The Boys in Devon
With their love of everything wet and muddy, Benson and Toby had no problems with moving out of London to the South Devon coast.
Click the icons on the right to see videos taken by Phil during the boys' daily walks.
June 2002 - Scouting Out Devon
to move to Devon, and with the exchange of contracts imminent on our house in London, we
decided that it was high time to find a new home.
But between viewings, we managed to explore more of the things which attracted us to this part of the world. These included some of the best beaches in the country, as well as some of the many facets of nearby Dartmoor.
Summer 2003 - A Day off from the Hotel
|In the middle of our first season, we definitely felt that we needed a bit of a break from the hotel. As a surprise for Phil, Steve arranged to hire a small boat - complete with Captain - to take all four of us wherever we wanted around the south Devon coast for a few hours. After initially heading north towards Babbacombe, we decided to turn round and head south past Torquay, Paignton and Brixham round to Dartmouth. We came across a family of seals on the way. After a break for lunch, we made our way back to Torquay harbour, refreshed and ready for the rest of the season.|
March 2004 - A Coastal Walk
|We thought that some of the coastline we had seen from the boat the previous Summer deserved closer inspection. So one day in March when there were no guests in the hotel, we set off - map in hand - down narrow lanes between Brixham and Dartmouth. There were some steep climbs, but the discovery of some of the loveliest but least accessible beaches in South Devon made it worth the effort.|
January 2005 - A Weekend in Cornwall
With the builders having taken over the hotel
when the New Year guests departed, we took a much-needed (albeit too short)
break in Cornwall. We hired a cottage online and headed southwest one
Friday lunchtime. After a murky first night, Saturday saw us tackling
a section of the Coast Path on the Roseland peninsula. Afterwards we
took a stroll through the nearby resort of Falmouth.
After handing back the cottage keys on Sunday morning, we headed back 'up country', stopping first to walk the dogs on the wide sands of Perranporth and then to have lunch in Newquay.
April 2006 - A Dartmoor Walk
|There are still many days in April when there are no guests in the hotel, and we have a chance to get out with the boys. On one such, we discovered the area around Fingal's Bridge with it's riverside walk and beautiful valley views.|
April 2006 - A Week on the Isle of Wight
Last year in our traditional 'quiet week' at
the end of April we went to the Greek Isles. This year, having felt
neglectful about the amount of quality time we had spent with Benson and
Toby, we opted for a family holiday on an island a bit nearer home - the
Isle of Wight.
We stayed in a self-catering place near Freshwater Bay on the western end of the island, near the famous 'needles'. There were some lovely beaches and walks, and both were much appreciated by the boys. The weather was a little disappointing for most of the week however - definitely un-Greek!
On the last full day, we drove across the island to the town of Ryde. From there all four of us made the 10 minute hovercraft journey across the Solent to Southsea, where Phil had spent his college years. We explored the new developments in the former naval dockyards, including the new 170m tall Spinnaker Tower.
December 2006 - Toby Beats Cancer
|When a lump growing on Toby's chest was removed by our local vet, a biopsy showed it to be cancerous. A referral to a specialist was followed a few weeks later by an MRI scan and a second operation. A series of follow-ups led in October 2007 to him finally being given the all clear! Of course Toby loved all the attention, and seemed unaffected by the whole thing - even having to wear a fleece to protect his scars for a while!|
November 2007 - A Few Days in Caister
|With the hotel sold, we had time to catch up on a few things we'd been unable to do because of the demands of our previous lifestyle. One of these was to take up Steve's parent's open invitation to stay in their holiday home in Caister, on the Norfolk coast. Unfortunately the weather wasn't on our side, although we still appreciated the walks in the nearby dunes, and along the broad sands. We also visited (and were very impressed by) the nearby city of Norwich.|
New Year 2007/8 - Dorset Break
Once an annual feature of Phil's life, Steve
had never been on a New Year get-together with Al & Julie, Jackie & Michael
and various others. A large farmhouse near Bridport in Dorset had been
hired for a week, and stocked with alcohol and food (but mostly alcohol!)
Some nights we ate at the local pub, others were spent in the farmhouse. The days always included a doggy walk - mostly along the nearby Jurassic coast - which helped with the hangovers. While we had worried about the amount of beer and wine we consumed at home, this holiday served to show us that, but some standards, we were fairly abstemious! But one person who didn't enjoy New Year was Toby; one of Jackie's dogs (Chester) took an instant dislike to him, and kept having a go!
August/September 2008 - Toby's Cancer Returns
|After his problems in 2006, we had been regularly checking Toby for suspicious lumps and bumps. In August 2008 we found one, and so took him straightaway back to the specialist in Essex. Within two days Toby was under the knife, and the lump removed. A week later with Toby recovering, the biopsy confirmed that it was cancerous but that it appeared to have been fully removed. To be safe, the specialist decided to put him on a course of radiation treatment, so we had to take him up to Essex once a week for a month. This was followed by a couple of six-monthly check-ups.|
September 2009 - Short Break in Bath
In October 2008 we took over the
sandwich-making business - and from that point on struggled to get even one
day a week off each (and rarely together). So when Steve arranged a
three-day break in an apartment in the centre of Bath for Phil's Birthday,
it was the first chance for us to get away for almost a year - and much
needed. And since the apartment was dog-friendly, the boys could come
Of course they weren't allowed into the Roman Baths (or the gorgeous shops and restaurants), but we found nice places to walk Benson and Toby - particularly in the area around the famous Royal Crescent. They also took a break for a stroll through Cheddar Gorge during our drive back home.
Autumn 2009 - Toby's Final Weeks
after our return from Bath, Toby had a minor operation on his eye. Just as
he was recovering from this ordeal, he developed a limp. He
also started giving little yelps of pain when he turned his neck, and was
generally feeling pretty sorry for himself. For a while a slipped disc
was suspected, and for a few days he was on 'cage rest'. But this
ruled out when Phil took Toby up to Essex (again) for an (otherwise
inconclusive) MRI. For a while, he was on so many different drugs,
he was rattling. He also had a few acupuncture sessions.
Yet another visit to his cancer surgeon in Essex was followed by a referral
to a bone specialist in Devon. But Toby's health went downhill so fast
that no-one was able to work out what the root of the problem was. In the
end he was so clearly suffering - unable to move around the house without
pain - that, on November 18th we made the difficult decision to have him put
Farewell Toby. We hope we gave you a good life; you certainly brought a lot of joy into ours.
Return to Dogs Archive Page
Return to Main Page