Hi All!  Quick explanation of where I’ve been which I’m about to show you in a delicious photographic potpourri of people, places and dog photos!  We did our trip a little Alice, English Dogdifferently this time, which has its good side and its bad. We’ve seen a LOT, but we seem to be on the move much more …. three days here, four days there, meeting with friends, and even just overnight sometimes, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for blogging! But here I am, catch-up day, finally in the place where Joe and I will be staying until it’s time for us to go (the ship leaves November 19).  So now, first, MUSICA ~  and then . . .get-attachment-aspx

Get tea, and then, here comes adventure . . .


Tea, or cider . . . that’s good too! But not really for breakie!


The pubs have been wonderful, filled with interesting people, lots of dogs, and delicious food ~~ all of the pubs are so different and all of them historical, just wonderful for imagining and questioning!


We had another camera adventure. Remember how we put the lens on top of the car in A Fine Romance and it slipped off and sent us scurrying to try and find it on the road without killing ourselves or others? This time it was the ENTIRE CAMERA.  We heard a sliding noise on the roof of the car, died a thousand deaths realizing I’d left the camera up there while getting loaded into the car, turned around to go back to where we think it might have flown off, stopped the car . . . Joe said, “You go that way, I’ll go that way.”  I looked back to cross the street, and there, sitting on the roof of the car, where it had slid and come to a stop, was the camera!!!!!! Whew, we had just gone from having a very, very bad day and now we were all happy again, and off we went vowing to put NOTHING ON TOP OF THE CAR EVER AGAIN.get-attachment-aspximg_4929

Hill and dale, stone walls and lambikins. Have I mentioned that we are Anglophiles?  I think it can be said very easily, rolls off the tongue now! I think Anglophiles have a big thing in common, they love beauty, and old things.


We brake for antique stores, especially if they are blue with yellow doors and have lace curtains in the windows.


And lovely old dishes to drool over.itsnotthatibelong


Most of you know we were meeting Rachel (@MozartsGirl on Twitter) and her husband Paul, her mom Di, and several of their friends in Bath (pron. Bawth) for her birthday party, which we did, and which was wonderful.


Here she is, figuring out her wish, which is hard since she has it all. I imagine she is wishing for all animals to be treated with love and respect.💖 We decorated the room for her party and didn’t let her in all day! Bunting! Yes!


This is the house we all stayed in in Bawth . . . Amazing “Elton House” Ray and Paul rented from the Landmark Trust. Lovely big rooms, with soft squishy old furniture, and a wide staircase . . . Ray was sure that Jane Austen had been inside this house, and it took me no time at all after arriving, to agree that it just had to be!


Here we are, inspecting the very scary but very interesting basement in the house, with the  18th century kitchen still intact … that’s Ray’s mom Di leaning over for a better look . . . Another world down there . . .


Bath was magic . . . I came around the corner to these Bubbles . . . in Bawth, how appropriate! A Bubble Bath.magic


We loved Jane Austen’s house in Chawton the last time we came, but she had lots of history in Bawth too . . .


Now Petey has sat on a doorstep that Jane Austen’s foot has touched. He is so proud.


I had to go to the Bath Abbey, and this is just a bit of one of the walls inside. . . Can you believe it? I couldn’t either. I’ve been lighting candles for my dad in every church we enter, and this was no exception.
sense of beauty; susan branch art


The tea shops have been ever so charming!


speaking of charm .  .  . Bunting everywhere! I’m not kidding. It really is!small treatsimg_2974

Little bunting and big bunting and balloons too!


Yes, we’ve been doing laundry, washing our socks, drying them on radiator racks.


We even got to search for beach glass on the Fife Coast in Scotland . . . here’s my booty!


Me and Elizabeth, my California/Vineyard Girlfriend in Edinburgh, Scotland together with our guys, where we met for a week of cavorting.


Here’s the view from our hotel room at the Scotsman Hotel in Edinburgh (pron. Edin-Burra). This is an amazing town, I have to do a whole post on it, it’s hard to believe it’s up there, humming along, every day, cool as a cucumber, and we hardly even know it!


Plaid was the name of the game. We have a car full of it!


Everywhere I went I took my most valuable players, the shawl, the diary, the camera, and lunchtime reading material!everythingwasromantic


As we wandered our way back in time . . . This is Edinburgh Castle, you must see it to believe it!slow-downimg_4869

We met up with the locals . . . they were very sweet.


Until you tried to drive too close, then they gave you the eye. Mas Musica? Oui!


