Pup Crawl Anyone?
As Britain and France resurface from lockdown, families, friends and colleagues are resuming meeting up for drinks and meals. Café culture is embedded in French society, dating back to at least the seventeenth century. In Britain, the pub is an integral part of Britain’s social fabric. COVID-19 has cut people off from enjoying these traditional meeting places. For many, it’s added to the difficulties of getting through a global experience nobody alive has ever encountered.
The charity I founded, Schnauzerfest is celebrating the resumption of life getting back to what we used to do: with friends and family going to the pub, meeting up for coffee, having tea and cake, after work drinks or even cocktails as a supporter joyfully did yesterday. Humans and dogs are social creatures. The charity is inviting people to share their photos of trips out and meet ups, accompanied by their canine friends. Schnauzerfest champions dog friendly businesses and this is a fun way to show it.
We live a very long way from the nearest pub, and France only reopened its terraces for outside dining on Wednesday. A plan was needed for us to join in the Pup Crawl. We’d do it a perfectly French way! A wine tasting. We headed out in the van for an overnight trip to Cahors – world famous for its wines.
We’re members of a scheme, France Passion which was started in 1993 by the editor of a wine magazine. Noticing that motorhomers visited wine growing regions, but a lack of places to stay prevented them stopping he came up with a solution. He organised willing winegrowers who were happy to offer free parking on their land. It’s an ingenious scheme that supports rural economies. Almost all our van trips involve heading to a France Passion stop, which these days includes many rural enterpises, not just vineyards.
The great thing we’ve found is that vineyards make perfect locations to walk the dogs. They’re found in beautiful surroundings with very few, if any vehicles about and they cover acres and acres of land. Which so far, every vineyard proprietor has happily let us explore. We’ve yet to encounter any resistance to the dogs, and have received warm welcomes at each one. In more ways than one a vineyard is a perfect place for a Pup Crawl!
We don’t really plan where we’re going. I have a vague idea having done some research. But generally, it’s pot luck where we pitch up. If it doesn’t feel 100% right, we move onto the next one on the map. Wednesday’s stopover felt serendipitous. Bearing in mind it was for the Schnauzerfest cause (no, really it was, wine buying was just the bonus) how could we not smile seeing the name on the gate.
We parked up and headed in to buy. There’s no obligation to buy using the France Passion scheme, but why would we not? If someone is generous enough to let us stay on their land, it’s not a chore for us to buy some wine. And, this one practically leapt into my hands to come home with us.
Splashing the charity’s eye-catching orange around is part of the fun of the Pup Crawl. I promise I didn’t put those flowers alongside the bottles. This was definitely a lucky choice of vineyard for our contribution.
If you’d like to see what others are doing, there are some great photos in the dedicated group here. A warm welcome awaits if you fancy joining in.