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. Renee Chesnut says:

    I “found” your Blog at a time when I needed something beautiful in my life. Thank you so much for sharing! Every day I could not wait to see what beautiful pictures you had posted. I felt as if I was there. Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm was the icing on the cake. I have always loved her books and it was so great to see where she received her inspirations. Thank you again!

    • sbranch says:

      You’re so welcome Renee, glad you’re here!

    • Dianne Metsger says:

      I can not tell you how wonderful it has been to follow along with Joe and you, as you traveled through the English countryside. I have always dreamed of going to England via the QEII and now the Queen Mary II, as my father (from the US) and my mother (from England) returned to the US on the Queen Mary after WWII. I have been to London once for a course in Transcultural Nursing, but I want to travel throughout the countryside. I have wandered the countryside through the eyes ofsome of my favorite authors- Rosamunde Pilcher, Marcia Willet, Jane Austin, George Elliot, Joanna Trollope, Elizabeth George, the list could go on and on. As a child I read Winnie the Pooh (classic Pooh, of course) and Beatrix Potter. I have always loved the work of Beatrix Potter (a complete set of her works was the first thing I bought for my son’s nursery). I do hope to visit her home some day, but in the meantime I have been fortunate to see it through your eyes. I have several of my friends logging on to your website as well. It is the bright spot in our days, as we are under a lot of stress at work due to the merger of two hospitals and the now pending closure of one. I can’t wait to rent the movie Miss Potter now that school is out for the summer (grad school). I loved the piano music you had a link to. Oh yes, I also loved Ladies in Lavender and Mrs Miniver. You must see the movie about the Marigold Hotel (the exact title unfortunately escapes me at the moment); it is wonderful!! I know that Joe and you will both enjoy it. I think it was released after you left the US, but maybe not. Perhaps you saw it before you set sail. To see it is a must. Last of all, seeing you with your knitting needles in hand inspired me to pick up my needles again. I actually FINISHED a pair of socks started 4 or 5 years ago! My first pair; I’m on my second now. Keep up the good work- you inspire us to find the beauty and the happiness in every day.

      • sbranch says:

        We did see it, in Ambleside, the same day we went to Hill Top the first time! We loved it!

        My best friend Diana is a nurse who went through something similar, the merger of two hospitals, the closing of one. She lived to tell the story, but I remember what a stressful time it was. Don’t forget to breathe! Knitting will be a big help! xoxo

  2. anna says:

    Thanks for sharing your trip with us!! I loved seeing your wonderful pics!! Love Beatrix Potter too and her art. Thanks again for taking us along with you.

  3. Jessica says:

    Susan, I don’t think you could have made a giveaway anymore special…thank you for your thoughtfulness and sweet spirit! ♥ The little book is such a treasure, and the little rosebud just sends it over the top…worth every second of stealth & risk!
    Loved ‘traveling’ every step of the way on this journey with you., and am seriously looking forward to your diary so I can relive it all again!!
    xo Jessica

  4. Nora Hampton says:

    Oh, how I enjoyed following you on your trip. What a magical time it was.
    and what a joy to share in seeing the sights- most especially the home where Beatrix Potter lived and was inspired. Thanks so much for sharing for those of us who cannot go there ourselves.

  5. Laura B. says:

    Hi Susan, Thank you so much for taking us to England. You, Joe, and your blog have taken us to such wonderful places that we have never been to, but now have on our places we MUST visit list!! And just in case we don’t make it there soon, we have your beautiful words, photos and drawings that paint incredible pictures in our minds. Thank you!

  6. Darlene Messina says:

    Hi Susan, what a wonderful trip full of so many memories. Thank you for sharing it with us. It is almost like being there. Hilltop Farm and Jane Austen’s home are some of my favorite posts. Can’t wait to see more! Hoping I’m the lucky one – to win the drawing for the darling book!

  7. Judy Ann from Georgia says:

    Oh, Susan what a joy to see what you have seen on your trip. I absolutely love the arbor. Please enter me in the drawing for the book. What a treasure.
    Would not miss one minute of your blog.
    Judy Ann from Georgia

  8. susan says:

    oh my GOODNESS am i ever excited about your whole trip to england. i’ve been following your trip as a most enthusiastic vicarious travel partner – now you know!
    and … The Book! what a thrilling and suuuper generous prize! what a dream to even see it and someone is going to be a very very lucky winner!

    join my voice to the many (thousands!) of others who thank you for a lovely blog!

