Bee’s in the Lavender

It’s a beautiful summer day on Martha’s Vineyard when I’m writing this; bees are floating through the lavender, beach towels are flapping on the line, a gentle harbor breeze is softly rustling the trees.  But so quiet ~ it’s perfect beach weather ~ that’s where everyone must be.  There are no cars on the road, a rare thing for summer on this island.  All I can hear through my open windows are birds. 

Soon I’ll show you more about what’s going on here but today, I think we need just one more visit to Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm — our second visit in a week — you knew I would have to go back!

Remember how gorgeous the sky was on the first day we found our way to Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm?  It wasn’t like that the second time . . . here it was on June 7, over the Lake District, dark, rainy, and moody.  Musica?  Yes.

Before we left the Lake District, I needed one more look at Castle Cottage (the light beige house above) where Beatrix lived happily-ever-after with her husband Willie for thirty years.  It’s privately owned so this is as close as I really wanted to get, but there it was, a sweet comfortable-looking little house just across the meadow from Hill Top.

It still felt funny that we could just drive here.  Beatrix Potter has been so far away from me for so long, almost on another planet.  But shockingly, like any other place, like any old McDonald’s on the corner, you can drive right up, put on your blinker, turn in, and park.  Go through a little gate, walk up a path and there it is!  Where it’s been for over a hundred years, with visitors just like me, coming and going.

I didn’t get a ticket to go into the house again because I have that vision permanently pressed into my heart.  I will never forget looking at the view through the wavy old glass of her bedroom window, the same ripply view of hills and green and cottages she saw all those years ago.  But there were a couple of things I needed to do before we left —  I had unfinished business.  As I was walking through the rainy garden for the last time I noticed little wet side-path I hadn’t seen before.  At the end there was a green door in the garden wall.  I went to investigate.  I didn’t want to miss anything.

I pushed it open slowly, making sure I wasn’t going somewhere I shouldn’t — then ducked under the dripping lilac to go inside.  It led to the walled vegetable patch in front of the house, and gave me a slightly different perspective on the house. I was inside the iron gate for the first time.  All alone, in the rain, in Beatrix Potter’s garden. 

Of course, Peter Rabbit was bound to get in trouble in this neck of the woods!  Such temptation; rhubarb and strawberries too.

There were little details I couldn’t see from the other side of the iron gate, like this recess in the rock wall.  It’s called a “bee-bole” ~ it’s made for sheltering bee skeps like this charming white box hive that Beatrix had “fixed up” — she also painted it into The Tale of Jemima Puddle Duck — later I painted it into the journal I kept of this visit. (You would have enjoyed watching me juggle camera, umbrella, hood on rain coat, purse and tears while taking photos.)

I also came back to get the name of the roses climbing over the front of the house.  I asked the person at the door but she didn’t know.  Which surprised me . . . they must get asked that question two-hundred times a day because those roses smell like heaven.  Don’t inquiring minds want to know?  So they can grow them all over their barn?  Or something?  So I emailed the gardener, and guess what, he didn’t know either!  My blog girlfriends thought maybe Zephirine Drouhin.

Here they are, up close.  They also look a little David Austinish with so many petals, they smell like David Austin roses too, really strong, but the gardener only called them cabbage roses.

The other thing I had to do was to take a photo of my miniature Beatrix Potter book as it soaked up some local ambiance, so I could bring it back to the Peter Rabbit Room to spread the wealth (a little more magic never hurts).  The little book is so proud in that room since we got home, its buttons almost pop, bragging around to the Beatrix Potter People of where it’s been and what it saw!

Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail hoist it on their shoulders like a returning hero.

But this is what I really came back to Hill Top for . . . I knew, the moment I left the first time, I had forgotten something.  I must have been crazy to even think of coming all the way across the Atlantic Ocean to England, then to the Lake District, over the narrowest rock-lined roads you can imagine, on the wrong side of the road, risking life and limb, and then leaving this behind?  I scare myself sometimes. I’d picked it up in the gift shop and then put it back, regretting it every moment since, dreaming about it!

It’s an exact copy of the first book Beatrix Potter (who, as you can read in my journal of this visit, A FINE ROMANCE, is not only an illustrator, but so much more.  Most importantly, a conservationist savior of the Lake District, but also a respected natural scientist and regular person, despite being a genius, who was very proud of her prize-winning sheep) paid to have published herself, exactly the way she wanted it to be.  For this special, first-time-ever reprint, they used the same cover she designed originally, but they also added a dust jacket taken from editions published in 1903 by Warne; in a charming calico pattern supplied by Edmund Potter and Company (Beatrix Potter’s family business, isn’t it adorable?  Oh, for ten yards of that!).  They put the book in a special little bag and the only place you can buy one is at the gift shop up the garden path at Hill Top Farm.  I could not go home without it.

What makes them extra special is, except for the surviving original books, there are only 1000 copies like this.  On earth.  (At least that’s what they told me, and I choose to believe!)  And they all have numbers written in them like this.

The book is written in her own handwriting; all the pen and ink drawings are in black and white, just as they were when she first published the book. Only after Norman Warne started publishing Beatrix’s books were they done in color.  He believed in her.

I had (was forced by a power stronger than myself, therefore the court would surely rule me not responsible) to steal a flower from the garden to keep in the book. Stealthy, like a cat, despite the pouring rain, looking both ways and still seeing no one — into the dripping mock orange and climbing honeysuckle I went.  Rain pattered my umbrella as I tucked the wet rosebud softly, ever so softly, into my raincoat pocket, and was out of there before anyone noticed, leaving only a trail of muddy footprints, a clue soon to be washed away by the deluge; because I needed to press a real Beatrix Potter flower into my book more than I cared if I went to the Far Sawrey town jail . . . in fact, I took two flowers . . . . the rose, and an Iris for my journal.

And then it was time to go. Other than going inside and asking to take a nap in her actual bed, I thought I had done it all.  The rain was coming down hard, Joe was waiting on the other side of the little gate with the car running, reading his newspaper.  I stopped and took that one last photo of Castle Cottage ~ nostalgic, recalling memories that weren’t even mine ~ across green Post Office Meadow.  Nothing in the village of Near Sawrey has changed since Beatrix walked the narrow lanes with her border collie Kep at her side.

