Where to Start . . .

Where to my start, my darlings, when it has been so long?  When every ten minutes something else worthy of attention occurs? So much has happened. THE PEACOCK JUST RAN BY!  I guess it’s just one day at a time.  How about some Musica?

I guess I’ll start with where I am right this minute.  I’m in that chair!  In front of our new little rental, which is a stone cottage in the Peak District, only lacking one thing, that’s internet service on the inside of the cottage where the electricity is! It’s a warm gorgeous day under that umbrella, very sunny, sort of washing out the color, but believe me, it’s just beautiful.

So, because of no connection,  I was “forced” to bring my tea outside, here with the cows (see them up on the hill?) and the swallows, and the wildflower meadows, the view of the lake, and the wood pigeons (cooing “my-toe-hurts-Betty”) to say HELLO! I’ve missed you!  As you know we’ve been traveling; I thought I might not have service up here in the Peak District at all, so I’m very happy!  We’ll see how long my battery lets me go!  We got here last night and we’ll be here until Saturday.  It’s been wonderful so far; very quiet after being in London; I painted on my diary all morning long.

What I really want is to catch you up on my visit with my dear “English Pen Pal” Rachel . . . here we are, happy together again on British soil where we belong!! (At least that’s what I think!)  I played this music in honor of Rachel, better known to the computer world, on her blog and on Twitter, as Mozarts Girl.

Seemed fitting to put this picture here, Ray and I are kindred spirits.  How we found each other half a world away is a kind of miracle.  Rachel wrote me a letter over twenty years ago, to tell me she liked my books; at the same time she told me the beautiful story of someone very dear to her; it was such a wonderful letter, because she’s a wonderful writer — I wrote her back, and that was the beginning; we’ve been friends ever since. 

To get to her house, we drove from Kent around the outskirts of London . . . with our little mascot (the doll that Jack the cat named Pete, remember? That Joe got when he was twelve years old on a trip back from England on an ocean liner with his mother?  I hope you’re keeping up! 🙂  We brought him along, he was dying to go sailing again, had not changed out of that outfit in all these years!!!  Would not shut up about going.  Hounded us.  So we said OK.  Now, he watches Joe’s every move.

Before we left the house, I warned everyone in England via Twitter; told them for their own sakes, if they lived between Tenterden in Kent, and Aylesbury in Bucks, anywhere near Heathrow airport, to stay off the road for a couple of hours.  Obviously, they didn’t listen, but we all got lucky and arrived in one piece.

I love where Rachel and Paul live; there we are, just pulled up in front of their house so we can unload and I immediately stepped into their beautiful churchyard to take a photo.

XOXOXO This would be a video of the churchyard with the bells ringing, but you have to use your imagination for now as the computer is not going to allow it!

Those lovely bells you heard (or would have heard!) ring every quarter hour all day and all night.  They don’t wake you up, but if they do, you’re happy they did.  So beautiful!

Here’s the neighborhood, leading into the churchyard . . . so you can see, it’s a wonderful old part of the city they live in.  They have a gorgeous pub near by called the Kings Head; Ray’s husband Paul is a lawyer whose office is just a block from home.  They can walk to almost everything they need.  Life is good.  Ray is a fourth generation baker; she has a wholesale bakery now, and is writing her own cookbook.  Among other things, she’s famous for her caramel brownies, that are like no other, trust me. I wish I could send you a taste, but, number one, I ate them all, so right now, because of natural computer limitations, it’s got to be just a virtual thought! A Chocolaty, chewy, tender, and delicious thought.  Rachel, if you’re reading this, and not too busy, these girls need a brownie!  (That’s right, throw the ball into her court!)

This is as far as I got on this post last night before the battery ran out!  And guess what, I just added a lot more to it this morning, and it all disappeared just now!!!!  I think I may go insane.  But what else is new.  I will not let this man-made article beat me.  Onward and upward. Doing it again.  Despite lack of internet connection we LOVE where we live right now . . . what am I saying, we do have connection, just not inside the house!  But what we do have is our own . . .

Peacock!  He came with the cottage!  He’s been on our porch both mornings since we got here.  The cottage is stone, and like so many others in England, it has a name: Weatherick Cottage, the ancient name for the hill on the other side of the road. There’s plenty of room for all of us here, two bedrooms, a large bathroom with a big deep tub, lots of pots and pans . . .

See the far table, that’s where I am right now . . . this one is where we took our dinner last night, it’s the Peacocks porch, we sat out here reading until the moon came up.

Time out:WE HAVE A PHEASANT ABOUT TWENTY FEET FROM WHERE I’M SITTING RIGHT THIS MINUTE.  I didn’t mean to virtually scream!  But it’s rather exciting.  In the picture above, see the bird feeder on the far right?  The pheasant is at the base of that, picking up dropped nuts. I love it here!

We have good reason to believe that the Peacock is in love with the Pheasant, from what we saw from our table here last night; it’s too long to tell while the battery is going down, I wrote about these two birds in my diary this morning!  The moon is very big and only half full (despite what my camera is doing), the lights you see over on the right are reflected in the lake way out there.  Beyond beautiful, a balmy coolish, warmish, perfect evening last night.

But I digress, too many things to talk about.  This is Alice, Ray and Paul’s darling dog.  Rules the roost there, as is quite proper!  My problem is battery is almost gone and I haven’t even gotten us near London.  I really want to show you the tea we had at the little flea market.  Not to mention Ray’s parent’s farm where I GOT TO PET A BABY LAMB.  Have to scream that, I wanted to do that all my life.  Not to mention how wonderfully decorated Ray and Paul’s house is.  Too much to tell you, too much to show, and no time.  Apparently, when you are on battery, the photos take about 15 min each to load.  But I will leave you with this last one, to give you a taste of what’s to come . . .

We do brake for cake–this was at the Cabbages and Roses flea market in Marylebone in London where Ray and I had tea.  We could eat it right there in the park in the center, near the church.  This will have to pique your interest, there’s more to come, so sorry I can’t go on and on all day here, would love to show more!  Love you girlfriends!  Wonderful, wonderful trip, we should be at Beatrix Potter’s this weekend!  Are you ready?  My-toe-hurts-betty! 

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267 Responses to Where to Start . . .

  1. Ann says:

    Hi Susan
    What a real treat to catch up with your adventures this morning, looks like you are all having the very best of times, fantastic! I could definitely go a slice of that cake right now with my mid-morning cuppa, it looks soooo yummy. Hope you all have a fabulous Jubilee weekend.
    Love from Ann in Thame

  2. judi says:

    So good to hear from you …was beginning to get a bit worried. Your post showed up here EDT about 5:15 a.m. 5/30. Interesting, eh? Love your pictures and the peacock, Rachel, Paul & Alice of course.

    Lovely area you are in. Looking forward to more….we moochers are always wanting more:) Checking your friend Rachel’s blog too – delightful.

  3. Mary Spring says:

    Dear Susan and Joe…absolutely worth waiting for !!!!…. soooo much love and joy !!!….thanks for always keeping us near and dear….with love……

  4. Ann says:

    Ahh yes, its wonderful and exciting to visit London once in a while but oh so much nicer to come home (even temporary home). The contrast between hot and dusty crowded streets and a cool quiet evening garden when home reached is something to be treasured – I think so anyway.

    You are having a wonderful time Susan and I’m really looking forward to “what’s to come”. Thank you for sharing it all with us even though you must be having an electronically trying time!

