This afternoon, I took Barney out for a walk over on Tunbridge Wells Common. I fancied a change from the Southborough Woods as they are so boggy at the moment and many of the paths are like a mud soup. Maggie, my middle one came too, on the promise of stopping by at Wellington Rocks and a hot chocolate afterwards somewhere near the Pantiles.
I must admit I was a little unsure of where we might go for a drink; I do like a bit of people watching and (obviously) dog spotting and the outside seating areas along the Pantiles are great for this but didn’t really fancy sitting outside in the cold. So I turned to Twitter and thanks to @twrumours @royaltunwells @oneillholly @laurentphotog and @vegpatchsaf for your suggestions and help on this matter.
As we headed through The Grove and down on to the High Street, we came across a pair of what looked like Bearded Collies. On speaking to the owner, it appears that Storm and Misty are Cyprus Poodles. That’s a new one on me. The story behind it is that these two were found in Greece on a rubbish tip with their 16 puppies! There’s a charity called Greek Animal Rescue that’s doing great work in trying the get abandoned and ill-treated dogs into new homes. The Greek financial situation hasn’t helped and has resulted in more abandonments. In this case, the dogs were rescued, found new homes via the website and transported back to the UK.
Heading up on to the Common and Wellington Rocks, it wasn’t long before the next dogs appeared. First there was Wheezy, a three year old Cocker Spaniel followed by Mickey a five month old English Springer Spaniel. I didn’t really intend to photograph lots of dogs this afternoon but it just happened. Come to think of it, it always happens like this – who am I kidding? I didn’t have my cameras with me, only the phone. It is a good camera phone and when I got it, this was one of the the must haves as far as incorporated gadgets go, but it’s not the same as using the proper gear, but it will do for a back up. I think Barney enjoyed having a run around with these two. Poor old Wheezy had to stay on the lead as she apparently does a runner when she gets the chance and Mickey was very generous in sharing his ball – that wouldn’t happen with Barney.
So after a good run about, it was down to the Pantiles where we first walked to the end checking out the possibilties for a coffee and a hot chocolate, indoors in the warm. That’s when we came across little Bert the Daschund in his dog wheelchair. Poor Bert had had two operations for a slipped disc and was using the walking aid in place of his back legs. The owner very kindly let me take a picture of him and let me know that he was doing very well and they were hopeful that he would make enough progress to walk unaided again soon.
Walking back down the other end, we met Poppy the Pomeranian and Noodles the Poodle. Both parties had been sitting outside with their drinks but after a quick chat and a picture, Maggie and I heading into Blends Coffee Company once we had checked that they were cool with Barney coming in too.
We weren’t the only ones with a dog in Blends with a dog as another family had Belle the Dalmatian in tow. Here is the the old girl after I nabbed them on their way out.
For me, as a dog lover, I like to find places that are happy to accommodate both me and my dog when we’re out. I appreciate that not everyone likes dogs or wants them around in eating establishments and that there is often seating outside giving you that option. I heard an interesting program on Radio 4 this week ( I think it was You and Yours) where they were speaking to cafe owners in Keswick in the Lake District, which is appparently the most dog friendly town in the UK. Because there are so many walkers and holidaymakers with dogs in this part of the country, if you say ‘no’ to dogs coming into your cafe/pub etc then you’re shooting yourself in the foot as plenty of others would be happy to oblige and help you spend your cash. Sounds like a no-brainer to me.
As we walked back from the Pantiles, the last dog we saw was not so lucky. To his credit, he was being extremely well-behaved and sat there very nicely. I hope his owners gave him a little titbit when they came out of Juliets in the High Street. I may be wrong and they may welcome dogs inside but as a punter walking past looking for a place to go with my dog in tow, I think I’d be walking straight past.
If anyone would like to suggest any dog friendly cafes/bars/pubs etc in the Tunbridge Wells area, feel free to leave a comment.
You can also find me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter (@thedogsnapper). I’ll be stepping up the blog posts in the New Year as I’ve let it go a bit recently. I don’t promise the one a day, every day, as in the first six months as before but I blame that on doing four days at Crufts and having ‘Dog Photo Burn Out’. It is a recognised medical condition but I’m fully recovered now and raring to go.
Happy New Year to you all.
Not all my dog photography sessions end with the dog falling in a fountain but this is what happened to Bobby, an eight month old Westie/Bichon Frise X. We were nearing the end of a session at Dunorlan Park with Bobby posing on one of the plinths by the fountain, when he decided to get a closer look. In a water nympth-like jesture, Bobby sort of just plopped into the water but was quickly grabbed upon by the owner before the weeds could get hold of him. Poor, young Bobby took on the apperance of a drowned rat while three grown adults couldn’t stop laughing. Still, no damage done and we now know that Bobby can swim.
The Olympic Torch Relay hit my home town of Tunbridge Wells today but I nearly didn’t go. I wanted to get on with last week’s wedding pictures and but Mrs Dog Snapper made it very clear that I was required for child control business and was to bring my camera also. She always knows best.
The sun came out as the hoards walked along St Johns Road up to the town where we decided that just outside Alexander Boyes Estate Agency would be the perfect place to plonk ourselves. The man next to us pointed out a couple of ‘flag ladies’ who were handing them out for free, so that was that bit done.
With twenty minutes or so before the torch went by, the morning was to turn into a little dog snapping session. First up there was the two Labradoodles named after areas on the shipping forecast. Cromarty is the white one and Fisher, the black one. I was told that there is or was, also an Alsatian, aptly named German Bight. This was all looking and sounding very good. I’m part of a quiz team and the shipping forecast comes up quite a bit so I’ve made an extra effort to familiarise myself with it. Although, it has no practical use for me, there’s something quite mesmerising about listening to the shipping forecast when it comes on (a bit like hearing The Archers theme tune). I even miss it when listening to Test Match Special on DAB radio as they don’t break for it like they do on LW radio.
So after these two had been photographed, I had to see if there were any more and spotted a Springer Spaniel across the road, outside Sankeys restaurant (with their extra scaffold frontage!!) I’m not sure if this dog is the same Lily that I photographed in Grosvenor Park a few months back (she was a very wet dog then) but I did recognise the owner as being a girl I went to Primary School with. Some people just never get out of Tunbridge Wells.
Lastly, behind where we were sitting is Lulu, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, trying to get an elevated position on the steps for when the torch came by. I’m glad it wasn’t a really long wait and the crowds definately grew and grew as the masses came out of their offices. A helicopter signalled that they were near by, a few ‘official sponsors’ floats came past with happy, smiling, beautiful people on, waving at everybody. Then the real moment of excitement as the torch bearer wearing his ‘official tracksuit’ came by with a big grin flanked by four ‘official bodyguards’. I even made sure I got my kids in the frame on the right so they’ve got a something to look back on for the future. I’d like to let you know who this chap is but looking on the ‘official’ website, there’s no mention of him. Looking at the list of eight torch beariers coming through Tunbridge Wells, I could rule out four as they are female and he’s obviously not one of the men aged 43, 65 or 68. So he must be Alex Gerrity I thought, until I read ‘his’ biog and see that “My dream is to be the first Female Mayor of London…” I did go back to see if he was in fact a she, but no, he is definately a ‘he’, so I have no idea who he is. Someone put me right.
Cromarty and Fisher, Labradoodles
Lily, Springer Spaniel
Lulu, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Photographers at Olympic Torch Relay in Tunbridge Wells
Olympic Torch Relay in Tunbridge Wells
Annnnd, he’s gone.