Seventh Heaven

We’ve been driving, darlings, but I’m here to catch up! First thing you should know? Seventh Heaven. That’s the truth.  MUSICA 🍀☘🍀

We’ve driven hill and dale through small villages . . .

and little country places all clean and windswept . . .

in WEATHER, because it’s wild over here right now, just like it is at home!

Lots and lots of rain . . . and wind . . .

And sometimes some pretty scary fog . . .But Map Man has become such a good driver, despite the wrong side of the road and the wrong side of the car, there is no fear, much anyway, and onward we go! Cling to each other as rocks of gibraltar.

And no matter where . . .

. . . we go . . .

. . . the view is charming and sends your mind to the moon … think of that tree in the summer, what it must look like . . . see the bird at the top, and the lamb at the bottom . . . and those hedgerows? They’re growing on rock walls . . .

We drove across the Severn from England into Wales . . . where SO MUCH HAPPENED, but we will skip directly to our Girlfriend Carrie and her husband Stuart because we stopped to say hello . . .

Her darling new-to-her house by the side of the road . . . we had just pulled up, and they were outside waiting! Thank goodness for cell phones and GPS!

We went for a luv-lee walk to the top of a hill overlooking the village …

And those of you familiar with @CarrieHerself (on Twitter) will recognize her famous wonder-dog, Jack!

We could have walked and talked for days!

But I know what you want! You want to see Carrie’s house, right? I can do that, she told me so! Thank you Carrie! We both agreed, Petey fit right in!

Carrie’s adorable Beatrix Potter shelf. 💞

And the shelf in the bedroom she’d fixed up for us . . . I took this photo with my cell phone from the bed! You could stare at it for hours! So pretty, with sweet old books, pictures, and china.

We had tea in our jammies in the morning in very recognizable cups! This is one side of Carrie’s comfy kitchen . . .

And this is the other. Just love her colors, greens and blues, and daffodils! Notice fluffy white chick-magnet in basket on floor next to chair . . .

Here we are, up-close and personal with the chick magnet. 💞

A couple more photos . . . Here’s Carrie’s desk.

Every Welsh, English, and Irish family that lives in the country has mud in their everyday lives and needs one of these areas in their home.  We brought our Wellies with us and even though they take up space, we are so happy we did! We keep them in the car so we have them when we need them. May not always be mud, but tall grass is WET! And walking is such a wonderful pastime. If your boots are rubber you can walk right into river water!

And this crooked little house is just down the street from Carrie. I think she could start a magazine of her adorable village (but mostly of her house) called An Eye for Details. She’s trying to retire from the B & B in Oxford that she runs with Stuart, but I keep thinking of new things for her to do. 😘

They were so good to us . . . but all too soon, as with every good thing, it had to end, and we had to go!

I needed to stop on our way to pay my respects to someone who helped to make life fun when I was young. It was very touching to be there. Miss her! When she died so suddenly it was like a light was turned off. She went home to the wind and the sky of Wales that made her.💞

Laura Ashley’s grave is next to a field ~ I walked over to take a photos of these cavorting lambs kicking up their heels, saying, Spring! Life begins again! Then again, back into the car we went . . . and on the road again . . . to

. . . the top west side corner of Wales (loving every bit of Wales, what a wonderful interesting place it is ~ More! More! More! I’ll show you in the book), to Holyhead to catch . . .

. . . the ferry to Ireland . . . 🍀

Across the famously fearsome Irish Sea we went . . . intrepid brave travelers that we are . . .

It became clear very soon that we were going to get lucky (I’m the canary in the coal mine), that the Irish Sea was going to treat us like the big babies we are . . .(I am) …

It was gentle sailing the entire three hour trip . . .

But just in cases, we were ready. You can have your own room on the ferry, for not a lot of money, if you aren’t sure and taking no chances, would rather be seasick in private. You give them your car keys, and they give you the key to a room . . .

Perfectly wonderfully comfortable, you can lie down. It even has TV and a shower should you feel so inclined! This ferry goes night and day, does even longer trips, some people commute on it, so this room could come in very handy.

Two lounges, a breakfast room, video games  . . .

The good ship Epsilon goes places! Sails to France! Very tempting!

But we have a plan, and suddenly, thar she blows, our first glimpse of Ireland . . .☘ A place I’ve felt connected to from far away, a place we’ve always wanted to see. The first time for both of us.

The ferry lands about ten minutes from downtown Dublin . . . Joe set the GPS and boom, here we were.

In Dublin we met up with one of my oldest and dearest friends, Elaine (and Joe’s too ~ I met Elaine in California, she moved to the Island and worked with Joe at the Black Dog for a while). She flew in from California to hang around in Ireland with us (and help me celebrate my birthday in Dublin, which is what we proceeded to do) …. here we are at Trinity College. It was her first time in Ireland too, and she’s a Duffy and a Sullivan! 🍀

This is Elaine and me in the way-back machine, on a waterski weekend in California. You might remember Elaine from The Fairy Tale Girl … she hired me to work in the record department of Stereo West. (Fired me too! ⚡ But I deserved it so I forgive her!)

