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. Carol C says:

    What a day! The quilt group came for a day of quilting together and a new blog about Downton! I agree with you about Mary and Tom! Fingers crossed. A little tired of Anna bawling about no babies immediately after getting the good news–Good grief!! Was glad Mary stepped in ’cause I was not liking the whiny Anna so much. I wish someone would tell Mrs. Drew that Marigold is Edith’s baby then she might be a little less heartbroken. Still think Edith used her badly. I think Cora is going to get some life-threatening thing and there will be a big crisis about the hospital and Violet will have to come around. All of my comments sound negative, but think the show is great and am thoroughly enjoying every minute AND the clothes are spectacular!! They are actually out-doing themselves. I miss Tom and Rose, too. Time for them to come home! Couldn’t they do just a few more episodes this year?!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I agree, Anna didn’t wait one second to enjoy being truly free before she was off crying again. I wonder if the actress wants to say, please don’t make me do that! Of course you are right, yes, someone should tell Mrs. Drew, but then we have a “bastard” in the neighborhood, so we have to be careful who we tell!

      • Deb W says:

        But they DID tell her Edith is Marigold’s mother – flat out, and showed her the birth certificate – but she didn’t care. She was just determined to keep Marigold.

        I’m one of those terrible people who go on the Internet to read British blogs and find out everything that is going to happen in DA6 – but I’m not talking!!!

        • sbranch says:

          They did, I’d forgotten that, but now that you mention it! No, don’t talk! 🙂 I’ve tried for months not to know!

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

      Don’t miss Rose, Lily James , in Cinderella, which was in the theaters in 2015. If you missed it, be sure to see it now – you will be charmed!

  2. Susan, I loved your recap of the DA episodes so far! It’s all so very exciting and beautiful! I’m so sad this is the last season! I attended the Dressing Downton:Changing Fashion for Changing Times exhibit at the VA Historical Society last week. It was so glorious to see the beautiful clothing that the actors have worn on DA.
    Susan, I am so looking forward to your next book! Your new warning that Joe gave you is perfect! You guys are so much fun! Stay warm and cozy, dear one. ♥

  3. Lauren Andersen says:

    That was too hilarious with the wild turkeys in your bird bath! Thanks for all the fun girl talk about Downton Abbey! I’m completely loving this season also (and let me tell you, it was so good to see poor Anna smiling again!)

  4. Mary Brehm says:

    You had me at the horn and the bell! So funny. Downton was fun and I’ll be sad when it’s over. It’s freezing and windy here…i wish it would snow just a little. I’m up in my nest(quilt room) marking a new quilt top. I can’t wait to get quilting. My niece is coming for a visit next weekend and we are going to have a quilting weekend and make a baby quilt for her cousin (my nephew) who is expecting his first baby. It is going to be so cute. We ordered the most adorable fabric with little baby deer, hedge hogs and foxes on it plus mushrooms and other cute things. a-dor-a-ble! I can’t wait! stay warm and happy creating! <3

  5. Rachel Scott says:

    Hello, you adorable, adorable lady….writing a post just for the girlfriends, when you are in the middle (or hopefully farther than that) of writing/painting/photoing your new book. I just love your updates/comments on Downton Abbey….it’s like talking it over with my bestest friend and seeing it all again…wonderful! I’m so excited to know that Book People is still on your list for book signings. Shall I bring you and Joe hot tea (maybe ice tea by that time of year), warm scones, clotted cream and jam? What fun that is going to be…to get to spend a bit of time with you after all these years. Love, Rachel

    • sbranch says:

      Hey YOU adorable, adorable lady, always stopping to make everything special for everyone around you. Sending Huge Love. Cannot wait to see you at Book People! I hope they let us come, they are very famous in the book world. But we are GOING to Texas! xoxoxo

  6. Susan Morgon ( an Ohio gal in SoCal ) says:

    Stay out of the boot room! No good thing ever happens there. I am sure this must be a metaphor for something in life, don’t you think? Of course, it was there that Bates made the wonderful remark that “You never have to cry alone again.” So sweet! Wherever this wedding is held, we had better get to see it. I can understand Mrs. Hughes wanting to plan her own wedding, but I’m not so sure why she is so determined it not be held at Downton. Doesn’t she have something of a history there, too? I was a bit surprised at the disparaging remarks she made about Carson’s feelings about Mary. Hmm….Come, come, no snarky! I saw a preview in which Julian F stated that all of the story lines would be wrapped up, but not all would be happy. Ugh. I am hoping he means a small line, like the Drews leaving. And Edith, just tell Mary; Then get on with your life! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if by some crazy way Gregson ( is that right?) is not dead after all and makes a surprise return? Along with Tom, who absolutely must return! Loved the blog, and enjoyed your take on it so much. Happy 2016! I am hoping that I am able to be settled in Ohio in time to be at the Learned Owl. Fingers crossed!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes! I totally agree. She LOVES Mary. Where is this coming from? Not all will be happy? Okay, I was willing to sacrifice the Drews, but like for Edith? I expect something good for her. Fingers crossed with you ~ for the Learned Owl, will love to meet you there Susan!

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

        I meant to include that I’ve been watching old YouTube interviews with the cast ever since I finally caught up with the first five seasons ( I was afraid of spoilers), and I’ve been so impressed with each of the actors in those interviews. I love how they conduct themselves; it almost seems as if they bring a bit of their characters into their answers. There’s something refined in them. I love that! I am with you, too! Edith needs a happy ending!

  7. Julie V from Springfield, MO says:

    What are we going to do when Downton ends – I don’t even want to think about it! Thank God for DVDs
    I have been reading your blog for about a year and a half – what was I doing before I don’t know -anyway last week on Tuesday I decide to go through the archives and read I couple a day to catch up. Well needless to say I have accomplished nothing else for the past week but read the blogs, print off recipes, make recipes – coffee cake, brownies, chili, corn chowder, – get the picture. Sunday I didn’t even get out of my pajamas just read, drink tea, eat repeat. SOOOO I have a brilliant idea – hear me out – I know tons of the other girlfriends would love this too. You know how you took back copies of the Willards and had them bond and with the pretty ribbon for us to have it a lovely format – welllll what about doing that with your blog too??? I know brilliant!!!! You could do them by the year and then we could have them to read back over for years to come. Your blog is like getting a beautiful letter from a dear friend – remember how we would keep those letter all tied up with a pretty ribbon. Please think about it!!! I will see you in St. Charles on May 15th for the book signing and you can give me an update :). Oh and another thing – yes there is more – your dishes with Lenox – reconsider – I was screaming MINE, MINE, MINE with every picture.
    Have a fantastic week and stay warm. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, I already love you Julie! Well, yes, we should just talk about all of this!

      • Mar Bailey in Colorado says:

        JULIE, I love your idea! As I lay in bed with the crud, feeling so sorry for myself, I reread old blog posts. Slowly and surely, I felt much better! Such a positive tonic for what ails you.

  8. Claudia Cole says:

    OK, Susan, everything you blogged about Downton was right on the mark. I couldn’t agree with you more. But I just want to say that I love and adore Lady Mary’s clothes. Oh, to die for!! The color, fabric and texture is simply gorgeous.
    Also, since this season will be the last, the story line is hinting that, besides the obvious couples, some other of the staff, etc., seems to be falling into a distinct “LIKE”, possibly moving at a good pace towards “LOVE”. Remains to be seen–tune in next week…. I will, till then!

  9. Sylvia in Seattle says:

    So sorry you won’t be making it this far north on the book tour, BUT as long as I can check in here I’ll be happy — Love the Downton run-down, AND I hope Mr. Fellowes will Just let EDITH BE HAPPY!!!! Did you see him talking about the lady approaching him in a Barnes and Nobel to make this plea? Loved that. For heavens sake everyone tell the truth about little Marigold (or rather her parents) and yes Edith should move to London and become a great success and to heck with all that Lord and Lady stuff. It really is so much fun to watch this show – entertaining and informative at the same time. LOVE the warning bell and horn 🙂 Don’t want you jolted out of painting mode. Feels like I’ve been glued to various screens beginning with the Golden Globes, then Downton, woke up to the news of David Bowie’s death so watching all the clips and comments, now the blog — I’m turning into a media-filled cube. At least now my fingers are moving :-).

  10. Elaine in Toronto says:

    We all love a happy ending so let’s think only good thoughts. Downton is something we can watch over and over again. I have all of the previous seasons and can’t wait to get the last one on DVD. It is supposed to be available in Canada on January 26th, not so far away. Loved the wild turkeys. I don’t think they realize how big they are – just tiny little sparrows inside, lol.

  11. Laura in Sacto Ca. says:

    Oh golly, I am so happy that someone else BELIEVES Lady Mary and Tom should be together! Only 7 more episodes. I doubt if Lady Mary will find the one. It would be too rushed. I think it will end without an ending for Lady Mary and then late 2018 Downton Abbey, The MOVIE. I love your new bell and horn. You two are so funny. I wish we had cardinals in my neck of the woods.

  12. Lydia Alejandro says:

    Oh Susana!
    You are ready for television! Your comments about Downton Abbey are so detailed, imaginative and funny… I was laughing so hard, especially when you commented how you and Joe look like Mrs. Hughes and Carson already. I lost it! I laughed so hard. Yes, I believe that television is your next medium. You could easily interview stars on the Red Carpet! Then right after, you could join Melissa Rivers on discussing the fashion wear of the stars! Julian Fellowes need to hire you as a Consultant or maybe a future book written by you about Downton Abbey. You are delightful! I am so glad to know Susan Branch (well, not personally), but your blog is wonderful!

  13. Lynn Marie says:

    I LOVED the Downton recap! I read it while enjoying my soup supper—perfect while the temperatures outside are 10 degrees and it is snowing and blowing. Julie from Springfield sure has given you some things to think about…☺. I am hoping to catch up with you at The Learned Owl in Ohio—happy nesting and writing!