I hope you enjoyed our visit — I wrote more about this dream-come-true in our travel journal in case you also have a place in your heart for the life of Beatrix Potter . . .

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2,707 Responses to Bee’s in the Lavender

  1. Maggie L says:

    Susan, Your trip to England (I guess it was ours too) was fabulous. You are such a generous person to take the time to share all of the wonderful things you saw and did. I enjoyed every minute. I also have loved Beatrix Potter for a very long time and have read her books to my childred and grandchildren. Thank you so much for sharing. Maggie

    • Lyndia Fillpot says:

      What fun to to enjoy such a wonderful trip. For those of us unable to do so, we can all live vicariously through you during your journey through England. It was great fun to visit all the special places you introduced us to and to meet your friends along the way. Welcome Home!
      Lyndia F, Corte Madera, CA

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

    Wow! 2100+ responses! I love your give-aways because it inspires readers to become contributors & then we meet more FOSB! What a varied group we appear to be! Fun! Hope everyone has a great weekend! Wishing rain for all who need it & a respite for those in the extreme heat!

  3. Kathi says:

    Welcome home! I read Beatrix Potter to my babies, now 29 and 31. Life has come full circle and they are reading it to their babies. It would be a treasure to have the limited edition of “The Tales of Peter Rabbit”, especially with your added artwork and personalization. Thank you for your blog. I enjoy it so much.

  4. Christy says:

    My sister loves England (and Martha’s Vineyard – she’s a world traveler like you!), and I know how she would also love the little book! She introduced me to you many years ago, and I’m so thankful she did because I find inspiration and joy from your wonderful website! Jane Austen’s writing table was definitely a highlight of “my” trip with you!

  5. Charlotte in KY says:

    Over 2,000 comments to compete with! How will u ever read them all? My Peter Rabbit books are 40 years old and well loved. I really really NEED this one of a kind book for my library (I have every one of your books, so it is necessary that I win this LOL)

  6. Susan A. Leon says:

    Hello Susan, I would love love to have this book. You posted this on my birthday. I felt like I was there at Hilltop with you.
    Love your blog and all YOUR BOOKS!

  7. Kathi Churchman says:

    I must say I love all Beatrice Potter but my favorite has to be Benjamin Bunny in the adorable hat! <3 I Would love to win the book. You are so special. Thanks for all you share with us.

  8. Susan A. Leon says:

    Love Beatrix Potter! Love all YOUR BOOKS TOO!

  9. Wendy says:

    Oh, my, what a dream come true! I have loved getting lost in Beatrix’s books as a little girl and impressed as an adult by her nature studies and determined preservation work. What a special book you found. Your gift to us and generosity is amazing! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  10. Dawna Chapman says:

    Oh, Susan, thank you so much for sharing your “life journal” with us, your adoring fans (friends)! My husband and I lived in England for two years in 1971 and 1972 just after we were married (we were youngsters back then…19 years old). My husband was stationed at Chicksands RAF base, not far from London. He had gone ahead of me, and in a letter to me, he shared his excitement at finding a place for us to live in the country, which he had “fixed” up for us with wallpaper, carpeting, and the installation of a water heater so we wouldn’t have to heat our water using coal! Upon my arrival on April 7, 1971, I couldn’t wait to get to our “beautiful thatched roof cottage!” Lo and behold, it was not that at all! It was a bungalow on a duke’s estate that had been converted from a horse stable. It didn’t take long, however, for me to “fall in love” with our place in the country, where a bluebell lined forest was our backyard. We lived there for a wonderful 6 months before moving to a third-floor flat in the town of Bedford (now I look back and wonder why!). I still remember the address: 11 Kimbolton Road!

    Long story short, your journal has allowed me to relive the beauty of this lovely country and the home of the beloved Beatrix Potter, whom I adore. For years, I have collected children’s books, particularly unique publications of such. I even have a copy of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” written in Gregg shorthand and a special edition of “Misty of Chincoteague” sign by Marguerita Henry! Anyways, I would love to be the lucky recipient of this special edition of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit,” but I know that whoever receives it will surely treasure it as much as I would.

    You are a blessing…thank you so much for sharing and bringing back so many fond memories!

    Dawna — Currently in Buena Park, CA, but soon moving to Edmond, OK…where we will start a new and exciting “chapter” in our lives.

  11. Victoria says:

    Wow! What an amazing give-away! I’m pretty random – so why not me?
    Thanks for all the love-li-ness!

  12. Mrs.Pettigrew says:

    I love everything Beatrix Potter and so loved our tour of England with you. Thank you for sharing it all with us.

  13. Angie B in Oregon says:

    Dear Susan,
    I love your blog, your cookbooks, your calendars and just everything about you!! Whenever I am having a bad day, I just come to your website and feel happy again!!
    Thank you so much for the trip to England!
    P.S. – I too have come home with flowers, leaves, and rocks to treasure from places I have visited! 🙂
    Have a GREAt weekend!

    • sbranch says:

      Have you ever seen the movie the Long, Long Trailer with Lucille Ball and Ricky Ricardo? Besides being totally hilarious, she collects something that makes us, thank goodness, look perfectly normal.

      • christine says:

        That is one of the funniest movies ever!
        Everytime one of my children brought home a rock, the vision of Lucy came flooding back!

        • sbranch says:

          I know, and you almost forgive them!

          • Angie B in Oregon says:

            Oh my gosh, I have NOT seen the movie! I will be sure to do so now though! I should probably make my hubby see it too! Sometimes he just shakes his head!! 😉

          • sbranch says:

            Oh he will love this because Ricky is so exasperated and tries so hard to do what she wants! Very funny!

  14. Christy Keyton says:

    Oh my, oh my! I have lived my dream trip due to your generosity to share all this with us. And that would be a dream book to win a limited edition Beatrix Potter book PERSONALIZED by the dear and incredible Susan Branch!! All of this has inspired me to visit Alibris and finish up my collection of the tiny Beatrix books. I started the collection at the birth of my first child 22 years ago, but never finished it. Working on that now! THANK YOU, Susan for taking us all along! 🙂

  15. Michele in WV says:

    Thank you for your amazing pictures and descriptions of both houses. Actually, thank you for the entire trip. You have made it like we were all there with you and has made me dream and hope even more to be able to visit not only England, but Ireland and Scotland as well. That would truly be a dream come true. Really looking forward to your book and happy that you both made it home safely, which by the way, to me, is just as beautiful as in England.

