WARNING TO ALL HOLIDAY-MAKERS ABOUT BOOKING THROUGH OWNERS DIRECT...
With immediate effect, I have today removed our listings for both Corner Cottage and Mayfield from the Owners Direct / Homeaway platform.
Having advertised with them for just short of two years, I have consistently been disappointed and enraged by the fact that this enormous company's policies keep changing and with each change, the company ends up richer and both the owner and the guest end up paying them more money, jumping through more hoops and suffering inconvenience after inconvenience.
The final straw came today with a situation which arose yesterday...
A would-be guest tried to book Mayfield. Unbeknownst to him at the time of booking, the price shown was completely incorrect, so I contacted Owners Direct to let them know that their system had (for the 3rd time this year) once again changed all of my prices - without my permission and without in any way notifying me so I had no way of knowing until the booking came through with totally incorrect pricing.
Owners Direct's representative on the telephone accepted that this was their technical error and apologised for the inconvenience and tried to offer me various sweeteners by way of apology.
The guest and I spoke on the phone and he completely understood what had happened but said that he felt that as it was Owner's Direct's error they should be held liable. He spoke to them and their advice to him today (having sympathised with me and apologised for their error yesterday) was that he should raise a formal complaint against me. Against me! Not against them! When they had accepted it was their fault the pricing was wrong!!
Well. Enough's enough.
They charge both guests and owners ludicrously high fees, change terms and conditions, hold on to payments until after the guests arrive, change prices without consultation and then refuse to accept responsibility for their own actions.
I understand that for some guests, booking through a big website provides peace of mind, but this peace of mind can be achieved (along with a considerably cheaper holiday) if you book directly with the owner and opt to pay by credit card and / or take out travel insurance.
I am aware that there are some scams out there with dishonest people advertising properties that do not belong to them, but do your research, and if - like ours - a property appears on several websites, has a Facebook page, has its own website, has the same contact information on every internet presence... it's a pretty safe bet that you will be able to get the property you wanted at a better price, whilst also supporting small businesses rather than huge businesses who exist off the back of exorbitant fees charged to both the guest and the owner.
Please folks. Book Direct. And please share this advice with your friends and family too and hopefully, eventually, these huge booking sites will start to play fair.
Well since it is apparently National Belly-Laugh Day, I thought that instead of my usual style of stream-of-consciousness blog, I’d give you my Top 10 Dog Jokes and see if I can raise a laugh (or even a smile frankly would be a good start on this miserable, wet and windy day).
So here goes:
Q. What do you get if you cross a gold dog with a telephone?
A. A Golden Receiver!
Q: What do you call a dog magician?
A: A labracadabrador!
Q: What do you call a large dog that meditates?
A: Aware wolf!
Q: What do you get when you cross a dog and a calculator?
A: A friend you can count on!
Q: What do you get if you cross a dog with a frog?
A: A dog that can lick you from the other side of the road!
Q: What do you get if you cross a sheepdog with a rose?
A: A Collie-flower!
Q: What kind of dog likes taking a bath?
A: A Shampoodle!
Q: What do you get if you cross a cocker spaniel, a poodle and a rooster?
A: A cockerpoodledoo!
Q: What's a dogs favorite kind of pizza?
Q: What do you call a cross between a matador and a cute little puppy dog?
A: A Cocker Spaniard!
Well that's my Top 10 Dog Jokes. I hope you enjoyed them.
If you’re not too busy rolling around on the floor laughing, please comment with your favourite dog joke!
I put up a post on our Facebook page ( www.facebook.com/dorsetdogfriendlyholidays ) the other day and was quite shocked to see the amount of response it received and the depths of feeling on the issue raised.
Some people were positively scary in the level of rage that they felt that anyone could have a different view from their own, so since this is such an emotive subject, I thought I’d write a blog on it and would really welcome your feedback (but please try not to be constructive and not quite as abusive as some of the responses we got on the Facebook page that nearly made me cry…)
So the post was all about where people had acquired their dogs, and whether they were from rescue centres or breeders.
The end result of the survey was – in my view – an understanding that there is in fact no right and wrong, it’s simply a matter of what works best for each individual and their family at the particular moment in time that they decide the time is right to get a dog.
