Walking the Shakespeare Way and Taking the Naturo Challenge

April 23, 2016

attlee-shakespeareIt’s Shakespeare’s birthday – 400-and-something today in human years – and to celebrate Jane and I have visited Stratford-upon-Avon. (As a dog of letters, it’s right that I pay homage to a man of letters and, Elizabethan-style party hat on my bonce, bow to the bard.)

We’re also celebrating as I, Attlee Common, have been asked to take part in the Naturo Change Challenge. Many of Britain’s most famous Fidos are involved – Tilly the Westie who has a travel column in Dog-Friendly magazine, making her the second most famous news hound in the country after me, and Maggie, from Wag the Dog. Tilly needs to lose a few pounds and that’s why she’s making the change whereas me, I’m in peak physical fitness: I’m just trialling Naturo for a month because it’s tasty. And Jane appreciates it as, when we travel, the plastic and cardboard packs don’t weigh a tonne in her rucksack. (Dodger the cat likes it too but he is NOT ALLOWED to like it. It is MINE.)

poodle-stratford-upon-avonAfter a stroll round Stratford, where we meet some more of William’s waggy well-wishers (at least I can only assume that’s why this dog is dressed thus) we catch the bus to Shipston-on-Stour and check into the White Bear, where we are to meet Jane’s friend Apricot for a weekend of walking. We’re traversing the Shakespeare Way, in fact – we really are Shaking It Up.

Apricot has bought us each a badge with a Shakespeare quote on it: mine proclaims Prone to Mischief. Sounds about right and I want to sport it on my collar but Jane, whose badge says For I Be a Neurotic Dog Owner, won’t allow this, believing the badge will somehow compromise my collar’s locking system. I make my feelings known, eyes fixed anywhere but on Jane, but when I’m offered a biscuit by the Bear’s owner I climb down off my high horse and accept with as much sangfroid as a dog who has just climbed rather clumsily down from his high horse can muster.

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By the next morning, after a breakfast of Naturo Duck, Rice and Vegetables, which is my personal favourite of the range, we’re off. I’m blazing a trail, obviously, but I have to keep stopping as Apricot’s the one with the map (and, despite Jane’s C in Higher Geography, the only one who knows how to read it).

cherrington-arms-cotswoldsI’m confident my nose would have lead us to our first port of call, the charming Cherington Arms where we relax in the garden for half an hour so the girls (middle-aged women, ahem) can catch their breath. I am in no need of catching my breath, what with all the good stuff in my Naturo charging through my body. (Here’s the science bit – Jane says I have to do the science bit. It’s 60% duck, 20% brown rice, 15% vegetables and the rest is vitamins, oil and minerals. It’s 100% Natural, it proclaims on the pack which I thought might make it boring-bones. But it’s not boring-bones. It’s exciting-bones, as there are little pieces of rice and vegetables in it! (And, I discover, a little bit excruciating-bones as, for the CHALLENGE, Jane and I are being filmed at a studio in East London to report our findings. I’m very excited when I hear this – Lights, Camera, ATTLEE, Action – but Jane has decided to take on the role of Gillian McKeith for the event and discuss my poo. The shame! So as we walk the Shakespeare Way, every time nature calls, she peers at my poo before bagging it. ‘It looks healthy,’ she reports to Apricot. Apricot doesn’t want to know. No one wants to know! Dogs have dignity Jane. Please respect it.)

shakespeare-way-red-lionShe does make it up to me, rather, with a trip to the much lauded for its dog-friendliness dog-friendly Red Lion in Long Compton, so dog-friendly that the manager is a Labrador called Cocoa and the decor is all DOG! The pictures are all of my canine compadres and Jane wanders round snapping them on her camera. She chats to the dogs at the bar queuing for pigs’ ears too and wonders why some are rather wary of her. That’s because I’ve warned them you will take photographs of their poo, Jane. Sorry, but if you are going to carry on with your self-appointed role as a McKeith for mutts you must accept the consequences.

After a rather lengthy pit stop, during which drink is taken, the girls (middle-aged women) wobble onwards to our kip for the night, passing, en route, The Rollright Stones, where an ancient pagan ceremony is taking place with much chanting, lighting of fires and general mayhem and merriment. ‘Do not bark Attlee,’ Jane instructs, scared that if I do some ancient curse will befall us. I am tempted to bark, to pay her back for the poo, but I desist.  I don’t much fancy being cursed either.

attlee-red-lion-innAnd then we’re up and hill and down vale – rather beautiful hill and vale, actually, with the sun shining and smells assailing my nose which I keep, Bisto-kid style, in the air – to our final dog-friendly destination, another Red Lion Inn, this time in LITTLE Compton. How confuse-bones is that for a dog, even one taking the Naturo Change Challenge? When we walk in I figure it out, though. There are crisps on the floor and Jane and Apricot order burger and chips. The pub – after a long walk, this is exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Phileas Phacts: the Shakespeare Way

  • The White Bear, High Street, Shipston on Stour, Warwickshire, CV36 4AJ, United Kingdom Tel: 01608 664199; www.whitebearinn.com
  • The Cherington Arms, Cherington, Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire, CV36 5HS Tel: 01608 685183; www.thecheringtonarms.co.uk
  • The Red Lion, Main Street, Long Compton, Warwickshire, CV36 5JS Tel: 01608 684221; website: www.redlion-longcompton.co.uk
  • The Rollright s Stone, Stone Ct, Great Rollright, Chipping Norton OX7 5QB; www.rollrightstones.co.uk
  • The Red Lion, Little Compton, Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire, GL56 0RT Tel: 01608 674397; www.theredlionlittlecompton.co.uk

attlee-naturoAttlee took the Naturo Change Challenge – Naturo Pet Food, which comes in a variety of different ranges and sizes, is available from all good supermarkets and a 400g terrine of Salmon with Rice and Vegetables costs £1.20. For more information about Naturo log on to http://www.naturopetfoods.com/en/our-community/the-naturo-change

 

 

shakespeare-way-jane-attlee

 

 

5* Luxury in a Dog (and Cat) Friendly Modern Mansion

Hey there Phileas Phans, Willow here – long time no sniff. I’ve been very busy this last year – we bought a house so now I have my very own place. (Hannah wouldn’t let me be on the mortgage but everyone knows it’s my house really.) And so many people have been coming to visit that it’s been exhausting. Plus I’ve been a BIG help with all the decorating, especially the gardening – I definitely have green paws!

Anyway, I just had to make time out of my busy schedule to tell you all about our latest holiday – it was totes amaze-bones! We were having a big family get-together with 14 people so we booked Hartcliffe View near Penistone, in the Peak District. But, when we arrived, we realised ‘house’ did not do our holiday home justice – it was more like a CELEBRITY MANSION. With granite floors throughout, a huge staircase complete with chandelier and floor-to-ceiling mirror, a massive Jacuzzi bath and a games room, it was a palace fit for an A-list pooch – that’s me, by the way – and my whole entourage.

Willow.Hartcliffe.View.in.Front.of.Mansion

Dogs are only allowed on the ground floor but that wasn’t a problem as the stairs were too steep and slippery for my little paws and besides, it gave me easy access to the garden which was doggy heaven! It was HUGE – like having a park transported to our back door – and perfect for playing fetch and running round and round (and round).

Willow.at.the.back.of.Hartcliffe.View.Mansion

What’s more, the owners of Hartcliffe View obviously realise that us canine visitors are just as important as human ones and there was a whole dedicated doggy cupboard, with bowls, toys and treats just for me. And the information booklet contained a lovely letter from the owner’s dog addressed to holidaying hounds, as well as suggestions for some local walks.  As for the basket that was provided, it was big enough for a Great Dane!

So I was in my element – and so were my family. They were SO excited at the sight of the pool table, table tennis and football tables, as well as the massive TV and PlayStation. And they were in awe of the double fridge with ice dispenser – and the four ovens. (Sometimes I just don’t get humans. I mean, we had a PARK for a GARDEN and they were excited about ovens – priorities all wrong!) They were also very pleased about the welcome bottle of wine that had been left for them, though they’d certainly got the worse end of the deal compared to all my treats I had in my doggy cupboard.

There were great views too, especially, they told me, from the games room and bedroom at the top of the spiral staircase that led to the top floor. Apparently guests could even look out over the hills whilst relaxing in the tub in a bathroom with floor-to-ceiling windows – not for the shy human!

The owners of Hartcliffe View were really nice, keeping in touch all week by email and even calling us from their home in Germany to check we had everything we needed. Well, I had thought they must be nice even before we arrived as they allowed my cousin to bring his CAT to the family gathering! Now, who takes a cat on holiday I ask you?! I was less than impressed: a dog having to spend her holiday with a CAT? The indignity of it all!

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(Still, after a few words from Hannah, I was ordered to be polite to the CAT so was on my best behaviour and even tried to be friends with her. But she had the cheek to not want anything to do with me. That’s the last time I extend the paw of friendship to a stupid feline!)

Although we would have been happy to stay in our mansion all week, we did get out and about, exploring some of the Peak District. We visited Holmfirth, home of Last of The Summer Wine; had a drink in the dog-friendly Bridge pub and walked around Langsett Barn reservoir.

Our favourite pub of the week, though, was The Strines Inn. We first went there after doing a HUUUGE 11 mile walk (we were promised it was only six miles so this was a very sore point) and the Strines Inn was the most welcome sight imaginable. It’s one of the oldest pubs in Britain, there are loads of peacocks in the grounds, and I’m told by my humans, it does good real ales and food. Most importantly it’s carpeted so I could lie down and sleep comfortably after my 11-mile ordeal. (I only have little paws!)

Willow.Hartcliffe.View.11.Mile.Walk

And, back in the luxury of Hartcliffe View, I soon recovered – the utility room was turned into my pampering parlour and all the mud washed out of my beautiful fur.

Another place that deserves a mention is the Blacksmith’s Arms, just a two-minute walk from Hartcliffe and very dog friendly if your humans tire of using their four ovens. The staff there really looked after us the night we went – we’d booked a table for 14 and they even set it up in the bar area so that I could go too.

At the end of a week in our mansion we all felt like celebrities – even the CAT – and none of us wanted to leave and return to a four-ovenless, park-gardenless existence. So we’re already thinking about organising another trip, and if you are taking all of your human pack on holiday, you should definitely visit Hartcliffe View too.

Phileas Phacts: Hartcliffe View, the Peak District

  • Hartcliffe View, Millhouse Green near Holmfirth, Peak District – book through Sykes Cottages. Telephone: 01244 356666; www.sykescottages.co.uk
  • The Bridge, Woodhead Rd, Holmbridge, Holmfirth, West Yorkshire HD9 2NQ Tel: 01484 687652; www.thebridgeholmbridge.co.uk
  • The Strines Inn, Bradfield Dale, Bradfield, Sheffield, S6 6JE Tel: 0114 2851247; www.the strinesinn.webs.com
  • The Blacksmith’s Arms, Manchester Road, Millhouse Green, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S36 9NQ Tel: 01226 762211; www.theblacksmiths-arms.com

 

Dog-Friendly Scarborough: Ox Pasture Hall Hotel

Oh I do like to bark beside the seaside – oh, I do like to bark beside the sea. Oh, I do like to bark along the prom, prom, prom – and interrupt the brass band playing Tiddely-Om-Pom-Pom. Well, I’m sorry but I’ve never heard such a racket in all my life…

I particularly like to bark beside the seaside on a winter’s day when the beach is deserted and we’ve coincided our visit with the brief interlude when a biting wind has temporarily blown the rain away. Hello Scarborough North Bay and goodbye gulls pausing to rest on the sand for a few seconds – yes, I am a fast chaser, I know. The squirrels in Camberwell will attest to that. Now squawk off!

attlee.scarborough.beach (2)

Jane and I are in Scarborough as we have stayed overnight as guests of Ox Pasture Hall, a hotel situated in the North Yorkshire Moors, a two-mile drive from town. I’ve heard bark that Yorkshire is known as Dog’s Own County – well, Ox Pasture Hall is Dog’s Own Hotel and Sheldon is that dog. Jane and her sister Steph remark on his good looks when we check in at reception.

sheldon.ox.pasture.hall (2)Good looks? He’s a bit of a scruffy beggar if you ask me. But he does a decent enough job of showing us to our room, even if he is clearly a little OVER-PAWED at having the Egon Bonay of terrier travel resident for the night.

Ox Pasture Hall used to be a farmhouse but has since been converted into a country house hotel – Sheldon leads us through a courtyard to some converted stable buildings out back, where our room is.

OX PASTURE HALL 323 (2)

My repast is ready and waiting for me in a silver platter on the floor – these oxen know a thing or two about how to treat superior animals when they visit – and the room is plenty big enough, with a front room and a bedroom area for me to click my heels and chase my dratted toy fox around. Why does Jane insist on bringing the blighter everywhere we go?

IMG_8870Then I notice this. Are the oxen taking the piss? What self-respecting dog requires a SQUIRREL as ornamentation in his abode for the night? It’s rather an outrage against my canine sensibilities but when Jane informs me a place has been laid for me at dinner in the restaurant I am mollified, slightly. She and Steph are molli-coddled more than slightly, being presented with a bottle of Prosseco – clink, clink – as they peruse the menus in front of the wood burner in the bar.

The menu is one of those chef-showing-off a la smart ones – goat’s cheese in a mousse and haddock tartlet type affairs. I’d prefer the burger and chips on the bistro menu and indicate this to Jane but she ignores. That Prosseco has gone to her head and is giving her ideas above her station. It’s making her garrulous too (yes, I did swallow a dictionary, when I was six months old and chewed up Jane’s Oxford English) and she chits and chats away with all the civilian dogs and their owners who arrive for dinner too. Doesn’t she know I’m a celebrity and a certain reserve has to be maintained?

Ah well, at least it’s not a la smart at breakfast the next morning: a full English with sausages, which is much more like it and prepares me for a postprandial stroll around Ox Pasture’s 17-acres of grounds. I appreciate the eau d’lapin and my blood starts pumping when I spot this chap next to the pond. FENTON! But, alas, he is a mere model and, even though I bark my noble little head off, remains unmoved.

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Phileas Phacts: Ox Pasture Hall, Scarborough

  • Double Room (with breakfast), two people staying + dog = starts at £120
  • Double Room (with dinner and breakfast), two people staying + dog = starts at £175

 

  • Deluxe Double Room (with breakfast), two people staying + dog = starts at £145
  • Deluxe Double Room (with Dinner and breakfast), two people staying + dog = starts at £200

 

  • North Bay beach in Scarborough has an area where dogs are allowed all year round.

 

 

Dog-Friendly Coniston, Lake District

It’s November (or it was November at time of putting paw to quill and ink but Jane is rather tardy at posting on-line) and that means it’s the month for Phileas Dogg’s annual autumnal trip to the Lake District – a tradition as set in (grey slate) stone as pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and squirrel chasing every morning and afternoon of every day of every year forevah!

Forget Barksworth and visiting in the spring for the DAFFS – for me, the Lake District is all about the LAFFS. And I knew I’d have a few on this jaunt as I was visiting two old acquaintances of mine – Mr Jeeves Esq. and Mr Google Esq. late of London town but recently relocated to Coniston where, with some assistance from Sandy and Stewart, they are the new proprietors of the Wheelgate B&B and self- catering establishment. Within a few weeks of arriving at said hostelry, assessing the lay of the land, Jeeves and Google requested a visit from me in my esteemed role as the number one newshound on matters of dog-friendly accommodation. I was only too happy to oblige!

