Highclere and Other Things of Interest

Hi all! Off we go to Highclere, to find Downton Abbey! But first, an update on our cups . . . almost here! Sweet  MUSICA for YOU!

Our cups came in from London this morning! They’re in LA! All they have to do is get through customs (they have to wait in line), and our Studio is only four hours by truck up the coast! Shouldn’t be long now!! They’re on the way!

And something else: The other day I remembered that I had designed a bluebird wrapping paper for Spoonflower. I even had a roll in my closet. Really nice thick gift wrap. Which means that the bluebird gifts I ordered for my girlfriends are going to be wrapped in bluebird paper!

Which made me leap out of my chair to go design some Santa paper!

And some leafy fall paper for the Autumn cups! Those last two designs, Santa and fall leaves, should show up on the Spoonflower website within the next two weeks. And btw, these designs are not only gift wrap, but they’re also on fabric and wallpaper too! Spoonflower is amazing! And GUESS WHAT European Girlfriends? Spoonflower is available worldwide! AND, more breaking news, last week I found a UK retailer called Nursery Thyme who will carry our mugs exclusively in her store in Devizes, Wiltshire, and on line …. you can get your cups starting this very day (it’s Carole’s first order from us, she didn’t take a whole lot of them), so if you’d like to have one, now would be a good time to do it) without paying the crazy shipping from USA. Your cups go directly from the factory in Staffordshire to her store in Wiltshire! We are the world! Which is saying something considering our cups are only sold in eight small but wonderful stores in America, one in England, and here in our online store!

So what else . . . well you know I’m writing about Downton Abbey and Highclere today, as promised, but I thought I’d show you the Easter Lily blooming in my garden in July. They’re actually a midsummer flower, forced for Easter display. It’s high summer on the Island and hot hot hot!  

Even the wild turkeys need a bath . . . (other people get flittering wrens and finches around their birdbaths, and we get this) ~ we’ve actually adopted this one I think.

As my Twitter Girlfriends know, I brought some cat mint in for Jack . . . and he L O V E D it!

Soon after this glassy stare, he became comatose, curled onto my desk, and didn’t move for three hours. 😻

Hydrangea. Used to be daylilies were most visible “Island flowers” but I think now it’s hydrangea. They go so good with picket fences and black and white kitties.

I picked these wildflowers on the dirt road on our way out to the water this morning, on our walk. There are two small secrets hiding in that bouquet.

I got out my wildflower books to find the names of our found flowers … but the secrets are there on the right. Oh yes. The trees in our woods are already “reconsidering their leaves.” 🍂 And I heard cicadas singing loudly, first time this year, while hanging clothes on the line the other day . . . so time, she is passing . . .🍁

So here we go Girlfriends. Our day at Highclere Castle was better than I even imagined!

We stayed here the night before . . . and had a delicious dinner in the pub . . . before we squished our fat selves into the smallest . . .

teensiest room imaginable. I Think maybe a Model T might have lived here at one time. Or perhaps a horse. I’m taking this photo from the stall door. We were fine, and glad we only booked one night!

But of course I loved the William Morris wallpaper.

And breakfast was wonderful… I mean who could resist “Dippy Eggs and Soldiers” on the menu? I had to see what it was. I thought some sort of kid’s food.  Well, there it is, “Soldiers” are strips of toast about 1/2″ wide. One more in the long line of proof-positives that the Brits are an adorable people. 🇬🇧

So, fortified with many soldiers, off we go to hunt down Highclere Castle…. Hill and dale, map man and Sat Nav guiding our way.

Round the bend we go on the wrong side of the road . . . because all the way to heaven, is heaven. 💞

Yes! Castle closed! But don’t worry! When we got our tickets, we discovered that the castle was closed ~ due to the lateness of the season ~ it was already October.  I took a moment to have a melt down, but then discovered they were offering a special event to celebrate the 300th birthday of Lancelot Brown … the famous 18th century landscape architect, better known as Capablity Brown, the man who designed the gardens for Highclere (and lots of other places). We learned on the Highclere website that for a little extra money, a “limited number of guests” could have an exclusive Castle and Garden tour that included a short lecture on the life of Mr. Brown, and a welcome from the Countess of Carnarvon. So we said, of course, sign us up!

I thought you might like to see other landscapes designed by Capability Brown, this one is near our friend Siobhan’s house. He designed over 170 parks in his lifetime, surrounding the finest country houses and estates in England, and many of them still exist … He always included water, long inspiring views, trees as focal points, follies, bridges, swans and lambs.

This one is at Blenheim Palace, where Winston Churchill spent much of his childhood. You can go to these places and walk miles and miles through some of the prettiest countryside there is. We took pictures on that bridge.

And this one, some of you may remember, where we had our BYO Picnic Basket Party last year, near the grass bridge at Stourhead in Wiltshire. After touring lots of English gardens, you actually begin to recognize those designed by Capability Brown:  the clues are water, bridge, follies, and trees . . . often viewed through tears in your eyes.

Our picnic was almost like Downty, sans servants. BUT, we win because our food was real!

I had the diary I kept on our last visit to help me tell this story, sloppily written as it is, it was a huge help in reminding me what happened! Oh Downty, how we miss thee!

So down the long long driveway we went . . . lambs on all sides of us . . .

Camera at the ready, braking for pheasants . . . we would brake for peasants too, but nary a one to be found . . .

Here’s our first glimpse! MUSICA. Rather recognizable don’t you think?  I always try to imagine myself in a horse and buggy when I come up on these houses . . .

Almost there! Note size of amazing tree on right!

Oh my goodness . . . it’s deja vu all over again.

Just like on TV!

We parked . . .

I tried to take a picture with Petey ~ this was as good as it got. I was in too much of a hurry and he refused to hold still!

Joe was much more steady than me!

So yes, you just walk through the gates and up the path to the front door! Amazing, just sitting there for centuries, and now anyone can go there!

Most surreal thing in the world!  Halloooo, anybody home?

We were met at the front door . . . in the entrance Hall, and taken to my very favorite room from the TV show, the dining room! We entered through that door in the back corner, but it didn’t look like this ~ the dining table wasn’t there. So I didn’t recognize it.

Here’s the layout of the downstairs . . . The dining room was filled with chairs for our group, there was a podium up front ~ I didn’t even realize I was in my favorite room! I was expecting that long dining table!  The large gorgeous oil painting we saw in every show, Charles I on horseback, was behind us, I was too delirious to see it! Later on, during the tour, I asked our guide, “Where’s the dining room?” She looked at me funny and told me I’d been sitting in it for a half hour. I had to go back!

And it all came clear. Here’s a  fun website that gives inside info about the filming at the dining table…

I believe this is the front hall, front door on the right, and that door in the right corner led to the dining room. They didn’t allow cameras inside, so I’m a bit mixed up …  had to get these photos from Google. Remember the gallery upstairs? Scene of the crimes? Dragging of the body? Birthing of the baby? Skulking around by Thomas, rude intrusion by smug Miss Bunting? We were able to go there too, and into all the bedrooms. It was truly wonderful.

The bedrooms are all around this gallery. In some ways, considering how big it is, it’s really a very cozy house.

Another of my favorite rooms (but I think now they all are!) and  even more beautiful than I expected, more gold and carved ceilings, luscious velvet and brocade-covered down cushions with petit point chairs and pillows, rich carpets and trimmed draperies, oil paintings of family in gilt frames, silk wall coverings, sparkling chandeliers and lovely marble fireplaces.

THIS is my favorite room. It’s the Morning Room, where the ladies go for their morning coffee and tea.  We were able to ask lots of questions about the paintings and photos and learned so much about the colorful history and architecture of Highclere Castle and the fascinating people who lived there. The Countess spoke to us before the lecture and couldn’t have been sweeter or more normal. She would probably make a very good Girlfriend! Tea at her house would be fun, and I have no doubt it would morph into Twine!

So off we go ~ after a seeing the house, we enjoyed a grand tour of the grounds around the house.

See the little white dots? They’re lambs of course! The long view, very Capability Brown!

One of the Highclere follies, and little pet gravestones leaning …

Our tour guide was telling me that all this brown weedy stuff around us was wildflowers … late in the season, and no longer in bloom.

I can only imagine what this must look like in the spring when it’s all in bloom!


One video is worth a hundred photos.

This way, my sweet!

Again, late fall is not prime garden time, but I loved the paths and the big balls of mistletoe in the far trees.

You always want to follow the curved path and see where it goes.

Very old, formal garden ~ that path in the way back leads back to the Castle.

Lots of pink roses between the hedges.

The last of the season … and undulating lawn . . .

Of course, every self-respecting Castle must have a greenhouse!

Quiet now, all put to bed for winter.

On our way back to the Castle, this bust of Capability Brown, surveying his creation, amongst the birds and falling leaves.

And back to the castle . . . (It’s like there’s a movie star standing just behind my shoulder and I’m pretending not to notice!)

I was right where Robert walked with darling dog, Isis. I loved this opening, the music, and that big sweet lab. Go HERE to see how the Downton characters do with American accents ~ too funny! But now, finally! It’s time for the real reason we came! Gift Shop! Tea!

So ’round to the back of the building we went . . . see Downton peeping over the top? 

Here we are at the courtyard. Isn’t it pretty, this brick building? I would be perfectly happy to live here!

I don’t know what was in this building, but I loved it that when they built these places there was no building department telling them OH no, you can’t do it like this! See what we would miss?

So off to the tea room we went!

All organized for us . . .

The tearoom’s painted-brick walls were covered with scenes from Downton Abbey.

Lots of cute things in the gift shop, everything from Highclere Stationery and key chains, to Downton Abbey feather boas and tea things, but these hats were my favorites!!!

Then back outside for more pictures. They let us stay on our own for as long as we wanted. It was delightful.

We have this Castle photographed backwards and forwards.

And here we are . . . saying goodbye . . .

Just as pretty leaving as it was coming in …. they send you out a different way. Look at that tree straight ahead … 

Magic!So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! What else? I’ve been painting like crazy and loving it! Painting because I want to, not because I have to!  Here’s a little preview for my Girlfriends. . . Believe it or not, this is for the 2019 calendar! Taking my own sweet time, and painting new things . . . pretty heaven around here.

