Rivington Pike Dog Hotel review

5. August 2013 19:10

​It took us a while to find Rivington Pike "dog hotel" as its at the end of a long, potholed country lane. It has a nice view, but that's about it.

​On arrival it looks just like a house with some kennels in the garden. There is no obvious reception area and the gate to the front door was adorned with a sign saying "I can make it to the gate and jump over it in 3 seconds. Can you?" Alongside a picture of an aggressive dog. Welcoming or what?


Just as we were debating whether to ring the door bell, a guy appeared looking like he'd been sucking lemons. I smiled and said: "hi, we'd just like to have a look around the kennels if that's ok?" He scowled and replied with "You'll have to be quick because we're closed". Wow, how's that for customer service? The Rivington Pike Dog Hotel website says they're open 9-5 on a Saturday and that "You are of course very welcome to visit us for an inspection before making the important decision of which boarding kennels your pets will stay at while you're away."

Really? Then why are you looking at me like I've just shit in your garden, Mr Brindle?

So, we decided we'd view the kennels after the effort it took to find them, but if this is how the owner treats potential customers, how does he treat the dogs he's meant to be looking after?sad dog

We opened the front gate and were "greeted" by two huge Dogue de Bordeaux. The owner had already disappeared round the corner, leaving the dogs basically blocking our path. No way were we taking our tiny dog onto their territory while the owner wasn't there to control them. So again, I stayed outside while my girlfriend viewed the kennels.

​She came back after only a minute, shaking her head. The owner had basically pointed at the kennels and said "There". The indoor section of the kennels was in darkness with no artificial or natural lighting. They were also very narrow, only the width of the door. There is no secure outside area where dogs can be exercised. I assume they are taken on walks on the potholed dirt track we'd driven on. In places this is only just wide enough for one car, so not really safe for dog walking.

This is assuming that the dogs are walked at all, as they seemed to get hysterical (much more so than at the other kennels) while my girlfriend was looking at them.

The Rivington Pike boarding kennels website claims that they include "radio and TV to recreate your family environment". We saw absolutely no evidence of this.

While I was waiting outside, a gentle breeze coming from the direction of the kennels brought the pleasant scent of...urine. So not particularly clean then either.

We beat a hasty retreat to the car. The owner and his wife then appeared and approached their car, looking as if they were about to drive off somewhere and leave the dogs unattended. Bizarrely, at this point, the owner started berating his wife over something and she disappeared back inside the house.

sad pug 

As i turned the car around, Mr Brindle just kept staring at us. I looked at him, shook my head and drove off down the lane, with his eyes burning into the back of our heads.

If you didn't read all that, then let me just say this. If you care about your dog, please don't take it to Rivington Pike boarding kennels/ dog hotel. The owner is so surly to humans, I dread to think how he is with dogs. The kennels are much smaller than others we have seen and are not well lit. It's not particularly clean. There's no proper area for exercise of your dog and the dogs did not seem happy at all.


Read my review of Glenbrittle boarding kennels.

Glenbrittle boarding kennels review

29. July 2013 18:52

We had high hopes for Glenbrittle kennels in Burton, Wirral - their website showcased their luxury dog apartments and penthouses, I had read a few positive reviews and they offer you the ability to check up on your pet via webcam. The reality, however, was quite different. On entering the reception we said that we'd like to have a look around the kennels with a view to boarding in the future. The man on reception said "these people are going to have a look at the cattery first, then you can have a look." Not exactly polite or helpful. We waited around 10 minutes with no further communication from him and I was just about to give up and leave. What were the staff doing while we were waiting? Cleaning something up that they didn't want us to see? If you visit a kennel, you should do so unannounced and without having to wait around for ages. This way you get a better idea of the true state of the kennels.

While we were waiting the guy at the desk proclaimed himself to be the owner (even though nobody asked him) but didn't pay any attention to our dog. Now, if this guy was an animal lover, he'd have been straight up from his desk to see our dog. But he couldn't care less.no dogs

Just as we were about enter the kennel area the owner said we couldn't take "the little one" (meaning our dog) with us. He didn't offer any explanation for this, or even to hold the lead while we looked round. This meant only one of us could view the kennels area. Why didn't he mention his earlier?

The kennels themselves looked very worn out and nothing like the pictures on the website. They definitely weren't luxury! This, coupled with the lack of customer service means I can't recommend Glenbrittle kennels. Perhaps the kennel workers are great with dogs, but the state of the kennels makes me think the owner is just after your money.


Read my review of Rivington Pike Dog Hotel.

Manchester boarding kennels reviews

28. July 2013 10:42

So, I've dusted off the old blog to bring highlight what I feel is some Important information.

We're currently trying to find a boarding kennels that we're happy with for our dog. The best way to evaluate this is to visit the kennels unannounced, have a look around and ask some questions.

So today, we visited 3 boarding kennels / dog hotels based in the North West of England. The links to each review are below.


Glenbrittle boarding kennels

Rivington Pike Dog Hotel

Hudora Pet Hotel

Hudora Pet Hotel review

27. July 2013 18:35

​We liked this one. We arrived, by coincidence, at 2pm when the kennels were reopening for the afternoon. This meant there were a few customers around so we had to wait about 2 minutes to be seen. But to their credit, the member of staff called for a colleague to attend to us so we weren't waiting for too long.

