The Dogvine | The London Lifestyle Blog For The Urban Dog
Woofs, wags and a big welcome to The Dogvine, the London lifestyle blog for the urban dog! I’m Teresa and since 2015, together with my 2.5 rescue dogs (more on that later), I’ve been on a mission to create a blog that is the go-to blog for the London dog.
It’s oh so pretty in purple, smells absolutely divine and dogs are welcome too. What are we talking about? Surrey’s summer hot spot, the dog-friendly Mayfield Lavender Farm of course.
Tucked away in sleepy Banstead, the Mayfield Lavender Farm opens its gates at the beginning of June to people and pups who want to take a stroll among the rows (25 acres to be precise) of sweet-smelling lavender.
If you haven’t been yet, you should – but you will no doubt have seen many a photo of the lavender field on the ‘gram. It is literally an Instagrammer’s dream, news of which seems to have spread far and wide as people descend on the farm daily in search of that perfect pic.
When’s the best time to visit the Lavender Farm?
Although the farm opens at the beginning of June, it depends on how warm a start we’ve had to the summer as to when the lavender blooms and therefore when you want to visit. Regular updates about how ‘in bloom’ the lavender is, are posted on the farm’s Facebook page so you can plan your visit to catch the field in peak ‘purpleness’. We went a week ago and the lavender was perfect in the main field (where the Phone Box and Vintage Airstream Café are) and coming into bloom in the top field. The lavender will stay in bloom until the end of August so still plenty of time to pop by!
The farm advises to visit on weekdays as weekends get very crowded, so together with our little pal Lilliput the Maltese, we decided to do just that. It wasn’t insanely busy but it was busy enough that you had to form an orderly queue for your turn for a picture with the famous red phone box. Turns out that it’s a picture that is quite hard to get when you only want your pup in the pic and she insists on lying down!
Otherwise, we were able to stroll around the farm enjoying the beautiful scenery and scents without encroaching on anyone’s space and them on ours. The farm also advises to avoid visiting between 11 am – 3 pm and one thing I will say is that visiting earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon would not only miss the peak time but it’s also better for photos in terms of light. We were lucky as it was cloudy but bright mid-afternoon sun is not necessarily your friend for photos.
Dog-friendly Mayfield Lavender Farm – What You Need To Know
Dogs are welcome at Mayfield Lavender Farm and there are no restrictions on where they can go as long as they are well-behaved and on a lead. We let the dogs off lead briefly for the purpose of taking photos but they are both trained to stay in position. If your pup is the type that would take off in gleeful delight to romp through the lavender field, keep them on a lead even for photos.
On that note, we’re sure you wouldn’t, but to preserve the lavender for everyone to enjoy and allow it to grow, visitors are asked not to pick the lavender (you can buy lavender bunches and other lavender goodies from the on-site shop), jump over the rows of lavender or to have picnics in the lavender fields.
Entry to the farm is from 9 am to 6 pm daily with the gates closing at 7 pm and costs a very reasonable £2.50 per person. This includes parking if driving and dogs go free.
There is also a farm tractor tour and dogs can come along too – you don’t actually ride on the tractor but the tractor pulls a wagon behind which is where people and pups sit. The tractor tour costs £2 (dogs also go free), taking about 15-20 minutes to go around the farm and is a great way to get a sense of the lavender in all its awesomeness.
Aside from the famous red phone box which looks spectacular against the lavender, there are several other ‘attractions’ at the field – ‘Fergie’ the tractor which is great for kids to take pictures in (although Belinha wasn’t too impressed) in exchange for a donation to charity as well as a Vintage Airstream Café, with seating in the welcome shade for a break on a hot day.
Afternoon Tea At The Café
After strolling around the farm, you can also take a break at the al-fresco café with plenty of bench seating under marquees and a much more extensive menu than at the Airstream Café (including options for vegetarians and vegans). Dogs are welcome in the café area too and staff asked us if we needed water for the dogs which was a nice touch.
I decided to try the Lavender Afternoon Tea for the full ‘lavender experience’. Yes, that means everything included in the afternoon tea is infused with Lavender in some way…even the cheese and chutney sandwich! Although I was worried that the lavender scent would overpower the taste of everything, I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t and there was just a hint of lavender which was sweet and subtle with the exception of the macaroon which had too much lavender for my tastebuds.
Although the Lavender Afternoon Tea (£18.50) was delicious, it was actually too filling for one person and definitely favours the sweet side of the menu. Therefore, I would recommend choosing your savoury dishes from the menu then sharing the tea as a dessert rather than getting one all to yourself.
Top Tips for Visiting the Dog-friendly Mayfield Lavender Farm
If possible try and visit during the week to avoid the busy times
Visit in the morning or late afternoon if a hot sunny day – better all round for pups, people and pics
Although not strenuous, turns out it is hot and thirsty work walking around a lavender field so make sure to bring some water / a travel bowl for your dog
Was It A Paws Up for Our Visit?
Visiting the dog-friendly Mayfield Lavender Farm definitely gets a ‘paws up’ from us. Despite its popularity, there is a sense of peace and tranquillity about the lavender farm and the smell of lavender is simply divine.
Dogs are made to feel welcome and you will definitely get some beautiful pictures of your pup amongst the lavender to create wonderful memories for years to come.
How to Get to Mayfield Lavender Farm
By Car: Driving to the farm is the easiest option and there is parking on site which is included in your entry fee. We didn’t have any trouble finding a parking spot midweek, but on a busy weekend you probably will, so you may need to park nearby and walk. If you live in South West London it would take about 35 minutes to get there. From Central London, it’s about 15 miles so expect approx. an hours drive. The address is 1 Carshalton Road, Banstead, SM7 3JA.
