Thursday, 12 March 2020

A touring caravan with a dog

OK, so we're formally idiotic.  We decided, for some stupid reason, to get the tourer out from its place in the back garden, service it and replace the tyres, and then take it away for a couple of days during one of the windiest periods this winter!  And to cap it all, we went all of 6 miles up the road to stay at Durham Caravan Club site.  Why???  Well, we have been trying out "stuff" with Tara to see how she takes to it - the Travelodge trip to Perth in January was part of that.  It was time to try the tourer to see if we can use it with a big dog!  The idea was that we could get home easily if things went wrong, but equally it would be a place that was certainly "away".

So we found a place for Tara's crate (instead of the lower bunk bed, as it happens, which left the upper bunk bed support as a very useful work surface) strapped it in, loaded everything up and set off.  It's amazing how the skills of towing come back even after a five year (yes, five year) break!  My reversing was shockingly bad to start with, but even that came back eventually!  Pitched and comfortable with the kettle on, we then introduced Tara to the wonders of Club sites.  Lots of new sights and, more importantly, smells were to be found as well as a wonderful dog walk with a surfeit of such smells to investigate!

As an aside, being on a touring site in poor weather in March really does show the kind of people who tour at this time of year ... lots of really good, expensive outfits and, we surmised, lots of pension lump sums represented.  There were NO grotty outfits and ours was, by a long way, the oldest caravan there.  It still held its own though!

Tara loved the experience - being in close proximity with her "pack" was great for her and she really enjoyed the walks around the place.  One nice thing we hadn't thought of was that she could see out and she spent quite a lot of time watching what was going on through the front windows.

We even had a couple of outings (to Durham services for McDonalds lunch ... don't judge us).

So, all in all a really pleasant experience that shows that so long as a dog is with its family, it's happy.  We now feel confident planning a longer holiday somewhere ... but that will be another story!

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Travelodge with a dog

In January, we decided on an impromptu a trip to the Highlands, incorporating a Travelodge stay.  Those of you who keep up with us through these ramblings will know that we have always preferred Premier Inns to Travelodges.  A bit more expensive, but generally more reliable.  We used to do Travelodges a lot but then after a couple of poor experiences a few years ago, we went over to Premier.  However, Premier don’t allow dogs while Travelodges do.  Indeed Travelodge make life very easy for dog owners and although they charge, it’s well worth the extra cost.  But we weren’t sure how Tara would take to hotel living ... nor, to be frank, how we would cope.   

So we booked Perth, which is about half way up, working on the principle that if it didn’t work we could simply turn around and come home ... in the middle of the night if necessary.  In fact it worked brilliantly.  Tara slept for two hours in the back until we got to Annandale Water services – which is fantastic because the lake and grounds give loads and loads of space to walk and cavort in.  She then slept for two further hours asleep until we got to Perth.  The room was terrific – they’ve clearly upped their game a lot since we last stayed in a Travelodge – the cage fitted perfectly under the desk and there was a McDonalds within a short walk ... what’s not to like?  Having said that, a big dog turning round in a relatively small cage in the middle of the night can be quite disconcerting!
We decided to bite the bullet and the following day went the other four hours to Wester Ross which, again, was uneventful.  The marvellous Ralia Cafe providing the mid-journey relief.   

We had a nice few days up there, although the wind and horizontal rain that we suffered for half of our stay made for eventful and difficult “necessary” walks!   It wasn't all bad weather, and the picture on the right shows.  This is Tara enjoying Wester Ross scenery.  That's Tara looking out over Loch Gairloch from the top of Flowerdale Glen on a lovely January day.  As you can see from her arctic coat, which is quilted and backed with silver foil, it was chilly though!

We came  back in one hop, stopping at Ralia, Stirling and Annandale Water, each being a couple of hours apart.  Hound slept for the driving and enjoyed the cavorting at the stops.  As did we, enjoying also some good coffee and excellent picnics!  We arrived home much more refreshed than usual.  All good.