Weekly Photo Challenge: Variations on a Theme

This week’s photo challenge is Variations on a theme.

We love going for walks with Lotta, one of our favourite walks is in our local forest. The forest trails go on for miles and the scenery is beautiful. I have a feeling Lotta loves these walks too!







Featured is a dog bandana from ‘Bramble & Friends’, you can find them on Instagram. Lotta is wearing the Summit Parka jacket from Hurtta and the lead is a Hurtta’s casual rope lead.


Hurtta Casual Harness and Lead Review

Casual harness, colour River 70cm and the Lignon/River casual rope lead 180cm.

While we were on holiday in Italy I received some exciting news that I’d won a hardness and lead set from the finnish company Hurtta. I follow them on Facebook and have entered many of the competitions to win some of their accessories, this year in August was to be my lucky moment. I really couldn’t believe my luck! I was messaged by one of their team to ask if we would prefer the collar, lead combo or a harness and lead, as you can see from the photo above we chose the harness and lead combination.

Due to popular demand, I didn’t receive the items until 10th November. These colours are so popular that they ran out of stock, so that’s why we had to wait for ours. We have been using the lead and harness for a while now so I thought it was time to write my honest review about them. I was so delighted with the colours and the quality of the products that I instantly went online and bought the collar to match. I mostly use the collar and lead as she is better on the lead with the collar. I use the harness in the car (with a seatbelt attachment) and also when I know she may get a little nervous eg. new places or where there are more people around. I love the attention to detail like the finnish flag and the embossed Hurtta logo on the items but most of all I love the fact that they are padded and Lotta doesn’t suffer from any chaffing or fur loss. The photo below shows fur loss under the collar where it was rubbed off by the predecessor. After using the padded Hurtta collar her fur has now grown back.


On the photo below you can see that the lead is attached to a ring on the handle of the harness. This ring is free to move along the handle which is great as I have had harnesses before where the ring is fixed which means it pulls the harness round the body of the dog causing rubbing and uncomfort to the dog. The metal hardware is a lovely metallic brown colour which appeals to me more than the original black they used to use on their products. Both collar and harness have a protective mechanism to avoid the dog’s skin/fur getting trapped in the clasp which closes both of them.


All the products featured have 3m reflectors woven into the material which are very efficient for visibility in the dark. The collar and harness are really easy to adjust and fit perfectly. Even though the buckle of the harness is right next to her elbow it doesn’t seem to bother her or cause any discomfort. The only thing missing for me on the collar is another separate place for the tags, so that they don’t knock against the clasp of the lead. I read somebody elses review of the harness and they said some dogs may be able to escape from the harness, this has not proven to be true for Lotta yet and she can sometimes be difficult when she gets nervous. She did however escape from another harness I once had when she was younger but the Hurtta harness seems to fit so well that she hasn’t been able to escape from it. It is essential that you follow the measuring guide on the Hurtta website to avoid buying the wrong size and disappointment.

Not the best photo but it shows how well the 3m reflectors work.

I have always been a fan of this company, their customer service is fantastic and the products are durable and of a very high standard. I first discovered them when I was looking for a winter jacket for Lotta and their jackets were the only ones that a) had an attachment for a harness and b) were long enough at the back to cover the biggest muscle on the back leg. The products are great value for money because of their durability.

I hope you found this review helpful. If you have any questions, please ask.

These are affiliate links to the above products, clicking on these means no extra cost to you as a customer. Any income generated will help to keep this website running.

Hurtta casaual harness ‘River’

Hurtta casual collar ‘River’

Hurtta casual Rope lead Lignon/River

Dog Beaches in and around Loano

The first beach we drove to was, as it turned out, to be the Ritz of all the dog beaches of our holiday but it came at a price. The beach is at Albissola Marina Liguria which is a good 40 min. drive from Loano, if not more. We were so excited to find it as my husband had been raving about it during the count down to our Italian holiday. We finally arrived at our destination and started to look for a parking space, first problem, there was hardly any street parking, as it was extremely busy but we managed to find a pay and display parking lot just before the Bau Bau Village beach, which meant a short walk to it. We walked into a hallway area and unsure of where to go and speaking no Italian we were quickly greeted by one of the employees and ushered to the check-in point. My husband nearly had a heart attack when she issued us with a bill of 70 Euros for the four of us plus dog for the day. We were quite tempted to bid them good day but we had travelled so far to be there, that we decided to treat ourselves.


