Intriguing, don’t you think? The Picnic that Wasn’t, but Was? Another post that requires a cup of tea, or maybe it’s iced tea where you are (do you KNOW they do NOT have iced tea on any menu in the land of tea?🇬🇧). They don’t! So we drink pink grapefruit squash mixed with ice water instead! Life is good! MUSICA.

Dark dark dark . . . As it drew nearer to Picnic Time, we were watching the weather and it wasn’t looking good. Everyone’s phone said something different weatherwise . . . but mostly, it didn’t look good. Carrie said she was bringing lots of waterproof tablecloths … Joe and I found a Home store and bought huge canvas dropcloths with plastic on the bottom, waterproof, just in case it poured in the morning, and then the sun came out. We could put our pretty table cloths and blankets on top of them. Was the hope.🙏

This would actually be our third picnic here . . . the first one was with Rachel in 2004 … We were staying at Stourhead, and noticed people having luv-lee little picnics all over the lawns, under the old trees, next to massive blooming rhododendrons, with birds singing . .. we wanted to do that!!! So we did, we made every little picnic treat as you can read above, and had our “best day ever” in the magical garden at Stourhead. This picnic was the inspiration for our Girlfriends Picnics ever since. It was just too good not to share!

The ducks and geese brought their babies over for bites of biscuits. That’s how good it was.💖

This gorgeous lawn was our actual picnic destination, and despite forecast, it was a little hard to give up! But what if? We needed Plan B.

I was busy fretting when Joe noticed a sign in the courtyard near the parking for Stourhead . . . right across from us. There he is, taking a photo of it.

A traveling chef! How interesting . . . so he went to introduce ourselves, talk to them, and see what they might be doing after Breakfast on Sunday! A very long shot, they were supposed to lock up and go home around 10:30 am, but it was our only hope!

We walked inside, what a beautiful room, perfect for us! (Is a picnic really a picnic without grass? I’d say yes if that grass is WET.)

Meet Laura, Izzy, & Jo! They’re English girls of course, and traveling chefs! They were at Stourhead to serve the triathlon which ended after breakfast on Sunday.  So we asked if they’d be interested in doing a POP-UP PICNIC after breakfast! They agreed to stay on to give us an indoors for our rainy day picnic, thereby saving the day! They’d have hot coffee and tea and soft drinks and they’d be,“making more bakes” for us!!! Serendipity! In case you live in England and need a pop-up food event, definitely contact irresistible.dezzerts@gmail.com. They were wonderful to us … pretty much guardian angels, and everything they made was delicious!🇬🇧💞

I couldn’t believe we were going to have this beautiful room for a last minute saving grace! It couldn’t have been more perfect . . . Another miracle!💝

Siobhan and Rachel showed up early to help … everything was a GO . . .We were ready, but in our minds, we were still holding out for a surprise in the weather . . .☀️

Love them SOOOO much, these two English girls … 🌷🌷🌷

Anyway, it wasn’t to be . . . we woke up to this ⛈, and made the executive decision, no, no wet grass for us . . . we will choose the chairs in the cozy room where there is tea!

And the clock struck noon . . . a year in the planning, a year of anticipation, and the moment had come …I almost don’t like things to actually come anymore. I’ve fallen in love with anticipation and I don’t want it to be over!

But everyone was coming, and coming from everywhere, and it was just as wonderful as I hoped it would be…. We walked out front to start steering everyone to the warm room . . . Here we have Carrie’s husband Stuart, their dog Buddy, Christie, April, Nellie (April’s mom), Jack, who belongs to Carrie, Dianne, and Siobhan … old car, old house, lovely photo op. Hugs hugs and more hugs.💞

Janice from Northern California brought the bunting and everyone started decorating . . .🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧What to tie it to? Where there’s a will, there’s a way . . .So festive, more girlfriends arriving … some separated on their tours, meeting again with their ship girlfriends … this is Kathleen and Sharon, and that’s Belinda hugging Rachel …

More decorating . . .

In the last post, I showed you the lovely lamb bunting made from our name tags by Sharon to celebrate our girlfriends on Twitter  . . . Sharon brought it to our talk on the ship.👏

She made it in honor of Barbara Urbank, a wonderful woman we knew on Twitter and quite recently lost. She is still in our hearts . . . and it felt good to have her along with us.💖

It looked perfect with Jan’s Jubilee bunting!

SO fun to see Carrie and Jack again!

Everyone! Christie, Sharon, and Nellie!

Tour buses picked up many of our girlfriends at the ship and for the last 8 days they had been falling in Love with the English Countryside like everyone does the moment they lay eyes on it … now the buses had brought them back for our picnic … and had stopped to pick up bagged lunches for the picnic. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Mary’s darling hat!

I went table to table with my camera, wanting to catch these smiles from Monica, Chris, and Tom.

This is Victoria reminding us of a photo taken in Beatrix Potter’s Garden ….our last picnic, in 2016 … this is that photo:

She was saying let’s do it again! The only photo I have of the four of us in Beatrix Potter’s Garden, poor Stuart’s head got chopped off!, Jack too . . . So Henry the VIIIth of the photographer!

Did better this time … with the new inclusion of Buddy. They took pictures of us . . .

And we took pictures of them! That’s Belinda, Jane, Victoria, Nicoline, Diane, and Nancy . . .

Darling Nellie and her daughter April who came over to pick up her mom in London so they could wander together!

