Here I am again! Are you ready for our Castle Cottage Picnic? Me too! … But first I think you need, as promised, the story of our Milkman in the Lake District! Because we had one!

We found an order sheet in the cottage we were renting . . . filled it out, popped it into an empty milk bottle on the porch . . . and the next morning here comes his truck . . .

With Kevin inside, delivering local milk, eggs and butter and other groceries on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday … the UK is trying to move away from the use of disposable packaging and back to the reusable stuff. Considering how much trash we make these days, despite our recycling and composting efforts, it’s a huge undertaking. I applaud them for trying, and we got right into it. Whole milk in glass bottles from Town End Dairy!

Waiting on our porch the next morning . . .such a cheerful thing to find, plus you get a whole new relationship with an English Lakes person.

He’s a doll. He told me a secret about cooking fresh eggs I’m definitely putting in the book! Mandy called us the day of the Picnic and said she’d missed Kevin, that he was on his way to our place now, could I please get four pints of milk to bring along to the Picnic! Somehow, that is very darling to me. Like neighbors borrowing sugar. So small town. And now that we have our milk . . .

Let’s do both! MUSICA

It’s Castle Cottage Time… our May 11 Picnic, a visit to Hill Top, and Girlfriends galore. Reddest of Red Letter Days.

In picturesque Near Sawrey, “closer to Hawkshead than Far Sawrey,” the place where Beatrix Potter became the person she wanted to be.

A country girl, on a farm, where she could raise sheep, and paint the things she loved.

Early on the day of the Picnic, Joe and I were thrilled to go to Hill Top for a private tour of the house with Liz McFarland who’s worked for the National Trust managing Hill Top and collections there for 18 years, and her new associate (on her second day), Emily. To be inside Hill Top, those rooms, almost alone? Deep breath . . . So down the path, past the little picket-fence gate with the view across Post Office Meadow to Castle Cottage, we went.  Be still my heart.

Along the flag-stone path through the flower garden . . .

To the little kitchen garden in front of the house, brimming with rhubarb, banked by the bee house in the bee bole . . . Emily on the left and Liz on the right of me. Me looking at Joe, thinking, do you see this?

watering cans and pots…

reminding me of this . . .

We walked out of the garden up to Hill Top, the house Beatrix Potter bought in 1905, just after her fiancé, Norman Warne, died suddenly, only one month after their engagement ~ when Beatrix was 39 years old. If you can imagine, such a sudden change of plans, dreams halted, like driving off a cliff. She went to the place she loved in the English Lakes and bought Hill Top, which proved to be the doorway to her new life, a future she dared to dream despite the times in which she lived.

Beatrix standing in the doorway of Hill Top . . . the biographer Linda Lear called her a “Victorian Genius,” and every time I see this photo, that’s what I think of, a generous, romantic dreamer; an antique-loving, creative English watercolor artist; far-seeing, brave, pragmatist, preservationist, scientific, nature-loving human being, who could be grouchy if children stole her apples or left her field gates open. She died only five years before I was born. I’m proud to have her for my hero. She is still making a difference.

As I was walking in, I remembered that photo of Beatrix in the doorway and stopped and put my hand where she had been not so very long ago and smiled at Joe . . . I wanted to stand where she stood, and feel the place she’d been. The things that made her happy, make me happy too. That’s how you get your heroes.We need heroes to teach us how to be heroes. Spread your hero-love so your children will love them too. 

When we came to Hill Top the first time in 2012, they didn’t allow cameras inside ~ during my visit to the house, I had to sketch and scribble notes on a piece of paper I kept folded in my purse for this type of emergency ~ then go back to our rental to paint and write while the memory was fresh. 

The words on this pitcher are on page 189 of A Fine Romance. But this time, they said I could bring my camera . . . joy oh joy oh precious joy.

And so through the door, into the first room of the house, the kitchen, we went ~ or rather, I came in, turned around, went out, and came in again. Everything needs to be slow at Hill Top or you lose consciousness and miss the whole thing. Liz let me ask all the questions I wanted ~ as you can imagine she was a wealth of knowledge and volunteered all kinds of wonderful detail. It was truly a dream, as quiet as it must have been when Beatrix created it.

While she was talking, my eyes searched the room for Beatrix’s hat and clogs. And there they were, just where I saw them last time, just where she left them to the National Trust when she died in 1942. For us. For everyone. Forever.

And this was the cast iron range where she made her tea, the heart of Hill Top. They still have fires in it on cold days. I would love to try baking in it. I bet you’d have to practice! I do not see the dial that says 350º on it.

And there is her cuckoo clock that’s been ticking away the time for all these years. 

Everything was placed exactly where she wanted it . . . I saw three clocks, the cuckoo and this grandfather clock were in the kitchen, and there was another grandfather clock on the stair landing.

Beatrix’s father had these plates made . . . from drawings he found in books. Aren’t they wonderful? I love the wallpaper too. It’s William Morris . . .

Here it is up close, it covers both the walls AND, charmingly, the ceiling . . .

Joe’s look tells me exactly how he feels about being there. He knows that I know that he knows that I know. Simple as that.

They said I could set my hat on her table so I could take Joe’s photo. My hat, on Beatrix Potter’s kitchen table. So I had to take a picture of that too.

Beautiful. She loved dishes like we do! They’re everywhere.

In fact she loved all antique things. This chest was made by hand 200 years before she was born . . . she bought most all her furniture at farm sales and auctions . . .

We walked from the kitchen . . .

to the room next door, the parlor . . . the “best room” and a bit more formal.

You can see this cupboard in the corner . . . I painted her coronation teapot with the pink crown lid for A Fine Romance last time we were here. . .

On our way to the stairs we passed this little room, not part of the regular tour, it’s where the volunteers keep tools and where they put together the flower bouquets for the house. I love working places, creativity in action.  There was no running water in the house in Beatrix Potter’s time, and no electricity, not here and not in Castle Cottage. She could afford anything, could have lived in a mansion, but she preferred quiet, and little, with firelight, candle light, and oil lamps. Just an old-fashioned gal.

Hill Top is still mostly lit by natural-light with just a few pin lights here and there for emphasis (and so we don’t fall down and kill ourselves in the dark). There’s heat now too, to help keep things dry in the winter. When something wears out, like wallpaper or the rugs, they have new ones made to match. They work very hard to keep it real. That bannister, hard to not imagine her hand there. One of the thin places.

Upstairs in what Beatrix called her “Treasure Room” is her famous dollhouse . . . filled with tiny things, some of which Norman Warne gave her. I think one of her little (real) mice, Hunca Munca, had an accident while swinging on the chandelier in this house, and went to mouse heaven, much to Beatrix’s dismay.

I tried very hard to take photos through the tiny windows without actually splaying myself all over the floor in front of everyone. Cool and nonchalant are my bywords.

In almost every room there’s one of Beatrix Potter’s “little Bunny books,” open to a page to show where she’d painted something recognizable from Hill Top or in the village of Near Sawrey . . .

I examined everything minutely. But it was never her things, and not even her watercolors that drew me to Beatrix, it was her, her amazing competence and determination and when making life choices. And when something didn’t work out as planned, she picked herself up, dusted herself off, and started all over again.  Just like us. 

This was her small bedroom, her 16th century carved-walnut four-poster bed, with the heavy velvet valance (called a pelmet) and bed curtains that Beatrix embroidered herself. Because she, just like us, loved her home and liked to make things for it . . .

Tiny little Beatrix Potter stitches . . . maybe sitting in the rocker in front of the fire, with the sound of the cuckoo clock ticking time away, wool skirt warm around her ankles, shawl pulled close, needle in, needle out, sip hot tea in crockery cup, click when put back in saucer, bite of biscuit, crackle of fire, muffled sound as log falls to ash . . . needle in, needle out. New threads. Maybe red this time. Hold needle to window-light to see the hole better, thread it. Tie a little knot. Needle in, needle out.

She also chose William Morris wallpaper for the bedroom ~ I’m sure she agreed with his philosophy of decorating (and ideology too) . . .

On the fireplace mantle you can see that farm pitcher I sketched last time I was here, just where it was then, pride of place.