The member of staff immediately showed our dog some attention, which of course he loved. She also said we were fine to take him around the kennels with us, but he might get a bit scared with all the dogs barking.

The individual kennels were clean and very light and airy with plenty of natural light. There was an outdoor area on each kennel which looked onto the kennels opposite. Each kennel had a plastic bed with some form of cushion in them, and a heat lamp above (not needed on a day like today!). Some of the dogs we saw were quite excitable but they all seemed happy.

The member of staff explained all this to us, and how the hatch to the outside is shut at night. She also took us round to see the outside section of each kennel.

She then showed us the outdoor exercise field, complete with agility training obstacles.

Based on what we saw and experienced, I'd be happy to board my dog here.


Read my review of the not so great Glenbrittle boarding kennels and the awful Rivington Pike Dog Hotel.


Posted in: Dogs

BlogEngine.NET security flaw

21. April 2008 09:45

Wow, a pretty serious one this.

 Version 1.3 of BlogEngine.NET has a security flaw that allows an attacker to view the source code of any file in your blog directory. Update: Make that any file on your website, not just in the blog.

This includes your web.config file, sql.config file and the scariest of all, the users.xml file.


This is the file that, if you're using the default data provider (XML) holds all the user login details for your blog. That's right, admin usernames and passwords, in clear text.

This vulnerability is already in the wild and a quick search on Google reveals about 185, 000 results. That's a lot of vulnerable blogs.


 There's already a patch for this flaw, but it seems that the download link might be broken. In the meantime, as a temporary fix, you could probably rename the users.xml/sql.config file to something different i.e. hard to guess. But if you want to keep your blog online, your web.config is still going to be visible, so make sure there's nothing sensitive in there.

ASP.NET health monitoring

16. April 2008 22:56

The other day I decided to add some really simple health monitoring to my .NET website. That is, if an error occured while someone was browsing the site, then I'd be notified about it and could fix any recurring problems.

I followed a great post by Mads Kristensen which simply involves creating a Web.config file like so:


<?xml version="1.0"?>

      <compilation debug="false" />
      <trace enabled="true" localOnly="false" />

      <healthMonitoring enabled="true">
            <add name="EmailProvider" 
               subjectPrefix="Error: "
               bufferMode="Notification" />
            <add provider="EmailProvider" name="All App Events" eventName="All Errors" />

         <smtp from="you@domain.com">
            <network host="smtp.domain.com" />



If you're adding to an existing Web.config, the bits you need are highlighted. The areas are pretty much self explanatory. First you enable tracing, then you specify the health monitoring provder that you want to use. In my case, I used the email provider, which allows you to specify the email addresses you want to send to and from, along with a prefix for the email subject line. There's an MSDN page on the trace element which gives you all the different values for these settings. For example, you may want to restrict the number of error emails that are sent to you within a minute, so that you're not getting spammed. Then finally, the mail settings is just for providing your SMTP server settings.

Anyway, the point of this post wasn't to regugitate Mads' post, but rather to point out that I had implemented this health monitoring myself, and that it was very easy to set up. However, I soon started getting some odd error emails.

These often related to the elements on my site which would not be directly accessed by a user such as the Webresource.axd file and even C# code files. It turns out that the culprit is actually the Google spider, which attempts to access these files, but because they are restricted by .NET, an error is generated. The best solution so far seems to be the use of robots.txt to exclude spiders from accessing these files.

Out of Winter hibernation

10. April 2008 16:13

Wow, I've not posted in absolutely ages, which just shows how interesting my life is.

There's been zero fly fishing for months, and all the web development stuff has just been boring stuff for work.

However, BlogEngine.NET has been recently updated to a new version, and now supports Widgets, whatever those are. What caught my attention was a Twitter widget. Now, I've heard about Twitter before, but never really bothered with it because it seemed pretty pointless. The basic gist of it is that it's a service that allows you to tell people what you're doing at that exact moment:

Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?

Why someone would want to know what I'm doing at that particular point in time is beyond me, unless they're intent on stalking me or something. So yeah, I think I might download the latest BlogEngine.NET and give this Twitter malarky a go. I'm sure complete stranger will appreciate being able to follow my every move, especially when they only come here for the TV links post.

TV-links alternative

28. November 2007 05:41

Update: After a recent comment on my previous post, the site http://alluc.org was brought to my attention. My 'friend' checked out the site and reliably tells me that although not quite as good as TV links, it does seem quite promising. He suggests you check it out. I, on the other hand, do not condone any kind of copyright infringement :-p 


Since my previous post, I've had a large number of people finding my site after searching for Tv-links alternatives.

So, if you've found a really good alternative site, please leave a link in the comments. I had a quick look at the links provided in the comments for my previous post (for research purposes only you understand ;-) ) and none of them seemed up to scratch. Some required registration, and others seemed to slow my browser to a crawl.

So post away! I'm sure it won't be long until they start shutting down sites that link to other sites, that link to tv shows... 

