Beatrix Potter & Me, Part 2

Back to Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm we go ~ is everybody ready?  Grab your galoshes, you’re going to need them!  It’s our second visit in a week — you knew I would have to go back!

Remember how gorgeous the sky was on the first day we found our way to Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm?  It wasn’t like that the second time . . . here it was on June 7, over the Lake District, dark, rainy, and moody.  Musica?  Yes.

Before we left the Lake District, I needed one more look at Castle Cottage (the light beige house above) where Beatrix lived happily-ever-after with her husband Willie for thirty years.  The house is privately owned now so this was as close as I wanted to get, but there it was, sweet and comfortable-looking,  just across the meadow from Hill Top.  (Can you imagine living in the same house where Beatrix Potter lived for thirty years? Early mornings in her kitchen with only the sound of birds and baaaing of lambs? Talk about “House of Creativity!”)

It still felt funny that we could just drive here.  Beatrix Potter has been so far away from me for so long, almost on another planet.  But shockingly, like any other place, like any old McDonald’s on the corner, you can drive right up, put on your blinker, turn in, and park.  Go through a little gate, walk up a path and there it is!  Where it’s been for over a hundred years, with visitors just like me, coming and going.

I didn’t get a ticket to go into the house this time because I have that vision permanently pressed into my heart.  I will never forget looking at the view through the wavy old glass of her bedroom window, the same ripply view of hills and green and cottages she saw all those years ago.  But there were a couple of things I needed to do before we left —  I had unfinished business and one more lucky bit of discovery.  As I was walking through the rainy garden for the last time I noticed little wet side-path I hadn’t seen before.  At the end there was a green door in the garden wall.  I went to investigate.  I didn’t want to miss anything.

I pushed the door open slowly, making sure I wasn’t going somewhere I shouldn’t — then ducked under the dripping lilac to go inside.  It led to the walled vegetable garden in front of the house, and gave me a slightly different perspective on the house. I was inside the iron gate for the first time.  All alone, in the rain, in Beatrix Potter’s garden.♥  (I hope you can feel the thrills and chills running through me at that moment.)

Of course, Peter Rabbit was bound to get in trouble in this neck of the woods!  Such springtime temptation; rhubarb patch and strawberries too.

There were little details I couldn’t see from the other side of the iron gate, like this recess in the rock wall.  It’s called a “bee-bole” ~ it’s made for sheltering bee skeps like this charming white box hive that Beatrix had “fixed up” — she also painted it into The Tale of Jemima Puddle Duck — later I painted it into the journal I kept of this visit. (You would have enjoyed watching me juggle camera, umbrella, hood on rain coat, purse and tears while taking photos.)

I also came back to get the name of the roses climbing over the front of the house.  I asked the person at the door but she didn’t know.  Which surprised me . . . they must get asked that question two-hundred times a day because those roses smell like heaven.  Don’t inquiring minds want to know?  So they can grow them all over their barn?  Or something?  So I emailed the gardener, and guess what, he didn’t know either!  They must be very old.  My blog girlfriends thought maybe Zephirine Drouhin.

Here they are, up close.  They also look a little David Austinish with so many lovely petals, they smell like David Austin roses too, really strong, but the gardener called them cabbage roses.

The other thing I had to do was to take a photo of my miniature Beatrix Potter book (which I had packed and brought along for this very moment) as it soaked up some local ambiance, so I could bring it back to the Peter Rabbit Room to spread the wealth (a little more magic is always good).  The little book is so proud in that room since we got home, its buttons almost pop, bragging around to the Beatrix Potter People of where it’s been and what it saw!

Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail hoist it on their shoulders like a returning hero.

But this is what I really came back to Hill Top for . . . I knew, the moment I left the first time, I had forgotten something.  I must have been crazy to even think of coming all the way across the Atlantic Ocean to England, then to the Lake District, over the narrowest rock-lined roads you can imagine, on the wrong side of the road, risking life and limb, and then leaving this behind?  I scare myself sometimes. I’d picked it up in the gift shop and then put it back, regretting it every moment since, dreaming about it!

It’s an exact copy of the first book Beatrix Potter (who, as you can read in my journal of this visit, A FINE ROMANCE, is not only an illustrator, but so much more.  Most importantly, a conservationist savior of the Lake District, but also a respected natural scientist and regular person, despite being a genius, who was very proud of her prize-winning sheep) paid to have published herself, exactly the way she wanted it to be.  For this special, first-time-ever reprint, they used the same cover she designed originally, but they also added a dust jacket taken from editions published in 1903 by Warne ~ in a charming calico pattern supplied by Edmund Potter and Company (Beatrix Potter’s family business, her grandfather actually designed this fabric himself,  isn’t it adorable? She must have loved adding this touch to her book).  They put the book in a special little bag and the only place you can buy one is at the gift shop up the garden path at Hill Top Farm in the Lakeland North Country.  I could not go home without it.