While I was rifling through my diaries today, this piece of paper came flittering out. I had it all figured out in 2010! I do like God to be happy with me!

Thought I would leave you with roses! Though I forget the name of this one right now …

This is Just Joey! Smells wonderful! It’s that time of year!

Bye All!  Until we meet again . . . Blessings! ❌⭕️

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521 Responses to Highclere and Other Things of Interest

  1. Susan says:

    HI Susan, Did you get to go to Byfleet Manor?? The Lady Dowagers home? I have been lucky enough to visit Highclere and Byfleet and isn’t Downton Abbey just enchanting. I’m so excited for the movie to begin filming! I am headed back to England in September and will be visiting the little farm, Cogges Manor Farm, where Marigold stayed with the Drews family. We will also be going to Bettys Tea Room again where Lady Rose was with Atticus when it was raining! Do you have the lovely soundtrack for Musica?? Its a heavenly CD. Well, I am so sad I didn’t get to meet you in person over the 4th of July but so thankful that Joe as able to get the autograph in my book! Maybe one day you can come visit Charleston SC!! Hope you have a lovely evening. Love from the southern belle Susan

    • sbranch says:

      We were on our way to Bath for our friend Rachel’s Birthday and didn’t have time for Byfleet! Maybe next time. That’s my vision of the perfect house! How fun that you have your trip all planned, and then all the serendipity that just naturally comes in the English countryside! I have no doubt that we will be in Charleston one of these days! What’s the best bookstore in Charleston for me to contact for a book signing … any ideas? And I’ll see you there!

      • Susan says:

        I have sent a preliminary email to Shaundi Allen at Crm2919@bn.com who handles Book Signings for West Ashley Barnes and Noble in Charleston. I will let you know back as soon as I hear back from her. I sent it today, Thursday July 20, 2017. Do you have any idea on specific dates at this time you would be interested in doing this book signing? I phoned a few smaller book stores and they were interested in dates but I said I would have to ring them back once I had more information. Oh this is incredibly exciting! You will adore Charleston, only my advice is not to come in July or August as it’s dreadfully hot and muggy!

        • sbranch says:

          You are a fast worker Susan! We were thinking of going to Florida (Joe’s brother) and stopping in Charleston next March 11 and 12 … weather should be good then!

        • Susan says:

          i thought this might make you smile!! my story…about “stalking” susan branch!!
          I think the island air must have affected my brain because I became somewhat of a “stalker” while I was visiting Martha’s Vineyard. I grew up loving and collecting romantic and lovely things. I used to clip the “Love Is” drawings out of the newspaper. I saved seagull feathers I found on the beach along with sand dollars and sea shells. I used to cut paper dolls and recipes out of magazines and I owned a Holly Hobbie cup that said, “Start each day in a Happy Way.” I’ve tried to adhere to that wise quote over the decades. Soon after high school, I was married and started my own family and I came across a cookbook titled, Heart of The Home. I was quite smitten with the enchanting artwork and recipes of the author, Susan Branch. Over the years I acquired many of her other cookbooks and treasures such as, wall calendars, tea towels and scrapbook supplies. If you are not familiar with the work of Susan Branch, you will find it delightful that all of her work is hand written and personally illustrated in beautiful watercolor paintings. The works of this “kindred spirit” touched me and gave me courage and inspiration as a mother and wife and homemaker. I wanted to become the characters she painted and wrote about. The perfect little homemaker, baker, decorator, entertainer, friend….
          Now, many moons later, I find myself on route to this lovely lady’s town of Vineyard Haven, Martha’s Vineyard. The place she now calls home. Of course, I must pack my books and take them with me because I am sure that on a small island, I can find her and she will be so happy to meet me she’ll invite me to tea!
          Thus the “stalking” reference. I easily found her stately two story white house as we passed it on route to our little cottage rental having driven off the ferry. There is was at the end of the street, all adorned in red, white and blue majesty in honor of the fourth of July week. We pass by and I lean out the window hoping to see her working in her sweet flower garden and if I had, I would have shouted out the window, hellooooo Susan, How is your garden doing today? But alas, not a vision of anything moving within sight. Drats!
          We circle the corner and pull into the drive of our little home away from home on the island. I can literally see the rooftop of this adored celebrity from the upstairs window as I am unpacking. My breath catches in my throat as I wonder just how I am going to meet this beautiful friend I’ve yet to meet. I just know we will become best friends! After all, she writes and paints like I do in my heart and mind, (if I had the talent) and we like all of the same things, teacups, the sea, vintage linens, flowers, birds, cooking, picnics, everything really, well, except cold winters!
          As we depart the cottage for our first outing, Nigel gives me this look, and he knows without even asking me, that yes, as a matter of fact, I would like to drive around the corner for a drive by. She might be out in the yard this afternoon! No such luck. On we drive. The island is quite enchanting and in full bloom with the most incredible array of flowers! The hydrangeas are spectacular, as are the tiger lilies. Most all the places we pass are packed in with flower boxes, yards and yards of flowers, barrels planted with flowers and curb after curb of flowers! Susan Branch is always posting on her blog about her tender garden of flowers. Oh, how I wish I could see her garden in person. Just go knock on her door, said the lady we are renting from. She’s quite a nice person. But I just read on her blog this morning, how she is enjoying some time off, doing absolutely nothing and well, kindred spirits know not to bother someone when they are doing nothing. I am a huge fan of, as I always say and I quote, “Doing Nothing Slow-ly.”
          Another day perhaps.
          Tomorrow comes and goes and no sighting of Mrs. Branch or her dear chap of a husband Joe. She mentions that they often go for walks down to the lake. Every time we go in or out, I circle by, passing by the back entrance of her driveway, hoping to get a glimpse of her out working in the yard, or walking hand in hand with her prince charming! Nothing.
          One day the car is home, the next day it’s gone. One day I see a van in the driveway with the lovely enhanced A Fine Romance images printed all over the side and the words, falling in love with the English countryside and a little lamb’s head! This is in reference to one of her most recent published books titled, A Fine Romance. Part of her trilogy. Buy them, read them, I know you’ll love them!
          So, I’ll make this long story short, no sightings the entire time I was on the island!! I looked when we went on picnics, I looked at the street fair, I looked at the outdoor concert, I looked at the flea market and the black dog bakery and Lake Tashmoo!! NO Susan to be found. Finally, it was the afternoon before we departed the island the next morning and I was down trodden that I was leaving without a sighting and without an autograph and we were coming back to the cottage one last time to pack up for the mornings ferry ride back to the mainland. Nigel spotted some movement in the side yard and pulled over to the side of the road, several houses down the block. Yes, I see. Someone is going back and forth between the outbuilding barn and the house. I’m too far away to see who. Even so, this was my last and only chance!! I hopped out of the car, grabbed the Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams hardback out of my backpack, and started up the slight hill to the front of the house. The closer I got to the house, the slower I walked. I was incredible nervous! Why was I so nervous? I stopped just on the sidewalk by the edge of the side drive and called out, hellooooo. A nice-looking gentleman came walking towards me and I knew in a moment it was the beret wearing, kind hearted husband of Susan. Mr. Joe. We spoke briefly, and I felt like I was intruding and he said Susan was very busy at the moment and they were about to leave and perhaps, could I come back another time or tomorrow? I explained that we were departing on the morning ferry, and that I didn’t need to meet her in person, if only I could have my book signed (what was I saying, I so desperately wanted to meet her in person, I wanted to walk in her garden and have tea in the back yard and look at her latest paintings, and meet Jack her cat, and see her china collection, and the list goes on and on!!!) Joe asked what my name was and said, well, let me have the book and let me see what I can do!! That sweet little man took my book inside to Susan and she signed it and sent it back out to me. I was so happy that tears came into my eyes! What a kind, kind, kind man to make that happen. I practically skipped back to the car, wiping the tears away so Nigel wouldn’t see. He wouldn’t understand. Maybe he would understand. I hugged my treasure close and smiled big as I leaned out the window to take one last photo of her lovely home as we drove by for the last time. Farewell my beloved literary friend. Perhaps one day our paths will cross again. Until then, I am eagerly awaiting your next publication! PS. Thank you Joe!

          • sbranch says:

            LOL! I was wrapped in a towel when Joe brought me your book, just out of the shower! I hope you enjoyed the Island Susan!

          • Chris Wells Knickerbocker, W Tx says:

            What a fun story to read! And it is how we all feel about Susan!! I hope you get to meet in Charleston!

          • Maureen says:

            That could be me! Lol What a funny story. Susan, I know if I met you I would just say, “Hi Susan!” like an old friend and you wouldn’t have any idea who I was.

          • sbranch says:

            I’d probably see “kindred spirit” in your eyes!

          • Georgia says:

            What a great story. I so enjoyed. You said you couldn’t paint, well girlfriend, YOU CAN WRITE . I do hope you are journaling. I’m sure your stories are endlessly wonderful.
            Georgia in Kona

          • Susie (Rocky Point, NY) says:

            What a wonderful post about stalking Susan from Susan, read by this Susan. I could feel all the suspense! Motto: Dream on and never give up!

          • sbranch says:

            Good motto!

          • Mary Brehm says:

            It’s like Susan’s Beetles Moment! HaHa! I have wished the same thing too. All of us kindred spirits. <3

          • Susan says:

            thanks for all the kinds words everyone 🙂
            Chris, I sure hope we can make Charleston work too!
            Maureen, I was thinking the same.
            Georgia, THANK YOU!! that sure made me smile and made me want to write more stories! Susie, so true, we have to keep our dreams alive!!
            Mary, yes us kindred spirits are always attracted to each other. Isn’t that splendid!
            And to Dear Susan, No word yet from B&N but I will try other book stores too!!

          • Shirley Burt says:

            I so enjoyed your story. Thank you. I would feel just like you did, always looking for “her and her prince charming”. And look, you met him. And as we all know, he is kind hearted.

          • sbranch says:

            Kindest of hearts.

