Monday the 15th of August 2016 Mum, Dad and I set off in the car to Herefordshire. I wasn't sure where we were going as Mum had not told me, but as I sat on the seat looking out the window, I saw lots of new things and places; I had not been this way before!
It wasn't long before we were driving down country lanes, past open golden fields of hay and wheat, wide rivers, and little streams, woods and hills (I like the look of this county). Then we pulled into this small car park..... did I really just see what I thought I saw? The excitement was getting too much. We were soon out of the car and going through a red gate. Wow I couldn't believe my eyes! A little gravel path leading to our home for the next four days (I later found out). There was a big red showman's caravan, then the shower block and dining room then to my right another gypsy caravan; this time a bow topped one. Oh how exciting all the new smells too. My tail was wagging like a goodun' ... but wait there was more. Onto a wooden walkway and I spyed our caravan again. It was a traditional bow topped gypsy caravan, I can't wait to to see, woof, woof, then up the path, over the Wriggles Brook came a lady with a big smile and a warm greeting.
This was Jane, she and John-Paul own and run the B & B. After Jane shows us around and tells Mum and Dad how everything works, she left us to settle in. We got our bags and my cushion, which mum and dad made me, it has my name on it, and made ourselves at home. Mum makes Dad a nice cup of tea and I get a bowl of ice cold water, just what you need on a hot day oh and a biscult or two. We sit and enjoy the peace and relaxing surroundings. Mum has a go on the swing and Dad tries out the hammock while I explore everything: under the caravan, inside the caravan, down by the brook, over to the water fall, in each of the bushes .... yup I think I'm going to like it here. Time for a quick nap methinks.
At 7 o'clock as the sun sinks in the sky, Jane returns with our evening meal (well Mum and Dad's evening meal) but i just know I'm going to get some....
When Jane lifts the silver domes off the plates, all I hear from Mum and Dad is wow that looks delicious, but I'm to small to see! But the smell wafting down to me is awesome (let me at it hehe) Mum and Dad start eating and the sounds of enjoyment is too much to bear..... I think I will give dad a little nudge with my nose. At last they remember I'm here and I get to try some pie, mmmmm, Steak and Ale one of my favorites. After we have all eaten we sit back with full bellies, most content. Jane comes and clears away and asks if everything was OK? We all say "yes indeed it was" with big grins and waggy tails (well just me with the waggy tail).
Dad lights the tea lamps and the fire and we settle back for the evening Mum and Dad talking about things and me laying in front of the fire, watching the flames dance and twist as the logs crackle and burn, giving out a warm glow of heat. We sit and watch the flames for hours as the sun sets in the west. Through the trees we watch bats catching their supper. No wait, I think it must be their breakfast as they sleep all day, it is very confusing for me, and as the night falls its time for bed. We all climb into the caravan and snuggle down for a good night's rest, to see what tomorrow will bring.
We wake to a beautiful morning of sunshine and bird song; Mum opens the doors and I'm out ready for my morning run. Com'on Mum up and at it and off we go sniffing all the way out of the grounds and up the lane. Time for my morning business which Mum bags ready for the bin. Now I have to stand still, while mum cleans her hands with Teepol Hand Sanitizer (we never go on a walk without one). After a walk along the footpath, time to go back and see what dads been up to. He has had a nice shower and has got things ready for a cup of tea. First mum goes off for her shower (the showers here are lovely and mum said the water is nice and hot too). Back at the caravan they have a cup of tea and wait for our breakfasts (yes at Wriggles Brook even us dogs get treated to breakfast).
Jane comes with the first course for Mum and Dad, it's pancakes with maple syrup and fresh fruit. Smells yummy and I get to taste a bit, but I'm holding out for the main breakfast....
Jane is back again; this is more like it 3 plates and one is for me. I get a sausage and crispy bacon bits; the breakfast goes down very well.
We spend a very nice day sight-seeing all round the Forest of Dean. A truly wonderful place with loads of great walks and woody smells for me; Mum and I go for a long walk in the woods while dad has little nap in the car.
A little more driving (which I must admit I miss most of, due to the fact my eyes are closed) well who can resist 40 winks on a lovely summers day. When I wake, we are back at Wriggles Brook just in time for a nice cup of tea for Mum and Dad and maybe a few sips for me and a biscult? (Yup I'm right as always.)
After tea mum settles back to reading her new book and dad lazily chills on the hammock. The perfect place to just do nothing, which is what I did. 2-3 hours of nothingness just to dream of long walks and maybe food - perfect.
Oh hang on, it's almost 7pm and time for our evening meal. Yup, yup I'm right here comes Jane. Mmm something smells good (can't wait to see). Wow Mum has got lasagna and Dad has Fish and Chips. Oh boy I think I will need to try a bit of everything, LOL. With an "enjoy your meal" from Jane and she is off. Time to get stuck in, which first? Try dad yup a nice piece of fish mmmm yummy and few peas oh and some chips lovely thanks Dad. We all tuck in to another, better than a restaurant, quality meal; home cooked by Jane & John-Paul. Now come on Mum lets be having some of your lasagna please. There it is a big spoonful just for me erm maybe another chip or two mum? Yes don't mind if I do, thank you.