  9. Sandi Skeels says:

    Good Sunday to you Susan and Joe …What fantastic news that you are holding off on the “awesome” Beatrix Potter’s give a way so others can be in the running.
    Sounds almost that you’ll have a”rose” that will be ever so close to what you are hoping to climb on the purr~fect arbor…
    Thanks again this summer has been so special…I’ve loved your blogs…loved being a vacation girlfriend “a tag~a~long”loved that Petey was shared…loved all your pictures and drawings…and honestly smile when I see you’ve had time to drop “us” some wonderful newest news!!!!

  10. It would be a dream come true to have this precious book! How sweet of you to think of us! Bees in the lavender? I’m lavender dreamer! Thank you, dear one!

  11. Del Jean says:

    Oh Oh Oh!! So very generously unselfish of you to return to the grand, really real home at Hill Top!!
    I raised my two wonderful children (now 28 and 26, but still loving and revering Beatrix Potter) on her stories and in the softest of soft plaid bunting, embroidered with Peter, himself.
    Just two years ago, while recovering from too close together, but totally successful surgeries because of cancer, I enjoyed once again, the stories. Only this time, the movie “Miss Potter” added to the fun joy!
    So, thank you , dear Susan, for going back the second time, and for inquiring about the roses climbing so friendly like! …We will find their name, in heaven, for sure!

  12. Rebecca says:

    I’ve been receiving “Willard” for years and check in often to see what’s new on Susan’s blog. This is the first time I’ve commented, however. I’ve loved Beatrix Potter since I was a little girl. I remember my parents trying to come up with boy’s name in case the baby my mother was expecting was a boy. They decided to name him Benjamin after “Benjamin Bunny”. They did have a little boy and we called him Benji. Though after a certain age he made us promise to call him “Ben” in front of friends. I’ll never forget the lecture prior to meeting his wife-to-be for the first time: no calling him “Benji” and no embarrassing stories- like when he cried because his blankie was in the washing machine.

  13. Esther P says:

    You were my inspiration when I started painting and began my business in my “twilight years” 🙂 and now you have made planning my long dreamed of trip to England so much easier….have you read the Miss Read series ya’ll, lovely English fiction!

  14. Amy says:

    Such beauty she has shared with us.I think you and her are definately kindred spirits.Oh what a honor it would be to own that beautiful book.

  15. Jill Hruska says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your trip to England. Reading of your adventures was the next best thing to being there! You are so generous with your time as well as with your souvenirs!

  16. Brook Sellers says:

    A very big Thank You for sharing your trip, I follow your blog and we love so many of the same things. Always reading with a smile on my face, this senior is enjoying our sameness. Big love, Bunnies, cats and dogs, reading, quilting,painting and time in the garden. I can no longer travel so the trip was special. Lovely to see you safely home, Please put me in the drawing. Blessings, Brook

  17. Tootles says:

    I find such delight & comfort in the coZy things in which you share!
    How generous of you to think of us on your trip and how fun to know someone will get to have a real part of that trip!
    Blessings !

  18. queenie from pennsylvania says:

    I just had to write and thank you for the travel inspiration you have given to my husband and myself. For many years, we have been wanting to visit the beautiful village in Italy where my paternal ancestors were born. After reading your comments about postponing trips because of… “what if this happened or that if that happened”, we decided the time for our dream trip is now!! We are in our early eighties, still in good health, and we have just finalized our Italy plans for September 2012!!! We will be staying with dear friends who live in the small, quaint village on a mountain top! You helped us realize our dream, Susan!! Thank you immensely!

  19. Margie B says:

    I miss your little store in California however I have a wonderful reminder of your adorable shop. I purchased a large wooden spoon in your shop that says (in woodburning), “Woe to the Cook whose sauce has no Sting” signed by Susan Branch 2005. A wonderful and cherished keepsake. I wouldn’t miss your blog – not a single one. Keep doing the wonderful things you do, Susan!

    • sbranch says:

      oooo, you got that. Only one of a kind you know! I’m glad to hear from you!

