Our First Full Day in Jolly Old England

Right now, I’m sitting at a large oak table (already set up with watercolors, pens, brushes, paper and glue sticks) in the apartment we rented in Kent, England in the sweet little town of Tenterden.

Like a little theme music?  Oh yes . . . From my chair, across the wooden floor of this light-filled “lounge” (what we in America would call the living room) is a wall of windows with French doors in the middle and a little balcony outside.  We got here last night, after careening across the country via narrow, hedge-row lined roads, past brick and white-painted houses, churches, flower-laden trees, and lamb-spotted fields; we are now safely ensconced on the second story, above the High Street (sort of like our Main Street).  From my chair I can see out the windows, spottily, through trees still in the midst of leafing out,  a wonderful old house and a large monument in a wide green lawn across the street.

It feels like I’m in a tree house!  Isn’t this pretty?  The wind is blowing the leaves, it’s just beautiful!  And I feel almost back to “normal!”  Yesterday was kind of like the first day on the ship, but instead of trying to get “sea legs,” we needed to get our land legs back — we were still rocking when we went to sleep!

We stopped on the way to Tenterden, to wander around a bit and stretch our legs, had lunch at the Royal Oak Pub there (it had an organ, a wall of books, videos, and games, and a sun porch overlooking the garden, among other things, a little home away from home) just across the street from an amazing Roman wall built in the 2nd century!  We had the most delicious fish and chips there; a thick coating of deep fried goodness over tender fresh fish and a big bowl of freshly made tartar sauce and CHIPS (french fries)!

  Had to take a photo of this house surrounded in bluebells; you can see it’s just in front of that same Roman wall, across the street from the pub, with a path and a gate that was calling my name.  We didn’t follow that path, because we know they are everywhere in this beautiful country; we will have lots of chances!   And we wanted to get “home.”

We stopped at the grocery store when we got into town,  before we found our rental; knowing we would want to make it feel more homey — we bought the little necessities of life, flowers, milk for tea, apples, a big chicken, some vegetables and laundry soap.

Of course we travel with little reminders of home, this is a kitty felted by Kellee; can’t travel without a kitty!! Hardly takes up any space and doesn’t make a peep!

This gives you a little more of the picture of the lounge.  And this morning, I feel great!  Not swaying anymore!  Joe is still asleep, I have tea of course, in my William and Kate mug.  It’s 12 degrees celcius which I had to look up.  The way you find out what that means in a way you can understand (fahrenheit),  you have to multiply the number by 9, divide by 5, and add 32!!!!  Then you discover it’s almost 54 degrees!  Blue skies above, chirping of birds, mooing of cows, and whir of washing machine in the kitchen — just like home (except for the cows)!  There’s a Laura Ashley store in this town, I found out last night (yay), and our favorite market, Waitrose (where I will find the thing I love, “Breakfast Milk”)!  I don’t know what else is here, but we’re going to find out!  And we’re going to take you with us!

Plus, before I go, I thought you might like to see what we were seeing and doing while you were watching the ship go under the Verrazano Bridge leaving New York on the Queen Mary II.  Finally!  I can send video again!  Wasn’t that just thrilling???


The New York Police Department was with us (in boats and low-flying helicopters) until we hit the open sea; I thought the juxtaposition between the violins and the machine gun, the soft lights of my favorite knitting spot on the ship, The Chart Room, the falling light on the gray water and massive bridge was very interesting.  I was so excited at that moment I was running around with the camera like a crazy lady. It was wonderful.  I just loved hearing how you were watching too, the magic of the computer and the internet!

And this is the view this morning from the kitchen sink…. are we in heaven girls?  Yes, I do believe we are!!!  Just to remind you, we have a Quest, to fulfill our dreams for the next seven weeks, maybe enough to last a lifetime; to fill our inspiration cup by wandering through old churchyards and gardens, stone cottages, castles, country house hotels, past timeless hedgerows, under ancient horsechestnut trees, and over hillsides of wild bluebells, fields of wildflowers and baby lambs, tea rooms, pubs, flea markets, bookstalls, ancient oak trees, and country villages, on our way to visit Beatrix Potter’s house in the Lake District …. having the tinkle of little shop bells be our main music of the day!  With the camera in hand at all times!  Here we go!

Happy Mother’s Day Girlfriends!!! 

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325 Responses to Our First Full Day in Jolly Old England

  1. You’re here! Welcome . . Croeso should you stray across the border into God’s Own Country (Wales) . . so much to do, so much to see, so little time! Well, off you go now, heart breakfast to fuel you for the day . . will stop by later to discover your discoveries . .

  2. Mary S. says:

    Thank you for the blog!! I check Twitter many times every day, too!!
    Your apartment and the views are lovely!! The old Roman wall is awesome! I LOVE the house with the bluebells!! the flower and the felt kitty – everything is great!
    I loved the music onboard the ship – it reminded me of Titanic!! 😀
    Yes, yes, we ARE in Heaven!!
    Thank you, Susan!
    Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

    • sbranch says:

      Love you being along with us Mary!!! Send a little more of that nice Fresno heat this way please, these people are sun-starved!

  3. judi says:

    So good to hear you navigated the roads safetly and are tucked into your sweet space. What a nice bank of windows to give you light and a view of your new neighborhood.

    I would love to send you some heat and sun. Funny, when I lived “up north” the sun would energize me. Now a cloudy day does it. Too much of anything is apparently not a good thing.

    Fun to see your creative “tools” laid out and on the ready. Looking forward to delightful nooks and crannys? They don’t have spell check on the comment section – do they? Have a GREAT DAY EXPLORING.

    • sbranch says:

      I don’t know, they have it when I comment here, but not sure if they do on the blog comments! Probably you’re just a very good speller and didn’t need it!

  4. Nina says:

    Welcome Susan and Joe to our little island! So excited to see it through your eyes! I have a little notebook so I can jot down all the places I fancy to visit that you show us! I love your little home from home! Have a beautiful day and thanks for bringing the sunshine with you! lol xxxx

  5. sewprimitive karen says:

    Wonderful getting to see your photos and now videos! Which watercolor set is at the top of your table picture, the one with 21 colors? Googled and could not find.