  5. Sweet Pea says:

    Your post was such a tease!!!! I so need more but I understand the technical difficulties…it’s ok I won’t go on pouting…you have never forgotten us….patience is a virtue…right??
    Cake glorious cake….whimsical layered cakes with thick ballet colored frosting bring me palpable joy and that cake makes me want to twirl…I hope you had a nice big piece!

    xox have fun …we’ll talk again soon

  6. karen says:

    tell more about the cake with the pinkish layers. I am imagining that is is raspberry or stawberry flavored but the topping looks devine. I am loving your blogging and taking us along.

  7. Cathy McC. says:

    Good day! I am all goose-bumps over your story of how you and Rachel met and how your friendship developed. What a gift to treasure! Every place you go seems to be heaven on earth for you — and therefore for all of us, too. Can’t imagine a better place to sit and “work” on your computer than that field over-looking the cows basking in the sun and a pheasant finding leftovers under the feeder. Be prepared — We are all going to be hounding you to get that diary published, you know. Enjoy your journey and continue leading us well — Ethel

  8. paulie says:

    GOOD morning SUSAN, & Rachael!
    I have a hundred ooohs and aughs over this blog this morning but will reserve them all in exchange for the answer to ONE question! RACHael is a fourth generation baker ??????????????? How does she retain her slim figure and still do all that baking????????????? I need her secret or her recipes…….what a lovely lady…….!!!
    Now with reference to your location. It is breathtaking ….. no surprise on that right? Just love all the pics – the peacock is mesmarizing (sp?)…the sites are so gorgeous, the location must be so perfect …. and the landscape is another painting in the making…..last of all, that cake on the table for tea has to come back with you, or at least the recipe for us girlfriends. … Looks like it is to die for! So many comments and so little space………..augh……….love it all. Thank you dear Sue ! Thank you.

  9. Carla says:

    It seems like you are in a dream world! A Pheasant AND a Peacock…unbelievable, lucky you! I have truly treasured your posts as it has been a life dream for me to go to England. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being so generous with your time and sharing with all of us girlfriends!
    Happy Jubilee!

  10. Lorie Hartsig says:

    Never mind about the battery problems….we Girlfriends are good at reading between the pictures and imagining the beautiful photos to come. On with the adventure!

  11. Gert~Iowa says:

    Oh Susan, I am in “love” with England (who wouldn’t be?), except for driving on the wrong side of the road…smile… However, I think Joe is doing an amazing job, especially with all of us in the backseat chattering away… I have always ‘loved’ Rachel’s home being so close to the graveyard and hearing those churchbells ringing! I can’t wait for the video!! I’m sure you are really enjoying where ‘we’ are now staying….the countryside is so beautiful…and “wow” pheasants & peacocks…moonlit nights..out on the patio!! Pinch me…I think I’m dreaming…smile…


  12. Lisa says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I’ve wanted to go and do what your doing most of my life. Thank you for being so selfless in going to such lengths to share with us all. I’ve been checking your blog twice a day since your last post! I can’t wait everyday to see what’s next!! You are so very blest, and thank you so much for sharing so much of your life with me (us). I so wish I had you as a real friend, you know what I mean. Praying for your safety and wonderful experiences, so happy for you and Joe. Again thank you I am having such a wonderful time following you.

  13. Suzanne says:

    Beautiful just beautiful Susan, so serene….I don’t think I would want to leave! I mean how awesome to have a peacock outside your door every morning, its all just a feast for the senses! Your friend Rachel seems so lovely too, how nice to have a friend there to share your vacation, (do we have that recipe for the caramel brownies?). Those cakes omg!!!! I’m in dessert heaven! Alice looks like shes the queen of her castle for sure, so cute. Can’t wait for the next post, I’ve missed you!!!! -East Longmeadow, Ma

  14. Barb from Ohio says:

    Hi Susan,
    I think I would have wanted to just stay on that patio with the peacock and great view of the hillside and cows and all. But there is so much to do, places to see! You are so blessed to have such a wonderful pen pal in Rachel and have become such good friends from so far away from each other. Love the pictures so keep that battery charged when you can and keep them coming!

  15. Maryellen says:

    What an adventure – everything just so . . . British! I just have to mention the cake – drooling, drooling!

  16. Doreen Strain - Florida says:

    The pictures are beautiful Susan. I’m happy to hear you are having a wonderful time. Have you heard the peacock scream yet? They sound like a woman when they scream. We had one on the farm when I was younger and it would sit up in the tree and scream. I miss that sound believe it or not. Never really thought about it until now. The view in your pictures is just beautiful. I’m enjoying my tea in my special “taking a trip to England” tea cup I bought just for the trip. I’m having so much fun…although…I really would have loved a second piece of that cake we had at the farmers market! LOL! Thanks for doing such a good job at keeping us posted. I’m sure I can speak for the rest of the girlfriends when I say WE ARE HAVING A BALL being on this trip with you and Joe (oh, and Pete too!) Say hello to Ray & Paul for us! xoxo FOSB 4~Ever! ~ Doreen ~

  17. Priscilla Palmer from Naples, Florida says:

    Ha ha ha! I just paused Mozart on Pandora …
    wait for it …
    to listen to Mozart on your blog!

    Dear Sue, thank you for another rich blog post. Oh, here’s link to the Aylesbury Church bells; as they say, fast forward to 2:57 to actually hear the bells:

    Love the peacocks at your cottage; do they wake you up every morning? Maybe the poor peacock thinks the pheasant is a peahen!

    Thank you for the link to the cottage site although your outdoor photos do it more justice than their interior photos.

    And the weather is being so cooperating for you now; when I spoke with my friend Julie a week ago she said it had been raining raining raining … she lives in Newark in Nottinghamshire … which isn’t far of course from your Weatherick Cottage.

    Drink it all in and fill your inspiration cup … I know I am drinking it all in to fill mine!

    xoxo, Priscilla

    • Joan Lesmeister says:

      Thank you Priscilla! Love hearing the bells!

      • Priscilla Palmer from Naples, Florida says:

        IYou are welcome Joan.
        It’s nice to hear the birds until the bells ring too, isn’t it?

  18. Terri from Swansboro, NC says:

    As I type this I am listening to pouring down rain from the tropical (sub, tropical and storm) now just rain! So your post was wonderful! Peacocks are beautiful aren’t they? Is yours nice or fussy? Nice right, he is with you guys! LOL! Dinner looked wonderful. The view from both tables is incredible! I bet you just stare at it? And got some work done, good for you! I would be landscape dreaming at that awesome view! How did you find out about places like that to rent? And I think I will name our new old home too. To come up with a neat name, might steal one from your writings! LOL! Time to put the wallies (called wellingtons in England but wallies is my short version) on get my plants out of the pouring rain! Rainy Smiles from NC! LOL!!

  19. Martha says:

    I am LOVING your photos of England – I feel like I am there with you! I would love to see them in a book format – it would be wonderful. Looking forward to more posts! Martha

  20. jennifer says:

    I cannot wait till every morning to see if you have posted! Love seeing it all.
    Peacocks are a fascination for me, how beautiful to have one right outside your window. And I noticed something else, outside on that far away hill where some trees are…..the last two look like a momma elephant with her baby behind her.
    At least on my computer screen that’s what it looks like. 🙂 It’s in every photo of it.
    Do have fun today! And record everything you see for us!!! 🙂

  21. Jeanette says:

    Susan, What a delightful post to start my happity, hippity hump day!!! THANK YOU!!! Yes, I must scream that, because this vicarious trip is so, so needed for me and all the other girlfriend, I’m sure!!!
    We have pheasants here in central IL and everytime I see one, it’s utterly wonderful. I hear them almost everyday now in the spring, can’t wait for the babies to appear, they are darling, to say the least!
    Almost time for my cuppa PG Tips (which you got me hooked on a long time ago…) after I finish my yogurt with my homemade granola. Eating at my desk, dreaming of England…
    Hugs and love and tea and scones to you!!! xoox, Jeanette

  22. Drucye says:

    Loving every minute of this trip! I’m so glad you posted a picture of yourself. We love seeing Joe, but hand him the camera more often. Especially when you get to Beatrix Potter’s house! Thanks so much for taking us along.