What makes them extra special is, except for the surviving original books, there are only 1000 copies like this.  On earth.  (At least that’s what they told me, and I choose to believe!)  And they all have “Limited Edition” numbers in them like this.

The book is written in Beatrix’s own handwriting; all the pen and ink drawings are in black and white, just as they were when she first published the book. Only after Norman Warne started publishing Beatrix’s books were they done in color.  He believed in her.

I had (was forced by a power stronger than myself, therefore the court would surely rule me not guilty) to steal a flower from the garden to keep in my new little book. Stealthy, like a cat, despite the pouring rain, looking both ways and still seeing no one — into the dripping mock orange and climbing honeysuckle I went.  Rain pattered my umbrella as I tucked the wet rosebud softly, ever so softly, into my raincoat pocket, and was out of there before anyone noticed, leaving only a trail of muddy footprints, a clue soon to be washed away by the deluge; because I needed to press a real Beatrix Potter flower into my book more than I cared if I went to the Far Sawrey town jail . . . in fact, I took an iris too, for my journal, I had to.

And then it was time to go. Other than going inside and asking to take a nap in her actual bed, I thought I had done it all.  The rain was coming down hard, Joe was waiting on the other side of the little gate with the car running, reading his London Times.  I stopped and took that one last photo of Castle Cottage in the rain ~ nostalgic, recalling memories that weren’t even mine ~ across green Post Office Meadow.  Nothing in the village of Near Sawrey has changed since Beatrix walked the narrow lanes with her collie dog Kep at her side.

I hope you enjoyed our visit — I wrote more about this dream-come-true in our travel journal in case you also have a place in your heart for the life of Beatrix Potter . . .

Beatrix with her little mouse, “Xarifa” ~

And me too with my white mouse Pinky.

Over the years, I’ve discovered many books inspired by the life of Beatrix Potter.  Thank goodness for these authors, I know how they feel; they found something they love and wanted to share it. These books came into my life slowly one by one ~ because of them I’m still learning new things about Beatrix.  Here are some of my favorites in no particular order, because

Beatrix Potter, Artist, Storyteller and Countrywoman by Judy Taylor, pub. 1986 is a book filled with wonderful photos and drawings.  She calls Beatrix “a beguiling woman.”

The Tale of Beatrix Potter, A Biography by Margaret Lane, pub. 1964 ~ one of the first books I read.

Beatrix Potter, The Extraordinary Life of a Victorian Genius by Linda Lear, pub. 2007 ~ winner of the Lakeland Book of the Year.  (You can read my review of this book on Goodreads.) My book is marked with the places and things I want to find the next time I go to the Lake District.

At Home with Beatrix Potter by Susan Denyer, pub. 2000 ~ This book is filled with beautiful photos of the inside of Hill Top.

Beatrix Potter’s Letters, a selection by Judy Taylor, pub. 1989 (Judy Taylor is the author of several books about Beatrix and a collector of her art and letters.  HERE you can listen to a 1987 interview with her about how Peter Rabbit came to be written.)

Walking with Beatrix Potter, Fifteen Walks in Beatrix Potter Country by Norman and June Buckley, pub. 2007 ~ A charming little book with photos, drawings and maps of wonderful walks in the Lake District.

Beatrix Potter A Journal, (yes, I found it for our web store!).  This book is a real treasure ~ they all are, but this one is filled with photos and Beatrix Potter’s handwriting and words ~ there are reproductions of cards and letters glued into the book, and in a hidden slot in the back cover is a “privately printed edition” of  The Tale of Peter Rabbit that looks exactly like the one I got up at the Hill Top Gift Shop. (But it’s not the same because it doesn’t have the calico dust jacket, and mine came from the Hill Top Gift Shop! :-) )

There’s a charming collection of mystery novels written by Susan Wittig Albert about “the adventures of Beatrix Potter” called the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter.  The first one is The Tale of Hill Top Farm, pub. 2004. Perfect books for pub and/or bathtub reading.

A short but sweet on-line biography covering the basics of Beatrix’s life is HERE.

