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.
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.
Shakespeare’s childhood home
The entire town resolves around Shakespeare’s life and work.
There are lots of Tudor homes that are still intact and they are very interesting to see in town.
The Stratford library
It is also the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company. We will be going to a play early next week.
We walked Enzo the dog along the River Avon today. It is so beautiful here.
The River Avon
There are so many lovely swans floating in the river. As we were walking home and we passed Shakespeare’s church; he is buried inside.
Holy Trinity Church
I really find it amazing to walk the streets where Shakespeare grew up, married, had children and was buried.
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.
View from the boathouse
Here is a photograph of Dylan Thomas’ writing shed where he did most of his writing.
Dylan Thomas’ grave in Laughane
His house is down the shore from the remains of the Laughane castle.
These are a set of houses that are around the castle.Here is a photograph of David watching the Taf estuary and waiting for me to finish taking photographs.
I will post some new photographs from Stratford upon Avon.
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.She loves walks in the fields but really loves to chase the ball. Here she is catching the ball.We 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.This 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.In the harbor it was a different story. The waves were small because they were protected by the high cliffs.
Little Haven harbor
Here is a photo of me being blown away.We then drove over the hill from Little Haven to Broad Haven beach, which is a very long and sandy beach .
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.
Here is one of my favorite photographs of David walking on the beach.One 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.
They have set up a tableau of what dinner in the castle would have looked like in the 13th century.And 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.
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.
We are staying in Epsom and we are taking care of two sweet french bulldogs and a rabbit.
We 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.
The cafe at the Polesden Lacey house
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.
the staircase is carved in battle dress
Wooden windows looking out to the garden
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.It 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.
So we are now in Forest Hill, a suburb of London. We are taking care of two sweet French bulldogs; Dart and Frankie.It 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.
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.
The Tulip stairs are a highlight of the Jones design.
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.
We went to St. Alfege’s church where Henry VIII was baptized and my favorite medieval composer Thomas Tallis is buried.The 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
It was a lovely visit in an interesting city.
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. Though it did give a soft effect to the clock of the Sun King on top of the palace.
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.
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.
The Queen’s hamlet
The gardener’s cottage
One of the gardens
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.