Wild Conjecture and Downton Abbey

Fair warning, I’m about to talk gibberish about Downton Abbey, Season Six, episode two and a little bit of episode teacupsone.  If you haven’t seen them, and/or don’t wish to hear about them, look away from this blog immediately. But other wise, come along with me . . . for a recap. And lots of wild conjecture and wishing. Perhaps a cup of tea would go good right now? And oh yes, le MUSICA. I could play the Downton theme but you JUST heard it last night, so I’ll look for something a little bit different but still in England.

Downton from my TV

I just love how Downton starts, love this big yellow lab. He sets a perfect tone of realness and family and gives us the first glimpse of heaven so we can go ahead withFalling in loveSo! Have you been loving it?  Me too! It’s practically the only thing I do outside of book writing these days. I was SO happy to learn that Anna and Bates are not murderers after all, phew! There will be no Downton Abbey hangings! Hooray, we don’t have to think about that anymore!

IMG_4789Maybe these two can start smiling again, or, er, maybe not. Because there is always something. Out of the murdering frying pan into the baby-wanting fire. Misery knows no end. I’ve come to realize that it’s always bad news when these two go to the Boot Room which is where they spent much of the last show.Susan Branch pink-daisy-borderIMG_4771But the girlfriend relationship between Mary and Anna gets better all the time. Now Mary wants to help Anna with her pregnancy problems. Of course Anna thinks Mary shouldn’t put herself out, but Mary said, “I owe you for so much, for keeping my secrets and for hiding that fearful Dutch thingamajig.” (Those Dutch!) So off we go to the special Doctor that helped Mary to have her baby.IMG_4799“. . .  just a little stitch, very fixable,” said the doctor, and voila, we’ll get you a Bates Baby. ‘Course we can’t tell Bates, that would ruin the telling of Bates for later, when we will all burst into tears from happiness when we find out they are having twins. (Not a spoiler, just making things up, I have NO idea!!! But why not Julian? Give them a good head start on that houseful of children they want.)clap your handsIMG_4827But already, look at Anna at the Pig show. She looks ten years younger just knowing there is hope. Mary is so good, she’s solving everyone’s problems.IMG_4545Oh yes, Mary. (She can’t help it, forgive her, oldest child syndrome, don’tcha know.) Besides whisking Anna off to the Doctor, Mary runs Downton, talks like a grown-up to the pig man, and self-appoints as the Carson-Hughes wedding planner. But she still doesn’t know that Edith is Marigold’s actual mother.

That will be a fun day.fox hunt on downtonShe is also done with riding side saddle. And if she falls into a ditch, no big deal, she brushes herself off, gets back on and starts all over again, mud in hair and all. A regular Scarlet O’Hara. As an added bonus, she has a lovely tendency to believe in more equality for everyone, i.e. not wanting her darling Carson to marry in the Servant’s Hall, perish the thought. Which tells me she could very likely MARRY an Irish ex-chauffeur!! Why not? Look at the way he looks at her! Cute, cute cute!downtonOh yeah! As you know, I’ve been hoping for Tom to be the one for Mary for a long time. They need some fresh blood in this new generation. I would love to see a total surprise romance between them ~ with their two darling children who happen to be cousins, they could run Downton together (because they both have common sense, plus Mary has the heir) until someday, years from now, when they give the whole place to the National Trust. He respects her mind, and she will never have to play solitaire again.Downton Abbey Mary Crawley Tom BransonWhat a darling couple. They will look back at this photo and say to themselves, remember when we were young? They will tell their children, “This was taken before Daddy and Mummy even knew they loved each other.” They will say, “Too bad we didn’t read Susan’s blog, then we would have known sooner and quit wasting so much time on fast car drivers, stuck up do-nothings, rude and smug Miss Buntings, trips abroad, and fearful Dutch thingamajigs.”1925 phoneMary solves nothing for Edith ever. Edith might gain some respect from Mary who would maybe stop calling her a Ninny sensible womanif she would a.) fire that misogynist editor who supposedly works for HER, b.)take over the magazine and run it herself, c.) move herself and Marigold into that fabulous London apartment belonging to Marigold’s father who we think is dead in Germany but no one knows for sure. And d.)Start going to all the most fabulous parties and meeting the whole Bloomsbury intelligentsia and having dinners down in Charleston.Then start British Vogue Magazine. And be done with it. Lady EdithShe could use gold dresses like this one for her photo shoots. Which reminds me, aren’t the clothes fabulous this season? I think they changed them for every scene last night. We were always in some room or another being dressed by a ladies maid.Lady Mary and her blue robeHow about this robe in the first episode? I’m surprised the blackmailer didn’t throw toast at it.fashion senselady mary's underwearI noticed last night that Mary got new underwear, did you see? This was her old stuff . . .Lady Maryand now this . . . so very 1925.

IMG_9769And I miss Rose. She was always such a smart dresser, and golly, so much fun.Lady RoseShe’s now married and living in New York and I miss her. Mary got a letter, she thinks Rose might be pregnant, but Edith thinks it’s all balderdash, but what I hope is that Rose makes it home for Christmas.And then there’s darling Mrs. Patmore who handled the whole dilemma for Mrs. Hughes with such total adorable English charm, first, and quite rightly, slamming back a shot of sherry, and then suggesting to Mrs. Hughes, “Maybe you should just leave the lights off.” I loved the moment when the light of understanding first comes into Mr. Carson’s eyes, and she says, “Oh yes, I think we’re there.” I would give her a Golden Globe for that performance.

Yes, they’re there. It looks like they are going to figure it all out just fine. Oh, Elsie, Oh, Charles.💞 Two hearts that beat as one.

Mrs. Hughes has changed too, with her new smoother hairdo and much stronger attitude, putting her foot down, that she would rather be married in the schoolhouse than in the butterflies in loveGrand Hall at Downton. What do you think? Which would you want? I go back and forth, because although Downton is gorgeous, it just might be too much and I bet the school house is very cute. Although in that country, pick a meadow with a river and voila, get married there. Now there’s a tug of war between Mrs. Hughes and Mary, with Carson in the middle. (I think Joe and I will dress as this couple at our next costume opportunity. We already look like them!) 

And then this . . .

IMG_4831Oh My God, (Ignore my gorgeous hat) Where is Marigold? She was right here a minute ago!  Marigold! Marigold! Where for art thou Marigold?

People mill about in a frenzy, and then . . .


…the rescue.


The heartbreak.


And now, the poor Drewes have to go, get out of dodge, not welcome anymore. Well, let’s face it they had to anyway. Otherwise what would we do with Daisy’s father-in-law, Mr Mason, who is being kicked off his farm by the neighbors who are going out of the Lordship business forever?



We needed an empty farm to fill, and the poor Drewes family had no clout. And we just love Daisy. Who just happens to know all the right people even if she is anti-establishment. So the balance is there, between happiness and heartbreak.


Life is not fair.

wild turkeys

Just ask our local wild turkeys who are trying to drink from the birdbath in our yard.

Yes, and what else?


Well, first we had a drenching rain,


And then we had lovely snow …


So while I drew and painted, Joe made us a fire


And took down the Christmas tree . . .


And we both kept one eye on the birds .  . .


They were hard not to notice . . . they are so thrilled with the snow, it’s so quiet now, the Island is settling in for a long winter’s nap.


The Cardinals came in droves!


And I’m just here wearing out pencils, one after another . . . It’s going so good Girlfriends, and I get closer and Martha's Vineyard Isle of Dreamsthis book gets more romantic every day, I could have called it A Fine Romance too, if I hadn’t already used that one!. Right now I just took my first train ride, in pictures, quotes, and watercolors. It’s so exciting to think that in a few months I’ll have my new book in hand, and then so will you, and then Joe and I will be off across America in our Fine Romance van. We’ve gotten quite a few book events scheduled: Look HERE ~ you’ll see that so far we’ve reserved bookstores across the USA from MA to California. We’ve had paintinggreat luck everywhere until we got to the Northwest . . . where we were unable to nail down dates that would work for everyone. We tried our best, we were even taking the train up from California, but time is getting short (bookstores get booked for signings far in advance), and we’ve had to move on. I’m so sorry to miss you there ~ but maybe we’ll have better luck at a future date. And we have WONDERFUL things planned at the bookstores so far. Talks and a tea, regular signings and library fundraisers Martha's Vineyard Isle of Dreamstoo. We are still working our way down to Chaucer’s in Santa Barbara and Vroman’s in Pasadena, then across to Book People in Austin, Texas and so on, stopping at lots of Independent Bookstores, as we head back home in June. So there are lots more dates coming . . . keep checking back because I’d love to see you somewhere along the line! And don’t worry, if you have preordered Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams, the last book of this trilogy, your books will go out before any go to the stores. You will be the first, and they will all have signed bookplates in them, and I think that will be in April. Can. Not. Wait. Ding Ding!

bellhollyHad to show you two stocking stuffers I got from Joe. He comes into my studio all the time, almost sneaks in, is quiet as a MOUSE ~ and I am SO lost in thought, SO buried in the moment, I don’t hear him, and he scares me to death and I wish to kill him every time for almost 30 years. I beg him to warn me, but he forgets. So now, my new gift: when he goes through the living room on the way to my studio, he slaps this bell to warn me, and I immediately burst into laughter. It’s so perfect! It works!



