Watching the Chelsea Flower Show, and . . .

Right now, we’re watching the Chelsea Flower Show on BBC  — I LOVE this show!  It’s only on for a week each year, while the show is taking place in London.  It’s the perfect thing to watch when you’re on vacation!  Musica? (Inspired by the last photo of this post.)

They tour display gardens at the show, in detail, they talk about different types of gardens, about fences, paths and topiary, about water features and how to attract animals and insects to your garden — and they take us to visit wonderful gardens in other parts of the country; they show what creative things you can do in small spaces↓

. . . no space is too small to squeeze in a wonderful garden here!  And they show flowers that get you so excited, you have to run and get your pen and write down the name of them …  angelica with the purple leaf for example, I just wrote it down, it looks wonderful for a contrast plant; and they just showed a tiny hosta called “cracker crumbs!”  How can you not want something with that name!  The person they are interviewing now loves the same kind of garden I love, the natural garden of the Kent countryside.  Very hard to beat for plain and simple beauty.

  How can you not fall in love with a country that adores gardens so much that they arrange events and TV shows around them?  Or a country that has a four o’clock tea as a regular thing and stocks its outdoor tea rooms like this:

How can you not love it!  All the doors and windows are open here in our flat tonight (see how English I’ve gotten?  I used to call this place an apartment back in the old days); it’s a beautiful evening here, the sky is pink, the sun is just about to go down.  Laughter drifts up to us from the outdoor cafe on the corner.  We have the last load of laundry drying outside on the line.   Joe is making lamb chops in the kitchen, gardens are on TV and I’m writing you!

 We’re almost all packed … yes, boo hoo, it’s already time for us to move on!  Two weeks gone in the blink of an eye!  Boo hoo because I want time to slow down, but I’m not really crying since we are going to our friends Rachel and Paul’s house tomorrow morning (here they are, at our house on the island . . .)

aren’t they adorable? (They’re happy because they know they get to come back here!) . . . We’re all taking the train together to London tomorrow night!  We’re staying in London for two days, in a lovely hotel that has ROOM SERVICE, we’re going to wander through Marylebone and Soho, doing whatever thing Ray and Paul want to, then we’ll all be training back in time for Sunday dinner with Ray’s mum and dad at their farm.  We’ll visit with Ray and Paul a bit more, and then, slowly, we begin gravitating north, back to the beautiful countryside . . .

towards Beatrix Potter’s Hilltop Farm (!!!!!) (that’s it in the photo), stopping along the way to visit the Emma Bridgewater factory, to the amazing castle called Chatsworth, and lots of other smaller homes and gardens, many more walks in the country.  Plenty to look forward to from here!  But time, please, slow down!

 Oh it’s a miracle alright!  I’m sure you can all see it is!  And even though I can’t possibly keep up with every second of our day in these posts, I’m having fun writing about it all in the diary which I can take with me no matter where we are!  We took another walk through the woods today, our last in Tenterden before we go!  But right now, I’m just writing to wave bye bye.  Hopefully the computer will work where we next land . . . I will be checking in!  Do not lose faith!

 Later . . .  now it’s this morning, just dawn; there’s the cooing of wood pigeons outside the open French doors here on the quiet High Street.  Just me, pigeons, tea and you.  I’ll leave you with one of my favorite photos so far; this is a bench just outside, below our French door windows. I love English people, they do know how to make a picnic anywhere.  You see families, couples, and singletons, plopped down, way out on a lawn some where, everywhere you look.  These two are living the good life; she has her candy bar; they each have something to read; they have a thermos between them; they’re dappled in spring sunshine; they’re in a place for good people-watching; it’s meandering at its best; the perfect way to slow down time!  (Look at his little socks!) Despite everything written about love, to me, this is what it looks like! I have to add, I have also enjoyed moments like this, alone, with a sandwich and a good book, on a bench, in nowhere’sville, and that feels a little bit like love too.

 The other thing, women wear skirts here, young and old, another thing I love.  I bought a skirt yesterday, in honor of the cuteness of English people!  Now I close my little window to the world, and pack up, and off we go …. Bye girlfriends, have a wonderful day!  Those of you coming along, better get in the car!  Suck in!  XOXO

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291 Responses to Watching the Chelsea Flower Show, and . . .