Now those of you who are already gearing up to shoot me down and tell me that the ONLY right thing to do is to get a rescue dog, just hold on for a moment, because whilst I know that my next dog will be from a rescue centre due to the circumstances of my own life, I also feel that – like many of the people who commented on my post - getting my dogs from breeders was the right thing to do at that time of my life.
Many people commented that they chose to go to a breeder because they had done their research and wanted a specific breed of dog that they felt would match their family’s home and lifestyle. Now as we all know, dogs come in all different shapes and sizes, and like people, they have their likes and dislikes. Some people like to walk a lot, some don’t. Some dogs like to walk a lot, some don’t. Some people like to have regular visits from family and friends, including visiting small children, and like it or not there are some breeds that simply aren’t ideal for that kind of scenario.
Reputable rescue centres carry out extensive research and testing to try to ensure that dogs go to suitable homes – for the sake of their adopters just as much as for the dogs themselves as the last thing that anybody wants is for the dogs to wind up back where they came from but a little bit sadder and a little bit less trusting each time.
They will assess a dog’s suitability to be with children or other pets and the needs of any particular dog based on size, age, temperament etc.
However, rescue centres came under attack on my post for setting their requirements for dog-ownership too high and making it too hard for kind-hearted people who are trying to do something good to actually achieve that. According to people’s comments on their attempts to rescue dogs from shelters, you can’t go out for more than 4 hours at a time (even if you have a dog-walker); you can’t have certain breeds if you have small children/ if you don’t have a garden/ if your child has Asperger’s as a moment of frustration might frighten the dog/ if you live in a flat etc.
Well, a responsible breeder may be equally exacting about their own expectations of the kind of home environment that will be suitable for one of their puppies so I’m not sure it’s fair to pile all the blame on to the rescue shelters who, I feel sure, would come under attack even more if the public perception was that they just dish out dogs to anyone who comes asking for one.
My dog and I are both very lucky in that I get to work from home and hang out with him all day, but nonetheless, my personal view is that if you could have a chat with a dog sitting on the concrete floor in his rescue centre cage and ask whether he would prefer to stay where he was or go to a home where he would be walked and fed in the morning, before settling down for a snooze on his own cosy bed while the owners go out for a few hours – to earn the money to cover his food bills, dog-walker bills, toy bills, home comforts bills, vet bills etc, before returning to cuddle him, play with him, feed him again, perhaps take him for another walk and then all settle down together to an evening in front of the TV, I’m inclined to think he’d opt to be taken home there and then.
Well let’s start by stating again that a dog is not just for Christmas. Having said that, if you’re considering getting a dog and you’re in a position to offer a dog a good home where they will be loved, fed and cared for, then you would be doing the dog, your family and yourself a massive favour as the love, comfort and sense of security that a dog can provide make the investment of time, money and energy so worthwhile.
And make no mistake, the investment is significant in each of the above if you want to have a mutually fulfilling relationship with your dog that benefits you, your family and of course your dog.
There’s the cost of buying the dog in the first place - I heard recently that people are paying up to £5,000 for a French Bulldog puppy – seemingly this season’s must-have pup! You can significantly reduce this initial cost by adopting a rescue dog. As well as reducing your outlay, you will be making a huge difference to the life of an animal who – generally for no fault of their own – has come up against hard times. Which of us hasn’t felt a little twinge of anguish when you see photos like these ones of sad dogs at rescue centres. The amazing people who work at these places do everything they can for these poor animals but ultimately what they need is a human to love and feed them, a cosy place to sleep and nothing to fear from their owners or the outside world.
So. Whether you paid £5,000 or £50, let's assume you’ve now bought your dog. First steps:
Check-up at the Vet: Well, if you’re anything like me, once you’ve got your puppy, even if it turns out that it has something wrong with it, you’ll feel responsible for it by then and will just accept the costs of easing any symptoms the dog might have as part of the deal but most breeders offer the right to return a puppy if there is a health or behaviour issue, but more importantly, if there is a problem, wouldn’t you want to know so you can prevent it getting worse and alleviate any pain or discomfort the dog might be suffering from?
Microchip: Dogs now have to be microchipped by law and many rescue centres offer this service for free but you will otherwise have to pay to have your new furriend microchipped by the vet. It’s worth it though as besides being a legal requirement, not only will the microchip mean that in the heart-wrenching event that your dog goes missing, you are doing everything possible to ensure that he or she finds his or her way back to you.
