Cambridge: Attlee gets an education

Cambridge: Attlee gets an education

So we are off to Cambridge, where Jane’s friend from university Neil lives. (Neil also lives in Baku, where something called the Eurovision is taking place with someone called The Hump in it – the Hump is something I am NOT allowed to do.)

Anyway, Cambridge is famous as a seat of learning and all the students cycle around on old-fashioned bikes and Neil does too – he cycles to meet us at the station, like a proper Cambridge person. Normally I bark at bikes but not today because the streets are too full of them for me to take them on.

There are a lot of things in Cambridge dogs are not allowed to do. For example, we are not allowed in any of the colleges. Also not allowed are radios, bicycles and picnics. This is a bit rich, if you ask me, lumping dogs in with a load of inanimate objects. Dogs are sentient, in case you hadn’t noticed Cambridge colleges!

Dogs are also forbidden in the Botanical Gardens – probably because we would lift our legs against all the exotic plants and flowers. Again – unfair. I lift my leg against Jane’s daffodils in our garden and they are sprouting up a treat. And our owners could keep us on a lead, stopping any leg lifting incidents.

So what can dogs do in Cambridge you may well bark? Well, all the posh young men trying to sell us rides on boat-things called punts say that dogs are allowed on them. But I don’t like water so we don’t take up any of the punting opportunities that are offered to us.

But Cambridge city centre, with all the cloistered towers of learning that are too clever for dogs to be allowed inside, is very easy to stroll around. There are people with clipboards who want you to pay them to stroll with you – they are offering guided walking tours. Guided walking tours – I have never heard such nonsense. You just walk and smell the pavement and see where your nose takes you.

The colleges are clustered around Sidney Street and Silver Street and Trumpington Street. King’s College, the most famous college of them all, is on King’s Parade and all these places are within ten minutes’ stroll of each other. Basically you just walk along one of the streets in the centre of Cambridge and you will see a college – that’s how it is. A bit like how if you walk along one of the streets in south-east London you will see discarded fried chicken.

Another place to stroll in Cambridge is along The Backs – The Backs are the behinds of the Cambridge colleges and not the fronts. The Backs are good because to reach them you have to cross the river and from one of the bridges – there are lots – you can watch all the silly punts and have a laugh at the silly humans guiding them along the river with huge sticks. Sticks are for chasing, mate, not for faffing around on rivers!

The two most famous bridges at The Backs are the Bridge of Sighs and the Mathematical Bridge. I don’t really know why they’re famous – I’m a dog, for Dog’s sake, not a historian.

The Backs are also good for peering into the college grounds. They are so enticing-looking, with their manicured lawns and old stone walls. Why am I NOT allowed in? This is me, at the back of King’s College.

To be honest, finding a pub that allowed dogs in Cambridge city centre was about as hard as getting a degree in metaphysics. That means, very hard. There was no room at the inn for me in several places we tried and in the end we settled on The Eagle, because, even though I wasn’t allowed inside, it did have a pleasant outdoor area with heaters and big umbrellas to keep the rain off the humans. The Eagle is very ‘istoric – and in the RAF bar part (where I wasn’t allowed) there is graffiti by WW2 airmen on the walls and ceiling. And DNA was discovered here. What is DNA? Dogs’ Noses Amaze? I don’t know.

Jane had a proper Sunday roast and it was a bargain, compared to London, at £7.99. But, when she asked if she could have a SAUSAGE on a plate for me, the girl behind the bar said no. Ridiculous – how much trouble is a SAUSAGE on a plate? But one of the waitress people obviously appreciated dogs because she brought out a biscuit for me – a human biscuit too – and got me a bowl of water.

 

Phileas Fact Box: Cambridge

  • The Eagle, 8 Benet Street, Cambridge, CB2 3QN. Tel: 01223 505020
  • For more information about Cambridge, log on to www.visitcambridge.org

 

 

 

 

Thaxted, Essex

We are on the Stansted Express and I am not a happy dog. Normally, up and down the land, on trains, I am treated like royalty. Train guards respect me as the esteemed traveller that I am and other passengers break off bits of their sandwiches to give me – sometimes without me even having to beg. But today – today –  I am not allowed to sit on the empty seat next to Jane, (on her coat mind, so none of my fur touches the horrible grey chair which might as well be the throne of the Queen of England herself, the way the guard squeals when she sees me on it.) And the guard gives me evils even when I am lying neatly in the aisle. It is a most unpleasant journey, especially as Jane tells me that the Stansted Express is DAYLIGHT ROBBERY in terms of the prices it charges for tickets.

And that is appropriate, dear reader, because we are going to the home of the great highwayman himself, Dick Turpin. (Or supposedly the home of Dick Turpin, although when we arrive a local man tells us it might not have been his home after all. Dick Turpin might have lived there – or he might not have lived there.)

Whatevs – we are going to Thaxted in Essex, in the most expensive way possible, on the Stansted Express. I don’t know why we have chosen this over-priced route and neither does Jane.

At last we are off the Stansted Express and on a little local bus from the airport to Thaxted. It is only eight miles along windy, country roads and when we arrive in Thaxted it’s amazing to think we’re so close to the airport because the little town or big village, I’m not sure which Thaxted is, is so old-fashioned.

There is a big building that is six centuries old and it is called the Guildhall. It is huge and white timber-framed and looks too hefty for the seven wooden pillars that support it at the front. I will not be standing under that for a wee.

And there is a traditional bakers, selling Thaxted SAUSAGES. I hope to have a taste of them before we depart.

Thaxted’s main street runs up a hill to the parish church at top – the church is big, more like the cathedral in Durham than a village church – and opposite that is our kip for the night, in The Swan Inn, part of the Old English Inns chain. Dogs are welcome in all Old English Inns, at no extra charge. High Paw!

And, when we sit down for dinner, next to a coal fire, the menu is all pies, which are some of my favourite things. Unfortunately pies are Jane’s favourite things too, meaning I often miss out on a doggie bag when pies are involved.

Not too worry – there are SAUSAGES at breakfast.

Attlee’s Guided Walk of Thaxted

After breakfast, Jane and I go on a big walk. Here is the walk, written down by me. It takes two hours and is called Turpin’s Trail. I’ll get on his trail all right, the dastardly highwayman.

Step out of The Swan Hotel and walk across the road and into the main entrance of the church. Pass between the two yellow and pink alms houses – your owner will not want you to lift your leg against them because they are very pretty. In fact, your owner will want to take lots of photographs of them. Booooooo-ring!

 

 Follow the sign to the windmill through a metal gate; then pass through a kissing gate.