  16. rj says:

    susan…thank you for sharing your wonderful trip with us…the pictures were great…i have never been to england but feel as tho i have now…welcome home!! looking forward to your posts about martha’s vineyard now!

  17. Linda says:

    Visiting Hill Top with you is like popping into a storybook! I am reading Beatrix Potter’s letters and her journal with my “little books” beside me to refer to as she mentions them. Having worked for a printing company, I appreciate the details that BP and Norman Warne addressed while creating just what Miss Potter wanted them to be. You have rekindled in me a love of the predesessors of the beautiful children’s books of today. I am reminded of your Willard’s as I read the letters and journal of Miss Potter. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us. Will you publish your record of this trip?

  18. Catherine Hamer says:

    Visiting your blog each day as you traveled through England was a huge blessing to me AND my husband. I never dreamed he would be interested in your blog but he certainly was! He would often say, “Did you visit Susan Branch’s blog today?” and then proceed to tell me about something he liked. You even inspired me to go get my collection of Beatrix Potter off the shelf and reread her delightful stories.

    • sbranch says:

      I think lots of men, Joe types, have liked to hear about England!

      • Catherine Hamer says:

        You are absolutely right. John and I enjoyed a trip to Northeast England a few years ago. He was doing some work for Twinnings Tea and I got to go along. Now we can dream of going back and seeing England the way you and Joe did. Especially long walks through the countryside. It seemed perfect to us.

        • sbranch says:

          Seems like whenever we went on one we had an unexpected adventure, very special the way all the little villages are tied together with these little public paths.

          • Catherine Hamer says:

            Don’t you just love the way God gives you the unexpected adventures each day. Once we were eating a little lunch in the garden beside the National Cathedral in Washington, DC when a mocking bird came to serenade us and a squirrel came go eat a few almonds right out of our hand. Very memorable.

  19. Jane in Pennsylvania says:

    I will be reading these 2,000 plus comments to you when I get a few extra minutes, but, for now, I will throw my hat into the ring & hope for the best. What a wonderful gift for one of the girlfriends. Wow.

  20. Beverly Brewer says:

    Love your “diary in the making” already! Years ago, we had a Jackson-Perkins rose tree that was a similar mauve-lavender color—just exquisite—might have been called “Heirloom”. I remember the “Long, Long Trailer” movie, too. After all these years, still loving Lucy! And you!

  21. Teresa Jensen, CA says:

    What a fabulous prize!! Enjoyed your trip to England so, so much. Thanks for all the pictures, videos and posts. Felt almost like I was there.

  22. Stephanie Drehs says:


    Thank you so much for documenting your trip to England. I hope to get there myself some day. I am a huge Beatix Potter fan. I have a female cat that I named Beatrix Potter. We call her Trixie for short. She is a 3 year old calico. When I named her she was only 6 weeks old and her personality wasn’t fully developed. Now that she is an adult I realize I gave her the perfect name. She is what my vet calls, “sassy”. She can be sweet & loving but also assertive when she wants something.

  23. jeanne hedin says:

    I’ve been out of state for the last ten days and have missed your updates! Now I’m catching up on my emails and see what a delightful surprise you have in store for one of the girlfriends — how special! By the way, on our road trip we saw lots of “lamby lambingtons”. I thought of you. 🙂

  24. Carolyn Parker says:

    How lovely it was of you to bring all of your readers on this most remarkable trip! I loved every enchanting photo and line that you penned. Thank you ever so much. It brought me back to memories of the four years I spent in England as a young girl and I yearn to go back someday. Meanwhile, this was an amazing journery with you. My little home is named Hilltop Cottage, I have collected and adored all of Beatrix Potter’s stories. I grow lavender and collect vintage honey tins! How perfect! Warmest regards, Carolyn

  25. christine says:

    I’m going to chance it and keep my fingers crossed!
    Oh, please, please, please pick my name!
    I will treasure it more than you know!

    Thank you for making someone very happy!

  26. db says:

    Thank you for all the photos!
    My elderly English friend who will never be able to visit her sister again in England was so enthralled with the photos. The tears in her eyes spoke that sadness.
    I praise and thank God for moving you to share a bit of your trip with us.

  27. Zana Carter says:

    Loved being a guest on your trip. I will never be able to go on such a trip and it was just like I was there. I watch a lot of British shows and it was just like the shows or books that I read describe the towns and scenery.
    Thanks for being such a generous tour guide and travel companion.

  28. Sharron Akins says:

    I have loved reading about your trip to England and especially your visit to Hilltop. What a wonderful experience and to read all about it in your words was heaven.

    My grandkids love the stories especially about Peter Rabbit. I would love sharing this book with them.

  29. Cathy R says:

    What a dear you are girlfriend Susan, keeping us in mind on your trip and then getting such a speical book for us ~ thanks a million! I’m very happy for whoever wins! Just home from vacation #2 in a month! Lucky me! But nothing like your trip to England! OH so delightful to devour your blog!
    Your life is heavenly blessed! Hello from Idaho!

  30. Cheryl says:

    Susan . . .

    I have so enjoyed your trip to England . . . where I have wanted to go for years and probably never will . . . thank you for sharing yours with all of us !!

    I met you several years ago in Hyannis at a signing . . . where you generously signed everything I owned of yours at the time . . . I have since collected even more and love every bit of it . . . I don’t even write in the calendars because I treat them like books that I can go back too . . . I know crazy . . . !!

    anyway . . . please keep all the fun and creative things coming our way . . . you make us all smile . . .

    Cheryl K . .

  31. Oh the mist beyond the house in the first photo. The whole post is so gorgeous. Did you really sit the miniature book down in the puddle lol? I have a collection of the Beatrix Potter figurines also and just love them so much.

  32. Dawney from Tennessee says:

    Thank you for sharing!

