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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Down the road from the Priest house is the Old Manor house. which was built in 1628 for Mrs. Catherine Infield. The village has lots of cute little cottages. The Priest House is a 15th century timber house. The 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 fireplace was installed in 1580, so all the heating and cooking is done here.You can see the the hot water spigot on the pot in the fireplace.The 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. They 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. 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 ceiling is open faced timbers.There are many windows in the house that look out into the gardens.
And here is a little flower pot that someone added recently. It was so cute I thought it would be a good final photo.
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. 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.
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.
We had an afternoon to spend in the famous Pere Lachaise cemetery here in Paris. It is a remarkable city of the dead. We will be going back before we leave because 2 hours was not enough time to take some of the photographs that I wanted to take. This cemetery was founded in 1804 when the city of Paris needed more room to bury the dead. Pere Lachaise is the largest cemetery in the city of Paris. Père Lachaise Cemetery has more than 3.5 million visitors, making it the most visited cemetery in the world.
Many famous people who died in Paris are buried here. The most famous and the most visited is the tomb of Jim Morrison of the Doors.
Jim Morrison’s grave, died 1997 in Paris
Edit Piaf, famous Parisian singer
Oscar Wilde’s grave
There were many French Jewish families that were sent to German concentration camps when Germany occupied France during WWII. There are several memorials to these innocent French citizens in the graveyard. Here are a couple of them;
Memorial to the children killed by the Nazis
memorial to the people killed in concentration camps
And on a much lighter note; here is the grave of Victor Noir. He was a French journalist who is famous for the manner of his death and the sculpture that lies on top of his grave. I could not think of a good way to word this description so I will let Wikipedia do it for me.
“A life-sized bronze statue was sculpted by Jules Dalou to mark his grave, portrayed in a realistic style as though he had just fallen on the street, dropping his hat which is depicted beside him.
The sculpture has a very noticeable protuberance in Noir’s trousers. This has made it one of the most popular memorials for women to visit in the famous cemetery. Myth says that placing a flower in the upturned top hat after kissing the statue on the lips and rubbing its genital area will enhance fertility, bring a blissful sex life.” As you can see from the wearing away of the crotch area, many women have taken up the idea since he died in 1870.
Over one million people have been buried here and there are many famous French politicans, inventors and artists who are scattered among many family mausoleums. It is a cemetery that has many monuments and statues to commemorate the dead. Here are some of the more interesting photographs that I took.
And we found one live woman practicing her clarinet in the middle of the monuments. The music was enchanting.More views of Paris to follow.
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.And here are 2 photos of Flora, a stunning cocker spaniel. 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. We 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 . More adventures to come now that we and the doggies are settled in with each other.
Now we are on the other side of Ireland in a place called Greystones, County Wicklow. We are taking care of two sweet kitties and two hens. I love kitty cats and these two are very sweet and want to spend time in your lap purring.
We are also about an hour by public transportation from Dublin. We have been mostly hanging out at home, using the bus to get our food to cook. But we did go to Dublin one day. We took a student tour of Trinity College which was very good. Afterwards we went to see the Book of Kells exhibit. It is a 9th-century book of the four Gospels, with almost every page highly illustrated.After seeing the exhibit we went up to the Long Room library. “The main chamber of the Old Library is the Long Room; at nearly 65 metres in length, it is filled with 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books and is one of the most impressive libraries in the world.” ( Trinity College site)
Notice the ladders, this is the top floor of the 2 story Long Room
We walked down Grafton Street to look at the shops and heard this lovely singer entertaining as people strolled by.
She had a great voice
We are close to the ocean here in the house and have made a short trip to a town nearby Dun Laoghaire to see the seaside city. We walked along the harbor.
The weather has been Irish. It is sunny for about two hours and then the dark clouds and the rain wash in. So we keep our umbrellas handy.