Since we penned our BOOK, Jane has become obsessed by something called our Amazon ranking. She has become as obsessed by Amazon rankings as I am by SQUIRRELS – in fact, she is more obsessed. I wonder about SQUIRRELS 75% of the time – Jane wonders about Amazon rankings 95% of the time. She sits at the computer and shouts random numbers at me.
‘5,500! 326! 20,809!’
I don’t even understand what all these numbers mean. I know there are 80, 287 squirrels in the world and that’s the only number I care about.
A couple of weeks ago, Jane decided she was becoming too obsessed by our Amazon ranking. The problem is, she has constant access, since her computer sits on a table in the front room and the Amazon ranking LIVES in the computer so she can reach it at any hour of the day or night. I cannot reach squirrels at any hour of the day or night – I can only reach them when I am out in the park. So, when I am indoors, even though I wonder about them, I can’t chase them. Whereas Jane can chase Amazon rankings all the time….
‘We are going away for the night,’ Jane told me. ‘We are going somewhere to escape our Amazon ranking.’
Where, I wondered, might this place of safety be? Are Amazon rankings accessible in the Amazon? Are squirrels accessible in the Amazon?
In fact, this place where Jane would not be able to access our Amazon ranking was just a short train ride to Peterborough and then an even shorter train ride from Peterborough to a town called Stamford away. The place where the Amazon ranking is inaccessible is LINCOLNSHIRE! It will not find us there!!!!
Instead of taking her laptop with her, as Jane normally does on our travails, she took a sort of book called a THRILLER. As soon as we had checked into The George of Stamford, where we were in a single dog-friendly room, she started devouring it, in much the same way as I devour SCRAPS. Totally focused and concentrating on every word, just as I am totally focused and concentrating on every mouthful.
It was a bit boring for me, to be honest – thank Dog I had a goodie bag awaiting me in the room to distract me and the courtyard at The George, which was busy with HUMANS and HOUNDS enjoying the sunshine, to gaze out upon. The George is a very ancient hotel, you see, and in the OLDEN DAYES it was a coaching inn. This means that travellers parked up their coaches outside The George for the night and found bed and board within. (The modern day equivalent is a Travelodge at a motorway service station, where people park up their cars for the night and find bed, board and a flat screen television within.)
After a couple of hours Jane put the THRILLER on the bedside table and decided we should venture out. FUR REAL, OWNER – I’ve only been waiting for the past two hours and five minutes!
(As Jane applied blusher in preparation for our stamp around Stamford I glared at the thriller and considered giving it a bit of a chomp. Before We Met, it’s called, and it had been highly recommended, according to Jane, on Twitter. But I desisted. I wouldn’t be too chuffed if some-dog chomped on my book so I don’t imagine Lucie Whitehouse would appreciate me chomping on hers.)
Out we head, first off to admire The George’s gardens. Very grand they were to human eyes but not to this hound’s eyes as there was nary a squirrel to be spotted. Onwards!
Just across the road from The George, though, leading to the town, lies a park and a proper one at that with a river running through it, open meadows and trees aplenty. This was much more like it and provided the warm welcome to waggers I’d hoped Stamford would extend. And not an Amazon ranking in site!
Now Stamford is a genteel little town with buildings the colour of a Golden Labrador – appaz this is because they are made of limestone. It was voted the best place to live in all of England by The Sunday Times last year and it is certainly quite pupmarket.
All the dogs were well-bred and there was a shop selling FARROW AND BALL! I don’t quite understand what Farrow and Ball is but I know that it’s POSH and that it is something that humans who are in couples have – Jane’s sister Steph and her husband Jerome, for example – and something that humans who aren’t in couples, Jane for example, don’t have. (Often I hear Jane muttering to herself about how when she meets a nice man she will be able to afford Farrow and Ball. Who cares? I can always pick up an abandoned old tennis ball in the park any day of the week.)