    • sbranch says:

      Hmmm, am looking for 21 colors! I just counted, one has 16, the other has 36, and the third has 18!

      • sewprimitive karen says:

        Oh dear, it must be the one with 18 colors, at the top of the photo, looks like it might have little legs, it’s close to the chair, to the left as we look at it is a sketch notebook with green cover, with napkins and some glasses on top of the sketchbook. I wonder if you will see this comment and have any idea what I’m still asking about lol. Karen

        • sbranch says:

          Yeah, I was hoping that wasn’t the one … because there’s no name on it, the one with the little squares of color right? No name, so sorry, have had it awhile! Brought it because it has a really good green in it; knew I would need it! Sorry!

          • sewprimitive karen says:

            Now that doesn’t surprise me because I googled all over art supply land and did not find it. Thank you though and I am loving watching your visit to England! Can’t wait for the Beatrix Potter portion of the show.

  6. Claire says:

    So excited ! Thanks for taking us along!!

  7. Sandy Richmond says:

    Susan, These pictures are wonderful. I love how your excitement comes through in your writing, and have enjoyed every minute of this trip! And to top it off, a stowaway kitty! What is breakfast milk?
    From Sandy in Attleboro, MA

    • sbranch says:

      Not exactly sure, but I love milk and last time we were here, we found all kinds of different milk in Waitrose, a wonderful supermarket they have here. One of them was Breakfast Milk; it doesn’t work if you don’t like milk, but if you do, say it out loud. Doesn’t it sound delicious?

      • Sandy Richmond says:

        Yes, it does!

      • Patricia H. says:

        Breakfast milk…..yum!

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        We do think alike, Sandy–I was poised ready to ask about the “Breakfast Milk”, too! 🙂 I love that house in the picture with the bluebells…and the inside of your apartment, as well. Really appreciate, Susan, you giving us these glances into another world. I suppose this sounds kind of “silly” but it is like you and Joe have stepped into a British movie set…know what I mean? Have a fun day exploring!

        • sbranch says:

          I know, everything so far has felt like a movie, and we’re just part of the scenery! Sort of the invisible part!

  8. Mary Spring says:

    All I can say is ” all the way to Heaven is Heaven ” !!!!!! thank you very much, dear lady (and gentleman) !!! we are going to have a grand and memorable time !!!!!…with love…..

  9. Gill says:

    Oh to be in England…thank you for sharing with us!


    Oh to be in England
    Now that April’s there,
    And whoever wakes in England
    Sees, some morning, unaware,
    That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
    Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
    While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
    In England – now!

    And after April, when May follows,
    And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
    Hark! where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
    Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
    Blossoms and dewdrops – at the bent spray’s edge –
    That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
    Lest you should think he never could recapture
    The first fine careless rapture!
    And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
    All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
    The buttercups, the little children’s dower
    – Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower

    Robert Browning (1812 – 1889)

    • sbranch says:

      I will keep my eye out for wise thrush, hoary dew, buttercups, swallows, chaffinch, and blossomed pear trees and take pictures of it all for you!

      • Victoria Miller says:

        One of my favorite poems, thanks for posting — an unexpected surprise to run into it this morning!

  10. carol says:

    Hi Susan,
    My father taught me to calculate the celsius to fahrenheit temperature you simply double the c temp and add 30. It’s not always precise, but close enough and quick. Math was never my strong suit! Cheers.

  11. Marcia A. Sherman says:

    Susan – I plan on a trip to Great Britain, it is at the tippy-top of my ‘bucket list’. In the meantime: thank you thank you for this wonderful travelogue. It brings tears – the beauty of it all. You mentioned creating a book about this excursion? Please please include a DVD/CD of all the pictures and videos and music, narrated by you and Joe.
    To be in the land of Stonehenge at Midsummer?
    How perfectly thrilling!
    Blessings – Marcia in Sewell, NJ

  12. Miss holly says:

    So Happy for you…..now…..Beam me in Scotty!!!!!!’

  13. Bless you, Susan, from all of us who may never actually make it there we’ll at least have had 7 glorious weeks with you!

  14. Susu S. says:

    I rarely post comments on blogs but I love yours. My sister lives on the Vineyard and I live here in England so your posts are really interesting and fun for me. Plus, I’ve been using your cookbooks for ages! My top tips for the Lake District are: 1. get to B. Potter’s house early in the day. 2. read the book Swallows and Amazons and then hire (English for ‘rent’) a boat or go on one of the cruises on Coniston Water – the inspiration for the story – you’ll feel like an adventurer. 3. The Sarah Nelson Gingerbread Shop in Grassmere is an English/lake District classic. Welcome back to Blighty!

  15. Christine from Lafayette, CO says:

    Someone pinch me! This is so real!! Beautiful!! And look at you Missy…all your paints out ready to make the magic go on forever! Loved the fish and chips – I soaked my fish in Malt Vinegar and dipped the chips in tartar sauce…explains why I’ve gained 5 pounds already. We must walk the gardens today! *Eager to try Breakfast milk. xoxoxox Happy Saturday Ladies!!

  16. I feel as though I am right there with you taking in all of the enchanting sights. I have been to England many times and each time I have visited I felt as though I was home at last. Now that I live in Idaho, Britain is so far away, but you have taken me “home” once again. I’ll be looking forward to each post.

    Big Hugs,
    Susan and Bentley

  17. Sweet Pea says:

    Susan, just curious… for when my dream comes true 🙂 …how do you go about selecting all your lodging/rentals for your trips to England?

    P.S.Thanks for sharing your room with a view and the streaming morning sun through your living room!! xox

    • sbranch says:

      It’s all available on-line now, including virtual tours of the properties. It takes time, and isn’t as fun as it sounds, because there are just too many choices! But it’s a very good way to do it. Just Google Self-Catering Rentals in England, or whatever part of England you wish to go (that means “with kitchen”), and there you are!

  18. Linda K says:

    This is going to be so much fun, wandering the countryside with you. I just got back, last week , from my first ever trip to Ireland, a long time dream of ours. I took 417 pictures in 7 days and it would have been more except for the constant downpour in Dublin! Those pictures are precious to me, so I understood your “running around like a crazy lady” with the camera! Tenterden looks amazing. Thanks for the tour.

