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. mary says:

    ….’so very nice to wake up to such cheerful news !…and so apparent that you all are having the time of your lives ! …beautiful post and such a memorable time is being had by all !…so thank you so much dear Susan and Girlfriends for including us all in such a happy adventure !!…with love, as always !

  2. Linda Michael in PA says:

    It’s so lovely reading your blogs from England. I’m not there, but…..I’m there! Thank you for taking the time to blog for all of us girlfriends who couldn’t sail with you. ❤❤

  3. Joy says:

    I’m loving this! England is one of my favorite places and the next time I go, I will definitely need to go to Bury St Edmunds. Thank you for sharing. ❤️

  4. Mary says:

    Thanks for the great pics! Love looking at the English countryside. Just curious though, why don’t they serve iced tea? Asking as a southerner who could not imagine summer without it.

  5. Evie Tong says:

    Rabbit Rabbit 🐰🐰…Am so thrilled to see your post!! First I glanced over all the photos and imagined being there…and meeting you!! Next with my cup of tea, will savor every word reading your adventures … thank you for your wonderful post!! Safe journey home with much Alo-ha-ha💕🌷💕Evie in San Diego

  6. Susan Hooper Kelleher says:

    Wonderful ! Wonderful ! For us here still at home in the states, it felt like we were right there with you all. Thank you for sharing. Loved it.

  7. Claudette M.Jensen says:

    So delighted to be able to “travel” with you via your blog! This Wisconsin girl has always loved everything England. Must be my ancestry from my Mom. Amazing how this trip with so many came together so well. Excellent planning! Enjoy the rest of your wonderful time in beautiful England!

  8. Kim DeMichele says:

    Dear Susan, So glad you are enjoying every minute of your trip! I love all the interesting “coincidences” that happen in your travels. You have to wonder who is sending those messages? It is just so nice that you notice them <3 You always "make my day" as my Mom would always say at the end of our phone calls 🙂
    Thankyou for your beautiful English post. Enjoy the Jubbly!!!!
    Fondly, Kim from Cape Cod

  9. Kathleen says:

    Yes, the Girlfriends Picnic was magical! Surrounded by cobblestones instead of grass, history filled beams overhead instead of blue skies. And we didn’t Even notice until it was time to go because the SB Dream Team took such good care of us!
    We spent hours with good friends, good food, good conversations that will all be darling memories of a lifetime. Thank you, Susan for the fairy dust to start the magic & for your sweet message in my book(on the tea page of course) these will be treasured always.

  10. Nellie Bragg says:

    This post has brought back many, many special memories! Really hoping to make another visit to England in the future! I think the English depend on that cup of hot tea made their way. To do anything else to it is a sacrilege! Somewhere there’s a little verse about the English not understanding why Americans treat tea as we do…lemon to make it sour, sugar to make it sweet, ice to make it cold…
    The Pilgrims receive a lot of recognition, but Capt. Goswold made his journey several years before they did. How neat that you found the tie-in with Martha’s Vineyard!

  11. Sandra Mailey says:

    It is so exciting that you are enjoying the English countryside along with English friends at this very special time. I have been saving photos of London and the English villages adorned for the Jubilee as they pop-up on Facebook. You are so fortunate to be able to take your very own photos and stand under flags and bunting to celebrate in person

    It also seemsthat many of us will be searching for copies of Suffolk Summer – I know I will. Fingers crossed that it will be available here in south central PA.

    Thanks for sharing!! XOXO!!

  12. Donna Cross says:

    Sitting in my car on my work break reading this…oh I do believe you have some fairy in you! Your words and photos take me to a place I never wish to return from…your fairy dust sprinkles romance, enchantment, and magic. Thank you Susan…always anxiously awaiting your next blog. Safe travels, hugs and love!

  13. FayE in CA! says:

    Bless your precious heart and soul. You are amazing through and through. Like a bud unfolding, you open yourself to girlfriends and your inner beauty spreads joy, sincerity, creativity and a genuine spirit that is true, kind and perfectly wonderful. Happy I ran in to you on the path of life, my dear!

    • Marilyn Ghere says:

      What a wonderful description of “Our Susan” ! Thank you.

    • Maureen Graham says:

      ‘Tis true! I met Sue in Grand Rapids, Michigan when touring for A Fine Romance. She and Joe are treasures!

