In the spring, as our pet-free friends jetted off to exotic destinations or embarked on luxury cruises, courtesy of P&O, we cruised, courtesy of sat.nav. along the lanes of Lincolnshire.   North Norfolk was to be the focus of our explorations, the freedom of wide, open spaces holding much more appeal than the claustrophobic, captive companionship of aeroplane or liner . . .  especially for Paddy and Murphy.


Our initial venture onto the marshes, in an attempt to reach the beach, was a navigational disaster.   The immense scale of the dykes, the vast flatness of the wilderness truly amazed, and confused.   Lost and exposed to the April elements, we hunched under the rolling echo of thunder as the winds rose, tumbling the clouds and whipping up blizzards.   All was wiped out as we and the dogs huddled together for shelter – the perfect target for lightning!   The marshes were dangerous, we were told later, particularly in the spring when tides can sweep in at an alarming rate. 


An equally speedy threat was encountered during our dawn walks.   ‘Why be out at that time?’ you might ask.   Well, it’s at that time of day that our dogs-on-holiday wake up, impatient to log-on and check their pee-mails.   Sharing our room gives them access to the bed where they press wet noses into our faces, dump slippers on pillows, beg to explore by tugging at arms and thumping tails in a rhythmic ‘Time for Walkies’ duet, until we drag ourselves into the bleak unknown.   It’s also at that time of day that the early commuting fishermen and bakers of Norfolk do not expect such shadowy hazards on their country lanes,   Hardly surprising then that this combination of excited dogs and ‘enthusiastic’ drivers came close to accelerating an early departure from Norfolk, and  from this planet - a speedy threat indeed.


Having survived, we went on to find the glorious sands of Holkham where pinewoods meet the beach and sand dunes landscape the expanse, becoming islands at high tide.   Paddy and Murphy enjoyed such freedom here, from tearing through gorse to charging through deep channels of Wash water.   Shellfish were snuffled and gobbled, and Paddy, utterly parched, tried to drink the sea – all of it.  


That evening, in our farmhouse B&B, the contents of their stomachs made endless exits from both ends.   Having smuggled them down creaking stairs at least half a dozen times before mid-night, we decided the only way to tackle this, without further alienating our fellow guests, was to sleep in the car.   In the Norfolk blackness, Robin settled onto the back seat in order to monitor the two delinquents, and I returned to scrub the bathroom floor. 


At 3a.m. I went to change shifts only to find a frigid figure clamped to the steering wheel.   A restless shuffle had set off the car alarm and, with doors locked, he’d been trapped.   Only a blind and torturous fight over levers and knobs had enabled the silencing of that siren.   By my arrival, he reckoned the three of them had ventured forth, on urgent business, far too many times for there to be any possible further issue.   The four of us creaked up to bed.


Apologizing, at breakfast, for any disturbance, and placating with the fact that we were to leave that morning, we were casually informed that a bride was expected to take our room at 11a.m.   Glug!   Horrors!   The stench of regurgitated shellfish does not give up easily.   We did.   We fled, never to return!


Later this year, we took the ferry to the Isle of Wight.   As the crossing was rough, all four of us stayed in the car and watched as the waves slapped over the bows.
‘Hope that car in front has its windows up,’ smirked Robin, enjoying the drama of it all. 
I turned to check on the dogs, only to see that our cases were cradling puddles of sparkling Solent water.   Our windows were open!


On arrival at our dog-friendly hotel, the room proved sufficiently large, perhaps, for one Yorkshire terrier, but certainly not for the two of us plus two lumbering Labs.  Deflated (perhaps no bad thing) we dashed to the dining room to be offered a choice of pre-chewed mince pie or ‘fish’ cakes the texture of which revoltingly brought to mind lumps of potato being squashed together in the stagnant waters of a washing up bowl.   We’d had enough! 


Homeless, we wandered the streets, pinging many a bell on many a deserted reception desk but, being late evening and with two large, black, forlorn faces in tow, offers of accommodation were not forthcoming.   Not, at least, until we slumped against the pillars of a glorious country house upon which tourist awards were vying for position.   Dare we?   In desperation we did, and were greeted bayingly by two great Bassett hounds.   Their master was equally effusive, warmly inviting us to become, mysteriously, his only guests in this lovely old place where the rooms paid homage to Dickens and the gardens sloped to the sea.


Perfect!   Well, almost.   Our only reservation was the name of the room: ‘TROT’.   Would this prove to be an omen of an earlier holiday experience?   Thankfully, this was not to be.



#1 And the Dogs Came TwoPeter & Anne 2009-07-23 10:12
Is this the beginning of great things? Will there be a TV series out of this? Don\'t stop, where are you going next? (not that we like to see the back of you of course).

You have no rights to post comments