A week in Pembrokeshire

Last year, whilst we were preparing to go to the Gower peninsular we stocked up on OS maps, including one for Pembrokeshire. We spent all our time in the Gower, and didn’t use the map at all. So, we thought we’d rectify that and so decided to head there for a visit. We weren’t disappointed.

We found ourself a lovely house to stay at in Lower Fishguard and spent our week exploring the area, making the most of the mostly dog-friendly beaches, and enjoying the beautiful view from the balcony.

Panorama of beautiful beach at Traeth Llyfn, Pembrokeshire

As I mentioned in a blog post a while ago, Traeth Llyfn, could be my favourite beach of all time. Other beaches we visited were Newgale sands, Porthmelgan, Abereiddy, Musselwick – all of which were charming and beautiful in their own way. The Pembrokeshire coastal path is well maintained, and well marked, and has some stunning views along the way.

Pebble Art at Porthmelgan

The house was very dog friendly, and the garden was pretty secure too. There was at least one dog friendly pub in Fishguard itself and a few more in Pembrokeshire itself. The kitchen was well stocked (although if there had been 6 or 7 of us, there may not have been enough pots and pans). The bed was incredibly comfortable, and I spent many a happy afternoon in the living room, reading my book and looking out across the harbour.

Pembrokeshire is definitely an area that deserves further exploration, possibly more towards the Southern area.

Waggy Walk in Brighton

Today, we headed down to Stanmer Park to join in the Dogs Trust fundraising event, the Waggy Walk.

Waggy Walks, Stanmer Park

We did 2 laps of an approximately 5k walk, very approximate as it turned out as there were short cuts being taken left, right and centre – and the marshalls seemed a bit too cold, wet and grateful to force people to do the full route. We’d parked in one of the car parks in the woods themselves, so between our journey to and from the car park, and the 2 laps of the route, we clocked up 6.83 miles, or around 11km. I tracked the route on my Garmin watch, and it is here for all to check and verify.

Waggy Walks, Stanmer Park

By the time we’d finished we were rather wet, but Skitters was pretty forgiving as the lovely ladies in the registration tent admired her cute ears and gave her some treats to munch on. A nice nap (for all) when we got home was just what the doctor ordered, and certainly the 4 legged one seems as full of energy as ever and ready to head outside for more adventures.

You can still sponsor us. Oh, and there are a few more photos too.


Many, many years ago, at around the time this blog was starting life, I stumbled across Anna Pickard’s Little Red Boat blog via a colleague’s blogroll (long since gone). I’ve read it ever since, usually taking the time to enjoy her use of language and humour. In more recent years, when Anna was living in Brighton, I met her at a Brighton Bloggers meetup. When she announced, in August, her intention to run a project, named, snailr, described thus:

One journey of almost 7000 miles, six new cities, eight trains, fifteen days, and every vignette, observation and fractured bitty-bit of the travelogue broken up and sent as status messages the old way. By postcard. To a bunch of random people who asked for one. Because travelling slowly is nice. And so is leaving a trail to see where we have been.

I decided I’d like a postcard, and so sent her my contact details.

On Tuesday, my postcard arrived.
Here is the front of it
Snailr front
The annotations are:

This is my interpretation of an artwork by Richard Serra. The real one is much bigger. And 3d. And not rubbish.

And along the side it says

the snailr project endorses Seattle

And here is the reverse of it:
Snailr back
It says:

When we arrive in Seattle, manage to check in even though it is only 10am, shower and get out to explore in the brighton sunshine by U, I am happy. Happy, too, are all the people who have arranged photo shoots for today. In the outdoor sculpture garden there are three brides, with full bridal parties. And a set of latino teenagers, dressed either for prom (wrong time of year?) or for the cinquicenta of the most elaborately dressed girl. They hang their tuxedo jackets over their shoulders, hard men towered over by Richard Serra artwork.

As it was a beautiful day today, I took the postcard for a walk to the seaside, here in Brighton, a place Anna knows well, and, as it turns out, is returning to soon.
So, here it is with the West Pier:
Snailr and the West Pier
and here with the PalaceBrighton Pier:
Snailr and Brighton Pier

Thank you Anna.

A week in the Lakes

Following on from the success of last years two week long holidays [12] in dog friendly accommodation, and to continue the pursuit of visiting the 10 most dog friendly beaches, we decided to head off to the Lake District for a week.  As a child, most summer holidays from 1980 until probably 1990 were spent in the Lakes, staying with my Godfather and his family.  Amongst all of the beautiful spots, one place stood out, and that was Wastwater.  Consequently, that was where I decided we should base ourselves close to.