Of much more concern to me was this poor little fellow. Obviously he required a bit of a scrub-up so his owners had attached him to a pole outside the dry cleaners awaiting collection. I hurried along at quite the pace when I spotted him, lest Jane decide that I required a dry clean too.
After a stroll through Stamford’s streets and a good old lifting of the leg and ticker taping of the news that Attlee Common was in town on street corners and lamp posts we repaired to a dog-friendly hostelry called The Tobie Norris recommended by the lady in the Tourist Information.
Very relaxed and welcoming it was too with leather sofas and lots of cosy nooks and crannies but the lady could have given this tourist the information that the cutest puppy in town frequented it. I would have struck The Tobie Norris right off my list on hearing about this chap – I received no attention whatsoever, especially as Jane, post-puppy worshipping, fished the bloody THRILLER out of her bag and sunk her nose into that while she sipped a white wine spritzer! He’s a Clumber Spaniel, if anyone is interested, but I didn’t write down his name. I’m a Rover Repawter on travel for terriers – not a judge at Crufts.
(Jane did redeem herself slightly by ordering Lincoln Beef Bourginon Pie for dinner and sharing some juicy SCRAPS with me. And, back at The George later, we sat in the courtyard and as night drew in, with the aid of a well-situated lamp, she finished the THRILLER. Normal order was resumed and, thank Dog, I was restored to my rightful place as the main focus of her attention.)
The next morning, Amazon rankings, puppies and thrillers vanquished – and believe me that’s a lot of vanquishing for a MIDDLE-SIZED dog – I took the lead and we headed to the grounds of the Burghley Estate, a ten minute or so stroll from the centre of Stamford. The Burghley Estate is a grand manor house and many, including the lady at the Tourist Information, say it is the finest Elizabethan manor in the country. I didn’t care about Elizabeth and her fancy home – she’s probably single so won’t have FARROW AND BALL – but I did care about the deer in the park. FENTON, I will follow in your footsteps.
Alas, dear Rover, it was not to be. Jane might at times behave in a foolish manner but she is no dog’s fool and my deer stalking dreams were stalled by the fact I was kept on the lead as we walked around. Who invented leads anyway?
I was cheered, however, by the sight of The William Cecil, a hotel and restaurant right on the edge of the grounds and, I’d heard, one of the canine canniest kips around. I had a good old sniff around and am happy to report that The William Cecil fully deserves all the plaudits it picks up from pups.
For overnight guests with a tail designer dog beds are provided and, PICK UP YOUR EARS HOLIDAYING HOUNDS OF BRITAIN, there is a room service menu especially for dogs. So, should you fancy a taste of the rock and Rover lifestyle, you can order Sirloin steak at 2am and, after your repast, throw your bowl out of the hotel window. (You’ll probably want to ask your owner to pick it up in the morning though.)
Sadly we were only there for lunch so this avenue of pleasure was denied to me – however, I was treated like a King of Canines in the conservatory with a place set for me under the table as Jane enjoyed her Sunday roast. As usual her eyes were bigger than her tummy. They weren’t bigger than my tummy though and I was able to help her out. Grrrr-HUZZAH!
Phileas Phacts, Stamford:
- The George Hotel of Stamford, 71 St Martin’s, Stamford, Lincs, PE9 2LB Tel: 01780 750750; email: email@example.com; website: www.georgehotelofstamford.com
- Price: from £160 for a double per night.
- Charge for dogs: no.
- The William Cecil, St Martins, Stamford, Lincs, PE9 2LJ Tel: 01780 750 070; website: www.thewilliamcecil.co.uk
- Price: double rooms start from £100.
- Charge for dogs: £20 per dog per room per night.
- The Tobie Norris, 12 St Pauls Street, Stamford, Lincolnshire, PE9 2BE Tel: 01780 753800; www.tobienorris.com
- Jane and Attlee’s book – Phileas Dogg’s Guide to Dog-Friendly Holidays in Britain – is available from Amazon and all good bookshops rrp £12.99.