Milan a city of faith and death

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.Milan cathedral netThe main doors outside the cathedral have wonderful bronze  sculptures that illustrate the bible stories designed by Italian sculptor Ludovico Pogliaghi .

Milan Cathedral door images net

Joseph and Mary marry

 

So many exquisite works of art inside the cathedral like these marble saints.Milan Cathedral saints net

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.

Milan Saint Carlo Borromeo net

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.milan monumental cemetery grief netI 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.milan monumental cemetery woman netThere is also a sense of deeply felt faith even in sorrow.milan monumental cemetery grief woman net

 

milan monumental cemetery girl net

 

And this grave stone which is an abstract.milan monumental cemetery abstract netThe city is a combination of faith and death.

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Baddesley Clinton, Packwood House and Shakespeare’s Schoolroom

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.Baddesley Clinton house net

 

Baddesley Clinton window net

In the 19th century, when they could practice their religion privately, they built a small chapel to hear Mass.Baddesley Clinton chapel netWe also went to Packwood House.  This was a Tudor home that was restored to its Tudor interior by Graham Baron Ash in the 1920s.  Packwood house gardens net

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A sun dial at Packwood House

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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.Shakespeare hospice charity net

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.Shakespeare school teacher net

So we will bid Stratford adieu tomorrow and say goodbye to sweet Enzo.

Haverfordwest Wales; life in the country

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.Nell full netShe loves walks in the fields but really loves to chase the ball.  Here she is catching the ball.Nell catches the ball netWe 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.ViewFromOurWindowThis 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.little haven splash slow closer netIn the harbor it was a different story.  The waves were small because they were protected by the high cliffs.

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Little Haven harbor

Here is a photo of me being blown away.linda little haven closerWe then drove over the hill from Little Haven to Broad Haven beach, which is a very long and sandy beach .

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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.

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Druidston Beach

Here is one of my favorite  photographs of David walking on the beach.druidston beach david netOne 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.

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Pembroke Castle

They have set up a tableau of what dinner in the castle would have looked like in the 13th century.Pembroke castle ddinner tableau netAnd 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.Wales country side net

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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.

Visiting old friends in Finland

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.

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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 . white lacey weed net

jukka Virpi summer cottage net

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.  summer house old stove netAfter 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.Finnish lake and boat net

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.Finland wood sauna netVirpi 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.Olavinlinna castle net

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.Finland fruit Julius netThere 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.   Finland waterfall net

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.

Imateran Valtionhotelli Finland net

Imateran Valtionhotelli

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.

Huxley’s Birds of Prey Centre

We had an excellent experience at this bird sanctuary in Horsham , England.  It is a small center where falcons, owls and other birds are cared for.  It is apparent that each bird is a member of the human family of Julian and his staff.  You can come and look at the flying falcons on their perches and the owls in their enclosures.  I got to be one of the human perches to demonstrate the flying skills of an owl who has a wing span of 4 feet and big talons.  It was great to be so close to such a beautiful bird.linda and owlHere are some photographs of some of the birds that we got to see.Bateleur Eagle netbrown falcon face netChilean Blue Eagle netfalcon flying netfalcon question netbarn owl flight netfalcon spotted netYou could see from the way the handlers and the birds interacted that there was a  lot of love and caring between the two.handler and owl netIf you happen to be in the South east part of England I would encourage you to drop into this facility and get to know some beautiful birds up close and personal.

The Priest House, a fifteenth century timber framed hall house

We drove to West Hoathly the other day to see the Priest house museum. West Hoathly is a charming village with lots of historical houses.  Here is the Cat Inn.  It is a 16th century  building that once stood on the crossroads that went through the village. The Cat Inn West HoathlyDown the road from the Priest house is the Old Manor house.  which was built in 1628 for Mrs. Catherine Infield.  old manor house west HoathlyThe village has lots of cute little cottages.  old cottage door West HoathlyThe Priest House is a 15th century timber house.  The Priest House West HoathlyThe history of this house is interesting.  This is from Wikipedia; “The Priest House was built for the Priory of St Pancras in Lewes as an estate office to manage the land they owned around West Hoathly, but was seized by Henry VIII following the dissolution of the monasteries. Subsequently, it belonged to Anne of Cleves, Thomas Cromwell, Mary I and Elizabeth I  although there is no evidence that any of them visited the property.”  Basically, they rented out the property for extra income.

I love to tour property like this.  I always want to try to understand how people lived long ago.  This house, which is run by the Sussex Archaeological Society, has a welcoming style with booklets that tell about the furniture in each room and how they were used.  Here is a photo of the main hall.  Most of the household activities took place in this central room.The Priest House main room netThe fireplace was installed in 1580, so all the heating and cooking is done here.The Priest House fireplace netYou can see the the hot water spigot on the pot in the fireplace.The Priest House fireplace hotwaterThe bread oven is built into the side of the fireplace.  The wife would start a fire in the oven and then clean out the ashes.  She put the bread and pies into it and sealed it with a wooden door.   The Priest House bread oven netThey would use rush lights for lights.  They were made from pig fat and were cheap but smelly.  These were rush light holders. Wax candles were very expensive, and only rich people or churches could afford them.The Priest House candle holders Upstairs there is a bedroom with a cradle.  You can see that a tapestry hung on the left side of the wall to help keep out drafts from the room next door.The Priest House bedroom netThe ceiling is open faced timbers.The Priest House ceilingThere are many windows in the  house that look out into the gardens.The Priest House outside windows

And here is a little flower pot that someone added recently.  It was so cute I thought it would be a good final photo.The Priest House flower pot

Brighton Beach, a beach resort city

Due to camera malfunctions there are not any photos from our trips into London from our Forest Hill pet sit.  We did take the train and the underground into London to visit the British Library, the British Museum and Westminster Abbey.  Just a couple of observations about these visits.  It is July in London and in the middle of the hottest summer they have ever had.  This means that the museums are hot and full of tourists. It does not make for a contemplative visit.  I did get a chance to see the new Diamond Jubilee gallery above the floor of Westminster Abbey that opened for the first time in 700 years this last June.  It was not crowded and they did an excellent job displaying historical wooden effigies of kings and queens plus a beautiful copy of the crown jewels that were made for coronation rehearsals.  This was the best 5 pounds that I have ever spent in London (you do have to pay the 20 pound entrance fee first).

Because it has been so hot and there has not been any rain, almost all the grass in the parks is brown.  The heat is supposed to stay through the rest of the summer.  Due to this fact, we decided to go to Brighton Beach for our 3 day break between sits.  I am so glad we did.  It is glorious here.  It’s about 10 degrees cooler than inland and the beautiful blue sea is right outside our window. The camera problem has been solved.Brighton beachWe went for a walk out on the Brighton Beach Palace Pier in the early evening.Brighton Palace PierIt is a wonderful pier that juts out into the ocean with lots of arcade games, fish and chip stands, ice cream and donut shops and an amusement park on the end.carousel horsesWe ate fish and chips on the pier and then I tried my luck in the arcade.  I put one pound into a Wheel of Fortune machine, pulled on the lever and won 350 tickets.  It was so funny to see the tickets keep pouring out of the machine.

It was a lovely sunset. Brighton pier sunsetToday we walked around Brighton and it was still pretty hot.  The sea gulls were taking baths in the fountains to stay cool.seea gulls bathing 3sea gull bathing 2 copyI was tempted to join them for a splash.