Become a member of the Beatrix Potter Society (they have a wonderful website) and you will receive four issues each year of their Journal and Newsletter.  They will be reviewing my newest book, A FINE ROMANCE, Falling in Love with the English Countryside in their October issue.  (OH Yes, thrilled to the toes.)

Adorable, it’s The world of Peter Rabbit and Friends

Here’s the Beatrix Potter Gift Shop and more HERE at Peter Rabbit.com

And of course, this is the National Trust’s Hill Top Farm.  And in this video, they take you right inside the house!

83 Responses to Beatrix Potter & Me, Part 2

  1. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful journal notes and pictures of your visit to Hilltop.
    I am so jealous. One day I hope to visit and bring my Visa card with an empty balance and purchase some “goodies” in the gift shop.
    I especially adored the pictures you took on your second visit through the little green door in the wall and experience the views of her garden and the bee house. Precious! The roses draping Beatrix’s home are spectacular and one day I hope to stick my nose in them as well.
    I grew up with Beatrix Potter, and my parents and grandma (who was from Nottingham U.K.) purchased Beswick figurines for me as birthday and Christmas gifts. I have the whole collection as well as all the well-worn (some more than others) cloth bound books. They all reside in a custom made shelf cabinet with “wavey glass doors” that lock with a little key that my father made with his own hands for me and hung on the wall of my childhood bedroom. I have it still, to this day (I am 56) and I dust the outside of it regularly and sometimes take out the tiny key that sits in a little “secret place ” my father built into the cabinet, and open the paned glass doors and pull a book down and look through the pages just for auld lang syne.
    Beatrix did it first. Before the Harry Potters and the Martha Stewarts with their merchandising ideas, Beatrix had wallpapers, toys, books and cards that are more whimsical, more beautiful, and more special than really anyone else has ever done since. Of course I’m very biased. Beatrix was more than just an author of children’s books. And we both know how much more she was. Thank you again for the lovely tour. Not as good as being there in person, but a treat just the same. Sincerely, Charice.

    • sbranch says:

      I think what I am going to like most about describing our visit to Beatrix Potter’s house are the reactions and stories from readers. How lucky you are to have such a gift from your parents and Grandma.

  2. viv says:

    Enjoyed revisiting and am more anxious for the new book. My visit to the Lake District was probably 15 years ago, but I still remember it well and recognize the scenes in your pictures. We stayed at a B and B just a short walk from town.
    The house was covered in roses and sweetpeas. I still remember their beauty.
    One of the other scenes I loved was the wooden boats on the lake. Thanks for taking me to my happy place, a lovely break from cleaning the kitchen.

    • sbranch says:

      Nothing has changed, not a thing. You would walk right back in and know what you were doing! I guess that’s what I love about it the most. Yes, those wooden boats — we went out on one. That story is in the book too.

  3. Angie(Tink!) says:

    ✿ڿڰۣ ♫✿ڿڰۣ ♫✿ڿڰۣ ♫ Sweet Sue…Of Course All of This Is Pure Magic & All Very Exciting…I Do Believe That Beatrix Potter’s Home is The “Original” Enchanted Cottage! A Toast To You Sweet Sue…Thank You for Bringing Us All Along on a Very Amazing Journey….. ;-) Champagne & Pixie~Dust & Always Love! xoxo Poof! ✿ڿڰۣ ♫✿ڿڰۣ ♫✿ڿڰۣ ♫

    • Angie(Tink!) says:

      I Love “Joy Oh Joy Oh Happy Joy” :-) Yay! Huge Smile on Me Face with all That JOY Sweet Sue! xoxo Poof! ✿ڿڰۣ ♫✿ڿڰۣ ♫✿ڿڰۣ ♫ :-)

    • sbranch says:

      She believed in fairies too!

      • Angie(Tink!) says:

        Hello Sweet Sue… Yes Beatrix Potter Did! Wings All a Flutter…. Twirling into a Little Jiggity~Jig & a Hippity~Hoppity…. The Super Full Moon this Weekend! Make Your Wishes! xoxo Poof! Good~Night Sweet Dreams! :-) ✿ڿڰۣ ♫✿ڿڰۣ ♫✿ڿڰۣ ♫

  4. Dear Susan,

    Yes, I did feel your chills and thrills! Your selection of music certainly helped, too. Such a perfectly beautiful accompaniment (and appropriate) for your lovingly rendered memories of your soul-touching day. I’ve had like encounters in authors’ homes I’ve visited in New England (Henry David Thoreau’s Walden’s Pond, Louisa May Alcott, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson), so my own memories were reawakened. It is always so wonderful to read your thoughts and feelings on things that touch your life because they always come through your words and pictures, both painted and photographed, with such fervor.

