Leap Day Fever

Maybe because it’s Leap Day, and maybe subconsciously I’ve decided it’s a “free” day, but something has come over me . . .  MUSICASaturday Evening Post 1926-03-20

I have the worst spring fever, I’m getting 100% nothing done.

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Jack too, getting nothing done!  We are besotted. We have . . .springfeverIt has taken me until 1:30 in the afternoon to start a post that I’ve been trying to write since I got up this morning. But I couldn’t. Because of this . . .IMG_2176Remembering the apple blossoms in bloom in Ellen Terry’s elegant garden in England, yearning to be there again . . . so I finally decided just to write about the Spring Fever and quit fighting City Hall. The fever has crowded out all the normal thoughts from my head. Now I have the yearning thing and I thought maybe some of you might have it too ~ It’s that time of year! flowersIMG_1017

I was looking through my photos and found this. The very next photo I took after I took the one I used for the cover of A Fine Romance, as we were driving Musicathrough the magical Yorkshire Dales on our way to nowhere, to do absolutely nothing except serendipity as it came.  Playing this music as we wound through some of the most beautiful, wide open, fairy populated countryside I have ever seen, filled with lambs and wildflowers, crumbling stone farmhouses and views of the Dales that went forever, stopping the car every ten seconds because we just had no choice. Sigh. Homesick for it, fevered. . .

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It has taken me since 2014 to turn my diaries . . .

IMG_3848and my box of stories into The Fairy Tale Girl and Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams, and another two years of solid focus for A Fine Romance for the two years before that . . . and suddenly I see the big light at the end of the tunnel. Monday is my day for Englandsetting week’s end goals . . . by the end of this week, unless the spring fever takes me out of the picture entirely, I will have all of the 2017 calendars done too. And all I will have left to do is 16 new pages I want to add to my very first book, Heart of the Home, to celebrate it’s 30th year of existence.  And then I will have kept all the promises I made to myself and off Joe and I will go for a long drive across country, a long luxurious, deadline-free, non-face-down painting, drive across this beautiful country to meet our Girlfriends . . . and then, in the fall, back to England again.flowers

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So . . .I meant to do my work

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Every night Joe and I plan our trip, looking at cottages, and castles. I can’t quit thinking about having tea and cake in beautiful gardens the last time we were there, while making notes so I wouldn’t forget how gorgeous it was . . . so I could tell you.flowersMAS MUSICA, more Vera Lynn, the voice and spirit of England during WWII (in this one you get to hear the soldiers singing with her). It was the perfect musica for winding through stone walls and hedgerows of cow parsley.

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Dinner next to our rented stone cottage near a field of buttercups in the Peak District with Darcy (a peacock) and his friend, a pheasant, who Darcy chased all the way across that field and over the top of the hill while we watched ~ their heads popped up every so often above the wild flowers, they ran like the road runner cartoons and we were laughing ourselves silly.

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And long walks over hill and dale with my darling Joe . . . my own personal in-house pathfinder . . . and cow protector.flowersIMG_5978

Through the ruins of King Richard III’s childhood home, where now wild orchids grow from the stones. I just stopped myself, Were those wild orchids? It doesn’t sound right. So, I turn to page 185 of my diary, there they are, and of course, they aren’t orchids, they’re Fairy Foxgloves!  How could I forget! (And that’s why I keep a diary!)

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And Petey, our wide-eyed mascot, our lucky sailor guy that Joe won in a game when he was 12 and on a ship crossing the Atlantic with his mother, here on the roof of Rachel’s parents’ hen house. I hope I am giving you spring fever too. It’s not the kind of thing one wants to suffer alone.lambs

I mean really. Pink ears? How much more spring fever could there be? Right there, in front of us, all this beauty.  Beauty in Bibury!fairytalesflowersXXX

Walks like this all over England and you never know what you’re going to see. Except for one thing, it will make you cry. sense of beauty; susan branch artflowersIMG_2633

HERE are the wild orchids, in the garden at Stourhead. Acres and acres of this beauty, where we will be having a BYO Picnic Basket party on Sunday, September 18th, 2016 (a September Sunday as Shirley Temple would call it) for anyone who can make it to the English countryside, to Stourhead in Wiltshire, England, on that day. I’ll be there, and so will Joe, and so will Rachel.Green things Growing

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And we’ll have our picnic in the same exact spot we had it back in 2004. This is the diary I kept then . . . in the photo I am trying to feed the ducks you can camerabarely see over Rachel’s leg . . . we had the loveliest day there and I would love to repeat it with you!  If you can’t make it, don’t worry because we will send zillions of photos via the Blog and you’ll feel like you were right there with us! This was the diary that I kept on our trip to England in 2004 . . . it was the inspiration for A Fine Romance . . . my friends liked this one so much, I thought I should do one for them and whoever else might like a trip to England without leaving home!flowersJuly 08 Vineyard 1099

This diary is one of a kind . . . but you can see how A Fine Romance was born.flowersJuly 08 Vineyard 1097

Slightly messier to say the least, it never occurred to me that I might want to show it around very much so I wasn’t as careful as I was with yours, and I still had a problem figuring out what day it was! But for sure, because of it, we will never forget the loveliness.

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So, anyway . . . Sigh, spring fever . . .

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Although this is what our house and garden looks like today . . . a bit on the barren side . . . but still, snow free and sprinkled with snow drops (the flower, not the ice!) . . .

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But a trip through my photos brought me to this . . . a photo from June, when the arbor is covered in roses and twinkle lights . . .

IMG_7198And more spring fever  under the weeping cherry trees . . .

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After all, it’s only three weeks from now!