I took photos from all the windows this time, so I wouldn’t have to rely only on my memory.

 I love seeing what she saw.

Out this window I could see our Girlfriends lining up for their visit  to Hill Top (usually closed on Fridays, but opened especially for us that day) before walking over to Castle Cottage for our picnic . . . almost time for me to go too!

Downstairs, Joe and I were introduced to three lovely National Trust Volunteers who love Beatrix Potter and take such beautiful care of Hill Top, Trudy, Janet, and Carol ~ they’ve made dreams come true for so many by sharing their own.

And Carol surprised me with something she’d made! Hand embroidered, French knots, and the little blue jacket! I felt like I spent the whole morning crying!

My turn to give Joe the look.

I now had the supreme honor of opening the front door to Hill Top and surprising our Girlfriends waiting outside for a tour. 👏 Surreal on every level … and the first thing I noticed, taking this photo of Carrie and Christie, they had the look too. I think it comes with the house! 🤣 Cry for happy.

After many thanks, (many, many), saying, “we’ll meet you at the Picnic!” we found our way back down the garden path and to the  white gate, for one more photo of never forgetting…

Out onto the narrow lanes of Near Sawrey we went ~ and immediately we ran into Siobhan, looking so cute and springlike. We’d all been afraid it was going to rain that day, and it still looked like it might, we definitely needed our hats, coats, scarves, wool socks and leggings ~ there was a chill wind blowing off the lake ~ But no rain and that’s what really mattered! Because our day had finally come!

Mandy provided the chalkboard and Sheri made the sign . . .

Kellee and Sheri were at Castle Cottage helping Mandy, and taking care of last-minute details . . . the best girls, made it so nice for everyone! 

We borrowed chairs and little table from the garden in our rental … Kellee and Sheri set it all up . . . food and Petey . . . We were ready to go!

Luckily Kellee and Sheri had visited the Hill Top gift shop and come away with this copy of Peter Rabbit, the perfect thing to use as a guest book . . .

Not sure if they got everyone,  but they did get lots of signatures and messages, now a treasure ~ Kellee took it home to save for me when I get back!

Are we ready? Here they come!

Many from the Colonies! Many from Britain! From everywhere! Mandy in pink welcoming us to her home and garden. I said, “meet me at noon,” they said “okay,” and here we were!I stopped all day long, tiny time-outs to scribble in my notebook things I don’t want to forget to tell in my book ~ and to take a moment to realize where I was, this exact thing would never come again, that far view of the green hills, the rock walls, the sheep dotting the landscape, to smell the grass and hear the birds and the laughter of our girlfriends meeting each other here at Castle Cottage, an amazing evocative place that makes the fairy tale real . . . in the garden that Beatrix Potter made herself. This old saying, has to be true:

I didn’t do it alone! There were many other dreamers at this event! Lots of family too ~ This is Kathy and Sally ~ they are sisters, wearing black berets just for Joe! (Please don’t be hurt or mad at me if I get the names wrong, I am famously terrible at names but I’m trying!).

Sally unzipped her jacket to show me the Bob’s Big Boy T-shirt she wore in my honor!!!  Isn’t she cute? If you read Fairy Tale Girl, you’ll know why I laughed so hard to see it! (You can see our weather that day in those clouds, but it didn’t rain!)

Wonderful, creative Janette who makes such luv-lee gifts for us, and her husband ~ British alums … they were at our first picnic too!

Loved meeting Andi in person . . . (@Andi_Geary on Twitter).

Sheri and Kellee laughing with Ann . . . I met Ann and her husband Alan the first time at our Stourhead Picnic.

Mother and daughter showing us exactly what mom-love looks like! Mom is Meesha (I believe with all my heart but very willing to be corrected) and her daughter … who I think either just got engaged in Ireland, or maybe she’s here to get married…but I may be dreaming! There was a swirl of everything going on!

Family reunion at Castle Cottage, the daughter in the green scarf, Lauren, then her mom Janet, and then Alexis, Elaine and (I think it’s) Mary . . . Janet’s three daughters-in-law! Girl Party!

Petey met up with some of his old sailor buds . . . talked about the good ole days, ship life, the girls that got away, and all that rot.

More pals . . . Christine on the left, then Chris, then a face I know but with a name that’s got away from me 😳, and then Wendy…

Chris’s darling husband Neil brought me a card I’d written to her in 1999! I love it when this happens!

Chris with Neil . . .

Allison visiting with Joe, maybe the only photo I took!

Two luv-lee sisters from Denmark, Susanne and Marianne . . . and fat-faced woman from Martha’s Vineyard. Is it the hat? I hope it’s the hat. That way I can take it off. I am a hat person at heart, but hats with me would really rather not and say they did! Doesn’t stop me though, I love them, so far on this trip I’ve bought SIX! ☺

Siobhan is talking to Christie (@ChristieLevin50 on Twitter) and Sharon (@SharonSTealover on Twitter), wearing the luv-lee pink cashmere shawl with her husband John …

Gabriel and Nicoline are Picnic Alumni from Holland! They brought this wonderful quilt she made ~ LOVE . . . what it’s all about!

Speaking of which, Carrie and Stuart (Carrie has one of Mandy’s bags made from the wool of Herdwick sheep, the ones Beatrix loved the most and protected forever on the farms she left to the National Trust ~ Mandy’s business now, more about that later).

Peg, Lauri, Lindy and Glory, and Lauri made their hats! Perfect for this weather, and don’t they look cute!? Girlfriends Forever!

Because I ended up sitting and signing books girlfriends had brought along and visiting with everyone who sat down, and Joe was out on the lawn being the Belle of the Ball, there was no one in our family taking photos! I have nowhere near enough pictures! I don’t even have proof of Joe’s Belle-ness, but I did see it in action!  Of course, Joe’s eye spotted this impossibility (above) going down the narrowest of roads on the other side of Beatrix Potter’s wall … and had to snap the photo! I’m going, “But honey, where are the picnic baskets?” He’s going, “I thought you were going to do it.”  And so it is, all a big beautiful fabulous memory. But we have the truck full of logs!

I borrowed the photo Katrina posted of her darling picnic on Twitter @whimswishes (she’s @whimsicalwishesuk on Instagram ~ you can go there to read her amazing happy news 🍼). As for the food, reports came in, there were stuffed eggs, Victoria sponge cakes, sparkling Elderberry cordials, iced tea, Pe-ah Ci-da, Cucumber sandwiches, lemon drizzle cake, shortbread cookies . . . There was hot tea and coffee in Mandy’s showroom… On a chilly day . . .

We did get this one little photo with a glimpse of Carrie’s (@CarrieHerself on Twitter) picnic, from the back!


I did manage to take one video! Wanted you to see the day, feel it a little bit, perhaps get a whiff of the cold air and the “sweet clean smell of the green things growing” ~ armchair travel to Beatrix Potter’s garden . . . that’s Bernie and Karen waving from the right side of the garden, they met the first time at our picnic in Stourhead!

We gathered to thank Mandy and everyone who came from far and near to join in for this wonderful day. Mandy says we were 123 kindred spirits that day. I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed meeting everyone . . . and Joe felt exactly the same way. He said, “You are so lucky! So many nice people!” And he is so right.💞

And Betsy Bray was there, too … we met her at our little Vineyard Haven Library where she came to give a talk about Beatrix Potter a few years back ~ and then to my house ~ she introduced me to the Beatrix Potter Society and to Mandy and got this whole thing going!

The Society sends out wonderful hard-copy newsletters to all of their members! Rather a wonderful old-fashioned thing to do these days. They also have a free online Newsletter called Pottering About . . . love that they do this! Keeping the memories alive.💞

The National Trust was well represented, Trudy, Janet, and Carol, came over from Hill Top, proudly wearing their jackets with the “Forever, for everyone” Oak Leaf logos. . . Joe and I support the Royal Oak Foundation, “Americans in alliance with the National Trust” ~ we have membership cards which give us free admission into all the National Trust houses and gardens . . . you can learn more here.

