Attlee aka Phileas Dogg’s Canterbury Tails
Dog Meets God: Squirrels in the Spires
A few times every year, Jane and I catch a train (there’s a super-duper fast one now) and travel from London to Kent. Elisa, who is one of Jane’s best friends, lives there, in a village called Wingham, and Barney, who belongs to Elisa’s sister Jacqui, lives there too. Barney looks just like me, but he is three times my size. I’m not scared of him though – he might be bigger but I always come out on top in our scraps because I know how to duck and dive, as does any self-respecting South London dog.
But, now that I am a travel writer, on our last trip to Kent, Jane decided that simply going to Wingham so she could get drunk on red wine with Elisa and I could play-fight with Barney was not enough. Jane decided that we had to go to Canterbury and do some journalistic research.
So here are the results of that research – and an introduction to my latest canine colleague and rover reporter, Ted. Ted is a four-year-old Parson Russell Terrier and I am a little concerned that he might be a more handsome fellow than me. Jane says I’m better looking but she kind of has to. Just as long as Ted doesn’t turn up in Camberwell and pinch my girlfriend, Plum…
The first thing we came across in Canterbury, after getting off the train at Canterbury East, was a big green space called Dane John. It’s not called Dane Park or Dane Gardens or Dane Common – it’s called Dane John. An American correspondent of mine told me that john is the word Americans use for toilet so I thought – this big green space is meant for dogs to have great fun peeing against lamp posts in. It’s a pee palace for dogs!
There were loads of interesting places to use the john in Dane John, but Jane wouldn’t have it, because they were all too posh for me to pee against, she said. A bandstand, a fountain and a sundial! She kept me on the lead, because dogs have to be kept on the lead in Dane John, and wouldn’t let me lift my leg against anything fun. So the name of the park is misleading, in my opinion – and my opinion is that of the leading canine correspondent for the British Isles, so pretty important.
After we’d left the Dane John we walked through some boring streets for about two minutes, until we came to the old part of Canterbury, where the streets are all cobbled. It was a sunny day and everybody was sitting outside the restaurants and pubs and cafes, eating and drinking – perfect for a dog with a fine nose like me, as I could pick up all the smells and salivate over the promise of human food they offered.
Jane did stop outside the City Fish Bar for a minute and look at the menu. Scampi and chips, I thought, with chips for me! But then we wandered off because sometimes she has periods of a few minutes when she decides she’s on a diet and this was obviously one of those times.
We wandered up to the Cathedral, which is what Canterbury is famous for. Apparently an archbishop called Thomas Becket was murdered there in 1170, after the King of the time said: ‘Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?’ The only Bishop I know is a pub, in East Dulwich, where a Weimaraner lives. That Weimeraner is pretty troublesome because, whenever I go to the Bishop, he gets more attention than me. I’m not suggesting anyone should rid me of the troublesome Weimaraner though…
Dogs aren’t allowed into the Cathedral because everybody is busy praying to somebody called God, which is Dog backwards, so maybe everybody is praying to us dogs. But dogs are allowed into the grounds. The grounds were okay, because I could look for squirrels up the Cathedral’s spires. I didn’t see any but it was best to be on the safe side. God wouldn’t want to be bothered by squirrels – Dog certainly doesn’t.
After the Cathedral, Jane wanted to sit down and have a cup of tea and watch the world go by, which is always fine by me, because I can sit down and have a bowl of water and smell the smells go by.
But the first pub we went into, The Old Buttermarket, in the square next to the Cathedral, didn’t allow dogs. The barman who told us was none too polite about it. A dog walks into a bar and the barman says – you’re not allowed. Charming!
The nice lady in the tourist information office did like dogs though and smiled at me. She knew I wouldn’t pee on a low-lying Visit Canterbury pen or key ring! Perhaps she even recognised me as Phileas Dogg, aka Attlee Common.
Chatting to the woman, Jane picked up a leaflet for ghost tours in Canterbury, where a group of people gather together at 8pm of an evening and, led by a ghost hunter, trawl the ancient city streets in search of apparitions. Jane was quite taken with this idea and asked the lady if dogs were allowed on the walks.
‘Yes,’ the lady said, smiling at me again.
To be honest, I wasn’t too keen. Not because I’d be scared – of course not. If a ghost heard my ferocious bark it would be so frightened it would disappear, instantly. In fact, that’s the very reason I didn’t want to go – because I’d scare off all the ghosts and the people on the tour would be disappointed.
Time for me to take the lead, I decided – Jane had been a bit too bossy for my liking on this research trip – so I decided to check out a public house called the Blind Dog. If a pub has the word dog in its name, it has to be okay.
On the way there we passed Canterbury Heritage Museum, which has the original Bagpuss in Emily’s shop window. Other dogs would have barked at the original Bagpuss but not me. I know all about cats, as I live with one, and barking at them is pointless. Barking at them makes them think they’re important and cats are full enough of themselves as it is. So I didn’t bark at Bagpuss, even though he was pink!
Rover Reporter Ted Meets Bagpuss!
Ted, my rover reporter in Kent, had his picture taken with Bagpuss. So you can judge for yourself whether Ted is more handsome than me. (To be honest, Ted looks slightly scared of the big pink cat. Wimp!)
What good to man or beast is a plastic dog?
Anyway, forget Ted. The barman in The Blind Dog, who was not from Kent at all, but from Liverpool, told us that dogs are allowed in the pub garden any time but only in the pub itself on Saturdays, when food isn’t being served. Jane was happy with this, because she could smoke in the pub garden. (She shouldn’t smoke and I just want to make it clear that I disapprove of smoking. It smells horrible.)
There was another dog in the pub garden. It was a black and white spaniel – and it was plastic. I think, at first, Jane thought it was real, although if you ask her, she’d deny that. I knew immediately that it wasn’t real because it didn’t smell. What good is a plastic dog?
The barman chatted to us for a while. He said, that if any dogs visiting Canterbury are hungry on a Sunday afternoon, they should make their owners take them to The Blind Dog, because, instead of throwing away what people don’t eat of their Sunday roasts, the staff wrap it up in parcels for dogs. Brilliant!
The barman also told us that a lady who runs a pub called The Divers Arms, in Herne Bay, a quarter of an hour away, does the same thing. Apparently she is a really nice lady and she lays out the red carpet for dogs in her hostelry. As it should be…
Re-Tale Therapy in Canterbury with Ted
Ted writes: If your owner is like my Karol, they can’t bear to be parted from you, even to go shopping; so here is my list of the top dog-friendly shops (by which I mean, shops that don’t mind having dogs as customers) in Canterbury.
- Whatever Comics in St Peter’s Street
Manny and Debe recently lost their dog, so are always pleased to see dogs in their shop, especially if that dog is me. They always have a supply of treats to give to canine customers, and in return I dress up and help them to hand out free comics on Free Comic Book Day in May.
Whatever Comics, 9 St. Peter’s Street, High Street, Canterbury, Kent CT1 2AT. Tel: 01227 453226
- The Works Book Shop in the High Street
Tori and Tom stop what they are doing and come over to make a fuss of me, while Karol is browsing through the books (they have plenty of books about dogs to buy). Tori has even invited me to her wedding in the summer. I must find a bow tie to wear!
The Works, 17 High Street, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 2JE. Tel: 01227 470812
- Siesta Fair Trade Crafts in Palace Street
Everyone in the shop loves dogs and adores me. There are lots of lovely things for Karol to buy and lots of strokes and fuss for me – they even give me a bowl of water on a hot day.
Siesta Crafts, 1 Palace Street, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 2DY. Tel: 01227 464614
- Pure Magick in St Peter’s Street
This shop is mystical and sells lots of weird and wonderful things from wands to crystal balls. Michael is a lovely man and always has a friendly welcome for dogs whose owners want to browse.
Pure Magick, 43a St Peter’s Street, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 2BG. Tel: 01227 780000
- The Dressing Room in Northgate
This is a fancy dress shop and since I sometimes dress fancy the people in the shop are always pleased to see me and don’t mind holding onto my lead while Karol tries on the costumes.
The Dressing Room, The King’s Mile, 74 Northgate, Town Centre, Canterbury, CT1 1BB. Tel: 01227 454712
Of course, having been to Wingham many times, I have visited all three of Wingham’s pubs many times. Jane pretends to herself it is a great treat for me, to go to the pub, but really it’s just a great treat for her to sit and talk with Elisa and drink red wine and smoke cigarettes.
My favourite pub in Wingham is, of course, The Dog Inn. Firstly, because dogs can stay overnight with their owners, for an extra fiver. And secondly because it’s called after a dog, rather than, for example, a lion. The Red Lion is the most popular pub name in the British Isles and that’s just stupid, because there aren’t any lions in this country – certainly not red lions that go to pubs. So more Dog Inns and less Red Lions, please!
But walk a hundred yards down the street from The Dog Inn and guess what there is – a bloody Red Lion! We went in, in the name of research and red wine again, and dogs were allowed, in the pub itself and in the beer garden. But when Jane asked if dogs were allowed to stay overnight, in the bedrooms, the barmaid looked at her as if she was crazy. Wait until Jane asks if a lion can stay overnight and then look at her as if she’s crazy!
But I like the Red Lion Inn in Wingham. The food is traditional bar food, like ham and egg and chips. And there’s always a bunch of locals, standing at the bar, having a chat, and I like that too, because they’re obviously old friends, who meet every day, like me and my friends do in the park.
The third pub in Wingham is The Anchor, opposite the traditional Village Stores. I was in trouble in The Anchor one day because, while we were sitting in the beer garden, I ate some food from a small child’s plate. Jane was very cross. The Anchor has new owners since this incident, so, hopefully, I’ve had my name removed from the banned list.
After a night out in one of the above, Jane and Elisa and I go for a walk the next day, with Barney. The best place to walk in Wingham is in what Elisa calls the orchards – lines and lines of bushes. I can sprint down one row and then up the next – it’s like a running track for dogs! Sometimes Barney and I lose each other in the running tracks and then I have to sprint up and down, up and down, until I find him again. It’s quite a lot of exercise on my little legs!
At the bottom of the orchards, behind three walls of wire, are some very strange animals. I bark and bark at them and they just stare back. They don’t even look scared of me. I bet if they weren’t safely enclosed behind three walls of wire they’d be scared! Apparently these animals are called emus and llamas and they are part of Wingham Wildlife Park.
Another place I like to go with Barney near Wingham is the beach at Sandwich. It’s really, really long – about five miles, that’s 500 miles in dog miles. It has dunes, which are great for scarpering up and down, and a lot of sand, before the horrid sea. I don’t like the sea – I can’t work it out. I bark and it runs away and then it comes straight back at me. I’ll work it out soon. I’ll get the better of the sea.
Sandwich Bay is never busy, although once Barney and I did see an English Bulldog, sitting on a big plush cushion in a gauze box to protect him from the sun. He looked a right idiot! Normal dogs don’t sit on plush cushions at the beach – they run along the sand, grabbing seaweed and chasing each other. That’s what Barney and I do..
Once, on a sunny day on Sandwich beach, I saw a human without any clothes on! It gave me such a shock I nearly choked on my seaweed and I ran at full pelt straight back to Jane who always, always has her clothes on. Dogs don’t wear clothes – humans do. That’s the rule and it shouldn’t be broken.
The other town I have visited in Kent is called Faversham. I travelled there on New Year’s Eve 2010, with Jane and her ex-boyfriend, in his green Range Rover. It doesn’t look to me as if it’s done much ranging or roving, as it’s so clean. Jane’s ex-boyfriend used to worry about my hair sticking to the seats. Woof off – I’m Phileas Dogg now, a famous travel journalist, and my hair will add to the value!
Anyway, we went to Faversham because Jane’s ex-boyfriend is very keen on boats, particularly a type of boat called a Thames Barge, and some of these Thames Barge things are moored in Faversham. I’m not keen on boats, because of the unresolved issues I have with the sea, so while the ex-boyfriend looked at barges, Jane and me sat in The Anchor Inn, next to the quay. The pub is 300 years old!
Are you getting, fellow holidaying hounds, that humans love old pubs? They love old towns too – Faversham is an old market town and its main street is medieval with wooden-beamed houses and traditional shops. I spent quite a while taking in the medieval wonder of Faversham as I was left tied outside a shop for ages, while the ex-boyfriend looked for books about boats and Jane pretended to be interested in books about boats. And, afterwards, they didn’t even consider letting me go in the shop that interested me – Paul’s Pet Essentials. Never mind books about boats – what about my blimin’ essentials?
Reporting Live from Whitstable: Ted!
This report on Whitstable is from rover reporter and smarty pants Ted. (I really do hope he never comes to Camberwell and meets Plum – look at him, he can even surf!) Ted reports that Whitstable beach is dog friendly all year round – here he is, in the sea. Grrrrr! He also reports that the best pub for us dogs on Whitstable Beach is The Old Neptune – it’s actually on the sand, he reckons. In the summer, they have barbecues every day – perfect for a handsome fellow like Ted to pick up some spare sausages from people by pulling hang dog expressions at them. (I’d just like to add that, while there is some debate over whether Ted is better looking than me or not, and whilst he can surf and I can’t, should it come to ‘hang-dog face off’ I’d win. So you just wait until I visit the Old Neptune next summer Ted and we’ll see who gets the biggest share of sausages. Woof!)
Phileas Fact Box: Kent
- The Divers Arms, 66 Central Parade, Herne Bay, Kent, CT6 5JQ. Tel: 01227 367717.
- The Dog Inn, Wingham, Canterbury, CT3 1BB. Tel: 01227 720339
- The Red Lion, Wingham, Canterbury, CT3 1BB. Tel: 01227 720217
- The Anchor, Wingham, Kent CT3 1BJ. Tel: 07528 299433
- Wingham Wildlife Park, Rusham Road, Wingham, Kent, CT3 1JL. Tel: 01227 720 836
- Sandwich Bay is approached through a toll booth, £5 a day. It is popular with naturists in the summer.
- The Anchor Inn, 52 Abbey Street, Faversham, Kent, ME13 7BP. Tel: 01795 536471
- Paul’s Pet Essentials, 11 Market Place, Faversham, Kent, ME13 7AG
- The Old Neptune, Marine Terrace, Whitstable, Kent, CT5 1EJ. Tel: 01227 272262
Note: Jane says I have to write a big thank you to rover reporter Ted and his owner Karol for all their help on our Kent page. Thanks Ted *not wagging my tail*.
Rover in Dover: Ted’s Report on his Hometown
Ted, Phileas Doggs’ Hound on the Ground in Kent, says:
‘Dover Castle allows dogs to roam around the grounds; they even hand out poop-scoop bags at the entrance. But we’re not allowed inside; a pity because I’d like the opportunity to sniff out one of the six ghosts who haunt the building.
Connaught Park in Dover is a great place for dogs all year round. Here I am, romping in the snow!
My favourite hostelry in Dover is the Cricketers in River, just opposite Dover Athletic football ground. It’s access all area for dogs and in the summer there are barbecues in the huge back garden, where I practise the old ‘tilt of the head; lift the paw’ routine.
From the Cricketers it’s just a quick stroll along the river past the Mill to Kearsney Abbey recreation ground. Stay away from the swans and geese on the Alkham Road side (they peck – grrrrrr!) and run free on the other side, through the wooded area at the top. Lots of squirrels to chase – woof!
Just behind Dover Castle are the famous white Langdon Cliffs where – forget squirrels – there are rabbits to chase, a grand view of the harbour and a breath-taking walk to the South Foreland Lighthouse.
If me and Karol are feeling extra energetic after all that we head to St Margaret’s Bay and The Coastguard pub and restaurant – it’s friendly for dogs and serves delicious home-cooked meals for humans too. And it’s right next to the Channel, if you fancy dipping an adventurous paw in the water. Oooh la la!
Ted’s Guide to Dover:
Tails of the Dales – September 2011
It is Jane’s friend Vicky’s birthday and we are in a cottage in Askrigg, a village in the Yorkshire Dales, to celebrate. Askrigg is famous, Jane tells me, because much of a television programme from the 1970s, All Creatures Great and Small, was filmed here. The programme was about a vet. Grrrr – I hope he’s not around this weekend. I don’t want to see him!
It is 7pm on a Friday evening and Jane and Christine and Tracey are waiting for Vicky to arrive. Vicky doesn’t know they’re here – her boyfriend Simon has planned it as a birthday surprise. I hope Vicky likes surprises. Dogs love surprises because we are always ready for anything but humans aren’t as spontaneous as us dogs, unless they’re children humans.
We had a bit of a palaver finding the cottage because, even though Simon had emailed the address to Jane, Tracey and Christine, not one of them had written it down. All they can remember from Simon’s email is that the cottage has a white door and is opposite a pub. But there are a few pubs in Askrigg and a few white doors opposite. These humans – couldn’t organise a meal in the Butcher’s factory……
Anyway, we’re inside now, waiting for Vicky, and I am enjoying a lot of fuss. I am lucky because Jane makes a big fuss of me all the time, and sometimes her flatmate Apricot fusses over me (although she always fusses Dodger first, which is annoying) but now Christine is fussing over me too. She loves terriers, shesays, and she praises me on being handsome and dignified – a new word, but I like it.
‘You can tell he’s an only dog,’ Christine says. Ha – I am an only dog and quite right too.
It Shouldn’t Happen To A Pet!
But then Vicky arrives, looking surprised, with Simon, and their baby James – and their dog Jess, a chocolate Labrador.
Grrrr– so I am not the only dog and all the fuss will not be mine and mine alone this weekend. I will have to share it with Jess and baby James.
I am not very happy about not being the only dog so I bark at Jess to let her know that while I am not only I am top. Even though she is bigger and older than me.
But Jess ignores my barking and doesn’t seem to be put in her place at all. She stands right in front of me swishing her big Labrador tale from side to side so that it bashes my nose. I am not happy with this
Me In The Dales!
The next morning, when Simon and Jane take Jess and me for a walk, I decide to do something about it. I decide that if I’m a naughty dog everybody will pay me a lot of attention. And it’s not hard to be naughty in the Yorkshire Dales – the air is so cold and fresh that it makes me all springy and excited.
We walk up a hill through Askrigg to the countryside and go through a gate into a field. Simon checks there are no livestock and – grrrr-huzzah! – I’m off the lead.
It is terrific – one field leads to another and then another and I sprint through them, my fine terrier legs working fast as my heart pumps blood round my body and the cold wind buffets me. I am full of adrenaline. I can smell rabbits and sheep in the grass and I know there are adventures to be had here. No squirrels but different things to chase and bark at!
Red In Tooth And Claw
I run and run from field to field, as fast as I can, just for the fun of it and then I see it. A dead animal, lying in the grass. I’ve never eaten dead animal before but its scent is wonderful – fresh and ripe – and I gobble it in my mouth and crunch its bones and feel its juice running down my throat.
Jane hates this and she starts to chase and shout at me, in a stern voice, and rustle the bag of doggie treats she always carries in her handbag. As if doggie treats are going to distract me from this fresh meat feast that I have between my jaws!
Then Simon and Jane try to herd me as if I am a sheep – stooooo-pid – and Jess looks at me, all pious and proper, but I don’t care because I’m having the best time ever.
When I’ve finished crunching, I walk up to Jane and allow her to clip my lead on as if nothing in the world has happened. As if I haven’t just disobeyed her in front of Simon and Jess and made the six months of puppy training she put me through a waste of money.
I know Jane likes to think that I am a sort of cuddly toy that occasionally barks but sometimes she needs to be reminded that I’m nature too and I’m red in tooth and claw. A proper dog who eats road kill!
Back at the cottage, Jane tells everyone how naughty I’ve been but instead of ignoring me, because I’m bad, everybody talks to me kindly and tells me I’ll have an upset tummy for my troubles.
