Miladys Grand Tour and August Summing-Up

After Cornwall and Port Eliot Festival I returned home briefly on 28 July, made excursions to Manchester, Jervaulx and Scarborough and on 12 August set off on a Swiss adventure with a foray into Italy only returning last Thursday 21 August.

Here are links to a couple of my posts over at Lynne’s blog Dovegreyreader

Not my post but here is my entry for the Port Eliot Flower and Fodder Show Tea Cosy Competition:
On 11 August I re-opened My Swiss Diary  briefly and a further Swiss Post will follow here shortly. Meanwhile I can show you a few photos of the places visited in Italy :

The View

The View from the house at Luino (Lake Maggiore)

The Pool

The Ecological Swimming Pool


Il campanile (1585-1774) Varese

Art Deco Varese

Art Nouveau in Varese

Varese Art Deco

Art Nouveau Varese

Cannobio Market

Arriving in Canobbio on Lake Maggiore for the Sunday Market



Sovana to Bolsena – Tracks and Tombs and Troglodytes … and Rain

Day 4

Sovana to San Quirico: Paths across farmland lead to an isolated church and fine Etruscan lane that descends into a gorge, from which rises crag-top Sorano. After exploring Sorano, paths along the gorge lead to the troglodyte habitations at Vitozza and the village of San Quirico (10.3 miles, 5 hours).

On the Sunday the walking began in earnest. Over 40 miles in 4 days – not bad going!

Church of San Rocco

The Abandoned Isolated Church of San Rocco


Crag-top Sorana from San Rocco Viewpoint

Via Cava San Rocco

Etruscan Lane of San Rocco

Via Cava SR tomb

Tombs along the Via Cava di San Rocco

Near the village of San Quirico (our destination on Day 4) we passed through the abandoned troglodyte village of Vitozza. This fascinating, rather eerie, place had been a medieval settlement dating back to the 12th century. There are the remains of castles, churches, and many other buildings plus many caves which were used as stables, storerooms and homes.

Troglodite homes Vitozza

Vitozza groto

Vitoza caves

Cave homes at Vitozza

Il Colombaio Vitozza

Dovecote or Columbario – 1st Century AD

Day 5

San Quirico to Bolsena: Cart tracks across farmland lead to an escarpment, where paths descend towards the small town of Latera. A climb through chestnut woods to the rim of a volcanic crater offers superb views. Tracks lead down to Lake Bolsena (10.4 miles, 5.5 hours), from where a private boat takes you across the lake to Bolsena (town).


Approaching Latera

Latera Square

We ate our picnic lunch on a bench in this square in Latera: Church of San Clemente and 1790 bell-tower

Pretty doorway in Latera

Pretty Doorway in Latera Piazza San Clemente

Leaing Latera

Leaving Latera

After leaving Latera and as we approached the crater edge with views of Lake Bolsena the rain began. Unfortunately, this meant that we were unable to take the boat trip across the lake. Annalisa had to come to our rescue and drive us round the lake to our next hotel by the lakeside at Bolsena.

A herd of sheep blocked our path

Our path is blocked by sheep – but not for too long!

Lake Bolsena in the rain

An early view of Lake Bolsena in the rain

Lake Bolsena

We arrive at the Trattoria Da Giggetto jetty


Stony Lake History Tour by Boat

History Tour by Boat

Stony Lake is just inland from Lake Michigan, one of the five Great Lakes of North America. The Stony Lake Property Owners Association cares deeply (47 feet deep at its maximum, I’m told) about the state of the lake itself, its flora and fauna, about possible sources of pollution and about the immediate banks where many individuals and some organisations have property.

Boat Tour Ticket

Last year the SLPOA introduced a new activity to their summer calendar – The Stony Lake History Tour By Boat. This event is scheduled to take place annually in August visiting a different property each year. Although my visit was in September I had the good luck to stay with a member of the Association’s Committee and my own private, individual, tailor-made tour was arranged by my hosts. We didn’t actually visit a lakeside home. But that was no problem as I was lucky enough to be staying in one myself – and a very special one it is too!