  14. Beverlee Moreno-Ring says:

    Oh Susan… that was wonderful.. What a lovely way to start the day. For sure, I was one of those stow always fluttering around in the trees with you all. Just the best seeing all the joy, the fun, and the girlfriend love at the picnic.. Tons of serendipity to go around too! Love how the English Chefs stepped up and saved the girlfriends from a soggy day. This was a beautiful blog post celebrating a magical day. Thank you…

  15. Marlyn Erskine says:

    What a joy to read of your adventures! I admire your zest for life. It is always a treat to sit down and read your posts!

  16. Debbie Sisk says:

    Just luv-lee! So enjoying your trip!! Thanks for sharing.

  17. Kristen MacLeod says:

    Looks like a wonderful trip! Your pictures and prose let me love vicariously through you, and dream of future adventures! Enjoy the rest of your trip! ❤️

  18. Janice Nelson says:

    What a lovely way to start June. Loved all the pictures. Just so beautiful there!

  19. Myra Skerrett says:

    I so enjoyed reading your Willard today, the photos and descriptions are wonderful! Each night before I go to bed I read a bit of A Fine Romance, and last night I read about Windermere and The Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, James Herriot, York, Bibury and The Cotswolds. Tonight I will start on page 202 beginning with William Morris, then Tetbury, Royal Ascot and local pubs. I am so enjoying this beautiful book and this journey through England, and reading your Blog and imagining the wonderful time you and your dear friends are having in Jolly Old England right now at this monumental time in history celebrating Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Bless you all and have a pear cider for me! ❤️

  20. Maria says:

    I’m loving these updates from the English countryside! Now I know why you write books. There’s just so much beauty…people & places included… over there. How much longer will you be there & how is little Jack doing? You both must miss each other terribly. Thanks for sharing & enjoy the rest of your trip! xo

  21. Linda M. Smith says:

    Oh this was so generous of you-thank you so very very much. I loved every word and am going to share it with a friend who worked and lived in England for a “spell”. The girlfriends were all beautiful. Everything and everyone blessed my soul. I felt like I was there and definitely want to be there someday soon.

  22. monique says:

    How wonderful! Nicoline has corresponded with me in the past..lovely to see she is there again.Have a ball everyone.

    • Nicoline says:

      Hi Monique! Lovely to “see” you! Hope you are well, and are there any hollyhocks in your garden?

  23. Sally Jenks Roth says:

    Oh Susan, I can feel the glow and the love oozing out of every pore of this post. How very special for all of you, and thank you for including us! I love the Plan B “picnic room” those gracious young women allowed you to use, and the bunting and the excitement and the connections. All too wonderful for words, so I’ll leave it there and go back to look at it all again. My brother has been sending me links to Jubilee preparations so I’ll put just one here, so enjoy it! https://www.royal.uk/platinumjubilee

    • Sally Jenks Roth says:

      I forgot to say that I never acquired the taste for iced tea. I was born in England and have lived in the US since 1964 but I never learned to like iced tea or marshmallows but I did learn to like peanut butter!

      • sbranch says:

        Ha ha ! My girlfriends English mum never tasted peanut butter in her whole life. Just couldn’t bring herself to do it! Try making black iced tea, over ice, add a top inch of lemonade and stir. Even more delicious… adds a tiny bit of sweetness so sugar is unnecessary in case you are so inclined!

  24. Debbie Boerger says:

    Oh, Huge Thank You for labeling all those pictures of the Girlfriends and their Gentlemen. My face hurts from all the smiling, getting to put faces with the names in the Blogs. You are all just Ab Fab!!!
    Don’t know if you received my note on Frederick Forsythe’s short novel set in and over “The Hump” of England. It’s titled, The Shepherd, about a lone pilot returning to England from his base in West Germany in 1957. He has what could have been deadly problems, when, suddenly, another lone pilot in a WWII vintage plane came up beside him. Guided him to a safe landing in an old air field. It’s not a political thriller, and it’s very short.
    I’ve given that book to some pilots I knew, and they loved it.
    Time to get myself “in gear”. So much to look forward to, seeing where you and Joe will land next.
    Mucho Love and Thanks,
    Debbie in BeeUtiful Maine….even with the black flies.