  23. Karen P. -Wisconsin says:

    All this wonderful stuff and yet Beatrix coming this weekend??!! How can you even bear to go to sleep at night??!! LOVE the view from your new cottage. All so charming! You petted a lamb!!?? Sweet……have a fabulous day! We’ll be waiting for more news!

    • sbranch says:

      Every day is definitely an adventure, like a box of chocolates . . . you never know . . . Yes!

  24. Peggy Cooper from Pueblo, CO says:

    So glad to hear from you at last! It’s been so long. I’ll say it again – DELIGHTFUL! is the word that comes to mind every time I read one of these English posts. Now Susan, I know others have mentioned it, but you really do need to turn this wonderful trip into a book. Since you are keeping the diary and this blog, it’s practically written already. I know all us girlfriends would buy it (and cherish it). BTW, got the latest Gladys Taber newsletter in the mail, so now that I’ve had a wonderful time reading your blog with my morning coffee, I can look forward to reading that with afternoon tea. I do wish we had more tea rooms and pubs here in the states.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m doing just that, writing a diary of all the details I don’t have time to show or tell in the blog! I’ll publish it when I get home! Me too, more tea rooms!

  25. LindaH says:

    Love the picture of you and Rachel! You’re really having an amazing adventure, and you are doing an excellent job of conveying your happiness and delight to us through this blog!

  26. Jack says:

    What in the world — blank that — what in England, is that collage of food you are showing you’re having for dinner? With only one wine glass? If you are tired, that may explain it! A body In motion requires a goodly portion of protein to stay in motion for an extended time; didn’t we already discuss this???

  27. Jack says:

    P.S.-good haircut —

  28. Martha Ellen says:

    How marvelous the English countryside looks! I love everything you bring to us from Merry Ole England! The photo of you and Rachel is beautiful Susan—how lovely for penpals to get together in person. I’m so excited to be going to Hilltop this weekend!!! Thank you for opening up more of the world to all us. xoxo ♥

  29. Elaine says:

    Look forward each morning to “visiting” with you with my cuppa coffee! In a few weeks I will be in the U.K. And your blog is giving me butterflies! Cant wait!

  30. Pamela Jewett says:

    Snatches and dabs! Your trip is so delightful! I was looking at the small sign under the beautiful cake and it looks like rose, raspberry etc. Was that the flavor? It sounds devine. Yum.
    We’ll take anything you can send. Thank you again for sharing.
    xoxo Pam

  31. Marie (Long Beach, CA) says:

    F A N T A S T I C post !!! Loving all the news and pictures. Thank you, thank you, thank you !!! I know how happy “Pete” is to be along for the journey, but I’ve gotta say, he kind of creeps me out. Just had to share. 🙂 Bye for now.

  32. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Missed you too! Loving our trip! Darling pics of you girls & Ray & Paul! Beautiful scenery (& cake). A great start to my day & I can hardly wait for the next installment! Thank you! Cheerio! xoxo

  33. Kimi says:

    Susan Hi

    I think this trip is more relaxing or so it seems! I love your adventurers and enjoyed all your posts too! Thank you for taking time to show everyone here how lovely other parts of the world are! I see here to their is a peacock outside the window how awesome is that! and I get excited when I see ducks? where am I at? The cake Susan looks very good I sure can go for that! You look like your having a good time but! Susan you look a little tired but who cares your have a good time! Look forwarded to Beatrix Potter’s weekend and YES I’M READY!!!!

    xoxo Hope you feet feel better!

  34. Juliana - Jackson, NJ says:

    This is like a fairy tale vacation! Those “cottages”, your own peacock? the village where Rachel and Paul live? That CAKE!!! Uh! Maybe it’s a good thing there isn’t enough service, we need time to savor all this s l o w l y … make it last as long as possible!!! Love it all!!! Please keep enjoying, as we are all enjoying it with you! (ps Rachel and Paul are an adorable couple!)

  35. Wendy Louise says:

    Thank-you you sweet heart that whole blog just tickled my brain right down to my toes. You describe it and I feel like I’m there. Be patient with the internet, it’s all good, no worries, you are the best sharer I know !!!!! We know there will be lots more when you can. It’s s exciting the anticipation, it’s like Christmas. Keep taking JOY, it all flows to us !!!!! 🙂 OOXX

  36. Nellie says:

    Wonderful, Susan! What gorgeous pictures! I can just taste that brownie now!
    I’m loving this trip!

    Have a marvelous day!


  37. Pam says:

    So exciting Susan, I can hardly keep up!! Love the view from the cottage and so glad the weather is behaving itself so you can eat al fresco!! I’m very pleased you’re enjoying your trip so much. 🙂

    • Pam says:

      By the way, as well as Beatrix Potter’s house, Hill Top, did you know there is a Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead? It used to be her husband’s office I believe.

    • sbranch says:

      I wish you could see it now Pam, “baaaa” is coming from the field behind us, birds are tweeting, the lake they call Carsington Water is shining out there, and everything is so green (or yellow from the buttercups!) It’s idyllic!

      • Pam says:

        Sounds lovely.

      • Joan Lesmeister says:

        GIANT SIGHS! We’re trying to stay on the paths & not trample the buttercups! Did you notice how quiet we’ve become, listening to the birds? Loving our trip! GIANT THANKS! XOXO

  38. Mrs. M says:

    Oh, how exciting to go along with you on this trip! What a friend you are! It’s all the storybook watercolors come to life! Thankyou for sharing all this beauty…as you always do…with me! Emm

  39. K. Ross says:

    Oh Susan Branch — you are making me homesick for a place I’ve never been! Years ago I visited Austria, and the farmland and pastures tugged at my heart. Your photos of the English countryside have that same effect. So peaceful. Enjoy, enjoy!

  40. Cindy Maulin says:

    hi susan…ZOOM!!! i can certainly tell you that you DO have so much to tell and that time and batterty loom large…i love the snap of you and Rachel…what a sweet story of friendship… a beautiful place with wonderful friends…happiness abounds!! love, cindy

  41. Fran Sigdestad says:

    I am wowed beyond words. Everything is so beautiful and romantic where you are staying. Hill Top Farm will be so exicting too! XOXO

  42. Rosanne in Oregon says:

    Beautiful, fabulous, brilliant! Reading your post was such a treat. Smiling all the way to my toes! (That little doll of Joe’s is a little creepy, though.;) )

    • sbranch says:

      We know, but we’re learning to try to love him 🙂 For old time’s sake.

      • Dawn from Minnesota says:

        haha….Oh Pete…..Why does he look familiar to me??? He
        does remind me of the cracker jack boy….a little older and
        with a look on his face that seems to be saying, “Did ya hear the one about the……….” He cracks me up! When I saw
        him sitting in the car next to Joe I laughed and then I
        thought OMG! Susan IS driving !!! Until I remembered
        that Joe WAS driving……England style! Susan I was really
        proud of you for a minute…..you brave girl!!! (If you don’t
        know by now…..I’m ALWAYS so proud of YOU !!!!!) VOTE!!!
        Does the gnivird…..and gnidir…..feel more normal yet???
        Can you believe it? …..your own peacock !!! I have squirrels and you have peacocks…..now that explains everything !
        Thinking of YOU… and it was so nice to see your BEaUtiful
        smiling face next to another Beautiful smiling face (Rachel)
        and knowing that at that moment…..”BLISS!!!!”