By Public Transport: There are several ways of getting to the farm (some below are as indicated on the Mayfield Lavender Farm website):
Train from London Victoria to West Croydon and then take the 166 bus to the gate (can get busy when it is peak season)
Train from London Victoria to Sutton and take the S1 bus to Banstead (Woolpack stop) and then the 166 bus to the gate (slightly faster route)
Train from London Victoria to Purley Station, cross the road to the large Tesco and from the front of the store take the 166 bus to Oaks Park. The Oaks Park bus stop is directly outside the front gate
Train from London Victoria to Sutton and take a cab from outside the station to the farm. (Listed as the fastest route). There is a taxi pick-up and drop-off point just inside the farm
Train from London Bridge to Woodmansterne and then it’s approx. a 35-minute walk to the farm
Built for the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is open to the public every day and home to Olympic legacies such as the Olympic Rings, London Stadium and London Aquatics Centre, all surrounded by miles of parklands and waterways for Londoners to enjoy…and that includes London dogs. Of course, you can take a walk around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park which features in our guide to ‘‘Free Dog-friendly Things To Do in London’, but why walk when you can see the park in style by taking one of London’s Olympic Park dog-friendly boat tours down the River Lea?
When we found out that dogs could join their humans on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Boat Tours, it was even more reason to come on board. So one Sunday afternoon, we travelled across London to Stratford to get to know one of London’s great legacies and take to the waters of the Olympic Park. Here’s what we got up to and all you need to know if you decide to come on board too…
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Dog-Friendly Boat Tours with Lee and Stort
The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Boat Tours are run by Lee and Stort Boat Tours who have been running them since 2014 and are in fact, the only company to offer boat tours in the park. There is no need to book as you just turn up and buy your ticket on the spot. When we went, the boats weren’t busy at all but that could have been because we took the first boat of the day at midday.
When we arrived we were greeted with big smiles by the Lee and Stort crew, Mal and Richie who immediately went to get a big bowl of water for Belinha so it was great to have such a warm welcome.
As we set off for the 45-minute trip, our guide Mal told us about the history of the Olympic Park and how it is upholding the Olympic legacy and I have to admit, I was surprised at how interested I was.
I certainly won’t spoil the tour by sharing all of Mal’s insider info in this post but I will say that we were listening avidly throughout the whole tour and we left proud that London is one of the only cities to be allowed to keep the famous Olympic Rings after the event. This is due to the commendable work by the London Legacy Corporation and their promise to “transform and integrate one of the most challenged areas in the UK into world-class, sustainable and thriving neighbourhoods” which has resulted in the Queen Elizabeth Park and surrounding area being what it is today.
The view from the boat allows you to reflect and see first hand just how important the conservation of the area is. It also gives you a unique view of some of East London’s landmarks such as Carpenters Road Lock, the Olympic Rings, ArcelorMittal Orbit, Lee Valley Velopark and London Aquatics Centre that you just wouldn’t get anywhere else.
All too soon it was time to turn our boat around and head back to the dock but even the return journey offered plenty to see.
The Olympic Park dog-friendly boat tours take about 45 minutes round trip and we thoroughly enjoyed ours. Both humans and hounds were made to feel very welcome so a big thank you to our crew Mal and Richie for an insightful Sunday afternoon cruise down the River Lea, it’s a paws up from us as a unique and dog-friendly way to get to know the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park!
Olympic Park Boat Tours – What You Need To Know
If you’d like to take a trip on one of the Olympic Park dog-friendly boat tours yourself, here’s what you need to know…
Where: The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park boat tours depart from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Pontoon at Stratford Waterfront, by the London Aquatics Centre.
When: The boat tours are available between the beginning of April and October on weekends and during the school holidays (including bank holidays). The first boat tour is at midday and then on the hour after that. (This is subject to change due to river or weather conditions – if in doubt contact Lee and Stort, details below).
Tickets: Tickets are very reasonable for this dog-friendly London attraction, with the 2019 prices as follows:
£8 Local residents
£5 Children (under 3’s travel free)
£22 Family ticket (2 adults & 1 or 2 children)
£8 Concessions (over 60’s)
Facilities: The Lee and Stort Boat tours are fully accessible and have two toilets (one disabled), refreshments and a licensed bar on board. The boats are covered but with wide-open windows and have plenty of space (for up to 60 passengers). Well-behaved dogs, wheelchairs and buggies are welcome on board.
Boat Tour Contact Info: Get in touch with Lee and Stort on 0845 1162012 or via the website.
Getting to the Olympic Park Boat Tours:
By Public Transport: Train, Tube or DLR to Stratford then follow the signs for Westfield Shopping Centre, pass through ‘The Street’ and then follow the signs towards the Park. The boat tours go from the right side of the river. We did find the signs a little confusing as to where to go, so allow some extra time to get to the boat tour departure point to be safe.
By Car: The Lee and Stort website indicates that the nearest parking is available in Westfield Shopping Centre. However, as we were bringing Belinha, we decided to park in the London Aquatics Centre Parking rather than in the shopping centre.
When we arrived there was plenty of parking available but also a sign that said that if you weren’t using the London Aquatics Centre, the parking fee would be a £45 flat fee instead of £2 per hour. The way around this is to not pay for your parking outside at the pay points but go inside the London Aquatics Centre and pay the £2 visitor fee as well as paying the parking there so our parking was a very reasonable £6 in total.
July is here in all it’s (sun-shining) glory, bringing with it another sizzling month of things to for London dogs. There are over 35 events on the line-up so far and no doubt several more will pop-up throughout the month – so here’s our handy round-up of ‘London Dog Events And Things To Do July‘ to help you get your doggy diaries sorted!
And don’t forget, if you prefer to see the events in regular chronological date order, you can see this on our London Dog Events Calendar.
With summer deciding to finally stick around, it’s no surprise that outdoor events are de rigueur. For dogs that love a dog show, there will be plenty of chances to add to your rosette or trophy collection – our pick of the pack has to be Canary Woof, Mayhew’s Hounds on the Heath and All Dogs Matter’s Pup Idol. There is a chance that the dog shows will get canceled or postponed due to the hot weather so make sure to check the weather forecast before you go and that the event is still on.