Here’s to old friends! All those years ago, who would have thought we’d be together in a pub in Dublin in 2018!?

And to add to the birthday joy of the moment, more darling friends, Rachel and Paul flew over from England to join us!

Paul, the proper English Gentleman . . . so cute!

Lowely and John sent birthday flowers to the hotel! Yes, verklempt! The card was all in “the Irish” (as John had requested), “Breithla Sona!” Happy Birthday! 

Of course, we did the “ring thing” at the restaurant on my birthday dessert. Everyone put their rings over my candle, and when I made a wish, they made one too, and when I blew out the candle, ALL our wishes came true. 💞 Then everyone had to suck the ice cream off their rings!

So Joe’s ring slipped out of his fingers and rolled into the restaurant, causing panic, everybody UP (I grab the camera!) … but we found it and all was well! It was, as they say in Ireland, “Graaand” ~ a perfectly lovely wonderful fun and funny evening in a very delicious restaurant called Peploes … I’ll put more photos in the book-to-come, I’m writing every day, but keeping up here is impossible, there is SO MUCH to tell you . . .  Joe gave me the most perfect antique thing he found in Dublin, I painted it already, I’ll put it in the book! MAS MUSICA!

And then, because time just refuses to slow down, Rachel got back to the clamouring fans of her Sugar Moon Brownies 😋, Paul went back to his law office 📚, and for us it was off again, on our trek across Ireland to our new house on Galway Bay, with Elaine tucked into the front seat . . .

This was our first glimpse of our new Bayfield House, just turning into the driveway and already madly in love with it . . . and since then . . .

Our neighbor has moved his cows into our field . . . we can see them out the living room window right this very moment, but these two photos are from the car window as we were pulling into the driveway . . .

I love them so much. Bunch of moms and their babies, a family. 💞 Ireland, I have learned in just these few days, is a place that seeps into your heart a little at a time, the more you read, the more you know the history, the closer you feel to these wonderful people and everything that’s happened here.  I’m writing every night and loving it. 

So right now, I have to stop, because Siobhan just arrived, and she, along with Elaine and Joe are looking at me, 👀 we have a reservation for dinner at a place just up the road. We are walking! Past the cows, and the rock walls, along Galway Bay! I have to go get ready. But what I’m going to do is come back later and add on. So read this, and then get ready for more later. Like a serial! XOXO

Here I am again!  Drinking my tea in this quiet house with the huge picture windows, watching the brown cows and the magpies waking up outside, and beyond the green fields and rock walls, the tide coming in on Galway Bay. More photos? Oui! MASS MUSICA? (This was playing in our car BBC while we were driving hill and dale in the countryside, past all the lambs and daffodils and I’m still not over it and never will be!) 

As I’ve been saying, the hiking and walking-pub-tearoom life is a lifestyle here. It’s easy to walk from one town to the next over narrow ancient paths, and there is always a public house along the way, so you never have to worry about food, drink, facilities, and warmth.

Very often there’s a crackling fire you can cozy up to . . .

While you flirt with nearby dogs.

The food, btw, is SO GOOD with a focus on freshness and health. I have a theory … Maybe it’s because they had that horrible event with mad cow disease in the late 90s that was killing people and was so difficult to stop that they were finally forced put down an estimated 180,000 animals in the British countryside ~ it had to be a horrible life-imprinting/changing event for everyone. Even from far away, I saw what was happening and hurt for all those farmers and their country neighbors. I’m not sure if the fine quality of pub food now has anything to do with that, this is just my own take on it, but I remember when people used to disparage British cooking, and it makes sense, because no one could every do that now! I think everyone would have automatically been made hyper-aware that you are what you eat, and now, everywhere you go, even in what seems to be the middle of nowhere, the food is fresh and organic and locally sourced.  Every ingredient is listed on the menus and we’re told it comes from such and such farm … every imaginable allergy is carefully watched over. Some menus are almost entirely gluten free! Unless you eat their yummy seeded homemade bread!  But in most places, you can order gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, vegan … any way you like it. 👍

So, yes, you walk and walk, then go sit in front of the fire and eat something wonderful . . .

And if you’re lucky, you’ll be in a pub with a view, and perhaps a little critter will come visit your window . . .

Could happen!

That view also included the cottage belonging to Doc Martin (of the much loved TV series) because we were in charming Port Isaac in Cornwall . . . the house is the smaller of the two grey-stone ones in this photo … we walked all over the hidden narrow paths between the whitewashed or stone cottages in this wonderful magical village by the sea.

I could really go on all day . . . but my people are waking up, they will be milling about soon and wanting me to move my hiney out of this chair.  But before I go, you should know there are daffodils EVERYWHERE. Whole roads are lined with them. I keep asking myself, “Who does this?”

And then there are the castle gardens . . . with massively old trees . . . and more lovely sheep to keep the grass cut and tidy looking , like a huge park.

Look at the expression on that one “hiding” next to the tree!

I got to pet my first lamb! But I don’t think it’ll be my last!

This is an amazing little village in Wales called Beddgelert . . . go there if you can, it’s in the Snowdonia National Park and as sweet as pie.

