Guess what tomorrow is??? Beatrix Potter’s 151st Birthday! MUSICA 🎶 And I have news!
The Genius, Generous, Life of Beatrix Potter.
Here’s where I was on this day, July 28, last year, celebrating the 150th Birthday of Beatrix Potter with so many of YOU and the Brewster Ladies Library, on Cape Cod. What a fun day that was!
Right after that, my Girlfriends, who also happen to be my nun friends (I’ve written about them before), sent me this wonderful little thimble to celebrate. Wasn’t that the sweetest thing? They love Beatrix like I do.💞
Because not all of you are intimately familiar with the life of Beatrix, I thought I’d at least give you a very simple time-line of her life so you can get the lay of the land, so to speak.
Most of you know how crazy I am about Beatrix because I wrote the whole story of my slow discovery of the person that she was, not just an artist, not just a scientist, not just an author, not just a business woman, not just a house-lover and adorer such as we, but more, so much more, a fierce, forward-looking conservationist whose passions still reverberate today ~ she changed her part of the world, and hence, in a sense, the whole world. . . that’s the hero I tried to tell about in my book A Fine Romance, Falling in Love Love Love, with the English Countryside.
So, to celebrate today, I thought I would take you on a special tour through a brilliant book about Beatrix that was published by Penguin Books in 2006. It’s written just as if it was Beatrix’s own scrapbook, in first person. But inside it says, “This is a work of fiction based on the journals and letters of Beatrix Potter.” Not entirely fiction, but kind of, because Beatrix didn’t actually make this book herself, it just looks like she did.
Using Beatrix’s words to tell the story of her life, the designer who compiled this informative book (who is not mentioned anywhere, but must be a kindred spirit, and girl after our own heart), filled it with Beatrix Potter artwork, mementoes, personal letters, stamps, and photos, and with words in what looks to be Beatrix’s own handwriting, with entries dated, as in a journal … and many of the things in the book, like the little photo album above, are glued-in and three-dimensional! I’m not kidding! Books like this don’t come along every day! Unless you make one yourself!
Pure charm, filled with pressed flowers and wonderful old photos, that’s Norman Warne there …
Above are glued-in “proofs” of the pictures for her first book. There’s even a real envelope that opens and inside you can pull out a perfect copy of the famous letter she wrote to Noel, her governess’s child, illustrating the story of Peter Rabbit for the first time on paper.
And on this page, an illustrated map of the Lake District unfolds … I could put ten exclamation marks after every page!!! Books aren’t usually made this way!!!!!!
Then, at the end, just when you think you’ve seen it all, and you are already sighing because you don’t want it to end, you find an amazing surprise embedded in the inside of the back cover. See the little ribbon? “Hmmmm,” you say to yourself, “What’s that?”
At first you don’t see it, but then, with a little tug, an invisible door opens . . .
and inside is an exact copy of Peter Rabbit that Beatrix had printed herself after having been rejected by publishers. (This was a very brave thing for her to do, considering women’s “place” at the turn of the century, but only the beginning when it comes to the bravery of Miss Potter). If you ever need a hero that will help you be brave, I suggest you read the biography of Beatrix Potter by Linda Lear. Forevermore, after that, you will say to yourself, “If she can do it, so can I.”
Her first printing, in black and white to keep down costs. A totally delightful surprise! I have to say, I think I might be forced to paint inside these little line drawings!
But you can do what you want when you get your hands on this little jewel, because, to celebrate the 151st birthday of my hero, Beatrix Potter, this book, and the book where I wrote about sailing the wild and windy Atlantic, then trekking across England in order to fulfill a long-time dream to finally walk through the doors of Beatrix Potter’s house at Hill Top in the Lake District ~ will both become the property of one of YOU darling people. Just leave your name at the bottom of this post, click on the tiny word that says “comments,” and leave a few words … and in a wee bit o’ time, we’ll draw a name and see who these books get to go home with. Happy Birthday, dear Beatrix. We will never forget you! 💞
One other thing . . . you remember the picnic we had last year in Stourhead, Wiltshire, England? Of course you do! And you remember how it happened? Well, just in cases, I’ll tell you again: When we knew we were going over to England last year, I wrote here on my blog, “Joe and I will be in the park at Stourhead, having a picnic, at 12 noon on September 18, and we would LOVE anyone who’s going to be in the neighborhood to BYO Picnic Basket and come join us and say hello!” We had no idea what to expect. Would anyone come? Might there be seven people? Could there be fifty? No idea.