Paddle Round the Pier is the largest FREE charity beach festival in Europe and runs every year on the beautiful venue of Hove Lawns (Brighton) featuring an exciting lineup
Paddle Round the Pier is the largest FREE charity beach festival in Europe and runs every year on the beautiful venue of Hove Lawns (Brighton) featuring an exciting lineup of water sports – surfing, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding (SUP) and kitesurfing to name a few. Paddle round the Pier also has a pawsome event for doggos – The Paddle Round The Pier Doggy Paddle where dogs and their owners take to SUP paddleboards for a 15-minute group paddle of 25 metres to attempt a world record for the most dogs (and humans on paddleboards).
To take part in Paddle Round The Pier Doggy Paddle you do need to bring your own board to take part in the event (the organisers may have some spare to borrow on the day but this is not guaranteed so get there early).
However, even if you’re not taking part this is a great event to watch and then enjoy the rest of the festival fun, see the festival timetable here with what’s on.
The Paddle Round The Pier Festival takes place on 06-07 July 209 with the doggy paddle taking place on 07 July at 11am – you need to be signed in by 10:30 and be on the beach by 10:45 to take part. FREE but please register here.
Please note: Dogs must be over 1 year of age and in good health. Any dogs that appear to be aggressive or stressed in any way will not be able to participate.
Get ready for the Stockwell Festival Fun Dog Show at the Stockwell Festival on the 6th of July 2019! The Stockwell Festival starts from 1pm – 7pm with the
Get ready for the Stockwell Festival Fun Dog Show at the Stockwell Festival on the 6th of July 2019! The Stockwell Festival starts from 1pm – 7pm with the Fun Dog Show taking place from 3-4.30pm.
Sign up for one of the fun categories from 2pm for £2 per dog per category. The categories include The Waggiest Tail, Dog & Owner Lookalike, The Best Trick, Golden Oldie, Cutest Pup and a category most close to our hearts – My Rescue.
Beautiful rosettes and super cool prizes from Pupsicle UK await all winners! Get your paws on ice treats made from delicious fruit and vegetables created just for dogs!
All participants will receive “goodie bags to bark for” filled with treats from Bob & Lush and Fish4Dogs, as well as special offers from Lapdog Photo Productions and Kirby Dog Services. Ella of Kirby Dog Services provides certified, positive reinforcement dog & puppy training for London canines and will act as a judge on the day.
All pawsome competitors will also be emailed an exclusive 25% Off first order promo code for The Rockster dog superfood! (Please leave your email address during the sign up process).
The Stockwell Festival Fun Dog Show will be presented by the wonderful Marianna who runs a dog-friendly Ely Cottages B&B based at St Stephen’s Terrace, London SW8 1DE.
Dog & Family photoshoot sessions by Lapdog Photo Productions will take place after the dog show and can be booked in advance for just £30 by contacting email@example.com
Celebrate all that’s great about London summers at this dog-friendly event with plenty to do for the whole family from our dog show to live music, drink, food and craft!
If you dream of escaping to the coast with your dog this summer, then our guide to the best dog-friendly beaches in West Sussex is just what you need. Nestled on the south coast, between East Sussex on one side and Hampshire on the other, West Sussex is one of the most accessible coastal areas from London and home to many beaches that are dog-friendly all year round, even in summer. This means you can enjoy a beach day out with your dog from London in under two hours whenever you want.
For many of the beaches we visited, you could have imagined you were abroad as the beach stretched a backdrop of a bright blue sky with the blue-green sea sparkling in the sun! Beaches in West Sussex are generally shingle beaches but when the tide goes out, miles of compact sand is just waiting for pups to play. And let’s be honest, from a dog’s perspective, they probably don’t care if the tide is in or out – they’re just happy to be on an adventure that involves the sea with their human!
I grew up in West Sussex, so it’s an area that I know and love. Although, I never would have guessed that I would be back many years later visiting old haunts, not to find the best sunbathing spots as I would have done years ago but to find the best beaches where dogs are allowed and humans can hang out with their hound.
We’ve been busy visiting many of Sussex’s beaches (someone’s got to do it) and when putting together this list, we considered several factors…the beach itself, any dog restrictions in place, how easy it was to get there from London and any dog-friendly amenities nearby. Even if the beach has dog-friendly facilities, always make sure to take water with you for your dog so they can stay hydrated and even a cooling coat or bandana if you think they’ll need it.
So here are some of our favourite dog-friendly beaches in West Sussex and the essential info you need to know to make the most of your dog day out at the beach.
Top tip: when planning your beach day out, don’t forget to check tide times which you can do on this website – if your pup is not yet used the sea, then visiting at low tide is best. Rest assured that whether you visit at low tide or high tide and the beach is shingle or sand, there’s a feeling you just can’t beat when you’re ‘beside the seaside’….with your dog, obviously.
The Best Dog-Friendly Beaches in West Sussex To Visit With Your Dog…
Littlehampton West Beach
Littlehampton West Beach is one of the few places where you will find sand dunes in West Sussex (the best sand dunes we’ve found so far were at dog-friendly Camber Sands in East Sussex). Located next to the River Arun, West beach stretches for miles until you get to Climping (more on that below). There are actually two beaches at Littlehampton – East and West beach, one either side of the river. East Beach is reserved for bathers in the summer which is only fair enough seeing as dogs get a beach reserved for them too over at West Beach. You can get to the beach by either walking past West Beach Café or taking the wooden walkway through the sand dunes around the back of the café (our preference).
Beach Type: Shingle and Sand
Dog Restrictions: None
Dog-friendly Facilities: There’s a small colourful dog-friendly café – West Beach Café just as you enter the beach.
Getting there by public transport: 1 hour 45 minutes on a direct train from London Victoria. From the train station, it’s a 20-minute walk to the beach which can be sped up by taking the Littlehampton Ferry to cross the marina instead of the footbridge (£2 adults, dogs go free).
Getting there by car: Approx. 1 hour 50 minutes drive. Use the postcode BN17 5DL and there’s a pay and display car park just in front of the beach. Although there aren’t many spaces (29 pay and display), we had no trouble parking on a sunny weekend.
Perhaps not so well known as some of the others but a great beach to visit with your dog thanks to the wide beach, cool wooden beachfront café Perch on Lancing Beach and the large green area behind the beach for dogs to run around on. Perch have a resident dog Harry, plenty of seating indoors and out for humans and hounds and a varied menu for lunch or dinner (dinner available in Summer).
