We left Wales and now are in Stratford upon Avon

We said good bye to  sweet Nell and hello to Mr. Enzo.  We stopped in Laughane which was Dylan Thomas’ final home called the boathouse.  He lived there the last four years of his life and wrote some of his best work in this ideal setting.  He died at the age of 39 in New York.

 

 

Taf estuary Laughane Wales net

View from the boathouse 

Here is a photograph of Dylan Thomas’ writing shed where he did most of his writing.Dylan Thomas writing shed net

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Dylan Thomas’ grave in Laughane

His house is down the shore from the remains of the Laughane castle.

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Laughane castle

These are a set of houses that are around the castle.laughane houses netHere is a photograph of David watching the Taf estuary and waiting for me to finish taking photographs.David at the Taf estuary net

I will post some new photographs from Stratford upon Avon.

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.

Baltic cruise, part 1

We went on a family Baltic cruise a week ago.  We were on the lovely Regal Princess and traveled from Copenhagen to Oslo , Germany , Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki and Stockholm. We had a great time.   I am going to divide this trip into two blogs and this part 1 will include Oslo to Tallinn.

We (two sisters and five other relatives) spent 4 days before the cruise in Copenhagen before we got on the ship.  Copenhagen was lovely but so expensive.   We were shocked at the prices and were kind of happy to get on the ship and start saving money.  We had  drinks and appetizers on our balcony.  My sister Sandi shared a cabin  with us.2018 Baltic cruise david sandi.jpgThe next day we landed in Oslo, Norway.  David and I decided to spend the afternoon in one place; the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History.  It is a museum of cultural history with extensive collections of artifacts from all social groups and all regions of the Norway. It also incorporates a large open air museum with more than 150  historical buildings, relocated from towns and rural districts.  It was interesting to see how these remarkable and clever people lived through the harsh winters.

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The ship arriving in Oslo

2018 Baltic cruise Oslo Norwegian dancers

Norwegian folk dancers

The oldest building in the park is the Gol Stave church. The church has been dated to the years from 1157 to 1216. 2018 Baltic cruise Gol Stave church roof

2018 Baltic cruise Gol Stave church full

Here is a farmhouse from around 1750;  2018 Baltic cruise Oslo old farmhouseWe walked around the entire museum and are feet were very happy to take the ferry back to Oslo and to walk back to the ship.

Then we had a sea day to rest and recover;  Sandi and I went to the gym but it was small and very crowded.  The rest of the day we spent filling in our travel journals from all the adventures we had had in Copenhagen. Warnemunde, Germany was our next stop.  We had signed up for a small private tour that took use in a bus to Schwerin castle in the countryside.  It was a fairy tale castle set in a lovely garden.2018 Baltic cruise Schwerin castle

We also saw the city of Rostock which has a famous astronomical clock that has been running since 1472.2018 Baltic cruise Rostock astronomical clockIt was a wonderful tour but there was not much time to take photographs.  We had another sea day to finish our travel journals before starting the big push of five port days in a row.

We landed the next day  in Tallinn, Estonia.  Tallinn has an intact medieval old town that is enchanting, except when there are 3 cruise ships in port that disgorged 8,000 tourists.  This was so disappointing because it was so crowded.  We had to wait in line for 30 minutes to use the 3 toilets available for women and men.  We have decided that we would like to go back to Tallinn in the late fall when there are far less people to ruin it.

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A dragon gargoyle on Tallinn city hall

2018 Baltic cruise Tallinn church

A mosaic from a church in Tallinn

Here is a photo of the Tallinn presidential palace.  We walked right up to it; there are no barriers just 2 guards protecting their female president.2018 Baltic cruise Tallinn presidental palace

To be continued…

Hastings fishing fleet and old town

Hastings is an old fishing town.  Fishing ships still are pulled up to the shore and rest over night on the pebbled beach.Hastings fishing boats 5x7 netThere are historic net buildings where the fishermen used to hang their ropes and nets out of the weather. These black tall buildings are part of the way you identify the Hastings beach.net houses Hastings 5x7 netThis is a rough sea coast.  There are often strong winter storms and fishermen need to be rescued.  They have a good lifeboat group that saves lives every winter. Hastings lifeboats 5x7 netThe beach is a good place to let your dogs have a good run on a sunny afternoon.Hastings beach 5x7 closer netBut be sure to pick up after your puppy if he leaves a gift in the sand.  There is a 1,000 pound fine if you are caught not picking up doggy poop. no poop 5x7 netThere are many historic houses in Hastings.  The house we are pet sitting in is probably from the 16th century.  There are many 15th and 16th century homes that line the oldest streets in the town. hastings tudor house 5x7 netThe house we are in does not have door knobs in the house.  All of the doors are kept closed by latches.