We went to visit our friend Siobhan . . . and she took us on the MOST amazing walks! We went for hours, and why wouldn’t you . . .! Swans, geese, herons, sheep . . . bird song and baaaaa!


We climbed hills under the most beautiful clouds . . .miracles


And followed paths, aiming for the roads less traveled.


Fall has come slowly, and afternoons are tinged in gold . . . and this I never want to forget.


Boston ivy climbs the buildings . . .


The wind blows and the trees turn yellow and orange and drift down into the fast flowing rivers . . .



black bird looking backLook at that view!  It’s a from a castle window…and at the bottom, you can see the sheep, and in the distance, you can see forever across this green and pleasant land.


As we merrily drive along.


I could honestly write a whole book on English bathrooms. I thought so last time too. But this time, I just could not resist taking a picture . . . they are all different, but somehow all of them somehow look like your grandmother’s bathroom. Tic-Tacs! Hand lotion! Incense! Swabs! Really? In a public bathroom!


And on the back of the toilet-room door, for your reading pleasure . . . this. Always up for education!


And here!!!! Oh Downty! How we miss thee! We finally made it to Highclere for a long, uncrowded, special tour of the house and gardens. I couldn’t get Petey to hold still for the photo, he was too excited!


Just me and Downty. Who could ask for more. Will have to do a whole post on this in the future, right? Right! It was SO interesting, the history of this amazing house. And even more beautiful than I expected. I know several of you have already seen it, well you were right, it was worth going to!


And then it was National Apple Day, and Siobhan took us to an Apple Festival!  Isn’t it adorable?  It was a chilly, but lovely fall day, there were cooking demonstrations, barbecued sausage sandwiches, a farm stand, games, a tea room of course . . .girlfriend love recipe word


And all varieties of apples . . .

This is Tess Lister on the left . . . she is Siobhan’s daughter, and that’s Tess’s dog, Dusty (the actual star of this star-filled family). Tess just wrote her first cookbook 👏. . . I’ve known her since she was a little girl, making adorable mouse-people and dressing them in tiny clothes she made for them from bits of satin, velvet and lace. She’s almost as magical as her mom.💖 More about Tess HERE. You remember her if you read A Fine Romance, where she was all dressed up in Ascot clothing for our day at the races?  That was 2004, I guess she was about 18 then.


Here we all are together, Siobhan taking us out to see a very old tree, Joe, Paul, Ray, and Di, Ray’s mum, everyone talking about the history of the place . . .


And, after everyone went home, that’s what we did everyday while we stayed with Siobhan . . . walk and talk, talk and walk . . . and eat.

We were hungry after climbing the stiles that are put there to make going over fences on the public footpaths easy. One night we walked along that path into the village where Siobhan grew up, where the first King of England is buried in the graveyard of the Abbey ~ we walked along her secret childhood paths, narrow grass-lined footpaths, over arched stone bridges, past a ditch dug for fighting Vikings , into alleyways so narrow we could reach out and touch both stone walls at once . . .


And past a farm, so pretty in the waning sunshine . . .


To her friend Barbara’s house . . . Barbara bought Abbey House in Malmsbury (say it Moms-brie) about 30 years ago and she and her husband built this garden (this is a mere wisp of all that’s there), and now it’s open to the public. Sometimes she puts on plays and events here (the library seats 100!), people get married here, and it’s even a bed and breakfast . . . I should do a whole blog on this too, because you just wouldn’t believe it! It’s right in the middle of town. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, this is a MUST.

img_5583And now, one of my very favorite things so far has been the afternoon we spent learning about sheep and the dogs that work them … from this man, Neil Ross. If you are ever in northern Scotland, treat yourself to this most amazing afternoon . . . he does this every day at 4 pm, you don’t make reservations, you just show up, sit on a rock, breathe the amazing fresh air, and try not to cry from the beauty.


Neil Ross is a shepherd and he words the same 11,000 acres that his dad did, tending a herd of 3,000 sheep. None of it belongs to him, he lives there, raises his children there, and like his dad, he works for the “Laird.” (Lord in English-English)


There we all were, maybe about 15 of us, sitting on rocks to watch this amazing display of dogs, sheep, man, nature, as it has been forever. With just one word in dog language, which we did not speak, and the dogs would be off . . . Go get the sheep, dogs!


And after a few moments, here they come. Thundering hooves come over the hill . . .


Neil would only send one or two dogs at a time, the rest knew not to go (I don’t know how they knew, but they did), and would wait their turn…there were small dogs too, puppies about 12 weeks old, like the two in this photo, and the one in the first photo, they were just learning the whistles and the words that Neil used to tell the dogs what to do.