  19. Every time I watch a Jane Austen movie I long to go to England. I will just have to live vicariously through you for now. I can’t wait to hear and see more!
    Thank you for sharing your adventure with us.
    Have a lovely day.

  20. Gert~Iowa says:

    Oh my goh Susan…I just love it! From the stone wall to the green grass everywhere! Fish and chips…(I want some right now…and it’s only 6 in the morning here in Iowa! Lol) Oh, and the apartment is beautiful! You have made it so homey….love those roses…my favorite! And your table all set up for you! Amazing! (especially kitty…that is so sweet!)

    The music on the ship was so exciting…what a way to begin ‘our’ adventure! Thanks for bringing us along…especially those of us that would never be able to make this trip ourselves. What a blessing you are!

    Love & prayers….

  21. flo says:

    almost a few kilometers and you are in France ! wonderful country too.
    So sweety are your pics….. love England !

    Have a good trip and enjoy this time and these memories…

    Kisses from France

  22. Paulie says:

    Wow……..Is this dream for real? How beautiful Susan. Love your apartment. It looks so charming…….Hope you don’t mind, I am sitting in that lovely chair and turned it around to face the window this morning to have my cup of tea! Everything is so delicious. Love the architecture, the stonework, the views, love it all. FINALLY saw under the bridge! Yey! Just love it all! So happy to be on this journey! Looking forward to each and every day – and your postings and pictures. So glad you have your land legs back again.

    • sbranch says:

      That was so smart of you, the sun slants in just perfectly, not too hot, just soft, warm and filled with light!

  23. LindaSonia says:

    How fun to be like a little fly on your wall and looking forward to enjoying every bit of your trip. Thanks so much for taking us all along. Everything looks and sounds WONDERFUL!! So much fun!!! 🙂

  24. Barb says:

    Goodmorning Susan,
    What a delightful way to start off the morning with this beautiful new post from you. It surely is cool back here in the middle thirties but with bright sunshine as we have been stuck in a rainy pattern so sunshine makes us all smile. Yet so glad we are in Tendteron England as I want to stake claim to the gorgeous home with the bluebells surrounding it, along with the lush green grass…….breathtaking!
    Your place is so pretty ……..very cozy and homey. So excited to see where we all go next. Thanks so much as you reel me in every time with everything you do for us all. So excited to start exploring more. Have a wonderful day.
    Hugs & Smiles….Barb, Ludlow MA

  25. Shannon (Pennsylvania) says:

    I love the last paragraph of this blog–so glad you and Joe are beginning your Quest in such a perfect little nest in an exquisite little town. Godspeed–may you fill your inspiration cups to overflowing. And when those meandering little paths call to you, try to take as many as you can!

  26. Suzanne says:

    Susan….this is so amazingly exciting! I do really feel like I’m there with you and just anticipating the journey. I’ve got to slow down though and savor each step along the way. What a beautiful apartment over looking the town, its much like here it seems with the bright green of spring. I can’t wait to find out what breakfast milk is….I think of it as something sweet, don’t you?
    Well enjoy your lovely day and I’ll be waiting for you. -East Longmeadow, Ma.

  27. mari1017 says:

    Tears of joy for all this beauty … you have absolutely filled my inspiration cup this morning…bless you for taking us along…have a wonder-filled, wonder-ful day 🙂

  28. Pamela Jewett says:

    This is such a vision feast but I am taking it all in gladly. I can almost smell the greenness and feel the soft air. All I can say is thank you!
    xoxo Pam

  29. Mrs.T says:

    Oh Susan, it is just so good and generous of you and Joe to share this trip with all of us. Your first full day in England sounded just wonderful, and just think, it is only the beginning. Loved seeing your pictures. The rental is so homey!

  30. Sara Holiday, FL says:

    HOW BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

  31. NANCY JO says:

    So glad to see your nice post this morning, I was beginning to have anxiety attacks. I’m ok now. I have to go to the library and get some good novels about England. Since I’m there with you anyway, I should be reading something that takes me there too.
    Nancy Jo

  32. viv says:

    I wish I could think of some new words to convey how much I’m enjoying this.
    I have been to England twice, including Hilltop, and can’t wait to see it again through your eyes and relive some of my memories as well. I loved the sweet bird and verses at the end of today’s post. Hugs.

  33. Gail Buss says:

    Well Susan and Joe………….you are really there! Loved all the pics of the town of Tenterden which doesn’t appear to be too little with all those photos of it. It is an absolutely beautiful town, and I’m wondering how you came to pick that particular town. I love that living room complete with your flowers, and I love the lovely view! The old wall from the 2nd century was so nice too, and I could smell the fish n chips. Love my chips with malt vinegar over them with S & P and would eat the fish just as it is. In Ireland they would have served it with mushy peas (which I hate) and couldn’t eat them even though I don’t like to waste anything. I’m so looking forward to everything you bring us to see! What a journey. Have to run now…………sending love and hugs, Gail & Joe Buss (yes he is watching too.) Bev. Hills, Fl.

  34. Priscilla Palmer from Naples, Florida says:

    Beautiful greens, blues, and so sunny! 🙂

    By the way, the way I learned to convert Celcius to Farenheit, was to double the Celcius (so if it is 12C then double to 24) and add to 30 which comes out to 54F. While may not be as strictly accurate as what you used, it is easier to do in my head. LOL!

    Oh, and rather than weighing you in Pounds, your weight is in Stones. Maybe they came up with that so they could keep the money separate from physical weight … ha ha!

    How, when planning your trip, did you settle on the village of Tenterden? How did you find the cute place you are in? Enquiring (nosey!) minds need to know.

    xoxo, Priscilla

    • sbranch says:

      We passed through it last time, only once, but it was so cute that I wrote it down “just in case!” We aren’t disappointed, it was just as we hoped it would be, small but enough going on to make it interesting.

