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.

Forest Hill, London: our first pet sit

So we are now in Forest Hill, a suburb of London.  We are taking care of two sweet French bulldogs; Dart and Frankie.dart and frankieIt has been so hot and muggy here that we have spent a lot of time at home watching Wimbledon tennis and playing with the dogs.

First we visited the Royal Observatory, where the prime meridian is celebrated. Unfortunately, they’ve instituted a £10 fee to visit it, so we settled for a visit to a secondary monument in the park a short distance away, near the Queen’s meridian

The Queen’s house is a free and interesting museum.  It was built by Inigo Jones from 1616 to 1635.  There is a wonderful view of the city of London from the porch of this house  You can see the modern part of London framed by two 18th century domed buildings, now part of the Old Royal Naval College.Greenwich view of London

The Tulip stairs are a highlight  of the Jones design.

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The tulip stairs

While we were walking in the large Greenwich park, we meet a very nice Irish man and his very cute doggie named Rohan, who deserves to appear here due only to his cuteness.2018 greenwich park doggie

We went to St.  Alfege’s church where Henry VIII was baptized and my favorite medieval composer Thomas Tallis is buried.greenwich Tallis windowThe famous ship Cutty Sark is at Greenwich and you can tour it.  “Cutty Sark is a British Clipper ship. Built  in 1869 , she was one of the last tea clippers to be built and one of the fastest, coming at the end of a long period of design development, which halted as sailing ships gave way to steam propulsion.” Wikipedia

Greenwich Cutty SarkIt was a lovely visit in an interesting city.

Doing some Pet sitting in California

We took care of two sweet kitties last month for a week near La Jolla, California. Here is a photo of Eddie. _DSC0597 It was a nice break from the house and the routine.  The sea lions, seals and cormorants were all having babies in La Jolla this February.  We drove down to see them.  Here are some sea lions who are lying on the rocks in the sun.  sea lions la jolla Feb 2018 netsea lion nursing feb 2018And here is a mom still nursing her pup.

Here is a photograph of a cormorant sitting on her just hatched babies.  I love seeing new born  animals in a natural environment. bandt cormornds nest feb 2018 netThis is an interesting adjunct to pet sitting in Europe.  There are people in the USA who want pet sitters too.  We have another pet sit lined up for Portland next month for 6 days with 2 sweet kitties.

I am lining up our summer pet sitting schedule and it is almost finished.  We have two people that we sat for last summer who we will sit for again.  Plus 4 other new people to meet and some new pets to love.  We will go on the Baltic cruise then pet sit until the beginning of Oct.  It should be another fun summer.

Battle of Hastings re-enactment 2017

We went to the town of Battle to see the Battle of Hastings re-enacted on the original battle field that it happened on in 1066. It was an exciting piece of theatre that put you into the time and the event.  I took lots of photos of this event that happens every year around the time that William the Conqueror from French Normandy beat King Harold of Saxon England for the crown of England in 1066.  I had known about this battle that changed the course of the English nation from my history books in school.  But it was an entirely different experience to understand the story and see where and how it unfolded.  If you are ever here in South Eastern England in October you should try to go to this pageant .

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Actors that told the Battle of Hastings story before the re-enactment

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Re-enactors come from all over Europe to camp for the weekend of the battle

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Lady Liz from Wales

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Battle supplies

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English King Harold on his horse before battle taking a last drink

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The English troops line up

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Time for a last chat with a friend

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The bishop gives last minute confessions

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King Harold gives a battle talk to his troops to inspire them

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Duke William has brought horses from France and they charge the English shield wall

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Half way through the battle William falls off his horse and the men thinks he has died.  He quickly finds another horse and rides in front of his troops to show that he is still alive.

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Unfortunately, late in the battle, King Harold is hit by an arrow that goes through his eye and he dies. The English troops lose heart.  Duke William’s troops overcome and kill all the English on the battle field. William goes on to London and is crowned the new king of England on Christmas day in Westminster Abbey.  We enjoyed this event and give the English Heritage organization a good review for organization and presentation.

We are off to Paris tomorrow for 16 days of sight seeing, then Barcelona for 3 days and on to the ship for the cross Atlantic voyage home.

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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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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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.


Nuffield House; Another approach when you have too much money

The previous post was about our visit to Waddesdon, the home of the Rothschild family. These folks made their money in banking, and from the second generation they were pretty much born rich and got richer.  They literally had great difficulty in spending their money, and put a lot into their estate.  Compare the photographs of their weekend retreat with the ones from William Morris’s home.

Here’s another approach.

William Morris was born in 1877 and about the age of 15, he dropped out of school and took on a short apprenticeship to a bicycle repairman.  In a couple of months, he had learned all he could there, and opened his own shop. But when cars began to be built in the UK, he was fascinated. He gathered a few friends and founded Morris Garage (MG — get it?) near Oxford. By 1912 he was making cars, and continued to build this empire through the early ’50s.