‘He might need the vet,’ someone says and I panic. The vet – so he is around this weekend!
But I don’t have a sore tummy – thank Dog! I have had gastroenteritis three times in South-east London but fresh country meat doesn’t give me gut ache in the slightest. I’m full of beans.
Red In Tooth And Hawes
The people decide to go to a little town called Hawes for another walk but, as soon as we step out of the car, it begins raining. This isn’t vertical London rain –it is diagonal, slicing into your body rain and even though I’m a hardy little fellow I don’t like it. It is making my insides cold.
Hawes is a grey little town, with all the buildings made out of stone and the rain makes it even greyer. I can’t see a foot in front of me and the smells are all mixed up in the diagonal rain.
We go to a pub, The Crown Hotel, which has a silver plaque on the wall saying: ‘We are a dog friendly pub.’
So it should be. Dogs are always friendly to pubs – we even wee on their outside walls, as a mark of respect – so why aren’t pubs always friendly to us?
The pub has a real fire and there are two other dogs in it – a graceful girl greyhound and a Bulldog. The Bulldog stares at me and I stare straight back at him. This may be his local but I won’t be intimidated.
In the pub everybody talks about how they hope the rain will stop so we can go for another walk. But it doesn’t. Jane dashes out into it to buy some cheese from the cheese shop – apparently Hawes is famous for Wensleydale cheese. I have heard of Wensleydale cheese because there’s a dog called Gromit, on television, and his master, Wallace, eats a lot of it. Then Tracey dashes out to buy a bottle of wine. Then we all dash back to the car and
home to Askrigg.
Back at the house, the humans sit and talk with the rain lashing down outside and Jess and me sit and stare at each other with the rain lashing down outside. Jess was a rescue dog, from a shelter, like me so I suppose we
have that in common. Perhaps we are growing to like each other a little more. I don’t think she’s bad, even though she is bossy. She has kind eyes. But I still want to be only dog again.
Then it is decided that we shall walk around Askrigg, even though it’s still raining. We look in a gift shop that takes dogs and a coffee shop that takes dogs and then decide on the pub opposite the cottage – the Crown Inn.
This is a great gig as, for some reason, rather than having to sit on the floor, as I usually do in pubs, I’m allowed to sit on the seat, in between Vicky and Jane. They even place a pint of beer in front of me so I don’t feel left out. At times like this, I forget I am dog and honestly believe I’m a human.
It isn’t long before I’m in trouble again, though – and this time it’s BIG trouble. Really big trouble and I do something I definitely shouldn’t do. It’s the excitement of the countryside and the Dales, which look like moors, and have a sort of danger to them – that’s what makes me mischievous.
It happens the next morning. Hazel has arrived and Jane and Hazel take me out for a walk, up the hill again, and into the same fold of fields, with the public footpath sign, as the day before. Jane has a look around for livestock and can’t see any sheep or samesuch so I’m off the lead, hurtling and hurdling, and Jane and Hazel lag behind, chattering.
I gallop from one field to the next to the next, all the smells triggering every nerve in my body with newness. And then I see them, behind a grey stone bothy –two of the white fluffy things called sheep. Sheep with curly horns on their heads. And before I even have time to think, instinct has kicked in and I am chasing the sheep. Then Jane is screaming and chasing me and Hazel is chasing her and it is like a Benny Hill sketch, us all chasing each other, around the fields, in a row of running sheep and dogs and people.
The sheep run through two fields and I nearly catch up with them, because I’m very fast, before they charge into a small stone barn. I go in after them, even though there’s hardly any room in there and they are kicking at me with their paw-hooves. I bark and bark at them, to tell them to stop and listen to me.
After about a minute of this, Jane comes in, all teary and red in the face. She has to crouch down to clamber into the barn and then she reaches forward and grabs me. I struggle because I want to keep barking at the sheep, until they admit that I’m boss, but she can be quite strong when she wants to be, Jane, and she doesn’t let me go, even though I’m wriggling.
She puts the lead on me – I am in trouble – and then, with Hazel, we are running through the fields and through the gate back on to the road to the cottage.
‘You could have been shot,’ Jane says, and she is shaking. ‘If the farmer had seen you chasing his sheep, he could have shot you.’
I don’t like that one bit – the idea of being shot. I have seen people being shot on television and know that it’s not a very nice thing to happen. I’d hate to be shot. If I was shot, I’d definitely need the vet. The sheep might have been fun but they are not worth that.
Back at the cottage, when Jane tells everyone what has happened, they are all very stern with me. It is almost a relief to be back in Christine’s car, and then back on the train to London, to escape the sternness. I have done a very bad thing. I will never chase sheep again. I will say it a hundred times in my head, so I remember it.
Phileas Fact Box: Yorkshire Dales
- The Crown Hotel, Market Place, Hawes, North Yorkshire, DL8 3RD Tel: 01969 667212
Very friendly atmosphere, in the centre of Hawes, coal fire and extensive menu, especially for puddings! Has rooms overnight, dogs allowed, starting at £27.50 per person bed and breakfast.
- The Little Cheese Shop, Ivy Cottage, Hawes, DL8 3RZ Website:www.ribblesdalecheese.wordpress.com
- The Crown Inn, Main Street, Askrigg, Leyburn, North Yorkshire, DL83HQ Tel: 01969 650298
Popular with locals, good selection of beers and real ales, on a walking trail so busy during the summer months.
- Sykes Tea Room, Askrigg, Leyburn, North Yorkshire, DL8 3HT Tel: 01969 650535
Cosy little café with toasties and homemade soup.
- Simon rented Kirkdale Cottage in Askrigg from Yorkshire Cottages. Telephone 01228 406701 or log on to www.yorkshire-cottages.info.
The cottage slept six and cost £210 – that’s £35 per person – for a three-night break.
- The DEFRA website says the following on the matter of dogs worrying sheep: Under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 the owner, and anyone else under whose control the dog is at the time, will be guilty of an offence if it worries livestock on agricultural land. The dog must have been attacking or chasing livestock in such a way that it could reasonably be expected to cause injury or suffering or, in the case of females, abortion or the loss or diminution of their produce. The definition of ‘livestock’ includes cattle, sheep, goats, swine, horses and poultry. Game birds are not included.
- For more information, log on to www.defra.gov.uk
Introducing Evie our Camping Correspawndent.
My name is Evie and I live round the corner from Attlee in the mean streets of Camberwell. We meet most mornings and he is probably as near to a friend as I have. I’m not really one for dogs. Or people for that matter, just the ones I like.
I have two owners, Jacky and Kirsty and I came from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home six and a half years ago when I was a pup. I like to think people think I am mysterious and enigmatic because no one knows where I’m from, what I’m thinking or what I’ll do next. However I’m always getting called a “funny little dog” which doesn’t suggest that it is working. I’m complicated. Let’s just leave it at that.
Anyway back to the job I’m being paid for (in Dentasticks hopefully). Anyone can go and stay in nice cottages and hotels but it takes a real dog to go camping. I quite like camping which is handy because we go camping a lot. This summer alone I think I went twelvety times so I’ve got lots of wisdom to impart. And stories of the stupid things we get up to. So Attlee definitely asked the right pup to be his camping correspondent.
Reasons I like camping:
- It is always an adventure
- We go with the people I like
- There are always sausages
Reasons I don’t like camping:
Evie’s list of Canine Camping Essentials
I’ve got my own travel bag, oh yes so I always know when we are offsky. It contains the basics;
- poo bags – not fragranced ones or it makes everything stinky and not the sort of stinky I like
- travel bowls – everyone is always totally jealous of these. They are collapsible and actually designed for humans but much better for dogs
- wipes in case of mud or fox perfume
- flashing disco collar and neon collar for night time adventures
- bags of food and sachets of meat – DO NOT FORGET
- a little bag of bedtime biscuits. Bedtime biscuits you say? My grandpa gives all his best dogs a biscuit at bedtime. It is a fantastic tradition and one which you should all encourage your owners to adopt.
- It can be freezing at night sometimes so I like to wear my rain jacket which is fleece lined. I also like to try and get in sleeping bags but this makes my mums grumpy and cold so I have my eye on a lovely one designed for dogs by Coleman but I’m not sure they do it anymore. Maybe they’ll start doing it again when they see how popular I make dog camping? I could be like my mum and get a Onesie to keep warm but if she can’t go for a wee in it how would I cope??
- In the car there is a stake and chain to make sure I don’t wander off but I don’t like it. I’ve a spare lead and collar just in case and a life jacket. I can totally swim though, stupid mums. Feet on the bottom counts, right? Some friends call it the Dog Bag as it has a handle on top. Idiots. I am rather dandy in it though so shall post a picture of me wearing it on one of my annual boat camping adventures.
I’m going to test some new stuff too so I’ll tell you how that goes and if you think there is something amazing you think I need to share with fellow canine campers then you’d better tell me. Although you can see I know a lot already; I am seven.
Evie recommends: Bouncers, near Maldon, Essex
Jude and Adweeeeean marking our spot. Note the fence of electricity
Jude and Adweeeeean marking our spot. Note the fence of electricity.
I went to Essex this summer. Apparently it is the only way. With my mums, and Jude and Jude’s boyfriend Adrian who must always be called Adweeeeeean no matter how much Jude wants everyone to call him A.J. It’ll totally never catch on. Jude is my mum Kirsty’s oldest friend from university but she doesn’t look old and she has nice hair. I’ve totally won Jude over as she likes cats but now she loves me and calls me Muttie. Adrian wants a Labrador but is too scared to pick up poo. And Labradors do big poos.
Anyway I meant to be doing my reporting. Not talking about poo.
The rule when you go camping is you must always meet in a dog friendly pub very near to the campsite before pitching your tent. We went to The Ducane on the Tiptree Road (near where they make the jam). The morsels were good but the waiter was annoying; he kept barking at me. I just like to lie under the table quietly in the hope something might fall into my mouth but he kept distracting me and it was irritating.