The second is this, which Joe is going to hook to my art table so if I want him, all I have to do is squeeze this shrieking cat-scaring horn and he, supposedly, will come.  I have yet to try this out. Right now it’s on the back of the sofa, so when he leaves my studio he squeezes it, and I burst into laughter.

Two very practical gifts. ♥

me, just before going into Beatrix Potter's house

Now this ~ remember this? I’m just coming out of Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Cottage for the very first time, and that is JOY you are seeing on my face. Well, this year Beatrix Potter Beatrix Potterwould be 150 years old and there are all kinds of celebrations planned, both here and in England, and if you’re a part of the Beatrix Potter Society (like I am), you can find out all about them. I’m taking part in her Birthday Party here on Cape Cod, where I will read and talk about my first visit to the English Lake District and to Hill Top (click here~scroll down to July 28th). And my friend Betsy Bray, who is very active in the Beatrix Potter Society is planning to take a Castle Cottagegroup on a ten-day tour in June 2017 up to Beatrix Potter Country in England and YOU can go! First come, first serve that is. Here’s all the information. It’s a perfect opportunity Beatrixfor likeminded people, who don’t want to travel alone to get the best of the best by someone who really knows ~  Betsy gives talks about Beatrix Beatrix and WilliePotter all the time. So she’s read all the books, has been to all the places and knows all the secrets and will even be taking the group to Castle Cottage, which I never got to see (that’s it in the photo above), where Beatrix lived for 30 years with her husband, William Heelis, right across Post Office Meadow (you see there with the lambs) from Hill Top. And so much more. You can get an idea of what you’re in for HERE. I just wanted you to know first, I know it’s a long time until June 2017, but it will get here Beatrix Potter roomsoon enough and there is nothing like planning ahead! Of course, for all you arm chair travelers, you have me, and our upcoming trip to England and Scotland, later this year, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise. So, lots of lovely English countryside for us for the next couple of years. ♥

blessings Hope you are all well and fine. For any of you who gets confused about who’s who in the zoo on Downton, this should help. Bye for now Girlfriends, I have to grab my paintbrush now, I have a train to catch! Love you! XOXO

Cast of Downton Abbey

Downstairs characters





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499 Responses to Wild Conjecture and Downton Abbey

  1. Asha says:

    Oh Susan! LOVE your take on DA! I have the first 5 seasons on DVD and just need to get the season 6! LOVE the turkey in your birdbath! And the bell and horn! Laughing is such good medicine! My hubs and I laugh at and with each other every day. It gets us through! I am so happy you will be signing in Madison, CT. My sister and I will meet there to have you sign our books. I am in central MA and she in Milford, CT. It’s the perfect place!!!!! Thank you! Thank you! You are the best! Love you! OX

  2. How in the whole-wide-world are we EVER going to survive without Downton? I’m just not sure I can do it. Seriously…

  3. What a delight, Susan, to hear you narrate the Downton Abbey Chronicles! I especially loved the caption under the “Mary, Tom and the kids” photo, the one about “If only we’d read Susan Branch’s blog….we wouldn’t have wasted so much time,”etc. You are SO funny….I love reading these little snippets!
    I watched Episode one, a week ago, and decided to watch the Golden Globes on Sunday, thinking I’d be able to watch Episode 2 somewhere online, but can’t find it at all. I think I goofed, bigtime! Hopefully I can find it on Youtube, or I’m sunk…but at least I have your narrative to tide me over until Sunday’s Episode 3!
    Have the best week ever, Susan. You give us so much to feel cozy and excited about!

  4. Fancynance says:

    I am interested in the date for Austin, TX book signing. Did you say that you don’t have all the exact dates yet? Or did I just miss it?

    • sbranch says:

      No, we don’t, in fact we just contacted them and they are now in the process of deciding whether to allow us to come there or not!!!! Fingers are all crossed.

      • Chris Wells From Knickerbocker, W. TX says:

        Seriously? Come on! All GF’s from Texas, get on the phone if necessary! They need to find out who Susan Branch is!

        • sbranch says:

          My fingers are SO crossed!

        • sbranch says:

          GUESS WHAT? Breaking news, Book People in Austin, Texas just said YES! Hooray!!!!

          • Rachel Scott says:

            HIP! HIP! Hurrah!!!! “We” did it!!! Can NOT wait!
            Chris Well from Knickerbocker, W. Tx., I’m looking forward to meeting you and all the other girlfriends from this area. We should start a Susan Branch Club!!
            Rachel Scott from Georgetown, Tx.

          • sbranch says:

            I know, it was such a wonderful message to receive! Can’t wait!

          • Chris Wells From Knickerbocker, W. TX says:

            Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now I can write that email and tell Book People how excited we are! And look out……because we are coming! Rachel, count me in as one of the founding members! Can’t wait to meet you.
            Deborah in Odessa, my offer still stands, I am a half way point for you. You are welcome to stay with us to make your journey more manageable! Austin is just a short jump, I drove to Ohio to meet Susan the last time.
            I am so happy that Book People finally said yes!
            If anyone in far west Texas needs a halfway point, feel free to contact me. We will get you to Austin to meet Susan one way or another!
            Oh my I am so excited! This is almost as good as winning the mega billions!!

          • sbranch says:

            I am just thrilled about this! We teetered scarily for a moment, but now it’s open arms and full steam ahead! Thank you Chris and Rachel and all of you who put in a good word. That’s why I get to come! XOXOXO

          • Fancynance says:

            OH I CAN’T WAIT!!!! Please please post the date as soon as possible. I checked The Book People event calendar before I asked you, but I didn’t see your name ANYWHERE!!!! So now maybe they WILL post the date soon on their calendar. Rachel Scott my daughter lives in Liberty Hill! OH I AM SO EXCITED!!!!
            Yes! We need a Texas Susan Branch Club!!!!

          • Sharrie says:

            Fabulous News! I’ll keep an eye out for an update on events!

  5. Shannon (Pennsylvania) says:

    “Its always bad news when these two go to the Boot Room”! So, so true about poor Anna and Bates, but the way you stated it gives me giggle fits! Hope to see you in New Hope PA in May! 🙂

  6. diana from ancaster says:

    another wonderful blog giving us a glimpse into your magical world….so so nice.
    am looking forward to your next book…have it pre-ordered.
    might there be some pages written about your upcoming trip to England and Scotland?
    hint hint…please please?

    enjoy winter’s quiet…i have a feeling you’ll be getting even busier soooooon!!!!

  7. Barbara from Wolverine Lake MI says:

    OMG Sue, I am laughing so hard – why didn’t the blackmailer throw toast at the beautiful blue robe?! LOL you had me laughing til I cried. then immediately you go from D.A. (Downton Abbey) to turkeys in the birdbath! how funny. we had 15 turkeys today with their funny footprints all over the snow. AND I had a dozen cardinals in the trees – I said to my husband – LOOK at those cardinals! and you showed a photo of your cardinals. you are indeed a kindred spirit. xoxoxo to your dear Sue!

  8. Nancy says:

    I enjoy Downton Abbey but adore the blog of Highclere Castle written by Lady Carnarvon.com. It is the day to day story of the castle and its history. She has also written books about the previous adventuresome ladies who lived there. Remember it was a Lord Carnarvon who discovered the tomb of King Tut. Reading the true story of the castle is wonderful.

  9. Grace Alexander says:

    LOVED reading your blog today, and all the comments too! Hope Vromans in Pasadena CA is confirmed for your book tour – checked their page and nothing was listed – would love to see you (I’ve shopped there for years)!!
    I laughed so much reading about your bell and horn … my hubby Paul bought an air horn last summer for me to call him when he was upstairs or outside…he had to wait on me hand and foot after I fell and broke my left wrist and left heel and couldn’t take a step for 4 months!!! Many moments of laughter helped me feel better!!!
    I’m back to watch the last season of DA … I quit after Matthew’ death…now I just have to see how it all concludes!

    • sbranch says:

      They are confirmed! I know how you feel about Matthew, that was just a nightmare.

    • Susan Morgon ( an Ohio gal in SoCal ) says:

      I felt better about Matthew’s death after learning that he was not coming back to the show. Their contracts are for 3 years, and he was moving on to other work. JF said they didn’t know that in time, and the Mary/ Matthew storyline was already too far along to go back.

      • sbranch says:

        Yes, it really wasn’t anyone’s fault, it’s just that we had this love thing going! Oh well. We should try again with Tom!

        • Susan Morgon ( an Ohio gal in SoCal ) says:

          It was quite a jolt, it’s true! I thought, ” First William, then Sybil, and now Matthew?” It seemed like a terrible trend, and I went into season 4 with trepidation. I don’t get killing off the dog! Poor Isis!

