You Got to Have a Dream . . .

You got to have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, how you gon-na make a dream come true . . . Happy Talk, South Pacific

I have news.  It goes with Musica.

My news has something to do with this enchanting little English cottage.  But first we have to get into the way-back machine.  Are you in?  Comfy?  OK, here goes:

Twenty-six-ish years ago, I was sitting on a red leather stool, talking to my girlfriend, at a clam bar in a wonderful restaurant here on the island (gone now) called the Ocean Club.  I sat at the bar, across from an aproned bartender who was shucking oysters, placing them on a plate of crushed ice, in front of a huge gilt-edged mirror that went to the ceiling, reflecting tall open windows that went all the way around the room.  I was wearing a long, narrow, pin-striped skirt with a wide leather belt, high-heeled boots, and a white linen, high-collared shirt.  I know what I was wearing because the person I met that night remembers; he’s one of two guys who sat down on the empty stools next to us.  I leaned past the tall one to say hello to the one I already knew; he said hello and, over restaurant clatter of silverware, conversation, and music, he introduced me to the stranger.

His name was Joe. We were sitting almost shoulder to shoulder and were rather instantly simpatico; he seemed to be a very nice person.

For a little background, this pleasant encounter took place at about the same time I had decided I was finished with men forever. My heart had become so tattered by life; a sad divorce that left me feeling identity free and minus any personality; and then, from years of trying to find love again in all the wrong places; I had finally given up.  It was all just too fraught with danger.  No more, I said to the wall in my kitchen, toasting myself with my teacup in the reflection of my kitchen window.  It wasn’t the way I’d thought my life would go; but obviously I was meant to be alone.  I’d come to terms with it.  I had a tiny little house in the woods with a wonderful garden where wild blueberries grew; I was painting a cookbook; it almost substituted for love.

Joe seemed nice, he was very friendly; it wasn’t long, that first night, before he was feeding me from his plate, which is what he does.  He seemed harmless too.  He was five years younger than me for one thing.  A baby.  A very cute, tall, baby, but still, a baby.  Even though I had been told by two different forseers of the future, a palm reader and an astrologist, that I was going to fall in love with a tall man with a beard; I did not recognize him.  I discounted what they said because I was not a beard person.  Even though, years before, I had asked my diary for a 6’2″ Leo who could cook and even though Joe told me he was a Leo and he ran a restaurant and cooked there, still, I did not recognize him.

Our conversation, that night, went everywhere.  I learned that he loved Fred Astaire, (have I told you that I love Fred Astaire?  I do!!) which was unheard of in any of my relationships with any men ever, they didn’t even know who he was.  Joe had Fred Astaire albums!  He’d sailed on a ship to England with his mother when he was twelve.  I dreamed all my life of sailing to England!  All the Fred Astaire movies had such things in them. We talked about that a lot.  The conversation was fun, but he was still too young for me; I had completely convinced myself there was never going to be any more love in my life; I felt secure because of it, my heart was now safe, protected from the ravages of caring about someone too much.  It was another five months before Joe and I had our first date.  Even then, I was surprised he asked me out, and almost didn’t go.  Then I thought, he’s a nice kid, he comes from a big family, he cooks, I have nothing else to do, it’s winter, OK; I’ll go.  I thought these were probably the same reasons he asked me out!  Nothing else to do. Just a friend.  Blah blah blah.

Luckily, that isn’t at all what he thought, and pretty soon, neither did I.

Which brings me to my news.  It’s almost my birthday.  Joe and I had our 25th anniversary in February.  That’s when Joe said, dreamily, “Let’s go back to England for your birthday.”  No!  Silence.  Can we?  More silence.  Thinking noises, ticking of clock, sleeping on it.   We’ve been trying this idea on for size ever since, mulling it over; doing the pros and cons.  There are big cons: we absolutely should not go.

We have kitties; our newest kitten is only eight months old; how can we leave them?  It will kill me.

I have to finish my Breakfast Book!

It’s too expensive, we shouldn’t be spending money right now.

If we go anywhere, it should be to see my parents, I miss them!

BUT, we thought pragmatically: we are healthy, my parents are healthy, the kitties are healthy and life is short.  Maybe next year my knees will give out, or Joe’s back, or Girl Kitty will get sick; something could happen.  We should go now, and go out west afterwards.

So, we are.  We called the Kitty Babysitter and asked what he was doing from May through July; he said he would love to come live in our house; he promised big love and ball-throwing for the kitties; so Joe bought the tickets at Cunard last week.

This is me on the last trip we took to England in 2004; we dreamed, saved, and planned for this trip since the day we met.  I look calm, but inside, every fiber of my being is jumping for joy because I’m standing on the deck of the QEII (which has since been retired).  We are about to sail down the Hudson, past all the twinkly-lit-up buildings of New York City; that’s the Queen Mary 2 in the berth next to us.  And come this May, we’re doing it again, for two months, from New York to Southampton, this time on the Queen Mary.  We have unfinished dreams to fulfill in England.  I haven’t been to Beatrix Potter’s house in the Lake District!  I want to fill my inspiration cup; to see all the gardens we missed the first time, to visit loved ones over there.  It’s been a long time since we took a vacation, all we seem to do is work. We need a moment to meander with no particular place to go!

For example, look at this place we found sitting on the side of the road last time.  We pulled in, drawn like magnets; stayed the night, had tea, then a room-service breakfast on a tray, propped on feather pillows in the flowery wallpapered, high-ceilinged room; afterwards we wandered through the garden listening to the bees . . . it was all serendipity, an accident.  If I saw a picture like this, I would think it wasn’t real.  But it’s real all right, just sitting over there, in clear view of anyone passing by.

Einstein said, “Creativity is the residue of time wasted.” We need some of that residue.

You need more Musica?  How about this one . . .

I’m not going to tell you where we are going this time, because I want you to be surprised.  Yes, we talked it over and we thought we’d take you with us! Through the magic of the internet, a travel blog!  Maybe you’d like a little arm-chair view of the Atlantic Ocean over the ship’s rail?  Thought you’d enjoy seeing the English tea they serve everyday at four o’clock on board the ship?  Hoping you’ll like old houses and walking through very old and gorgeous English gardens (the bluebells will be in bloom!); and enjoy pictures of pub food, and probably pictures of English dogs and kitties; maybe some of you would like to go to the Lake District for a visit to Beatrix Potter’s house too?  Maybe even a weekend in London? Joe’s been working it out so we’ll have as much wireless service as possible (there will be places where there isn’t any; it’s going to be spotty, but I’ll do the best I can to update the blog with photos and video).  Our only real drawback is not being able to send fragrance through the internet.  The sea, the gardens.  But oh well; the Flower moon will be full the day after we sail; I checked.  Moon over the water.  Oooo la weee.

Remember this diary I kept on our 2004 trip?  To make up for the fact that the Breakfast Book is going to be late, I thought I’d keep another diary this time, sort of like it, only cuter; one that will go to print and be published just as soon as we get back.  In it, along with photos, watercolor drawings, recipes, garden views, and stories of this trip, I thought I’d tell the whole saga of meeting Joe, our first date, and how we decided to throw our lot together and try to make a go of it, since without him, who knows if this dream could have ever come true.

Now. Dream. Part II, the sequel. The countdown has begun.

Join us, on the other side of the bridge . . . for this story is proof that somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream, really DO come true.  XOXO

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709 Responses to You Got to Have a Dream . . .

  1. Colleen says:

    I waited until I had some uninterrupted time before I read this post. So very worth it!! What a dream come true…your love and your trip. I, too, had given up on men and the very next day I met my man. Twenty two years and three pretty great kids later, here we are. Thanks for taking us on your travels. I will have to take a trip like yours someday! xo

  2. jeannine leonard says:

    We are so happy for you, have a great time. What a treat that we get to experience some of your travels also. Dreams to come true….