  14. Fabulous wrap-up Susan, I kept checking the blog to see when it would appear, I wanted so much to know YOUR THOUGHTS on the plot (plodding along). Dreamy 1925 lingerie for Mary, yes! Maybe Edith would be happier if SHE wore some 🙂 Am so tired of Edith’s “woe is me” attitude–she’s a smart independent woman who could start acting like one if she wanted to! Embrace it! That London home is empty & waiting for her to get a life with Marigold. Such fun to see how it all unfolds–and I love reading all the girlfriends comments too. Thanks for posting all those photos too, keeping us ‘right up to date’ on the action. Honk honk!

  15. Ann Woleben says:

    Susan, I so enjoyed your Downton Abbey comments – how sad that this is the final season. And your first snowfall – beautiful! You didn’t mention the Powerball Lottery (which I won’t win because I never purchase a ticket), but if I won, I would travel to England for the Beatrix Potter celebration, and I would set up a special author visit for you to come to Virginia. My birthday is in April and your new book will be my gift to myself. Sorry to be rambling from one topic to another, but hurrying to prepare supper! I envy your quiet time to write and a snow scene – one day…

    • sbranch says:

      There’s a quote that says, “I figure I have the same chance of winning the lottery whether I play or not.” That’s how I look at it too! But I love the dreaming!

  16. Kim says:

    Mr Mason and the Drewes just need to trade farms. I think that would get poor, sad Mrs D far enough away from Downton, don’t you?
    Thank you for pointing out the Boot Room curse. I never noticed that the Bad Stuff and Tears happen for Bates and Anna there! Also, I am noticing that Robert and Cora seem to be trying to get more familiar with their own kitchen- (the raid the fridge scene), so we can not be so worried about them when the Wage Bill is reduced.
    So nice to talk Downton with you!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes but they are throwing Mr. Mason off his farm! It’s musical chairs and Mr. Drews has no chair! Cora and Bob, with chicken legs. Loved it.

      • Kim says:

        But I think the new owners of Wherever Mr Mason Is Being Kicked Out will need a tenant farmer and if it weren’t for Daisy getting all in a tizzy at the auction, they might have kept him (Mr Mason) after all the dust settled? Or was I misunderstanding the way that whole thing worked? Or am I maybe trying to keep things all Happily Ever After?

        p.s. I like your Plan for Edith.

        • sbranch says:

          LOL. Well, I guess they need to tell some sort of story, and maybe to show how Daisy is getting to be a little rebel.

  17. Deb W says:

    Have you worked out your itinerary for England and (especially) Scotland yet? Any hints about where we will be going? At first I thought you would be exploring new parts of England, but knowing how you simply adored some places, I won’t be surprised if there are some repeats. 🙂 Will there be a companion book this time?

  18. After not watching the last 3 seasons of DA I decided to watch this last season mainly so I could be included in these discussions. So much has changed besides Mary’s underwear since I last watched! Just from last week’s Episode 1 I was picking up vibes between Tom and EDITH. That handsome guy in the first episode was flirting with Mary so I was thinking we might see him again. I think she needs a much stronger man than what I’ve seen of Tom–of course, I stopped watching right after Lady Sybil died so maybe he’s changed?

    I agree that Mrs. Patmore’s scene was award worthy! I loved Mrs. Hughes remark to her future husband when she said something along the lines of, “We all know you’ll get your way for the next 30 years, but the wedding belongs to the bride!” He had a somewhat startled look on his face as the truth of it sank in….so I was surprised that he pressed having the wedding at the Abbey. I don’t have a good feeling about this marriage.

    Can someone fill me in on why the Drewes had Marigold? Was it always meant to be temporary?

    And why doesn’t Carson seem to like Barrow?

    I’m making Beatrix Potter’s characters my drawing challenge this year. This weekend I found a Benjamin Bunny Spode cup at Goodwill for $3. Now I just need to “attract” the 4000£ I need to go on that tour next year!

    I hope you plan on coming back through Maryland or Washington, DC. Has Politics & Prose gotten back to you?

    Concerning your signed bookplates for Isle of Dreams….I was wondering if you’d consider just putting them inside the book rather than pasting them in? It would not only save time for your staff it would look better to have your personal note there instead of the label. If I don’t get to a signing, then I can paste it in myself wherever I want it.

    Thank you for the snow scenes. We are finally to have some snow showers at least tomorrow down this way. Those turkeys are too funny! I could see that birdbath toppling over in my imagination. What a sight!

    • sbranch says:

      Edith had Marigold out of wedlock because the father of Marigold disappeared. So she had her baby and gave it to the Drews to raise who lived nearby so she could keep her eye on the baby. I’m not sure MRS. Drew knew it was Edith’s, someone else will have to answer that. But over time, it was too unbearable, so she told, I think, Robert, and they got Marigold back. Yes, I’m sorry, Politics and Prose said no. It’s hard with some of these bookstores, and they know their customer base, so you just have to go with it. Usually, at a signing, when the bookplate is already in the book, I just do my personal note and sign it again. Maybe I should ask the girls not to put them in? I’m always afraid they will fall out. Barrow, by the way, has been a sinister evil doer troublemaker for a long time. He seems to be changing, but he would have a lot to make up for.

      • Thanks for bringing me up-to-date on everything. I’ll try to find a bookstore in Maryland that fits your fanbase. If you come home via the southern route you’ll pass through Maryland or nearby Virginia. Maybe everyone who lives in the Mid-Alantic area should give a shout-out here so I can tell the bookstore they already have a crowd waiting to attend. 🙂

      • What? Politics and Prose said NO! What are they thinking? Don’t they know they are saying no to The Susan Branch? Well, I do declare! I’m so sad to hear this, Susan! I was so looking forward to finally meeting you!
        I for one would be afraid the signed bookplate would get lost if it’s not pasted into the book. xoxo ♥

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

        Wasn’t Mrs. Drew told that Marigold was the child of one of her husband’s old friends?That way she wouldn’t be suspicious about a child who needed a home. Edith wore out her welcome in her effort to seem to be ” taking an interest ” in the child, and Mrs. D thought she might be interested in Mr. D instead. After Mrs. D. wouldn’t let Edith see the child and discouraged her from coming around, Edith decided to take Marigold back. Originally, Edith had placed the child with a couple in – Sweden? Switzerland? – some far off place, with her aunt’s help. Then, ignoring her aunt’s advice, she took the child back and took her to the Drews. After Edith took her back from the D’s, Robert began to notice that the child reminded him of someone. He finally figured out that it was Gregson, and after getting confirmation from Cora, let Edith know that he knew. He was more supportive than I expected he would be.

  19. Paulette says:

    Hello Susan,
    FYI, if you watch Downton season 6 episode 2 on iTunes they cut out the lingerie scene with Anna and Mary.

  20. Gail Golden says:

    I am so in love with Downton Abbey, and I love reading your commentary. The clothes this season are divine, and I am so happy for the happy couples.

    Just saw this and thought you and others might like seeing what the actors look like in real life. http://www.thelazygeniuscollective.com/blog/real-world-downton-abbey
    Lady Edith and Ms Hughes are amazing transformations – Wow! It makes me thankful for make-up and modern hair products.
    Blessings to y’all,

  21. Kate says:

    I loved the last two episodes. I just keep thinking we are one more episode closer to this wonderful series being over. I have heard that there will be some unhappy things and some very happy things and that the last show will leave us all very happy. I, too, believe Anna will be expecting by the last episode, the wedding will be in neither the schoolhouse or in Downton Abbey. That’s all I am saying about that. I never thought Mary was good enough for Tom so I don’t see them getting together. I also believe Edith’s missing lover and father of Marigold will miraculously reappear. That’s my thoughts and hopes. I guess we shall all see at the end.

  22. Kim L says:

    Mrs. Hughes has always been, shall we say, less a fan of Mary than Carson is. She’s said some mildly disparaging remarks all throughout the series. I think that as is so common among women, we see other women more clearly than perhaps the men do. Also afraid that I am not a fan of Tom’s marrying Mary. Poor Tom! He deserves to marry some one a lot like Sybil, who would treat the little one just like her own. (e.g. nicer than Mary. I do like her grit and determination, but she can be pretty darn mean and snippy too).

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, but his mild and sweet demeanor will be good for her, and if he LOVES her, he will understand where the snippy part comes from, after all, she is Maggie Smith’s granddaughter. (You can tell I’m not giving up.) Don’t forget what Edith did to garner all of this nastiness. It was the MOST horrible thing a sister could do.

      • Kim L says:

        True! (about Edith’s nastiness) Edith is probably my least favorite sister just because she makes the worst decisions and always pays for them. You’d think she’d learn…. And I’ll confess, I don’t want Tom to marry Mary, because….. he needs to marry ME! there, I confessed…. 😉 Still hoping Gregson will show up. After he saved Lord Grantham in the most gentlemanly way, after his honor and his sweet ways… Edith deserves to have someone ‘grow her up’ and love her for who she is. Mary does too. I hope she finds true love and a new husband. That would be exciting.

  23. carmel says:

    Tom is definitely returning to Downton. Can’t imagine that won’t happen in the storyline. I feel terrible about the Drews. After all they’ve done, they are thrown away. I know life isn’t fair, but this killed me. There seems to be no understanding of Mrs. Drew’s meltdown – where is the compassion. You are so astute, Sue. Their departure would solve the problem for Daisy. Since you asked …. At first I was totally supportive of Mrs. Hughes’ desire to have the wedding in the schoolhouse. Now, I think Carson should have a say. After all, he has been there for many years and in some sense is part of the family (strange as it may sound to many). They are both an important part of Downton. Can someone tell me what British blogs or story summaries I can read to find out what happens in the remaining episodes? I won’t give it away here and would love to find out. Thanks so much to all for the conversation. So intriguing and interesting.

    • sbranch says:

      I think you can even buy season 6 on a dvd now … maybe on Amazon. But you should wait Carmel!!!