  10. Susie (Rocky Point, NY) says:

    Ooh a Downton Abbey recap from our very own SB. Wunderbar! I want to add in: How about Mr. Mason and Mrs. Patmore finding love everlasting together? She has been dropping him mail now and then… And Mrs. Hughes…sure hope she isn’t becoming a Bridezilla! I think she just wants the staff (including them) to be totally off and enjoying the occasion. Anywhere would be lovely. I vote for small elegance. Mary will just have to deal with it. She can give Carson away. 🙂 I do have a slight concern girlfriends about Marigold. I find her to be oh so drowsy during her scenes. and they are always carrying her. Do they have to make her drowsy to make it work? It is too obvious that the sweet lil gal is not herself. Geez. I am all for Edith living large in London and having a fab life. I think she is going to go out for ‘a drink’ with someone soon (coming attractions). Perhaps he will be Mr. Wonderful. Tom and Mary? A long shot. Business is one thing; romantically another. Perhaps we will have a Tom in Boston spin off. I would watch. I already cannot wait for Sunday night. And Monday night. I watch it over and over and over. Hopeless romantic, yup, that’s me.

    • sbranch says:

      LOVE that idea, Mrs Patmore and Mr Mason, plus Daisy! Perfect. I would LOVE Mrs. Patmore to fall in love. I think at one time we thought they should open a restaurant, farm to table! I don’t think that baby is being drugged, I think she is being told to play dead OR they get her right after her nap. Because drugging children is completely wrong, to put it mildly.

  11. Noreen Krebs says:

    Susan! I’m so excited to see you at Main Street Books, St. Charles May 15th!!!! Yay!!! You will love St. Charles!

  12. Janeen says:

    2017 is shaping up to be a busy year for me. I will have a son graduating from Notre Dame School of Law in Indiana in May and a daughter graduating from Napa High School in California in June. I will have to be an armchair traveler for now, but will be so happy for you to show me Scotland as that is where one side of my family originates from. Susan, I am hoping that you will have a book signing in San Francisco so that I can come and meet you. Do try!

  13. This time I will make plans to be at Vroman’s in Pasadena. I’ve been there several times and I’ll be glad to meet You there.No matter how much I enjoy this last season of D.A., I feel completely melancholy about it being the last.It even interferes with My enjoyment of it.I truly Loved the Christmas show the end of season 5.I’m hopping they will give Us one last Christmas show. Thank You so much for posting the list of characters, how fun that is.Wishing You a safe,healthy and enjoyable tour-See You in Pasadena- Blessing Your way-Denise.

  14. Trisha says:

    Dear Susan, Thank you so much for your latest posting and all the wonderful comments about Downton Abbey. I definitely agree that Edith needs to be happy and therefore just move to London with Marigold……have a life of her own …..and away from her sister Mary! And Mrs Hughes should be able to decide where she wants her own wedding!! My favorite scene of the first new episode was the last scene of Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes!! Please tell Joe that he definitely “Did good” when he selected your Christmas gifts…….great guy! But you already know that! Am looking forward to your first stop in Plainville for the start of your book tour……can’t wait! It will be a perfect way to start the spring! All the best to you as you work on your book and know that we are all thinking of you as you hunker down to finish! P.S. Love the turkey photo and the beautiful cardinals against the snowy background…enjoy!

  15. Yvonne says:

    Loved your ‘quirky’ christmas gifts from Joe 🙂 and I’m so looking forward to reading your next book.As for Downton, being from Wales, I’ve already seen it 🙂 (no spoilers from me).
    I recommend you visit youtube and type BAFTA tribute to Downton Abbey and you’ll be able to watch a near 50 minute show ( though you might want to watch it AFTER you’ve seen the final episode as I can’t remember if there were any spoilers)

    I hope you, Joe, the kitties and everyone you hold dear have a wonderful 2016.


  16. OH, I just read in one of Your reader’s post….In 2018 a movie might be here for us to enjoy.How lovely….I’ll try and stay healthy just to see it ; )

  17. This was my favorite-est post ever! Loved everything!! Thank you for the charm, whimsy, peeks at beauty, and laughs. Honestly, who could ask for anything more?

    PS Julian clearly missed the boat by not hiring you to help him write DA.

    Happy New Year,

  18. Kay Bennett says:

    Dear Susan,
    Loved your recap of Downton, that way I could experience it again. My daughter and I visited Highclere a year ago and every time we see it in Downton, it’s a thrill to know we walked the same pathways and hallways. We sent you a photo of us holding your wonderful “A Fine Romance.” You must get your reservations early to tour it. The last tour was in September of that year. We also went to Scotland. Be sure to visit the highlands. While there, we stopped at a pullout to view the beautiful countryside. Almost out of nowhere came a Scotish bagpiper playing a melody. We were in a remote area so it was a thrill to have him play especially for us. He was called “the Pied Piper of Glencoe.” (so handsome in his kilts)
    Looking forward to seeing you in Pasadena. Have a fun and safe book tour. You’re the BEST!!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh I have that great photo of you and your daughter at Highclere, Kay! You both look so happy in it . . . and you took A Fine Romance with you! I love it when my book gets to places before I do! Magical moment with the bagpiper. Wow. I love that kind of serendipity! See you in Pasadena! And Thank you Kay!

  19. Kathy Phenix says:

    Once again, a stellar blog! But then, you are a fabulous writer so duhhh!!
    My favorite quote from Downton was something from Mrs. Hughes. She was trying to tell Carson that she didn’t want to be married at the Abbey and she said something like “The wedding day is my day to plan and you (Carson) will have the next 30 yrs. as yours.” Because if he’s anything like my husband, he will have a plan for the next 30 yrs. Personally, I like a little unplanned fun.

  20. Charlene says:

    Hi Susan,
    Love DA too. I am thinking since the Carsons will be in a new house they should get married there if that would work. I can understand why Miss Hughes would not want to have the wedding wear she works. And I can’t wait to see Mary when she fines out about Marigold. Thanks for your blog, love getting them. Also been reading Fairy Tale Girl and it is just great. Loved the meal you made for you scout badge and how your mother managed all those children. She must have been something. Of course I can imagine all the help you were. Anyway, you are just great. Thanks again for all the fun.

  21. Samantha L. says:

    Absolutely loved the re-cap of Downton! I am so depressed it is the final season- but will enjoy it while it lasts. I am hoping you make it to the Mid-west on your book tour, keeping my fingers crossed!! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Oh we are totally in the midwest . . . go look at the signing schedule … we’re in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, lots of places.

  22. Barbara says:

    Dear Susan,
    I’m surprised you are calling the Downton dog a “he.” (I’ve noticed you have done this before with other people’s pets, but not your own.)

    The introduction is of Isis. Isis on the show was female (no matter how many dogs actually portrayed her).

    I am very happy the show is continuing to show Isis in the introduction even though she sadly passed away last season.

    You would be a perfect human being if you would only now make sure to use the proper gender for everyone’s pets. I know you can do it! Three cheers for Susan as encouragement!

    • sbranch says:

      Well, it’s only because I know what sex my animals are, but maybe not so much with other people’s. I try to get it right, but unless someone is wearing mascara, I am ALWAYS confused! No such thing as a perfect person, I am testament to that in more ways than one! xoxo

  23. Patsy in Nixa, MO says:

    I read your comment about Mary and her attitude because she’s the first born. Well, I’m the first born, and I’m here to tell you that it’s all true. I still try to tell my younger brothers what to do. The problem is that when they grew up, they starting ignoring all my good advice.

  24. Margaret says:

    Love the DA recap and musings of the future episodes. What about Lord and Lady Grantham? Will they take a holiday to Egypt and find some mummies? What will become of Violet? What happened to her Russian Prince? Is Lord Grantham their love child? Where are Marigold’s other grandparents and their children? wouldn’t it be grand if they were really the Drews in disguise? Where is Rose’s dad? maybe he would be interested in Edith…she seemed to like more mature men in the past… Mrs. Hughes should put up post cards to “tell” Carson where she wants the wedding; it worked when she wanted to go to the beach a couple seasons ago (where they first held hands, so romantic!).
    I’ve been planning a trip to England/Scotland too; going to do a “literary” tour of sorts: Stratford upon Avon, Oxford, 22B Baker St., Dickens’ home, Beatrix-Potter-and-Jane Austen-land, taking the Jacobite train to the Isle of Skye (Harry Potter territory), then to Scotland for golf, trout fishing, and sheep herding contests for Hubby’s loves…Can I squeeze in a visit to the Abbey to check up on George and Marigold? I wanted to tour in 2017, so perhaps I’ll hear of your travels and itinerary first, your book, A Fine Romance, inspired me initially.
    I know what it’s like to be in the “writing/creating” mode…nothing gets through to me when I write, paint, or grade papers…, which frustrates my husband to no end, yet let me try to talk to him during a ball game…I don’t even think your horn, much less the bell, can crack that concentration.
    Ach! such fun to ramble to my girlfriends and you!
    I look forward to hearing from you again to see if our predictions for DA come true. Now let me go slip into my exquisite, romantic nightie (grey sweat suit, lol) and head to bed to reread your blog!!!!
    Happy, happy!