      • Margie Basile says:

        It makes it even more special to know it’s one of a kind. I’d love to experiment with woodburning and think it would be great if you could cover woodburning in a blog sometime. Do you like the woodburning tool that you have? Would you be willing to share the make and model or suggestions on how and where to select one? Thanks, Susan.

        • sbranch says:

          I did that with one of those old fashioned kids kits I had when I was a child! At the kitchen table — I loved it as a kid so I thought I would try it. I think I got it at Michaels … it worked fine!

  20. Lynnette says:

    A special thank you for sharing your wonderful trip with all of us. Seeing Jane Austin’s quilt was very special. Touring Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top farm after just seeing the movie was exceptional. To win the book would be over the rainbow! My fingers are crossed.

  21. Lissy says:

    You’re a peach, Susan, for offering such a precious gift to your readers! Many thanks for all you do and bring to our lives. It’s a pleasure to be a part of your journey. Sincerely, Lissy Friedman

  22. Denise in VA says:

    Enjoying the blog so very much, Susan. Felt like I was in England with you. Thank you.

  23. Carol says:

    I can’t begin to tell you how much I have enjoyed “our” trip to England. Unfortunately, in my heart, I know I’ll never be able to make a trip in person to those wonderful places you visited so I have enjoyed this all the more. I keep going back & rereading your blogs to keep soaking it all in. I hope/wish that you would put a special link on your website under the “I Love England” heading to just the blog pages of this trip so we can all keep referring to them. Eventually it’s going to get harder and harder to keep going back and back to “older posts” to start from the beginning. I know the book will be great but I’d still like to be able to read the day-to-day blog of this wonderful trip. I love all your blogs but these, of this trip in particular, make my heart sing.

    I’ve been a great admirer of Beatrix Potter for many, many years and I made sure my two children heard and read many Peter Rabbit stories. It is incredibly generous & thoughtful of you to have bought a second book to give to one of your loyal followers. How lucky we all are to have you for a friend that not only shares her trip with us but her souvenirs as well.

  24. Karen E says:

    Thanks for allowing us to live vicariously through you. I would love to go on a trip to England. Some day…sigh! I would love to win the book, I have a precious new granddaughter and it would look lovely in her nursery!

  25. Lisa says:

    Sharing your trip to England brought back fond memories of when my husband and I were stationed there (both of us were in the Air Force). All the time traveling there I never thought to look up the home of Beatrix Potter – what a shame. So in your photos and blog I got to take that trip.
    As a young girl I loved reading Beatrix Potter books, and as a mother read them to my children. How lovely it would be to be picked by “Vanna” for your limited edition book so I could read it to my first granddaughter (expected to be born August 7th of this year!). And with your beautiful illustration added to it, it’s sure to be a gem!
    Thank you for your blog and posts that bring great fun and beauty into my life.
    May the Lord continually bless and keep you!

  26. Rhonda says:

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful trip with all of us. You made each step of the way a breathtaking moment and a pure joy. I have loved Peter Rabbit and Beatrix Potter for years. I even did a speech on her for one of my masters classes! Please add my name in your drawing for that precious book you brought back!
    P.S. I was antiquing last weekend and to my surprise and delight I found Joe’s Holland America sailor locked up in one of the showcases. He had the price tag of $165.00. He caught my eye because of the one you two have and shared in the blog. Thought you might like to know!

  27. Beth Moore says:

    My daughters and I are planning a trip to jolly ole England next year sometime.
    I have shared your lovely adventures with them and we all ooh and aah and say, “we have to do that too!”
    We are so fortunate that you generously to share your trip with us fans and followers.
    If I won the Beatrix Potter book I would be on cloud nine probably indefinitely.
    Crossing my fingers, toes, and everything else that crosses.
    Susan Branch, I love you.

  28. Sandy says:

    What a sweet momento of an incredible journey. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, photos, time, and enthusiasm with all of us out here.

  29. I live in the hot Midwest and despite all the watering, many of my flowers have not survived. I have enjoyed the cool, green pictures of England. Thank you for being so generous with your time, to share them with us. I would love to have this book….