Everyone lined up for Joe to take our class photo with Castle Cottage behind us, our Picnic in Beatrix Potter’s garden, class of 2018 … I also want to thank Doreen, Bev, Melin, Diane, Sandra, Gaylen, Lorreen, Susan, Bernie, Jane, Carol, Joan, Bob, Leisa, Emily, Mary Ann, Cathy, Amy, Luci, Jerry, Pam, Bryan, Deanna, Sheila, and so many others for being there and making it such a special day for me and for each other . . . And Jane Hope from Victoria Magazine was there taking photos too (course we didn’t get one of HER, just her shoulder) . . . Maybe SHE got pics of the picnic baskets! Maybe they will put them in the magazine! I will ask! I’ll let you know which issue this may or may not be in . . .

Mandy used her Herdwick showroom as a mini restaurant where she had hot coffee and tea for everyone . . .

I bought two of her bags! They are so beautifully made . . . I wish I would have gotten a backpack, but our car is SO stuffed, we are going to have to start shipping things home. All we’re allowed to buy now is postcards.

There were Herdwick iPad sleeves too. Durable and pretty, lambswool from local farms, Mandy knows where every color of thread comes from ~ and if you want, you can get them too . . . just go to . . . and tell Mandy I said Hello!

She also has a few Castle Cottage 16 oz. cups left for sale (Beatrix loved Jane Austen, so I put the quote below on the back of this cup), “Castle Cottage” from Castle Cottage . . . especially for everyone in England, it costs much less to get them from Mandy than ordering from us with all the shipping costs from the US! Just in cases.💞

At the last moment, I had a wonderful surprise when Rachel suddenly appeared at the bottom of the garden walking toward me . . . we thought she couldn’t come, and she really couldn’t, but she DID, and I was SOOOOO happy to see her! It didn’t feel right without her! Made the day complete.💞

I’m stopping right now, and putting this up even unfinished . . . I’ll add more to it later because it’s not done! But Joe is chomping at the bit, it’s a beautiful day, we need to go walking . . . I promise to take the camera! Love you! Hope you enjoyed Hill Top! xoxo

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  1. linny says:


  2. Liz Lamontaylor says:

    Wow… what an enchanted life you and Joe lead. Thank you as always for taking us along.. it truly is what fairytales are made of. Enjoy the rest of your spectacular trip. Safe travels.


  3. Memarge says:

    It looks like so much fun! I would looooove to have one of the purses! I will work on it. 🙂

  4. Lovely! Thanks for sharing. 😊

  5. Brenda says:

    Loved your outfit, you looked darling in it!!! (The hat too!)

  6. Lillian Olmstead says:

    Dear Sue,
    Love this post. Being at Hill Top all by yourselves AND allowed to take pictures must have been heaven, just like a visit to Beatrix herself!
    Thanks again for sharing this wonderful trip.
    Lillian xoxo

  7. Sheryl Kirk says:

    Dear Susan and Joe,
    You have once again touched my heart with this blog. I feel like by you sharing, I received a little trip to England too. I love Beatrix Potter now too. Enjoy your travels and your sweet Joe.

  8. Karen Schrimpf Saunders says:

    You standing in front of the white gate is definitely a ‘Beatrix’ moment. If it was in B&W it would be perfect!!!💜💜💜

  9. Linda P says:

    Susan ~ You made me cry tears of joy! Thank you SO for sharing! Maybe next year I will be able to be there with you all!

  10. Mutti Badurek says:

    Thank you! Thank you for sharing the picnic! I hope to join you one future picnic day!

  11. How altogether lovely, from start to finish!

  12. Karen N. says:

    Dear Susan,

    I felt like I was right there with you every step of the way, holding my breath as I walked through Beatrix’ home, seeing what you saw in the house and out the windows. Thank you for including us! Can’t wait to get one of your English Cottage mugs as a birthday gift. God bless you.

  13. Sherry Coleman says:

    Have sooo enjoyed all the beautiful pictures, people, and writings! You had such a beautiful day and it’s nice feeling just a small part of it.💕

  14. Loretta Sudweeks says:

    Loved all the pictures! Looks like a marvelous time. I baked bread in bustle ovens in an 1840’s village, Nauvoo, Illinois. After the fire has been removed from the oven, and the bricks are heated, you wait until you can hold your hand inside comfortably for 5 seconds. That’s 350 degrees, and you don’t need a thermometer. Then you put your bread in to bake, and after it’s done, you can do another batch, only it takes longer because the oven’s cooled down a bit. So that’s probably how Beatrice baked in her little stove without a gauge.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m sure. I have an aunt who cooks that way on a wood stove. Can imagine the smell of baking bread in that wonderful kitchen.

  15. Dixie Johnson says:

    How wonderful! The beaming faces show that this was even better than hoped for—sometimes things turn out better than could have been imagined & this special day & picnic seems to be the best! So thrilled for everyone there. I’ve been to Hilltop& Near Sawry & it is like stepping back in time!

    • sbranch says:

      There was not a single disappointment from me … despite dangerous expectations . . . it was all perfect! xoxo Thank you Dixie!

  16. Susan K. says:

    Sooooo excited to finally see the photos from the famous picnic! I can just imagine how much fun it was and you’ll be reliving those moments for many years to come. I loved hearing about the milkman! When we moved to England when I was 16, our milkman came around in a little motorized vehicle kind of like a covered golf cart. I remember the glass bottles of milk with rich cream on the top and eating yogurt for the first time. I hope to go back and visit there one day and this time, Hill Top will be number one priority! Can’t wait for the article to appear in Victoria (my favorite magazine). Do you know when it will be?

    • sbranch says:

      I don’t know yet, but I wrote the editor this morning and asked, so we shall see! I’ll tell everyone on the blog as soon as I know! Love your Milkman story! We had one when we were little too, I loved it and was sorry when it stopped.

  17. Paula says:

    Thank you many times over, Susan and patient Joe. 😊 The picnic looks absolutely luv-lee. I rejoice with you in your own private, picture-taking-allowed tour of Beatrix’s house. “You’ve come a long way, Baby!” 🏡 You did not look fat in your hat, Susan. You looked adorable, both your hat and outfit and your smile and sparkling eyes! Continued blessings upon your travels in England. Hugs,

  18. D'Anne R Paratore says:

    If that was not soulful to read – thank you Ms. Branch. Do I smell a book?
    I had to laugh at the milkman – I grew up in a small town, first gear, second gear and you are out of town. We had a milkman and an eggman.
    Growing up in a Italian family where everyone is dark here comes a daughter with strawberry blond hair and hazel eyes. Oh it was just the milkman –
    I had even chose college at Holy Trinity in Ireland just to trace my roots, who am I and where did I come from ?
    Can you tell me more about the dollhouse – you took a great pic of the baby in the bassinet. Was there a back that opened up to the rooms?
    You brought back so many memories – yes I could even smell the moss and dirt of the path –
    You merely look like Beatrix herself standing in the portal – was that purposed?
    Safe travels home

    • sbranch says:

      I didn’t plan to take that photo at the door, just happened when we were there . . . so no, I didn’t TRY to look like her, but the hat definitely helped! Here’s a website that tells more about the dollhouse . . . thank you D’Anne!

      • D'Anne R Paratore says:

        Thank you –

        Will certainly pass along to the Heritage National Doll Club
        along with your beautiful pics – thanks for the website

        Your pictures exude what is in your heart – LOVE
        that is what makes you so special – that is something you
        certainly cannot purpose

  19. Sue Saubert says:

    Dearest Susan,
    Thank you for sharing your delightful Tea Party will all of us who were there with you in Spirit! My mouth started watering at the thought of Victorian Sponge Cakes and the other treats in the picnic baskets. What a memorable opportunity for new friends and old to celebrate our love for Beatrix Potter. Your sweet Joe deserves a gold star for his understanding and enthusiasm and the gracious hospitality that you all extended to your guests.
    Blessings to you all,
    Sue Saubert

    • sbranch says:

      It’s a wonderful thing to have a guy that enjoys such things as much as I do. He is such a social person, this was all his cup of tea. I would say that was true of most of the guys at the picnic. They were all twinkly eyed! xoxo Thank you Sue!