ME, Google and Jeeves by the fireside at the Church House Inn, Torver

ME, Google and Jeeves by the fireside at the Church House Inn, Torver

Anyway, just as my (pedigree) chums had their new digs to display to me, I had an item of import to show them – the Mookie, which is a just invented THING combining a massager and a brush for pets. The people at Mookie sent me one to trial in return for a small remuneration – well, Jane and I need to put bread on the table (Jane doesn’t eat bread so I use that merely as a figure of speech) and biscuits in the bowl. The concept behind the Mookie is that it’s good for dogs that don’t like being brushed as it’s small and non-threatening but I have no concerns in that regard: what kind of pathetic pooch would be scared of an inanimate object like a brush for Dog’s sake? I’m a bit of a Bow Brummel and the Mookie is a handy size for me to pack in my Gladstone bag as I travel the land. I also rather enjoyed the sensation of the massage lid behind my ears – it was very relaxing. (Although I can’t relax for too long, obviously: not when there are so many squirrels in the world to chase!)

Tommy.MookieBizarrely, though – and a bit rum, in my opinion – Tommy THE CAT at Wheelgate seemed most taken by the Mookie, demanding it be rubbed along his spine at regular intervals. Paws off Tommy: the Mookie’s mine! (Well, he is a very singular sort of feline – he goes for walks in the countryside with the dogs and on family holidays. I do hope Dodger doesn’t hear of this type of feline activity. I don’t need him hanging around with me and cramping my style – what would my muttley massive reckon to that?)

Has Tommy the CAT not noticed that Coniston and environs is protected by a giant dog in the hills? I was very heartened to spot him when Jeeves and Google lead the way on a walk down to Coniston Water – two and a bit miles from Wheelgate and through some fine sheep country. I barked at the sheep – of course I did; any self-respecting dog would – and for this Jane admonished me and it was lead-on for the whole expedition. Then Sandy (clearly a superior sort of dog companion and a woman who knows her onions when it comes to canine-kind) suggested that distraction was required to prevent me barking – distraction in the form of mini marrowbones! Thank you Sandy – that worked a TREAT!

dog.in.hills

Behold the hound in the hills, canine King of Coniston with a silver stream for a collar and his regal head resting on his front paws.

Jeeves and Google both had a dip in the lake but I stayed on terrier firma – not because I’m in any way scared of water, you understand, but one of us dogs had to keep the sheep under close observation. Imagine they noticed we’d taken our eye off the tennis ball and decided to barge Sandy and Jane. They might manifest as innocent fluffy clouds but I’ve heard the phrase a wolf in sheep’s clothing and was on hound alert. Who knows what evil plots they weave in their woolly brains?

Google.SwimmingAblutions undertaken, Jeeves and Google marched on to their favourite spot in Coniston, the Meadowdore Cafe – dog-friendly coffee shop klaxon! Afterwards I discovered my favourite spot – a shop called Just for Ewe where the dog toys were displayed at dog level. What an amaze-balls idea – I could stick my snout into the collection of squeaky orange plastic beer bottles, select one and present it to Jane for purchase. So thrilled was I with the dog-friendly lay-out of Just for Ewe that I carried my quarry all the way home, squeaking at sheep along the way. Squeaking at them is nearly as much fun as barking – they aren’t expecting a dog to squeak so it confuse-balls their little woolly minds.

We walked back to Wheelgate along the old railway line through the woods and, upon return, I was rather muddy. Obviously I relish this – mud is a badge of honour for a dog – but I’ve realised over my years as a travelling terrier that many proprietors are less than thrilled to have a mucky pup among their clientele. Sandy, however, simply threw me a towel and told Jane to put the throws down when we returned to our cottage. That’s what I call service: I imagine Jeeves and Google have implemented this arrangement and I applaud them for it. That’s a 5/5 scores on the paws!

the.little.byreNow, as a note of order, I shall explain the way that Wheelgate operates: dogs aren’t allowed in the B&B itself but are more than welcome in the six adjacent self-catering properties. Jane and I resided in the Little Byre, which is a one-bedroom grey slate cottage and very cosy too – much cosier than back in the day when it was a cow shed. Of course now that the Little Byre has all mod-cons the cows have moved out. Cows don’t require central heating and a shower and a television and DVD player whereas dogs most definitely do. That is because dogs are far superior to cows and if any bovine has a beef with me saying that please take it up with Jane.

Anyway it was time for a quick brush with MY Mookie as we were frequenting the local hostelry for the evening and Jane thinks it imperative that I keep up appearances when out and about in pubs and restaurants spreading the dog-friendly bark. The Church House Inn is a half mile walk through Jeeves and Google’s private five-acre field (available to holidaying hounds) and then along a footpath through the woods from Wheelgate but it could be a million miles away as I heard such a tall tail from one of the locals it was out of this world. Appazently, according to this farmer, one of his sheep has won prizes in every fair in the land for its fine figure and phizog and is now worth thousands and thousands and even more thousands of pounds. Had Jane given me any scraps from her repast of steak and kidney pie and chips I’d have spat them out in astonishment. A sheep worth all that money – come off it local farmer, you’re pulling my leg!

"A sheep that's worth more than a fiver, you bark... I've never heard of such a thing!"

“A sheep that’s worth more than a fiver, you bark… I’ve never heard of such a thing!”

Phileas Phacts: Coniston

  • Wheelgate B&B (and adjoining dog-friendly cottages), Wheelgate, Little Arrow, Coniston, Cumbria, LA21 8AU Tel: 015394 41418; www.wheelgate.co.uk
  • The Little Byre, where Jane and Attlee stayed, costs £39 per person per night B&B (and includes use of the Wheelgate bar) and can also be booked as self-catering accommodation by the week with prices starting at £290 – call 015394 41418 or log on to www.conistoncottages.co.uk for more details. Dogs cost an extra £20 per week self-catering.
  • Pick-ups from the nearest station can be arranged and a regular bus service runs past Wheelgate for guests using public transport.
  • Meadowdore Cafe, Hawkshead Old Road, Coniston, Cumbria, LA21 8ET Tel: 015394 41638; www.meadowdore.com
  • Just for Ewe, Fairfield House, Tilberthwaite Avenue, Coniston, Cumbria, LA21 8ED Tel: 015394 41206
  • The Church House Inn, Main Road, Torver, Coniston, Cumbria, LA21 8AZ Tel: 01539 449159; www.thechurchhouseinn.com

Lots.of.MookiesThe Mookie costs £10 and is available to buy from www.mookiepet.com: it comes in a choice of six colours and is made in Britain from soft rubber. Attlee’s cousin Sanday is rather a fan.  Sanday.Mookie

 

 

 

 

 

Our dog-friendly summer!

  • Amazing wee-ing opportunities at Wells Reclamation Company Ltd, Coxley, Wells, Somerset, BA5 1RQ Tel: 01749 677087; www.wellsreclamation.com

attlee.submarine.salvage.yard

 

  • Judging at the All Dogs Matter Great Hampstead Bark Off, Hampstead Heath, London

All Dogs Matter, 30 Aylmer Parade, London, N2 0PE Tel: 0208 341 3196; www.alldogsmatter.co.uk 

Attlee taking judging duties very seriously...

I’m taking my judging duties very seriously…

  • And a drink afterwards at The Bull and Last, 168 Highgate Road, London, NW5 1QS Tel: 0207 267 3641; www.thebullandlast.co.uk

Attlee.Post.Judging.Bull.Last

  • Jane’s new favourite place in London, The Scootercaffe (and wine bar) at Waterloo. Rover goes retro but I deduct minus points  for the resident cats. Scootercaffe, 132 Lower Marsh, London, SE1 7AE Tel: 0207 620 1421

Scooter.Cafe.Cat.2

  • Blue Cross Thirsk Dog Show (where I entered Best Rescue Dog, Dog with the Most Unusual Ears, Best Biscuit Catcher and Happiest Hound and did not win a single rosette. I WAS ROBBED!) Blue Cross Thirsk, Parklands, Station Road, Topcliffe, Thirsk, YO7 3SE Tel: 0300 777 1540; www.bluecross.org.uk
Mother and Daughter

Mother and Daughter

Waiting.......

Waiting…….

ROBBED!

ROBBED!

Help Buddy!

Help Buddy!

 

  • Interesting beer at LASSCO Three Pigeons, London Road, Milton COMMON, Oxfordshire, OX9 2JN Tel: 01844 277 188; www.lassco.co.uk/locations/three-pigeons/

LASSCO.Three.Pigeons

 

  •  The only downside of the last few months has been Jane’s visit WITHOUT ME to the Kennel Club to meet lots of puppies as a preview for the club’s Discover Dogs event. Jane is taking over the keyboard now to post lots of pictures of pups: I am taking to bed in a grand huff.
Brutus the Great Dane

Brutus the ten-week old Great Dane

Betsy the Wirehaired Dachshund

Betsy the nine-week old Wirehaired Dachshund

 

YoYo the 11-week old Portuguese Pointer

YoYo the 11-week old Portuguese Pointer

Jane writes (as Attlee’s still in his bed in slough of despond): meet more puppies at Eukanuba Discover Dogs – details below – and, if you’re thinking of buying a pup, go to a Kennel Club Assured Breeder. Log on to www.thekennelclub.org.uk/findadogbreed for more details of the Assured Breeder scheme.

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The Peak District with Harry the Westie

Harry.Westie.1Ey up me ducks! My name is Harry and I’m a Derby-based Westie, aged 10 and three months. For some reason I can’t get my fluffy head around all the people here call each other  “duck”. I just don’t understand because I eat duck for my tea sometimes and I’m fairly certain I’m not eating human?

Anyway, I’m digressing. I’m not here to talk about ducks.The great thing about living in Derby is that I am so near the super dog-friendly Peak District. This is every dog’s dream, surely, because the Peak District is a mecca for walkies (and humans like it too because it’s pretty and there are sheep).

I love it when I hear my human Rachel mention the words ‘Peak District’ and my ears prick up.I’m a bit of a Peak District veteran having been there quite a lot during my ten years but if you’re a newbie it can be difficult to know where to start as there are just so many walks and adventures. Not to worry – Harry’s here to help!

For beginners, I would suggest going to Dovedale – you’ll be guaranteed a paw-some day out. It is very, very popular and if you go on a Bank Holiday or sunny Sunday it becomes Dog City and there are queues of us all waiting to sniff each other. But if you go on a slightly grey Sunday it’s magical because you’ve got the whole place to yourself. That’s a whole lot of grass for me to roll around in and I love it!

I went there on August Bank Holiday with Rachel, her boyfriend Chris, and their friends Jo and Ed, and even though it was busy, it was just as amazing always.

Harry.Westie.Humans

We started off walking along the River Dove where I jumped in and out of the water – I really like getting my feet wet. Then we came across the famous Dovedale stepping stones.Okay I admit I can’t get across the stepping stones because I don’t have very long legs – even if I do have four of them – so instead of wading through the water like some other dogs I am always picked up and carried across the stones. Personally I think that’s a great way to make an entrance!

Harry.Westie.Thorpe.Cloud.SteepAcross from the stepping stones is the giant which is Thorpe Cloud. It’s basically a very steep hill and attracts a lot of dogs and humans keen to conquer it. Four legs come in very handy when climbing Thorpe Cloud – Rachel and co slowly made their way up but I ran ahead because it was just so easy for me! (Well, apart from when I had to climb up over a very big rock – I admit I needed a bit of help with that.)

Don’t underestimate how steep Thorpe Cloud is though – halfway up, nature called and I had to do my business. But it’s so steep that. when I did my business, my poo rolled down the hill and Chris had to run after it, poo bag in hand. Hilarious!

When we got to the top, my humans were amazed at how far they could see. But me being a dog my eyesight isn’t too great so I couldn’t make out Derby in the distance. Instead I spotted something much closer to home – a woman chomping on a very juicy apple. I couldn’t take my eyes off it – and I tried to take a bite when she wasn’t looking. Sadly I didn’t succeed – Rachel saw me just in time and kept repeating “sorry – I’m so sorry!” to the woman who looked shocked by my bad behaviour. What can I say? I love my apples!

Harry.Izaak.Walton.InnMaking our way down Thorpe Cloud was quite steep, but again my four legs carried me along and once we got to the bottom we went to the dog-friendly Izaak Walton Hotel and sat outside with drinks. There were some birds on a bird feeder out in the gardens and I couldn’t take my eyes off them. Told you I love my food!

Phileas Phacts: Dovedale and Thorpe Cloud

  • Izaak Walton Hotel, Dovedale, Ashbourne, Derbyshire. DE6 2AY Tel: 01335 350981; www.izaakwaltonhotel.com
  • Dogs are welcome in the Izaak Walton Hotel – in the rear of the Dovedale bar – and can stay overnight with their owners for £10 per night per dog.

 

Thanks for a grand day out Rachel!

Thanks for a grand day out Rachel!

Ston Easton Park, Somerset

Bark in the park – what in Dog’s name is this? I bark in the park at least one hundred times a day and a fine old racket I make too, waking the squirrels from their slumber and a good few of the local human residents too I’ll be bound.

But the park I’m being given leave to bark in today, Jane informs me, isn’t like our scruffy South London park, strewn with empty beer cans and chicken bones – it’s the park belonging to a stately home that’s now a hotel and it runs Bark in the Park weekends. Ston Easton Park in Somerset you say Jane? I’ve lost interest already I’m afraid – what use is a park without chicken bones?

Then Tim, my official photographer and chauffeur, drives me and Jane up the sweeping path to the hotel’s grand frontage – it’s Palladian, you know – and I leap out the car, stick my snout in the air and am assailed by Eau d’Rabbit, Eau d’Badger and, most tantalising of all, Eau d’Deer. Okay, I take it back. This is a park and a half – let me at it!

ston.easton.exterior

But hang on – who’s this rather cocky Cocker Spaniel who is moseying up to inspect me? I’ll sniff your bottom before you sniff mine mate, I bark, affronted, but he’s not having it. This chap seems to think he owns the place!

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‘He does own the place,’ Jane whispers to me. ‘He’s Oscar and he’s maitre dog here – he has the best scraps from the kitchen, a comfortable bed at the reception desk and the run of the grounds – morning, noon and night.’

So this Oscar is Lord of the Manor? I’m rather jealous but he does offer to show us around so I suppose he’s a decent enough sort of cove really.

And what grounds Oscar has to lollop in. He brags and wags his way across grand expanses of manicured lawn (a bit boring for my tastes) and then we arrive at the good stuff – woodland to snuffle around, a ruined folly and the river. I’m not aquatically inclined but I do like to bark at ducks and snout in the reeds.

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There’s a croquet lawn and a tennis court, so lots of balls for us dogs to pinch. As for the Victorian Kitchen garden, which, Oscar barks proudly, provides 60% of the hotel’s fresh produce, there are lots of interesting things to sniff. But I’m denied any good leg lifting opportunities – the little tractor is enticing – as house rules state that dogs must be on leads here. Boring-bones – I’m sure my pee would make the peas come up lovely!

oscar.and.attlee.ston.easton

Attlees.Welcome.MatThen it’s time to have a look at our quarters and proper grand they are too – I’m particularly impressed that, as an obviously highly-esteemed guest, room service has been provided for me. I imagine that’s Oscar’s doing – as maitre d’og he is obviously in charge of the pecking order here and that’s dogs first and humans second.

bedroom.ston.easton

Oh I’d like Oscar’s job, though. I imagine it, as Jane and Tim sip Gin and tonics in the library and I gaze out the window at the grounds. (Dogs are allowed everywhere at Ston, apart from the main restaurant.) All this wonderful parkland and forest to myself – apart from the canine customers of course, but I’d quickly show them who’s boss – and the finest scraparama from the table and the adoration of the staff, who obviously dote on him. The antique paintings scrabble for space with photographs of Oscar – his image, in gold frames, adorns every mantelpiece. Jane doesn’t have any pictures of me in gold frames up in our ex-council flat in South East London. Why was Oscar born with a silver Bonio in his mouth – and not me? It’s a bit ruff!

But my ears prick up when I hear Jane ask Oscar’s co-concierge – the human one – whether he’s ever naughty. Maybe is there a vacancy. Perhaps Oscar isn’t up to the job and a new bark is required in this park.

‘During a wedding Oscar leapt into the brand new Range Rover belonging to the father of the bride and chewed through the leather seats,’ the concierge says.