  30. Snap says:

    You are so good to all of us! I would love the give this lovely gem a home … as a remembrance of your beautiful trip that you shared with us and as a carrot for me … get myself to England!!!!! Thanks for sharing.

  31. Marianne Radley says:

    Oh this would be the PERFECT gift for my only grandaughter, who just turned one last month! Her great-grandmother was the best fan of Beatrix Potter, and this would be a way of connecting the generations. Oh, I hope I get picked by Vanna! ;->

  32. Nancy Franson says:

    England has always held a fond at-home place in my heart! It has not made my company as yet but I dream of a time in the next few years that I will make that trip. (France and Italy are the special places I have been too in Europe!) Your blog is comfy n the same sort of way. I have so thoroughly enjoyed ‘traveling with you’ and your love of gardens, tea cups, and English cottages. I find your blog more than charming and it actually brings a level of comfort and inspired creativity that is perfect in my life right now!

  33. Sherrill Kerbaugh says:

    A belated welcome home, Susan and Joe…
    We have so enjoyed our virtual journey to England with you both…thank you for sharing not only your lovely thoughts during all your “discoveries”, but also your wonderful photos that pulled us “across the pond” in an instant…
    The little Beatrix Potter book is darling and I love what you have added making it truly one of a kind…what a special gift to whoever is the lucky winner!
    I’m anxious to learn the names of the beautiful roses you showed us…yours are gorgeous too!
    Take care of yourselves and enjoy the rest of your summer. XOXO

  34. Rettabug says:

    Oh Susan…I am SO glad you’ve kept the sign-up going a little longer for the “the Last-One-in-the-Whole-World darling Beatrix Potter Book”!! We’ve been away, too, & unable to comment till now. Please, please add my name to the list of those who are coveting this wonderful little book?

    I remember using a child’s sized Beatrix Potter/Peter Rabbit dinner set for my only daughter some 40+ years ago & now I use it for my sweet granddaughter, too! She & I would LOVE to read the book together when she visits me.

    I’m catching up on the blog posts from your fabulous trip…I feel just like I got to go along with you! What a marvelous experience…for BOTH of us! Thank you for sharing all the tiny interesting details.

    Mega “Welcome Home” Hugs,

  35. Karen K. says:

    Thank you for sharing your magical trip with us!

  36. Terry says:

    Hi, Susan!

    Thank you for extending the time before Vanna picks the lucky name.

    I have quadruplets – three girls and one boy. They are 23 years old now, but I used to have fun dressing them up for Halloween. One year they were the three little pigs and the big bad wolf. The following year they were three nuns and a priest. My plans for the year after that was Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and, of course, Peter. However, they had reached the age when they wanted to choose for themselves and be individuals. Oh, well! It would have been really cute though – don’t you think? 🙂

    Thank you for being such a generous person. Some day I really hope to meet you in person.


    • sbranch says:

      That’s the thing about children, they grow up! My girlfriend has triplet boys and I have marveled at her all our lives. And now you!

  37. Elaine Rutter says:

    Loved going to England with you and Joe! It was so much fun seeing where Jane Austen and Beatrix Potter lived. The gardens were lovely, too. Thanks for letting me come along!

  38. Marge says:

    Besides being a huge fan of your blog, I am also an elementary school librarian. This would book wouldbe very special to me.

  39. Marge says:

    Besides being a huge fan of your blog, I am also an elementary school librarian. This book would be very special to me.

  40. Kate says:

    What a treasure, I sure would love to have that. Thanks for the chance!

  41. Katherine Hembree says:

    Thank you for sharing your trip with us. Your blog posts have been a lot of fun. I’d love to win the “one of one” copy but even if I don’t, it’s been a great time reading about everything. One day I’d love to take a leisurely trip to England like that. A few years ago, I had the chance to travel to France with my parents and they gave me a planning choice – a week in Paris or a week traveling the countryside. I chose a week in Paris because I enjoyed the slower pace and being able to visit places more than once. So an extended trip to England (or France) would lovely someday.

  42. Brenda Mustain says:

    THANKS, FOR SHARING… looking for a great yellow rose….any suggestions? brenda

  43. Suzann says:

    I have not posted a comment before (too shy), but I have loved your books
    for recipes and ideas for many years and have a great affection for all you do. Thank you for the extra time on the drawing. The book is such a shiny, special treasure, I decided to run out of my mouse hole and throw my name into the big pot and run right back. Hopefully, Jack or Girl Kitty won’t even see me. Thanks again!

