Beatrix Potter Country and the Ashby Farm.

Hi Girls and Boys!  Waking up on our first morning in Beatrix Potter Country, (eek!)  peeking out the window to the darling town of Ambleside (eek!).  Freezing up here in the North, just a wee bit away from Scotland!

This is a cottage we passed on our way in to town; this is how they look in this little village!  Can’t quite believe we are really here!!!

  Just took Joe his morning tea; now I’m dipping apple slices in “Rachel’s (not my Rachel, some other Rachel) organic, Greek-style Coconut Yogurt” (it’s become an addiction) and listening to BBC talk about the fantastic event going to happen on the River Thames today.  Are we getting coverage of the Diamond Jubilee in America?  Let me know! I’ve been collecting images of the festivities to show you just in case!

But speaking of Rachel, I thought I’d start today by taking you on the visit we made to her parent’s farm; we were lucky enough to be invited for lunch with the darling Ashby family who we love very much!  With a little bit more Lovely Mozart!


 I also put three new videos on Youtube for you . . . The first one, here, is a little walk I took when we arrived at this magical farm just a half hour north of London, where the family moved when Ray, the oldest of three girls, was fourteen.  Diana (Di), Ray’s mum,  was kind enough to keep her bluebells in bloom until I could get here!!!  Thank you Diana!!!

I’ve talked about the wild bluebells so much, I knew you’d like to see them! I was so afraid we would miss them because we got here a little late and England had a very warm March.  One of the best harbingers of spring I’ve ever seen, the hillsides here are covered with them, they turn the whole world blue; the shady sun-dappled woods are carpeted as far as the eye can see; you walk through them, around them; they’re next to the roads, just everywhere. Almost gone now, but Di had quite a good little meadow of them still here.  Worth a trip across the sea just for the bluebells alone!

The next video is when we were walked into a field and lambs ran up to me and Ray’s little nephew Will … OMG.  That was a moment!!

It was a mini dream-come-true for me!  I love lambs (I love to paint lambs! Painting them into the diary the last few days!); they’re everywhere here, cavorting all over the hills and valleys; sometimes, on narrow farm roads, you have to stop your car because they’re meandering into the road!  I’ve been itching to get my hands on one, and then this happened! That’s just one reason why I call this farm “magical.”

The meadows are covered in wildflowers; we stopped in the buttercups to search for wild orchids . . .

. . . and we found them, peeking through the grass!  I also heard my first cuckoo bird out there; totally unmistakeable, in case you haven’t heard one, it sounds exactly like the clock!  Or vise-versa I guess! Then it was out to visit the cows . . .


Lucy and David are working hard toward their goal of making and selling artisan cheeses!  Since these are the happiest cows in the world, buttercup and wild orchid munchers, hugged every day, fed and cared for in the most thoughtful way, this cheese should be delicious!!!

Then it was back to the table for a wonderful picnic lunch of roasted chicken thighs, steamed potatoes, carrot salad, bean salad, quiche, watercress salad, bread and butter.  Strawberries and rhubarb on meringues with cream!  Di let me take lots of photos of the inside of her fabulous old house, but I feel a bit funny putting them up here . . . so I’ll only put a few.  It’s a very old, very charming house; full of family love.  There are photos everywhere of  happy family life in this house like this one of Rachel and her doggie.

I don’t think she’d mind if I show you this picture in the kitchen and some of the wonderful tiles she’s collected — and this one below, of the oldest part of the house where there’s a hutch made by her grandfather that has the same teapots on it that were in her own parents house.  There’s a downstairs bathroom I’m particularly crazy about — it’s just inside the back door, the one you would use when you come in from the field.  Lit by window light, you can imagine it in another time and not having changed much; it has hooks along one wall where every imaginable kind of foul weather gear you would want is hanging: heavy p-coats, down parkas, oilcloth rain slickers, woolen vests, tweed caps,  Two old rifles lean in the corner behind the porcelain sink with copper faucets; muddy Wellies and heavy leather work boots are lined up under the jackets on the tile floor; there’s a guest towel with puppies on it (this is dog country around here!), and the view through the windowpanes goes to the garden.  The property is “listed,” meaning it has historical significance.  I believe the oldest parts of it were there in the 1400’s!

We toasted Clive and Di’s 5oth Wedding Anniversary!  Beautiful aren’t they?  And this is beautiful too!