We walked over the bridge to have dinner, and came back after dark without the slightest light to guide us . . . except for our handy “torch” (flashlight) . . . and the cold river rushing by and stars overhead.


It has been wonderful so far, and this is just the tip of the great big emerald-green iceberg. More to come!!! You know we still have our picnic in Beatrix Potter’s Garden! And our house in the Cotswolds! We’ve only just begun!

But here comes Mother’s Day! And before I went away I designed a new crown! I’m giving you plenty of time to make it ~ it’s a crown project! Isn’t it adorable? Kellee put this one together for us ~ You can make it either with or without the band at the bottom, and use it for any day!

Click HERE for the How-To directions and to print out these papers . . . because

And very soon our Mother’s Day cups will ship from England! At the end of this week!

ALL of them are shipping. They have to get over the pond to America, then go through customs, then be trucked to the Studio, and then, finally, to you . . . we will be shepherding them from here, cracking that whip, fingers crossed that they make it to everyone for Mother’s Day 🌷 . . . And thank you so much for your patience! I have them all here with us, and they turned out beautifully!

And now look! Not to drive you nuts, which I don’t mean to do, but with the lateness of the Springtime cups, we are running into a log jam. (And as Siobhan says from her peanut gallery over on the sofa, “But the good news is you can have two cups at once!” She doesn’t realize that our cups runneth over!) Anyway, this may be our last collection ~ I feel like I’m taking up too much of your cupboard space! Maybe I’ll do another one for next Christmas? We don’t get home until July 1 and I wanted to make sure our Summer cups were designed and ready to go before we left home. They sent me the first samples when we were in Cornwall. They should be shipping from England around May 20 and probably from us at the Studio around the 2nd week of June, if all goes as planned 😜. This means, for those of you collecting, we will have all four seasons! So here’s a closeup of what is coming:

The collection would not have been complete unless we had a God Bless America cup! So here we go! Fireworks, bunting, flags and all!

The back, “Of Thee I sing!” I photographed them all in the backyard of the Cornwall house on the vintage tablecloth I bought for the Picnic! Perfect timing.

Here’s the side, and the Statue of Liberty . . . btw, I picked the little flowers from the lawn.

  Because even though we are traveling, cuteness matters!

Zee bottom, “Sea to Shining Sea.” And now . . .

SUMMER! (Will it ever really come?)

The Summer back, you can see the dog pulling the kite on the beach . . . This is the smaller 11 oz cup (like the other three seasons have been) as opposed to the rest of them which are large 16 oz cups. But they’re both that thin strong bone china we love.

Here’s SUMMER from the side so you can see the kite tail and read the rest of the quote…

And a little reminder while you’re drinking your tea to go play . . . they are not long the days of wine and roses! And next . . .

A celebration of the little things that make life sweet with A RED LETTER DAY!

Everything needed for a homemade happy life . . . your basic “How to be Happy!”

Here’s the side . . .

And the cheerful handle with dancing and singing cats!

And a little reminder on the bottom . . .

Next, behind door number four . . . the GARDEN . . .

With lots of wonderful old-wives tales gardening tips on the back to make it interesting . . .

Picket fence and humming birds!

And scattered flowers for the handle. Oops, I forgot to take a photo of the bottom! BUT I remember, there’s a red-handled trowel and it says, “You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt.” Truer words were never spoken! 🌸

And that’s the four for Summer! Kellee will put them in our web store for preorder within the next couple of days. I’m thinking of ordering a lot less of these, mainly because I fear that you are being inundated with cups! So, to be sure, if you want one, place your order, so I will know.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program! I’ll see you in a few days!

 We went to Cong here in Ireland, where much of The Quiet Man was filmed (see it if you haven’t already, it’s a guaranteed love-fest!). This photo was in the bathroom of the actual Pat Cohan Bar you see in the movie, and that’s where Elaine and I are sitting above. See what I mean? It’s never ending. More later! Have a wonderful marvelous magical day of joy and happiness  and good and delicious and healthy things to eat. XOXO 


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511 Responses to Seventh Heaven

  1. Katherine says:

    Happy Birthday Susan, when I read your blog you have an amazing way of making me feel I’m right there with you enjoying every minute. I’ve been to Ireland and after reading this I’m ready to go back. Thank you Susan

  2. Patricia Mason says:

    I loved every word and picture ! “Oh to be in England now that Spring is here …….” Or Ireland for that matter ! I am also envious but happy for you both ! Enjoy your stay in my magical country…… hope you will let us know when you arrive home about the various accommodations you stayed in. I would love to visit for an extended period of time such as you do…..

    • sbranch says:

      Staying in one place for a long time (like two or three weeks) is the secret, I think, of wonderful travel. Instead of packing and going and packing and going, you get to know a place, and even say hello to the locals.

  3. Marcia Sherman says:

    FINALLY! OMG I really thought you had died or just decided it was too much to write the blog and we would just have to read the book…in a year!!!
    so happy to see this – you have no idea

    • sbranch says:

      Oh no, but when we’re driving every day which we were in Wales, it’s difficult, then of course no internet sometimes makes it worse. If you can go on Twitter, you’ll see I’m connected there every day, but that only requires a phone while the blog needs a full-on computer! xoxo

  4. Penny Bohlen says:

    Because of extremely bad knees I will never be able to ramble in England, Wales or Ireland, but through your eyes I have walked with you. Bless you both and thank you for the experience!

