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Features

Animal SOS Sri Lanka

I had to go to a work event in Chingford and was having a look around the area.

As you know I have taken an interest in dog ornaments in charity shops. So I was pleased to walk past this wonderful pair!

Then I saw this was an animal charity shop.

Inside I met Kim Cooling, the founder of Animal SOS Sri Lanka. Her vision and commitment is incredible.

The shop itself is really well-run and has lots of great clothes, books, records, DVDs, ornaments, crockery and more.

And there were even more super dog ornaments!

I took a copy of their newsletter and gave them a donation for it.

I also went to Caffè Nero for a Skinny Latte (I find their Cappuccino a bit strong) with some shortbread biscuits.

A super day!

Categories
Cafés

Little Brown Dog

This novel is based on the real historical event of the ‘Brown Dog affair’.

In 1903, two feminist and anti-vivisectionist activists, Lizzy Lind af Hageby and Leisa Schartau, having infiltrated a lecture by William Bayliss of the Department of Physiology of University College London, alleged they witnessed him perform a cruel vivisection on an inadequately-anaesthetised brown terrier dog.

Prominent barrister Stephen Coleridge supported them and publicly accused Bayliss of torture.

Bayliss sued for libel at The Royal Courts of Justice.

The anti-vivisectionists commissioned a bronze statue of the dog as a memorial, unveiled in 1906 at the Latchmere Recreation Ground in the progressive area of Battersea.

The medical establishment was enraged by the statue, and medical students led attacks of vandalism against it, which inflamed into riots where they clashed against a coalition including suffragettes and trade unionists.

The novel is a fictional, imagined version of the lives of the two key female activists.

Wealthy Lena Hageby welcomes Eliza Blackwood to live with her. After what they witness at the lecture they become devoted to the cause of the little brown dog. However Eliza is also in love with conflicted medical student Jack Forsyth.

One of their first dates is in a Lyons’ tea shop. This novel is in many ways a love-letter to London – but not shy of the perennial themes of over-crowdedness, inequality and pollution.

The whole time reading this book, in my head I was watching it as a film. I really believe there is a great film to be made here! The writer herself has said she first wrote the book as a screenplay. The style I was imagining was Finding Neverland (2004) or Miss Potter (2006). A film might prefer a happy ending, though in the book the story takes a turn at the end which is uncomfortable and bittersweet.

I have found it extraordinary to discover the history of the ‘Brown Dog affair’.

The statue remains controversial. After the fate of the original in 1910, a new statue created by Nicola Hicks was unveiled in Battersea Park in 1985, which was again taken down in 1992, before finally being reinstated in 1994 to a more secluded area of the park.

This very special and beautiful book has captured a story we ought to know.

Categories
Cafés

England’s Lane, Belsize Park

A really charming spot, I found England’s Lane welcoming and convivial, with a gallery-café vibe.

Here is my Skinny Cappuccino.

They have fresh cakes and pastries on display in flavours including Carrot & Pistachio and Coconut & Spinach, and lovely brunch offerings such as scrambled eggs or toasted bagels.

There is this nook on the side for takeaway orders. 

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Blog Entry

Dog Ornaments

Though it will be hard to top this fabulous pair, here is a new thread on the blog: dog ornaments in charity shops.

It’s the kind of thing a Production Buyer might choose for a mantelpiece in a TV show like Heartbeat.

I spotted this little one today in Saint Francis Hospice.

I am intrigued to find out more about the place of this dog figure in the upcoming Shaun Evans play Manor at The National Theatre.

Photo from National Theatre web site
Categories
Dog Events

The Four Legged Foodie Fest

The Four Legged Foodies is a great directory of dog-friendly places to eat out in London. The Four Legged Social Club hold some events, and this was the first Four Legged Foodie Fest.

I liked the seating area – it felt fine to just sit down with a coffee and take your time. I had a little macchiato as Electric Beans didn’t have Skimmed Milk.

The stalls showcased independent UK businesses making high-quality products, such as Hiro + Wolf who take a lot of design inspiration from Africa

The fashionable DOGLDN

And artist Kitty Draws Dogs.

My favourite stall was Whimsical Tails Co. They had made these cute peanut butter treats, and the inimitable Cedric the Pomeranian was modelling on the stall!

The LDN Craft Mini Bar was there as well as pasta and cupcake stalls for humans and several pet food brands.