The windmill thing is on your right behind locked gates. Good – wouldn’t want to waste valuable walking time having to look inside that. But Jane says I have to write about the windmill because it is important. Okay, it is called John Webb’s Windmill and it was built in 1804. There we go!

A concrete path turns into a track through the field – and I’m off the lead!

Scarper along the left of the field for about three minutes with the hedge on your left, then a track crosses the field at a right angle – follow this, keeping the hedge that also crosses the field to your right.

At the bottom of the field turn left and cross a small concrete bridge across the River – it’s more of a stream at this point – Chelmer. Turn right and the river will be on your right.

This bit’s jolly good fun – a wide open field with lots of sniffing and snouting to be done. But after about five minutes I’m back on the lead because we’re crossing a road. It’s not busy but the cars that drive along it come at quite a crack.

Into another field and walking by the river again, with a small redbrick pumping station on my left and the Stream Chelmer on my right. And I’m off the lead again. Grrr-huzzah!

We walk by the river, through two fields, cross a plank bridge and we’re in a huge field – the biggest open space I’ve ever seen. So much FUN.

Still on the right of the river, we follow the path along, and Jane grows a bit edgy as I get close to the water, sniffing the smells in the reeds and burrowing deep into them. But I’m not an idiot – I’m not going to fall in the stream.

After about quarter of an hour, we come to a small field, which we cross diagonally along the path, and then we swing right, into a field with lots of pylons and telephone poles on our left and the river still on our right, across which are some paddocks with those hoof-pawed horse things in.

Turn left at the end of this bit and then there’s a bridge to the right – I jump it in one swoop, still after the scent of Dick dastardly Turpin!

We turn left and follow a path with two narrow lanes of concrete for two minutes and the path turns from concrete to track. A postmarker has a badge on it saying Turpin’s Trail. We’re on to him!

Go right at this post and we’re in another wide grassy field; follow the path of the river. But Jane spots a road ahead so it’s lead on, across the road and down a lane pointing to Goddards Farm. LEAD OFF!

Veer off the lane to walk by the Chelmer, on our left now. About half way through the field is a way marker – turn right on the track through the field towards a farm track, which goes up a slightly sloping bank.

There’s a house to the left with a sign saying private property so turn right and walk along the edge of the field.  At the top of the field there’s a paddock where humans are sitting on top of those hoove-pawed horse things being carried around. I wouldn’t carry a human around on my back. Stooopid!

Turn right up a path through some pretty woodland. There are two noisy terriers barking at me through a fence so I bark back and they shut up, cheeky devils. Putting Egon Bone-ay off his work!

At the top of this woodland lane is a red house called Golden Farmhouse.

Turn away from it and you’ll see Thaxted Church spire in the distance – you’re on the home strait.

Follow the path diagonally through a field, then, when you reach the hedge bordering a road, turn right, with the hedge on the left of you. At the end of the field, I’m back on the lead and we’re crossing a road and walking past some houses called Bellrope Meadow.

Then turn left into a public footpath, leading to some playing fields. Walk through the playing fields and at the far end turn left into a residential street called Guelph Street. Walk down this for about five minutes and you’ll come to a road to the right called Margaret Street. Margaret Gardens are on your left, the church hall on your right. Take a left and then you’re in Bell Lane, back at The Swan.

 

After the walk, we find that rarest of things, on Thaxted main street. It is called Parrishes restaurant and it is a café by day and a restaurant by evening and it allows dogs at all times. This deserves a major AMAZE-BONES KLAXON because so many cafes don’t take dogs and I have never heard of an evening restaurant where dogs are allowed to go. Parrishes is romantic at night, because it is like a little bistro in France, where I have never been but might go one day, if I achieve a thing called a pet passport. It has candles and linen tablecloths at night. But it is no good to Jane that it is romantic at night because she is in Thaxted with plain old me, her canine sidekick, so we go in the day and Jane has carrot and coriander soup that comes with a warm fresh from oven baguette. But Jane doesn’t eat bread so I get the baguette. Once again Attlee triumphs over the Atkins!

  • Phileas Fact Box, Thaxted

 

  • Jane and Attlee stayed at The Swan Hotel, Bullring, Thaxted, Essex, CM6 2PL. Tel: 01371 830321.

Website: http://www.oldenglishinns.co.uk/thaxted

A single room cost £44 on a Friday night, including full English breakfast.

  • Parrishes Restaurant is at 36 Town Street, Thaxted, Essex, CM6 2LA. Tel: 01371 830482. Awarded Attlee’s High Paw for Excellence!
  • John Webb’s Windmill is open to visitors between 2pm and 6pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays between Easter and September.
  • Thaxted Guildhall is open to visitors throughout Easter Weekend and then on Sundays and Bank Holidays until the end of September.

 

 

The Only Way is Essex at Diva Dogs in Chelmsford

The Attlee Way is Essex

I’ve never been to a grooming parlour before and, to be frank, I don’t think I need to go to one now. I keep myself smart and I’m no Beau Brummel. But Jane disagrees. Jane has booked me in for a session at Diva Dogs, in Chelmsford, because all the stars of The Only Way is Essex take their dogs there and she wants me to try it out too. Because I’m worth it, like the advert with Buster Cole’s owner in it says…

At first I am not sure. It is very strange. The parlour is pink outside, with a silhouette of a poodle on the logo, and inside there are lots of clothes and beds and toys for dogs. That is all right, I suppose – the toys bit anyway. I am not that mad on wearing clothes, unless I am being a Beefeater at the Tower of London or Sherlock Holmes solving a mystery at Dartmoor – that’s different. And I don’t need a bed, as I have my own, a double one, which I graciously allow Jane and Dodger to share.

At the side of the shop, behind a white picket fence, is a waiting room for dogs who are about to be coiffed, with a chaise longue, for dogs, and complimentary biscuits, for dogs. This is quite fun until a dog emerges from the grooming parlour with a ribbon on its forehead. A ribbon – I do not want one of them stuck on me. I’ll look ridiculous.

At first I don’t like the parlour bit of the shop, where Louise takes me, because it is behind closed doors and, for health and safety reasons, Jane can’t come with me. I would never say it to Jane, but, even though I’m big and brave, sometimes I do feel just a little bit safer when she is by my side.

But then I start to relax and enjoy it. I have a bath, with a deep conditioning treatment applied to my hair, and then a massage and then I am dried with a hand drier. Then my ears are cleaned and my whiskers too, and I am brushed and combed. It is quite good fun actually, being fussed over like this.

When I am brought outside for all to see, with my black and white bandana on, I feel very smart and proud and Jane gasps and claps her hands because I look so special. Like Uggie, at the Oscars, but more handsome. So I pose on the chaise longue, for some photographs.

