Musings (more like rambling thoughts) of a Cardiff based lawyer obsessed with food and wine
With a rather depressing January out the way, your main (Summer) holiday may be sorted but what about a UK break either side of the Summer? At this time of year my mind tends to turn to planning a week away in the UK for me, Mrs. SF and the dogs.
Having dogs is surprisingly limiting when it comes to going away and/or eating out (we are very lucky to have my Mum more than willing to look after our dogs if we go abroad, but we do miss them so increasingly take at least one holiday where we take them with us).
Travelling abroad with the dogs is generally a no no (we have taken one of our dogs to Spain on the boat, but Northern Spain – much as I love it – is, from our experience on that one trip with a dog, not massively dog friendly with perhaps Donostia San Sebastian being the exception – that place truly is heaven to me) and even when we are holidaying in the UK with them advanced planning is required.
First up is finding dog friendly accommodation – easier said than done, especially if you have more than one dog like Mrs. SF and I. We can never understand places that limit accommodation to one dog. So our two little terriers (one border and one Heinz 57) are a no no, but if I bring a Caucasian Shepherd dog (the size of a bear) that is fine?! Second thing to think about is are there places to eat and drink out that are dog friendly (as you don’t take them with you to then leave them on their own every night)? Lastly are there any good walk (having dogs mean you gotta walk them)?
Hotels seem belatedly to have recognised the dog pound (sorry, terrible pun), with an increasing number bending over backwards to accommodating our four-legged friends (places like the lovely Felin Fach Griffin here in Wales have led the way). Mrs SF and I tend to favour renting a cottage, which offers a bit more flexibility.
West Wales, in particular Pembrokeshire and Cerdigion, is very doggy friendly with the Woof Guide offering a myriad of dog friendly cottages and details of pubs, beaches etc.which are dog friendly. We have stayed in both St. David’s and Aberaeon with the dogs (each very nice for dog owners), but our favoured destination with the dogs is Cornwall. Great for a break at any time of the year.
Porthleven, in Cornwall, has (for us) pretty much the perfect mix of plenty of dog friendly cottages, places to eat and drink, galleries and shops, beaches and walks (the coastal path).
My focus (as always with me) is on the food and drink aspect and it is nice to be able to take our dogs with us when eating and/or drinking out.
I mean, look at those faces!!!
The post title is as per usual a touch oblique, but by way of explanation “proper job” is a West Country and, in particular, Cornish phrase meaning something good – so somewhere full of dog friendly places handily morphs from “proper job” to “proper dog”in my dyslexic mind.
Below are some of the dog (and people) friendly places I would recommend if taking a trip down that way
On the way
The Springer Spaniel, Treburley, Launceston.
It is a long drive (just under 4 hours with good traffic) down from my Cardiff base to the tip of Cornwall, where Porthleven is located, and the dogs (and me as the driver) tend to need a break at some point, with a stop off for a spot of lunch working a treat.
The Springer Spaniel (a sister pub to the Michelin starred Treby Arms) is a dog friendly food orientated pub about 2.5 hours from Cardiff (and a 10 odd minute each side detour off the A30 as you cross the Devon/Cornwall border).
It has a decent menu, with a mix of quite posh stuff and pub grub (referred to as nibbles, which they are far from in size)
and some nice beers on tap (not for me mind as the driver). It is very dog friendly, with ours getting lots of fuss.
Mrs.SF went for the burger off the main menu and I had the steak and eggs off the less formal bar menu.
My steak, egg and chips (£12) was very nice with a decent amount of rump (cooked as requested – the rarer side of medium rare) a properly runny egg and crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, chunky triple cooked chips.
Mrs. SF’s burger (£11) was equally good. .
Both came with some exemplary onion rings.
An ideal place for a pit stop on the journey down, this.
Website: click here.
The Sunday lunch
Situated on the harbour side in Porthleven (with a lovely terrace if the weather is kind), Amelies specialises in cooking stuff, including pizzas, in a wood burning oven.
We were there for their Sunday lunch offering, with the place having won the Cornwall Life food and drink award 2016 for the Best Cornish Sunday Lunch,
A decent seafood chowder for me and a wild sea bass fillet (with beetroot) for Mrs SF, followed by pork roasted in their wood fired oven (with plentiful roasties, etc) made for a lovely and filling Sunday lunch.
They have a decent enough selection on the booze front – catering for most tastes.
Not cheap at £19.95 for the two course, but it was good quality and there was plenty of it. As such I thought it good value, with the big bonus of it being very dog friendly – they happily sat under the table (by the Christmas tree, our trip being just before Christmas last year).
Website: click here
The fixed price fishy
Seadrift Cafe, Fore Street, Porthleven
The Seadrift Cafe has consistently been at the top of the Tripadviser list of restaurants in Porthleven since it opened. I do tend to take Tripadviser with a rather large pinch of salt (I chuckle at reviews along the lines of “[enter name of employee] was amazing, so helpful and a real asset to the place etc, etc” – which I am sure 99 times out of 100 [enter name of employee] or friend of said employee has written – but here the reviews seem genuine and it is a nice little place if you are looking for something a bit less formal than say Kota (to me the best restaurant in Porthleven and surrounds).