Kirsty had found a very small campsite called Bouncers; she calls it a wee site but that can’t be right can it? It is in a very pretty old orchard so the ground is a bit bumpy but there is only space for about 10 tents so you can have a nice space all to yourself. There are lovely bright gypsy caravans there you can rent if you are scared of tents. Which I am not. Obviously.
The owner has two little dogs, like Attlee, but with neat hair, and the biggest dog I ever did see. They get to roam wherever they want, even into my camp and sniff my dinner bowl (empty – I’m not stupid). I think this is very unfair as I had to be on a lead all the time. I can’t help it that I don’t like other dogs in my camp – I have got sausages to defend. There were also lots of fences with electricity in them. This means very little to me but caused a lot of grumbling in case the fences got me. I was on my lead; what were they worrying about?!
The owner will get you papers and pastries on a Sunday morning. Nice eh? She goes out on a pony and trap to collect them. She did however charge quite a bit to borrow her fire bucket and logs. I wished they’d saved their money; I hate those pesky fires.
Sisters of Mersea
We went on a day trip to a place called Mersea Island for a summer fair. I’m not sure how it calls itself an island as we drove there on a road, not a bridge. I was told that the water comes up really high and cuts it off from the mainland but I never saw it.
It was so busy, with hundreds of other dogs. I even met Mia – Kirsty and her owner Laura are friends at work – although Mia and me didn’t like each other. It is a terrier/weimaraner thing; you wouldn’t understand.
The fair was at a Vineyard, I know…..wine in England but Jude would drink anything apparently so they bought a bottle. When in Mersea…..
I’m going to talk about poo again, sorry but I did one on the way out to Mersea and because we are responsible and there were no bins we had to take it in the car with us. I thought it was most amusing but apparently hanging a poo bag out of Adrian’s car window is not a laughing matter. We had to go the beach in West Mersea to recover. Actually it might have been East Mersea; I was allowed on half of it anyway. It has pretty coloured beach huts so I bet it is busy in the summer. I had a lovely scamper about anyway. I liked camping in Essex, I’ll come again.
List of Important things about Bouncer’s campsite in Essex
A bit tricky to book, lots of chasing emails and Kirsty had to send a cheque which she says is very old fashioned
You don’t have to walk for miles with all your gear
Nice, small and quiet
Nowhere to be off the lead – boo
Clean little shower cabin, powered by wood. I didn’t wash.
Fires allowed – sadly
Phileas Fact Box: Camping in Essex
Hurst View, Lymington, The New Forest
This adventure takes us to Lymington, a market town in the New Forest so chosen because it is halfway between London, where I live, and Devon, where Jacky comes from. We are off camping with Jacky’s little sister Debbie, her boyfriend Mark and their dog, my cousin, Oliver. I’m immediately suspicious of this as I am normally the only dog. I don’t mind Oliver – he might be big but he is scared of everything so I can easily keep him in line.
Kirsty has chosen a site called Hurst View because it is the only place in the New Forest that allows campfires and Kirsty loves campfires. It is a lot more of a bigger site than we’d normally go for, with log cabins and caravans. But actually we have loads of space on the campsite bit so it doesn’t feel like we have been squeezed in. Debbie suffers from excessive use of windbreaks (bet you thought I was going to be rude there) so we had our own area marked out too.
It is very relaxed which annoyed Kirsty a bit. She likes a rule to be adhered to – namely control your dogs. This was a complete free for all – there were dogs everywhere in our camp, even a Westie in my tent!! I really don’t like Westies.
And no NOISE after 11pm. Kirsty is getting a bit old and so was a bit cross with some silly young people who were playing truth or drunken dare. Probably because she couldn’t hear or see anything properly…
Still, apart from allowing Westies in, I thought it was a good site. There were lots of children but there weren’t any in our field at all. And you could hire bikes and go on slides and stuff. That is what children do. Not dogs.
Thanks to the windbreaks Oliver and I were able to participate in some competitive weeing. I tried my best but he has longer legs than me. Don’t worry I got my own back by weeing in his dinner bowl. Ha! In your face Mr O!
We didn’t do any of the many dog walks from the camp site – instead we went exploring round Lymington. It was a bit too hot and busy for me but there were good shops and a market. I got a brilliant bag to hold my bedtime biscuits just so they never get forgotten. Mark gets very thirsty so we stopped at some nice pubs too. My favourite was The Ship as it has great views out over the harbour.
The highlight of the trip however was when Mark tried to join in with our competitive weeing. He didn’t understand the rules though and did it right on the campfire. He wee’d so much he put the fire right out. I was so happy. Stupid campfire. I tell you who wasn’t happy though. Kirsty. All the wee steam chased her and her Onesie around the camp. She called Mark feral. I think that is something to do with cats which can’t be a good thing. Poor Mark, he can’t help how thirsty he was.
I’d definitely go back to Hurst View but only with Mark for protection against those pesky campfires.
Phileas Fact Box: Camping in the New Forest
- Hurst View Caravan Park, Lower Pennington Lane, Pennington, Lymington, Hampshire, SO41 8AL. Tel: 01590 671648; small tent £20 pn and dogs go free
- The Ship, The Quay, Lymington, Hampshire SO41 3AY. Tel: 01590 676903
Welsummer Camp Site, Kent
This is THE best campsite. Fact. Other than the chuffing campfire there is not one thing I didn’t like about this place. I went with Jude and Adweean (remember them) and Alan, who I LOVE. It is nice and close to London too – and there is a big walk all around the campsite through an orchard. Result!
Laura and Med that run Welsummer are the nicest people ever. It is really small and everything about it is cute. This is camping as it should be. There are pre-erected tents for lazy people; you can camp in the woods or in the little pitches and there are no campervans or caravans allowed. IN-TENTS!
It has a great book collection in the toilets apparently, including one called Touch Not the Cat, (as if I would) which caused great hilarity. We did see whether we could go to the nearby Leeds Castle but despite having a Dog Collar Museum there, no dogs are allowed. Pah. The lovely Laura offered to look after me, how cool is that?
Instead we went on a day trip to Maidstone. Laura had lots of leaflets on stuff to do at her little shop on the campsite so we decided to go for a nice walk around the Archbishops Palace and All Saint’s Church, apparently the grandest Perpendicular Church in England. Citing!
We walked along a bit of the Millennium River Park which would be nice to go back to but really we were just killing time before we could get on the Kentish Lady! A big boat!! A rather scary big boat but we went for an hour sail along the Medway anyway. We sat up the front and had ice creams. My best advice for the Kentish Lady – take a packed lunch. Not because you are away for so long but because all that awaits you at the other end is the Malta Inn. Terrifying. It is the biggest pub ever. And it does NOT get the Phileas Dogg seal of approval. Even I found it hard to eat the scraps and that is saying something!
This is me, on the Kentish Lady!
Phileas Fact Box: Camping in Kent
- Welsummer Camping, Chalk House, Lenham Road, Harrietsham, Kent ME17 1NQ. Tel: 01622 844048; small tent £12 pn plus £3 per adult pn
- Website: http://welsummercamping.com
- Welsummer Camping is awarded Phileas’ Special Paw Print of Approval as Evie’s favourite campsite in the WORLD!
- The Kentish Lady – remember your packed lunch – is at www.kentishlady.co.uk
Blackberry Woods, Sussex
I really like Blackberry Woods, I’ve been twice now and it is one of my mum’s best ones. I’m told it gets booked up a whole year in advance which sounds like it should be important to someone – not me though. I’m not one for the details.
So it isn’t like other places as you get your own clearing in a wood which means it is more private although the twittering birds wake me up very early in the morning. We’ve stayed in Bramble clearing each time but next time I want Humpty Dumpty. It is brilliant for scampering about. Each clearing has a fire – don’t like. But there is a big metal thing for cooking on. Meat at my level – that is brilliant.
There is lots to do here for the dogs. The first time the gang of intrepid campers Alan, Caroline and Maria, Kirsty and I went on a really big long walk to the pub through fields and although we got really lost and can’t remember where we ended up I am most definitely welcome everywhere. And the lovely people that run the campsite give you a very handy map. Both The Bull and the White Horse in Ditchling had very tasty morsels and are very convenient meeting points as they are in the nearest village to the campsite.
This year the gang, I’d better name them or they might get upset, Richard, Jared, Ellie and Rebecca, snuck out the back of the site into huge fields and we all lay out on rugs and chatted until the sun went down. There were lots of empty bottles. Normally I’m the only one that wees outside but they were all at it. Filthy. They cooked the most amazing feast on the fire though and Ellie entertained us with some camp gymnastics.
They were however non-professional campers who attempted to sleep on the ground. Even I don’t do that and I’m a dog. We therefore had to go on a day trip to Lewes for camping supplies. The gang really liked Lewes. It is a very good place for wandering about, little winding streets, hills and a castle. I was allowed in lots of the antique shops and it has a Waitrose which you don’t see often round south east London.
My absolute favourite thing though is the trips we’ve done to Cuckmere Haven. It is a great big walk alongside a river. There are brilliant smells and things to roll in. We went there to try and do some wild swimming but the river was full of cows and their pats. We kept on walking though and we ended up at the sea!! There are huge white cliffs, very dramatic apparently and part of something called the Seven Sisters, Jacky has two sisters which is more than enough I think. It was here that I did my very first proper swimming, I hadn’t actually planned to but the current was quite strong so I got a little swept away, both by it and the fact that everyone else was having such fun floating down the river into the sea. I joined right in, we were there for hours. I had such an amazing sleep that night!!
Phileas Fact Box: Camping in Sussex
- Blackberry Wood, Streat Lane, Streat, Nr Ditchling, Sussex, BN6 8RS. Tel: 01273 890035; £5pn per tent plus £9 per person pn in high season
- Website: http://blackberrywood.com
- The White Horse, 16 West Street, Ditchling, BN6 8TS. Tel: 01273 842006
- Website: www.whitehorseditchling.com
- The Bull, High Street, Ditchling, BN6 8TA. Tel: 01273 843147
- Website: http://thebullditchling.com
Cliff House, Suffolk
So, inspired by Evie, we is going camping. I am glad because Evie is always barking on in the park about going camping and so is Fenn and I don’t like to be the only one who hasn’t done something. So now I am doing it too.
