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Posing at Tower Bridge
Posing at Tower Bridge

My London Adventure Really Begins

Champion Chatter

Well here’s where my adventure really begins. I was off to London, at least I would as soon as himself had finished looking at cars across the road in Hampton Court. He spent the morning at the Concours of Elegance, while herself and I mooched around Hampton Court village. We had a lovely morning visiting shops and having coffee but around lunchtime, we met up with himself for a little drink in The Mute Swan, the pub next door to our hotel.

Soon, it was time and I couldn’t suppress a shiver of excitement as we crossed the bridge to the train station, where we hopped on a train to Waterloo.

A salute from Michael Bond...
A salute from Michael Bond…

Well, I’ve never seen such a busy place. People were rushing everywhere and to be honest I was happy to get outside the station and into a taxi. It was my first time in a London cab and I really enjoyed looking at the sights rushing past the window.

Queen of The Bloomsbury.
Queen of The Bloomsbury.

All too soon, we were at our hotel, The Bloomsbury, owned by the Irish Doyle Group, where the hoomans often stay. It was obvious they were expecting me as I had a great welcome from Ivan and the reception team. I must say they really made me feel welcome. Up to our room and I had a lovely, comfortable bed, treat and even a chew toy. I was really going to enjoy my stay.

It wasn’t long before we were on the move again, to the nearest tube station where we got on the Undergound, the posh, new Elizabeth line.

It’s really snazzy. Although I was supposed to be carried down the escalator, I hopped on myself the first time, just to prove I could do it. Nothing to it at all.

Begging for s'Mores at Midnight Apothecary.
Begging for s’Mores at Midnight Apothecary.

When we emerged from the train, I could smell the river and we were in a place called Rotherhithe. The Brunel Museum is on the site of Brunel’s first tunnel across the Thames and on the rooftop, there’s Midnight Apothecary, a little garden where we went to enjoy delicious cocktails and even a firepit to toast marshmallows – I was very afraid that my lovely fur would get singed.

Himself started making s’mores from the supplied chocolate biccies and suddenly had an epiphany that the chocolate should go on the inside. Eejit – sure I could have told him that.

Meeting actor Tim Thomas at Midnight Apothecary.
Meeting actor Tim Thomas at Midnight Apothecary.

We got talking to a lovely lady, Sophie, who turned out to have Clare links. We’ll have to meet up when she comes over to trace her roots.
Later we went down into the depths of the tunnel itself and had a talk on its history by a very animated gent who turned out to be none other than Tim Thomas, the doctor from ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’. He was great craic and very interesting. I got to meet him afterwards and had my photo taken with him. It’s lovely to meet a fellow superstar.

Then, as a final surprise, it was off to the hotel’s Coral Room bar for a quick drink. It was a perfect end to a perfect day. My first in London.

I finally get to meet Estelita. Any chance of a bit of bacon?
I finally get to meet Estelita. Any chance of a bit of bacon?

We had an early start the following morning as we had lots planned. I met the lovely breakfast team, led this morning by Estelita – I’d meet Maria the following day – and we were off in short order on the Underground to Vauxhall.

Meeting a Supermodel at Embassy Gardens.
Meeting a Supermodel at Embassy Gardens.

After a brief walk we arrived at Embassy Gardens, beside the American Embassy, where a dog party was going on. I had great fun walking around and talking to loads of lovely doggies. I was wearing my best AG Dog Fashion dress but as I seemed to the only one dressed up, I got lots of attention.

When we arrived, there was a dog obstacle course in progress so we watched that for a while and enjoyed the sunshine.

While we waited for the guest of honour, we repaired to The Alchemist for nibbles and cocktails for the hoomans, a mini Guinness and a Next-spresso Martini. I got a little taste of both but don’t tell my vet.

My new boyfriend, David Gandy.
My new boyfriend, David Gandy.

Then it was time to meet the special guest for the day, someone called David Gandy. The name meant little to me but herself was almost swooning. I went up to him and asked for a picture and he really seemed very nice. Another superstar and it was only my second day.

It was back on the train then, emerging into the sunlight at Green Park where we walked across to gaze at a massive building. This was the famous Buckingham Palace, where the queen lived. I was hoping to meet her but she was in Scotland so I contented myself with gazing at the magnificent building for a while. Little did we know on that sunny afternoon that she would die only a few days later. It makes me sad to think of it. May she rest in peace.

Gazing at Buckingham Palace in the hope of being invited in for tea and marmalade sandwiches.
Gazing at Buckingham Palace in the hope of being invited in for tea and marmalade sandwiches.

We walked down The Mall and back towards town, stopping off to say hello to the lions at Trafalgar Square. They didn’t say hello back but there’s cats for you in a nutshell.

Can I have a bite of your sandwich?
Can I have a bite of your sandwich?

If anything, we were up even earlier the following day and off to Leicester Square to visit the Paddington Bear statue. Paddington always has the best marmalade sandwiches and we had a lovely chat. Then we strolled over to Covent Garden where I dressed up for my photos. In seconds I was surrounded by hordes of Japanese tourists wanting to take my picture. I’d say I’m flooding Instagram feeds the world over by now.