After a bit of searching, we came across Scafell View:

a three bedroom cottage in the small Hamlet of Santon, in the Western Lake district, a 10 minute drive from Wast Water

Richard and Skitters play in the garden

This seemed to meet most of our requirements for a holiday home:

  • dog friendly (up to 3 well-behaved dogs allowed)
  • garden (enclosed)
  • well equipped kitchen (shame the dishwasher didn’t work, but otherwise all good)
  • double bedroom
  • parking (garage parking for two cars with off road parking for a further two cars)
  • near a dog friendly pub (less than a mile walk)
  • have walks from the house
  • have a bathroom with a bath and a shower

…so we booked it.

Richard, Skitters and Wastwater in the background

On our first morning, we headed out armed with an OS map and quickly discovered that it pays to check the gradient of a “short stroll”.  We had walked over the top of a fell and down the other side, which of course meant we had to do the same again in reverse. A lesson learnt. At least the views from the top of the fell were lovely, giving Richard his first view of Wastwater, and reassuring me that it was as beautiful in real life as it was in my memories.

St Bees headland

On Monday we headed out to St Bees, somewhere I don’t recall every visiting as a child, and walked a little bit of the Coast to Coast as well as ticking off another of the 10 most dog friendly beaches.

Skitters at Buttermere

Tuesday found us at Buttermere, following the easy track around the mere, enjoying the scenery, and feeling justified for a stop at a farm cafe for a cream tea before getting back in the car. This was another area that I don’t remember visiting as a child, and another lovely place to spend time.

One man and his dog: at Wastwater

Wednesday found us fulfilling an ambition I’d had for a while, to walk around Wastwater. Looking at the OS map there was a definite footpath over the screes, but as we discovered, there is no path, more like a set of rocks and scree to scramble over, something that was a bit disconcerting at times. We’d parked at Wasdale head and tackled the walk in a clockwise direction, heading over the screes whilst our legs were still fresh. This was a sensible decision.


We had our packed lunch under the trees at the far end of the lake, looking across it, before heading past the beautiful Wasdale Hall youth hostel and on along the shoreline.

Thursday was the one wet day of our week, so we headed off to one of the more forested areas, Ennerdale Forest, and explored that, trying to keep out of the rain.

One man and his dog: at Mile 21 Fortlet

Our final full day, and we headed off to see what else we could find. We started off at Mile Fortlet 21 where Skitters had a good run along the beach until she got distracted by the wildlife.

Richard and Skitters look down over Derwentwater

To avoid further doggy distraction, we decided to head off to Dodd wood, and go for a walk in the woods, following the Dodd Summit trail to get some wonderful views over DerwentWater and Bassenthwaite.

Our final morning, before starting the drive back to Brighton, we headed to Ravenglass, just a short drive down the road for a pre-drive walk wandering past ruins of a Roman castle, and along the river banks before walking back through the very pretty main street.

Wastwater from the fells

So, a combination of old and new places for me, almost all new for Richard, and probably all new for Skitters. My memories of Wastwater weren’t exaggerated – it is a most beautiful place. And all in all, another great week spent in the UK with comfortable accommodation, and exceptional weather (there is a reason why there are Lakes in the North West!)

See more photos

Dog friendly rest stops between Hull and Brighton Part 2

Last November I blogged about the dog friendliness of a couple of places we stopped on our drive from Brighton to Hull, and back again.

We did the same trip again this Easter, and stopped at 2 completely different places but using a similar strategy to last time – avoiding motorway services.


On Good Friday we stopped north of Peterborough in the village of Elton and did a 7.5km circular walk from Elton to Nassington and back. It was inspired by a walk named Elton to Yarwell and Nassington which I found when looking for walks around Peterborough.

Stepping Stones

It was a very pleasant walk, following along the Nene way for some of the walk. There were no amenities where we parked, but we drove past a pub on entry to the village though I don’t know if it was dog-friendly or not.

Saffron Walden

On Easter Monday we headed down around Cambridgeshire and stopped at the pretty market town of Saffron Walden. We parked at the free long-stay car park near the football ground, and managed a 5km circular walk following the walk entitled Park and Gardens Walk, again found on the internet.

Saffron Walden Council Offices

Another pleasant stroll, combining parkland and town streets. The Bridge End Gardens looked very nice but weren’t dog friendly so we didn’t investigate. The Audley End Park area was very pleasant and worth a stroll. We spotted a few pubs, cafes, tea rooms etc during our walk and would hope that at least one of them would be dog friendly, but we didn’t stop and find out.

So, as with last time, 2 very different places and 2 very different walks. The Elton walk was more like our normal hikes around fields and countryside, whilst the Saffron Walden walk was much more town and street based.

A year of dog ownership

One year ago today we brought Skitters home from Shoreham Dogs Trust. Over this time we’ve enjoyed getting to know our 4 legged friend, and building up a relationship with her, and both Richard and I were surprised at just how quickly she became one of the family and how attached we became.