      • carmel says:

        You’re right! I’ll wait. It’s more fun. So very sorry you’re not coming to Poetry and Prose in the Washington, DC area. I’ll keep watch to see if you come anywhere close. My hope is that you’ll get to meet all of us girlfriends at some point in your lifetime. It’ll take that long – there’s so many of us!

    • Jennie Lou says:

      Many PBS stations are offering Season 6 on DVD as part of their fundraising, so lots of folks have them and have watched thru to the finish. Alas, they all are on the Infernet (infernal+’net) so it’s hard NOT to see the spoilers.

      • sbranch says:

        I got mine from PBS, I now have the entire set. But I’m not opening it until maybe NEXT winter. 🙂

        • Jennie Lou says:

          Oh! Ye of stoic resolve! I would have to watch them in one sitting, like eating crisps! (and like eating crisps, never sharing!) :-))

  24. Alice in Wisconsin-land says:

    Maybe someone else mentioned this – the sweet Downton dog is named Isis … I know a gal whose granddaughter is named Isis, she’s going on four years old and when she was born, that was a perfectly fine name. I don’t know if they plan to perhaps use her middle name when she’s in school or what – it’s too bad we need to even be concerned about something like that. Alice in Wisconsin-land

  25. charissa says:

    Love your Downton recap and all the wild conjecture:) I will just die if something doesn`t go right for the Bates’. They need a happy ending. My heart won’t bear it if they don’t get one. Your house looks so beautiful in the snow. I loved seeing Joe taking down the lights although my heart twinged. I don’t want it to be over. I’m leaving all mine up until the end of the month. We are still listening to christmas music and b have all of our yummy christmas candles lit. It is just too cozy to stop. I had my Downton Pajamas and Pearls Party and it was so wonderful. Tom was an absolute prince in full tails as the butler and waited on us and stood silently until he could be of service. I took your idea of decorating with old books and I added old clocks, tartan, antlers, holly, antique silver, with dozens of candles in red votives. It really turned out better than I thought it would. Wish I could send pictures and I wish everyone could have come. My friends dressed up and oohed and awwed over everything. It was a perfect night, except you and all the girlfriends were missing:(. I am so glad it finally snowed for you. I loved seeing the birds and the gorgeous turkeys. So looking forward to seeing you in austin and wishing on a dream that I could go to the Cape Cod Beatrix Birthday. Hopefully you will blog about it or even post a video. MAYBE?? Your friend’s trip sounds wonderful. And what a boon to have all of her expertise. Maybe I will win the big lottery coming up and I can go;) Thanks for making it a cozy night. I read your blog out loud to my mom in front of the fire w christmas music in the background xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      Your party sounds fantastic! Really so wonderful! I’ll do my best for the Beatrix event, you know I will! Give your mom a hug for me. xoxo

  26. toni baumgard says:

    Of course I enjoyed watching Downton with you and all the girlfriends! My heart goes out to the “Bride”. I think she should be able to pick her wedding site that she would love and I think Lady Mary is being a bit selfish. O, gosh, I am probably in deep trouble for my feelings! Isn’t it fun? They really almost have become real people that we want to be happy and healthy. Enjoy sharing this! More next week! toni b

    • sbranch says:

      I don’t think Lady Mary knows yet what Mrs. Hughes wants . . . or does she? It’s wonderful to make fun of or laugh at or fall in love with non-real-people! 🙂

  27. Deborah in Odessa, Tx says:

    Spot on!!! Loved your wrap up of DA. You make me laugh….do you do that on purpose?… Those turkeys. That Bell!! That Horn!! I Want….so hubs is getting a pwesent. Love , love. I LAUGHED. …anywho..lovely rain, snow and birds, you got it all. I pre-ordered, first I think,lol. Not much left of winter, although it really just started,, but the Ber months flew by, so in a few days Feb. will be here then March..spring. That is okay .I am prepared to enjoy the winter season because it is what we have. Thank You for the fun post. Best to you and yours.

    • sbranch says:

      Same to you Deborah, not much winter here either, but we shall see!

    • Chris Wells From Knickerbocker, W. TX says:

      Deborah, in case you check back here, Susan will be getting to Austin. My invitation to you is still open if you need a stay-over point. I would not want you to miss meeting Susan because it is too far. 🙂

      • sbranch says:

        SO sweet of you Chris! Hope it works out!

      • Deborah in Odessa, Tx says:

        Thank you so much. I just read your post about your offer still standing and I had to find this one…I would love to see Susan…my daughter lives in Bastrop and I have a friend in Cameron. It all depends on the date and what We have already planned. I appreciate your offer so much. Maybe We will get to meet each other there. That would be the bestest ever. Deborah

  28. Brenda says:

    Susan, the only thing better than Downton Abbey are your ramblings about Downton Abbey. They are so entertaining. Thanks.

  29. Dot from Illinois says:

    Hello Susan,
    Thank you for a wonderful recap of Sunday’s episode. I was amazed at the georgeous outfits which seemed to change so often in this weeks delight to our eyes. Your story telling was such a plus and totally amused me. It will be so sad to all of this end but then we can look forward to your travels that we be coming soon. Wishing you and Joe good health and happiness in the new year.

  30. Debby says:

    Loved your recap. I am watching the previous episode and the new one each week to make it last longer. I love the opening scene too cause my pup looks just like that one. I did see a puppy in the previews which makes me happy!!! Mrs. Hughes should get the wedding she wants, I am sure mr. Carson will come to his senses. It would be great if Mrs. Patmore found a nice gentleman too. Wishful thinking. And Alfred needs to come back for Daisy!
    I am so sad you won’t be coming to the NW. I was so looking forward to speaking arf and arfie with you. Picture me stomping my foot. 🙁 Debby

  31. First off, that bell is a BRILLIANT idea!!!!!!!!!!!!! My husband is always terrifying me without meaning to. Somehow, I swear, he has the ability to float up and down stairs; I never know where he is in this three-level cottage unless he is upstairs strumming his guitar. Even that is getting questionable though – the other day my younger daughter, Eve, said, “Daddy plays guitar so much that I keep hearing a phantom guitar even when he is not playing,” and I told her the exact same thing is happening to me! Bells and horns should help, right?

    Second, I had very little sympathy for Mrs. Drewes. She knows that Marigold is Edith’s daughter and she was a foster mother, right? I understand that it is heart-wrenching to have to return a child to its parent, but stealing her and terrifying the family who obviously adores her is a bit wacky to me.

    Third, I vote for a wedding for wherever Mrs. Hughes wants to have it. Her point about not wanting to be a servant on her wedding day was perfect. I am surprised that Carson is pushing back so hard. He is putting Mary’s feelings in front of his future wife’s. >:( Not a good call.

    I just finished “A Fairy Tale Girl” this weekend and thank you for another lovely story. Susan, you are a four years younger than my mother, but your experiences with the way the times were changing around you and you were caught up in the current of them without really understanding what was happening and where it was taking you (and the effects that these changes were having upon men as well) was very illuminating for me. It also actually helps to explain some of the odd roles that I see my mother and her friends and their husbands or partners in. Some of those old attitudes linger (on both sides) and we children often have a hard time understanding why they put up with so much.

    Finally, my favorite quote of yours in the book is on page 131 when you are describing your “house love” and kiss the wall. I laughed because I would do the same thing!! I adore my little home which you can see here: http://www.instagram.com/p/5Dzm0ast8r/?taken-by=mrspivec
    and here:

    And maybe this is why I am on the side of Mrs. Hughes. I just love small.
    Have a wonderful week!

    • sbranch says:

      Pumpkins on porches and gardens tell so much about the people who live inside houses! Charming, Nicole. Sometimes I think Joe sneaks up on me! Usually I can hear him clattering around but when I’m in book mode, the world has no noises I guess! You make me happy when you talk about The Fairy Tale Girl . . . I don’t think you get the full gist of your own generation until you can look back — it’s not what I thought really. It was a surprise, as I was writing it, especially recognizing how the guys felt and how it manifested for us. It was interesting to see that growing up is a lifelong process. Thank you Nicole!

  32. Nancy Fenemore says:

    So wonderful that you are going to Scotland as well. I found the English folk really lovely and polite and kind……………..but the Scots are a little more outgoing and more open. Downton Abbey has been so good….. or perhaps we are just absorbing every word and country view because we know it is coming to an end. Mrs. Patmore was just precious when she was talking to Mr. Carson and I too am not sure where I want the wedding. The Abbey, of course would be wonderful, but the Schoolhouse would probably be cozy and sweet. 6 more sleeps until we see them again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  33. jane says:

    Oh, Susan, I cannot get OVER the fact that you aren’t coming to the northwest. I’m so very, very sad. I’ve waited for years to meet you; I’ve come to Martha’s Vineyard and wrote a note ahead of time and you shared your private phone number. I called you but your publisher or someone was coming to your house and we couldn’t meet. I’ve been on the Cape a couple of times when you were in a stationery store in Sandwich or Falmouth and I was on my way to Christmas Stroll on Nantucket and MISSED YOU AGAIN. I have every one of your books, beginning with your Heart of the HOme which I was given for my fortieth birthday — and I’m now 66. I thought FOR SURE this would be the year. Oh, my. . . I would rather meet you than the Beatles or Julia Child or the Queen. I feel like we didn’t beg hard enough in our little corner of the world. I’m sure you gave it your best shot but, still, I’m crushed! I’m done whining now and sorry I’m such a bummer, but I just had to say it; I thought for sure it was finally going to happen — my dream come true. Boo Hoo!

    • sbranch says:

      You would not believe what we did to try, but Powell’s and Elliott Bay both required much more encouragement than we were able to give them. We had this whole train ride all planned, but we finally just had to give up. I’m so sorry, I LOVE that part of the country, but Joe has never been and I was hoping we could take a boat ride one day out to the islands too. So, but onward and upward. Next time! But LOL, I just got to the part where you mentioned the Beatles and Julia!!! Oh my! Get on the train and come to San Luis Obispo, something interesting will be happening there. It’s only a 24 hour train ride that lands right downtown SLO and you can get a bedroom and sleep on board. I’m so sorry Jane!