  1. Georgie says:

    After a day of sailing the Magical windy seas (…of NY Harbor), I am now nestled in for the night with my cup of orange tea immersed in your merry, happy, beautiful, dream filled England. Ahhhh. What’s that… time to go? Oh my! Tell Joe not to close the trunk yet 😉

    I’m looking forward to Everything… especially meeting up with 2 more girlfriends… Emma and Beatrix! The picture of the older couple on the bench reminds me of my folks who celebrated 60 years together this week. I gave them both Emma mugs! They LOVED them!!! Mom’s is the Jubilee (60 years a queen… how perfect was that.) and Dad’s was JOY… his favorite word.

    JOY is what your blogs/posts/tweets bring to all of us Susan!

    Ok! I found a space and I’m all set! Close the door. Hi Ray and Paul. I can’t wait to meet Ray’s mum and dad and see their farm!!! Off we go!

  2. Gert~Iowa says:

    Oh I hope you can squeeze me in…I can’t wait to see Rachel and London! Awwww…I am so excited.. And I have to agree..your last picture does just show “true love”…sweet…

    Looking forward to our next adventure…


  3. Pam G. says:

    wonderful post, as always…..I would love to go to the Chelsea Flower Mart…..oh if I ever go back to London!!!!!!! that picture of the flower show looks like a painting. England is so very special, isn’t it. I think I should have been born British.
    And that couple-true love…….reminds me of my mom and dad (89 and 90)

  4. Kate says:

    Such a cute old couple. I’m loving our trip. You are interested in just about everything I am so I’m having a great time traveling with you and Joe. I hope my snoring hasn’t bothered you too much.

  5. Deanna Briscoe says:

    What a joy it is to read your posts and see the pictures and videos. I feel like I’m on the trip with you and get to enjoy all the adventures right along with you. I know I’ll never be able to travel to England but feel like I’m there in spirit thru your writings, Thank you so much for letting me come along with you. What a wonderfully good time I’m having! I’m looking forward to what tomorrow holds. Blessings.

    • sbranch says:

      6 am church bells just rang here, everyone still asleep but me, we’ll see what the day holds! Thank you Deanna!

  6. Silvia Niomi says:

    Lovely post. My favorite part from this post is the scene; the sky is pink, laughter is drifting up from cafe below, the laundry is drying outside on the line, Joe is making lamb chops in the kitchen, garden on TV and you are writing to us…… delightful.

    Loved the little old couple picnicking on the bench….. sweet simple moments.

    The roof line visible behind the clothes drying on the line reminds me of the roof line from Mary Poppins broadway musical show…. Chim Chimney, Chim Chimney, Chim Chim Cher-ee 🙂 This broadway show came to California this past year and we went to see it. This is one of those shows that will make you fall in love with the English culture. The sets were charming. There were parts in this show that made us absolutely giddy. My’happy’ emotions at times would overwhelm me and I didn’t know what to do, laugh, giggle, cry or get up and dance. My son was affected the same way. It was so much fun. The Mary Poppins musical has toured through the UK…. I bet that would be fun to watch in London, with their accent and all.

    Cheers, xoxoxo

  7. The clothes hanging on the line with the rooftops in the back reminded me somehow of Mary Poppins….one of my favorite movies of all time.

    Thanks for blogging on your trip. It really is fun to see the pictures and read about your adventures. I am enjoying it. It is like reading one of your books in real time. Very special. I love how you get excited about everything.

    My husband leaves tomorrow to go to Scotland for a week…I am jealous of him….and of you as well 🙂 But in a good way.

  8. Oh, and I love the couple on the bench…..priceless.

  9. Marianne in Hidden Meadows says:

    Two weeks gone already — say it ain’t so!!! Well, since we’ll be in London soon, let’s sneak into the the Big Ben gearworks and wind the big guy counter clockwise and gain back at least half a day. Maybe use the extra time to take in Harrod’s, the Crown Jewels, Fortnum and Mason, or the British Museum? Could probably spend a whole day seeing any one of these remarkable places. Speaking of London, is that a “mews” in the second picture? Always wondered just what a mews is. Susan, you don’t know how happy I am to be on this wonderful trip with you and Joe and all the girlfriends. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! And the SoCal weather is even cooperating – had a chilly, misty day today, in late May! I think all of Southern California stowed away with you!