So once you’ve dealt with the boring but necessary bits, you can start thinking about Dog Stuff. Yup. Dogs come with stuff. Lots of stuff.
There’s the obvious: the bed, the food, the bowls, the collar and the lead but there’s so much more STUFF you’ll end up getting involved in. Blankets, crate, coats, jumpers, treats, soaps, shampoos, nose balm, supplements, soft toys, chewy toys, teething toys, toothpaste, toothbrush, hair brush, hair mitt, longer lead, shorter lead, training lead, feeding stand… the list goes on… that particular list was compiled just by looking around me from my seat at the kitchen table... and I’m not one of the obsessive dog-shoppers (although my husband would beg to differ) but there is all sorts of canine extravagance you can get involved in… take yourself back to Twitter and just search for #WoofWoofWednesday for just a quick insight into the world of the hardcore dog-shoppers!
So there you have it. Don't get a dog for Christmas if you're not ready for all of this, but if you are ready and excited about it (as well as about the dog training, dog walking, clearing up dog mess, having a poo bag in every coat pocket, having dog hair all over your clothes and furniture, never going out on New Year's Eve so the dog doesn't get left home alone with fireworks going on around them etc.) then by all means, go get yourselves a dog for Christmas!
But, the one key thing to give your dog that sense of self-worth, the confidence to hold his head up high on his walks around the neighbourhood and in short to create a sociable, well-balanced dog, is of course, the holiday!
Imagine the emotional trauma of going to the park and being the only dog hanging his head in shame because instead of keeping his humans company on a fabulous dogfriendly holiday, he’s going to be headed to kennels.
You wouldn’t do that to your dog, would you?
Or course not!
So here's a few pics of our fabulous local area to remind you why Dorset is the perfect spot for a holiday, so since you're here anyway, why not have a potter around the website and decide which of our dogfriendly cottages would be the best choice for you and yours.
Corner Cottage is getting a face-lift and a fake tan. Well not really a face-lift or a fake tan really, as it’s all internal, so more of a spiritual and physical cleansing really. OK. Maybe that’s pushing it...
Well. What it’s actually getting is a brand new family bathroom and a top to bottom paint-job.
It’s hugely exciting as the bathroom was never my favourite room when we bought the cottage last year and although it was pristine when we started offering holidays, 18 months of continuous occupancy by families and furry friends has undeniably taken its toll, so we’re sure that just as a top-to-toe fake tan makes us look and feel great, we think a wall-to-wall with Dulux Heritage White will give Corner Cottage a whole new look and feel. Here's the computer-generated-image of what the bathroom will look like when it's done:
Although the cottage obviously has a very traditional look and feel, we decided that everybody loves a smart, clean, modern bathroom so once the new bathroom paraphernalia, travertine tiles and Karndean flooring are in, we very much hope that’s what we’ll have.
You’ve seen all the Before pics on the website, so we will look forward to posting the After pics after the bathroom fitters and decorators have done their thing in a couple of weeks.
We may even manage to persuade the guys to send some in-progress pics too so watch this space and fingers crossed there are no blog posts about collapsed walls, drilled-through cables or pipes or up-turned pots of gloss-paint!! It may be Halloween but I just couldn’t cope with that kind of Horror Story!!
HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYBODY
I know, I know, December isn't the most obvious time for a trip to the seaside, but that might just be where you're missing a trick!
You get the beaches virtually to yourself, so you can wrap up warm and set off for a windy, blustery walk on a fabulous deserted beach or hilltop and the best bit is that after a chilly walk you are even more deserving of a stop off at a gorgeous, cosy, warm, dogfriendly pub or cafe for a drink while you wait for the blood to start flowing to your fingers and toes again... and I for one won't be judging if you have a glass of wine instead of a cup of tea to warm you up!
And as if the brisk walk and the cosy pub weren't a good enough reason to do it, when you post pics of yourself all over Facebook and Instagram on an empty beach on a fabulous clear sunny day (OK OK, if it's a bit grey just use a filter!) and in gorgeous cosy pubs, you also get to make everyone else jealous because they didn't think of booking a pre-Christmas break to get away from the pressure of the build-up to the big day itself. Win win win!