Jane’s sister Steph booked the campsite – she used www.coolcamping.co.uk. There were six sites listed in Suffolk and she chose the one called Cliff House, near Dunwich, because it allowed dogs and had a children’s play park for the five-year-old daughter of Jerome, Steph’s boyfriend, to play in.
We read Evie’s tips and bought a stake for £3 in a camping shop for me to be tied to. I didn’t mind this. When we were sitting around in the great outdoors, next to the tents, the humans had chairs and I had a stake. I would like to say I wouldn’t have sprinted off without it but I can’t lie – I might have done. There were rabbits in the woods and I wanted to chase them. I was missing the squirrels of south London although I’m sure they weren’t missing me – Grrrrrr-Huzzah!
Well, we arrived at the campsite and at first it didn’t look much like a campsite at all – more like some fields full of wooden cabins and caravans. But the pitches for the tents were round the back, right next to the CLIFFS – although there were lots of trees between our pitch and the cliffs. Well, about ten trees anyway…
On our first afternoon, we walked down a steep set of wooden steps, about twenty seconds from our tents, to the longest beach I have ever seen. It went on and on and in the distance we could see a place called Southwold but it was so far away I could never have run there, even with my fine and sturdy little legs.
Then we went to the on-site pub for dinner. It is called The 12 Lost Churches and dogs are allowed EVERYWHERE. It is not a traditional pub and would never be noted for its architecture, of which I now know so much, being so well travelled, but the portions were big and there were burgers and cod fishes and hams and eggs and CHIPS on the menu. Lots of CHIPS.
Next to the pub, there’s a shop. It sells all the basics, including dog food, and bags for poo. And Jane wants me to mention there were bins all over the campsite so there was no problem with having to carry poo bags around all day as sometimes happens in places with not many bins (mentioning no names, Cambridge city centre).
It also sells Pot Noodles – and, for the first time ever, I tried some. Camping and hangover food, Jane said. I LIKED!
The first evening, though, I was not happy. Mainly – well, solely – because I did not like the look of the thing called the tent. Me, who has kipped in some of the finest hotels in the land, expected to sleep inside some bits of canvas. I could not settle. The sea sounded so close by with its big roaring waves that sometimes I feared we’d blown down the cliff and were being swept away in it.
And when the birds woke up – what a racket they made. We’re up; we’re awake, they squawk, at the top of their voices. So big-headed – announcing that they have woken up to the world. I don’t start barking when I open my eyes in the morning for Dog’s sake. I don’t need to announce my presence like that.
It was so cold at night too – this was April 2012. Jane had to go for three showers in the shower block at 5am to try and warm up a bit. And I had to wear a stupid jumper of hers, with a print of a dog on it.
The second night, though, I slept better. Mainly because the day had been super-busy. We went to Aldeburgh for a mooch around and found a café, Cragg Sisters Tea Room, that accepted dogs as customers – and sold tea cosies knitted to look like sheep and cockerels and a cat. The lady in the café said that the woman who knits the tea cosies is in the World Tea Cosy Knitting Competition. Jane would have bought a tea cosy but she doesn’t have a teapot.
Then Jerome and Steph and Jerome’s daughter hired a rowing boat at somewhere called Thorpeness Meare. Jane wouldn’t let me go on the boat, even though other dogs were, because there were flat-webbed-pawed swan and duck creatures on the pond and I bark at them. And if a swan web-paw wound me up or looked at me the wrong way I could have gone into a barking frenzy and upended the boat.
Anyway that is my report of the camping weekend in Suffolk but while I was at Cliff House, proper repawter that I am, I did an interview.
This is Bob. He is five years old and he has been coming to his owners’ lodge at Cliff House since he was a puppy. Bob barks: ‘I like the walks on the beach and the peace and quiet here.’ I did ask him his views on the forthcoming London mayoral election but he declined to answer that. Ha – a dog foxed by my hard-hitting interview technique. Take that Paxo!
Phileas Fact Box: Cliff House, Suffolk
- Cliff House Holiday Park, Minsmere, Dunwich, Saxmundham, Suffolk, IP17 3DQ. Tel: 01728 648282
- Website: www.cliffhouseholidays.co.uk; family of four pays £18-£25 per tent per night/ dogs cost £1.70-£2.70 pn.
- Cragg Sisters Tea Room, 11o High Street, Aldeburgh, Suffolk, IP15 5AB. Tel: 07813 552181
- Website: www.craggsisters.co.uk
- The Meare at Thorpeness, Thorpeness, Suffolk, IP16 4NW. Tel: 01728 832523
The first photo is of Jane and me at the top of The Wrekin, a big hill in Shropshire and the second is of Ironbridge, the town where we stayed!
Shropshire is my favourite county in the British Isles. Jane and I went there in June this year. Jane was very sad at the time because she’d just split up with her boyfriend (she seems to spend a lot of time splitting up with boyfriends and being sad) and she thought she needed to be far from where he lived, three streets away, in Camberwell.
Jane suffers with something called depression.
Winston Churchill, a former prime minister, like me, Clement Attlee, described depression, Jane says, as a black dog following the sufferer around. I’ve never noticed any black dogs following Jane around – I follow her around but I am white and black and brindle. And sometimes I don’t follow her around at all, even though she tells me to.
On the morning we left for Shropshire, Jane was on the phone telling her sister, Steph, that she was sad and lonely about going on holiday on her own. On her own! I was going with her. I wasn’t very happy about that and gave her a look to let her know.
Anyway, she cheered up when we arrived at Euston station because there was a man dressed as a giant furry dog collecting money and he appeared so ridiculous that I barked at him. Who the hell do humans think they are – dressing up as us?
I cause quite a stir when I bark because even though I’m a small dog with short legs I’m a terrier. And terriers are fierce – everyone knows that.
I don’t understand why me being fierce and frightening and barking my brindle and black and white head off makes Jane laugh but it does. Other people at Euston Station laughed as well.
I was kind of annoyed at being laughed at, but glad too because at least Jane wasn’t sad for a few minutes.
When we arrived at Telford Station, a man called Colin, who we were renting a cottage from for a week, picked us up and drove us to Ironbridge, where the cottage was. Jane said this was very kind of Colin and left him some chocolates at the end of our holiday to thank him.
Now, a lot of holiday cottages won’t take dogs. The owners think that we’ll leave hair everywhere and chew up their precious sofas and cushions, I suppose. But all holiday cottages take children – even though children draw on walls with crayon and are sick everywhere and scream all the time. This seems like dog-ism to me.
But Colin’s cottage, Victoria Cottage in Ironbridge, does take dogs and I behaved perfectly while I was there. I didn’t put a paw wrong.
The cottage was lovely – it had a patio garden with a pub at the end. This was great fun, because I could go to the bottom of the garden and bark, through the pub windows, at the people sitting inside. Jane told me to stop that, though. She said it was embarrassing.
On out first evening in Victoria Cottage Jane cried, again, because she was sad, and then she put my lead on and we went to the pub, the Golden Ball Inn, where she had a glass of dry white wine and scampi and chips and read her book in the beer garden. The good thing for me was that the portions in the pub were so big that Jane couldn’t finish hers and fed me lots of chips. To where I was sitting, underneath the dinner table. Normally I am not allowed to sit underneath tables and beg for food, because that’s a thing dogs aren’t supposed to do. But on holiday, apparently, it’s allowed.
The other great thing about The Golden Ball Inn was that people kept coming up to me and rubbing my ears and fussing me and telling Jane how good looking I was. Every time someone said I was good looking Jane smiled and said; ‘Thanks,’ as if they were telling her she was good looking. Or as if she’d somehow designed me and it’s down to her that I’m handsome. Which it isn’t – it’s down to my mother and father and nobody knows who they are. Nobody but me.
One man said my head didn’t match my body – that I had the head of an Irish Wolfhound and the body of a Jack Russell, which I didn’t think was such a great compliment – but Jane agreed with him. Disloyal, I thought – especially since I put up with all her crying!
The next day, a builder who was working on the house next to Victoria Cottage, told us about a book that a dog had written about all the lovely walks in the Ironbridge area. The builder laughed. ‘A dog which has written a book,’ he said, as if it was ridiculous. Wait until he hears about a dog who is a travel journalist!
So Jane and I walked down the hill to Ironbridge and bought the book, which is called Walking with Boomerang, in a shop called Eleys Pies, which sells pork pies. Jane bought a pork pie – and gave me half. I’ve never eaten a pork pie before and I was missing all the fried chicken on the roads in Camberwell so I was really excited by the pie and ate it in one big gulp.
Jane had a cup of tea and read Walking With Boomerang and then we set off on one of the walks Boomerang suggests, which was very exciting, because it meant walking across the Iron Bridge. The iron bridge in Ironbridge is the oldest iron bridge in the world made of cast iron (Jane has just looked this fact up for me on Wikipedia). But, to me, it was the bridge to a whole new world. We tried a walk recommended by Boomerang called The Pork Pie Run and it was THE best walk I’ve ever been on. There were squirrels to chase and hills to climb and woods to explore and I was so excited that a few times I nearly caused an avalanche of mud and rocks in my eagerness to find out what was around the next bend in the path. Dogs always know there is something amazing around the next bend in the path. I wish depressed humans, like Jane, did.
Every day, for the rest of the week, we did one of Boomerang’s Walks. We’d walk the ten minutes from our cottage down the hill to Ironbridge in the morning and Jane would buy a copy of the Daily Mail and then sit and read it with a cup of tea and a scone at The Tea Emporium. This was very boring for me, even though a waitress did give me water – I just wanted to get across that iron bridge and into the woods.