These girls (and Jerry) were still feeling the glow of the Cotswolds where they’d been touring for the last week!

Luci ~ in her bling hat ~ wish you could see how it sparkled … she had so many compliments on that hat she said she needed to open a concession!🇺🇸

Nicoline, Patty, Belinda, me, and I think that’s Anne? Creative Nicoline made gorgeous travel diaries, and we’re all looking at them!

Gabri and Nicoline from Holland, talking with Siobhan ~ they met at our first Stourhead picnic, and then in Beatrix Potter’s Garden, and now again, here they are!💞

Anne brought her book . . . several people brought books … they ended getting lots of signatures besides mine . . . they became a sort of year book!

We were all writing in them!✍️

There was time to get into some really delightful conversations . . .This is Ellen, she is a flight attendant from Texas. She wasn’t on the ship, she had a layover in London, hoped on a train and got over here in time to join us! 💓

Here are Rachel and sweet Heather . . .💟

As she does, Rachel brought her famous BROWNIES for EVERYONE … here’s she’s handing out to-go bags for their trips back to London!💛

Dave, another one of the good guys, and Nancy …💘

So, time for class photo, Girlfriend’s Picnic, that Wasn’t, definitely but WAS, 2022 … Everyone lining up . . .

I’m still taking pictures . . . wishing I had step ladders for the faces in the back . . .where are the bleachers when you need them?

Then I get in . . . I tried to bend my knees, but I see now, it really didn’t work!!!

So I turn the camera back on our luv-lee paparazzi!📸

Nancy, Siobhan, and Dianne ~ It didn’t rain! It spit a bit, but even so, I don’t think anyone missed the grass! 👏

Cutie Pies . . . Mary and Victoria 💝

This little thing from Victoria is coming home with me!♥️

Me, Victoria, Melissa, and Patty. Kindred spirits.💞

Melissa brought me her FOSB club card from 1992! Was so fun to see it again! Kellee used to put one into every order back then, maybe I should see if she would do that again! I have to turn it upside down so you can see the “very valuable” part …💖

Luv-lee Jan ♥️

Patty and Diane💞

And so it was, the clock had ticked the hour, the church bells rang, the bus drivers lined up, and off they want, brownie baggies in hand, to London and their next adventures. Hugs goodbye, till we meet again, and we walked back to our cottage . . . 

to take the last pictures commemorating this amazing day… 

Carrie! Get in here!
We look like we all just jumped off the roof like the girls in Practical Magic. A little curtsying and inside we went . . . to drink tea and hash it all over ~ and now, two weeks later and I’m still feeling the glow! Thank you all… I know I saw some of you stow-aways flitting through the trees . . .

Ever since then, we’ve been doing what we love to do, exploring this green and pleasant land, stopping in antique stores, eating in pubs, wandering through history . . .

Taking the back roads through the hedgerows, loving the fields of wildflowers … 🥀

the constantly changing skies . . . sometimes, the sky is so big, you can seriously see the curvature of the earth. Probably not, Joe says, but I think, okay, but probably SO!

Of course the darling villages festooned with bunting to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee which will be going on here in England for the next week … She has given the whole country a four day weekend and the preparations are UNBELIEVABLE!!! Cutest country EVER.🇬🇧💞

Houses right on the street, you can picture it filled with horses and wagons… what a treat to see this, and it’s real, Walt Disney didn’t do it!

I squealed as we drove into the town where we’d be staying next . . . here in East Anglia, a place we’ve never been … perfect for exploring and discovering and learning ~ even discovering, once again, how MUCH there IS to learn!!! You forget when you sit waiting for a dread disease to disappear week after week, year after year, don’t you? Travel, getting out of our boxes in even the tiniest way, huge help to overcoming the “I’m so sick of this” blues!💖

I have to give you this one taste of serendipity before I go! Three days ago, we spent the day wandering around a WWII Airfield Museum for the American 95th Bomb Group at Horham. 8,000 American soldiers descended on this tiny village (350,000 came here during the war where we worked together with the Brits to kick some butt for Democracy) ~ it was so touching and the perfect place to celebrate Memorial Day and remember.🇺🇸🇬🇧 There are airfields all over this part of the country and so many memorials. History is very much alive here. Of course you talk to everyone you meet … This interesting English man (above) was there following his passions ~ as it turns out, he’s a historian. He said there was a book I must look for … written by an American soldier who, while stationed in England during the war, rode his bike everywhere, and fell in love with the English Countryside … 💞

I wrote it down of course. . . the next morning, I was tweeting with Trudy Lindsay (a friend I met at Beatrix Potter’s cottage) ~ out of the blue, she wrote, “Since you’re staying in the area, you must look for a book by John Appleby called Suffolk Summer.” Well, that sealed the deal, I needed to go on a book hunt. Not ten minutes later, Rachel texted me this photo to say this book was in her pile to bring to us when they arrive (today actually!). Wasn’t that enough off-the-wall impossible serendipity? Apparently not…

Later that VERY same day Joe and I drove to Bury St. Edmunds, a town we picked off a map, to see what we could see. We wandered through this HUGE ruined abbey, built around 1000 A.D., torn down during the reclamation … it must have been like a small city, it went on forever! I read Pillars of the Earth, so I think I have SOME vague idea of what went on there … 

We got closer and closer to the Cathedral, following little paths, up crunchy stone stairs ~ And then, on a wall … was THIS!!! We had no idea it would be here … we knew Martha’s Vineyard was named for the 2-year-old little daughter of Capt. Bartholomew Gosnold who discovered the island … but had no idea of the connection to Bury St. Edmunds. Martha is buried here in the churchyard. What are the chances?