Amaze-bones – Oscar, you’re fired! And I’m hired.

But, apparently, that was during his misspent puppyhood and now, at the grand old age of seven, he’s a reformed character. Drat.

Phileas Phacts: Ston Easton Park

  • Ston Easton Park, Nr. Bath, Somerset, BA3 4DF Tel: 01761 241631; www.stoneaston.co.uk
  • Prices start from £149 per night for the classic bedrooms; dogs cost £15 per night.
  • Bark in the Park packages (in association with James Wellbeloved) cost £295 per night, and include a three-course dinner for humans and, of course, the red carpet rolled out for Rover too. For more details log on to: www.stoneaston.co.uk/breaks-and-special-offers/bark-in-the-park-pet-package

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The dog-friendly Bath Arms at Longleat

Well I am in a wagging good mood today and no mistake – not only are Jane and I off on our travels, I have been sent a whole parcel of IMPORTANT STUFF for my trip by the lovely humans at Armitage Good Boy. I must have been a very good boy to receive such a parcel – I can’t pinpoint when I was, exactly, and neither can Jane but I do have a very hazy recollection of a day in April when I sat down promptly when instructed.

Attlee.haul

Anyway, I’m not one to look a gift-squeaky-meerkat in the mouth so I’ll get on with packing my IMPORTANT THINGS into my Poppy and Rufus dog travel bag. Blanket – check; bowl – check; chocolate bones – check; squeaky VW Campervan – check: brush – actually I’m not sure I need that….

Attlee.Packed.RTG

Good job we’re not travelling by public transport as usual or Jane might need panniers to carry this lot – instead Tim, my photographer and chauffeur, is driving me to The Bath Arms in the village of Horningsham, Wiltshire in my own personal limousine (Ford Focus) and my luggage is safely stowed in the boot. The BATH Arms – that sounds ominous to me. But, Jane assures me, no bathing will be required on my part and the name refers to the city of Bath rather than the tubs of torment with horns that cascade water lurking behind so many closed doors.

We pass Stonehenge – lots of good leg lifting opportunities on those boulders but, alas, hounds aren’t allowed in – and then we pass the entrance to Longleat House and Safari Park. Again, dogs aren’t allowed in – I imagine the lions have requested that, as they are scared of us. Oh well, we are welcome in the village of Horningsham – a straggle of thatched cottages with a big old stone church – and we’re very welcome at The Bath Arms.

Bath. Arms.Attlee

Its frontage is very impressive – it’s a LISTED 17th Century ivy-clad building just ripe for wee-ing against but Jane won’t have that sort of behaviour, she says, and I desist. I don’t want my GOOD BOY parcel to be revoked.

Bath.Arms.Beer.GardenAs it’s a sunny late spring evening, we sit in the beer garden and relax – Jane with a glass of wine; Tim with a craft ale and me with my squeaky Space Hopper toy.

‘Actually,’ Jane tells me, grabbing it, ‘some other guests aren’t finding that squeaking very relaxing Attlee.’

Our bedroom is in an annexe around the corner from the main hotel which, I deduce, used to be the stables. But as all the poor horses have had their jobs stolen by cars they don’t need the stables any longer and we dogs, and our humans, can have them instead. There’s a bed laid out for me, and two bowls too, but I’m more interested in peering out of the patio-style doors at the other dogs arriving for the evening. Don’t want too much competition for scraps at dinner….

I needn’t have worried though because when we sit down in the restaurant (there’s a little area where dogs are welcome) Jane’s a good egg and orders the steak and ale pie with chips on the side for me; then, at breakfast in the morning, there’s a top Rover result – BLACK PUDDING with the full English. Jane doesn’t like black pudding; Tim doesn’t like black pudding but I very much like black pudding. I like the sausage made from local pork as well – the more local that sausage gets to my chops the better. And I finish the whole repast off with a GOOD BOY chocolate bone for afters!

Phileas Phacts:

  • The Bath Arms, Horningsham, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 7LY Tel: 01985 844308; www.batharms.co.uk
  • Prices start at £95 per night in a classic room, including breakfast.

Attlee’s haul from Armitage Pet Care’s Good Boy range, available from all good pet stores, consisted of:

  • pawsley & co deli treats – £2.99 a pack
  • Meerkat soft squeaky toy – £6.49
  • Campervan squeaky toy – £2.99
  • Space Lobber squeaky toy – £6.29
  • Feeding bowl – £4.99
  • Travel water bottle – £4.79
  • Brush – £5.99
  • Poo bags and holder – £2.99
  • Blanket – £3.99
  • Solid choc bones – £16.83 for 3 kgs

Log on to www.armitages.co.uk for more details.

stuff.laid.out

 

The Pennine Way: Haworth to Gargrave

It’s day two of our Pennine Way perambulation and I am raring to go rovering as we have breakfast at dog-friendly Cobbles and Clay in Haworth but, within a mile or so of stepping out, disaster strikes. A light rain is falling, which I find rather refreshing, but it also forms a few puddles on the path – one of which Jane steps in, revealing a hole in her fashion wellington.

‘Owww,’ she cries as her foot squelches in the water now pooling in her sole. ‘Will I get trench foot?’

I look at my paw pads which are also rather soggy. Will I get trench paw?

The miles of moor ahead of us are desolate and so is Jane’s mood….

desolate.moor

‘Do you think you can carry on?’ Apricot asks Jane.

‘I’ll try,’ she says stoically.

And try she does until we reach the higher ground, which is rather boggy – and a bog attacks her fashion wellington and swallows it whole!

I prepare to jump into the bog to retrieve said fashion wellington – an act of considerable bravery and loyalty to Jane on my part as I am, in truth, a little scared of all aquatic endeavours – but Jane pulls me back. The bog might swallow me whole too, she screams. Then we spy the fashion wellington – now black rather than pea green – floating atop the bog. The bog has spat it out….

Jane scoops as much of the mud in the fashion wellington out as possible with a (unused) poo bag, changes her thermal sock and then, after a restorative chunk of Fruit and Nut, we march onwards. The moorland reaches forever and ever up here – as far as the horizon and beyond with nary a squirrel to unsettle it. It is too bleak for those namby-pamby high-tailed city dwellers but I appreciate the moor’s weather-beaten majesty and enjoy the wind and the reeds whipping against me.

Jane however, already diminished by her dual fashion wellington crises, finds the landscape unsettling.

‘How far is the nearest village?’ she nags Apricot, who has the map. I am rather affronted that she doesn’t ask me – with my fine olfactory ability I can smell the nearest habitation, even though it’s five miles hence. A denizen of the village is cooking SAUSAGES and my nose is twitching.

lovely.lambsFinally we reach the village of Cowling, where we stop for our sandwiches, and then the landscape becomes more pastoral as we carry on towards Lothersdale. This cheers Jane. She photographs the spring lambs and I assist in her photography by barking at them to ensure they look at the camera. Were I not on the lead I would chase the lambs to oblige Jane with a spring lamb action shot but I am on the lead so this avenue of pleasure is closed to me.

We are walking through a field towards a farm when a man, clad in Lycra, sprints past us.

‘I have run 30-miles since breakfast,’ he announces as he passes before opening a gate and charging through a small paddock of bullocks. Big bullocks. He charges – and the big bullocks charge in his wake. Charging through a paddock of bullocks is not a good idea – even I know that and I am brave. He reaches the end of the paddock and the wooden gate slams. The bullocks are milliseconds behind him.

‘Do we have to walk through that paddock?’ Jane asks Apricot. We do.

We do not charge though – instead Jane lifts me into her arms and we progress through the paddock very, very slowly. The bullocks stare at us, wondering, and we stare back, wondering too. Some dogs may feel demeaned – being carried like a baby through a field of bullocks. But I am not demeaned. I am flattered. Jane has decided to carry me because she is worried that, on paw, I might pull on my lead in the direction of the bullocks and bark.  She believes me the most fearless dog on earth. It’s not true – not quite true – but it makes me proud nonetheless. Still, even I know that chasing sheep is one things and chasing bullocks quite another. I do mind the bullocks. 

After the paddock of bullocks the path leads upwards – up and up and up. It is only a few miles to Lothersdale but, for Jane in still-squelchy boots, they are hard miles. By the time we reach Lothersdale we will have walked 12-miles and that, Jane decides, is quite enough squelching for one day. There is the trench foot to consider, after all. So Apricot will walk on from Lothersdale to our kip for the night in Gargrave but Jane will climb down from Shanks Pony and find alternative means of conveyance. Being as I am Jane’s dog, it’s my duty to accompany her. I could, of course, carry on paw for hours – all the way to Malham, I reckon, or even Glasgow. But I am loyal.

‘Anyway,’ Jane tells Apricot, ‘Attlee could get Jack Russell leg if he walks too much.’

I am perturbed by this. For one, I am not a Jack Russell – I am a mongrel and proud, far bigger and stronger and sturdier than any Jack Russell I’ve ever met. For two, what on Dog’s green earth is Jack Russell leg? I have never heard of it and I doubt whether any practitioner of veterinary science has heard of it either. Jane has invented this Jack Russell leg condition for her own ends – as a distraction from the fact of the matter, which is that she’s the flagger. I raise an eyebrow – then drop it. Lothersdale is in view and we have decided to repair to The Hare and Hounds for coffee before parting from Apricot.

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There is a boot rack at the entrance to The Hare and Hounds for muddy boots and the ladies, grateful, remove theirs. I don’t remove my muddy paws – ridiculous! Then we prevail on the bar maid for coffee and information on buses from Lothersdale to Gargrave.

‘Buses,’ she snorts. ‘We don’t have any buses going through the village.’

sleepy.attleeI glance at Jane. Maybe we are going to have to walk after all, despite the threat of Jack Russell leg. Then I fall promptly asleep under our table. Not because I’m tired, understand – I could carry on for miles – but because the atmosphere in The Hare and Hounds is very laidback and cosy and enervates me.

And when I wake a plan has been hatched – a taxi is booked to ferry Jane and I the six-or-so miles to Gargrave and Apricot is taking her leave and continuing her walk alone. I am slightly jealous.

‘I reckon I’ll be with you by about 7pm at the latest,’ she tells us.

So we say adieu and, 20-minutes later, our taxi pulls into Gargrave. It’s a very pretty little town or big village – I’m not sure which – with a fine old church and a river running through it and parkland and lawn bordering the main street. I throw myself on to the grass and roll to celebrate having reached journey’s end – never minding that we reached it with a little help from Mr. Cab Driver Esq. Then we check in to our room at The Masons Arms and I am impressed to be greeted by a tribute to my Pennine Way prowess – a medal awaits me in the form of a Bonio. Totes Amaze-Bonios!

Bonio

Jane and I potter and sleep and then sleep and potter some more, awaiting hardy lone adventuress Apricot’s return. It is 7pm and there is no sign of her; it is 7.30pm and there is no sign of her. Jane and I head to the bar in the Masons Arms and sit at the table reserved for us and Jane drinks a glass of wine but there is still no sign of her. Then Apricot appears – not walking through the door, as we expect, but on the other end of the phone. Alas, she is lost! She has taken a wrong turn somewhere along the path and jumbled up her bearings. She will, she tells Jane, if she is still lost when it grows dark at about 9pm, find a barn and hunker down until dawn.

I shall seek her, I decide. I will be able to pick up her scent in a shake of a lamb’s tail – and there are plenty of them about – and guide her home. Jane concurs but says it’s best she has dinner before setting out as the kitchen closes at 8.30pm and she shares her initials with Jeremy Clarkson. I will, she tells me, be much better placed to assist Apricot if I’ve eaten fish pie first.

There’s a logic to this, especially if I can share the fish pie. So, thus replete, we launch our search party at 8.30pm, marching off as dusk falls in the direction a sign for the Pennine Way just outside the Masons Arms points. But we’ve only gone a hundred yards or so when we hear our names being called.

‘Jane!’ ‘Attlee!’

We turn around and there is Apricot. We’d been marching off in the wrong direction but it doesn’t matter as Apricot is safe – if a little weary – and can sleep the night in a bed in The Masons Arms instead of a byre or a barn. Grrr-HUZZAH.

The.Dalesman

The following morning, after a hearty English breakfast and SAUSAGES, we take what is supposed to be a gentle stroll beside the canal at Gargrave but turns into a seven-mile tramp as we are all such experienced trampers by now that we just can’t stop. Even the fashion wellingtons have ceased their squelching. Then we trio of Pennine Way perambulators have a final cup of coffee in the dog-friendly Dalesman cafe and go our separate ways – Jane and I on the train to Glasgow, via Carlisle, and Apricot to London, via Leeds.

Happy Birthday Pennine Way and thanks for letting us celebrate with you!

 

Phileas Phacts: Pennine Way, Haworth to Gargrave

  • Cobbles and Clay, 60 Main St, Haworth, Keighley BD22 8DP Tel: 01535 644218; www.cobblesandclay.co.uk
  • The Hare and Hounds, Lothersdale, Keighley BD20 8EN Tel:01535 630977
  • The Masons Arms, Marton Road, Gargrave, North Yorkshire, BD23 3NL Tel: 01756 749510; www.masonsarmsgargrave.co.uk
  • The Dalesman Cafe and Tearooms, 54 High St, Gargrave, North Yorkshire BD23 3LX Tel: 01756 749250
  • If you’re planning your dog-friendly Summer holiday, don’t forget your copy of Phileas Doggs’ Guide to Dog-Friendly Holidays in Britain, available on Amazon and in all good bookstores. Grrr-HUZZAH!

Book.Cover (549x800)

Ollie of Northfields’ Holiday Highlights

Ollie.Northfields.Twit.Pic.2I’m Ollie from Northfields in West London (or ‘West of London’, as the humans say to people who might not approve of a spaniel in the city). Whilst I may technically be more of an unemployed-cocker than a working-cocker, I’m certainly not lazy; I am on the go constantly. I like to go everywhere with the humans, and usually achieve this (with the notable exceptions of ‘work’ and ‘the toilet’ both of which are unknown entities to me). I am a regular in most of the pubs in Northfields but am yet to have been bought a drink. Most of all, though, I LOVE holidays. I’m only one year and two months old and already I have travelled to Wales, Dorset, Devon and Somerset!

I was very young on my first holiday to ‘the middle of nowhere’ in Wales so my memory is a little hazy. We stayed in an old barn with sheep outside the door. I wasn’t sure about that. I found a fellow canine across the valley to bark about it with – he wasn’t impressed either. I particularly liked the rug in the barn – a big thing with tassels on. So I used my new holiday Nylabone as a decoy and managed to have a good old chew. The lady who owned the barn wasn’t very happy about that and charged the humans £33.09 in rug repairs – it certainly didn’t taste THAT good. Wales.Rug.Chew

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My second holiday was a ‘Forest Holiday’ with my doggy cousins Toby (very short) and Ned (very tall). It was AMAZING – dog treats on arrival, long walks in the woods, ‘Hot Tub Hounds’ (us) won the quiz, and I ate a small dead mouse. My only criticism was that the hounds weren’t actually allowed in the hot tub. Cousin Toby was so indignant at being left out that he did a little poo in the cabin while the humans were having a soak. I have a feeling that might be that sort of behaviour that got dog-kind banned from the hot tub in the first place?

Ollie.Forest.Holiday

Ollie.Toby.Forest.Holiday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday number three was a beach hut in North Devon – an incredible place but, again, with a hot tub I wasn’t allowed in. It didn’t matter because I was pretty flat out after my walk along the ‘best beach in Britain’. I got to go in cafes in Devon (I don’t think they have many of them in Northfields because we always go to the pub) and I went on a funicular (train up a hill) with a lot of humans who thought it outrageously funny that I was sitting with my legs apart on the humans’ lap. They clearly haven’t encountered me on the tube. If you’ve got it flaunt it, I say!

Ollie.Devon.Woolacombe.Beach

Why Me Not Allowed In The Hot Tub?

Why Me Not Allowed In The Hot Tub?

