Despite the lockdown measures being no more and us being able to (theoretically or with great difficulty) get overseas for a holiday, this summer was still very much focused on backyard adventures for me.
With a new puppy and a nine-year-old in tow, my week off at the end of August consisted of a series of dog-friendly and child-friendly day trips. And we had a blast!
Heading to places some or all of us had never before experienced was high on the agenda, as well as heading back to some old favourites. Richmond Park is usually a Sunday morning ramble for us, but with a week off work and the school summer holidays we were able to swerve the weekly peloton.
As a child, Richmond Park was where we took the dogs on a reeeeeally long walk, while my brother and I climbed trees and searched for rabbits and deer. I love being able to continue the tradition with Pablo, albeit only on as long of a walk as his little (three-month-old) legs could carry him, and with fewer trees climbed.
New ground to tread for all of us was Epping Forest. Heading into deepest, darkest Essex and wandering through the trees felt like a real adventure… until we came upon a heard of longhorn cattle and as certified city folk (and me exclaiming, “I’m not walking down there!”) we did an about turn and trekked back to the car.
For a safer day trip choice, and after watching on through a screen as many, many influencers posted pretty photos of the cobbled streets of Rye, we planned our own visit to the quaint port town. Luckily Rye is filled with dog-friendly spots and ice-cream and sweet shops for the youngster (…and us big kids too).
The Standard Inn in Rye was the perfect refuelling stop after the car journey down and before taking in the sights. A proper 15th century country pub with a lovely family-friendly (and dog-friendly) atmosphere and the most welcoming of staff. The Standard Inn has been named CAMRA’s 'Best Pub in South East England’ two years in a row, and has featured in The Times’ 'Britain's 25 best places to eat at the weekend’, and I can see why!
We took to one of the six outdoor huts, making the most of a rare appearance of British sunshine. Almost all of the other huts contained dogs alongside their owners too, and Pablo settled down for a post travel snooze while we ordered fish and chips all round…and devoured the lot!
After wandering the pretty streets, trying to make Pablo pose for photos (a near impossible task), and stocking up on traditional sweets (toffee bon bons for me!), we joined the queue at Mermaid Street Café’s ‘The Ice Cream Window’ (I can vouch for the rum & raisin!) before heading back home.
And we ate some more…
As well as many park picnics, I also spent a day in central London with a friend, which thanks to the pandemic this was just the second time we’d seen each other in 18 months. So, we took advantage of being able to book lunch at Dishoom and ate our bodyweight in delicious Indian cuisine. We ate so much, in fact, that we couldn’t face dinner later that evening, and instead curled up on the sofa, puppy at our feet, and just sampled some Ben & Jerry’s vegan ice-cream.
What a week of backyard adventures. We went to new places, back to some old favourites and made the most of what’s on our doorstep. We walked a lot, laughed a lot and ate a lot. What more could you ask for?
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