Urban Mutts is a new dog Club and Hotel in the excellent location of the Westfield shopping centre in White City – I must pop in to see them soon.

When I got off at the train station I noticed these signs. To be honest I wish I could afford for my glass to always be half Fulham!

Categories
Dog Events

First Half of September Round-Up

At the core of their campaigning and fundraising work PAAW House which stands for Pets Are Always Welcome advocate for pet-friendly homes.

The PAAWstival 2021 Charity Dog Awards and Mini Festival was a chic and polished afternoon at The Happenstance bar in St Paul’s.

There is a good write-up of the day here.

One of the nominees attending was Lyndsey Uglow who has recently brought out a book Leo & Friends: The Dogs with a Healing Touch about her pack of Golden Retrievers who work as therapy dogs at Southampton Children’s Hospital. I was excited to meet these dogs I follow on Twitter, and if some celebrities that you meet are disappointing – these have real star quality! They are big and so calm and reassuring. I felt my anxiety begin to melt as I placed my hand on one of the Dogtor’s heads!

The following Sunday I was on my way to All Dogs Matter Highgate Wood Dog Show when by chance I passed The Dog Olympix in Whittington Park.

I stopped for a while and they explained they are trying to raise money to get a Water Drinking Fountain for the park.

In Highgate Wood, it was really nice to see so many people out and about again after a long time for a large All Dogs Matter event.

I got the chance to meet Jane Elson, author of Moon Dog which is on my reading list, and dog expert and broadcaster Anna Webb.

Some familiar faces from TV were Michelle Collins and Kevin O’Sullivan who are long-term All Dogs Matter supporters.

It was by The Pavilion Café whose food looked nice and freshly-cooked and I would like to try lunch there one day although they did say they don’t have Skimmed Milk.

In other coffee news, Starbucks have confirmed we are officially into Pumpkin Spice Season!

Are you feeling autumnal? 🍂

Categories
Features

Moomin Coffee at Walthamstow Wetlands

I really enjoyed this day at Walthamstow Wetlands.

There is an Exhibition The Woman Who Fell In Love With An Island about Tove Jansson and a Moomin trail.

I hadn’t been sure about going to this because the connection between Walthamstow Wetlands and the Moomins seemed a bit loose.

But once I was there, it was so apt. I really loved it. You could feel the tranquillity and sense of freedom Tove Jansson and the Moomins sought.

The exhibition explains beautifully where the title quote comes from, and I liked one photo in particular of her with a bird.

There are multiple reservoirs and islands at the wetlands, including Heron Island.

I went into the café and showed the man working there the Instagram picture I’d seen of the Moomin cappuccino someone had got there. He laughed and showed me the three different stencils – which one did I want?

On a coffee note I do wish they had Skimmed milk available but like quite a few cafes they only have Semi-Skimmed.

Trails can be confusing and disappointing but I would strongly congratulate the curators of this one.

Entry is free, you can make a contactless donation and there is a nice gift shop.

I didn’t sight many birds but I met @wilder_action around the site and he said it was a bit windy for them that day.

Walthamstow Wetlands hold a lot of free walks and tours and it’s a wonderful place to learn so it’s great to support them.

Categories
Dog Events

Wagadoo at The Organic Pharmacy, Primrose Hill

It was really nice to meet the team behind Wagadoo.

They seem enthusiastic and innovative and are making good partnerships.

They hold events such as the Royal Tea Pawty at The Freud Museum, have a regular Instagram series of interviews with people from the dog world, and curate a pop-up shop with proceeds going to animal charities.

This was at The Organic Pharmacy in Primrose Hill to promote the Charlie & Co Naturals 100% natural range of dog shampoos and products.

It gave me the chance to walk around the beautiful Primrose Hill.

Afterwards I went to Joe & The Juice for a Skinny Cappuccino. I never really go to them despite their cool branding because I don’t get juice. But they were right opposite and their cute outside seating space looked inviting.

Categories
Dog cafes

Barkney Wick, Hackney Wick

I definitely recommend paying a visit to Barkney Wick.

I was a bit wary in advance because I thought it might be too ‘East London hipster’ aesthetic.

But afterwards I felt the café would be a perfect place for a special little coffee date.

It’s a really a nice space, and smells beautiful from all the scented candles and soaps on sale.

The café is entirely plant-based and the fresh pastries and savouries such as vegan sausage rolls on offer are excellent quality.