One morning, because Jane had gone into the post office and left me tied to a metal table outside the Tea Emporium while she faffed around sending her sister a birthday present, I was so impatient to run across the iron bridge that I just did. I escaped the metal table and, with my red lead flying behind me, charged across the street and over the bridge. This caused quite a commotion as all the traffic had to stop and Jane and all the waitresses from The Tea Emporium had to chase after me. I didn’t want to stop though – I just wanted to be in those woods. But when, after about five minutes, I heard Jane calling my name, her voice sounding all strangled and sad, I did stop because I remembered about her depression and how she’d just lost a boyfriend and probably didn’t want to lose me as well. I can be a naughty dog but I’m not, in my heart, a bad dog.
After that, for the next few days, I was known in Ironbridge, which is quite a small place, as the ‘dog that ran away.’ So in Camberwell I’m ‘chicken bag dog’ and in Ironbridge I’m ‘runaway dog’.
But really Jane was too content walking with me and Boomerang’s book to be too annoyed. The countryside around Shropshire was so beautiful, she said. Once we turned a corner, me, knowing there would be something brilliant around it, as dogs know there always is around corners, and there was a huge meadow with red poppies and wild flowers that were purple and blue. Jane said it was the most wonderful meadow she’d ever seen.
She told me, later, that doing all that walking, sometimes miles and miles a day, was giving her time to think. She tells me stuff like this.
Anyway, two months after our first trip, Jane and me were off to Victoria Cottage in Ironbridge again, because we’d enjoyed it so much the first time. Jane arranged to meet Boomerang’s owner Karen for a cup of tea in Deli Dale, which is Boomer’s favourite caff and is in Coalbrookdale, the village next to Ironbridge. (There’s a photo of me at the Deli Dale at the bottom of this page, if you’re interested.) Jane and Karen swapped tips about what it is like having a dog who is also a writer – Egon Bone-ay, me and JK Growling, Boomer – in the family. Pretty lucky for them, I’d say!
Phileas Facts: Ironbridge
- To book a stay at Victoria Cottage, log on to www.victoria-cottage.net
- The Golden Ball Inn is at Newbridge Road in Ironbridge and its website address is www.goldenballinn.comJane doesn’t know if dogs are allowed to stay there, in case Victoria Cottage is booked, but she will check.
- The Tea Emporium, with the waitresses who helped Jane chase me across the bridge, is in the main square in Ironbridge.
- Deli Dale is at Dale End, Coalbrookdale, TF8 7DS. Tel: 01952 432508. It serves lovely fried breakfasts and, because he’s a celebrity customer, gives Boomerang free sausages!
- For more Ironbridge info, log on to www.visitironbridge.co.uk
And now a big paws up to Boomerang. Boomerang’s book, price £4.99, is available from www.boomerangbookstore.co.uk Jane bought two copies – one to leave in Victoria Cottage for future holidaying hounds to read and one to take home to Camberwell, as a souvenir.
Because it was just me and Jane on holiday, we had to ask a random to take our snap! Me and Jane on the iron bridge. Jane is wearing her Hunter wellies!
This picture is taken by another random. I’m reading the sign put up by English Heritage about the Iron Bridge, very intently, as befits a serious travel journalist!
Me at Deli Dale
Attlee’s Adventures in Worcestershire
It existed all right – a professional photographer called Neville, who Real People had hired to take photographs of ME, picked us up at Evesham station and drove us there. A professional photographer, who has taken pictures of all sorts of celebrities snapping me – just as it should be of course, but, even so, I was excited.
I have to say, when we drew up at the back of the Riverside Hotel, it didn’t look quite as posh as Cat (growl!) had led me to believe. It was at the end of a country lane – next to a tip! Good smells but posh – no!
Out the back of the hotel, though, there were fields sloping down to a river – the River Avon, Jane says – and Brian, the breakfast chef and MY personal servant for our stay, reckoned that Evesham was just an hour’s walk through the lovely country fields. Squirrels?
Shetland Pony Terror!
That was when the trouble started. Neville decided that he wanted a photograph of me and Jane in the fields, having a walk before my three-course dinner. In the field that Neville decided to photograph me in, there was what looked like a huge dog with a long neck. But Jane said it was a Shetland pony. She was a bit worried about it but Brian said that Do-Do, as this huge Shetland thing was called, was docile and wouldn’t bother us during our ‘photo session.’
What rubbish! As soon as we walked into the field, this Do-Do character started following us, trotting along on these things at the end of his legs that weren’t paws but looked hard, like the pavement.
He came right up to me and I tried to sniff his bottom. But Do-Do didn’t like his bottom being sniffed, not one bit – and he struck out at me with one of his hard pavement paws.
‘He’s trying to kick Attlee with his hooves,’ Jane screamed to Neville, scooping me up in her arms and running away from evil Do-Do. Do-Do just charged after us.
‘Neville – help!’ Jane was screaming but Neville was falling about laughing and taking photographs at the same time.
I have to say, even though I’m known in South London for my terrier tenacity and ferocity, I did not like this Do-Do one bit. Jane was screaming and I was barking and he just had this determined look, as if he wanted to push us in the river with his big, fat nose.
Just as Do-Do was about to whack us, Jane pointed at Neville – to try to get Do-Do to harass him instead. It worked and Neville wasn’t laughing then – he was putting the lens cap on his camera and chasing Jane and I up the field and out the gate, away from this fearsome beast.
To be honest, I never wanted to see Do-Do again and planned to avoid him for the rest of my stay at The Riverside Hotel, even if it meant only leaving my room to pee. But, when I was having my three-course dinner, Do-Do turned up inside the reception area of the hotel, and gave me a menacing look. Jane threw a chip at him.
Maybe Do-Do was jealous of me, because I’m a news hound. Nobody has ever heard of a news Shetland pony.
Even without Do-Do, The Riverside Hotel would be a bit chaotic.
As well as Do-Do, there was a dog there, a female Jack Russell called Pepe, who also didn’t like me one bit – probably because she’d just had a litter of eight puppies.
At about 10pm at night, when Jane was settled in bed watching telly, there was a knock on the door and it was Brian, and the hotel’s owner, Debbie, who had come to show Jane two of Pepe’s puppies. I was shut in the bedroom on my own while that happened, and I didn’t think that was treating me very much like a king, as Cat had promised.
But, after a quarter of an hour, Jane and Debbie came to collect me and we went to the bar and Debbie gave Jane a glass of Baileys and then they sat and chatted together, in the courtyard, overlooking the river. (It was dark so they couldn’t see evil Do-Do but I could. He was asleep – standing up. Very strange!)
Jane liked Debbie, I could tell, because soon they were chatting away about how horrible men are, and that’s what Jane does with everybody she likes, except men of course.
Then Debbie told Jane: ‘This hotel is completely barking’ and, as someone who knows a lot about barking, I would have to agree.
The Steak Eater (dressed as a Beefeater!)
I have not even told you about the dog’s dinner yet. Well, Brian, who had been wearing jeans and a tee-shirt all day, suddenly changed into a jacket and shirt and asked me what whether I would like steak for dinner.
Jane was a bit put out because nobody had asked her what she wanted yet and she had to say: ‘Can I have an omelette please?’
That was quite funny, because at home she cooks her dinner first and ignores my requests for my tin of Butcher’s until she’s finished. The tables were turned!
Then Neville asked if I’d change into my beefeater’s suit for dinner. My beefeater’s suit was made by Annie in my local park, who owns Tessnay, and I don’t understand what the point of it is or why I have to wear it. Gizmo doesn’t have to wear a suit and neither does Tessnay for that matter! I feel a right idiot when I wear it.
Anyway, I put it on, because Neville asked, and he has worked with all these celebrities, so obviously knows what he’s doing.
And then, here was the strangest bit of all – Jane sat me on the chair next to her, at the table, all set with knives and forks. Normally I’m not even allowed to as much as glance at tables set with knives and forks and people eating their dinner but now I was being asked to sit at the table. Then Brian put this big slab of sirloin steak in front of me. It had mashed potato with it and a bit of swirly something on top, so it looked really posh.
It smelt like the finest food ever but I looked at Jane, bewildered, because it was a on a plate, a human plate, rather than in my plastic blue bowl that says Attlee on the side.
Then Jane said: ‘Eat your steak Attlee,’ and I thought, is this a trick, concocted by Cat at Real People? Will I get my chops round this delicious chunk of meat and then it be snatched from me?
So, tentatively, I put my mouth down to the plate and Neville started clicking away and I ate the steak in three bites. Then Jane pointed at the mashed potato so I scoffed that too. And the curly wurly bit of vegetable thing.
It was one of the strangest experiences of my life. I had sat at the table, like a person, and eaten dinner, like a person. But I’m not a person; I’m a dog. And dogs don’t sit at tables and eat – dogs eat out of plastic bowls that slip around on kitchen floors, so you have to chase your dinner around.
There are so many rules and regulations to being a dog. It’s very confusing!
End of an exhausting day…
Later, when we were on our own, Jane said: ‘That was a one off Attlee and you won’t be eating your dinner at the table from a plate again.’
So I had been Egon Bone-ay, a proper restaurant critic of proper human food for an evening, and now I was being told it would never happen again. Grrrr.
I did sleep on the bed that night, though, with its plush red cover. Basically, the bed in Jane’s house is mine – I let her share it. But, when we stay at hotels, Jane seems to think the beds are hers – and she won’t let me share. In the Riverside though, perhaps with me being King and everything, the bed was mine again. And I let her share, of course I did. I’m decent like that.
Anyway, the next day Jane and I marched into the Real People office, in London, and I gave Cat my report on the Riverside. If dogs like three-course-dinners and being more important than their owners, they should stay there, I told her. But if they have any problem with psychotic Shetland ponies, they shouldn’t.
Phileas Fact Box: Worcestershire
- The Riverside Hotel, Offenham Road, The Parks, Evesham, WR11 8JP. Tel: 01386 446200
Three course dinners for dogs, with special doggie carrot cake for pud, cost £9.99. Room prices start at £54.95 for a double; no extra charge for dogs.
Scores with the Paws: Attlee gives the Riverside four out of five (minus one because of Do-Do); Jane gives it three.