 But, still more around the next corner. Here, you can discover it, the same way I did:

IMG_0333  ⬅️ Just Click Here! It might take a little time to load, but it’s worth it! Turn up volume for actual demonstration of squealing . . .💞

So beautiful . . . imagine this rose garden when that lavender blooms!!!

But we’re not done yet . . . Connections never stop coming …

Up the path I went, turned to the right to go around that hedge into the Cathedral where we could hear singing . . .but just as I turned the corner . . . THIS …

IMG_0349 . . .

Yes. John Appleby AGAIN, following us through the English Countryside! Isn’t that wonderful??? I can’t WAIT to read his book!!! John Appleby, whatever else he was, which I’m going to find out, is proof positive that, what is true for him, is true for all of us . . .

So around the side of the Cathedral we walked, to go inside, to listen to the choir sing Evensong (which was beautiful by the way, angel voices soaring to the rafters) … I looked back to see this . . .

And noticed . . . how wonderful! Look close, this house was built right INTO the old Abbey wall, into the ruin ~ You saw it in that first video ~ I noticed it from the back while in the rose garden … now look at the ruins above the house in this photo, and the wall going to the ground on both sides … HOW DO THEY DO THIS?? Don’t tell me, I know it’s magic.

It was a whole row of cottages… built into the ruins … ruins on the front, and “new” house on the back…

Then we went to a restaurant for lunch, and this was on the wall! But of course, we already knew that!! And today Ray and Paul come to stay with us for a few days to show us how English people celebrate a “JUBBLY” . . . 

Still getting to know our newest little cottage. We call the bathroom “Tipperary,” because it’s so far away, a long, long way, to be exact . . . but it’s cute and we love it.  It’s a cottage that wants to be a castle and I’ll tell you about it in the next post. As a bonus, we stopped by to see Carrie and Stuart at their home in the Cotswolds, and she’s just given me permission to show ADORABLE photos! Something to look forward to! Sometimes there are no words, and sometime there are a WHOLE BUNCH OF WORDS! Hope you are enjoying your armchair trip through the English Countryside! Bye for now dear ones. Be good to yourselves!

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223 Responses to PICNIC THAT WASN’T, BUT WAS 💖

  1. Cheryl E Brown says:

    So wonderful to follow you on your English adventures. For now I’m still an armchair traveler, but, in the Spring, look out world!

  2. Regina Carretta says:

    Dearest Susan…..such needed blog today….so many connections you experienced on this trip….such joy….we all thank you for sharing it with us, for painting pictures with your words….for making lemonade out of lemons with the threat of rain….for discovering and re discovering…..we love you….more stories, please….

  3. Jane Alexander says:

    It was pure joy reading this Willard, about the picnic and places you visited. the people at the picnic had on the cutest clothes. I would have fit right in. Sort of like my tribe in many ways. I was so happy to hear of the many coincidences you shared. All of those were set up by God’s love with the help of angels in my opinion. I have similar things happen every day, when I look for them. Surely makes for blessings and joys pop up often. Much love to all!

  4. Roseann Copeland says:

    Thank you Susan for the lovely Willard blog. Enjoyed it all very much.
    Roseann from Overland Park, Kansas
    The bedroom community of Kansas City, Missouri

  5. Gretchen says:

    I enjoyed the beautiful photos of the English countryside. I love the skirt of your dress. What is embroidered on the bottom of it? Simply lovely. Ah, more photos of Siobhan’s beautiful petticoat. It is so delicate, perfect cottage core style. So pretty.

  6. Nicoline says:

    Hi there dear Susan,
    Hello from glorious and SUNNY Cornwall! Thank you for your lovely post! What a great afternoon that was, we had such a lovely time! Met some wonderful friends, saw new faces, and familiar ones!
    East Anglia look lovely, we’ve never been there, YET!
    Enjoy it all, as I’m sure you both are doing! Back to the beach now for another walk along the cliffs!
    Lots of love grom Nicoline & Gabri

  7. Marge says:

    I love being half British! I love almost everything about Great Britain and Ireland but I’m still glad I am American. I’ve only been there (England and Scotland) once, over 30 years ago, but would love to return once more. I “go there” with you and thegirlfriends. :). God bless! Marge

  8. Kay Bennett says:

    Dear Susan,
    Thank you so much for sharing your fairytale visit to the enchanted land. You are so right about the exciting preparation we go through planning our trip again to England, next year. On one of our trips, remember I sent you a photo of my daughter, Cheryl, and I holding your book, A Fine Romance, in front of Highclere Castle. I hope you’ll get to see the the new movie of Downtown Abbey. It was wonderful. Be sure to bring a couple of hankies. Wishing you and Joe, wonderful and exciting days during the rest of your memorable trip. ❣️❣️ Kay B.

  9. Jan Johnson says:

    What a lovely post of dear old England. Can’t wait to see the next next post for photos of the Cotswolds! That’s at the top of my bucket list along with Cornwall, Yorkshire and Edinburgh or pretty much anywhere in England, Scotland or Ireland. How amazing was the houses built into the ruins?! And the sign about Martha’s Vineyard gave me chills. How amazing for you to come across that unknowingly! How fortuitous to find the lovely place for your picnic. Thanks for taking us along vicariously, even if I’m so jealous!