For coffee I have Skimmed milk myself so for me here it’s just a black coffee or a herbal tea.

There are plant-based dog treats (which you could eat yourself), dog toys, Barkney Wick merchandise, and Wunderdog magazine in stock.

This dog grabbed a squeaky toy from the shelves and ran round causing some mayhem. ‘We will be buying that don’t worry!’ joked the owners. They also bought some treats. What a lucky dog!

There are artworks for sale.

The centre offers core dog services such as training and daycare.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings the place opens up as cocktail bar After Bark which serves an exquisite menu of ‘puptails’ such as Bloodhound Mary and Barkarita.

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Blog Entry

Pet Pavilion, Hampstead

I really liked this artistic window display for Pet Pavilion in Hampstead.

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Blog Entry

Le Pain Quotidien, St Pancras International Station

This was another place I’d wanted to get back to since the pandemic.

I spent some time studying in Paris a few years ago and would regularly travel on the Eurostar from St Pancras and wanted to be reminded of it.

It’s a bit quieter at the moment obviously.

This station’s architecture is so special. I walked round to see everything; the public piano where a young man was playing Yann Tiersen, the DENT clock, Tracey Emin’s ‘I Want My Time With You’, the Betjeman statue honouring a writer I love, the Meeting Place lovers statue, Searcys Champagne bar.

It has top boutiques such as Chanel, Fortnum & Mason and Jo Malone. You can see the web site for the full list and more on the history of the station.

There are several good places for coffee, including a newly-opened branch of Instagram-favourite EL&N which I did make a point of looking in to – and they do have some very nice pink merchandise on sale – but I chose Le Pain Quotidien like I always do.

I absolutely love their pastries and muffins in the takeaway section.

There is also the eating-in area with its large communal table aesthetic, right opposite the Eurostar departures. You can still order the pastries there but the wider menu as well with especially nice breakfasts. I just find it so lovely to be in that atmosphere midway to France and listen to the announcements in French.

Today I held myself back and ordered just a Skinny Cappuccino.

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Blog Entry

Loughton High Road, Essex

I was driving through on what happened to be a really scorching Saturday and it looked so lovely on the High Road with the people sitting outside the little cafés and restaurants so I decided I would stop for a bit on my way back.

In particular I’d seen this Wimpy bar which you don’t see much of any more so that was quaint and reminded me of the old days.

I went into Caffè Nero and it was really lovely inside. I would definitely go back to this branch.

Here is my Skinny Cappuccino with chocolate on top.

A lady brought in the most perfect chihuahua.

Loughton is full of ladies who look like they’ve just stepped out of the salon, and their pooches too.

This lady I spotted by another café is #goals.

There’s a Benefit boutique.

I passed a dog-grooming salon and boutique called Pet-a-Pawter. Inside they had really high-quality things and were grooming a dog at the back behind the window and looked like they were doing a very good job. The lady was also friendly and said she hoped I would give a shout-out on the blog!

Categories
Cafés

Megan’s, Islington

Megan’s was on my radar just before the lockdown came.

It is a set of trendy and proudly dog-friendly restaurants.

Today I visited the Islington branch, whose proper name is Megan’s at the Sorting Office.

Islington is full of lovely little cafes, boutiques and interior design shops.

I went on a Monday morning when it would be quiet, so there was plenty of room in Megan’s and I took a nice table for myself.

I had planned to order my normal coffee but once I was there and browsed the menu which is full of lovely brunches such as Baked Eggs, I thought I’d at least order a croissant.

I had a couple of bites but regretted letting myself be even that indulgent and felt I should have ordered like the lady sitting behind me a black Americano and a green juice!

I was very happy with my Skinny Cappuccino – very hot even though I had not specified Extra Hot as I often have to order in places, and came with chocolate on top.

There is a relaxed vibe and good service throughout.

As you can see from the pictures the décor is really special.

There are cute little sofas for the dogs, who are definitely a key part of the atmosphere.

Nearby there were some ladies in floral dresses having a breakfast meeting – like an American film version of London!

I would definitely recommend this place for a coffee catch-up and I’m sure in the busy times the atmosphere is buzzing.

I hope to try their Espresso Martini one evening.

See more at https://megans.co.uk

Categories
Dog cafes

Dandie Dog Cafe, Hampstead (Now closed)

I heard about this last year and it was on my list of top places to visit when things hopefully got back to normal.