We meet two Chihuahuas and their owner, who is a lady called Joy. One of the Chihuahuas is called Maddy and last year she was the best Chihuahua puppy at Crufts. So I am in high-up company. The other Chihuahua is called Tallulah and she is being bought two new dresses by Joy. That’s when I decide we had better leave, in case Jane decides to buy me a dress.

When I left I felt very smart and special but then I found a chicken bone on the streets and snaffled that. Then there was an empty Greggs bag to get my chops round. I clambered into a bush  too, because there was eau de squirrel emanating from it and that definitely needed to be investigated.

So, within ten minutes of leaving Diva Dogs, I was all mussed up again. Oh dear..

(I will say, though, that the deep conditioning stuff they put on my coat really worked and my fine fur was still soft a week later. So, Buster Cole, tell Cheryl that I, Attlee Common aka chicken bag dog of south-east London, AM worth it. I can be HAWT like you.)

  • Diva Dogs, Pet Boutique and Grooming Parlour, 42 New Street, Chelmsford, CM1 1PH. Tel: 01245 496644.

Website: www.divadogs.co.uk  Prices start from £20.

South-east London pubs: Attlee’s staycation

Camberwell, SE5

This is my hood and I am known in the local watering holes as the booze hound that I am. I’m very well-behaved in public houses – no barking my head off in over-excitement as if I’m on my first night out or vomiting on the way home. I just sit patiently at Jane’s feet, taking in everything that is going on and keeping my nose peeled for any SAUSAGES  or scraps of ROAST DINNER coming my way.

The Hermit’s Cave, Camberwell

Jane took me to The Hermit’s Cave to show me off when she first brought me home from Battersea. I like it because it’s no-nonsense; no food except crisps and nuts (paw out for some of those please); no music so I don’t have to listen to the barmaid’s awful mix tapes; and, usually, no other dogs, although there is occasionally a French Bulldog acting the barfly. It is just a traditional boozer with coal fires in winter, seats outside on the street for smokers and real ales. Jane says it probably hasn’t changed since the 1950s, when my great-great-great-great grandfather was alive, and that is its charm, imho (in my hound’s opinion.)

A hermit would hate it, though – people are really chatty and friendly and Jane even spotted Hollywood star Dominic Cooper in here. In fact, he spoke to her, to alert her to the fact I was chewing on one of her expensive leather gloves. Swoon – that’s Jane swooning by the way; not me.

The Hermit’s Cave, 28 Camberwell Church Street, London, SE5 8QU Tel: 0207 703 3188

Nearest train station is Denmark Hill, a five-minute walk away. Bus stops at Camberwell Green, two minutes away – the 12 heads to Oxford Circus and the 436/36 to Victoria and Paddington.

  • Scores on Paws: Attlee: 5/5; Jane 5/5

The Phoenix, Denmark Hill

The Phoenix is next to Denmark Hill train station and there is a huge clock in the middle of the pub, the railway clock, which can give you a start if you don’t know about it. But I do know about it so it’s all right. The pub has very high ceilings and wooden floors so my paws clack; clack; clack when I walk in and everybody knows I – Camberwell booze hound – have arrived. The best seats are the leather sofas – although I’m not allowed to sit on them. Otherwise it’s wooden tables and chairs inside and wooden benches outside, where it’s always busy in the summer. When Jane’s friend Maria l lived near us we used to go to The Phoenix every Friday night for its steak and chips and the whopping big tomato on the side.

The Phoenix, Windsor Walk, London, SE5 8BB. Tel: 0207 703 8767 Website: www.thephoenixwindsorwalk.co.uk

Nearest train station is Denmark Hill – in fact, The Phoenix is in Denmark Hill train station.

  • Scores on the Paws: Attlee 4/5; Jane 4/5
The Tiger, Camberwell

The Tiger, which is on the corner of Camberwell Green, opposite the green, was called The Silver Buckle but now it’s called The Tiger and it is very popular with students and Camberwell’s bohemian types, who it didn’t used to be popular with when it was the Silver Buckle. It has lots of antique-y things around, like books from the 1950’s and old record players, and has lots of different wines for the humans. And roasts on Sundays. Even though it is a big cat, I like The Tiger.

The Tiger, 18 Camberwell Green, London, SE5 7AA. Tel: 0207 703 5246

Website: http://thetigerpub.com

Nearest train station is Denmark Hill, a five-minute walk away. Bus stops at Camberwell Green – the 12 heads to Oxford Circus and the 436/36 to Victoria and Paddington.

  • Scores on the Paws: Attlee 4/5; Jane 4/5

The Crooked Well, Camberwell

The Crooked Well has had lots of reviews since it opened a few months ago. It has been in The Observer and The Independent and The Daily Mail. Famous gastronomes have visited and spewed forth their views to millions of readers. So I, Attlee Common aka Phileas Dogg, have a hard act to follow. But I am not daunted. Because I am the only canine correspondent that has reviewed The Crooked Well and my pawspective is as important to canines as Jay Rayner’s is to humans. I know it is.

Jane, the photographer and I visited The Crooked Well on a Tuesday night and it was packed – so packed that I had to announce my entrance with some loud barking. Jane was a bit troubled by this display on my part as, even though she knew The Crooked Well welcomed dogs, she wasn’t sure I should make my presence quite so strongly felt. Grrrrrr.

Anyway, half of The Crooked Well is a sort of bar and half of it is a restaurant and we were shown to the restaurant part because Jane and the photographer were going to eat. The restaurant is quite upmarket and I felt proud to be welcomed so warmly into an upmarket restaurant – not too proud to beg for food from the people dining at neighbouring tables, though, until Jane put a stop to it.

Within a minute of sitting down I was presented with a bowl of water – and that made me glad. I was being treated as an important customer and quite right too.

Even though The Crooked Well is quite upmarket, the atmosphere is relaxed. There there was none of that fussing and constant ‘is everything all right with your meals-ing?’ after Jane and the photographer had been served. They were allowed to get on and eat.

And eat they did – Jane finished her two ricotta ravioli parcels, which were the size of her plate, with nary a thought for me – and the photographer saved me such a small crumb of his steak that it was clearly just a sop rather than a serious concern for my tummy and tastebuds. So no doggie bag. And no sausages. Boo.

Worse, the atmosphere was so pleasant and relaxed that, after dinner, the humans decided to order another bottle of wine. This could have made for quite a lot of boring sitting around for me but, fortunately, the couple who were celebrating a birthday at the next table were so taken with my good looks and refined personality that much Phileas fuss was made and I didn’t grow bored at all. In fact I was quite the star attraction. I can’t believe that top restaurant critic Jay Rayner had half as much fuss made of him as I did of me, Phileas Dogg aka Egon Bone-ay. High paw of approval to The Crooked Well.