  5. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Oh my, Part 1 made my heart pitter-patter, Part 2 my heart is pounding! I didn’t get to visit Hill Top Farm when we were in England, but your pictures, descriptions and paintings, have taken me right there to the Farm! I remember most of what we saw in England, gave me the feeling I was in a fairy tale (like you) while taking my breath away! I could tell my forefathers were from there, the country felt so familiar! Loved this visit and really looking forward to “our” journal! Thank you! xoxo

  6. Martha Ellen of VA says:

    Susan, I just love you! Thank you so much for all you have shared about your visit to Hill Top and environs. I am so excited to receive “A Fine Romance.” It won’t be long now. Thanks for taking me back to the Lakes District—My husband and I will be planning our visit there after reading your journal! XOXO ♥

  7. Rachel says:

    What a lovely visit :) Thank you for bringing us along!
    The rose is lovely- the cabbage rose *is* an actual variety too – an old variety. Although they do look a lot like David Austen’s roses :)
    I will also admit, Beatrix is one of my heroes- I love her art, and am constantly amazed by her intelligence too. Ambleside was the home to many fascinating people (including my educator, Charlotte Mason)… I wonder if it is something in the water there? (And the book Swallows and Amazons was set around the area too ;) )

  8. Anita Page says:

    I just read this part of your blog (Beatrix Potter and Me, Parts 1 and 2). How wonderful for you – and us! Thank you for sharing with us. I feel like I’ve been “fed”. Women have such special feelings in their hearts, thoughts in their minds, and wisdom from experiences they’ve had. And you provide such a beautiful place for all of us to share. I don’t think women are exposed to enough of these tender, beautiful parts of life anymore. I think we’re hungry for this type of “nourishment”. Our lives are so busy with kids, work, everything in the world, etc., that we don’t get to talk to other women and enjoy and learn from each others’ life experiences. Thank you again!! You’re truly a bright little light in the world!

    • sbranch says:

      I feel our connection through these stories. When I see good in the world, it makes me want to do better. So I think stories like the life of Beatrix Potter can make a big difference. Thank you Anita!

      • evangeline says:

        Thank you Anita Page for putting into words what I feel when I read this lovely blog of Susan Branch.. I second Anita, in saying thank you for sharing beauty and sweetness. Life is so daily…ha ha!! I want to appreciate each moment put in my path of life…after reading one of Susan’s stories, I find myself looking at my life and surroundings in a clearer and sweeter light. Thank you Susan for giving beauty to the “real” blessings.. the smell of rain, the sound of the distant thunder…well I am a rich woman…

        • sbranch says:

          We all are, a big moon, the smell of turkey stuffing at Thanksgiving, a sky full of stars ~ this is what life really is.

    • Shannon (Pennsylvania) says:

      Beautifully said, Anita! So true :)

  9. Randi Bault says:

    Dear Susan,
    How you feel about Beatrice Potter is how I feel about you. Someday in the far off future…you may have people wandering your home and garden and collecting your books and writings, Willards and art works and drinking in the spirit of Susan Branch, much like you have done with Beatrice Potter. You are very inspiring, sweet, a very good cook and a joyful artist. You have blessed a lot of people with all that you have given to the world- I just love everything “Susan Branch” and I just want to say thank you for sharing all that is good, happy and joyful.
    Much Love and Admiration, Randi —<–<–@

    • sbranch says:

      What a dear thing for you to say. You could not have said a nicer thing to me — I’m honored. Thank you Randi!

  10. Jackie P says:

    Pure magic! Everything about the day . . . the house, the weather, the gardens, you juggling the camera with tears in your eyes. (Sooo glad you clipped a few flowers for your book. It just feels right!) Yes, I was right there with you, then and now, with tears in my eyes!

    • sbranch says:

      I felt like I was our representative-of-the-moment at Hill Top ~ so happy you could come along! Yes, it was all magic. Often when I think about something for years and want to do it, it becomes such a huge dream that I fear the reality won’t have a chance against my expectations. This one fulfilled my every hope, I couldn’t have been happier.

  11. Shannon says:

    Thank you for the Beatrix Potter update! I happen to be reading “The Tale of Hill Top Farm” right now. I came across it at the library a couple of weeks ago while looking for something else. I highly recommend “Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature” by Linda Lear. It’s a wonderful biography that I read this spring.