      • Priscilla Palmer from Naples, Florida says:

        Ooh, I just found your place online. Very nice. The interior looks just like your photos … love the bedroom … love the kitchen … although your touches give it the Susan Branch / Joe Hall look. The agency’s URL is worth saving to my “Travel, UK” favorites. My dream, for the past 2 years, is to spend up to 6 months in the UK and Scotland, in self catering places. Working (and saving) for that dream. Hope to make it a reality in a couple of years, and this trip of yours is further inspiration. Thank you! xoxo

  35. Carol in KS says:

    LOVE the photographs!! So happy that you are experiencing the beauty of England and sharing it with everyone! Am amazed, too, how you can adapt so well to changes in place/time/culture. Thank you for sharing your gifts of creativity with all of us! Safe travels….

  36. Cindy says:

    Ah, easy to convert the temperature. Living in France for six months thaught me to double the temperature (C) and add 32. It is very close—-also, 10C is about 50 degrees, 20C is about 70 degrees and 30 C is about 90 degrees. I need all the short cuts I can get. I hope the rain has disappeared and only sun will be in your days.

  37. Lisa says:

    This is so much fun, Susan! I felt butterflies in my stomach this morning when I started reading your post! My friend and I went to London about 8 yearsago to visit my sister, who was working there for a year. I absolutely fell I love with the country. I will be following you every day! Thanks so much for sharing ;). –Lisa in Vermont

  38. jean shaffer says:

    Love, Lovel. Love it!!! Can’t wait to see more! Do have a wonderful day and thanks for taking me along!!!

  39. Julie says:

    Ahhh…..Simply Beautiful !

    You guys settle in fast …..and good.
    Photos are simply lovely,
    especially, like the “chim-chimeree rooftop” photo-
    the warmth of the homes & buildings emulate
    through their smokestacks & chimneys,
    can Mary Poppins be far away ?

    It is just truly enchanting, to hear the lovely British folk
    “welcome” you via this blog-
    one, automatically, reads their words,
    with an english accent.
    I believe, you two
    could wander right across, any of their thresholds
    and feel like you’ve known them, all your lives.

    The photo of your “Art Table” is so comforting-
    even though Jack isn’t there to scamper about
    We can just tell,
    you can hardly contain, all your inspiration…..it IS infectious !

    Can’t wait to see that inspiration manifest
    in words & watercolors
    of seven, magical weeks, across the pond.

  40. Joan Lesmeister says:

    I’m thrilllllled for you, Joe & all of us, to be in Merry Olde England! Branch Hall is so charming! Love the rooftop view with chimney pots! Wanted to bring one home when we were there, ummm, too heavy!!! Video is great – machine guns & violins – what more could one want? Pubs over there are such fun, usually a few friendly dogs and their masters! Happy we started off our trip with fish ‘n chips! Last time we were there, we didn’t manage that until the last day – ran into a McDonalds in London, ok, but not quite what I had pictured! Have a fabulous day, I’m sending more sun & warm weather, just in case! Love & Hugs!!!!

  41. Bev spencer says:

    Love love your photos. I followed your boat trip too…u need to come down here to the southern hemisphere I wonder how u would paint our colorful birds and landscapes! I love England especially this time of year, there’s a certain smell of spring in the air…may the road rise up to great you on your travels! Love bev from Melbourne Australia xx

  42. Dinahsoar says:

    I survived traveling on the wrong side of the road! Our digs are great. I love how, when you are up high and look out over a town in England, you can tell you are in England just from the roofs. (The gal at Attic24, Lucy, often posts pics taken from her attic window and that is how I know, having never been to England.) There is so much to see, I’m ready to hit the road and revel in the beauty. This is just so much fun, I must pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming!…from Tenterden via the hills or TN

    • sbranch says:

      The old chimneys are wonderful, they make a great skyline, you know you are not in America!

  43. Nellie says:

    I am so, so happy we have arrived! Beautiful scene out the window. Here I am looking out my open door and see the vegetable garden, growing every day, and the green trees and hillside behind us. Makes one feel that we are in the midst of countryside. Then, there is the sound of traffic – lots of it for a Saturday morning before 9:00 – on the road just beyond, so we realize we aren’t really that detached from civilization.:-)

    Have a glorious day! With the time difference, it is probably YOUR teatime!:-)

    xoxo Nellie

  44. Claudia says:

    I’ve been to England twice; my husband (who dreams of going there) has never been. I’m traveling vicariously through you, and putting my dreams out there for the chance to visit England again.


  45. Lin says:

    Thank you, Susan, for sharing this experience with all of us! I’ve been eagerly reading each day and can’t wait to see what unfolds.

  46. Good morning!! What a lovely view to start the day! Your flat is lovely and looks like the perfect home away from home! Where are we going today? I can hardly wait to see my first garden 🙂 Have a wonderful day xoxo Debbie

  47. Wendy Louise says:

    Wow this is really happening, it is so exciting, I have butterflies in my stomache ! I am just absorbing it all, it is just amazing purely amazing. This is such a present for me and I can’t wait to follow in your foot steps someday when the time is right. Technology is so giving when used properly and with your wonderful generosity. So Thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul. Get going and have a lot of fun and I can’t wait. All the pictures are scrumptious! OOXX

  48. Victoria Berwick says:

    Hi Susan so fab following your blog and twitters and seeing my neighbourhood through your eyes! the way you describe everything is just so magical and uplifting and will make me look at everything you see through fresh eyes after living here for 30 years.. we were just in tenterden yesterday for my mums birthday had lunch in cafe rouge and took kids to the park opposite waitrose .. again wishing you an amazing time exploring 🙂 xx vicki

    • sbranch says:

      We were in Cafe Rouge today! Felt a good vibe in there, must have been YOU!