As it turned out, there were sixty of us kindred spirits spread out on the lawn on a lovely spring day, next to a 12th century stone church, in a garden designed by Capability Brown over 200 years before, with the sun weaving in and out of the clouds . . .
And we had a wonderful, joyful afternoon, sitting, laughing and talking and getting to know each other, marveling over the unlikelihood of this happening at all … it was really a thrill. Lots of people from the US, lots from England, some Americans who now live in England, and others from Europe . . . a surprise and so perfect, I still live in the glow of it. People brought things, like gorgeous quilts they’d made, or their own Petey dolls, or their children, and lots of delicious lunches … and I signed books, and we had a great day.
We took a “class picture,” and I think you can tell by the smiles what a wonderful time we were having. “We all kept saying, we need to do this again!” Well, dear hearts, we are going to do it again . . . we’ll be taking the picture for Class of 2018 next year on May 11, and we hope you can come, wherever you are! But this time, we’re be having our picnic someplace else … so if you want to come . . .
You will have to drive through countryside like this . . . sorry, but you have to!
Where oh where are we going . . . ? ? ? It’s a mystery! MAS MUSICA ~ we loved playing Vera Lynn in our car while we drove through the English Countryside . . .
Past lakes with swans and and wildflowers, pulling over at a pub for an icy Peah Cid-ah . . . it’s a tough job but someone has to do it!
In May, hillsides of English Bluebells will be in bloom!
You’ll have to meander between narrow hedgerows speckled with cow parsley, watching for bunnies, rolling down your windows to hear the wood pigeons coo, “My toe huts Bet-tee … “
Past curving rock walls and gingerbread stone cottages . . . can you guess where we’re going yet? You probably can, but you probably can’t believe it! Me either!
Almost there ~ must go through bunting-decked villages where the buildings look as if they’re covered in frosting … oh darn.
The frosting makes them shine from the hill sides . . . you’ll be stopping to get your camera out.
Because you’ll be marveling over handmade chimney tops and slate roofs like these . . .
. . . as you drive past hillsides with cows and lambs and sparkling lakes, turn off your car to hear the wind through the trees . . .
. . . and through the hedges of wild roses and rhododendrons. But, a hint: Before you go, you’ll probably want to read this wonderful little book . . .
For inspiration. ❤️ Squealing yet?
Because, Yes! OMG, I’m not kidding! Where we’re going to have our picnic is totally impossible, it can’t happen, but it is and it can . . .
We’re having our BYO Picnic Basket Party right here, next May 11, at Castle Cottage, where Beatrix Potter (Mrs. Heelis) and her husband William lived for 30 years! Just in front of the house, across Post Office Meadow (which will be filled with frolicking lambikins in May), is the gate to Hill Top in Near Sawrey, heavenly Lake District, beloved home of Beatrix Potter!!! That’s where we’re going, Girlfriends!
And here’s a preview ~ this photo is actually from inside Castle Cottage, sent to me by my friend Mandy, showing the wonderful view over rooftops of Near Sawrey (with Mandy’s Ollie Dog in attendance) . . . From here, you can see the famous Tower Bank Arms and the entrance to Hill Top ~ the very same view that Beatrix had. For us. Us us us us us! We get to go go go!!!
Here’s how this miracle happened, . . . As you may remember, I was asked to speak at Beatrix’s 150th Birthday Party last year by Betsy Bray of the Beatrix Potter Society (are you a member? I love the wonderful newsletter I receive from England, and their luv-lee E-Newsletter called Pottering About) ~ that’s Betsy on the left . . . she and I have kept in touch, and a couple of weeks ago, she came to lunch and brought her friend Mandy Marshall, who just happens to LIVE in Castle Cottage (shaking head in disbelief) . . . and we started talking and our talking turned to plotting and then it turned to planning and I just heard from Mandy yesterday that she would love to have us for our picnic there (she opens the house only by special arrangement, which this is!), and Betsy wrote to say she’d be there too! So now, we’re inviting you! And if you CAN’T get over there in person, that’s okay, because we will take so many photos you will think you’ve been there! That’s a promise!
Happy Birthday Beatrix Potter!
Love you dears, leave a comment to win the books, and mark your calendars for May 11, 2018! Oh! I almost forgot, the cups! They are in LA, sort of stuck in a mire of Homeland Security (very dangerous cups) and Customs. We call, we holler, they ignore us, but it should be soon now. 💞 Bye for now! xoxo