If you haven’t gotten your Willard yet, you will soon! It began going out Tuesday morning (that’s today!), so everyone should have it by Friday. There are a few surprises in there, I don’t want to give them away, so in the meantime . . . MUSICA! Let’s travel a bit, shall we? Good old comfy armchair travel. Let’s take our kitty with us.
But first, Oh Dash! Oh Victoria! Oh Lord M! Prince Albert and his selfish, cruel “Uncle Leopold!” Tell me no secrets and I’ll tell you no lies. Sunday night’s Victoria was a teary one. I did like the puppy though, all was not lost.
A cold and dreary wet day it is out here in the wild Atlantic ocean. But I have my wee cup of Constant Comment in my Castle Cottage cup, the fire is burning, can’t really ask for anything more. I thought I might take us to Scotland today! I hear lots of you are going to Scotland, or might go, or want to go, so if you do, I thought I’d show you a wonderful castle we stayed in, maybe you would like to stay there too. So off we go to the land of clans, lochs, lairds, lads and lasses, Bonny Prince Charlie, Outlander, and Balmoral, the beloved home of Queen Victoria.
It was late evening when we went looking for the two rooms that our friend Elizabeth had “found online.” We were traveling together, Joe and I, Elizabeth and Mike ~ she had no idea what this place would be like and neither did we. But how could we go wrong, we were together and having a great time.
Through tunnels of Scottish trees we went looking for a sign that said “Stravithie” on it. It was out there somewhere, so we were told! We’d traveled up from Edinburgh that day, the long way, along the Fife coast, stopping to eat, walk along the beach, pick up sea glass, go to a fishing museum . . . it’s where the cutest little fishing villages are, all festively criss-crossed with bunting flapping in the wind ~ now we were stopping overnight on our way to St. Andrews.
I was crazy about Edinburgh, everything I loved about York, there was twice as much of it in Edinburgh . . . the red line on this map traces the world famous Fife Coast where we’d been that day.
We probably passed it twice, but finally we quit talking and started concentrating, and there it was. What a nice little sign we all thought, very low key, and a cute little guardhouse too. So far, so good!
We turned down the drive . . . the lovely drive . . . Not too fancy, kind of real . . . the suspense is building, what will we find?????
This was our first glimpse of the house . . . ooooh, aaaah . . .
We drove around to the front, and this is when we began to call it a castle. Isn’t it the MOST? Couldn’t Jane Eyre be living in that pointed turret? We were saying to Elizabeth, “Where did you say you found this?” The thrill of discovery! You really never know what you might stumble upon . . .
The Laird of the Manor, David Chalmers, with his cute Scottish accent, came out to welcome us. We were already peering into the hall, at the doors, the heads and horns on the walls, the lamps. What mysteries lie ahead?
I thought I would show you a better photo of David. Such a very nice man! And he knows all the best restaurants!
So into the front hall we went. I loved the lamp, I loved the ceiling trim and the little bit of green. I loved the whole thing. This is David’s home, he lives here, on 30 acres of gardens and a river with his wife and two children, so it’s a home they love to share with others, because as you can imagine, it’s fascinating!
I don’t know what they call this long, deep wood-paneled room, but there is the very old head of an alligator up on top of that dresser. The hunt room, perhaps. Leathery and manly, perhaps the smoking room.
I took photos of everything! Pretty lamp, pretty molding.
The dining room was filled with old carved furniture and things from days gone by.
Elegant old china and cut glass and silver . . .
Mrs. Chalmers came in a little later . . . we could hear one of their children practicing the piano somewhere in the house. Made it even more perfect.
Very much a family home. “My parents gave it to me.” That’s what David said when we asked how he came to live here. Of course they did!
Off we went to our separate wings to see our rooms . . . Joe and I climbed the red stairs in the turret . . .
looking up as we climbed . . . those are stairs. How did they do that? We don’t know. (I take that back, I’m sure Joe knows, but it’s not even light out yet, he would not want me to wake him to get this question answered!) My job is to admire curves and shadows.