 The last video is of Rachel’s four-year-old nephew Will hitting a golf ball!  Look at that follow-through!  He wiggles back and forth to get himself set the way golfers do, concentrating for a moment on the spot where he wants the ball to go, and wham!  We watched as he hit ball after ball, over the fence, into the field.  He’s four!!  Has his own small golf clubs, and wears little gloves!  One of the nicest little people I’ve ever met.  Everytime he called, “Sue!  Sue!”  in his English accent, which he did all the time, I melted into a puddle.  He’ll be a star someday.  He actually already is one!

The only thing missing in this wonderful day was Ray and Lucy’s other sister Esther and her three little children who all live in Australia.  Despite the distance, they were very much here in the hearts of everyone.  I know their ears were burning.

Someone who wasn’t missing, who really should be, but manages to sneak in when least expected . . .

 . . . that Petey!  Always hanging around!  OK, must go OUT and explore and be back in a couple of hours to watch the telly to see the Royal Barge, with Queen Elizabeth and her family, go under the Tower Bridge; there will be ten “music boats” in the seven mile long river pageant on the Thames; the last one, at the very end, will be a boat carrying the London Philharmonic Orchestra!!!!  I hope they’re showing this on American TV; it’s such a huge celebration here, flags are flying, everyone is partying, I couldn’t begin to tell you — let me know if you’re able to see any of it!  Bye for now, Girlfriends.  More to come!

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292 Responses to Beatrix Potter Country and the Ashby Farm.

  1. Mary Spring says:

    Good Morning !!… the full moon is beautiful and traveling west in the sky as I’m writing…good to here from Rachel also..thanks…last night’s news said Prince Phillip just needed several days of hospital rest…but should be fine…..we should see that wonderful concert tonight ( Tuesday night ) on our ” telly”..should be great !!!!!…love that we are now in Beatrix Potter’s land !!!thanks for sharing the dream!!!!!! with love….

  2. For anyone interested, Paul McCartney’s performance at the Diamond Jubilee Concert is on YouTube:

    Also, for anyone not wanting to miss any of the comments posted here but not wanting to have to scroll through the hundreds of comments every day to find the new ones just type that day’s date (i.e. June 5) into your “Find” feature. For those who don’t know where to find it, for iMac’s at least, you go up to the top menu, click on Edit, scroll down to “Find”, move over to the right to the new menu and click on “Find” and click. At the top of your screen you’ll see a little search box where you type in the date, then click on the arrows (doesn’t matter which) and you will be taken to the next entry with that date. Keep clicking on the arrow until you’ve visited each entry. Hope that is clear!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Cathy, so helpful!!

    • Cindy in South Carolina says:

      And on Windows-based PCs (non-Mac): ctrl-F will get the find pop-up window for entering searches.

    • Lydia Alejandro says:

      Cheerio Oh Susan!
      I am enjoying your trip to England. I am also a Beatrix Potter
      fan, more so after I saw the movie about her life. I have also
      enjoyed learning about Emma Bridgewater pottery. I hope that I can win the one you are generously giving away. Thank you for sharing your
      trip to the Lake District and other parts of England with us.
      I appreciate it. God bless your sweet soul!

  3. Wendy says:

    We stayed in Ambleside on lake Windermere when I has in college and walked the fells, I loved it so!

  4. Angie(Tink!) says:

    Tea~Time Sweet Sue! Oh My Goodness! this Blog is Scrumptious! The Videos with Rachel & Her Charming Wonderful Family…Scrumptious! I Love that You Heard a real Cuckoo~Bird….”Cuckoo”! 🙂 those Sun~Dappled Woods & all Those Bluebells! Amazing! & Now You are There! In Your Beatrix~Potter Country! Freezing So You & Joe Stay Warm & Cozy! & just a Wee Bit away from Scotland! I’ve Been Glued to The Telly watching The Queen’s Jubilee Thinking of You Darling Sue! Have Fun! I Love You! xoxo Poof!✶*¨`*.✫*¨*.¸¸.✶*¨`*.✫*¨*.¸¸.✶*¨`*.✫*¨*.¸¸.✶*¨`*.✫*¨*

  5. Georgie says:

    Oh!!! The Diamond Jubilee is TODAY!!! Here I am stuck behind a computer at work 🙁 Enjoy girls! Have some tea and a scone for me!