Perch’s resident dog Harry on Lancing Beach with Perch in the background. Photo: Perch on the Beach
Beach Type: Shingle
Dog Restrictions: None
Dog-friendly Facilities: Perch is a large, bright and trendy dog-friendly café, right on the beach – we couldn’t believe they served Acai, one of our favourite smoothies from Brazil! There’s also a large green area, aptly called ‘Beach Green’ just behind the beach so dogs can have some grass time too.
Getting there by public transport: 1 hour 25 minutes on a direct train from London Victoria. From the train station, it’s a 15-minute walk to the beach.
Getting there by car: 1 hour 30 minutes drive. Use the postcode BN15 8RA and there’s a pay and display car park just in front of the beach.
Another ample stretch of dog-friendly beach with a very popular dog-friendly café that we came especially to check out…The Bluebird Café. The café has a real beach feel and is colourful and welcoming to both humans and hounds throughout. You’ll also find a nice row of coloured beach huts set back from the sand slightly – not quite of the West Wittering Beach Huts calibre but great for photos.
Beach Type: Shingle
Dog Restrictions: None
Dog-friendly Facilities: It’s pretty much dog central at the dog-friendly cafe just off the beach, Bluebird Café. They even have their own doggie etiquette cards handed out with the menus and pet station signs. The fish and chips were very tasty and the outdoor seating area is well organised although the area is quite narrow. So if your dog needs some extra space then grabbing a takeaway to go sit on the beach could be the way to go.
Getting there by public transport: 1 hour 30 minutes on a direct train from London Victoria. From the train station, it’s either a 10 bus ride (No.8 to South Ferring Florida Road) or a 30-minute walk to the beach.
Getting there by car: Approx. 1 hour 50 minutes drive. Use the postcode BN12 5QU and there’s a car park just in front of the beach next to The Bluebird Café.
Shoreham by Sea Beach
The quickest beach to reach from London by train and like all it’s West Sussex counterparts it offers miles of shingle beach that is dog-friendly year round. However post-beach time we always look for a dog-friendly café and as there isn’t one right on the beach, we’d recommend going one stop further on the train to Lancing beach, see #2 above.
Beach Type: Shingle
Dog Restrictions: None
Dog-friendly Facilities: Not directly on the beach but you can walk back to Shoreham town. Alternatively, it’s a 40-minute walk along the beach to Lancing where pups can hang out at Perch on Lancing Beach, see above.
Getting there by public transport: 1 hour 15 minutes on a direct train from London Victoria. From the train station, it’s a 15-minute walk to the beach.
Getting there by car: Approx 1 hour 40 minutes drive. Street parking is the way to go here (don’t worry, it’s not as restrictive as London).
Climping Beach is the beach to come to if you want to get away from it all. It feels peaceful and remote even though it’s the next beach along from Littlehampton’s West Beach which you can walk to in an hour. We pretty much had the beach to ourselves apart from a couple of other swimmers and dog walkers, so it’s a good beach to come to if your dog needs some space.
When you arrive, dogs even have their own ‘dog-friendly car park’ which we thought was great! In reality, this is because the car park and beach area to the left as you arrive is where dogs can be off lead and the car park and beach area to the right is where dogs need to be on a lead. Lots of parking is available and there’s a small café housed in a converted shipping container with plenty of seating on the grass area outside.
As the saying goes, the best things in life are FREE! We love a dog-friendly London ticketed event as much as the next pup parent just not all the time. Fortunately, there are so many cool things to do for canines in London that won’t cost you a penny outside of the cost of your tube /train/bus or boat to get there! In our latest dog-friendly London roundup ‘42 Free Dog-friendly Things To Do in London‘, we have enough free things to do in London with your dog to keep you both busy without dipping into your bank balance. Read on for plenty of (free) inspiration…
Photo: Emma O’Brien
Free Dog-friendly Things To Do in London | Parks
Obviously one of the best free things to do with your dog is to explore one of London’s many many parks. We’re not going to list them all but here are some favourites to fill your weekends…
(1-8) The Royal Parks – A walk through one (or all) of London’s Royal Parks should be on every Londoners to do list. Choose from Hyde Park, St James’s Park, Regent’s Park, Green Park and Kensington Gardens, Greenwich, Richmond and Bushy Park, all with something very different to offer. In each park, there are some areas where dogs must be kept on a lead and others where they are not permitted (see here) but there is still plenty to explore. Technically that’s eight different things to do but who’s counting.
(9) Hackney Marshes – A favourite amongst many an East London pup is Hackney Marshes and if you don’t know the area but feel like exploring, then our pals over at Fetch & Follow have just the suggested Hackney Marshes walk for you.
(11) Hampstead Heath – A North London favourite to escape the hustle and bustle of the capital but still keep it in your sights with impressive views of the London skyline from Parliament Hill. It also hosts many a London Dog Event too.
(12) Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – get to know what’s dubbed as the ‘UK’s most exciting urban park’, stroll along the Lee Valley River or see the Olympic Rings still standing next to the Lee Valley VeloPark.
(13) Battersea Park – Home to the stunning Peace Pagoda with plenty of space for dogs to explore, Battersea Park just over Albert Bridge or Chelsea Bridge is one of our favourite London parks.
Free Dog-friendly Things To Do in London | Attractions
As a rule, London’s attractions aren’t dog-friendly and we get why that is, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them as backdrops for ‘that’ photo for the ‘gram. Here are some of our favourite London landmarks for pup posing…
(14) Buckingham Palace – although Her Majesty is definitely a dog lover, we’ll have to make do with the many photo opportunities from outside. Our particular favourite is from the wall on the Victoria Memorial opposite the main gates. Watch out pups, you may suddenly find you become a tourist attraction in your own right in the process.
Photo: Emma O’Brien
(15) Tower Bridge – although dogs are allowed to visit Tower Bridge (not for free), the pictures from outside are better in our opinion and there are some great viewpoints such as the one from next to the river near the Sundial at St Katharine’s docks.