  10. Trudy says:

    Sweet memories of England when I was for the first time with my friend — later my husband– on holiday in the South of England.
    We visited Bury St.Edmunds and saw the rose garden and so much more.
    Wishing we could do it again,but that is impossible unfortunualy.
    What a great fun you have had with the girls and the picnic inside instead at the green.
    Have to try to buy that book you mentioned.
    Thank you Susan for taken us with you through this story,Trudy from Holland

  11. Nanci says:

    Such an uplifting post. I so do love England and want to go back. It’s a magical place. I started my morning reading this. That video was wonderful and then all that synchronicity going on too!!! ♥️♥️🥰

  12. Michelle A. from Skaneateles NY says:

    Finally a moment to enjoy your travels! Thanks so much for your beautiful and informative post. Love it!! Wish I was there…
    One day Michelle!

  13. Sarah Maldonado says:

    What a wonderful post to let us live vicariously that picnic of a trip! And I’ve never seen so many “God-wink” moments,(coincidences), following you through the countryside! Thank you for sharing it all!
    By the way, I like to think that I am responsible for bringing iced tea to the island of Puerto Rico…when I first started visiting there with my husband to be in the 1980’s, no restaurant served iced tea. What’s a southern girl to do in such humidity without it? I kept ordering it to no avail and finally on a return trip a few years later…iced tea!

  14. Jana says:

    What a delight and blessing to read every word and pour over every photo on offer here! Thank you, thank you, thank you! What makes my heart sing is knowing how many girlfriends were able to meet in person, look into eyes, hear voices, give and receive hugs, and share laughter. Memory-making at its best. Hurray-hurrah!

  15. Pamela Simpkins says:

    Wonderful! Wonder-filled. Your pictures and words fill my heart with sunshine!

  16. Penny says:

    What a wonderful adventure your having ! Loved Great Britain 🇬🇧 & all its people , ruins , gardens , pubs , & sweet cottages ….& lambs in their pastures. Keep exploring & sharing!
    Penny from Mt. Rose

  17. Cathy from Golden, CO says:

    We had planned and even booked to travel with all of you but illness prevented it! Thank you so much for these beautiful stories and pictures……

  18. Melody Fielder Wong says:

    I always enjoy reading your blog posts – I am especially wishing I could have joined this trip across the pond, maybe next time. Thank you for sharing so many wonderful details. By the way, I would love to have a FOSB Club Card or Bookmark. I use your bookmarks all the time.

  19. Diane Finley says:

    I am a new fan of your blog, and love being a part of your English adventure thru your writing! I’m a big fan of the UK, so thank you for such a nice “getaway” from the hectic world.

  20. Caro says:

    How wonderful to read about the picnic that wasn’t but was, as well as your further adventures! Just to raise our awareness, presumably there were indigenous Native Americans in what is now known as MV when Martha’s father “discovered” it. Would love to know more about that history of the island sometime and may have to fall into the interwebs to learn more! Thanks, as always, for all of the joy and inspiration you bring us!

  21. Jeannette from the Central Coast says:

    Wonderful & delightful post! I really enjoyed the historical parts you added in the serendipity experience. I had never thought of touring England, but after seeing your posts I think it should be on my travel bucket list. Thank you for cheering my day on!

  22. Carol Nicholls says:

    Serendipity all around!

    I tried to find Suffolk Summer on line but only found one old copy for $143 and another one on Amazon for $110. Guess I won’t be reading it!

  23. Corky says:

    What a lovely post and so enjoyed your photos and fascinating coincidence’s for sure! Makes me want to get out and travel. Actually, leaving from SF in another day to Boston to see family. Can’t wait and hug and seem “normal” again.
    Safe travels and enjoy all your time in England, especially with the Jubilee’s celebrations around the country. Xo

  24. Cindy Stierhoff says:

    When I visited London sometime back they were having a heat wave, almost every day for a week was over a 100’🥵 I walked everywhere hoping to find ice tea with ice…no ICE anywhere..they don’t refrigerate their eggs so why make ice cubes, lol.
    This trip of yours Susan has been magical to read for those of us left behind❤️

  25. Paula Cutchey says:

    I am so enjoying my vacation with you and your wonderful girlfriends and husbands too! Learning so much from reading your book recommendations over time as I love history also. You are a gift that keeps on giving!
    Love to all!
    Paula from Temple Texas

  26. Debbie Boerger says:

    Oh, be still my heart!!! I’ve just been watching the videos with sound that you have been posting. Love, love, love seeing you 4 being together and singing, Carly’s You’re So Vane or Vain? You, Dear Lady, have the most wonderful Alto voice. Singing Jerusalem in the parish church added to this beautiful day.
    I think I’ve found the answer to my horrible mood swings and nastiness of late. Complete elimination of any US News, even NPR and PBS for the last week. Tom asked me why I’d been so happy lately, and that’s what I believe has done it. That and watching Stanley Tucci, Searching for Italy every evening.
    Probably will add back bits of news, but just local. I’ll tape the Jan. 6 hearings for possible viewing, maybe I will, maybe I won’t. At 77, I need to know what I need to make our lives the best they can be. And watching coverage of the Jubie is just the ticket. Oh, those Horses!! Watching the sewer our that is our politics is most certainly not. I can vote, and I can help others get to the polls, I can boycott business that “buy” those people, such as Home Depot and Elise Stephanic, but I won’t sacrifice my happiness.
    We’re stepping out into the Canadian world next week…a 2 week trip over to Nova Scotia on the ferry. We’ve missed going so very much. 3 nights in World Heritage Village of Lunenburg, in Rumrunner In, with a big balcony on the front street, looking out over the Atlantic. 4 nights in Halifax, 3 nights in Annapolis Royal at a lovely BnB, and the rest will be where ever we land.
    EEEEk, it’s been so long since we’ve traveled. And….all the Irises and Lupines are blooming!
    I know, I’m just a bit too much today, but I can not help myself!!!
    Mucho Love to you, Joe and all your English friends..and their doggies,
    Debbie in stunning Maine