  3. Diana - Highland, IL says:

    Oh Susan!! I am so excited. I had tears in my eyes reading your post! Congratulations and Happy Birthday to you!… I can imagine how excited you are!! How can we thank you for taking us on this journey with you. I have always wanted to go abroad.. this will be my introduction to England 101 and I will be so much more ready afterwards I think. Please get your rest and relaxation that you need! We all need our batteries recharged and I am thankful you are getting this opportunity. It reminds me of the time my hubs surprised me with a trip to Hawaii for our 25th anniversary! I laughed, cried, was surprised, blown away…. so out of character for my man, but he is a keeper and it sounds like Joe is too (although I knew it all along! :-)_..Be safe, and I am anxiously awaiting more news! SO EXCITED!!!

    p.s… I LOVE hearing how other people met and fell in love!! BONUS!!!!

  4. Lynn McMahon says:

    Good Morning~
    What an inspiring post!
    I have a couple dear friends in my life who are feeling like love has passed them by~One by loss of her spouse and the other through divorce.
    I am going to forward your story to them. I cannot say to them that I know how they feel because I don’t~ I was blessed by love the first time and pray that I will never have to be in their shoes. You made it clear Susan that the signs were given to you~ hopefully they will be in tune to theirs as you finally were~ and as lucky! I also told them to not pass by someone just because they are younger than them. They are not “cougars”!……I don’t know how I feel about that word!
    Enjoy your trip~adventure!
    Maybe you’ll get ~new ideas~ recipes ~for your breakfast book….???
    ~Enjoy the day girlfriends~

  5. veronica says:

    ‘Sweet Susan’ Happy Happy Early Birthday!
    ‘Sweetest Joe’ You are Awesome!
    Thank you for sharing a part of your lives with us. This is for you both:
    English Spring Morn
    There is a quiet splendor
    in the air this morn
    Scents of sweetness
    fill my soul
    Stone walls and pebbled shores.

    People stirring in the street
    down at village square
    On worn and trodden
    Wondering here and there.

    Lavender touched dew-drops
    from Aprils falling rain
    Its smell, it lingers
    in my mind
    And its there, it shall remain.

    Steeples reaching to the sky
    crowds are gathering too
    Singing songs of
    love and praise
    Oh! what,a ‘heavenly view’.

    Much love, and much much happiness.

  6. Wendy Louise says:

    P.S. My husband read your blog last night and loved it, he wanted me to suggest you and Joe go to Blenheim Palace, Winston Churchill’s birth place, the grounds are very extensive and beautiful. He loves England and will bring me there someday ! Hip, Hip Hurray !!!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      We missed Blenheim last time but we did get to Chartwell, Winston Churchill’s home and that was perfectly wonderful! Not a castle, but a wonderful house filled with personality.

  7. Gail Buss says:

    Oh my goodness……… wonderful!! Last year, my Joe and I went to Ireland on Holland America and came back from Southhampton on the Queen Mary II. (We hate flying so it was the only way to go.) Yes, we too weren’t sure we should spend the money but we felt we had retired and were healthy and that it would be the epic trip of a lifetime. It was wonderful and I got to meet all my cousins (9) plus their families mostly in Belfast plus toured around Ireland.
    Make sure to eat lunch in the pub on the ship…….yummy fish and chips! The tea was lovely but only did it once or twice since we really weren’t hungy by then but the waiters had white gloves and everything! They even served madelines……..yum. Loved reading your love story… many happy memories to replace the miserable ones but isn’t God great that he led you to the man who would make you have a life of “happily ever after”? I have to say I love that quaint little college you are standing in front of and I can imagine what it looked like inside………..I can see the kitchen/keeping room in my mind. Joe and I are so very happy for you. You will have the best time and not to worry since your kitties will be in the best hands. Have a wonderful trip and we will be watching for every bit of info you write. Start making those lists of what to take with you and enjoy every moment! We will pray for your safe journey. Hugs, Gail & Joe, Beverly Hills, Fl

  8. Dinahsoar says:

    OH MY GOODNESS! We’re going to England?!!!…Yay…can’t wait! I love England. Joe is right, now is the best time to go. I know we will enjoy this trip because you and Joe know how to do it up right. He is dreamy–and it’s amazing how you two finally got together….I love hearing your story. From the hills of TN.

    • Pam K says:

      Hello Dinosaur -aka my mom in TN! Wouldn’t it be something if our whole family took a cruise/trip to England together? Susan will be kind enough to give us a preview. See you soon I hope. Love, Pam-Bob

  9. Sheila Brazzell says:

    I’m sitting at the breakfast table with tears in my eyes. What a wonderful surprise to hear the story of you and Joe. Can’t wait to go to England with you both. Wishing you the most special birthday ever!
    Bon Voyage,

  10. DebbieS says:

    Oh Susan! Have a lovely trip, and thank you for taking us along. An amazing birthday! Debbie

  11. Cathy McC. says:

    How happy we all are for you! My only trip to Europe was in 1965, including London, and the memories are fading away. It’ll be thrilling to see England through your eyes and with your witty commentary. Enjoy, enjoy! Wish I could kitty-sit for you!

    • Cathy McC. says:

      Susan, you are a vintage movie buff, right? I’m trying to think of the name of an old black and white. Vaguely remember that this man and woman corresponded from US to England by means (I think) of post cards, very romantic, but I think their attempt to meet again was a fateful event. Seems to me the title has the word Post in it, maybe a box #. Any ideas? Anyone? Thanks for brainstorming!

      • sbranch says:

        Could it be 84 Charing Cross Road ? I’m not sure it was in black and white so probably not.

        • Cathy McC. says:

          Oh my, I just went online and read about it and I think that is it! Must have a short circuit telling me it was in black and white. Thank you for the memory jog — and it’s now on my library list! What a treasure to look forward to. (Do you think there really is an 84 Charing Cross Road? You could always look when you are there.)

          • sbranch says:

            I’m sure there is, especially now — that’s a very popular book! Glad you found it, drives me crazy when I’m trying to remember a book or movie! Have to call everyone!

  12. Lisa says:

    Oh Susan, I am just so happy for you! You and your honey are going to have a marvelous time. I can’t wait to hear all the details. What fun, updates from the road! Squeals!

  13. Debbie P Weedsport, NY (near Syracuse) says:

    Good morning, Sue~

    Just so happy and excited for you!


  14. Sharon says:

    I can’t even begin to tell you how much I LOVED reading your post, Susan! I love how you began by showing the enticing English cottage, the story of how you met Joe, the whole entire post just gave me a great big smile on my face and goosebumps all over! You see, I have been through a divorce and went through the “I am meant to be alone” routing, too! Really, I did! I met my now husband on a blind date, and he is 6 years younger than me. We have been married for 22 years! I can’t wait to follow your trip to England!!!! I wish you a wonderful time! Thank you so much for sharing part of your life with all of us!

  15. SuzK says:

    Sigh, how lovely! I have one other friend with a relationship like you and Joe – I am so in awe of both couples. Relationships are hard, but when they are right, it is so nice to watch them! I can’t wait to see your trip on this blog, I’m sure it will be absolutely wonderful! Happy birthday to you and happy anniversary to both of you!

  16. Sharon says:

    Oh, P.S. I loved the music, too!!!!!! Woohoo!!!!!

  17. Kate says:

    What matters age when love abounds? I cannot wait to read about your trip. I dreamed of going to Alaska and we finally went last summer. I dream about going to England and maybe after reading about your journey, we will seriously start discussing it. Our fiftieth wedding anniversary will be in six years. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful way to celebrate it? I am so excited for you.

  18. Debbie S. - Schaumburg, IL says:

    Susan, what a beautiful post! I love the story of how you and Joe met and fell in love- so cute! How wonderful that you are going back to England to “finish some of your dreams” – it is a dream of mine and my daughter to go there someday and do the Jane Austen tour (we are big fans, “Pride & Prejudice” with Keira Knightley is one of our favorite movies and obsessions!) I’m already looking forward to your travel blog, thank you so much for taking us all along! Happy Birthday!

    • sbranch says:

      What a nice obsession to have!