- Annie, who made Attlee’s beefeater’s costume, is at www.annie2pins.co.uk. Contact email@example.com.
Wild in the Isles: Attlee visits the Scottish island of Bute
You don’t need a sign post: just follow Attlee’s nose!
In some ways, Bute is my second home. That’s because Jane’s parents Mick and Branwen live there. If I was Jane’s child, instead of Jane’s dog, Mick and Branwen would be my grandparents but I’m a dog, not a child, so they’re just Mick and Branwen.
Bute is an island in the Firth of Clyde and it is a long way from Camberwell. It is a bus and then a train and then a pee at Glasgow Central and then another train from Glasgow Central to Wemyss Bay and then a half-hour ferry ride away.
I am always pretty exhausted by the time the ferry from Wemyss Bay arrives at Rothesay, which is Bute’s main town. Prince Charles, who may or may not have driven in the vintage green Range Rover that I, Attlee Common have driven in, is the Duke of Rothesay.
That doesn’t mean that Prince Charles lives on Bute; just that he and Camilla, who, like Jane, adopted a Battersea dog – I’m not a royalist, by the way, I just get all this information from Jane via The Daily Mail – visit about every five years.
I think Bute is a pretty little island and I always do my ‘Bisto-kid nose in the air’ act when we climb off the ferry because I can smell the mussels and the sea instead of the fried chicken of Camberwell. I wouldn’t say the sea air smells better – just different. And, when on Bute, I sometimes eat the mussels that are swept up on to land. They don’t taste anywhere near as good as the chicken bones in Camberwell though.
Port Bannatyne and Ettrick Bay
Port Bannatyne, taken by Zak
Mick and Branwen live in a house in a village called Port Bannatyne, which is about two miles from Rothesay, and the main street looks out over the sea. Whenever Jane and her sister Steph are staying with their parents in Port Bannatyne they sit around and moan about how bored they are. There is nothing to do here, they say.
I don’t see that what Jane does – or doesn’t do – on the Isle of Bute is so different from what she does – or doesn’t do – in London. She eats and sleeps and reads and watches television. In fact, what she does on Bute is better, because she takes me on more walks, and proper long ones too, through the woods at the back of Port Bannatyne or to Ettrick Bay, which is a mile-long strip of sandy beach about three miles away.
All right there are no literary salons or night clubs or art galleries on Bute but, whatever Jane might write on Twitter, she never goes to those in London. Never once has she said to me: Attlee, I’m just popping out for dinner at the Ivy with some friends of mine.
I don’t know exactly what the Ivy is but, I think, in dog terms, it would be like me having roast chicken and sausages and then a Jumbone for pudding with lots of famous dogs, such as Harvey, from the advert, and the Golden Labrador from Downtown Abbey (his bottom is in the opening titles) and Churchill, the insurance dog, although I’m not stupid and I know he’s a cartoon, however smart he might think he is with all his nodding.
Anyway, Jane and Steph are daft, because Bute is not boring. Ettrick Bay is wonderful – it’s my favourite beach on the whole of the British Isles – because, when we go there, we usually have the whole beach pretty much to ourselves and I can scoop up bits of seaweed in my mouth and throw them around and look at the view, right across to another island called Arran. Occasionally I bump into some other dogs and I play with them, until they jump into the sea and then I just watch. Because, even though I’m brave, I am a little unsure of the sea.
This is Branwen and me on Ettrick Bay, in May 2011.
This doesn’t make me stupid – this makes me clever. Because when the water comes towards me, in a wave, I bark at it, to make it go away. It does go away but then, seconds later, it comes back.
I have never before met anything that keeps coming at me when I bark at it. Because I’m so fierce, most things, when I bark at them, get as far away from me as possible. But not the sea. The sea thinks it’s more intelligent than me. I’m pretty sure it’s not. I just have to work out why it’s not.
At the end of Ettrick Bay there’s a cafe but nobody calls it a cafe – everybody calls it the tea rooms, and it’s been there since the 1950s or something, and not really changed. After we’ve been for a walk Branwen, Jane and Steph go in for a cup of tea and a big slice of coffee and walnut cake or a meringue, which, apparently, the Ettrick Bay Tea Room is famous for. I wait, patiently, outside. Sometimes Mick waits with me because he doesn’t really like cafes – sorry, tea rooms – he prefers pubs, like me.
Recently, though, at Ettrick Bay, I decided I should have a treat as well.
I’m quite good at foraging for treats. And this day, on the beach, I found a reddish wobbly thing that looked like jelly and I’ve eaten a scoop of jelly before, at a party, so I thought: woof, a treat, discovered me by me, the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of the dog world.
So I ate it – and then I was sick. And then I was sick again. I had to stagger over to the path beside the beach, where there’s lots of grass, and keep chewing big clumps of it, to make myself even more sick.
Whatever I’d eaten was not good. When Branwen saw me being sick and saw the half eaten bit of jelly she was concerned because, she said, it was a jelly fish – and jelly fish are poisonous. Branwen was worried but then, after five minutes or so, I stopped being sick and I knew I’d got rid of all the bad stuff in my tummy.
But that is a top tip for my fellow dogs on beaches: do not eat jelly fish. They are evil.
Afterwards Mick took me to the Anchor, which is his favourite pub, on Marine Road, the main street in Port Bannatyne, to cheer me up. The Anchor is not like those fancy London pubs where there’s lots of gastro-this and gastro-that (the only gastro I’ve ever had is enteritis). The Anchor is a pub where the person goes in and orders a pint of beer and then the person sits down and drinks their pint of beer. Simple.
There are some other interesting things in Port Bannatyne for dogs. For example, there is a Petanque Club – it is the only Petanque Club on any of the islands in Scotland. Petanque is like the French game boules and it is interesting for dogs because it involves lots of balls – yes, balls!
When I first saw the Petanque piste, I was so excited by all the balls that I ran on to the piste and grabbed a little red one and ran away. Nobody was very happy with me – apparently the ball I ran away with was called Jack. But Branwen laughed, which was good of her, considering she was the Petanque champion of the whole island in 2008, so must take the game pretty seriously.
At the hitching post, Port Bannatyne Post Office
Another feature of Port Bannatyne that I like is the dog hitching post, which is outside the Post Office on Marine Road. I am often hitched here while Jane goes into the Post Office and I love it. Everybody who passes fusses me and sometimes another dog is hitched to the post at the same time as me. This is like that speed dating that people looking for love take part in – it is speed bottom sniffing for dogs, while their owners spend three minutes chatting to Janet and Patrick inside the shop. There is also a cafe inside the Post Office, with cups of coffee and paninis, but I would rather stay outside, bottom sniffing with other dogs and looking out across the bay.
The main thing about Rothesay is that it has a pet shop that sells pigs’ ears. Last time I visited Bute, Branwen took me there and bought me a blue tartan lead and collar, to prove my Scottish credentials. When I wear them at home, in Camberwell, they show all the other dogs how well travelled I am! Rothesay also has a castle and a museum and Jane’s Great Aunt Ruby, who always makes a great fuss of me when I visit her and says I’m a little dog who is going places. She’s right. Woof!
Rothesay - Bute's main town. Photo by Zak.
Last time I was in Bute though, which was May 2012, Jane decided it was not enough for me to sit around being praised by Ruby and eating pigs’ ears: I had to do some work. We started at the Esplanade Hotel, which has lovely views over Rothesay Harbour. Do you take dogs, Jane asked. Am I welcome, I barked. No. So we went to the visitor centre, which is in a fine building on the front – it is a museum and a cinema as well. The man at the visitor centre said that The Black Bull pub takes dogs. Hurrah for the black bull – not that I’d want to meet him on a dark night. Branwen said the food at The Black Bull is lovely but we didn’t want pub food – we wanted a cup of tea and a sandwich. (Actually I wanted a SAUSAGE but on this particular ocassion the humans were in charge.) We trailed around Rothesay for a while, having the door shut in our face, figuratively rather than literally, and then we found it: Mecca for Mutts. The Coffee Stop! When Jane’s Grandma was alive this was her favourite cafe in Rothesay by a million miles and now it is mine. The cakes are all homemade and the people are friendly and there are views over Rothesay Castle and dogs are allowed. The Coffee Stop is the place to stop. For a coffee.
This is me and Malcolm, the bus driver at Mount Stuart
Mount Stuart is a grand Gothic mansion near Rothesay that everyone on Bute is very proud of because it has lots of crazy architecture and was the first house in Scotland to have an electric lift. (Actually Jane isn’t sure this last bit, about the lift is true, but she thinks it might be.) Stella McCartney had her wedding at Mount Stuart and Madonna was a guest – this definitely is true. Last year when I visited Bute dogs were not allowed in Mount Stuart – and, fanfare, now they are. Mount Stuart has 300 acres of garden leading right down to the sea and all of this is open to us, fellow hounds of Britain. Amaze-bones! Some of the walks are through landscaped gardens and some are through conifer trees and there is even a place on the walks called the Wee Garden – for dogs that need to wee, I suppose. Ask at the Mount Stuart shop for a map showing where all the walks are or just follow your nose.
Attlee Common aka Phileas Dogg’s Best of Bute:
- The Ettrick Bay Tea Room is at Ettrick Bay, Isle of Bute. Tel: 01700 500123
- Port Bannatyne Post Office (with dog hitching post – on sunny days there are tables outside so your owners can sit with you and have a cup of tea and a scone), 46 Marine Road, PA20 OLW. Tel: 01700 503914
- The Coffee Stop, 29 High St, Rothesay, Isle of Bute, PA20 9AS. Tel: 01700 505545
- The Craigmore Tea Room is run by a lady called Muriel, who is the aunt of Jane’s friend Lindsay. On sunny days, it’s a good place for dogs to visit, as it has a little jetty, stretching out into the sea, with tables on it. Jane likes the tea room as it serves her second favourite meal, scampi and chips. The Tea Room is on Mountstuart Road – you can see it because of its little pier – and if you tell Muriel I sent you, she might even give you a dog treat!