      • Vicki b says:

        Ah hope you had a lovely meal in Cafe Rouge!. There should be a like button on here.. i’d be clicking like on everyones posts all day 🙂 x .. was saying to my husband its a shame my godmother is not having her open gardens while your here she lives in a manor house in benenden with beautiful gardens and has gardens open in spring for the hospice in the weald charity you’d love it!! but unfortunately due to the amount of rain we have had it has been postponed for now.. im sure you’ll have plenty of beautiful gardens to explore on your travels here.. cant wait to see pictures of them all xx

  49. Kim says:

    Oh Susan, Thank you for inviting us along on your trip! I have such a longing to visit the UK…which I never have… yet…that I feel homesick for a place that i’ve never even been to! This is a lovely way to travel there until I can finally get there myself! A thousand thanks wining your way! xo

  50. Jack says:

    PS — great commentary you are getting from all your girlfriends there where you are …..
    I think you will have to make another trip back or stay for six months to visit all those
    Interesting locations and suggestions being offered by your friends there –Jeanie said ,
    ” You go girl “

  51. Susan Simon says:

    Oh, my, how wonderful… love all the pictures! Your apartment looks charming and lovely and grand. Love seeing all the watercolors out, ready to go… and can’t wait to see what you will do with them.

    Is there room for all 12 suitcases in that gorgeous apartment? Seeing the pub (we used to live in Royal Oak, Michigan many years ago) made me smile! The Roman wall is amazing, too, and seeing all the bluebells surrounding that house is beautiful. Sigh… can’t believe we get to experience this for seven weeks… perfection.

    I have only ever been to England a few times; on my bucket list is to do a trip just like yours…. spend weeks wandering. We have friends from Dorset all the way up to Aberdeen in Scotland; it would be wonderful to meander all over and get to visit them all.

    Hope you have a grand time and that the gorgeous weather continues… and thank you for taking us along, again!

  52. Sunnybec says:

    Well I was going to tell you the same with the C to F, but someone beat me to it!! I just double it and add 30 it’s not perfect but much easier than your way! I am smiling so much at your excitement at going to the UK. To me it’s home and I guess we forget to see it as others see it. I do miss it now I live in France and I think I am doing the same here now…..taking for granted how beautiful it is. I really hope you have a fabulous time and that the weather is kind to you, we aren’t having good weather at the moment so it has to improve soon….surely!! Linda

    • sbranch says:

      Spring is here, the sun will shine and all will be well (this is the mantra of the day!). 🙂

  53. Oh Its all lovely and inspiring. Looking forward to it all and to get into the mood of England and Beatrix Potter I watched the movie Miss Potter last night. I know its not the same house but it was England. ..and yes a Video would be wonderful. Tally ho..Gee I hope that means carry on.. :))

  54. Judy says:

    I’m enjoying every moment of “our” trip. Thank you for taking all of us along.

  55. Judy says:

    P.S. Happy Mother’s Day!!

  56. Julia Waterbury says:

    So enjoying your journey with you! My dad was from England so I feel half English and love, love, love all that was his homeland. Thank you for this trip!!

  57. Marianne says:

    I’m enchanted! What a dream trip you are taking us all in! Thank you! Being an artist, like you, the visual is wonderful!

  58. Bobbie says:

    Oh, I am so happy! During my morning coffee with my husband your trip was shared. My, how I bragged about you. This trip is just like being there and having a great time. Being in Spokane, WA I heard somewhere that the climate is similar to England???? Love your Robin!

    • sbranch says:

      I think Washington and England do have a very similar climate…which makes you very lucky, garden-wise!

  59. zinnia patch says:

    Oh Susan! It’s all so breathtaking!!!!!! Thank you so much for this wonderful time!!!

  60. Betsy says:

    I feel like I am there right with you if only in spirit. The sheer mention of Beatrix Potter has me so excited!!! I can’t wait to see her homestead and garden. Thank you Susan again. I may never make it to England again in this lifetime so I do appreciate the gift you are giving us.

  61. Angela says:

    Hi Susan,
    It’s a beautiful Spring day here in central Pennsylvania and your photos make it even brighter. The last photo of the rooftops has me humming
    Chim Chim Cher-ee/March Over The Rooftops from Mary Poppins. What a grand time we’re having!

  62. jennifer says:

    This is wonderful Susan! Thank you for bringing us along. 🙂
    Glad we all fit in the suitcase!!!

  63. Judy from Oregon says:

    I don’t know if I will ever make it to England so seeing it through your eyes is the next best thing. Thank you for sharing so much of your trip with all of us. I am so excited to see all the places you will be showing us.

  64. Susan says:

    Hi Susan and all your followers,
    In my UK travels the only temp conversion I could remember was 16 C = 61 F.
    So I would just guestimate if it was above or below 16…
    To an approximate temp in fahrenheit…
    Also Waitrose is the BEST grocery store (even Kate shops there).

  65. Heartsdesire says:

    How wonderful to wake up this morning to find your Jolly Old England post. I watched the ship leaving under the bridge. What a fabulous sight, and I watched you arriving in England on Thursday morning. Having all this modern technology is great. Your rental looks just right for you and Joe and I’m sure you will be doing some fabulous work here now that you have your watercolours unpacked. Love the old house and the stone wall, reminds me of The Forgotten Garden. Looking forward to more photos and videos (can’t seem to get enough). Hope you have a wonderful day today. Is it possible to sit out on your little balcony?

    • sbranch says:

      On the back, the kitchen side, there’s a table and six chairs and umbrella and herbs and everything! The little balcony on the front, that’s just so you can open the French doors and not fall out, there’s no real floor out there!

  66. Jan says:

    What a cozy looking home away from home. Beautiful, beautiful scenery – the stone wall, house with bluebells, and green, green grass. So happy to see you have your own little space for creating too! What an inspiring place for you and your artwork! Can’t wait to see what comes next. Enjoy your weekend to the fullest!

  67. Such fun to wake each morning and read your updates. I am so ready for your land adventures to begin. Love the pix of the lounge area and can see that you have already settled in!
    Your post brings back fond memories of my first trip to Oxford, England to visit Chris. We traveled by plane with 7 suitcases and a bicycle from Geneva, Switzerland to Oxford. One of the longest days every, but a fun adventure with my son that I will always cherish. Upon arrival, I drove a rented van from the London airport to his new Oxford home. Chris only yelled in terror once, when I got stuck in a “round about” and in frustration went the wrong way. I’ve driven in New York City and up and down I35 in Texas, but I have never been as scared as driving the 6-lane highway from Heathrow to Oxford. I hugged the “left” lane and rarely changed lanes in fear that I would hit someone. Drove like an old lady and waved anxiously at people as they honked and cut in front of me, but we made it! That night we drank a bottle of wine from a measuring cup and tea cup (all we could find in his new flat’s cupboards) and laughed about our day, until we fell soundly asleep in his new flat. (Love that word…sounds so English and homey.)