  25. Beth from Iowa says:

    Thanks so much for spending so much time sharing with all of us! Loved ALL of it, even the rainy day turned out so perfectly – a planned backup would probably not have gone so well! Hope the rest of the trip is every bit as serendipitous as the first part!😍

  26. Rebeccca says:

    Thank you for such a delightful set of posts as you, Joe and your girlfriends (and guy friends) take such a fabulous trip to such a wonderful destination! My husband and I have been talking about making this trip to England (I love Last of the Summer Wine and also Miss Read’s books – she has a connection to Bury St. Edmunds as well!) But alas, on the heels of the pandemic I have learned that I need to have hip replacement surgery (this seriously dampened my training for all the walking we would be doing in England!) Your posts are such a blessing and an encouragement that this will be worth it!! Thank you so very much! May your travels continue to abound in delights, kind hospitality, gorgeous scenery and serendipity!

  27. Rebecca says:

    Oops — in my giddy excitement of getting to read the post with a cozy cup of coffee I gave my name an extra letter! Ha Ha!

  28. Elske Olijnsma says:

    I’m very confused about the iced tea part… When I came to NY city for the first time in 2010 I asked for iced tea. I got cold regular tea with ice cubes! I was so surprised. I always thought iced tea came from the USA. In my country, the Netherlands, people drink a lot of iced tea. My favourite is Lipton Ice Tea Green. Maybe you can try the supermarkets, they may have some sort of iced tea there! Enjoy your trip!

  29. Ann Woleben says:

    “Fantabulous!” So much love and beauty and hope! Thank you for taking us along.

  30. Carolyn Wilson says:

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Susan and Girlfriends for your loving and generous sharing with all us armchair travelers of your trip! You have made us all feel such a part of the fun, excitement, and adventure! Goosebumps and shivers cover me while reading every precious bit you all are sharing. You’re all “good-er-n airy angel” – I declare you are! Just ordered a British copy of Suffolk Summer! So excited 😀! Reading and savoring every single tidbit of this lovlee trip – I’m either crying or hugging myself with happiness 😊. My own upcoming trip starts in Edinburgh, on to York, Chester, Llangollen Wales, Stratford-upon-Avon, and London. At the end my Bonnie and I are going to the Hg arry Potter Movie set. Squeal! This trip will be every bit as magical as yours has been – I’m making sure it is! Fixing up a sweet diary just to record all the excitement and memories. It will be perfection. Love and hugs all around! You are appreciated, Sue, Joe, Rachel, Paul, and Siobhan! Keep well and safe.

  31. Kim Forester says:

    What a delight to read this fun posting and see your photos and videos! And what an honor to read of John T. Appleby, who hails from and is buried in my hometown of Fayetteville Arkansas! I’ve ordered an old copy of Suffolk Summer from there in the UK ~ Can’t wait to read it, as my father-in-law was stationed in the area during WWII. As ever, your inclusion of those of us who are only armchair travelers is deeply appreciated! 💕 Looking forward to your next posting(s)! Enjoy your continuing excursions! xxooxx

  32. coral King says:

    Just loved it. My wedding anniversary today. Would have been 60 years but my sweetheart died 2 years ago. Why was there no photos of Joe?

  33. Gail Sergewich says:

    Am so enjoying my (your) trip to England. Can’t wait to see the next chapter

  34. Sheri says:

    So fun to be traveling vicariously with all of you. The photos are gorgeous and the people all look wonderfully friendly! Can’t wait to read more entries from the trip.

    Have you ever shared Rachel’s famous brownie recipe? (What makes them famous? Secret ingredient?) They sound like they are SOMEthing! Or do we have to come to the next Girlfriend Picnic to experience them? 🙂

  35. Dee Ann says:

    As always, thank you for your blog posts. Your sharing of England is delightful. Loved your squeal on the video when you walked into the rose garden. Continue to enjoy the countryside. We appreciate the time involved when you post for us girlfriends!

  36. Anthea C Milton says:

    Glad to see you are all having a wonderful time and will celebrate the amazing achievement of the Queen, doudtful it will ever happen again! I was in a place called Dunster when I was a girl, on holiday with my Mum and Dad for her first Jubilee in 1977. Everywhere looked beautiful, the flowers, the bunting, happy people, the cottages, I will always remember it. So happy you get to celebrate there as well. God Bless the Queen.
    Just looked up the book Suffolk Summer over here in WA and its $110 for the papaerback!!!!!

  37. Mary Lawrence says:

    How wonderful ,good and magical things happen when you are around.Enjoy every moment.Thanks for sharing.

  38. Mary M Hobart says:

    Loved this beautiful and so informative post. Many things to find when and where they’re least expected. Visted the Cotswolds many years ago-my favorite place.