- The Anchor, 32 Marine Road, Port Bannatyne, PA20 OLL. Tel: 01700 502096
- The Black Bull, 3 West Princes St, Rothesay, PA20 9AF. Tel: 01700 502366
- Rothesay Vistor Centre is at The Winter Garden, Victoria St, Rothesay, PA20 OAH. Tel: 01700 502151; www.visitscotland.com
- Mount Stuart Tel: 01700 503877; www.mountstuart.com
- For information about the Port Bannatyne Petanque Club, log on to www.portbannatynepetanque.org.uk
- Many of the photographs on this page are taken by Zak. Log on to www.pbase.com/zak355
Along Ettrick Bay, obviously. And to Scalpsie Bay, which isn’t accessible by road and, where, if you’re lucky, you can see seals. I have never seen a seal so I wouldn’t know what one looks like – I am sure if I did see one, I’d bark, a lot. But people seem to grow very excited if they’ve seen a seal at Scalpsie Bay and spend the next week telling each other about it.
(I should flag up here, so that my fellow dogs aren’t disappointed when they arrive, that there may be seals on Bute, but there don’t seem to be any squirrels. Not one. I have peered up every tree and sniffed out every nook and cranny but, no, there are no squirrels to chase. Sorry to have to report this.)
Where to Stay:
Now, I have never stayed anywhere on the Isle of Bute other than Mick and Branwen’s house. And I don’t think their cat Chloe would like it if lots of other dogs went to stay – Chloe doesn’t even like me, and I’m family!
But there a couple of places that I can recommend for dogs to stay on Bute.
- First off, because the owners have three very friendly black Labradors and understand us hounds and our holiday requirements, Munro’s Bed and Breakfast, in Ardbeg. It is right at the top of a hill and has lovely views over the bay. Jane says it is beautifully designed and all the rooms are lovely. Blah blah blah – all I care about is a bowl of water after a long walk and a sausage at breakfast. So ask your owner to log on to www.visitmunros.co.uk or call Joan on 01700 502346 and tell her that a VIP would like to book a room: that’s a very important pooch. (I hate the word pooch but Jane made me write that bit because she used to work for a tabloid newspaper and thinks play on words are funny.)
- Another place to stay, in a self-catering apartment, is Ardencraig House Apartments, which are run by Elaine, (who plays bridge with Jane’s dad Mick), her husband David and their two dogs Milly and Meg. The apartments are on a hill looking out over the sea and are a minute from Ardencraig Gardens. Ardencraig House Apartments, High Craig, Bute, PA20 9EP. Tel: 01700 505077; www.ardencraig.org.uk
Before you leave Bute, lift your leg….
- And finally, tell your owner not to catch the ferry home from Bute without visiting the island’s famous Victorian toilets on Rothesay Pier. Only the gents are Victorian, so Steph’s boyfriend Jerome had to report back on them to Jane and me. He said they were “very impressive”. (To be honest, I’m not sure Jerome would make it as a travel writer, like me, on the strength of that description.) I lifted my leg against a lamp post on Rothesay Pier and can report that it, too, was very impressive.
- For more information on Bute, log on to www.isle-of-bute.com and www.bestofbute.co.uk
Sheep - being herded by a car? Doing dogs out of jobs - Grrrrrrrr!
A Hardy Little Dog’s First Holiday: Dorset
My first ever holiday, just a couple of weeks after Jane had adopted me from Battersea, back in late 2009, was to Dorset. Because Jane was so excited about having me, and wanted to take me to the countryside, she researched and researched where we should go. Her and her ex-boyfriend Don (that’s the boyfriend before Tim) were both skint at the time but they were determined that I should escape the city for a few days, even thought it was December, and cold.
And then, Jane found, on the Internet, a dog friendly pub in West Lulworth called The Castle Inn. Jane liked it immediately because, on its website, it had photographs of every dog who’d ever stayed there. And because Jane was so proud of me, all new and shiny/scruffy as I was, she thought I deserved a place on that website too!
So, one frosty December morning, we caught the train from London Waterloo to a town called Wool. I was only four or five months old and I’d had a bit of a funny life, being a stray on the streets and then in Battersea, so this was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me.
When we climbed off the train at Wool, I was quiet and didn’t bark at any of the strange animals we saw – even the white things, that looked like the cotton wool that Jane uses to clean Dodger’s ears when he’s been cat-fighting. I was young then and, something I’d never be now, nervous. I’d moved about a lot and now I was somewhere different again. It was confusing – but good confusing!
The first thing I noticed in Dorset was how clean the air smelt. It wasn’t the chicken and exhaust fumes air of Camberwell or the disinfectant and doggie air of Battersea – it was country air and smelt of trees and those white herds of cotton wool and something I didn’t recognise. Something salty..
The Castle Inn in West Lulworth is a traditional pub with a thatched roof. Dogs are allowed everywhere inside it – in the bedrooms, in the restaurant and in both the bars. I’d never stayed in a hotel or a bed and breakfast before so I didn’t understand then how rare it is for dogs to be given an access all areas pass. Now I’m a seasoned traveller, I do understand.
As soon as we arrived, the landlady gave me a dog biscuit. There were bowls of biscuits everywhere – behind both bars, at the bottom of the stairs to the bedrooms, on the landing. It was dog biscuit heaven and because Jane and Don kept telling me how good I’d been – knowing not to poo or wee on the train, even though I’d never been on one before – they fed me loads of dog biscuits.
The Castle Inn was comfortable and cosy and nearly everyone who was staying there had a dog. Over breakfast, when us dogs were served our own personal bowl of sausages by the waitress, Jane chatted about dogs to all the other dog owners. It was useful for her, she said, because she’d only had me for a fortnight so she picked up lots of tips. For example, that dogs like carrots. For a while afterwards, she was always giving me carrots. I don’t like them.
I think Jane enjoyed telling everyone I was a Battersea dog. At first, I was a bit unsure I wanted everyone to know my humble origins but within an hour or so I was proud to be a mongrel. The other guests and the staff at The Castle Inn spent ages discussing my possible lineage. A Fox Terrier, one person said. A Jack Russell father and an Irish Wolfhound mother, said another. That takes a bit of imagination!
(I know who my parents were, and one day I might reveal it, but for now I will keep everybody guessing because it makes me a word called enigmatic.)
At the thatched bus stop: look how little I was!
We were so lucky on our trip to Dorset, Jane and Don kept saying, because, even though it was December, the sun was shining. We went for a walk from The Castle Inn to Lulworth Cove, about a mile and a half, along a country road.
All the houses were thatched – even the bus stop, which Jane thought was cute – and, in Lulworth Cove village, there were fudge shops and cream tea cafes. They were closed, because it was out of season, but Jane was okay with that, because she was on one of her diets and Don was okay with it too, because the pubs were open.
This is me making a hasty exit from the sea!
At Lulworth Cove, we were walking happily along the street, me on my lead, when, suddenly, we saw it. I’d smelt it for a long time but not recognised it for what it was. But now I know. The sea…
‘He’s never seen the sea before,’ Jane cried, all excited, and she pulled me towards it on my lead. I was terrified. It was white and frothy and angry. I’d been having such a nice time before the sea and now I was scared. All the hairs on my back bristled and I barked and barked but, even though the sea went away, it came back seconds later. I barked some more and again it returned. Don said that I was a canine King Canute. I didn’t understand that, but the King bit sounded good.
It was all right though because, when they realised I didn’t like the sea, Jane and Don took me on a long walk in the hills around Lulworth Cove. I’d never been off my lead before – imagine! – and Jane was scared but Don said that we were a long way from the road and I’d be all right.
And I was. I had the most fun I’d ever had in my short life. There were holes in the earth with interesting smells and I stuck my nose in them and snuffled. I chased tennis balls and ran through bushes and up hills. I was free!
The only bad bit of the trip was when we came across the sea again, at a beach called Durdle Door, which has a huge arch at the start of it and is made of shingle and sand. When I stood on the sand the first time I didn’t like the scratchiness of it between my paws but when I ran across it, and it all sprayed up around me, it made me happy. I liked the seaweed too.
Then a man with a tripod and a camera came on to the beach, which we’d had all to ourselves, and asked Jane to put me on the lead because he wanted to take a photograph of the giant arch without me running across it. This man took himself very seriously. Of course I was young then, and unknown, but I am known now. I’m Phileas Dogg. Now he’d want to take my photograph instead of the giant arch.
King (Canute) of The Castle
A couple of days after we’d returned from Dorset, my photo appeared on The Castle Inn’s website. There was a space underneath where people could leave comments and Don wrote a whole big paragraph about me, pretending to be a stranger browsing the site, struck by how handsome I was. I was proud, because none of the other dogs had comments. If you log on to http://www.thecastleinn-lulworthcove.co.uk/dog_friendly/photo/420 you can read Don’s comment. It says it’s written by Tom Miles but really it’s Don, in disguise.
You can also see, from looking at the photograph, that I was new because Jane had all the proper kit for me, like that blue poo bag holder in the shape of a bone. She’s lost that now and often she runs out of poo bags and has to scrabble around in the larder for a Spar bag instead. Jane’s not very organised – maybe that’s why she keeps losing boyfriends. I’d hate it if she ever lost me.
This photo of me with the arch coming out of my head is taken by the ex-boyfriend Tim, the professional photographer, not the ex-boyfriend Don. Jane knew how much I’d liked The Castle Inn, so she took me there for a second time. Her boyfriends might change but her dog stays the same. Me!
Paw Note Two:
This might seem like a huge advert for The Castle Inn but all my needs were so well provided for there we didn’t actually go anywhere else.
Phileas Fact Box: Dorset
- The Castle Inn, Main Road, West Lulworth, Dorset, BH20 5RN. Tel: 01929 400 311
- Prices start at £50 for a double room.
- Website: www.thecastleinn-lulworthcove.co.uk
- Durdle Door beach is dog-friendly all year round.
- Scores with the Paws: Attlee and Jane both give the Castle Inn 5* (out of 5.)