  25. Sondra Harrell says:

    Susan, I have been hoping for the past 2 years that Tom and Mary would get together so I am glad I am not the only one feeling that way. They just seem right for each other. Surely another show will come our way from Merry old England, but there will never be another Downton. (I do wish people who aren’t familiar with the show would not refer to it as Downtown). That is like scratching fingernails on a chalk board to my ears. Course I realize chalkboards aren’t used anymore. Now they have smart boards. Thank you for your blogs. I look forward to each one and they simply make my day when they arrive.
    Happy New Year!!

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, Downtown!

      • Elaine in Toronto says:

        Whenever I type “Downton” auto correct changes it to “Downtown” – there, just did it again, lol. And sometimes I don’t notice and don’t go back and correct it. Just sayn’n it may not be deliberate.

  26. Cindy Stierhoff says:

    Loved all your updates on Downton Abbey, and I agree, Edith’s husband could still be walking this earth, so look for sightings…..final episode may put this loose end to rest.
    The dresses are the most beautiful yet and Mary’s new undies are really quite elegant, but how many of us could possible wear them.

    Stay warm Susan, where’s your babies????

    • sbranch says:

      My babies are pretty much everywhere! 🙂 Just ran out of steam on the blog yesterday, don’t worry, they will return!

  27. Fan in California says:

    My Mom and I have actually been in Castle Cottage!! We went to Beatrix’s house and, while there, learned of a National Trust walk that was taking place a few days later. On this walk, they showed some of the different places Beatrix painted in her various books, bringing along the color pictures so we could compare then and now. At the end of the walk, the guide said the cottage was empty and gave us a little tour. While standing in her bedroom, the guide told us that while Beatrix was alive, her fans would literally come to her door to speak to her but it sounds like, once in awhile, it was a little too much and there was a back door that she would use on occasion to escape. So much fun to have a further glimpse into her life!!

    • sbranch says:

      From what I understand, now someone is living in the house and doing some limited sorts of tours. To be in the place where Beatrix had her tea everyday would be such a thrill. That tour you were on sounds wonderful!

  28. Susan K. says:

    So excited about your including Austin, Texas on your book tour. Any chance of going to Dallas or Houston?

    • sbranch says:

      Not at this moment ~ we’re hoping to get everyone to come to Austin! But things can change, so I’ll keep updating. We’re at the “Austin moment” right now . . . waiting to hear back from them whether or not they think enough people will come.

  29. Hi Susan…Born in England, I love, love, love your blog and your books. My favorite is “A Fine Romance”. My new book just came out today and wanted to share it with you as I also love Downton Abbey and that whole era. Being a tea fanatic since I was very tiny (a long time ago) I just had to write about it.
    “The Art of Afternoon Tea: from the Era of Downton Abbey and the Titanic”!
    (Amazon://tinyurl.com/zucq762) It would be so fun to sit and have a cuppa with you sometime.
    Love you bunches and thank you for your lovely writing and sharing your life!

  30. Trudi Varton says:

    Dearest Susan, just want you to know how much I enjoy your blogs & Willard too. Thank you for sharing your world with us in photos, lovely words & of course, your sweet artwork. It is so nice to have these to read in between your books. So eager for the next one. My BFF just informed me that you will be traveling to California for your new book. We are planning a girl’s weekend to meet you in Danville. So excited! I am even contemplating the Beatrix Potter trip in 2017 to celebrate my 70th birthday! Thanks for the photo gallery of Downton Abbey characters. I missed a couple of seasons & lost track so it was good to bring me up to speed. I wasn’t sure whose child Marigold was thinking perhaps it was Sybil’s & wondered how she ended up with the Drew family. Guess I will have to get the entire series on Netflix & watch it all again. Wishing you & Joe & the kitties the happiest new year. Love & blessings, Truli

    • sbranch says:

      I know, it’s hard to keep track, it moves so quickly sometimes! Yes, we will be in Danville! Hope to see you, and your BFF there, Trudi. Thank you!!

  31. Gert~Iowa says:

    I was spending time with my Tom, and after he dosed off, I thought what an opportune time to read your blog! I love Downton Abbey, so really enjoyed your spin on it! I really think you should have been involved in writing the end of this story..lol

    Joe is so funny…”toot-toot and beep-beep” here I come !!! Or– “may I enter madam???” lol

    Blessings to all of you, snuggle with your kitties and enjoy the season.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, I have to say, the noises in our house have improved, we sound like some sort of puppet show around here! Thank you dear Gert, all my best to you and Tom! xoxoxo

  32. Vicki says:

    I see in the comments that someone else asked about the bunnies in the snow…Bunny Crossing; adorable! Love that photo. And I think the round ‘ring my bell’ to alert you of Joe coming thru is a scream! My husband does the same thing and makes me jump ten feet!

  33. Wanda says:

    Once again your post is delightful! I’m on board for a Mary/Tom romance- great idea! I sure hope you find time to come to Eastern PA at some point during your travels. It would be wonderful to meet you!!!

    • sbranch says:

      We’ll be in New Hope . . . not sure if that’s east or west, but hopefully it’s close enough to you Wanda!

  34. Amy says:

    I’m dying for Tom and Lady Mary to be together, but, sigh….I’m not sure it will ever happen!
    Thank you for the wonderful recap and for always making me smile!

  35. I have been reading and reading this am. Somehow looking up your books lead me to Jacque Pepin on Amazon. See~You are in good company. I buy your new books directly from you now, but I scour around used bookstores for your older books. I use extras for gifts and that is what I was talking about yesterday. Introducing you to old and new friends.
    I have rediscovered Jack Frost! Today my bedroom window is more beautiful than yesterday!!! I could not have edged the individual panes better!
    Warm Hugs,

  36. Bonnie Porro says:

    Just found the number for Book People and will call them TODAY and encourage them to host your book signing! I was hoping for a visit to Dallas/Ft. Worth but won’t complain about Austin. In the scheme of things in Texas it is close enough for a little road trip for me and my BFF.

    I loved “Fairy Tale Girl” and am eagerly awaiting your next book. I have loved Martha’s Vineyard since my first visit there in the early 70’s.

    Hope to see you in Austin.
    Best of the day.

    • sbranch says:

      We were approved for a visit to Book People yesterday . . . it’s happening! You have the magic touch! Than you Bonnie!

  37. Kris Teachman says:

    What a terrific commentary on Downton Abbey! This final season needs a hot pot of tea and tea cookies! Love your personal points of conjecture! Where did I put my tea cozy (a dear sweet friend made it with S B fabric!)? Thank you for your DA review, my friend!

  38. Mary says:

    o, me o, my, Susan, Downton has me on the edge of my seat. I try so hard not to rush the days, but wishing for Sunday to be here, so we can return to Downton again ! I love the fingerwaves in hairstyles. When I went to Beauty School, I won a competition for fingerwaving. Loved it. Makes me smile.
    I have been watching for one of your book signing events to be in Pennsylvania, and it’s coming, I really hope to get more info so I can order our tickets asap.
    Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the snow, it is so pretty here right now.
    Mary from Pa.

  39. Mary/Indiana says:

    Loved your Downton Abbey recap and prediction! I have one that I hope comes True…
    Michael Gregson escapes from German prison to return home and discover he has a daughter!
    This would technically solve all of Edith’s dreams! We want her to be Happy!

    I’m going to recommend your bell/horn system (no intercom system) to my daughter whose new house has a basement with workshop for my son-in-law. I think it could work!

    Lastly, I’m going to convince my girlfriend to take a Cap Cod road trip in July for the Beatrice Potter birthday party! Will there be tea and cake? ☕️🎂

  40. Christine from CA says:

    Love your comments re: Downton Abbey! Love watching the show especially anything with the food or presentation of the food.

    To change subjects! Do you know what has happened to the British Country Living? No longer getting in the mail and my bookstore no longer carries it! I must have missed it. I DO miss it! Thanks for any help.

  41. Wendy Louise says:

    Dear Susan,
    You made me laugh and chuckle through your whole blog this morning, with my cuppa tea and the wind blowing so fiercely outside but, the sun is shining brightly inside and out. Thanks for all the lovely excitement for the next two years! I think we should forward your post to Julian Fellowes, you would make his day I am sure ! I adore your gifts from darling Joe, that is too cute and funny, my kind of humor. I have an antique bell that we use in our home. When anyone was sick they got the bell and would ring for help. Mostly now with us being empty nesters, the grandbabies love to run around ringing the bell.
    We are enjoying the winter, doing indoor home improvement and drinking lots of tea. Sounds like you and Joe and kitties have this winter under great control.
    Love to you all, Wendy-Louise

  42. Dena says:

    OK SUSAN DID NOT READ, about downtown abbey , haven’t seen ANY of the programs, and never paid much attention to the show , but because you talk about so lovingly , and I LOVE the clothes, etc. Feel i must see What all the talk is about. SO , Tomorrow I’m going to have rotator cuff surgery, so i ordered seasons 1-5 on ebay ,(should arrive today or tomorrow, so i wouldn’t be tempted to look at it sooner), LOL and I plan to watch them all while recovering, than taping season 6 so can see after i see 1-5 first. And looking forward to your next book!