      • Rosanne in Oregon says:

        Well, I’m probably just jealous of Pete because he gets to be there with you, and is so well traveled.

    • Kimi says:

      Loling…. sorry but that is funny…. Rosanne has a point he is a little creepy Susan. I’m looken at you, why you looken at me! Oh what we do! Susan this is why I love your bolg soooo much your good hearted and take us in stride! and why not its all good!

      • sbranch says:

        No, I know, it’s funny, but true!!!

      • Dawn from Minnesota says:

        PETE says………”Psssst, Hey Joe over here…..
        Yeah, I’m talking to you…..yeah YOU!!!!
        Knock Knock!
        Who’s There?
        Cows Go.
        Cows Go Who?
        No, Cows Go Moo ! ”
        …It wasn’t me…..it was ALL PETE…. and you should hear his
        laugh !!!! Ole Shifty eyes ………..

        • Dawn from Minnesota says:

          Yikes! Hey I figure….You can laugh with me Or you can
          Laugh at me….No matter what….We are all Laughing…
          and that is always GOOD !!!!! An besides it WAS all
          that little guy some call “creepy”….. PETE !

          • Dawn from Minnesota says:

            Does anyone else think that Pete looks a lot
            like Uncle Charlie from My Three Sons ?

        • sbranch says:

          His kind of joke exactly!

  43. Regina says:

    I am just loving all your posts about your trip. I’m recovering from foot surgery (one week ago today) and have to have my foot elevated most of the day. So I look forward to reading your latest blogs. I can actually read it leisurely now. I’m trying to catch up on my reading and watching movies that I never seem to find the time for, some of which you recommended. So I’m trying to “enjoy” this time of leisure! Can’t wait to hear about your trip to Beatrix’s house!

  44. Kerry S. from San Pedro, CA says:

    Ah peacock!s This one looks like the 4 peeps in our neighborhood flock – they were hatched last year! He’s probably bonding with the pheasant because it’s mating season!! I’ve always though pea fowl and pheasants look quite a bit alike – especially the iridescent feathers and markings on their necks. Is he calling you awake in the morning? Or acting as a watch bird at night?? That’s what the cocks in our area do!
    The countryside looks amazing!
    Rachel and Paul – what a wonderful pair!! You two must be having so much fun together!
    Can’t wait to see Miss Potters home!!

  45. Where to start, indeed! You sound out of breath! I can hear the excitement in your voice.

    Girlfriends, I think someone needs to get Susan a long extension cord for her computer so we can get those videos.

    Weatherick Cottage is SO charming!

    I hope someone videoed you petting that baby lamb so we can see it later.

    Cabbages and Roses! I love the print on the tablecloth underneath those delicious cakes. You guys didn’t eat all that cake yourself did you!? Of course not! It was all us girlfriends sneaking a bite.

    • sbranch says:

      I videoed it as it was running up to me!!! You will love it, such a little sweetheart.

      Yes, the girlfriends ate the cake!!! That’s right. We barely got a bite! Thank you! 🙂

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        Did you notice that Dawn and Deborah didn’t lag behind on that part of the outing? Good thing as I wouldn’t have wanted to go back to get them and lost my place in line for a piece of that wonderful cake and cuppa tea… 🙂

        • Dawn from Minnesota says:

          Hahaha….Oh Pat….But you must know by now that I
          didn’t eat my piece of cake…..remember ?? We wanted to keep it to feed Nature…..the peacock, the pheasant, the lambs, the cows, the swallows, the wood pigeons, Joe ( 🙂 ) ….you were gonna find out who could tolerate sugar the best ! And if don’t tell me soon
          I’m afraid even the cake crumbs are gonna be gone!
          …..If Susan is attracting all this nature Here whatever
          will happen when we get to Hill Top……the Land of
          Beatrix Potter and ALL Those animals?……I am not
          bringing cake there ! I’m thinking we might need to
          protect her or start calling her Snow White !!!

  46. Heartsdesire says:

    So happy to read your post and see what a lovely time you’re having. Everything looks so pleasant and calming at your new rental, but I’m sure you are probably loving every exciting thing you’ve been doing. You can relax when you get home. Hoping your internet is working well when you get to Beatrix Potter’s house. Her gardens must be fabulous right now.

  47. Pat Mofjeld says:

    This is so much fun–travelling along with you two! Fun to see photo of cute Alice and cute Ray and Paul! Love the cottage you are staying at except for the poor Internet connection inside–what a beautiful spot to sit and watch the moon come up! Are there mosquitoes or gnats in England? (I’m recovering from a bad reaction to a gnat bite at the moment!) Outdoor casual tea there is so much more civilized–china plates versus our cup of coffee in styrofoam on the go here! Enjoy the trip and looking forward to more photos and stories!!! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Haven’t seen any little flying critters, but there just have to be. Although there are never any screens on any of the windows here! Which I love, open windows and no screens!

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        When we visit our relatives in Seattle, they have no screens, either. Amazes me, having grown up in the Midwest! I always wonder why the birds don’t come in, though… 🙂

      • Jackie P says:

        I was also wondering if there are ticks in England? All that walking in the countryside . . . we have a bumper-crop here in New Hampshire this season.

  48. Gail Marie says:

    Great picture of you & Rachel. Love seeing everything your doing… What fun!

  49. I can only imagine right now what your drawings of the Peacock/Pheasant will look like all the beautiful teals/blues…..what a magical location you are at right this minute and my dear friend…..not having internet inside and only limited on your patio is the “vacation voodoo” trying to tell you to enjoy your time and believe me we are all doing just fine, even though we miss not knowing where/what you are doing every minute it just makes it more special when you can sneak on and let us see a glimpse of how much fun you are having. This is your vacation and we are grateful that you even considered taking us along. You just enjoy your “birds” and the cows on the hillside, and all of God’s Green Earth….we will wait and we are a patient lot…..I’m also experiencing internet service problems from Austria and I had to tell Angela not to fret and worry this is her adventure and as long as I know she is well and happy that is all that matters!!!! Your cottage sounds perfect and you and Joe take this down time to enjoy each other and your trip. Blessings

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Deborah!! I love the ‘vacation vodoo’ ! You are probably right!

    • Dawn from Minnesota says:

      Hi Deborah!!!! Is it just me ……or am I starting talk with and English

      • Hey Girlfriend where in the world have you been?? I have two things to say to you…..I shared my cake with you and next treat we get I think you need to get your own piece because that was almost to good to share but since it was you…..AND you are sounding quite British which is cute over here; but, please don’t bring it back with you on our trek back to the States!!!! I haven’t been on here that much because I’m running myself ragged trying to be online when I think Angela might be and the 6 hr. difference is making it hard for us to connect which is fine….we have only skyped once there are 5 girls and 1 connection…..she is having a ball and speaking German and now that classes have started she is busy. You think Joe’s sailor boy looks like Uncle Charlie (LOL) I was thinking more like “Chuckie” the one from that scary movie that I never saw?? I was trying not to say anything because afterall it is Joe’s but that would scare a child to nightmares!!!! Stay in touch and keep a stiff upper lip…whatev that means?? haha

        • BTW……I asked Susan if we could name her Peacock and the Pheasant and she said they needed names….so if you haven’t read that comment please do and let’s try to come up with something that she likes and when she writes her book she can have names for them….so Pat you too let’s come up with some names I gave mine on the post….Philip and Prudence and then Susan said they fed him peanuts and I told her maybe that could be his name??

