Well, I’m going for it. MUSICA 🎵👏All day yesterday I tried to get photos to come from my iPhoto to my blog, and all I managed to get were these ten, and, despite turning computer on and off girlartand using all the computer tricks I know (swearing, begging and bribery), one hundred percent zero came up this morning! So I give up. Ten photos still sounds like a lot, but I have to say, there is so much more I wanted to share with you. Walks in the countryside, packing our Picnic. and so MANY up-close and personal photos of our wonderful Girlfriends and their families who joined us … It’s okay, we are going to a little town today that supposedly has computer help, and also, we’ll be moving along at the end of the week, and who KNOWS what we’ll get when we do. Maybe I should be celebrating getting this far!  Glass half-full and all that rot! But anyway, I wanted to say Hello, give you these few photos, and say


This is Rachel, me, and Siobhan, reunited at Stourhead, and toasting the hot air balloons that appeared out of nowhere,  that we were just SURE could see us from their gondolas!magicmagic

And we got it! Magic above the church lawn, just across from our cottage . . . hot air balloons over the 13th century church, lovely juxtaposition of old and older. We all agreed Fairy2you couldn’t get us up in one, so we toasted their crazy bravery and enjoyed every moment of their flight. Joe and I left the Queen Mary 2 last Friday (I spoke on board! It was scary! But people were so nice! And books sold out! Photos are, grrr, trapped! MIA!), and traveled the lovely country roads to our cottage in this beautiful amazing place called Stourhead . . . on Saturday morning, Siobhan came, then Paul and Rachel.

dinner flowers

Paul brought these flowers and wine and Prosecco . . . to tell you the truth, they all brought everything. Flakey English salt, tiny little sausages, six kinds of crisps (potato chips in English), olives and cheese and pork pies . . . Siobhan made her amazing gluten-free bread dishes to match the flowersand apple jelly ~ we had it for breakfast with yummy fennel tea. Rachel brought a Plum Crumble with British double-thick spooning cream . . . I wish I could show you the dinner we made . . . butterflied roast chicken with rosemary from Siobhan’s garden, crisp roasted potatoes with homegrown onions, raw veggie salad ~ while at the same time we were boiling potatoes and chopping celery for our Picnic potato salad, making tomato and mozzarella salad, slicing Ray’s meatloaf and icing down the pear cider. It was a regular Big Chill night in Stourhead. AND, believe it or not, our cottage came complete with a set of Johnson Brothers Rose Chintz dishes! How did they know?  So our table looked beautiful and the next day we piled plates into our basket and took them to the Picnic. During dinner, Paul put on a cd of the most wonderful  John Garth music, I hope you are listening to it right now!

cslyr8oxeaqiiphLater on we toasted the full Harvest moon, sharing the moment with all of you! Same moon for all of us, the world over!The moon belongs to everyone artwork Susan Branch

gate to gardens of stourhead

And finally the big day arrived, Sunday dawned bright, blue and sunny . . . the day we’d been planning since last February . . . our BYO Picnic Basket Party! Where the question would finally be answered, “Would anyone be Painting Beatrixthere besides us?” Either way, we knew we’d have a wonderful time! A picnic is a picnic, after all, totally a win-win, but we were really hoping to meet people we’ve only known through the Blog, Facebook and Twitter ~ our faraway friends. We knew we had three important things to remember in a toast. First off, we wanted to make a little salute to Capability Brown . . . who designed this dynamic garden at Stourhead ~ it’s the 300th Anniversary of his birth! And of course, it’s our darling Beatrix Potter’s 150th Birthday Anniversary this year . . . and we also wanted to raise our glasses to missing friends, to all of you, to Deb in Wales, and especially our Twitter Girlfriend Karen💖.a gardenimg_0668I could almost taste the fragrance of fresh-mown grass as everyone began arriving to the constant refrain of wood pigeons cooing musically, “My-toe-huts-Bettee.” Families and friends, husbands, sisters, and children, expats, newlyweds, Birthday Girls, and 50th wedding-anniversary-celebrators were here ~ counting everyone we had 55! It was a sit in! You can see Siobhan way out there in the hat, and Ray is closer, in the middle, kneeling in a blue dress with her white hair. We think it was about 40% Americans.  Can you believe this setting?  I know! It’s amazing. I promise not one speck of Photoshop was used in the preparation of this blog! (Actually it never is, but this one is especially hard to believe! You would think, “Let’s put a grass bridge here, add a lake, pop in some ducks, frame it all with lawn and trees, add Apollo’s Temple in the way back, film Pride and Prejudice here, and voila!”) img_6621