  20. I loved being on the picnic with you, Susan Branch, and your friends, old and new. Your pictures and writing made me feel like I was there with you for the day.

  21. Linda says:

    Wow–how lucky can one person get! Loved the photos from inside the house. It is amazing to me how the house is till modern looking–something that is very unmuseum like (no such word but fits!) Even the wallpaper could look great today in a modern home. Looks like a wonderful turnout for your tea….if wishes were enough I would be there but my piggybank said “no” you can’t even afford the tea!! I did find however, a 5 piece dinnerset of Beatrix Potter (porridge bowl and all) at my local thrift shop all pieces for total of $6. Wedgewood with not a mark on them–pristine!!!! Thanks for the wonderful post. .

    • sbranch says:

      Absolutely right. “Unmuseum like” is just right. It’s so real, you feel like Beatrix is just down the lane and home any moment! Love our thrift shops, they take us places we might not be able to go otherwise! XOXO Thank you Linda!

  22. Kelly Houlton says:

    How absolutely magical! I have no words… Thank you, thank you, thank you, Susan, for bringing us along and sharing the magic. I know exactly what you mean when it comes to taking pictures… you really have to enjoy your time and not bother with a camera or a phone. This looks like it was a wonderful day with wonderful friends… so very lovely to enjoy it vicariously! Thank you for your generous heart <3

    • sbranch says:

      I agree, sometimes eye contact matters more than anything! So happy you enjoyed it Kelly!

  23. Colleen Wilson says:

    Oh Susan! You have made my heart flutter and ache again all at the same time! Such a wonderful time you are having and so thoughtful to take us all along for the ride. Each word, each photo, puts me right in that little cottage and garden (and perhaps right into your own heart (knowing how you must surely feel!). I honestly feel as though I’m standing right next to you taking in every site, breathing in every smell! How wonderful for you and even moreso for me to experience how you must have felt. You have made me smile today and have made my heart full. Thankyou so much from this little Canadian gal, still in Italy!

    • sbranch says:

      Makes my day to read your words Colleen, just what I was hoping for, that you could feel it. Have fun! xoxo

  24. Oh I was so sad not to be able to meet with you all that day. Looks like you all had a perfectly beautiful day, despite the cloudy and chilly day. At least it didn’t rain, which says a lot. The Lake District gets most of the rain in this country so I hear. Haven’t you been blessed however with brilliant weather through most of your stay here in the UK! Who’s a lucky girl then! Mammogram re-call for me tomorrow. Wish me luck. These kinds of things always make me tres nervous. So nice seeing all the lovely faces and smiles. What a blessing you got to see Hilltop all by yourself first! I have never yet been able to get in. Its always been full up when we’ve gone by. One day! Dreams can come true as we both know! Oh, the Royal Wedding, wasn’t it darling? Now that is a couple truly in love. Made me cry with joy for them and for Diana, knowing how proud she would have been of her two boys and these fabulous women they have married. I hope the rest of your stay here in the UK is just as magical. Thanks so much for sharing with us all! xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      Missed you Marie, but hope you’ve felt like you were there. YES, wishing you all the best luck on second call … it happened to me once, and it was fine, and a big breath of relief. Look forward to that! We were lucky with the weather, and with Hill Top … they tell me it can be packed and people get turned away. Don’t give up, it’s worth it! The wedding was amazing. Loved every moment. Hard to imagine how a royal wedding could ever be considered low-key, but they did it. Warm and real and touching. PLUS, white horses, carriage and long walk! Diana was there for me the whole time, and I agree, she would have been proud of their choices. The did Britain proud. Something lovely that pulls the whole country together onto the same team. Couldn’t love it more. xoxoxo

  25. Chris Myers says:

    How can I express my complete happiness at finally meeting you Susan and lovely Joe? I do not think that I can find the words…the picnic was so special, to share this experience with the spirit of Beatrix Potter was really the icing on the cake…the view, the kindred spirits gathering …pure magic to me..and now…to see my friends and I included in your writing seriously made me jump for joy and saw me rushing out to show Neil who thought there had been an accident or something! A million thank yous for such a wonderful day is not will be remembered forever and always along with the new friends I made on the day. I hope you know what complete happiness you bring ….with love to you Chris xxxxx

    • sbranch says:

      You are so sweet Chris, now I can put your face to your name and I love it! I don’t think I got to tell you how darling you looked, the boots, the skirt, that lacy scarf on your wool sweater! English girls (or Americans in disguise) really know how to dress! Thank you for coming … A big hello to Neil, he was such a doll. Thank you for being there! You made it extra pretty! xoxo

  26. Karen Williams says:

    Fabulous! Stunning! Glorious Beatrix Potter, Hill Top, Castle Cottage, You dear lady with Joe (and Petey!) Girlfriends, National Trust and no rain!!! What an amazing day it was!

    I was staying just down the road at The Cuckoo Brow Inn, with my husband and doggies….and staying there for a great few days in The Lakes.

    I had a surprise too…up the garden walked my dear friend Bernie and we shared picnic stuff together. I wasn’t expecting her at all!! We chatted and laughed a lot…the fizz in the glasses helped!! And even though it was freeziebold cold, our hearts we warm and happy to be there and meet girlfriends from the Stourhead picnic!!

    We are waving at you in your liddle video!

    Kellee and Sheree are lovely and it was so nice to put faces to names! Super fun to see Rach coming up the garden to surprise you!!

    Lovely day, lovely place beautiful people.
    Thank goodness for Beatrix Potter and you Susan.

    Safe travels and squishiest hugs and purrs to Jackcat! 🐈 🐱

    • sbranch says:

      Oooo, that was a good detail for me to add, Karen, I put you and Bernie waving in the blog under the video! Thank you! How fun to get Bernie as a surprise! I felt like that about everyone too! Can’t thank you enough for being there, what a wonderful day. XOXOXOXO

  27. Jan Johnson says:

    How wonderful! I want to go in her house. To see her shoes and hat – that gave me a chill! The very ones she wore to go out in her garden. To look out her windows over the gentle rolling land – so beautiful! The picnic looked like such fun – memories forever for those who went. Thanks so much for sharing. I am so enjoying your trip!

  28. Hillaire Gallagher says:

    Oh Susan and Joe,
    Thank you so very much for sharing…this was wonderful. I hope to get to see this lovely place. It is amazing. Thank you too for being such great hosts.
    (You look great in that hat, by the way). Beatrix Potter was a woman ahead of her time an inspiration. I am so glad you love her so much….Susan, you are like her in so many ways, soul sisters if you like.
    Enjoy the rest of your adventures…love love love this one especially

  29. Chris H says:

    I’ve been waiting, Oh so, impatiently for news of the picnic……what a beautiful time you all had. I can imagine the laughter and chatter that went on and the pure delight and joy experienced by everyone. Don’t worry about the photos….I think that there are special times when it’s better to be ‘in the moment’ than seeing and experiencing life from behind a camera lens.
    When you first put out the invitation to join you at Castle Cottage, I cheekily suggested to my lovely husband that it was time for a return visit to England and the lakes District but……….that trip from here in Australia was just a little too far this year. I’m hanging out for an extended visit after his retirement from formal work.
    Also..there’s no way you can say ‘fat’ in referring to yourself. In fact I’ve been thinking all along that that exercise bike must have been doing double time because you’re looking fabulous

    • sbranch says:

      Oh that is nice to hear Chris, thank you! And yes, a bit far from Australia, maybe someday! xoxo

  30. Patti Lyon says:

    Thank you so much for taking me along on your adventure. It made a lovely birthday treat for me. Maybe the nexy time can be ‘for real’. Keep sharing and keep spreading joy. xoxoxo

  31. Valerie B says:

    Wonderful! So many things to paint…where to begin 💐🌟💟
    Thanks so much for taking us along 😊

    • sbranch says:

      I know, where to begin! I’ve already begun. Hat on woman at wedding. Could not resist!

