Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Dog-Friendly Travel | Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Yorkshire

Hi all,

So, I know it's been a little while! I took a short break as life got a bit hectic, but I'm back today to share a review of Ox Pasture Hall, a dog-friendly hotel in Yorkshire.

The Hotel:

Ox Pasture Hall very kindly offered us a one night stay in one of their luxury suites, with dinner on the Saturday evening and breakfast on the Sunday morning. My boyfriend and I were both thrilled with the room: it was spacious and spotlessly clean. We had a comfy sofa area, desk, dining table, a huge king size bed (which was SO comfortable) and a beautiful bathroom with the most luxurious bath and shower. The whole hotel is beautiful in general, and finished to a high standard. I adored the country-cottage feel of the grounds, teamed with the more luxurious interior. The bistro and bar areas are cosy (more on that later), and you're able to dine with your dogs in these areas. 

The gardens and grounds were probably the highlight of the hotel for me. You feel as though you're in a little country oasis, and it was lovely to walk the dogs through the grounds and admire the flowers. The views from the back gardens of the hotels are just beautiful, and as we were heading out to breakfast on the Sunday, a deer pranced across the grass ahead of us. It's really in a stunning spot! If we were ever in the area again I'd love to explore more of the surrounding fields; I didn't trust my two hooligans not to go after a poor pheasant or something. When we arrived there was a man walking his spaniels, and it looked like they were having a whale of a time. It definitely seems to be in a fab location for dog walking.

We ate in the bistro area on Saturday night, where we enjoyed a complimentary three course meal and bottle of prosecco. I'm an extremely fussy eater (you know that programme Freaky Eaters? That's basically me) and I also have Crohn's Disease, so eating in new places can be an absolute nightmare for me. Thankfully, the staff at Ox Pasture Hall were so accommodating and changed the menu around for us immediately. I thoroughly enjoyed all three courses (carrot and coriander soup, fish and chips and lemon cheesecake) and my boyfriend said his food was delicious too. He opted for hickory smoked ham, their special steak and again, that delicious cheesecake. We ate out on the terrace the following morning, and neither of us had any complaints about the breakfast options either. 

My overall opinion of the hotel is overwhelmingly positive; as I've said, the bedroom, grounds, staff and food were all absolutely excellent. However, if you've read any of my reviews, you'll know that I pride myself on being honest, and I feel that I must mention the wifi at the hotel. Unfortunately, neither myself nor my boyfriend could connect to the hotel's internet. It would say we were connected, but there was no actual internet connection: my boyfriend's laptop couldn't get online either. 

By Sunday morning we were used to it, and it was quite relaxing to not be constantly checking our phones. I know that for many though, working wifi is an absolute necessity. We did speak to the manager about it, but unfortunately there wasn't much that could be done. Apparently Apple products don't like the open network the hotel offers (though my boyfriend's laptop couldn't connect, either) and they are on a protected site so better internet can't be installed. He did offer us the code to reception's BT hub if we needed it, so that may be an option for other guests who can't get online.

How Dog-Friendly is the Hotel?

The hotel is extremely dog-friendly. You're allowed to take your four-legged pals everywhere except the restaurant, but as mentioned, you can dine with them in the bistro and bar areas. My only observation is that when a large party is dining in the bistro area, personally I don't feel that there's enough space between the tables. I tried to keep my two relatively tucked away as they're sensitive and nervous, but we did have an issue with one dog that left me a bit shaken. There just wasn't enough space to move Archie away as someone tried to "introduce" their dog to him without asking me. Needless to say, Archie barked and barked and just couldn't settle after that.

If you have a nervous dog, and feel you'd need to avoid any large parties, I'd recommend ringing reception before you go down for dinner. Thankfully, the upside of a dog-friendly hotel is that most people there are very understanding; several diners spoke to me as they left and told me that as dog owners, they'd all been there! The staff were fabulous and made me feel a lot less embarrassed, which I really appreciated. The next morning we were seated outside, and that was far more enjoyable for Archie and Winnie.

Of course, the dogs were happiest out in the grounds, so this is where we spent the majority of our time. The rear garden in particular is a lovely spot to sit with a drink in the sunshine, and we found it to be much quieter than other areas of the hotel. 