  5. Sally DeLiberato says:

    Please go to titanic museum in Northern Ireland-worth it!!

  6. Janyce Beyer says:

    Happy, Happy Birthday! AAAnnnnd Maaany Moorrree!!

  7. Nancy says:

    What a wonderful birthday celebration! Many happy returns!!! Anxiously awaiting the next chapter…..

  8. Denise S says:

    How very lovely it all looks. Even the rainy misty foggy scenes. ( Especially as we have
    fifteen inches of new snow!) Also love the Carrie House photos. She lives in such whimsical beauty.
    We appreciate the effort Susan. Keep it coming!

  9. Barbara from Wolverine Lake MI says:

    Enjoying your beautiful photos! Susan, I just have to tell you how a few of us celebrated your birthday at work on our lunch hour! The thought popped into my head the night before, so I made 3 of your recipes and brought in lunch for the Branchies (those of us who have your calendars at our desks) – I made Coronation Chicken, a loaf of your Nut Bread and I grabbed a jar of your Cranberry/Orange jam from the fridge! what a surprise when I pulled out lunch for about 5 of us. I even brought in darling paper napkins/plates and some tea. Couldn’t let your day go by without thinking of you. it was fun and delicious. xoxoxo 🙂

  10. Anna Chait says:

    Susan branch you are “graannd”! Enjoying you and Joe and all your friends in England, Ireland and Wales. Keep it coming.

  11. Laurie Walt says:

    So romantic! Love.

  12. AngieTink says:

    Oh My Goodness Sweet~Sue….I Had A #Feeling There Was A New~Blog~Post 🙂 & I Was Right!!! I Just Flew & #Poof Here It Is!!!! 🙂 I’ve Just Read Every~Word & Enjoyed Every Photo….. My Wings Are All~A~Flutter & I Am Doing An Irish~Jiggity~Jig!!! 😉 #RayAndPaul & #Elaine & Now #Siobhan & Oh How I Love Your Irish~Enchanted~Cottage!!! I Know You Are In Your Glory My Dear & Your Birthday Was Filled With Pure~Irish~Magic! 🙂 Yay! & Thank~You Very Much For Bringing Us Along!!!! & I Love Miss~Carrie & Stuart & Jack……Huge Smile On Me Pumpkin~Face! 🙂 Once Again…Happy~Birthday Sweetest~Sue Hooray! 🙂 xoxo #Poof 🙂 😉 P.S. Extra~Hugzzz For You & Joe & Continued Irish~Blessings During This Glorious~Journey! 🙂

  13. Marianne in Mo. says:

    Thank you for bringing us along on your fun travels. You are so much better than Burt Wolff! LOL! Because we get the female side of the travels! I won’t gush over all you’ve shared – we would be here all day & half the night! Thank You, and another Happy Birthday, in case you missed the first one!

  14. Del Jean says:

    Oh my! You are taking and sharing pics of everything I would want to see, Susan! Thank you! Keep enjoying!

  15. Shelia McGuckin says:

    Hooray, a new book! And about Ireland! ☘ can’t wait!

  16. Shannon(Pennsylvania) says:

    ❤️ My favorite sentence of this whole post…”Cling to each other as rocks of Gibraltar.” I love that! Please include it in the new book❤️❤️ And what a grand looking group of lads and lasses all in one glorious place!☺️

  17. judi says:

    Loved hearing from you. What an adorable, warm house you got to stay in. Happy you were surrounded by dear friends on your birthday. Happy trails. Xo judi

  18. Donna Weir says:

    I was so afraid you had fallen ill or something since we hadn’t heard from you in a while. So thankful all is well and you are having a marvelous time. Enjoying your pics SO MUCH! Thank you.

  19. Marsha Whitestone says:

    Your blogging is charming! Thank you so much for bringing your fans along with you. What lovely birthday you had and so blessed with dear friends. Your words and photos warm my heart as I sit and read, the snow is swirling outside but I am warm inside.

  20. Marsha Whitestone says:

    Your blogging is charming! Thank you so much for bringing your fans along with you. What lovely birthday you had and so blessed with dear friends. Your words and photos warm my heart as I sit and read, the snow is swirling outside but I am warm inside.

  21. Karen says:

    Loved the Musica and blog update…..makes me feel all goose-bumpy with the best kind of kindred spirit feelings!

  22. Kathleen from Philly says:

    Happy Birthday Susan! What a wonderful place to celebrate! Ireland will always be one of my favorite travel memories. I hope you are able to visit the Dingle Peninsula. Lovely, magical place. But the whole country is magical! And you are in the right place to buy some very special yarn while you are at it. Enjoy! And keep up taking lots of photos and sketches for “our next book”.

  23. Thank you for taking the time to blog and to include all your girlfriends. We appreciate it. How wonderful that you celebrated your birthday with people who love you so much they just had to travel to Ireland to celebrate with you. You are special to do many of us. I love the picture of you and Elaine way back when. We were all that young once. Have you seen any fairies or leprechauns yet? Your Irish house looks like there might be a haven for them in the yard. Continued fun adventures. Love you guys tons.