Photo: Emma O’Brien
(16) Notting Hill – one of London’s most iconic and colourful neighbourhoods is perfect for a photo stroll with your pup. Maybe avoid Saturdays when Notting Hill is super busy thanks to it being Portobello Road Market’s main day.
Photo: Emma O’Brien
(17) Chelsea – colour abounds in the side streets of Chelsea plus it’s home to the ‘Love Door’ on Oakley Street and now there’s a Peggy Porschen on Kings Road too – what more could you ask for.
(18) Chelsea in Bloom – only on for one week each year in May but what a flower-filled week it is – you’ll take enough photos to fill your feed for months to come.
(19) Chinatown – If you’re walking through central London, mosey on down through Chinatown which is ablaze in colour (usually red) and always has something going on. If you’re feeling peckish for some Chinese flavours, it will cost you extra but nearby Duck and Rice serves delicious food AND is dog-friendly.
Free Dog-friendly Things To Do in London| Art
Photo: Emma O’Brien
London’s indoor art galleries are generally off-limits to pups (there are some exceptions) but there’s plenty of art to enjoy on the streets of London for free and to create your very own Woof and Walls moment…
(21) Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel – a secret underground street art tunnel below Waterloo that will blow your mind. One to visit during the day as opposed to at night, at the end of the tunnel closest to Lower Marsh there’s an outdoor section too.
Photo: Emma O’Brien
(22) Brick Lane – Not only famous for its weekend street market (the main busy day is Sunday) but also for its street art. The best street art is found on the side streets off Brick Lane itself, towards the Shoreditch end.
(23) Pedley Street – We stumbled upon this one day and couldn’t quite believe what was tucked away down this unassuming street off Brick Lane – walls and walls of street art await running alongside the overground railway line.
Free Dog-friendly Things To Do in London| Gardens
London’s Community Gardens offer a chance to step away from the hustle and bustle of London life even if just for a few moments. Here are some to visit…
(25) Postman’s Park – This public garden near St Paul’s Cathedral is not just any garden, it’s home to the ‘Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice’ with 54 plaques dedicated to an ordinary person who died doing something extraordinary to save someone else – you’ll want to read each and every one.
(26) Nomadic Community Garden – In keeping with the East London street art vibe, the Nomadic Community Garden is an eclectic jumble of colour and things – definitely more on the grunge side of the tracks. One to combine with a visit to some of the street art recommendations above as it’s off Pedley Street (you may have seen it on the overground train as you come into Shoreditch).
Free Dog-friendly Things To Do in London| Historic Houses
What do you get when six humans, four dogs and a picnic big enough to last for a week take to the River Thames on a self-drive electric boat…a hilarious day out for humans and hounds! That’s definitely what we had when we were invited to try out dog-friendly Go Boat Kingston, the latest dog-friendly boating experience to hit London from Go Boat London.
You may remember we reviewed the dog-friendly Go Boat experience on Regent’s Canal last summer and had a fabulous time, so on an overcast Sunday afternoon, Belinha, Lilliput, Claude and Orly together with their humans, were very excited to try out Go Boat’s new location in Kingston Upon Thames.
Claude, Belinha, Lilliput and Orly
ABOUT GO BOAT LONDON
Since first launching in Copenhagen and then coming to London in 2017 at Paddington, taking one of the Go-Boat self-drive electric boats for a spin is must on the ‘London To-Do List’. The boats are eco-friendly (the foam kernel of the boat is made from 80% recycled PET – the equivalent of about 600 plastic bottles) and travel at just over 5mph so can be driven by people without any previous boating experience – don’t worry, you are given instructions by the Go Boat crew on how to operate the boat before setting off.
DOG-FRIENDLY BOATING ON THE THAMES VS REGENT’S CANAL
Just like Go Boat Paddington, the Go Boat Kingston experience offers the chance to charter your own boat but this time with a very different experience…sailing along the River Thames, the thought of which was both exciting and somewhat terrifying at the same time!
Sailing down the Thames is quite different from sailing down Regent’s Canal, especially when you may be a beginner captain! Contrary to what I expected, the general consensus from those on board who had done both trips was that it’s actually easier to captain the Go Boat along the Thames than it is along Regent’s Canal. This is mainly due to the fact that on the canal you have less space to manoeuvre so until you find your boat legs, you may not end up going in the direction you were aiming for!
On the Thames however, there is much more open space so everything is easier. Of course, there are other boats on the river with you and some of these are big boats, but as long as you stay to the side and follow the instructions of the Go Boat crew, then there is plenty of space for everyone to sail along without any mishaps.
We initially put the captainship in the paws of Lilliput and Claude but soon had to hand over the tiller to our proper captain – Claude’s dad Ian (disclaimer – obviously we didn’t actually let the dogs drive the boat but they do make for very cute captains in the figurative sense).
The ‘real’ captain
OUR DOG-FRIENDLY GO BOAT KINGSTON EXPERIENCE
For the Go Boat Kingston experience, you have two choices of routes – one towards Molesley Lock passing Hampton Court and the other, towards Teddington Lock as you can see on the map here.
We had booked the two-hour boating experience which was enough time to do one of the routes, so we chose to sail towards Hampton Court. Surprisingly, although it took approximately an hour in either direction, the time absolutely flew by.
Everyone brought along picnic goodies which are definitely recommended to put the finishing touches to your time on board. Alcohol is allowed as long as you stick to the following limits – either two bottles/cans per person of standard strength beer, larger, or pre-mixed spirits or, one 750ml bottle of wine/champagne/prosecco between 2 people. Obviously, anyone driving the boat must remain sober throughout the trip and stick to alcohol-free options.
In the end, we had enough food and drink on board to feed us for several days! The dogs couldn’t believe their luck at all the pup picnic items with the pupcakes made by Lilliput’s mum and the Snuffle dog beer being the biggest hits and devoured at record speed.
After sailing past Thames Ditton Island and spotting many a gorgeous house to envy along the way, we arrived at Hampton Court. The impressive gilded gates and views of Hampton Court Palace from our unique angle definitely were worth choosing this route for our trip.