  32. Shannon(Pennsylvania) says:

    Awwww, hunee. Your description of Beatrix is identical to how we would describe you…except you would would never ever be grouchy at children for leaving your garden gate open or helping themselves to your apples!!!! Sweetest pic ever of Joe looking at you because he knows that you know that he knows that you know. Priceless💕. BTW, my spring and Jack in the books mugs came yesterday by USPS….hooray!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Hooray Shannon, and thank you, and you are right, take the apples! Just let me take cute photos of you doing it! xoxo

  33. Mary Brehm says:

    I am verklempt….too verklempt to put down in coherent words how lovely and wonderful you and all our girlfriends looked on that special day. Thank you for sharing.
    P.S. My most memorable moment from the royal wedding…the one where my heart clutched, my throat ached and tears welled up and rolled down my cheeks, into my coffee cup and all over my pjs…when Meghan stood at the church entryway with those two adorable little boys standing behind her holding her veil and the trumpet fanfare started to play. That look of pure joy on that little boy’s face, with his front tooth missing…getting choked up just now thinking of it! Oh yes, and her wonderful, corageous, beautiful Mom who held it together (almost) Pure grace and class.

    • sbranch says:

      I have to agree, wasn’t he ADORABLE, such a show of joy! And Meghan’s mom, what a brave woman, how lovely she was. Gorgeous wedding, wonderful we could all share it together!

  34. rhea says:

    Wow!! What a fairy tale come true. You captured the whole experience perfectly for those of us who couldn’t make it. Thank you. You are amazing. Cant wait for that book of yours to come out. When do you think that will be?? 🙂 Ha Ha. Enjoy the rest of your trip!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I should be able to get it done not by this Christmas, but for next . . . or maybe even next spring. I love it so far, still turning the pages myself to see what happens next!

  35. Laura DeGraw says:

    You have always been my hero and YOU are no doubt as cherished as Beatrix Potter. Your love of old, homey things fills my heart (and home) and ALWAYS brightens my day! Thank you sharing this magical journey with me (us). I will treasure it and I am very much looking forward to your new book. Hugs 🤗 and safe travels🚢.

    • sbranch says:

      I knew when I started this blog it would find it’s way to other home-loving, beauty-adoring girlfriends, and it has, and it thrills me to the tips of my toes! Thank you for being here Laura!

  36. Susan Bochman says:

    Did you ever think when you bought your Beatrix Potter figures that you would end up being a famous author in her lovely garden? That’s what I love about life, we never know what it has in store for us and where it will lead you. I am so glad that it led you down this path of making so many people happy with your art and charm. Bob was commenting the night after the picnic about how your voice is so calming and puts everyone at ease. It was a magical day and was the highlight of our trip.
    You are lamenting about not taking pictures of baskets and I am lamenting that I didn’t get you to sign my basket….brought it all the way across the ocean twice and was going to get you to sign and date it….oh well, the next time.
    Thank you for all the magic that you make for all of us that love our homes.
    Bob took a great picture of Jane, the photographer, and her husband and he also has an excellent on of you and Joe. I will try to upload them to Facebook. Again thanks for a wonderful day.

    • sbranch says:

      Never in a thousand years did I have any thought that this might happen … any of it! All a miracle to me. One foot in front of the other does seem to help! But that’s all I know for sure. I’m just beyond grateful, and if it helps anyone to see it, then I sure do want to send out that message. It was wonderful to see you there Susan, you have to know THAT’S what made it so very extra wonderful, the connection we all had with each other. I’ll keep my eye on Facebook! Thank you again Susan! Hugs to Bob!

  37. Cindy B. says:

    Thank you so much for always inviting us to tag along on your adventures! While you all were munching lunch in Beatrice’s garden I was having an adventure of my own in Diessen am Ammersee, Germany. I can so relate to that feeling of wanting to hold moments forever in your mind, to not forget one little detail. You have encouraged me to keep those moments bright and jewel-like in my travel journal (yes, I illustrate, but it is a humblerer style 🙂 ) So now that I am home I can recall my own travels and yet still go on adventures with the Branch Bunch! It’s one of the great advantages to living in this tech age. Thanks again for your large, sharing heart…always thinking beyond its bounds.

    • sbranch says:

      Any and all illustration is wonderful in a journal! Makes it even more real. Good for you! Thank you right back Cindy!

  38. Dear Susan, Betsy Bray just forwarded the Blog. It was just like being in Near Sawrey…especially the bit about the milkman. We had a similar experience and ended up ordering everything from him!! The picnic looked like such fun. There were many of us here in the States cheering you on and praying for sun…it almost worked. Castle Cottage and HillTop are two wonderful magic filled places. I’m so glad you could pull it off and many thanks to Mandy and to Betsy for helping to make it all possible. Your pictures were wonderful. It was just like being there. Hope to see you when you get home. Barb Gibson (friend of Betsy Bray & Mandy and fan and lucky person to have met you on the Vineyard)

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Barbara, I know just who you are! I was almost expecting you to be at the Picnic! Thank you for saying hello. I think your prayers are what dragged us from the deluge . . . which we verged on all day! So thank you! Yes Mandy and Betsy. Did you ever think of what fairy tale names they have together? Mandy Marshall and Betsy Bray! And their little lamb … let’s see, what do we name the lamb? xoxoxo

  39. Karen Bowerman says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this special day with all of us who couldn’t be there. I got a little bit weepy-eyed reading about it! Also, thanks for the links you put in your blog so we can check things out further! It looks like it was a wonderful day full of friendship and adventures to remember for a lifetime!

  40. Anne Reading, PA says:

    “sigh” absolutely delightful!!!! Many, many, thanks dear Susan. I really do hope Victoria Magazine puts an article together about the picnic. Maybe it will be part of their yearly England issue?!?!?!

    • sbranch says:

      I can’t wait to hear. We shall see, and when we do, I’ll be sure to let you know, Anne!

  41. Linda Miller says:

    Susan, thank you for taking me to your wonderful picnic. Seeing everyone on the beautiful grounds mingling and enjoying themselves was exactly how I had envisioned it! Your tour of Beatrix’s house was delightful….seeing all the rooms and her special touches that made it hers
    alone. It was truly so special! Can’t wait to buy Victoria and see their coverage.

    • sbranch says:

      Me too, I sent the post about the picnic to the editor this morning, so she could “be there” with us ~ when she tells me the pub date, I’ll be sure to let you all know! xoxo

  42. Sheila Schaller-Trent says:

    Just finished your book, Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams. I enjoyed every page, words of wisdom, drawings and all. Turned on my computer to check your website for your blog of the wonderful tea party. How lovely for all of you. The pictures and words made me feel I was there with all of you. What a lovely idea. I shared with my daughter in law how I was enjoying your book. She bought me 2 more for Mother’s Day. Can’t wait to read them too. My sisters have your cookbook scrapbook to include our own family recipes. We had a ball putting it together with Grandma’s, Aunts and even Uncles favorite recipes. It now has become a tradition to share a copy with each new bride in the family. Thanks for the lovely thoughts and stories.

    • sbranch says:

      How wonderful to hear that Sheila! Thank you so much! That was a book a long time in the making! xoxoxo

  43. Julie V from Springfield, MO says:

    Oh what a treat- I have been checking daily for a post about the lovely picnic. I felt like I was right there with you – crying with you – the magic of Beatrix Potter was everywhere. What a wonderful turn out of girlfriends and their guys too. Enjoy the rest of your trip! I am soooo excited about the book you will be writing to remember this wonderful adventure and soooo happy you are sharing it with the rest of us girlfriends around the world.

    • sbranch says:

      I am also very excited, I write every day, I love all the details, I love writing this book! Thank you Julie! xoxo

  44. Karen Lotito says:

    Oh my, such a wonderful blog, Susan, and I feel like I was at the picnic! You’ve met so many wonderful people and, people are the most important ingredient! I’m so glad that the weather held; it seems we’ve had so much rain here of late on Long Island. I’m so looking forward to getting back to the U.K. and visiting friends and family. Have a wonderful time! Love to Joe and your friends! Love, Karen 🙂
    P.S. We booked QM2 for September up to Canada/New England!!!! We’re so looking forward to being on that beautiful ship again!