  24. Kathy Nelson says:

    Happy Belated Birthday! What a wonderful way to celebrate!! And, thank you so much for the lovely virtual tour. My bucket list grows…

  25. Kathy says:

    Hanging on your every word; loving every post and every twitter! Thank you for sharing!

  26. Pam Erselius says:

    Your photos have all been so inspiring. Especially of your friend’s New-to-her home. I plan on using some of her ideas: Tea ware in the book case for one. Thank you to you and yours for allowing us in. 🌸☘️🌷☘️🌸☘️🌷pam
    Ps – the name and email of the person posted before me were listed in the boxes
    Below. I deleted and put my own in.

  27. Cathy says:

    Happy belated birthday but oh what a birthday! Thank you for taking us along.
    We recently got acorn tv (thanks to your suggestion) and have become addicted to Dr Martin mostly for the scenery of that sweet village it is filmed in so maybe someday I will get to England too. Enjoy Ireland, wishing you safe travels, and wonderful weather!

  28. JudyCinNC says:

    You write in the language I love – that of joy and happiness. Recently saw a new (to me) quote and I thought, very fondly, of you and Joe having all that fun…

    “I love a person who smiles when it rains.” Hugs to you judy c

  29. Mary says:

    How awesome! I love Ireland… was there for the epic Beast from the East snowstorm….so thank you for pictures of “green” all we saw was white! LOL. Looking forward to more stories and adventures…Enjoy the rest of your stay and Happy Birthday!

  30. Loretta says:

    Happy Birthday wishes to you!!! What a wonderful blog…felt right by ur side..all the
    way! Enjoy ur trip…been raini g here n Calif. Hugs, Loretta/Calif.

  31. Robin on the Vineyard says:

    oh my goodness! fabulous blog! it looks like you and Joe are having great fun. how wonderful that your friend flew in from California to meet you. thanks for the great photos…… Happiest of Birthdays, Susan!

  32. Cathy Solomons says:

    Enjoyed this so much!! Thanks for sharing!!

  33. Melinda says:

    A belated Happy Birthday, Susan! Enjoying your posts so much and I’m trying so hard to be patient in between them! The book is eagerly anticipated!

  34. Margaret Harke says:

    Wonderful. Thank you for your lovely pictures and descriptions of Ireland, a land I would love to visit.
    aka Maggie Fitzgerald ( my name had not my ancestors left Ireland long ago).

  35. Daphne Pickren says:

    Ohhh how I would love to visit Ireland! For now I will see it through your eyes…
    Happy Travels

  36. Simone Dextraze says:

    Dear Susan, Thank you for making us feel like we are right there traveling with you. What a glorious trip.

  37. Carol Maurer ~ Kennewick, Wa says:

    Susan……I want to go there as well!!! I loved all the pictures…so quaint with the small villages and the streets! You were so fortunate to have a couple good friends come over to Ireland for your birthday. How fun was that!! And, to meet Carrie! It’s one thing to correspond in letters and quite another to see them in person. How precious.

    Carol M

  38. Eloise Champi says:

    I so love traveling along with you on your trip ~ Happy Birthday~ and thanks for giving me such joy when you write and illustrate. Hugs from California.

  39. E. Eastman says:

    Happy birthday, Susan! Thank you for sharing your travels; I love the photos. Say “hi” to Elaine for me! (Good times – we were young and into music.)

  40. Rosemary Lang says:

    How nice of you to share this wonderful trip with us! Happy Birthday.

  41. Rita Baker says:

    Not sure where you’re at, but you just must not leave Ireland w/o visiting Molly Gallivans Cottage & Visitor Center. Trust me. The BEST roadside stop EVER, is located on the N71 between Kenmare & Glengarniff., near the Wild Atlantic Way. I remember you said you were renting a cottage near Doolin, also a must stop, as it is the cutest tiny village, & just a hop away from the Cliffs of Moher, which are also a MUST visit. (Do save the cliffs for a sunny day). Happy “late” B-Day, Susan, & party on!

  42. Happy Belated Birthday Susan. You have had so many adventures, you must be exhausted, I know I would be. I would need some serious nap time just to be able to absorb all the fun coming along everyday. I also hope you wrote down all book titles in Carrie’s displays. I love, love, love old books. My daughter just refurbished my Beatrix Potter books for my birthday. I gave them all to my girls years ago, now I want some again. I read out the Peter Rabbit story to my husband yesterday and we enjoyed it immensely, such insight. When I was little I always identified with the bunnies eating blackberries and milk. I wanted to be a good little bunny I guess. Thanks for all your inspiration.
    Jeanne of Iowa

  43. Gina from NY says:

    Happy Birthday Susan! 🎂 So you’re an Aries too (I’m March 30th)! It was a big birthday for me (60) – yikes! Still can’t quite believe it… 😳 I hope you have a wonderful day, and I wish you many more…

    Thanks for sharing your lovely trip with us. I’ve never been to England/Ireland, but I have been to Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands. Have you been anywhere else in Europe? I know you would absolutely love the art in Italy, and I know we would love your book after that trip!