        • Susan says:

          Hi Susan,
          Below is the message I received today. I’m so incredibly thrilled! What shall I do now? I don’t have contact information on how to contact you other than your blog, so I am adding hers for you. I will help in any way I can. Please let me know how I can help. Shall I inquire at another book store or do you prefer just one? What time of the day is best for you? This is exciting.
          Love from the southern belle Susan

          Hi Susan,

          We would definitely like to host Susan’s book signing. We are pretty open on dates right now, so let me know what dates you would like and I’ll put it on the calendar.

          Shawn Glen
          Assistant Manager
          Barnes & Noble West Ashley
          1812 Sam Rittenberg Blvd.
          Charleston, SC 29407
          o (843)556-6561 f (843) 556-9112

          • sbranch says:

            Perfection! Couldn’t be better, thank you so much Susan! Should we just get in touch and set up the rest of the details? Joe’s gotten pretty good at it this last couple of years! We’ll call and see what works best for them in our time frame. Thank you again! This is great news, Charleston here we come! And I promise I won’t be wearing a towel!

          • Susan says:

            Dear Susan,
            You have my email so will you please keep me posted!!! March 11 and 12!!!! Can’t wait!!!
            Many hugs!!!

  2. Gail G. from Port Jefferson says:

    What a wonderful post! Your pictures and descriptions are so perfect. And as I started reading this entry, Downton Abbey has come on PBS. Of course I am rewatching it as I had planned to do tonight. Serendipity for sure!

    Thank you for your beautiful writing, photos, and art. I don’t write often, but I always wait with anticipation for the next blog entry.

  3. Mary In St Louis says:

    Love your post,as always, but I’m not sure that I understand what follies are. Can you explain ? Thanks, Susan xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      In the huge country houses like Downton or Stourhead House and many others, with their miles and miles of lovely gardens (you can go and walk through), they built smaller beautiful architectural “out buildings” they called Follies ~ romantic towers, Temples, fairy-tale cottages, and Grottos, just because they could. Most of them have no real use. But they could drive out to them in their carriages, and have parties and picnics there. Joe thinks they used them for tête-à-têtes for first kisses and assignations, lover’s rendezvous. I would say tea parties! I’m sure we’re both right!

  4. Marsha MacLean says:

    So sweet, Susan! I just love England, and this tour of Highclere was just the ticket this afternoon! Thanks so much for sharing… I love the picture of Joe in the tearoom with those giant photographs behind him!
    And your roses, my oh my! Just Joey is a stunner!

    • sbranch says:

      It really is. If roses grow where you live, try to find one. They are the dream rose, gorgeous color through the entire bloom, from bud to blown, strong fragrance, prolific ~ blooms all season with zillions of roses, and pretty much disease free. Who could ask for anything more … and for me, I just like Joey. xoxo

  5. Marianne in Hidden Meadows, SoCal says:

    And we’re so grateful that you followed God’s prodding of your heart….Another beautiful and inspiring post, Susan!

  6. Thank you m’lady for the lovely photos — Highclere is a dream! And . . . I love your darling lamb for the calendar; you can’t ever have enough lambs.

    • sbranch says:

      My thought exactly, pretty much the reason behind the painting! Looking for good excuses to include lambs in everything! 👏

  7. Melina says:

    Oh goodness, I’m the first to comment! It was so wonderful to click here and find a new posting.
    I loved seeing the cups, but I was enthralled by the Highclere photos. I’d love to find Downton all over again, watch each episode with anticipation, and get broken-hearted all over again.
    Thank you for being generous with your adventures. It’s almost like being there.

    • sbranch says:

      Love being able to show everyone! I think if we wait long enough, we can see Downton anew, like reading a favorite book again!

  8. Deborah in Odessa says:

    Yes, LIFE is Grand. Thanks for the tour. Lovely. I love the countryside. The castle is beautiful. The morning room is my favorite. So excited about the mugs. I love your birdbath. Your roses, I could almost smell the. I love Jack and the catnip…guess my 2 need some. Tata for now.

  9. sylvia in seattle says:

    What a treat! Thank you. My favorite pic is of you and Joe with the door to the castle behind you. I can almost smell the roses . . . I had just ordered one of the bluebird cups yesterday! Yay.

    • sbranch says:

      SO happy Sylvia, I know you will love it! Yes, we had to get someone to take that picture of us, but no way were we leaving there without one of us together! xoxo

      • Shannon(Pennsylvania) says:

        I agree with Sylvia…that picture of the two of you is wonderful! Makes me smile to see Joe’s trusty LL Bean tote in the pic, too☺️Delightful blog, so glad to know that you breaked for pheasants and would have for peasants, too! And, how I love those two little early signs of the change of seasons tucked in with your wildflower bouquet.Hugs!

      • sylvia in seattle says:

        It’s my birthday present from me to me, coming right up on Aug 7. I’m loving the one Heidi got me with the sheep lady. Wonderful in the hand and right amount of volume for morning coffee or tea.

  10. Debbie Clardy says:

    Delightful, Susan, as always!
    Thank you for your wonderful enthusiasm and zest for life in each of your posts.
    Debbie from Eastampton, NJ

  11. Patty in Redlands says:

    Life is grand, dear Susan, especially when we have you to help keep us focused on the good parts! Loved the visit to Highclere (oh how I still miss Downton!) and your Mary Had a Little Lamb calendar page and your roses and the teacups and and and! Thank you! ❌⭕️

  12. Nancy says:

    Oh my goodness! You can pack so much into a blog post! You truly are a teacher at 💟.What a blessing for the rest of us! I learned so much ~ Dippy Eggs and Soldiers; Capability Brown; comatose kitty; wildflowers of Martha’s Vineyard and Highclere; etc, etc, etc., etc. Just adore your new lawn ornament! Who needs a pink flamingo!?! Thanks for sharing your life with us through your prose and your paint … ✒🎨

  13. Polapla says:

    Are you aware there is a program on Netflix called “Escape to the country”. It is like House Hunters in England. I always think how much you would love this show. Haven’t seen you mention it so I wasn’t sure if you knew about it!

    • sbranch says:

      We loved that … and now we’re on to Hidden Villages with Penelope Keith ~ so beautiful. We “went” to Wales last night! We get it on Acorn. Not sure if it’s available other ways … you could Google it, you’ll love it!

      • Deb in Wales says:

        Oh, Penelope Keith’s “Hidden Villages” is such a gentle, delightful peek at some of Britain’s best kept secrets {and one or two, such as Clovelly that aren’t such a secret} I’ve been able to ‘visit’ my friend’s village in west Scotland on this series.

        • sbranch says:

          We’re only on our second episode…which was northern Wales. Very fun to see her driving around, just beautiful.

      • Cathy McCann says:

        So funny Susan. As I’m watching/DVRing Escape to the Country I read Polapa’s and your post above. I’m so devoted to England and everything English. I have to see Hidden Villages. Thank you for this enchanting tour.

        • sbranch says:

          You’ll love Hidden Villages. Shocking to think how MANY there are. England/UK never tires.

          • Cathy McCann in VT says:

            Found the series on YouTube and watched the Cotswold episode. Toward the end they showed a springer. Of course I have 2 English Springer Spaniels and my black one is identical to sweet dog shown on episode

          • sbranch says:


  14. Lorrie says:

    This is utterly delightful! What a grand visit to Highclere. Did you know that Lady Carnarvon has a blog and writes about some of the happenings there? How funny that you were in the dining room and found it unrecognizable. What’s a dining room without a table? Wonderful post. I miss Downton.

    • sbranch says:

      I guess a dining room without a table is a just a meeting room. With good art, and excellent fireplace. Yes, I’ve seen Lady Carnavon’s website … but not for a while…thank you for the reminder, Lorrie!

  15. Linda June says:

    Another wonderful blog. Thanks for taking me on all these journeys!

  16. Ann says:

    What a lovely, blog post to wake up to and a wonderful, utterly, utterly charming way to start the day with a tour of “Downty” Thank you so much Susan for finding an outlet for your mugs in the UK. I’m off to check it out and place my order now. Have a wonderful day.
    With love from Ann in Chester xxxx

  17. Ann says:

    Woohoo!! mug order placed. How excited am I?? What a great way to start a wet Thurday in Chester. Thank you, thank you Susan.
    With love Ann xx

    • sbranch says:

      I was JUST thinking about you and wondering if you’d seen this yet! Hooray! Have a cozy day, Ann!

  18. Nancy B says:

    Yes, Downty how we miss thee. Thanks for sharing this, Susan. So glad you got to go there on your trip. The photos are beautiful. 💕💕.

    Happy rest of the summer!
    Nancy (from Bakersfield)

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Nancy! Hope you are staying cool over there! xoxo

      • Nancy B says:

        It really has been quite the summer with temps in triple digits for most of it.😥😥. I could sure use a trip to Pismo right now….would love to put my toes in the ocean! nt

        • sbranch says:

          I can just imagine. My sister lives in the desert, it’s the opposite of here. Too hot to live without conditioning the living spaces, only we do it on the other side, and never off the heat in the winter. I hope earth keeps allowing us to live here!! Stay cool Nancy. xoxo

  19. Pat W. says:

    Oh Susan…you have done it again. Sharing your adventures with us….thank you. Such a pleasant blog. Made me miss Downton even more.

  20. Deb in Wales says:

    Sorry, Sorry, Sorry ~ I didn’t mean to deafen you with my squeals of delight! Keep Calm and Breathe! I’ll be back later to read and revel in your writings, but for now there is a Very Important job to do ~ I think you know what it is ~~~ be right back!

    ~~~Waving~~~from Across the Pond~~~A Very Excited Deb in Wales xoxo

  21. Yay, I hopped right onto the British site and ordered a Bluebird Mug. Doing the happy dance here right now! I am so excited. You don’t know how long I have wished that we could buy your merchandise over here in the UK without the exorbitant shipping from America Fees! Loved your visit at Downton. I watch it in reruns, over and over again. I can never get enough of it. If that means I am obsessed, then I am obsessed. What I really want to know is, did you buy a hat? I don’t know how anyone could resist. Love Jack, and these little glimpses into your beautiful life. Thanks for all that you share with us. God bless. xoxo

    • PS – I meant I watch the show over and over in reruns, lol, not this post. although I could quite happily do that as well!