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spring in our kitchen spring

And there is so much excitement coming up, pretty soon I won’t have time to be feverish . . .  a brand new, very fun WILLARD will be coming to you beginning April 19th (it still takes about four days for them all to go out, so from the 19th to the 22nd to be exact, sign up someone you love for this good surprise) . . . filled with spring fulfillment to take down any fevers, with a new recipe special for Mother’s Day, new book (which will very likely be in your hot little hands by then!), new dream charms (!), and a brand new giveaway that is guaranteed to send you girls to the MOON. I’ve been saving it, as you will see very soon. SO hard to keep secrets!!!

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Good bye for now Darling Girls . . . I will return. And only one week until Downty Deliverance.  All so good. XOXOaint life grand

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369 Responses to Leap Day Fever

  1. Cheryl says:

    Springtime is here in eastern Pennsylvania today but snow by Friday. Maybe this will be the “onion snow”. I’m really itching to get into the garden. Spring fever equals travel fever for me. I’ve seen spring in many places, the Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, France. . . Each has it’s own charm, especially in the countryside and I get homesick for each in its turn. It’s the slower, simpler life that appeals. The chance to take a deep breath and take in the beauty that surrounds us. Somehow we don’t take the time to do that at home. Too busy I guess. We just need an excuse–like a vacation for example. Or a painting workshop. A wonderful excuse for a trip down the road or across the pond.

    Speaking of workshops, I am planning to meet you in Boone, NC in May and then take my new sketchbook journaling skills to the Cotswolds in June. I’ve tried it on my own and had a great time playing around. Can’t wait to try your approach.

    Cheryl

  2. Jane S. in PA says:

    Your diary is utterly charming. The funny thing about journaling is that it becomes a habit and I can’t end my day without it. I’m so looking forward to following you on your next trip to England. The whole flavor of it is just wonderful. xo

    • sbranch says:

      I so agree about the habit of it! Excited to do England and Scotland with everyone along!

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

    good afternoon Susan, Girlfriends. I don’t know if we have spring fever but we sure have been busy around here. spring cleaning mostly, next on the list is the barn and henhouse.. they need cleaning out real bad, especially the henhouse.. PHEWY!!! but the weather has not been exactly cooperating with us on that, we need a sunny and warm day for that job. right now it has been raining off and on for days, we finally got some crystals to put on the roof to get rid of the moss, looks like a green lawn up there so we are hoping the rain will soak down the crystals and soak them deep into the roots of the moss and kill it off once and for all. I have crocuses coming up, and daffodils, and my little shy violets are already up and in bloom, love those little violets and my snowdrops came up and are blooming. managed between rainy days to prune back my roses in the front garden, now I have to try to get the grape arbor trimmed back and trim the rest of the plants out front if the weather cooperates with me. we’re also having skunk wars, the little stinkers are stinking up under the house and believe me waking up to that first thing in the morning is not nice. so I use the Lysol or the Frebreze to get rid of the odor and I even spray some under the front porch to get rid of the skunks.. stinkers!!!! we are getting set up for peep season ( baby chick season) hopefully we will enjoy another busy barnyard this spring and summer. enjoy your spring fever, if you all decide to move and do something, come around here… we will put you to work and Jack too.. he can mouse in the barn and henhouse… LOL!!! have a great evening everyone….. HUGS!!! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      That’s the way to handle Spring fever! Just dive into it! Thank you, Pat!

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        I figure its more sensible to dive in and get the spring cleaning done than to sit around and put it off, besides with “peep” season coming fast I do not have the luxury of sitting around and putting off the work that needs to be done. after a long cold and wet winter that barn needs freshening up as does the henhouse… can’t wait for the warmer weather to get here so I can open them up and really get the fresh air in there.

  4. Linda says:

    It was a delight to take a walk with you through England’s country side. It was so relaxing just strolling seeing the sights. Certainly gave me spring fever and right now, I too, am just thinking about how lovely spring time is right here in my own backyard, with soon to be flowering trees, bushes and seeing the daffodils and tulips already stretching their arms out of the soil. Thanks for taking me along and perhaps my next trip overseas will be England once more.

  5. Mary S. says:

    I have Spring fever, too, Susan!! I was fighting it at first because Spring came much too soon here in CA, but I’ve given into it now!
    Looking at your pics and video from England made me cry, just like every time you wrote from there!!
    I am soooo excited to watch the Downton finale on Sunday, I can hardly stand it!! But even more excited to receive your book!!
    Maybe when you finish your calendars, you can read SONG OF YEARS!! Hope springs eternal!!! 😀

    Love from Mary S. in Fresno, CA

    • sbranch says:

      LOL! How terrible. Yes, so hard for me to read when I am working like this! But never give up.

    • Toni from Sylvania, OH says:

      Hi Susan…Song of Years and the other wonderful books by Beth Streeter Aldrich(A Lantern in Her Hand, Spring Came on Forever, A White Bird Flying) are just DELIGHTFUL if you haven’t read them. Also SOOO romantic:-))) love, Toni

      • sbranch says:

        When I’m working, it’s hard to read after a day of handwriting and painting with the 3-haired brush. I can’t wait to read again! Thank you for your recommendations!

  6. DENA says:

    hi susan so disappointed downtown abbey wasn’t on this week, so waiting to see what happens next , but did really enjoy the shows they did on the manners etc, of the times and the guy that over sees the way they must behave in the making of the show, didn’t realize how complicated it was to just serve or eat dinner, etc. So sad to see the show coming to an end . i have only gotten interested in it a month or so ago from your blogs , so after surgery i watched 1-5, in time for season 6. Till next sunday

    • sbranch says:

      You have caught up! Very good . . . and yes, next Sunday ~ can’t wait! See you Monday!