Down this hallway-sitting room we went . . . loving the furniture,
Loving the fabric . . .
Loving the lamp . . .
Loving all the lamps!
Into our charming room with a view of the lawn and the river,
. . . framed by the heavy, lined drapes you find everywhere in the UK.
We came in through the hall on the right, the bathroom is off that hall, and the kitchen is through the door on the left … We each (meaning each couple) had our own kitchen. I’m happy, Joe’s happy, everyone is happy!
Perfectly appointed, all you need, bright and clean. . .
And more . . . they’d left everything we could possibly want for breakfast, Scottish bacon, ham, fresh eggs, sweet rolls, bread, butter, jam, tea, milk, juice, yogurt and cereal, a feast! And the table was set . . .
So pretty in front of the window . . .
And the view . . . How did Elizabeth ever find such a place?! Must hang out with her more!
We unpacked, went out to dinner to a wonderful restaurant David suggested, and toasted Elizabeth, and our friendship, and Scotland, and life and all good things!
And came back to the castle under this beautiful moon . . .
The next morning, of course we had to go for a walk, across the lawn and along the river we could see from our bedroom windows.
On a path through the woods. The perfect antidote to modern times.
Let’s to church! as they said in Shakespeare in Love. Yes, let’s! A lovely quiet spot out in the middle of nowhere with a beautiful old sleepy graveyard.
I imagine this walled lawn may have been a vegetable garden at one time. But I was most curious about the little rock sitting on the stone. There was something on it.
I came closer . . .a small piece of slate or maybe granite with something scratched into it:
My imagination says it may have been here since 1993. But if I let myself go, maybe 1593. Or maybe, stretching, just plain 93, as in Druids. We don’t know, but we didn’t touch it, left it as it was for other lucky travelers to happen upon. I automatically think very highly of the person who put it there. Little magic-maker. Hope she’s reading this. Love is the Law. Truly, it should be.
Back through the ancient wood the merrie folk did go.
We climbed a hill and came upon these worn stone steps and, oddly, that hole filled with water (I guess, needless to say, no one tasted it). 😜 Unmarked. No explanation. A hot tub for fairies? A little last-resort bathtub? (One of our Girlfriends suggested it was a “tail wash for dragons!”😂) But why here when there is a perfectly good river nearby? We had no idea. We saw no hose bib. I know it rains a lot here, but this much?
It’s perched on a kind of ledge, actually, the entire thing is rock. You could step behind those ferns on the left, walk off the edge and fall, maybe 20 feet? (I’m not good at falling distances.) There’s a very old, moss-covered, slippery-looking stone stairway to the bottom of the ravine that no one wanted to go on. But the boys wanted to see how deep the hole was. Nothing pulled Mike in, which was good. I stayed about this far away from it the whole time wishing I had my dangerous mastiff at my side.
And again, an answer from one of our Girlfriends. It’s a Druid’s well! It’s an actual thing. You can read more about it HERE! Fun!
Flowering things grew wild from the rocks. Because it’s Scotland. Did you know the national animal for Scotland is the Unicorn? Oh yes. Magical Scotland, land of legends and ghosts.
It was a wonderful time. If you would like to stay in a castle in Scotland, you can, so easily. Go to www.stravithiecastle.co.uk. Or write email@example.com or phone 01334 880251 It’s close to lots of nice things. And tell David we said Hello!
As promised in the new WILLARD, a Giveaway! This England, this green and pleasant land, this cup. For thee. And the book . . . a signed copy of A Fine Romance. That’s one.
And behind door number two, the new Spring cup, and one of my brand new cross stitch kits for Home Sweet Home, because they kind of match, and go together. Also for thee. Two giveaways! They won’t arrive from England until the first of April, so you’ll have to wait for spring. I’ll be away, but Sheri will make sure you get them the moment they arrive. All you need to do to sign up for both giveaways is leave a comment at the bottom of this post, where you see the teeeeeny tiny word that says, “comments,” click there, say anything, and voila, you’re in the drawing! I’ll contact you if you win, but you can come back in a few days to see if Vanna chose your name. Life is good!
