Clandon Park and Watts Memorial Chapel in Surrey , England

We have mainly been staying at home and taking care of the guinea pigs and cooking because it has been raining almost every day.

olaf and Elsa net

Waiting for their home to be cleaned

 

But we have found some good weather during part of the day to do a little exploring.  We went to Clandon Park, a home owned by the National Trust.  It is an early 18th-century Palladian  mansion.  It caught fire in 2015 and the entire inside was destroyed.  The Trust has decided to restore this mansion to its former glory.  But right now you can only go in to see it with hard hats and a tour guide.  Dave hard hat net  They have photographs of what the inside looked like before the fire, and you can see what a precious historical house looks like now.

Clandon Park Marble hall before 5x7 net

Marble hall before the fire

Clandon Park inside net

After the fire

Here are some other photographs of the damage that the house sustained.

Clandon Park wallpaper 5x7 net

Some wall paper made it through and will be copied for the restored room

 

Clandon Park fireplace 5x7 net

A marble fireplace that is still there

Clandon Park burnt window 5x7 net

A bedroom window

This statue must have fallen into the ashes (notice her broken knee) and was put back up into her niche with wooden safety bars.Clandon Park Venus 5x7 net

You have to applaud the grit of the National Trust to tackle this extensive restoration.  It is also  important for people to see what happens to historical buildings when fire rips through them.

We also had time to go the the Watts Memorial chapel in Compton.  This is an extraordinary example of  Art Nouveau version of  Celtic Revival  style in the village cemetery.  It was designed by Mary Fraser-Tytler,

the wife of the artist George Fredric Watts.  Watts memorial chapel back 5x7 net

Watts chapel outside 5x7 net

Outside panel of terracotta reliefs

Amazingly, “A group of local amateurs and enthusiasts, many of whom later went on with Mary Fraser-Tytler to found the Compton’s Potter Guild, constructed the chapel from 1896 to 1898; virtually every village resident was involved. ” ( Wikipedia ).  I think it is an incredible example of the Victorian sensibilities around a craft movement to inspire social improvement by using creative craft arts.  Here are some of the angels that line the inside of the chapel.watts chapel orange angel 5x7 net

watts chapel fire angel 5x7 net

watts chapel blue angel 5x7 net

watts chapel urn 5x5 net

watts chapel wind angel 5x5 net

These are all made from clay that was found on the Watts estate and hand crafted by Mary and the villagers.   They painted and gilded the work in gold leaf.  It is a truly stunning example of what ordinary people can do when their creative artistry is unleashed.

Dublin’s cemeteries: Mount Jerome and Glasnevin

I am fascinated by old cemeteries.  Some of the monuments that people choose to memorialize their loved ones tell a story about who those people were when they were living.  In Dublin we have visited two cemeteries,  Mount Jerome and Glasnevin. They both have different but fascinating stories that helped me to understand the sometimes sad and valiant  stories of the Irish nation.

Since its foundation in 1836, Mount Jerome has witnessed over 300,000 burials. Originally an exclusively Protestant cemetery, Roman Catholics  have also been buried there since the 1920s.  It is an older monument type of cemetery.  There are many angels pointing the deceased to heaven,mt jerome angel 5x7 netmt jerome pointing angel 5x7 bw netin case the loved one might have lost their way to their heavenly reward.  There are many praying angels (perhaps for those who the living are afraid they have lost their way). mt jerome praying angel closer 5x7_netBut the one I liked the most was this giant dog on top of a monumental grave howling to the sky.  Whether he is missing his master or protecting him it is hard to tell.mt jerome dog full 5x7 bw net

The Glasnevin Cemetery has a more national pride vibe.  This is a description from Wikipedia of the desperate circumstances that the Roman Catholics (who were the majority of the people living in Ireland) were reduced to when trying to bury their dead. “Prior to the establishment of Glasnevin Cemetery, Irish Catholics had no cemeteries of their own in which to bury their dead and, as the repressive Penal Laws of the eighteenth century placed heavy restrictions on the public performance of Catholic services, it had become normal practice for Catholics to conduct a limited version of their own funeral services in Protestant churchyards or graveyards. This situation continued until an incident at a funeral held at St. Kevin’s Churchyard in 1823 provoked public outcry when a Protestant sexton reprimanded a Catholic priest for proceeding to perform a limited version of a funeral mass.[2] The outcry prompted Daniel O’Connell, champion of Catholic rights, to launch a campaign and prepare a legal opinion proving that there was actually no law passed forbidding praying for a dead Catholic in a graveyard. O’Connell pushed for the opening of a burial ground in which both Irish Catholics and Protestants could give their dead dignified burial.”  This was not that long ago.  Daniel O’Connell is buried in this graveyard underneath a very tall round tower.O Connells grave 5x7 net We paid for a tour (€10 each) and got to go into his crypt under the tower.  We had an excellent tour guide Niall who told us all the stories of the National heroes who are buried in this cemetery.Glasnevin cemetary guide Niall net  This photo was taken in the O’Connell crypt.  One of the creepier things was that in a room adjacent to O’Connell’s tomb, there is a pile of caskets stacked up.Glasnevin cemetery Oconnell coffins netThese caskets belong to direct decedents of the great man who want to be buried with him.  There is only one caveat,  only their bodies can be stored here.  No wife, child, husband or auntie allowed to be with them.  I believe there are only 9 decedents who have decided to take the cemetery up on their offer. So far. And there is not much room left.