    (P.S. I posted once from my iPhone early on, but not sure it went through. If you happen to remember that it DID go through, please forgive this duplicate! This is just such a SPECIAL gift, I wanted to make SURE my entry went through. I’m on my regular computer now.)

  33. Peg Shelton says:

    Welcome home!. I soooo enjoyed going with you on your jaunt. I pretended I was a stow away in one of your suitcases!
    Reading your blog and listening to the music you selected to go along with them was exquisitely fun and adventuresome.

    I have a special friend that introduced me to Peter and Beatrix many years ago. Because of her and your trip I have put Jemima Puddleduck and Peter Rabbin front and center in my china cabinet. There they share pride of place and keep an eye on me and help me escape into my imaginary journey with you.

    God bless and keep you for all you do to help keep the stories alive!

  34. Mary Jean Price says:

    From my heart, thank you for taking all of us girlfriends along on your trip! Every moment will be treasured! The beautiful photos will be remembered! And, thank you for always being there for us!
    For many years, I bought my children and now my grandchilden Beatrix Potter books and we’ve enjoyed them so much! How I would love to add this “special” book to my collection!
    You are a treasured friend!
    Mary from Cleveland, OH

  35. Martha says:

    Susan, The Beatrix Potter books were my (now 32-year old) daughter’s favorite as a tiny girl. She knew the exact shelf they were on in the library and that’s always where she headed! Now, I have the joy of sharing them with my 2 granddaughters. Isn’t that a bit of heaven?

  36. judi says:

    I don’t have a twitter account but, I can see yours…….LOVE the pic of my “favorite” boyfriend, ha, WHAT was he looking at??? Looks like his eyes are gonna pop right out….hugs and kisses to both sweet babies:)

  37. Joanne says:

    Thank you for sharing your trip and lovely photos! I’ve truly enjoyed it all. You’re so sweet to give us the opportunity to win a prize. Blessings!

  38. Lynne from Mount Hermon, CA says:

    Oh what a precious treasure this book would be… sitting right there on my bookshelf next to my Cinderella books (from around the world!)!!

    And what a nice surprise it would be to be the random winner after all these past tries (with no luck), but still will blissful anticipation! :0)

    Your sweet vacation to England began right as I was heading into a flurry of doctors appointments and preparation for surgery. It was one of the bright and cheery moments of my days. I’m home recovering now, and still finding each post part of my lovely healing! Thank you!

  39. Barbara P says:

    I have enjoyed traveling to England with you. My nine year old would love the Beatrix Potter book. She has a set of little books that go everywhere with her.

  40. Deb Johnson. Phoenix, AZ says:

    Hi Susan,
    First of all, going to England with you saved my life. Right before you left, I lost my best friend since high school. She passed away after a long 2 year battle with breast cancer. So thank you, thank you for helping me get through a difficult time. I could not wait to see what your next adventure was. Now, I can’t believe that nobody knew what that gorgeous rose was?! How could they not want to know that?! I think I have the answer for you. When I got interested in roses, the very first rose I bought was a Hybrid Perpetual raised by Laffay in 1842 called “La Reine”. It is the most beautiful and fragrant rose I have. When people come over, they can’t believe the fragrance and the number of roses on it. We tried to count them one spring and we had to stop after 200+. It is the most amazing rose I have ever seen. When I cut them and bring them in the house, the smell is heavenly! Finally, I always was a dog person and never really cared for cats. Well, you have even changed my mind on that! I told my husband one day “I think we need to get a black and white kitty”. He looked at me like I was nuts and said “You don’t even like cats?”. So I began to explain how your adorable pictures of your black and white kitty changed my mind on how I looked at cats. Now that is the power of photography! So…….I am working on him to add one to our home :). It would be so nice when we get one, I could tell people of this wonderful artist Susan Branch and ALSO have that wonderful book to show them! Susan, seriously, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.


    • sbranch says:

      Oh I am so excited for you, wait until you experience a kitten. There is just nothing like it. #1, Show him the cat box and he is done “potty training” from that instant on. You can just enjoy him and laugh all the time. Let us know when you find one…would like to hear your impressions!

  41. Kelly says:

    Our own “Peter Rabbit Room” is pretty much packed away now. It was our twin sons’ nursery (they are now 21) and was all things Beatrix Potter: wallpaper frieze, crib bumpers and linens, a wall clock, a nightlight, many of the figurines . . . and of course, a collection of all of the little books, including the edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit that I’d read as a child! Seeing pictures of your room takes me right back to that sweet little room our babies grew up in.
    When our daughter was 9, she and my mother and I were fortunate to be able to visit the Lake District on a ‘girls’ trip.’ My mother is a long-time member of the Beatrix Potter Society and arranged for a private car tour through another member who lived locally, and it was lovely to see all of BP’s haunts, but I especially loved Hill Top. I’m a member of the Society now too!
    Being ardent Anglophiles, my dearest friend and I have recently launched our own blog which features British recipes adapted for US cooks, and we are having so much fun with it! It’s so gratifying to be able to share one’s passions with others, yes? I pointed her recently in the direction of your website, and she was enthralled – not surprisingly since she is also a talented watercolorist, excellent cook, skilled gardener, etc., etc. Kindred spirits!
    Thanks for the time and energy you put into your website — it’s a lovely thing you do!

  42. Carol from Connecticut says:

    Dearest Susan,
    A very close girlfriend gave me a great hospitality gift yesterday that I want to share with you because it’s adorable and has to do with tearooms. The book title is, “Dainty Dining” by Angela Webster McRae. The book explores the nostalgic side with photos & menus from tea rooms that we used to enjoy in the huge, major, ‘downtown’ department stores that used to exist all over the U.S. Included are recipes exclusive to those tea rooms that are simply scrumptious. One recipe is for the Wellesley Fudge Cake and includes the origin of the recipe. One room featured is the ‘Filene’s, Boston’ Tea Room where a lobster salad roll was 75 cents !! Remember getting dressed UP to go DOWNtown? It really makes me sad that our younger generations will never have the unique experience of ‘going downtown’.
    Affection, Carol

  43. Oh my! When I read about one of US actually being the honored winner of this precious book my eyes teared up! Yes, I can understand how exciting it would be to be the giver of such a prize! (I find the grandest of joy in that also!) But to be the
    winner…………words can hardly describe the pure happiness of it!!! And the pressed flower!!!! Smiles and again such an honor!!! 🙂

  44. Cassie A. says:


    Thank you for sharing your trip to England with me…and all of your readers. Your writing and photographs during the trip are fun and inspiring. I really loved seeing the walks and the lambs….and, of course, Beatrix Potter’s homes too! She is a special favorite, as are you.