    • sbranch says:

      You know what my problem is in the hat buying department? I can’t choose! I look and look and try on, and then I take pictures of them and leave, because they are all too cute! Even yesterday, I saw that picture, went to the Highclere Gift Shop online, ready to try again ~ but no hats there! Crazy. Next time I go over I am going to try to come home with a hat! YAY on the Bluebird Mug, Marie. You will Love it … and just like with Deb in Wales, it makes me so happy to think of you having your morning tea in a mug by me! And obsession with Downton Abbey is a good thing. I really need to start it from the beginning. Have a lovely day Marie! xoxo

    • Helen Edwards says:

      Marie asked the same question I had. Loved the plaid hat 🎩! I may need to pay shipping in the other direction if I can find it! I too have done the same thing many times, waited and then found my chance has past. Thanks for sharing your lovely experience!

  22. Deb in Wales says:

    Okay, I’ve done it! Ordered “Autumn” ~ it was a long, long wait until 9:00 a.m. because I wanted to do this in person over the phone {is that an oxymoron “in person over the phone”} or just a contradiction? I know someone out there will know!

    Anyway, Carole is just as lovely and adorable as you can imagine, and we had a nice little chat, and my mug will be posted to me today! How do I say in words how excited and happy this makes me? I know Girlfriends across the world will know, so just feel how I’m feeling right now, as they’ve all done lately! Rambling again ~~~

    On to Downton and now the Downtony music is playing in my head again, wrapping me up in a cosy, warm blanket of bliss, all hygge and dreaming of those winter nights when such elegance, grace, charm, beauty, and a dash of intrigue and a soupcon of malice graced our television screens. I think I love the bedrooms best of all, there must be grand views over the near estate lands, and to have a real coal fire in the bedroom must be cosiness beyond.

    I wrote in my blog, just yesterday, about the first gentle whispers of the scent of Autumn heard in the morning on the west winds, and although I’ve yet to find a turning leaf, the wild poppies are nearly spent in the garden and the wild blackberries are maybe a week or two at most from harvest, and that’s another indicator I look for every year ~~~ soon there will be jam and cobblers scenting the kitchen and the cottage ~~~ Why, this morning I needed a light jacket as I went about early morning outside chores!

    I could ramble on a while, but the clock is ticking and I’ve been up a while and could use my breakfast now!

    ~~~Waving~~~from Across the Pond~~~Deb in Wales xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so happy for you! You’ll love it Deb, and it gives me chills to imagine you having tea from that cup in wooly wild and windy west Wales! One of our English Girlfriends ordered a cup directly from us and with the shipping it cost her something like $85 😲 … Unacceptable! I feel so much better now! And yes, I liked Carole, over the phone, immediately. A sweetheart! Loved reading about where your season is going … happy day to you, hugs to your mom! xoxo

      • Deb in Wales says:

        Thank you, hugs safely delivered. Always lots of hugs in this cottage, all day, every day. It’s one way of holding on and slowing down time a little.

        No comment on the $85.00! I’ve been there, done that in reverse for years living in America.

        Carole said she is concerned for our postie, as I told her I’ll be hiding in the bushes tomorrow morning!

        ~~~Waving~~~some more!

        • sbranch says:

          Slowing down time, it’s a gift. What does that mean, concerned for our postie? Is your mailman a mugman?

          • Deb in Wales says:

            LOL ~ Yes, he will be bringing my mug! I often lurk in the bushes {metaphorically speaking, of course} when waiting for happy mail!

          • sbranch says:

            Oh good, I just thought he might run off with it. I’m the same way, crouched in leap position for fun mail!

  23. Helen Henderson says:

    Thank you Susan, I have been anticipating your bog about Highclere for a long, long time!

  24. Margaret Matlock says:

    Love this blog and all the beautiful pictures . Thanks for letting me see all the wonderful places through your eyes.

  25. AngieTink says:

    Good~Morning Sweet~Sue…. 🙂 Oh How I Miss #DOWNTY!!! My Mom (Irene) & My Sister Karen Are Actually Watching The Entire Series All Summer! They Own Every Episode On DVD So I Told Them That I Must “Borrow” Their DVD~Set When They Are Done… 🙂 & They Said “Okie~Dokie” 🙂 Your Blog Is #Delightful & I Adore Every Photo!!! Especially The Ones With You & Joe! 🙂 & Of Course #JACK! 😉 #Meowzers…..Oh How I Love Your Mugzzz With The Paper To Match…Time For Me To Go #SHOPPING I’ve Been Saving Me~Money! 🙂 We’ve Had Lots Of Thunderstorms At Night Then Hot & Steamy All Day…..Summertime~In~Florida… Very Tropical Indeed…. I Am Savoring These Sweet~Sizzling~Summer~Dayzzz But I Am Already Dreaming Of Autumn & Pumpkins & Cooler~Dayzzz…. Wishing You & Joe & Jack A Wonderful~Weekend #SweetestSue! xoxo Poof! 🙂 😉 🙂 P.S. It’s Been a Very Long Week! Our Jonboy Is Mending Well & Feeling Lots Better! (AMEN!) 🙂 & Thank~You! 🙂 Hugzzz & Always LOVE 🙂

  26. Pam Butterick says:

    Loved every beautiful bit of this! EVERY detail. 😍 And last year, we went on a choir trip through Wales, and reading comments from girlfriends brought delicious and beautiful memories of our own trip back to mind. An extra bonus gift from you. Lovely. Thank you. AND, imagining the Autumn wallpaper….perfect for Oak Bluffs and beautiful MV autumns. 🍁🍂❤️

  27. Gill Smith says:

    Wonderful blog about Downton and Highclere Susan. You MUST visit is Spring, the gardens are an absolute delight, with all the wildflower meadows in full bloom!
    The long border of lavender smells devine! I can really see you in one of those hats too!
    Gill Devon U.K.

  28. Sandi says:

    Dear Susan, All one has to do is hear that ‘Downton’ music and I really forgot how much I miss being a part of their world! Thank you for the wonderful tour, I felt I was right there with you and Joe! Now off to discover the links you put in the blog. Your roses are beautiful!

  29. Good Morning Susan! I am pretty sure that you can hear me and my daughter, Katie, oooohing and aaahhhing as we go through your blog post seeing all of the wonders of Downton Abbey right here in front of our eyes!!! Thanks so much for sharing your joyful visit with all of us!!!!! Our FAV photo was the one of Joe entitled “This way, my sweet!” And yes, life is most definitely grand!!! Thank you once again!

  30. Another wonderful post. Downton is lovely. And your roses are to die for. I would have to have a hat from the gift shop. This post has sure brightened my day! Such delightful photos as always.

  31. Angie in Arkansas says:

    Good Morning from Arkansas!
    I noticed in your blog you mentioned there were a few stores in America selling your cups. I have already ordered from your website but I thought they might be selling some other items of yours. I love finding your items wherever, it is like a treasure hunt! It’s not easy, I don’t think people like letting go of your items, I know I don’t. I do love to go to garage sales, resale shops, antique store, flea markets and little gift shops but SB stuff is hard to find. So if you can let us know those stores in America that would be wonderful but if you can’t that’s okay. I will continue my SB Treasure Hunt!!! We also have your web site which is awesome. Love your pictures in this blog Thank you Susan & Joe for finding beautiful things in this world & sharing them with us!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, not sure I know where all of them are, but I’ll try … British Emporium is in Texas. Bunch of Grapes, here on the Island, in Vineyard Haven. The Cook Shop, Brewster, Cape Cod, MA. Wishful Thinking, probably CA, but I don’t know where this one is, you could ask customerservice@ Barbara Cheatley Antiques in Claremont, CA. Happy Go Smile in Cayucos, CA. Hampstead Inc in Santa Barbara CA. And Oakhurst Giftworks in Oakhurst CA.

      • Charissa says:

        Wishful thinking is in McKinney, TX and is owned by the delightful Patty Streber. She has an excellent selection of Susan’s things. It’s about 35 minutes from my house and I get up there every chance I get. She is the nicest person you would ever want to meet and has a darling store!!! If you ever get over this way… McKinney is the cutest little town with old buildings full of mom and pop boutiques, antique stores, and wonderful restaurants with lots of little Victorian gingerbread cottages and a wonderful farmer’s market. They are always having some kind of event such as the upcoming Oktoberfest. For Christmas, they have a Dickens Christmas with carolers in period dress (some of the shop owners dress up too) and fake snow and booths and a tree lighting. There are darling little B and B’s to stay in. Book early! It is definitely a destination. And no, I do not work for the McKinney Board of Tourism LOL 🙂 It’s just a cute town near me and I love Patty and want to support small businesses. Tell her I sent you;)

        • sbranch says:

          Thank you Charissa! Kellee and Sheri have told me how much they like Patty … I think she leaves comments here sometimes too ~ I believe she was one of the first stores to contact us about carrying our things. We were in Austin last year, and stopped at the British Emporium in Grapevine…so close to McKinney! Will have to go back!

          • Charissa says:

            Oh shoot I meant that as a reply to Angie, but hit the wrong reply button. Duh BUT a reply from you always makes my day:))))!!!! So yay. I will never forget our Grapevine meeting!!! It still makes me tear up ! Patty is the sweetest and loves you too. That’s how we became friends… I walked into her store and saw all your things. There were other customers there looking at them and I started to tell them all about you (I used to be in sales. It’s a hard habit to break and you are an easy sell:) lol) and then Patty’s darling employee walked over (she was reading your book) and we started chatting about you too and she said that I just had to come back and meet Patty another time because she loves you too. And do you know what that sweet lady did, who had never met me before? She asked if I had had lunch yet and told me to run down to the cutest little cafe and get a salad to bring back for myself and we would have lunch together and chat!!!! We chatted and giggled and then I shopped. Patty makes beautiful jewelry and I bought even more of your products. Patty even stocks some of your out of print books A true Susanbranchophile. So we are friends just because of you. Just thought you might like to know:) xoxoxo

          • sbranch says:

            That is SO sweet. Don’t you just LOVE our connections? I do, just love it. All good hearts, kindred spirits. Thank you Charissa!