 

  • Ollie stayed at Beach Cove Coastal Retreat in North Devon: www.darwinescapes.co.uk/parks/beach-cove-coastal-retreat

My final holiday to date was ‘camping’  in April. I’d never been camping before and had no idea what to expect. When we arrived in the empty field in Cheddar (apparently camping in England in April is not very popular) my first encounter was with my new nemesis – ‘the dog stake’. The dog stake holds on to your lead preventing you from pursuing any important squirrel chasing/poo eating/ digging tasks outside of a three metre radius. Unless you chew through your lead, that is. Once I had been captured and the inflatable canvas house put up it was time for the humans to sit in the cold and blame me for the fact we weren’t in ‘the Caribbean’ (not sure why it was my fault; I’ll try anything once). When the humans had stopped complaining, I played dead-from-the-extreme-cold to ensure I was allowed to sleep in the human bed – things were looking up. It turns out camping isn’t so bad after all: the walking is good, I got plenty of attention in the pubs, and there are SAUSAGES!

Ollie.Camping.Twitter

 

  • Ollie camped at Cheddar in Somerset with www.petruthpaddocks.co.uk

Now I’m getting most excited about my next holiday – we are taking the inflatable canvas house to France! Now, I know that France is exotic and only suitable for hard-core adventurers like me because I had to have a rabies vaccination. They made me a little bit rabid for this holiday so I just know it’s going to be a good one…..

 

The Pennine Way: Hebden Bridge to Haworth

Pennine.Way.SignBlow up the balloons and hang out the bunting, pups, for the Pennine Way is 50 years old – 350 in dog years which is ancient! Our friend Apricot is ancient too (in dog years, that is – she’s still a mere slip of a girl in human years) and she shares her birthday – April 24th – with the Pennine Way. And that’s why Jane and I are on a train to Leeds – to celebrate both events by walking the Pennine Way with Apricot.

 

 

 

The augurs for our expedition, however, are not good.

Augur #1 – the walking boots Jane has purchased from eBay have not arrived by the time we set out for our train to Leeds. This makes Jane very fretful as she isn’t sure that her fashion wellingtons will be up to the task of marching across moorland for 12-miles a day. Poor humans – all this fretting over footwear while my paw pads are sturdy and strong be I bouncing across the beach or hot pawing it along the pavement. Many’s the time I have questioned Dog as to why humans are so poorly designed but he has yet to provide an answer.

Augur #2 – rain is forecast. Apricot has been checking her phone every day and her phone has checked with the people who control the weather and reported back to her that it will rain. Heavily – and especially heavily on April 24th.  The people who control the weather are clearly not friends of Apricot or of the Pennine Way – not fair-weather friends anyway. 

So it is up to me to keep Jane’s spirits up as we change trains at Leeds to continue our journey to Hebden Bridge, where we are staying for the first night of our trek. I try to amuse her by cavorting in the aisle, creating grand disruption for other passengers. But she is not amused.

‘I will not be able to walk 12-miles a day in fashion wellingtons with this rucksack on my back in a torrential downpour,’ she cries. ‘I don’t know why I have agreed to this trip.’

So forlorn, is she, I wonder whether she will ever recover. Then, upon arrival in Hebden Bridge, we are greeted with this sight and her spirits are revived.

funny.hebden.bridge.dog.sticking.head.out.cat.flap

A dog sticking its head out of a cat flap! All my charisma and my talents – writing, squirrel chasing, being the fastest dog in the park – are as nothing compared to this mutt peering through a hole in a door. I could be rather hurt but I am the bigger dog and I let it go. At least Jane is chirpy again.

She chirps up even more when we meet Sharon, who runs Garnett B&B, our residence for the night in the centre of Hebden Bridge. Sharon is chirpy and Jane is chirpy and the two of them chirp on for half an hour at least. I’m so bored by their nattering I consider seeking out cat flap dog for some intelligent conversation…..

At last Jane and Sharon – old friends, now – have run through their life stories with each other and Jane and I head out in search of repast. Sadly the dog-friendly Lamp Post cafe (featured in our best-selling book) is closed as it’s 7pm so we head to The Old Gate pub. Jane is reassured by the fact that the bar serves white rioja and I am reassured by the fact she orders chicken burger and chips. Scraparama!

Attlee.Studying.MapBack in our room we study the maps to plot our route for the following day although really our efforts in this quarter are redundant as Apricot, who arrives at 10pm, is chief navigator, and I don’t require maps – I always just follow my nose and end up in exactly the right place. Amaze-bones!

Day One: Hebden Bridge to Haworth

Fido Felicitations to Apricot and the Pennine Way – the grand day, April 24th, has arrived and they are both, officially, ancient! The celebrations start with a slap-up breakfast courtesy of Sharon (and some slap-up sausages for me, courtesy of Jane slipping them under the table) and then we are OFF! Well, our OFF is set back rather by the fact the chap in the cafe where we buy sandwiches spends rather a long time preparing them – half an hour, which seems a bit excessive a timeframe to put some brie and tomatoes between two slices of bread – but then we are OFF!  Jane glances at her fashion wellingtons trepidatiously; Apricot stamps her hiking boots and I click my heels together. Twelve country miles – bring it on!

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And what joys those 12-miles bring. There are sheep to bark at and there’s fresh grass to roll in; nesting birds inhabit the scrub of the moors and then, waggiest of wonders, there are reeds with little rodent-like residents.

‘Voles,’ Jane says, catching sight of one of the critters scurrying down a hole to escape my attentions. I have never heard of a vole in all my born days but, now I’m aware they exist, I am obsessed by them. VOLES! Forget squirrels and bring me VOLES!

Because of the sheep and the nesting birds and voles I am LEAD ON but I will not allow this small fact to tarnish my merriment – not a bit of it. Who does that ram think he’s staring at? I will bark at him and show him who’s boss! Why is Jane walking so slowly up this hill? I will surge forward and drag the old girl up. I am King of the Pennine Way although, I must admit, by the time we stop for lunch next to a bridge over a stream I am rather out of breath and can’t even muster the energy to bark at the geese flying overhead.

‘We’ve walked eight miles at least,’ Jane sighs, satisfied, as she bites into the sandwich that took half an hour to create.

‘No,’ Apricot counters, examining the map. ‘We’ve only done five!’

‘Five,’ Jane cries aghast, staring at her fashion wellingtons. ‘Another seven to go?’

sheep.and.moorsBut the rain holds off – the sun even shines at points – and onwards we tramp. Chunks of Dairy Milk and Jelly Babies sustain Jane and Apricot; I have a bag of Amitage Good Boy Chocolate Drops to keep my energy levels up. The treats work a treat – oh, I have so much energy to bark at sheep.

‘Attlee – stop,’ Jane shouts, yanking my lead to show she means business. Then we turn a corner – and terror strikes our hearts……

canine.unit

Oh my Dog! I’m sorry, officer – I know I’ve been behaving in a rather unruly fashion what with barking at sheep and voles but I have realised the error of my ways and will desist immediately.

‘Do you think a farmer’s called the police about Attlee barking at the sheep?’ Jane hisses, stopping in her tracks.

Even Apricot appears slightly alarmed.

‘Let me off this lead Jane, so I can run and hide in the moors. I will be a fugitive rather than spend the rest of my days behind bars!’ I cry.

‘It can’t be anything to do with us,’ Apricot declares boldly. ‘Let’s walk past.’

So we do and the officer in the parked car smiles at us. Nothing to see here; move on your way, folks.

False alarm – still, I do quiet my barking for the afternoon. I don’t much fancy being apprehended by the Canine Unit.

The experience has fritted us all and, as the moor grows bleaker as we climb uphill, we are sombre and reflective.  Then we spot, in the distance, an abandoned farmhouse and Jane and Apricot’s pace quickens. This is, apparently, Top Withins, the inspiration behind the Earnshaws’ house in Wuthering Heights and a place of worship for Bronte fans – tortured teenage girls and maudlin middle-aged spinsters among them.

Top.Withins.Sign

 

attlee.at.top.withinsI’d much rather be snouting for voles than bookishly brooding but I’m a sport about it all and think of Emily Bronte’s canine companion Keeper who tramped the moors by her side every day. Emily must have been a fine sort of human to have a dog as her best friend so I allow Jane and Apricot their reverie and even accommodate their rendition of a Kate Bush classic with equanimity.

And Top Withins does have a majesty about it – as we descend the hill it stands atop we keep turning to gaze back at it, forlorn and alone yet somehow majestic and splendid in its isolation.

top.withins.distance

Jane, however, is flagging now – we are only three miles from our dog-friendly digs for the night but the ten-miles we have completed are telling on her fashion wellingtons rather. I still have great stores of energy in reserve and push bravely on – I am the leader of this small pack and will not falter. And, when we arrive at Westfield Lodge, I am justly rewarded as a bucket of straight-from-the-butchers bones has been left at reception to welcome me. This truly is AMAZE-BONES!

attlee.boneApricot and Jane complain about their aching muscles. Aching muscles, I think, as I chomp and they bathe (although without the benefit of soap as there there isn’t a bar of it in our self-catering apartment) – why, I could walk another 12-miles this very minute.

Still, when Jane opts to call a cab rather than Shanks’ pony to convey us the mile into Haworth for dinner I don’t grumble and, as we sit down in The Stirrup Eating House on the main street, my eyelids grow heavy.  Then the chef emerges from the kitchens brandishing – grrrhuzzah – a sausage and I am wide awake.

Well the Stirrup is a fine establishment and no mistaking and this day one of the best I’ve ever had, if we leave out the brush with the long paw of the Law. Voles, sheep, bones-straight-from-the-butchers and now a sausage presented to me before the girls have even ordered their glasses of Prosecco.  I truly am the King of the Pennine Way and I wonder what treats tomorrow, when we tramp on to Gargrave, can offer to compete with this.

Phileas Phacts: Hebden Bridge to Haworth

  • Garnett B&B, 2 Garnett Street, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX7 6AL Tel: 07594 080556; www.hebdenbridge.biz
  • Jane, Attlee, and Apricot paid £65 for a large twin room, breakfast included.
  • Westfield Lodge, New Westfield Farm, Upper Marsh Lane, Oxenhope, Keighley, West Yorkshire, BD22 9RH Tel: 01535 646900; www.westfield-lodge.co.uk
  • Jane, Attlee and Apricot paid £90 for a one bedroom self-catering apartment.
  • The Stirrup Eating House, 103 Main Street, Haworth, West Yorkshire, BD22 8DP Tel: 01535 642007; www.thestirrup.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Dog-Friendly Self-Catering Accommodation at Tower Bridge

Beefeater.Attlee.Tower.Best

The Crown Jewels in the Tower of London are safe tonight: I, Attlee Common, am on guard in my role as Yeoman Wagger and Beefeater expawdinaire. And, in recompense for my services, I understand that the Queen of England will invite me to eat as much meat from the royal table as I like, for this is a Beefeater’s ancient right and one I intend to take full advantage of.  

Beefeater.Attlee.Tower.Best.2

So imagine my disappointment when Jane leads me away from the Tower of London (does she not care for the safety of the Crown Jewels? I have already identified several undesirables in the vicinity I must keep a sharp eye on as dusk falls)and tells me my stint as a Beefeater was merely a photo opportunity and instead we are off to review some dog-friendly accommodation a one-minute walk away from the Tower.

I have rather a beef with this – until, that is, we enter the foyer to the Cheval Three Quays. Well this is posh. Marble floors, mirrors and a million glass baubles hanging from the ceiling – I can’t imagine even Buckingham Palace itself would be grander. We take the lift to the fifth floor and enter our apartment for the night.

Cheval.PR.GoodJane gasps at the splendour of the two-bedroom apartment – I gasp at its vicinity to the Tower: the floor-to-ceiling windows and the balconies running the length of the apartment offer a dog’s eye view. Those undesirables had better not try any nefarious business this eve because I have the perfect vantage point from which to observe them. Sleep well Great Britain for the Crown Jewels are safe!

snacks.for.Attlee.Cheval(The proprietors of Cheval have set up a bed for me in the front room of the apartment – very thoughtful, but they must understand I cannot retire as I have a vital service to our country to perform. I will, however, eat the biscuits they have set out for me. A hero needs sustenance, after all.)

Jane spends the evening gazing lazily at the view of Tower Bridge through the binoculars provided from an Eames chair (I am informed it is Eames and therefore I must not avail myself of it) and I study the Tower itself. I have to blast a few warning barks out into the deep, dark night – that gives any villains pause for thought, I can tell you.

 

view.from.our.apartment (2)

When Jane wakes in the morning she is full of the joys of early spring, attempting to use the Nespresso machine and watching the commuters arrive by boat at Tower Millennium Pier. But, unlike the commuters, my work is already done and I am exhausted after a night on watch – exhausted, but proud. You will note, I am sure, that the Crown Jewels remained safe on the night of March 8 in the year 2015. Draw from that what you will but, if you care to thank me in any way, a bowl of beef is always gratefully received.

Phileas Phacts:

  • Cheval Three Quays, 40 Lower Thames Street, London, EC3R 6AG.
  • Prices for a one-bedroom dog-friendly apartment start from £180 per night including VAT.  Tel: 0207 341 7052; www.chevalresidences.com
  • Attlee’s Beefeater outfit was made by our friend Annie in the park: she accepts commissions at www.annie2pins.co.uk

 

Dog-Friendly Ramsgate, Kent

Ramsgate has been in the news of late because a man called Nigel Farage is standing to be MP there. Apparently Nigel Farage does not care for foreigners so I was on the look-out for the blighters when we visited. French Bulldogs; Carpathian Sheepdogs; Boston Terriers, which are from Boston in the USA and not Boston, Lincolnshire – I wondered whether Ramsgate would be a veritable tower of barking Babel. But I did not meet one foreigner – only a Scottie, and he is not from a different country quite yet. I was disappointed, in truth – I would have very much liked to practise my Carpathian. 

Anyway Jane and I are not in Ramsgate because of Nigel Farage – we are in Ramsgate because our friend Tim fancied a weekend away and asked us to join him. One of our Rover Reporters had told us that the place to stay in Ramsgate is the Royal Harbour Hotel but, perhaps because it’s the place to stay, it was fully booked. So we went for Albion House, which had only been open a few weeks, and is on the edge of a smart little square, two-minutes from the town centre. (The smart little square is handy for a late night pee, although bereft of squirrels and foxes and foreigners, making it a bit boring-bones.)

funny.fella.in.receptionAlbion House, though – well, I couldn’t fault the place. The decor was all very minimalist and smart: I liked it, apart from this strange feller loitering around in reception who I didn’t much care for.

 

And the staff were very friendly and welcoming – so welcoming, in fact, that I thought I’d test out their dog-friendliness and did something I have never done before. Rover, I lifted my leg against a plant pot in reception, in full view of the hotel owner.

room.with.a.viewIn my defence, this was the view from our bedroom window – a very large lamp post. I defy any dog to inhabit a room with a view of a loo and not have a bladder that requires immediate evacuation.

Jane screamed in horror but the owner was very relaxed – a cleaner was called and I left the scene of the crime unadmonished. The owner wouldn’t even accept the £10 note Jane attempted to give him in recompense for my misdemeanour.

(I have learnt my lesson, however. When Jane screamed in horror, I recoiled in horror at the pitch and decibel-level of her cry – akin to a seagull that has scoffed a packet of Lambert and Butler landing on my head. It was a very aurally unpleasant experience.)

Tim, who had been hoping for a quiet weekend by the seaside rather than a leg-lifting, horror-screaming extravaganza had, by now, had quite enough of all this ‘nonsense’ and marshalled us out to explore.