The Crooked Well, 16 Grove Lane, Camberwell, London, SE5. Tel: 0207 252 7798

Website: www.thecrookedwell.com

Nearest train station is Denmark Hill, a five-minute walk away. Bus stops at Camberwell Green – the 12 heads to Oxford Circus and the 436/36 to Victoria and Paddington.

  • Scores on the Paws: Attlee 5/5; Jane 5/5; photographer 5/5

 

Ruskin, Denmark Hill, SE5 8EN

(Within five minutes’ walk of all the Camberwell pubs)

I like Ruskin Park because it is huge – 36 acres – and there are trees to lift my leg against and a huge field to race against the wind in. And a view right across London to The London Eye and St Paul’s.

 

 

Peckham, SE15

The Victoria Inn, Peckham

This is Jane’s favourite pub in the whole of south-East London and the reason for that is that it has her favourite food on the menu – chicken kiev. Home-made too, with lots of garlic that seeps out when she takes a bite. It makes it one of my least favourite pubs because I never get a doggie-bag. Also, The Victoria Inn has a pub dog, called Queenie, and every time we go in there she gets all the attention and I don’t.

 

The Victoria Inn Public House and Lodgings, 79 Choumert Road, London SE15 4AR. Tel: 0207 639 5052

Website: www.capitalpubcompany.com/The-Victoria-Inn

Nearest train station is Peckham Rye, about a five minute walk away.

  • Scores on the Paws: Attlee: 4/5; Jane: 6/5

 

Café on the Rye, Peckham Rye Park and Common (like me – Attlee Common)

This is not a pub at all – it is a café. A wooden café that looks a bit like a flying saucer stuck in the middle of Peckham Rye Park and Common. Dogs are not allowed inside the caff but there are always loads of us outside, sitting at the benches and racing around. There are nearly as many dogs at Peckham Rye Park café as there are babies and toddlers and yummy mummy types. It sells fried breakfasts – I always have a SAUSAGE or three – and has a bowl of dog biscuits on the counter. And bowls of water for us outside. Just as well because I’m always exhausted when I go there – Peckham Rye Park is brilliant. There is a big open field – the COMMON – where I can chase crows; wooded bits where I can chase squirrels; paths where I can greet other dogs and smell their bottoms; a pond where I can bark at ducks and an ornamental garden which I’m not really allowed in but I go anyway, before anyone can stop me, to smell the strange smells and pee against the strange-shaped foreign trees. Sorry Southwark Council but this is too good a treat to ignore.

Cafe on the Rye, Strakers Road, Peckham Rye Common, London, SE15 3UA Tel: 0208 693 9431

Website: www.cafeontherye.co.uk

Peckham Rye train station is a ten minute walk away and the number 12 bus to Oxford Circus passes the park entrance on the Peckham side.

  • Scores on the Paws: Attlee: 6/5; Jane: 5/5

The Clock House

Well, I am a bit annoyed – very annoyed – because Jane went to review The Clock House WITHOUT me and what is the point of that? I am the dog and the writer of this site so I need to be the hound on the ground, not sitting at home awaiting her comments before I can put paws to keyboard. Grrrrr-not-huzzah! The reason she didn’t take me is because she went on a Saturday night and people were playing jazz and she thought I might disturb the mellow mood. But I had my jazz paws all ready. And, when she returned, she told me that there were two other hounds watching the jazz and that they had a bark-off during it and nobody minded. How I would like to have been involved in that bark-off. Her other comments are that the pub is very quirky and traditional – part of Young’s brewery and Young’s is the oldest brewery in London – and, here’s the exciting bit…it has a cinema with 14 plush old-fashioned cinema seats in it. What’s more, it is directly opposite Peckham COMMON – my favourite place in the world. I am very annoyed I was not included in the outing to The Clock House. I am giving Jane evil eyes to show I am annoyed.

The Clock House, 196a Peckham Rye, East Dulwich, London, SE22 9QA. Tel: 0208 693 2901. Website: www.clockhousepub.com

  • Scores on the (Jazz) Paws: Jane: 5/5

Herne Hill, SE24

Herne Hill is next to Brockwell Park and that is why we go there – because Brockwell Park is amaze-bones. It is on a hill and I can chase up the hill as if I’m going all the way to the sky and then, at the top, there is a big house which used to be the mansion of some very rich man but now has a café in it. And there are always lots of dog and they are always friendly so Jane doesn’t need to worry about me meeting the ‘wrong sort of dog.’

Brockwell Park, Norwood Road, London, SE24 9BJ.

Trains go to Herne Hill train station from central London and there are regular buses north and south.

 

The Commercial Hotel

This place is Jane’s favourite for a fry-up after a good old chase around Brockwell Park. Fry-ups aren’t cheap at £7 but, judging from the scraps of Gloucester Old Spot SAUSAGE I have tasted they are worth every penny. Friendly relaxed atmosphere and there are always lots of post-Brockwell Park tired dogs for me to sniff bottoms with.

The Commercial Hotel, 212 Railton Road, London, SE24 0JT. Tel: 0207 733 8783

Website: www.thecommercialhotelhernehill.co.uk

Directly opposite the train station.

  • Scores on the Paws: Attlee: 5/5; Jane: 5/5

 

The Florence

The Florence is a gastro-pub directly opposite Brockwell Park and it is interesting to people as it has its own brewery attached and a big bit of equipment for making beer, about the size of an elephant, in the middle of the bar. It tends to be visited by lots of very noisy chiiiiiiiildren, though – why don’t they learn some pub etiquette, like us dogs, instead of racing around shrieking. If they want to do that, Brockwell Park’s the place – not the boozer.

The Florence, 131-133 Dulwich Road, London, SE24 ONG. Tel: 0207 326 4987.

Website: www.capitalpubcompany.com/the-florence

  • Scores on the Paws: Attlee:3/5; Jane: 3/5

 

Greenwich, SE10

Greenwich Park is amaze-bones because it has lots and lots of squirrels – the most squirrels of any park I know. It is also very interesting for people because the Royal Observatory is there and that is where time is made. Something like that – I don’t really know because I’m too busy with the squirrels. And in the summer it is going to be home to lots of hoove-paw HORSES who are coming because of something called the Lympics. I think I could be in the Lympics, competing for Britain in the squirrel chasing section.

Directions: Cutty Sark DLR is about five minutes walk from the entrance to Greenwich Park; Greenwich also has a train station about ten minutes away with services into London Cannon Street and south into Kent.