The most famous Irish hero buried here is Michael Collins ( yes, that man in the movie Michael Collins).Michael Collins grave 5x7 netThere are always fresh flowers on his grave and there is a mysterious French woman who comes every year to say a prayer and put flowers on his grave.  This is what the site IrishCentral has to say about her.” A mysterious French lady will visit Michael Collins’ grave once again this year (2016) , continuing a 15-year tradition since she fell in love with the Irish revolutionary after watching the movie “Michael Collins”. She is known as the “Mysterious French Lady” and she appears like clockwork at his grave and lays them down gently before saying a prayer. The woman has been identified as Veronique Crombie, a lecturer at the French National Museum who admits to a passionate love for the Irish revolutionary.”

Here are some other photographs of the graves in this giant cemetery.Glasnevin cemetery celtic cross 5x7 netgrave angel old 5x7 netThe Irish are very good at honoring their recent political heroes who fought so hard to secure their rights and to make their homeland a free Republic.

Goodbye Galway

So we bid a sad goodbye to Galway a couple of days ago. galway sunset 5c7 net It is a wonderful city to visit, and we enjoyed our week there very much.  This was our apartment in the student section of the city. Galway our apt 5x7 netWe remember what it was like to be a young university student with all of those stairs.  This is the city where the Claddagh ring was first made. Galway Claddagh 5x5 netDavid bought me one 17 years ago when we first came to Galway, and I am wearing it today.  If the heart on the ring points to your body that means you are taken, if it faces away that means you are available.  claddagh ring netI am definitely taken.

It is a city of trees, rivers and churches.Galway church 5x7 netThis is the Corrib River that runs through the city and where people can fish for salmon.  Most of the oldest parts of the city have been destroyed, but the Spanish arch from  the 16th century that was part of the city walls is still standing.  Galway Spanish arch 5x7 netThe people are very hardy here.  We walked down to the Galway bay promenade which is in a part of the city called Salthill.  There we watched some brave young people jump off the Blackrock Tower into the freezing (well, darn cold) ocean (54 degrees).  salthill flying 5x7 netsalthill girl flying 5x7 net But the young ones are not the only people to brave the cold ocean.  We met Aidan and his dog Ross as he was getting ready to go out and swim in the bay.  He says he does this every day, all year long, and that the water temperature does get as low as 39 degrees.  He was telling us about the group of older people who do the same thing, mentioning another hardy swimmer who had halted his daily swim only a year before his death at the age of 93. I think this is how they live so long.  Adrain and ross net

This visit to Blackrock had been late on Friday afternoon. We returned Sunday about noon, and there was no water whatever below the tower. In fact, there was a pile of jagged, moss-covered rocks. The range of the tide here is typically 12 feet, and as much as 17 feet. We were amazed that there was no monitoring of access to the tower, from which a low-tide jump would be one’s last.

We finished off the visit with a rousing show called TRAD ON THE PROM.  It was a splendid night of Irish music, dancing and song.  If you visit Galway this show should be on your list to see.

Now we are in Belfast for a week…more adventures to come.  Thanks for taking the time to read our adventures.

Adventures to Connemara and Inishmore

We have two weeks between pet sitting assignments here in Ireland, so we are spending one in the Galway area.  We have rented an apartment here near the center of the city of Galway.  The weather has overall been overcast, cold and rainy but with some careful planning we were able to catch two sunny days to tour the lovely area of Connemara and the largest of the Aran islands, Inishmore.