    • sbranch says:

      Best to you on your surgery, Dena, I think you’ve planned yourself the perfect thing for recovery! I know you will love it once you get started. It’s so much more than the story, it’s also history, and views of wonderful places in England, great hats, yes, the clothes, the CARS, the dining room, the times. It’s fun! Get well soon!

  43. Susan Chicas says:

    Thank you for the DA recap and book tour updates! I’m not sure which route you’re taking from Denver to Salt Lake, but if you happen to be going west on the road to Aspen, there is a tiny independent bookstore you would love to see and maybe visit for a cup of tea. My hubby and I stopped for lunch in Frisco, CO several years back and happened on The Next Page Bookstore (now “and Tea Bar”) while walking around downtown afterward. Just a plug for them as the lady owners were doing good work there…interesting catalog, particularly given the store’s size.
    Also wanted to brag as I think my/our Christmas presents beat yours, as much as I covet your red bell. On Dec. 16, we adopted two rescue polydactyl kitten sisters, now almost 4 months old! Cal Poly aka Cali is a tuxedo black with ginormous white paws, and Kenda is a pale tan tabby with seal points and blue eyes,who appears to have more inherited more Siamese than her sibling So much fun! (Note of explanation: hubby attended Cal Poly Pomona when they still had a football team, and he named her.)
    One more thing: I am blessed to be going on a Tea Room Tour of Southern England in late May! A tea room owner in WA and her chef husband are the organizers and guides. They own Summer Garden Tea Room east of Tacoma in Sumner, WA, which I also highly recommend! I live in SoCal but made a trip up in September to meet her, have tea, and attend the Tea Festival in Seattle. Anyway, I wish our times in Britain overlapped somehow. Your first book inspired me to take the big plunge and actually go to England, and I’m re-reading “A Fine Romance…” for ideas and ongoing inspiration. Thank you! and a very happy new year to you and yours!

    • Susan Chicas says:

      Forgot to mention — we are touring Highclere Castle and will be there to hear a lecture/garden tour about Capability Brown!

      • Susan Chicas says:

        Oops! And my whole reason for even commenting was to suggest to Barbzie (above) that she can watch Downton online by going to the PBS website (also shopping) at PBS.org.

      • sbranch says:

        We’re having our BYOPicnic Basket Party at a wonderful estate called Stourhead in Wiltshire with acres and acres of garden, or parkland really, that was designed by Capability Brown. We visited there twice before, and it is Amazing!

    • sbranch says:

      What a wonderful trip that will be!!! FUN. You have to come back and tell us which tea rooms were your favorite! And kittens! You are just surrounding yourself in heaven!

  44. As a home schooling Mom I get the opportunity to be creative with the education of my daughters. We just stated a unit study on travel writing. I gathered different examples of how it can be done, Frances Mayes, Rick Steves, a few others, and of course YOU. Just thought you might like to know that now you are also considered a source of curriculum and that my 15 year old is curled up on the sofa reading “A Fine Romance.” Her words exactly were, “This is so entertaining. I love the style of the writing and the illustrations and the shadows behind the letters.” She is completely enthralled in your book. You may have inspired a new generation of writers. We plan on creating a blog for them to post their work. When it’s up and running we’ll let you know. We’ll be ready for your next trip!!

    • sbranch says:

      I do love being considered a source of curriculum! What an honor! Tell your daughter I said Hello! xoxo

      • Last night when I went in to say goodnight, both my girls were journaling as usual. Anna who had spent the day reading your book showed me her entry for the evening. She had created lovely artwork all along the edges of the pages and had used her best penmanship to make the page lovely. All inspired by you!!

  45. Patricia Ruehle says:

    Dear Susan,
    Best blog ever! LOVED every word.
    My Henry and I have watched the first episode three times and howled at the exchanges between Mrs. Patmore and Carson each time. The film crew must have been hysterical trying to get through it!
    Please, please, please try to come to Houston on your book tour.

  46. Amy Lee from Salem says:

    OH, NO!!!! I am so disappointed that you won’t be coming to the Pacific Northwest, I know you and Joe would love it here. I was so looking forward to meeting you but I do understand how these things work. Maybe another time.
    In the meantime I will have the Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams to look forward to and then there is Scotland. Started Fairy Tale Girl after the 1st and finished it much to fast. I loved your story. I too am the eldest of 7 children brought up in Orange County, California. So many experiences I could relate to. Blowing a little fairy dust your way from one girlfriend to another.

  47. Sara S says:

    I am soooo happy I’m not the only one so enchanted with the undergarments! I find it funny we’ve seen Lady Mary in a serious state of undress two weeks in a row! I WISH I could own some lingerie just like her new stuff. Do you think it would fit under yoga pants? I realized, too, (was it this week or last?) that we saw her BAREFOOT. And now a sliver of tummy?! Oh my stars! She better watch it or she’s going to need to go get more Dutch thingamajigs. On an unrelated note…my husband seems to be more interested in Downton Abbey lately…strange…

    • sbranch says:

      Oh my stars! Where will this younger generation take us? Takes a while for some people to get into it, but once hooked, then it’s like Christmas every Sunday night.

  48. Sandy H says:

    When will you be doing a book signing in Austin?? I haven’t heard back from BookPeople.

    • sbranch says:

      It will be Saturday, 3pm, June 18th! And thank you too Sandy, for getting in touch with them. You Girlfriends are the power that made this happen!

  49. K says:

    My dear friend in the U.K. sent me the Christmas/finale episode.
    $50 to keep my mouth shut – ha!! *-)

    • sbranch says:

      Ha! I’m amazed that everyone has been so good with the big secrets . . . I have friends in England and they are being very kind to me!

  50. Sara says:

    Wow, Susan, how many times did you watch last week’s Downton to have retained all of that? Amazing! As Sunday’s episode ended, all I could tweet was a feeble ‘Oh my’ because I was just thunderstruck at the twists and turns I’d just witnessed! (And I seldom am at a loss for words. Ha!)

    Hmm, June 2017… going to have to think seriously about that. It does sound like a wonderful opportunity.

    I really enjoyed reading again about your visit to Hill Top via the link, especially what you said about Beatrix never writing any books after marrying Mr. Heelis.
    “I saw it was more of a transition, the way life goes sometimes, that at one time you might be a certain kind of person, but later as your passions and interests change and you mature and become braver, you might have a wider understanding of what matters to you, and become another person. You don’t lose the old thing when that happens, you just become more.”

    I like that, Susan. It certainly applies to me. And, by the way, that last sentence was just brilliant! It is nice to ‘become more.’ 🙂

    Stay warm, my friend! I think our frigid weather is headed your way. 🙂 Sara 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Well, when I’m watching, I’m always thinking about you! I take pictures of the TV! That’s what helps me to remember. Beatrix was so fortunate with her books, that they put her in a position, along with her natural generosity and forward thinking, to change a little corner of the world forever. That’s why I love her. She just did it.

  51. Ginnie says:

    Hurray, hurray! I’m so glad you are coming back to the Chicago area! I just bought tickets for my mom, cousin, and me for the May 10th tea.

  52. Marilyn Young says:

    Susan, any plans to come to Suzanne’s Strawberry Patches Quilt Shop in Bakersfield, CA? You were here with your first book, A FINE ROMANCE, and I’m hoping you will come again. I will talk to Suzanne about the possibility of your coming. Oh I hope so! Thanks for this post, it was wonderful as always and I’m totally hooked on DB.

    • sbranch says:

      I think we’re only going to be able to get to SLO this time, hopefully there will be a nice event to invite Bakersfield to!

  53. Judy in Ohio says:

    Susan, Susan, Susan…What have you been drinking!!? 😀

    Seriously, I am so excited that you are so giddy and enthusiastic about the first 2 episodes of Downton Abbey!! I LOVE them too. I am so spoiled though. You will probably not remember, but I was the one who purchased the first 5 seasons of Downton Abbey (I had not seen it ever before) this past summer (for about $25 on eBay!!) and watched them all in NO TIME!! I did not have to wait a week in between like I would have had I watched it on PBS. And I was so glad!! But now…NOW…I am finding out what it feels like to have to wait in between. Suffice it to say that I now truly know (as if there was any doubt in my mind) I am NO kind of waiter! :/ It is very tough for me…VERY tough! But I will make it! And I really do appreciate your appraisals and critiques of the program as you do!! 🙂 So much fun!!

    Now, I have a couple of things for YOU!!

    Over the Christmas holiday, my great niece , Rylee (6), had her aunts and I over to her house for a Cinderella Party! I don’t know if you have seen this new movie (Disney…but NOT animated)…but the English sites in this movie are just amazing…I really think you will love them if you have not already seen them…Also the actress (Lily James) who plays Rose on Downton plays Cinderella in the movie…and Sophie McShera (who plays Daisy) plays one of the step-sisters! They both do an excellent job…but the landscape and scenery will just blow you away! I promise!!…Also, I recently stumbled upon a kind of murder mystery show on Netflix called “Rosemary and Thyme” with amazing imagery also…of English buildings and countryside. You really will LOVE that also!! I sincerely hope you get a chance (somehow with your busy schedule!) to see some of these SOON! They will inspire you!! I promise! And all the girlfriends,too!