The Trafalgar Tavern

As well as park-racing around in Greenwich, I enjoy walking along the Thames Path, by the Thames, obv, and having a pee against the huge black ship’s anchor on the way to show that I, Attlee Common, have been in town. The Trafalgar Tavern is along this Thames Path and it is famous because Charles Dickens used to stop in this very pub to eat seafood on his walk from his home in Kent to his office in London. Now Jane stops for Sunday lunch – and a very fine Sunday lunch it is too, the best in London she says. (No doggie bag for me, sadly.) It is expensive mind – £14.99 – but that is probably because Greenwich is a ROYAL borough. If Peckham was a ROYAL borough the pubs there would be allowed to charge £14.99 for a Sunday lunch but it isn’t, so they don’t.

The Trafalgar Tavern, Park Row, Greenwich, London, SE10 9NW. Tel: 0208 858 2909.

Website: www.trafalgartavern.co.uk

The Trafalgar Tavern is a ten minute stroll, past the Cutty Sark itself, from Cutty Sark DLR.

  • Scores on the Paws: Attlee: 5/5; Jane: 5/5

East Dulwich, SE22

The Bishop

The Bishop has a pub dog – a Weimeraner – but as far as I can tell he sleeps all the time. Straaaange – if I was a pub dog I would be awake, on the watch for scraps. The staff are polite to dogs and as soon as I arrive they bring me a bowl of water, which is good as Jane often forgets about my hydration needs when we are in pubs and I am left properly parched while she glugs her glass of Sauvignon Blanc. The Bishop is good for Sunday roasts and posh macaroni cheese with bacon in it.

 

 

 

 

The Bishop, 25-27 Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, SE22 8EW. Tel: 0208 693 3994

Website: www.thebishopeastdulwich.com

  • Scores on the Paws: Attlee: 5/5; Jane: 4/5

Ted’s Guide to walks and pubs in Kent

Rover Reporter Ted in the Garden of England, Kent

Molash

I’m Ted and I’m Phileas Dogg’s hound on the ground in Kent. My favourite things are surfing, chasing squirrels and being a celebrity. That’s right, a celebrity. I’ve been on television, in the newspapers and am often recognised when I’m out and about in Dover, where I live, and asked for my paw-tograph. Fun!

The other day I took my owners to the village of Molash. It is a small village with only 90 houses, a church and a pub, the George Inn. The village and the church are so old that there are yew trees in the church grounds that have split into two, and I can sit in between the split bit and pretend I’m a squirrel, perching in a tree!

Molash is eight miles from Canterbury, We could have stopped at the George Inn and gone no further – sausages – but I’m an active kind of chap and I wanted a jolly romp through King’s Wood first.

The walk through the wood is really easy to follow because there are markers all the way and depending on how muddy it is – the muddier the better imho but not in my owner Karol’s – it takes about two hours for three and a half miles.

It’s a good walk for chasing squirrels as there are so many trees for them to scurry around in and I could smell fantastic Mr Fox too. When I wasn’t snouting around among the undergrowth, my head was pointed towards the sky, waiting for a squirrel to fall from it!

There were things for Karol and Ben to stick their snouts into as well because scattered among the trees in King’s Wood are works of art for humans to enjoy. One of the projects is called SuperKingdom and it is lots of different homes for animals built among the trees. I did think about checking into one of these homes and staying in the woods forevah but I’d miss Karol and I know she’d miss me.

So we went to the pub instead. Now SAUSAGES! My owners had a roast dinner, all cooked from local produce, and I stuck my paw out for scraps and had a snooze by the fire. Perfick, as they say in Kent.

This is me, licking my lips after eating my SAUSAGES!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Phileas Fact Box: Molash and The George Inn

  • The walk through King’s Wood is at: www.friendsofkingswood.org
  • The George Inn, The Street, Molash, Canterbury, Kent, CT4 8HE. Tel: 01233 740323.
  • Website: www.thegeorgeinnmolash.co.uk

 

The Wye Crown Walk

I was tickled pink the other day when my owners took me out to chase about the countryside around Wye, which lies five miles from Ashford and twelve miles from Canterbury nestling at the foot of the North Downs.

Me, Andy and Karol started the day with a walk from Wye through the countryside and up onto the open hills. The North Downs Way runs through Wye and there are lots of lovely walks and places to explore. We went along the hillside and I enjoyed the wind in my fur, although I think Karol wished she’d worn more of her coats as it was a bit windy. We saw a chalk crown carved into the hillside and I chased sticks up and down the slopes. There were lots of rabbits around too from the smells everywhere, but they stayed hidden when the saw me coming – sensible creatures.

There was a big wedge shape carved into the hillside like a giant slice of my favourite cheese. I think it was called the Devil’s Kneading Trough. I had more fun running around and down a long flight of winding stairs to the fields below and back to Wye … but watch out for the sheep and cows along the way – they’re not for chasing.

After a good run we went to a dog-friendly pub called the Tickled Trout, which has a beautiful garden to sit in. I had a sniff at the River Stour that runs alongside, but couldn’t find any trout to tickle, so we went inside. Karol said this was a seventeenth century inn, originally used as a tannery. It was warm and friendly, and they welcomed dogs – in fact the landlady, Wendy and the barmaid, Laura spotted me and came out to have a chat and tickle behind my ears. So I was the tickled trout!

Karol is an awkward eater because of her allergies, so she had a chat with their chef, Steve, and ordered some food (completely off the menu just for her) and they brought a plate of SAUSAGES out just for me – free of charge – with Karol’s food.

After I finished those SAUSAGES off I used all my charm to persuade them to bring me out a second bowl. And it worked – they did. This was a super-SAUSAGE day!

I only wish we’d been there on a Sunday, when they are cooking up roast dinners and dogs are treated to a FREE plate of chicken or beef. Next time!

Phileas Fact Box Wye and the Tickled Trout

  • The Tickled Trout, Bridge Street, Wye, Kent, TN25 5EB. Tel: 01223 812227. Website: http://thetickledtrout.wordpress.com
  • Scores on the Paws: Ted, Karol and Andy all give The Tickled Trout 5/5. Awarded the Phileas Dogg Five Paws for Excellence.
  • Wye Downs Walk – log on to www.kent.gov.uk and type Wye Downs Walk into search box.

Combe House, Devon

Attlee: Lord of the Manor

As we approach Combe House Hotel, up a long drive through woodland opening out to fields and the glorious Elizabethan residence itself, I forget, for a few seconds, that I am Attlee Common, city dog of South-East London and imagine I am Attlee Double-Barrelled, hound of a country squire, canine king of all he surveys.

I live in this beautiful mansion house with walls the colour of toffee and my days are spent at my master’s side, my meals the finest scraps from the kitchen fed to me by cook. In the evenings I curl up by the fireside as the men of the house discuss the burning issues of the day.