  7. Nancy says:

    Sigh…..now you’ve done it! 68 degrees, jonquils up, forsythia blooming and your post! I am no good now! Loved the Vera Lynn song so much I ordered a cd! Happy Spring!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m no good either. You will love Vera Lynn. We took her to England with us and listened as we drove through the countryside. She was perfect!

  8. Jo says:

    Trying to get over a COLD, nasty cough going on and on, so last week I too succumbed to Spring (in England) Fever. Went to Sissinghurst’s website, then The Three Chimney’s and finally ended up at gardens I’ve never seen in “real”, just because.
    Thanks for Yorkshire, Spring or Fall or anytime at all as my Anglophilic friends and I believe.
    Thanks for Vera Lynn and everything else in this post.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank goodness for the Internet, for all its problems it has opened the world to us. To hear the birds in Sissinghurst . . . to dream about lunch at the Three Chimney’s . . . and Yorkshire. Oh my. My fever just went up.

  9. Evie Tong says:

    Rabbit Rabbit Susan! I haven’t written in a very long time but you are always in my thoughts … because you forever imprint loveliness in my heart. I decided to wait until you finish that last page of Isles of Dreams to pre-order a copy … such a
    wonderful gift to me for my birthday (April 1)! Downton’s last show is on Sunday and I’ll be anxiously waiting to read your recaps … I always need to see it twice to
    capture all the dialogues and fashions a second time! In San Diego we have all the
    pink blossoms popping profusely; the white pear blossoms finished their season over the Valentine’s weekend. Always … With Much Aloha, Evie

  10. Bonnie L says:

    Thank you so much for posting on the ‘extra’ day….my ‘real’ birthday! I was not able to read it then because I was so busy answering phone calls and text messages, but I was so happy to see you here! I am wondering how I will be able to meet you at one of your cross-country stops, either Iowa or Georgia….hopefully one of these will work! I love the idea of twinkle lights and climbing roses. By the way, I received Season 6 DVD of Downton Abbey and have resisted opening it, I WILL wait! I Will! Still enjoying a few cool days in Florida, but weather people promise warmer weather soon….difficult to say it is spring fever. Oh, there were a couple more Leap Year babies who commented on the FOSB Facebook page, they were both younger than I. So happy to be a Girlfriend!

    • sbranch says:

      Happy Birthday Bonnie! Finally! What are you? Sweet 16? All you Leap Year Babies stay young forever! Happy to have you here Girlfriend!

  11. Marsha Sega says:

    Spring must be close since I had the first garden club meeting today. The kids got marigold, basil, tomato, and cosmos seeds put in seed pods and under grow light. Still too chilly here to get greenhouse going. So ready for “porch sittin’ ” weather.

    • sbranch says:

      Here we have quite a while before we’ll be porch sitting, but on our walk yesterday I got to take off the hat, gloves and scarf about half-way through . . . that’s saying something!

  12. Karen Saunders says:

    Oh kind friend it is easy to get excited about EVERYTHING just reading you’re posts!!! You love England so (and so do I) has it ever crossed your mind to buy a little cottage somewhere and spend some time there every year?? Can you do that? Not be a citizen and own property?? I would so love to do that…because you never have enough time to do things. I’m so excited about your books and you’ve been such a good girl and very diligent keeping your nose to the grindstone. I’m happy you are done and free at last!!! Breath deeply!! My friend has a big Daphne bush by her front door and the scent practically knocks you over and I just stand there and breath the wonderful fragrance in! My favorite time to ride my horse was in the Spring and the Fall…..the Spring everything was new and green and the Fall the air was crisp and the leaves blowy and crunchy… Enjoy your time off!!

    • sbranch says:

      I could do it but for one thing, the kitties. Can’t haul them around and can’t live without them. Ohhhh, Daphne. Mmmm. heaven. xoxo

  13. Brenda Caldwell says:

    I loved your post today! I think I have a chronic case of acute spring fever 🙂
    The only available antidote for it is to kick off my shoes and go walking barefoot in the grass with daisies in my hair 😀

  14. Bonnie in NO LA says:

    You are all going on so about Spring. Personally, I find Spring Fever EXPENSIVE and so avoid it like the plague. Having said that, it’s 79 in New Orleans today and absolutely gorgeous. I have jasmine and sweet olive blooming and I can hardly wait to hit the garden center. Oops. I’m feeling feverish.

    • sbranch says:

      It IS expensive, you are so right. It wants bouquets of daffodils and new curtains! And maybe even a personal trainer! 🙂

  15. Cyndi in NC says:

    I saw daffodils today and had to smile. The day was warm and it put a spring in my step! Another smile is that I’m watching Downton Abbey with my husband from the beginning!! I love it. *S* The England pics reminded me of our wonderful trip. I can see that Petey is getting antsy to go on another adventure!! Lucky for him right?! Hugs to all.

  16. Nicole says:

    This evening in Ontario, Canada we had a blizzard and an ice storm! It was so nice to think of Spring. Your blog warms my heart!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so happy to hear that (not the ice storm, the warming of the heart!). Stay warm, Nicole!

  17. julia walker in Cincy says:

    Dear Susan, Thank you for the lovely English stroll tonight~it’ll make for sweet dreams. I clicked on “James Herriot’s” son’s house tour & can’t wait to tell my 93-year-old friend about it! She was reading his book when I saw her yesterday. I’m almost finished with “A Fine Romance” and will mail to my sister in CT. Do you have Beatrix Potter’s journal/scrapbook? If not, I want to mail my copy to you. It’s wonderful & you should have it. Let me know. Your friend, Julia

    • sbranch says:

      I do have it Julia, you are kind to think of me. Love James Herriot too. Such a lovely read!