    Hope you are having a very Happy New Year so far…and thanks always for
    all you do to inspire and motivate and just generally entertain us. We love you and appreciate you more than we can ever express.


    P.S. Even the two little gifts that Joe gave you for Christmas have inspired me too…I am going to hang a bell around my husband's neck!! (I think that will work!!) Take care…

    • sbranch says:

      I do remember, and wondered how you were getting along with the first five seasons! And yes, of course I saw Cinderella!! How could I not go see Rose?! I haven’t watched anything lately, I listen as I paint, to story tellers, and hopefully I won’t have to look at the screen! Thank you for the good suggestions Judy ~ Happy 2016!

      • Judy in Ohio says:

        “Rosemary and Thyme” is definitely one that you will HAVE TO SEE, not just listen to…for sure. The two ladies in it are gardener’s so they visit various homes/schools/mansions etc. to work on their lawns, gardens, waterfalls…LOTS to see! Beautiful towns, villages and buildings…as well as the English countryside in general.(Netflix…We have the streaming one.)

        You can look forward to it…to do after your book is all done! 🙂


        • Judy in Ohio says:

          Hi, again, Susan!
          (I am writing a reply to my own reply!)

          I have watched a couple more episodes of “Rosemary and Thyme” this weekend and am now… more than before… thoroughly convinced that you will absolutely LOVE this show. Just so MANY English gardens and houses and streets, etc…Beautiful!

          I hope you are able to find it & see it!! 🙂

          In the meantime, have a great week!!


    • I like that bell around the neck idea!!! LOL The only time I hear my husband is when he comes in the front door, because of the jiggling keys.

  54. Ericka says:

    I am obsessed with Lady Mary’s new underwear and want to know where I can get something similar!!

  55. Sandi says:

    Dear Susan, Please say yes to commenting after each aired episode of DA this final year! You’re predictions are brilliant and yes I’d so love to see Tom Branson back! Reading your blog was like having another DA show to watch, such a plus and with a girlfriend! Hubby still is on the football spaceship and doesn’t quite connect with DA! I’m glad you got the snow you were waiting for on MV, we here on the Cape don’t have a flake! Will be looking forward to the Beatrix Potter Party at the Brewster Ladies Library this summer. Love, Sandi
    P.S. Love your bells and horns……wonder if my hubby would come running to a horn? 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I’ll try, but it takes a few hours to do them, which I can barely afford to do it I’m going to make the printers on time. That’s my only problem. I’ll probably still do them, because I can’t help myself! See you at the library. Joe is responding wonderfully to the horn, by laughing!

  56. Pamela Hoops says:

    Oh Susan, I just loved all your comments about Downton Abbey. You hit on a perfect solution for Daisy and Mr. Mason- brilliant thinking. And of course, we could never have another occurrence where Miss Marigold was abducted again!! (Nasty business to be in prison at that period of time!). Sad for The Drewe Family but…it opens the way for something wonderful (possibly) for Daisy. After getting lost in DA memories your next photos of the turkeys (and bells) was a blast of reality…..too funny! You always bring us joy and laughter. We all so love you for that!! Blessings from a friend in Tulsa.

  57. Your take on Downton was done with such wonderful panache! (French, yes, but I think the Dowager Countess would have something appropriate to say about that little cultural note.) Those quick wrap-ups seem to say, “We’d better hurry up with this. After all, it IS the last season, you know.” Can’t wait for #3 this Sunday!

  58. carole hines says:

    Are you going to be anywhere in the south? I am in N.C. near Charlotte. Would love to meet you!

  59. Christabelle says:

    Susan, you have outdone yourself. The most delicious post ever. A total joy to read. I cannot wait to read what you write 10 years from now, as you just continue to soar in your ability to both express and to connect with your readers. I think there should be some kind of an award for your particular category of writing. I think you may well have created a new genre.

  60. Rachel Scott says:

    BOOK PEOPLE, AUSTIN, June 18, 3PM…..I will be there with bells on and Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams in hand. This is written in your/my pocket calendar in INK!! Sooooo excited….may you and Joe have a safe trip across this great country and back again. Rachel

  61. Jan Jasper says:

    Thank you for the photos and the Who’s Who of Downton. I’ve been watching only since the final episode of the 2015 season, but I’m HOOKED on it now! It’s so much more refreshing than the network dramas at night. As you travel across the country, I think you would enjoy my town of Liberty, MO. There is a soap shop on Water street (in a 100 year old home) in Historic Downtown Liberty. My favorite shop is where a 4th generation soap maker brews up batches of the best soaps! You would LOVE it! Unfortunately, we don’t have a bookstore, but a B&N isn’t far away!

  62. Maria in Long Beach, CA says:

    Maybe you can spread the word, Susan. This is an alert to all who might follow the Downton Abbey Fan club on Facebook. Today they posted a group of photos that give away everything that’s going to happen in season 6! I, along with many other followers, was so surprised to see this…and very upset.

  63. Annie in IL says:

    I caught that you said you would be in Illinois, so I went straight to the ‘events’ section, and sure enough you will be in Illinois!! Wilmette is about 5 hours from where I live. Darling hubby says he will be happy to go. By May 10 we shouldn’t have any weather worries outside of rain. I am just tickled silly!
    Loved the thought of the ‘blackmailer’ throwing toast at Lady Mary’s beautiful blue robe – FOOD FIGHT! I have already warned husband I will be bereft when this is all over. Just hearing the theme puts me in a different world. I have all five seasons to date and season six is on order from PBS. At least I will be able to go back and ‘visit’ when I wish.
    See you in May!!!!

  64. Debby Moreau says:

    Hi Sue can you recommend a good map of England to buy? Just want to dream and plot out the trip you and Joe took. I’m starting to save for our own trip. It might take 5 years but that’s okay. Lots of research time. Any info you can give me would be appreciated.

  65. Nancy R. says:

    I enjoyed your recap of Downton Abbey as much I did the show Sunday night. I have a feeling that Anna will become ill or feverish or something after this stitch procedure. The Doctor did not mention anesthesia, but that is 1925. My sister had that procedure done for her last two daughters, now 33 yrs old and 30 yrs old. She miscarried a set of twins,had a premature baby that is now 35ys old, delivered a son at 5 months that died and at least one other miscarriage before the doctors found the problem, same as Anna that needed the stitch. On a lighter note, do you watch Doc Martin? I love Martin Clumes in just about everything I have seen him in. Well Keep warm on the island!!

  66. Beth L. says:

    Wow, Susan! I love reading all the GirlFriends’ responses, but I begin to feel overwhelmed with all the Answering, Updating, Itinerary Planning, and Responding you have to do…and wondering if you do too??!!! Do you ever harken’ back to the early days when your posts were short and oh so sweet…and demands were minimal. Hope Joe keeps you grounded and focused on REAL LIFE in the Here and Now!….like walks in the fresh air, repairs on the house, and simple breakfasts with sizzling bacon! Hope you can shake yourself FREE and breathe deep into January life!

    AND I feel such COMPASSION for Mrs. Drew!!!
    I know others feel differently, but Marigold’s removal from her care WAS a bit abrupt…even if she knew it was temporary! (Imagine giving up, Jack!!!)
    Mr. Drew’s final words to Lord Grantham about it all were piercing and oh so TRUE…. “We made a pact, Lady Edith and I. BUT we forgot about EMOTIONS. And Emotions is what trips you up every time!”

    There isn’t a Girlfriend out there that doesn’t understand EMOTIONS!
    Loving your transparency amidst the Romance!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh I do, we go out and walk in that January life every day. But I am in the rabbit hole, no question, I have to be here in order to concentrate on what I’m trying to do/say. It’s okay, it’s just part of the job. Visiting on the blog is the fun stuff!

  67. Barbara (WA) says:

    I live in the Northwest and would like to recommend a nearby, wonderful, independent bookstore that may be able to host a signing. Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo, WA. libertybaybooks.com/ It is owned by Suzanne Droppert. I believe they hosted or maybe co-hosted Jan Karon last year so maybe they could host you! Fingers crossed.

    • mary spring says:

      ..wow.. Barbara, I just “googled” Poulsbo,Wa. and it looks absolutely charming !..’looks like a place Susan and Joe would love to see !!.. (right now I am back up in the Issaquah, Wa..area .. and Poulsbo may be a place for me to visit !..thank you !!..sincerely… )

      • Barbara (WA) says:

        Come see Poulsbo, Mary, it is indeed charming! I grew up in Renton when Issaquah was a very small rural town.

        • mary spring says:

          ..thanks for answering, Barbara !..Renton/ Issaquah area is where I am right now ..beautiful country !!..yes, I am definately going to explore your charming Poulsbo as soon as I can !..thank you, Barbara.. have a great day !!.. sincerely.. ( I am hunting down potteries.. places to fire my wheel- thrown and handbuilt pieces..high fire/ reduction kilns..preferably..by chance, do you know of any potteries, being that you are definetly a local ??..just curious…thanks again..)..

