We spent several days in Milan. The city is a mixture of celebration of the Roman Catholic faith and honoring the dead. The Milan Cathedral is a magnificent example of Italian Gothic architecture. In 1386 the church was started and was not finished until 1965. It is the largest church in Italy.The main doors outside the cathedral have wonderful bronze sculptures that illustrate the bible stories designed by Italian sculptor Ludovico Pogliaghi .
Joseph and Mary marry
So many exquisite works of art inside the cathedral like these marble saints.
And the body of St. Carlo Borromeo who was the archbishop of Milan in 1564 to 1684. It is in a crystal coffin in the crypt of the church. It is the site of pilgrims who come to pray for the saint’s help.
His face is made of silver
The monumental cemetery in Milan is one of europe’s best. The sculptures and grave stones are artistic and creative. This is one of my favorites; a woman expressing profound grief.I will say that the majority of the statues are women expressing grief at the passing of their husbands. Though there were some honoring women and children who have passed.There is also a sense of deeply felt faith even in sorrow.
And this grave stone which is an abstract.The city is a combination of faith and death.
We have had a great time here in Stratford upon Avon. We went to a couple of National Trust homes that are open near by. The first one is called Baddesley Clinton. This a moated manor house from the 13th century. It was the home of the Ferrers who were Roman Catholic when the Reformation was overtaking England. They hid priests from the authorities and had several “priest holes” built into the house. A priest hole was a hiding place for Catholic priests if the house was raided. It is a lovely home and so interesting to visit.
In the 19th century, when they could practice their religion privately, they built a small chapel to hear Mass.We also went to Packwood House. This was a Tudor home that was restored to its Tudor interior by Graham Baron Ash in the 1920s.
A sun dial at Packwood House
One of the best things about returning to Stratford was seeing some people that we got to know last year. These two ladies work at the Shakespeare Hospice bookstore. Last year they helped me find some old books that we falling apart for me to use in my mixed media art. They helped me again this year, thank you ladies.
I also got to tour Shakespeare’s school house. I did not get to do that last year so I was very happy to visit this 15th century building that was Shakespeare’s school for 7 years of his life. They do an excellent job of bring you into the experience that Shakespeare might have lived, Here is a photo of the school master at his big desk.
So we will bid Stratford adieu tomorrow and say goodbye to sweet Enzo.
We are here at the southwestern tip of Wales, in Druidston near Haverfordwest out on a small farm and taking care of sweet Nell, the border collie. We do not have sheep for her to herd so she must make do with us.She loves walks in the fields but really loves to chase the ball. Here she is catching the ball.We have been in the city for all of the sits this year, so coming out to the country is an entirely different feeling. We can see the sea from our bedroom. Those tiny dots on the hill are cows.This was a clear and sunny day, but most of the days have been overcast, windy and rainy, which is fun for us since California hardly ever gets rain. Yesterday, we went to two small beaches near us, Little Haven and Broad Haven. (“Haven” comes from the Norse havn meaning harbor.) The wind was almost 40 miles per hour, which made the waves very large and strong. I was up on a promontory over the ocean and I nearly blew away taking this photo.In the harbor it was a different story. The waves were small because they were protected by the high cliffs.
Little Haven harbor
Here is a photo of me being blown away.We then drove over the hill from Little Haven to Broad Haven beach, which is a very long and sandy beach .
Broad Haven beach
We also went one evening to Druidston beach, which is by where we are staying. After walking down a very steep dirt lane we were able to watch the sun set over the beautiful and almost empty beach. You get a feeling of being alone with nature here.
Here is one of my favorite photographs of David walking on the beach.One day we drove through the tiny lanes they call streets to Pembroke castle. This is a 13th century castle that has been restored so that you can climb the stairs in the various towers and read about what life was like in the Middle Ages.
They have set up a tableau of what dinner in the castle would have looked like in the 13th century.And they have free castle tours around four times a day. We went on the tour and learned a lot about the history of who lived in this famous castle and what they did.
We mostly have been hanging out and enjoying the country and the beach. Reading, playing with Nell, working on photographs, doing art in my journal and doing laundry. It is so beautiful and peaceful here.
Our next stop is a return to Stratford-upon-Avon to take care of Enzo the border terrier. We took care of him last year, and I am looking forward to seeing him and Anne and Steve again.
One of the benefits of pet sitting in Europe is that there is time to fit in a visit to old friends who live there. We were able to fly from Gatwick to Helsinki last week to spend a few days with our friends Virpi and Jukka. Virpi and I met when she was an exchange student our senior year in high school fifty years ago. We have stayed good friends ever since.
Virpi and Linda
We got to see their home in Lohja and the next day Virpi drove us up to their summer cottage on a lovely, large lake where Jukka was waiting for us. Even the weeds in Finland are graceful .
Jukka and Virpi
Jukka does a lot of fishing on the lake and cooked a wonderful dinner for us from one of the white fish he had caught. The summer cottage has an old fashioned wood stove that they use to cook and heat the house during the winter. After dinner there was lots of laughing and catching up of family news; then Virpi and I went down to the lake for a wonderful wood sauna.
As we walked down to the water it was just beginning to be sunset over the lake. I did not have my camera but I will never forget the beautiful colors reflected on the still water. The sauna is by the lake so that you can go swimming afterwards.Virpi went right into the water to swim; but I only got half way in and splashed my body with the cold water. David and Jukka were then allowed to go down to sweat and wash.
The next day Jukka drove us down the Eastern side of Finland. We stopped at a 14th century stone castle , Olavinlinna. This is a three tower castle that is the northernmost medieval stone castle still standing. It is located in Savonlinna, Finand. It was built on an island between two lakes.
We stopped for lunch and walked around an outdoor farmer’s market . The summer fruit in Finland is marvelous. Here is a picture of Julius and his harvest.There are only five million Finns who live in the country so it is sparsely populated. Which leaves room for all the trees and lakes which dominate the environment. The country is beautiful.
We went to the city of Imatera to spend the night in a spa hotel. On the way we saw the historic hotel called the Imateran Valtionhotelli which was built in 1903.
We had a lovely walk around the lake and then a good night’s sleep. The next day we drove back to their home and had a fun light dinner of cheese, bread and wine and good conversation. The next day they dropped us off at the airport and we flew back to London.
We are now in Epsom taking care of two wonderful french bulldogs and a rabbit.