‘Damn – have I forgotten Attlee’s poo bags?’ Jane asks as the photographer pulls up beside this grand abode. And I remember, I am not a posh dog – I am Attlee Common. The clue is in the name.

Still, Common I might be but I am spending the night in a very posh hotel…..

Oh it is lovely, coos Jane as we step inside. It is proper old-fashioned with big comfy sofas in the communal areas (Jane gives me a look that tells me they are not to be leapt on by dogs); and mooses’ heads (I have to woof them, just to make sure they’re not real mooses) and dark panelled walls and open fires. It is, Jane says, a Cluedo sort of house and she makes a joke that only she finds amusing about an iron bar and the library.

Our room is not a room at all but something called a suite, The Marker Suite, where Alfred Hitchcock, a famous film director Jane informs me, once stayed for several months to write a script. The ‘suite’ has a front room and then a door that leads into the bedroom and then another door into a huge bathroom with a proper white old-fashioned tub.

The view out of the window is of forests and green paddocks, countryside as far as the canine eye can see and I want to be out, in that, rather than walking around the ‘suite’ marvelling at how amazing it is that Alfred Hitchcock stayed here, like the humans are doing, and pretending to stab at each other standing in the bath, which I don’t understand at all. Grrrrrrr-hilaire – not!

There are all sorts of strange things in the woods when I do get out for my walk but strangest of all are the hoove-pawed horses, a whole lot of them too, that have appeared in the paddock in front of the house. They are hot-hooving it around as if they own the place and, it turns out, they sort of do. They live here – all the time, lucky hoof-paws. I want to bark at them but Jane stops me and says they are a very exclusive sort of horse from Arabia. I think she is implying that I am not a very exclusive sort of dog, and not of the right class to bark at these prince and princesses of Persia. So I bloody well do bark at them, once, to prove I will not be cowed. And I will definitely not be cowed by a horse!

Anyway, it is not all about the horses because before dinner Jane and the photographer take me for a drink in the bar and there it is a lot about the dog. Jane chats to a couple with a springer spaniel and they tell her they come to Combe House on holiday every year because the springer likes it as she is made so welcome there. So the dog is choosing the holiday for the humans and that is quite correct and as it should be.

Ruth, who is the owner of the hotel, with her husband Ken, agrees with this when we meet her the next day. She gives us a tour of the Combe House grounds and as well as pointing things out to the humans she points things out to ME.

‘There are pheasants in the fields,’ she informs me and I imagine what a pheasant might be. A great winged bird with a beak the size of one of those stick things that people use to throw balls to their dogs in parks…

Combe House has its very own vegetable garden, where the vegetables that Jane and the photographer ate at dinner the previous night were grown.

(There were no scraps left over for me from dinner so I can’t comment on the quality of these vegetables.) I was saved a sausage from breakfast though and it was jolly good.

Combe House is so dog-friendly, in fact, that it even has a special book for dogs, written by Toby the Dalmatian, about local walks. I have heard of Toby before, because he has written a book about walks in the Dartmoor area. So he is a Snoopy scribe, like me, and I hope one day to meet him as there are very few dogs that can put paw to paper and we are very special and should stick together.

Here is Toby at Combe House!

 

 

 

Phileas Fact Box: Combe House Hotel and Restaurant

Combe House, Gittisham, Honiton, Devon, EX14 3AD. Tel: 01404 540400

Website: www.combehousedevon.com

Prices start at £215 per night for two sharing a classic double room, including breakfast. Dogs cost an extra £10 per dog per night.

  • Attlee’s Scores on the Paws: Five and a half out of five. Heaven for hounds!

South Devon

Coco de Mer – life’s a beach with the Duchess of Devonshire

I’m Coco. Some might say that I’m Attlee’s Mrs Robinson. I’m slim (I don’t like the word skinny), attractive, flirty and well, rather older than him. I’m nearing double figures now.

I’m known as the 80mph couch potato. Personally, I think it’s good to have balance in one’s life, so yes, whilst I love to run as fast as I possibly can (I might even indulge occasionally in a bit of showing off), my all time favourite activity is having a snooze in the sunshine. There really is nothing better than that sunny spot on the floor (or preferably on the sofa).

So Attlee got on the dog and bone, and asked me to share with you some of the fabulous places that I’ve sniffed out over the years from my home in South Devon. There are so many good places for dogs round here that I’ll start my career as rover reporter with my local beach walks…

Me on the beach!

 



Beesands

I do love a good trip to the seaside, and occasionally I might like to dip my paws in, but to be honest, I’d rather swim in fresh water – I don’t really do waves. But plenty of other canines and their owners seem to love splashing around in the sea.

My humans like it at Beesands because it’s easy to park, and never crowded. You can take a stroll along the pebbly (despite its name) beach, or trot past the houses and head up onto the South West coast path to nearby Hallsands. People seem fascinated by Hallsands because most of the village was washed away in a big storm many years ago. I’m more interested in what’s being washed up onto the beach – like bits of tasty old crab! There’s a nice little cafe in a hut called Britannia@The Beach at Beesands. Britannia is a local shellfish company but the cafe does great cakes and ice cream too! I like the fact they have a bowl of water out the front for us dogs, as the beach can be thirsty work.

 

Relaxing on the Pebbles – all right, it’s actually not that comfy!

If you walk right to the other end of Beesands beach and take the coastal path, you will be heading for Torcross and Slapton Sands. Or if you’re not feeling quite so active, you can drive straight there and park in one of the car parks. I particularly like hanging round outside the Torcross Boat House as there are usually some yummy bits of fish and chips on the floor. Beware of the pebbles here though – they’re even bigger than at Beesands!

 

A game old bird?

Another good walk is at Slapton Ley, which is a big lake close to the beach. It can be a bit annoying because dogs are supposed to be kept on leads to stop us from chasing birds. But surely ducks are fair game? (Only kidding! I just couldn’t resist a little game-bird joke). It’s not so bad if you’re on an extendi-lead.

Slapton Ley is really tranquil, and I like to have a paddle in the water (no big waves here). The walk up to the village of Slapton village and back takes about an hour, and goes up a huge hill. It only bothers me if it’s a really hot day, but usually I skip straight up it.

Phileas Fact Box: South Devon

  • Britannia@the Beach, TQ7 2EH
    Tel: 0845 0550 711 Website: www.britanniashellfish.co.uk
  • Torcross Boat House, The Old Watch House, Torcross, Kingsbridge, Devon TQ7 2TQ
    Tel: 01548 580747

Isle of Bute

Wild in the Isles: Attlee visits the Scottish island of Bute

You don’t need a sign post: just follow Attlee’s nose!