  44. Tzella says:

    Hi,I’d like to thank you for focusing at the beauty of simple things in life,which we,with our frantic lifestyle,tend to forget.Best regards from GR.

  45. Claire says:

    Just love your blog entries, your magnificent photos and, of course, your awesome give-aways. Thanks for a chance to win

  46. Anne Hamilton says:

    Hi Susan, I have so much enjoyed reading all about your travels over here in the UK. I have not been to Jane Austen’s home in Chawton or Beatrix Potter’s home in The Lakes for many years and your gorgeous posts have made me feel I really must make the effort and re-visit. Shame about the weather though. I hope your lovely little mini-book didn’t suffer too much wetness as it was absorbing the Sawrey atmosphere. Thanks for sharing your trip with all of us and I hope you come back to visit again sometime in the future. Good luck with the new book, I am looking forward to its publication. Best love Anne H in Buckinghamshire UK.

    • sbranch says:

      The little book absorbed just enough to make it count! Hope the sun shines on you a little bit this summer…the rain didn’t stop us and we miss it!

  47. Barbara B says:

    How wonderful of you to share such a gift! You have such a generous spirit. Im certain whoever wins will always cherish this lovely book.

  48. Diana F. says:

    WOW! I thought I had missed the chance for that sweet, and lovely book. Thank you for a second chance……and, thank you for sharing such a fabulous trip with us.

  49. Michelle Fitchett says:

    I just want to say how much I love all of your work. You are so inspiring. My sister introduced me to your books a few years ago and I have been an avid follower of Willard ever since. It’s only fairly recently that I have discovered your delightful blog and I am well and truly hooked! I just had to scroll back through all of your entries so I didn’t miss a thing. I love all of the special touches you add to it including the music, video clips and links to lots of other things. Following your trip around England was especially enjoyable for me as I have been to and love many of those places you visited. Two places I haven’t been to are The EB factory and Hill Top. I plan to get there as soon as I can though. I have shared the link to your blog with all my girlfriends all over the World and they love it too. Thank you for inspiring us all. Keep up the good work.

  50. bheinsohn says:

    My mom had all kinds of roses in our yard growing up so I thought of her immediately when reading this. Then when I saw June 7, 2012 as the date you purchased this book….the 23rd anniversary of her death……

    Thanks for taking us on this journey.

  51. Joan in TX says:

    The Beatrix Potter book will definitley be a real treasure to have in combination with the book that you are going to write about this trip. At least those that didn’t win the book can buy one of your books about this wonderful trip; and years to come can recall with a smile all the fun we have traveling along with you.
    Pretty amazing and special experience for those that never make it to the UK.

  52. Christine Barnhart says:

    Oh, what a surprise to see you brought back a “special surprise” a Beatrix Potter book! What a wonderful heart you have to share this blessing with someone. You’re awesome!
    It has been such a delight to share in your latest daily experience! It was also such a treat for us that have never set foot in marry old England! Your photos were so inspiring and special! Even your time on the Queen Mary II ship made me smile!
    Welcome home and thanks again for taking the time to write and post your blog, sharing your trip with us!

  53. laurie says:

    Your trip to England has been so much fun remembering through your eyes, you do such a great job, you should have made a documentary, for TV, it would have been such a hit.What a great give away,

  54. Deane in Iowa says:

    I have loved reading about your trip to England. What a treat to feel like I was right there with you! Thanks for your delightful writing and care for your blog girl friends.

  55. Betsy says:

    oooh…you’re so sweet to do these. Love your blog…appreciate you very much. OK…fingers crossed…maybe toes and eyes, too! lol…. Thanks, Susan…

  56. Marianne says:

    This is so exciting!!! What a wonderful contest! How lucky the winner will be, but, then, all of us have been winners because of your wonderful blog sharing your trip to England!!!!! It has meant so much to all of us. And been an inspiration, too. Thank you.

  57. Kristen says:

    As always, I so enjoyed reading your blog and learning even more about Beatrix Potter and the beautiful country she loved. I look forward to receiving my notice telling me there is a new addition to your blog!