We took a bus tour of Connemara so that David could see the countryside (you don’t get to see much when you’re driving).  We rode the bus looking at the green countryside, the tall hills and the scattered lakes of the part of northwest Ireland.  It was stunningly beautiful.Connemara tree lake 5x7 net The bus driver Mike told us about the landscapes and the history of this part of Ireland.  We stopped for a quick break at the village of Leenane to see the start of the Killary fjord. Leenane village fiord 5x7 netThen we went on to the Kylemore Abbey.  This is a lovely castle that was built on an isolated lake by a merchant named Mitchell Henry for his wife. Kylemore abbey 5x7 net She died just four years later at 45; he was heartbroken and built this Gothic mini church in her memory.Kylemore Abbey church 5x7 net  Around the 1920s, a group of Benedictine nuns who had been bombed out of Ypres, Belgium, in World War I bought the property and made it into a girls school, which they ran until declines in numbers of both teachers and students forced its closure in 2010. Now it is a romantic tourist attraction.

The next day we took a bus to Rossaveal harbor.  While we were waiting for the bus, we had a hot chocolate made correctly with real milk and ground up chocolate at a small French restaurant named Le Petit Pois by a very friendly lady.  Le Petite Pois server netWe hopped on the bus to catch a ferry to the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. inishmore ferry 5x7 net We went to Inishmore,  the largest of the 3 Aran islands, and it is like stepping back in time.  When we got off the ferry we found Tomas ( he is featured in Rick Steves’s 2004 video about the island) and his red van.  There were four couples that he piled into his mini van for a 3-hour tour of the island.   He took us to the end of the island to see the ruins of the seven churches.  There are actually only the remains of two 8 – 13th century churches and a graveyard.  seven churches cross 5x7 net  Then he drove us to the main tourist site, Dun Aonghasa, which is a iron age ring fort at the edge of a 300 foot cliff.  We had 2 hours on our own here at the fort.  Tomas told us that it was a 15 minute walk up to the fort.  Well, it turned out to be a 30 minute hike up hill.

Dun Aonghasa long wayup 5x7 net

See those little people?  See that long trail of gravel and eventually big rocks? 

Here is a photograph of the last bit of the up hill trail.  David says that a little old lady was making it up to the fort , so he would too.Dun Aonghasa final way up 5x7 netWhen we made it through the rock doorway this is what we saw.

Dun Aonghasa walls 5x7 net

The trail to the inside walls.  These people were not taking any chances. This was a triple wall defense.

The walls formed a “C” shape around the cliff edge.  The cliff edge was a sheer drop down about 300 feet to the ocean.  There are no safety rails along the edge if you are stupid enough to slip and fall it is Irish natural selection. Dun Aonghasa cliffs 5x7 net Or tourist natural selection, as you can see here; that is a straight drop to the ocean.Dun Aonghasa tourists edge net

We made it back to the ferry landing with plenty of time to shop and have a drink.  When we got home , we were exhausted but happy.  We were on the Aran Islands and we love Ireland !

 

 

The Burren in County Clare Ireland

We have been taking a couple of short field trips while pet and house sitting here in western County Clare in Ireland.  Lisdoonvarna is considered the gateway to the Burren.  I had never heard of the Burren before.  It is a special area on the west coast of Ireland that was left without topsoil by the ice ages.   It is a place of stones, and almost no people.burren 5x7 net  There are prehistoric artifacts and tombs throughout the Burren.  We went to a stone ring fort (Catherconnell) that has been settled from the 7th century AD  and was used up to the 15th century.  Here is a model of what it might have looked like in the past.  ring fort model 5x7 netYou can see that there are thick stone walls around the settlement.  These walls were made in the simplest way with local stones just stacked up upon themselves.  burren rock wall 5x7 net  It was fascinating to see how people lived on this land. There are tombs that have been found from the neolithic period (4000-2500 BC). Later,  we drove out to this communal tomb called the Poulnabrone dolmen tomb. Poulnabrone dolmen tomb 5x7 netIt was dark, windy and cold when we walked up the stones to see this ancient monument.  It was quite moving.  It humbled  me to see how transitory our lives and problems are in the scope of the sweep of human time. There are dozens of these tombs around, and many more still buried and waiting to be discovered.

If you get to spend some time on the Burren, you will find it fascinating.

Sailing on the Celebrity Silhouette across the Atlantic ocean

We are about half way to Lisbon, Portugal sailing on the Atlantic Ocean. The ship is wonderful. I spend time in the gym and the Persian Gardens ( lying on the heated beds and taking a steam bath). David has been reading books.  The weather has been overcast but we got some sun today. Celebrity Silhouette Perisan Garden netCelebrity Silhouette pool netCelebrity Silhouette our balcony netCelebrity Silhouette sky bar netCelebrity Silhouette cabin net  We bought more internet time so I can post whenever I want.  Yeah!  We have had nice weather for the last couple of days.  Sunset is now around 8:30 pm which is nice as we can use our balcony for a longer period if time.  Here is David having room service lunch on our balcony. david eating on balcony netToday we had to stop in the Azores to let two sick people off the ship so they could go to a proper hospital.Azores city net  Now we are off to Lisbon and will be there in a day and a half.    Today is April 30, I do not know how to change the date.  More later.