  45. Arlene Siepel says:

    I have had your Contentment poster of a cottage with a Beatrix Potter quote, cookbook & staionary in my small home for years, when I found your blog I was thrilled. I spent 3 wonderful weeks in England visiting my sis and brother in law in 2005. My sister and I took the train to Stoke on Trent and toured the Spode factory plus the BLue Room It was nearly sacred. Your unselfish sharing has brought back glorious memories. Thank you Dear

  46. carol oliver says:

    Hello Susan,
    Oh everyone is saying…please, please,please….metoo….me too…Susan I wanted to say thank you,and thank you so much for taking me on your Trip to England with you. It was unbelievable…and so great of you. Oh, Hill top….its good to go back to Hill top with this blog….My daughter treated her son to a Beatrix Potter room when he was born, 17 years ago. Well now that it is completely XBoxed out….I have all the books and little Antique things, anything BeatrixPotter that I gave him…I took back…well its ok…What will he do with it…and I have more of a special feeling towards it…you know what I mean.
    I would so love the book, and will cross my fingers…and I will treasure it forever, like all your books that I have, and thespecial Red Toile Gravy boat from your special collection that my girlfriend bought for me in you darling store, that is no more. Thank you for the 3 Calendars for 2013 that I received…it pays to order early…it is great, as your very first one was.
    Again, thank you for the fabulous Vacation…I so enjoyed it.
    Carol O. in San Pedro,So. Calif. xo

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you back Carol…You got the toile gravy boat? How wonderful! Great girlfriend and lucky you!

  47. Joyce F says:

    I loved all of your posts from England but especially the ones about Hill Top Farm. I have several biographies about Beatrice Potter, the movie Miss Potter, and The Complete Tales of Beatrice Potter. That little book would fit right in and bring back memories of the days when my sons and I would walk to the library and come home with several of the “little books”, which were hard to carry with other, larger size books they had chosen! How they loved those stories – perhaps that was the beginning of my fascination with her which was later fueled by Susan Wittig Albert’s books with Beatrice Potter as main character!

  48. Tonya Burns says:

    I came across Beatrix Potter’s nature journal book when taking a class several years ago. I was totally impressed. I love nature journaling, I love Beatrix Potter—so it was a wondrous find. My girls were raised on her books and stuffed animals and I am enjoying continuing the tradition with my granddaughter! Thanks for sharing with all of us.

  49. Kathy G. says:

    How delightful the book would look alongside my Peter Rabbit teapot. I’ll wish upon a star tonite so it could be mine!

  50. Sharon (Ashland, OR) says:

    Oh, how lucky for one of us! Thank you for sharing. There is nothing left to say. It’s all been said. ♥

  51. Martha N. says:

    Susan, you have given us such a treat by allowing us all to join you and Joe on this trip of a lifetime. A million thanks!

  52. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! Just another quick peek at your blog this evening, as my daughter came home sick from her summer job, and I’ve had a long day caring for her. Your blog always cheers me up and makes me happy!!!!! She has perked up a bit, is holding down fluids (still crossing my fingers and praying she’s on her way to feeling better), so I’ve checked in to see if the winner of the adorable book was chosen yet. Guess not! Have a great day tomorrow Susan!!! Wishing “you” good luck in picking the winner!!! Even though we are all “winners” because we have “you”!!!!! God Bless you for all that you do for all of us!!! Good night from Dearborn, Michigan!!!!!

  53. Marilyn S. says:

    Checking for your latest blog is one of the highlights of my day. I try to save it for evening when I get through work and can relax a bit. After your post on the Emma Bridgewater factory, I just had to order the heart teacup from your website and now I drink my hot chocolate in it every day – even in summer! My 4 daughters always loved the Beatrix Potter books. I don’t know if it was the small size, just right for a child’s hands, or the charming illustrations, or the simple stories – maybe all three. My husband has started a tradition for all of our grandchildren. On their birthday we take them to the bookstore to pick out any book they would like and then my husband writes them a little note from Grandpa in their book and dates it. When my oldest grandson was 8, the only book he wanted was a beautiful book of a compilation of all the Beatrix Potter stories. It was so sweet and I hope it gets passed down to our great grandchildren someday. They are timeless books, aren’t they?

  54. Elaine Lehmann says:

    How wonderful being able to thank you for my tour of England in something other than in my dreams. Some of us are only able to experience adventures like yours through others. I can honestly say I have looked forward and thoroughly enjoyed. every entry 🙂 and can’t wait to add to my Susan Branch book collection with your journal, etc. I know I am only one in over 2,00 and counting of your closest friends that would treasure adding your Beatrix Potter book to their/my family heirloom not to mention it would be a wonderful prize to receive the summer after my 30th year as an educator. Wouldn’t it be even more special for your book to experience being seen by my whole elementary school? I think so! Fellow lover of literature….Elaine

  55. Brenda Wagner says:

    I can almost smell those bee utiful roses <3 I am moving into a new house next week. An old farmhouse built in 1880 on 13 acres of land. Dream of a lifetime. Setting up a new room there for my 6, soon to be 7, grand babies. Was dreaming of a new decorating scheme for that room and now I know … All things Beatrix Potter. You are such an inspiration. Thank you for your gentle thoughts.

  56. Teresa says:

    Oh my! When I read about the opporturnity to possibly win the wonderful book my eyes teared up!! I enjoy giving also and get that wonderful squealy feeling also! I just enjoy your description of your excitment to give such a special gift!
    I enjoyed our trip to England and would curl up with the lap top and join the trip each evening on our rainy evenings here in SE Alaska. Thank you for taking us along!

  57. Debbie in So,Ca. says:

    It had to be…You had to go back! It was to be!!! The wet path, the green door you hadn’t seen before! There was so much more to see… I am so glad that you did… it is as if Beatrix Potter herself wrote this post. I think she would be so pleased, maybe even a wink as you slipped the rosebud into your pocket to lay in her book. It’s all so magical Susan, your whole trip. Thank you Thank you Thank you for careing for all of us so much! Debbie in So Cal.