      • Lisa Hay says:

        Jane – I am so sorry to see you will miss meeting SB after trying so many times. After reading your post I almost cried myself. 🙁 Maybe you can come to one of the other signings. Make it a trip like Sue suggested to SLO or come visit Austin, TX! It’s awesome here! 🙂
        Hugs to you from Lisa!

  34. I love your observations on Downton equally as much as I love watching each new episode of Downton. I tell all of my friends who love Downton, but don’t know you that they HAVE to find your blog. Your predictions are so funny and and so spot on. I was disappointed that Anna (Joanne Frogatt) didn’t win the Golden Globe but wouldn’t it be great if Mrs. Patmore did next year? Speaking of next year – the Beatrix Potter tour in England looks wonderful – I would love to go and have already devoured the itinerary! Thank you for sharing the information.

    • sbranch says:

      I hope some of the girlfriends join that tour, I would love hearing how it is from everyone, I’m sure it’s going to be wonderful! Thank you for all your sweet comments Michelle! Yes, maybe Mrs. Patmore will win next year. I would love that.

  35. Nicoline says:

    Dear Susan,
    Oh your comments and thoughts about DA are just lovely! Its just like talking it over with a girlfriend on the phone…I know the answers to all the questions, having watched the series 2x already, but I will keep all to myself! But I think you need a new mirror, you and Joe don’t look like Carson and Mrs Hughes, haha
    I’m so happy that your booktour dates are getting planned, and I’m really happy to know you will go to Texas, so my special friend Rachel, will get to meet you.
    I’m wondering, if you have made anymore plans about your trip to the UK? Do you know when you’re coming? Will it be september?
    Have a lovely day

    • sbranch says:

      Either August or September is our plan, depending on when we get back from CA. Haven’t reserved anything yet. But the picnic will be in September for sure

      • Nicoline says:

        Thats great! We are so looking forward to meeting you and Joe! Can hardly wait till september, but I don’t want it to come too soon, because we are visiting the Lake District and York in the spring, yeah!!
        The spring vacation will be the 1st time our oldest son isn’t coming along, so thats goung to be very strange….
        Best wishes

        • sbranch says:

          Oh boy, the Lake District and York in the spring, how perfect, with all the ducks and lambs running around, it will be wonderful! Me too, can’t wait to meet you in Stourhead. It’s going to be surreal, to come to England and meet friends!

  36. sondra fox says:

    I’ve been in “Downton” heaven Sun. nights now. I wish I could write this season for the series. I’d have Edith smile more, perhaps giving her a husband. She’s way too nervous. That little child of hers needs to have a daddy. Mary also needs to settle down with a good man. How I loved it when she kissed Tom in the snow, long ago. So romantic. I wouldn’t have killed Tom off. That was a mistake. Tom & Mary should have been able to have children & have a happy life together. Letting the dog die was another mistake by the writers. Why couldn’t he have lived? And the Dowager, my what a marvelous character. Her little jabs were so very humorous. I wouldn’t change a thing with her, oh, I forgot……she almost hooked up with that Russian prince. That would have been fun to watch, but the writers dropped that entirely. Where’s their sense of romance?
    Those turkeys in your yard are fantastic. What magnificent birds. And the Cardinals. There are a lot of them on the island? Do you see many of them in the summer?
    The bells you got for Christmas are such fun. Girl & Jack will run off & hide under a bed if you blow the air horn. Those things are LOUD.
    Happy New Year everyone! (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

    • sbranch says:

      Tom didn’t die, that was Matthew, but I knew who you meant. Matthew and Mary DID have a baby, a boy, who is now heir to Downton. It’s all so very delicious! Yes, there are lots and lots of cardinals and we see them year round, but something happened when it snowed and suddenly our feeders had maybe ten of them around at once. I never saw one before I came here, and they are wonderful.

      • sondra fox says:

        Well, I certainly got the names of the DA men mixed up. Of course, you’re absolutely correct. I MUST read what I’ve written “before” sending it off into cyber space. Sometimes I write to you right after getting up in the morning, when sleep is still in my eyes & on my mind. Thanks Susan. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

  37. Mary in Phoenix says:

    Ding Ding! LOVE ♥ the red dinger … and the bicycle horn! PERFECT gifts from a LOVING beau. And LOVE ♥ the DA recap … a regular Scarlet O’Hara? Fiddle-de-dee … just like me 🙂 And LOVE ♥ the red cardinals … I recently heard they can be a sign from heaven … like coins & butterflies … from loved ones to let us know they are still with us. I never saw cardinals in AZ (except the football kind 🙂 ) until right after my dad died … and now I see them ALL the time from my kitchen window ♥♥♥ So … who is appearing in your yard??? And finally, LOVE ♥ to see more book signings added … through Labor Day weekend in Danville! … which means you’ll be on your way back through the Southwest in Blogdaddy country soon thereafter 🙂 “All you need is LOVE ♥ Da Da Da Da Da” 🙂 Love you ♥ xoxo

  38. Well I see the NE is catching up to the Mid-West. Aren’t the cardinals brilliant in the snow!!!
    Things ARE looking up at Downton and I like you backseat script writing. What if Mary ran off to Boston??? All the while someone has been living in Mary and Tom’s old house, and now it is being sold to the National Historic Society. 🙂
    I have the same problem when a man comes up behind me and I don’t hear him. Arnie just can’t understand it, even though he knows why. So a horn not a bell?? It would be too much like calling for the butler! LOL
    Warm hugs,

    • sbranch says:

      We laugh every time one of us blows it. Much better than calling out! Laughing wins every time!

      • I agree, that laughing wins every time. I do like that desk bell idea, but while I was reading I was wondering where you were going to put it. LOL

        I was going to say earlier that I love the color AND title of the second book. After all, you dreamed of going to MV and then all your fairy tale dreams came true. I firmly believe that dreams do come true, they aren’t fairy tales, because you have to first believe it, then hope for it and finally work on it to make it a REAL Dream Come True…I guess I’ve read too much Goethe! (His name is pronounced Gay-Tay.)

  39. AngieTink says:

    ☃☆☃☆♬♪♫♡❆Good~Morning Sweet Sue… 45 Degrees Here ☃❆ so I’m Doing The Winter~Jiggity~Jig! ♬♪♫ Sipping on a Warm Cuppa~Peppermint~Tea My Fuzzy~Slippers On & I am Fireside….Reading Your Wonderful~Blog….The Perfect Way to Start My Day… 🙂 OMG I Love Those Stocking~Stuffers From Joe! Very~Smart~Boy! 🙂 The Bell & The Horn… Genius~Gifts! 🙂 Okay Now Let’s Talk Downton~Abbey….. I’m With You Kid… Mary & Tom & The Kute~Kiddos Cousins Yes…But They’ll Be Raised Like Brother & Sister With Perhaps another Baby~Sibling Later On….The Perfect “Royal” Family to Run Downton~Abbey…Forever!!! 🙂 It COULD Happen….& I Miss Rose Too… Come HOME Rose (Cinderella!!!) 😉 & Anna & Bates Yikes! There’s Always Something With Those Two lol…..When Marigold Went Missing…for a Second…I Actually Thought…Noooooooooooooooo……Anna…Snap Out of It! 🙂 Whew! 🙂 & Mrs Hughes a Bit Snippy Bout Where to Have Their Wedding….Mr Carson & Mary are so Close and Mary Being The 1st Born Like You & Me… We Just Want to HELP….Cause We Simply Know What’s Best for Everybody 😉 Right? Of Course Right…. 🙂 Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Oh What About Violet & Isobel….All The Hospital~Drama….Yikes! & You are so Right about “Poor” Edith….Just Be Happy… Run The Paper…Raise Lovely Marigold Go To Parties….Stop Whining…..EDITH!!!!!!!!!!! lol Anyway…Your Recap is Spot~On Sweet Sue…Well~Done~You 🙂 I’m Still Giggling 🙂 I LOVE DOWNTON~ABBEY!!! I’ll Be Quiet Now…Stay Warm & Cozy As You Continue to Create Another “Masterpiece”….My Mommy is Buying Me Your New Book…& Tis My Birthday~Gift Which I Shall Treasure Always….& I Love Your Autograph~Plate…In The Books… Makes it Even More~Special Signed By YOU!!! 🙂 Yay! Kitty~Kisses to Jack & Girl~Kitty… Does Jack Love The Bell & The Horn???? 🙂 Ding~Ding Honk~Honk…..Joe! lol 🙂 Time to Pour Another~Cuppa…..See You In Twiterville Sweet Sue xoxo Poof! ☃☆☃☆♬♪♫♡❆ P.S. I Just Want to Say Thank~You for Brightening My Day! Our Day! Yay! 🙂 ☃☆☃☆♬♪♫♡❆ Carry~On…..

  40. After reading the comments I am sad for the girls up there and Joe, because I too have not seen the Pacific Northwest. My parents met, married and started me there and my beloved God-mother is in Bellingham. We even thought of moving to the NW instead of Wisconsin, but WI is where my husband and I grew up. If the NAVY wouldn’t have been running my dad all over I would have been born in Long Beach like you Susan, but my mom chose to go home to Milwaukee to have me. Then later we left CA, even though two of my dad’s sisters were there.
    I am NOT surprised at the trouble with the shops, the folks in Williamsburg weren’t very helpful either when I tried to find a spot for you there. There lost I say!!!
    Tell Joe I said we will get there and get that boat ride someday…Lummi Island (spelling) here I come!

  41. Bev Brewer says:

    Happy belated New Year to Susan and Joe from the English Rose Tea Room!
    Re D.A.—even though we all despised that horrid Ms. Bunting, here’s a wild thought. What if she and Tom met up in the U.S. and came back to D.A. as a couple? That would spark some genuine outrage! Mary would be ever so jealous and become rivals with Ms. Bunting for Tom’s affection. Wouldn’t those two gals have some acid-tongued dialogue to liven things up!