      • Angie in Arkansas says:

        Thank you!!!

  32. Jane Franks says:

    Oh, dear Susan! This just came in this morning! So much to comment on. All of it just wonderful. I so loved re-visiting Downton, and the darling photos of you and Joe throughout I enjoyed as much as the castle! I saw someone else mention Lady Carnarvon’s blog. I subscribed and it has been truly very interesting. She tells so much about the history and building/construction; very educational, too. My friend, Ann, (of the English wedding chapel, and many visits to England) has commented on Capability Brown, too, and just adores his gardens and always has made a point to visit many of them. And the mugs! I’m so excited! I ordered the Martha’s Vineyard one and can’t wait to have it. I will cherish it and drink my morning coffee (I hope that’s OK! I’ll drink tea, too!) every morning on my porch as I journal and prepare myself for the day! Again your post has been so delightful and comes at such an opportune time, as I’ve had a few momentary meltdowns lately. I’m so glad you admit having them occasionally, too. That’s what they are. Momentary. It’s called “life”. Then I pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again. It’s not giving up that counts. These posts all so help to lift my spirits. And help me to visit these marvelous places I want to see. Off to work on our book! We are making progress!! Hugs, Jane xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      SO right Jane, it’s the picking up that matters the most. I’m so glad you are here with us!

  33. Ellette says:

    Oh Susan! Life is grand and thank you for sharing your life with us! I have always been an Anglophile (my maiden name is Upham and there is a town in England by that name) but I have never been to England. It is on my bucket list and even more so since reading your books and blog. So I am dreaming and dreaming makes it so, correct?

    • sbranch says:

      Dreaming and taking steps the the direction of your dream. Like a plan, and a date on the calendar.

  34. Ellette says:

    One request again-can you reprint your “Girlfriends” book? Loved it and would love to share it with many of my girlfriends!

  35. Ann Woleben says:

    Castles, sheep, tea – my, oh my. I sooo miss Downton! You have the most wonderful adventures – ever grateful you are willing to share them. You must be getting excited about your upcoming return to England – looking forward to your posts from the next adventure! My favorite quote in this post is the one about old-fashioned roses and homes that are lived in – comfortable and inviting – come in!

  36. Ann Y. says:

    Oh, Susan – thank you so much for sharing your visit. It was magical! We were in London in January and I so wanted to go to visit the castle, but it was CLOSED in January and there were no events listed to get a peek. So I appreciate seeing it through your eyes…until we can go back to England and see it in person. Thanks for the nice break from packing and getting ready to move soon…it was bliss to read your post with my cuppa. Now back to the boxes !

    • sbranch says:

      First time we tried to see it, it was closed for filming, so I know how you felt! Gives us good excuses to go back! Good luck with the move!

  37. Karen says:

    Great post. The turkey on the birdbath is absolutely hilarious!

    • pat addsion (cave junction, OR) says:

      hello Karen, we have wild turkeys here, come around summer they all come over to get water from our ducks’ swimming pools. so we keep them clean and full of cool water for the ducks to swim in and the critters to drink. you should see the flock of turkeys that cross the road to come over to our barnyard to the pools, must be about 30-40 birds and a huge Tom!!! just love watching those birds, another good excuse for porch sitting. have a great day everyone, stay cool. hugs…. 🙂

  38. Beth from Iowa says:

    I love your friendly visiting Turkey (although he looks a bit like a vulture on your birdbath!) If one of those landed on our birdbath my kitties heads would explode!!🐱 I can only imagine how Jack responds to your visitor.

    Thanks for another wonderful blog – anxiously awaiting my mugs – I will resist my impulse to tackle every delivery person headed toward our house!😈💝

    • sbranch says:

      Jack is so smart, he realizes how much he doesn’t understand. So when a vulture lands on the bird bath, he just looks at me like, “Did you see that?” I nod and say, “Yeah, don’t worry. It’s nothing.” And while I get the camera, he goes back to what he was doing. Good girl on the delivery people! LOL!

      • pat addsion (cave junction, OR) says:

        y cats would be in the windows watching the bird, they love watching the turkeys troop through the yard to get to the ducks’ pools for water. you should see their eyes.. big as saucers.

  39. Gail G. from Port Jefferson says:

    I saw Melina’s post about wishing to see Downton Abbey again and just wanted to let everyone know that every Wednesday at 8 pm they are having a “marathon” of Downton Abbey- only one episode per week, over the summer on PBS. In NY in my area it is on Channel 21, so depending on where you live, check your local PBS station and you should be able to catch it.

  40. charlotte m. says:

    Thank you for another wonderful post with such beautiful pictures. Can I just assume “follies” are small structures on the property? Such beautiful grounds. Thank you again for all the lovely pictures.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, you can assume that, you’re exactly right … but in case you want to know more, if you scroll down in the comments, I left rather a long descriptive message of what follies are all about!

  41. Brenda says:

    The turkey in the birdbath photo is priceless!

  42. Cindy Conaty says:

    Hi Susan,
    I have loved your art work and the positive way you look at life and every time I read some thing of yours it reminds me to always see the beauty that surrounds us every day.

    I have ordered the Vineyard cup and I so can’t wait for it to get here!

    Not sure this is the place to ask but can you tell us where you get the rugs you use on your floors? Mostly the small ones in the kitchen.

    Thanks for all you to that makes us all love our lives.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you back Cindy … that was so nice! The rugs come from a wonderful company called Dash and Albert … they send mail order and make it very easy. I’m excited about the cups … they’re almost here!

  43. Clare says:

    Good Morning, Susan- just had to say Thank You for taking me on this wonderful trip to dear Downton……..ah, maybe one day. (Wipe tear away.) You’re a treasure. I always appreciate your blog entries. xo

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Clare! If you are American (not sure from address) you will LOVE how the Brits pronounce your beautiful name. Cla. Kind of, only better. You should go see!

      • Clare says:

        Ooo, that sounds so nice- kind of like how my former pre-schoolers would say my name! (PS I’m in Pennsylvania.) I think I’ll stay happy following your adventures, but maybe someday.

  44. Marianne in Mo. says:

    Loved the tour of Downton/Highclere! I’m sure it was a tickle to be there! SQUEEE! I so miss that show. Your turkey reminded me of our “Wingman”, a Canada Goose who was one of three who lived on our lake during fall/winter. I called him that because he had a damaged wing, and couldn’t fly. (the others were Donald & Melania, because he would fuss and chase, and she just stood around following Donald! HA!) They started coming up into our yard when they realized there was a bird feeder that the squirrels would conveniently empty onto the ground. Late spring, D&M left, but Wingman stayed, so we continued feeding him. Around June 10th, we weren’t seeing him any longer. We hope he was finally able to take flight (he had been trying) and head to his more northern spot for summer. Can’t wait to see if he returns this fall. But D&M can stay away as far as I’m concerned. Hopefully they will return to NYC -get it? HA!

    • sbranch says:

      You are a wonderful story-teller Marianne. Can’t wait for the day we can say, and they lived happily ever after! xoxo

  45. Sandra says:

    Wonderful…your mugs in the uk…been onto the web page for nursery thyme and will ring them tomorrow..thank you so much..can,t wait… All the pictures were delightful…I do so love a tea room and gift shop.. happy writing and painting and enjoying nature..sending lots of blessings to you bothx

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Sandra! Say hello to Carole at Nursery Thyme for me! xoxo

      • Sandra says:

        Awaiting delivery..great to chat to Carole too..she I think has been surprised at the demand..lots of us friendof Susan in the Uk. Just loved my visit to Martha,s vineyard in 2000…and those amazing gingerbread cottages…the colours. I took photos of them all. I know you love them too…so the mug will bring special memories . Thank you x

  46. Karen Baron says:

    Dearest Susan, Thank you for the beautiful refreshing blog post!!I love traveling with you! I hope you do another book about the English countryside🌹 I would also love a book compilation of all your tea recipes and tea drawings!! Maybe? ☕️ I am looking forward to the new fabrics and wrapping papers!! I purchased the Afternoon Tea fabric and wrapping paper! It wraps presents so lovely! I gave my best friend your 30th Anniversary Heart of the Home and her family all commented on the lovely wrapping paper! Her mother kept it to recycle to use again! It is quite luxurious!! Thanks for your inclusiveness!! I have all my favors ready for ☕️ for my birthday tea party upcoming at Chado!! Thank you for your sweet inspiration!! Thanks for sharing what is next!! Anticipation is the best!! Until next time! Soon I hope! Love, your Girlfriend, California Karen B.

  47. Pat Mofjeld says:

    Thanks, once again, for sharing your trip. You do a wonderful job for us armchair travelers! 😂

  48. Jan Martin says:

    Such a treat to sit & read your blog! Going to Highclere is most definitely on my bucket list! I almost felt like I was there, looking at your photos. And the countryside….pure Heaven🌷. I think it’s time for me to rewatch Downton Abbey. 😊

  49. Catherine says:

    Thank you for this beautiful post! I haven’t made it to England yet, but a young friend from there is visiting with us in September. We are both folk artists and we found each other online. This will be our first time to meet in person. Hayley will be staying with us for 10 days and I’m so excited to hear her sweet accent in person!

  50. Carol Maurer ~ Kennewick, Wa says:

    I loved seeing Highclere Castle once again! Downton Abbey was one of my very favorite series. I just pictured you in each room with a BIG smile on at all times. The grounds are very pretty as well. That’s what I love about England…. the green hills and brooks.

    I ran across the post from one of the girlfriends, I didn’t catch her name. She was wondering where the stores were that were going to sell your cups. Anyway, one of the places was Oakhurst Giftworks in Oakhurst, CA. I love that place! That’s where Frank’s (my husband) cousin lives. We used to go visit them each year while living in No. Ca. We would stop at the gift shop each year as well. I’ve boughten a dozen and one things there. Mostly all tea related. They also have a room full of antiques. That’s where Frank would put himself while I roamed the other parts of the shop.

    All for now.