  39. Linda says:

    Susan, this will take me a month to appreciate all you have included in this blog, maybe more. And I couldn’t be happier. A thousand thanks…❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  40. Peggy Willoughby says:

    Serendipity! So much serendipity! Amazing, isn’t it?!
    🌹Thank you for sharing so much with us. ❤
    Continue to have so much joy.

  41. Laurie says:

    I should be working but am am traveling with you all the way thru your words and photos. Thank you Susan for your uplifting spirit and love.

  42. susan leary from falmouth says:

    Dear Susan, Thank you so much for bringing me back to East Anglia. I spent a whole summer there riding my bicycle through the fields from Girton, to The Three Horseshoes Pub in Madingley, to learn all the ropes, from slicing smoked salmon, to pouring a perfect pint. If you’re in the neighborhood, please say hello. Continue to send your travelogue. So much appreciated. Susan

  43. Jane says:

    Glad to hear you are enjoying East Anglia. My husband’s parents met when his father was stationed at Hardwick (on your Twitter map) and his English mother was a volunteer driving a catering (doughnuts and coffee) truck to cheer up the Yanks. She was from Norfolk, they fell in love in the English countryside, married and so now from time to time we go back to England to visit the relatives – nice to have an excuse to visit and accommodations too.
    I’m one of the suitcase stowaways, but wonder if you would consider making more corgi pins that we could purchase on your website as we were sort of on the ship with you.

  44. Nicole says:

    What wonderful photos! Love the metal filigree and bird on the building on the right in the East Anglia photo!

  45. Sandi from the Cape says:

    There are no words! I’m in awe of everything you included us in on. Next time!!!! Please make a next time. We couldn’t come on this wonderful trip because our grand babies aren’t vaccinated yet and we couldn’t take the chance. I can’t wait to read more, thank you dear Sue and Joe for the trip and hope to see you at your next stateside book signing! Loved everything, please let us know when we can view the Girlfriend, Rachel and Sue talk about the written word! xoxoxox

  46. Laura Brown says:

    What a delightful picnic made up of wonderful people, as all picnics should be! The Traveling Chefs had an appointment with you, they just didn’t know it until you met. Thank goodness for anticipated showers! ☔️ 🌧 And now, thanks to this wonderful travel, many of us have an appointment with the story of John Appleby. Happy surprises around every cobblestone corner and under each garland of flags.

    🇬🇧 A glad celebration of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and her 70th Platinum Jubilee to all!

  47. Ann R says:

    A June Willard such a treat, and rabbit rabbit right back! The picnic was wonderfully spontaneous. I feel like I’m having a vicarious Field of Dreams/The Detectorists moment reading this blog entry, all that’s missing is a video of the countryside with the theme song of the BBC show playing in the background! Though many of your internet girlfriends are not there physically we are in spirit you inspire us back home when we’re working on our family trees. To paraphrase Ray from Field of Dreams “If you travel they will come”. Alohahaha.

  48. Christine Anderson says:

    Such a wonderful adventure. Thanks for sharing. We have been to England twice but in different areas, All of it was lovely!

  49. Marilyn Ghere says:

    How could one not be enchanted with England and the English countryside ? I have loved books, movies, and TV series set in England for a very long time. My favorites are James Herriot’s books. I had the good fortune of traveling there in 1965-66. So, many thanks Susan, for your Willard with the wonderful photos and descriptions of enchanting England.

    • sbranch says:

      I adore James Herriot’s books, something so soft and real about them. xoxo

      • Debbie Boerger says:

        Marilyn, I was in Yorkshire for the first time in 1977, during the Silver Jubilee. I copied the map in the front of Herriot’s My Yorkshire, and tried to drive to every place mentioned in his All Creatures books.
        Yes, Dear Susan, there is something about those books that warms the cockles.
        More thanks for keeping us with you on your travels,
        Debbie in Maine

      • Marilyn Ghere says:


  50. Rosemary from Texas says:

    I cannot even believe how wonderful nor can I tell you how very much I am enjoying the trip through England. Just superb! The girlfriends look so happy and I think you could pick them out anywhere…Susan’s girls. I am totally looking forward to your interpretation of the Queen’s Jubilee. Thanking you ever so much for your posts…as they are so refreshing in this troubled time. Have fun!

    • sbranch says:

      It’s a very exciting time over here… such a special one of a kind EVER event!! Makes the world feel suddenly even a little bit old-fashioned. Don’t we all need that!