Of course not everybody wants to get away from all the pre-Christmas hype as for many people that's the highlight of the year. Well then we're still the place to be. We can offer the best of both worlds as there's definitely no shortage of deserted beaches at that time of year but there's also no shortage of bustling events to get involved in during the pre-Christmas period like Bournemouth's Christmas Market (throughout December), Weymouth's Big Christmas event (throughout December), the Dorchester Christmas Cracker (10th Dec) and of course Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a trip to the Pantomime which you can enjoy in either Weymouth (Sleeping Beauty) or Bournemouth (Jack and the Beanstalk) (or both!!)
So, besides the peace that the solitude can offer you and the excitement that all the Christmas fun can bring, the most important thing about Christmas time is just time to enjoy each other. Last year, we had a week at Corner Cottage in the middle of December with our son, our dogs, my husband's parents, his sister, her partner and their son and it was such a lovely time for us all. The boys loved fossil-hunting and running around on the beach in wellies and wooly hats; the adults enjoyed lunches at the Smugglers' Inn (our 13th Century local pub) and chatting late into the evenings over a bottle (or two) of wine and we all had the opportunity to just take it easy, relax and hang out together, which doesn't happen often as we all lead busy lives.
Mayfield is currently available throughout December - including over Christmas and New Year's Eve - and Corner Cottage is between the 4th and 21st, so treat the people you love (and yourself!) to some familytime in beautiful, peaceful, festive Dorset.
So I’m interested in the power of Social Media. I spend hours either thinking about or actively posting, tweeting, commenting, liking, following, blogging and generally selling my soul to the Social Media circus and yet, no matter how much posting, tweeting, commenting etc you do – every time you read a guide to Social Media Success, they say you should be doing more. It’s enough to make you want to go old school and take out an advert in the local post office!
I try to be interesting (no, honestly, I really do!) and stay on topic – either dogs, beaches or holidays – but I can’t help wondering whether there’s a finite number of lists of dog-friendly pubs or dog-friendly beaches that anybody needs to read, because a 10 second forage into Google will you give you more information than you could ever possibly want on these subjects and I for one am very conscious of information-overload.
But if I believe or accept that, then what next? In theory, we’re not like a factory that can keep producing more items if demand is strong, we have 2 cottages and there are 52 weeks in the year so in theory we have a warehouse of just 104 “things” to sell each year. Well. 208 if we sold every week as two short breaks, but you get my point.
We have been lucky enough to receive excellent feedback for both properties, but unsurprisingly, demand for school holidays is huge, and off-peak is harder to sell, no matter how much tweeting, posting, commenting and whatever else you do. Which is why there’s so much price variation throughout the year, and why we end up virtually (or literally, like last weekend’s freebie competition) giving away stays at our cottages through the colder months, because the truth is that even if we only just cover the costs of the mortgages, the cleaning, laundry, welcome packs, electricity, gas, water, broadband, tv license, business rates, income tax etc. – every booking has the potential to boost our presence on Social Media because our lovely guests are often kind enough to post and tweet pics and comments of their own experiences at our cottages – and of course, having people coming in and out also serves nearly as well as a couple of big hounds to deter burglars!! :-)
I'm not complaining or asking for sympathy, I know I'm extraordinarily lucky to have all these mortgages to pay (well sort of), but I’m curious to know how many of you reading this blog post have simply come to it because you happen to be looking at our website and flicking from page to page; how many of you Like and Follow one of our Facebook pages and popped over to read this because I drew your attention to it with a post on the page; or did you see a Tweet that told you to come and get involved in my pearls of dog- and Dorset-related wisdom and if it was none of the above, who are you and why are you here???
If you have a minute to Comment on this (between posting, blogging, tweeting etc.) I would be hugely grateful to know how you happened to come by this blog.
Thanks Folks :-)
Here are a few of our favourite places to eat - and drink - in the area:
Just a mile from Corner Cottage you will find the wonderful Smugglers’ Inn. Nestled down below the surrounding cottages and houses in its own little valley, it is in a wonderful, dogfriendly spot with a stream running down to the sea. This lovely old pub with parts said to date from the 13th century was once the home of the leader of the most notorious gang of smugglers in the area during the 18th and 19th centuries, Emmanuel Charles.