After our lovely dinner Jane comes to clear away and check everything was OK and we chat about our day. Jane is a lovely person and tells us about some other local places to visit.
We settle back for the evening and dad lights the fire: 1 match, 2 cubes of fire lighter, 6 sticks of kindling and 6 logs. Perfect, fire going as the evening sun sets in the west, and the bats come out to feed, mum and dad chat about the day and stuff while I watch all the flames dancing.
After few hours we all go to the cosy caravan for a good night's sleep (all this relaxing wears you out).
We all slept a little later today as the beds are so nice, Mum and Dad go off to the showers while I have a good stretch and run about to see which furry friends might have visited the camp overnight.
It's 9 o'clock and time for breakfast. Pancakes followed by full english (and yes sausage and crispy bacon bits for me); a dog could get used to this (oh wait I am used to this).
Another great breakfast and today there was potato rosti which Dad really liked a lot. Today we met John-Paul, he is a nice guy, Dad said they are our type of people. (I have no idea what Dad is talking about, I just know I liked John-Paul.) We had not seen John-Paul before because he had had a bad back; so we wished him well and I gave him a little cuddle and he tickled me.
So off to the car; where to today? Well we are off to Hay-on-Wye famous for something beginning with B Mum said. Erm let me think ..........Bones? NO..... Ball? NO.....Biscults NO.....
Stop guessing mum says, it's Books....... BOOKS .... BOOKS. Yes Books says mum...... I'm not liking the sound of this trip, Oh well let's give it a go.
Soon we are driving down country lanes with the sun shining, so all is good so far. We arrive at the pretty town; Dad drives us around so we can see all the shops. Yes lots of book shops, can't see why mum is so excited ..... but hay oh (see what i did there)?
Anyway we park up and Mum sets off to explore all the shops. Dad and I mostly look at the cafes and food shops. I meet some other dogs, there seem quite a few here, so it must be a dog friendly town. Mmmm we find an ice cream shop selling 30+ different types. (I wonder if i might get one.) We meet up with Mum and she tells us about the book shops and one very dusty one, but i'm just really thinking about ice cream. So as we head back to the car I pull Dad towards the ice cream shop we found earlier. Yes it's working Mum and Dad are discussing which ice cream to have.
Mum has mint and Dad has cherry; luckily I like both so I get cherry mint. Mmm nothing better than the bottom of dad's cone with 2 scoops from Mum and Dad.
We finish our ice creams and set off in the car. We head to the welsh border and the edge of the Black Mountains. On the map dad has seen a feature called Lord Hereford's Nob, Mum and Dad start to laugh I'm not sure why.... The little lane with high hedges on both sides is where we start and gently climb up the road splits and we take the right fork climbing higher then over a cattle grid. Heehee I like these because they make my bum shake in the car. Oh, wow, what a view! The road gives way to open moorland and views as far as the eye can see. A few sheep roaming wild to the left as we pull over, yes we are going for a walk. Off we set and in no time at all we are away from the car and I'm looking at everything. It's so fresh and the wind blows the warm air over my fur.
Walk over, we return to the car and travel on up the road. Mum stops to make a video of Lord Hereford's nob for her friend Andi who lives in Florida in the US. Andi follows me on Twitter (you can to if you want @dooleysproducts). We travel down the road into the valley which runs along-side a river. As the road is single track we stop many times for other cars to pass. We make our way back to Wriggles Brook for another home cooked dinner.
Tonight we are having chicken dinner with veg; once again what a surprise when we are served a whole roasted chicken and serving bowl full of roasted veg and roast potatoes along with a wonderful smelling gravy. I'm looking forward to this, erm erm I mean't Mum and Dad are looking forward to this. Jane leaves us to it, after she has explained everything on the table, even down to the maple syrup roasted veg, sounds yummy. Dad carves the chicken, some for Mum, some for Dad and, wait for it, I see my bowl, some for me. The smell is amazing, I can hardly wait. In fact, I might be doing a little dance as Mum serves my bowl. Mmmm so tasty, gravy on my nose, I will save that bit for last.
I can hear sound of pleasure from mum and dad as they eat the dinners and then eat seconds too which might i add i get another bowlful as well and some more yummy homemade gravy Boy oh boy Jane and John-Paul are great cooks. With dinner over and our compliments to the chefs we settle back for another great evening. Dad lights the fire and we all remember our best bits of the day. I sniff the air which is lightly perfumed with wood smoke; little puffs are sent skywards as the logs crackle and glow. As the days pass the more relaxed we all are, Wriggles Brook gives you that real sense of life.
With full bellies and high on life's simple pleasures we head off to bed; up the five wooden steps and into our gypsy caravan for a wonderful night's rest.
We awake to bird song and the babbling river as it tumbles over the waterfall just metres from our caravan. In fact whichever caravan you stay in at Wriggles Brook you will be next to the Brook/stream and have your own hammock, swing, fire pit and seating with tea lights and fairy lights to set the prefect scene.