Skitters in Abbots Wood

We’ve had 2 holidays together, one in Filey, East Yorkshire and one in Gower, Wales, both in self-catering dog friendly places. We’ve seen more of Sussex than in the previous 7 years discovering places like Abbots Wood, Friston Forest, the Downs Link, Lancing beach at low tide etc clocking up in excess of 1000 miles of walking each (and much more than that for Skitters).

Skitters at Seven Sisters

I’ve uploaded 314 photos of her to flickr, there are currently 400 photos of her and she even has her own camera (thanks to the Goulbourn family who bought it as a Christmas present) which she wears on some of her walks and uploads photos from to her blog.

She has generally shown herself to be a smart, affectionate dog who loves running around, playing fetch and trying to chase after rabbits. She has a problem with people coming to the house, turning into a bit of a guard dog, and never fails to bark at the postman. She also doesn’t really like bearded chaps (as Danny found out one day). We have spent quite a bit of time training her, but we still have a long way to go – her recall is good in safe areas, but once she gets a sniff of rabbit, squirrel or small bird there’s no way she’s coming back. We also have to work on her door manners and stopping her barking at every new visitor.

Skitters at sunrise on a low tide Brighton beach

As a result of discovering the fun to be had on Brighton beach at a low tide, Richard wrote a twitter feed to show the low tides every day, which is published at 6.30am, just as we’re thinking of getting up to take Skitters out for her morning walk.

It has been a great year.

A week in Gower

Following on from my retro-blog the other week about A week in Filey, I thought I’d follow up with a review of our September holiday in the Gower Peninsular.

As I mentioned last time, we’d seen the Britain’s 10 best dog-friendly beaches list, and there, hogging the limelight at #1 was Rhossili Bay, Swansea which it described as

Let’s start with a real classic. This spectacular sandy beach offers miles of pristine sand at the tip of the Gower Peninsula in west Wales. There’s enough space for dogs to run free and there’s usually a good selection of kites to bark at. The beach even has its own shipwreck – the remains of the Helvetta, wrecked in 1887.

Well that sounded pretty good, and coupled with the fact that Rhossili Bay, and nearby Oxwich Bay also made it into our Time Out Seaside book, a book which had previously resulted in us enjoying visits to Bedruthan Steps, Praa Sands, Kynance Cove and St Ives Bay in Cornwall, and Saunton Sands in Devon, it sounded like an area that we could happily explore for a week.

Our holiday home

Our criteria for accommodation was similar to last time, dog-friendly (obviously), a decent kitchen (after eating in quite a lot in Filey), a bathroom with a bath (we only have a shower at our house so a bath is a lovely holiday luxury), a garden area and opportunities for walks from the front door. After quite a lot of searching around, we settled on Three Elms, in Middleton. This was a large house, much bigger than our home in Brighton, with a really pleasant feeling to it. There was bookshelf after bookshelf of books, and good books too. The sofa in the living room was long enough to lie out on and while away a few hours reading one of the books, or having a well-deserved afternoon nap. I say well-deserved as most days found us out walking Skitters along beaches, or moors, or both. The only thing we’d forgotten to check was the dog-friendliness of the nearby pub (a 10 minute walk away). It wasn’t, so we ate in most evenings, or stopped off on our way back after a walk. There was also a lack of grocery shopping for anything other than absolute essentials, resulting in us heading to Swansea to find
supplies. The grocery shop at Scurlage stocked enough for us to top up on things like bread, milk and basic vegetables, and the fish and chip shop next door, Chips Ahoy, provided us with a good helping of fish and chips.

Grass on sand

We visited both Rhossili beach and Oxwich bay and can testify to them being beautiful and long and clean. But my favourite beach was actually Whiteford burrows. We approached this area through the pine plantation, walking through trees with sand surrounding their roots and trunks. Really beautiful, tranquil and there were very few other people around. Definitely worth an explore if you’re ever out that way. The scenery is a bit reminiscent of Cornwall, only with all the beaches being much closer together – for instance you can walk between Oxwich Bay and Three Cliffs Bay along the beach when the tide is out, visiting two beautiful areas at once. It is also much less crowded than Cornwall, at least in early September. A week is long enough to visit the majority of the dog friendly beaches, and to take in some really good walks. It is an area that I can definitely see me returning to after a few years for another week of exploration.

Rhossili Bay

Horse trotting off into the distance

As usual, there are lots more photos on flickr.

Geek Wine Thing – La aventura Española

On Tuesday evening Richard and I headed off to the Hotel du Vin for our first Geek Wine thing in quite some time. This one was the second of the new format Geek Wine Things, now being organised and orchestrated by Fergus De Wit and James Reina from Majestic Wine.