Another favourite is The Springhead which is located between our two cottages in the delightful village of Sutton Poyntz. They do a great carvery on a Sunday, they’re dogfriendly and if you get a sunny day, it’s worth sitting outside – primarily because of the stunning views with Osmington’s White Horse off in the distance to the right, but also because if, like us, you have a child/ children, the large play area makes for a far more tranquil drink or meal ;-)
Back in Weymouth itself, our absolute favourite for a very laid back, but also very cool (if women of a certain age can still use that word without sounding ridiculous!) atmosphere with great food, is The Stable. Specialising in pizza, pie and cider (but with all sorts of other edible and drinkable delights too) and located in the harbour, this one is really worth a visit. And as if all that wasn’t enough gushing about The Stable, it’s dogfriendly too!!
Lastly, for a bit of a treat, consider Al Molo. Part of the old pier, with art deco features and overlooking Weymouth Beach and the Esplanade, this restaurant enjoys an elevated position to take full advantage of its fabulous location. The food is excellent – definitely more of a fine dining than a dogfriendly experience – but if you get the chance, it’s such a great spot and while there are undoubtedly less pricey options, it’s well worth it for a bit of a treat.
(That's Al Molo sticking out into the sea and Mayfield is just a couple of minutes' walk behind the spire you can see the pic.)
What are your favourite places to eat and drink in Weymouth and are they dogfriendly?
Comment and let us know :-)
Today's Blog Post is in fact borrowed (with permission!) from our friends at Weymouth-based "The Dog and I" whose natural dog grooming products are created in Weymouth as naturally and holistically as possible - and I can personally vouch for the fact that they not only work beautifully, but they smell fabulous!!
Take a look here for more info: https://www.thedogandi.co.uk/
So here are Keri's thoughts on some fabulous local dog walks:
I will keep this short and to the point as there is a lot of information to pack in. It occurred to me that going on holiday with dogs can be fun but sometimes, especially when the weather is warm, its nice to get away from the crowd! Hence the blog ..the title says it all really.
1 Lorton Nature Reserve and my personal favourite. This is a real hidden gem. Miles of virtually empty countryside, often you may only see a couple of other walkers and its teeming with wildlife. Squirrels, deer, birds of prey, lizards, foxes.. we have seen them all.
To access the nature reserve use postcode DT3 5RZ. This takes you up Lorton Lane, the lane becomes very narrow and you may be concerned you are in the wrong place, you are not. Keep going right down to the end, about half a mile. Be aware it is used by pedestrians and cyclists too so be prepared to stop. At the bottom you will be able to park for free outside the Dorset Wildlife Trust visitor centre. If it is open you will be able to get a map of t he reserve walks but if not just take a ramble and see where you end up. There is a dog waste bin down there too.
2 White Nothe, Ringstead, a few miles outside Weymouth, but the views are stunning. It is a steep walk down from the free National Trust car park to the beach but if you can't face the huge climb back up there is a private car park down by the beach where you can pay £5 to park.
There are quite often sheep around so you need to be aware and the walk down to the beach from the top car park does go through a farmyard but it is well worth a visit. Follow the postcode DT2 8NQ. Again the road leading to the car park is quite narrow at times. This picture is the view from the top car park, with Portland in the distance.
3 Portland Quarries (home of the famous Portland Stone) and High Angle Batteries, right on the top of the island with some stunning views over Chesil Beach but wander just a few hundred metres from those views, if you can drag yourself away and you can walk a huge area of old quarries, past the back of HMP The Verne which is one of Portlands 2 prisons and on to the old batteries which are quite spooky and overgrown in their own way and once again a haven for insects and birds.
Head for postcode DT5 2EN and you can park for free in one of the car parks which overlooks Chesil Beach on the left hand side of the road. Then either cross over and head across the grassland to the old quarry area or follow the road on foot and explore the area around the batteries. You can find out more information about the Batteries here. http://www.portlandhistory.co.uk/verne-high-angle-battery.html This area is canine heaven, huge areas to run around and bunnies galore. Just remember you are not allowed to call them rabbits on Portland, folklore says that just saying the word would cause the islands quarries to collapse inwards trapping all the workers inside.