  51. Debby says:

    Well that was fun! I think what I regret most about not coming, is not getting to taste Rachel’s brownies. Dang. Please show tons of pictures of your little castle, and Carries BrookEnd. Can’t wait for next blog. Thank you Susan!💋💋💋💋

  52. Melinda Holley says:

    Dear Sue,
    Thank you so, so much for sharing this amazing trip and your darling narration!
    I so loved our picnic in Beatrix’s garden and would have loved this one as well. Was just perfect in the way it was supposed to be…serendipity!
    Looking forward to more fun along your way.
    Thank you for being YOU,

  53. Nancy B. says:

    Oh, Sue! You knocked this one out of the park! So, so lovely. I simply must get there somehow.💞💞💞
    Safe travels,
    Nancy (from Bakersfield)

  54. Vicki South of Arroyo says:

    When I said a handful of his books, I meant only “Suffolk Summer” which definitely would now seem to be out of print; although, at some point in time (of the past), it was available in both hardback and paperback. I definitely am gonna find a way to read it!

  55. Vicki South of Arroyo says:

    I’m having a bit of a problem posting a reply today, so I’m sorry if you got this message twice; if you did, please just print this one, and I hope it’s of any help/informational! Here’s what I was trying to say:

    Susan, you certainly put out some interest for author John Appleby! Maybe by now you know all this; but, to synopsize from various web sources I just found…

    John (“Jack”) Tate Appleby was born in 1908 (Arkansas) and he died (Washington DC) in 1974 of leukemia; was (til death) acting editor/associate editor of the American Historical Society (from 1959 onward, starting as membership secretary for the Society [sometimes it is referred to as an Association, or as I saw it in print]; he worked on their ‘journal’ called the American Historical Review) and he was a respected author of several books on English history; biographer of English kings.

    Graduated cum laude from Harvard in 1928. He then went to Paris to study at the Sorbonne and was a reporter for the Paris Times. This was all before World War II. He had moved to Washington DC after Paris and was a contributor to the book review section of the Washington Post.

    Timeline isn’t entirely clear to me, but his war service began in 1942 through 1945 November; reportedly, he served as a trainer in ‘celestial navigation’ for pilots in the Eighth Air Force; stationed on two bases in Suffolk. It sounds like he returned to his birthplace of Fayetteville, Arkansas after the war (one notation says he indeed remained in England for awhile, though; was apparently in no hurry to leave that beautiful English countryside!); tried his hand at farming (his father had owned canning factories and apple orchards in Fayetteville) and subsequently began to write in earnest. The ‘delightful’ “Suffolk Summer” was published in 1948.

    He returned to DC by 1949-1953(?) and he lived there til he died; he had surviving sisters at death but no children and had never married. It was the royalties from “Suffolk Summer” which went to the restoration of the Bury St. Edmunds Abbey Rose Garden in Suffolk. It was at this Abbey where barons under King John were granted the charter that became the Magna Carta, and ‘so this place connects Appleby’s pleasures in post-war Suffolk to the history that he spent his life writing’. (It looks like his papers, the “Appleby Papers” are in a special collection at Georgetown University Library in DC.)

    I hope I got all that right, again from several online sources. I saw a vintage b&w photo of him and he just looked like a nice man!

    Gosh, did I sure enjoy reading YOU today, Susan, but also learning of this amazing author. Thank you for bringing him to our attention. He deserves to be remembered! There’s just a handful of his “Suffolk Summer” book available (used) on Amazon; VERY expensive! However, there’s always the library?!!

  56. Alexis says:

    Such a wonderful post , we were stationed in England when my husband a Navy
    Aviator had the privilege of training English pilots ( much like our Top Gun training
    in Florida) my favorite of all our stations over 27 yrs.
    The people were so wonderful, my aunt was an interpreter during world war11 she
    Came from Norway and fell in love with an English pilot .
    They married in a small ceremony with only two witnesses and no family .
    But they had a two tired wedding cake with frosting because the women at the bakery
    Gave their own sugar stamps so she could have frosting I love that story ❤️

  57. Judith says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your trip with us armchair travelers!

  58. Ann Pieta says:

    Dear Susan, thank you so much for descriptions that narrate us through this memorable trip . . . like a wonderful movie, with so many soothing kindred enjoyments. We can smell the aromas, feel the love exuding through so many smiles, hear the beautiful accents in such pleasant conversation, and hear the joyous countryside’s welcoming hospitality. What a delightful way to be reminded of all the wonder in life’s journey through your travels!!

