I’m fairly confident that all of you will recognise our ‘guests’ on Pawfect Weekend this week, and this is the one time I may indeed take it personally if you don’t like them. It’s us!
I very much endeavour to convey how much of a lovely place North Berwick is through our Instagram account. So it would be remiss of me not to include all of the lovely dog friendly experiences North Berwick has to offer here on Pawfect Weekend. Plus, you get to find out a bit more about us, which I hope you feel is a good thing! You will also find out some more about my thoughts for choosing the hotels and accommodation that I end up reviewing on here – a little behind the scenes view of Blog On A Dog perhaps.
1) Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
We are Sarah and Audrey, and for now we are a family of just us 2. Audrey is a Miniature Schnauzer who is 5, and she came home with me when she was 8 weeks old. I chose a schnauzer because I’m allergic to animal fur and as schnauzers don’t moult they are considered to be hypoallergenic.
North Berwick, Scotland became our home in September 2017, when we moved up from Belbroughton, a small town in the Worcestershire countryside. We love to go to the beach together, hang out in dog friendly cafes so I can indulge my love of cake, or just chill out on the sofa together at home.
I started on Instagram in July 2017, mainly because I wanted to give photography go. It is an absolute bonus that we have made some wonderful friends. Social media has a bad reputation in some places, and there’s no doubt sometimes it is deserved. But so far, our experience has been nothing short of brilliant. Except, perhaps, for the time I was so excited to meet Caitlynn from @finnandted in actual real life, that I forgot to pay for parking at John Muir Country Park and got a ticket!
2) What is your favourite dog friendly town or city in the UK?
Luckily for us, our favourite dog friendly town is right here where we live, North Berwick. My parents moved up here from Birmingham a few years ago, and Audrey and I visited often. It is such a beautiful dog friendly town that I knew I wanted us to live here too. There are 2 large beaches (East and West) with no restrictions on dogs, a park (the lodge grounds), a big hill to hike up with glorious views from the top (North Berwick Law) and numerous dog friendly pubs, cafes, shops and restaurants.
I would also like to give a special mention to Southwold in Suffolk. We went there on holiday a few years ago with Audrey and it is also incredibly dog friendly with a lovely beach.
3) Can you tell us about your Pawfect Weekend at home?
Our Pawfect Weekend in North Berwick would start with a stroll along the footpath up the side of the west links (a golf course) up into town. The path is a public footpath that runs alongside the last 3 holes of the course so in the morning it’s usually okay to let Audrey off lead as all of the golfers are on the front 9.
Once in town, we would buy bread and groceries from Why Not?, which is an indoor market with independent stalls, a fishmonger, a deli and a cafe all under one very dog friendly roof. There’s no question that Audrey’s Pawfect Weekend would include a stop at the pet shop for a treat. In glorious sunshine (this is our ideal weekend, right?), we would stroll back home to breakfast and the weekend papers. I bet you didn’t know that ‘Pawfect Weekend’ is modelled on the ‘Perfect Weekend’ feature in the Financial Times?
Our pawfect Saturday afternoon would find us strolling on the West beach, but rather than turn right towards town, we head left up towards Yellowcraig and back again. Hopefully the tide times are kind to us and there actually is a beach! We check the tide using this app – My Tide times UK. I would have my DSLR with me and the sun would be just in the right place to get some gorgeous shots of Audrey.
Seeing as this ‘Pawfect’ weekend includes the two of us, here is where we have a clash of opinion. My pawfect dog walk on the beach would involve not coming across any dead birds/fish/animals. Audrey can smell them from miles away and unless I’m very vigilant and can stop her, she will want to have a roll. Ugh, I know. So for me, we come across none of these, and I guess for Audrey, her Pawfect Weekend would include a delirious roll on some dead fish. Yuck! No one ever said owning a dog was glamourous.
Once back home, Audrey is very adept a finding any slither of sunlight that may be in the flat and snoozing the rest of the afternoon away. If the sunshine is on her most beloved purple chair in the window, then it really is a pawfect nap for Audrey.
In the evening we would go out for dinner at The Herringbone in town, which is our favourite dog friendly restaurant in North Berwick.
After breakfast on Sunday (neither of us would ever skip breakfast), we would either do a hike up the Law, or go on one of the amazing walks we are lucky to have within a few minutes drive (Binning wood, Tyninghame, Yellowcraig or Seacliff).
On the way home we would stop in town and look in Fat Face and Great Escape (shops) which are very dog friendly. Next, we would indulge in a lovely cake and coffee stop, or grilled cheese at Steampunk, (they are famous for both). Steampunk does often get busy, but on a nice day their sizeable courtyard is a lovely sun trap, and full of locals with their dogs. We would chill out for the rest of Sunday, and if it involves a roast dinner, even better! The roast dinner at Nether Abbey is fantastic and they are very dog-friendly, including the rooms.