There were 8 wines for tasting, 4 white and 4 red, made up of 4 classics and 4 bright young things.

8 glasses for tasting from

It was a great evening, and as when in the Hunter Valley recently, I made a series of notes. These are made up of “wine facts” and tasting notes. Some of the more useful are:

  • The Spanish wine system is really focussed on the aging process – so Reserva and Gran Reserva have clearly defined meanings on a bottle of Spanish wine. This isn’t the case when these words are applied to many other nations wines
  • Good vintages for Rioja are 2001 and 2004
  • The younger a red wine, is the more breathing time it is likely to need
  • When thinking about wine and food matching, a good hint is to choose the kind of food that is served where the wine is made
  • If you buy a Spanish Reserva or Gran Reserva, then you’re probably on to a winner

Checking the colour

Out of the white wines, my favourite was the first we tasted. This was Albariño Martin Codax 2008 Rias Baixas. Albarino wasn’t a wine that I’d knowingly tasted before, and is indigenous to that particular area of Spain. It was described as being a good halfway house between Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

Wine #5

Out of the red wines, there were 2 that I really liked. These were Emilio Moro 2006 Ribera del Duero and Muriel Gran Reserva 1996. The Ribera del Duero is an up and coming wine area, and the Emilio was a lovely drink. The recommendation was to buy two bottles, drink one now and bury one in the bottom of your garden for 3 to 5 years to age further. Apparently Robert Parker gave it a score of 92 – which marks it out as being a good buy. The Muriel is ready for drinking now and was a lovely smooth wine. As Richard said, if either of these were served to us we’d be delighted.

Apparently, Majestic are running a promotion on Spanish wines next month, so I’m sure we’ll be heading down there to pick up some of these for our drinking pleasure.

A week in Filey – July 2009

As our blog was broken from around the time we got back from our holiday last July, I never got around to writing about it. So here’s a few quick thoughts about it.

This was our first holiday with Skitters. In recent years we’ve often spent our summer holidays in the UK, preferring to head further afield for snowboarding holidays. This year we would do no different. But, we did need to consider some new things. We needed it to be dog friendly (obviously), we needed it to have a garden of some description, and ideally we needed it to be somewhere we could walk the dog.

As a child I spent summer holidays on the East Coast, mostly in Bridlington but often with day trips further afield to Whitby, Robin Hood’s Bay and Filey. I remember these trips with fondness, and have always had a particular soft spot for Robin Hood’s Bay. Richard had visited a few of these places with me and my family years ago, but neither of us had really explored under our own steam. Filey has a very long, sandy beach which is mostly dog friendly (only the bit closest to Filey itself isn’t) and stretches from Filey down to Hunmanby.

We found ourselves a lovely house in The Bay estate (on the grounds of the old Butlins camp) which was so dog friendly it even had dog bowls. They had a no dogs upstairs restriction which was fine as they’d provided a child gate to put on the stairs – without this we might have struggled somewhat 🙂

The Bay, Filey

The Bay estate is still being worked on, and looks to have quite a lot of space still available to it. The pub was open, and a couple of shops but there are still quite a few opportunities for development which I believe to be underway. The walk from the house to the beach was about 1km and this delivered us at a good dog-friendly stretch of beach (as long as the tide was out – at high tide there is no beach at all).

Looking towards Filey

Our adventures took us all around the area including a visit to Dane’s Dyke beach (listed on the Times list of Top 10 dog-friendly beaches) , a walk into Dalby Forest (I remember a school trip there as a child), visits to Staithes, Robin Hood’s Bay, Runswick Bay and even along a bit of the Coast to Coast walk. It was a great trip and an excellent first holiday with a dog in tow.

Skitters on Dane's Dyke beach

Runswick Bay

More photos of our adventures can be found here


Whilst I was walking along the South Downs with Richard and Skitters early today, I was struck by how much I love living in Sussex, and how much more I’ve seen of it in the past year.

We first moved here in 2001, and at that time our priorities were being close to a train station, and being in the centre of town – both because, at that time, I was commuting into Farringdon on a daily basis. Over the first year we made excursions out and about, especially when we had visitors.

Over the next few years, we did quite a bit of mountain biking, and discovered lots of lovely trails which could be accessed either directly from the centre of town, or by getting on a train.

These days we load the dog and ourselves into the car (mostly) and head off in search of views. Over the past 9 months, we’ve visited many areas of Sussex, from Camber, to Friston Forest and the Seven Sisters, to the River Adur. This weekend has seen us walk around Devil’s Dyke and around Stanmer – both accessible by public transport. This afternoon I lost myself in the hills, and dales, the valleys, the trees, and was happy.

Sussex is beautiful