Ramsgate has plenty for the terrier traveller to get his sharp teeth stuck into. There is a harbour where humans can gaze at boats and dogs can bark at seagulls. There is a very long beach which, at low tide, leads all the way to Broadstairs.Between May and September, however, dogs are banned from some of the beaches which imho (in my hound’s opinion) is all wrong. (Perhaps this is something Mr Farage could address if he’s elected MP. He will have plenty of time, as there are no foreign dogs in Ramsgate, so he doesn’t need worry on that score.)

attlee.harbour.good

attlee.on.beach.good

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are also some underground tunnels – apparently, during WW2, 60,000 people sheltered here from German bombs and at one time there were 1000 permanent residents. No doubt some of those fine underground dwellers were of canine-kind but, today, dogs aren’t allowed in. A shame but we are welcome, waggers, at Ratz cafe at the entrance to the tunnels where a bowl of water is provided for us.

the.ratz

Then we went for a stroll around the town itself and happened upon a cafe called Vinyl Head. It is called Vinyl Head as, along with coffee and cake, it sells vinyl – very old vinyl which people place on record players and spin around. The man who runs Vinyl Head is very friendly and brought me a bowl of water, pronto, and the other customers were very friendly too.  One told Jane that Ramsgate is the ‘new Brighton’. I don’t quite understand why we need a new Brighton when we have a fit-for-purpose old one already but Jane nodded at this comment, as if it made sense to her. Then she made me pose for a photograph next to a piece of old vinyl but I couldn’t be bothered and I strolled out of shot. I am not a performing monkey – I have free will – and if I don’t want to be photographed next to some old vinyl I will vote with my paws and abscond.

attlee.strolling.off

What I wanted was to visit a public house – I’d heard that Nigel Farage is always in one and I hoped to discuss my idea about allowing dogs on Kent beaches all year long with him. So we ambled down the street to the Queen Charlotte and what a fine pub it was too. There were fairy lights, an old gramophone and paintings and ephemera (a big word for a little dog) from days gone by. But no Nigel Farage! I was confused-bones at first – Nigel Farage is always in the pub so why isn’t he in the pub? Then, as Tim and Jane chatted over their craft ales, I deduced the reason why Nigel Farage was absent. I think this might be the reason….

That is all getting a bit political for me, though, and, despite my name, I am not really a political animal. Instead, I’ll leave you with a nice photo of a Ramsgate Rover enjoying some spring sunshine tied to a lamp post.

snoozing.ramsgate.dog

 

Phileas Phacts: Ramsgate

  • Albion House, Albion Place, Ramsgate, Kent, CT11 8HQ Tel: 01843 606630; www.albionhouseramsgate.co.uk
  • Prices start at £140 for a sea view cosy room; dogs stay free. Dogs aren’t allowed in the restaurant but can sit in the bar with their owners and can be left unattended in rooms.

 

  • Royal Harbour Hotel, Nelson Crescent, Ramsgate, Kent, CT11 9JF Tel: 01843 591514; website: www.royalharbourhotel.co.uk
  • Prices start at £100 per double per night and up; £10 per dog per stay.

 

  • Ramsgate Tunnels, Marina Esplanade, Ramsgate, Kent, CT11 8LN Tel: 01843 588123; www.ramsgatetunnels.org

 

  • Vinyl Head, 2-3 The Broadway, Addington Street, Ramsgate, Kent Tel: 01843 334653; search Vinyl Head on Facebook for more information

 

  • Queen Charlotte, 57 Addington Street, Ramsgate, Kent, CT11 9JJ Tel: 07956 666 192; search Queen Charlotte Ramsgate on Facebook

 

  • For more information on which Ramsgate beaches dogs are banned from over the summer months log on to: http://thanet.gov.uk/your-services/beaches-and-coastline/dog-byelaws/dog-ban-beaches/

 

 

 

A Scruff Goes to Crufts

Well, at last, the Kennel Club has finally recognised me as a superior sort of chap and, this year, I was invited to Crufts. What took you so long KC? Best in Show: yes, I do believe I am!

‘I don’t want you to feel intimidated by all the posh dogs with quadrupled-barrelled Kennel Club names that we’ll meet,’ Jane told me as our train to the Birmingham NEC chugged through the Home Counties. What nonsense she talks. Intimidated: me? If anyone’s going to feel intimidated it will be the posh dogs – when they see a fine fellow like me strutting around they will throw all the Crufts rosettes they have ever won in the bin, realising that breeding counts for nothing compared to a head that doesn’t match one’s body, a short stump of a tail and irregular markings resembling abstract art. There’s no breeder in all the land who could create a dog like me – Abstract Attlee – even if they spent a century in the attempt.

When we arrived, using the entrance reserved for special dogs – for, according to my ticket, that is what I am – I barked to herald to all the hoity-toity hounds that I was in town.Then I lifted my leg, to underline the fact. (Our friend Basil from www.barkarama.co.uk went one better than this but on that I’ll say no more.)

Then I whizzed past all the posh pups, head held high and stumpy tail a-wagging, as I had an appointment with Caroline Kisco – Kennel Club Secretary, no less – who, hearing I would be gracing Crufts with my presence, wanted to meet me. Very impressed by my pedigree she was too, telling me: ‘The Kennel Club isn’t just Crufts – we work with lots of dog charities including our own breed rescues. And we have Scruffts, our competition for crossbreeds, which is being judged here today.’

Hmmm, a bit less of the Scruff please Caroline – I am a very smart sort of cove. Although Jane and I did take a wander over to where the Scruffts competitors had gathered for a photo-shoot for a nose.

‘Is that Blaze?’ a television cameraman asked when he spotted me, mistaking me for one of the candidates.

‘No I am not,’ I barked straight back at him. Doesn’t he recognise Phileas Dogg when he sees him?

Scruffts.Finalist.GracieI did have rather a pleasant chat with Gracie, though, who’d won the Scruffts heat for Golden Oldie. And, I heard later, she went on to win the Scruffts overall crown. Good girl Gracie – those tips I gave you for working the camera paid off, then. 

Still, that was enough scruff for me – I wanted to see how the other half lived so I visited the Samsung stand, where there was a kennel worth £20,000. That is the sort of money that boggles a little dog’s brain!

The kennel was the oddest construction I’d ever seen – bright white, like an igloo which one of my Husky chums might inhabit, with a sleeping area, a living area and a garden with a treadmill and a hot tub in it. A treadmill for dog’s sake – I get all the exercise I require chasing squizzels in the park!

Samsung.KennelNo, much as the Dream Doghouse might have had all the mod cons, like a self-service food dispenser operated at the push of a paw, a television, and a button with which I could request room service, it was not for me. I am much happier on Jane’s second hand sofa thank you very much and I can request room service whenever I require it simply by barking at her.

Anyway, I had much bigger fish to fry for I was to have my turn in the Crufts show ring where Meg Purnell-Carpenter, a Crufts judge of 30-years standing, was preparing to hand me the rosette for Best in Show.

But what a disaster – when Meg asked Jane and me to walk around, special dog and handler style, Jane really let me down. There was I: larking around; pulling and biting on my lead; performing a Pagan dance – totally owning the ring with my freestyle display in fact – when Jane hissed at me that I was being naughty. Being naughty – I was throwing some shapes to impress Meg!

‘Stop showing off,’ Jane hissed. Showing off – I was at a dog show! What was I supposed to do but show off? In response to Jane’s unfair criticism I added a final flourish to my display, leaping up at Jane, biting the pocket of her dress and ripping it. Encore please, the crowd roared!

Andy Biggar Photography Crufts 2015 (1 of 8)

‘He’s a bit naughty,’ Meg frowned. Naughty – I’m a free spirit….

Then: ‘He’s a very clever little dog because he has you totally under control,’ she told Jane. Clever – that’s more like it!

So, was I in with a bark at Best in Show?

‘He’s got a classic terrier face, lovely eyes, excellent teeth and he’s in fine muscular condition. With a little dog like this, it’s all about movement and he moves soundly. And he’s bright – very alert,’ Meg said.

That’s 100 points for me then!

‘So,’ Jane asked, ‘if there was a category at Crufts for Heinz 57 dogs, Attlee would win?’

‘Oh yes,’ Meg said but she was interrupted by the owner of a dog she’d judged in the ring asking earlier what breed of dog I was.

‘This is Attlee and he’s a chimney hound,’ Meg smiled, winking at Jane and me. A chimney hound – so that’s what I am? I like the sound of it.

Attlee.in.Show.Ring.Taken.By.Andy.Biggar

Oddly, though, Meg didn’t actually hand me the Best in Show trophy.

‘Don’t worry Attlee,’ Jane said. ‘You’ll always be best in show to me.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snowy in Northern Ireland

Top o’ the morning to you!  I’m Snowy, a six-year-old White German Shepherd and I live in Dromore, Northern Ireland, with my human pawrents Melanie and Steve and our 12 rescue cats, wh0 I’m in charge of.  We moved here from London (with six cats) and I’ve heard talk that Northern Ireland isn’t very dog friendly. But I’m keen to add a helping paw to the brilliant Dogs Lovers NI group on Facebook and make it my mission to prove that wrong.

NI.Snowy.Cats

NI.Snowy.RiaOur latest rescue cat Ria follows me around the house looking for cuddles and I’m happy to show her the ropes.  I also enjoy trying to eat the cats’ food – although those spoilsport humans have now put a stop to that by installing a child gate. They treat me with sausages and cheese instead, especially when I display my musical talents and howl along with Steve when he plays his mouth organ.  I bark when someone comes to the door too – to let them know I’m home.

Anyway, never mind the cats indoors – what about the animals outdoors? The squirrels and rabbits in the garden taunt me as, although I chase them, I never seem to catch any.  Since moving to rural Northern Ireland I have gathered a regular fan club of donkeys however and every time we see a field of cows we stop to say hello and they follow me all the way along the boundary.  One day I even received a kiss from a bull!

NI.Snowy.Donkey

My favourite places to take the pawrents for walks are right around where we live. The country lanes around Dromore are good for a snuffle and there are woods and parks aplenty on my doorstep.  Nearby is Lagan Lodge, with lovely woods and some angling ponds where I enjoy many a happy stroll.  Mel loves this walk too because the famous architect, Henry Hobart, who lived in Lagan Lodge, actually built our house!

Then there’s Hillsborough Forest Park which gives me great opportunities to pretend to chase the squirrels.

NI.Snowy.Make.SplashWhat I’m really looking forward to this summer, though, is visiting some of the beaches in Northern Ireland – I like to make a splash. I’ve heard that the beaches here are beautiful and that some are dog friendly too. So I’ll be checking them out soon – and the cafes and pubs along the way. Watch this space!

 

 

 

Phileas Phacts: Northern Ireland

 

 

 

 

The Waggy Way Is Essex: dog-friendly Loughton with Monty

 

tired after chasing his ballHello humans, I’m Monty. I’m around three and live in Loughton, Essex with Louise, Dave and their son and daughter.  I rescued my family two years ago when they visited the Waltham Abbey kennels where I was staying, run by the excellent charity All Dogs Matter.  When I saw these poor humans waiting forlornly to meet the dogs, I knew I had to help make their empty lives and home complete.   There was stiff competition from another dog but I pulled out all the stops to impress and the rest, as they say, is history. All Dogs Matter helps people unfortunate enough to not have a dog own a lovely specimen like me. (The humans say it is the other way round and the charity help re-home rescue dogs but us canines know better of course!)

I’m an unusual mixture of several breeds: the humans think I have Jack Russell, Springer Spaniel and Border Collie in me with possibly more, but all I know is I’m very cute.   Eating is my passion: I am a huge dustbin and my whole life revolves around food: begging for scraps and foraging. Louise says that when someone drops anything in the kitchen, even a potato peeling, I swoop in like a ninja and gobble it up, often before it hits the floor.  I am also partial to gourmet snacks like manure and goose droppings.  Playtime comes a close second to food and I will happily spend hours destroying tennis balls and squeaky toys and chasing my tail.  Although I love all humans (particularly those bearing treats) I’m still a bit wary of other dogs.  I don’t travel well in the car but there is so much to do in my manor that I keep the pawrents from boredom.  Although we are on the doorstep of London there are forests, lakes, nature reserves and country pubs aplenty in this area.  Visitors here are usually surprised at how green and rural it can be, yet you can be in the West End in two shakes of a tail.

I love the playing fields behind Valley Hill in Loughton which is alongside the River Roding, leading to the Roding Valley Meadows Nature Reserve. This is a great area for dogs and humans alike, with numerous sports and picnic facilities and plenty of poo bins.  At the weekends I used to try joining in football games by popping the balls whilst the teams warmed up, but the pawrents weren’t keen on this for some reason.

My humans just love to see me swim and I nearly always throw myself into the River Roding no matter the weather, sometimes trying to play with ducks and swans too, and on one occasion I tried to catch a huge carp which was almost bigger than me.

Making friends at the nature reserve

Making friends at the nature reserve

There are so many dog and family friendly pubs and cafes to choose from in this area but a favourite with the family I own is the Kings Oak where I like to take them for a tasty meal and a couple of drinks.  It is right in the centre of Epping Forest and provides drinks for the dogs, a separate kids’ playground and even has a lido for members. The humans enjoy the permanent ice cream stall outside too.   Next door is the Epping Forest Visitor Centre which has loads of useful information about the forest and is a good place for kids, although I have to wait outside.

I am partial to a picnic or two in the summer (an excellent opportunity for nicking food when no-one is looking, and games of catch and Frisbee too). I’ve even caught the tube to Hyde Park for Louise’s annual picnic with friends where I stole the show.

My family are so grateful that I help them explore all these wonderful places. Must dash – I have some musing to do, on where to go for my next adventure. Monty xx

wistful. probably thinking about food

 

Phileas Phacts: Loughton, Essex

  • All Dogs Matter’s Head Office – the initial point of contact for people interested in re-homing dogs, who are all in foster and lodging in kennels in Waltham Abbey and Norfolk – is at All Dogs Matter, 30 Aylmer Parade, London N2 0PE Tel: 0208 341 3196; www.alldogsmatter.co.uk

 

 

  • Kings Oak Hotel, Paul’s Nursery Road, High Beach, Essex, IG10 4AE Tel: 0208 508 5000; www.kingsoakhotel.com

Happy New Year from Dog-friendly Helsbury Park, Cornwall

Happy New Year to all our Phileas friends and a big thank you and high paw for all your support in 2014. The book has sold brilliantly (naturally – I’m on the cover in a hot air balloon. Who wouldn’t want that adorning their shelves?) and the website’s been gathering a record number of hits. Keep those paws clicking on Phileas Dogg, Fido’s!

My New Year’s Resolution is to speed off on lots more Attlee adventures so, to start as I mean to go on, I’ll share one of my best breaks of 2014. In October Jane and I visited Helsbury Park in Cornwall….

The first thing I’d like to point out is that the name isn’t apt. Helsbury isn’t Hell for hounds – it’s Heaven. So perhaps changing the name is something you’d consider for 2015, David from Helsbury? Heavensbury Park – just a thought….

Helsbury is like a giant theme park for dogs with 100 acres of grounds – woodland and river and fields to romp through. There’s even one paddock that is totally enclosed so that owners of a nervous disposition with Houdini hounds (did somebody mention Epping Forest?) can let their dogs off-lead. There are thousands of rabbit holes to snout down and Attlee is in Wonderland.

helsburyWhat’s more, Helsbury’s four self-catering properties are designed to highlight the fact that the canine is KING. Gardens are enclosed, floors are slate and wood for muddy paws and there are throws throughout. NEWSFLASH: at Helsbury, DOGS ARE ALLOWED ON THE SOFAS!

Each property even has its own kennel, in case Sir Dog requires some downtime. Not me – I operate on Attlee UP-time 24/7. 

Best of all, though, is the fact that every canine guest is furnished with a Frisbee. For me, this was the slice of ham in the Ploughman’s. As an esteemed travel terrier I understand that it’s the little touches that set places apart and I do appreciate a souvenir of my sojourns so I can brag and wag to my south-east London squad back home.

For the first couple of days at Helsbury Jane and I stayed firmly put. With 100 acres to cover and a delivery from Sainsbury’s to chomp our way through it would have been madness to venture further afield – everything we needed, plus more, was here.  There were gates to cross and storms to survey from the safety of our cottage – not that a bit of rough weather would keep me indoors but Jane is rather more trepidatious – and a wood burning stove to warm myself beside.

