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 spent several days in Milan. The city is a mixture of celebration of the Roman Catholic faith and honoring the dead. The Milan Cathedral is a magnificent example of Italian Gothic architecture. In 1386 the church was started and was not finished until 1965. It is the largest church in Italy.The main doors outside the cathedral have wonderful bronze sculptures that illustrate the bible stories designed by Italian sculptor Ludovico Pogliaghi .
Joseph and Mary marry
So many exquisite works of art inside the cathedral like these marble saints.
And the body of St. Carlo Borromeo who was the archbishop of Milan in 1564 to 1684. It is in a crystal coffin in the crypt of the church. It is the site of pilgrims who come to pray for the saint’s help.
His face is made of silver
The monumental cemetery in Milan is one of europe’s best. The sculptures and grave stones are artistic and creative. This is one of my favorites; a woman expressing profound grief.I will say that the majority of the statues are women expressing grief at the passing of their husbands. Though there were some honoring women and children who have passed.There is also a sense of deeply felt faith even in sorrow.
And this grave stone which is an abstract.The city is a combination of faith and death.
I am two weeks out from losing my dear dog, Mac. I am still sad but I am doing better. So I thought I would start to catch up with the adventures in our trip.
We spent two days in Lake Como. It was really lovely and because it is the end of the season there were less people to contend with. We used the all day ferry pass to visit small towns on both sides of the lake.The second day we took the hydrofoil ( fast boat) to the city of Como because if you do not it takes two and a half hours by regular ferry. Como is a lovely small town with a cathedral.The late afternoon brings a light fog over the lake.The last sunset over the lake was stunning.
I will be putting up more blogs as we are going home on the Celebrity Reflections across the Atlantic.
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 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
We have always wanted to take an RV ( recreational vehicle) to see if we would like to purchase one. An opportunity came up to relocate a new RV from Iowa to Las Vegas for $1 a day plus gas in 10 days, sounded like a dream come true. We took this trip from May 4 to May 16. We include my sister Sandi in this trip. We flew into Minneapolis and drove to Forest City, Iowa to pick up the RV. I will not talk about the particulars of how the trip went as David has promised to deliver one of his data packed posts to fill you in on the details and the actual costs of the trip. What I will say is that we had a great time in the places that we stayed, but there was way too much driving for me inspite of the fact that we purchased 2 extra days at $150 per day to extend the time.
The first place we stopped at was Mount Rushmore. It was quite inspiring. None of us had been there before and we enjoyed the spectacular mountain carvings.We then drove to Yellowstone National Park. This was my favorite part of the trip. The park was still snowy in places and the animals had just had babies. The hot springs and geysers were stunningly beautiful. Here are some photographs.
Moma buffalo and baby Red dog
Dave on right checking into Madison Campground
Yellowstone hot pool
Sandi and David
We spent 3 days here and it was wonderful.
We then moved South through Jackson Hole. It was so cold and rainy there we only stayed overnight and then headed south to Bryce Canyon.
Jenny Lake, Grand Tetons
Bryce was sunny and warm. It is hard to capture the magnificence of the rock formations in photographs, but I tried.
Linda & Sandi on the Bryce Canyon Lodge porch
We drove to Las Vegas the next day , spent the night and returned the RV in the morning. Rented a car and drove home. I was so happy to sleep in my king size bed with my honey that night.