          • Pat Mofjeld says:

            okay, Deborah–don’t know if you will go back here to read but my “bug bites” turned out to be shingles so my brain has been busy trying not to itch them as they fortunately are itching, not hurting! 🙂 so, no names–I think your submissions are perfect!!! 🙂

          • Oh no Pat, so sorry about you having Shingles I have heard they can be quite painful and really annoying…I saw where they give a shot for those now and they are actually chicken pox (inside)? and if you have had those we all have a chance of getting shingles?? Luck with them and fight the urge to scratch I know that is difficult. I had a few spots of poison ivy a few weeks back and they drove me nuts trying not to scratch!!

  50. anita says:

    OMG Susan! So many questions are hurtling through my head. First, are the Tudor buildings on Rachel’s street really leaning or is it an illusion? I LOVE that Pete is your traveling companion, so something I would or should I say have done. His eyes watching Joe are a scream! I love the musica choices, so English. Please bring all of us a Jubilee souvenir from your trip, I watched a special last night on channel 7 about the Queen, very good. Wish I was there!! And finally, get a long extension cord for your lap top! No battery needed and you can type all of your stories forever. Thank so much for sharing your trip with us.!


    • sbranch says:

      Absolutely everything leans here, nothing is straight, it’s all old, charming, and crooked. Don’t you love it? I have a Jubilee souvenir for a giveaway in fact, so far I have two; one of them, I got today, in an antique store. Yes! That’s right. Guess what it is! We have two extension cords but Joe is telling me we would need 40 feet, which we can get, if we get there!

  51. Carolyn says:

    Susan, I love your trip so far! So wonderful and I have been watching…just haven’t posted anything! Quick question!! I tried real quickly to find the answer/ your post on my own. What was the name of the book many years ago that you received as a gift that got you dabbling into art and painting yourself??? I know you are busy and on vacation….but I am so interested!! I want to spend the summer months dabbling myself!! 😀

    Thank you so very much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! XOXO

    • sbranch says:

      I don’t think it was a book, it was a birthday gift certificate to an art store that got me dabbling, I looked around there, and finally bought watercolors!

      • carolyn says:

        Oh okay! Well then that is what I will do! :D. Thank you so much! Thank u too 4 keeping us updated with your wonderful trip!!

  52. Ann says:

    You’re having a wonderful time, aren’t you? Any chance of getting Rachael’s brownie recipe? I cannot wait to read your diary.

    • sbranch says:

      I don’t have it, she’s too smart for me!! You should ask her, but I think, as I said before, it’s a state secret!

    • Jack says:

      Ann — your request touched my heart — here is a Very Goooood recipe for those
      Choclate Carmel Brownies — but ya really gotta want em to go to all this trouble !
      However, they are the best you ever had !
      14 oz. Caramels
      1/2 cup evap. Milk
      3/4 cup butter – melt
      1/3 cup evap. Milk
      1/4 cup Pecans — chop
      2 cups milk choc. Chips
      1(18.25 oz.) Germ. Choc.Cake Mix
      1-Place caramels in M Wave safe bowel – heat -stir in 1/2 cup evap milk…….
      2-Pre heat oven to 350 deg. (175C.) grease 9×13 in pan .
      3-in large bowl mix . Cake mix , 1/3 cup evap .milk, melted butter ,and nuts
      Mix good and 1/2 this batter goes in bake pan .
      4-bake 8 min. In preheated oven .
      5-put remaining batter in fridge — ok now remove pan from oven sprinkle choc. Chips on top — drizzle carmal sauce over chips –remove mix from fridge and use
      T-spoon to make small balls of mix — cover top of sauce then press the balls flat …
      bake for added 20 Min. That’it .

      • Linda Pintarell says:

        Thanks, Jack. I just copied and can’t wait to try. Susan has such a sweet daddy. Thank you for always joining in with us.

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        Thanks, Jack!!! You have “saved the day”!!! 🙂

      • Susan says:

        What a treat! Thank you so much for sharing, Jack.

      • Dawn from Minnesota says:

        Jack, Jack, Jack !!!! Thank You for the recipe !!!!!
        I will make some for you…..really…..they will not have that
        “Rachelness” ….but, I like to bake and I always wash my
        hands first!!!!! So, I’m just saying…let me know if you want
        some sent to you…..cuz I will !!!!! You had some other recipes
        too…the cozy port one…..I’m thinking a few pages in Susan’s
        diary with your recipes????? : .}

  53. Carol Anderson says:

    You are making the trip I always wanted to make! Thank you so much for sharing it with all of us stay-at-homes!! I want to go online and figure out what to plant in my yard so that we will have song birds outside my window. Happy traveling.

  54. Diane says:

    My, oh my! That cakes looks sooooo good. There are no appropriate words to tell you how much I am enjoying my vacation with you. A peacock?! A pheasant?! Cows?! Cake and friends?! Life is really, really good.

    I absolutely cannot wait for the next installment of your travels. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    Diane in North Carolina

  55. Janet says:

    What can I say? This trip just gets BETTER AND BETTER as the days go on. Can’t wait to get the finished journal with all your lushly-descriptive details included [not enough time here now I’m sure]. And how great to have a couple of friendly “natives” to show you around, give you the best tips, the lay of the land etc. You are one bless-ed chick there, my friend – and NO ONE deserves it more, might I add. :>)

    PS 1 – does Rachel ship any of her goodies?
    PS 2 – just a tip [which maybe you already do anyway]. Whenever I write anything for the web, I start it as a new Word doc doing all tweaking and re-tweaking there. When finally ready to “publish,” I copy & paste it to the web. Then – in those situations when The Web IS conniving to make you insane and it DOES vanish, you don’t have to start from scratch again. “Talk” to you again soon!

    • sbranch says:

      That’s how Joe tells me to do it, but I try to tell a story with the photos….do you put the photos into word first too? As for Ray and her wonderful things, I’m not sure, go to her website and write her!

      • Janet says:

        Oh gee -good question, Sue. My stuff is all text [i.e., boring]. I’m guessing that inserted photos or art would be OK. But to be sure, let me ask one of the genius students at the university where I work. We have more than our share of brilliant techies who figure out this stuff in no time. Or if feeling brave, give it a try yourself BUT only when you have confidence in your Internet connection [in or near a major city, maybe]. Servers can be weird & connections between US and overseas servers especially so. PS – I will be checking Rachel’s website first thing tomorrow. Nearly 7 pm EDT now – time to head home. Bye for now.

      • CarolK (central NJ) says:

        I think there is a way to ‘insert’ the pictures in a Word document. You have to play with it. Sometimes it works for me and sometimes it doesn’t. I think you have to pull up the ‘draw’ toolbar, insert a box between the paragraphs and insert the picture in the box. Like Janet said, it’s keeps you sane typing your document in Word and saving it before ‘copying’ it to the blog.

      • Jackie P says:

        On your MacBook you could compose in TextEdit (an RTF file) and you can insert images into that file format (just click and drag!).

        • sbranch says:

          To be perfectly honest, in a sad but true way, I have no idea what you are talking about. Here are the words I don’t understand: TextEdit, RTF File. But I love you for trying! 🙂

          • Pat Mofjeld says:

            I love you, Susan, for admitting that! That makes TWO of us!!! I’m not proud of it but I really try to be a “Techy” but the fact is that my “creative/artist” brain just doesn’t translate any of it into something I can understand or remember…it is “magic” that makes any of it work for me… 🙂 LOL!