4 The old Road at Upwey, this leads up to the Bronze Age Viking Burial Pit that was discovered in 2009 when the towns relief road was being built. 54 dismembered skeletons and 51 skulls were found. A macabre find indeed.
There is a small information pod up at the location plus there are once again some stunning views.
There are 2 ways to the top of the Ridgeway where the burial pit is located. Either way, you need to head for the postcode of DT35JZ as if heading for Dorchester. Follow the road around a sharp bend to the right, under a bridge and before the next bridge there are a couple of small rough stone laybys. Park up here and walk the short distance towards the larger bridge which carries the bypass.. before you get there, turn left towards the farm on the cycle path and you will find yourself on the old disused road between Weymouth and Dorchester. Be careful of the cyclists, they do go fast down the hill. You can either follow the road up to the top of the hill or a short way up there is a left hand towards the farm. It is signposted and this will take you a slightly more scenic route up the old Roman Road, this is the safer option if your dog is off lead and likely to cut across the path of cyclists. It brings you out at the top of the hill and you can either go left across more farmland for a longer walk or right over the bridge to the burial pit, more information regarding the pit is available at this link. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ridgeway_Hill_Viking_burial_pit
5 I was torn over the final entry for this blog, there are so many other lovely walks around here but I'm writing a blog not a book!
I have settled on White Horse Hill at Osmington. Depending on which way you enter the town you may pass by this amazing carving in to the hillside of King George III riding his horse. Its a fair climb to the top and brings you up above the horse itself but the view are amazing and you may, like us, be lucky enough to be able to watch the paragliders taking off.
To get here head for DT3 6LU. Park up at the bottom of Church Lane if you can (or just leave the car where it is if you're staying at Corner Cottage!), it may not be possible and you may find yourself parking back in the village and walking down. Over the style at the end of the road and you are heading the in the right direction. You will be able to see the horse. Some parts of this walk are very steep and its not a quick walk. Great for a picnic at the stop however whilst you admire the stunning views.
As always, please remember to close gates, keep dogs under control near livestock and also take poo bags! You won't find a bin on every corner but my top tip is hang your used bags on the back of the car over the rear windscreen wiper until you can find a bin! Just don't switch the wipers on!!
Above all, enjoy!
As the memories of the long hazy days of summer on Dorset's beautiful beaches start to fade, the Dorset countryside begins to take on the warm hues of early Autumn. This is without a doubt my favourite time of year in Dorset as the landscape is at its most atmospheric. Any early risers among you will be treated to a particularly fabulous spectacle around dawn when soft golden sunlight illuminates the hills, while the shady valleys remain laced with mist and frost.
The dewy mornings and humid wet days result in our woodlands exuding the familiar musty smell of fungus and decay. This is the perfect time to search for some of the many colourful and interesting toadstools and fungi which can be found in Dorset, but you’ll need to be quick as the fruiting bodies of many species don’t last long. They often appear shortly after rain but are quickly eaten by hungry mice, slugs and snails.
You’ll also need a keen eye to spot some of the well-concealed but fascinating species which occur amongst the leaf litter on the woodland floor. It’s only when you get down to their level that you can appreciate the vibrant colours, intricate shapes and textures which led to some intriguing names such as horn of plenty, earth star and shaggy pholiota.
The fallow deer rut is at its peak in mid October. Bucks are in prime condition with very impressive antlers and the Deer Park at Stock Gaylard, just half an hour or so from our properties has a fabulous collection.
While the kaleidoscope of Autumn colour delights our eyes, the changing scenery also brings about changes to the local wildlife.
Most of the summer’s swifts, swallows and martins have departed to warmer climes, but they are replaced with a bevy of winter visitors such as redwing and fieldfare, which appear in time to feast on the wild fruit which now adorns hedgerows throughout the county.
Flocks of starlings begin roosting en masse for protection and warmth in the dense reedbeds all along the coast. At the water’s edge the shorebird migration is almost at an end. Wading birds such as sanderling, grey plover and purple sandpiper have arrived for the winter. Just before sunset skeins of wild brent geese fly back to their overnight roosts on the Fleet lagoon and in Poole harbour.
WATCH THIS SPACE FOR OUR NEXT BLOG ABOUT SOME OF DORSET'S BEST AUTUMN WALKS :-)
Hi! I'm Sam :-)