  18. Nicoline says:

    Susan,
    Hi, and thank you for a lovely post! The adorable Jack, is always nearby, but I’m sure the sweet Kitty is also!
    Spring does seem far away here in Holland, we do have lovely sunny days, but today it is very cold, with rain, so it’s more like Autumn. But with snow drops in the garden, and a few early grape hyacinths.
    I saw a short piece on the BBC news last week, and it made me think of you and Joe…Why? Because it was about bell ringing, and the idea of turning it from a leisure/hobby into a sport, haha! You told us once that Joe had tried to ring the bells, right?
    I’m SO HAPPY that you have a date for the September picnic!! Its on my calendar, and my husband and I are already so looking forward to it!! We will take the opportunity as an excuse (do we need one, nooooo) to have a lovely week in good old UK, probably driving down to Cornwall for a few days.
    How lovely to have Peter Rabbit on the 50 p coin! I found a link with a little more information, and there will be a few more of her characters on coins later this year! And the new book to be published later, and the icing on the cake, that you and Joe will cross the pond, to visit the UK; what treats to look forward to!!

    theguardian.com/books/2016/feb/29/beatrix-potter-peter-rabbit-50p-coin

    wishing you a lovely day
    Nicoline
    XX

    • sbranch says:

      I’m thinking our picnic might have a little Beatrix Potter flavor to it! We’ll have to toast her birthday. Yes, Joe took a bell ringing class at the church in Stourhead! He loved it. Looks like the new coins are really popular, I’m so happy to see that. Rachel tried to get on line to get them for us, she was number 13,500 in the queue waiting just to get online to get two of 15,000 limited edition! I think we will wait until all the excitement mellows and try again! Thank you Nicoline!! xoxo See you soon!

  19. Martha Rodik says:

    The rabbits are coming! What a beautiful post! Glad to see someone else is doing absolutely nothing either, doesn’t make me feel guilty. Thank you so very much for posting the video! I’ve been watching all of them this morning. As always, my day is made when I read your blog with all the pretty pictures and artwork. Thank you!

  20. Joan says:

    Made reservations for New Hope book signing. It’s a lovely area. We travel to Bucks County from Pittsburgh every year. Try to visit Lambertville and Lahaska close by even if you just have time to drive thru – just beautiful. Can’t wait to meet you. Joan

    • sbranch says:

      Wonderful Joan! I think New Hope must have found extra space, because you are the second person I know to get tickets after we were told they were sold out!!! Love that!

  21. Debbie says:

    Ah Spring is truly right around the corner!

  22. debra sewell says:

    Yes. Spring now matter where you live is intoxicating! You def have Spring Fever and you are very homesick for England. I think its an amazing thing to yearn for a place. That yearning i feel is not about people but smells, the air there, the trees and grass. History trickles into the emotions too, food too as its part of things, then lastly people we meet on purpose or by chance which ties it all together. I have moved to differents states many times, one state twice as i was soo homesick for it. I love to go live diff places and become part of it. Then by 6 months im already yearning to move again. Planning, travel books and dvd’s . i love it. Im saving for a trip to Cornwall.

  23. winnie Nielsen says:

    Thank-you for such a beautiful post. The song of the WWII pilots just made me cry! It was so sweet and lovely just the way it feels when you feel love in Spring. Today would have been my Mom’s 102 birthday and she loved England. She was a Girls Scout leader for over 50 years and one of her cherished friends was a Girl Scout Guide leader in England named Anne. They wrote letters for decades and even had the fun of visiting each other. Somehow your trip recap and that Utube video of the English countryside made me think of my Mom and her friend Anne. I wish she could read this post today as it is the perfect morning read to a woman who loved Spring, England, tea, flowers and lambs!

    Thank-you, Susan!

  24. Eddie Solomons says:

    Hi Susan. I just wanted to introduce myself. I am a 58 year old man who retired early from Savannah Electric and Power Co. They are now owned by Ga. Power and I am so glad not to have to climb polls in all kinds of weather anymore. My wife is Cathy. When she gets home from work,(elementary special ed. teacher) we always look at your charming work and enjoy it very much. When I was a boy, I spent a lot of time with my Grandma. She was the nature of God. I loved her dearly and the things you do are just the sort of things I remember doing with her. She Showed me how to work in a flower garden and all your “do dads” bring her memory back to me so clearly. Bless your sweet heart. I’m sure that there are a lot of us guys out hear who love the simple and free pleasures just as you do. I wanted to say that. Please keep up the good work. I wish you would come to Savannah on your tour. Take care, Eddie

    • sbranch says:

      That was so nice Eddie, you made tears in my eyes. Cathy is a lucky girl. Your Grandma as the “nature of God,” how beautifully said! I had that same Grandma.♥️ Have a wonderful day, hugs to you both. xoxo Susan

      • Jane Alexander says:

        My Granny Holt was the same way. I spent my summers with her and my Aunt Iboo in Milan Tennessee. Perhaps those old sweet memories are some of the reasons you, Susan, delight all of us with your words and pictures.

    • EsSuzy says:

      Eddie, you and your wife need to come to Fox Tale Book shoppe in Woodstock. It is not so very far away! I’ll meet y’all there!

  25. Michelle says:

    Your photos of England make me homesick for a place I’ve never been! My heart aches for country lanes and old buildings and cemeteries with ancient tombstones so old, you can no longer read the dates, and fuzzy shite sheep dotting the hillsides..all of it! I have read A Fine Romance four times and it never gets old! It will be the one book on my shelf with slightly tattered edges from all of the extra love! I’m saving my pennies and making a plan! Thank you for being a constant source of inspiration! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so happy you are saving your pennies. You deserve this!!! And it will be just as you imagine. I’m as excited for you as I am for me!

