SO MANY WORDS, SO LITTLE TIME

So many words, so little time is exactly right as you are about to see. I wrote this first thing last… you’ll have to read to the end to find out what it means!!!

As promised, here we are, driving to Carrie and Stuart’s . . . 

almost there…

It was Insta-bond, they did it last time we met too… map-men! “Tell me again where am I?”

This front door just LOOKS like Carrie! When we met them last time, Carrie (American) and Stuart (English) were living in Oxford where he is the most AMAZING tour guide in case you ever get to Oxford (contact Stuart Holloway at stuart@oxfordwalkingtours.com ~ he was born there and knows all there is to know about it), and she was running a small bed and breakfast. They’d bought a get-away house in Wales. But they sold their place in Oxford, and moved to the Cotswolds. Of COURSE we wanted to see their new cottage … 

We’ve always stayed in touch with emails, at Christmas, on Twitter . . . I was dying to see her new kitchen because I have to say, she does Kitchen so GOOD!

Am I right or am I right?

Their tiny place in the Cotswolds, perfect distance for Stuart to commute to Oxford, and great for walks for Jack and Buddy. Note the door to the garden that goes through her sun porch …

Love the bunting!

Note how window opens into sun porch ~ British Country Living should look at what Carrie does with houses!

Because they are adorable! This was her kitchen in Oxford!

And this her Wales kitchen! (I know you would want to see!)

This is her house in Wales too … don’t you just love it? Such a sparky eye she has! I hope she opens an antique store someday … I would love to shop there!

So out we went, off to the pub, we stopped for a moment at the river across the street so Stu could throw the ball for Buddy!

He’s pure entertainment! (Stu is too, but I was talking about Buddy!)

Happy Dog …

Walking to the pub, this art gallery is dressed for the Queen, just like the rest of the country!

had to stop at the village grocery … 

Bought this one … seems so appropriate!

Our guys ordering lunch! Carrie and Stuart are so lucky… they have this wonderful pub within walking distance of the house … a real butcher shop, the village store, and this! Not to mention walks in all directions!

Carrie and I met at the first picnic we had at Stourhead in 2016.

There they are, very picnic-cute.

We bonded over their shoes ~ I had to tell them how cute they were!

Our time together was too short … but I can say that no matter where I’ve gone or what I’ve done over here! We walked home from the pub through the little village, amid the cow parsley … which is everywhere. It was a wonderful afternoon.

Home, saying goodbye, but Buddy was ready to play ~ me too, doing a redux of our goodbye curtsy at Stourhead … only with pants, not such a good look …

Better with dresses. . . What a wonderful time we had!

The rain had started, and off we went, hill and dale, to our new rental house in a place called Harleston in Suffolk, East Anglia …

It’s that bump on the right side where the D in England ends…  Our first time in this area of the country.

This was our first view of our new village just driving in. Isn’t it festive? The wind was blowing and the bunting was flapping making it all so alive … we liked it immediately. And now, to keep promise number two in my last post . . . to show you why I called our rental here “the Cottage that wants to be a Castle.”

I didn’t really think it when I first saw it … it was a corner flat in an old brick house  … I think my first hint was the high ceilings … and then I started looking more closely …

At the old wooden floor, the dip in the stair leading to the kitchen, the tile . . .

The kitchen was wonderful, old yet modern in a strange way, since very little in it was actually modern.. .

The kitchen counter was aluminum bent into a counter shape! I liked it. I’ve never seen that before, but it seemed practical. You couldn’t hurt it and it would last forever!

Not exactly Carrie’s kitchen, but still pretty good!

These tiles, the ones lying flat, struck me as castle-like … and the rounded brick between the leaded windows… ask me who put the flowers there . . . yup. twas me!

All the windows had the rounded brick . . .

The hanging kitchen lamp seemed rather royal also!

Beautiful gas stove, all built into tile . . . I was beginning to think whoever modernized this really . . .

. . . held onto the past . . .

We thought the kitchen cupboards were put there, maybe in the 1930s. They looked handmade, but the details were timeless . . . which made me curious about the rest of the house . . .

It was a long way to the only bathroom which was upstairs . . . but the tile was wonderful in there too. . .

Details . . . the base of the toilet! Fancy! So queen-like! The sink was set into a dark antique wood table …

The bathroom was big, with high ceilings, a tub, and a standing shower too . . . rather regal, don’t you think?

The hallway for the bathroom, and the two bedrooms was very long . . . with pretty trim …

. . . the arched doors and wood floor were perfect and fit right in . . .

We stopped calling the bathroom, “the bathroom” and started calling it “Tipperary.” “Off to Tipperary” we’d say … and start singing . . .

Back to the living room, where for the first time I noticed the dark green, gold, and purple decor … royal colors! A green velvet sofa, the other love seat is dark green with tiny stars all over it! That needlepoint pillow over there on the sofa I got in an antique store, it’s going home with me!

We settled in and began doing what we love the most, going on long walks in the countryside . . . I am never not amazed . . . it’s all so beautiful. This is one place you don’t have to make your own magic, it’s all here waiting for you.

Going into the ancient churches we find on our walks … saying another goodbye to my beloveds . . . we were in time for evensong, all ages singing like angels filling the high ceilings with song.

Eating chunky chips and English peas, enjoying “pie of the day” in Pubby Wubbies . . .

Visiting WWII museums which are everywhere in this part of the country, full of detailed history . . . You meet the nicest people there, all of them as touched by what was done by the greatest generation as we are. The history of British and Americans during the war too… all of it. So connected.