As you can see from the photo above it was very spacious and everyone had their own beach hut type sun umbrella. We also had a lot of space between each of the other sun loungers which in Italy is pure luxury. The beach area was clean and it wasn’t too overcrowded with dogs. Lotta wasn’t convinced that she needed to swim in the sea. I tried throwing a toy in for her but the neighbouring Golden Retriever decided to swim for it. She loved meeting the other dogs but one dog was particularly annoying and she had to warn him off. There is an exercise area as you walk on to the beach which is fenced off and has covering, so there is plenty of shade (on the tour below this area doesn’t look like it has much shade). This is great, so that you can exercise your dog off the lead. There is an agility course which can be fun if the weather isn’t too scorchingly hot. As you walk in there is a restaurant to the left and a kiosk on the right where you can buy drinks and snacks which are reasonably priced. At the back of the beach are changing cubicles and showers and toilets for the dog owners. On the way out there is a dog shower area where you can shower off the salt and the sand from your dog’s fur. There is also a shaded picnic area where you can eat your food outside.

Bau Bau Village beach tour

The next dog beach we drove to was at Finale Ligure. It was a lovely town with lots of cafes and restaurants. In order to get to the seafront you had to drive through the town, so parking here was also a little tricky. We were very lucky and found a parking space directly in front of the promenade, it was also a pay and display parking space. I laughed as my husband tried to haggle with the man renting the sun loungers. My husband being as frugal as he is wanted to pay for just two sun loungers and one umbrella but wasn’t successful and ended up paying for the four sun loungers and one umbrella. We had been spoilt with the Bau Bau dog beach, so this was no comparison. However there was a really long promenade with many restaurants and kiosks to buy food and ice-cream. I walked Lotta up and down the promenade a few times as the weather wasn’t great that day and it was a lovely walk through the palm trees and little garden areas. The dog beach itself was not as big as the first one but still quite spacious with dog water bowls and toilets for the owners.

Finale Ligure dog beach.
Finale Ligure promenade.
Small garden area on the promenade.

Last but no least was the dog beach in Loano itself. This was the cheapest one yet (11 Euros, I think) but not the best one by far. We arrived a little late so most of the loungers had been taken. There was hardly any space between the loungers and too many dogs. Lotta spent the few hours we were there, hidden under the sun lounger. There were the same facilities as on all the dog beaches but it was just too small. Lotta has a shoulder height of 50cm, a medium sized dog. Most of the other dogs here were little lap dogs.

To summarise the Bau Bau dog beach is a great day out if you want a luxurious beach day and to be able to completely relax. The dog beach at Finale Ligure is great if you want a family day out with diversity ie. shopping, eating out and lots of walking. The beach in the Loano town itself is great for small dogs if you only want to spend an hour or two at the beach.

La Dolce Vita

We had another road trip in the summer, down to Italy near the French border. My youngest son had continually mentioned that he’d quite like to go to Italy again for our summer holiday. During their younger years, we always had had an Italian holiday. We used to drive down towards Venice and stay in Bibione, Jessolo or around those areas. It was lovely whilst they were young and they would sit playing in the sun on the beach but after eight years, I grew tired of the same old, same old. That’s when we decided to give Croatia a try.

So this year when my husband asked where we should go on holiday, both my youngest son and I immediately suggested Italy. My husband wasn’t too keen at first until I came up with the idea of driving through Switzerland to the Italian Riviera. I had always wanted to go and see Monaco and Portofino. We were a little late booking our summer holiday as usual, so I was really pleased when I stumbled upon a hotel that also accepted dogs. The location was perfect, in between Monaco and Portofino enabling us to visit both places during our stay in Italy. There was one slight problem, they only accepted dogs up to 15kg, Lotta weighs 21kg. We were devastated, as we thought we’d found the perfect place to stay with our family. The hotel has three swimming pools, one of which is a heated indoor pool in the spa area. It had a fitness room for my eldest son and my husband (who’d have thought), a games room, table tennis and of course evening entertainment. Well, we weren’t going to let that put us off, so my husband sent an email of Lotta sitting on my lap when she first arrived at our house. This photo had worked before and it did the trick again, they made an exception. Funny that they should have a dalmatian as their mascot on their website!

This was on the way home! She jumped into the front seat as if she was trying to make us laugh, it worked!