  58. Deirdre says:

    I do hope it’s not too late to enter! As a Lake District lover, the Peter Rabbit book would mean such a lot to me! Years ago, I was poking through my library and discovered Swallows and Amazons, by Arthur Ransome. These books are set in the Lakes, and most all of the places mentioned you can still visit today. In the first book (there are twelve in total) the main characters are staying at a farm called Holly Howe, which is based on Bank Ground (near Coniston), where people can still stay or at the very least stop in for tea! Every day I look at various photo-blogs of the Lakes, and wish I could be there, so I don’t blame you for snipping off your very own piece of the Lake District! Thank you so much for posting the pictures of your trip. I’ve really enjoyed them!

    If you’re interested, my favorite picture website of the Lakes is

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you back Deirdre!

    • Thanks from me, too! Great site! And I’ve ordered the book from my State’s library system. I’ve have my world greatly expanded by being a part of Susan’s Blog–so many great books and movies and websites I’ve discovered!

      P.S. Just had to leave my computer for the moment to try and get a photo of the fawn 25 feet out my window, but he started running to catch up with his mother, turned around and ran back towards my house, then abruptly changed his mind and took off towards his mother again. The fawns I see every season in my yard are my own “lammies”. You should see two of them playing together. Delightful!

  59. karen says:

    What a joy to be an armchair traveler with you and sweet Joe!! Thanks for the memories!!

  60. Kathie says:

    Odd. We had BLTO’s this evening (bacon, lettuce, tomato and onion sandwiches). There’s a storm coming in over the coulee; heavy rain, thunder and lightning. We’ve been watching it on the doppler. Summer storms are wonderfully terrifying. The house smells of smoky, salty bacon and we’re all curling up (my DH and two kitties), getting ready for the downpour and the noise and all. Got the kerosene lamps down and am going, right now, to pop some popcorn. We don’t have tv like so many….just a dvd player and some netflix from time-to-time. So a storm is a scary entertainment of sorts (we pray it won’t get out of hand and be dreadfully nasty). I don’t think Peter Rabbit ever gained a real appreciation for chamomile tea, but it was the best thing for him to calm him after his adventure. So, I’ll make some of my special chamomile tea (you can get the recipe at
    and we’ll munch popcorn and see what the evening brings…..and look forward to a morning of fresh-washed outdoors and that special ozone fragrance from on high. Thanks for all the fun you’ve given us these past few weeks….and the intrigue of borrowing a couple of blooms from Beatrix Potter’s garden. And speaking of Peter Rabbit, I was once married to Mr. MacGregor, and he DID have a huge, wonderful garden….and the bunnies were a bit of a problem.

  61. Lnda says:

    Well, aren’t you just the bee’s knees! Ha! Always wanted to use that term and I don’t even understand what it means. lol It just seemed to fit in with today’s title of your blog. 🙂 Having that book would be “oh, so wonderful” because of where it was purchased, but having it inscribed by Susan Branch is just way toooo cool.

  62. Freida says:

    Susan, I bet you think your travels and experiences have been the greatest source of joy possible. However, you will never fully realize the joy you have brought to those of us whowill never be able to visit these glorious places!! Bless you for allowing us to “travel” along and see thru your eyes. I have enjoyed the trip immensely (and hardly have any jet lag!!!)

    • sbranch says:

      I’m not sure if I get more joy from going, or more from hearing from everyone about it!

  63. Debrah Fourzan-Riccobene says:

    As everyone has, I too have enjoyed your trip to England! It is like a great novel, anxious to read the next adventure! The possibility of winning the most amazing gift of a Beatrix Potter one of kind book is….dizzy! Especially for me, a third grade teacher who shares the love of books with my kids daily. So making a wish…..
    By the way for all rabbit lovers please read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane! I’m sure a Peter Rabbit favorite.

  64. JULIENE says:

    Oh Susan, I have so enjoyed traveling with you and Joe. I, too, love Beatrix and have a scattering of her books about as well a sign in my herb garden pointing out the lavender and the chamomile.

  65. kit says:

    Your trip has been such a lovely adventure for me! Thank you again for taking the time to include all of us! You are simply wonderful. Kit

  66. Kathleen from Philly says:

    Oh, to win this lovely book! What a memento from such a lovely journey. Thank
    you for sharing all your experiences with us. Beatrix Potter surely would approve of a souvenir flower or two. I’m certain she pressed flowers in her day. The
    resulting book that chronicles your trip is destined to be treasured by your
    countless girlfriends. I know I can’t wait to buy my copy. Thanks again.

  67. Cindy M. says:

    Susan what a wonderful gift. It is such a beautiful book! what a wonderful gift that book will be. I have such wonderful memories of my mother reading her books to me and my brothers at bed time and reading the same books to my little boy!!! I just love the pictures of her home and garden that you have shared with us. Thank you for sharing your trip with us it has been so much fun. I am eagerly waiting for this trip to be turned into one of your wonderful books. I have enjoyed every moment of the trip with you and Joe. p.s. I hope I win that book!!! But if I don’t do you know if can it be ordered from gift store?

    • sbranch says:

      One of our girlfriends tried! But it’s sold out, they’re all gone!

      • Cindy M. says:

        When I read your blog regarding the book I should have checked then, oh well, I’ll keep my fingers crossed and say a prayer that Vanna picks meeee! what a special book and to have you painted little lamb and your signature makes it ever more special.

  68. Carolyn says:

    Thanks, Susan, for a look into such a beautiful and special place through your eyes!

  69. patti frain says:

    Had the whole family laughing last night when I couldn’t stop talking about winning, “The Book.” I got out all my SBranch stuff. They never knew what a fan I was of yours. I put all of the stuff out on the kitchen table just to send good karma your way. 🙂

  70. Cecelia says:

    I just returned from my vacation and wanted to let you know that my children had a set of four mini Beatrix books many years ago. They are well loved and worn so a new one would be wonderful for my grandchildren.
    P.S. My England vacation with all of you was waaaay better than my other.

