I’m Anubis the Barkless Dog and, for one so young (I’m only a year and a half) you could say this London girl is well travelled. I’ve been all the way up North in the Highlands, far to the South in Provence, East to Switzerland, and I’m about to take something called a plane to move way, way West, to California.
But the place I’ve been to more than any other is Wales. I was only three months old the first time my humans and I holidayed there – I loved the beaches.
And, last Autumn, I spent a whole month in the Brecon Beacons while my mummy and I worked on a movie (I’m a showbiz dog.) It’s beautiful, atmospheric, with lots to explore and run through, and lots to sniff and see.
The first and most important part of most trips is always to find great accommodation. My humans like to use the Blaentrothy agency (http://www.cottage-holiday-wales.co.uk/) through which we’ve rented three cottages. Each was unique, beautiful, isolated, comfortable, and most importantly, dog friendly (though for some reason I wasn’t allowed in the upstairs bedrooms.) My humans loved the way they looked; I got a kick out of exploring every nook and cranny and we all snuggled around the fireplaces. Of those three houses, my personal favourite was a place called Paradise (how appropriate!) because not only was it the prettiest, but it also had a big garden safe and enclosed enough for me to run around with minimal supervision.
(As a side note – some cottages allow holiday goers to spread rat poison if they feel the need to, so while I’ve never found any in the cottages I’ve been to, I strongly recommend always doing a full check of the place when moving in, wherever you go!)
Another good thing to know: Wales is crawling with sheep, so if like us Basenjis, you feel you might give in to the temptation of chasing these woolly creatures, stay on the leash in the fields and find forests and woods to run off free. Sheep are sneakier than they look – you never know when you’ll encounter one…
Also, the weather in Wales is notoriously changeable (they say if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes!) so if like me you don’t care for the cold and wet very much, remember to bring a coat, whatever the season. And if unlike me, you tend to get muddy, bring a towel and some shampoo!
Speaking of wet, this is where I got to run on a beach for the first time! I first felt the sand beneath my paws on Freshwater West, a great place in Pembrokeshire, west Wales, which, appropriately for a movie dog like me, has been used as a filming location for the likes of Robin Hood and Harry Potter. I remember my first trip as if it was yesterday; the rush of the wind in my ears as I ran was exhilarating!
My seaside adventures took place around springtime when it was almost deserted, but check out local regulations if you’re going in the summer; rules may vary in the busy season, though I believe all Pembrokeshire beaches are open to dogs in one way or another. It’s a trek from the other locations I’m mentioning here, but it’s really worth it.
Now if there’s one thing I love (besides running on the beach), it’s sniffing old stones. Luckily, there’s plenty around. One of my favourite places was Tintern Abbey, the ruins of a fantastic 12th century monastery in a beautiful setting. I know my mummy tried to tell me what an abbey was, but I was very distracted by some great smelling grass and I’m afraid I didn’t listen. Anyway, we combined it with a trip to Symonds Yat Rock, a forest where I got to run for hours off leash, and admire views over the river Wye.
On another day, we visited some of the castle ruins in the area. Many allow dogs on the lead, and my favourites were the Three Castles (White, Skenfrith and Grosmont), big buildings where medieval dogs and their humans used to live. They’re fun to climb around and explore, and they’re surrounded with enclosed fields where I could have a run. I even started an impromptu game of chase with a fellow tourist, a Rhodesian Ridgeback I encountered outside Skenfrith Castle. Good times.
And if there’s another thing I love (let’s be honest, I love lots of things!) it’s the smell of old books. Good thing too, because my humans love to shop for new things to read, and Hay-on-Wye, the only town we set paw in during our stays, is known as the town of books, with over 30 second-hand shops! The streets are full of dogs walking their humans, and the stores are generally extremely dog-friendly. Our favourite was Murder and Mayhem, a crime and mystery bookshop (there’s even a dog sniffing a trail painted on the front wall).
We had a very nice lunch at the Three Tuns, which has a big outdoor space to welcome canine customers. I ended my stay with a stretch of the legs in the fields on the other side of the main car park, and a short drive to yet another bunch of old stones, Neolithic this time, at Arthur’s Stone (technically in Herefordshire rather than Wales, but who’s paying attention?), which again were surrounded with vast expanses through which I got to run freely.
I’m just not sure California will compare!
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