      • pat addison says:

        debbie you will love the Jane Austen tour, my older sister went on the tour a few years ago and attended either Oxford or Cambridge for a course on Jane Austen as well, loved Pride and Prejudice, its my all time favorite movie, both with Greer Garson and Lawrence Olivier in the first, and Keira Knightly in the second but i found a third dvd on Pride and Prejudice and thought you might enjoy it as well with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, a BBC edition. its very enjoyable. hope you can find it and enjoy it. hugs…. 🙂

        • Carol from Connecticut says:

          Dear Pat,
          The Jane Austen trip sounds exquisite. Pat is there any way you could give your girlfriends some contact information for this trip including the university studies?
          What an adventure! I would be so so grateful for that.
          Tra-la, Carol

          • pat addison says:

            i’ll have to see if my sister has any info on this, i’ll check with her and get back to you as soon as i hear from her.

      • pat addison says:

        debbie i can’t remember whether it was Oxford or Cambridge University over there, but my older sister took the tour and spent about 2-3 weeks at the college studying about Jane Austen and her books, she actually got to live at the college during that time and had a marvelous time. some year when i can manage to afford it, i may go to England myself and do the tour. you will love it, i can remember how happy and enthusiastic my sister was. also there is a 3rd dvd out for Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, a BBC version of it. try to find it and get it, and enjoy. hugs…… 🙂

        • Joanie B from San Diego says:

          Ok, In my opinion, the BEST version of Pride and Prejudice is with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. Extremely accurate to the book, a lovely four hour escape! When I need the quick P & P fix I watch the Keira Knightly version because there are visuals that knock your socks off, like when she is at Pemberly and sees all the marble statuary, what a contrast to her home where the chickens are running around. I listen to an audio version of the book about once a year, it’s awesome. Can’t imagine going to Bath, the Austen trip sounds fabulous!

  19. So happy for you Susan and Joe and wish you the most lovely, magical, trip you both deserve it and much more. I took the time to read everyone’s comments this morning, and it hit me that no matter what your life holds and what situations you are in whether it be a loss, poor health, financial problems, there is always hope that things will get better. I truly believe that Faith has a way of giving people Hope and keeps everyone dreaming. I find it very hard at this time to see the silver lining of life from having health problems, I am struggling everyday to find a reason to feel hopeful, I have 2 very big reasons and that is my husband and daughter. I agree with Joe that this is the time to take for this journey in your life together……life is short and the memories this trip will give you will stay with you forever. I have a little suggestion for you to do for your kitten Jack since I think he will miss you more so than Girl because she is use to your trips….make an audio tape which you already have from playing catch with him that you put on your blog and have your sitter play it for him from time to time so he won’t miss you so much?? I think the kitties hearing your voices from time to time and the sitter sending you pics of them will make this less painful in you missing them? Enjoy the preparations and I think I can speak for all the “girls” use this month to spend with your kitties and it is ok to pull back from us especially since we will be with you on your trip. I am so happy for you Susan and wish you all of life’s Blessings.

    • pat addison says:

      another idea is to have an old t-shirt or shirt with your scent on it to give to Jack while you are gone, that way he will remember you. just be sure the sitter does not wash it while you are gone, put it where Jack sleeps, and he will be comforted by it. i do that for our cats when we take a trip to the coast, even thought its just a day or 2, it helps to keep them calm and happy and keeps our scent near them so they know us. scent is so important to cats.

      • sbranch says:

        I will do that!

        • pat addison says:

          i hope it helps, most people don’t realize how important scent is to a cat, but having your scent near them while you are gone will help them to remember you and not be so lonely for you. a good idea is to wear a t-shirt to bed each day about a week before you leave. just sleep in that t-shirt and place it near jack where he sleeps, he’ll be curling up with your shirt while you are gone and he will remember you when you return. and do have a tape of your voice for him, that also helps. have a wonderful trip and thanks for the invite to come along, i’ll be the one nearest the rail for the voyage over…i get seasick alot!! hugs….. 🙂

    • Christine from Lafayette, CO says:

      Deborah…Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. Hope you conquer this ‘health problem’ Remember, “everything happens for a reason. Just Believe” I’m thrilled WE all are going to ENGLAND! Aren’t they wonderful to take us along?!! Its something we can all escape to each morning or evening, reading about the wonderful journey, shopping, sightseeing… and don’t forget the PUBS!
      xoxo Cheer Up Sweetie!

      • Thank you Christine for caring…..I am a believer and have turned everything over to HIM. I think it is very nice of Susan/Joe to take the Girls along on their journey. It will be fun to see a different Country and all their culture. Blessings

  20. Laura in Michigan says:

    I’m finally going to England this summer too! We’ve been waiting a long time for our three boys to be old enough to handle the 10 hour plane trip and to be able to appreciate a trip to Europe. We’ll be in England the third week of June trying to get in as much as we can in just one week. Then moving on to Switzerland to visit my husband’s family and sight see. We’ve rented a chalet at the foot of the Alps.
    I’ll be following your blog before we leave. You can be our guide to England!
    We can’t wait to get there.

  21. nanette from Alabama says:

    OH! SUSAN! Here I sit with tears in my eyes! Your love story touched my heart and I thank you for sharing it with us! I’d been waiting for you to tell us your story. I knew it would be very special!

    I am beyond happy for you and Joe to be going on this lovely trip. You certainly deserve it! Happy Birthday and BON VOYAGE! Love and best wishes from your Alabama friend.

  22. Pigeon's Mom says:

    What a great story re: love and second chances… I knew my husband was the man I’d marry when I found out he liked to watch Golden Girls reruns while he ate dinner after work, just like me. You just don’t find a match like that every day 🙂

  23. Linda P. Bakersfield, Ca says:

    Thank you for letting us know how you met Joe – I had asked you that question sometime ago. I can hardly wait to see England through your eyes. Its going to be a wonderful time for all of us.

  24. Tammy Mabry says:

    Oh my gosh, I can’t wait!!! How exciting. I’ve never been any where like this, and I am so excited! Thank you for sharing. It sounds like so much fun!!

  25. Cindy Berry says:

    I can’t wait to go!!! I feel as though I am coming along – but I guess I am!!! I long to see Beatrix’s Hilltop cottage – please say Hi for me . Bon Voyage!!!

  26. Kathleen Willliams says:

    I can’t wait to enjoy your adventures in England. How sweet of you to talk us all along. This will be our first summer at our “Lake House” on Spirit Lake in Minnesota. And you have inspired me to keep a journal too. When I say lake house well it’s really what they call a park model at a resort that we bought late last summer but I’m telling you the memories we’re going to make there are the same ones that could be made in any fine English cottage. Our granddaughters will be there. Our son, who’s in the Air Force is coming from Turkey…we haven’t seen him and his wife in two and a half years. We got them a cabin on the lake. It will be heaven on earth. So Susan as you cross the Atlantic I will be breathing in a priceless view of God’s country thinking of you and your love (Joe) and checking my computer for up dates. Happiness to you on you up coming birthday. All of us who celebrated a birthday after leap year got to stay younger a day longer this year. I feel the love you and your Joe have and can’t wait to hear the whole love story … some things are just meant to be. I love to visit with you…thank you for all the time you share with us. Your girlfriend Kathy in San Diego.

    • sbranch says:

      The Lake House sounds wonderful!

      • Cathy McC. says:

        Kathy – it sounds like you will have a wonderful time. I am a Minnesota girl (now living in Indiana) and I’m wondering where Spirit Lake is located. Fantastic that you are keeping a journal. We have a log for our lake visitors, and we so enjoy going back and rereading it year after year. Have a great lake stay.

        • Kathleen Willliams says:

          Cathy McC … Our Spirit Lake is in Ottertail County..near Vergas, MN. I’m originally from Pennsylvania … my husband is from this area of Minnesota but we use to rent cottages in the woods of PA (Mt.Gretna) and they had a guest book and yes, it was so much fun to see year after year who shared the cottage and their comments. Come see us if your in the area… look for #5.