  68. Carol B. Yannone says:

    Glad to know you are coming to R.J. Julia’s in Madison, CT in May. I have Sunday’s off and will try to be there. I’m pre-ordering your new book though. Loved A Fine Romance and Fairy Tale Girl. Happy New Year, Susan and Joe and kitties!

  69. Marie says:

    I’m not sure which I enjoy best: seeing downton abbey or reading your rants and raves about downton. Please keep it coming! I so enjoy laughing my head off! Such a delight! I feel so lucky to have found your site and be a part of this group.

  70. Becky P says:

    YES! You are coming to Denver!❤️

  71. Paula Cutchey says:

    I just loved that you used the expression “Lord willing and the Creek don’t rise”.
    When I lived in Mississippi ages ago a friend told me the meaning of it. She said the expression was, See you on Sunday, Lord willing and the Creek don’t rise, referring to the Creek Indians. I love trivia.
    I cannot wait for your new book and hope I can make it to Austin!

  72. Starr miller says:

    What a fabulous review Susan. Love Downton Abby and the stories this season are heartwarming and reflective of the times. Mary is still my favorite- so like Grandma. A leader and survivor and realist. She’ll need a very strong man for a husband.
    My husband and I watched Rose as Cinderella on the deck of our cruise ship with the moon shinning down on us and warm winds blowing. Such a fun memory now.
    I’m oh so excited about your upcoming travels because you’ll take us, the girlfriends, with you!
    Savor this time with your writing- winter offerings- bell and horn songs and all the loving feelings in your most wonderful home.

  73. Gladys Marie says:

    Thank you so much for another precious visit.

  74. Jeannette from the Central Coast says:

    Well, Susan…our parallel lives have ended with your fascination of Downton…I will have to wait and watch the whole series on DVD:) Can’t say I’ve seen even one episode, but I’m sure I’ll love it:) So looking forward to your visit to Chaucer’s in Santa Barbara when that becomes a reality! I LOVE that you have a bell for Joe now – I must get one for my husband! He does the very same sneak-ups on me and scares me to death sometimes! Great idea. I shall put it by the back door for when he comes in from his “office” (aka the garage). Happy writing!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m hoping we get to Chaucer’s . . . haven’t heard back from them yet. I love it that Joe, foolish man, GAVE me the horn too! 🙂 what could he have been thinking!?

  75. Kathie says:

    My thinking, too. So it can’t be gibberish. That reminds me, though, of another favorite English character: Lord Peter Wimsey. Lord Peter had quite a long time trying to get his heart throb, Harriet Vane, to marry him. In one of her, rare, warmer moments during the courtship, she said she’d keep him around, “if only to hear him talk piffle” to her. So sweet. So understated in the good old English way. This was in the book/movie, “Have his Carcase”. Back to Downton….I can see Tom and Mary together, too. It should have happened earlier…..it broke my heart when he went off to America. Love to you from the high desert, (we’ve had snow since before Christmas….a rare happening). Looks like it’s coming your way, too, I hope. Keep cozy, Kathie D. (Prairie Cottage Corner)

  76. Arzella Moots says:

    How delightful to discover the world of Susan Branch through Pinterest! I feel as if I’ve made a new friend, a kindred spirit who loves Downton Abbey, Gladys Taber, quilting and all things English as much as I do. One of your prints has pride of place in my kitchen and I’ve used scrap booking embellishments but had no idea what other delights awaited me!

  77. Regina Carretta says:

    aaahhh Downton Abbey….they just won a special BAFTA award (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) and there is a wonderful tribute on YouTube that I know you would enjoy (warning – there is a major spoiler in this show! so watch at your own risk)…..plus you will love Julian Ovenden’s singing voice (he played Charles Blake, one of Mary’s suitors)… here is the link:
    youtube.com/watch?v=XoGbOUMd2_A…. a lovely program from the UK….thought of you – enjoy with a cuppa tea!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Regina, I’ll save that for this evening! Can’t wait. Hopefully that spoiler will go over my head.

  78. Lisa R (northern Az) says:

    You are spot on with Downton, Susan. Oh, how we will miss it!! Thankful for DVD’s to watch over and again. Two huge thank you’s to you! I love Tom, and you have given me hope that he will return. Fingers crossed!! And the bell! My dearest sweet guy, just like your Joe, always scares me to death when he comes into my craft room. My back is to the door, where I sit, and I always accuse him of tip toeing and scaring me on purpose, which of course he says he doesn’t at all. But it’s terrible! So my next outing, most likely tomorrow, will be to find a bell. I would always tell him to holler as he was coming, but he never does. So a bell it will be. Thank you! And another Downton tomorrow. Yay!! Have a beautiful Sunday. Love your birds!

  79. Deborah in Odessa, Tx says:

    Chris in KnickerbockerTx. I just read your post. How sweet!!!! I answered in your first post…don’t know if you will see it. I have a daughter in Bastrop and a friend in Cameron. I am not sure about dates yet. I would love to meet you there. I have to see what all our plans for summer are and when our friend Susan will be in Austin. She is gonna love Texas. Again thank you so much for your offer. I will know about everything as soon as I find dates. Deborah.

  80. Deborah in Odessa, Tx says:

    I just saw date June 18…..yay!!!!!!

  81. Mary Whiting says:

    Hi Susan,
    Loved your Downton recap. Sundays will never be the same……..
    I apologize for asking again for the email contact to send you photos of Highclere with your beautiful book taken on our visit there. One more time, please? They will be on their way this time.


  82. Darla Unger says:

    I finished reading Fairytale Girl and loved it. My daughter is reading it now also loving it. I went yesterday to Barnes and Noble and bought A Fine Romance started reading it this morning got to the part that your belt sounded like a rock dropping on the floor, I laughed so hard tears were falling, you have the best way of saying things.

    • sbranch says:

      It was really so silly, because it was nothing, yet it was SO embarrassing. It felt like my underwear had fallen off. I’m glad you’re enjoying the books Darla! Thank you!

  83. Debbie Vaky says:

    Hi: Your tree is so pretty!!! I also use the colored lights (screw in bulbs). Just can’t let go of my childhood Christmas tree look. I noticed Joe untrimming the white lights…so do you mix the mini white lights in with the colored ones.? Are your colored ones mini or individual screw (milky bulbs or clear?) It’s just so pretty…Also, how do I get back to my comments to see if you posted…I can’t always remember which post I left a comment in. Thanks! Boo…I see no Atlanta book events coming up.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes we do, we mix three kinds of lights actually, one of them has strange but interesting and whimsical colors, like cobalt blue and crazy pink. The colored ones are the individual screw kind. I don’t think we’re making it to Atlanta, but to North Carolina . . . ? We tried to get everywhere, but you can’t do it in only two months, and that’s all I can stand to be away from the kitties!

  84. Elaine from frozen MN says:

    Dear Susan,
    Your blog always warms my heart and tickles my fancy even on these below zero days!
    I just finished reading The Fairy Tale Girl. What a life you’ve led! And…Oh, my gosh! It was wonderful revisiting those early days…the food, cars, styles, TV shows, movies, stars (I’m a big Shirley Temple fan, too), singers (I liked Perry Como more than Frank)…we even had the same red diary (one of my four brothers picked the lock and scribbled on every page with purple crayon!) and Tickle Me Pink lipstick. There were soooo many things I’d forgotten…like potato chip cookies and bomb shelters. I could go on and on, but for those who haven’t read it yet…..you must!! I can’t wait for your next book to arrive!
    As for your book tour, don’t you think, since I believe all of America loves you, you should make your way to Minnesota and have a signing at the Mall of America? I understand not coming in the winter (even though I know we’d give you a warm welcome), but how about on your way home? :-). Think about it.
    Won’t keep you any longer.
    Hoping to meet you one day,

    • sbranch says:

      We’re getting as close to everywhere as we can, but this country is one heck of a BIG place! You only realize it when you are driving across it!

  85. Barb from Ohio says:

    Last night I was watching a pre-Downton special that I’d recorded; it was on just prior to the season six premier a couple weeks ago, maybe it was on your station too? I was out of town that Sunday, daughter and I were in Disney World for a girls week of fun. Though we’ve since watched the first two episodes, I hadn’t watched the pre- show special till last night. They showed teaser scenes mostly from the first two episodes, so it was a bit anti-climactic because I’d had already seen the episodes and knew what was going on. They talked about the great fan base of the show from all over the globe, and how fans get so wrapped up in what happens to the characters. Julian Fellows was talking about an incident where a lady was following him onetime and he finally turned around and asked her if he could help her. She looked a bit distraught and finally said to him, “Will you please just let Edith be happy?” Seems to be our sentiments exactly! We are enjoying this season so much so far, but it’s going way too fast for me, already to episode three tonight. They did say on this special that most of the loose ends would be wrapped up and all questions answered by the last episode, but we’ll see. I wish Edith’s man would turn up alive, Anna would get pregnant, Mrs. Hughes and Carson get married and live happily ever after. I’d like to see Rose and Branson come back, even if just for the Christmas special. I don’t want any deaths, but who knows what Fellows will do in this last season. And Mary, I think she can hold her own in most things whether she finds a husband or not even if her father bailed her out of the blackmail situation(or so we think). I felt sorry for Mrs. Drewe, but that story-line has been neatly resolved too and Mr. Mason will hopefully have a place to live, close to Daisy and, ahem, Mrs. Patmore. We’ll see what happens tonight, and I hope to see your ideas on the episode soon, because I love your take on the happenings of the show.