All too soon, we reached Hampton Court Bridge and it was time to turn back for the return trip and the last chance to finish off our picnic!
WAS IT A PAWS UP FOR OUR DOG-FRIENDLY BOATING EXPERIENCE?
Absolutely! Everyone agreed that it had been a lovely afternoon doing something different with our dogs and for those who hadn’t been on a dog-friendly Go Boat before, that it was a really fantastic experience.
Those who had done the Go Boat experience on Regent’s Canal were just as big fans and pleased that the experiences are sufficiently different that you don’t feel that you doing the same thing twice. There were some differing views on favourite experiences between the two for different reasons – sailing down the open water of The Thames was a winner for some and the uniqueness of navigating Regents Canal for others. Either way, it’s definitely a paws up for both experiences.
DOGS GO BOATING – TOP TIPS FOR THE TRIP
Our number one tip for the dog-friendly Go Boat London experiences has to be to bring something for your dog to sit on. As the surface of the boats is quite shiny this can be a bit unsettling and slippery for dogs. Belinha is really not comfortable with slippery surfaces, so this time I bought along a non-slip dog mat as last time, even the towel she sat on would slip.
The other top tip would be to bring a picnic but don’t go overboard like we did (pardon the pun). Do make sure you have some special treats in the picnic hamper for the pups though, as the experience is all about them too. Plus, if your pup is a nervous sailor then a pupcake or some chicken will help get them in the sailing spirit.
None of the dogs on board were swimmers (in fact quite the opposite), but if your dog is partial to a suprise swim, then investing in a doggy life jacket is probably wise and there are some reasonably priced ones on Amazon. Keeping a tight hold of them is also recommended as an unexpected dive into The Thames would be quite different to a dip in Regents Canal. Claude brought along his armbands just in case…
Go Boat allows eight passengers on board and those passengers can be people or pups. However, if your pup is a small dog and can sit on your lap (the guideline is that they should weigh less than a 2-year-old child), then they don’t count towards the passenger limit.
We took the two hour Go Boat Kingston experience which was enough time to go to Hampton Court Palace and back. However, if I was doing it again for the first time, I would recommend booking the three hour trip as it would give you time to sail in both directions, taking in both Teddington Lock and Hampton Court Palace.
HOW TO GET TO DOG-FRIENDLY GO BOAT KINGSTON
If you’ve been to Go Boat in Merchant Square in Paddington, you’ll know it’s easily spotted with all the boats lined up next to the jetty so we were looking for the same when we arrived at Kingston. However, the entrance to Go Boat Kingston is almost hidden, tucked away down some steps on Kingston’s Riverside Walk opposite Côte Brasserie and Haché Riverside Social – in fact, you could walk right past it if you weren’t looking.
As you will have seen from the busy London Dog Events Calendar, breed-specific cafés are often on the list of things to do. We caught up with London travel and lifestyle blogger Hannah and her adorable Pom, Bear to find out what exactly goes down at one of these events, specifically the Pomeranian Pop-up Café that took place last month….
Pomeranian Pop-up Café London Review By Hannah and Bear
On the 12th May 2019, the Happenstance in St Pauls played host to the fluffiest event in town. Also known as the Pomeranian Pop-up Café London! The event sold out in no time but myself and Bear managed to secure ourselves some tickets, dragging along a very unexcited Pom dad. The event was themed around the film “The Secret Life of Pets 2” and from the moment we arrived I could tell Bear felt like she was the star attraction. This was probably due to the number of treats being handed out, left, right and centre.
The Pomeranian Pop-up Café London
On arrival, each Pom was given a puppuccino and each Pom fan given a bag of dog treats (to entice dogs for cuddles). Which of course worked perfectly on Bear! Each and every person that we met was super friendly, and it was nice to be surrounded by so many fellow dog lovers. Nothing against cats, but dogs are just the best, aren’t they?!
Homemade snacks especially for Pomeranians
If that wasn’t enough, they also had an entire table laid with treats just for Pomeranians. From ‘dognuts to pupcakes’ they had something for every pup, I even spied some pawsecco! Bear was a huge fan and spent most of the time loitering underneath the treat table, I taught her well! Whilst the Poms were being treated and fussed this gave the pawrents a chance to chat and grab a drink from the well-stocked bar, as well as a spot of brunch. It was also really funny to see the similarities between Bear and other Poms, turns out her 360 trick isn’t all that original…
Easy as a Sunday morning
With a whole host of dogs and children in a fairly enclosed space, the Pomeranian pop-up had all the ingredients to be a total nightmare but it was the absolute opposite. Staff were really laid back, there were minimal accidents and each and every dog I saw seemed content and happy running around off lead.
One of the best things about the event was the cute little props that were set up all over the restaurant. From tiny little Pomeranian sized sofas to Instagram picture frames – I was in my element. With all of the fab food on offer, plenty of photo ops and lots of socialisation for pups, it’s no surprise that the event whizzed by and our 70 minutes were up in no time!
That’s a wrap
I can honestly say that the Pomeranian pop-up was so well run and the only thing that I’d have changed is that I’d liked to have stayed longer! Even Bear’s dad, who was sceptical at first, left with a smile on his face and a cupcake in his hand! The event was run by The Pug Café and although predominantly aimed at Pug Owners, they often run breed-specific events… Bear and I will definitely be looking out for the next one!
I Believe in Dog…oh yes I do. I cannot tell you how much I love that phrase, one many of you will recognise from animal welfare charity Wild at Heart Foundation’s fabulous merch. Well, now the famous I Believe in Dog phrase has come to life in more ways than one through I Believe in Dog: The Pop-up, a four week retail (and events) residency in the heart of Covent Garden throughout June. We were invited to the launch party and went along with top dog model Lilliput the Maltese to reaffirm our belief in dog and to see what’s in store for London’s latest pup pop-up…
I Believe In Dog: The Pop-up
Nestled across two floors in a gorgeous space in Seven Dials, I Believe in Dog: The Pop-up welcomed London’s animal lovers, celeb supporters and pup influencers to the launch last week for a taste of what was in store for the month ahead. As well as drinks and dogs galore, pups and people were treated to a beautifully decorated space full of fabulous brands such as Found My Animal, Hoop N Loop, Barc London, Fetch & Follow and more.