  71. Laurie says:

    Loved, loved, loved looking at and reading about your wonderful trip! The photos are beautiful. I have an old Beatrix Potter, cloth, Petter Rabbit book that was my mom’s when she was a child. The book you are giving away would be a wonderful companion. Thank you.

  72. Pat T. says:

    Hi Susan,

    I, too, loved being a part of your trip!!! Loved all the places you took us and the way you described them all to us!! Thank you, thank you for sharing England with us! It has been a sweet part of this summer! I love Beatrix Potter, too. And, have always enjoyed Peter Rabbit! When you commented on the cover of the book and thought you would like 10 yards of it in fabric, I was thinking the same thing! Wouldn’t it look pretty made up into a quilt? We just got back from our trip to Washington to visit family. Don’t know if I missed the cut off for the drawing, but am trying anyway! Love the book and someone is going to be very lucky and happy!

  73. Debby Gibbs says:

    Going through the countryside of England has been a wonderful experience, especially since my husband and I had to cancel our summer vacation. I had been in pain and they found that I have cysts at the bottom of my spine, and I need to have surgery in August. This isn’t to play on your pity, Susan, for that precious book—unless it’d help, of course! But really, it’s given me time to do lots of reading and I’ve chosen books that you’ve mentioned—MRS. KEPPEL AND HER DAUGHTER, BEATRIX POTTER’S biography, and the book on Virgina Wolf and her sister. All very interesting reads…..thank you for opening so many interesting doors for us.

    • sbranch says:

      My prayers are with you through your surgery Debby … September will be a beautiful month!

  74. Pamela A says:

    Welcome home – what a fabulous trip. Thank you for sharing such an wonderful journey with us all. It is my hope to visit England, you have provided such lovely places to visit, but for now I will live through you. Thank you for a fab giveaway – how very special.

  75. Lisa R (northern Arizona) says:

    Susan….I am now on vacation, and not able to get to a computer often, but I am so glad I did tonight! I would have been so sad to have missed this post, and a chance to win this wonderful, beautiful gift! Someone is going to be very, very happy, and you should be tickled pink with yourself. It truly is more blessed to give than receive, I’m happy you are having so much fun with your surprise! Thank you for being so generous and thoughtful.

  76. DENA from New Orleans says:

    Susan thank you so much for sharing your trip so vividly, it felt as though i was a friend traveling along with you, I feel like i have visited all the places you took us to in your travels, from the camera on the boat leaving and to your return home was such a great journey. you gave your fans a wonderful gift, I got to see places i would probable never get to see and admire all the beauty that you pointed out along the way. The pass few days i have been a bit depressed i think because its like i’m returning home from a trip, that i actually went on. I look forward to your posting, and to the book from your trip, i have all your books and read them over and over to look at the the little art work and details. You truely are a talented lady, and your writings give such joy, which we can always use more of, Thanks Again!!!!

  77. Patti Bode says:

    Love the English countryside, Beatrix Potter, our travels together, and would love this icing-on-the-cake book too!!!

  78. joni gale borger says:

    Hi, loved travelling to England with you. Finally figured out how to leave a comment, I have wanted to but just figured it out. LOL. You are such an inspiration, you have inspired the creative side of me more than you could ever know. Would so enjoy your special copy of the beautiful book. Keep the words and pictures flowing, you always put a smile on my face as I read. Sincerely, Joni

  79. Dawn Brocco says:

    From what I’ve read, cabbage roses are Centifolias:

    Eden seems to be a popular Centifolia:

    Though the roses you saw do also remind me of the Madame Pierre Oger, a Bourbon rose. I used to grow them, not quite that successfully, however! And though not strictly a climbing rose, Mme Oger can reach 8′, and the scent on heirloom roses is divine!

    Hope this helps a little!

  80. Denise says:

    Susan it has been so much fun to follow your England adventures. I particularly enjoyed your beautiful photos, videos and journaling that have allowed me to travel this summer without leaving my porch. Thanks for taking us along! I am looking forward to your English Diary. Best wishes with your writing. I am still amazed by Jane Austen’s wee table…

  81. Linda McMorrow says:

    I enjoy your blog, especially England trip. I took your Autumn book to the hospital with me to read while I recovered from heart surgery, and have since collected many others. thank you.

  82. G. Jourdet says:

    Now I know I am not so different after all. I hang on to what’s good in my past and build shelves of curious collections to show people who visit my home what’s important to me. My bookshelves contain little figurines, just like on your stove top. My most precious item is a little white china dog from my Nana, who in 1955 was in a great flood and running to the highest ground, reached down in the swirling waters and picked up this little china dog, not even hers…that was all in the end she had in her possession. The flood took all. She pressed it into my hand when I was 16 and said, “I want you to have this…this is “Hope”. I see it everyday and am reminded of the importance of people and their spirit. So, little things mean a lot and taking time to notice the little things in life makes for a rich life. I know that your followers on this blog are like that too. So glad to know about them and you. I have said it before, Thank you Susan Branch….you are a source of “good”

  83. Patti Hegge says:

    Susan, you really outdid yourself. What a lovely trip to England. Thank you for taking us all along. Everything you do in your artwork, cookbooks, and blogs bring so much magic to life. Have a wonderful rest of your summer. 🙂

  84. Dorrie M. says:

    What a treasure you are Susan!
    Thank you for sharing your adventures in England. I have always wanted to go to Hilltop. I teach a unit to my students every year on Beatrix Potter. I love sharing all about her life with the children.
    If I win your book, I will treasure it forever!! 🙂

  85. Lori from Maine says:

    Goodness! Look at all comments ~ I guess all of the girlfriends would love to get their little paws on that lovely book! What a wonderful thing to offer us…thank you!!
    xoxxox from SW Harbor

  86. Betsy Breckow says:

    My birthday was also the date of this incomparable post — Bastille Day! — but I waited till I could give it my undivided attention. All I can say is thank you from Paso Robles, California, where the bees and I enjoyed the Lavender Festival yesterday.

  87. Debbie Young says:

    What a wonderful adventure and trip of a lifetime. It has been BP for us adults now, a new updated story! Wonderful pictures to boot!

