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.)