    • Carrie says:

      Hi Michelle,

      There is a wonderful film, “84, Charing Cross Road,” starring the inimitable Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins. youtube.com/watch?v=iPV8sja0dsg. It is a movie for those who dream of England.

      One of the quotes:

      “I remember years ago a guy I knew told me that people going to England find exactly what they go looking for. I said I’d go looking for the England of English Literature, and he nodded and said: ‘It’s there.'”

      ― Helene Hanff, 84, Charing Cross Road

      All the best with your plans to visit England but be prepared, England intoxicates its visitors. It is the very best of addictions. 🇬🇧

  26. paula ann fetherston says:

    Speaking of gloves in the last blog, I wanted to tell you I am bringing back gloves. I couldn’t resist a gorgeous pair of white kids found in a Memphis antique store for $5. I used to wear white kid gloves in high school and college and love how elegant they made me feel. I want that again. So, go find a pair and help me bring them back. It only takes one or two to brave the initial reaction and the next thing you know, it has caught on!

    • sbranch says:

      It would certainly help in the opening of public doors, I usually use my sleeve!

      • Mary in Phoenix says:

        Of course there will be gloves for guests to don at your benefit tea in Prescott Arizona ♥ “We’ll be as jolly as you like.” 🙂

      • CarolK (cent'l NJ) says:

        I never stopped wearing cotton gloves every since my sister and I got new pairs each Easter to go with new dresses and Baby Janes. I always carry a pair in my jacket. This way your hands are protected from icky things in public places. When I was a Kelly Girl back in the 90s it was mandatory to wear white gloves when going on assignments. Loved that.

  27. CarolK (cent'l NJ) says:

    For sure Life IS Grand especially when we have Spring to look forward to. I’m thinking of fluffy baby chicks and how I’d love to have a flock of them running around in my garden just scratching in the dirt with their tiny feet. Maybe this is the year we will finally spring for some. Thank you for letting us peek at your special diary. You’re so sweet to do that.
    C-O-M-E O-N S-P-R-I-N-G!!!

  28. Annie in IL says:

    Pat Addison mentioned trimming roses, and this reminded me that in the new Breck’s catalog yesterday is a selection of four DOWNTON roses. There is Pretty Lady Rose, Violet’s Pride, Edith’s Darling which is a beautiful ‘Marigold’ shade, and Anna’s promise. I’m going to order at least two; would get them all but don’t have space! Got to have Violet’s pride which of course, is a lovely shade of lavender or lilac, actually.

  29. The SLOW sign on Britain’s road is wasted on me as I’d probably have to speed up to go slow. Spring fever as seen through your eyes is lovely; here it’s snowing, high winds and “absolutely diabolical” and I still have to get dressed and head to the barn for morning chores.
    The anxiety of trip build-up is marvelous and so very glad you kept journals. Palm Sunday and Spring arrive on the same day this year…waiting, waiting, waiting!

  30. Kathy Madigan (California) says:

    Thanks to you, I’m journaling again and using your planner.

  31. Margaret ladd says:

    I love england also. I’m going in fall to Devon and Dorset. Maybe we will see you in the gardens. I love the baby sheep and have taken so many pictures of them on my trips there I could wall paper a room. Last spring we were in the peak district with Such lovely scenery . I loved your book. A fine Romance…. and had been to many of the places. I also did your recipes of coronation chicken and sticky toffee…..both were greAt.

  32. Kathie says:

    I love Vera Lynn! Thanks so much for reminding us of her. Vera Lynn, Foyle’s War, Island at War, etc.; precious stories of bravery and sacrifice. Bless all those who paid the ultimate price to keep freedom safe. I had to spend the past week watching ALL of Downton Abby from the very start in preparation for the grand finale coming up. It was very pleasant! It looks like PBS will do the same thing starting tomorrow. I might just tune in again…..can one have too much Downton? Possibly. Spring will spring. We’ve had our first buttercups here but in this high desert, it’s a fleeting thing. There’ve been lovely rains this winter, though, so the farmers are optimistic (if that’s at all possible). I’m going to plant an early garden this year, for a change; legumes to help the soil, then, corn, then beans and squash, one after the other. Haven’t done this for years, so wish us luck. You’ll be enjoying warm weather, soon, I hope. Take care of that “fever”. Drink lots of liquids, rest and dream……

  33. Cindy says:

    One quick question….which I hope hasn’t already been asked in previous posts! That is, how did Petey’s shoes and outfit ever remain in such pristine condition over the years??? As I recall from having three boys of my own, 12-yr old boys are not known for wrapping treasures in tissue paper to save for the future!

    • sbranch says:

      Joe had him stashed away for many years. At 12 he was too old to play with it, so he just put it away for something like 40 years, and one day be brought it out to show me.

  34. Sonya Wiley says:

    hi Susan, nice to see your post today; i hope to visit England someday; i want to see where my father was stationed in WWII as i enjoyed his stories of going over and coming back on the Queens, shaking Glenn Miller’s hand and helping him unload, seeing the Royal Family at a distance, ect. as well as the not so great moments. Is it possible to order maps like i see in one of your photos? So looking forward to your new book!

    • sbranch says:

      Which map are you speaking of Sonya? Love the story about your dad!

      • Gill says:

        Maybe Sonya means the Ordnance Survey map, which are available from Amazon.

        • sbranch says:

          Yes, must be the one we had spread on the dinner table outside in the Peak District. That is the “Explorer” Ordnance Survey map. Joe loves the detail in them and says they are very reliable,

      • sonya says:

        I see maps in the photo where you’re having dinner outside of your rented cottage. They look nice and big; and easy to read. I have to mention i’ve been binge watching Doc Martin; Cornwall has the most gorgeous scenery i have ever seen!!!