  59. Linda, near Seattle says:

    I LOVE this post!! Almost makes me feel like I was right there with you. What a serendipity that you found this little tea room to use for your picnic. It looks as if you had a magical time, for sure. Keep sharing, Susan! I love traveling with you, even if has to be virtually.
    By the way, I found a very large box on my porch yesterday. So happy to find the lovely bee skep I had ordered. And a precious book mark to remind me of you was tucked inside the box. Love it!

  60. Joan Lesmeister says:

    My goodness yes, I’m enjoying my armchair visit! So wonderful..the country and your pictures and writings & Rachel’s brownies! Thank you so very much!! Love it all, & safe trip & hugs, Joan

  61. Ginnie Judd says:

    Love, love, love!

  62. Kelly says:

    What a delight to see Bury St. Edmunds. I lived there as a child while my Navy dad had a tour of duty with the RAF. I’ve never been back. Thank you for giving me a glimpse of Bury and of your sweet picnic.

  63. Donna Rose says:

    I’m so happy reading all about the DARLING girlfriends and Sue!! The photos are so yummy and it makes me feel like I am there! I just went to England in March and visited the Lake District to immerse myself in all things Beatrix Potter, John Ruskin, William Morris and pre-Jubilee. I was with all of you in spirit on the ship and Stourhead, to be sure. It is so COMFORTING to know there are so many girlfriends out there who adore the same things…including adorable Susan Branch!! Have an absolutely MAGICAL time in the land that I love!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you so much Donna . . . a little bit of heaven just waiting over here for everyone!

  64. Barbara Vlcek-Vinikow says:

    Dearest Susan,
    Oh, what fun!!! I feel like I was right there with all of you!!! I will join in with all my armchair traveling girlfriends here, and say thank you so very much for including us in your experiences & adventures!!! The photos are wonderful, and I loved seeing everyone at the picnic having a luv-lee time together! I truly enjoyed reading your descriptions of Bury St. Edmunds and of the wonderful serendipitous moments, particularly about Martha, namesake of Martha’s Vineyard. What a sweet moment that must have been for you, to feel that connection through the ages.

    I do hope that you continue to enjoy your travels through the beautiful English countryside! And, I am looking forward to your next blog, which I’m sure will be full of descriptions about celebrating Queen Elizabeth’s Jubbly!!!
    Sending love and best wishes for safe & smooth travels,
    Barbara VV

  65. Kay says:

    Very much envying you your meandering around the beautiful countryside there. July marks 40 years since my month there! Dad was in the Air Force in WWII stationed in Peterborough and loved to talk about his time in England (not so much about the bombing missions he endured). He was once in a show the AF put on to cheer up the local children and attended by the Queen, later the Queen Mother. He just loved the people there who were so kind to him. I too would love to read that book. Can’t wait to see your next post.

  66. Becky Daugherty says:

    Susan, thank your for taking us along with you and Joe on your English adventure! I have read this particular post 3 times already! It’s chocked full of so much information that I find myself getting lost—so back I go! 😂

    After all these years, I feel as though I know your English friends!

  67. Shannon(Pennsylvania) says:

    What a gorgeous group of girls and guys! This trip is magical. I love how the fairies keep running ahead of you to set up serendipitous delights❤️Enjoy the jubilee festivities!! Hard to believe your trip is half over already❤️

  68. Nancy says:

    Oh thank you for this beautiful post! It’s almost as good as being there! Now I want a club card! Please!

  69. Helen says:

    It is a wonderful trip! Showing my husband all the pictures and dreaming of someday!

  70. Wendy Marvin says:

    Thank you for sharing Susan🙏❤️
    Your trip sounds so wonderful.

  71. Shanna says:

    Oh, I did not expect to enjoy this soooo much! Been a bit grumpy around here, what with losing my best girl, Glory, and going through chemo with my Mr. Wizard, Fred. But you have brought a smile to my face and a very needed bit of looking up in general. It is also nice to see Rachel, who I’ve met through our shared fox terrier passions and Instagram. Say Hello from me and let her know that our next sweet terrier rescue, Emma, is to be ours, soon—cant’ttttt wait!!
    Have plenty more fun adventures. I’ll look forward to reading about them, as always. ♥

  72. Barbara Dunlevy says:

    Thank you for sharing so much beauty, sweet loveliness. It is so heartwarming to know kindred spirits really do exist in this day and age. So happy I discovered you and your books long ago in the Victoria magazine. You have enriched my life. God bless you and Joe and have a safe journey home.