    P.S. Yes!!! More Skirts!!!!! And let’s bring back hats, too!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I have to go buy a proper hat, for Royal Ascot! The new dress code for the Royal Enclosure says “no facinators!”

      • Kerry S. from San Pedro, CA says:

        Rats! That all I packed!! ;}

      • Marianne in Hidden Meadows says:

        Oh yes, mustn’t breach etiquette with a “facinator”. Didn’t know we were going to the races. And just to keep you up with news stateside, did you know that we might have a Triple Crown winner over here this year? Yep, gotta watch the Belmont stakes and see if “I’ll Have Another” will be the first to take the triple crown since 1978! I don’t bet, but I love to watch the horseraces for the sheer beauty of the thoroughbreds – such sleek and elegant creatures, just like all of us, right girlfriends?!!! See you at the paddock….


      • Kathy from Brevard, NC says:

        I don’t suppose the straw hat that I brought will be fancy enough either, Susan. I think a trip to a milliner’s must be in order—what fun!!!

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        Duh…okay, I’ll be the one that asks–I can’t be the only girlfriend who doesn’t know what it is! Whatever is a “facinator”??? 🙂

        • sbranch says:

          It’s considered to be a small hat, but it’s more like a headband with little flowers and feathers on it. The English girls wear them to weddings and teas, whenever there’s an event that requires a hat. They’ve been the rage for the last few years.

          • paulie says:

            …….FINALLY………guess if you don’t ask ya don’t know, right? Guess I shoulda asked too! Well now I know…..Thanks and from now on I won’t pack any fascinators! lol

          • sbranch says:

            “from now on” — LOL! Me too, I won’t either!

  10. Marie says:

    Susan, you’re a woman after my own heart. I am so glad that Mother Nature has seen fit to bestow sunny days and warm temps upon your during your visit here in jolly olde England! Have you and Joe ever done any travelling in Wales? You must, you must! Denbighshire, my favourite country, home of LLangollen, my all time favourite village and then of course there is Betwys-y-coed, my other favourite village. (Betwys-y-coed, meaning little chapel in the woods) Wales which gave us Tom Jones and Aled Jones and a host of other talents, is a beautiful country. If you’ve never been you really should. Living in Chester, we are right on it’s doorstep. I shared some of a little visit we took to Llangollen on my Oak Cottage blog the other morning. Oh don’t you just adore the UK in the sunshine. I do! Happy journies. Can’t wait to read about your next adventure in our fair land!

  11. judi says:

    I love it all. You set the scene and draw us in. Love adventuring with you two. Think you will find a skirt is much more comfortable than pants:)

    I’m afraid Joe will have to drag me out of the glorious field with the sheep – I don’t wanna go…..altho….Marylebone looks quite like eye candy. And what lovely friends you have there – more delicious days ahead! Hugs! p.s. Back in the 1960’s my Aunt Vie had a soap like that you put a little screw in that attached it to the magnet in her large kitchen sink at the cabin. It was such fun:)

  12. Barb says:

    Hello Susan, Such a beautiful post once again. Love, the flower pictures from Chelsea! Breathtaking as I just love flowers! Nice to see the picture of Rachel and Paul once again as we got to see the sneek peek of them in one of your postings you have shared before from your blog. How lucky you all are for the deep friendship connection you all have, to share each others culture and then to pass it all on to all of us. Rachel has an infectious smile! Loved the picture of the tea cups. I have been to yard sales since we started this trip with you to England and now have three new (tea cups)……two are Bethany fine bone china and one is Rosina China. They are beautiful and in mint condition. The couple on the bench truly touched my heart. It’s been so nice thus far of what we have embarked upon and ready to delve in for the next adventure of our journey.
    I wanted to note that you have mentioned “church bells ringing” and my Mom taught me from a young age, that ever time you hear a church bell ringing it means another angel has just got there wings

    I would like to add something if I may: To everyone……..on this Memorial Day weekend……..please remember to thank each and every one of our Veterans…..Women and Men for their dedicated service to our Country and take a moment out to reflect for those whom have passed on and there will be a moment of silence to observe all Veterans…Monday at three pm. Thank you for allowing me to share this.
    Hugs and Smiles…….Barb……Ludlow, MA

    • sbranch says:

      So agree Barb, Happy Memorial Day!! This is a huge holiday on Martha’s Vineyard, parades, flags, and the unofficial start of summer!