  58. Brenda says:

    What can I say — everything about your blog warms my heart and soul! Love the photos, the drawings, the quotes, the warmth that comes through. Please enter me in your contest. I grew up on Beatrix Potter stories and would be thrilled with such a treasure! Happy summer days to you, Susan!

  59. Pamala Black says:

    Your journey through this delightful time in England has caused me to revisit my Beatrix Potter books and love for Peter Rabbit. My granddaughter is findin this such fun…different from the princess stories and images….I love the figures and now she is loving them also. I love how you enter our hearts with this blog….I feel we are personal girlfriends…God Bless and Thank you so much!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s always been the way I felt writing my books, but this is better because it’s two-way! Thank you Pamala!

  60. Jane in Nevada says:

    Susan & Joe: I have been with you the whole voyage…I now feel like I have been everywhere you have been & enjoyed it just as much, because it was through you creative eyes…thank you!

  61. Bonnie says:

    Susan, you have such a wonderful blog. My mother and I had been following you on the trip to England. It has been so much fun!!!! Thank you for taking us along. Can you tell me about your diary of the trip. Will this be a book which can be purchased? Mom and I are hoping so 😉

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, it will…with photos and watercolors . . . Say hello to your mom for me and thank you Bonnie!

  62. Julie says:

    I so enjoy your blog–it is a bright spot in my day! I love Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit. My favorite movie is Miss Potter and we read the Peter Rabbit series to our daughter as she was growing up! Thank you for your uplifting blog!

  63. LeslieBee says:

    Idon’t think I’ve ever want more to see all the sweet things you’ve shared with us on “our’ fantastic trip!

  64. Kristi says:

    I really enjoyed your blogs about your journey to England and can’t wait for your diary to be published. Thanks for this wonderful giveaway!

  65. Wendy says:

    Love your blog, Susan, and all that you share with us. You are such a positive and cheerful energy. Thanks for all you do.

  66. Monita says:

    Hi Susan,
    I was one of your girlfriends traveling in your suitcase and what a great time we had, vicariously, on the ship and all along the way! You are so generous with your talents and you are an inspiration to so many of us who enjoy your art. Bless you!

    Please keep up The wonderful sharing and let us know how we can inspire you.

  67. Dorenda says:

    I SO enjoyed your posts from England! Thanks for taking us with you! It made me smile to read your words and see all the wonderful photos! A better armchair trip cannot be had than the ones you “host” for us. Thanks again, Susan!

  68. Cindy says:

    I have loved the travel diary! The home, the little books, the gardens and buildings. Thank you, thank you!

  69. Pat K says:

    I have a new grandson and this would be such a special book for him! Thanks you for such a wonderful giveaway!

  70. Cynthia Linck says:

    Susan, until you began sharing your love of Beatrix Potter I had forgotten how much I loved Peter Rabbit as a child. Thank you for sparking that memory. Now, I must add those stories to my Grandma Library.

  71. Beth Foraker says:

    First off, thanks so much for the tremendous travel journal you kept as your were travelling through England…your pictures and stories told me so many things I never knew and now I definitely have many, many of the places you visited on my “must see” list. Secondly, have you read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? It’s an incredible book and made me want to visit the island of Guernsey. Throughout your trip I wanted to shout out…”Visit Guernsey too!” Anyway, thank you for your incredible blog — what a gift it is! It brings a smile and a sweet feeling of joy each time. 🙂 ~Beth

  72. Terry says:

    I love seeing your photo’s and reading about your days in England, you bring smiles to my day! What an exciting contest, the chance to own such a treasure of a book!

  73. Carole says:

    Really, really enjoy your blog. Loved the visit to Jane Austen’s home and the photos of the beautiful roses–yours and the one growing on Beatrix Potter’s home.

  74. Kelly Billings says:

    Oh Susan, you went into Mr. McGregor’s garden for the flowers and I almost missed it. Thank you so much for taking all of us with you. I can see Peter Rabbit leaving his jacket behind when you went through the gate into the garden. Love the tale of Peter Rabbit, My Mom read it to me and I read it to my daughters and now my granddaughters. You are a bright spot in a very sad time for my girls and myself.Thank you again for sharing. In memory of my Mom and story time.