  27. Nina says:

    O Susan You have created such a buzz with your news! I can’t wait to read what you have to say about places I have visited and about some I haven’t but maybe inspire too after reading what you have to say about them!
    Is that last picture of Bourton – on the -water, it looks like it and Morton – on the-Marsh both beautiful places in the Cotswolds and Broadway is another beautiful place too! Have you been there before? Ooooh ooooh and will you be going to any beaches at all, Devon & cornwall are so beautiful in some parts you can stand on this side and wave accross the atlantic ocean to everyone back home! I do that to my friend in New England. If you go there you must try cornish pasties and cream teas, and depending whether you are in Devon or Cornwall depends on if you put the Jam or Clotted cream on first! I’m just sooo excited for you both and all the girlfirends too!

    • sbranch says:

      Talking to you all is making me SO excited! 🙂

    • Margot says:

      Hi Nina,
      If you ever get over here to the states there is a place in Madison, Wisconsin that makes Cornish pasties. My mother-in-law loves them ever since she went to visit her son when he was stationed in Cornwall. Many folks from there settled in the Madison area for mining. My husband calls my wellies sp? my Cornish bedroom slippers!


  28. Linda says:

    “My own eyes are not enough for me; I will see through those of others.”
    ― C.S. Lewis

    Dear Susan,

    Thank you for letting us tag along on your trip to England!!

  29. Patricia from Philly says:

    Thank you, Susan, for including us as companions to go a-journeying with you!
    Just tell me what to pack and I will be on the dock ready to go!
    I cannot tell you how very excited I am to be an arm-chair blogging traveler with you both… my husband an I have always wanted to go to England, and seeing it through your eyes will be the next best thing.
    Thanks so much to Joe, too, for thinking of us Girlfriends!

  30. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Be still my heart – a love story, England, & we get to come along on your trip. Tell Joe we think he is brilliant, sweet, romantic, handsome (& a good dipper), and wonderful to let us join you on your voyage & tours! Good for you for “filling your inspiration cup”, I hope it will runneth over! Heartfelt hugs! xoxoxo

  31. Jennifer Cooper says:

    What a wonderful story. I love your travel blogs. So looking forward to this one. Eat a crumpet for me. and say hello to the bunnies in Beatrix’s garden.

  32. Gail Buss says:

    I wrote an earlier comment but forgot to wish you a Very Happy Birthday! Gail & Joe, Florida

  33. Lynn L. says:

    I can’t wait! We are all going to England — with Susan and Joe! The trip with you to New York was so fun. This will be amazing I am sure. Thank you for sharing with those of us who probably won’t ever get to travel to England, but love to dream of it.

  34. Debbi says:

    I would like to congratulate Joe too. To have a marriage that still has true romance, devotion, and friendship after 25 years is truly a blessing.
    I’ve never been an ‘english’ sort because that has never been a possibility.
    For me, your trip will be very enlightening. Thank you (and Joe!) for being willing to share.

  35. Doreen Strain (from Florida) says:

    OMG….we’re going to England!!!!! I’m so excited!!!!! I’m going to buy myself a new china tea cup so I can pour myself a cup of tea each day as I sit and read where you and Joe are going to be taking us….I’m so excited. It’s going to be great. Your going to love it Sue! I know you’ll keep us updated…I’ve been on trips with you and Joe before, NY and CA yup…we are all going to have a ball. Well, I’d better get looking for that new china tea cup. What day are we leaving so I can mark my calander. Oh “girlfriends”….aren’t you all so excited?????? FOSB 4~Ever! ~ Doreen ~

  36. RoseB says:

    Oh how wonderful – can’t wait until you are over here! If you have a gap in your schedule, have a look at East Anglia and Norfolk. Forgotten by Tourist trails mostly despite only being a couple of hours north of London, but the queen has a big house here which is open to the public, and we have windmills, thatched cottages, and fields full of poppies and lavender and lots of golden beaches….tempted yet? 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Oh yes, it sounds soooo beautiful. Am looking at the map!

      • RoseB says:

        Hurrah! It is lovely – particularly the north part of the county (in my view). Sandringham Estate, Holkham Hall and Holkham Beach, Blakeney and Cley, even Cromer with a victorian pier and theatre above the waves! There’s a train direct to Norwich from London…And I promise I’m not on commission as well. 🙂

  37. Debbie says:

    English tea, scones, romance, adventure, memories to make! I am so happy and excited for you (and a little for me, too)!!

  38. Anne says:

    Oh My,
    What a wonderful trip it will be !
    So much to see and do and on Cunard
    So looking forward to hearing about your fabulous trip as you go along.
    I hear the tea cups clinking now !!

  39. Pam K says:

    Susan, Happy Birthday and congratulations on your trip. Thank you so much for telling your story of how you met Joe. And I love the pictures too. Your story is so very sweet and inspiring. I believe God has a plan for us all and sometimes we just have to let Him give us the gifts He intends. It sounds like you and Joe are puzzle pieces made to fit together.
    You two are kind to go to the trouble of taking all of us with you. Otherwise, I think we would all go through withdrawal. Oh, and please keep us updated on Jack and Girl Kitty. I’ll miss them too! Sincerely and with affection, Pam K. from Dallas.

  40. Karen V (Connecticut) says:

    Dear Susan,

    Loved reading the story of you and Joe, a classic happy ending! I’m so excited for you and for us, too, because we will get to read all about this wonderful trip!
    Happy trails and Happy Birthday too!

  41. Kathy Phenix says:

    It’s been 25 yrs since I’ve been to England. I MISS it so! When I lived in Germany, I got to visit often and then when I returned to the states, my sister and I would still take trips for 2 wks or so. It was heaven. You will love Breatrix Potter’s home. The setting is ideal. The crossing by ship sounds wonderful. Oh to have tea on the Queen Mary!!! Can’t wait to follow your trip by blog. Have a wonderful birthday and trip.
    Just realized this day is the 25th anniversary of my becoming engaged. Guess I’d better go give a kiss to my man! I was 41 and had never married and figured it wasn’t going to happen! Ha! There he was, the husband of one of my hospice patients. We held each other and cried the night she died. We think our love was orchestrated right from heaven. Happy sailing! Kathy

  42. Terri J says:

    For most of my life, I have wanted to go to England – and for years, even more specifically, to see the Lake District and Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm. Now, thanks to you and Joe, I almost feel as though I’m finally going! It seems like kismet of sorts since I’ve especially been thinking about this lately, as my Easter/spring season reading right now is ‘Beatrix Potter – A Life In Nature’ (loving it – but then I am a total Potter nut. Did you know there’s an official Beatrix Potter Club? I only recently found out about it).
    Loved all these photos (especially that ivy-covered cottage, which makes me think of Toad Hall – also a Kenneth Grahame, ‘Wind in the Willows’ fan) – and reading about your first meeting with Joe. Looking forward to seeing your ‘storybook romance’ in actual storybook form – and, of course, all things British, you bring back for us too!
    Is it too early to wish you ‘Bon Voyage?’ (I’ve always wanted to stand on a dock, waving a hankie and calling that out – so there, you’re making that dream come true too! lol).

    • sbranch says:

      It’s just fine, I am going to love this month of anticipation and getting ready, especially with you girls to enjoy it with!

  43. Marie (Williamsburg, Virginia) says:

    Susan~had computer woes of late; glad I’m now back with you and the Girlfriends. What a wonderful Holiday you have to look forward to. My husband’s family is from England (Surrey, Brighton, London) and I do love it so. How generous of you and Joe to take us along! Looking forward to armchair traveling with all of you. Susan, love your posts!

    Marie xo

  44. Trish K says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Though I feel like its my birthday! I’m over the moon, I feel like I’m going on a trip! Wow.

  45. maybaby says:

    It is my fondest dream to travel to England someday, just as you are doing it, with my wonderful hubby. Until I do I will live vicariously through you! I know you will do such an amazing job of telling us the story as you go.

    We just took the Empire Builder out to Whitefish, Montana last weekend, and I re-read your train posts to make sure we did it right. It was such an adventure, I cannot wait to take it back this weekend. Thanks for your tips!

  46. Adriana Mazzini says:

    Wow, Susan! What a lovely story, and a great trip you’re gonna have! I just can’t wait to go to England with you guys. Have a wonderful time together, you deserve it! Love from Brazil and me.