          • sbranch says:

            I love being able to do what I DO do, and learning more all the time, but I do get stuck in my ways. I may not know the fastest way, but I know some way, which is better than nothing!

  56. Judy from Oregon says:

    This trip is so much fun! The pictures are beautiful! The excitement is beyond expectations can’t wait to see pictures from Beatrix Potter’s.

  57. Heather Smith says:

    WAIT!!! Back up!!! the CARAMEL Brownies…….if you ATE them ALL….let us have the recipe so we can make more!!!!! 🙂 Please???

  58. Jen from Sebastopol says:

    We are planning our trip for May 2013!!

  59. Diana - Highland, IL says:

    Such beauty!!!..The pictures are so gorgeous!!! I can’t imagine actually BEING there!!… we are just beside ourselves aren’t we!!! LOL… . Don’t worry about us Susan… We are tagging along and will be ready for the updates when they come. You just make sure that you enjoy everything to the fullest!!! Sounds like you are… Isn’t it wonderful to be able to spend time with good friends AND do such awesome things at the same time!! SOO GOOOD! Got my walking shoes ready for the Potter adventure!! 🙂

  60. Carol Maurer says:

    Hi Susan,
    Your little cottage looks so very nice and the surrounding area looks soooo peaceful. How much fun is having a pheasant and a peacock of your very own while staying at the cottage?! You and Rachel look so happy in the picture! Oh that cake at the flea market looked so wonderfully delicious!!! You’re doing such a good job with your posts and not having electricity inside. Aren’t you glad that the weather is just right for you to be outside?

    Until later,
    Carol M

    • sbranch says:

      I’m out here now, with the mooing cows, and the sun going down and the birds. Still beautiful!

  61. SuzK says:

    If you can’t send brownies, can you send a piece of that cake? Looks like you are having a lovely time.

  62. zinnia patch says:

    that noise you just heard was my “virtual scream” NO NO BATTERY DON’T GO OUT YET – more, more I want more…..but because I love you too Susan, i will try and be patient……..Ahhhhhh such beauty!!!! Thank you!!!!

  63. Kim says:

    I can think of no finer ambassador, nor no finer observer and participant in the traveling endeavor than YOU, dear Susan! We are so lucky to have you as our cheerful eyes, ears, nose and taster (both gastronimic and aesthetic!). Can’t wait for that BOOK!! And … Would you please design a line of clothing, based on your excellent style, for the rest of us “girls of a certain age” who are a little flummoxed by fashion? Please???! xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      I would LOVE to do that. I could, if I only had another pair of hands — it would be so fun! 🙂

      • Kim says:

        Oh, please do consider it! — I know we all look at your style and wish for the casual elegance of it! Judi Dench seems to have “it”, too, with all the flowy linenwear and scarves. Then there’s Diane Keaton’s lovely buttoned-up, be-hatted (is that a word?) style. You seem to be a happy mix, betwixt and between the two … and I love it! (Love your pixie hairstyle, too — Wish I could pull that look off!)

        • sbranch says:

          I would love to do it! I’m so inspired, us baby boomers have always loved style; we could really use something special — because it ain’t over til it’s over!

          • Pat Mofjeld says:

            You are right! But so many of the styles out there right now are not feminine and are too short, tight, trendy-and-not-classic! I sure wish I had saved some of my clothes from ‘way back. (and then I’d be wishing I still fit in them, too!!!) 🙂 For once could we, as an age group, request a style from designers instead of having to wear what designers push onto us???

        • sbranch says:

          I would love to do it! I’m so inspired, our age group could really use something special — because it ain’t over til it’s over!

  64. Lady Jayne says:

    Dear Susan;
    Home, sweet home…I grew up in Derbyshire! This is bliss for me, to read and see where you are, I have a love for pheasants, wait until you go to Chatsworth, they’re all over, particularly in the village of Edensor…look on the stone walls! Don’t forget to say hello to Dorothy for me!! You’ll not see her but she’s there….
    Bless you!

    • sbranch says:

      What a place this is! We just got back from Chatsworth! It’s so pretty around here, we came and went two different ways, so we could look around… all the houses are made of stone, very hilly and roadsides are fluffy with cow parsley!

  65. Kate B. says:

    Every day I look forward to the surprises you will have for us. I know I’ll never get to England myself, so going with you is wonderful! I loved the trails they have between villages that go all over the countryside. Here on the west coast we think that things are old if they’re 150 years old, I can’t imagine 600 or more. I’m having so much fun and can’t wait till we hear from you again!

  66. Rachel says:

    Oh Susan- you need an extension cord! LOL
    I can’t wait to hear more about your adventures! It looks so pretty there!

  67. mom and paula says:

    Hi Sue,
    We loved your pictures /and your story.
    Have a great trip & stay safe. Love ya!

    • sbranch says:

      Hi girls!!

    • Dawn from Minnesota says:

      Oh, I hope this is Susan’s “Mom” and sister “Paula” !!!
      It’s so nice to meet you both!!! Please….stay with us and see the
      world through the heart of Susan !!! As we are traveling along in cars
      and suitcases…I’ll skooch over and make room for the both of you!!! 🙂
      “Thank You” for passing down the “Happy Gene” to Susan and giving
      her a lifetime of memories to share with us ! Her heart and words
      just have a way of reaching out through this computer screen and
      grabbing ya !!! She just looks so little to have such a Big Heart doesn’t
      she ?!! Beautiful family !!! Have a : .} day and let me know if you want
      me to skooch over some more okay ! Take Care! XoXDawn

      • sbranch says:

        So nice Dawn, that was so sweet — I was in shock seeing them there, for a minute I wasn’t quite sure if it was really them! My mom has really not loved the computer even though she used it for work, but it looks like my sister has traveled down to see her and is working some magic on her!

        • Joan Lesmeister says:

          Wonderful! Love having family along! Welcome Girls! xoxo

        • Pat Mofjeld says:

          I can’t help but think she will really enjoy reading your posts and following you along on the trip!

        • Dawn from Minnesota says:

          Oh I do hope so !!! She would love it ! Computers
          are funny…just when you think you’ve got it all
          figured out…..it changes on ya!!! It’s just fun to know that your family is along and sharing in all this FUN !!!!
          Can you believe what a wonderful trip you are having?
          It has been (silly) fun for SO many of us !!! You have
          been such a “dolly” to take us along !!!! Excited for
          your BOOK!!!!…… How do I ever begin to explain to
          to others when I say, “When I went to Enland……”
          hahaha! : .} You are special, special, special……to
          let us in on such a Beautiful Life…..and it’s yours !!!!!
          Life is surely not perfect….but it can feel pretty
          magical at times, huh!!!! So….”Mom” and “Paula”
          join us and let’s go find us some cake, or chase
          baby lambs, or run away from cows or……………

  68. Joann says:

    Oh my goodness–I’ve got to get caught up on things!!! Your cruise made US go on a cruise of our own! After Amanda graduated from vet school, we went on a family cruise to St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Maarten–it was wonderful—I over-use amazing, but frankly, it was.

    Azure seas, tropical sunsets, delicious foods, wonderful service, and delightful family time–we’re home safely, just hours before the tropical storm hit Florida—now back to finding a place to live—maybe we should just all move to England; you’re making it all quite irresistible, you know…. LOVE the peacock, by the way, but think a birdie romance novel is budding in that diary of yours!
    Joann in CO

    • Susan says:

      Glad you celebrated her achievement, Joann! Sounds like you had a grand time! We are finally leaving for Colorado on Monday. Can’t wait to get out of this Texas heat…

  69. Debbie Hays says:

    Oh my goodness!! Everything you share with us your readers is simply delightful. I can almost taste Rachel’s famous carmel brownies… well maybe not… but I would like to! 😉 And I would love to visit Beatrix Potter’s home! (Did you see the movie with Renee Zellweger?? Loved it!) Anyway… thanks again. I know I don’t need to tell you to have a marvelous time… Hugs, Debbie

    • sbranch says:

      Oh yes, I saw that darling movie, I even brought it with me, but then I found out English videos don’t work on the same program as American!!