    • sbranch says:

      It’s working for me too… no news, yes, is good news. I will immerse myself again in it when I get home, because I will want to win the next election!🤣 Still can’t help putting in my 2 cents! My only problem right now, with Ray and Paul here, is I haven’t had time to read all my beautiful comments here … they leave tomorrow, boo hoo, so I hope I can do better then… 95 waiting for me now… SOON!!!💝💝💝💝💝

  27. Lorrie Orr says:

    Such a lovely post to read on a quiet, cloudy, and wet Saturday morning. So much delight – the indoor picnic, the connections to history – love those! and the anticipation of more to come.

  28. Erica C says:

    Wonderful post! Just tried looking for John Appleby’s book, and it isn’t easy to find (at least, not in the US). Any chance Spring Street could do a reprint?

    Thanks for the armchair travels!

  29. Melody Graves says:

    I had to laugh at your first comment when I opened your newsy-letter, about the availability (not) of iced tea! So funny to me, because I have been an iced tea drinker my whole adult life…..so when we went to London in 2007, there was no iced tea to be had, and pretty much no ice either. Lo and behold when my sis and I were walking around for hours I saw a Starbucks sign far far away…and I thought SURELY they would have iced tea…they DID, and ice in it too! Such a thrill for me! Fast forward several years when were in Paris, there was no iced tea there either, so in our AirB&B I started with a large cup of hot tea, got some ice from the freezer where there was a real ice cube tray, and voila! I got to have iced tea! We recently went to Paris again and low and behold, there is iced tea available, sort of. They have lemon and peach flavors in bottles and they will bring you a glass with just a few little cubes of ice. And I actually saw a Starbucks in Paris! Life is good!

  30. Viffy says:

    I’m finally able to catch up with your blog after a month or so, Susan!
    The pictures of your England trip are incredible. Inspiring, even!
    My soon-to-be husband and I will be taking the trip across the pond in 2023!
    (As for now, it’s wedding planning for our date this October!)

    So happy to see everyone out and enjoying themselves. I’ve got a lot of things to put on our itinerary for England… send other suggestions if you think of any.

  31. Joanne says:

    The entire trip so far sounds magical! I imagine you are enjoying and documenting every moment. Now I am really longing to get back to England. p.s Your posts are not long enough for me! Happy “jubbly”!

  32. Jo'L says:

    So happy for all of you. What a treat to be there for the Jubilee celebrations in the countryside. Thanks for the inclusion this gives us here at home.

  33. Kathy Johnson says:

    Susan – I am loving all your pictures and descriptions of the beautiful English countryside. We were so lucky to take a Trafalgar trip for our 30th wedding anniversary about 20 years ago to England, Scotland and Ireland. Now I spend my time sipping tea while I watch Escape to the Country on DABL. That’s how I now see the English countryside and historic homes and castles of England. Hope to go back one of these days. Love your blog! Thank you!!!

  34. kimberley says:

    I live in a town just outside of East London and have been spoilt for choice with things to do over the Jubilee weekend. There were the free music festivals in the grounds of Barking Abbey, we all sat on the ruins to watch the music. It was a very powerful abbey run by a power abbess and her nuns. Then, a local manor historical manor house had events with people dressed as Henry VIII, queens of the past, and activities such as trying on armour. They also have a victory garden and mock bomb shelter to look at. On top of all that, the garden group I help at went elderflower picking to make cordial and lemonade, made thread out of rushes and nettles, walked along the river and ate homemade scones baked by a 92 year old member, complete with strawberry jam and squirty cream.

  35. Shirley Albertson says:

    What a delight to see and read about your adventure. My best friend and I will be in England and Ireland for three weeks in September. Can’t wait to see the Cotswolds and hoping we can get around to see things, but transportation looks a bit weak or at least slow between some places we hope to see. So excited!

  36. Michelle says:

    I enjoyed reading about the indoor picnic and places you have gone too. I watched the two videos you made it felt like I was right there with you. Thank you for sharing your lovely trip with all of us.

  37. Carollee Ferris says:

    Oh I am so homesick for the UK. They say I am too old to rent a car. That has crimped my travels. Thank you for sharing all your beautiful moments.

  38. Karen Mac says:

    Sue…Thanks so much for your fabulous post. I’m thrilled for all the girls (and guys) that are having such a good time. Thanks for taking us “stay at homers” on our own little armchair journey to the English countryside. You all seem to have a beautiful glow to you. I’m sure like many of the other stay at homers they are also watching the Jubilee celebration from a comfy chair. Enjoy the festivities and your wonderful friends. 💕

  39. Janw says:

    Pleased to find a copy of Suffolk Summer at my local university library and am reading it now (1948 copy) and among the plates are two taken by my husband’s mother’s brother-in-law. She was an English war bride, father American stationed during WW2 in East Anglia. Your magnetism for serendipity is catching!