In some ways, Bute is my second home. That’s because Jane’s parents Mick and Branwen live there. If I was Jane’s child, instead of Jane’s dog, Mick and Branwen would be my grandparents but I’m a dog, not a child, so they’re just Mick and Branwen.

Bute is an island in the Firth of Clyde and it is a long way from Camberwell. It is a bus and then a train and then a pee at Glasgow Central and then another train from Glasgow Central to Wemyss Bay and then a half-hour ferry ride away.

I am always pretty exhausted by the time the ferry from Wemyss Bay arrives at Rothesay, which is Bute’s main town. Prince Charles, who may or may not have driven in the vintage green Range Rover that I, Attlee Common have driven in, is the Duke of Rothesay.

That doesn’t mean that Prince Charles lives on Bute; just that he and Camilla, who, like Jane, adopted a Battersea dog – I’m not a royalist, by the way, I just get all this information from Jane via The Daily Mail – visit about every five years.

I think Bute is a pretty little island and I always do my ‘Bisto-kid nose in the air’ act when we climb off the ferry because I can smell the mussels and the sea instead of the fried chicken of Camberwell. I wouldn’t say the sea air smells better – just different. And, when on Bute, I sometimes eat the mussels that are swept up on to land. They don’t taste anywhere near as good as the chicken bones in Camberwell though.

Port Bannatyne and Ettrick Bay

Port Bannatyne, taken by Zak

Mick and Branwen live in a house in a village called Port Bannatyne, which is about two miles from Rothesay, and the main street looks out over the sea. Whenever Jane and her sister Steph are staying with their parents in Port Bannatyne they sit around and moan about how bored they are. There is nothing to do here, they say.

I don’t see that what Jane does – or doesn’t do – on the Isle of Bute is so different from what she does – or doesn’t do – in London. She eats and sleeps and reads and watches television. In fact, what she does on Bute is better, because she takes me on more walks, and proper long ones too, through the woods at the back of Port Bannatyne or to Ettrick Bay, which is a mile-long strip of sandy beach about three miles away.

All right there are no literary salons or night clubs or art galleries on Bute but, whatever Jane might write on Twitter, she never goes to those in London. Never once has she said to me: Attlee, I’m just popping out for dinner at the Ivy with some friends of mine.

I don’t know exactly what the Ivy is but, I think, in dog terms, it would be like me having roast chicken and sausages and then a Jumbone for pudding with lots of famous dogs, such as Harvey, from the advert, and the Golden Labrador from Downtown Abbey (his bottom is in the opening titles) and Churchill, the insurance dog, although I’m not stupid and I know he’s a cartoon, however smart he might think he is with all his nodding.

Anyway, Jane and Steph are daft, because Bute is not boring. Ettrick Bay is wonderful – it’s my favourite beach on the whole of the British Isles – because, when we go there, we usually have the whole beach pretty much to ourselves and I can scoop up bits of seaweed in my mouth and throw them around and look at the view, right across to another island called Arran. Occasionally I bump into some other dogs and I play with them, until they jump into the sea and then I just watch. Because, even though I’m brave, I am a little unsure of the sea.

This is Branwen and me on Ettrick Bay, in May 2011.

This doesn’t make me stupid – this makes me clever. Because when the water comes towards me, in a wave, I bark at it, to make it go away. It does go away but then, seconds later, it comes back.

I have never before met anything that keeps coming at me when I bark at it. Because I’m so fierce, most things, when I bark at them, get as far away from me as possible. But not the sea. The sea thinks it’s more intelligent than me. I’m pretty sure it’s not. I just have to work out why it’s not.

At the end of Ettrick Bay there’s a cafe but nobody calls it a cafe – everybody calls it the tea rooms, and it’s been there since the 1950s or something, and not really changed. After we’ve been for a walk Branwen, Jane and Steph go in for a cup of tea and a big slice of coffee and walnut cake or a meringue, which, apparently, the Ettrick Bay Tea Room is famous for. I wait, patiently, outside. Sometimes Mick waits with me because he doesn’t really like cafes – sorry, tea rooms – he prefers pubs, like me.

Recently, though, at Ettrick Bay, I decided I should have a treat as well.

I’m quite good at foraging for treats. And this day, on the beach, I found a reddish wobbly thing that looked like jelly and I’ve eaten a scoop of jelly before, at a party, so I thought: woof, a treat, discovered me by me, the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of the dog world.

So I ate it – and then I was sick. And then I was sick again. I had to stagger over to the path beside the beach, where there’s lots of grass, and keep chewing big clumps of it, to make myself even more sick.

Whatever I’d eaten was not good. When Branwen saw me being sick and saw the half eaten bit of jelly she was concerned because, she said, it was a jelly fish – and jelly fish are poisonous. Branwen was worried but then, after five minutes or so, I stopped being sick and I knew I’d got rid of all the bad stuff in my tummy.

But that is a top tip for my fellow dogs on beaches: do not eat jelly fish. They are evil.

Afterwards Mick took me to the Anchor, which is his favourite pub, on Marine Road, the main street in Port Bannatyne, to cheer me up. The Anchor is not like those fancy London pubs where there’s lots of gastro-this and gastro-that (the only gastro I’ve ever had is enteritis). The Anchor is a pub where the person goes in and orders a pint of beer and then the person sits down and drinks their pint of beer. Simple.

There are some other interesting things in Port Bannatyne for dogs. For example, there is a Petanque Club – it is the only Petanque Club on any of the islands in Scotland. Petanque is like the French game boules and it is interesting for dogs because it involves lots of balls – yes, balls!

When I first saw the Petanque piste, I was so excited by all the balls that I ran on to the piste and grabbed a little red one and ran away. Nobody was very happy with me – apparently the ball I ran away with was called Jack. But Branwen laughed, which was good of her, considering she was the Petanque champion of the whole island in 2008, so must take the game pretty seriously.

At the hitching post, Port Bannatyne Post Office

Another feature of Port Bannatyne that I like is the dog hitching post, which is outside the Post Office on Marine Road. I am often hitched here while Jane goes into the Post Office and I love it. Everybody who passes fusses me and sometimes another dog is hitched to the post at the same time as me. This is like that speed dating that people looking for love take part in – it is speed bottom sniffing for dogs, while their owners spend three minutes chatting to Janet and Patrick inside the shop. There is also a cafe inside the Post Office, with cups of coffee and paninis, but I would rather stay outside, bottom sniffing with other dogs and looking out across the bay.