  35. diana from ancaster says:

    after last night’s snowstorm, my heart aches for spring….
    reading this latest post has re-awakened my longing to go to Scotland…not sure why. but best not to question it.

  36. Cindy K.Beranek says:

    Dear Sweet Sue and Patient Joe, HI AND THANKYOU FOR THE SPRING FEVER POST!!!!!!!!!!!! All the pictures are LOVELY,Jack is SO CUTE !!!!!!!!!! PLEASE HUG HIM FOR ME!!!!!!!!!!! I LONG TO GO TO ENGLAND some day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But for now I read “A Fine Romance” when I want to travel there!!!!!!!!!!!! I was just reading the pages yesterday that you put inthis post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I must have Spring Fever.I ordered new curtains for our bedroom today!!! Glad all the Leap Day people could celebrate their Birthday on Feb. 29!!!!!!!!!!!! Leap Day 2012 has a special memory I will never forget! I was driving down a country road about 10 mim. from home when I had a panic-dizzy spell that made my field of vision spin in circles real fast! I got safely pulled over and turned of the car. A Gentleman two cars behind me stopped to help me!!!!!!!!!!! I thanked him and he followed me to a safe place to wait for friends to drive me and my car home. I THANK THE LORD FOR SENDING A GENTLE STRANGER to help me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Every day I wake up is A GIFT FROM THE LORD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I REALLY THANKYOU FOR YOUR BLOG AND ALL OF THE BEAUTIFUL BOOKS TO READ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Since that day it took months to learn to drive again. I just want to encourage others with limitations that every day is a GIFT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Cindy, take care of yourself, the world needs lots of you! Kitty hugs back to you!

  37. Virginia says:

    I waited all day to catch up with the conversation here–my reward for finishing my work for the day. Your posts are so inspiring–love the words, the art, the photos, and all the good things they bring out of people.

    I will never get out of bed at 4am like you but your books and blog have inspired me to work on photo albums of my trips to England. I can’t draw but it has been so much fun to organize my photos and write what I remember most about each place. And it helps soothe the coming Downton-less-ness.

    I am obsessed with ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ and went to Yorkshire for ten days a few years ago. I absolutely had to go. We went to Thirsk where ‘James Herriott’ was a vet and also to Askrigg where they filmed the TV series. Went to the pub where they filmed and they let me behind the bar to call ‘Time, Gentlemen!’. They were so nice–didn’t seem to think I was crazy at all!

    Those Dales are so beautiful. It looks unchanged from centuries ago. The stone houses, the sheep, the wildflowers, the many streams, the hills–and dales of course 🙂 and everyone so, so nice.

  38. Cindy Tuning says:

    Well,thank you. That was a much needed treat. Still cold and snowy here in WNY and last night drove through a treacherous ice storm culminating in a 28 car pile up on the way home from a hockey game. We have taken three trips to England but it was always to visit family. I was watching Rick Steves on PBS a few days ago traveling in Bath and York. THAT’s the kind of trip I want…the kind of trip you have taken. Just strike out on our own going our own way. We had talked about going again in Aug. and Sept as we always wanted to see the Tatoo at Edinburg Castle which is in Aug. Instead we are going to Hawaii as my youngest sailor daughter is making Chief and that’s when the ceremony is. No way I can pass that up. Even with my intense fear of flying, my immense pride in her accomplishment takes over. We’ll layover in San Diego a few days to break it up because Buffalo to Honolulu is just too long to hold my breath!!! Looking forward to all the pictures you’ll be taking of your next well deserved adventures and seeing you again in Hudson,Ohio at The Learned Owl book signing. Downton Day minus 4 and counting!! I saw a movie on DVD last week….” Young Victoria” which was wonderful and when I watched the credits I understood why. It was written by Julian Fellows.

    • sbranch says:

      No wonder I loved that movie so much! Oh you will LOVE Hawaii. It’s such a different sort of place. Congratulations on your brilliant daughter!

  39. Carolyn says:

    Your photos make me homesick for England–and I haven’t been yet! Spring is in the air! I hope spring arrives soon in your neck of the woods. The dogs are snuffling every new blade of grass and daffodil here in our neighborhood. They have spring fever too!

  40. Nor Azlina Lop says:

    Hi Susan, thank you for the delightful trip to England. I lived there from 1977 -1982 in Norwich and Leeds.When you mentioned the Dales and the countryside I feel giddy all over again. Your book ‘A Fine Romance’ is one of my favourite books in my collection. Whenever I dream of England, your book keeps me company. I look forward to your next trip and just cannot wait to follow along. Best wishes.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank You so much Nor . . . you are very lucky to have had that experience! We are so looking forward to taking everyone along with us on our next trip. Really does make it more fun!

  41. Marime Gonzalez Cuenca says:

    Here I am in northen Spain laughing alone, as I was sighing before I saw the caption of the picture in which you were sighing too. Your post are sooooo lovely!!

  42. Rebecca Hein says:

    Downty deliverance. Self explanatory:
    huffingtonpost.com/lauren-daley/8-ways-to-fill-the-void-o_b_9331314.html

  43. Anthea Milton says:

    Hello Susan,
    Once again I cried through your post, Vera Lynn, the planes, Stourhead, where we often used to take our children as we belonged to the National Trust, Spring, the thought of those sparkling Spring days where anything seems possible….the list goes on. I am sitting looking out at rain, again, I think its forecast for the next ten days! But I do have a blossom tree in the garden and its out with a cloud of pink, and where it somehow seeded itself and changed colour, a cloud of white next to it.
    I seem to cry a lot these days, my youngest is getting married this year and it seems to also have the effect when I think of all there is to do before August, and that she will officially be leaving our name, tears again.
    I also miss the chirping birds that we had in Britain, we dont seem to get the dawn chorus out here in WA, or the bluebells, we would walk through woods of bluebells in a local arburateum {might have spelt that wrong!}, with daffodil clumps in between, so glorious, nature is so uplifting and so beautiful it hurts the soul.
    Hope everyone whether in US or UK or places in between are enjoying the budding of new life from the earth, what a miracle.