Obviously, dogs are expected to be kept on a lead, however there are a number of fields surrounding the grounds where dogs can be exercised freely. For the most part the staff made a fuss of the dogs and they were offered some treats whilst we were eating; it was nice to be in a hotel where dogs seem to be welcomed, and not just tolerated. 

The Surrounding Area:

As we'd had an 8 hour journey on Friday, and another long drive home on Sunday, we didn't get to explore the surrounding area as much as I'd hoped. We'd intended to visit the moors on Sunday morning, however we had to make the executive decision to cut the trip short. Archie was upset at every little noise after the incident the night before, which isn't like him at all, and I didn't want to make it worse by potentially exposing him to even more dogs. However, from what we did manage to see, the vast majority of places appear to be dog-friendly. Firstly, we visited the Whitby seafront, where we enjoyed a stroll along the beach and an ice cream at a little seaside café. 

From there we went on to Staithes, a village further north. It had SO much character and was absolutely gorgeous, though I think my legs died a little bit during the steep walk back up to the car. We chose to head there for lunch at the Cod & Lobster, a notoriously dog-friendly pub with great food. It didn't disappoint! My boyfriend had a panini and cheesy chips, and I had the vegetable curry. Both meals were delicious, and we really enjoyed the harbour view. A little note of warning though; DON'T accidentally ignore the sign that says you can only park in the top bank car park. I promise, it's not ideal to attempt a three-point turn in roads as small as those... trust us! Oops! Everyone we met was friendly and interested in the dogs, which was so lovely.

So there you have it; a little round up of our trip to Yorkshire, and a review of Ox Pasture Hall Hotel. I'd like to thank the hotel for having us, it's a wonderful place and is definitely a fabulous choice for those who are holidaying with their dogs in the area.

I took so many photos during our trip that I've got a few more posts planned; until then, I hope you're all well and have a lovely week!

Chloé, Archie and Winnie

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

An Update on Winnie! | 6 Months in her Forever Home

Hello all, 

Just a note before I start rambling; Winnie now has her own instagram page! You can find her at winniethedaxie and as always, you can find Archie at archiesgreatadventures.

A few months ago I wrote a little update on Winnie, as she'd been with us for three months. It's now been SIX months (I know, I can't believe it either!) so I thought I'd write a further post, detailing any big milestones.

Firstly, house training! I'm super happy to share that for the most part, I would finally consider Winnie to be house trained. It was most definitely a long, hard road with her... it's no myth that dachshunds don't like the rain, and Winnie is no different. Trying to get her outside to go to the toilet was a constant struggle! I'd spend 15 minutes out in the rain with her, only for her to come in and pee/poop on the floor. I was honestly being driven to my wit's end, until my parents looked after the dogs when my boyfriend and I went to visit family.

Upon our return, they gleefully told us that Winnie had only had ONE accident in three days. I wasn't convinced at all, but they told me that they'd gone right back to basics with her; taking her out every half an hour, and not bringing her back inside until she went to the loo. I've been continuing this myself at home, and it definitely helps. Gradually, I've been able to extend the time between toilet trips. As an older dog who only ever lived outside before she came to us, Winnie will never be the sort of dog who will alert us when she needs to go out. If we want to avoid accidents, it's all about us keeping on top of taking her out, and setting her up to succeed.

The only other issues were reactivity to other dogs, and more recently, barking all through the night. Archie and Winnie now sleep together (previously I couldn't trust them together at night for various reasons) and the company seems to have stopped her night-time singing, thank goodness! 

In regards to her reactivity, I'm not sure it will ever really "go". Like many daxies she much prefers company of her own breed, and she also has a soft spot for yorkies because of course, she recognises them as being the same as Archie. Generally she is greatly improved around dogs that she's met before or spent prolonged time with, and doesn't always bark at other dogs on sight like she used to do. Nowadays she tends to bark only if another dog gets right in her face, or if Archie/other nearby dogs start barking. It can be embarrassing, however I'm much more relaxed about it now. At the end of the day, dogs bark, and she's just telling them "I don't like you, stay away from me." If only it was socially acceptable for us all to be so plain-speaking, eh? Haha.

So that's all for today; I think I'll do another update post on Win when she's been here for a year... it'll be here before I know it!

Chloé, Archie and Winnie