Denali National Park, Alaska

We managed to get away for a twelve day vacation to Alaska before I have to have a medical problem taken care of. We flew up from Los Angeles and stayed one night in Anchorage and rented a car. The next day we drove up to Denali National Park. Of course, it took all day to get there because I had to stop to take photographs of the incredible scenery. We stopped in an old town; Talkeetna that maintained an historic main street. Many of the original log cabins were still standing.

But the best part of the trip north was a turn out to see Denali in almost clear skies. Just one cloud covered the middle of the mountain.

We spent the night at the Denali Princess Wilderness Resort where the mosquitoes were already roaming the area looking for fresh blood.

Today we went into the Park and met some very helpful and cute park rangers.

We drove down the one 15 mile road looking for critter and were very lucky to find a few. We saw a grizzly bear but he was too far away from us to take a photograph. But we did see an Arctic ground squirrel , and two caribou.

We leave tomorrow to return to Anchorage. It has been an exciting adventure.

We drove back to Anchorage from Denali Park. There were some stunning snow covered mountains. Thought I would add these photos to this blog.

Enjoy the beauty of this part of the world.

Pet and house sitting in the United States

When we are home from Europe during the winter we sometimes pet and house sit domestically. ( If you want to know more about how to pet and house sit please look at this blog post;
https://seniorgapyear.wordpress.com/2016/02/07/house-and-pet-sitting-on-the-road/ ).

This last January we pet sat in Santa Cruz for a wonderful cat named, Baxter.  He warmed up right away and spent a lot of time sitting next to us purring when he did not command a good spot on our bed, grin.  We also met his humans, Susan and Rick and enjoyed having dinner and getting to know them.

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Santa Cruz is a beautiful beach town in Northern California and we had a great time there.  Here is a photo of the sunset from the pier where we are dinner. There are many redwood forests in the mountains that are very close so we took 3 drives up to see them.Here is a deer that we saw from the road out of the Big Basin Redwood national park. The highlight for me was the trip down to Monterey to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  Taking photographs there was thrilling.

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Shark being hand fed by diver
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One of the most spectacular sites was at the beach watching the kite surfers.  It is amazing how high they fly above the ocean.It was a wonderful pet sit and it was good to be able to go somewhere different in our home state of California.

We tacked on a visit to relatives in Sacramento on our way home.  I love pet sitting.

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

We are home and getting ready to go back to Europe

I have not posted in a while because being at home is not that interesting.  We have gotten around to all of our doctor appointments and we are healthy and ready to hit the road again.

We have been doing household improvements since we have decided to keep the house for a while.

The new plan is a family Baltic cruise in June and then to stay on in Europe until October or November of 2018 and cruise home.

I am so excited.  I will keep you informed of our progress. Mac our dog is very happy that we are home. destination England 2 I have been working on some travel journals to sell in my etsy shop ( www.etsy.com/shop/LDphotography)  and I will probably post some information as I prepare my travel journal for this summer.  I make up my travel journal ahead of time so all I have to take with me is the journal,  water color pencils, glue, tape and scissors. destination Scotland 2

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

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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.