  13. Christine from Lafayette, CO says:

    Oh I do love it! I love it all! When I was a little girl my Nana, who lived her first 22 years in England, use to tell me about how green everything was. She raved about the gardens, the villages, the hillsides with cows and horses. All your pictures and narratives bring her back to me! I loved sitting in her little kitchen, sipping kid’s tea (more milk and sugar than tea!) and listening to her reminisce about beautiful England. Thank you for sharing today’s beauty and reminding me of yesteryear! What a dear friend you are, Susan! xoxoxo

    • Kathy from Brevard, NC says:

      Thank you for reminding me about kid’s tea. I think I used 3 teaspoons of sugar! LOL

  14. Joan Lesmeister says:

    I got up an hour ago and have been enjoying the Chelsea Garden Show on BBC, through your wonderful blog!!!!! What a treat!! My dear MIL visited the Chelsea show years ago with a garden tour, and she had trouble describing how beautiful and amazing it was, and now I know why!!! I’m surprised you’re not there, I guess though, you’ve been visiting amazing gardens without the crowds! Thank you (& Joe) for your fahhhbulous blogs, love & hugs, Joanie!!! xoxo PS It’s fun to be on tour with all your friends!!!

  15. Julie (Omaha) says:

    Watched “Miss Potter” last night in preparation for our visit to Hilltop Farm. The scenery was absolutely beautiful! Do you know, did they film that on location? If so, you (we) are in for a feast for our eyes, mind and soul!!

  16. Marie (Williamsburg, Virginia) says:

    Sweet and charming, indeed!

    Marie xo

  17. Chris Wells says:

    I am simply speechless and awestruck. I have been here every step of the way, following behind at the back of the pack. I relish the blog and then read every word the girlfriends write. There is nothing left to say but Thank you so much for this trip.

  18. Kim DeMichele says:

    Dear Susan, I have recommended your blog to my daughter, who loves everything about England. She studied at Oxford last summer(the works of Jane Austen, her idol) and had the time of her life. She too visited Chatsworth and just adored it. You do know that Chatsworth is “Pemberleigh”, the estate of Mr. Darcy in the most recent movie of Pride and Prejudice. Can’t wait for more of your tour!!! Enjoy! Fondly, Kim D.

  19. LindaH says:

    Hi Susan!

    Please have Joe take some pictures of you in the gardens, and other spectacular sites for us to see!

  20. Uh oh, I feel inadequate now because of my skirt lapse. Do I have a skirt ?
    Yes, but I’m sure its all wrong. The best would be a plaid one with fringe and a golden safety pin, to hold the wool (made in Scotland) in place.
    The courtyard shot with all the warm brick and flowers is a stunner , just like the stacks and tottering piles of cups and plates in the cupboards are. But the couple on the bench is the tenderest. And the couple on the couch! Its so good to see Rachel and Paul !

  21. Nellie says:

    Susan, it has just been wonderful to be able to go along with you these past two weeks! I know the next leg of this trip is going to be fantastic! I have been practicing my breathing-in skills, and I am just about as small as I will ever get! Hopefully I am not taking up too much room!

    Actually, we are hoping to take in a Renaissance Fair today! You are welcome to join us, too!


  22. That first photo you posted sends my senses into over drive. All my favorite colors rolled into one lovely English Garden picture. English Gardens are my favorite. Loving this whole trip we are taking with you. Oh and Say hello to Will and Kate for me if you see them. :)) oh sorry..Katherine. What a fun time to be going to London. Thanks for packing us in your suitcase with you. I am really looking forward to where you are going next.. Beatrix Potters home and area. Your senses & artistic drive must be in triple over drive right now. 🙂

    • Diane from Washington state says:

      Yes, please do say hello to the royals when you see them…and dont forget to take a pic! lol
      I cant WAIT for Beatrix Potters home! Yay!

