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 and 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!
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 you 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.
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 and 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!
Later on we toasted the full Harvest moon, sharing the moment with all of you! Same moon for all of us, the world over!
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 there 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💖.I 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!”)
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.
Our 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!
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!
See 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 hours . . . 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, names 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! ❌⭕️
Miracles happen! Thank you Susan, I’m so enjoying your trip in England and Scotland.
Best wishes to you both, as always…
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.
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
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!
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!!
You will LOVE it. I expect the leaves will be just perfect by then!
I love traveling with you! So magical!
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
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
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!
We were just there. GORGEOUS. What a fairy tale place. Needed way more time… but now we know it’s here!
It looks like it was so much fun! Thank you for sharing. This way, we can all be there with you in spirit.
Happy to have you here Sarah!
Truly a bon voyage! Thank you for taking me with you!
Happy to have you Jacquie!
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!
They seem to be celebrating. I’ve heard it’s not big here, but there’ve been children in costumes in stores all week!
Those out here in blog land not on Facebook or Twitter miss you. Hope you’re having a grand time!
Oh my how wonderful.
Thanks ever so much for letting me travel vicariously with you and Joe.
Enjoying the prose and pictures.
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!!!!
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
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
Auto spell check re-wrote my letter!
Doesn’t matter, I got the gist of it! And thank you Edith!! Very sweet of you … I’m glad you liked the book and can travel along, long live books and long live our part of the Internet!
Thank you so much Edith, it was so nice to hear from you! XOXOXO💖
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!
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!
OMGoodness! I am crying at work reading this beautiful miraculous picnic post! Long live Susan Branch! Our Fairy Tale Girl! xoxo
Luvlee, as always! Thanks for all the effort it took to share.
My pleasure Janet. xoxo
Absolutely wonderful! ❤️
What great fun! I will be anxiously waiting for the next book ! Thanks for sharing💕
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.
Joe and I are trying to remember, your name is definitely familiar, were we in an antique store?
I just put my arms around my laptop and gave you all a tight hug! What a fabulous time you must have all had!!
We did! Such an amazing thing, all from nothing, and then this!