The day came when we were due to leave. I, unusually for me, was quite organised (or so I thought) and had managed to wash everything we wanted to take with us and had packed it the night before. Little did I know, until it was much too late, that I had in actual fact forgotten the towels!!! Who needs towels when on holiday swimming everyday!! Anyway, we were all full of anticipation and eager to get on the road. It was a very plain sailing drive down to Italy with one shock of the toll price of Switzerland’s motorways, you have to pay for a whole year, which is maybe ok if you own the car but not if your car is about to be changed for a new company car (then 40 Euros are a lot of money). The added advantage of this, is that there are very few cars on the roads and the scenery is just breathtaking. Lotta travels in the boot of the car in her travel box which she actually prefers to the back seat with the boys. If I remember correctly we only stopped twice on our eight-hour journey.

Entrance to ‘Ai Pozzi Village’

So we arrived at our destination ‘Ai Pozzi Village’ in Loano. Our first impressions were very positive after driving through the Palm tree adorned entrance of the hotel. After parking the car we tumbled out and bounced up to reception and were greeted by an Italian who said he spoke a little German. We had to laugh at this because he spoke fluent German with very few, if any, mistakes. He rambled on about the services we could pay for and that parking wasn’t actually included as we’d booked through booking.com. This we found a little irritating as all you want to do on holiday, is get in your hotel room and as quickly as possible and jump in the pool. A very positive thing to note is that dogs are allowed in a designated area by the pool. One of our concerns was that we would have to take it in turns looking after Lotta in the hotel room, so it was great that she was allowed to sunbathe with us on the terraced area. We did however, have to take it in turns to eat, as dogs are forbidden in the restaurant. We booked just breakfast, which was a buffet that we all enjoyed in the morning. There was a huge variety of food, something for everyone.

Lotta looking smug, sunbathing on the terrace.
View from our hotel room at night, looking over the pool.

The hotel room was a snug fit with bunk beds and a double bed for the adults. For four adults there wasn’t enough wardrobe space and was lacking a chest of drawers (would possibly be ok for a family with smaller children). The balcony was huge but had a partitioning see through wall. On offer was a mini-bar which proved useful on occasions and meant I could store Lotta’s food safely. The room was air-conditioned as you would expect from Italian hotels. The bathroom was a really good size and had a walk in shower with a rain drop fitted shower head and a flexible shower head. We had a hotel room on the fifth floor which meant using the lift to get to our hotel room. Lotta quickly got over her fear of lifts, thank goodness!

The hotel room.
Lotta found the beds very comfortable.

The hotel is only a fifteen minute walk away from the town centre and the train station. To get to the town centre you have to cross the railway line which sometimes meant we had to wait at the crossing until the train had passed. The hotel also has its own private beach which has the added cost of paying for the sun loungers. Dogs are unfortunately not allowed on this beach which I think is a little crazy as the hotel is advertised as being dog friendly (we were aware of this, as it clearly states on their website). There are however assigned dog beaches and the cheapest one we found was in the town itself at the cost of eleven Euros for four people plus dog. Again this was ok for smaller dogs but was a little on small size for bigger dogs. There are so called free beaches which are as the name would suggest without charge but as you may have guessed dogs are not prohibited on these beaches. I will do a separate blog post on the dog beaches in the area and describe in detail the prices and what there is to offer.

Eating out is always a pleasant experience with Lotta who has become really good at lying under the table until we have finished. In one of the restaurants the waitress came out with some tasty ham for the dogs. I think this was Lotta’s favourite one. The town offers a wide range of restaurants from pizzerias to more sophisticated sea food restaurants. We found the best value for money restaurants near the square in the town centre. After a while we couldn’t see anymore pizza and pasta and decided to try out a Tex-Mex restaurant. In past experiences this hasn’t been the best choice of restaurants in Italy. I had seen a sign for ‘The Ranch’ advertising Tex-Mex food and we decided to try it out. We were not disappointed with the menu full of Tex-Mex and steaks, a little on the more pricey side but a refreshing change from your average Italien touristy cuisine. It’s well worth visiting if you’re in the area. It’s situated jut outside Loano (in Pietra Ligure).

Loano town centre at night.