  42. Trudy says:

    Love your horn and bell to have contact with each other.
    You will be surprised how Downton Abbey will end. There will be a lot of situations you don’t expect.
    Those turkeys drinking in your garden looks so odd.
    We had in the North of the Netherlands some snow and the streets covered with ice so they went ice skating in the streets.
    Good luck with your new book.
    Greetings Trudy from the Netherlands

    • sbranch says:

      How fun Trudy! It must have been beautiful!

      • Trudy says:

        It was fun to see the people ice skating in the street but I had to stay at home for almost 4 days for I couldn’t go out by car because of the ice in the street.

    • Lynda Kling says:

      Was in the Netherlands last year, only for 5 days. It was WONDERFUL and must go back! Need to know what I should see BESIDES the cities…..

      • Trudy says:

        Well it depends in which part of my country you are.
        There are in the towns and cities Tourist Information points and they can help you.
        Have a pleasant time in The Netherlands!

  43. winnie Nielsen says:

    Susan, like minds are on the same Downton Abby Track here! Last night at my knitting group, we were all putting out our scenarios of possibilities. Nobody had considered the Mary and Tom link like we have agreed on here! YES!! I have been thinking about that one for a long time. Strangely enough, Edith and Tom had become close friends as well when he helped her with the Marigold story before his exit. The thought crossed my mind that perhaps that friendship might have another layer? Honestly, I am giving up on wanting Bates and Anna to be happy. It seems that life is always going to have some sort of looking cloud over their heads! Julian Fellows just won’t give us a break on this two!!
    So, I am worried about Carson and Ms. Hughes again. This struggle about the wedding venue had some “teeth” to it towards the end of the show with her remarks about his attachment to Mary and her wishes. Heaven forbid that there is a falling out between the two, especially after all the heroic intervening of Ms. Patmore with Carson!! If the wedding gets called off, I will be totally BUMMED OUT!

    It is going to be a great Spring with the new book to enjoy. I know you are making it full of the love and beauty that we have all cherished over the years in all of your books!

    Thanks for all of the Downton Abby musings. We must keep this conversation up here because it is linking all of us GirlFriends together across this globe! I love reading everyone else’s thoughts too. Thank-you Susan and best of days writing and painting! It is going to be worth it!!

    • sbranch says:

      That is the one thing I do know . . . this book is crammed with all the love and beauty I can muster. I love it, I really do. No matter what happens, this one is probably going to be my favorite forever. Thank you Winnie! XOXO

  44. Melissa (from eastern PA: formerly of the Midwest) says:

    Ha Ha!!! Love the bells and the horn!!!!! My husband is so quiet also when coming into a room that I always jump, I just had to laugh at your practical stocking stuffers! Cheers for Joe!

  45. Ann Waddell says:

    Hello Susan! I love Downton Abbey, and adore all the buzz about the final season, etc…. I am writing a little article on all of the Downton BUZZ for our community newsletter, heavily sprinkled with quotes from the Dowager Countess (my FAVORITE)! But, I am writing because your legend with photos of the upstairs and downstairs characters reminded me of something sooo adorable. My dear friends Jack and Bob gave me a book for Christmas called Downton Tabby! It stars all cats! Instead of the Crawley family, it’s the Clowders! It’s hysterical and very cute. I belive Girl and Jack would love it. My darling Francesca (all black and quite elegant-definitely an upstairs cat) does, and so does my sweet, playful Pierre (definitely a downstairs dog). And there are legends with photos of the upstairs and downstairs cast! I hope you check it out, by golly!
    Warmly, Ann

  46. Linda Metcalf says:

    I’m still waiting for Edith to take Mary down from her perch. Wish she’d get a backbone. We have been to Windemere and Grasmere(Gingerbread) and Kendal(Kendal Mint Cake) but sadly the homes of Beatrix Potter were not on our tours. We did find a Beatrix Potter gift shop near Grasmere where I was able to purchase the complete set of her books for the grandkids. I so hope to go back to the UK and Ireland. And I loved the Scots they are so welcoming . Went to a fantastic Highland banquet with Haggis and lots of dancing! The history of the UK is so exciting and I have never had a bad experience.

  47. Marie (Long Beach, California) says:

    My wonderful husband and I are SO happy Downton Abbey is back! We’ve really enjoyed the first two episodes! Loved your recap and I hope lots of your wild conjecture comes true! Happy 2016, it’s off to a wonderful start! ♥

  48. jane townsend says:

    Lovely to hear about Downton again. We’re missing it here in England. I won’t say a word about it other than that you will really enjoy it, especially the very last programme which came after the final series ended.This was our Christmas day episode. – what a treat!
    In the summer my family had the unexpected pleasure of sharing a table in a local pub with “Bates” (Brendan Coyle). He was such good fun and very entertaining. We didn’t let on that we knew who he was as he was just out for a quiet meal and pint with his wife. However, afterwards, I kicked myself for British restraint and wished I had asked him lots of questions!!

    • sbranch says:

      He LOOKS like fun. I like the way he walks! He seems to almost skip… like when he and Mrs. Hughes were walking along outside the house…under that massive tree, he just looks like fun.

  49. Heather L. says:

    oh yes! oh yes!!! Downton is so fun and all your comments and predictions are just what we want too! We finally have snow in Indiana and it feels like a real January -time to hunker down at home and enjoy tea and fires and good books!

  50. Jane Franks says:

    Hi Susan! Been wondering how things were and your take on Downton! I don’t have time for a lot of comment (well, actually, taking time for more than I thought! Hard to stop when you get going on Downton!) We have enough drama of our own going on here! We’re okay — on top of it! But must keep moving to catch up with it! But here are my comments! I don’t think marrying the chauffeur is in Mary’s future! Carson would never approve of that! And Mary seems to rely pretty heavily on Carson’s advice (and, interestingly, no one else’s!) She and Branson do get on well, as friends, but as a spouse she would soon be lording it over him, and he wouldn’t take to that very well. They’ll get along much better at a distance! Besides, we don’t yet know about that “tall, dark, stranger!” I think Mary will do better remaining a widow. Perhaps she will be come a career person, running pig farms, after the “Fall of the House of Downton”! It is fun to speculate, isn’t it!! As for Edith, she is a total airhead!! I feel sorry for the Drews, but according to Julian, I think you are right! They had to go so that Mr. Mason has a new farm to run, and of course, what a great deal for Daisy. Perhaps after the afore predicted FOTHOD, Mr. Mason and Daisy will own the farm and produce award winning “jams, jellies and all sorts” and Daisy will marry a charming farm hand and live happily every after in the English Countryside! I absolutely adore the battle being waged between Violet and Isobel. AND. . .what about the hilarious nitpicking of Sprat and Denker (or is it Denka); and I love Violets MO — “sometimes it is necessary to rule by fear”!!! (Isobel’s mouth drops open!!) WHAT A HOOT!!! Finally, THE scene to top them all, the discussion between Mrs. Patmore and Mr. Carson about Mrs. Hughes’ “wifely duties”!! I was laughing so hard the tears were coming!! Absolutely will never get tired of rerunning that one!! I think Mrs. Hughes should be a bit more flexible and allow Carson to have his wish of getting married in the Abbey. After all, it has been his life, practically his whole life, and years from now, after the “great house” is no more, that will be an event to remember ; whereas little old schoolhouses are a dime a dozen! Well, just some of my thoughts! I’m enjoying IMMENSELY the diversion from my own Julian Fellowes drama! and have re-watched the episodes twice on PBS.org. You do know that complete episodes of previously viewed on TV are there! Well, thanks for stirring the pot! And, as Mary would say, “such good luck” as you continue your art work for Isle of Dreams! Thanks for the glimpses of snow in MV, too. As of yet, none sticking here! Jane xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      Thank YOU for stirring the pot some more dear Jane!

      • Jane Franks says:

        Hope not too much! All speculations on the table. It will be fun to see whatever turns up, won’t it! I’m re-watching episode 2 as I work at the moment! 🙂

  51. freda says:

    Goodness everyone is chatty today. We all love Downton Abbey and Susan Branch. Just wanted to say I received your 2016 calander for Christmas and read it right away. I love the green borders in May and June beautiful beautiful. If I were making a quilt I would have to have the pattern in Junes border. Wishing you and all the girlfriends a very happy new year

  52. Betsy in Pennsylvania says:

    How about that gorgeous skirt Mary had on with the kick pleats, the knitted open work long sweater and the rope of pearls!!!! I just wanted to jump throughout the screen!

  53. Janice says:

    This is such fun, discussing Downton Abbey, kind of like a book club. 🙂 There are so many good story lines and great scenes. And I enjoy listening to some of the interviews and commentary from Julian and the actors and directors; how authentic they try to portray every detail with this show. As for supposing what is to come next, I am one who does not wish to see Mary and Tom become a couple. As much as I like Mary’s character, she has always been so mean to Edith; this maybe why Mrs. Hughes says those comments about her. If there were to be a romantic interest, I’d vote for Tom and Edith. Though, having said that, I really see him being just a wonderful, loyal brother to both of them. I like that Aunt Rosamond is supportive and encouraging to Edith. I love Mrs. Patmore, she cracks me up.

    • Janice says:

      Also, I was glad to see that Mr. Drew was kinder to his wife this last episode, called her ‘my love’. She really got the raw end of the deal previously, with him not including her from the beginning with the truth about Marigold.

      • sbranch says:

        Yes, and I do remember now that she was worried there was something going on between him and Edith, that would feel terrible.

        • Jane Franks says:

          You know, I hadn’t thought of that! Poor Mrs. Drew must be going through agony not knowing for sure who is who. I do think Edith is just one of those poor unfortunate people who never learns to think ahead! But I agree with others that it is very kind of Aunt Rosamond to take her under her wing. Maybe some gallant chap is going to come along and save her and Marigold in the end.

