Oh I do like to bark beside the seaside – oh, I do like to bark beside the sea. Oh, I do like to bark along the prom, prom, prom – and interrupt the brass band playing Tiddely-Om-Pom-Pom. Well, I’m sorry but I’ve never heard such a racket in all my life…
I particularly like to bark beside the seaside on a winter’s day when the beach is deserted and we’ve coincided our visit with the brief interlude when a biting wind has temporarily blown the rain away. Hello Scarborough North Bay and goodbye gulls pausing to rest on the sand for a few seconds – yes, I am a fast chaser, I know. The squirrels in Camberwell will attest to that. Now squawk off!
Jane and I are in Scarborough as we have stayed overnight as guests of Ox Pasture Hall, a hotel situated in the North Yorkshire Moors, a two-mile drive from town. I’ve heard bark that Yorkshire is known as Dog’s Own County – well, Ox Pasture Hall is Dog’s Own Hotel and Sheldon is that dog. Jane and her sister Steph remark on his good looks when we check in at reception.
Good looks? He’s a bit of a scruffy beggar if you ask me. But he does a decent enough job of showing us to our room, even if he is clearly a little OVER-PAWED at having the Egon Bonay of terrier travel resident for the night.
Ox Pasture Hall used to be a farmhouse but has since been converted into a country house hotel – Sheldon leads us through a courtyard to some converted stable buildings out back, where our room is.
My repast is ready and waiting for me in a silver platter on the floor – these oxen know a thing or two about how to treat superior animals when they visit – and the room is plenty big enough, with a front room and a bedroom area for me to click my heels and chase my dratted toy fox around. Why does Jane insist on bringing the blighter everywhere we go?
Then I notice this. Are the oxen taking the piss? What self-respecting dog requires a SQUIRREL as ornamentation in his abode for the night? It’s rather an outrage against my canine sensibilities but when Jane informs me a place has been laid for me at dinner in the restaurant I am mollified, slightly. She and Steph are molli-coddled more than slightly, being presented with a bottle of Prosseco – clink, clink – as they peruse the menus in front of the wood burner in the bar.
The menu is one of those chef-showing-off a la smart ones – goat’s cheese in a mousse and haddock tartlet type affairs. I’d prefer the burger and chips on the bistro menu and indicate this to Jane but she ignores. That Prosseco has gone to her head and is giving her ideas above her station. It’s making her garrulous too (yes, I did swallow a dictionary, when I was six months old and chewed up Jane’s Oxford English) and she chits and chats away with all the civilian dogs and their owners who arrive for dinner too. Doesn’t she know I’m a celebrity and a certain reserve has to be maintained?
Ah well, at least it’s not a la smart at breakfast the next morning: a full English with sausages, which is much more like it and prepares me for a postprandial stroll around Ox Pasture’s 17-acres of grounds. I appreciate the eau d’lapin and my blood starts pumping when I spot this chap next to the pond. FENTON! But, alas, he is a mere model and, even though I bark my noble little head off, remains unmoved.
Phileas Phacts: Ox Pasture Hall, Scarborough
- Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Lady Edith’s Drive, Scarborough YO12 5TD Tel: 01723 365295; www.oxpasturehallhotel.com
- Double Room (with breakfast), two people staying + dog = starts at £120
- Double Room (with dinner and breakfast), two people staying + dog = starts at £175
- Deluxe Double Room (with breakfast), two people staying + dog = starts at £145
- Deluxe Double Room (with Dinner and breakfast), two people staying + dog = starts at £200
- North Bay beach in Scarborough has an area where dogs are allowed all year round.