Must go now . . . Say Goodbye to my muses, these . . .
And this one. I’m thinking of changing his name to Dash. Beloved puppy of mine. Have a wonderful day dear ones. Keep in touch! There are adventures and more surprises ahead!
Love you Susan!❤️❤️ you’re blog brings me such happiness!! Sending love your way!
What a lovely post! The castle was amazing! I loved the sitting room outside your room.
I am green with envy. The motherland is calling to my ancestral genes.
Calling me too. A little painful, so I do understand!
Thank you for this giveaway! Such beautiful gifts! Your website is always so inspiring and I look forward to following your posts as you travel in the upcoming months.
Good morning Susan, thanks for the trip through Scotland. It feels like Scotland here today – cloudy, cool and wet…. thanks for the giveaway opportunity. Have a good weekend.
The Willard I get through the email sign-up says Willard in the top middle of the page to start out.
Now that I think about it, it is so long ago, I don’t remember where I got the other one. Maybe it is from your web page, I think. Or maybe I went to SusanBranch.com and got it through there. I know that they are a little different layout. Just asking if they are basically the same thing, do I need to get both of them? Thanks. You are so busy, not that important. Was just wondering.
The one you should get, the one that will look the best, is the one delivered to your email box. Does that happen for you?
Beautiful sunrise this morning and awesome “total eclipse” this week! We have truly been blessed. Since this day started out so well, I thought I would post a comment for a chance to win! Also, I noticed you are packaging 4 mugs in a group and I still hope you will be able to combine the “Four Seasons” mugs at some future time. Thanks!
I worry about how expensive all four would be, but I guess I shouldn’t. So far they look really cute together!
oh, my! well, here I am….maybe better late than never, yeah? would be very nice to win….but, @ any rate…just to wish everyone a very happpppy, healthy 2018, and maybe some HOPE for our country…..wow…..gets breath-takingly, stunning-ly more scary each day!! HELP!!!!! hugs & love & thanks to you, Susan!!
Thank you for the beautiful pictures of the Scottish castle. I loved that little breakfast table set with the dishes-so sweet!
Scotland is one of our favorite places to visit…so much to see and do. And the castles….ahhh. I would love to win one of the giveaways…please pick me!
I love all things Susan Branch. I just discovered your website & blog while looking to replace an old calendar of yours I carried in my purse in 2016-17. Love it. Thank you so much for the bookmark listing the full moons for this year. Here in Oklahoma we have spectacular sunsets & beautiful views of the moon. My sweet husband of 42 years, left for heaven last October on a night with a full moon. I like to think it added a warm glow to his path. In honor of the blue, blood moon this week, I purchased moon pies. So fun. Sincerely, Regena Morton
Welcome Regena. I love your story about your husband and the moon. 😢 Happy to meet you. xoxo
Thank you, dear Susan for your blogs and adventures! I loved all of your books and am thrilled to be able to continue following you . It’s a dream of mine to go to Scotland. I am thankful that I could go along on your trip! Keep posting.
Loved it! Thanks so much for sharing!
Learned at our local library (which carries all your books) that earlier this month, asteroid 13975 Beatrixpotter, was named in her memory. AND on September 1, 2016, a previously unpublished Potter manuscript “The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots” was published marking the 150th anniversary of Potter’s birth. Libraries are the bestest places!
Whoops, again! Found Willard. For some reason it wound up in my junk file this month. Sorry to be a pest!
No problem, thanks for letting me know, it happens! Be sure to put 126.96.36.199/~susanbs3/susanbranch/ into your address book. I’m told it helps.
This is such a happy place to come and remember all that is beautiful in the world! It is lovely to travel with you!