Being a bit of a tightwad, I timed our visit for their Thursday night “two courses and a reasonable sized glass of vino (not very exciting pinot grigio, sauv. blanc, merlot or grenache) all in for £18.95” offer.
The kitchen delivers good value, rustic, hearty cooking. All our dishes were nice (although Mrs SF’s gurnard really needed some greenery and my seafood tagliatelle, whilst jam-packed with seafood, was a touch heavy on the cream and didn’t need any added parmesan),
My advise, in terms of choosing off the menu here, is to go for the less elaborate fish dishes – where the ingredients do all the talking
Again very dog friendly with dog biccies given to them. That always makes them happy.
Website : click here
Twisted current, Fore Street, Porthleven
A lovely little cafe that does breakfasts, lunches (including a very good value Sunday lunch) and loads of cakes (nice looking cream teas too).
Ideal for a fueling up prior to a walk along the coastal path or as a reward afterwards.
Prices are reasonable (my full English with toast and tea was £7.50) and portion sizes are big.
I liked the fact that they used Cornish tea (Tregothnan being the only tea plantation on mainland UK). Nice to see a cafe using local stuff
Again doggies are more than welcome and our two each got a bit of fuss and a biccie.
Website: Click here
The Ship Inn, mount Pleasant Road, Porthleven
Pretty much all the pubs in Porthleven are dog friendly and, probably, our favourite is the Ship Inn.
Perched by the harbour entrance it is a great spot for watching the waves roll in (Porthleven is a marvellous place for storm watching – due care of course being taken -the January 2014 storm was a really big one).
Cosy inside it has a nice selection of draft beers
and is very welcoming to dogs.
Great place for a beer as a reward after a good walk with the dogs along the coastal path.
Food is nice enough – pub grub rather than gastro.
Great place for a pint in Porthleven.
Website: click here
Roland’s Happy Plaice (Prospect Place, Porthleven) and the Horse and Jockey (Commercial Road, Porthleven)
What could be more dog friendly, meal wise, than a takeaway? Eat back at the cottage or, if the weather is favourable, outside on the harbour front (watch out for the rather voracious seagulls). If you are staying by the seaside in the UK that takeaway has to be fish and chips.
Of the two chippies in Porthleven, Mrs. SF and I favour Roland’s Happy Plaice.
Good, not to thick, battered fish (perfectly cooked in its batter encasement) and proper, plentiful, chip shop chips. Lovely with oodles of salt and vinegar.
It is also very dog friendly
You also can’t leave Cornwall without having a Cornish pasty and there are multiple outlets selling this Cornish staple in Porthleven. Probably the best of the bunch is the Horse and Jockey on the harbour front,
which sells jumbo traditional Cornish pasties.
Out and about
Whilst there is plenty to occupy yourself within Porthleven, it is always nice to get out and about and the tip of Cornwall has plenty to offer. The Lizard (Kynance Cove is spectacular), St. Ives, the Minack Theatre to name but a few.
During our week, Mrs. SF and I frequented a number of dog friendly place around our Porthleven base.
The Old Coastguard, Mousehole.
Part of a stable of 3 hotels (including the Felin Fach Griffin in the Brecon Beacons in Wales and the Gurnard’s Head on the moorland above Sennon in Cornwall), the Old Coastguard is situated in the charming village of Mousehole.
makes for a rather nice spot for lunch.
They do some great winter sleepover offers that are well worth a look.
The Cadgwith Cove Inn, Cadgwith
Cadgwith is a lovely, picture postcard working fishing village on the Lizard, with a lovely little pub to match..
Decent selection of booze and hearty food is on offer.
My seafood chowder and Mrs. SF’s ploughman’s were both enormous (I didn’t eat for the rest of the day after consuming what was a small lake full of fish).
Great little pub for walkers and dog owners.
We tend to go to this place for lunch after mucking about on the beach at beautiful Kynance Cove.
Victoria Inn, Perranuthnoe.
the Victoria Inn.
Certainly not cheap, but quality food and drinks (decent wines and beers) can be had here.
Where we stayed
Lovely (upside down – with living area upstairs with a balcony to take advantage of the views) property, immaculate inside with all the amenities you would need (even has a wine fridge)
They even provide details of all doggy friendly places in the area, including beaches
If you are looking for a UK Winter break (doggies in tow or otherwise), Porthleven really has it all. Great food and drink, great walks and lovely bracing sea air.
If you don’t have dogs in tow or want a night off from them, Kota and its baby brother Kota Kia are lovely (but not dog friendly). Neither surprisingly (bearing in mind Chalky) is Rick Stein’s gaff in Porthleven (which is a shame) – didn’t get to try it but it looks nice, as does the Square (again not dog friendly).
My advice is go. British holidaying at its best and just fab if you want to bring your dog(s) along. Try out of season and you may well have a beach all to yourself.
We are already booked a week there for later this year.