    The next morning we began to explore his new city and each street we walked enthralled me; King Street, Queen Street, High Street, Jack Straw’s Lane, Magpie Lane–I just wanted to wander off down each tiny lane and discover what was at the end of each!

    I couldn’t stop myself from photographing every bakery item or sausage link displayed in shop windows (yes they display meat artfully in butcher shop windows to tempt you inside). Chris introduced me to Bangers and Mash for breakfast place and lunch of fish & chips with a “pint” at the popular Eagle & Child pub (made famous as the Tuesday meeting place of the “Inklings”, which included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis).

    I was just in awe of everything English, including their food markets–slab bacon from Prince Charles’ organic farm, fresh eggs and vegetables from local farms, cuts of meat and links of sausage that I couldn’t imagine people would eat, and more jams, jellies, and teas than I could possibly taste or bring home! And the meat pies…..oh I could go on and on, but this is “your” adventure. I am So Happy To Be Along.

    P.S. Thank you for reminding me of that trip, when Chris is so far away and I am missing him terribly. I have a beautiful angel ornament given to me by sweet friends when my mother passed away in 2007, that reads:
    A mother holds her children’s hands for a while…..their hearts forever.
    How true. Happy Mother’s Day everyone.

    • sbranch says:

      Your driving adventure sounds very much like ours!!! Joe thinks every car with newly-landed Americans at the wheel should have a flashing yellow light on the top! I agree!

      • I felt like our van already had a Caution Crazy American at the Wheel sign on the back the way local drivers sped by looking disgusted. Made me a lot more conscious of granny drivers in Texas. I’m their best friends now! I still have nightmares about those roundabouts and yielding at pedestrian crossings–even the pedestrians were on the wrong side.

  68. I’m LOVING all these posts. Happy, happy. Last time we were in London, we ate at Pret a Manger almost every day. Not sure if you can find them in your neck of the woods, but look for them in London. They’re practically on every street corner.

    Everyone is off having adventures! My youngest daughter is volunteering at a horse farm in Essex this summer, after her stay in Venice to study art history, and then she moves on to Edinburgh for a holiday before heading back home to Montreal. I can hardly wait to hear all about her adventures, too. Meanwhile I am holding down the fort here at home and enjoying everyone’s photos and stories.

    Pro tip on the temperature conversion. Here in Canada we switched from F to C, and the fastest way to convert is to take any temp in F, double it and add 30. It’s not exact, but it’s fast and close enough to tell you if you need to wear a sweater or not. Sorry, I meant a jumper!

    Cheers, Pam (happily living vicariously through you!)

    • sbranch says:

      You have lots of vicarious living to do, that’s wonderful!

    • Becky says:

      So happy you reminded me of Pret a Mange…..delicious food and very British. I ate there almost everyday last summer while in London. Good memories!

  69. I just realized you’re near Great Maytham Hall where Francis Hodgson Burnett got her inspiration for “The Secret Garden”! I understand, though, the house has been turned into luxury apartments. But I see the garden IS open by appointment for groups of 6 or more: http://kent.greatbritishlife.co.uk/article/the-story-of-the-secret-garden-30354/

    • sbranch says:

      Interesting! Need to figure out how to be six!!

      • Maybe they’d count US as part of your group and let us all in!

        • sbranch says:

          Hmmm, will have to try that out on them (hoping there are no Funny Farms in England for them to put me in, in case it doesn’t work and they need visuals!)

          • Terri J says:

            Susan, you may not have to worry about counting us as part of the tour. I’m not sure what your itinerary is – where “we’ll” all be on this lovely tour by the 8th of June — I just saw at the end of the article Cathy linked to that the gardens are open to the public on the 8th of June.
            Whether you get there or not, wherever you’ll be taking us on tour, I’m sure I will love it. Truly loving every moment of this. Wishing there were a film – or maybe even better, a mini-series! – as well as a book, to relive all the memories you’re making along the way for us all. Can’t thank you enough!

          • sbranch says:

            We should be up north in Beatrix Potter world on June 8th — maybe I should run over and climb a fence?!

  70. Melissa says:

    Thank you so much for all of the pictures, and the time you are taking to post them! I have never been to England myself, but your tweets and blogging make me feel like I’m there. BUT I have to say I want to go there now myself! To hear the sounds and smell the smells and taste the food! (at least you can provide the sights AND sounds 🙂 ).

    Have a wonderful day, cannot wait to see more!

  71. Jackie says:

    Thank you, thank you, and one more Thank you! This is so wonderful of you to let us ‘girls’ travel with you.

  72. Janis says:

    So happy to check your blog this morning and see all the wonderful things you are seeing! I almost feel like I’m really there, too. Thank you ever so much for taking us along…

  73. Barbara from SoCal says:

    Oh, it’s sooooooooo beautiful there! Thanks so much for letting us tag along with you. I’m having so much fun 🙂

  74. Bonnie L says:

    W O W ! ! !
    and Thank You for allowing us to come with you!
    Will try to send some sun, although rain is due in Louisville for Mother’s Day.
    Thanks, too, to Carol for the quick math….double c and add 30….I was hoping there was an easier way!

    • sbranch says:

      Me too, I Googled for that answer, thank goodness for our smart Girlfriends for the easy way out!!! 🙂

  75. Karen P. -Wisconsin says:

    Love it all!!! Every minute is more exciting than the last!! Laura Ashley store!!! What will we by buying there?? Can’t wait to see!! Love to see that you have your painting supplies all set up!! Cheery days, sweetie! xoxo…kp

  76. Maria says:

    This is such fun!

  77. Linda Pintarell says:

    I LOVE where you are staying for a few weeks and how you have already made it YOUR home away from home. I LOVE your sense of adventure and how you and Joe just enjoy life together. I LOVE that you are taking us with you; thank you. My notebook is ready to make notes…so on we go. ENJOY jolly old England to the fullest!