  40. Jacki says:

    Wow, how lovely was this, and I loved creading/viewing all the photos of all if it, especially the Housing Incorporated into the Abbey Ruins .. quite fascinating, etc ….
    I’m convinced and truly believe that you were meant to be in the area, at this time and all those connections being discovered …Do enjoy tge rest of your UK travels, be safe, enjoy……Hugs from Canada way ….

  41. Marilyn Young says:

    I love your ability to change the picnic mid-stream. So glad you guys had a grand time.

  42. Paulette says:

    I looked up Suffolk Summer. Thanks for the recommendation. I thought I would enjoy reading it, since my father was stationed at Sudbury airfield during WWII. (B17 mechanic)Amazon price $145! Looks like I will be using trusty Interlibrary Loan to read this.

  43. Paulette says:

    Looked again for Suffolk Summer, found a less expensive copy at a UK book vendor. Yippe.

    Also found this article in the WAPO from 2015

  44. Carol says:

    Guess where I am !!
    Oak Bluffs at the Pequot Hotel – about to take an island tour.
    My first time here … waving to you from home !!

  45. Hannah (New Orleans) says:

    Wow! What an adventure indeed! I’ve been following along on Twitter, but it’s always SUCH a special treat when a Willard hits our inboxes. I agree with Patty–your time and effort to share so much with us is a gift in itself!

    I do hope the FOSB cards come back! I would love one. In the meantime, I hope you all continue to be well and enjoy yourselves. I’ll be waiting for the Cotswold photos with bated breath!

  46. Maureen from SoCal (4irisheyes925) says:

    I’m so glad you and Joe are having an amazing time. But then you seem to have a knack for finding incredible things, I must say.
    I love this blog post, it’s seriously enchanting. Which is totally my jam! I just love it when these unexpected and magical things happen. All the wonderful signs and signals pointing you to John Appleby and ultimately to his book at the gardens is Bury St. Edmund. Then coming across the marker for Martha’s Vineyard namesake. Another wow! And the building into the old Abbey walls, is truly amazing. I don’t think I have seen anything like that.
    I’m so glad things worked out for the picnic day, you all look so amazingly refreshed and happy.
    Thank you for taking us along with you.
    ~Maureen from So. California

  47. Maureen from SoCal (4irisheyes925) says:

    I’m so glad you and Joe are having an amazing time. But then you seem to have a knack for finding incredible things, I must say.
    I love this blog post, it’s seriously enchanting. Which is totally my jam! I just love it when these unexpected and magical things happen. All the wonderful signs and signals pointing you to John Appleby and ultimately to his book at the gardens is Bury St. Edmund. Then coming across the marker for Martha’s Vineyard namesake. Another wow! And the building into the old Abbey walls, is truly amazing. I don’t think I have seen anything like that.
    I’m so glad things worked out for the picnic day, you all look so amazingly refreshed and happy.
    Thank you for taking us along with you.
    ~Maureen from So. California

  48. pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

    hey how did you know we were sneaking around through the trees??? guess you saw Petey chasing us with his British umbrella and getting us into some trouble there. little sneak!!! looks like it was a loverly time for all, did you get to London for the Jubilee??? did you get to see the Queen have tea with Paddington bear.. adorable. well off to the hen house got to unload the feed sacks into the barrels and mix the cracked corn into it and put some more scratch into the scratch barrel, boy feed is going way up, how high are the feed prices there??? that and the water containers have to scrubbed and refilled, all for happy hens who lay lots of eggs and hopefully a few more will get broody and produce more peeps this summer. have fun and enjoy your trip and lock Petey up so he is not chasing us around. tata for now .. hugs ….. 😀

    • dezi says:

      😂😂😂😂👏🏻👏🏻. What a fun person you are! Lucky Susan to have such amazing friends! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

  49. Nancy Reinford says:

    Dear Susan,

    I enjoyed your pictures and all the “connections” in your story. What a great day that must have been. When I went to England in 2009, we were in London, Bath and a day trip to the Cotswolds. We could not find ice anywhere. The one night my cousin’s ankles were swollen from too much walking and we had to buy ice at the hotel to put on her ankles and feet. Another night at dinner, I ask for a lemonade and I got a Sprite with no ice. But those are the funny things we
    remember about vacations.
    Stay safe and healthy,
    Nancy R. in PA

  50. Paula says:

    How can one express the feeling she gets from reading about your delightful adventures on this British journey: warmth, excitement for all who were able to partake, awe at the way things worked out so well, joy in “meeting” so many lovely girlfriends, and as always, charmed with your way of telling about it all. It is good to see your and Tom’s faces aglow ~ and in England! Thank you for making the effort and taking the time to include/bless the home girlfriends, Susan! Hugs and lots of love, Paula

  51. Kathy Prell says:

    Just loved this….thank you Susan!

  52. Maureen Graham says:

    Thank you, thank you for bringing us along on your adventure.

    I moved this year into my dream condo, so I got very behind on the blog. What joy to sit on my new porch and have a nice long visit!

    Blessings on us all!

  53. Val S. says:

    Exquisite photos of clearly an amazing trip! Thank you for sharing with us all!! I think we all **NEED** to know where Siobhan got her lovely dress!!!