  23. Susu S. says:

    I love the Chelsea coverage. For something very different but equally British but in quirky off beat way, tune into the Eurovision Song Contest (now, Sat, night) on BBC1. British people love it for it’s awfulness! Like a musical train wreck they just have to watch it – even my conervative English husband. To give you an idea, Lithuania’s contestant just came on stage with a sequined blind fold. The British entry was Englebert Humperdink (sp?)! It is so kitsch especially with Graham Norton’s amusing, typically understated commentary. Enjoy.

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve been hearing about it … wasn’t quite understanding it! Now I think I get it. Makes sense, it’s supposed to be a musical train wreck! When they’d show promo for it, I kept saying, Englebert Humperdink? The British entry? Why?

  24. Mary Eldridge says:

    Excited you’ll be going to Chatsworth! I visited there while touring/singing on a Rotary sponsored trip. I was sixteen and my host family took me to Chatsworth where I even shook the hand of the Duke of Devonshire who passed us walking on the road . He was dressed in everyday clothes and was pleasant and wished me a good visit. JFK’s sister, Kathleen is buried there, having been married to one of the Duke’s family members. I believe she died in a plane crash during WWII. Hope you enjoy the mansion and the awesome grounds!

  25. Lisa R (northern Arizona) says:

    Just wanted to say “HI” Susan….My daughter and granddaughter from Oregon are visiting, and I barely have a moment to get on the internet, but just had to check your blog and catch up! What a wonderful time you are having! I can hear it in your words. I’m feeling like you right now, “time, slow down”. Love all that you have shared. We have a whirlwind week planned~ but I have two sweet photos fixed in my heart that will remind me of you. The darling toddler running through the garden, and the precious couple picnicing on the bench. There is so much sweetness in this world. 🙂 Enjoy it all!

  26. But I don’t want to go…….

  27. Judith - Texas says:

    I have been saving my “pennies” for a return trip to Italy….however, after reading your wonderful, descriptive posts, I find my heart yearning for England. Still saving, so when the time finally arrives, hopefully I’ll know for sure which destination I’ll choose. Thank you for taking us along – grateful!!

  28. Mary says:

    Oh Susan, what generosity of spirit you and Joe express in sharing this
    priceless visit! I sit here handkerchief at the ready, for I weep, I weep in
    nostalgice gratitude for those days we lived in the New Forest, met so many
    precious and noted people and immersed ourselves in one of the most civilized of cultures. And the land, the gardens! (even some of the smallest, given names –
    I remember one called Beulah on the gate in front of a stone cottage) You are
    correct ~ one simply just has to love the miracle of it all. God speed on your
    journey….I may tuck myself in on your return journey through the countryside. For now I’ll revel with you in all your discovery and prepare myself for the
    wonder of Hilltop. Bless you.

  29. Diane from Washington state says:

    Susan, I am sooo glad that you have taken all of with you! :I wouldnt have wanted to miss this trip for anything in the world! When I get older, I want to be just like the couple on the bench eating their picnic! That is my favorite picture of all too! I can just picture me and my husband right there…..we have a good chance at becoming that couple because we already sit for hours on our front porch in our rocking chairs, sipping on iced teas together! lol. I cannot believe that two weeks have passed…it has gone like the wind! I am so happy that we are still going to have weeks and weeks and weeks left for more. It would be unbearable if we had to come back home now! Your friends look so nice and fun to hang around and everything is simply picture perfect…..thank you again for all of the time you are taking to share with the girlfriends. Hugs!

    • sbranch says:

      Happy to be able to do it. Gorgeous day here today, I’m the only one up, and pigeons keep poking their heads in the kitchen door to see what’s going on!

  30. Jenny says:

    What a wonderful trip this has been so far – and I’m so excited for the rest of the journey. Thanks for dragging us all along. Honestly, I feel like I really am getting a little getaway when I read your posts. What a gift!

    That photo of the elderly couple is so sweet. You’re right, that is love.


  31. Susan says:

    How’s the Moon look from the other side of the Pond? Just wondering… It’s very cloudy here as we’ve had a couple of thunder’n’lighting days/nights so can’t really see it

    • sbranch says:

      It was huge last night, but waxing and half of it was there. Beautiful, I took pictures!

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