Of course we were watching all the build up for the Queens Jubilee, 70 years on the throne! All of England is in love with dogs. Sometimes I think we’re the only ones here without a dog!!! 

And taking note of the window decor everywhere we went! This is someone’s house … looks like it’s made from cardboard boxes!

This one was painted in a store window…

Another window of someone’s house. The bunting and decorations were everywhere, it was a huge celebration, the Queen had granted a four day holiday, and the entire country had plans.

Her life story filled the newspapers. It’s been so much fun to be here for this celebration!

But THIS was what Joe and I were waiting for … it was our plan! Ray and Paul and Elsie came to stay for 5 glorious days. Rachel had planned it all, and had many lovely surprises waiting for us!

We had a sunny little terrace outside the kitchen door where we could hang clothes on the line and have breakfast at a small table.

Darling girl!

So this was where we went on the Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s 70th year on the throne!

To the beach! Where the boardwalk was lined in these colorful little beach “houses.”

I’ve seen paintings with these little English “bathing huts” of all colors, but never in person, and certainly not in action!

But we could see inside of them, SO CUTE, with little kitchens and sofa beds… people own them but you can rent them out too . . .

This one is Drama Queen! Because it says so!

Lots of them had handpainted signs on them.

This one was all decorated for the Jublee, people put their chairs out on the boardwalk to sit in the sun. I would think SUN would be operative word here, I don’t think these charming huts would look as wonderful on a cold rainy day!

Here they are from the back as we were walking back to the parking lot.

But back to us . . .

Just a gorgeous breezy day for a walk at the beach. How people put their bare skin in that north sea water is beyond me! But this was maybe the very first really wonderful spring day this year and everyone was out to enjoy it!

They brought their books, had tea, and read in the sunshine . . .

It was so festive, flags flew . . .

Bunting snapped in the wind . . .

In the little village where we went for lunch, there were lots of people with the same idea! But Ray had booked us a table so it was easy and delicious!

My toe hurts bet-tee sang out from the roof-tops . . .

We wandered through town, went up to the church,

We went shopping. . .

And took pictures of each other taking pictures of each other! It was a perfect day that ended in a pub as all perfect days in England should do!

But Listen, I hate to tell you this, especially while looking at this adorable pink pub decked out in bunting… but I have to GO.

I mean, REALLY go! This is our last day here, I just didn’t want to leave without telling you, waving goodbye, and giving you an update! But it’s almost 3 pm, we leave here to drive to the ship at 6 tomorrow morning, and I haven’t packed the 2000 suitcases we brought along with us ~ Yikes!  

So I obviously am leaving some things unsaid!!! Like how Rachel got into that window! I mean we had some serious serendipity take place on this trip that I haven’t even told you about. Bookstore serendipity and Castle serendipity. But I promise, I will!

You know, I shall return! This blog is a home away from home! but still home!

Suffice it to say, it’s been every dream come true and more. We love it here. We love home too, so we are always in trouble, quandary wise.

Ray and Paul are coming to Southampton to see us off . . . and they’ll be coming to visit us soon on the island! And . . . should this day ever come, 

Oh, and a quick PS, I’ve had several people write and tell me I should write a book about the English Countryside . . . So I thought I might mention that I have!!! A Fine Romance comes …

Complete with pictures and watercolors and maps . . .

All handwritten, of our first real trip through the English Countryside and it looks like THIS!

ALSO, guess what? The trucks are picking up our new books at the printer TOMORROW … they are done! It’s really happening! We have a holiday in the middle, but they will be on their way to you very soon! And see this above? In honor of Distilled Genius, I’ve been invited to have my art on the cover of  the catalogs that go out to Independent Bookstores!!! Such an honor, I’m thrilled, as I’m sure you can guess! So many nice things already happening with this book! And guess what else? Joe and I are leaving to go out and sign books on August 4th, driving to California, and stopping along the way to see you … I will give you dates and times next time we meet … but so far we’ll be at Titcombs in Sandwich on Cape Cod, at Unlikely Story in MA, at Learned Owl in Hudson Ohio, and the Pairie Path in Wheaton ILL. We are waiting to hear and hope we can go to Rainy Day in Kansas City, to the Tattered Cover in CO, to Kings English in Utah, to Rakestraw Books and Vromans in CA. And in Nov, we’ll be at RJ Julia in CT. I’ll be more specific when I get time. I know this doesn’t half cover the country, but I’m hoping you can meet me halfway! I’d love to see you all . . .

Oh yes we can! So much more to tell you, I hate having to go . . . but I’ll be on the island in a week! It will feel like no time at all … but we are so happy to be ship ahoy tomorrow, coming into NY Harbor past the statue of liberty soon with miles of memories!

This post is done to here. If I have time, I will go back and add some MUSICA and more art, but first! I have to pack!!! Joe is looking at me!! If you leave a comment and it doesn’t go through, it’s because I’m on a boat, and probably don’t have Internet. Don’t give up on me!💖

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5 Responses to SO MANY WORDS, SO LITTLE TIME

  1. Would love to see you in AZ! Tempe has Changing Hands, a marvelous bookstore right around the corner from my home. They also have a PHX location, which is incredible, too!

    • sbranch says:

      We have to get back to the Island in September so we are only going to be able to make a beeline to CA, stopping on the way, to go have my mom’s memorial. Busy busy … meet you most of the way . . . come see me in Pasadena! xoxoxo

  2. I’ll try to hit Pasadena. We are possibly going to LA this summer…if the dates sync up, I’ll be there!!!

  3. Karen M. says:

    Fingers crossed for Vromans in Pasadena! So close, can’t wait!❤️

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