  47. Judy Dow says:

    Thank you for giving me a special warm feeling in my heart today. Loved hearing about your first meeting with Joe . And now I’m going to England through your eyes. Life is so good!

  48. laurie says:

    I just can’t wait to see what comes next, I’m almost as excited as you, this will be thrilling.I no longer can see well enough to type so my husband is doing this for me, but I couldn’t not comment on this post, you have been such a grounding post in my life, have a safe journey and I will be so happy tom see these posts.

  49. Becky Pingrey says:

    So, so, so excited for you! <3 I look forward to traveling right along virtually with you! 😉 Promise you'll write? 😉

    • sbranch says:

      I’ll write, I just hope we get service for the computer where we are. . . it sounds like some places it’s iffy, like you have to take your computer out to the cow pasture sometimes because that’s where the service is!

      • Joan Lesmeister says:

        The Galloway cattle are so pretty & stripey, and they look really sweet, so they probably won’t mind you at all, out in their pasture! A few years after our Eng/Scot trip we were driving to Napa, & there was a pasture full of the striped cattle – I was thrilled to see them – brought back wonderful memories! xo

        • sbranch says:

          They’re up in Maine too . . . so charming! Never thought I would say that about a cow, but they are!

          • Joan Lesmeister says:

            Chuckle, chuckle, I know about that charming part my dear – I’m always amazed at what kindred souls so many of us are & what we find to be charming! What a wonderful world! xoxo

  50. Elizabeth says:

    We went to the Lake District two years ago. We stayed in an amazing B&B in Ambleside, I believe it was called the Vicarage or The Old Vicarage. We were able to walk to Grasmere and it was a short drive to Beatrix Potter’s village. Anyway, that area is amazing. You’ll be close to Hadrian’s Wall, which is also amazing. Enjoy your trip!

  51. Jan from Michigan says:

    I am so excited about your trip, my heart is pounding! An ANOTHER book to look forward too!!! WE ARE VERY BLESSED GIRLFRIENDS INDEED! I second Doreen’s idea about a new china cup to drink our tea in as we read your blog. What a wonderful B-Day gift!

  52. Barbara Belcher says:

    Hi Susan,
    What a wonderful, romantic story! I enjoy reading your blog, you make my day so much better! You make me feel good, I love that. You make me smile … I could go on and on. Thank you.
    Barbara B.

  53. "Diane S. says:

    So happy to read this post. Happy Birthday, what a wonderful trip in honor of your Birthday and Anniversary. Like your love story.
    I was blessed to go to London & Scotland with a good friend & both our daughters who had just graduated from High School in 2006. In London she rented a car, we drove down to Stonehenge, then back up to Scotland. Got to see many beautiful sights. Would love to go back, so guess I will through your blog. Enjoy! Thanks for sharing.

  54. Jack says:

    I just reread the start of how you and Joe got together in the front of this blog ….and how so many responded to the romanticism of that part of that story ! — I can hardly wait for you to
    relate “The Rest of the Story ” on your blog for these many girlfriends who like a really
    Romantic true story with a happy ending … :~) or will you go into all that ?

    • sbranch says:

      I thought I would write it in the little diary I’m doing on the trip . . . seems such a fitting place to tell it! XOXO daddio.

      • Jack says:

        Ok good — was hoping for something like that! I was afraid it might get lost in the turmoil and excitement of all this getting ready. Those British Isles are not like getting on the ferry to Boston you know!

  55. PauliJ says:

    Oh, how very exciting for you, Susan! A very happy birthday you will have!

    Thank you so very much for inviting us to tag along via your blog! Most definitely I wish to travel to the Lake District to see Beatrix Potter’s place. Wasn’t Darcy’s estate (in Pride and Prejudice) in the Lake District, also? 🙂 Oh, and tea at 4:00 pm each afternoon. I am looking forward to this trip!

    Thank you, again, for sharing. Happy Birthday to you!!!

  56. Cindy says:

    England is so beautiful. Last fall our daughter and son-in-law took us to Highclere Castle. I am sure that you have been watching Downton Abbey (if not, watch it before you go) on PBS. Highclere is Downton Abbey. It is a gorgeous property and well worth the visit.
    I cannot wait to read you story of crossing on the Queen Mary. It is close to the top of my list.

    • sbranch says:

      We’ve got a list down to my elbow of places we want to go, Highclere is definitely on it . . . we are trying to plot our route . . . Highclere is fairly close to where the ship comes in . . . we might get there!

  57. Kathy says:

    Whoo hoo! Postcards from the ship and the shore. I can’t wait to vicariously share your trip with you. I met my “Joe” when I wasn’t looking and it is a love story like yours. When it is right, it is soooooo right isn’t it? We spent our 10th anniversary on the Devon and Dorset coast. Have been to England in the Autumn and Summer but never the Spring. I envy you seeing those bluebells up close and personal. Send us pics!
    Have a wonderful trip,
    Kathy in California

  58. Peg says:

    True love really shines brightly for you two. Hope you have a truly wonderful time. I can hardly wait to go vicariously with you. Have you considered going to the Cotswolds and visiting where Rosamond Pilcher writes about. Think of “The Shell Seekers.” All my best wishes are with you both!

  59. miriam says:

    What an AWESOME birthday present!!!! AND so very sweet of you and Joe to take us all along! In 1968 we spent one week in London (which was not nearly enough time) but we didn’t get out to see the english countryside so I’m SO excited to “see” it through your pictures and comments. So happy for you, Susan, meeting Joe…..what a dear thoughtful man, and a real CUTIE, to boot!!! =) Very cute pictures of him and you!! This August I will be going to Scotland for 10 days with our 17 year old granddaughter, her other grandmother and her other granddaughter…to celebrate the girls’ graduations, see the country and make wonderful memories! Should be a wonderful trip too! Happy packing and a very Happy Birthday!!!!
    Hugs to you, Miriam
    p.s. Count me in for a book of your travels too!!! (perhaps my hubby and I can get back to the english countryside using your book for our guide!!! xoxox

  60. Pat Mofjeld says:

    Hi Susan: I know this is off the topic at hand but I’m curious–how was the new knitting shop? What knitting project are you working on right now? 🙂

  61. doris minear says:

    Dear Susan
    I am so happy for you. You deserve a wonderful trip. I always leave my nightgown on the bed for my kitty, so she knows I will be home. Have a wonderful time and enjoy all the wonderful little antique shops. We can’t wait to enjoy the trip through your eyes, and your beautiful descriptions of everything, it is like we are at your side.

  62. Lynn Hamilton says:

    oh Susan, I am so happy for you that you are sailing off to England~(my husband is a Brit) and we sailed from Ft Lauderdale to Southampton in April 2010~our first cruise~and visited London, my favorite Kensington Palace~(I, too, am a Diana, Princess of Wales lover), and now KP has been refurbished and I hope it’s on your list of places to see~I know it will be on our next trip in Spring 2013~I have been collecting commemoratives of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee~I wish you and your husband bon voyage and look forward, as I always do, to your charming and informative blogs~all the best for safe travels~carpe diem~Lynn Hamilton, Rochester, New York.

  63. Siobhan from Santa Monica, CA says:

    Oooooooo!!! What a fabulous post, Susan! Joe was a darling baby…I’m so glad he recognized YOU. A girl should be pursued. 😉

    And, now you’re taking us on a cruise, just like your niece? You’re the best girlfriend ever. Two months is….majestic, that’s what it is! I can NOT WAIT!

    Something amazing to look forward to. <>

    Here’s a wee Fred Astaire story for you: I work in Beverly Hills, and in the early ’80’s, Mr. Astaire used to have his shirts custom made upstairs from my place of employ. Not only did I adore him, I was a dance major, and he was my every inspiration! Imagine my thrill at seeing him outside the window! Always, always, impeccably dressed. No one ever bothered him. It was fairly well known that he enjoyed his privacy, and I would never dare violate it. One day, I saw him pull up to the parking lot in his Rolls Royce Silver Shadow. He was wearing gray driving gloves (naturally!), and when he stepped out, he took them off carefully, one at a time, and crossed them over each other making a perfect “x” and lay them down on the driver seat, closing the door. He was a truly elegant human being, a descended master. I feel so fortunate that I got to lay eyes on him a few times.

