grand old Victorian London graveyard. It’s full of imposing family crypts and large ornate headstones. Its grandeur is more than slightly faded now, but that is what makes it so interesting. Today it is like a Hollywood set of some Halloween ghoulish video. Nature has crept back over the gravestones dragging them into the earth. Many of them have now become part of the woods and stand motionless in the undergrowth silently keeping watch as you walk on by.

Of course all of this spookiness had no effect on Grenson who simply loved all of the smells on offer (hopefully the odour of moss, nature and the tell-tale signs of other dogs was what he found interesting…and not Victorian bones!). He tootled around in heaven with his nose to the ground, on a mission to wee up every tree available.

Many dog walkers use this site as it’s a lovely walk with a great view of St Pauls (if you stand in exactly the right spot). It’s well worth a visit…but maybe best to go with someone for company… and maybe not at dusk?

After this jovial, bracing look at death in all its glory, we needed a pick me up. So we headed down the road to East Dulwich and a place that we had attempted to visit previously, but on that occasion we’d found no room at the inn. This time it was late afternoon, so post lunchtime rush, and upon arrival a table was easily procured.

The Brick House Sourdough Bakery and Cafe is a big brick building that bakes sourdough bread and is also a cafe…surprisingly enough.

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It’s very cool, (even complete with punters on laptops writing novels whilst nursing a glass of tap water – once those guys arrive at your establishment you know you’ve made it…although I imagine that you can also expect a drop in till receipts and an increased electricity bill…not that I have anything against them…oh no…it’s not a problem that I can’t find a seat just because a load of writers/bloggers/journalists/facebook users want cheap office space!!…sorry, I digress).

What really attracted me though, was the La Marzocco coffee machine and the Square Mile roast on offer. One of life’s great combinations. Add it to a blueberry pie/tart/thingy and we’re in business.

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Absolutely delicious.

Grenson loved the atmos, but he was pretty much loving everything anyway. He had four of his favourite people with him and therefore he was sure at least one of them would share their baked goodies with him if he just sat perfectly still.

 

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Alas, he was very much mistaken. These sweet goodies where too good for sharing. (Don’t worry, we’d brought along some of his own doggy baked goodies, so he didn’t go without for too long).

So there you go. With Halloween just around the corner I can think of no better a day out than a ghoulish cemetery tour followed by a delish coffee stop.

What are you waiting for?!

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P.S. We promise we’ll try to take you on a cheerier walk next time, in-laws.

 

The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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cafes for dogs, dog friendly cafes, London, the dog blog

Heap’s Sausages- Greenwich

Heap’s Sausages is  a shop that specialises in sausages! Handmade, gourmet, sausages! SAUSAGES! I mean, really – why I don’t live in this shop is frankly a mystery.

The fact that I hadn’t been in this shop until recently is nothing short of bizarre!

Heap’s can be found opposite the theatre in Greenwich. It’s just the kind of place that draws in weary travellers on a cold autumn day with succulent aromas of sausage. Just follow your nose. Do not ever walk past this shop without going in! I don’t care if you’re not hungry. I have walked on by in the past and I now regret every instance.

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I suppose my main mistake had been to assume that it wouldn’t be dog friendly. It is only a small shop, consisting of a few lovely ’50s style bench seats and a well stocked deli counter selling a range of sausages. I had imagined they may have been a little suspect of dogs, after all, dogs and sausages are a combination that are hard to keep apart.

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However, as I was wrapped up warm this Autumn day, and with ample outside seating available, I thought I might be able to shout out my order from the door and sit outside with Grenson. But to my surprise they welcomed us both in, and even came up trumps with a large bowl of water.

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This was much needed. We’d spent the morning walking around Greenwich Park. If you’ve never been to Greenwich Park with your pooch then you must do it at your earliest convenience (that equally applies to you even if you don’t have a pooch). It’s such a beautiful wide open space and the views from the top by the observatory are truly special. Grenson absolutely loves it.

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Heap’s is literally only a few metres from the park entrance, so once you’ve worked off a few calories with a lovely long walk, you can quickly indulge in a well deserved massive sausage.

I went for the ‘Mr Heap’s Hot Dog’, a breakfast jumbo sausage with onion chutney served in a brioche hotdog bun.

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Boom! Just look at that! You have to love a sausage that is too big to fit its roll. (I’m not even sure if that actually works as smutty innuendo, but that’s not stopping me accompanying the phrase with a Sid James chuckle in my head).

Absolutely delicious. I’ve since had a look at their website and oh my, the breakfasts look awesome. Maybe next time we’ll have to do two circuits of Greenwich Park if we want to avoid the food guilts…

 

The Man and the Dog

 

 

 

 

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