    Stay safe, dry, and enjoy! xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      I have, we’ve been to Paris together, I went to lots of places in Europe when I was around 27 with a girlfriend . . . Italy, Spain, France, Switzerland, Copenhagen …

  44. Liz Lamontaylor says:

    You and Joe are the definition of, “It’s a Wonderful Life”. As always, thank you for sharing. Continue to enjoy EVERY minute.

  45. Lisa G. says:

    Oh, I like Carrie’s decorating style, so charming. And your brown cow neighbors! A very Happy Birthday to you. 🙂

  46. Kathy says:

    My husband & I toured British Isles last Aug. & loved Ireland! So hoping to enjoy it again through your writings & photos. And a BIG Happy Birthday to you as well.

  47. Cyndi in NC says:

    Oh! There is to be more after dinner?? Be still my beating heart! Love the Mama cows and their babes. *S* It all looks just like I think it will. Enjoy it all, I know I am!

  48. Brenda says:

    Just had to say a quick Happy Birthday to you and it looks like you had a very very good one!

  49. Judith says:

    Sounds like a perfect place! Thank you for sharing. My cousin and I followed your Lake District trip to Hilltop in 2015. You are such an inspiration for everyone. Thank you.❣️

  50. Frances Fowler says:

    There are just no words, it is all so incredibly gorgeous! Well, one word (sort of) for chick-magnet Jack, ears flapping about in the air — Fwiiing-fwiiiiing-fwiiiing-fwiiiiing! What a stellar way to celebrate your birthday, in such beautiful places (and divinely old, charming, and simplistic, like stepping back into a story or another time) and with such lovely, dear friends. That’s also a beautiful bouquet of flowers!

  51. Kathiellen says:

    Dear Susan,
    Oh!! You are visiting a place that I have ALWAYS loved…Ireland!☘️💚 Thank you for your BEAUTIFUL post!! I LOVE Irish music and THE FIELDS OF ATHENRY is ONE of my favorites even though it stabs my heart and makes me cry every time I hear it…it is hearing and visualizing such a horribly sad place in time. Frank Patterson’s rendition of that song leaves my heart heavy for a long, long time. It is BEAUTIFUL, as is his rendition of Danny Boy. I get chills just thinking about those two songs. The cows in the photo absolutely stole my heart, and the photo of that grand tree with the little bird sitting at the top!! Like the video of the woman playing the cello on the wayside, I keep going back to that tree 💚 I have a green tree in my heart, and the singing birds DO come!! Blessings and Safe Traveling to you, Joe and your Lovely friends!! Enjoy, Inhale and Absorb every second of your visit to Ireland!!! I hope that you meet up with an Irish Faerie along the way!!! I cannot wait to read your new book!!!

    • sbranch says:

      They are running ahead to make it all amazing for us. It’s been just as you say, heart touchingly beautiful.

  52. Val Wheater says:

    Just a wee bit envious of your fabulous trip. Haven’t been to Ireland since ‘76 so thinking its time to plan a return. Love the cows at the home you’ve rented! Looking forward to reading more, thank you for sharing!

  53. Jeannette from the Central Coast says:

    Love everything!! I’m enjoying every moment you share of your travels! I certainly will look forward to the book that evolves from this amazing experience.

  54. Wendy says:

    I am loving this adventure, thanks so much for sharing it with us! Happy belated birthday! It looks like you had a wonderful time on your special day. I can’t wait for your next book!!!! Happy and safe travels!

  55. Debra Horton says:

    I feel you must want to pinch yourself to make sure all these beautiful experiences are REAL. I know I have felt that way in when I travel abroad. Happy birthday! So lovely your friends, old and new, are joining you in the journey and celebration.

  56. Sandy Hernandez says:

    I am very much enjoying all your photos and posts. You are blessed to have such wonderful friends to share your adventures and also your birthday !! Make every minute count and experience all you can ! Map man is amazing- not going to let those country roads get the best of him ! No sir !! Stay on the left side and go -go -go !

  57. Elle says:

    Go to An Fear Gorta tea room and gardens in Ballyvaughn, County Clare. Resident cat. Ellen

  58. Susan Coady-Butler says:

    Happy Birthday!! I will so very much LOVE your next book. Someday we will see Ireland. It will be my trip of a lifetime!! Your book will help us plan, and enjoy until we get to see it all for ourselves. Have a most wonderful time. Thank you for always generously sharing it with us.

  59. Erica C says:

    Happy birthday! Thank you for the update. It’s so much fun to be an armchair traveller. 🙂
    Please, please, *please* post some photos of the baby cows. Please? They seem like the best possible neighbors for your stay!

  60. Kathy says:

    Happiest of Birthdays to you! What a wonderful way to celebrate it. We are digging out of 2 feet of snow here in Wisconsin. Loved seeing the daffodils!!