    • sbranch says:

      I know just how you feel. And take a look at the Victoria if you ever can. We came over on her, purely because she was going where we needed to go when we needed to go! A wonderful ship. Smaller, but very much like the QE2, we loved it. September in Canada and New England on the QM2, heaven!

  45. Betty says:

    So lovely!!!! totally enjoy each and every one of your posts..I just dream of being there.

  46. Torri Troutman says:

    Oh my! Tears on my toast this morning. Loved every word and every picture. You are sooo blessed to have experienced this! Thanks for sharing it in all it’s specialness. 10, 000 tiny moments of complete bliss…

  47. Gloria says:

    I loved every word and photo. Thanks so much, and thanks to Joe for letting you have a while to write to us.

  48. Karen Duenas says:

    My favorite is Joe’s picture! You two are sympatico, and your heroes quote. You are truly inspiring

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Karen . . . having a good hero means that in times of confusion, you can ask yourself, what would Beatrix do? Or, what would Oprah do? Or, what would my mom do? That’s always a good one. My Grandma has been that for me since I was little.

  49. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Susan, I could just cry my eyes out at how beautiful this day was for everyone!!! What a setting and what a historical moment you helped create with this location. All the photos and the little video just speaks to the love and peace that still exists in our world, which Beatrix Potter would thoroughly endorse!!

    And when I read about the British efforts to revive the local milk delivery, the lump in my throat was so big, I could not swallow my coffee!! OMG, how many times did I hear our milk delivery person from Monticello Dairy(Charlottesville, Va.) bring our order to the little milk box on the back porch? How many times did I help Mom bring in the bottles for breakfast cereal and put Dad’s cottage cheese in the fridge? How many times did I watch my Grandma scoop off the cream at the top of the bottle of milk for her coffee? How many times? How many times? The Brits are so spot on about this effort because it should be able to work. Our planet will be much better off for it and customers can support all of those local dairy farmers to have a viable business. Go Brits, Go!! Show us the way that 2018 can be creative in solving some big problems for our rural areas. I hope this effort becomes transformative. And isn’t it true that sometimes the simplest and easiest answers are right in front of our eyes?

    ThankYOU for this POST!! Such a great way to start my day and my week!! Cheerio!!

  50. Diane from New Hampshire says:

    Thank you so much for the tour of Beatrix Potter’s cottage. What a wonderful experience having a picnic in her garden. Love all the photos which gave a feel of being there. Also, just love the idea of the local milkman delivering fresh milk and other products to your front door. This is a long ago memory of mine as a child. Thank you again – you are wonderful!

  51. Patty in Redlands says:

    Oh, dear Queen of “Making Your Own Dreams Come True,” thank you for doing such a fabulous job of sharing pictures, words, feelings, and joy of your marvelous, special day with those of us who couldn’t be there in person! Two big British events that I’ve had to witness through others’ eyes, I’ll forever pair your Hill Top picnic day with the royal wedding. Both amazing and so positive…..a real boost during these dark times. Susan, you couldn’t have looked any cuter too. Hat, skirt, scarf, all adorable and perfect for your occasion! BP was certainly smiling down from Heaven!

    Thanks for sharing not only this trip but your whole essence with us!

  52. Stefanie says:

    What a wonderful Blog post…I have savored it (read a bit, vacuum a bit, and then back at the Blog!) and will reread the whole thing again in one sitting!…It looks like it was a most WONDERFUL time!…so thankful the weather was glorious as well…one really does run out of adjectives!!!

  53. Debbie Boerger says:

    Oh, Dear Sue. What a fab way to wake up. My coffee and the BP Picnic. I love all the comments as well, especially the ones by “Ladies of a Certain Age” who remember the milk and egg man, those wood stoves and even the ice man. Some ladies within my memory would not let go of their “ice boxes”, kept on the back porch, in case the ‘lectric failed, and it did often. We use my grandmother’s oil lamp, along with many others when we have no ‘lectric in Maine.

    I’m sure those who study such things could tell us why some of us long for the simpler world, where dear things are cherished….And some of us long for the newest convenience, new, bigger houses. Even the latter ladies enjoy a time spent in the cozy world of the best of the past. I will say, I won’t give up my washer and dryer 😉

    Leaving for my slice of Heaven, Maine, in just a few days. Moving a bit slowly, but happily!!
    Debbie in Transition

    • sbranch says:

      That is a very good question!!! I was just saying to Joe, I love our washing machine, because we can go and come home to clean clothes! If we could only pick and choose which conveniences we want, and which we don’t. But they are thrown at us, and I am most worried about the future of everyone with DRONES!!! They sell them as toys right now, but it won’t always be that way! I would hate to be 70 years old with a sky full of spiders and noise. Not to mention robots! When the kids today get to be our age, they’ll REALLY have a world to look back on! Have fun in Maine Debbie!

      • Debbie Boerger says:

        Other than the incredible men, women and kids of our little Maine village, I yearn for the quiet and the totally dark nights, except for the moon and stars. Just read an article in the WaPo saying that a study has shown that all the noise of the city has negatives. Of course some folks cherish that city noise as well. Maybe it’s just when a person is sensitive to it that it can harm them. Can’t wait to learn how the area Maine women sheep shearers did this Spring. Then they card, spin, dye and fashion it into all things beautiful!!!

        • sbranch says:

          We have that here where we are right now, totally dark at night, and SO quiet I can’t even tell you … just this gurgling brook outside the window. Makes it so easy to take yourself back in time and imagine who lived in this tiny white-washed cottage with the foot-and-a-half thick walls and low, hand-hewn, walnut beams. You made me just get up and take pictures of the windows, with the rounded plastered walls … ! You would love it Debbie!

  54. Lisa Hay says:

    So many things to love about this blog post! I am in love with Meesha and her daughter. Such joy in their faces and love! I laughed out loud at the truck of logs….:) I loved seeing so many friends smiling and having such a good time. I was there in spirit giving virtual hugs to all!

  55. Barb Murphy says:

    What fun! Thank you so much for sharing your adventures.
    I love being able to see photos and video of not only your picnic but the lovely wedding if Harry and Meghan.
    I’m so in the mood for a cup of tea…..perhaps a cookie or two.

  56. Beverlee Moreno-Ring says:

    Luv-lee. What a perfect day.

  57. Sally Geisel says:

    Is it just me, or is there a kind of family resemblance between Susan and Beatrix? And so many corollaries! Related or reincarnated?

  58. Sally Geisel says:

    By the way, whenever I go to leave a comment, I see the full name and email address of the last person to have commented. It is prefilled in the name and email space and I have to change it to mine. I’m guessing the next gf to leave a message will see mine.

  59. Mary/Indiana says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this Wonderful day! Wish I had been
    there to enjoy it Live but this certainly was enjoyable nonetheless!
    Looking forward to more, more, more❤️😍❤️

  60. Julia Burnett says:

    Thank you for taking me back to my memories of visiting Beatrix Potter’s lovely home. Truly magical. I would love to use some of the lovely quotes you had in your post.

  61. Amy says:

    How all so wonderfully lovely, Susan! I’ve been SO enjoying all the tidbits on Twitter. Thank you so much for sharing. I was transported to my trip to Hilltop in 2016 and I have some of the same photos, yours are way lovelier. I was in a hurry or something. I didn’t visit Castle Cottage so it was lovely to see your photos here and all your darling illustrations and quotes compliment this lovely party so much. Thanks again!

    • sbranch says:

      You are so welcome Amy, that’s why I’m so happy we have digital now, we can take a billion photos and sooner or later ONE of them will turn out!

  62. MaryLou Shipman says:

    Oh Susan! Every bit of this is wonderful and how I wish I were there to experience it all!! You are truly a gem and every bit of an inspiration to me as Beatrix Potter is to you. Reading your books and blog and studying your beautiful artwork is just a true joy to me. I received my Jack mug a few days ago…and placed it at eye level on my baker’s rack. Every time I enter my kitchen, there it is…bringing an instant smile to my face. Thank you for the joy my dear girlfriend. I hope you and Joe have the most wonderful time during the rest of your trip and safe travels home….where your sweet Jack awaits 🙂 xoxoxo

  63. Lynn Beck says:

    Susan & Joe , thanks so much for sharing all your lovely photos of Beatrix Potter`s lovely home & the lovely picnic! I enjoyed it immensely! <3

  64. CarolK in NJ says:

    So magical to see photos inside B Potter’s house. Wallpaper on the ceiling ~ works for me! The picnic looks like it was swell fun, all those happy faces. That’s what we need in this world ~ lots more smiling faces. How the heck do you manage all this wonderful magic?!?! I’m loving every second of this trip.