    PS….have you ever watched Foyle’s War?, netflix, Britain in the war, scenery and dresses to die for.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh yes, more than once on Foyle’s War. I would cry if I were you too. I cry and I don’t even have a daughter getting married. But everything beautiful makes me cry! So nice to hear from you, Anthea.

      • Anthea Milton says:

        I forgot you are a crier too, maybe its our age, but I feel so nostalgic this year. l love WA, I love its mountains with their snowy peaks and from where I live we are between the Cascades and the Olympics, the sea, the ferries, the wide open skies. But I also really miss the coastal footpath that goes around UK, the chirping birds, the cottage gardens, the stone cottages, and especially the history and its rich heritage where you can visit a landmark and think, Henry the Eigth walked here too!!!!!
        By the way, I see no book signings in Washington!!!

        • sbranch says:

          At twelve I lay in my bed at the end of Gone With the Wind, crying so hard, I couldn’t go to the dinner table! 🙂 We tried for Washington, but it just didn’t seem we could get it done, so perhaps next time. We really wanted to go there because it’s part of the country Joe has never seen.

  44. Darla Unger says:

    Your diary could not be cuter!!!!

  45. You don’t suffer alone Susan! I’m craving warm sun and green growing grass something fierce this year.

    Your posts and book make me ache for England like it’s an old friend. And I’ve never been there….except in my dreams.
    Someday.
    Blessings and keep thinking Springy thoughts. xoxo

  46. Rosemary Monk says:

    Hello Susan,
    I’m trying to catch up on my everything after being away on a mission trip with members of my church. I just loved your leap day post, it was so wonderful, funny, warm–as always! Your posts are such treats for my eyes, the artwork, photos, commentary, always make me smile. Thank you for your beauty, your passion, your humor, your posts are something I always look forward to. So, I want to share with you–and everyone–something I read about yesterday. The NY Public Library has just released 2,000 (that’s right 2K) beautiful turn of the century art posters for anyone to download and use–free! They’re apparently “out of copyright” and the NYPL decided we could all use more beauty in our lives. ““No permission required, no hoops to jump through: just go forth and reuse!” quoth the NYPL. You’ll recognize some of the posters, they’re well-known. I’m going to try and paste the link to the Library’s page. If it doesn’t work, google the Library, I’m sure you’ll find the page. If not, lemme know and I’ll try to help. So, enjoy–here’s the link, I hope! digitalcollections.nypl.org/collections/turn-of-the-century-posters#/?tab=about

  47. jane says:

    Hi Susan – I had to share a couple of things with you and your dear readers. First, our local yarn shop’s blog yesterday showed two baby lambs on a farm where they get yarn. The lambs were named KNIT and PURL! How cute is that!? Also, there is a blog which is a local wholesale flower farm called FLORET. It is one of the loveliest, most informative blogs ever. The owner has been nominated by Better HOmes and Gardens for a blog award and she has also been honored by Martha Stewart. Check it out! But only when you have plenty of time to absorb so much information about flower growing, seeds, dahlias, my beloved sweet peas, and on and on. So well done and eye candy extraordinaire . Xoxo

  48. Cindy Costanzo says:

    Good morning, Susan. I was given A Fine Romance for Christmas. I am reading it very slowly because I am trying to soak in the English countryside. It has been my hearts desire to visit England for a long time. My husband has said we will someday and so I have hope. So thank you for the little bits of England I get each day from your book and blog (I also watch an episode of Escape to the Country on YouTube every morning) and for the ideas of places to visit. However, no spring fever here (northern CA) because we are having 70’s weather and have five new baby lambs! We need rain so I want winter to linger a bit longer. Blessings…Cindy

  49. Therese says:

    Spring has not reached upstate NY yet but I have the sewing bug so I know it’s almost here! –got out my jiffy sundress pattern and I’m going through my fabric hoard (joy!)
    Thank you, Susan, for another breathtakingly lovely post.
    Everything you share is such a gift.
    I send all my love to you and the girlfriends.

  50. So much loveliness, dear Susan! There is so much to look forward to in the coming months, as we hop from one sweet thing to another. Heartfelt thanks for gathering such a delightful group of kindred spirits here, Susan! ♡
    Warm hugs!
    Love,
    Dawn (in Illinois)
    ♡♡

  51. LINDA JUNE says:

    Another inspiring blog! Winter hardly hit the Puget Sound area this season, except for a fair amount of rain (and flooding in the country areas) and wind. Don’t remember seeing even one snowflake. But we, like you, are looking forward to spring and those wonderful flowers that you photograph and paint so well. Thanks for inspiring us all to have more spring in our step and picnic baskets at the ready for those rare, warm, blue-skied days of SPRING!