  61. Shirley Burt says:

    What a fabulous celebration !! I had forgotten about all the rings on the candle. Must remember for future birthdays. Squealed with happiness at all the photo’s, descriptions and Joe’s ring being found. Enjoy your time across the pond. We will be waiting here when you have a moment to share the fun.
    Bunny hugs,

  62. Ruth B. says:

    So glad you are taking me with you to this lush Isle. My hubby and I took the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead and spent time with a dear friend in Wales. She took us to an old cottage where I had my first cream tea!
    So glad you found your ring! I chuckled out loud when you described licking the ice cream off!
    Happy birthday, sweet friend!
    Ruth B. (Ohio- The Inklings)

  63. Marigold says:

    Love seeing Wales and Ireland through the lens of your camera and the lens of your heart. Such beauty, from the people to the animals to the landscape. And those birthday flowers are simply scrumptious. Don’t forget to kiss the Blarney Stone!

  64. Deb says:

    Looks like you are having a great time! Will look forward to hearing more as your adventures continue…and am really excited that you are writing another book!

  65. Margot in Sister Bay says:

    May the road rise up to meet you…
    Even the ferry deck is green. And Joe’s boat tote!

  66. Sharon Meagher says:

    Oh Sue, I am loving your adventures across the pond! I hope to visit Ireland again one day.
    Enjoy your travels and we are looking forward to your next writings.

  67. Sharon in Sparks, NV says:

    Hello Susan,
    You always take the most wonderful photos and describe your experiences and excursions so beUtifully. It feels like I am on the road with you. My husband and I have been to Ireland, Scotland and England several times and we fell in love with the countryside also. So much to love about it. We lived in Northern Ireland in Belfast for about 9 months while we volunteered for Habitat For Humanity. We loved Ireland. Galway is the most wonderful town. So much to see and do and buy. The woolen stores are fabulous.

  68. Kelli says:

    I love all your pictures! My mother-in-law has plans to rent a house in Ireland for a month when she turns 80! Her plan is to have her whole family visit (not all at once!) I’m looking forward to it. I hope your new book is out before then (1 1/2 years). Ireland is so beautiful!

  69. Lynda Mortensen says:

    Gorgeous! I have big news! Hubby is finally retiring and so we can spend MUCH more time back in England visiting my friends and family…I go for 7 weeks each year, but hubby has been restricted to joining me for just the last 10 days or so. I can’t wait to travel and to show each other more of our respective countries 🙂

  70. Ann Jane Koerber says:

    WOW !!! I am so enjoying this blog, Susan. I can appreciate how very hard it is to do the girlfriend blog along with all that is going on with this trip. Thank you for sharing. You are tireless, and you are an inspiration to all. Amazing trip! Amazing you!! 😽💟

  71. Lynette Strohbach says:

    I watched The Quiet Man on St. Paddy’s Day, and wondered if it could really be so green! With all of the rain maybe you’ll find a rainbow with a bit of luck! I hope you will be able to visit Cong and the museums there. That would indeed be graand!! Loving the visits with friends especially the furry ones! Another Jack, how cute! Can’t wait for more please!

  72. Cathy says:

    I am so looking forward to joining you and other “girlfriends” on May 11th. I’ve booked my tour of Beatrix’ house and will pick up one of your England cups when I get there. Will “they” be able to keep me in western NC after I’ve seen the English countryside????

  73. Sharon R A says:

    Enjoying every post and picture. Thanks for sharing your adventures.

  74. Debra Scharf says:

    Loving this so much! What a wonderful trip. Can’t wait for your new book!

  75. Sherrill Bruning says:

    What a wonderful trip! Can’t wait for the new book!

  76. Noelle says:

    Happy Birthday and thank you so much. Loving every minute of this trip and so many friends joining in! You have boundless energy! Can’t wait to see where we are going next.

  77. Evelyn Patricia Bonilla says:

    Thank you for the lovely trip

  78. Sally Geisel says:

    Very excited about your new book! Yippee ki-yay! And loving this trip! I look forward to your Twitter additions every night. Such a relaxing journey after a stressful day. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  79. Debra Sewell says:

    Great Willard!!! Love the cow photos, the walks, you have lost weight and look very fit. You too gitls looked like sisters. Thank you for Willard!!!

  80. What a perfect celebration with dear friends, Susan! We toasted you on the 12th with cups of tea here. I adore the small villages you have been exploring, the walking paths, and of course the lambs everywhere. Your new book will be another treasure, Susan! Ireland is calling me for so many special reasons! Can’t wait for more updates…
    Happy travels and many hugs!
    Dawn (in Illinois)

    • sbranch says:

      It’s heavenly Dawn. Such a surprise how touching this place, the countryside, and the people and the history are.

  81. Lorna S says:

    Birthday Salutations, Susan!

    Thanks for the quick update on our journey through the British Isles. Love the photos and bits and pieces of the travels you are sharing right now. It fills the heart with joy to see you with long time friends so far from home. Oh the adventures you have and I am so very grateful that you are taking us along. I will admit that I feel as if you made us put the book down to have dinner – so hurry up so we can pick up where we left off. LOL.
    I wish you happy trails to you, and Joe and Petey too!