    Susan your pictures are drawing me into the English countryside… in my minds eye, Yardville has become Heritage Glen! I am being immersed through your blog and am so excited to be there through the marvels of long distance technology!

    The Queen is amazing!!! So glad you are there during this special time in England’s history!

    XOXO Georgie

  6. Sharon Calvert says:

    Inquiring mind wants to know: in your June 1 tweet you referenced ‘new home of Emma Bridgewater’ with a link to Bampton Castle … will they locate inside the castle?

    • sbranch says:

      They just bought the castle to live in … they will keep the factory in Stoke on Trent.

  7. judi says:

    Oh, the lamb video worked….YEA, so sweet. I love all animals too and would have planted myself in that field for the day:!

    The charming cottage at the opening of this post MADE ME get my little BP book, “The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle” and read it. So fun. It had been quite a while as my youngest grandchild is 15, ha. I would say to all of you out there whatever age you are, pick up a Beatrix Potter book and read it – you will be all smiles:)

    The bluebells melt my heart. How amazingly beautiful. I am quite a “blue” person from my dishes, housewares to it seems my clothes. And what a lovely family and home your dear friend Rachel has. What has been Joe’s favorite so far??? We can’t forget him:)

    • sbranch says:

      Let’s see, I asked him that today, he loved Sissinghurst, he loved Charleston, he loves English Lamb Chops, he loves being in England in general, he loves the old mills too. Just for starters.

  8. Marianne says:

    The NBC Today show had wonderful coverage of the procession of Queen Elizabeth’s carriage from Westminster to Buckingham Palace. So enjoyed watching it. She was smiling and looked so happy. Also – have you heard of a series of books by Susan Wittig Albert called The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter? I had never heard of these mysteries. My daughter gave me The Tale of Hill Top Farm. Looks interesting.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m reading that right now!

      • Marianne says:

        No kidding! I just read the cast of characters last night, and looked over the map. Looking forward to starting the first chapter soon.

        • Sharon-Ashland OR says:

          Try it in audio…like listening to the old radio shows..remember those? I do my chores while listening and they go by so fast. Susan, I am loving this trip. Thank you to you and your cast. ♥
          ps posted this once but think I lost it.

          • Pat Mofjeld says:

            Thanks, Sharon, for mentioning that they are available in audio books. They would be perfect for a long car trip!!!

          • Marianne says:

            Once I started reading the book it was hard to put down – I’m on chapter 18. That’s a good suggestion about the audios while doing chores.

          • Marianne says:

            p.s. and also for car trips!

  9. Betty says:

    Dear Susan,
    I’m enjoying so much your beautiful photos and videos. You sound like you’re having a wonderful time! Thought you might like to have a look at this site sometime, if you get time:)
    Happy days,
    Betty, Melbourne

  10. Gert~Iowa says:

    Wow…how I “love” those bluebells! They are amazing…they look like a bed of blue! Amazing!! Love the farm..I can’t believe the age of the homes over there and yet how beautiful they are!! Who wouldn’t want to live in them…smile..

    I have been enjoying the Diamond Jubilee! The sea of flags have been so beautiful and moving! The Queen looked so lovely and radiant!!


  11. Silvia Niomi says:

    What a beautiful place….. it looks like an old world Carmel by the Sea (only maybe with a little more greenery). The wildflowers are amazing. Tonight I am going to pour me a cuppa Earl Grey along with some sweets and watch on ABC the Diamond Jubilee Concert. 20/20 also did a real nice special with Katie Couric on the Queen…… I watched that online and really learned a lot about the Queen.

    I also wanted to comment on The Knockerdown, from your next post, LOL that sounds so very British. What exactly does the Knockerdown mean? Is it sort of like the idiom ‘knock one back?’ What type of food/drinks can one get in a pub?
    Do they have fireplaces in them like the one you went to here back in the States?

    My husband, whose family comes from England (way back), is forever coming up with funny little sayings that sound so British (only without the accent – darn), they make me smile. I think its all in the genes. He does have an uncle that is named Bob.

    Thank you for the wonderful posts.