    I still tap to this day, and as a wonderful matter of fact, had just returned from my class where we are working on a combination to his version of Steppin’ Out With My Baby! Then you play me Fred Astaire, and now I know Joe loves Fred Astaire, and wow, seriously, does it get any better than this?

    <> to you and Joe for 25 lovely years. Congratulations!

    • sbranch says:

      Lucky lucky you! A few years ago Joe gave me a signed photograph of Fred Astaire, that’s as close as I ever got to the real thing. Loved your story!

  64. Edie says:

    Oh thank you so much. I have always wanted to go to England. Can my 14 year old granddaughter go along with us? She loves to study English History. I can just taste the tea now. xxxx

  65. stephanie says:

    That english cottage picture looks like the perfect english cottage in the movie “The Holiday”! Just darling!

  66. Debbie '51 says:

    I’m so happy your dreams are coming true!
    And, I can hardly wait to go with you on this magical trip! I’ve never sailed across the ocean blue, I’ve never “seen the Queen” (maybe Puss ‘n Boots will be there), I’ve never had tea in a real English garden! It will be the best trip ever!
    I loved hearing about your meeting and consequent falling for Joe. How could you not – he is so cute!! 🙂 ahhh, romance…
    By the way, I LOVE that “huh??” picture of Jack!! Jeez, he’s adorable!
    Happy almost birthday!
    (oboyoboyoboy – ♪we get to ♪go a-sailin’♫ I’m almost as excited as you!!!)

  67. Jeannine Holmes, SC says:

    The wanderlust in my heart is jumping for joy that you will share your trip with us. Remember . . . you will be making some of our dreams come true, too!

  68. Marcia A. Sherman says:

    If I cannot go to England for the Queen’s Jubilee, at least I can live it thru you, Susan. Be sure to buy a teatowel! (see my comment to your last posting)

    oh so envious here in Sewell, NJ

  69. cecelia says:

    Susan, So happy for you!! I can’t wait to read the travel diary and I’m ready to pre-order your book. EVerything you do is creative and inspiring.
    Excited for you!!!

  70. Darlene B (NYC) says:

    Susan, I am so happy for you and Joe!!! What a beautiful love you share and what a perfect way to celebrate that love!! Thank you so much for taking us along and sharing a part of this special time with us. We are so lucky to have you!!!

  71. Donna Gibson says:

    How absolutely wonderful for both of you! Thanks so much for taking us along…I can’t wait to go!!! And thanks for sharing the story of how you and Joe met. It gives me hope that I might be that lucky someday!

    • sbranch says:

      I always think if it can happen to me, all alone out here on a 2 x 2 island knowing very few people and working at home all the time, it can happen for anyone!

  72. Jena says:

    Oh…you lucky, fantastic devils!
    As I sit here in the middle of windy Wyoming I go back 2 weeks ago when a happy couple arrived at the hotel with a fantastically familiar but faintly “long-ago” accent falling from their lips.
    It was 4 o’clock and they were in for just a cup of tea and toast with jam. This jogged the old ticker and I was jet-setted back to being 9 years old in Bermuda….then fastforwarded to 14 in London.

    OH MY GOODNESS, English having High Tea in a 1950’s chrome diner: How sweet!
    I practically drug them to a diner booth and hung on their every word until I know I made myself a nuisance. Well, we had a lovely chat…I hope they forgive me for my exuperence!

    Yesterday, a dear couple from Australia came in the diner and gave us an Aussie good time.

    Sitting in Wyoming, I’ve seen more people from “somewhere” else than ever in Pa…..Australia, Englad, and the New Zealand Sheep Shearers were a RIOT! They kept threatening my 14 year old with a “haircut”. Somethings were lost in translation, but we had a great time shearing with them!
    I hear we’ll meet many folks from across the pond (the Atlantic) or……oh…… what is the slang for the Pacific Ocean? bigger than a puddle, hum…..Anyhow, folks from all over the world will inundate this part of the country for October 1st when the buffalo, pronghorn and mule deer better be hiding their gorgeous heads and naughty bums…..because every gun is cocked and aimed in their direction!

    Last night felt NOTHING like England here:

    Wild Wyoming, where 80mph windgusts are UNREAL to experience, but very real! Do not ever wish the Wyoming tempest to “Show you her stuff!” because she sure will.
    Tractor trailers were blowing off the highway 2 nights ago. This is not my idea of a breezy night….Children in our little blip on the map were up all night for the tempest sure did blow! I felt for their teacher yesterday….I am sure she was exhausted by the end of the day yesterday! Not to mention all the dark circles under the kids eyes! Should have called a “wind day”…..I don’t think Wyoming closes schools out here, so odd compared to Pa where if snow was forcasted, school would be cancelled and kids were be in school through mid-June.

    Ok, have a fantastic journey because this sounds like so much more than just a vacation, it is an adventure to help all your dreams come true. Say Hi to Peter and Mrs. Tiddlywink for me!

    eeking and squeeking it out here in Wyoming

  73. Melody Ridge says:

    How exciting! That’s a trip that I would like to take. My Grandparents lived in Canada and my Dad retained his Canadian citizenship his whole life, though he lived here in “the states.” I grew up drinking tea from china cups-picking out which pattern I wanted, and always sugar cubes. My Grandma passed away when I was in high school but I have many of her cups and use them regularly.Our great surprise came when we watched some of my Grandpa’s old super 8mm movies. We could see a crowd waving Union Jack flags and also the Canadian flag. Suddenly, a motorcade slowed down and there was Queen Elizabeth, waving to my Grandpa and his movie camera. She was young and it was her first tour after being crowned Queen! We had my husband back up the film, no small task, and watched it again. So, I have always felt the British connection over the course of my life. I look forward to seeing all your updates via your blog, which is always such fun. Hope you have a wonderful time!

  74. Carol from Connecticut says:

    Dearest Susan,
    I’m at a loss for words to express how happy I am for you and Joe. The decision to go while “all is calm, all is bright” is an extremely wise one. May I please ask a photography favor? If you happen to see the apple tree again with clematis entwined through it would you take a picture? I’m always looking for clever ways to work with clematis as a ‘partner plant’. I know that garden structures and ornaments are fabulous in England. Ever since visiting Giverny, I’ve been looking for a Monet tuteur…it’s tall with a kind of Monet hat on top! Ever since seeing a mature one in the Berkshires, I’ve been dying to grow a trumpet vine on a tuteur so that hummingbirds will come and play with me in my yard. I know that you will be invited to lunch and to munch and to sip tea and chomp crumpets with QE and Kate at Buckingham Palace. After all, you’re famous now. Allow me to raise a pint to ya both, to your happiness, your devotion, and your memory making … (even though all I could ever handle was the beer/lemonade Shandy stuff. hiccup and burpie-burp! ) Be safe, be happy, don’t get seasick, and watch out for the growing (?) Olympic crowds in London. Say hello to Harrod’s for me. I can envision you in the Food Hall at all those showcases with your camera! Do stand beneath Big Ben when it strikes midnight and then kiss a whole lot. Soooo romantic! My utmost affection to you both. Cheerio! Tra la …

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, but it was roses that twine through. So you have apple blossoms in spring, roses in summer and apples in fall . . . did I say clematis? I really meant climbing roses. I will be sure to take pictures. Thank you Carol, I will do all you say!

      • Carol from Connecticut says:

        Oh boy. Senior memory attack. It WAS roses in the apple tree. I just have clematis on the brain! Of course the 3-season growth makes so much more sense. How spectacular to have that. Wow. Vertical gardens are so cool.
        Mea culpa and a tra-la-la !

  75. BRILLIANT idea; Joe and you. I must admit I have been curious about this bearded man that is your sweetheart and oh! The sweet things that will come from you telling us about THIS part of your life! I can not wait! I love Joe for dancing with you in that picture and what he does for you. Oh! We girls love those stories- the ones of love. That are wrapped around beautiful gardens, flowers, hardship, and US!
    I will be traveling there with you in spirit!! I can’t wait, too! Yes!! Only you can convey the feelings that transport me to places I can not be….