I went on a weekday morning and when I arrived found the staff very welcoming and saw an array of cakes for humans, with a sizeable café space inside and some customers already sitting in with dogs, so I decided to stay in and have a coffee.

The place comes into its own with its offering for dogs. There is a fridge of freshly-baked cakes, a whole menu of hot dishes, plus lots of luxury pick ‘n’ mix treats.

And there are some items such as sequin bomber jackets on sale. For the discerning Hampstead dog!

They have a dog wash downstairs, hold a range of events such as yoga and dog behaviourists, and have a Yappy Hour for the socialisation of puppies.

Please pop in and support them as it is great to have dedicated dog venues like this!

For full information see their web site

Categories
Cafés

Gingerbread Dog at Costa

I saw this a little while ago when it first came out. I’ve tried it now and would actually highly recommend it. It tastes soft and fresh and quite spiced!

It’s also vegan apparently if that interests you. More information can be found on the Costa site.

Categories
Cafés

The Nook, Hampstead

Another café I wanted to try is The Nook.

This was a bit of a celebrity-inspired pilgrimage as Louis Tomlinson’s girlfriend Eleanor Calder has mentioned this place on her Instagram stories.

It’s really tiny and cute as the name suggests, it’s takeaway only and right opposite Hampstead Heath Overground station.

I wanted to try their hot chocolate with giant marshmallow that I’ve seen, but they said they’ve stopped doing this now for the summer season to focus on iced drinks, and I asked them and the marshmallow wasn’t vegetarian anyway so I wouldn’t have had it.

So I ordered my standard coffee and took it to a bench on The Heath to watch the dogs go by.

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Blog Entry

Trip to Oxford for Endeavour filming

On Sunday 6 June I went to Oxford to watch filming of my favourite drama Endeavour. I’ve been to this in the past but so far not this series as I haven’t been travelling until now the pandemic has begun to ease.

It was such a nice day in the end and I feel really grateful for it.

I always arrive there not really believing that the whispers I’ve heard of the filming dates and locations will actually prove true. And then, every time, I walk round a corner and either see one of the old vehicles or the hubbub of the crew, and it just feels like magic.

That day we saw Shaun Evans, Sara Vickers and Director Kate Saxon filming scenes on old buses. I had never realised Sara was so petite, she was like a beautiful little doll, I was so charmed by her. It was also nice to see Kate Saxon again who has become a integral member of #TeamEndeavour. And as for our beloved main man I need say no more!

When the filming broke for lunch I went with other fans to Vaults & Garden. When we’d been here in 2019 to be honest I wasn’t that impressed, but it seems now they are on the top form you’d expect from this classic Oxford venue, as you can see from the pictures. I had a Skinny Cappuccino and carrot cake and it was perfect. There was a really nice atmosphere too, I was sitting inside but near a wide open door to the terrace and it felt very airy and spacious.

I only visit Oxford now for Endeavour, I only like the place when they’re there, like the circus is in town.

I’m not sure there will be any more Endeavour. But I really look forward to making little pilgrimages to see the team in their new projects, and getting coffees along the way of course!

Categories
Blog Entry

Caffè Nero, Highgate

Today I had to go for an appointment in Highgate. I was planning on getting a coffee from Gail’s but once I was on the High Street as I was about to walk past Caffè Nero I went in there, I’ve got nice memories of times sitting in there and today was also nice. It was very airy and the front door was open onto a really sunny day. Highgate is obviously a very lovely place. My usual coffee order is a Skinny Cappuccino. Here it is from Nero with some chocolate on top, small and perfectly formed.

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Blog Entry

Chocolate on top?

Today in Starbucks I was thinking about how nice the sprinkle jars look lined up like this. You can see in the picture there nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla and chocolate. Since recent times they are kept behind the counter with the sugars, and you ask for it at the point of order and the staff will add it to your drink for you. I think it’s nicer like this.

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Blog Entry

Starbucks New Trio of Favourites

I noticed this new cute item in Starbucks this morning. It is a new snack item sold by the till called Trio of Favourites. It is part of Starbucks summer menu and is a mini pack of three favourite Starbucks bakes; the Raspberry & White Chocolate Blondie, Cookies & Cream Brownie, and Chocolate & Caramel Shortbread. My favourite is the Cookies & Cream Brownie because of that adorable mini Oreo.