Here is a sunset that I took on one of the few days when we have had a clear sky over the sea.  This is taken over the Hastings pier.Hastings pier sunset 5x7 net

Hastings and two kitty cats

We are at our last sit for this year in Hastings, England,  We are taking care of two sweet kitty cats, Clara and Fin.

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Clara

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Fin

They are very sweet and sleep a lot of the day.

Hastings is a seaside resort town of the southeast part of England.  It is where the Battle of Hastings took place in 1066 and William the Conqueror invaded England.  It is a lovely place to stay.  The boats on the beach are launched by tractor from the beach into the sea.

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The beach is made up of pebble rock

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The most remarkable thing happened two nights ago when we were walking on the beach.  People were fishing from the shore.  I have seen many people fish from the shore all over the world and most people do not catch a fish or if they do it is one or two.  The fishermen and women were throwing in their lines with 6 hooks on one line and reeling in six fish each time. fisherwoman 5x7 netfisherman 5x7 net

The fish were mackerels that were running the last two days. mackerel 5x7 netOne fisherman told me that he was going home to smoke them and eat them for dinner.  It was like something out of the Bible when Jesus told Peter to put his net in the water and all the fish jumped in.

The next day we had fish and chips ( cod this time) at a famous restaurant on the beach called Maggie’s.  It was delicious.

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This was one serving which we shared

The fishermen throw away the fish they cannot use and the sea gulls are patiently waiting for their fresh fish dinner.

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Yum

David beach gulls 5x7 BW netIt was cloudy and rainy today and so we stayed home with the kitties most of the day.  But David did get to say hello to the sea gulls this evening.

 

Adventures to Connemara and Inishmore

We have two weeks between pet sitting assignments here in Ireland, so we are spending one in the Galway area.  We have rented an apartment here near the center of the city of Galway.  The weather has overall been overcast, cold and rainy but with some careful planning we were able to catch two sunny days to tour the lovely area of Connemara and the largest of the Aran islands, Inishmore.

We took a bus tour of Connemara so that David could see the countryside (you don’t get to see much when you’re driving).  We rode the bus looking at the green countryside, the tall hills and the scattered lakes of the part of northwest Ireland.  It was stunningly beautiful.Connemara tree lake 5x7 net The bus driver Mike told us about the landscapes and the history of this part of Ireland.  We stopped for a quick break at the village of Leenane to see the start of the Killary fjord. Leenane village fiord 5x7 netThen we went on to the Kylemore Abbey.  This is a lovely castle that was built on an isolated lake by a merchant named Mitchell Henry for his wife. Kylemore abbey 5x7 net She died just four years later at 45; he was heartbroken and built this Gothic mini church in her memory.Kylemore Abbey church 5x7 net  Around the 1920s, a group of Benedictine nuns who had been bombed out of Ypres, Belgium, in World War I bought the property and made it into a girls school, which they ran until declines in numbers of both teachers and students forced its closure in 2010. Now it is a romantic tourist attraction.

The next day we took a bus to Rossaveal harbor.  While we were waiting for the bus, we had a hot chocolate made correctly with real milk and ground up chocolate at a small French restaurant named Le Petit Pois by a very friendly lady.  Le Petite Pois server netWe hopped on the bus to catch a ferry to the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. inishmore ferry 5x7 net We went to Inishmore,  the largest of the 3 Aran islands, and it is like stepping back in time.  When we got off the ferry we found Tomas ( he is featured in Rick Steves’s 2004 video about the island) and his red van.  There were four couples that he piled into his mini van for a 3-hour tour of the island.   He took us to the end of the island to see the ruins of the seven churches.  There are actually only the remains of two 8 – 13th century churches and a graveyard.  seven churches cross 5x7 net  Then he drove us to the main tourist site, Dun Aonghasa, which is a iron age ring fort at the edge of a 300 foot cliff.  We had 2 hours on our own here at the fort.  Tomas told us that it was a 15 minute walk up to the fort.  Well, it turned out to be a 30 minute hike up hill.

Dun Aonghasa long wayup 5x7 net

See those little people?  See that long trail of gravel and eventually big rocks? 