  86. Charlene says:

    I love everything you write and paint. I have saved all the blogs from the day that I got the first one. When I need a pepper up, I go ack and start reading. Have both your books and your calendar keeps me on the right path. Are you coming to Pasadena on your trip? Will try to come if you do. Have a wonderful t rip to England. I love that country. Thank you for the n
    Beauty and fun you create.
    Charlene from Menifee

  87. Patti Fitzgerald, Skippack, PA says:

    Hello Susan! As always, reading your blog and listening to your Musica has filled me with a warm and fuzzy glow . . . so very nice! When I need a dose of sanity and pure joy in my life, I always turn to your words and lovely, colorful sketches. Works like a charm, every time! My daughter gave me a copy of “The Fairy Tale Girl” for Christmas, and I can’t wait to dive in! And I’m thrilled beyond words to know that you’ll be in New Hope, PA in May!! God willing, I’ll be there to meet and greet you! How incredibly exciting!

    When you and Joe travel next to England, will you have the opportunity to visit Highclere Castle? My husband and I visited there in September 2013 – – what a dream come true! My favorite room, of course, is the red library – – books, books and my favorite color! Do try and get there if it is at all possible! :))

    May God richly bless you in 2016 . . . you have certainly richly blessed so many of us with your special gifts and talents! You are truly doing what you were meant to do in this life. Thank you so much for listening to your heart, and for warming mine! <3

    • sbranch says:

      We tried last time we were there, but they were filming, so they were closed. I guess they won’t be filming this next time we go! wah! I’d love to see that dining room! All of it really! Thank you for those sweet closing words Patti, they mean a lot when I am in the rabbit hole trying to finish! XOXOXO

  88. KarenP. (Wisconsin) says:

    Oh boy! You must be soooo excited about Downton Abbey’s episode tonight! Can’t wait for this week’s commentary! ♡♡♡♡

  89. Michelle Smock says:

    Yeah – Tom and Sibby are back!

  90. Dee Fox says:

    I’m Loving how tonight’s Downton challenges your blog’s title of “Wild Conjecture”!! Did Mary’s eyes pop when she saw the two returnees? Oh yes. Did Edith give it to the Editor but good and then put out a magazine? Uh huh! Did Mrs Hughes shine brilliantly as she transformed to Mrs Carson. But of course. It was wonderful and you absolutely called it. 😆

    So much more to chat about, but you do it best as you prognosticate at the same time!

  91. Janice says:

    Susan! You were right. There he stood carrying his darling daughter, Branson! You were right. He’s back! Now, we’ll see if you were also correct in thinking he and Lady Mary……..

  92. Jeanne Marie says:

    I am lucky to have a husband just like your Joe. His name is Al. We are big Downton Abbey fans as well.
    I know you are a big Sinatra fan and was wondering if you know about a new book just published about him to celebrate his 100th birthday. It is not a coffee table book—it IS the Coffee table. The book is huge and filled with beautiful pictures and tributes to him. It’s pricey but I think it’s worth it.
    Hope you’ll be in the Chicago area again. I just finished your new book and started reading the first one all over again. Now Frank is here.

    Love to you and Joe

    Jeannie Marie

    • sbranch says:

      How wonderful. Yes, I adore Frank’s wonderful singing, especially the 1940’s and in particular, what he did with Tommy Dorsey’s band. Heaven!

  93. Marianne says:

    This will be my second blog entry I have not received in my email! I checked to see if I was still on the list to be subscribed and I am, but have not recieved these past 2 entries into my email. I had to physically go onto to read this. Anything wrong on your end of this?

  94. Nancy Westmoreland says:

    Hey Susan,

    I had to let you we moved in mid-December from our home just outside Atlanta to the northeast Georgia mountains. We bought a small Cape Cod home at the end of a gravel road. We have protected forests on two sides of our property where we get to feed deer, see wild turkey and our neighbor tells us a bear is nearby! Anyway, we’ve been without television/internet service for about 6 weeks so I haven’t been able to read your recent blogs ! It has been excruciating without you! I did get at all my Susan Branch books out and poured through them to hold me over. Today we finally got internet services so I immediately jumped on your blog! Ahhhhh……I can breathe again! Thanks you for your beautiful words and artwork! I’m so excited to be back and blessed to create in such a wonderful home !

    Love you!

  95. Jocelyn says:

    Susan you are such a hoot! I have enjoyed perusing your blog for about six months now and loved every post. I have never commented before but just had to this time. I completely agree that Tom and Mary should tie the knot and have always wondered if it would be so.
    I had to chuckle at the bell for Joe. My husband does the same think to me when he drops me at the grocery store door. After parking the car, he comes in and sneaks up behind me in some isle,then grabs me or gets right behind me and about scares me to death. I have been known to slug him, especially when he grabs me, as I think it is a complete stranger!
    What possess them to do this I will never know, but they seem to secretly love seeing us turn ghostly white. 🙂

    • Jocelyn says:

      PS. I just received my new calendars last week and love them. I couldn’t bear to throw away the cover to the desk calendar so I cut out the tiny monthly calendars and put them in my journal in those clear page protectors for 3×4 scrapbook cards. It looks adorable.

    • sbranch says:

      He’s terrible! LOL! He’s dangerous, get him a bell! 🙂 Nice to hear from you Jocelyn!

  96. Renee says:

    Morning Susan! First off – I am hoping you are tucked in during the big blizzard of ’16. I imagine your little hamlet is a target. Stay safe. Downton! Having been this past summer, and an avid reader of the Daily Telegraph, I had to find out how it all ends. I’ll not utter a word here, but if you are interested, and much like me, a skipper to The End kind of needing to know, you will find it fun. That is all I’ll say! Take care – Renee

    • sbranch says:

      Our hamlet was the target, but nothing was disturbed, all people were safe, trees held on to their limbs and the lights stayed on, so really, it was a treat. SO beautiful this morning. I do read the last paragraph of the last page of a book sometimes, but for some reason, I really love the surprise on Downton. But, your info may be welcomed by some of our other Girlfriends!! So, thank you!

  97. Kedra Sugg says:

    I’m not sure that you are aware (and I realize that it doesn’t really matter), that there are some of us who cannot get “Downton Abbey” and therefore will not see it until the season is available on Netflix. Therefore I do not read your blog at all for the full season. I miss it! Also, I understand that you may have a contract to do this but somehow it just doesn’t seem legal otherwise. I’m sure there is an explanation, and even tho I am one of your oldest fans, you are certainly not obligated to give one. I have commented often on your blog but of course you get so many comments we don’t usually find your responses- one time I did but it took a full 10 minutes of scrolling thru comments/to find it – is there a simpler way? Thank you.

    • sbranch says:

      No. there’s no contract! LOL! I just like it so I like to talk about it and I think lots of other people do too. I know, it’s a sort of time out from normal blogging, but that’s a good thing too. Our regularly scheduled programming will return soon!

  98. Kat on Rose Creek Farm in East Texas says:

    Be still my heart! Sweet Sue! Just read lovely Kellee’s update & will see you in awesome weird Austin Texas at Book People on June 18!! Have decided to donate my previously ordered copy to our cute Carnegie library in Jefferson Texas. and order mine at Book People as soon as they give the go ahead. This goes to show one voice…one email…one letter…one post added to another & another…adds up. Book People saw how loved you are…how one of a very lovely, creative, amazing person you are. And Joe too. You inspire happy lovely things in all of us. What a special Family we all are. Stay safe in this snow storm y’all are having. Love ya

    • sbranch says:

      Awesome weird, LOL! It does all add up, means so much and so grass roots and real they have to listen. You are so sweet Kat, thank you! A special family, exactly right. Snowstorm is really beyond beautiful. All is well! See you in Austin!

  99. Ellen Eastman says:

    Ok – so I am a little late in reading the blog. I LOVED the bell and horn. At one of my former places of employment we had a guy (only guy in the office) who could sneak up on us if we were preoccupied. We gave him a bell on a satin ribbon that he had to wear at the office. And good sport that he was, he did.

  100. Somehow I missed this review so am late to the party. It’s brilliant but I didn’t realize it wasn’t know for certain Marigold’s father was dead. I thought he’d been killed in Germany, during the start up of the Nazi’s…?
    OH NO…do you think Edith will marry Michael Gregson then Marigold’s father will appear? That opens another can of worms to make for a sticky situation!
    The turkeys at the bird bath…so cute! They know where there’s safety.

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