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.

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

We are in Oxfordshire taking care of two beautiful dogs

We have moved on to our next to last pet and house sit in Oxfordshire in a small village.  Here are some photos of the wonderful dogs that we are taking care of.  Here is Rufus who is an English Setter.Rufus face 5x7 netAnd here are 2 photos of Flora, a stunning cocker spaniel.  Flora body 5x7 netFlora side 5x7 net We have spent the first few days hanging out at home , walking the dogs and playing with them.  We try to do this so that the transition from their human parents to their sitters is smooth and easy for them.  david dogs 5x7 netWe also went to the grocery store to plan out some meals to make at home.

The house we are sitting is the oldest house in the village.  Part of this house was built in the 1650s.  Of course, there have been additions like indoor bathrooms and a large and comfortable kitchen.  We are right next door to the 12th – 14th century church and graveyard.  This helps us keep our mortality in perspective . St copy net  More adventures to come now that we and the doggies are settled in with each other.

Llandudno , Wales for David’s birthday

We took the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead, Wales on the weekend. We arrived in a lovely Victorian seaside resort town, Llandudno in Wales. This city has a lovely crescent shaped bay and is located in North Wales. llandudno bay 5x7 net There are a group of pastel colored guest homes that face the ocean.  We stayed in one of these  the Grafton bed and breakfast.  We had a lovely ocean front room; the one right above the door in this picture.  The hosts Laurie and Paul where exceptional in the gracious help.Grafton B&B Llandudno Wales 5x7 netWe would highly recommend their establishment if you are ever in Llandudno,Wales.

We rode the hop on bus to Conwy to see the famous Conwy Castle that was built in 4 years by King Edward I in 1283.  He was a ruthless king who wanted to keep down the Welsh people with castles like this one.   Wikipedia says, “It is considered that Conwy  is one of “the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe”, and it is classed as a World Hertiage Site.” There was a lot to explore in the castle ruins and the town itself. conwy castle wales 5x7 netconwy castle tower wales 5x7 net It was also David’s birthday so we had dinner at a lovely hotel facing the beach. David bday dinner 2017 netThe next morning it was good bye Wales.wales flag 5x7 netAnd four trains later; hello Stratford on Avon. british train 5x7 netAnd hello to sweet Enzo our new pet to take care of here in Stratford.  He is a sweet and loving boy who is a joy to walk and play with.  This will be a lovely sit as we are near the old town and lots of Shakespeare historical sites.david and enzo 5x7 net

pet & house sitting in Lisdoonvarna, Ireland

We are here on the Western coast of Ireland to spend about 10 day pet and house sitting with 2 lovely dogs;  Cassie and Bella.  And two affectionate kitty cats; Midnight and Pipsiecassie the dog net.bella 5x7 netPipsie 5x7 net_edited-1midnight the cat netWe have been making some short trips in the interesting places near here.  One day we went to Doolin ( a small Irish fishing village) . doolin houses 5x7net  We stopped for lunch at the O’Connor Pub which is know for its excellent Irish music.david at o connors pub netlinda at oconnors 5x7 net  It was a very windy day as you can see from my hair.    Afterwards we drove down to the harbor and saw a small island called the Crab Island.crab island 5x7 net.

After lunch we drove down to the Cliffs of Moher.  We were there 17 years ago and it was a field that you walked out on to look at the famous cliffs.  Now it is an amazing tourist center with a visitor center and shops.  I could not believe how many people were walking around.cliffs of Mohar shops netO'brien Tower 5x7 net  The Cliffs were still stunning. cliffs of Moher 5x7 net  More will come in my next blog entry.

Pet and house sitting across Ireland and England 2017

Our itinerary is almost complete for the Spring and Summer in Europe.   We will be leaving on a trans Atlantic cruise from Fort Lauder dale at the end of April and will arrive in Amsterdam on May 7.  This will be the beginning of six pet and house sits in Ireland and England that will last  until the end of September.  We are so excited that we get to spend 101 days taking care of sweet pets and meeting wonderful people. We will be taking care of all different kinds of animals from hamsters to kitty cats to dogs to chickens.  What a wonderful set of animals to love and give cuddles too ( well not the chickens).

Many people are intrigued about our pet and house sitting adventures and wonder how we do it.  We joined a website called Trustedhousesitters.  It costs sitters $110 a year and you get 2 daily emails with the newest listings for people who are looking for a pet and house sitter.  You contact the people you are interested in and wait to see if they choose you to talk to about their vacation plans.  We have excellent references from the six house sits we did last summer and of course this blog to let prospective families know who we are and that we are pet lovers.  Plus we are good people who take care of their home as if it was our own.  It is hard for someone to let a complete stranger into their home to take care of their precious pets so we try to make this selection as easy as possible for the people we sit for.