We were lucky because just as the sun was getting a little too bright and warm for comfort, it dipped behind some English clouds and stayed there, making it perfect sweater weather for the rest of the day! We wandered from blanket to blanket visiting and sharing food (and I have photos of all of it 😜!).  Some people brought books for me to sign and yes, there were gifts, like this delicious homemade muffin these little dolls were giving me . . . that’s Siobhan in the hat behind them, looks like she is telling a good story . . . and that’s Paul there on the stool, in his British picnic finery.img_6666

Petey and Mini JackOur Blog Girlfriend, Nicoline, came from the Netherlands with her husband Gabriel, and brought Petey’s brother with them! We were laughing because they thought he was scary looking and we think ours is too!  We don’t like to have them in the room with us while we sleep! But we both brought them with us anyway!friendsimg_0679

Here we are, class of 2016, assembled in this magical place like a fairy tale come true . . . I know some of you will recognize some of them.  It’s impossible, but here we are, from Colorado, Salt Lake City, and Oregon, from Oxford, Cheshire, York and Kent, Scotland and Wales and Holland, and all over the place!  It’s a fact!words fairytale dream

img_6652See that smile on me? It never left my face, my cheeks ached (in the very best way) at the end of this day! Here I am with our Girlfriend Janette (who made the most darling little book bags for everyone) ~ this is how it was, blanket-to-blanket, sitting, eating, and gabbing for Englandhours . . . I have so many more photos that I can’t access right now, pictures of us toasting, of Rachel handing out the freshly baked Sugar Moon salted caramel (and some even gluten-free), homemade Brownies she made for everyone! . . . there are pictures of cute quilts, tea sets, and picnic baskets, of Ann and Alan, Carrie and Stuart, Heather, Gabi, Susan and Bob, Morwenna, Cadie, Joann and Rod, englandnames you recognize if you’ve hung around here long enough! Kindred spirits all, Bernie, Karen and Rosie, Katrina, Paula and Burnell, Olivia, and Joy were all there . . .  to name a few . . . I’ll have to save these photos for another time.

Mad at this computer. It has now lost any good will I ever had for it ~ it won’t let me have pictures, and as of now, it has fully deleted this post twice. And yet, I have not killed it. I have outsmarted it, and saved it all . . . it’s tricking me right now, pretending to be okay, but the moment I press “save draft” it will try to delete everything. SO, if you actually do see this, it will be a miracle. Which we believe in don’t we? So let’s see what happens. Bye for now dearest ones! Thank you for traveling with us! ❌⭕️

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  1. Sally Roth says:

    Miracles happen! Thank you Susan, I’m so enjoying your trip in England and Scotland.
    Best wishes to you both, as always…

  2. Lois Madden says:

    Looks like a bonny time was had by all! Thanks for sharing your very special day with us, Sweet Susan. How very generous you are with your time and talents.

    Love, hugs and magical wishes as you and Joe continue on your Scottish journey!


    P.S. You really must reconsider a hot air balloon ride. It’s heavenly and truly an amazing way to view the land you love. It’s well worth trying to overcome your reluctance and hop aboard.

  3. Lynne Neal says:

    So glad you saw Bolton Abby, I hope you saw the stepping stones across the river, maybe you were even brave enough to walk them. I do hope you found the penny tree in the nearby woods and left an American penny for the fairies.
    I hope you manage Whalley Abby and Skipton Castle while you are so close .wish I was there

    • sbranch says:

      The stepping stones were just ever so slightly, but definitely, under rushing river water . . . so neither of us were in the mood for that! And we did leave our penny! Left two! Went to Skipton Castle too… but not Whalley Abbey … we’re going back to the area though, so we’ll try that then!

  4. Stacey says:

    I would have loved to have joined your magical picnic! Looks like a fairytale of thr besf kind for sure. I hope to see Stourhead when i visit England this month!!

  5. Dolores' Cottage says:

    I love traveling with you! So magical!

  6. Melinda says:

    So very glad you two (and Petey!) arrived safely and well deserved travel is off to a delightful start! What a fantastic photo of Joe, the one above the beautiful Herefords grazing, looks like he’s in love with the gal taking his photo!
    LOVE the selfies, 3rd time is indeed a charm as it brought a heart-warming smile as I scrolled down to it. Good on the no make-up nor hair dye….you’re each, and together, completely perfect just as you are.