I adore Scotland. Everything about it. I would love to win these two lovely gifts.
I’m taking notes, in my “Going to the UK 🇬🇧 ” notebook, on all the fabulous places and things to do that you’ve generously shared about in your posts. You’re certainly an inspiration! 🙂
I hope to discover lots of new wonderfulness!
Good morning dear one! I’m a bit late logging on to your blog, as this past week has been a special one. My daughter gave birth to her first child here in Naples Fl. I was there and able to be apart of the miracle of seeing my grandson’s arrival. It was truly the most beautiful experience ever. I love to check your blog in the early morning, before the first light if I’m lucky enough to beat my husband up and have some quite time. This morning was a treat to read about the castle in Scotland. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time reading it wondering what you would fine in the castle and on your walk. For sure a great way to start the day. Thank you for sharing your trip and thank you for you!
Congratulations Barbara! Just wonderful news!
I love all of your posts, but this one especially! Is it possible to feel a strong connection to a place you’ve never been? If so, I feel that way about Scotland! It calls to my heart like no other place. Thank you for providing inspiration for my dream of traveling to Scotland.
I have, both to New England and to the old one! May all your dreams come true!
Beautiful post an island of peace before starting my day. Thank you~Miss Susan.
Good morning Susan … I’ve been under the radar for a while, still. But as I read your post, you hooked me in (using your Castle Cottage mug with Constant Comment .. as I was doing too!) … Your Scotland travel log inspires me to go there after Beatrix Potter/Jane Austen country… someday (we’re needing to be home to take care of my 95 year old Mum) … God Bless You for your very sweet and kind heart … With Much Alo-ha-ha … Evie in San Diego
And back to you Evie!
Thank you for taking me on your castle adventure. I needed a getaway from the norm and this trip did not disappoint me.😂😂😂
Love it all! The beauty takes my breath away!
Have a good time on your trip. I would love to find information on my ancestors from England and Ireland. Thank You for this giveaway.
Adds to the experience when you can do that!
Since I am of Irish and English descent, I will be anxiously following you on your trip from my armchair. Thank You for this generous giveaway.
What a great trip you are about to embark on. Have a safe trip and enjoy. I will be following your day to day activities. Thank You for the chance to win this great book.
Regarding Druid wells, I first heard of one when I went to Chartres Cathedral. There is one in the crypt. It is so very creepy and bottomless. We were told they would throw people down it for punishment. How horrible! Worse than a peat bog!!!!
They had some creative ideas for torture back then!
Love all of the pictures….thanks for taking all of us with you on your adventures
Susan, can you give me names of some of the quote books you love (I know about Bartlett’s book of quotes). My niece is about the have her 14th birthday & has been through some tough things in life already, and she loves quotes. I would like to get her some for her birthday…I know how much this helped you through struggles.
Love everything you do; thanks for inspiring us to be better!
I’m not sure what’s out there these days, but I have collected quote books since the 70s. They have titles like Quotable Woman, Native American Quotes, Quotes for Gardeners or for Cooks, Oxford Book of Quotes. I never met a quote book I didn’t like. Go to any bookstore, they usually have a shelf of them and you can choose for her. I read through them all, and put stars next to the ones I liked, if she’s passionate enough to do that, she will find all the secrets of the world in those books, beautiful words, by amazing people. Blessings on you both. xoxo
im the niece
Hi Katie! Nice to meet you!
Looking forward to all your adventures!! Such a long time this time too!!
It will be a long time! I don’t know quite what to think about that . . . travel, while wonderful and enlightening and all the best of things, is also a little discombooberating … so NOT home. Although we bring enough stuff to make home! And we have British friends we love, so that makes it much better.
Love your books and blog! As a transplanted New Englander,(Ipswich, Mass.) I so enjoy the things you write about and describe in your everyday life on the Vineyard. I now live in sunny Arizona due to arthritis and retirement as I am 84 yrs. young. Please send me some of that beautiful snow for one day; how I miss it! While you are at it, give that rascal Jack a big hug for me. Best wishes to you and yours, Jackie.