They normally choose two or more people to talk too on Skype and then make up their minds.  When we are chosen we add their dates to our calendar.

If you are interested in this and want to sign up for trusted housesitters, just use my name as a referral (Linda Donnelly) and you will get 25% off the sign up fee and we will get 2 extra months of service.  Here is their link;  trusted housesitters.Jody and David small    Street David & dogs smallErnie Eric dance smallcat eye small_DSC0052

We now have 4 house pet sits in England

Happy dance, we now have 4 house/pet sitting assignments in England between the months of May to August.  This is so wonderful because we will get to take care of some very sweet dogs and kitty cats.  We will also get to know and become friends with some lovely people.  We feel so honored to be chosen by these wonderful people to take care of their homes and their furry friends.  Thank you.

Still will be missing Mac, but this will really help.macchewing015

How to save money by setting up pet and house sitting

We are applying to house and pet sit for some people in the United Kingdom.  We miss our animals so much while we are away and we want to meet new  people .  House sitting will let us do both things.  We have even been chosen already for a pet and house sit in May in England.

We know it must be hard for people to decide on who to choose when they get lots of applications to pet and house sit. We of course, think that we are perfect for the job and want to do it, lol.  We were really lucky and have a pet and house sit in May in England which thrills us to no end.  Of course , the fact that I am a photographer means that the photos we send people of their sweet animals will be an added gift as I will leave them for the owners.  Here is a photograph of our dog cousin, Bernard


Budget Travel tip:  We are asked how this works.  We signed up with an online site called Trusted Housesitters.  Then filled in an application and got some references.  I applied as soon as possible when house and pet sitting assignments came up in the area we were interested in.  If chosen you normally call or Skype and exchange information.   Most of the time you agree to house and pet sit for free and you stay in the home owners home for free.  You take care of their animals and home. This works out as a win/win for all involved.  The home owner goes away feeling good about the fact that their animals get to stay at home with loving people and you get to see what it is like to live somewhere else in the world.

linda david and dogs_small  Here is a photograph of us with Mac ( white dog) and a couple of dog cousins.

Madeira – first port after eight days at sea; with photos

blue pealing boat 5x7 smallMadeira is really a charming and modern place.  We had joined a group of five other cruisers to take a private tour of the center valley of the island.

Note to future cruisers; we found out about how to do a private tour from cruisecritic.com …Look in the Forums for your cruise line’s Roll Call section, and find the thread for your voyage. About a month before sailing, or earlier, people will start to organize private tours. You find these by just Googling, for example, “Gibraltar tour.” Also check TripAdvisor. You can organize it yourself, or for the first time maybe join someone else’s tour. You end up usually in an 8-passenger van, see more in less time, and can get dropped off for shopping or food on the way back to the ship. And it’s usually about half the cost.

Madeiravalley 5x7 small walking to village 5x7 small is a volcanic island that reminded us of Kauai but more populated.  The housing style was Mediterranean ( white walls and tiled roofs) and full of large trees and flowers.  The tour guide Lionel was informative about the island and its history.  As you can see from the photos we went up to caldera of the former volcano and looked down into the little villages that are isolated in the valley.  To get to those villages you needed to walk down a trail ( I took a photo of a man walking down the trail) I think you stay healthy with all the walking up and down the hills.

Our guide took us to an old fishing village as part of the tour.  The photos of the boats and the guard dogs ( lol) give you an idea about how relaxed everyone was.3 boats no restriction blue pealing boat 5x7 small brown dog corr - Copy working dog 5x7 small

The tour was 2.5 hours long and Lionel dropped us off at the center of the city’s (Funchal) main market place.  We went inside to a cornucopia of fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts.  It was beautiful.  Lionel had told us the every free space on the island is gardened and that the island is self sufficient for many food items.  They especially grow bananas.dave and coast 5x7 small - Copy mediera open market corr small

Dave and I walked through the city and came upon some young women all dressed for the flower festival that was happening that weekend. In the main square of the city there were stunning flower displays on the sidewalk.  If this is the preview the festival must be something else.flower girls 5x7 small flowers st 5x7 small

We each had a gelato cone and shared a steak sandwich and Dave had a beer at an outdoor cafe across from the ship.  Amazingly the total cost of the meal was only; 11 euros with tip ( at the current exchange that translates into about $12).

As we were leaving on the ship the sun started to send rays through the clouds to the sea.  Got one last photo to share with you.  god rays 5x7 small gray sun rays 5x7 small