One Hundred Acres: Attlee in Wonderland

One Hundred Acres: Attlee in Wonderland

gate

storm.brewing

Also there was the small matter of the swimming baths in the grounds.
private.poolDogs aren’t allowed but I don’t do water unless it’s in a bowl anyway so that was no hardship and I was happy to wave Jane off on her morning pilgrimage to the pool.

Then Jane’s friend Pennie arrived with her car. For some reason a great fuss was made of this vehicle everywhere we went – almost as much fuss as is generally made of me. Obviously this was a cause of great consternation-bones. We drove to the beach at Trebarwith Strand (dog-friendly all year round, Phileas Phact Phans) – a crescent of sand bordered by rocks which offered great opportunities for pinching other dogs’ tennis balls and hiding. Jane snapped a rather fine portrait of me, windswept and waggish with the fierce waves crashing in the background…..

beach

Next, she and Pennie took a photograph of the car! What on Dog’s earth possessed them? They spent far longer styling and discussing it than they had the image of me as well. Which angle suits it best? Should the door be open or shut?

figaro.cliffs

I was rather put out by it all. Is that car a celebrity? No. Am I a celebrity? Yes. 

Still, I decided as we had a sup in the The Port William public house overlooking the beach, I couldn’t worry about it. There’s nowt so queer as folk and a dog could spend his whole lifetime trying to puzzle these humans out. Best to just accept their oddities, forgive them and carry on striving for the squirrel at the end of the rainbow.

pub.at.end.of.rainbow

Anyway, the natural order of the world was set right – and Figaro vanquished by Fido – that very evening when we visited The Masons Arms in Camelford for dinner. What a fine hostelry. Jane was entranced by the ceiling decorations – all manner of ephemera was strung from the low wooden beams.

pub.ceiling

And I was entranced by the welcome I received. The town vet happened to be dining there that eve and although this displeased me at first – no dog wants to meet a veterinarian, be the situation social or medical – I was assuaged when, with one glance, he pronounced me a fine figure of a fellow and one of the top terriers he’d ever seen. In fact, I basked in compliments all night and, when we departed, the landlady insisted I take a gift to remember The Masons by – a towel bearing the word tribute. It now adorns my basket at home and I’m rather proud of it, just as she was proud to have Phileas Dogg frequent her hostelry.

attlee.tribute.mat

The following day we set sail in the Figaro again but this time I settled on the seat with equanimity and appreciated that it was doing what it’s designed to do – transport dogs and their human sidekicks hither and thither instead of pose for photographs and show off.

It took us to Port Isaac, a pretty Cornish fishing village clinging on to rather a vertiginous cliff where a famous television programme called Doc Martin is filmed. Jane has never watched the show, I gather, but lots of people have and are drawn to Port Isaac because of it.

However, while Jane’s not a Doc Martin viewer, she is familiar with its main star – a dog called Dodger, who plays a character named Buddy. She’s met him at Crufts. I’m rather surprised she entertained this Dodger as, quite plainly, he has stolen our cat’s name. And while I am not always one to do Dodger the Cat a favour, I do believe name theft quite an affront and had I bumped into Dodger the Dog on the steep Port Isaac streets would have told him so in no uncertain barks.

Oi Dodger: give our cat his name back!

Oi Dodger: give our cat his name back!

 

Phileas Phacts: Helsbury Park, Cornwall

  • Helsbury Park, Camelford, Cornwall, PL32 9RH Tel: 01566 781753; helsburypark.co.uk
  • Prices start at £795 per week (but there is a discount available if there are only two people in your group) plus a £20 charge per dog per stay. Discuss how many dogs you’re holidaying with at the time of booking but, as long as they’re well behaved, a large pack can be accommodated.
  • The Masons Arms, Camelford, Cornwall, PL32 9PB Tel: 01840 213309; www.masonsarmscamelford.co.uk

Dog-Friendly Windermere, the Lake District

The Lake District is famous for its animals – I’ve heard bark of a duck called Jemima, a rabbit called Peter and a hedgehog called Mrs Tiggywinkle.  It’s also famous for its SHEEP. But now the most celebrated animal of all is in its midst and that’s a dog. THE dog, in fact – me, Attlee Common aka Phileas Dogg. Prepare to be knocked off your perch, Puddleduck as I have taken up residence for the week in the town of Windermere and the red carpet is being rolled out for my proclaimed paws to pad along….Spyri

Myself and Jane, along with assorted other members of our pack, are staying at Spyri Cottage – one of Sykes Cottages’ portfolio. It’s bang in the town centre, a few minutes walk from Windermere train station, and is a traditional slate Lake District dwelling.

Inside it’s very des-res, with slate floors for muddy paws in communal areas, leather sofas and white-washed walls with exposed beams. A stag stares down at me from one of those white-washed walls – his eyes follow me everywhere I place myself in the room. But I am not abashed by his antlers – indeed, I give him a very hard stare of my own, informing him that, were we outdoors, I would nip at his heels in a most terrifying, terrier-fying fashion and he looks away, cowed.

stag

There are two bedrooms upstairs and, in the basement, a third with an en suite. There’s also a front room with a wood burning stove, a dining room and a little enclosed garden with a pond, into which a hapless human accidentally plunges my ball during a game of catch. It is lost FUR-EVAH and woe is me but, thankfully, three doors up from Spyri, there’s a pet shop where we replenish our rolling stock. The pet shop is called, imaginatively, The Pet Shop but I won’t criticise as canine customers are presented with a treat every time they step inside. High Paw The Pet Shop!

the.pet.shop

Also within a shake of the tail of Spyri are two dog-friendly cafes – Brambles, right across the road, where we become regulars, and Sweet Stuff, two doors up. We really are in the heart of the town’s terrier triangle and I click my paws with joy.

Had Jane her way we would probably snuggle up inside Spyri for our week’s holiday, so comfortable does she find it, especially as our flat in London is being decorated and all is merry chaos. But we are in the Lake District and I know that there are SHEEPS to meet, fells to fly across and pubs for scrap-snaffling and I am not for settling in Spyri all week with the occasional walk round the terrier triangle and visit to Brambles. I want to EXPLORE and, as I am taking the lead in this operation, explore we will…..

The very pleasant lady in Brambles furnishes us all with all manner of local information – of keen interest to me is a walk she mentions just ten minutes from our door. The walk is called Orrest Head – it’s up a hill and, when we reach the top after about half an hour, all the Lake District is laid out before us and we can see as far as Kendal and Morecambe. (Or we would able to, were it not drizzling.)

orrest.head

There is a slate plaque at the summit as Orrest Head inspired a man called Alfred Wainwright’s passion for the Lake District – he wrote, apparently, seven volumes of guidebooks on the area. Seven volumes – I’ve only managed to write one so far (and, I must add, it makes a great Christmas present.)

A quotation from Wainwright is inscribed on the slate.

orrest.head.plaque

Very find words but I think he loses it a bit at the end – surely he means: ‘Dog was in Heaven that day.’

Ah but I’m following in the footsteps of the literary greats here in the Lake District – and none greater than William Wordsworth, whose cottage in Grasmere we sally forth to explore.

We catch the bus for this endeavour – there’s a regular service between all the main attractions in the Lakes, even in winter. But, alas, when we arrive at Dove Cottage and go into the shop, we are told dogs aren’t allowed inside Wordsworth’s abode. I’m not even supposed to be in the shop, although Jane argues my case.

‘Who’s this dog?’ she asks, picking up a fridge magnet bearing the image of a marmalade-coloured mutt.

‘That’s Wordsworth’s dog Pepper,’ the assistant says. ‘Wordsworth was given him by Sir Walter Scott.’

Sir Walter Scott, indeed – who’s he when he’s at home? I was given to Jane by Battersea Dogs and Cats Home – far better. And my name is that of a former Prime Minister – not a condiment. Yet this Pepper was allowed free run of Dove Cottage while I am forbidden. It’s a bit RUFF.

Seeing how affronted I am by being denied entry to the home of my fellow man of letters the shop assistant concedes I can have a snout around the gardens. So I lift my leg in the same spot Pepper would have lifted his* and, in this manner, mark the eternal greatness of canine-kind down the centuries.

attlee.dove.cottage.gardens

(*I’m not sure whether Pepper was male or female – if any readers could advise, I’d be most grateful. I am sure I would be none too chuffed were, a couple of hundreds of years from now, someone to mistake my gender.)

Anyway, off we now jaunt to somewhere that definitely is dog-friendly – Heidi’s Tea Room in Grasmere. Heidi is actually the owner of Spyri Cottage so all guests in her gaff receive a 10% discount in her caff.  I am very impressed by this and by the waitress’s attitude to canine customers – within 50 seconds of arriving, I am presented with not one biscuit but three. I am not so impressed with the cow’s head on the wall however. Being dog-friendly is one thing but giving room space to a cow – well I never. I’m sure she wouldn’t be welcome in Dove Cottage…..

heidi's.cow

 

atts.unimpressed.heidis.cow

 

 

 

 

 

On we saunter around Grasmere – it’s a very pretty little village but, my Dog, the SHEEP appear to have taken over every green space. Because of this I am lead-on all the way which is boring-bones but also, Jane says, sensible-bones. And I do sniff something interesting out, even if I am constrained – a bowl of biscuits outside the National Trust shop for DOGS! (Not SHEEP – DOGS, which just goes to prove that, even if the sheep to dog ratio in this town is one billion to five, we canines are still KING. I don’t see anywhere providing free food for the woolly white maggots as my friend Lady BeAnne Duvet in Shetland calls sheep.)

national.trust.gift.shop.grasmerenational.trust.grasmere

‘Hello doggie – tired after a long walk? Have a free biscuit.’

Thanks very much National Trust – I don’t mind if I do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just up the hill from Grasmere is another dog-friendly digs – a very grand digs, in fact. Rydal Hall, a 15th Century manor house, is owned by the Diocese of Carlisle and dogs are allowed in for a snout around the grounds – very Christian indeed. The garden is topiary-tastic – not every dogs’ bowl of water and, alas, squirrels don’t do topiary. But I am a master of lifting my leg against lines of Leylandii. It’s an art and one I enjoy practising on occasion.

Guests at Rydal are invited to indulge in meditation and contemplation. How boring-bones would that be? The only aspect of life I wish to contemplate is squirrels. Beyond being put on this earth for dogs to chase, what is the point of them?

IMG_7602

Still, the following day, on a visit to Keswick – which has just been named Britain’s dog-friendliest town in the Kennel Club’s Be Dog-Friendly Awards for the 100th year running – I do find myself in contemplative mood. Jane and I stroll around the shore of Derwentwater and, on a little sheltered shingle beach, I bark – just for the pure houndish hell of it.

But then the strangest phenomenon occurs – a bark comes back at me. It’s a big bark and it bounces off the water and the mountains surrounding us. What manner of fearsome beast is belting out this note?

Only very slightly trepidated by the hound in the hills, I bark again – again the big bark bounces right back at me. Again and again – I bark and the big bark blasts back. I bark and the big bark blasts back….

attlee.echo

‘It’s an echo Attlee,’ Jane says.

An echo – what kind of a dog is an echo? We don’t have any of them in South-East London.

Well, Jane explains (in truth, Jane’s Dad explains as Jane is always a bit lacking when it comes to relaying the science bit) an echo is a reflection of sound. So the sound of my bark is being reflected back at me by the still lake and the soaring mountains. I am mighty impressed by this audio-spectacular and I bark again and again, just for the sheer joy of it. And this does give me cause for contemplation at the wonder of the natural world. For a few minutes I am the Plato of pups, musing all manner of philosophical fancy – then Jane clips my lead on and the spell is broken as we head into Keswick for some Hungarian goulash at The Dog and Gun (which, I note, on a more prosaic line of thought, has been spruced up rather since we last visited two years ago). Rather a shame – there were some good smells in the old carpet…..

I like the Dog and Gun but, one evening, we step out to a pub that immediately becomes my favourite Lake District hostelry – The Watermill in Ings, just two miles across the fields from Windermere. (Actually we caught a cab but who’s counting?)

Now the Watermill – THIS is what I call a boozer. There are slate floors, dark wooden beams, horse brasses galore and a coal fire in its cavernous interior, ripe for the explore. It’s a traditional tavern, just as I’m a traditional terrier. And it’s so dog-friendly – when the menu is laid on our table, three bones are placed atop it so I am served before Jane’s even selected her starter. Even better, all the ales produced in its microbrewery are named in hounds’ honour. Some travel writers dream of the Pulitzer – I now dream of seeing my name upon a pump clip. Attlee’s Ale has rather a ring to it, I reckon.

pump.clips.watermill

It was quite the night in The Watermill and the next day I was suffering, rather – especially when I spotted this sign. In fact, I must’ve been hallucinating – which right minded Rover would slow down for red squirrels? If I spotted one of the blighters I’d speed up in its dastardly direction, I can assure you. 

IMG_7615

Oh well – time for one last amble alongside a lake before we must travail home. Using a rather good book that Jane had purchased – Dog-Friendly Pub Walks in the Lake District – we headed out to The Cuckoo Brow Inn. It was cuckoo all right and had me scratching my brow in confuse-bones – there were stables for horses to sleep in as part of the decor! But its attitude to dogs was more sensible – access all areas. Just a shame that when we returned from our two miles tramp around the hills another dog had bagged the best spot in front of the wood-burning stove. SPEED UP RED SQUIRRELS, I barked, and that did the trick. Top Spot was MINE!

cuckoo.brow.stable

Phileas Phacts: Windermere

  • Spyri Cottage is one of Sykes Cottages’ holiday rental properties, lots of which are dog-friendly. High Paw Sykes!
  • Prices for Spyri, which has three bedrooms (one en-suite), a front and dining room and an enclosed yard for dogs, start at £545 for a week. Tel: 01244 356666; www.sykescottages.co.uk
  • Brambles, 15 Main Road, Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 1DX

 

  • Heidi’s of Grasmere, Red Lion Square, Grasmere, Cumbria, LA22 9SP

 

  • National Trust information centre and shop, Church Stile, Grasmere, LA22 9SW
  • Rydal Hall, Rydal, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 9LX Tel: 015394 32050; www.rydalhall.org
  • The Dog and Gun, 2 Lake Road, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 5BT Tel: 017687 73463

 

 

  • The Cuckoo Brow Inn, Far Sawrey, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0LQ Tel: 015394 43425; www.cuckoobrow.co.uk

 

Dog-Friendly Liverpool

Rover Reporter Murphy in Dog-Friendly Liverpool

I’ve always believed that I’m a VIP – that’s a Very Important Pup – but my trip to a Very Posh Hotel in Liverpool confirmed it. I knew something was up when Mum made me go to the groomers so I looked my very best.  It’s not easy being fabulous all the time when you are an Old English Sheepdog – there’s so much fur to coiffure! But it had only been three weeks since my last session at the fur-dressers and I SWEAR I didn’t roll in the black gooey stuff on the beach the day before. An Irish Wolfhound shook it onto me…

It all became clear, though, when we stepped out of the car in the city centre and I saw where we were about to spend the night – the Hope Street Hotel which is (according to Mum) simply stunning. It’s in the Georgian quarter of the city, slap bang between the two cathedrals, and as soon as we were through the doors, it was obvious that we were in an incredibly classy place indeed, as THREE receptionists dashed over to stroke my freshly-washed fur and guide us to our room for the night.

I was extremely excited as, to make it to MY room I had to get in a magic box that transported me to a different place (almost like a TARDIS). Mum said it was the ‘lift’ and that it had taken us from the ground floor to the second floor…but whatever it was it was covered in mirrors and I could check out my fur properly standing on my back legs.

Mum and Dad were delighted with the gigantic room with its pale wooden furniture, the beautiful bathroom and the vast bed, where our thoughtful hosts had left chocolates for them (not me). I was made up to see the huge plush dog cushion that was easily big enough, even for me.