      • Debbie Hays says:

        Dog gone it!! It would be so wonderful to watch after (or before) visiting Beatrix’s home wouldn’t it? Make sure you take heaps of pictures (like I have to tell you!) and share them with us. This virtual touring is more than wonderful! Can’t wait to see Beatrix’s little cottage…. Debbie

  70. Mary S. says:

    So beautiful and wonderful!!
    “My-toe-hurts-betty!” = ROTFL
    Scary-looking Pete looks so cute, sitting in the car watching Joe! LOVE the peacock! And I’m so jealous of you, getting to pet a lamb!!! 😀 Alice is so cute, and looks so cozy!
    I would love to see a pic of the front of the stone cottage you are renting!
    I just know that if I were there, I would sit and picture Kathy and Heathcliff running across the moors, or Elizabeth Bennet going for one of her walks. So much of my favorite literature takes place there. *sigh*
    Thank you, again, for a wonderful blog!!! I LOVE it soooo much!!!
    Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

    • sbranch says:

      Joe just went to get the camera so I can take a photo of the front of the cottage. If you ever get a chance, I couldn’t recommend it more highly. The house is wonderful, the area is beautiful!

  71. nancimoll1@gmail.com says:

    We are on holiday in The Lake District right now and just left Far Sawrey, where we stayed at the Sawrey Hotel right next to Hill Top. Be prepared for crowds as this is the Jubilee weekend and Monday is a Bank Holiday. Have tea at the Sawrey Hotel so you can see their wonderful view of their gardens and the lake! This was what we woke to every morning. I love reading your blog of your trip. Enjoy!!

    • sbranch says:

      We get to stay all week, we just might wait until the crowds go home! Thank you Nanci!

      • Patricia H. says:

        Please wait til Thursday Susan so that Alice and I can bump into you! 🙂 xx

      • Karen P. - Green Bay, WI says:

        Right next to Hilltop is Tower Bank Arms pub….it is mentioned in several of Susan Wittig Albert’s Cottage Tales books! We had tea (and beer and pear cider) there and a “Beatrix Potter” robin came inside and ate crumbs off the floor under our table. I thought I would just die of excitement because it was the first Beatrix Potter robin I had seen….AND we were in Tower Bank Arms! To quote the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, “Oh joy! Oh rapture!” xoxo…

  72. jeanne hedin says:

    Your excitement and enthusiasm is quite infectious! We are all enjoying the trip. I hope you are guarding that diary/notebook. What a treasure it will be. Love the cows, peacock, pheasant, lambs, tea, scenery, happy insights . . .

  73. Ok–I think I can really taste that cake…ummmmmm
    Can’t wait to see Beatrix’s house!
    Linda from Dallas

  74. Carol C says:

    Wow! I’m having a ball on this trip! What a great tour guide you are! We have been traveling for the last 5 weeks so I’m just now getting on your tour. Fabulous!(We were on Cape Cod for a week and took a day trip to MV. Went all over the island and each village is so charming. Loved it! BUT getting home is nice, too.) Can’t wait for Beatrix Potter’s house. Was there 29!!!!!! years ago. They probably haven’t finished restocking the gift shop yet. though.

  75. Patricia H. says:

    Great taste in sunglasses, Susan! 🙂
    Another fun post and you’re portraying England wonderfully. Can’t wait for your book!!! You mentioned once Joe likes Roman history- wondering if while up north you’re taking advantage of seeing Housesteads or Vindolanda? Two years ago there was a torch lighting processional along the entire length Hadrian’s Wall. It was a sight to see!
    ps- I follow Rachael on Twitter- she is very nice!

  76. JoAnne Daniels says:

    Hi Susan — This is so much fun…I look forward to your every entry! The photos are gorgeous; I really feel like I’m traveling along in your pocket! I’m hoping this will become a book — I can’t wait. I’m considering printing out every entry just so I can keep the photos and your comments on everything you’re seeing and hearing, but I suspect there will be much more to come… would Rachel share her recipe for those delicious brownies? My mouth is watering, especially after seeing that 3 layer cake — what was on top? It looked heavenly.
    I’m looking forward to our trip to Beatrix Potter’s house.

  77. Pat says:

    I am walking around the house, “my toe hurts betty” and thankfully no one is here to hear me. LOL The cottage sounds wonderful and cozy. So glad you have had a few minutes to catch us up on what you are doing. Enjoy!!!

  78. Julie says:

    Seems like wherever you go, the “great set director in-the-sky”
    is two steps ahead of you, filling your journey with beautiful scenery,
    animals, birds and jaw-dropping magic.

    Hooray…Pete returns !
    He does grow on ya’-
    sorta’ like a cross between Howdy Doody, and the Crackerjack Kid
    with Dolly Dingle eyes.

    Hope somewhere, there is a photo of a young, 12-year old Joe
    lovingly, holding the little creature,
    that you can connect to the present-
    just think, other boys had to settle for their G. I. Joe dolls !

    I breezed thru Rachel’s website a few days ago,
    be warned, to all the girlfriends,
    you will never leave, once you’re there.
    She not only mentions the caramel brownies
    but several others and says she does a “Brownie-of-the-Month”
    for her markets.
    I, also checked to see if she shipped-
    move over, “Harry & David”,
    this girl could have a “Brownie-of-the-Month” club
    ship all over tarnation & take the world by its knickers.

    Her recipes & photography are amazing, it is sweet tooth’s heaven.
    For a quick chocoholic fix , here’s the page to all her fabulous brownies.

    It’s easy to see how you and Rachel are such kindred spirits-
    she reminds me of a young Judy Dench.

    Keep making the best of every moment,
    the world is your oyster, kid !

  79. Debby Moreau says:

    Simply divine! Such a cheery place. I want to go to England………. sigh.

  80. Rebecca L. says:

    Great haircut Rachel. Brownies with caramel, are you kidding…yum. What is that, a raspberry cake, are you double kidding me? Ha!

    I don’t know about you, but I’m having a great trip so far and we haven’t even been to Hilltop yet. 🙂

    Cheers! from Riverside, Ca.

  81. shelley says:

    Loved the post today Susan. Everything looks just wonderful. Make sure you let us know when Ray’s book will be out. I bet we will all want a copy.bet I just can’t wait to go to Beatrix Potter’s I have been waiting since we left. Have fun hope to hear from you soon. xoxo Shelley

  82. Marcia A. Sherman says:

    Susan – am loving this blog…I check it every day to see if you have posted, even though I now you are too busy to post every day!
    Picked up this book at my library $1.00 rack = The Edwardian Lady, the story of Edith Holden, author of The Country Diary of an Edwardian lady. Wondering if you have heard of this? You MUST have heard of this …she seems like you in another time and place. There were all sorts of books created in the Country Diary fashion – cookbooks and gardens books and etc etc…

    • Kim says:

      Marcia, I have “The Country Diary” book, too! It’s so lovely, isn’t it? And aren’t we so lucky to have our contemporary version of Edith Holden in our beloved Susan Branch??! ~Kim

  83. Kirsten Wichert from So. California says:

    Oh Susan!! This is one of the best trips I’ve ever been on…and I’ve been all over (the states anyway!) Your photos are dreamy and your descriptions are even better. I’ll probably never travel again so I’m so grateful that you are sharing it all with me. Thank you so much! If you could only send me a piece of that delectible pink cake in the photo! Yummmmmmm. Oh, and I would love to hug Alice, too!