Pet and house sitting across Ireland and England 2017

Our itinerary is almost complete for the Spring and Summer in Europe.   We will be leaving on a trans Atlantic cruise from Fort Lauder dale at the end of April and will arrive in Amsterdam on May 7.  This will be the beginning of six pet and house sits in Ireland and England that will last  until the end of September.  We are so excited that we get to spend 101 days taking care of sweet pets and meeting wonderful people. We will be taking care of all different kinds of animals from hamsters to kitty cats to dogs to chickens.  What a wonderful set of animals to love and give cuddles too ( well not the chickens).

Many people are intrigued about our pet and house sitting adventures and wonder how we do it.  We joined a website called Trustedhousesitters.  It costs sitters $110 a year and you get 2 daily emails with the newest listings for people who are looking for a pet and house sitter.  You contact the people you are interested in and wait to see if they choose you to talk to about their vacation plans.  We have excellent references from the six house sits we did last summer and of course this blog to let prospective families know who we are and that we are pet lovers.  Plus we are good people who take care of their home as if it was our own.  It is hard for someone to let a complete stranger into their home to take care of their precious pets so we try to make this selection as easy as possible for the people we sit for.

They normally choose two or more people to talk too on Skype and then make up their minds.  When we are chosen we add their dates to our calendar.

If you are interested in this and want to sign up for trusted housesitters, just use my name as a referral (Linda Donnelly) and you will get 25% off the sign up fee and we will get 2 extra months of service.  Here is their link;  trusted housesitters.Jody and David small    Street David & dogs smallErnie Eric dance smallcat eye small_DSC0052

Stunning sunset and a party at Hale Kai

Hale Kai is the small , intimate group of condos from the 70’s that has been rennovated.  It is right on the ocean and is only 2 stories high.  This type of small condos are quite unique for this part of Maui.  The northwestern part of Maui is dominated by large ritzy developments by big companies like Marriot, Ritz Carlton, and Hyatt etc.  The people who come to Hale Kai come every year on the same weeks.  They book their condos a year in advance and have made friends over the years.

One of their traditions is that every night at sunset people gather around the pool and have drinks and celebrate another day in paradise.  They blow conch shells like the old Hawaiians to announce the sunset, a birthday or a new comer to the group.  It is quite charming. maui-2-26-17-hale-kai-blowers-5x7

Here is the sunset that we were celebrating tonight. maui-2-26-17-sunset-5x7-closer-net-1maui-2-26-17-cloud-sunset-5x7-net  Since it was Sunday night we all got invitations to bring pupus ( little munchies) and make it a party with food. maui-2-26-17-hale-kai-party  The pupus were excellent and everyone is crowding around the snack table to try the tempting morsels. Ladies were asking for recipes and talking about their sea adventures here on the island.

We have met several really nice people.   What I really like are the moms and daughters that come back together every year.  Here are some photos I took of two of them.

maui-17-steph-and-patty-5x7maui-patty-and-steph-17

How lucky these women are that they can spend special time with their moms, I wish my mom could have done this with me.

Well, it is off to bed as a new adventure is calling us tomorrow. Aloha!

A sandpiper, and crashing waves and sick sea lion pups

Sadly, this has been a record year for starving sea lion pups who come to shore because they are tired and hungry.  We have seen 2 here at our beach. The first one we found dead on the beach a couple of days later.  It is difficult  here because the nearest rescue is in Ensenada so there is little that can be done for these sweet babies.   Today,we sent a donation to the Orange county rescue service that has 88 sea lion pups in its shelter ( there have been 1800 rescued off the coast of California since Jan. of this year).  FYI  here is a link to the story http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/16/sea-lion-pups-stranded-california_n_6876076.html  . I could not bring myself to take a photo of the last stranded pup we saw on Sat.  I just hope he rested , got back out to sea, and found some food.

Here are some happier photos that I took in the last couple of days.  It has been overcast here at the beach , but even when it is grey and somewhat stormy the ocean and its creatures are beautiful.  Here is one of the sand pipers standing on one leg, they seem to like to do that. sandpiper 5x7 small_edited-1Here is a photograph of the crashing waves on the rock point at the southern end of our beach. slow crashing waves 5x7 small_edited-1Since the waves have been more rough the last few days we have seen more sea weed wash up on shore.  Here is a photo of a large seaweed pod.seaweed on shore  And I wanted  to leave you with a sunset photograph taken on a cloudy day.black sun stream 5x7 small