Aerial view of Stony L

Aerial View of Stony Lake with the Shore of Lake Michigan Along the Top (the view looks approximately west)


Our Stony Lake Retreat

Some of this commentary is taken or adapted from the notes from which the docents read during the Tour.

Stony Lake has a lot of tradition. Much of the land, and in many cases the cottages, have been lovingly passed down for generations, shared or sold to friends or family members or even neighbours. 

But things change over the years, and the way of life many long time cottagers grew up with is changing too. More people come for short visits … They have less time to participate in community activities. One reason for doing the Tours is to help getting to know each other a little better.”

A Stony Lake History

“In the 1980s The Property Owners Association organized a project to publish A Stony Lake History, which was published in 1986. We hope it can be updated and republished.”

Huey House

The first house we ‘visit’ is The Huey House built by  John and Myra Huey in 1902.

Public beach

The Public Swimming Beach – I enjoyed a few swims here

Beach from Boat

The Beach from the Boat

Stony Lake Store

Just across the road from the beach is The Stony Lake Store – once it housed the local Post Office, alas no longer.

As we moved around the Lake I was able to view the several Youth Camp Sites including Camp Miniwanca owned by The American Youth Foundation and in existence since 1924.

Miniwanca dock

Here is the Miniwanca Camp Dock

I’m afraid that whenever I see these camps I can’t help singing this to myself :

Remember Allan Sherman?

Another camp on Stony Lake is the Lutheran Camp with a sandy beach and its own swimming area and on the opposite bank and near to ‘our’ cottage is Camp Ao-Wa-Kiya. “Everyone who has a property on Stony Lake should appreciate the special atmosphere that the three camps on the lake provide. These large  chunks of land remain mostly undeveloped, and because of that there is less traffic on the lake. And most nights when the camps are in session the air rings with sounds of happy campers singing and cheering.” 

Shore line cottages

South Shore

Single storey cottage

Some Stony Lake Properties that caught my eye

Boat House

A Stony Lake Boat House

My thanks to John and Julie for being magnificent and generous hosts and for taking me on my own private History Tour Boat.

Quiet area

A Quiet Area of Stony Lake (that’s a heron over to the left there)

Along The West Michigan Pike: From Sand Trails to U.S.31

We spent the first fortnight in September this year at our friends’ cottage in Michigan. We’ve visited several times before but it’s always a pleasure to stay there with them and make new discoveries in the area as well re-visiting old haunts.

The Book

On the bookshelves at the Cottage my attention was drawn to a book by friends of our hosts called ‘Vintage Views Along the West Michigan Pike‘. Christine Byron and Thomas Wilson have collected memorabilia and old photos and postcards and assembled them together to produce an illustrated history of the road that wends (or wended) its way along the eastern side of Lake Michigan from the Indiana State Line to the Mackinac Bridge that links the Lower Peninsula of Michigan to the Upper Peninsula.


The West Michigan Pike has been more or less swallowed up by the highway U.S.31 which actually starts way south of Michigan in Alabama.

WMP author talk

I’ve picked out a few  pages of places that I’m more familiar with and included some of my own photos of places along the route.

WMP map


WMP Accommodations SH

South Haven Accommodations in yesteryear

Sun 'n' Sand

Our 1950s Sun ‘n’ Sand Resort Accommodation 2013

WMP S Haven

WMP South Haven

South Haven was our overnight stop between Chicago O’Hare Airport and Stony Lake where the Cottage is located.


Saugatuck is always a favourite stopping off point just off the 31 on journeys between Stony Lake and Chicago.


The S.S.Keewatin, moored on the south bank of the Kalamazoo Lake near Saugatuck is one of the few remaining of dozens of passenger ships that criss-crossed Lake Michigan. The Scottish-built ship is now a museum and is the biggest vessel to ever enter Saugatuck’s Harbour. I haven’t yet managed to visit as the museum is closed after Labor day and our trips are normally in September.

Moving on north up the US31 you come to Holland with its very Dutch buildings and atmosphere. We visited Downtown Holland for the first time this trip but it’s not easy to take picturesque pictures these days, with cars parked everywhere. Better to view it from the old time postcards and pictures.