  73. Sherry Palla says:

    oh mylanta! The photos of the cottages, stone buildings, gardens, stone fences, towns, and history were SO charming i almost cried Susan! Thanks for sharing.
    Am currently reading, ” The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen”, by Syria James. Jane Austen describes old ruins of an abbey she picnicked at, built in 1239 by Cistercian monks. Called Netley Abbey, which is believed constructed by the same mason who built Westminister Abbey! Your shots of that abbey ruins reminded me of her description. And now i must look for the book by Mr. Applebee! 😊❤️
    So happy you get to be there during the Queen’s Jubilee! WOW! Keep exploring! Enjoy!
    YOU made my day! ( day 20 after horrid covid. And we had 4 vaccinations! My hubby and I! So sick, but energy coming back this week, and tummy getting used to eating again! Whrew!

  74. Janet Conn says:

    Thank you for such a beautiful blog post. It feels like we are right there with you experiencing all the beauty and fun. Enjoy the rest of your trip. Safe travels to all.

  75. Pam Erselius says:

    Oh! Oh! Oh! What a lovely journey you’ve taken us on! My eyes actually started to tear up seeing the girlfriend finding a place to attach her bunting at the picnic. The commitment and the camaraderie is so touching. And the UK is so magical. Cheers!
    PS (Do you watch Doc Martin?)

  76. Wendi Unrein says:

    Ub ub ub ub….im so excited to read EVERY WORD im just filled with excitement about it all! And I have no idea why except that I see I missed a trip meant for my 60th!! Regardless I felt like I was there and my heart was so engaged as I’ve done get togethers a lot like this and KNOW how special it is!! God is shining His pleasure down on you Susan. And that Abbey! So unique how they incorporated it into the newer structure. It must have touched some special people to include it in. I HAVE to get that book as my father was there in WW II with the Air Force. I heard some incredible stories among sad ones. I’m just sad I didn’t gleam more from my father. Enjoy you two and so look forward to reading more. BTW you clothes as usual are adorable and sp perfect for being who you are! Just as it should be!

  77. Patty McDonald says:

    How I wish I was on this trip with you…next time!
    My parents and sisters are from England. I’m their American born child. Dad was in WWII and captured at Dunkirk. So many stories and so much history. He was a Grenadier Guard in London when Queen Elizabeth was young. He said she and her sister would play in front of the guardsmen because they would have to stand at attention. The ‘girls’ nanny would scold them and take them away. I haven’t been back since 1965. I want to return with your lovely group.

  78. Marie Edmiston says:

    Thank you for this–what a joy to meet so many girlfriends!

    I can’t resist sharing an English author, the late Norah Lofts, who lived in Bury St. Edmunds and wrote numerous historical novels about East Anglia. I discovered her at our public library about 60 years ago (really!). Reading her books filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge of English history. I especially recommend “A Wayside Tavern” and two trilogies (you can find these listed in an article about her in Wikipedia).

    Marie in SoCalif

  79. Patty says:

    Dear Susan, Thank you so much for taking us along with you on this beautiful and amazing journey! Your time and effort to share all of it is a gift in itself! Stay safe and well!

  80. Patty Farrin says:

    Dear Susan, Thank you so much for taking us along with you on this beautiful and amazing journey! Your time and effort to share all of it is a gift in itself! Stay safe and well!

  81. Jody B says:

    Thank you so much for letting us tag along via your blog. The photos are breath taking, I can only imagine up close. The picnic that wasn’t but was, how fun to find things work out, not as planned and sometimes better. Enjoy every step of the journey, write them down to be enjoyed forever and ever.

  82. Christine M. says:

    Wonderful post! So glad you are having a mah-va-lus time! I can’t believe what a rabbit hole I fell into about the Suffolk Summer book! Can’t get it at my library and Amazon is crazy expensive! If you find any inexpensive used copies over there (UK) I’d be willing to pay, just a thought? Maybe on your website? Anyway, glad you’re getting to enjoy such a historic time with Dear Queen Elizabeth, long my she reign!!

  83. Margaret Harke says:

    Thank you much for sharing this wonderful trip. Sa reading and drinking my pear cider and feeling like I was right there with everyone.

  84. Dayna says:

    What a beautiful breath of fresh air, most needed, perfect post! Serendipity at every turn. Hours with friends, cute cottages, bunting, beautiful blue skies, gorgeous flowers with a little history thrown in. Hard to believe the QM2 & picnic was so long ago, even for me “across the pond” but then again, ages ago with what has been going on here. Thank you for a most lovely post. Looking forward to the next one & enjoy the rest of your holiday to the fullest!