Next we were off to the big, scary Tower of London and I hoped the beefeaters weren’t going to lock me in the tower but I got away with it. They have the moat filled with wild flowers now and it was a lovely sight to see.

In my spooky AG Dog Fashion outfit at St Dunstan's.
In my spooky AG Dog Fashion outfit at St Dunstan’s.

Walking across Tower Bridge was a real treat – I felt like a queen myself – and we strolled back up the South Bank of the Thames before crossing over London Bridge to visit St Dunstan’s, a ruined church near where the great fire of London started. It was damaged in the fire and finally bombed during WWII but it’s now a public park and so peaceful. I dressed as a witch in my scary howlowe’en outfit and posed for a picture or three.

Afternoon Tea with the hoomans on Dalloway Terrace.
Afternoon Tea with the hoomans on Dalloway Terrace.

We then rushed back to the hotel because the hoomans had booked afternoon tea on Dalloway Terrace. I was sitting on herself’s lap for a picture when I saw my chance and snaffled a lovely chicken sandwich from the plate. It was really delicious and no harm done as the sandwich was replaced. It’s lucky we had already visited the tower or they might really have locked me up and that wouldn’t be nice.

That chicken sandwich was delicious!
That chicken sandwich was delicious!

I know the hoomans were hoping to bring me to Hampstead Heath, which is a great place to bring dogs in London but as we were running short of time, we went instead to the top of Primrose Hill, where we got such a wonderful view of the city skyline. Back to the hotel then and a last surprise after a long and exciting day was going down to the Bloomsbury Club Bar for another little drink, where tales of my snaffling exploits were already being told.

Please look after this Westie, Thank You.
Please look after this Westie, Thank You.

The next morning we went off early to Paddington Station to see the Paddington statue there. This time, it was hordes of British Rail staff who wanted my picture. We came back via the huge John Lewis shop on Oxford Street where we hoped to visit their roof garden but we were too early. Instead we visited the Champion pub, off Oxford Street. It was lovely and old-fashioned and it was just like being back in the office.

Farewell to Brian and London on the steps of The Bloomsbury.
Farewell to Brian and London on the steps of The Bloomsbury.

At The Bloomsbury, I said goodbye to Brian and Francisco, the doormen and even Susanne and Marta, GM and Deputy GM, came to wave me off. The hotel only recently became dog friendly and I might even be the first dog to stay there so I was – mostly – on my best behaviour.
Then it was back on the train to New Malden where we picked up our car and said our fond farewells to Camille. Before we hit north for The Cotswolds, we stopped in Surbiton at a dog-friendly café, Wags n Tales, which was a really lovely spot.

Relaxing on the steps before leaving The Bloomsbury.
Relaxing on the steps before leaving The Bloomsbury.

After a long journey, we arrived at our destination, Charingworth Manor, just outside the little village of Chipping Campden, booked through our friends at Petspyjamas. It was getting late so we had little enough time before settling down to a lovely dinner in the lounge – I heard mention of roast pork with bubble and squeak – and we chatted with fellow guests, both hooman and canine, before heading to bed for a final Cotswolds sleep.

It was barely light when we got up the following morning and I was whooshed into the car, even before breakfast. I had a bad feeling and it was confirmed when I was led into a vet’s office. I recognised it from my Christmas visit a few years ago. Happily, it wasn’t at all bad – just a general checkup before travelling back home and a stamp on my passport. Phew!

We drove into Chipping Campden village to check it out and it was a really pretty place. Stopping for coffee at the Bantam Tea Rooms, the hoomans couldn’t resist the coffee and walnut cake that looked truly delicious.

Even though it was raining hard, we drove on to Cirencester, the largest town in the Cotswolds and luckily, the weather cleared so we could enjoy a spot of lunch and a little walk around the town where I met a fellow Westie.

It was then a long journey north to our final stop of the holiday, The Bear’s Paw, near Crewe, a place we visited before and it was as lovely as ever. We had a nice dinner in the bar before settling in for the night.

In the spooky churchyard opposite the Bear's Paw.
In the spooky churchyard opposite the Bear’s Paw.

The following morning, I dressed up again in my spooky howlowe’en outfit for a photoshoot in the church yard across the road.
Overnight, our fast ferry was cancelled due to bad weather, so we were catching the slower ferry from Holyhead at lunchtime.

I had no problem settling down to sleep in the car, even for the longer crossing as I was tired after all my adventures.

We arrived in Dublin and it seemed to take forever to even get out of the port – they even checked my passport for the first time ever, so I’m glad I had it properly stamped.

It was getting late as we headed home, but we just made one of my favourite places, The Buttery, in Limerick, where we stopped for dinner.
It was the perfect way to round off my London holiday. I was ready now to sleep for a week, while I recalled in my dreams all the amazing things I’d seen over the past days.

John Galvin
+ posts

Motoring editor - The Clare Champion

Former Chairman and voting member of Irish Motoring Writers' Association

About John Galvin

Motoring editor - The Clare Champion Former Chairman and voting member of Irish Motoring Writers' Association

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