Those sheep came roaring up, we thought we might be a little trampled, but those dogs had everything under control.  Pure eye contact. My dad could do this with us kids. Stop us with one look.


It was so beautiful.  One of the prettiest most natural and real things I’ve ever seen!


We began to think the sheep might be in on it. But, if they were,  they deserve an academy award for best actors.


An amazing sight.

Watch close, this is short, but listen to Neil as he showed us how even the puppies loved to do this ~ note Scottish dog language, sounds like “poly-bear burken-bye, burken!” This was a man of few words, and this was most of them.img_3673

My best dog picture!


See how close we all were, the boy on the right was next to me.


I gave a wee internal yelp when I saw him picking up the sheep like this, but apparently he’s done this before and I should keep my yelping to myself.


That sheep wasn’t moving at all. It just sat there . . . perfectly docile. I didn’t see him slip it a sleeping pill or anything.


He invited anyone who wanted to come up and help him shear the sheep. But you should have seen the scissors he used to do it! They looked like pruning shears. So the kids did it and I took pictures!

“No pressure on the sheep” ~ I didn’t understand everything he said, but I got these words!


Afterwards he let everyone feed the sheep . . .


And play with the five-week old puppies.


And he showed us how even they could be trained.


It was amazing.


And darling…

I’ve looked at this at least a hundred times and it still makes me laugh . . .


I didn’t steal it.


Old dogs too, the whole family was there.💛


And now it’s almost November, Rabbit-Rabbit Girlfriends . . . and we are living down the street from Ray and Paul . . . for the last three weeks of our visit here.


Ray and Paul . . . our neighbors, how lucky is that!


Our car, all tucked in. . . in front of the house.


Ray welcomed us with this . . .joshua word home decorating


There’s a tiny courtyard garden in the back . . .


that I can see from my chair (that’s where I am right this moment). . .


and see my little friend? He’s been leaping and jumping since we got here, and there are birds, and a church across the street that rings on the quarter hour, and pealed out Sunday Greetings this morning, as it has done for a very very long time. It’s like living in a dream, pretending all the time.

address word home dreams

So that’s all for today. I tried my best to catch you up . . . hope you enjoyed it! Here’s a bit of driving through the English Countryside on the “wrong” side of the road . . . but honestly, it’s impossible to show everything. I’ll have lots to talk about, England/Scotland-wise, for a long time!  Right now, Joe is tapping his foot, wants to be off, wants me to go with him!

Halloween Boo!

Happy Halloween dear friends!  I’m homesick, I’m sure you know that, missing my kitty, missing home, missing my trick-or-treaters,  but I will put up with it for the learning and wonder of this lucky thing we’re doing. And it won’t be long until it’s all over, because time just has that way about it.  So, as they say, bloom where you’re planted, and that’s what I’m trying to do. Dressed in plaid.❤️  Love you xoxoxoxoxoxoxo.

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  1. see Lee says:

    Susan I have always loved your blogs and books. Until now, I have thrown all your books etc…. away. Your views are your own, everyone does not feel the same way you do. What about Bill Clinton?????? I guess what he did was ok. I will never read anything from you again.

    • sbranch says:

      Maybe I was naive about the hatred that would be generated by my comments. I never thought that my little ideas about things could upset someone so much. But let me say, I am on your side and we are in this together, despite what you are being told. Why are we talking about Bill Clinton? Because the powers that be have recognized it as a delightfully divisive tool they can pull out anytime they want so that while we are demonizing EACH OTHER, and blaming each other, they can walk away with the store. We are being divided by corporate greed, media greed, government greed, who demonize one side or the other with emotional issues like Christmas, Christianity, Immigration, or Abortion, and while we fight, they gleefully walk off with our jobs and our money. Believe me, the powers that be do not care about those things at all, they just use them to divide us. We have to stop letting them. Benefit of the doubt is a good beginning. Thinking about it can’t hurt. Just follow the money and you will see that what I am saying is true. I’m sorry to see you go, but I couldn’t go on ignoring the fact that our country is being divided and that we are letting them.

    • Barbara Macey says:

      What is the opinion that others are referring to? I’ve looked & looked & cannot find the opinion; as I so freely share my opinions I’m eager to read Yours Susan. Thank You for transporting all Your readers around the British Countryside.

      • sbranch says:

        It’s the post after this one Barbara, where I talked about the election, called We Have to Believe we are Magic. Steel yourself! xo

  2. Cindy Ward says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, dear Susan. Oh, what a president you would make. Have a safe trip home, a wonderful holiday, and give that sweet Jack a big hug. Your words about this last week have wiped away some of my tears.

