Not A Hockey Post!

So Offonatangent has primarily focused on ice hockey these last few months and because there has been very little to say of late, the blog has remained desert-like, tumbleweed gathering pace as the hockey news has trickled down to pretty much nothing. So much so that The Hockey Forum loyalists have taken to debating things like ‘who likes the national anthem being played at the start of each game’ which has attracted dozens of inane comments as people attempt desperately to keep with the hockey vibe any old how.

Others (including myself) have resorted to debating Love Island elsewhere on social media and whether Chris is too good for Olivia or if Gabby is ‘real’. I for one have been seduced into watching by a bombardment on Twitter by complete strangers of hatred towards Olivia and love towards someone called Camilla who is fast turning into the Lady Di of summer 2017 and Love Island.

So anyhow, thought I’d do a quick piece on what we’ve been up to this summer whilst I procrastinate over the first chapters of my new novel. Thrilling I know and not nearly as interesting as discussing the relevance of the national anthem prior to an ice hockey match, but wanted to credit a hotel, an inn and a small eatery that probably go mostly un-noticed in the great scheme of things.

So first of all there was Cornwall. Beautiful Newquay. Yes those two words actually go together. Known probably more as a stag and hen venue in the south west, the surrounding coastline is actually completely stunning. So for our seventh visit in two years we again stayed at the glorious and aptly named Headland Hotel. With its claim to fame as the setting for the 1990 film of Roald Dahl’s ‘The Witches’, this majestic hotel was completely unknown to us until two years ago. Set aside from the town and situated beside the famous Fistral beach the views are spectacular. Fistral beach in the off season is an absolute joy, particularly for dog walkers who are welcome all year round and as the tide recedes, leaves an enormous expanse of dog friendly sand along which our collie cross Charlie runs with joyous abandon. We call it “Charlie’s Beach’ and he adores it.

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The Headland Hotel is properly dog friendly too – no bedrooms are out of bounds so you can treat yourself to a stylishly refurbished top of the range room with a view of Fistral beach without worry. Pooches are permitted in the lounge where you can also choose to eat from a varied menu (including fabulous cocktails) and the staff there appear to actually enjoy working there. On top of the incredible views, great walks, fabulous beach and excellent hotel, there is also a first class spa on site – oh and if you prefer a little more privacy the hotel has a selection of beautifully appointed cottages just next door.

During this last visit, on recommendation from son number 2 who has been living the student life in Newquay for two years, we visited The Beached Lamb. Heralded as a vegan café we feared we would be making positive noises about the food whilst secretly wishing we had stayed at the hotel for afternoon tea. Not so! The Beached Lamb is a little gem. Equally dog friendly as the Headland Hotel, this little café, just outside the main town and five minutes walk from Fistral beach is brilliant. Whilst publicized first and foremost as a vegan café, with lots of vegan choice, I can honestly say they serve the best bacon I think I’ve ever tasted as part of a full English breakfast, which completely surprised. The milkshakes, juices and smoothies are to die for and the breakfast burrito and Jono’s breakfast bap are enough to keep you going back day after day for more – which we did. Our four-legged friend was welcomed back each day by staff who seemed genuinely happy to see him (and us) and the service was first rate. So, as promised this is my shout out to The Beached Lamb, Newquay and if you’re ever that way or passing through and fancy a bit of lunch or a delicious breakfast then I’m not sure you will find better.

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Beached Lamb breakie

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Oreo milkshake at the Beached Lamb

So then finally, once the outline draft for my next novel was almost complete, Cornwall was but a distant memory and the boys were on holiday in Spain, hubby and I decided to venture out to Wiltshire for a day or two with a view to moving that way in the next couple of years. The big plus being that we could strategically place ourselves within easy travelling distance of four, yes FOUR ice rinks for hockey. Now this makes hubby a very happy bunny indeed.

As we were looking to book last minute, we struggled to find anywhere dog friendly and eventually managed to find The George & Dragon in Rowde (just outside Devizes) a gorgeous 16th century inn. Again, mightily dog friendly (the owner having a chocci lab and a grumpy looking but very cute little girl dog) the George & Dragon was a revelation that confirmed my suspicions that in order to find the best place to stay sometimes you just have stumble across it. There is an adorable little terrace out back where we ate a very good, realistically priced meal with a perfectly chilled sauvignon blanc. As darkness fell, the fairy lights came on and the outdoor woodburner was stoked up. Blankets were available for anyone feeling the chill and in the winter they even have a stock of hot water bottles to snuggle with. And once we were pleasantly full and slightly squiffy we bimbled on up to our room which was a lovely characterful beamed room with ensuite and a comfy bed.

Breakfast was perfect and probably the highlight of our stay. Owner Chippy came and had a bit of a chat (lovely guy, really lovely – just one of those people clearly in the right job) and we were treated to a delicious breakfast of fresh from the oven croissants and jam, yogurt and fruit, followed by scrambled eggs and bacon on toast and copious amounts of tea and coffee. Such a treat and the entire experience an unexpectedly lovely one.

So there we go, I’ve whiled away a few minutes with some niff naff and trivia. We’ve had a bit of time away from hockey and some lovely dog friendly experiences along the way. Perfect. Now we just need the hockey season to start please.