  54. Wendy Stewart McMillan says:

    Yes,please! do a special “30th anniversary edition of the 1992 FOSB membership card to ship with every edition of your new quote book! It would take the sting out of missing all the English fun for those of us who weren’t able to be there. It is always so nice to read your clever descriptions and see all the photos and artwork of your adventures. Thank you! And it wouldn’t be Susan Branch and co. without making lemonade out of lemons on a bad weather day. ❤️

    • Wendy Stewart McMillan says:

      P.S. Discovery IS the best thing! And there are no coincidences! 😘😉

    • sbranch says:

      You are so right, no coincidences, and so it will be just normal for you to know that I asked Kellee if we could please put a card into every order from our website, she’s checking on how many we’ll need! Two great minds! xoxo

  55. Candice Black says:

    Hello Susan! Enjoying this Willard so very much! Your visit across the pond is absolutely wonderful! I have enjoyed this “arm-chair visit” very much. I have been to Bury St. Edmunds many times on my visits it is a joy to visit. Last time we went for the Saturday market and had a picnic in the Abbey gardens. It is a lovely place. So much history and always the lovely rose garden! My cousins live in Braintree, Essex, a hop-skip from there. My Dad was stationed at the first American airfield’s built (1943) in Great Saling, Essex, England during WWII, Andrewsfield and how he met my Mom, she was in the Women’s Land Army. As you say…Serendipity! I was glued to the television for all of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations! I can just picture all of the little villages and towns decorated with Union Jack bunting and all the shop windows dressed to up too. They really know how to celebrate momentous occasions!
    Wishing you both safe happy travels over this green and pleasant land! Hugs!

  56. Debbie Boerger says:

    Thank you for posting all those pictures and videos in East Anglia. As to those awful strip malls, or malls in general, Grrrrr. It’s at its worst in Florida, casually knocking down 400 or 500 year old live oaks to pave a parking lot. Didn’t someone write a song about that? Tom and I noted that many roads would do a jog of just a few feet to avoid knocking down someone’s home, which often had big scrape marks and even some chunks knocked off by the passing lorries!! Don’t you all just adore that about England? Yes, We Do!!
    So excited looking forward to the new book of quotations in July.
    Mucho Big Love,
    Debbie in Maine

  57. Nicoline says:

    Hi Susan,
    I seem to be very unlucky….I’ve been trying to say HI from Cornwall, but the vanish…??? 4th attempt…..Is it my computer?
    :Lots of love from Nicoline

    • sbranch says:

      No, it’s me, so busy, not having time to read! Miss it and you! But we have been having a wonderful time!!! Hope you are too, but I know you are! xoxoxo

  58. Barbara Warner says:

    Dear Susan, I have been perched on your shoulder- along with countless other adventurers, on your trips to England. While it isn’t possible for me to travel there right now, I am reliving my journey there many years ago. You cannot imagine my happiness when I read your latest description of East Anglia and your visit to Bury St. Edmonds. I have dreamed of going there. I have discovered that about 1630, my mother’s ancestors, two brothers, came to Massachusetts from Bury St. Edmonds. They would have known the old abbey ruins well. Perhaps they might have lived in one of the cottages built into the old walls! They left a sister behind. Now I am wondering if she has descendants who are still there! Thank you for sharing your adventures. They are making so many people, especially me, happy!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m sure they did. How exciting for you. You’d LOVE it there! The air is alive with history! Maybe someday!

  59. Christine Perica says:

    Absolutely loved my time in the English countryside with the girlfriends. Sometimes there are no words just thankful hearts. As always, Susan, you provide me so much joy!

  60. Linda says:

    Thank you so much, Susan. I don’t have the flowery words to describe my feelings, but I just love your Willard’s to us. They make me feel so good, really brighten my day. I’m so glad you went back to England and brought so much of it back to us. Thank you! ♥️🌹♥️

  61. Sara Kiiru says:

    Delightful serendipity, the joy of life! One of those signs that it is good and right to be alive, despite many indications to the contrary. Thank you for bringing us right along with you for the picnic-that-wasn’t-but-was and the discoveries of things old-but-new.

  62. Karen Baron says:

    Oh thank you so much for this your!! The serendipity and roses with hedges are just the answers I needed for my yard!! I was with you in spirit. Diane Bennett is a friend from Facebook who I have never met in person. I met you at Apple Farm so I feel I have met her through you!! My sister had to return from England when the borders were shut and I so wanted to go in person to be there but I was with you in spirit! Thank you for your generosity in sharing your travels, words, and talents. I can’t wait for Distilled Genius!! Enchanted will now be 4 volumes!!

    • sbranch says:

      Diane was lovely, was wonderful to meet her in person! I’m glad you’re here with us, any way you can do it! xoxoxo

      • Tracey in Herefordshire says:

        It is really lovely to see our country through your eyes, because it is so easy to take it for granted when you live here. I was marvelling at all the old buildings when it suddenly struck me that the oldest part of our house dates from the late 1500’s, and we have a castle ruin at the top of the lane!

        I am now searching for a copy of Suffolk Summer.

        • sbranch says:

          We are awestruck daily. It’s so lovely … I’m so proud of the powers that be that they didn’t rip it all down to put in strip malls, or corporate headquarters. You did NOT pave paradise to put up a parking lot!!! Managed to put in bathrooms, wifi, etc etc, modernize even the oldest places, and KEEP them!!! It’s a blessing to the world, all this history still intact!