Here is a photograph of the last bit of the up hill trail.  David says that a little old lady was making it up to the fort , so he would too.Dun Aonghasa final way up 5x7 netWhen we made it through the rock doorway this is what we saw.

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The trail to the inside walls.  These people were not taking any chances. This was a triple wall defense.

The walls formed a “C” shape around the cliff edge.  The cliff edge was a sheer drop down about 300 feet to the ocean.  There are no safety rails along the edge if you are stupid enough to slip and fall it is Irish natural selection. Dun Aonghasa cliffs 5x7 net Or tourist natural selection, as you can see here; that is a straight drop to the ocean.Dun Aonghasa tourists edge net

We made it back to the ferry landing with plenty of time to shop and have a drink.  When we got home , we were exhausted but happy.  We were on the Aran Islands and we love Ireland !

 

 

Sailing on the Celebrity Silhouette across the Atlantic ocean

We are about half way to Lisbon, Portugal sailing on the Atlantic Ocean. The ship is wonderful. I spend time in the gym and the Persian Gardens ( lying on the heated beds and taking a steam bath). David has been reading books.  The weather has been overcast but we got some sun today. Celebrity Silhouette Perisan Garden netCelebrity Silhouette pool netCelebrity Silhouette our balcony netCelebrity Silhouette sky bar netCelebrity Silhouette cabin net  We bought more internet time so I can post whenever I want.  Yeah!  We have had nice weather for the last couple of days.  Sunset is now around 8:30 pm which is nice as we can use our balcony for a longer period if time.  Here is David having room service lunch on our balcony. david eating on balcony netToday we had to stop in the Azores to let two sick people off the ship so they could go to a proper hospital.Azores city net  Now we are off to Lisbon and will be there in a day and a half.    Today is April 30, I do not know how to change the date.  More later.

We are in Toulon France today

Just started the second half of our 19 day cruise and are in Toulon France today. It is a sleepy little Mediterranean port that is a yacht repair and ship yard. We went ashore and visited their cathedral and came back to the ship. I am sitting in the port area and using a free internet area to catch up.

The photos above are of a lovely Spanish dancer that we saw in Cadiz.  She truly danced with passion and beauty.Spainish dancer 2 5x7  Hopefully, I will be able to post again soon.  Thanks for following the blog, we appreciate all of you.

Last Night in Rosarito Beach so sad but Europe is calling for our gapyear experience

We have had a great 2 months here in Rosarito Beach Mexico.  It has been stunning to wake up each morning to the crashing waves just outside our bedroom.  Even on gray days the beach is always stunning.  I have made a lot of shell collage art that I have been giving away.  We have been eating great Mexican seafood almost everyday.  We could walk to 3 restaurants from our condo complex.  Popotla fishing village was a wonderful source of big shells and fresh fish.  We are sad to leave but now is the time to go home and prepare for the next part of our big adventure — the Europe senior gap year.

We went out to dinner this afternoon at one of our favorite seaside restaurants;  Splash.   We had steak for David and lobster for Linda   Click the link below to see the video, it ends with David sitting at our table in an orange shirt.

Tomorrow up early to pack car , check out and sit in line to cross the border.  Sunday is the worst day so we will be there a while.

Good bye Mexico…..packing at home…hello cruise….hello Rome…oh my!

European senior gap year trip planning is solidifying into a two month plan

As much fun as it has been to walk on the beach and take sunset and fish photos for two months, our time in Rosarito Beach is swiftly drawing to an end.  It is very sad to leave our cute condo above the Pacific Ocean.  We go home at the end of the week to prepare and pack  for the European gap year trip.

David has been working hard at looking at apartments to rent in Italy the last two months, and now all of our reservations are lined up for the first 2 months of the trip.  With the internet it is much simpler to plan and reserve places to stay in Europe. We found all three places on VRBO, HomeAway, or AirBnB.

The itinerary looks like this;  April 8 fly to Fort Lauderdale and board the Celebrity Constellation and cross the Atlantic in 13 days with stops at  Madeira, Gibraltar, and Alicante.  On the 22nd, we land in Rome and spend 7 days there.  Then on to Assisi for 3 days and then to Florence, my favorite city in Italy, for one month.  Wow, it is really hard to believe that in a month we will be in Rome.  I am so excited, and my camera is humming, ready to start to capture wonderful photos to share with you.

Here are a couple of photos of the sunset tonight in Mexico.long sunset 5x7 net only sunset 5x7 net