    Mom to 3 beauties

    • sbranch says:

      Our walks are always the best part. We love being out there with the pigeons and the rivers and the fast moving sky! How could we not look happy? Thank you Melinda, and hello to your three beauties! xoxo

  7. Nancy says:

    I hope you’ll go to St. Andrews!!! It’s not all about golf, you know! It’s a small town and so beautiful. The university, the cathedral and castle ruins (with bottle dungeon, mine, and countermine, the sandy beach and the pebbly beach, the pier walk with students on Sundays. And there’s Fisher and Donaldson’s Bakery with Coffee Cream Towers and Frog Cakes! Balgove Larder. The Grange. I hope you’ll go.
    I’ve loved your books and reading the reports of your trip!

    • sbranch says:

      We were just there. GORGEOUS. What a fairy tale place. Needed way more time… but now we know it’s here!

  8. Sarah says:

    It looks like it was so much fun! Thank you for sharing. This way, we can all be there with you in spirit.

  9. Jacquie says:

    Truly a bon voyage! Thank you for taking me with you!

  10. Tamara Thompson says:

    It’s blessing just to know you and all the folks are having such a wonderful time! I wonder if they celebrate Halloween there? Hope you continue to have the best adventures ever!


    • sbranch says:

      They seem to be celebrating. I’ve heard it’s not big here, but there’ve been children in costumes in stores all week!

  11. Betsy in Pennsylvania says:

    Those out here in blog land not on Facebook or Twitter miss you. Hope you’re having a grand time!

  12. Marianne says:

    Oh my how wonderful.
    Thanks ever so much for letting me travel vicariously with you and Joe.
    Enjoying the prose and pictures.

  13. Marianne in Illinois says:

    Susan, WE MISS YOUR BLOG!! Love hearing from you by way of twitter and I know, I know, we need our vacations, but dear Susan, I’m going through withdrawal!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m working on it Marianne, so sorry, just has been difficult …. I’m glad you’re seeing Twitter, it’s been the best I could do recently. xo

  14. Edith Johnson says:

    Dearest Susan, what a delightful book. As, I suffer with very, I cannot travel, si I live vicariously through others. What a journey you have taken me on. I call my daughter and read portions of your book to her. I admire you so very much. What an inspiration you are!
    I was right behind you, taking every step you took. I roadie on the train, I pulled weeds in your garden and I even felt the bite of the mosquitoes! I tasted the lobster and the mussels and the blueberry corn cakes. I am allergic to cats but I so loved hugging on your three babies!
    Your house is so filled with charm it is enchanted.i look forward to reading your other books and purchasing your new cookbook! Un-met friends, Edith Johnson Union City, Georgia USA

  15. What a lovely thing – that YOU could bring together people from all over the world for this charming picnic! I think that the UN needs to hire you. You might even win a Nobel Peace Prize! Your trip looks like a dream and it’s the PERFECT time to be away from America! We can’t wait to hear and see more!

    • sbranch says:

      Hopefully, more will come today Jake! So happy you’re enjoying the trip! I agree, that picnic was a sort of miracle and definitely one of my dreams come true. And even though everyone couldn’t be there, it was like we had representatives, so all were included!

  16. Siobhan in Santa Monica says:

    OMGoodness! I am crying at work reading this beautiful miraculous picnic post! Long live Susan Branch! Our Fairy Tale Girl! xoxo

  17. Janet Hundley - Grafton, WI says:

    Luvlee, as always! Thanks for all the effort it took to share.

  18. Laura says:

    Absolutely wonderful! ❤️

  19. Arlene says:

    What great fun! I will be anxiously waiting for the next book ! Thanks for sharing💕

  20. Tempe Javitz says:

    Oh Susan, What a lovely way to make my Saturday, this 3rd day of December just south of lovely San Francisco and upstairs, so to speak, on the hill above Stanford University. We met in the glorious Big Horn Mountains outside Sheridan, Wyoming this summer. Now I’m a fan !! Just finished “A Fine Romance,” and immediately ordered “Martha’s Vineyard.” Your books are spectacular. I just love reading them, looking at the watercolors, laughing and loving the quotes, and enjoying the photos. (Photography is my passion.) Enjoying your posts and newsletters. I was in Scotland with an archaeological tour in June. The countryside there is quite beautiful. Thank you so much for your books, posts, and newsy newsletters. They are a treat.

  21. KAREN ODELL says:

    I just put my arms around my laptop and gave you all a tight hug! What a fabulous time you must have all had!!

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