 

Rothesay

The main thing about Rothesay is that it has a pet shop that sells pigs’ ears. Last time I visited Bute, Branwen took me there and bought me a blue tartan lead and collar, to prove my Scottish credentials. When I wear them at home, in Camberwell, they show all the other dogs how well travelled I am! Rothesay also has a castle and a museum and Jane’s Great Aunt Ruby, who always makes a great fuss of me when I visit her and says I’m a little dog who is going places. She’s right. Woof!

Rothesay – Bute’s main town. Photo by Zak.

Last time I was in Bute though, which was May 2012, Jane decided it was not enough for me to sit around being praised by Ruby and eating pigs’ ears: I had to do some work. We started at the Esplanade Hotel, which has lovely views over Rothesay Harbour. Do you take dogs, Jane asked. Am I welcome, I barked. No. So we went to the visitor centre, which is in a fine building on the front – it is a museum and a cinema as well. The man at the visitor centre said that The Black Bull pub takes dogs. Hurrah for the black bull – not that I’d want to meet him on a dark night. Branwen said the food at The Black Bull is lovely but we didn’t want pub food – we wanted a cup of tea and a sandwich. (Actually I wanted a SAUSAGE but on this particular ocassion the humans were in charge.) We trailed around Rothesay for a while, having the door shut in our face, figuratively rather than literally, and then we found it: Mecca for Mutts. The Coffee Stop! When Jane’s Grandma was alive this was her favourite cafe in Rothesay by a million miles and now it is mine. The cakes are all homemade and the people are friendly and there are views over Rothesay Castle and dogs are allowed. The Coffee Stop is the place to stop. For a coffee.

Mountstuart

This is me and Malcolm, the bus driver at Mount Stuart

Mount Stuart is a grand Gothic mansion near Rothesay that everyone on Bute is very proud of because it has lots of crazy architecture and was the first house in Scotland to have an electric lift. (Actually Jane isn’t sure this last bit, about the lift is true, but she thinks it might be.) Stella McCartney had her wedding at Mount Stuart and Madonna was a guest – this definitely is true. Last year when I visited Bute dogs were not allowed in Mount Stuart – and, fanfare, now they are. Mount Stuart has 300 acres of garden leading right down to the sea and all of this is open to us, fellow hounds of Britain. Amaze-bones! Some of the walks are through landscaped gardens and some are through conifer trees and there is even a place on the walks called the Wee Garden – for dogs that need to wee, I suppose. Ask at the Mount Stuart shop for a map showing where all the walks are or just follow your nose.

Attlee Common aka Phileas Dogg’s Best of Bute:

Cafes:

  • The Ettrick Bay Tea Room is at Ettrick Bay, Isle of Bute. Tel: 01700 500123
  • Port Bannatyne Post Office (with dog hitching post – on sunny days there are tables outside so your owners can sit with you and have a cup of tea and a scone), 46 Marine Road, PA20 OLW. Tel: 01700 503914
  • The Coffee Stop, 29 High St, Rothesay, Isle of Bute, PA20 9AS. Tel: 01700 505545
  • The Craigmore Tea Room is run by a lady called Muriel, who is the aunt of Jane’s friend Lindsay. On sunny days, it’s a good place for dogs to visit, as it has a little jetty, stretching out into the sea, with tables on it. Jane likes the tea room as it serves her second favourite meal, scampi and chips. The Tea Room is on Mountstuart Road – you can see it because of its little pier – and if you tell Muriel I sent you, she might even give you a dog treat!

Pubs:

  • The Anchor, 32 Marine Road, Port Bannatyne, PA20 OLL. Tel: 01700 502096
  • The Black Bull, 3 West Princes St, Rothesay, PA20 9AF. Tel: 01700 502366

To do:

  • Rothesay Vistor Centre is at The Winter Garden, Victoria St, Rothesay, PA20 OAH. Tel: 01700 502151; www.visitscotland.com
  • Mount Stuart Tel: 01700 503877; www.mountstuart.com
  • For information about the Port Bannatyne Petanque Club, log on to www.portbannatynepetanque.org.uk
  • Many of the photographs on this page are taken by Zak. Log on to www.pbase.com/zak355

Walks:

Along Ettrick Bay, obviously. And to Scalpsie Bay, which isn’t accessible by road and, where, if you’re lucky, you can see seals. I have never seen a seal so I wouldn’t know what one looks like – I am sure if I did see one, I’d bark, a lot. But people seem to grow very excited if they’ve seen a seal at Scalpsie Bay and spend the next week telling each other about it.

(I should flag up here, so that my fellow dogs aren’t disappointed when they arrive, that there may be seals on Bute, but there don’t seem to be any squirrels. Not one. I have peered up every tree and sniffed out every nook and cranny but, no, there are no squirrels to chase. Sorry to have to report this.)

Where to Stay:

Now, I have never stayed anywhere on the Isle of Bute other than Mick and Branwen’s house. And I don’t think their cat Chloe would like it if lots of other dogs went to stay – Chloe doesn’t even like me, and I’m family!

But there a couple of places that I can recommend for dogs to stay on Bute.

  • First off, because the owners have three very friendly black Labradors and understand us hounds and our holiday requirements, Munro’s Bed and Breakfast, in Ardbeg. It is right at the top of a hill and has lovely views over the bay. Jane says it is beautifully designed and all the rooms are lovely. Blah blah blah – all I care about is a bowl of water after a long walk and a sausage at breakfast. So ask your owner to log on to www.visitmunros.co.uk or call Joan on 01700 502346 and tell her that a VIP would like to book a room: that’s a very important pooch. (I hate the word pooch but Jane made me write that bit because she used to work for a tabloid newspaper and thinks play on words are funny.)
  • Another place to stay, in a self-catering apartment, is Ardencraig House Apartments, which are run by Elaine, (who plays bridge with Jane’s dad Mick), her husband David and their two dogs Milly and Meg. The apartments are on a hill looking out over the sea and are a minute from Ardencraig Gardens. Ardencraig House Apartments, High Craig, Bute, PA20 9EP. Tel: 01700 505077; www.ardencraig.org.uk

 

Before you leave Bute, lift your leg….

  • And finally, tell your owner not to catch the ferry home from Bute without visiting the island’s famous Victorian toilets on Rothesay Pier. Only the gents are Victorian, so Steph’s boyfriend Jerome had to report back on them to Jane and me. He said they were “very impressive”. (To be honest, I’m not sure Jerome would make it as a travel writer, like me, on the strength of that description.) I lifted my leg against a lamp post on Rothesay Pier and can report that it, too, was very impressive.
  • For more information on Bute, log on to www.isle-of-bute.com and www.bestofbute.co.uk

 

Sheep – being herded by a car? Doing dogs out of jobs – Grrrrrrrr!