    • sbranch says:

      I love the two opinions of Tom and Mary! Some of us do, some of us don’t, and none of us is in charge like we all should be! Aunt Rosamond is a pearl, such a good down to earth wise woman for Edith.

  54. Sherry says:


    Not sure if you have seen this – love this Beatrix Potter jewelry.

  55. Pat Mofjeld says:

    Your comments about DA are a hoot!!! Yes, Sunday nights will be sad without the show. I still think it could have gone on for several more seasons…We have wild turkeys here, too. When the light is right, their feathers are beautiful–when it is not, they look kind of like buzzards! Sometimes they have their feathers all fluffed out, strutting about to impress a female turkey, and they look so much larger than our schnauzers that I am afraid to let the dogs out! There have been articles in the newspapers warning people about feeding them as they can get kind of aggressive…We finally got snow here but this week are experiencing typical January subzero temperatures. Guess we got spoiled with the nice weather earlier…

  56. Mary S. says:

    Oh Susan! I love and adore all your comments about Downton Abbey! I laughed all the way through them! And that quote by Gilda Radner about fashion is the funniest thing ever! What a great idea is your bell and horn! So cute! I was so happy that you finally got your snow! I have the Weather Channel on my phone and have Martha’s Vineyard on it so I can see what kind of weather you’re having, and I was so excited to see that you finally got snow! Love from Mary S. In Fresno, California. Xoxoxo

    • sbranch says:

      I can hear the wind whistling outside this morning, it’s still dark, so we’ll see what the day brings today. xoxo

  57. Jeanette St. George says:

    Here in California we don’t have Cardinal birds. It was such a delight to see them when my husband and I had a visit to the east coast. I enjoy your pictures of them when visiting your feeders.
    Your horn and bell will be most useful, I think Joe was right on when stuffing them into your Christmas stocking.
    I look forward to seeing you once again for your book signing. This time it will be in Danville rather than San Luis Obispo which will be closer to our home in Sebastopol.

  58. Anna says:

    Mary’s new underwear!!! I love it!

  59. Linda in Pennsylvania says:

    I loved your Downton recap – you nailed it! Still lol-ing at favorite line, “[Mary] talking like a grown up to pig man.” Have a great day!

  60. deborah t. norling says:

    I also enjoy the opening to Downton..and the adorable yellow dog..but..if they’d known about your sweet next door doggie girl..IRIS…they’d have used her instead…I ll always have a soft spot for her..( rest in peace Iris )… Loved the Turkeys at the bird bath…HILARIOUS…..( and of course all the Downton conjecture !. )

  61. deborah t. norling says:

    (oh….and laughed out loud at the service bell and bike horn! )

  62. Kimberly says:

    Your visit to Austin, TX can’t arrive soon enough for me. Thank you in advance for making your adventure take you deep into the heart of Texas!

    • sbranch says:

      My pleasure, I hope they let us come! Book People is another very famous wonderful bookstore that I’ve always wanted to visit. Hope I see you there Kimberly!

  63. Toni from Sylvania, OH says:

    Hi Susan…was just looking at the Christmas issue of Yankee magazine and wondered if you saw the article about Beatrice Thrum Hunter. She is approaching 100 years old and still doing strong. She wrote the first Natural Foods Cookbook in America and knew Rachel Carson and Adele Davis. Sounds like our kinda girl!!
    Your wild turkeys are GYRUNDUS…WOOW!!!!! Thanks for the wonderful post and all the pictures:-))) Toni from SNOWWY Ohio

  64. Rebecca Walsh says:

    First thank you for the DA update and so very excited to see that you will be stopping in Denver on your book tour and I think you will like the Tattered Cover (assuming the Colfax location). It is a converted theater so lots of interesting levels anid is a beloved Denver institution.

    One recommendation for your Scotland portion of your trip. South of Glasgow on the Clyde river is a castle where I worked ‘in-family’ (think maid) many, many years ago. Finlaystone Castle (www.finlaystone.co.uk/ ). Hope you can include a visit in your trip. When I lived there we used to watch the nuclear submarines going up and down the river to the American base. It is not very far from Loch Lomond, either.
    Looking forward to seeing you in May.

  65. Jennie Lou says:

    Our loss that you won’t be coming to the PNW this trip! Drat and double drat! On Downton Abbey: I fear Mrs. Drew may become entirely unhinged and do something awful (possibly in the Boot Room?!?). Tom will come home for a visit with a suffragette bride in tow who will show Edith she doesn’t need to keep leaning on Gregson’s memory and get on with her life. Mrs. Hughes, who is a proud woman without a penny to her name deserves to be Queen for a Day at her own wedding (didn’t we all?) and Mary will come to support her when her Grannie drops some acidic reminder that as Mary loves Carson she ought to want him to be happy and that doesn’t happen if she keeps Carson on a leash.
    And last: you have a true gem in your Joe! The bell is perfect! I’m sure I’m not the only girlfriend who will suggest this to their soft-soled spouses who scare the living daylights out of us by suddenly appearing out of nowhere. We laughed so hard at the horn, sort of a raspberry way of saying “okay, now let me get back to what I was doing!”.
    Happy painting! Happy writing! and Safe journeying, even if it’s not to us.

  66. Denise :) says:

    I *love* your ideas/speculation for DA! I’d especially enjoy seeing Tom and Mary find a future together. Both lost their loves so very early in their marriages — they deserve a little lasting romance!! Your turkeys are fabulous! What a wonder, seeing them up on the birdbath!! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, that’s another reason, they have that heartbreak in common, also they both lost Sybil, her sister and his wife. And there he is with her daughter. If love does come for them, there is more reason than one to celebrate.

  67. Lida says:

    I have been waiting for your Downton Abbey Season 6 review. Yea! So happy to see it!
    I hope you do one for each episode. I’ll be back for more!

    • sbranch says:

      I would love to, but there’s this book I’m writing that is due to go to the printers soon . . . would be nice if I get it there on time!!! 🙂 But, but, I wish I had more hours in the day for all the fun things I wish I could be doing all at the same time!

  68. Ridgely says:

    Whatever will we do when Downton is done with…I can’t bear the thought! I understand, totally, Elsie’s hesitation to marry in the great hall. She’s spent the better part of her life serving there. How strange and disconcerting it would be to suddenly change stations in life just for your wedding. Because as soon as the wedding is over….she’ll be serving again! Kudos to her for finding her own place where she can be her true, real self…not the one she has to be when serving!

  69. Patty Lucas says:

    I went to Barnes & Noble yesterday and bought your “The Fairy Tale Girl” book. Usually I devour a book and finish it within a day or two but I can’t do that with your book. I am savoring each and every word, picture, quote, etc. etc. etc. I do not want it to end!!!! I know I can go to the next one but I want to just take in everything your have written and everything that you have painted. Thank you and please keep doing this.

  70. 30 years of angst solved with one adorable red bell! I love it! Thanks for review and the preview of what “should” happen this season on Downton, Susan. I liked your version a lot! 🙂

  71. Kathy says:

    OMGOMGOMG!!!!!!!! You are coming to Hudson, Ohio! Oh joy, I will be there! I am SO excited you are coming to that dear little shop, the Learned Owl! This has made my day so happy!

    • sbranch says:

      It is a dear little shop and we’re thrilled to be going back there . . . we had such fun last time meeting everyone!

  72. Robin Gardner says:

    Very cute post! I’m so sad that the Northwest hasn’t worked out! I’m in Seattle. If you go to Santa Barbara maybe I could time the visit to meet you and see family. I’m waiting anxiously to hear the date for SB. Enjoy the winter on MV! The cardinals are so gorgeous!!

    • sbranch says:

      We’re working on Chaucer’s in Santa Barbara right now! A lovely train ride from Seattle to Santa Barbara!

  73. Jan Lane says:

    I could not bring myself to not read the DA “spoiler”. For 5 seasons, I never got on the bandwagon to Downton. But a long bout of snowy weather here on the mountain, and a nasty chest cold, got me going! We subscribed to Amazon Prime recently, so my daughter mentioned that she was starting to pick up on the series of Downton Abbey. She encouraged me to get on with watching it, so I did.

    I have to confess now, to spending several marathon days and nights, catching up on the series which seems to have taken the world by storm. I have found it to be quite entertaining, and actually, addicting. I just finished the last episode of season 4, happy to see Carson and Hughes holding hands as they wade into the sea. I of course immediately thought, “Yes! They will find happiness together in their later years!”

    I wonder which of Mary’s large group of suitors will win her hand. I don’t see Tom as a suitable mate. I think maybe the young man she enjoyed a rainy night in the pig pen might be a match, considering he holds considerable wealth.

    I prefer to see Tom with Edith. Tom has never felt at home at Downton, and still views himself as an outsider. I thought I saw a few passing glimpses of possible connection between them. Edith has always viewed herself as an outsider as well, and I think it would be nice for Edith to have happiness as well. Tom has also had such loss, since Sybil died in childbirth. He deserves happiness, and the child would make a good sister to Marigold…..I had suspected that Marigold was Edith’s daughter. I haven’t yet started season 5…… The competition will likely never truly end between Edith and Mary, but perhaps when each of them can find love and happiness of their own, there will be less rivalry.

    I hate to see this series end………maybe a follow up series with the same cast of characters remains unwritten. I can see possibilities to carry it on. The family will struggle to keep Downton Abbey, but times have changed and nothing remains the same. From the lovely countryside in the UK, to the ever bustling London, to the rugged landscape of Scotland, to the south of France in Cannes and St. Tropez, and over the pond to Newport, the Hamptons, the oil fields of Texas, into the the political strongholds of aristocrats and powerhouses we have endless scenarios for more of the same!

    • sbranch says:

      Good girl for not reading my blog! The whole thing is worth savoring. Loved when Carson and Hughes held hands in the water! I think Mary is a worker bee and will be happier, not as “lady of the manor” — but more like a manager, who does things, like with the pigs. She needs a partner to do that. Listen to me, she isn’t REAL. I have to remind myself. I just want them all to be happy. I think you could write your own series!