    TaTa for now
    xoxoxo to all of you (including Petey)

    • Silvia Niomi says:

      btw….. venus is transiting the sun right now – do they talk about that in England too. The next time Venus transits the sun will be in the year 2117. That’s about a little over 100 wildflower season’s from now 🙂

      • sbranch says:

        Oh yes, all day, BBC has shown photos … sky was much too full of clouds for us to see it!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, fireplaces and menus on chalkboards, I’m putting one in the book!

  12. carol shapiro says:

    Hi Susan,

    This posting was the best yet…the bluebells are beautiful, and the farm and sheep, etc… it looks like you are having such a wonderful time…what an exciting time for you to be in England…Stateside, we have enjoyed watching ( some parts of) the Diamond Jubilee concert tonight, and this morning, the live coverage of the Queen’s trip to Westminster Hall…and her open coach ride back to the palace…how beloved she is. Particularly moving was seeing the WWII planes fly over…it must have been amazing to be in the crowds at that moment…and we got such a kick out of the “hip hip hooray” cheers tonight after the concert-crowds cheering this wonderful salute…how sweet, how special…that just wouldn’t happen here stateside- cheers of hip hip hooray! just not part of our collective DNA!!! Anyway, look forward to your next post…

  13. Dawn from Minnesota says:

    Hi Susan, Just can’t seem to sleep so I thought I would wander around the
    Lake District. There is something about it ….almost heartachingly beautiful. Maybe it’s my longing to “visit” and go-back-in-time…..I seem to have such
    an affinity for people/things from our past….they are what make our “now”
    so special….and sometimes…something to strive for! Beatrix was ahead of her
    time…don’t you think? Oh, the gifts she has given us ! When I decorated
    my little ones Beatrix-Potter-Cottage-Bedroom with the border wallpaper of
    her softly watercolored characters, the cottage wall made of wood with two brass lanterns, the beloved books…….I loved Beatrix the “artist” and wanted
    to share that cozy happiness. That was 22 years ago and now as I am learning
    more about the “woman”…I love the Legacy she has left for this world. I can
    only imagine the feeling you must have walking the “walks” of Beatrix Potter.
    Did she feel the same warm sunshine on her face, or the squish of her shoes on
    a muddy trail, or daydream while watching the sun-sparkles twinkling on the lake ? Did she laugh? Cry? Get chased by a cow? I hope she was happy… I hope she is happy. And I hope you are Happy too….Dream, Breathe it all in, and I have this funny feeling that when you leave the Lake District someone else might just be hopping in the suitcase! No,no,no…..she’ll be hopping in YOUR HEART !!!!! If she’s not already there! Well….you truly are living the sweet dream and now I need to try and dream about something….maybe……
    some……………………ummmmm………………………..cake! : .}
    Hey, didn’t even think about that…..cake….it’s Sweet!!! ……..And so are YOU!!! XoXDawn

    • sbranch says:

      I know more now, I think she was very happy. She felt the sunshine, she had squishy shoes because it rains here all the time, she definitely daydreamed, and she worked very hard to preserve it all for us!

      • Dawn from Minnesota says:

        You work very hard too…and the life you share
        on this blog is never taken for granted and so very much
        appreciated !!! : .}

    • Silvia Niomi says:

      Hi Dawn,
      Don’t know if you got my past silly posts…. just wanted to say hi and that I feel the same way about past lives and Beatrix Potter. I seem to want to connect with past lives a lot. When I met Beatrix through her books, there was an instant connection. Her work is gentle, peaceful and whimsical and I think that is what drew me to her. Over time I’ve learned about her as a person. She seem to have times in her life that were very good and then other times that were very devastating. Through it all I think it was her life’s work (author and working to preserve precious land) that carried her through. It’s kind of the same thing that has drawn me to Susan’s Blog (reading through the posts and girlfriend’s comments) and her books. I think we all kind of connect to all of this in someway.

      • Dawn from Minnesota says:

        Hi Silvia,
        It all feels very special doesn’t it? Those of us who “Do”
        connect with Susan’s Blog (yes) seem to share the same outlook on life. She just has a way of making this world a little more “Special”…..doesn’t she? Hope to “connect” with you soon!