Fresh flowers courtesy of Wild at Heart Foundation founder and celebrated floristNikki Tibbles put the finishing touches to the space and guests got into the party spirit with a special DJ set from dog lover Pixie Geldof.
Little and large…Lilliput the Maltese and Zeus the London Malumute
Never mind the tunes, it’s all about the cuddles…Lilliput cosies up to Pixie Geldof
Before the launch party, I wasn’t really sure what was in store (literally) but I was really impressed. Think shopping from fabulous four-legged and two-legged brands (see below for the full list), an exciting events line-up, art and more, all putting pup philanthropy first and foremost to raise funds and awareness for stray dogs all over the world.
I Believe in Dog: The Pop-up is open from 10am-6pm daily until 29th June and of course, it’s dog-friendly so you can visit with your best friend. It’s the perfect chance to shop and support a great cause at the same time – in particular, we loved the chance to see the Wild at Heart merch in person rather than just online (with exclusive editions created by Hoop N Loop for this event) and came away with some gorgeous ‘I Believe in Dog’ pieces.
Photo: Wild at Heart Foundation – Hoop N Loop special edition
It’s not all about shopping, however. There’s also an exciting events line-up throughout the month culminating in a fabulous I Believe in Dog: The Pop-up Farewell Festival as part of the Seven Dials Festival 30 on 29th June. Here’s what’s on…
I Believe In Dog: The Pop-up Events
Sunday 9th June | 10am-midday | Canine coffee morning | Entry is free, but please register interest in advance
Sunday 9th June | 2-3:30pm | Nikki Tibbles Wild at Heart flower class | Tickets cost £150 pp | 10 spaces per class (Classes also on Wednesday 19th June and Wednesday 26th June)
Wednesday 12th June | 6-7:30pm | Kate Spicer book signing: ‘8 things only dog owners would know’ | Tickets are free, with a suggested donation of £10. Limited spaces available.
Thursday 13th June | 6:30-7:30pm / 8-9pm | ‘Doga’ class |Tickets cost £15 pp. 10 spaces per class.
Sunday 16th June | 2-4pm | Sally Muir potato print workshop & book signing | Tickets are free, with a suggested donation of £10
Thursday 20th June | 6-7:30pm | Damian Dibben: book signing & reading | Tickets are free, with a suggested donation of £10
Monday 24th June | 6:30-8:30pm | Wild Life Drawing class | Tickets cost £30 each. 25 spaces available.
Thursday 27th June | 6:30-8pm | ‘How to photograph your dog’ | Tickets cost £12.50 each. Limited availability.
Saturday 29th June | All day | I Believe in Dog: The Pop-up Farewell Festival: The pop-up will be going out with a bang on Saturday 29th as part of the Seven Dials’ Festival where Wild at Heart will be getting into the party spirit with craft beer, music, and some very special guests. Finally, at 4pm, London’s dog lovers will head out on a Wild at Heart Foundation Dog Parade round historic Seven Dials. Attendance at the farewell festival is free.
So London dogs, make sure you and your humans pay a visit to I Believe in Dog: The Pop-up whilst you can. Not only will you likely find or do something fabulous whilst you’re there, but you’ll be helping Wild at Heart Foundation change the lives of suffering street dogs all over the world and saying yes….I Believe in Dog.
The I Believe in Dog Pop-Up is on until 29th June at 57-59 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9EZ, 10am-6pm daily with special event times as listed above.
Brands in residence at I Believe in Dog: The Pop-up are: ANABELA CHAN • BARC LONDON • BIRD + WOLF • BOMBSHELL HQ • BUTTERNUT BOX • DINNY HALL • FETCH & FOLLOW • HIP HOP HOMES • HOOP N LOOP • HUNTER • JOANA LING • JO MALONE • KINN BEAUTY • LABORATORY PERFUMES • LOQUET LONDON • MAISON VES • MALONE SOULIERS • MANOLO BLAHNIK • MEME LONDON • NIKKI TIBBLES WILD AT HEART • PET’S PYJAMAS • PRAI • ROSIE FORTESCUE • SIRIUS • SOPHIE CONRAN • SOPHIE LIS • TIMOTHY HAN •
See more fabulous events for London Dogs on our London Dog Events Calendar
It’s a standing joke in our house that there are more dog beds around than there is human furniture to sit on – six dog beds for two dogs at the last count – at least they are spoilt for choice! Given dogs spend 12-14 hours a day sleeping (it really is a dog’s life), making sure they have a comfortable and supportive bed to sleep on is essential. So when ‘Scruffs’ got in touch to see if we would like to try out a Scruffs Orthopaedic Dog Bed we said absolutely…you can never have too many dog beds right? Now that both Belinha and Moleque are ‘senior dogs’, it’s even more important that the dog beds give their joints the right support as well as a good night’s sleep so trying out one of the Scruffs orthopaedic dog beds sounded perfect.
I’d already had a good experience with Scruffs having bought Belinha one of their Thermal dog coats for winter days at doggy daycare which has been brilliant for keeping her joints warm so I was intrigued to try out their dog beds. Before we dive in to the dog bed review, I should say that Scruffs have several different styles of orthopaedic dog beds but we chose to try out the ‘Scruffs Chateau Box Bed’ in Dove Grey (which also comes in Latte), as I know my dogs prefer a bed with sides that they can snuggle into as opposed to a flat mattress style bed. The bed we tried out was the XL size bed (90 x 70 x 16 cm) and as you’ll see this gave both Belinha and Moleque who are medium-sized 20Kg dogs, room for stretching out as well as snuggling, one dog at a time.
We’ve had our Scruffs bed for a couple of months now so it’s been put to a thorough test, here’s what we thought….