I loved the old fashioned architecture and the shutters on the windows, it has a very romantic flair to the area. Loano town itself is full of little back passages and tiny alley ways. At night it is lit up with fancy lights, they look like Christmas lights although they probably are an all year round feature. The promenade is lovely to walk down with a one-way restricted street and adorned with private beaches and restaurants a plenty. Dogs are very welcome here and there are many of them. We had a lovely ten days here and the time just flew past. We had two big day trips one to Monaco and one to Portofino which I will also include in a following blog.

The narrow streets and alley ways of Loano.

The journey home was horrendous with a five hour traffic jam on one of the ring roads to get onto the motorway. We found out later that a lorry had lost its load of fluid soap and it had taken them all day to clear it up. We were very late in booking this holiday, so were lucky to get anything at all. If we had booked earlier we would have booked one of the apartments they have on the complex which would have been more comfortable for our family with two teenage boys. Would we go back to this hotel? Probably not. For our family and the size of dog it wasn’t ideal but families with smaller dogs I can definitely recommend it. The only thing it is missing is an exercise area for the dogs!

Guess where we are headed next year for our summer holidays?




Weekly Photo Challenge: Waiting


The above photo was taken yesterday evening. We are waiting for the new bypass to open on Wednesday. This should mean less traffic in the next town but unfortunately it also means one less place to let the dogs off the lead. This area used to be a popular area for dog walkers as you could let your dog off the lead and not have to worry about the traffic too much. I don’t see any signs of a fence, so it would be too dangerous to have dogs wandering free next to a busy road. This road is badly needed as the local town suffers with lots of traffic and lorries which are just too ridiculously enormous to be passing through such a little town. It is however, such a shame that, yet again we have lost a place to walk our dogs off the lead.




This photo was taken at the same time as the photo above and she’s waiting for me to take the photo. Even though this photo makes Lotta’s eyes look smaller than they are, I still like the colours and composition of this one.

Hey, guess what? You might have already guessed but we finally decided on a camera. We bought a Canon EOS 80D just before our summer trip and I love it already. I still have lots to learn but it’s really fun to use.



Weekly Photo Challenge:



A Book Review of: Learning From Dogs by Paul Handover


I very kindly received a signed copy of the book ‘Learning From Dogs’ from Paul Handover. It was agreed that I would write a review about his book. For every book purchased some of the proceeds go to local shelters where Paul lives, Oregon USA.

As I started to read the foreword, certain similarities to ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ sprang to mind (My father insisted on playing it in the car as I was growing up!). The foreword to this book was written by a close friend of Pauls, Dr. Goodbrod, who is a local vet.

‘Learning from Dogs’ starts off by taking the reader through several theories of how dogs came to be our beloved pets, non of which has been proven but nevertheless very interesting to read.

The book is at times philosophical with questions of how our dogs can change our lives for the better and how we can learn from them. I particularly liked the auto-biography parts of the book which give a clear insight to the loving relationships the author has had with every one of his dogs (horses). Two particular stories have left a lasting impression, one was of the dog ‘Dhalia’ who wandered off and didn’t return (you’ll have to read it to found out how this one ended). The other one was of Pharoah who I believe played a big role  in the author’s love for dogs and showed him how we as humans can learn from them. Sadly, Pharoah has since, passed away.

In some parts of the book there are medical references which aren’t easy reading but it’s very interesting and it’s worth sticking with it. This unfortunately spoilt the flow of the book at times.

My husband and I have discussed many a time, several aspects of this book before we even knew this book existed. I found ‘Learning from Dogs’ both interesting and enlightening to read. I’m in agreement with the author and think we have an awful lot to learn from dogs. When we start realising the qualities of dogs and incorporating them into our lives then maybe, just maybe our world will become a better place to live.

Lotta enjoying some down time.

Weekly Photo challenge: Ooh, shiny!

Ooh, shiny!

This photo was taken during our annual visit to England in June of this year 2017. My grandmother had spoken of this beautiful garden hidden in the depths of Herefordshire, Westbury Water Gardens. I posted a different photo a while ago of the same garden for the ‘Bridge’ photo challenge. It is such a beautiful garden and well worth a visit. Dogs are welcome, I had the feeling Lotta really enjoyed exploring the nooks and crannies of this spectacular garden.

The owner of the gardens built this feature as a dome. It has two openings where you can enter and exit it. The dome is made out of different coloured glass bottles with a small pool and a seating area where you can sit and enjoy the tranquility of the colours and the water.


Ooh, Shiny!