  75. Dorothy says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your life in your wonderful blog–I look forward to reading every entry, especially your trip to England!

  76. Terry Beach Mama says:

    Dear Susan-
    The possibility of being selected for your beautiful and very generous gift of the Beatrix Potter book has prompted me to put aside my shyness and leave you a message to tell you that your blog brings a little joy into my life every time you post. I so enjoyed following your adventures in England and especially loved your description of Beatrix Potter’s house (I still have my books my great aunt gave me 50+ years ago). Your posts about your family, friends, and home reminds me to celebrate those things in my own life and I ALWAYS find inspiration in what you write. Your sweet spirit shines through in every posting. Thank you!!

  77. Dixie Albright says:

    Just think . . . . no matter WHO wins the sweet little book . . .that person will really truly love it. From Dixie (the “Susan-don’t-pack-anything-sharp” person.)

  78. annie says:

    Thank you for your wonderful blog-my favorite! I hope to win the sweet sweet BP book! But if not I still love and find your blog so inspiring!!!

  79. Cathy from Golden, CO says:

    Goodness Gracious! So many “friends” . . . We are all winners. So grateful for SB website! I truly feel like it’s a Hyancinth For Our Souls. I get so excited when I check in and you have a new post. However, I’m always amazed how you can find the time to write and respond to all of us. I’m happy you are home and enjoying her and all her treasures. “I get it” xoxo

  80. Peggy B. says:

    Dear Susan,

    You are a beautiful flower in the garden of our lives. Thank you for all you do to make the garden so beautiful. You are like sunshine after a rainy day. Thank you for all the smiles you put on our faces. You are like the fertilizer the flowers need. Thank you for nurturing our spirts. May God continue to pour the rain of His grace on you and your dear Joe.

    With love from the heart of one of your Girlfriends to you!

  81. Hazel Haverhals says:

    I loved every minute of the trip and look forward to your next book!

  82. Linda says:

    Your generosity is outstanding. First you take precious time away from your trip to share it with us, your loyal followers, and now this amazing give away. I would be honored if Vanna picked me to be the keeper of this very special book!

  83. Sue in AZ says:

    I have so enjoyed traveling with you…your descriptions, pictures and videos make me want to follow in your footsteps for real. Thank you so much for taking us on your special trip.

  84. Marie says:

    I wish I knew what the name of those roses are. My brother in law who is a horticulturist would probably know, but alas, he is not online or I would e-mail him and ask him to let me know. (I know! He must be one of the very few people who are not plugged in!) I have so enjoyed your travels in our wet and wooley country! It has been so very wonderful seeing all these things through your delightfully entertaining eyes and pen! xxoo

  85. Emmajean says:

    The book looks wonderful. Keeping my fingers crossed…

  86. Karen says:

    Your blog speaks to my heart Susan, found you only in the last year and have since spent many happy times reading through your archives. I’m in Oxfordshire and your trip to England has inspired me to make my way back up north to the Lake District, a beautiful place I last visited when my daughter was a baby; she’s 22 now! High time to visit again I think, thank you for inspiring me.

  87. Jeanie in KS says:

    I love love love Beatrix and her books. I have many Royal Doulton Beatrix Potter figurines and this sweet little book would be the icing on the cake. Whoever wins will be most deserving, I am sure. 🙂 Love you Susan Branch and was fascinated hearing about your trip. My brother is in England (and Brussels) now on vacation and next year has booked the trip with his dog on the same ship you were on. 🙂

  88. Charlene says:

    Susan I do “stay” on your beautiful blog and enjoy every little detail. It brings a bit of joy into my mornings Thank you ! Your trip to England sounded like so much so much fun.

  89. Bettina says:

    Thanks again Susan for your really, really, really ….. interesting and creative blog! I am still looking forward to your new book (your UK-Diary).

    Of course I would love your give-away to be in my book shelf.

    Take care and all the best

    from Bettina of Berlin

  90. Cynthia says:

    Beatrix Potter. How exciting! My dream vacation has always been to go to England. I haven’t been able to travel there yet, but one day I will!!! When I do I hope it’s as exciting as your time there! I am looking forward to your new book! 🙂

  91. Nancy says:

    I loved travelling with you through your blog. My daughters want to take me on a trip through the same region next year. I don’t know if I have the courage to go…I’m not a traveler. Since following your trip, I’m now seriously thinking about going. Beatrix Potter is a favorite.