    Carol M

  51. Mary Lawrence says:

    Oh to be in England again.Thank you for the return to Downton Abbey.What a wonderful life you lead.God bless and it’s very hot here in Virginia as well.M. Elizabeth Lawrence

  52. Lovely, just lovely. Thanks for taking me to this beautiful place with you. xo

  53. Vicki South of Arroyo says:

    Enjoyed this tour of the English countryside and I also loved the tour of your own garden; gorgeous, gorgeous roses have you, Susan!

    You and Joe look SO happy in these photos.

    I caught one of your comments in the previous post, about the heat/humidity of summer and how you melt like Karo syrup. Had to laugh; perfect description. Even in SoCalif, we’ve also been dripping and just yesterday my husband said, “This is one of the most humid summers here I can remember!” I often think of how easily I could live in a cooler climate because I, too, detest this summer weather (despite loving other aspects of summer, which can’t but help us remember childhood with being on vacation from school, jumping in the yard sprinklers, that heavenly smell of Coppertone and Sea & Ski; icy popsicles; Dad doing his grilling outside so that Mom didn’t heat up the kitchen inside; open windows and birds trilling throughout the warm nights when no bed sheet was needed; a thousand ways we loved summer). I don’t think I’d have a problem living in England with less sun! I crave a dewy, cool day…and I, too, am now longing for autumn (when I’ll be sipping from my Susan Branch autumn cup with the darling painted squirrel).

    I went to the dollar store yesterday and they were unpacking a new shipment of boxes. School supplies, like erasers and pencils, wood rulers and mini staplers, notebook paper and 3-ring binders. Another heartfelt memory, getting ready for a new school year; I loved school! I got so nostalgic after my shopping that, afterward, I drove by my old high school, looking up at the decades-old, crank-out windows which I’d gaze out of in my early teens, the pepper trees lifting in a warm Fall breeze, wishing I could wear my new wool skirt made by Mom if it wasn’t yet so darn hot, daydreaming about my life to come (instead of General Science, which wasn’t my strong suit). I live in a small town and my schools are all still here, K-12 from so many years ago…and remarkably unchanged. One elementary school still has the same outside drinking fountains I slurped out of in 1959.

    Am pondering your note-to-self about God and where he’s happiest with you. It’s a self-realization that’s really to the point about knowing what you should be doing and where you’re supposed to be, and it’s stuff we know in our hearts, eventually, although it’s often hard to pull it off and make a change, so I’m glad for you, for these past seven years. Gives me hope for myself, ’cause I’m still trying to ‘get there’ (life and its roadblocks too often in my way!). But I’m zero-ing in on it!

    • sbranch says:

      Plato said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” I don’t know about that, but I’m with you, constantly zero-ing in on it! The joy of aging, being able to look back on your life and see how it unfolded, and the “things you knew all the time” and everything you spent so much time worrying about ~ when it was all just a matter of time … you learn SO MUCH… I totally believe in the wisdom of older people. ‘Specially because now I am one! 😄

      • I always refer to being where God wants me to be as My Next Adventure. I was in heaven living in southwest Florida for 15 years. But my next adventure started when my newly single daughter called me from North Carolina and asked for help caring for her special needs daughter before and after school. My Tom and I packed up and moved with our pups to a small fishing village outside of Camp LeJeune. While we miss Florida, the joy of being close to family again is a delight. As in the song by the Cranberries, my life changing every day in every possible way..

  54. Ann Meads says:

    Thanks for sharing your adventure with us. The photos are beautiful. See you next time you come over to Titcomb ‘s in Sandwich. Enjoy your summer. Ann M

  55. Melissa Myers says:

    Dear Susan,

    Thank you for yet another beautiful post. You really do transport me to England for a wee bit and it is magical. I am glad that you discovered dippy eggs and soldiers. They are a favorite at my house. Maybe one day you could design little egg cups for us all to enjoy. Not that you do not have enough on your plate already. =)

    P.S. The turkey in the birdbath is the funniest thing that I have seen in ages. Thanks for the giggle.

    • sbranch says:

      You are so welcome Melissa … think I will go make Joe some dippy eggs and soldiers right now!!!

  56. Lorraine Macholz says:

    Thank you, it is lovely that you share! I hope you continue to have fun and share some more!! I some day would love to get to England!!! For some reason every time I try something comes up!!! Oh well!! Enjoy your time there and again thanks so much!! xoxo

  57. Susan says:

    I turned 60 last week and think I’ll treat myself to one of your mugs. So pretty. I love all your work–your blog posts put me in a happy place every time.

    I’ve convinced Hubby to go to England in 2018. We’ll definitely go to Highclere. Your post reignites my Downton fever!

    Now to pull out your Summer book and remind myself to ENJOY while it’s still here. Thank you for the beauty you bring to the world.

    • sbranch says:

      You might try to get your tickets to Highclere asap ~ from reading all these comments, so many have tried and been disappointed because it was sold out. Thank you Susan . . . Happy Summer!

  58. Jane Townsend says:

    Good evening from England. Thank you soooo much for arranging a mug supplier for us Brits! The price difference without postage, import duties and handling charges is phenomenal, I’ve now got another order, but from Nursery time Ltd this time, on its way. I’m really looking forward to receiving it.
    BTW your whole post was enchanting to read.

    • sbranch says:

      I know … was it you that told me it was $85 for a mug to England from our Studio? Someone did, gave me a heart attack. SO happy to find this wonderful small company. Say hello to Carole (she owns Nursery Thyme) for me! Thank you dear Jane!

  59. Sarah Woodward says:

    We just returned from England last week (my husband is British 🙂 Unfortunately tickets were sold out for Highclere, but we did get to see the village & church in Bampton where they film all those other scenes. So much fun! Imagine our surprise when an old girlfriend of my husbands let us know on fb that she could have let us in to her cottage which was the outside of the pub in the show! Ha! They have a little gift shop in the library (hospital for filming) and are raising money for renovations. They even had a special edition Emma Bridgewater mug that she made special for the town! Bampton is adorable & worth visiting if you haven’t yet. I’ve enjoyed all your posts from England and have been a long time fan of all you do!

  60. Becky from Illinois says:

    Love your wild turkey! I also have one! Well not exactly mine but he greets me on Saturday mornings on my way to my 6:30 am Weight Watchers meeting. He is one of the perks of getting out and about so early. He plunks himself right in the middle of the road so I have to slow down and go off the road around him. The other perk is seeing the sunrise during the winter months. There are no words for that gorgeous castle by the way!

    • sbranch says:

      Definite perk! What a perfect time of day for a meeting! While it’s cool and still quiet.

  61. Sandi So Cal says:

    I’m only an hour from LA..maybe my cups could be dropped off on their way to your studio..lol lol…the bluebird cup is a gift for my 86 yr old cousin who loves all your things and has every book. I got her the Gratitude Book and we talked about it for an hour on the phone,she said its her favorite! She will be so excited that the cup will be wrapped in the paper too…what a treat! Great blog,loved the Highclere tour…lucky you!

  62. Barbara Weaver says:

    Yes, life is grand. Enjoyed this so much!

  63. Christine from CA says:

    Oh My such a lovely visit to home away from home “Downton Abbey” in my dreams! Such beautiful pictures and story, thank you for visiting for me and the beautiful reminders! Also, love your lovely garden and sweet Mary had a little Lamb! Isn’t life without stress wonderful!!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s good for us! I never realize the stress until it begins to ebb, and then I go, oh yeah, this is good!

  64. Caroline says:

    This was an absolutely heavenly post! I am going to order that amazing blue bird gift wrap! and I am so excited for my blue bird mug to come! I am sad to report that our blue bird family seems to have been evicted from their box by sparrows! Though my men sat in a rocking chair, on guard with bee bee gun, trying to keep the peace and have everyone live in peace and harmony. The blue birds have been gone for a week and I hope they are happy where ever, over the rainbow, they are and will come back next year and try again. In the meantime, I will drink tea from my blue bird mug. Oh Downton Abby! How we loved you! I will be there some day! Think I’ll cry when I buy one of those hats! Thank you for sharing of your beautiful Life! Wow wow wow!!

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve always heard that bluebirds are shy. I think they’ll come back next year! Thank you Caroline!

  65. Thank you for the vicarious travel treat! Just lovely….

    As to the gorgeous mugs, having recently moved and downsized, I gave away all but four or five of my own mugs (not sure how two people ended up with over 40 of them), but yours are sorely tempting me to up the number again. 😉

    And those roses! MUST have….

    ♥ Carolee

  66. Georgia says:

    Aloha from Kona Susan,
    I loved the morning room. Without a doubt I could would spend hours relaxing on those lovely chairs with a book & pot of tea. Thanks so very much for sharing all your pictures of Highclere & that gorgeous country side. To be able to roll down one of those inclines would be fun & awesome. Now that ancestry delving tells me I’m 1/2 British, I know why I get so excited about everything from there.
    We have the wild turkeys here & I get so excited when they come in our yard. Sometimes they bring their little chicks. Our kitties sit in the windows & talk to them. You sit back & wonder if they understand.
    So what’s new on the horizon about your books into a movie? Anxious to hear all about it.
    Thanks again for being you. “A Great Girlfriend”
    🌴 Georgia

    • sbranch says:

      The newest thing about the movie is that the screenwriter has a producer reading the books! Still nothing for sure even in the slightest, but at least it’s still moving along. Aloha to you in beautiful Kona, Georgia!

  67. Judith DiFrancesco says:

    I’m sitting here with my afternoon cup of tea and reading your newest entry. I always love the MUSICA you select. Looking forward to using one of your lovely tea cups soon! I can smell your roses from here!

  68. Cindy says:

    Thank you! Thank you! You give the best tours!

  69. Kate says:

    I may never get to England, but I feel like I’ve been there through your blog. Makes me love the country more and more. As for the song, “Mary had a little lamb,” I always heard it was about Mary the mother of Jesus and her little lamb, Jesus. There are several verses to it.

    • sbranch says:

      Sounds right, but look it up on Wikipedia, the little poem is actually taken from a true story … and the original schoolhouse has been preserved here in Massachusetts. Makes me love it even more!