  52. Rachel in PA says:

    Hello Susan!
    I enjoy your posts so much, especially when you post pictures of England. It’s a place I’ve been wishing (and saving!) to go for many years and I believe my husband and I are finally going this fall. My only dilemma is how to fit all of the places I want to see in 2 weeks! I’ve been doing so much research hoping to narrow the field, but just the opposite is happening. I know this is a silly question as you don’t know me, but what would you recommend as the top 3 places to visit and/or do? Like many of the girlfriends I love tea, walking, reading, gardening, history, cooking and the sea. I would greatly appreciate your thoughts. I loved a Fine Romance and have found lots of inspiration within its pages.
    Thank you,
    Rachel

    • sbranch says:

      I would rent a house in the country and stay there the entire two weeks, that way none of your precious time is spent packing and unpacking and moving to new places. You could plan an overnight in one of the gorgeous country hotels they have if you decide to make a long car trip somewhere, but keep your home base. Choosing that one place is the dilemma, but remember, all of it is new to you, all of it is gorgeous, historical, smothered in gardens and castles, so you will be happy no matter what. Kent, lower right of London (the “Garden of England”), is jammed packed with historical interesting places. Sissinghurst, Scotney Castle, Churchill’s “Chartwell,” Hever Castle (Anne Boleyn), Bateman’s, Charleston. Everything you would want for a fulfilling and unforgettable two weeks . . . see page 84 in AFR and you’ll see what I mean. Charming Smallhythe Place is there too. Near Kent is Sussex, more wonderfulness and the sea. Another famously gorgeous area is the Cotswolds. Bibury is there. And then the Lake District. I would choose only one and then do day trips out and about.

      • Rachel in PA says:

        Your advice is such a help. My husband and I have been debating choosing one area as a home base, or traveling throughout the country. I was already leaning towards choosing a home base and your advice has solidified that choice. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my question. Have a lovely weekend!

  53. Sharrie says:

    Not to rush things after Downton, but there is an intriguing new version of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” on March 13,14 on Lifetime in the States.

    I’ve was checking out the the behind-the-scenes video of the set design: youtu.be/uleAGBN7HAQ

  54. Kathy O'Connor says:

    I have enjoyed all that you have published and shared over the years. Your gifts are many and I am thankful for all that you share with us. I wish you much success continued success in all that you do Susan. You have brought enjoyment, friendship, amazing recipes, wonderful journeys, your beautiful artwork and photos and soooo much more into our lives. I have bought your books since the beginning and was sooooo thrilled when I finally found you on line.
    I want to inquire about the book Girlfriends Forever . I have a copy and have given the book to friends over the years. I am interested in purchasing more and have not had any luck locating the book. I believe you will be re releasing a new edition in the future. Is that true? If so, I am anxious to read it and thank you very much Susan.

    • sbranch says:

      We might do that next year . . . I’ll be sure to let you know Kathy, and thank you so much for all of your kind words!

      • Kathy O'Connor says:

        You are welcome …Thank You So Very Much. I look forward to reading & cherishing, as I have all of these years, all of your beautiful babies that you share. Have a wonderful voyage. I look forward to reading your posts.

  55. Perfect…this is just what I needed. We had a snow storm last night bringing 4 new inches of snow. I am ready for Spring too.
    xx oo
    Carla

  56. Asha says:

    Hi Susan: Wonderful blog as always! I have a favor to ask. I am in desperate need of a Spring background on my computer desktop. I have looked every day at your free offerings but still see Winter(I currently have the cottage with the “smoke” peace coming out of the chimney). I love it but need a little Spring every time I log on. Could you ask your lovely staff to update it? It would make me so happy to have one of your backgrounds. Thank you so much! The LAST DA this Sunday! Sighhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! 🙂

  57. KarenP. (Wisconsin) says:

    Oh my….tears and happiness abound! Mr. Fellowes has left us well satisfied. Can’t wait for your commentary tomorrow!!! So exciting to be able to share this experience with you and our girlfriends!! xoxo

  58. Patsy in Nixa, MO says:

    After watching the clip of Maggie Smith, I’m convinced that she IS Violet. So above us all.

    And did you notice that Mary only became nice to Edith when she found out that Edith now trumps her in the world of royal titles and estates? I was totally surprised that Mary set up the meeting with Bertie. Not like her at all.

    • sbranch says:

      Wit personified. She just can’t help it. How about that Mary let Edith be the queen of the may for her wedding and didn’t try to trump her by telling her baby news. That was pretty amazing too.

  59. Linda C. says:

    Wonderful recap Susan . . .
    Thank You !!!

    Linda C. of So Cal : )

  60. Karen Stefanelli says:

    Hi Susan,

    I could not wait to see what you had to say about the last show…you are truly so funny! The finale was just wonderful! You are right, where are we going to find that beautiful elegance now? So sad to see it end.

  61. Ladyheartwell in Berkeley Springs WV says:

    Oh, Susan!

    How I loved the last episode of Downton Abbey!!! Everyone’s story came together so wonderfully that I had to purchase the last two seasons on Blue-Ray; already have the first four. Each season is so special, but nothing can compare with the last two hours!!

    It all reminded me of how my darling teenage sweetheart and I were able to be reunited after both our spouses passed away–fifty years later, no less! It’s wonderful to be in love again!! The joy of our renewed love is still beyond my belief even though we’ve been married for fifteen months already. God must surely still be smiling at His accomplishment in our lives. Now we are planning a trip to beautiful lush England during the merry month of May 2017 and returning on the Queen Mary 2; an enchanting way to adjust to the time changes on the way back.

    Remember how you encouraged me and my late husband to take the plunge and take the trans-Atlantic voyage from Southhampton to New York on the Queen Mary 2 in 2013? It was SOOO special and the trip was the last great memory of his life.

    I hope your upcoming trips will leave you and Joe with many happy memories that will last forever. All of us will want to read another book! The Lord has truly blessed you!!

    With appreciation
    Karen Ruth Ullom

    • sbranch says:

      I do remember, and I remember that you married your teenage sweetheart and I’m thrilled to hear how happy you are, and that the two of you are going to England. The Lord has truly blessed us both, Karen. Thank you for saying hello, you have such a happy story!

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