  78. Doreen Strain - Florida says:

    Just thought I would let you know, I’m having a wonderful time on “our” trip. The pictures are wonderful and I loved the music on the ship as you were going under the bridge. Everything in the apartment looks charming. I’d be sitting in that beautiful chair having my cup of tea just enjoying the views from the windows. Liked what you said about the tinkle of bells on the shop doors along Main St.. Take in all the sounds, smells, views and wonderful feelings all these places give you, for when you come home all you will have are the memories. And wonderful memories at that. Thank you for taking us along. I’m really enjoying it.
    FOSB 4~Ever! ~ Doreen ~ xo

    • sbranch says:

      Wasn’t that string quartet wonderful? I just loved them, so civilized out there on the gray-green and very deep, cold and misty ocean. The best shop bells rang today (of course) on the door of “Thumbelina, the Enchanted Toy Shop!”

  79. Trish says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share this trip with us. I look forward to your posts and can’t wait for the book.

  80. Aggie says:

    Glad to see you settled in. You did have a stowaway kitty after all 🙂 I am so looking forward to following along with you while you make your way around England.

  81. stephanie says:

    I’m totally inspired already! Just the pic of the house with the bluebells has given me 10 ideas! I really fell like I’m with you!

    Can you secretly take pics inside the Waitrose? I’m curious what it looks like. Remember the pic a week after Kate and William’s wedding – where Kate went to her local Waitrose (whereever they live in Wales or someplace)? I thought, “what is a Waitrose?” Google the pic because she had on a great shawl too! I also would love to see inside the Laura Ashley!

    Have fun!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Two great minds, I did it today. And when people would look at me funny for taking photos, I would just open my mouth, speak, and was forgiven instantly. 🙂 I love English people.

      • stephanie says:

        Clapping!! How much fun! Tell them you have hundreds of people waiting on these pics!

        I’m just so excited you (we!) will be there for the Diamond Jubilee. Are we going to stand in the crowd and wave at the balcony that day??

        • sbranch says:

          I think we might see the Queen at Royal Ascot …. still not 100% sure of it, but it looks like it might be happening!

  82. Rosanne from Oregon says:

    All I need is a room somewhere, far away from the cold night air, with one enormous chair, or wouldn’t it be lov-er-ly . . . your home away from home, how cozy, and another beautiful view. You will be quite a sight, traveling the countryside with your entourage of girlfriends! Heartfelt thanks to you for sharing. Love from Oregon to England.

  83. stephanie says:

    By the way – I noticed on Twitter you had a pic from the road – did you guys drive? How was it to drive on the wrong side of the road and wrong side of the car? (I know it’s not “wrong” – but you know what I mean!)

  84. Katherine says:

    Loving this!! 🙂

  85. Peggy says:

    “are we in heaven girls?”. Yes, we are!! Home in my own bed now after a tough surgery this week and your trip on the QM2 and arrival at your charming rental has kept me occupied and delighted all week. Thanks so much to you and Joe for taking us along with you because I know how much time you devote to trying to get online and post on your blog and Twitter (I signed up so I wouldn’t miss a thing!). I am so excited about the coming weeks and what we will see in Jolly Olde England!

    • sbranch says:

      You get well really soon, back on your feet, because we have some walkin’ to do!!! xoxo

      • Peggy says:

        Thanks so much for the get well wishes…I’m trying very hard with that awful walker. Sending this to you from the Atlanta area around 7pm and hope that you are having cozy, dream filled sleep right now and will wake up to the sweet sounds of the village church bells.
        Much love, Peg

  86. Diane Harris says:

    I’m so glad we docked, my head was spinning from the sea cruise! Or was it the champagne you girls made me drink? I have one question for you girls . . . are we in our own apartment finally? I mean really, let’s let Susan and Joe have some privacy and after all, you know we’ll be back in that suitcase (are we all in one or is that why she took 12?) before we know it!

    Here’s a link to my Pinterest board with my collection of Kate photos and her magnificent wardrobe! http://pinterest.com/dianemharris/kate-will/
    So I adore her and all things English as well and I have milk every morning! And I’ll send you a photo of my black and white girl kitty, Cleopatra with her mustache; could be Jack’s older sis. Bridget Jones Diary is one of the few soundtracks I’ve purchased! (And Mama Mia!) Like follows like.

    I’m not going to get much work done in the next 7 days; I’ll have to temper and time myself!!

    Diane ~ Butler, PA

    • sbranch says:

      We have two bedrooms, but one of them is really big, a hundred beds or more! Kate photos are just wonderful Diane!

    • stephanie says:

      I love your pics on Pinterrest Diane! I posted above that somewhere there is a pic of Katherine at a Waitrose (where we “all” were today!) a week after the wedding in jeans and a lovely green shawl. So sweet. I adore her!

  87. Mary Cunningham says:

    Tally Ho ! Susan, this is so much fun…I’ve never been on a cruise and the closest thing to adventure was our vacation to Canada and Yellowstone Park! Love the scenery out your windows and I’m waiting anxiously for the walking tours you will take us on! Eye Candy !Just planted my garden full of veggies today, Spring is here and now we get Spring in England ,too! Cheerio “HUG” Mary

  88. Gill says:

    Breakfast milk is a higher fat content milk that is from Jersey cows. If the milkman brings it in glass bottles it should have a gold coloured foil cap (and is known as “Gold top”) the regular milk is “silver top”. Gold top has 5.4% cream; silver top has 3% cream. Both are pasturised but not homogenised so the cream should rise and sit at the top of the bottle. You can carefully pour it off first, or, holding the top on the bottle firmly(!) shake to mix the cream in.

    • sbranch says:

      See what I mean? I don’t think we’ve had that kind of milk in the USA since around 1945! And if you think the MILK is interesting in England, wait until you see the Bacon!!! (We spent two hours in the supermarket today!)

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        Seriously, can you take some photos of some of the foods that are different than what we have here? Would love to see pictures…I’ve read in books references to different foods but never know what they really look like…:-)

        • sbranch says:

          Well, you know we are not the blood sausage type … they do eat very much like us here (gorgeous food in the market), you can find some different things, but are we ordering them? Probably not. No tongue for us actually. If others will let me photograph their food 🙂 then maybe! Joe does love bangers and beans. For some unknown reason. Doesn’t make the most luscious of photos!