  63. Sue from New York says:

    Thank you so much for taking us on your trip with you. I look forward to your twitters and blogs daily. I can’t wait for your next book on traveling in England. You mentioned dreaming of being in an English church if at all possible you should make it a point to hear a welsh men’s choir. It is an experience you will never forget. There are Men’s choirs all over Wales. Look them up on google, or possibly Carrie or Welsh Debs can recommend one for you. Most of them allow visitors at their weekly practices. I know there are some in the Cardiff area, and in Treorchy. I promise you won’t be sorry. Their harmony is like no other It’s what I think heaven will sound like..I so wish I was with you Love Sue

    • sbranch says:

      We are going to Evensong whenever we can … looking forward to one just around the corner tonight! We very likely won’t make it to Wales this time, but we did love it so much last time! xoxo

  64. Ginny Evans says:

    There aren’t words, Susan. Sent with love.

  65. Sherry Coleman says:

    I am enjoying reading about your trip so much! Just want you to know that I count it a privilege to know you, to read your Willard’s and blog posts, and your books are the best. God has made a very special person in you for so many to enjoy and you’re just like all the rest of us. As I have gotten older I appreciate people and every day things so much more. Just wanted to tell you that you are loved by so many, by me, and I truly hope your legacy will always live on! Your cheer and live of life is contagious and everyone should know you!🥰❤️😍❤️

  66. Thank you, Susan!
    I just got out of school (the most stressful year teaching in 22 years), and getting to settle into your blog has been so relaxing. Looking forward to all the summer posts about your current trip. The fact that you are keeping up with all that’s happening back home AND enjoying your trip is inspirational. You’re a national treasure, and I can’t wait for your new book of quotes. Cheers!

  67. Annette Saul says:

    I made an appeal to the Queen Mary 2 girlfriends facebook group and now I’m appealing to the wider group of girlfriends. We exchanged pen pal names on the ship and sadly I put my pen pal’s name and address in such a safe place that I cannot find it! If anyone knows someone from Pasadena area who went on the ship and had a boot on because of a foot injury… sadly, that’s about all I can remember!! If anyone can help I’ll try to figure out a way to get the information from you!

    • Arline in So CA. says:

      Hi Annette,
      I came into the meeting room too late to get in on the pen pal drawing. I also live very close to Pasadena. Let me know if you need a back up pen pal ☺️ Arline A.

  68. Sue from New York says:

    Dear Sue and Joe
    I’m sure you are aware of this, but there is a Jane Austen regency week coming up in a few days in Alton England . Lots of the visitors dress in costumes of the times. Possibly you are already planning to attend, if not you may want to google Jane Austen and see if you’re interested. Hopefully you’re not to far away if you’re interested. I know you can’t do everything. Have a great rest of your day. Love Sue

  69. Becky Clark says:

    Thank you for sharing the joy of this trip. It was wonderful to travel right along with you and each of the group.
    Wishing you an absolutely happy rest of this season. The Strawberry Moon was shining brightly last night, a real wonder to behold. Love, Becky

  70. Kathryn Oliberos says:

    Just got over 18 days of covid. Your post was like a gift! So beautiful and peaceful is England Country side. God handy work. I felt a litte like I was there with you and all your lady friends. Thank you for giving so much of yourself to bless us!

    • sbranch says:

      So happy to hear you are OVER it!!! And thank you, the real gift is this beautiful countryside! Love having you here Kathryn!

  71. Laura says:

    What a grand journey…so happy I got to be among the faraway guests! I did look for the John T. Appleby “Suffolk Summer” book…oh well, no where in the library and on 2 book sites it starts at $150 and up…so I’ll keep the title and begin my own treasure hunt during antique, rare book shop adventures. So glad you have it and maybe will share more juicy bits from it later on.
    Here’s to more magic this summer for us all !

  72. Jaimie says:

    I so look forward to your Willard, such amazing adventures. I hope you continue to do these trips, I would love to someday visit the English countryside, much like you do. Until, I’m able, your posts are the next best thing. Thank you for sharing with all of us. You and Joe are very inspiring!

  73. Sue from New York says:

    Dear Sue and Joe
    Just read your twitter that you come home Friday. I thought you were staying thru the end of July. I’m sad to see your trip coming to an end, but am so glad you got to be there this summer. Look forward to all your posts on the trip. Jack will be so happy to see you, and then off you will be to visit family in California. you sure are having a wonderful 2022. Have a safe voyage and I hope the weather is as good as you last crossing, so you can spend lots of time on deck. By for now. Love Sue

  74. Becky Peer says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed all of the photos and descriptions of your lovely trip to England! It feels like I was along for the trip! What wonderful memories you made with old and new friends. What amazing sights and interesting connections you saw! Enjoy all of it and continue to keep us updated as you go! Be safe!

  75. Sylvia in Seattle says:

    It’s such a pleasure reading about your lovely time with English friends in their land. Love all the pictures and descriptions of your fun sight seeing and now crossing again on the big ocean. THe next best thing to being there myself. I’m looking forward to receiving my preordered copy of the Quotations book soon. Wishing you smooth sailing all the way home.

  76. Denise Hyde says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your lovely travels and stories!!!!! I have enjoyed so very much! By the way, I was able to get a copy of Suffolk Summer, by John Appleby and enjoyed the read. Interesting to think of the many pleasurable hours he spent in the gardens at Bury St. Edmunds–thank you for that video!! Come full circle!

    • sbranch says:

      Such a serendipitous discovery! Two and two really do make four!!! Happy you were able to find the book … both of us read it and loved it too.💖

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