  74. Robin says:

    Thanks for your spot-on Downton Recap. I agree with all your hopes & wishes for each person! And speaking of celebrating Beatrix Potter’s birthday on Cape Cod—a birthday she and I share and where I’ll be—it’s already highlighted with stars and ! on my [your] calendar. Be well, enjoy your creativity/snow/cardinals, and I can’t wait to see you July 28th!

  75. Cindy Tuning says:

    So glad you are doing another book signing at The Lerned Owl in Hudson,Ohio. That’s only 2 hrs away and I swear this time I’m not bringing Ted..not to stand in line anyway. Last time..I was first to arrive, first in line..so excited like a teenager backstage at a rock concert..and he blurts ahead of me asking silly guy things like “what route did you come in on?? Where did you stop in NY??..Where did you stop last night?? Really?!?! There was a really nice restaurant close by with the best meringue cookies that I’ve been trying to copy. I’ll bring you one if it’s still there. I think this season of Downton will be pretty low key with not much new drama so that loose ends can be tied up. Every season the costumes are gorgeous but this era is my favorite. Last year and this year..would love to get away with dressing a little bit like that. Love the hotel desk tap bell that Joe got you. I have one on the front porch that has to be used as a doorbell since mine is broke and ‘somebody’ hasn’t fixed it yet. I seem to be a little down on Hubby so I better close. Cabin fever must be setting in already.Travel bans and wicked storms the last few days and more to come all week. Really….he’s a peach!!

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, he was just being normal man, talking about the traveling! The route! I don’t know! I just go where Joe drives us! You’re so funny Cindy. “Somebody” — I have a few jobs for somebody too, so I understand! See you soon!

  76. Cynthia Avalos says:

    I love reading your Downton posts. I too thought the Drewes had to go because of Daisy’s father-in-law. Such a perfect solution. Then Daisy will never actually leave the village when she leaves her service.

    I had thought of Tom and Edith being a couple. They were always nice to each other too, but I think Tom is the one that makes that all possible. How can you not like Tom? I hope he is back in future episodes.

  77. Sarah says:

    Who knew Mrs. Hughes had a bridezilla side to her? 🙂 When she told Carson they would be doing things his way for the next 30 years, my daughter said, “Wait. How old ARE they?” 🙂 I’m not normally a hat person, but the hats this season are particularly beautiful. That hat that Cora wore to the pig farm was breathtaking. 🙂 Mary sure is even fuller of herself than usual this season. I love when Robert took the car to take Edith to get Marigold, all Mary had to say about the whole thing was, “Well, now how will WE get home?” 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Your daughter, LOL, noting that perhaps 30 years is a bit much! Although I bet Mrs. Hughes is only in her early 60’s. But still. Well, Mrs. Hughes had a point to make so exaggerating was necessary! 🙂

  78. Rae Ann R. says:

    Of all the Downton Abbey blogs I read YOUR updates are the very Best-yes, Best with a capital “B”…I, like other FOSB, tired of Anna’s whining in episode two, can’t wait for more wedding details-will there be more than one wedding? I love Dixon Ticonderoga pencils! And we may have to visit our daughter in Oxford OH my birthday weekend in May to see you at The Learned Owl and Joseph Beth since your tour won’t be visiting Michigan…glad to see you finally got snow…we had to wait til after Christmas for snow here in northern Michigan, but have been getting white out lake effect bands of snow for the past week and it is beginning to pile up. I’m enjoying three of your new calendars I received for Christmas-the large Heart of the Home, small Heart of the Home and new purse calendar. Enjoy Joe’s fires and horns-what a toot or hoot…xoxo

  79. KarenP. (Wisconsin) says:

    Love you exuberant commentary on Season 6! My heart actually races on Sunday nights in anticipation of what Downton Abbey will bring us! I think Gregson will be coming back BUT only after Edith has fallen in love with someone else (the preview showed her meeting someone new). Then, in true DA dramatic fashion we will be hanging on to the edge of our seat. I do feel our sweet tortured Edith will find happiness. Couldn’t be more happy for Bates/Anna and Carson/Hughes! I do hope Mrs. Hughes gets her quaint schoolhouse wedding….it will be “her.” I’m happy she is able to so strongly voice her opinion. Will Isobel end up with Dr. Clarkson or will Lord Merton’s spoiled sons come around and give their blessing? Or is that all behind her now? AND how funny would it be if Denver and Spratt found a way through their bickering and into each other’s arms. Ha! Cannot wait for your new book or will Julian Fellowes be hiring you to write a summary/commentary on the complete 6 seasons? I loved The Fairy Tale Girl! And I see that you’re coming to the country club again in Illinois!!?? Last time we were so rushed through the meeting/greeting line (not your fault!). Hopefully it will be better this time around? Sending g warm hugs from cold Wisconsin! xo

    • sbranch says:

      Those sons! Hope they drove off some cliff somewhere and left their poor benighted father ALONE. Terrible spoiled boys. Denker kills me. She’s my worst nightmare. With friends like her, who needs enemies. I didn’t realize you were rushed in the line. I try to take all the time with each person . . . because I don’t get there very often, and usually everyone sees okay with it, since they know I will do it when they get to the front. Were they trying to close up? I hope it’s better this time!!

      • KarenP. (Wisconsin) says:

        Oh, Susan, I AM sorry! Forgive me if I sounded liked I am complaining. You were soooo gracious but they were closing down and needed to move everyone along. I know how you like to chat with everyone. The day was PERFECT! Loved the tea and your talk and meeting you was the highlight! And Joe, too.

        • sbranch says:

          I really do love to chat with everyone. I’m told I have the slowest lines in book signing history! But, you’re right, I’m not totally in charge and sometimes things happen! I never know until later I guess. Don’t be sorry, we’re girlfriends, you can say what you like and what’s true for that matter! Love you Karen!

          • KarenP. (Wisconsin) says:

            Thank you, dear Susan. I love you to the moon and back! 🙂 I have been fretting all night for sounding like I was complaining. It was a dream come true meeting you! It was a wonderful, perfect event and a BIG thank you to all who planned it! (And cheers with a glass of peah-cidah!) ♡♡♡

          • sbranch says:

            XOXOXO Forever!

  80. KarenP. (Wisconsin) says:

    Oops! Autocorrect put Denver, not Denker.

  81. Karen Williams says:

    Ding, ding and parp, parp! Loving the bell and the horn!
    We have a bell…and old school bell….I have to ring it to let everyone know that dinner is ready as the family don’t always hear me calling!
    Could do with the horn….to parp, parp when cyclists whizz by me, frightening the bejaysus out of me when I’m out walking doggit!

    Please keep enjoying Downton and telling the girlfriends about it (and making up your own versions!). It’s hilarious!
    You will Lurve Lurve it all…the whole shebang! I’m missing it since it finished…oh and the Christmas special….!!! Tears, tears and more tears…of joy and heartbreak that it’s all over 😟😪😢

    Have thoroughly enjoyed the whole blog, as usual, so thank you so much Susan.
    Love to all
    Cambs, UK

    • sbranch says:

      I am crying just thinking how much I will be crying! Love “parp-parp” ~ that IS the noise this thing makes! xoxo

  82. Wow, you see things so much as I see them and I LOVE your thoughts on Downton! Have you seen “Daisy” singing and dancing on Galavant? Who knew?
    My husband scares me all the time at home too. I love the warning bell idea!
    Love that you share your darling self with us, sweet friend.
    PS~ Record the new PBS civil war hospital show, Mercy Street, this Sunday. Might be another sweet escape and history lesson.

  83. Clareio says:

    I’m not a Downton person BUT I highly recommend Call the Midwife, Land Girls and Home Fires!

    • Mary says:

      I enjoy DA very much, but Call the Midwife is absolutely wonderful! Haven’t seen Landgirls, but enjoyed Home Fires a lot! The characters in Call the Midwife are so beautifully acted. Agree with your recommendation!

  84. CarolK (cent'l NJ) says:

    Oh my Goshenhoppin! Your blog was so full of all kinds of good stuff! First off DA just doesn’t disappoint ever, does it! Neither do you! I have to repeat myself, GREAT blog again. I had to chuckle over the bell and horn because I know where you’re coming from. My hubby use to scare me out of my seat when I’m upstairs at the computer. I asked him wouldn’t he feel bad if I got a heart attack from him scaring me so now he makes little noises as he climbs the stairs so that I know he’s coming into the room. I’m so excited I could burst, you’re going to be in New Hope PA in May and that is just across the Delaware from my sister and me. I’ve sent an email to the library requesting tickets and have my fingers & toes crossed that we get in. This new year is beginning to look just fine from my point of view. Yeaaaaaaaa!!!

  85. Sharon E says:

    Consider wearing a coach’s whistle around your neck. It’s easier to find than the horn. I get a good response with it whenever I call my husband. Even with a hearing loss, he hears it.

  86. linda matson says:

    Susan, we are SO soul sisters. My ending, if I was writing the show, is that Tom and Mary head off into the future together. Perfect ending. Perfect for running Downton. I try not to read the internet because I don’t want any spoilers. I already saw something else that ruined a surprise for me, but I figured it out anyway. I will miss my Downton family so much when it’s over. :tears:

  87. Bonnie says:

    No wonder I was confused Sunday, I didn’t realize Mary did not know whose mother was Marigold’s. 🙂

    My husband saw your bird shots out the window and enjoyed them as much as I did.

  88. Julie Buck says:

    Oh, Dear – I will be the odd one in the pudding! I think Mary is perfectly awful – yes, she has been nice to Anna (which she SHOULD be), but so horrible to Edith that Edith can’t even bring herself to tell her about her daughter. (Also, Mrs. Drewes doesn’t know – she still thinks the baby is from a cousin of Mr. Drewes and that Lady Edith took a fancy to her, and took her away. All bad things happen in these stories because people don’t talk to each other!

