We are pet sitting again in Stratford upon Avon

We are pet sitting here in Stratford with Enzo the border terrier.  We sat for Enzo last year and were happy to be asked to take care of him again this summer.

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David and Enzo

This is the home town of Shakespeare (1564 -1616)  and it is a quaint and walkable town.  It is amazing how many of the places in Shakespeare’s birthplace are still preserved and open to the public.  I did a lot of visiting of Shakespeare’s places last year, so this year I am exploring the city and the historical places that are around this city.

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Shakespeare’s childhood home

The entire town resolves around Shakespeare’s life and work.  shakespeare school sign net

 

There are lots of Tudor homes that are still intact and they are very interesting to see in town.

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The Stratford library

It is also the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company.  We will be going to a play early next week.rsc building net

We walked Enzo the dog along the River Avon today.  It is so beautiful here.

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The River Avon

There are so many lovely swans floating in the river.  swan drip vertical net As we were walking home and we passed Shakespeare’s church; he is buried inside.

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Holy Trinity Church

I really find it amazing to walk the streets where Shakespeare grew up, married, had children and was buried.

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.

 

 

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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.

National Trust homes; Polesden Lacey and Ham House

We are staying in Epsom and we are taking care of two sweet french bulldogs and a rabbit. lilly and mabel

Ronnie the lop eared rabbitWe have gone to two National Trust homes.  The first one was Polesden Lacey.  It was the weekend home of the popular and powerful socialite in the 1900s, Margaret Greville.   No expense was spared to impress the royalty and political men of the time who flocked to her accommodating home to spend the country weekends away from London .

She catered to each guest to make sure they had the best time at her home.   She made sure that the cigars that were preferred by each guest was in his room.  There was a large billiard and smoking room for the gentlemen to use.  Each guest room had the latest novels on the bed stand.  The food was fresh from her farm land and of the highest quality prepared by a famous chef.   Everyone who was anyone wanted to be her guest.polesden lacey house net

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The cafe at the Polesden Lacey house

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Home phone

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beautiful gardens

She died in 1948 and left her house to the National Trust.  This is a lovely home that is still impressive and now it is open for the public to enjoy.

The second house we visited was Ham House.  This was another stately home that was build in 1610.  It was the home of William Murray and his feisty daughter Elizabeth, the Duchess of Lauderdale.    She hosted  important government officials at her home and dining table during the English Civil War.  They did not know that she was  a spy for King Charles II while he was in exile in France.  She even wrote letters to the royalists in France in invisible ink.  She was a member of the secret organization known as the Sealed Knot.   In 1660, when Charles was restored to the British throne, he awarded a sizable reward and pension to Elizabeth for risking her life and fortune in support of him.  She died at Ham House in 1698 at the age of 72.  Her descendants lived in the house until 1948 when it was donated to the National Trust. ham house netHam house entrance net

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the staircase is carved in battle dress

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Wooden windows looking out to the garden

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The house was built a short walk from the River Thames.  No doubt many distinguished guests arrived by way of the river for house parties.Thames river netIt was an inspiring visit to the homes of two women who were powerful political agents in a time when women were considered powerless party ornaments.

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

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 House.zero 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.

Versailles Paris a magical place

I wanted to see the Versailles Palace and grounds when we were in Paris and I am glad we paid for a two day visit.  We were there in the end of October and the weather presented some problems.  The first day there was a lot of fog.  This was not great for the photographs.Versailles clock foggy day 5x7 net Though it did give a soft effect to the clock of the Sun King on top of the palace.Versailles fog trees 5x7 net

We took a tour of the Palace ( 6 euros, I think)  which is the secret way to get in and not to stand in the long lines trying to enter.  Everything inside the palace is covered with gold and lined with crystal.Versailles fireplace 5x7 net

 

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Hall of mirrors Versailles 

 

This is over the top decor is not my taste but it was an amazing bit of spectacle.  As you can see there were a lot of people in the palace with us which made the viewing uncomfortable.

The next day we went back on the train and the sun was shining.  This changed the entire experience.  I wanted to go back and see Marie Antoinette’s Village.  King Louis XVI built her a hamlet away from the main palace where she could play act being a milk maid and a country woman.  This delightful village was the best part of Versailles for me.  We spent all of our second day there , taking photographs and seeing the farm animals.  Here are some of my favorite photos.

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The Queen’s hamlet

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The gardener’s cottage

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One of the gardens

Mr

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So tying up this blog post,  my recommendation is to go for 2 days, try to go on a sunny day and do not miss Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet.