Well, I’m going for it. MUSICA 🎵👏All day yesterday I tried to get photos to come from my iPhoto to my blog, and all I managed to get were these ten, and, despite turning computer on and off girlartand using all the computer tricks I know (swearing, begging and bribery), one hundred percent zero came up this morning! So I give up. Ten photos still sounds like a lot, but I have to say, there is so much more I wanted to share with you. Walks in the countryside, packing our Picnic. and so MANY up-close and personal photos of our wonderful Girlfriends and their families who joined us … It’s okay, we are going to a little town today that supposedly has computer help, and also, we’ll be moving along at the end of the week, and who KNOWS what we’ll get when we do. Maybe I should be celebrating getting this far!  Glass half-full and all that rot! But anyway, I wanted to say Hello, give you these few photos, and say


This is Rachel, me, and Siobhan, reunited at Stourhead, and toasting the hot air balloons that appeared out of nowhere,  that we were just SURE could see us from their gondolas!magicmagic

And we got it! Magic above the church lawn, just across from our cottage . . . hot air balloons over the 13th century church, lovely juxtaposition of old and older. We all agreed Fairy2you couldn’t get us up in one, so we toasted their crazy bravery and enjoyed every moment of their flight. Joe and I left the Queen Mary 2 last Friday (I spoke on board! It was scary! But people were so nice! And books sold out! Photos are, grrr, trapped! MIA!), and traveled the lovely country roads to our cottage in this beautiful amazing place called Stourhead . . . on Saturday morning, Siobhan came, then Paul and Rachel.

dinner flowers

Paul brought these flowers and wine and Prosecco . . . to tell you the truth, they all brought everything. Flakey English salt, tiny little sausages, six kinds of crisps (potato chips in English), olives and cheese and pork pies . . . Siobhan made her amazing gluten-free bread dishes to match the flowersand apple jelly ~ we had it for breakfast with yummy fennel tea. Rachel brought a Plum Crumble with British double-thick spooning cream . . . I wish I could show you the dinner we made . . . butterflied roast chicken with rosemary from Siobhan’s garden, crisp roasted potatoes with homegrown onions, raw veggie salad ~ while at the same time we were boiling potatoes and chopping celery for our Picnic potato salad, making tomato and mozzarella salad, slicing Ray’s meatloaf and icing down the pear cider. It was a regular Big Chill night in Stourhead. AND, believe it or not, our cottage came complete with a set of Johnson Brothers Rose Chintz dishes! How did they know?  So our table looked beautiful and the next day we piled plates into our basket and took them to the Picnic. During dinner, Paul put on a cd of the most wonderful  John Garth music, I hope you are listening to it right now!

cslyr8oxeaqiiphLater on we toasted the full Harvest moon, sharing the moment with all of you! Same moon for all of us, the world over!The moon belongs to everyone artwork Susan Branch

gate to gardens of stourhead

And finally the big day arrived, Sunday dawned bright, blue and sunny . . . the day we’d been planning since last February . . . our BYO Picnic Basket Party! Where the question would finally be answered, “Would anyone be Painting Beatrixthere besides us?” Either way, we knew we’d have a wonderful time! A picnic is a picnic, after all, totally a win-win, but we were really hoping to meet people we’ve only known through the Blog, Facebook and Twitter ~ our faraway friends. We knew we had three important things to remember in a toast. First off, we wanted to make a little salute to Capability Brown . . . who designed this dynamic garden at Stourhead ~ it’s the 300th Anniversary of his birth! And of course, it’s our darling Beatrix Potter’s 150th Birthday Anniversary this year . . . and we also wanted to raise our glasses to missing friends, to all of you, to Deb in Wales, and especially our Twitter Girlfriend Karen💖.a gardenimg_0668I could almost taste the fragrance of fresh-mown grass as everyone began arriving to the constant refrain of wood pigeons cooing musically, “My-toe-huts-Bettee.” Families and friends, husbands, sisters, and children, expats, newlyweds, Birthday Girls, and 50th wedding-anniversary-celebrators were here ~ counting everyone we had 55! It was a sit in! You can see Siobhan way out there in the hat, and Ray is closer, in the middle, kneeling in a blue dress with her white hair. We think it was about 40% Americans.  Can you believe this setting?  I know! It’s amazing. I promise not one speck of Photoshop was used in the preparation of this blog! (Actually it never is, but this one is especially hard to believe! You would think, “Let’s put a grass bridge here, add a lake, pop in some ducks, frame it all with lawn and trees, add Apollo’s Temple in the way back, film Pride and Prejudice here, and voila!”) img_6621

We were lucky because just as the sun was getting a little too bright and warm for comfort, it dipped behind some English clouds and stayed there, making it perfect sweater weather for the rest of the day! We wandered from blanket to blanket visiting and sharing food (and I have photos of all of it 😜!).  Some people brought books for me to sign and yes, there were gifts, like this delicious homemade muffin these little dolls were giving me . . . that’s Siobhan in the hat behind them, looks like she is telling a good story . . . and that’s Paul there on the stool, in his British picnic finery.img_6666

Petey and Mini JackOur Blog Girlfriend, Nicoline, came from the Netherlands with her husband Gabriel, and brought Petey’s brother with them! We were laughing because they thought he was scary looking and we think ours is too!  We don’t like to have them in the room with us while we sleep! But we both brought them with us anyway!friendsimg_0679

Here we are, class of 2016, assembled in this magical place like a fairy tale come true . . . I know some of you will recognize some of them.  It’s impossible, but here we are, from Colorado, Salt Lake City, and Oregon, from Oxford, Cheshire, York and Kent, Scotland and Wales and Holland, and all over the place!  It’s a fact!words fairytale dream

img_6652See that smile on me? It never left my face, my cheeks ached (in the very best way) at the end of this day! Here I am with our Girlfriend Janette (who made the most darling little book bags for everyone) ~ this is how it was, blanket-to-blanket, sitting, eating, and gabbing for Englandhours . . . I have so many more photos that I can’t access right now, pictures of us toasting, of Rachel handing out the freshly baked Sugar Moon salted caramel (and some even gluten-free), homemade Brownies she made for everyone! . . . there are pictures of cute quilts, tea sets, and picnic baskets, of Ann and Alan, Carrie and Stuart, Heather, Gabi, Susan and Bob, Morwenna, Cadie, Joann and Rod, englandnames you recognize if you’ve hung around here long enough! Kindred spirits all, Bernie, Karen and Rosie, Katrina, Paula and Burnell, Olivia, and Joy were all there . . .  to name a few . . . I’ll have to save these photos for another time.

Mad at this computer. It has now lost any good will I ever had for it ~ it won’t let me have pictures, and as of now, it has fully deleted this post twice. And yet, I have not killed it. I have outsmarted it, and saved it all . . . it’s tricking me right now, pretending to be okay, but the moment I press “save draft” it will try to delete everything. SO, if you actually do see this, it will be a miracle. Which we believe in don’t we? So let’s see what happens. Bye for now dearest ones! Thank you for traveling with us! ❌⭕️

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Fairy2Sailing away on the Queen Mary 2 . . . heading on board . . .img_3852

Up the gangplank we go! We look so normal here, but we are actually beside ourselves!


Put everything down for a photo op . . .  So excited, it’s truly a thrill.


Was a warm day, much prettier than the last time we sailed . . . bluer skies, and schooners in the harbor!


Seems they put on the show just for us!  Love this view!

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”


Of course, straight to the Chart Room for old time’s sake . . . a cup of cheer, and a toast to smooth sailing! While wearing seasick bracelets and still in port. Always careful.


Off we go, at sea, and sunset from our room . . . on our way to Halifax, Nova Scotia, which is where we are right now. Which is why I have a bit of connection, but barely, just enough to do this post!!! Yay!


Zee bed in zee cocoon… is SOOOO comfy!!! Better than it looks even! Got up at 9 am this morning. This is an unheard of event. It must be the sea air, or maybe the late nights!


First thing in the morning, tea in our own cups . . .


The lovely Princess Grill . . . our round table for the crossing seats six. The other two couples are both from England, one from Kent, and the other from Yorkshire, and so fun and nice, we were the last table to leave the dining room last night!


Stanley, the head waiter, usually doesn’t prepare or flame the food . . . but in honor of the sweet potato I special ordered at lunch (to be served at dinner), which came out the size of someone’s head, he had to do it for the laugh!


Which he definitely got! Yes, that’s it in the pan. Usually when they do this, it’s quite a bit fancier!img_3927

So funny! He cut me off a couple of slices.  I hope he saved the rest!

Fri, sat 9 sept

But hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!


I’m reading a wonderful book! Getting me in the mood for the English countryside!

Well girls, I personally could go on all day, but I think that’s it and I should consider this done and not push my luck . . . it took me about 4 hours for this teeny little post, and maybe all the minutes I was allowed, but I wanted you to see the beginning … maybe when we get to sea for real, I’ll be able to do more. I’ll try!! But until then, I’m thinking of you…writing everything down and taking millions of pictures, and when I can show them, I will . . . ❤️

XOXO Your girlfriend, Susan (p.s. we arrive in England on Sept. 16.)


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