        • Silvia Niomi says:

          yes this does feel very special. Sometimes when one values certain types of work (like Susan’s work, Beatrix Potter etc…), it feels like your the only one that likes/values that work, but Susan’s blog is really an eye opener….. there are many, many girlfriends out there that are inspired and enjoy these special types of work. Suddenly, not only can we connect with girlfriends from our own neck of the woods, but through Susan’s blog we now can connect with girlfriends from all over the world. Blogging…. such a miracle. I wonder if Beatrix Potter would have had a blog….. because of the nature of her work as an author she seemed to be a solitary type of person.

    • Hi Dawn, sorry you couldn’t sleep I think it is our age honey I seem to watch the clock more than I sleep anymore?? I think what you did by just checking Susan’s blog was a very good idea….I also love Beatrix Potter and all her characters were a big part of Angela’s childhood…I just wanted to update you that she is having a great time and she surprised me early this morning by I.M. me to get on Skype which I had stopped doing over the weekend….so I typed her to wait a minute my hair was a mess and I hurried and brushed it and put on lipstick (my hubby thought I had finally lost it) and there she was all happy and beautiful and it was already 2pm there and she had just returned from a 1 day trip from Munich Germany with her Opera Prof. and small group where she saw where Mozart had performed his first concert and she is just in love with everything. In the morning she leaves for Paris, France and can hardly contain her excitement the University is closed for a long weekend I think she said it is a Corpus Christi Holiday and some of the students/Profs. are going on a sidetrip…she will be sleeping on the train which just excites her beyond her imagination, I just asked that she take the lower bunk in case she forgets where she is and hunts for the bathroom in the middle of the night?? YIKES You will enjoy Susan’s blog on Emma Bridgewater it is really cool and if I can’t win the mug I hope you have a chance or any of the girls!!! Cheerio

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        Hi Deborah–I’ve been doing that “night clock watching”, too, lately. I agree on your diagnosis…fun 🙂 I started knitting a lacy shawl that has a border that is a 12-row repeat and I think it is working like counting sheep–makes me sleepy! Just don’t use sharp-tipped knitting needles if knitting in bed!!! 🙂

  14. Jenny says:

    Have always loved seeing America through you in your books, now it’s lovely to see England through your eyes, remind all us in the UK of how much we have to be proud of. Hope that you enjoy the rest of your stay. X

  15. Sharon H says:

    Hi Susan, I want to thank Rachel’s mom and Dad for letting “us” invade their beautiful home. What a treat to see such a magical place. You were right to call it “Heaven” in your video, absolutely, just lovely, everything about it.

    I am so enjoying seeing everything through your eyes Susan. You are doing a fantastic job and I really do thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking us all on this magical journey with you.

    I had never heard of The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter by Susan Albert and I am a big Beatrix Potter fan, so I definitely need to check this out.

    Also, could you please tell Rachel and Di I think their hair is absolutely gorgeous and they have such beautiful complexions! It must be that wonderful fresh English air.
    Thanks again Susan for brightening up my days so much. I can’t wait for the Beatrix Potter excursion! hugs from Sharon in Maine

  16. Janie Phillips says:

    I’ve been a quiet traveler, but I’m still here, following you every step of the way, and I had to let you know how much I enjoyed reading about your day at Rachel’s family farm and seeing all the wonderful pictures. Petey is just the luckiest little stowaway :-). xoxo

  17. Cheryl Harper says:

    Thankyou so much for the “tour”!!! My dream is to visit England….my ancestors are from England and have been traced back to Taunton!! Cheryl :))

  18. Cheryl Harper says:

    My dream is to visit England. My ancestors are from Taunton.

  19. I read backward through all the posts I missed, Susan, till I came back to this one which I did see! I absolutely loved all your videos, music selection, photos and informational tidbits you gave about each and every swoon worthy place you visited…and to be there the year of the Queen’s Jubilee…could you have hoped for anything more?? What a wonderful dream vacation you and Joe had! I know you will be sharing much more about it in future blog posts, so i hope not to be so tardy seeing them in the future, although my hot summer house and a hot lap top computer is not conductive to comfort so I have to make my visits quick! I have to say seeing the outside of Beatrix Potter’s house was such a delight…. I will be dreaming about that for many future nights…thank you so much!! ♥

  20. Sandra says:

    Really enjoy seeing your web site of the fabulous sites in England this year, especially with the Olympics happening there right now. What a wonderful way for us to see more beautiful sites of the English countryside. You had wonderful weather – on our Sept. trip one year, we had a lot of rain. Nice country to visit!

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