  82. julia walker says:

    And remember. “Age is merely the number of years the world has been enjoying you.”
    Your envious pal in Cincy,

  83. Barb Cowles says:

    Wonderful, meaning, full of wonder. And, delight and charm and beauty. Thank you and Joe for sharing it all with us. Go have some more fun. 🙂 Barb

  84. Gail says:

    Another great trip, breathtaking. I wS surprised to see how young Laura Ashley was when she died, so sad.

  85. Karen Newstead says:

    Susan, I’m so thrilled for you to celebrate your birthday in such a fabulous part of our world. My husband and I went to England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and the Orkney Isles ten years ago. We didn’t do the ferry but now I want to return so we can! Your lovely photos and writing takes me back to that time. I love the houses, the restaurants, the shops, and those beautiful cows! Can’t wait to see your next book. Thank you for taking me back ten years. Enjoy! Blessings from Campbell, California!

  86. Valorie Veld says:

    Aaaaah! Like a dream. Happy Birthday 🙂

  87. Karen D says:

    What a fabulous adventure! Enjoy

  88. Freya Sponseller says:

    Just beautiful. Love this trip so much. Hurry back from the restaurant and add more!!

  89. Linda J. Smith says:

    Sending 🌷🎂🎉 Happy belated Birthday🌷🐑🐮 wishes to you!
    Thank you for the wonderful posts, absolutely love hearing and seeing details of your travels!💕

  90. Diane M. Ely says:

    Happy Birthday and thank you for sharing! So beautiful, and oh, soooo , just wonderful, can’t wait for more . . .

  91. Susan K. says:

    This was such a joyful read. It really brought such joy to my day. Continue to have a wonderful trip your hubby and friends ❤️

  92. Lorrie says:

    What a wonderful thing to come home to today – a post from Susan! Hooray! We drove over the same bridge over the Severn in 2016! Loved Wales! Looking forward to the book, but so glad to get a few snippets here and there. Belated Happy Birthday! Looks like it was a grand celebration!

  93. Cindy says:

    Have enjoyed every second of your trip! Thank you so much for taking me along. Bless you both!

  94. Ruth Winkler says:

    Happy Birthday, Susan — what beautiful flowers. I bet they are in a vase on your table in Ireland right now. I cannot believe you and Joe will be staying at that darling house. It took my breath away. Cows and daffodils. Wow. Enjoy and be safe.

  95. Colette says:

    Oh my goodness! I did not think that you could top your previous trip. Can’t wait for the book. We are in Nice for one month where I also celebrated my birthday this month. The French Riviera is a dream at this time of the year before the summer turns it into a nightmare. When a place is this beautiful, of course, everyone wants to see it. Retirement affords you the freedom to travel at any time. We fly to London on May 1st for another month of loveliness. I am still waiting for my invitation to THE wedding. It might be in our mailbox at home. Oh dear! The Irish people are my favorite people in the whole world. Enjoy Ireland and thanks for taking us along.

  96. Sarah says:

    Happy Birthday, Susan! Is this a milestone birthday for you too? Mine was in January. It’s just a number, and honestly I’m so grateful to have such a healthy, wonderful life. Who cares how many years? Enjoy your beautiful life, you and Joe, traveling about! Much love and admiration sent across the miles. Hugs from Austin!

    • sbranch says:

      Not a milestone, boring 71, but Dublin took the boring right out of it!

      • Sarah says:

        I thought we were both 70 this year. Guess you can show me how to live the good life in this new decade. A trip across the pond sounds good to me. 🤗 I don’t think there is a thing about your life that is boring! You are a fabulous role model for all. Thank you for bringing joy and adventure into the lives of your readers and fans! Safe adventures as you continue on this countryside journey.

        • sbranch says:

          Yes, I will forge ahead for you Sarah! Ohhh, thank you . . . I adore having everyone along. xoxoxo

  97. Linda H says:

    Dear Susan,
    Happy Birthday! We are three days apart. You really know how to have a grand celebration!
    I can’t wait for your next book, and, hopefully, book tour? How about you bring your English and Welsh girlfriends along to meet all of us?

  98. Candice Black says:

    Luv-ly, luv-ly, luv-ly & many happy belated wishes for your birthday!

  99. Ruth E. Rupp says:

    Oh, to be in Ireland again! I had a lovely trip there years ago and bought a darling wool tea cozy made to look like an old Irish cottage. I love it! I actually took a long trip through Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and then England. I am so enjoying “our” trip. So fun seeing pictures of you and Joe meeting up wth so many interesting friends and see their homes. Happy, happy belated birthday! How wonderful that you got to celebrate it on your trip. Don’t forget to buy things to hang on your Christmas tree that remind you of the places you have been. They bring back such fun memories. Perhaps a little leprechaun to hang on the tree!! 🙂 Keep on truckin’!! I’m right behind you!! haha! Enjoy every moment and stay safe. Sending Birthday Hugs with Love, Ruthie, in Minnesota

  100. Barbara A Case IN says:

    Dear Susan, I really enjoy traveling with you two. It is so lovely… Ancestry DNA is 63% UK …all these wonderful places.. Scotland, England, Wales, Cornwall and ……Ireland… I’m glad you are enjoying yourselves. Love to you, Joe, Carrie, Rachel, and Siobhan and the hubbies

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