Liverpool.Murphy.in.Room

Liverpool.Murphy.TreatsBut, if I’m honest, I was far more interested in the dog bowl on the table with a little gift inside tagged ‘Murphy’. I could smell the treats inside and when Mum realised I’d cottoned on she opened it for me and gave me a couple.

Dad said there was a table booked for tea in the bar at the side of the hotel restaurant and my tail started to droop. There was no way I would be allowed to accompany them to such a high-class eaterie….

But, amazingly, after I had had my own tea from the complimentary dog bowl, Mum put my lead on and said I could join them as long as I didn’t put my face over their food.

The restaurant is called The London Carriage Works (even though it’s in Liverpool, not London) and Mum and Dad were very excited as it appears in the latest Michelin Guide. The friendly waitresses showed us to our table with squashy leather sofas and arranged to have my equally squashy cushion brought downstairs from the room for me to lie on.

Mum had told me that we might see a few WAGs but there were no other mutts, just me. But, she explained, WAGS aren’t waggers – they’re footballers’ wives and they love to dine there!

Liverpool.Murphy.Carriageworks

I didn’t have any food while we were in the restaurant but Mum and Dad chose two courses each from the Prixe Fixe menu for £17.50.

For their starters, Dad went for Duo of Menai Mackerel with both a grilled fillet and paté, while Mum chose Kidderton Ash Goats Cheese and Beetroot Mille Feuille. They both said they were sublime. I was very jealous of the cheese – it’s my favourite food in the world.

For their mains, Mum plumped for Fresh Ravioli of Roasted Butternut Squash and Dad immediately chose the Roasted Wirral Pork Loin with Locally Smoked Pancetta.

Again, they adored the dishes, which they said were all sourced within 25 miles of the city. I don’t know why this matters but it seemed to please them.

I really HAD been on my best behaviour – the fact that a never-ending selection of customers came to stroke me and say hello helped – but I was relieved when Mum decided it was time for a walk. They took me for a stroll along Hope Street, first to Paddy’s Wigwam – that’s the Catholic cathedral – then onto the Anglican one five minutes away. Liverpool is SUCH a pretty city…even to a mutt. Liverpool.Murphy.Stroll

Before bed, we popped into the Caledonia pub on the corner of Catharine Street. The fabulously laidback bar has its own dog, a little Dachshund, so we played together while Mum and Dad sipped a pint of Guinness each.

My comfy cushion proved just as good as anticipated and I had a super sleep back at the hotel. Mum and Dad said they had a fabulous night too – only disturbed by my snoring. Cheek!

It was back to the squashy sofas again for breakfast – this really is the best treatment I’ve had in any hotel – and I lay by the window while Dad ate his full English brekkie and Mum worked her way along the huge continental option. I even managed to beg a round of toast or two (my second favourite food).

We went for a morning walk to the cathedrals again and, this time, stopped en route to admire A Case History – John King’s sculpture of lots of luggage. I consider myself a canine connoisseur of public art, as I pass my verdict on Antony Gormley’s Another Place on the beach in Crosby most mornings. I passed my verdict on this one too. Well, I think Dad said ‘passed’…

Liverpool.Murphy.A.Case.HistoryHope Street Hotel, 40 Hope Street, Liverpool L1 9DA; www.hopestreethotel.co.uk

Standard rooms are from £89 per double per night; charge for a dog is £15 per stay. Dogs are allowed only in the sofa side of the restaurant but the full dining menu is available throughout. The prix fixe menu is £17.50 for two courses and £22.50 for three. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Kennel Club’s Be Dog-Friendly Awards

KC.Be.Dog.FriendlyVoting closed yesterday in the Kennel Club’s Be Dog-Friendly Awards – where did you vote for holidaying hounds of Bitey (sorry, Blighty)?

The winners are announced at Discover Dogs on November 8th-9th at Earl’s Court in London but the Kennel Club asked me, in my esteemed position as the best-travelled terrier in the land, to keep my nose to the ground and sniff out the scoops on some of the top contenders.

  • Jane and I returned – yesterday – from a trip to Helsbury Park in Cornwall, last year’s winner in the ‘Somewhere to Stay’ category. My full report on Helsbury will be appearing soon but I can reveal, EXCLUSIVELY, that it’s one of the canniest kips where this canine has ever laid his cranium. Helsbury Park, Camelford, Cornwall, PL32 9RH Tel: 01566 781753; website: www.helsburypark.co.uk helsbury
  • Did I tell you I’m a member of a club? It’s where I invite all my chums to chew over the important business of the day – and, even better, it’s right by the beach at Wells-next-the-Sea. North.Norfolk.K9.Club

    The K-9 Club, Beach Cafe, Beach Road, Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, NR23 1DR Tel: 01328 713055; www.holkham.co.uk

  • Keswick in the Lake District was voted Britain’s most dog-friendly town last year. Of course it was – I’d visited and given it my paw stamp of approval. Will it hold on to the honour in 2014, though, with Buxton and Ironbridge snapping at its heels? The Dog and Gun, 2 Lake Road, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 5BT Tel: 017687 73463

Ambleside.Attlee.Dog.and.Gun

  • The Millstream in Devizes is in the running in the ‘Somewhere to Drink’ category so I nipped down there on the train (I didn’t nip any passengers – don’t worry) on official Kennel Club business to check it out. How smart and proper I felt – and me a Battersea boy too! It’s hidden away in the middle of the Wiltshire countryside but I snouted it out and found a dog-friendly area indoors, a large garden for postprandial perambulations and dog treats presented with the bill. (Hearing dog Jodie, who joined me on my visit, tried to pinch my treat but I nipped that in the bud all right. She may have an important job and 18-months of training under her tabard but I’m still top dog!) The Millstream, Marden, Devizes, Wilts SN10 3RH Tel: 01380 848490; www.themillstream.co.ukmillstream

jodie.nicking.treat

  • (Okay – I let Jodie pinch it. I just looked away disdainfully as she did.)

For more information about the Kennel Club’s Be Dog-Friendly Awards log on to www.bedogfriendlyawards.com

Tickets to Discover Dogs are available to buy at www.discoverdogs.org.uk. They cost £16 per adult, £13 concessions and under 12’s go free. 

Dog-friendly Thirsk, North Yorkshire

Thirsk is a little town in Yorkshire, famous for its horse races and as the town where Alf Wight, who wrote the James Herriot novels, worked as a vet, basing the books on his own experiences.

blue.plaque

VETS!

When I heard this aspect of Thirsk’s character, I made it quite clear to Jane that I had no desire to visit such a place. But Jane was hard of heart, as her sister Steph is now a resident of Thirsk and she wished to see her.

Indeed, Steph lives in a part of Thirsk called Sowerby – a place occasionally referred to in Downton Abbey as ‘up the road’. Perhaps when Isis is ill it is the vets in Thirsk she must visit….

So Thirskwards we were bound, on the 7pm train from London Kings Cross to York where we changed – a quick fag for Jane and leg lift for I – and then 17-minutes on to Thirsk itself, where Steph collected us at the station. No sign of any vets so far, nor of Isis, whose autograph I wouldn’t mind having. (And I’m sure she’d be equally pleased to have mine – we celebrity dogs, whether actor or author, must stick together.)

The following morning we set out early paws for a walk – there’s some fine countryside to romp through just five minutes’ walk from Steph’s house. There were cows to chase – like squirrels but black and white, about ten times as big and with the advantage that they don’t suddenly disappear up trees. But precisely because I wanted to chase the cows I was not allowed to chase the cows and I was kept on my lead for the whole excursion. Why must I be constantly thwarted in my desires and so many avenues of pleasure closed to me?

When Steph heard about the thwarting in Thwirsk of any off-lead action, however, she was outraged on my behalf and instructed Jane to take me to Thirsk Racecourse and pronto. There, Steph said, was an enclosed area where she had spotted dogs racing along off-lead, right next to the course itself.

Now this sounded much more like it. Racing race horses – I’d show those long-legged prancers a thing or two. They may fancy themselves the most alacritous of animals but they haven’t raced a terrier by the name of Attlee as yet!

race.course.in.background

However, when we arrived at the race course there was neigh a horse to be seen – the daft old mares had heard I was coming, obviously. Instead I had the whole stretch of land next to the gallops to myself and race I did, after my Frisbee and just for the sheer exhilaration and joy of it all. A true sprinter like me does not require a carrot at the end of the track to spur him on…..

Attlee.Racing.Good

Anyway virtue has its own reward as I discovered later when we popped into a dog-friendly cafe called Bliss of which we’d heard tell. No sooner had Jane had settled herself on a comfortable sofa with The Times and I settled myself faithfully at her side – well, I was a little tired, after my racing – than the owner of the cafe rushed up and presented me with some sausages. Complimentary, she explained – on the house and a gift to every canine who graces the establishment with their presence.

sausages.bliss

This was good as was, incidentally, Jane’s quiche and coleslaw. So, the following day, we repaired to Bliss once more. Once again the sausages on the house made an early appearance and, once again, Jane ordered quiche and coleslaw – she is a creature of habit.

Anyway, as she consumed her quiche and I observed her consuming her quiche, lest a scrap fall to the floor, an amaze-bones incident occurred.  Another customer in the cafe, who had observed my observing, approached Jane with a bowl of sausages which she had bought with her own money out of her own pocket FOR ME!

‘I hope you don’t mind,’ she said to Jane, ‘but I saw your handsome dog watching you eat and I thought he might like some sausages to eat himself.’

Now, this was an act of kindness above and beyond – complimentary and complementary.

They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch – well, in Thirsk there is!

Our trip to Thirsk was going so well – too well, as it transpired because no sooner had I scoffed the sausages provided by the good sausage-maritan than Jane told me she had some news.

She’d made an appointment the next day, she informed me, AT THE VET’S.

I wanted to leap on the table and stamp my paw in her quiche to show my extreme displeasure at this announcement. I was not ailing – surely my athleticism on Thirsk race course combined with my high levels of sausage consumption had proved this.

But, Jane said, we were not going to any vets. We were going to the actual vets where Alf Wight had lived and worked – now a museum called The World of James Herriot – to meet the museum’s mascot Herriot the Puppy. Jane had arranged all this days before with Herriot the Puppy himself, on Twitter but, she’d kept it from me. I don’t appreciate her keeping things from me – that is overplaying her PA’s role in our editorial enterprises, in my opinion.

Still, I was rather interested to meet Herriot – perhaps I could teach the young pup a few tricks about being a dog with a job, me being an author and he embarking on life as a mascot. He has a blog too and is even, Jane informed me, on a badge. Why am I not on a badge?

thirsk.tourist.infSo, the next day, at the appointed time, we walked to The World of James Herriot in Thirsk town centre, via Thirsk Tourist Information, where we popped in to seek directions. (Jane and I prefer to do things the old-fashioned way rather than trust to maps and green pins on an iPhone.)

It was lucky we popped into the Tourist Information too because the people on the desk had heard that Phileas Dogg – the celebrated canine travel writer – was in town on and been hoping to bump into me. (Now if I was on a badge this would have provided the perfect opportunity to distribute them to my eager fans.)

Upon arrival at the James Herriot centre there was yet more good news – dogs aren’t allowed into the original house where Alf Wight lived and the original vets’ surgery. Thank Dog – that cut out any chance of an original thermometer suddenly being stuck up my posterior!

Instead, Herriot the Puppy is introduced to esteemed visitors like my good self in the museum’s gardens. The day we met happened to be the first day he’d ever worn a lead and he had a good old grumble to me about that.

‘Get used to it chum,’ I told him. ‘Now you’ll have to wear that lead any time there are thrilling things like sheep and cows around to chase.’

 

Attlee.Herriot.Good

Now, that is all in all my visit to Thirsk summarised for your viewing pleasure. I appreciate, however, that not everybody has the advantage of STEPH to stay with on their trips to Thirsk so, being the thorough newshound I am, did my research on accommodation and dug up with my very own paws some information on a dog-friendly B&B – Long Acre. And, prick up your ears canine cohorts and listen to this, Long Acre is not just any old B&B. It is a B&B with a bird sanctuary attached where rescue owls and hens and ducks live.

Now, imagine the off-lead possibilities of that particular set-up!

Phileas Phacts: Thirsk

  • Thirsk Racecourse, Station Road, Thirsk, North Yorkshire, YO7 1QL Tel: 01845 522276; www.thirskracecourse.net
  • Bliss Cafe, 12 Millgate, Thirsk, North Yorkshire, YO7 1AA Tel: 01845 868163
  • The World of James Herriot, 23 Kirkgate, Thirsk, North Yorkshire, YO7 1PL Tel: 01845 524234; www.worldofjamesherriot.org
  • Read Herriot the Puppy’s blog at www.herriotthepuppy.com
  • Long Acre B&B, Long Acre, 86a Topcliffe Road, Sowerby, Thirsk, Yorkshire, YO7 1RY Tel: 01845 522360/ 077498 45979 Prices start at £30 per person per night
  • For more information about Thirsk, log on to www.visitthirsk.org.uk. The Tourist Information Centre (dog-friendly!) is at 93a Market Place, Thirsk, Yorkshire, YO7 1EY Tel: 01845 522755

 

 

 

 

A dog-friendly summer with Attlee

Well it’s a hard life being a celebrity author: my paws have barely touched the ground since our book was published in May and it’s been a non-stop cavalcade of festivities, signings and photo shoots. I’m all for the J D Salinger approach to being a writer and would be happy to maintain a low profile but not Jane – she’s accepted every invite that’s dropped through our letterbox before I’ve had a chance to chomp my way through it. I could say something about coat tails and riding but I’ll desist although I did have to draw the line when I saw Dodger charging the other cats in the hood three Dreamies apiece for a tour of our garden. I don’t mind Jane sharing my celebrity as she does assist, a little, but Dodger contributes nadir to Team Phileas – in fact, he’s in deficit in terms of contribution as his 5am wake-up calls are very destructive to my sleep and his constant high-pitched miaowing terrifies the muse when I’m musing.

  • So, the summer began with our book launch at the dog-friendly Society Club in London, attended by the great and the good of the creative, canine capital including Rover Reporter Bear the Welsh Terrier. And a puppy called Blue, who stole the show, rather, which was a bit rum considering it was MY show.

Lindsay.Book.Launch.Interior

Bear.Book.Launch

The Society Club, 12 Ingestre Place, London, W1F 0JF Tel: 0207 437 1433; website: www.thesocietyclub.com

  • Then, being a celebriteeee, I knew I had to do my bit for chariteeee. Life isn’t always ‘Attlee, where did it all go wrong?’ as I lounge atop a bed in a 5* hotel immersed in a sea of Bakers Sizzlers with a JERABONE of sparkling water on the side, you know….So, with my fellow dog blogger Basil from Barkarama, I attended Dogs Unite – a walk for Guide Dogs – at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London. We paid £10 and strutted our stuff with hundreds of other charitable canines, all wearing capes proclaiming that we were super-heroes for the day. I wasn’t too keen on the cape – DRESSING UP! But there was more of that to come as the summer unfolded so I shouldn’t have counted my squirrels on that one….

 

Attlee.Dogs.UniteBasil.Dogs.UniteSealyham.Dogs.Unite

 

Basil blogs at www.barkarama.co.uk

Dogs Unite walks in aid of Guide Dogs take place around Britain throughout the year: www.guidedogs.org.uk/dogs-unite

  • For my next trick, I hot-footed it up to Scotland – to my second home on the Isle of Bute, in fact – for a book signing at Print Point in Rothesay. No doubt, I imagined, hoards of eager fans would greet me and I could rush home to brag and wag to Jane all about it. So imagine my horror, if it won’t spoil your day too much, to find that not only was Jane chaperoning me, she was forcing me to dress up to pull in the punters. Excuse me, Jane, I don’t need to act the BOW BRUMMEL – now I am published and my book a great success the time for these exercises in shameless self-promotion has passed. When I was a struggling, unknown author in a lofty garret attempting to forge a name for myself perhaps – but not now. Does Irvine Welsh dress up as Sherlock Holmes for book signings? No. Does JK Rowling? No again. And neither should I.
The Shame!