4) Can you tell us about your Pawfect Weekend away from home?
Our Pawfect Weekend away from home would be in the Cotswolds, where we recently had a visit. I would choose to stay at The Old Stocks Inn, which is in the heart of Stow on the Wold.
After a fabulous hotel breakfast, we would go on one of the many walks from Stow on the Wold into the surrounding villages and gorgeous countryside. Once back in town we would stop at The Hive for soup and a scone, before heading back to our lovely room to relax. For dinner we would go to The Sheep on Sheep St, which has fantastic pizzas.
On Sunday after a lie in I would drive the few miles to Moreton-in-Marsh. The walk along the Monarch’s Way, from the centre of town up to Batsford Arboretum to enjoy a relaxing stroll around their impressive grounds, would be my choice. Having made our way back to Moreton-in-Marsh, we would reward ourselves with a cream tea from Martha’s and lots of treats for Audrey. (I had to drag her out last time!).
5) What do you look for when you are choosing a place to go away to?
Generally, it is just me and Audrey when we go away. This has pros and cons, of course. But one of the absolute joys of it is that we can choose somewhere that suits us 100% without having to cater to someone else’s needs. Until our family grows this is what I like to tell myself anyway! I am somewhat of a reluctant driver, and driving around new places and/or negotiating tricky parking spaces is really not my idea of fun. So, easy parking is surprisingly high up on my wishlist. As is being able to stroll out of our accommodation straight into the centre of a town or village, for pretty much the same reason; less driving.
If I’m choosing a hotel, there are several features i desire. Number one is always ensuring I will be able to eat with Audrey. In particular, at breakfast. Hotel breakfasts are one of my favourite things, so I want to be sure that I will be able to partake.
I also want to feel like I am welcome! As I wrote in my mission statement for this blog, one of the most frustrating aspects of travelling with a dog, is that, oftentimes, despite paying *more* for the privilege, people who are travelling with their dog(s) often seem to experience being treated like second rate guests. Thankfully, there are more hotels now who do genuinely seem to love having dogs stay, and I am making it my purpose to make sure more people know about these places.
We stay in self-catering places on a less regular basis if we are by ourselves. They often end up better value if you can split the cost with someone else, and Audrey always seems somewhat coy when it comes to paying her half.
When I do look, I regularly find self catering accommodation that strongly emphasises how dog friendly it is, but then in the small print you see for example, that dogs are not allowed in the bedrooms, or indeed upstairs at all sometimes. Audrey sleeps in my bedroom, and bless her, she is quite a needy dog. So, it is an absolute deal breaker if Audrey won’t be allowed in my bedroom. For large parts of her life, Audrey has lived with me in a flat with no garden (including now). Whilst I don’t think this compromises her quality of life at all, it always feels like a total luxury if we can find a holiday let with it’s own enclosed garden.
6) Do you have any top tips for travelling with your dog?
I am very fortunate that Audrey is a great traveller. We have done Birmingham-Edinburgh on the train and in the car many times. The car is easier because you can load it up with basically all of her belongings! For the train, I always carry a battery powered handheld travel fan. We once did a five hour journey on a hot summer day, and the air conditioning broke down. If I didn’t have the fan with me I think we would have had no choice but to get off. My other top tip is I always take one of her beds with us from home, it definitely helps her settle into a new place.
7) Items you would never travel without?
- Her bed
- Dog food (including a few days emergency supply)
- More dog treats than I think I’ll possibly need.
- A tick removal tool
- Poop bags
- A collapsible travel bowl
- Water for the journey
- Cranimals powder (she has this everyday)
- My wellies
- Audreys’ harness for the car
- Baby wipes
- Her brush
8) Any other dog friendly gems or fabulous adventures you would like to tell us about?
In the summer the Tyninghame Smithy is a gorgeous cafe not to be missed (dogs outside only, but they have a lovely sheltered courtyard). Finally, Lobstershack, which serves fresh seafood right by the harbour in North Berwick, and now has a covered seating area. It is a causal but perfect summer dining experience, one that I would list as an absolute must-do for tourists.
Our greatest adventure so far is when Audrey and I hopped on the Eurotunnel and went to Le Touquet in France with my family. Lovely beaches, gorgeous food and heavenly patisserie, what more could we want. Also it was very interesting to note that they had free poop bag stations throughout the town (good quality poop bags I must add!).
I hope you enjoyed reading about our Pawfect Weekend. You can find all of our Pawfect Weekend guests featured on Blog On A Dog so far, by clicking on Pawfect Weekend Interviews tab in our menu. Eventually, my hope is that we have guests on from all areas of the UK, sharing their dog friendly tips and places with us.