  85. Sherry Winchester says:

    Forever in your debt for sharing all this Wonderfulness! XXXX

  86. Chrissy Thrower says:

    I think we should dub you Serendipity Sue! (And jaunty Joe)! Amazing how ‘unplans’ turn out so cool! Love everything Willard shared. I can almost smell the earthy countryside as well. Thanks for letting me ride in the left pocket of your suitcase. This is some adventure I am really cherishing❤️

  87. Lisa Hay says:

    I saw my name on the bunting so there I was in spirit at the picnic! I am just marveling at so many there that have met over the internet and now in person! So wonderful and sorry I missed all those hugs going around! I did get to hug Belle right before she left since we visited Florida. Thank you for sharing this trip and your travels with all of us. Here’s hoping I can make it to the next one! Hugs, Lisa Hay

    • sbranch says:

      You were talked about too Lisa, we missed you there! It was a room of joy, I have to say, and sharing and connecting. Just loved every moment! Next time Lisa!

  88. Pam Butterick says:

    This was fabulous. It made my heart sing. Every single morsel. I still so wish we could have come, but you made it alive. And also brought me back to Bury St. Edmunds. I sang a solo in the Cathedral there, and you brought the memory back to me perfectly.
    You must be loving watching the Queen and all the fantastic festivities! We are loving it from over here!
    Safe travels home to you and Joe. 💕🇬🇧🚢

  89. Patricia says:

    Beautiful picture – I am enjoying your posts so much !
    I grew up in Bury St. Edmunds and went to ‘upper school’ there in the 70’s. Loved that little town ( at the time, but no longer that little) so much. Spent many hours in the Abby Gardens. Will you do a post eventually of all the homes/cottages you stayed in ?

  90. Linda says:

    So happy to find John T. Appleby’s book on the Internet Archive here in the states. Thank you for mentioning it. I read quite a few Old English novels there.

  91. What a wonderful post! All the photos so grateful to see them. Can’t wait for more. Thank you

  92. 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

  93. Karen says:

    I feel as though I am with you on this trip. Thank you for taking me with you. Looking forward to next update. Happy Jubilee!

  94. In sure and certain hope! God rest all the souls. Love it – and all you are sharing. Thank you – it is almost ( ALMOST, but not quite) like being there. Making a list for when we do get to England. Safe travels!

  95. Darlene Flack says:

    Loved this Willard! Thank you for sharing, Susan! I just went to Amazon to see if I could find John T. Appleby’s “Suffolk Summer”. An unused paperback is priced at $122.98; there are 5 used copies priced from $69.73. Smile. I will check libraries and used bookstores. It will be fun; I enjoy a “book hunt”.

  96. Donna Hrehor says:

    Just read part two of your trip in Willard!!! What a fabulous trip everyone had! Looking at the pictures I feel like I went with you💜. Thank you so much for sharing this trip with us who couldn’t go. I cried when I was done because I was overwhelmed with how lovely everything was💜. Hugs! Enjoy the Jubilee and your trip back home!!! Donna 💟💟💟

  97. Bobbie says:

    Thanks for taking us along. It is making me so excited for our first trip to London and Paris at the end of August! Have a wonderful rest of your time! Cause your missing nothing good here in the states.

  98. Beth Lang says:

    Your writing puts me right there in the moment; every moment! Thank you for continuing to share all that you and Joe are experiencing after the picnic. My sister and I spent time in Bath, Bibury, Stow on the Wold, Ambleside, Bourton on the Water, and six days in London. We arrived home this week and we shall never be the same. The merry month of May was filled with magical moments and images that are forever tucked away.

    Your post introduces us to new villages and places to put on our “bucket list” so that we return to England where we left our hearts! PS: I scoured the antique shops for an addition to my Beatrix collection and I scored! I found John Joiner who made it back safely to reunite with his old and new friends! The atmosphere in London was electric and we marveled at all the floral displays and post box toppers. Such creative women out there in this world!

  99. Amelia Mathews says:

    I came late to this lovely party, but am enjoying every communication and story from the cruise and your wandering through the countryside. Thank you for brightening my day!

  100. Linda F says:

    Oh how beautiful, exciting and fun! And so full of serendipity!! Loved the videos you shared. It was everything I have ever imagined England could be. And now I am so curious about John Appleby and The Suffolk Summer. 💕💕

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