  88. Robin Smith says:

    How exciting!!! I have not commented in a while, but just could not pass this by without entering. What a wonderful giveaway and how delightfully excited I would be to win this book!!! Susan, you are just too sweet and precious!! What a blessing you are!!


  89. jen dyer says:

    My mom is a huge Beatrix Potter fan and is unable to travel so I just opened your blog and gave her a virtual tour!! So beautiful and the exact trip we would take if we could!! So serene too! On a side note I just took some out of town guest over to marthas for a day on friday and stopped in Oak Bluffs…thought of you of course and wondered if you also were enjoying the beautiful day!! Wink wink:) They leave Monday but they enjoyed the local tour of the Cape!!

    • sbranch says:

      Lately the weather has been perfect! Beautiful July — so glad you got a piece of it. Please say hello to your mom for me!

  90. Kristy says:

    I commented on July 11th, but I don’t think it got posted, so I am posting again! This little book would be the perfect gift for….me! This week my wonderful husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary! Also, it just makes sense that this book live with me as I decorated my oldest daughter’s nursery in Beatrix Potter (she is now 22 years old, and loves books as much as I do!) And thank you Susan for choosing the best souvenirs for us!

    • sbranch says:

      We seem to lose comments sometimes — where they go, I do not know. Sorry! I’m glad you came back! Hope this one shows up!

  91. Gretchen Leoni says:

    You have brought unforetold joys to my mom and I this summer as we dream-traveled with you through England’s misty landscapes and hallowed literary haunts. Due to unforeseen calamities, we are landlocked in the oppressive heat of another Texas summer, but you have buoyed our spirits with all of your stories and photographs. We are currently experiencing our own Beatrix Potter renaissance, trying to track down vintage figurines of our most favorite characters from the realms of Hilltop Farm! We literally gasped with delight when we read about your time there. And to think of owning that precious book- well, it makes my heart want to burst with birdsong and happiness! Words can’t thank you enough for taking all of us kindred spirits along with you on your journey. Our bags are packed and waiting for the next adventure. 

  92. Nina Bangle says:

    I soooo enjoyed my trip with you. I could never have made it there on my own, thanks for taking me along. FANTASTIC!!!

  93. Linda says:

    Susan, thank-you so much for the trip to England. I have always wanted to go there, so now I have thru you and your wonderful pictures and blog! I would be very happy to be entered to win the BP book and pressed flower. Thank-you again for being the wonderful, giving person you are! <3

  94. Janie says:

    This journey has been delightful. How wonderful it will be for someone (possibly me!) to have the book as reminder of the trip. Thanks Susan. I think I shall put on a tea kettle for a cuppa tea! Want you join me?

  95. Katy Rollins says:

    Thank you Susan for taking us to England and then extending our trip with your wonderful memories. I felt as if I was next to you slipping a hidden wet rose into my coat pocket.

  96. Carolyn says:

    Has this been suggested?
    Would the National Trust have documentation regarding the
    name of the rose? BP was very meticulous in her desires for Hill Top. Of course it would be so grand to know the name of the rose. Then all of us girlfriends could plant a like rose and have another connection with each
    other as with well as with BP.

  97. Crystal S. says:

    Susan, after sharing this trip with you, I feel like you are a dear friend. Today, unfortunately, is the 9 year anniversary of the death of my beloved grandmother who introduced me to Peter Rabbit and read it so many times to me that I had it imprinted on my heart before the first grade. Reading your blog today has helped to cheer me up and to treasure those memories of lying in bed next to her and listening again to her sweet voice taking us into Mr. McGregor’s garden. Thank you so much for your generosity in sharing your trip and also your life with us.

  98. Barbara T, Wolverine Lake MI says:

    I was so inspired that I took a drive to Barnes & Noble to get some Beatrix Potter books…they didn’t have any – well they had one that was illustrated by someone else (horrors!!) and they had one that was for tiny babies with those thick cardboard pages that won’t tear, an abbreviated story. Nope! Not what I want! so I left and thought I’ll look elsewhere….it reminded me of the movie You’ve Got Mail and the Little Shop Around the Corner and the big old bad Fox Books. 🙁 anyway I will search for a small book store with REAL Beatrix Potter books as I’m out and about. I came home and made German Potato Salad to serve with dinner (Grandma’s recipe) and thought you all might enjoy the recipe handed down to you!

    Grandma Schueller’s German Potato Salad
    4 lbs med size red potatoes
    8 slices cooked bacon
    ½ cup bacon drippings
    5 green onions, sliced thin
    ½ cup sugar 3 Tbsp flour
    2 tsp salt ½ tsp pepper
    1 cup cider vinegar 1 cup water

    Put unpeeled potatoes in large pan, cover with water. Bring to boil over high heat, turn to low for about 15 min, and off for 10-15 min. Run cold water over potatoes immediately and let stand til cooled enough to peel them. (I usually don’t bother peeling them, but Grandma always did) Peel and slice into large bowl.

    Cook up about ¾ of a pkg of bacon to create ½ cup of bacon drippings.
    Blend sugar, flour, salt, and pepper in sauce pan, add bacon drippings to make a smooth paste. Add vinegar and water. Bring to boil and boil for 2-3 min, stirring constantly.
    Combine hot sauce, sliced potatoes, broken up bacon and onions, stirring to blend. Let stand at room temp for 3-4 hours.

    • sbranch says:

      Antique stores are a great place to find old, well loved and and slightly worn copies of Beatrix Potter’s books for a decent price. I would also say Ebay, but it’s nowhere near as fun! How nice, a recipe! We always like a good tried and true recipe around here! Thank you!

    • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

      Ahh a taste of home!!! This is almost like my Grandma’s recipe except we use sweet onions.

  99. Jacqui G says:

    Hi Susan! I’ve been working day and night lately…I can’t remember if I entered this latest wonderful give-away…so I’m doing it now so I can have a chance at your little piece of Beatrix. I love reading your blog…it takes me away from all the rush and work and deposits me in my own little peaceful place, and for this I am truly grateful. I ♥…and you 🙂 xoxo Jacqui

  100. Christine Metzo says:

    I would love the book for my mother. I wish they’d had these there on my trip to the Lake District, because I know I’d have bought it for her!

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