  76. Marsha McGinnis says:

    Oh Susan, how romantic, how exciting! My sister and I both love, love, love your blog and Willard. She sent me an email yesterday, “Have you read SB’s, (sorry we abbreviate your name), new blog post??? She tells about when she met Joe!” So, many sighs later and with much anticipation about your trip to England, I’m saying thank you once again for starting my day out with a smile.
    Bless your heart,

  77. CindyK says:

    Oh my, I wish I had read this as soon as I saw it in my email! What exciting news! I loved hearing about you and Joe’s first meeting! And can’t wait to go to England with you!! Yipee!! I’m so excited! And I’m super excited about the England book that you will be publishing!! I’ll be the first in line when it hits the stores! Well this news just makes my day! Thank You!!

  78. Marilyn says:

    I’ve often thought that your beautiful, uplifting art, writing, cooking etc. was the direct result of a happy, fulfilled life. Contentment radiates from your work and I think a good part of that relates to you and Joe’s relationship.

    Thank you for recognizing her spirit and talent and for making her so happy. Also, Thank you for suggesting the trip to England!

    I’m so looking forward to reading about your trip to England. The Breakfast Book can wait, follow your dream. I know the trip will be fabulous, and thank you for taking the girlfriends with you. 🙂

    Marilyn (in Dallas)

  79. Kathy from Brevard, NC says:

    I just popped back in and discovered that my original comment had generated a little conversation that I was missing out on! I don’t have my own blog, but if any kindred spirits are interested in a parallel life in Western NC, there is a lovely ongoing blog here at

    My hubby is my second as well. We met through a dating service; I was going shopping, which I know how to do very well! I paid $2,000 for 16 introductions. I originally thought that I would do this systematically and meet all 16 and then decide, but of course love doesn’t work that way. I met 6 men, Larry being the 4th. We decided that we would start dating exclusively after about a month to see if things might develop. He only had to pay $600 for his introductions, supply and demand being what they were at the time. But I always tell people when we tell our story, that’s it’s the best $2,000 I ever invested! Larry is a little more reticent, but that is because I am the Queen, and, as Larry is sometimes heard to say, you want to avoid “the wrath of Kath”. HeeHeeHee!!!

  80. Rosinda says:

    Oh Susan, how I loved this dreamy post! It was great reading about your first encounter with Joe and how all your dreams began to come true! I am so happy for you! What a wonderful birthday gift!! I can imagine how over-the-moon you must be feeling. It makes me happy to know how happy are! Good for you for taking the plunge!! I will be looking forward to those blog posts, photos and videos. Can’t wait!!

    Love and hugs, Rosinda xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      I’m looking forward to it too — keep thinking about different scenes I just know people will love!

  81. Charlene says:

    Oh Susan, how exciting!!! I am thrilled for you and Joe, as well as the rest of us. Thank you both for taking us along. It’s been 30 years since I’ve been to England but afternoon tea at Harrods is still one of my favorite memories. I hope you have an incredible trip as well as a wonderful birthday. I look forward to seeing it all through your eyes.

    • sbranch says:

      I, too, loved tea at Harrods. The tablecloths were so thick and white — and the piano player played my favorite song! So happy to have you along Charlene. I’m getting so excited to take a video of the great big Atlantic, from the side of the ship, and put it on the blog. What a miracle!

  82. Carol from Connecticut says:

    Dear Susan,
    In my excitement for you I forgot to mention this book which I LOVE:
    Time for Tea: Tea and Conversation with Thirteen English Women
    by Michele Rivers
    It takes you right into the minds of these women who own and operate some of the finest tea rooms in the British countryside. Recipes too. Worth a peak…and some visits (?). I’m sure it’s in the public library. Oh, the Cotswolds. Siiiiiiiiggghhh !
    Affection, Carol Tra-la

  83. What a great guy that Joe is! Runs a restaurant, likes Fred Astaire AND is taking you to England again. Good show!

    Hope you get to see something of the Diamond Jubilee. So much fun going on that weekend… River Pageant, carriage processions to St. Paul’s… lucky you!


    Jake at Dapper and Dreamy

    • sbranch says:

      I’m not wild about crowds. I would need to be in one of the boats river pageant, so I could see everything! I think maybe we’ll tune into that on BBC and go to London the week after!

      • I can understand. I would make an exception just to see what it’s like to stand outside the palace and cheer the Queen on the balcony. For some reason, it’s so moving to see all those people cheering her on and all that she stands for. Especially after you hear so many naysayers trying to pour cold water on events like this. I remember reading that the Royal Household was very, very worried that there wouldn’t be all the much public interest in the Queen Mother’s funeral and in the Golden Jubilee. The thought was that after Diana, people just weren’t as connected to the monarchy. In fact, a million people crowded London just for the funeral and they had to keep Westminster Hall open all night so people could pay their respects. For the Jubilee, even more people came to pay tribute to the Queen and to have a glorious day. I recall seeing the Queen coming onto the balcony with a look of surprise at the size of the crowds (friendly!) coming down the Mall to the Palace singing “God Save the Queen” and “Rule Britannia” and “Land of Hope and Glory”. You could see her say that it was “amazing”. Now, if the Queen thinks something like that is amazing after 85 years of being in the public eye, it really must have been! They say this summer’s Jubilee will be even bigger than April’s fabulous Royal Wedding. Whether you’re in London or not, I’ll bet you’ll get to see some of the excitement first hand. Maybe you’ll be invited to one of the tens of thousands of street parties planned!

        • sbranch says:

          Oh yes, we’re really excited about it — we did get invited to Royal Ascot the last time we were there — the Queen was there, very exciting when she arrived! We also toured Prince Charles’ private garden at his home at Highgrove –it’s a gorgeous flower garden that’s been organic since he moved in there 1980. We also got to go to his Duchy Home Farm for a meeting about organic farming which was just so interesting. He’s been a huge supporter of the organic movement for so long; gave me a whole new slant on who he is. It’s the history of this country that’s so endlessly fascinating.

  84. Christine from Lafayette, CO says:

    am i only one who shudders with the thought of crossing the atlantic in a boat? i’ve been reading way too much about the titanic’s 100 year anniversary. i don’t want to be a downer; maybe i should just fly and wait for you on the shore? would you all laugh if i wore my life jacket the whole trip? even in the diningroom?

  85. CarolK from NJ says:

    I’m so excited for you and Joe and your upcoming trip. It’s even more exciting that you will be sharing it with all of us. Never been to Europe and England looks like the most romantic, enchanting place to be. Boy, oh boy! I’m looking forward to those blogs and pictures of sweet little stone cottages with flower gardens and stone fences. I too have a love story like your’s. Just when I was about to give up and move to CA where my parents were living at the time my brother-in-law decided to play cupid and fix me up with his cousin. Our first date was a movie date to see One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest! Mind you I was all packed and ready to move West which I did but we stayed in touch and one day he rode his black steed (a 1976 Chev pkup) all the way to San Diego to propose. We’ve been married 28 + 8 years now (the 8 is another story) and living our happy ever after too. Happy B’day, Happy Anniversary, Happy Travels to you……Hugs from Central Jersey

  86. Beth Foraker says:

    Susan, I’m sooo excited for you both. What a great idea! Carpe Diem! And you both are. It’s not just enough that you know you are blessed…it is the essential need to enjoy, linger and cherish that dream come true. Your trip sounds simply magnificent. And thank you for bringing us with you — I know I could use some creative inspiration and views that encourage daydreaming…just like the little house you opened with. Congratulations on such a wonderful trip! ~Beth

  87. Margot says:

    What if…instead of meeting the Queen you meet Paul McCartney again, AND he now sees YOUR fame and you kindly autograph one of your books or something for him!

  88. Vita says:

    What a wonderful story! It made me think of my first trip to England when I was twelve. My mother, sister, brother and I sailed on the QEII from New York to South Hampton. I have wanted to go to the Lake District to see Beatrix Potter’s home for a long time! Thanks for letting me come! Are you familar with Susan Wittig Albert eight book series about Beatrix Potter and her life on her farm. It’s an historical fiction young adult book series. Very sweet! Check it out. The Tale of Castle Cottage is the last one. I can’t wait for your trip.

