Attlee Packs a Suffolk Punch
I have visited Long Melford in Suffolk a hundred times – or three at least. It is one of my most been-to places.
Once we went because Jane was writing a story about dog-friendly places to go for Best magazine. (I don’t know why she was asked to write it and not me, seeing as I am actually the dog and best placed to assess whether it’s friendly to me or not.)
Another time we went because Jane and the photographer, when they were in their hey-day, had one of their ideas to move there. They went to look at a yellow house that they couldn’t possibly afford, overlooking the green. I was left in the Rove Ranger and when Jane came out of the house she had lots of Quality Street in her pockets – the owner of the house had put big bowls of chocolates out, to entice buyers. But I thought it was a bit cheeky of Jane to pocket so many, and not very good for her DIET.
And another time the photographer and Jane went to Long Melford just because they like it. I know why they like it: because it has lots of old houses with those beams humans love on the outside and it’s very genteel and reminds Jane of a bygone age when people said hello to each other in the street.
It has table sales in the village hall that start at 8am on a Sunday morning. Even though they have usually been up until silly-o-clock drinking wine, they get up early and go. Mad! I am tied outside and Jane emerges half an hour later with a plastic bag fall of old books and chipped mugs. Some people call this sort of stuff tat but Jane thinks it’s treasure – well, for a couple of days at least.
Long Melford has the longest high street in Suffolk so there are lots of smells and lots of other dogs taking their owners up and down the high street for walks that I can sniff bottoms with. I am known in Long Melford and I’m proud of that.
It takes about half an hour to walk the high street from end to end. There are antiques shops on it – the photographer loves them – and traditional pubs and a pet shop, called Ginger and Blue where the lady is very friendly. It is not a shop for proper dogs like me though as it sells pink coats. No way!
There’s also a coffee shop called Tiffin’s that welcomes dogs and if you’ve read my other blogs you will know how rare a thing a coffee shop that welcomes dogs is. Very rare indeed!
The best place to stay in Long Melford, because it is right on the green, is The Black Lion Hotel.
At first I was a bit alarmed when we went inside because on every floor there was a horse – horses that didn’t have hoove-paws but rocked back and forth. It was only when I drew near to the hoove-paw-less horses, sniffing away, that I realised they didn’t have any scent. They were pretend horses. Stooooopid!
When we stayed in The Black Lion Hotel, our room had a window seat, overlooking the green. I probably wasn’t supposed to sit on this window seat, just like I’m not supposed to sleep on beds when in hotels, but I did, while the humans were having their dinner downstairs. The restaurant was one of those nouvelle cuisine places – small portions in other barks. I know this because there were no scraps for me!
The Black Lion Hotel has its own dog and this dog is called Little Melford and is a labradoodle. Jane really wanted to meet Little Melford when we stayed, and I wanted to meet him too, to ask him his views on the stooooopid pretend horses. But he wasn’t there so the manager sent us a photograph. Here he is, with his owner Michael.
The other place we’ve stayed in Long Melford is The Bull. The Bull is a traditional pub, with all these exposed beams outside, winning lots of human points. The portions of food served in the bar are huge, winning lots of dog points.
Even if we don’t stay at The Bull when we’re in Long Melford, we go there for a drink, because there’s a coal fire and there are always people to chat to – locals and visitors – and they’re always interesting sort of people. Last time we were there, in November 2011, we met a man and his wife and the man had invented something called the Gym Genie. To me, it looked like a sort of plastic stick I might fetch in the park but the humans said it was very clever as you sort of pumped it and it exercised your arms. Pffffff. Just get your exercise by chasing squirrels around at 100mph!
Jane and the photographer also tried to stay in The George and Dragon in Long Melford but that didn’t happen because there was an accountants’ conference in the town and all the accountants were booked in there. We didn’t see any accountants that weekend but then I don’t know what accountants look like, apart from Jane’s friend Elisa, who is one. But people always say Elisa doesn’t look like an accountant anyway, so it is all very confusing.
My favourite walk in Long Melford, apart from up and down the high street, sniffing and scratching, is in the grounds of Melford Hall.
Melford Hall is an Elizabethan house, says Jane, but I don’t care about that – what I do care about is the parkland that surrounds it. The gardens are manicured and there are hedges to sniff and ponds to cock my leg against (I’m probably not supposed to do that.) They are proper English country house grounds and when I scamper around in them I can imagine I am that golden Labrador from Downton Abbey, having the lands of a huge stately home all to myself, instead of a scrappy little garden in London that foxes invade.
(I had a fight with a fox last week because he thought the garden belonged to him and his mates and I had to let him know that it’s mine. I was very brave and emerged with a black eye. These foxes are not as fantastic as they think they are. In fact they’re a right pain in the bottom.)
Phileas Fact Box Long Melford:
- The Black Lion Hotel, The Green, Long Melford, Suffolk, CO10 9DN. Tel: 01787 312356
Scores on the Paws: Attlee – 4/5; Jane – 5/5
(Prices start at £110 per room for dinner, bed and breakfast.)
- Bull Hotel, Hall Street, Long Melford, Suffolk, CO10 9JG.
Tel: 01787 378494
Scores on the Paws: Attlee – 5/5 (big portions); Jane – 4/5
(Prices start at £50 per night for a double room.)
- Tiffins Tea Emporium, Drury House, Hall Street, Long Melford, Suffolk, CO10 9JT. Tel: 07854 355098
Just down the road from Long Melford lies the pretty Suffolk town of Lavenham – and its finest hotel is dog-friendly. The Swan at Lavenham, which dates back to the 15th Century, is amaze-bones posh, and amaze-bones welcoming to dogs, even in its finest suites. Pawfect if you want a bit of super-luxe on your Suffolk trip.
The Swan Hotel, Lavenham, Suffolk, CO1 9QA Tel: 01787 247477; www.theswanatlavenham.co.uk