Welcome to Holland

Welcome to Holland

Holland Tulip Town

Holland – Tulip Town


Holland Postcard – I love this style but no longer available these days!

Grand Haven

Next along the route is Grand Haven. We’ve visited a few times and love this wide  streeted town with its individual shops like Hostetter’s Newsagent and Bookshop and old style deli Fortino’s.


Hostetter’s, Grand Haven, MI

Another favourite town of ours is Pentwater. Dubbed “A Norman Rockwell Kind of Town” it is, like the many of the others, just one wide main street with good eateries and shops. Sailing is also very popular here and the yachts big and small bob up and down in the harbour/marina as you approach the centre of town.


Main Street Pentwater 2007

North of Pentwater has usually been outside our holiday ‘comfort zone’ but we made a day-long excursion this year via Manistee and Benzonia to the delightful small city of Traverse City. It’s one of those places listed in Top 10 Small Town America lists such as this and we thought it deserved its placing.



Benzonia sign

Welcome to Benzonia!


Description of Benzonia

A Motoring town

Traverse City ‘A Motoring Town’ – Still Full of Parked Cars Today!

Traverse City

Traverse City – Also, ‘The Heart of Nature’s Playground’!

Cinema Traverse City

The Cinema that Local Film Maker Michael Moore helped to Save

And here’s Lake Michigan itself – By Day

Lake Michigan

… And At Sunset

L Michigan sunset

Views From Swiss Windows : Trains

There wasn’t much going on in January – colds and ‘flu and general low feelings after Christmas and New Year. But once February arrived I was packing my bags to head off to the snow. Not for skiing or winter sports but to enjoy friends’ company and the wonderful scenery and to immerse myself in Schwyzerdütsch, Schwiizertüütsch, Schwizertitsch or however you wish to pronounce it! I’ve a little collection of books on the fascinating subject of the Swiss and their language, culture and customs.

Funny books

So, I arrived at Geneva Airport last Thursday and immediately took the train, straight from the airport itself, to Bern where I stayed until Sunday. Despite heavy snow the trains still run pretty much to time and the lovely big, clean windows are filled with wonderful views whichever direction you look in or side of the train you decide to sit. A couple of my journeys were in first class but the views and cleanliness were equally abundant on my second class travels, too.

Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva and Vineyards

Vineyards by Lake Geneva

Travelling between Geneva and Berne the railway hugs the lakeside for much of the journey between Geneva and Lausanne

Sunday took me with friend Barbara out of Berne and up up up to Gstaad – in more than one meaning! Paul dropped us at Spiez station by Lake Thun and we took the train first to Zweisimmen where we joined the Golden Pass Line for the amazing journey to Gstaad. From here the train continues to Montreux, back on Lake Geneva.

Journey to Gstaad

Travelling to Gstaad

So much more snow had fallen since Thursday.

This time there was a bit of delay and we ended up on a later train than intended but still we had enough time to enjoy the delights of the Gstaad Palace Hotel lounge and the pretty main village street. Unless you ski there’s little else to do here on a Sunday in winter – unless, of course, you fancy a horse-drawn sleigh ride.

Gstaad sleigh ride

Gstaad was a ‘side’ visit as later in the afternoon I was to meet friends at the pretty lakeside village of Lungern in Central Switzerland. Barbara suggested we make a day of it. On the return journey she left the train at Spiez to return to Berne and I continued on the same Golden Pass route to Interlaken and the connecting train to Lungern. These trains follow the lake sides of Lakes Thun and Brienz almost entirely.

Lake Thun view

Lake Thun

Interlaken and Lake Thun

Views of Lake Thun and (sometimes) Interlaken from the Golden Pass Train

Lake Brienz

Lake Brienz 2

Lake brienz 3

After changing trains at Interlaken Ost station my journey continued alongside Lake Brienz

On my last day I took the direct train from Lucerne to Geneva Airport so early yesterday morning that it was dark for much of the journey. Nevertheless, it being St Valentine’s Day, when I bought a tea from the catering trolley I was taken aback to receive a free heart-shaped chocolate! (The photo’s a bit blurry – either because of the time of day or the movement of the train!)

valentines on the train