  89. Rhonda Dunn says:

    Wow! That’s what you say when you don’t Know what to say. I’m so excited for both of us. You and Joe get to go and do this amazing beyond words trip, and we get to go along with you (and then we get the book)! Your news brought tears to my eyes. I just glanced down at the bottom of my computer and noticed the words “You Got to Have a Dream.” Well, lucky you and Joe are sailing away to live one of my biggest dreams in life. My Dad (who just passed away in February) and his family are all from Scotland. A huge piece of my heart is in the British Isles. I got to go for 2 weeks when I was in grade 9. Absolutely loved it! My heart just aches to go back. So much to see, so much to do, family and friends to connect with. You wrote that you are living proof that dreams do come true and I’m hanging on to that. You’re inspiring me like I’ve never been inspired before. You and Joe – that was a good move all those years ago. Now the world is reaping the benefit of a great choice. And the world needs a great love story right now. Stay strong, have fun, have a great birthday trip. We’ll all be travelling right along with you. Can’t wait – we’re as excited as you!
    Rhonda D. Moncton, NB Canada

  90. carmel says:

    You and Joe together share so much of your loving generosity and kindness. It makes a difference in your part of the world and in unexpected places. I hope your trip is filled with enrichment and joy. As much as we’re all excited about taking this trip with you (I admit to bouncing up and down like Tiger, Pooh’s friend), I hope you both know that your privacy, healing downtime and time for true adventures and discoveries are the most important. That may mean less communication for us but more time for you both. Take the gift of time please, when you know you should.

  91. Gloria Dotzler says:

    Dear Susan, love, love, loved your blog showing the lovely English cottages. My very good friend and I took a trip to England visiting a friend in Surrey, for our 60th. birthdays. We did a bus trip to the Cotswolds, it was so much fun to see the thatched cottages and rolling hillsides with grazing sheep. You really must go to Brighton, sit on the pier eating fish and chips, then shop in “the lanes”. We were able to ride the Eurostar through the “chunnel” taking a day trip to Paris. When we got to the second level on the Eiffel Tower I looked at her and said “are we really here?”. I’ve just finished my scrapbook but your memoirs will be so much fun to follow, can’t wait.
    I’m hoping next year we can return for our 65th. and visit some of the gardens you mentioned. Love your blog, it’s like a letter from a friend. Wishing you and Joe happy travels and a safe return.

  92. Susan says:

    Oh, Susan, thank you (and Joe) for taking us on your trip! I can’t wait.

    This was such a lovely post. I don’t think there’s a Joe for me, but I sure am glad you found yours.

  93. Kathy McKinstry says:

    Hi Susan,
    I am so happy for you and Joe!!! I loved reading your story about how you met him, I’ve been very curious about that for a long time. Thank you for sharing! My daughter Maureen spent a college semester in England and visited the Lake district including Beatrice Potter’s farm. The photos she sent home were just beautiful. I’m glad you both realized that you had to make this dream a reality for 2012!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, it’s really about time! I can’t wait until those photos are tucked into my computer! I feel like parking about two miles from her house and walking up, so I go really slow!

  94. Margo says:

    Susan, thank you for the story of you and Joe. I remember reading something you wrote that mentioned your first husband and thinking what a fool he was. I’m so happy you found your guy. You give me inspiration, as my long marriage dissolved not too long ago. I so look forward to your travel blog, and bless you for sharing.

    • sbranch says:

      LOL. Listen to this one…I now see him as my guardian angel, because without him, I never would have found Joe. It took me lots of years to get to that, but it’s true as can be. Some guardian angels are given the hard jobs.

      • Kathy from Brevard, NC says:

        You know what……I agree with you. My first marriage lasted for 14 years and I truly loved my husband unconditionally, but he did not even notice, let alone appreciate it. My “sweetie pie” and I have been married 16 years now and I think he is the sweetest, most gentle man on earth, and he truly loves me absolutely unconditionally and has proved that many times over. That is something that I can truly appreciate and treasure in him now and because of that alone, to paraphrase Naomi Judd, “if he ever leaves me, I’m going with him”.

  95. Rachel says:

    OOh… now I am excited 🙂 I love it back home in spring (although Mum and Dad tell me it has been really hot there the last few days!) and I miss bluebells.
    And you are going to make a travel journal! Oh how I love travel journals!!
    And as for Beatrix Potter- I am just about to embark on a homeschool study of her with my kids- so we’ll be glued to the computer looking for Hilltop 😀
    How exciting for you. Wish I could come too (but we’re saving for a visit next year when my sister is getting married!!).

    ~Rachel~ in central VA.

    • sbranch says:

      That will be a wonderful time. I just spoke to my English girlfriend Rachel who is telling me the bluebells are beginning to bloom. NO! I want them to wait for us, but they’ve been having weather in the 70’s!

    • Margot says:

      I saw Bluebells last week in Virginia Beach. I have seen two types in a book and I would like to learn more about them.

  96. Dorothy Ann says:

    * Hi Susan * What a wonderful…wonderful “Dream” Blog of 3/26/12.

    At first glance, of you standing in front of that ever-so-charming little English Cottage, I knew your post would not only be very special, but also fillled with exciting news to share with us girlfriends. Of course, all of your blogs are special…and fun to read….all filled with your adventure tours, recipes, 5-leaf clovers, your magical garden, musica, adorable photos of you and Joe, videos of sweet Girl Kitty and oh-so-cute Jack, ferry rides and so much more. Why, we even see delicious cupcakes topped with dancing chickens with party hats!

    Your first meeting with Joe…is really a lovely story. Like a short story…I, and I know all the girlfriends, were captivated by how you both met and, as they say, the rest of the story, is all part of the “dream come true” for the both of you!

    Now, with your “Bon Voyage” trip to England coming up…I am so happy for you. Keep us posted as your plans unfold. To quote one of my (and I know, one of yours and Joe’s) favorite actors, singers and dancers, Fred Astaire:
    “Do it big, do it right and do it with style”.

    P.S. I love post scripts, don’t you? You wrote that it’s almost your birthday. So, dear Susan, don’t make us guess the day…you already hinted it was soon…so is it in April, May, or June? And what day? I really want to know, so I can post a proper HB wish on the actual day! Don’t be shy. O.K. I’ll start… mine is July 23. Note to all of our Girlfriends: post your BD month & day too.
    Love from…
    * Dorothy Ann on Cougar Mountain, Washington*

    • sbranch says:

      I’m honored to share a birthday with one of my favorite people ever, Gladys Taber, so that makes it April 12.

  97. Gert~Iowa says:

    Oh my dear Susan…first forgive me for not commenting sooner, I have been sick..but think I’m on the road to recovery now! (smile) Speaking of roads or should I say oceans…I am so excited to be invited to go along with you and Joe! I know how you are and it will be just like being there! I could never have asked for anything more! And I can’t wait to hear the rest of your “love” story! (As you began your story it so reminded me of Tom & I …..God is good isn’t he….how he moves people into our lives…when we least expect it!)

    I can hardly wait! My bags are packed…passport in hand!


  98. Sarah says:

    I can appreciate a good love story, especially the ones where signs of fate are pointing you in the right direction (I can’t wait until my kids are old enough to hear about their parents “journey” to each other)! Congrats on your big trip, and I’m looking forward to reading about your adventures. Cheers!

  99. Denise says:

    Susan, I am sooooooo happy for you! Perhaps we could have London-area Susan Branch fans meet you over Afternoon Tea somewhere? Wish you were here now: the weather is GLORIOUS!

  100. Lydia says:

    Oh Susan! I’m so excited for you and Joe! And how kind of you to take us with you. I’ve always wanted to go to England, so until I can get there myself, I’ll enjoy tagging along via blog with y’all. 🙂 I’m a faithful blog-reader, but a not so faithful comment-leaver. Just know that I appreciate you and your sunshiney posts. I’ll be reading with cup o’ tea in hand….

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