  3. Nancy Halsema says:

    Susan, I am broken hearted that you became political. I am on the opposite side and I believe Hillary’s minions have filled you and yours with horrid tales that are not only lies, but distortions to the infinite dimension. I believe you will come to find he is not the devil you have been told he is. But that aside, you and this group were who I turned to when I needed normal. You live in the far northeast but you traveled through my part of the Country (Woodstock, GA). Surely you saw we are nice people with good hearts and not toothless ignorant racist. I am sad you did not also trust us to vote with integrity. Both coasts have lost touch with America – and now I guess you too. Awful to believe.

    • sbranch says:

      We are being divided by people who make money doing it. You are not the devil and neither am I. Our differences of opinion are NORMAL and OKAY, and from it, we have always come together to make a better country and get things done. That’s what’s awful to believe. Every one of those pictures of girlfriends came from a different part of this wonderful country, even from the coasts, and every person in them is a doll, and I have no idea how any of them voted, and I really don’t care. You are being used as is anyone who believes that somehow if you’re from a different part of the country, you are evil. They are telling us this to divide us. And while we fight amongst ourselves, the banks take all our money.

  4. We visited Bath 3 years ago; it was so wonderful ! Hope we get to go again sometime SOON!

  5. We visited Bath, England 3 years ago and it was wonderful ! Hope we get there again very SOON!

  6. Rhonda Ready says:

    Lovely. Just lovely.
    I’ve been transported for the last few minutes. Thank you.

  7. Sandra Williams says:

    I love your positive attitude, your stories, your books and you. I became a follower reading your 1st cookbook in the 80’s and memorized every book & calendar since.
    I see you every time you come to Santa Barbara and treasure you as a friend even tho we’ve only met signing books.
    You make such an incredible difference in my life and many other people, Susan, thank you and bless you.
    PS I can’t believe you’re getting gray till I look in my mirror!

  8. Charmaine says:

    Sheesh! I had just finished reading your lovely and very uplifting post about dogs and England, etc. when I read the comment from “see Lee.” Maybe I’m wrong, but I didn’t read anything about Bill Clinton in your post so I don’t get where that person is coming from. Your post was wonderful—it helped me relax and appreciate the beauty in nature, in animals, in friends, and in family. I look forward to reading more of your posts. Thank you for bringing love and good cheer into my home, Susan.

  9. Shirley Green says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed this edition of Willard. I had a briefer visit, in 1960 of six weeks in a rented car. Saw much of the countryside and loved every bit of it. My friend and I were even left in charge of the Bronte home while the curator ran to mail a package. Now that is something to remember. Already looking forward to the book! Thank you.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes it is, and I bet you and your friend laughed yourselves across country in that little rented car. Lovely memories!

  10. Danelda Kolsrud says:

    I have read, listened and watched all the politics commence these past couple of years all the while thinking of the money used for all this viscious rhetoric and dreaming of all the homeless, hungry children and illiteracy that could be addressed using it . I will vote for you should you ever run for office! You have, in a single paragraph summed up exactly what we are dealing with, how divided we have become with all the inuendos, lies, and deceit we are fed and how we need to stop—like now! Like yesterday! And like you said, they are blithely walking off with our money, our jobs, and I would like to add, our dignity and beliefs as Americans. Thank you for being brilliant, warm, romantic, nostalgic, talented, and right on target!

    • sbranch says:

      As they say, the lunatics have taken over the asylum! (Actually them seem to have had it for a long time!) ~~~ YES, our dignity, our reputation in the world, our American way of life, our wonderful amazing middle class. Thank you back Danelda, and keep the faith.

  11. kathy fenton says:

    loved your pics of bath, we were there the last week of sept and agree with you that it is a very beautiful area. did you go to the roman baths? i would love to go back some day too. thanks for all your pics and info.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, we did. Quite a place. We were right next to the Baths… so old and wonderful, and luv-lee shopping too!

  12. Trish Helms says:

    Loved your pictures of your trip. Especially the dogs and sheep! Such a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing. Enjoy the Holidays.
    Trish, Yakima,WA

  13. Diana Houghton says:

    What a lovely blog. I never write one. My sister always does on her trips. She has a knack for writing well. Your pictures were great and I thank you for sharing a great trip.

  14. Christine Le Gate says:

    Beautiful, just beautiful!. And for me, I’m right there with you in regards to your comments about the current political situation. Thank you for being brave enough to comment. Well said

Comments are closed.