  65. Bev Tippett says:

    WOW just WOW….I enjoyed every word and every photo. It sounds like a perfect day. What a joy for those who got to attend and a joy for the rest of us to read about. Thank you so much for sharing this day.

  66. Maggie Giltmier says:

    Once again, thank you so very much for your loving heart and gift of giving and sharing. How beautiful and precious the life you share and love so much, it is in every word you write for all of us to be a part of. I hope your Birthday was wonderful in Ireland, mine was on April 11th this year I was 75 years young! I was able to see my life long dream of Ireland few years ago, I too will never forget the beauty or the wonderful dear friends we made and still keep in touch, wishing to go back. Bless You and Joe, I feel like a kindred spirit with you. Enjoy the rest of your journey.

    • sbranch says:

      Happy Birthday Maggie! Mine was heaven, Dublin! Who woulda thunk it? Thank you so much! XOXXO

  67. Susan says:

    Enjoyed reading this blog immensely!

  68. Susan Taylor says:

    Oh Joy indeed! Thank you soooo much for such lovely photos, and writing that brought me into the moments as well- the fresh tangy fragrance of young grass nipped off, and so many other lovely treats for the senses. When my husband and I visited Hill Top years ago the house was not open that day. But watching a gentleman working his sheep dog on two yews and their lams directly next to Mr. McGregor’s Garden is a treasured memory.
    Thank you for bringing us along on such a special trip.
    Continue to enjoy each moment.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Susan . . . there is a lot more magic in England than just Hill Top, it’s pretty much everywhere, and I can see you got some of it for yourself! xoxo

  69. Linda June says:

    Oh, my, goodness! What a wonderful post. I felt like I was in the house, at the picnic–drinking tea, eating shortbread and cucumber sandwiches, trying to keep warm with sweaters and scarves! Thanks for all your hard work (Joe’s too!) in keeping us posted with your activities over the pond. Can’t wait to see the book when it’s published so I can add it to the stack of books that you have written. Think I have 12 or 13 now. Keep it up–you have the gift!

  70. Ann Y. says:

    Oh, Susan…thank you ! It was like being there…almost. And now a sure stop on our next hop across the pond. The picnic looks magical…so wonderful for all who could attend. AND…I am right now making a baby quilt/blanket for my newest little great-great-niece. I use quilted material, embroider her name ( Daphne Mary…do you LOVE it?)and birth date, then use regular fabric for backing ( SB when I can find it!) and machine quilt over the entire thing, then bind it in satin blanket lining. I don’t know why, the the children in our family call the blankets their “lola”. So, I just started little Daphne’s blanket, embroidering her name in deep rose thread, and thinking “needle in, needle out”….just like Beatrix Potter! Thank you for the great post !

    • sbranch says:

      I do love it. How romantic! I can hear your stitches. My fabric, btw, is on Spoonflower, in case you’re looking to get some little bits for baby love! Love Lola… xoxo Thank you Ann!

  71. Charl/Cape says:

    Hi Susan!
    How fabulous!! The photos of you near the gate and in the doorway are my favorites…. I could feel your joy! Thank you so much for sharing! Hugs. ~Charl

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Charl! It was surreal in so many ways. Sometimes I felt like I was the bird flying over, seeing it all from above!

  72. Mary Pat says:

    Susan thank you so much for sharing!!! I enjoyed every second of reading that post!!!! I will go back and enjoy it over and over again. You make my heart smile!

  73. kimberley says:

    You have such a knack for making things feel special!

    How do you find your heroes? I’m on the lookout!

    • sbranch says:

      I found my heroes by reading biographies and quote books . . . someone says something that just hits home with you, and maybe more than once, you just have to go find out who they are. Or you read about someone who made their own way despite odds, because most of us do have odds, some more than others . . . and you fall and love, and voila, you have your hero!

  74. Mary in VA says:

    First I want your outfit! I want to wear it around and feel old-fashioned and lovely as you look! The picnic looks like it was another huge success with so many kindred spirits there to celebrate Beatrix (and you!). What a beautiful area, and inside the house was just fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

  75. Donna C says:

    Everything about this post and all the comments are wonderful. I can’t find the right words to describe how peaceful and joyful this made me feel. xo

  76. Barbara Sturtz says:

    My granddaughter gave me a book about Beatrix Potter for Mother’s Day and I just finished it and loved every page. You brought it to life with your tour of her cottage. Thank you so much for letting me visit with you… was perfect 💐

  77. Oh, it was the most luv-lee day! Fun to see you and Joe again and to meet girlfriends and kindred spirits from afar.
    I too loved Our Hill Top tour and seeing Bp’s treasured collections. She loved what we love! Funny, we took many of the same pics. My favorite day of my tour!

    • sbranch says:

      SO happy you could make it Melin! What a thing to share. Rarified air up there in the magical Lake District!

  78. Melinda says:

    So happy that this special day happened for everyone who was able to attend! I will look forward to reading more about it in the new book, Victoria magazine, and in many blog posts to come. I had to fix myself a cup of tea in my luv-lee Mother’s Day mug and just sit here and try to absorb all the wonderful things you write about in this post. Can’t wait to see what adventures await you next!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m still trying to absorb too … writing it all down was a huge help to making it seem real! xoxo

  79. Martha Ellen says:

    Lovely, lovely, lovely….it’s nothing like Near Sawrey surrounded by all the kindred spirits and you darling Susan and Joe! I must say it makes my heart have hope for the future when I see all the girlfriends gathering to celebrate the joy that Beatrix Potter so generously left to the world. I wonder if she knew? I wonder if you know dear Susan what you mean to so many? XOXO ♥

    • sbranch says:

      Well, probably not, but it’s definitely a two-way street! I think Beatrix knew, because she left Hill Top specifically for us, in fact she designed it to be for us long before she wrote out her will. I could not agree more, hope for the world in the remembrance of someone who gave so much. xoxo Good makes more good, makes more good, and more. That’s what values are about. xoxoxo

  80. Stacy says:

    Dear Susan, how absolutely thrilling to see pictures of the inside of Hilltop! I just could hardly believe it! And you! You look so adorable in that outfit you have on! And you absolutely do not have a fat face! You look great in hats! Love from Mary S. In Fresno, California

  81. This is such a beauty-filled post… from the scenery to the historical significance to the warm smiles on all the girlfriends’ (and guy friends’) faces! What a fantastic thing to dream of a picnic at Hill Top and have it actually come true. All the details of the house are wonderful to note, from the smallest window of the dollhouse to the big window overlooking that gorgeous landscape that is the Lake District. Your art from memory after your first visit was just so spot on, after seeing these photos. An eye for detail you certainly do have (not that we didn’t already know that)! I am happy to be a Victoria subscriber so that I can get the Jane Hope view of the picnic, too. Do you know when that article will be featured? Thank you for (virtually) carrying us along on your wonderful journeys!

    • sbranch says:

      You are so welcome Christie, just happy to see you here! I’m hoping to hear from Victoria soon, but I haven’t yet, don’t know when, or really, even IF, there will be an article. I will be sure to post it when I do! xoxo

  82. Debi Hutchinson, CA says:

    I am speechless. This blog was so beautiful and, even though I am here in California, I felt like I was right there with you. The “look” that said it all! My heart melted. Such experiences stay with you forever. Thank you for helping me to stop and really enjoy this “journey” with you. It has been lovely and I look forward to more, and to the book!!!!!!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, sometimes the look is more than the words … specially when there are no words! Thanks so much Debi!