  12. Christine says:

    Oh! Your visit took my breath away! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  13. Anita Page says:

    Good morning! You inspire me so much! Actually, I have a little collection of the Beatrix Potter stories that I bought at a garage sale many years ago, intending to read them. I think I’ll get them out today and read them – finally. Having read your blog about Miss Potter’s house will only enhance the stories. Have a great day! Anita

  14. SusieJ says:

    Here I am in the dark, early morning, sitting in my rather uninspired (when compared to either your or Miss Potter’s) kitchen, reading of and seeing all that you and Joe experienced on your visit last year. I have been to England only one time – many years ago – when I took several students from the high school where I was teaching – but I did not have the lovely adventures that you had. Your writing and artwork and photos literally make my heart sing, Susan, and I have ordered your book and am determined to use it – as you have suggested – as a means of scheduling a visit back across the pond very soon. Tears have come to my eyes just reading this. I know that if I was there I would be -as you were – absolutely beside myself with joy. Thank you for sharing this lovely place and your adventures through it, and thank you for the soon-to-arrive book about it all, for I know I would not be brave enough – or insightful enough – to experience half of what I will because you have gone ahead and shown the way. I am grateful beyond words and excited for the possibilities. Many thanks, again, for I know it truly will be the trip of a lifetime.

  15. mary spring says:

    Good Morning Susan, my “heart is doing back flips” just re- reading these heart-felt posts that you’ve shared with us .. again and again…thank you for sharing the journey !!!.. p.s. I’ve ordered the Beatrix Potter books that you’ve so kindly made available to us all in your web-store !!…’can’t wait to receive them…. take care and with love….

  16. Kate says:

    One day, a long time from now, a woman will be waiting in line to go through your house because she has always loved Susan Branch and just to see your house and where you lived and the windows you looked out every day would thrill her. She will hug one of your books to her breast and tears will be in her eyes as she realizes she is where Susan Branch once lived.
    I loved your description of your visit to Beatrix Potter’s house. I may never get there, but I feel I have just visited.

  17. Anita Page says:

    I just mailed your surprise yesterday. I think they said it would take 5 to 10 days – Post Office, you know. Anyway, hope you’ll like it! Anita

  18. Joan Vange says:

    What a joy and delight to discover your narration of your dream visit to
    Beatrix Potter’s house. I was unbelieveably thrilled to visit it some years
    ago, and, like you, couldn’t believe I was really there, walking where she
    walked, seeing what she saw. Tears in my eyes then, and now, reading of
    your experiences and observations. Thank you so much for sharing such a
    personal time and allowing those who may never have the opportunity to make
    such a trip have the joy of being there through you. You are a gift to the world.
    Sincerely,
    Joan

  19. Trudy Lindsay says:

    Dear Susan
    Following my family’s re location to Cumbria , I am currently lucky enough to be fulfilling a dream I have had for the past twenty years to become a room guide at Hill Top. As I read your beautiful account of your visit there last year I was aware that I witness your excitement and awe in the reactions of the visitors I meet there every time I am on duty. I am truly very fortunate to part of making so many people’s ambitions to visit Hill Top come true. Your account of your visit is a perfect articulation of what so many people feel when they visit and yet cannot express. By the way, the roses over the front of the house smell just as wonderful this year – I stood outside for several hours recently giving visitors an introduction to the house – the sun was shining and there was surely no better place to be in all the world!

    • sbranch says:

      You are really there Trudy? You make me cry. Please say hello to the twinkly blue-eyed guide we met last year by the name of Jenny Akester, she made our visit so special. I’m so happy for you to be in such a wonderful place, meeting some of the nicest people in the world. Dreams really do come true.♥ We’ll come say hello one day. Thank you for coming by. xo

  20. Jane F. says:

    Dear Susan: Absolutely breathtaking and every other adjective you can think of! And the music! Just exquisite and lifts the soul. Thank you so much. You have a gift to make one think they are absolutely there, walking down the paths and feeling the rain. What a special treat. We have another book, entitled “Beatrix Potter’s Art, by Anne Stevenson Hobbs, published by the Penquin Group in England in 1989. It is choc-a-block full of her art — her nature paintings, landscapes, still lifes, “fine” art as well as her storybook illustrations. You may have it. It is one of our favorites. It shows what a seriously great artist she was. Very inspiring.