          • Pat Mofjeld says:

            Weelllll, you could skip the photos of the blood sausage and tongue, at least for me–ugh! Remember, I’m the one who likes boned skinless chicken breasts because I don’t want to be reminded where my chicken meat comes from… 🙂

  89. Jack says:

    Like they have “Clotted Cream” I thought your references to “Breakfast Milk” involved
    Some kind of special milk that they also have — like a sweetened product or something
    ……I guess I had breakfast milk on my shredded wheat this morning — what kind of milk
    Do you have if you have Corn Flakes for lunch ?

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, it’s special, I think it’s extra rich milk, but I didn’t see any today to find out! It’s not clotted cream! Hmmm, cornflakes for lunch, that’s a very good question!

  90. Diane P says:

    Okay, I’m just gonna say what we all are thinking…
    “I LOVE you Susan Branch!”
    Your posts bring tears of joy to my eyes, truly.
    I hope, hope, hope to some day follow in your path to England,
    but in the mean time I can’t even tell you how VERY much I
    appreciate your taking us all with you!
    Thank you for sharing your hop across the pond,
    and for welcoming us into your home away from home…
    so cozy! and LOVE your homey touches!
    Waiting excitedly for your next post!
    (and for the book you are creating of your trip!)

    • sbranch says:

      Love you back Diane! It’s amazing to be able to share in this way! Crazy good world we live in!

  91. Lynn M. says:

    Beautiful post! Love your room with a view and all of the homey touches! Can’t wait for the next seven weeks. It’s a good thing I packed sensible shoes!

  92. I am rereading the post…I woke up around 2:30 here this morning and thought…I bet Susan’s up! So, in I went to the computer and sure enough! Your post was so pleasing to read! The apartment is perfect and with a nice view! The town looks wonderful there. Loved all the photos!! Your kitty! Workspace! Flowers…everything!
    After checking Twitter. Oh My Goodness! Your Joe looked very handsome in his tuxedo.
    It is so much fun tagging along with you! Thank You! Thank You! Blessings.

  93. Cindy Maulin says:

    hi susan and joe!!! yippee..you’re “home”!! caught joe in his tux…all I could think was..”well…no wonder!!!!” stunning…so happy that you can send photos..love them..thank you so much for bringing us all along…what a treat…love the view out of the kitchen sink window..expecting to see chimmey sweeps dashing about…”chim chim cherrie”…hosted our Mother’s Day brunch for my family this morning and gave my girls Emma’s MY DARLING MUM mugs. Your ears should have been burning as i was telling them how i came to find Emma…etc..they are smitten!! I ordered these mugs 2 and a half weeks ago, but when they arrived…they had mistakenly sent the wrong mugs. : ( I emailed them right away and within hours received a reply stating that the correct mugs had been dispatched, an apology, ( not needed…these things happen), and an offer to keep the first two mugs!…(which i feel a little funny doing..)..and…we received the correct mugs on Friday..just in time for Mother’s Day..what a great company..thank you for spreading the word.Have more fun than you can stand..sounds like you already are!! Blimey!! look at the time..must dash…have a blast..love, cindy p.s. 22 degrees C here!!!

  94. Brenda from Saskatchewan, Canada says:

    Love following along and seeing your awesome photos … can’t wait until you have a book of your watercolors detailing this trip.

  95. Laura Croyle says:

    Ohhh, it’s all so Loverly!! Sigh…The photo of the house surrounded by bluebells almost looks like a painting! And the old ancient stone wall from Roman times…how cool is that?!! So happy for you that you got blue skies and beautiful sunshine to boot!! What a sweet little apartment! Love that you pack special things to take along to make it feel more homey, and add little touches, like flowers! It’s the little things that matter in life, isn’t it? Thank-you Sooo much for sharing it all with us. I feel so blessed!

  96. Susan in SC says:

    I love our rental and enjoyed our tea this morning. So glad I remembered to pack sweaters and extra video cards for my camera. This is going to be the best summer holiday ever!

  97. Carol Maurer says:

    Hi Susan….
    So glad that you made it safe and sound. I’m soooo excited to be along with you and Joe! The pictures of you ‘home’ away from home is very nice. Looks very spacious. Great view out your window. Now, do you have the whole house to yourselves or just a floor? Looking forward to each day of your visit.
    Carol M

    • sbranch says:

      It’s an upstairs/downstairs apartment above a restaurant on the Main Street of this small town (2nd and 3rd floors). So we can walk around a lot, which we did today. Darling shops!

  98. Kristen says:

    How beautiful..and just as I imagined! I just can’t wait to see more. Thanks so much for taking me along! 🙂

  99. Victoria Miller says:

    Your ‘home away from home’ is so lovely. The 2nd century wall in the midst of this wonderful little town or village really amazed me. Reminds me a bit of why I so enjoy that film Holiday, where the two women switch houses, and one is the tiny cottage in England. Also loved the video of leaving the harbor. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy — and I know you and Joe will!

  100. Susan Havey says:

    Susan, how exciting to hear you talk about lovely England and all that you have seen so far. What a charming rental you have. The decor reminds me of your home in Martha’s Vineyard. Everything looks so cosy and green and blooming.

    My paternal grandmother came from Bagshot, England, and I feel close to her through your pictures. It will be so delightful to see the countryside and hear your narrative as you tour around. I have a trip to England on my bucket list, too, because of Audrey Hepburn’s DVD “Gardens of the World”.

    Enjoy every little thing, Susan, and know how much we love hearing about your adventures. What is Joe’s most desired thing to see or place to visit? You are so lucky to have an understanding and loving partner with you.

    How are the kitties at home doing? I’m sure they miss you.

    Susan in Spokane, WA

    • sbranch says:

      Just wrote back to my Kitty Babysitter, Will, who says they are doing well, Girl is coming out for petting and he’s playing with Jack all the time!

      Joe loves old Roman things, and there’s a train museum with steam engines that we want to go see.

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