William had married a young lady he met in his cycling club, but they never had children. In the ’30s they bought a nice home, built in 1914, about eight miles out of town in an up-and-coming golf club development area, and named it Nuffield Park, after a nearby village. They added to it. It’s in the hands of the National Trust now, which is how we happened to visit it.  The interior is pretty much as it was when he died in 1963. It’s pretty grand compared to ordinary houses, but compared to some of the stately homes, it’s a garden shack. It’s also full of pretty ordinary stuff, including a 1956 television and radio sets from the ’30s and ’40s.

Morris had a workshop built into his bedroom. He re-soled his own shoes, fixed all the gates and fences on the property, and carpeted the hallway with leftover pieces of carpet from the factory office.

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In the ’50s, the many UK car businesses began to merge, and by 1955 he had sold or merged most of his businesses.

As he had no heir, William started working at giving everything away. He founded and endowed Nuffield College at Oxford, and it’s the fourth-highest endowed college now. During the late ’40s, he was heartbroken at the polio epidemic, so he designed and had built 5000 iron lungs to be given to hospitals throughout Britain.Nuffield iron lung 5x7 net There’s one on display in an outbuilding on the estate. Even though he didn’t like the idea of unions, he understood why they needed to exist, and established a profit-sharing trust for his employees.

There’s a pub named for him in Cowley, near where the factories used to be.

Southampton’s medieval walls and pirates

We are about to leave Southampton and go to our next house and pet sitting assignment.  This has been a lovely and refreshing 9 days.  Here is a photo of the inside of our apartment. Southampton apartment 5x7 netWe took a walking tour of the medieval walls that were around the city to protect it.  This is Bargate.  This was the main entrance to Southampton where everyone who came in had to pay a tax.Bargate Southampton net_edited-1Some things never change.  But some people came to Southampton to steal, not pay.  In 1338, while the townspeople were in church, a pirate raid of 50 ships landed at the part of the harbor that did not have walls and looted the town. They even stole the king’s French wine!   Because of this raid, the king had the walls built all around the town.  These arches were the unprotected part of the harbor where the pirates landed. So they were part of the first new wall construction. Southampton merchant arches 5x7 netOne day we took the train to Salisbury to see the famous cathedral. It was so big and so beautiful.  It has the tallest spire in Britain, and a clock from the mid-14th century.Salisbury Cathedral outside 5x7 netThis is a photograph of the inside ceiling of this enormous church.Salisbury Cathedral ceiling 5x7 netIt is amazing to think that the main body of the cathedral was built in just 38 years from 1220 to 1258.  The cloister where the priests walked and prayed has such a peaceful presence. Salisbury cloister 5x7 netThere is also one of the four remaining copies of the Magna Carta that was signed by King John in 1215.  It is on exhibition in the chapter house of the cathedral.

And finally, we took the ferry from Southampton to the Isle of Wight.  It takes about 25 minutes to get there and it is so lovely.  This is the harbor with some of the sailboats waiting for their owners to come.Isle of Wight harbor 5x7 netWe took the bus to Osborne Palace.  This palace was created for Queen Victoria and Albert and their nine children as a summer home.  There were a lot of paintings and statues of Victoria and Albert throughout the palace.  queen Victoria 5x7 netWe have been watching Victoria and Albert on TV, so the palace was more interesting for us since we know about them and their family.  This is their formal dining room set for a banquet.Osborne house dinningroom 5x7 netThis is a wooden cradle that held all of Victoria’s children in the nursery.  Victorias cradle 5x7 netIt looks like it is fit for royalty.  The palace is set on the ocean and they had a private beach for the children to explore.  This is the view from the house.Osborne Palace view 5x7 netWe did not have time to go down to the beach but it looked lovely.

We are off to our next sit tomorrow.  I will catch up this blog in a couple of days.

London museums and culture

We have been here a week now and sweet Pablo is doing fine.  He does not like the cone he has to wear but he gets lots of cuddles and scratches and so he does well.poor pablo outside 5x7 netWe have taken the tube into London for a couple of days.  I love seeing the art and culture that are in London’s museums.  The British Museum, the Victoria and Albert, the National Portrait museum and the National Museum are all free and full of interesting paintings and artifacts.  Here are some of the photographs that I took in each of these museums. crucifix V and A 5x7 netstain glass Jesus 5x7

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Queen Elizabeth I


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Queen Anne Boleyn National Portrait Gallery

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Klimt  Portrait of Hermine Gallia 

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Monet Water Lillies National Gallery

Of course it would not be London if there was not a picture of Big Ben.Big ben London 5x7 netAnd the London Eye.London eye 5x7 net

London is a fascinating place to visit.