We are served our pancakes (oops Mum and Dad's pancake, but you know I'm getting some so LOL yer) and fresh fruit which comes from the Wriggles Brook kitchen garden. So it is seasonal and at its best, the way fruit should be, according to dad. This is another thing that Jane and John-Paul do well only serving good seasonal food. So whether its veg from the garden or local apple juice, from the next valley over, you will always get great tasting food.
On to the main full english and this morning we have potato cakes. Jane said they liked to change the potato part each day so as a customer you get a change. Dad said it was great (he likes anything made with potatoes). Once again there was my plate with sausage and bacon bits but as always dad added a few more bits from his plate for me. Well I am a growing lad, going to be 7 next year LOL. So with breakfast all eaten and apple juice drunk (water for me) we set about planning our day.
We set off to the left today and dad said we should follow our noses (which is what I always do 1) because it is in front of me and 2) it can sometimes lead to a tasty snack.) So follow our noses we did (which at one point wasn't the best of ideas as at one place a farmer who was spreading something pretty smelly on the fields) Dad said it was to help the crops grow. I was thinking if I smelt like that it would be a bath for me in my Dooley's honey & Coconut Shampoo LOL.
Past the smelly farm we see a sign for a place call Hole in the Wall so we turn down the road which leads to it, just around a corner and there are 20+ little quail or pheasents we wasn't too sure but there was a lot of them just running all over the road dad slowed to a stop and mum took some photos before each one in turn disappeared into the hedgerow, and we proceed on as we turn another corner we was the river Wye in all its glory flowing on the right hand side of us we stopped to look at its beauty and took some more photos, we drove on to Ross on Wye, and down to the forest of Dean once again as soon as I could see and smell the trees I knew another great walk was in the offing, and sure enough it was this time we found a place with a big lake we went for a lovely walk in the shade of the big trees which was very welcome on another hot summers day, there was lots of people cycling and running and just having fun, when we was a bit on our own mum started to calling me Toto and saying we were looking for "Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!" so i was on my guard then I realized that she was making another video for Andi lol so i return to relaxed Dooley mode which pretty much how i am most of the time "unless the pesky squirrels at home are teasing me"
Once we get back to the car I get a nice cold drink of water, and we head off back to Wriggles Brook so time for me to have 40 winks after a quick cuddle with mum while I look out the window.
Back at Wriggles Brook and tea and biscults it so nice here just feels like home mum reads again and dad heads for the hammock maybe I might get on too move over dad after all it is a 2 person hammock lol oh yes this is the life........... and in a few hours dinner with be served ............. i drift off to sleep with dad as the hammock slowly swings by the river.
Dooley Dad it almost time mum calls, we both wake from our little nap and i sit by the table now all sat by the table Jane comes out with our dinners what is it tonight, it smells wonderful wait i smell two different smells, mum has a cheese board with 5/6 different cheeses mmmm i love cheese but mmmm what have dad got noooooooo can it be YES it it is roast belly pork dad favorite (and to be honest i like this one a lot too) oh and there is buttery mash potatoes and mum has salad and pickles and crusty rolls, we all tuck in everything is so good mum trys all the cheeses, and dad cuts into his pork John-Paul has cooked it perfectly and the crackling is so crisp but I know i won't get much of that no matter how much dad loves me....
So if you are now thinking about going to Wriggles Brook for a night or like us four nights let Jane and John-Paul cook you an evening meal of your choice YES you can choose any meal you fancy I'm sure like us you will be blown away by the taste and flavors of home cooking done at its best.
This was our last night but we wasn't sad to be leaving in the morning because we still have another breakfast to enjoy and our time here had been amazing and to totally understood what Jane and John-Paul was offering this is more than a holiday in a traditional Bow topped Gypsy caravan this is a complete rechange to what life should be.
So to our last nights sleep in this magical place in Herefordshire, (I have to admit I'm with dad I do like a county to end in shire).
Today we woke to the soft sound of rain on the canvas roof of the bowed top caravan. It sounded like a gentle morning alarm tune being played just for us. Mum opens the door to see a light falling rain but it isn't going to dampen our spirits. I rush out to sniff the fresh wet ground (I like the rain) always feels cool on my paws mum nips out to the loo, these by the way are Eco loos and mum said they are fine once you get used to them, Dad put an Apple Tagfresh in there so it smell nice, and Dad also put in a Citronella Tagfresh which is great for keeping insects at bay. (Not that the toilet was smelly, in fact they were some of the cleanest toilets Mum had used she said.)
Once Mum and Dad had showered we went down to the dining room, this was the first time we had used this, but because of the rain it gave us the chance too, the room is filled with grapes hanging from the ceiling and wonderful fairy lights and candles for night time dining, but enough of that here comes breakfast...... pancakes to start followed by my opps our full english, we all sat and enjoyed our breakfast and even though it was our last morning Jane said there was no rush (unlike some B&B's where you are up and out).
We all went back to the caravan to pack up the last of our stuff, and Dad went off to settle the bill. Then it was time to say good bye to our home for the last 4 nights, but as in the words of Arnie in the Terminator (I'LL BE BACK).
Thank you to wonderful hosts Jane & John-Paul
Gypsy Rose Dooley