Much easier to live in Arizona, no picking your way through ice moguls on your way to the car. But, there are compensations and I can just imagine how much you miss it! Glad to be able to give you a taste of winter! Jack is cuddled next to my leg right this minute. I just gave him a pet for you. xoxo
Wish I were in that fern wooded area. How lovely.
HOWDY from Texas
My husband just gave me a castle Cottage cup for our anniversary-hope we can preorder the English country side one while you are in Charleston as I am planning on coming – roslyn
Oh I’m so glad! Love knowing we will have company! You can order the English countryside cup right now, it’s up for preorder. See you in Charleston!
I have just found you and your blog due to a comment on facebook! And I am totally in love!!!! I’m sad though that I haven’t known about you before now. Your blog, your paintings, your newsletter….everything….is absolutely beautiful. I can see I will be reading for quite awhile trying to catch up! Thank you for sharing your wonderful and creative talents.
Welcome to the neighborhood Cheryl . . . you will meet a lot of kindred spirits here! Happy to meet you. xoxo
Thanks so much Susan.
My first visit to Scotland was with my parents, in 1972…I was 8, and that trip has influenced my whole life. Four more visits between 1977 and 1991. My favorite place on earth. You must visit Iona at some point. It’s magical. By the way-I’m engaged! Getting married in September to my Unexpected Blessing!
Oh wonderful Elizabeth! A wedding! xoxo
So far, I hadn’t thought about visiting Scotland, but now it seems I must consider it…so lush and pretty. Thank you for the travelogue. It’s always such a pleasure to hear from you!
every day spent with you makes my day more pleasant
How I love to read your blog! I would like to visit Scotland and England one day. I enjoy reading Willard and I think you take many of us on your adventures–some to faraway places and sometimes from your daily life. Thank you.
I too love the name Dash ! Now, I want a King Charles Cavalier more than ever — I will name him Dash in honor of Victoria’s. What a sweet puppy — so sad when he leaves her . Westies are cute but Dash stole my heart.
Your blogs are always so enchanting — I can’t wait to buy your next book which I hope will be all about Scotland . Did your travels take you up to the Castle of Mey where the Queen mother use to spend every August – it is on the northern most point of mainland Scotland in Caithness? — love that name too. You can see the Orkney Islands from there on a clear day. Love all things Scottish, Irish and English.
Susan, you are better than Calgon — taking us away with your words, quotes, photos and drawings. And now sipping tea from your wonderful mugs — perfect in every way.
Have fun this May at Hilltop and all the other incredible places that your travels will take you. Wish I could go — but we will get back in 2019.
I love your dream of Dash! I hope you make it come true really soon. Thank you for the Calgon compliment! When I get taken away, I love to take everyone with me! xoxo
Susan Branch, you are an inspiration to me! Thank you for sharing your journeys with me, with all of us! Can’t wait to see where you take us next!
We’re on our way to England in about 3 weeks . . . this should be fun!
I thought of you and the girlfriends as my sister and I had a wonderful ramble around the lake at Stourhead on Saturday. It was gently raining, but with stout boots, a Harris tweed coat and a large umbrella we were well protected.The gigantic trees were “newly washed”, the fresh cedar clippings from a recent felling smelled wonderful, and the Cornus were glowing red against the grey of the lake. Ducks were “ up-tail all-ing” and there were drifts of snowdrops and primroses along all the banks and paths. It was heavenly! And so was the ginger and satsuma cake in the tearoom, that we had with a large pot of tea after our walk. The recipe is available online, under national trust recipe for ginger and satsuma cake. Yes, it’s so good I had to check when I got home 😋
How perfectly wonderful Gill!
Loved the castle pictures! Am planning to go to Scotland soon and have made note of it to possibly stay there. I absolutely love England and would so love to win the mug and A Fine Romance! 🌹