The Shame!

Print Point, 24-26 West Princes Street, Rothesay, Isle of Bute, PA20 9AF; www.hive.co.uk/shop/rothesay/print-point

  • But it didn’t end there and I urge readers of a gentle disposition to look away now because – more horror – no sooner had we returned to London then my services as a clothes horse were required again. This time I was on the cat walk at Pup Idol at the Spaniards Inn in Hampstead, organised by All Dogs Matter to raise funds for their rescue. Which is all well and good but surely to Dog there are better ways to raise funds than dressing up in a Pearly King’s outfit. Jane cajoled however, reminding me that it was her birthday and pleading that enrolling me in the Best Dressed Dog contest at Pup Idol would be as fine a gift as she could imagine. And since in dog years she is ANCIENT I decided I’d better indulge the old girl this once. So there was I, standing on the stage with at least 50 other dogs in multifarious garb when the winner was announced – and it was ME. Despite my reservations I did experience a shudder of pride, which was quickly extinguished when I saw Jane punching the air in a triumphal manner a la Stuart Pearce scoring a penalty for England in Euro 96. Most unbecoming in an England football player and most definitely unbecoming in a woman in early middle age!

Attlee.Wins.Best.Dressed.Pup.Idol

Attlee.pearly.king.pup.idol

The Spaniards Inn, Spaniards Road, Hampstead, London, NW3 7JJ Tel: 0208 731 8406; website: www.thespaniardshampstead.co.uk

All Dogs Matter, 30 Aylmer Parade, London, N2 0PE Tel: 0208 341 3196; website: www.alldogsmatter.co.uk

  • Our next jaunt was to an event I very much fancied the sound of – terrier racing at Epsom. I’m a terrier and I race – job done. Except, when we arrived, Jane, being a frightful square, wouldn’t allow me to race with all the other rufty tufty terriers and I had to spectate instead. The problem was all that all the other terriers had two humans accompanying them – one to help them into the trap at the start and another to round them up when they reeled around exuberantly after crossing the finish line. And I only had one human and she couldn’t be at the start and the end of the race at the same time. Next year – next year I will have two humans to accompany me, Jane’s Guardian Soulmates subscription permitting, and I will race and I will WIN!

 

On your marks....

On your marks….

The thrill of the race..

The thrill of the race..

This chap wasn't too impressed with it all....

This chap wasn’t too impressed with it all……

sherbert.before

Sherbet had dressed up for her day at the races…..

Sherbert

Leo the winner!

Leo the winner!

Next year, I'm IN!

Next year, I’m IN!

 

 

  • At least I had the great privilege of meeting Dougal the Lab – chief taster at The Black Dog Bakery, who I regularly correspond with on Twitter. Dougal agreed that, had I been allowed to enter by my over-cautious human, I definitely would have aced the race.
  • And I met fellow Battersea alumni Rosie, a tripawd Lurcher. Her owners told me that, if she wasn’t too tall for the Derby’s height restrictions, she’d have put all us terriers to shame with her alacrity, even on her three legs. Go Rosie!

 

Attlee.Dougal.Good

rosie

The Terrier Derby at Epsom Race Course takes place every August: www.terrierderby.com

  • Next on the calendar was fashion again, except, thank Dog, this time it wasn’t me having to wear the fashion – instead I was watching the fashion, as modelled by lots of other unfortunate pups. Ha!My presence was requested as a Rover Reporter on the front row of the Old Spitalfields Paw Pageant, organised by my alma mater Battersea and Love My Dog, which makes top-end tucker for terriers. Indeed, so gratified were Battersea and Love My Dog by my presence at the event that I was gifted a rather grand new collar and lead in my favourite colour – green. (Wherever there is green – ie. THE PARK – there is SQUIRRELS and that’s why I favour it.)

    But much as I appreciated the collar and lead, sitting on the front row watching all the fashion was a chore. I don’t know how Anna WinPAW does it week-in and week-out. The first five minutes were all right but then I grew jaded by it all. When you’ve seen one Dachshund in a hat, you’ve seen them all. People and dogs in clothes and then more people and dogs in clothes ad infinitum – exceedingly boring-bones IMHO (in my hound’s opinion)…..

daschunddaschund.2

'I'm so over it already......."

“I’m so over it already…….”

  • I did appreciate this chap though – a dog dressed as Sherlock Bones with an owner also dressed as Sherlock Bones. Now this is a much fairer arrangement than when Jane makes me dress as Sherlock while she dresses as – ummm, Jane. At least this chap’s owner appreciates that if his dog is humiliating himself, he should too!

sherlock.bones.interviewdog-a-like.winner.sherlock.bones

Love My Dog, 36 Ermine Mews, Laburnum Street, London, E2 8BF Tel: 0207 739 4237; www.lovemydog.co.uk

 

Dog-friendly Hadrian’s Wall……

With the reFURendum taking place this week, we sent Geordie Paw ELVIS to check out how sturdy Hadrian’s Wall is, in case the country splits into two….

(We would have asked a BORDER TERRIER but none were available so a Boxador was the next best thing.)

Bowls and biscuits at the visitors' centre to welcome paws on patrol.

Bowls and biscuits at the visitors’ centre to welcome paws on patrol.

 

Elvis has a BRAVE HEART.

Elvis on Guard.

All clear to the left.....

“All clear to the left…..”

And to the right......

“And to the right……”

"INVADERS..... Let me off my lead and I'll ave'em!"

“INVADERS….. Let me off my lead and I’ll ave’em!”

"Got one!"

“Got one!”

"Oh - it's Dad!"

“Oh – it’s Dad!”

An early bath for Elvis.... dropped the soap again!

An early bath for Elvis…. dropped the soap again!

Hadrian's.Housestead

Elvis visited Housesteads Roman Fort on Hadrian’s Wall, one of over 300 English Heritage sites where dogs are welcome. 

 

 

 

Housesteads Roman Fort, Haydon Bridge, Hexham, Northumberland, NE47 6NN Tel: 01434 344363; www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/housesteads-roman-fort-hadrians-wall/

Hadrians.Final.Final

 

 

Dog-Friendly Portwrinkle, Cornwall

Eddie.Tibetan.TerrierThis is Eddie the Tibetan Terrier here – or Joyberna Eddie Potter, aged seven, to give me my full and very well deserved Kennel Club Title.  I want to put paw to paper to tell you all about my fabulous holidays in Cornwall with my pawrents, Julie and Michael, and the three other Tibetan Terriers (or should that be ‘terrors’?) in our family pack: Teddie, 12, Elvis, five and Jack, three.  We also live with a coop of rescue chickens.

Tibetan Terriers vary in appearance but we all have the same strong personalities: I’ve heard people say we are nosy, naughty, lively, very loving (I do the best kisses!) stubborn and agile.  Additionally we are wary of strangers but are known to be great judges of character. Elvis (aka Joyberna Devil-n-Disguise) in particular is a bit of an escape artist and I often hear Julie cry out in a panicky voice that Elvis Has Left The Building!

But I’ve spotted him: here he is….

Elvis.Tibetan.Terrier.Sunbathing

Julie is a qualified canine massage therapist so we are quite used to a variety of four-legged visitors to her treatment room in our home in Luton (and a couple of tripawds too!)

As we are all show dogs, even reaching the lofty heights of Crufts, travelling the length and breadth of the UK is second nature to us. But first and foremost we are much loved pets and once a year, Julie and Michael load the van to bursting point with dog food, beds, treats and some other rubbish that apparently the humans need and that means one thing: it’s holiday time again!

Relaxing and chilling out are my favourite things (next to food and the ladies of course) and the annual family adventure in Cornwall means lots of that. For the past 20 years, the pawrents and their pack have been holidaying in Whitsand Bay Holiday Homes in Portwrinkle, a quiet fishing village which is very dog friendly. Portwrinkle has two coves and dogs are allowed on one. We love exploring the rock pools and then visiting the fantastic Gook Café for a sausage or two.

Three.Tibetans.on.Beach

We usually stay in the same cottage so as soon as we arrive we pile out, eager to rush off and explore all the familiar scents.  As it was extra hot this year the cottage with its stone cool walls was a godsend, as were our special “cool coats” the pawrents had packed for us.   The garden of our cottage overlooks the sea and we had a great time nosing over the fence and watching walkers on the cliff path as well as sunbathing.  On cooler days, we headed off for longer walkies. To the left of the cottage, you can walk to Tregantle Fort, an MOD firing range.  As long as there’s no red flag, we go to the doggy beach at the base of the cliff.  To the right are the villages of Seaton and Downderry where after a long trot, the pawrents collapse into the Inn on the Shore at Seaton, or the Beach Café at Seaton, both of which I am welcomed into with open arms like the returning celebrity that I am.

Tibetan.Looking.Out.to.Sea

This year I was horrified when I spotted Julie unloading the grooming table from the van, which she then set up in the garden.  I couldn’t believe it: hadn’t she heard of holidays?  I retreated to my hidey-hole in the bushes in the garden.  However, as Teddie is getting a bit old now and can’t walk too far, he was given special massages and also we had our coats combed to help keep them tangle free.  I like to look good for any passing females! I had an operation a few months ago and was told to take it easy too, although it didn’t stop me sticking my nose in rock pools and over the fence to greet my public on the cliff path.

A couple of miles along the cliff path and through a field of cows (ridiculous looking creatures, if you ask me) there is the Liscawn Inn in Crafthole.  Dogs are welcome, although they do have a Tibetan Terrier so there is some competition – grrrr!

But best of all is the Finnygook Inn where not only are we allowed in but there is live music on a Friday which we can enthusiastically howl along to.   And this year we ate like kings after a kind butcher gave the pawrents a fabulous deal on several kilos of chicken wings when they were buying their meat.  Now that’s my kind of holiday!

Phileas Phacts: Portwrinkle

  • Whitsand Bay Self Catering Properties Tel: 01579 345866; www.whitsandbayselfcatering.co.uk
  • Gook Beach Cafe, Finnygook Lane, Portwrinkle, Cornwall, PL113 BT Tel: 01503 230655; www.gookbeachcafe.co.uk (Situated in Portwrinkle above the dog-friendly beach.  Sausages are on the menu for four legged visitors!)
  • Inn on The Shore Seaton, Downderry, Torpoint, Cornwall PL11 3JY Tel: 01503 250027; inn-on-the-shore.co.uk
  • Beach Cafe at Seaton, Looe Hill, Seaton, Cornwall PL11 3JQ Tel: 01503 250621; www.seatonbeachcafe.co.uk
  • Liscawn Inn,Crafthole, Whitsand Bay, Torpoint, Cornwall, PL11 3BD Tel: 01503 230863; www.liscawn.co.uk  (Dog friendly inn near the coastal path with dog-friendly bedrooms as well.)
  • Finnygook Inn, Crafthole, Torpoint, Cornwall, PL11 3BQ Tel: 01503 230338; www.finnygook.co.uk (Dogs welcome in the garden and main bar area.)
  • Tregagles Butchers, Two Waters Foot, Liskeard, PL14 6HY
  • To contact Julie about canine massage therapy log on to www.doghousecaninemassagetherapy.co.uk – for those interested in finding out more about canine massage and its benefits.

 

 

 

Dog-Friendly Anglesey with Monty Spaniel

Dog friendly Anglesey with Monty

We’re in Anglesey for the weekend, where Sara is writing a piece about horse riding on the island. Having let her witter on for a few poncy paragraphs about ‘galloping on sandy beaches, with the rhythm of hooves mimicking the pounding surf etc etc’, I decide it’s time to put my paw down.

“What my public wants,” I explain kindly, “is not HORSES but HOUNDS. Leave those negligible neds out of it and let’s get down to talking about what’s in it for me and my canine chums. And while you’re at it, it’s my turn for the keyboard.”

We’re staying in a very nice self-catering cottage which has been rated five stars by Visit Wales, near Beaumaris – a pretty seaside town on the east coast of the island. Owner Julian Wood has set the cottage at White Beach Cove up for people who want to bring their horses on holiday, and there’s a stone stable block complete with tack room, feed room and even a horse sauna and shower. Of course, he’s also delighted to welcome sensible people who have dogs rather than horses, and has had up to three dogs staying at once. The cottage has hard stone and wood floors throughout and a large garden, most suitable for scampering purposes.

This cottages welcomes hounds (and horses)

This cottages welcomes hounds (and horses)

After exploring the local beach and headland, we decide to visit nearby Red Wharf Bay, stopping for a drink in the beer garden of the historic Ship Inn. Right on the coast, the Ship has been serving ale to passing sailors for hundreds of years and I’m glad that my bowl of water comes with such an impressive pedigree.

The headland is dog-friendly too!

The headland is dog-friendly too!

The name Red Wharf Bay apparently dates from the 18th century, and took over from the original name, Red Beach, which remembers a Viking battle in 1170 that left the beach soaked in blood. I’m quite keen to go down to the beach to see if I can find any leftover bones but before I do I conscientiously pop into the pub to check that we dogs are allowed inside, which we are. In fact, there’s a special room just for us called the ‘snug’, which sounds most suitable.

Afterwards, we walk a portion of the coastal path which goes all round the island for 110 miles. According to my information, it’s leads on for some sections of the path and on one or two stretches we’re not allowed at all due to livestock regulations, but it’s possible to bypass these to rejoin the path further on.

The following morning, it’s off for a scamper on Newborough beach, around a 45-minute drive from Beaumaris. It’s a quiet, secluded stretch of sand perfect for a good run, and I poke around in the rock pools and generally have a blast. Then, we head to nearby Newborough Forest, a large Forestry Commission site, to find a picnic spot.

Monty.Beaumaris.2After a relaxing afternoon and evening, the next morning we make the short journey to Beaumaris for a wander round. ‘Beau maris’ means ‘fair marsh’, and the site was originally marshland until it was reclaimed in the 13th century. It’s most famous for Beaumaris Castle, built by the English king Edward I to show his dominance over the Welsh. Unfortunately, money ran out before before it could be completed, but it’s still pretty impressive. Not that I have a chance to examine it at first paw, as despite me flashing my press card, I’m informed that access is limited to ‘Assistance Dogs Only’. While I obviously am an assistance dog – frankly, Sara would never be able to cope with all her own transcribing – I decide not to argue the point, mostly because it’s lunchtime.

(A special mention at this point for Simple Snacks – a corner cafe just opposite the castle. Not only do they bring my water out before we can ask for it, all the waitresses come out individually to give me a cuddle and ask if there’s anything I need. Now that’s service!)

Lastly, it’s on to the high point of the visit – a boat trip to Puffin Island.

Only available during the summer months, the trips leave from Beaumaris, circle the island for a view of the bird life and return 70 minutes later. They’re happy to welcome me – and indeed all dogs – on board, and I settle down happily near the pointy end, which I believe real sea dogs refer to as the bows. The voyage was a little rough, but I coped with it by falling asleep and missing the puffins, guillemots, cormorants, kittiwakes and grey seals that are being pointed out on every side.

Then it’s time to go home, and I sleep all the way back. I do find the sea air tiring.

 

Monty.Anglesey.Beaumaris

Until next time, chums, hwyl fawr a phob lwc!

(Even though I am not a Welsh Springer Spaniel but an English Springer Spaniel, I know that means ‘goodbye and good luck’.)

Phileas Phacts: Anglesey

  • The Ship Inn, Red Wharf Bay, Anglesey, Gwynedd, LL75 8RJ Tel: 01248 852568; www.shipinnredwharfbay.co.uk.
  • Details of The Cottage and sister property The Windmill, which also accepts dogs, are available at www.whitebeachholiday.co.uk.
  • For more information about the town of Beaumaris, visit www.beaumaris.com.
  • For Puffin Island cruises, see www.starida.co.uk.
  • Visit Wales is at www.visitwales.com