  84. Kate says:

    This is so much fun. I look forward every day to your blog in hopes there is some more England to show. It is just as I have always imagined it and I do so hope to get there in the next few years. You make it seem so enchanting that who wouldn’t want to go there? You are going to give the British travel industry a huge boost! All us girlfriends are already planning our trips.

  85. viv says:

    I think I was reading as fast as you were talking….I’m breathless. Looking forward to more. Hugs and have fun. viv

  86. Jennie says:

    It was wonderful to find a post from you today! And your posts are so much better than a ‘having a wonderful time; wish you were here’ postcard! So even with internet issues- we LOVE you and LOVE hearing all the tidbits of your adventures!
    Wish I was sitting with a box of paints in front of me at the table outside your new residence! What gorgeous countryside! And that peacock- isn’t he quite something! I remember taking my oldest to the zoo when he was very little and the peacock following us around. He put on quite a show for us. I was mesmerized, but my little one was terrified!

  87. Francine says:

    Ow- those cakes look so good! I have to tell you Susan – I was sitting here reading and reading, and gazing at all the pictures… I got so engrossed, and when I got to the end of the blog, I realized my mouth was wide open! Flabbergasted…that’s what I was! So taken in by all the sights! I had to laugh at myself and be thankful no one saw me. What a sight I must have been. I sure am enjoying our trip! I can never thank you enough for bringing me along!

  88. Lynn McMahon says:

    Good Evening~
    What fun you must be having!…… Us too!~
    And that cake…Reminds me of thr Red Velvet cake I made this weekend~ 3 layers of yum! And the brownies….l am in sugar over load!
    So between Memorial Day (holiday) and vacation (yours) no calories were ingested by us right?…..Just like birthday cake~ no calories!
    Thankyou for sharing!

  89. Bonnie L says:

    Wine isn’t protein, it is necessary!!!
    We are now in Minneapolis to attend a wedding on June 2.
    I am trying to keep up with you!
    So very thankful for your adventure.
    Have a recipe from my mother-in-law for pheasant under glass.
    It is wonderful!
    You are so GOOD at what you do…………Thank You! XOXO!

  90. CarolK (central NJ) says:

    The Music, how Perfect for reading your blog today. Classical is my very favorite. Everything you’re showing us makes me want more than ever to visit England to see everything first hand. Wish I had a solution to your computer problem. Maybe the local library or pub has Wi-Fi – anything to feed out hunger for more pictures and videos. You see, you’ve spoiled us way too much.
    Hugs, CK

  91. Sweet Mormor says:

    Susan, you will never know how wonderful it is for those of us who will never travel – to see your glorious photos and news and descriptions! Some of us out here are disabled and can’t get away to visit far away or even “near” places! So, bless you for giving us an “extra” set of eyes that we may see thru yours – my family was from England – looking forward to every post from you – thank you so very much – you will never know how much it means! XXXXOOOO Karen

  92. Carolyn says:

    Sheer bliss! Thanks for bringing us along with you. Waiting–not so patiently anymore 🙂 –to see Beatrix Potter’s house. Can’t wait!

  93. Bliss, bliss, blissity, bliss! I love everything about this post – the cake, the views, the peacock, churchbells ringing, even your lovely haircut.

    My youngest daughter is on her way to the UK tonight. She has been in Venice for a month studying art history, and now has five weeks in Colchester to volunteer at a horse farm. Then it’s a week in Edinburgh for a “vacation” then home again to Montreal.

    Make sure you bring home some PG Tips tea. I know some say it’s “working class tea” but I think it’s yummy – strong and full bodied, the way tea ought to be. (My grandfather, from London, used to pour his hot tea into his saucer to cool it off and then he’d drink it straight from the saucer!)


    • sbranch says:

      We actually brought PG Tips with us!! So we would have it on the ship! How wonderful for your daughter! What a trip to remember!

      • She arrived today and is thrilled to be surrounded by dogs (including one ancient, 17-yr-old Jack Russell who is blind, deaf, and “made up of dust” she wrote.) The living room is full of hatching chicks, so she is in Animal Heaven. And just to add icing to the cake – two of the volunteers on the farm are young Italian men from the area of Venice she left this morning. She may never come home.

        (You know who else carries PG Tips around in his pocket, so he can use them in restaurants? Bill Nighy! I can hardly wait to see him and the others in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. If you haven’t seen the trailer, you must. It may already be playing in the UK.

        • sbranch says:

          I think it’s already gone from the UK! And, before we left, it hadn’t arrived at home yet, I hope we don’t miss it.

  94. lol @ My toes hurt Betty… I’m sitting here repeating it to myself. I’ve seen Mozart Girl’s blog. I check it out cause I love Mozart too. One of my facebook friends has a peacock she calls Fred. He came to their house last Thanksgiving and hasn’t left yet. I think it’s so funny cause there aren’t other peacocks nearby. He roosts in their tree every night. She has shared different videos of Fred and it cracks me up. What characters!!! I guess the English Peacock, near you, doesn’t know the difference between a peahen and a pheasant. lol

    I’m looking forward to your trip to where Beatrix Potts lived.

    • sbranch says:

      Ours is a youngster, but identified as a peacock by the experts who somehow seem to know!! You’re so right, what characters they are!!!

  95. Dawn (Elmhurst, IL) says:

    Susan & Joe,
    Simply idyllic! Each place you have visited becomes my new “favorite!” I’m learning so much from your lovely adventures. Just thinking about where you are and what you are doing makes each day more special here. This week, I have taken the huge step from a wonderful career of teaching second grade to the exciting start of retirement. Maybe there will be a trip to the English countryside in our future one day! Can’t wait to read your diary, Susan.
    Enjoy every magical moment as you and Joe make inspiring new memories together!
    Safe travels!

  96. Linda Pintarell says:

    Oh wow…just looking out to those green hills from your new temp home… glorious. Such a fun blog today…that cake…little bit of salivating going on. Last evening watched a 2 hr. special on Royal Family and celebration going on in England at this time. Learned alot; enjoyed listening to younger generation of royals give their take on life today and their thoughts on their grandma. My welsh heritage just made me stay up and watch it; glad I did.

  97. Every post you write, I think,”Wow, just wow!” Makes me so want to go to England. And THE PEACOCK! Are you kidding?! How cool is that! So beautiful. I am loving the peek into your trip you are affording us and may you continue to enjoy for us all!

  98. Reneelynn says:

    Another wonderful post!! So beautiful….and the food looks fabulous !! SO looking forward to the BP estate this weekend!!!

  99. Becky says:

    With every post you “get it right.” You always convey the proper message and heartfelt sentiment for the place and the moment. Lovely pictures and information; the ultimate travel log! Are the English as wrapped up in the Diamond Jubilee as some of us are? You have good mojo that certainly comes through the posts! I hope the Englishness (?) of the visit has seeped its way into your marrow to completely transform you in a good way forever. A peacock? Those birds are a good luck sign! Lucky you! Love from the states……..

    • sbranch says:

      So wrapped up!!! Every store, every town is festooned, every magazine cover, all the stuff in the stores, even the supermarkets, the selzer bottles have Union Jacks on them. It has a sweetness hooked to it! National pride in a low key, very real way. xoxo Thank you Becky!

  100. Mary Ann says:

    I am so excited to see Beatrix house I can hardly stand it! This has been the best trip so far, well except for missing the brownies.

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