  83. Cindy Brosh says:

    Oh this is all so enchanting! Thank you so much Susan for sharing this with us. When I visited Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top farm for the first time, the wonderful woman who welcomed us said “it’s exactly as she left it.” I just cried! And then I cried again…such happiness…to see those same shoes and hat in your picture. How wonderful to find such kindred spirits all over the world!

    • sbranch says:

      My favorite thing, that we could come together in a place so evocative of dreams coming true. xoxo

  84. Dee Ann says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this post!

  85. kathiellen says:

    Dear Susan,
    When I commented earlier I forgot to ask…. will you eventually be selling a new bead commemorating either Beatrix Potter, Hilltop or Castle Cottage? That would be wonderful! I love your beads with the special engravings on them…I treasure them! I also hope that they reissue the Kitty Love bead! Thank you for such a beautiful ( as ALWAYS ) blog and enjoy & savor every second of your time left in England!

    • sbranch says:

      That’s a very nice idea, I wrote it down! I hadn’t thought, perhaps when we get home I could work on that! xoxo

  86. Martha says:

    I love the photos of Hill Top – it looks like you had a wonderful day!

    ~ Martha from CT

  87. Kate says:

    First, you have a darling hat(not fat) face. I thought you looked adorable in your outfit and hat. Wish I could make it to England one day because it all seems so wonderful. Fresh milk and eggs delivered sounds like something we really need to get started again in the states. I love when dreams come true too. Glad you get to live yours out so wonderfully. My house looks an awful lot like Beatrix Potter’s inside except for the William Morris wallpaper and I do have running water and electricity!
    Do you ever wonder if 100 years from now people will be going through your house on Martha’s Vineyard to see the wonderful artist and story teller, Susan Branch’s home?

    • sbranch says:

      Sometimes I DO think it would be fun to have Holly Oak back and be able to put it back the way it was and make that a little playhouse people could visit! You are smart to have the water and electricity! I do like it when our electricity goes out on the Island and we have to use candles and oil lamps, but only for a day or so, it gets very old, very quickly! Better to have the choice!

  88. Nancy B says:

    Susan, you really out did yourself with this one! So descriptive! I wish I could have been there, but this post made me feel I really was. I just want to mention something I felt as I was reading. When I saw the photo of Beatrix standing in her doorway, I thought my, how much you resemble her. Then I saw the one of you standing in the same doorway and I had no doubt. Such a sweet likeness. Loved your last post, too. 🤗🤗💕💕

    • sbranch says:

      I was a little surprised when I saw the two photos together myself. But it helped to have that location! It meant a lot to me, just in case you can’t tell, to be there!!! Thank you Nancy!

  89. Lindy says:

    We had such a wonderful time! As we met so many Girlfriends (and a few husbands) it began to feel like that family reunion you haven’t been to in Years! We all had a link to you and Joe and became Kindered Spirits along the way. I am very thankful our friend Lauri knit hats for us, we were toasty warm all afternoon AND bonus…. everyone wanted to know about the hats. It was such fun to meet so many delightful people and share stories. Our trip was planned around being at the picnic. For months it was fun to tell people we were going over for a picnic. What’s 4000 miles between Girlfriends? A plane ride, a rental car and Google maps, whoosh! borrow some folding chairs, pack the hamper and put on a warm fuzzy hat.
    Thank you for the best picnic EVER! Lindy in Holland, Michigan.

    • sbranch says:

      Whoosh is right! Thank you Lindy, you guys were ADORABLE in those hats! You made our picnic extra festive and cute! What a day, right? Just amazing! xoxoxo

  90. Judy in Oregon says:

    Wish I could have made it but it just didn’t work out for me. Looks like such a fun time and I just love all the pictures of Beatrix Potter’s house inside and out. You wore the perfect outfit for the day. Loved the pictures of the milkman too.

    • sbranch says:

      I was warm enough, and that’s what mattered that particular day! Missed you Judy, but maybe next time!

  91. Carol Saldeen says:

    Thanks so much for the photos of Hill Top. Thanks for sharing the picnic event with all of us who could not attend. Do you have photos of the interior of Castle Cottage. Through the years I have only seen a few exterior photos of Castle Cottage. I would love to see more photos of it. I would like to see the view from the windows of Castle Cottage,especially one from her bedroom. Can’t wait until she have published your next book.Carol

    • sbranch says:

      I did take a few . . . yes, and from the window of the room that Beatrix died in, which was on the far right when you look at the house, in those large windows that go across so she had the most amazing forever view of the place she loved so much. I’ll put them in another post . . . of course the inside was updated years ago, before Mandy arrived, by the people who lived there before Mandy, Beatrix had no electricity in the house, nor running water, so bathrooms were added … But the basic structure is the same, with hallways and bedrooms and room sizes as they’ve always been.

  92. Merci says:

    Dear Susan,
    Your grand adventure of visiting Hill Top was the same experience I had when I finally got to meet you in Prescott, AZ, a couple of years back. I totally understand your feelings! A wonderful day to be sure! Continue to enjoy, and thank you for sharing!

    • sbranch says:

      Very sweet Merci . . . and yes, what a wonderful day that was! I’ll forget that beautiful tea party!

  93. Merci says:

    One more comment: you admired her because you found her to be “generous, romantic dreamer; an antique-loving, creative English watercolor artist; far-seeing, brave, pragmatist, preservationist, scientific, nature-loving human being” – so much like you! No wonder she’s your hero! Gotta love it! Cheers!

  94. Pam Wilson says:

    Hello, Susan and Joe! I’m sending lots of gratitude for giving us such a glorious account of your fantastic picnic! The photos and account of the day made all of us back here in the Colonies truly feel as though we were there with you! The tours, the gardens, the camaraderie of the Girl Friends…it was all delicious! Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂 Pam

  95. DeLynn says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for all the details and pictures of the Hill Top tour and picnic. It looked like a grand time was had by everyone and the weather held out for you. I was glued to the telly for the wedding all day. It was marvelous!

  96. Donna Jones says:

    As my British friend Barbara would say, I am pig-sick with jealously…What a lovely, lovely day you all had! Thank you for bringing me along in spirit, though. It’s so fun seeing England through your eyes.
    You’ve inspired me to finally read the biography of Beatrix Potter I’ve had on my bookshelf since 2008. A gift from Barbara on one of my visits to her. Maybe next time I go, I will convince her we should go see Beatrix’s house!

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, “Pig-sick.” That’s a new one! I will have to try it out on Rachel! Read that book, you will be amazed! xoxo

  97. Laurie Walt says:

    How cute you looked in your outfit! It was so nice to read of your enthusiasm and appreciation of Beatrix, I have to say I feel that way about you! It’s good to know that we both appreciate a creative, kind, and creative woman who insires us with the love of nature and things that make a house a home. So glad you are having a great time and thinking about what you will put in a new book.

  98. Lynda Mortensen says:

    So so wonderful, I was grinning from ear to ear with every word and picture! Absolutely enthralling! Once again you remind me to slow down and notice the delightful little things that get missed in the rush of life! Hubby finally retired 2 weeks ago, but we have been busy with the graduation of my youngest from college, moving her out of her apartment and back home temporarily while she finds a job, organising a graduation party, and entertaining our very special house guest…my Mum is visiting us from England! We have managed to go sketching 3 times amongst the busyness so far, but hopefully things will slooooow down after this weekend and we can finally relax into retirement and pottering about lol! Enjoy the rest of your trip and give England my love!

    • sbranch says:

      The pottering about is the best! But have a wonderful time with all your plans, all good things! Giving England big love for you! xoxo

  99. Barbara A Case IN says:

    So much joy!! Truly lovely, so appreciative of all the descriptions, photos, videos. Everyone seems overjoyed….happy for you all. Thank you Susan and Joe.. . love my cups !!!

  100. I, too, love being in England, my birthplace. I have also visited the exact places you go and love traveling with you. Thank you for the lovely pictures and all the joy you experienced. I miss the feel of history under my feet and when I need a “fix” I take out my copy of A Fine Romance and pour myself a cuppa. So glad you had such a TEA-rific time.

    • sbranch says:

      I understand entirely . . . that is the feel you get wandering around here, history under your feet, in every pub, castle, and cottage. Thank you Penelope!

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