7 Reasons Why It’s A Paws Up For The Scruffs Orthopaedic Dog Bed
#1 The dogs love it: The number reason why we can give a paws up for the Chateau Box Bed is that the dogs LOVE it. They will always choose the Scruffs bed over the other dog bed in the lounge, which is not so shabby as the other bed is a Casper dog bed. Dogs may not be able to speak but in this case actions definitely speak louder than words even if they could.
#2 Practical for pups (and people): From a human perspective, I have learnt that being a dog mum means practical products are worth every penny. For me, that means a dog bed HAS to have a washable cover and this one does. Both the inner and outer covers come off and can be washed on a 30-degree gentle wash. The only things that can’t be washed are the side bolsters (which can be wiped down) and inner mattress but that’s in a water-resistant cover anyway (more on that in a moment).
#3 Keeps water (and other liquids) out: Another thing that attracted me to the Chateau Box Bed was the water-resistant liner. Moleque has IBS so often regurgitates his food (lovely I know) and of course, he prefers to do this on soft furnishings i.e. one of the dog beds or if he wants to really give me a special treat, the sofa. So having a dog bed that is not only washable but water resistant was a big selling point from my perspective. The inner cushion is the water-resistant part of this bed thanks to the cover and so far it has withstood everything Moleque has thrown at it (literally). The water-resistant cover doesn’t make a noise either which is good as we’ve had beds in the past which have done so and I’ve found that the dogs are not fans of complimentary sound effects with their bed.
#4 It’s good for older dogs: The bed consists of a memory foam fill both for the main bed cushion and the side bolsters and the dogs look very comfortable and supported when lying on it. I also had a try of the bed and it felt very comfortable. The bolsters not only give somewhere for the dogs to rest their heads (and keep one eye on what’s going on) but help them feel safe in their beds (apparently that’s a fact).
#5 It won’t break the bank: On that note, the Scruffs Chateau Box Bed is great value for money at £49.99 for the medium bed or £69.99 for the extra-large bed. Of course, there are many different types of Orthopaedic dog beds on the market with different types of memory foam filling or even pocket sprung, but often you will find they are at least double the price of this one.
#6 Doggy durable: We’ve had our bed for a couple of months now and it’s endured several Moleque ‘post-dinner specials’ with the covers being washed as well as lots of muddy paws and is as good as new. One thing I will say is that when we first got the bed, the cushion didn’t seem to settle into the bed but after some wearing in that’s gone away. I would recommend shaking the cushion and turning it regularly for the first few weeks as well as taking out and repositioning the side bolsters if need be to sort this out.
#7 It looks good too: These days there so many dog bed options to choose from that if you’re like me, it’s easy to get caught up on how it looks but then you often don’t get the functionality or vice versa. We’re glad we chose the Dove Grey Chateau Box Bed as it was easy to blend into the rest of the lounge, ticking both boxes.
And that’s a wrap…Happy Snoozing Puppers!
Giveaway Alert! If you’ve read our review and would like to get your paws on a Chateau Box Bed for yourself then you’re in luck, as we’ve teamed up with Scruffs to give a Chateau Box Bed in XL, RRP £69.99 away to one lucky dog!Just head over to our Insta for details on how to enter…Good Luck!
Sometimes, there is nothing better than being a tourist in your own city and we’ve been making a point to discover more of the everyday great places London has to offer, often right on our doorstep. We recently paid a long overdue visit to Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park in Kennington, a park which has something for both humans and hounds. The park surrounds the impressive Imperial War Museum, is home to the Tibetan Peace Memorial and for dogs, the Geraldine Mary Harmsworth dog agility park – no doubt the most central of any public dog agility space in London.
Now, we should say that agility is most definitely not Belinha’s ‘thing’ but we know it will be for plenty of pups and the dog agility park offers the chance to dip paws into the world of agility to see if it could be your hound workout of choice.
So let’s see what Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park has to offer…
3 Reasons to Visit Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park
1. Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, The Imperial War Museum
We entered the park via the entrance opposite Barkham Terrace (how we would love to live in a terrace with that name) on Lambeth Road and immediately in front of us was theImperial War Museum with the iconic 15 inch guns from the HMS Ramillies and HMS Resolution which have been guarding the entrance to the museum since 1968.
Understandably dogs aren’t allowed in the museum but they can enjoy the area directly in front of it, which is perfect for a photo for the ‘gram. If you happen to visit with two or more humans, they can take it in turns to go into the museum which is free to enter.
2. Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park Dog Agility Area
So this is probably the #1 reason for doggos to visit! If you’re standing facing the museum, walk to the right looping behind the museum and you will come to an open park space which is perfect for some lazy lounging with a historic backdrop.
Continue through the park area towards Kennington Road and you will soon spot the Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Dog Agility area. With two ramps, two weaves, two types of jumps (the giant paw has to be the winner) and a tunnel, it’s enough to try out agility, practice if you’ve got your sights on being a pro or just enjoy a fun workout with your human.
Belinha was more than happy to demonstrate the art of agility posing but needless to say, not agility itself.
However, whilst we were there, a tiny little chihuahua demonstrated that any dog can have a go (and fly around the course).
3. Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, The Tibetan Peace Garden
After some relaxing park time and fun at the agility area, we headed back to the main entrance and just to the left of the Imperial War Museum to the small enclosed area which is home to the Tibetan Peace Garden, created by the Tibet Foundation. The Peace Garden was opened and consecrated by the Dalai Lama himself in 1999 as a place of peace in support of one of the Dalai Lama’s teachings – ‘the need to create understanding between different cultures and to establish places of peace and harmony in the world.’ Paws up to that.
We enjoyed some tranquil time out watching the world go by and it was the perfect conclusion to our visit to Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park.
How to Get To Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park
Getting there is super easy, with Lambeth North being the closest underground station (5 minutes walk) followed by Elephant and Castle (10 minutes walk) or Borough (20 minutes walk).
If you haven’t been yet, it’s a lovely place to visit with your pup. And if you’re looking for some dog-friendly dining inspiration nearby, then we suggest heading to the very dog-friendly Mercato Metropolitano which is a 10-15 min walk away – featured alongside Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park in Amber the Basset Fauve’s My Dog-friendly London Guide to the area.