Tags: ,

Posted in: TV links

TV-links shut down?

27. October 2007 18:12

It seems that www.tv-links.co.uk has been shut down, in what's apparently the "first closure of a major UK-based pirate site".

 I thought tv-links was hosted in the Netherlands or somewhere, as it has been shut down before and they moved the hosting. No doubt it will rise again like such sites do, or something just as good will come along to take its place.

The Guardian Online states that "The Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact)  claims that tv-links.co.uk was providing links to illegal film content that had been camcorder recorded from cinemas and then uploaded to the internet. The site also provided links to TV shows that were being illegally distributed."

As has been noted about a million times previously, surely it would be more producive to close down the sites that actual host these sites...oh wait, YouTube has already paid off the MPAA and FACT, haven't they?

 Guess what people...those 2500 jobs that are to go at the BBC? It's all the fault of TV-links users:
"The theft and distribution of films harms the livelihoods of those working in the UK film industry and in ancillary industries, as well as damaging the economy," Kieron Sharp, head of FACT, said."


Roger Marles, from Trading Standards said sites such as TV Links allowed people to break UK copyright law. "The 'users' are potentially evading licence fees, subscription fees to digital services or the cost of purchase or admittance to cinemas to view the films," he added.

Perhaps if the BBC featured something other than repeats, and ITV had programmes without fixed competitions, then we might not have to go online to view programmes. Or if they hosted repeats of recent programmes on their own websites, then people wouldn't have to look elsewhere or be forced to download their (Windows-only) software to watch a tiny number of selected repeats. 


Anyway, full article from the Guardian Online is here: http://business.guardian.co.uk/story/0,,2195407,00.html


Tags: , , , , , ,

Posted in: TV links

Top 8 Usability Mistakes on Websites

8. October 2007 10:41

OK so it's been done before by about a million other people, including the Daddy of Usability Jakob Nielson. However, I thought I'd create my own Top 8 - why Top 8 you ask? Because, I'm an Internet Rebel and I don't conform to your ideals of Top Tens...plus I couldn't think of 10 things to write about.

The points aren't in any kind of priority order, that would just require too much thinking.

8. Not identifying hyperlinks properly.
This issue has been around for ages, but it somehow still exists. Hyperlinks that don't identify themselves as such and require the user to mouse over them to show that they're a link.

I'm not saying all links should be blue and underlined, but they should be differentiated from the rest of the text/content to an extend that I don't have to mouse over them.
I guess this could be one of those areas where design and usability seem to conflict, or more likely, it's because designers are lazy and don't understand the importance of usability.

7. Document links that don't identify themselves as such.
By document links I mean things such as links to PDF or Word documents.
When I click on a link I don't expect Acrobat Reader to suddenly start up. Who even started using PDF's online anyway, weren't they designed for printing?

Anyway, if you really must link to a Word or PDF document, please please designate it as such.

6. Contact links that use mailto: without telling me.
When I see a 'Contact Me' link, I expect it to take me to a contact form, not to open my email application.

5. Login forms which don't allow me to use the 'Enter' key to submit the form.
This annoys me so much, but luckily you don't see it that often.
You type in your login detail and then hit 'Enter' and nothing happens. Instead, you then have to move you hand back the mouse, move it to the login button (which is usually tiny) and click it. OK so maybe it's only a few seconds, but it's 3 seconds I could have spent doing something fun, like eating Jaffa Cakes.

4. Websites which play music automatically.
I can't believe these are still around! It used to be in the form of an embedded QuickTime file at the bottom of the page, but now music is usually incorporated in Flash movies. And you know who the worst offenders for this are? Design studios.
I have no idea why they do it, but I'm guessing they think it makes them look trendy and different from the norm.

The reality is that they're distracting, and remove control from the user. When you're browsing the web, you expect to be in control of the pages you see - what right does a website have to force me to listen to some crappy synthesized music?

3. Bad Flash.
When it's done well, it's very very good. But when it's done bad, it's horrid.
For example a once witnessed a Flash page transition which was lovely and all, but took about 5 seconds to complete.
Now I don't visit websites to spend my time looking at page transitions, I visit them to complete a task or find out some information. Time spent waiting for pages to transition is just time wasted.

2. Sound mouse-overs.
Unsurprisingly, this gem comes from the creators of the 5 second page transitions and if from the same website.
On the main navigation links there were sound mouse-overs, which weren't accompanied by any form of visual mouse-overs. So, if you had your speakers turned off, or were deaf...then there were no mouse-over effects.

Sound mouse-overs which are accompanied by visual mouse-overs are generally just annoying, but without visual mouse-overs, they're a major usability and accessibility problem.

1. Poorly done CSS drop-down menus.
CSS drop-down navigation menus can be really cool, and much better than any form of Javascript or Flash alternative. But in some cases they're kind of finicky, and will close as you're moving your mouse over them. Or, they're just too small and you accidentally move your mouse off them, causing them to close.

In the worst cases, menu items can prove impossible to access, because as soon as you move your mouse towards the desired link, the menu closes each and every time.

Tags: ,

Posted in: usability