gemsybobsy: (walkies)
[personal profile] gemsybobsy
In July 2013, after a weekend of cider and playing a set with the band in Electrowerkz in London (more on that when I eventually get round to writing up my Dreams Divide adventures), I set aside a week off to begin an experiment which I hope will continue, at least once a year, for the foreseeable. I might make a book, actually, if enough interesting stuff happens to us on these adventures. The One Rule of the experiment:

1. Go on holiday with your dog, and do not leave your dog out of any adventures. Of course, this means you can only go to dog friendly establishments.

You will need yourself, a dog, a sense of adventure and a car full of STUFF.



Ultimate STUFF List
A tent, small barbecue and tools, bag of charcoal, firelighters, cooking set, crockery and cutlery, a lighter, citronella candles, collapsible washing up bowl, jerrycan, washing up liquid, sponges, first aid kit, inflatable mattress, sleeping bag, pillow, tent light, dog post & tether, thermos flasks, monocular, dust-pan and brush, teaspoons, dog bowls & food, lead, waterproofs, undies, clothes, towels, toiletries (medication, dry shampoo, mirror, soap, BO-buster, E45, sun lotion and mozzie stuff), my trusty she-wee, sun hat, flip flops, millions of paperbacks, notebooks & pens, coffee, fruit tea, sausages, a big tub of veggie salad, apples, berries and cereal bars/crackers. And a MALLET.

DAY 1
Holiday number one began in Salisbury, where I lived at the time, crossing off things on lists and loading my car full of STUFF. Luckily I have a car-derived van, so there's lots of space for STUFF, but there seemed to be so much STUFF that there wasn't a lot of room for the dog. And this is where I feel the need to defend my list. For me, the whole point in camping is a) cheapness and b) an excuse to laze around and do as little as possible, including cooking and personal grooming. Yes, I realise I could probably do without a lot of things on the list, and I'm sure that with a more space-saving backpackers'/survivalists' frame of mind I could easily cull a lot of things I don't really need, but this is me trying to go on holiday, not do a challenge. So, Didz called shotgun, we got comfortable, and we set off from Salisbury with Didz pretending he couldn't hear me singing along happily to the radio (I was going through another Bowie stage). Down the A354 to Lulworth Cove. Now I know why I'd heard a lot about it - it's lush.







When we got to the car park, a couple stopped me at the pay machine to give me their ticket as they had nearly two hours left on their £4 ticket. Lovely! So I spent the £2 I was going to spend on parking on a delicious (honeycomb flavour) Purbeck ice-cream from an outdoor stand. There are a few cafés and stands selling your typical seaside fare - fish and chips annoying me with their aroma because I knew I couldn't go in and eat them! We walked down to the beach, meeting a few other dogs on the way (including a blue merle collie called Bowie who got Didz's flirty tail going - 'Ah, he's a diamond dog!' I said, but I don't think they got it. I'd say this was a walk for fit dogs only - it's quite steep, and when it's warm like it was that day there's not much shade. It felt like dogs were really welcome though, and a few of the establishments had thoughtfully put some water bowls out for them. When we got down to the cove, there wasn't a lot of room - it was a busy day. We headed straight up to the cliff top trail and did some wandering.



I was tempted to walk to Durdle Door from there, but decided to cheat and trudge back to the car first, as it was quite a hot day (25°c) and I knew it was quite a mission to get down to the beach there. So we drove less than half a mile and then through a campsite, where we could park on the same ticket, which was nice. The walk down to the beach was indeed quite difficult, especially when it came to passing people on the narrow paths with Didz on his lead, with his determined nose threatening to drag me in all directions! But it was totally worth the effort.







The walk back up was very hard work - again, this is a walk for fit dogs! After a much-needed drink of water and a spot of relaxing in the shade of the car, we set off for Weymouth and Portland Bill. I spent a bit of time driving around - Portland Bill especially is a really interesting place to drive. I like to see new places from the car, and also it gave Dogface a bit of a break with some cool air rushing through the car - and it certainly did get cooler when fog began to roll in from the sea. We stopped (80p parking) at the outdoor café by the lighthouse. I had a great cream tea (£5.25 and my scone was square!)



I had been to a beach in Weymouth for an afternoon with my mum years ago, but hadn't been around the town at all. But as town centres held little interest for us on this holiday, we didn't stop. Apart from at this really scary bridge.



We did stop at Chesil Beach - 80p parking again - as I kind of accidentally ended up there and realised it was the same place I'd been to with Mum years ago. So we went for a walk (climb) over the stoney dunes. HILARITY ENSUED. If you've never seen a lanky collie trying to walk, or even just stand still, on a pile of smooth, rounded pebbles - well, all you need to know is that it's ridiculous.



"I'm so CONFUSED?!" A few humans on the beach did chuckle at his silly behaviour.



I perched on the pebbles for a while, catching my breath after the climb and the laughter. Then we trudged/fell back down to the car via a quick dunk in the water on the wrong side of the dunes (no way would he go in the actual sea!) Fit dogs again; I can't decide whether smaller dogs would find the pebbles more difficult or easier to deal with!



Then we set off to find our little campsite. My dad had suggested Portesham Dairy Farm which is just outside Weymouth, memorable to him because it was quiet and had no light pollution. I discovered that the local pub was dog friendly and very close by, so I decided to go for it. It was only £15 per tent per night (high season, and minus £4 for a single person - best single supplement ever!) plus £1 for dogface. Our two-night stay was £24.



The weather, however, was going to impede any advantage I might have taken of the lack of light pollution.



Then, on the first day of this experiment, I had to break the One Rule. The ground was just too hard to get my pegs into. I am afraid, with deepest regret, that I had to go to Asda. Without my dog (he waited in the car). And it wasn't even a successful or satisfying break of the Rule - they had no mallets left so I had to buy a normal claw hammer! Gutted. Of course, 'mallet' is now added to the List for next time! Another important addendum to the Rule, of course, came from my need to do certain things that don't require canine accompaniment - I left him tethered outside the tent, or in the car, when I went to the shower and toilet blocks (which were very clean and better than basic.)





I got some water and made coffee while Didz had his dinner and a snooze in the grass. Then I relaxed in the porch, reading and writing by tent light as it got dark. I got my little barbecue going and cooked sausages and baked apples, then heated more water for washing up, and then fruity tea. And this is where it got blissful - absolute silence apart from the tinkle of my little campfire barbecue (safely up off the ground of course) and darkness apart from the twinkle of a few stars that managed to peek through the fog.
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