  70. Susie (Rocky Point, NY) says:

    Thank you for the beautiful present this fine day… why, the new blog post about Downty, of course! With the music softly playing in the background and all your fabulous pictures, wow! I feel renewed and refreshed. I would love to start my day off in the Morning Room too. Very feminine. So me. I would like to stay in that room forever with a good book to read. I liked seeing the layout of the rooms. They even have a secretary’s room. I enjoyed seeing the happy looks on both your faces in all the pictures. I would not be able to select one of those hats either. I would get one and tell myself I could get one each and every time I come back. Now, back to the states: Your roses are magnificent. Gorgeous! Summer looks so good on Martha’s Vineyard. Thank you for sharing all this beauty with us Susan, and the beast, Jack (Beauty and the Beast), although he is not a beast at all, just a cute little heartthrob.

  71. Janet S. says:

    So lucky! My husband and I tried to get a couple of the “day of” tickets offered at the gate as the reservations online were completely sold out, but it was closed that day. So disappointed. Next time (?) I will need to plan farther in advance. Are you or have you visited Prince Charles’ Garden at Highgrove? Another garden you must get tickets for well in advance and absolutely worth it.

    • sbranch says:

      We had the same trouble getting in to Highclere … second try was the charm. And, yes, we went to Highgrove some years back. Loved it! That’s when I realized every house should have a gift shop attached!

  72. Patricia Mason says:

    What a lovely post – as always ! Beautiful pictures of an amazing place…
    Enjoy your blog so much – especially these posts on Jolly ol’ England – my home.. Been in the United States now longer than I lived there, but I was born there and a piece of my heart is there too.
    Just curious – when you travel to England, which ‘vacation rental company’ do you trust and like to use ? AirBnB, VRBO, Homeaway…..?

    • sbranch says:

      We use them all! We Google until we find the best we can find … but we’ve learned the hard way how fast the cutest places go! I left a piece of my heart in your homeland too Patricia. xoxo

  73. Jeanne says:

    Hi Susan…A most enjoyable post. Love experiencing Downton Abbey and Highclere with you. The quotes and photos are delicious…the tour was a delight…thankfully, you persevered and didn’t accept CLOSED as a option. 🙂 Jeanne – Doodle T…from New Mexico.

    • sbranch says:

      ‘Specially because this would have been the second time we tried to go. Got lucky this time!

  74. Bonnie B says:

    “Here’s a fun website that gives inside info about the filming at the dining table…”
    Hate to point out the link wasn’t a link, didn’t go any where. 🙂 enjoyed the post though. Wish the show had not ended.

  75. Hillaire Gallagher says:

    Hi Susan,
    Enjoyed the post….miss the show too: but so good of you to show as around.
    Really wonderful landscape work, I will have to research Mr. Brown.
    I see these type of things and it gets me out in the garden ( to at least weed)
    I have the 2018 calendar….glad you are working on the next….
    Keep cool and have a lovely rest of summer…
    Hillaire from NJ

  76. auntie em says:

    What a sweet post! It was so nice to look at each photo. Felt like I was right there beside you enjoying the views and the tour. There is a richness in the fall garden after the frost has struck all the plants and they are starting to store themselves away for the winter. Its not the bright colours of spring and the flashy show of summer but it has its own wonderful palette that was just hidden away until after the youngsters have had their showoff.
    Thank you for sharing your! (Now I am going back to admire that amazing wallpaper in your tiny stall (hehehe) and drool over those beautiful mugs and papers!)

    • sbranch says:

      You are so right about those colors. We get them out at the end of the road on our walk, so subtle you can barely see them, but very beautiful.

  77. Linda Ishmael says:

    Thank you for that beautiful visit to Downton Castle!! Your posts always make my days brighter. So glad you’ve had relaxing time to paint without the pressure. Enjoy the rest of the summer.

  78. Nancy says:

    Beautiful! Thank you!!! I love that there is a bust of Mr. Capability Brown in the garden.❤️

  79. Melissa Houston says:

    Hi, Susan,
    What a wonderful, delightful, happy post! I love visiting Downton Abbey’s setting vicariously though you and Joe. How much fun! Love those hats in the gift shop! I miss Downton and I’m so grateful to have the show on DVD and on my computer. The roses in your garden are spectacular and as a teacher, I love, love, love your painting of the little girl at the chalkboard! Thanks so much for sharing, Susan, your blog is something I cherish.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Melissa! So sweet to tell me. I thought that little girl would be perfect for September, back to school!

  80. Sharon says:

    What a perfect birthday gift for me to arrive in my inbox!
    Because today is my birthday 😎 I love you Susan and all things English.

  81. Shirley Burt says:

    Thank you, thank you bunny bunches for a delightful visit to one of our very favorite places. Of course, each room was your favorite how could they not be? Impossible to decide.

    Your turkey was a surprise, up on the birdbath. We have a momma turkey and her 4 babies still visiting outside our backyard. Elizabeth Anne, my springer is so astounded she wags her whole bottom with noises coming from her mouth, but no wild barking that she does at the squirrels, robins and mockingbirds. Perhaps it is the size?????

    My first SB mugs are fabulous for soup and cornbread, cereal with bananas and my husband says red beans and cornbread. One evening the neighbor came over to firm up fishing plans and my mug waited patiently filled with chicken noodle soup. My husband says, you better heat it up, I said no, feel it is still hot. Your mugs have impressed him greatly. I must say, I had no doubt they would be the best.

    Waiting patiently for the next ones to arrive.
    Much love and bunny hugs,
    Shirley Burt from Texas

  82. Debbie says:

    Thank you for such a beautiful post! It brightened up this oppressively hot & humid day!

  83. Cindy Maulin says:

    hi susan…boy oh boy…it’s been a while…so I’ll say…Halloooo…anybody home?? Had to catch my own breath looking at the pictures of you all approaching Highclere Castle….could have been right out of the script…what a delightful thrill to remember. I am certain that the memories of Downton Abbey came rushing back..and it’s always wonderful when something turns out even better that expected. I can feel the joy that you and Joe shared at this very special place…thank you for sharing it with us….as usual, your post was divine. Made me miss the Crawley’s, Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes (et el) even more!! So happy that you got to see it with your own eyes….
    SO this is our first summer in Florida…..beastly hot and humid ….. we are surviving just fine but taking a L O N G road trip out West (again) to explore
    and unearth new adventures….into Glacier and Banff after Cheyenne and the rodeo….always a wonderful trip and hopefully COOLER!!! We leave Saturday ….tell map man that we certainly could use his expertise!!! Even with a navigation system in the SUV and the GPS on the phones, I feel sure we will be using our $12.99 Rand McNally Road Atlas purchased at Wal-Mart…..back roads here we come!!!
    Off for a look at the British Open and a spot of tea….love the cups!! and thrilled that the new ones are in CA…not too far away!!! Wonderful!!!
    Have a great weekend you two and stay cool……
    love, cindy
    ps..the hats are my favorite too…………………………..

    • sbranch says:

      Have a wonderful trip Cindy! We’ve always wanted to see Banff … sounds like such a beautiful place! Enjoy!

  84. Mary Ann in Missouri says:

    I absolutely adore all your garden pictures. I wonder, do you battle Japanese Beetles there? The lady that owns my favorite garden center here in Mid-Missouri came from the New England area about 25 years ago and said they had them terribly there. They only showed up here 4 or 5 years ago. Horrible pests. Every year they eat my rose bushes down to nothing. They also eat the blooms off my Purple Loosestrife within a day of hitting our yard. This year I tried to fight them naturally, not wanting to spray chemicals that harm the bees, etc. So, I went out every morning and evening and hand picked them off, dropping them in soapy water. That worked well for about 2 weeks, then one day I looked out my kitchen window and all my roses were completely covered with them. It breaks my heart every year. …Anyway, your flowers are breathtaking, so I hope that means they don’t reach the island.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, they are awful. I do what I was taught when I first move here ~ same as you…I roll them off my plants into a jar of mostly bleach with a little water. It’s icky, but it’s organic. I’m not sure we have the infestation that you do, but don’t give up! Remember every dead Japanese Beetle is a Japanese Beetle that will have no children. (I’m very cutthroat when it comes to protecting my garden!)

      • Mary Ann in Missouri says:

        Love this reply, as that’s exactly what I tell myself everyday as I pick them off
        . It reminds me of the story of the man picking starfish off the sand and throwing them back into the ocean. When asked why he bothered when he couldn’t possibly make much of a difference to them all, he picked one up, threw it back and said, “I made a difference to that one, didn’t I?” Only, it’s in reverse, in the case of Japanese Beetles. I’m sure most people think I’m wasting my time but I keep thinking to myself, every one I kill is less we’ll have next year.

  85. Penny Bohlen says:

    Susan, I can not walk very far now so you have walked for me. My dreams have come true just viewing your photos and living vicariously. I am drinking some of your teas and looking and looking and imagining. Thank you

  86. Carrie says:

    Hi Susan! It was a treat today to receive your newsy note and beautiful pictures of your trip. I treasure reading about your life, your home, your gorgeous husband and your beloved pets. I have loved your posts, artwork and your charm for decades. I adore how you include us all as your girl-friends, you are the best prescription for feeling loved and that we matter. I go to your website often, especially as a mood-improver, I am always smiling afterwards. I live on an island off the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. I understand how you feel; nothing compares to the magic of Island-Life.
    My husband died recently from cancer, it has been a horribly sad journey. I miss him terribly and the pain of loss hurts me to my core, like I have swallowed a huge football. He loved your recipes that I would make him, he used to always ask, “Is this another one of Susan’s creations?”…all the while smiling, he knew it was, every single time.
    You have helped me to look for beauty and peace in nature, despite the devastation gnawing at me, also, to keep my head up and look at the sky (not buried under the covers all the time), listen to the birds chirping happily, and to smell the roses…and I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, and beside the football. Love, Carrie xo

    • sbranch says:

      Oh my Carrie. I’m so sorry. Such a profound loss that words can’t really describe, although your football analogy is perfect, perfect, right next to your heart. It’s the worst form of starting over. I love your attitude, your smelling the roses and listening to the birds. Nature is such a healer. And an Island too. All my best wishes for you, on your journey, going to a new place. Blessings and love. xoxoxo

  87. Lorraine says:

    Oh what a lovely post! Thanks ever so much for the tour of Highclere. That was amazing. So happy that you were able to go when it was closed to the masses. How fun!!!