    But back to Mary – first of all, if Mrs. Hughes doesn’t want to married at Downton, that should be IT! I understand perfectly not wanting to be a servant on your wedding day, and you know perfectly well, that, no matter how beautiful it is, she will be expected to be oh, so grateful to “Lady Bountiful” and will never be allowed to forget it. Carson needs to put his big boy pants on and decide if he’s going to be Lady Mary’s Butler, or Mrs. Hughes’ husband! Lord Grantham had to kowtow to Lady Mary, but Carson shouldn’t have to!

    The second thing was the only comment Lady Mary had about Marigold going missing was “how am I supposed to get home?” I’m sorry, but that is one cold lady. She’s nowhere good enough for Tom.

    I love Edith, and I’m also hoping that she takes over the magazine herself, kicks that editor to the kerb (note the English spelling, hee hee) and moves into the apartment just in time for her love to come home from Germany, not dead after all! Oh, yes, if there’s going to be a happy ending, I want it for Edith!

    I don’t think I realized how angry I am with Mary, hahahaha.

    • sbranch says:

      I don’t think Mary actually knows that Mrs. Hughes doesn’t want to be married at Downton, because Carson is too afraid to tell her. Yes, talking to each other would definitely help!!! Do you remember what Edith did to Mary about that Turkish guy who died in her bed??? She wrote the Turkish Embassy to tell on her sister. I think Mary is very hard on Edith, but that would be a bit over the top for me too. Of course, for me, there would be no dead people in my bed. I love Edith too, but she and Anna could start a little whine club of their own.

      • Julie Buck says:

        Yes, but do you remember that first Mary took the man Edith loved, even though she didn’t, to “keep” Downton in the family? (The one who died on the Titanic.) And then she laughed at Edith’s hopes of love a little later on. I think that was to show a lifetime of Mary sneering at Edith. I know her reaction was way over the top, but I can totally understand it, even though I can’t condone it.

        I think you are right about Mary not knowing what Mrs. Hughes wants but that comment, “Just leave Mrs. Hughes to me”. was so condescending. Poor old Carson is in for a bit more discomfort, I’m afraid… I do think that Mary means well in that regard, but she’s just so sure she knows best…

        Mary is such a beautiful girl, and the clothes are so wonderful, but I just wish she’d get off her high horse and come down to earth…

        Now that’s the last I’m going to get all worked up about people who don’t even exist, haha.

        • sbranch says:

          Love getting worked up about people who don’t exist, much better than getting worked up about people who do!

  89. Denise says:

    Back to the “Cinderella” topic again….
    It was fun to see two “Downton” alumni in the film-Lily James, as well as the actress who plays Daisy! I think that using the “Dowager Countess” as the Fairy godmother would have been a hoot!!

  90. Sharon says:

    Did I see Austin on the travel agenda????
    Time to make a plan to exit Houston–I am so excited to see you! Just finished fairy tale girl and just loved it–so many comparables to my own experiences when I was young(ER). Thank you for making me remember forgotten times.
    Downtown is so comfortable to see — how will we survive without it? Surely Julian will come along with more…
    My own opinion is that Edith shows the best in fashion — gorgeous.
    Can’t wait for the next book…
    Love to both kitties…

    • sbranch says:

      We are waiting for Austin to give us permission to come there, we’ve written to ask, and now we are waiting . . . if you feel like it, call them and request me! I’ve got my fingers crossed! Have always wanted to go to Austin!

  91. bobbie Calgaro says:

    Looking forward to Isle of Dreams, but sorry that you won’t be coming south for your book tour. But not too many independent book stores down here any more. At least not in NC. Laughed and laughed at your Downtown observations. Could you send us some snow? Not looking too good for any in NC any time soon. You should conside a trip to Asheville to see
    Biltmore House. So reminiscent of Downton. You’d love it. I’d even make the trip over from Clemmons to go through it with you. Happy painting!

    • sbranch says:

      We’ll be in Mississippi, also Nashville … so far we are trying for those places . . . and then maybe, I don’t know, something around Charlotte, NC, heading north for home. We’re still in Texas, virtually anyway, working our way back east on our driving map.

  92. Sharon ( MeagherO'Hare) says:

    Hi Sue!
    Love your details of DT. I caught both episodes, but your comments help to relive those moments once again.
    I must tell you, I was at my Mom’s home last week and your Mom called her to chat. It was such a hoot listening to those two 85-year-old gals talking, giggling, and downright laughing out loud! They were talking about the old days up in San Fernando Valley. Their laughter made me laugh. We are planning to visit your Mom on my next visit, next week.
    Love your stocking stuffers! Now that’s some creative thinking, Joe!
    Hugs to you both,

    • sbranch says:

      I got the nicest Christmas Card from your mom, Sharon. She was so worried about my mom. Please let her know how happy my mom is with the move. Really, she is going to exercise class every single day! And you can hear it in her voice! Give your mom a hug for me, and thank you for taking her to my moms. One thing for sure, she misses her card games with Jackie and Carol.

  93. You got your snow! Wahoo!

  94. Linda Stone says:

    Yes to Lady Mary and Tom! I’ve been thinking that for a long time. We all know the clothes are fabulous but one thing that is driving me crazy is the ladies wearing long gloves INSIDE to drink their tea or sherry or whatever. I suppose they must have done . . . everything is so authentic . . . but it looks kind of silly, don’t you think? Otherwise, I’m loving each and every minute of it and am so sad that it’s going to end.

  95. Gail says:

    In the photograph directly underneath the one of Joe dismantling the Christmas tree, there’s a mother and her bunnies. Where did you find it? Is it available on your shopping section of the website?

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve had that for many years, it says “Bunny Crossing” on it ~ I’m sorry we don’t have it on our website.

  96. Dana says:

    I just ordered A Fine Romance today! I finally decided to treat myself to it. I have never seen Downton Abbey, but our local library carries the DVDs and I am now convinced that I must watch them soon. I have never been to England, but my delight in the English countryside began when I saw the movie Miss Potter a few years ago. In the past year, I read all of the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter books, as well as a few Miss Read books (Fairacre and Thrush Green, set in fictional English villages). I plan to read Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice) for the first time this year. So looking forward to recieving the book. Your new book looks wonderful as well. Thank you for all of the inspiration.

    • sbranch says:

      You have such a lot of treats ahead of you, you have all the makings of an Anglophile! Not a bad thing to be at all, in fact a WONDERFUL thing to be, as I myself have finally realized! Enjoy Dana!

  97. Marilyn H says:

    Wonderful, delightful blog as usual. I so enjoy your humor and pictures of home. Believe it or not , this is the first season I have started watching DA. I have only seen bits and pieces of previous seasons so I know some things that are going on. If only I wouldn’t start nodding off during the show. It rather lolls me to sleep. I am happy to see your CA visit to Danville. Very drivable from where I reside in the true northern CA. I hope to convince a fellow girlfriend to make the trip and hope to meet you. Both of us so love , well practically everything about you.

  98. Joann says:

    Alright…first things first—your story lines for Downton are fascinating—I love them!! They are happy and full of intrigue. We’ve already been warned by all the shows leading up to the season that not everything will be resolved, but we can hope!!
    Rod’s opinion: Mary ends up with no one. Edith finds a dashing man to marry and forgives Mary for all of her snobbish comments over the years….and Mary realizes now what it’s like to have been Edith. The Carsons marry where they want but have an ‘event’ at Downton of some sort. And yes, the Bates have babies—I like the twins idea!
    Please no more horrible accidents!!
    I LOVE your gifts….but surely you could have convinced the Downton team to give you one of the bells in the servants’ kitchen. Think of the charm of it!! Maybe Mary’s!!
    Anyway…..We are behind you 100% but missing you enormously as you write. Cadie and I went to a wonderful vintage market on Saturday and then I scored a find of a bergere chair that I’m going to recover—I’m giddy over it.
    Working on a website still for vintage rentals for weddings and soirees. (love that word) Holding a BIG Susan Branch tea party here soon—will take pictures. AND, we’re working on making a portion of the house a VRBO so someone visiting CO can stay and have a lovely time; hope they don’t mind talking about you!! xoxo On an animal note, we have THREE coyotes wandering the neighborhood. Not walking alone right now! YIKES
    OK, enough of my own gibberish! Write ON! xoxo Love from CO

    • sbranch says:

      Love it that Rod is ferreting things out! 🙂 Coyotes! They want all the small animals, just remember that for you and your friends. You probably know it already, but I was amazed at how bad it really was where we lived in CA. Love you dear, you always have something interesting going on!

  99. Heartsdesire says:

    I always love your Downton Abbey recaps, Sue. You really have your finger on the Downton pulse. I had forgotten that Lady Mary didn’t know that Marigold was Lady Edith’s daughter. I’m sure there will be fireworks when that comes to light. So sorry you were not able to book a signing in Seattle. It’s the closest on the tour for me here on the Southern tip of Vancouver Island. I’ll keep checking though, just in case something comes through. Love the pictures of those beautiful cardinals, we’ve nothing like them around here. We also don’t have any snow. Enjoy your train ride, so looking forward to the book. Nose kisses to Jack and Girl Kitty from the “Portly Kitty.”

    • sbranch says:

      We’re still going to get up there one of these years … it’s too beautiful to miss! xoxo Thank you and kisses back to Portly Kitty!

  100. Lynda Kling says:

    When we were visiting my son, DIL and grandchildren in England, at Christmas, I told them all I wanted was to see the 2 hour Downton Abby finale on Christmas night. So I now know how it all ends, and have seen the first two over here. Just need to see the rest! Enjoy! You will love it!

    • sbranch says:

      I already do, it’s just wonderful! Lucky you to see it there!

    • CarolK (cent'l NJ) says:

      Hey Lynda! Didn’t know you were a DA fan too! Spot on! See you at the next HCRAG meeting but don’t tell me the ending. I have to see it for myself.

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