    • sbranch says:

      Get a little place with a kitchen to stay in; that way you’ll have a little space for yourself — I don’t like to go go go every single day, I need some quiet time, and this was a really good way to have it.

  92. TeriGrace says:

    Love, Love, Love your blog and all that you share! Am anxious to hear how your sweet KittyKids welcomed you back….. ?

    • sbranch says:

      Just the way I would like…very sweetly and lovingly. Girl Kitty cried, which made me cry, and Jack jumps up my legs to rub against me! I love these little critters!!!

  93. Betty Watson says:

    Susan, You hav changed my life through your blog and by taking us traveling with you… so much so that my daughter and i will be leaving for England and Scotland on September 3rd (a long time dream trip of ours that we never got serious about doing until following your blog). Thank you for challenging us to stop putting off our dream trip and doing it!! Betty

  94. Lynn Cooper says:

    Hi Susan,

    I enjoyed reading about your lovely trip to England from the get-go. The book looks like a true prize. I think the greatest prize for all of your readers will be whatever you publish in the months to come about your trip. I can’t wait for that one! Living here in the foothills to the Berkshires is true rabbit country – they are everywhere, and all of them scurrying about from day to day are far too fast for my speedy and agile Labrador Retriever. No wonder Mr. McGregor had a terrible time trying to snatch one of them up in Beatrix’s books. They wait until the last minute to scamper away, and are quite clever in nibbling specific plants in my herb garden. Each year they have stolen the dill away, so now I plant it right outside my kitchen door in raised pots. There will be dill pickles in about four more days because the seed heads are forming and the cukes at the local farmer’s market are out. As for the rest of my plants, I spray the ones the rabbits eat with an egg, garlic, and pepper spray. Apparently rabbits hate the smell of eggs – who knew! I never had one come in the house for breakfast! Rabbits aside, I love your work – keep it up.
    Lynn Cooper

    • sbranch says:

      We have them too; but my vegetable garden is inside that picket fence, so Joe put about 2 feet of chicken wire all the way around it and they can’t get in! They just graze the clover on the lawn, which is fine by me!

  95. As I’m sure everyone does, I have the perfect spot for this lovely book. I have a collection of tiny Beatrix Potter books and figurines that my mother brought back from England about 30 years ago that live happily among my English Ironstone collection. My family came to the United States before the revolutionary war and I’ve been meaning to get back, but just haven’t made it yet. Thanks for taking me with you on your trip. It was absolutely delightful!

  96. Gwen says:

    I am so happy you had such a wonderful trip! Thank you for bring us along with you! Hill Top looks exactly as it did when I visited back in the 70’s! Thank you for sharing!

  97. Marguerite Muir says:

    I have been several times to England, but never had the chance to get out to the Lake District. This brought it all home. It certainly is nice of you to think of others and share. It is in giving that we truly receive. I will always remember my trips now that my husband is dead and appreciate the 41 years we shared together even more. Blessings to you for all you share,

    • sbranch says:

      That’s the thing, making those memories; you’re so lucky you did that. Love this quote by Cynthia Ozick “Time heals all things but time!”

  98. Lizbee says:

    Thank you, Susan, for your delightful insights and exquisite photos! I love checking in to your blog posts for some soul-nourishment; I grew up with your cookbooks (and carefully acquired my own copies for college and grad school!). There’s something very special about finding your online presence and being included in your day-to-day writings, it’s always a joy.

  99. Marva Weir says:

    Oh Susan, I do so love your blog. I check it every day to see what new stories and pictures you have to share with us. I really appreciate that you took me along on your trip to England. I know I will probably never get that opportunity to go in person, so seeing it through your eyes has been lovely. You are the best!

  100. Audrey says:

    Hey Susan!
    Thank you so very much for taking all us on this truly magical journey with you! You are going to have to publish a travel booklet so that ladies like me can dream of one day walking in your footsteps and taking this journey ourselves! Thank you for sharing your life so generously!

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