    I love your bluebird wrapping paper and plan to check out Spoonflower ASAP. I am anxiously awaiting my mugs (I preordered the bluebird and Autumn mugs). I use my Little Things mug everyday. I LOVE it.

    Thanks again for taking us along to Downton Abbey.

    • sbranch says:

      You are going to go crazy for those mugs. I’ve had the samples in my kitchen from the moment I got them. Can’t move them to the Studio, need to see them every time I go to the kitchen! Any day now. We’re following the delivery progress online. Studio doesn’t have them yet. But they’re here in the USA, in LA, standing in line to get through customs. I wait ever so patiently.

  88. MarySue says:

    Oh the little, darling details…mistletoe balls, Just Joey. You’re rather spectacular Susan Branch
    !!! ❤🌵👏🏻

  89. Monique says:

    Your smile..:)

    And this little Home Tour..lol.. big home tour..
    I loved DA and this was a treat seeing it through your eyes Susan.
    I miss DA.
    I wonder if anything will come close…ever.
    Joe had a ball too..I can tell!
    It’s hot hot hot here too..and humid..and summer thunderstorms..
    the cups are beautiful fine bone china.. ♥

    • sbranch says:

      Glad you like them Monique. I’m drinking out of one right now, and not a day goes by where I don’t feel a certain pride about them! So happy you enjoyed DA update! xoxo Hot here too, put in the air conditioners yesterday. Much better!

  90. Sharon Byars of North Carolina says:

    Love, Love this post….thank you so much for sharing these delightful photos. We are thinking of doing the English countryside next year. I own almost all of your books and they will be exceedingly helpful with travel plans. Your photos and comments brought back wonderful memories of Downton Abbey. I am re reading Kate Morton’s The House at Riverton to present to my book club. Love her writing, especially during these summer days. Keep sending these “happy” flower pictures too.

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve been sharing Kate Morton with my sister, and she’s loving it too! Hope you get to go to England next year. You will be amazed at how much there is to see!

  91. Debbie Sisk says:

    I miss Downto so!! Thanks for sharing. It’s a good thing u don’t live in the south or u wouldn’t have those beautiful flowers. We have done but short lived. Have a cool summer. 100′ here today

    • sbranch says:

      BUT, I bet you have quite a lot of loveliness going on while our only color is Cardinals!

  92. vicki says:

    Just returned from a vacation in the Cotswolds which, of course, included a visit to Highclere. Your blog was such a jolt to the memory of it all. Even the sheep on the road in are still there by the dozens. We visited so many of the same places you described so wonderfully in previous blogs. Susan, the best part….for my birthday this past spring, a very good friend gave me a special gift….my very own Petey! He of course escorted us on the trip…he slid down the bannisters in Highclere, walked over a stile while on a footpath, frolicked in the flowerbeds and totally enjoyed himself. It was a fairytale trip…what a beautiful place to explore all the backroads, villages, and nooks and crannies….definitely fell in love with the English countryside. Can’t wait to return! It is addictive, isn’t it!

    • sbranch says:

      Ohhhh Vicki! I loved reading this! Your Petey had such a wonderful time! Totally addictive! And the memories of it pop into our heads when least expected and reverie occurs! xoxo

  93. DeLores Johnson says:

    Thank you for the interesting article and pictures. I miss Downton Abbey!! My computer is not working well so I am going to quit typing. It suddenly shuts itself off~~ Thanks alot for the blogs!

    DeLores Johnson

  94. Yolie says:

    Oh, Susan –
    There has never been a day in your life when God has ignored you! If anything, we are far more guilty of ignoring him. But you are right, he has blessed you beyond measure whether you feel his presence or not. And you have the sweetest outlook. You, my dear, were made to be happy.

    • sbranch says:

      I don’t mean “ignored” but just quietly standing by! 😄 Thank you Yolie. Very sweet. xoxo

  95. Margaret Harke says:

    Thank you for the tour. I love house and castle tours. A realtor in my town is doing a twilight house tour this evening of three Victorian houses that are for sale. I am I going? You bet!

  96. Grand Pam says:

    This was very magical post. I need at least 2 of new cups, and still saving for my trip to England . I reread your books many times. Thank you for sharing your lives with all of us.
    Debra Sewell

    I AM NOT GRAND PAM. Why does this not be correct as I get my Willard’s in MY Email.

    • sbranch says:

      I think, from what I can see now, it’s somehow related to the type of computer you’re using, something between your computer and wordpress… have you tried it on another computer Debra? It happens to only one or two of our girlfriends now…I don’t think we can fix it from our end. Thank you for not giving up on us!!!

    • Carrie says:

      Hi Debra.

      Pardon me for being an interloper but I have a suggestion. This also happened a couple times to me quite a while ago.

      Before hitting “Post Comment,” check the field for your name. If it is not your name, remove the wrong name and type your name in. It worked for me and I hope it works for you.

      • sbranch says:

        And it looks like your name still keeps coming up, Carrie? Thank you so much!!! You are such a problem solver. xoxoxo

        • Carrie says:

          Yes, no problems for a very long time now, and it was a very easy peasy sort of fix. If only the more ‘global’ issues could be easy-peasy, eh?

          • sbranch says:

            Yes, wouldn’t that be nice!

          • Carrie from Canada says:

            Hi Susan! Seems to be two different “Carrie’s” writing on this thread. As I am the one from 🇨🇦Canada whose husband died (Thank you very much for your kind words back, Susan!💖), and the other Carrie had the good info on changing the name when posting here. Unless my name stayed with her post?😉😄 But you can tell too, by our different email addresses, unless my email stayed when she typed her post?? Now that would be interesting/odd too.
            Susan, have you and Joe travelled to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada yet? It is lovely and they have red double-decker buses and The Empress Hotel…very british-like, and right on the water. Some islanders call it, “Little England!” If you google it, you can see some beautiful pictures of it all. Oh, and google, “Butchart Gardens”…millions of flowers in it, truly spectacular! You can take the red double-decker bus to The Butchart Gardens, and spend the day there. Or rent a car and drive there on your own, but the bus has terrific charm. Especially when you sit upstairs, right at the front. My kids would squeal with glee at the sharp turns!
            We will get you both here to Canada somehow! lol.
            How does Jack cope with you and Joe travelling lots? He must miss you so much. Our cats would act up during our absence and when my husband passed away, for weeks afterwards, one of our cats would do its’ business in my husband’s slippers (he left mine alone though)…the vet said it was because he was missing my husband a lot, and was angry that he was gone. Drove me batty.
            Bye, and I appreciated your warm, supportive comment earlier. Your blogs and you…are much-loved by so many around the world! C. xoxo

          • sbranch says:

            I can tell by your names and email addresses too … Carrie Weidert is the other Carrie (I think there is one more too) ~ But I know my Carrie’s! I got your “castle comment” before I saw this one (everything comes in here backwards, the oldest first, then the new ones of top of that). Jack copes okay, it’s me that doesn’t do well leaving him. And now, with almost a year home with him, with day after day of interaction, it gets harder to leave him all the time. But I have to! I’ve had other kitties show their displeasure with us leaving, but Jack seems to do okay. Your kitty, missing your husband, is very sweet, despite misplaced anger. This is why they are so important. They know everything about us, are with us in thick and thin. Sending love to you Carrie. Thank you! xoxo

  97. Sharron Stolle says:

    Hi Susan,
    Back to School …. Dating from 1798, the Little Red School House, of Mary had a little lamb fame, was moved from Sterling, Ma. to Sudbury, Ma. by Henry Ford in 1927. It is now part of the Longfellow’s Wayside Inn Property which also includes the Martha Mary Chapel, used for weddings, and a working grist mill. The area is charming and you can stay at the inn! I lived in Sudbury for 25 years, now living on Cape Cod, and enjoyed meeting you at Beatrix Potter’s birthday party at the Brewster Ladies’ Library. A trip to the Wayside Inn is delightful in any season. It is about two hours from the ferry. Enjoy!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Sharon! Ever since I read about Mary and the schoolhouse and all of that, I’ve wanted to do a calendar page with that little poem we all know so well. Very fun!

  98. Paula Lewis says:

    Hey Susan…what a great blog today! Highclere…..Downton music…still playing by the way…I so enjoy the great pictures you and Joe take! I am binge watching “Hidden Villages”….just love Penelope! Looking forward to receiving my MV cup in the mail soon. Longing to go back to the UK! I have been away too long. Spent 6 months there 14 years ago…seems like a lifetime. Well bye for now from “beachy” SoCal.

  99. Renee Tudor says:

    I was lucky enough to visit Highclere Castle in 1986. I loved it so much – thank you for taking me back with your beautiful photos and lovely words. I’ve been re-reading A Fine Romance for the umpteenth time, and am so happy you’ll be traveling to England again and will be sharing your trip with us!

    • sbranch says:

      1986! Wow! What was it like then? I imagine anyone with the last name Tudor gets to visit whenever she wants! Love to have you with us Renee! xoxo

  100. Sarah says:

    Wonderful post! I think your special tour was far better than just having the castle open. ‘-) I love the thought of you roaming around in those rooms and across the grounds. Amazing to think that folks actually lived like that!
    Your bathing turkey is funny. We have a big black grackle who takes a daily bath or two or three in our birdbath. I’m a thoughtful host and refresh the water each day. It’s pretty dirty when he finishes. Ha! Ha!
    Hot here in Texas and just today I gave in and repotted the urns. The geraniums were just barely hanging on. I’ve transplanted them into some other containers and will try to keep them alive till fall when I hope they will flourish again. Honestly I don’t know how anything stays alive in this heat.
    Love the new designs for Spoonflower. Your talents just keep flowing. I don’t know how you accomplish all that you do.
    Thank you for this wonderful, refreshing post and all the fabulous photos of Highclere. I would love to go!
    Happy Summer! Hugs from Austin ~ Sarah

    • sbranch says:

      Hugs back to you Sarah! August is like March, a cusp month we just kind of wait to get through … enjoying as best we can, but waiting for the geraniums to bloom again! xoxo

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