  21. Paula Cutchey says:

    Good morning Susan,
    Having read Linda Lear’s biography of Beatrix Potter, I can only recommend it to everyone on the planet. Your website is passing along information and inspiration with every effort you make and I am grateful. Your current article had me in tears and inspired me to get a zephirine drouhin rose bush for my front porch. You are like a little seed from which great things grow.
    Best love, Paula

  22. Lora Webster says:

    All I can say is thank-you for sharing this beautiful experience with all of us.
    I’m saving my pennies to get there. Your stories, books and blogs are chicken soup with a warm buttered biscuit for the soul!

  23. Sandra Gaile says:

    Absolutely love your beautiful blog. I plan on creating one soon and was looking for examples, not to copy, but to show me what can be done! You did just that.

    • sbranch says:

      That’s so nice to hear Sandra … blogging has been wonderful, being able to connect with everyone and have them meet each other is a dream come true.

  24. Shelia mcguckin. says:

    Susan, I’m reading your lovely book. I feel like I’m there in England with you! Your book is a labor of love! While I was reading about Beatrix Potters house, I am reminded of the books by Susan Wittig Albert. They are about Beatrix when she bought Hill TopFarm. There are 8 books in the series. Beatrix helps solve a mystery in each book. And the village animals help her (they TALK to each other). There is a map of the village in each book. The first one is “The Tale of Hilltop Farm”. They would fit right into your Beatrix Potter room.
    And, Susan, I think you should visit Ireland and write a diary about it! :-)).

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so happy you’re enjoying it Sheila. It was an amazing experience, as I’m sure you can tell! If you look at the top of the blog under I LOVE ENGLAND, you will find Beatrix Potter and Me, part one and part two. Or, just click HERE for part one … You’ll find more photos and talk about that day and also some videos I took. At the end of part 2 there are several books referenced and those Susan Wittig Albert books you mentioned are there…in fact we even carry the first three as a set in our web store. Also, there’s a link to the Beatrix Potter Society in England. Fascinating subject, that Miss Potter!♥

  25. joan schnare says:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences.It must be like being inside of one of her stories as if she wrote a story and you were the main character,all of what inspired hea stories and art was all within sight.I do not travel,but I here all the places where people want to go.Especially living in Ont. Canada.Florida,california las vegasetc.If I could pick to go one place in the world it would be sawrey.I love your website .Thanks so much

  26. Mary Lou Cummings says:

    Do you take all the photos yourself? They really seem to draw one into the experience–almost as real as being there ourselves. What an inspiring and rewarding visit for both you and Joe. Funny how we sometimes get this yearning to travel to special places within our heart and nothing can satisfy us until we are there.

    • sbranch says:

      I do Mary. Since I started the blog taking pictures has become a new passion for me. I’ve always taken photos and have more photo albums that I can handle, but digital photos are something quite different!

  27. Carol Wilson says:

    I just enjoyed your book A Fine Romance, enjoyed it so much I wanted to take it to church so I could finish it without stopping. I have all your cookbooks and want to thank you for much enjoyment they are to me. Carol

  28. Sarita Simon says:

    Susan, This is the first time to write on a blog and the first time to read yours. I love it all. My sisters and I were so lucky to visit Hill Top Farm 2 and a half years ago on our 2nd sisters trip. Reading about your trip there brought back so many wonderful memories. Thank you for the memories. Now I need to find your book about the English Countryside. We loved and still love the Lake District.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s hard not to love isn’t it Sarita. Nice to see you here, this is the land of kindred spirits! We have signed copies of the book available here, but it’s also in bookstores and on Amazon.

  29. Esther Hayes says:

    This was an absolute dream trip (in my head). I found your website and book advertisement in my Tea Time magazine. I can’t wait to get your book. I told my sister about your website. I hope she hops right on it. I couldn’t get on the website fast enough this morning (was on it last night for the first time) and felt I was on the trip with you to England. This has been a dream trip for me for ever. When I turned 65 last Sept. I said I want to travel somewhere different and special for my 65th! This would be great!

    Loved your “Peter Rabbit” guest room in your lovely home. May I come and stay awhile? haha You are a delight and hope to finish reading ALL of your website. Loved the “musica” idea. Very special touch. What a gifted lady you are. Would love to “hang out” with you any day. Thank you so much, Susan, for the special person you are. What a blessing……………Esther

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Esther! So nice to meet another kindred spirit! Thank you for writing … I hope you get to take that trip. My book hardly does it justice, I promise!

  30. judy young says:

    I have just finished reading a book about Beatrix Potter’s life with loads of wonderful photos in it. Anyway, my reason for writing this comment is to tell you that in the book they mention the pink roses planted around the doorway and the front of Hill Top. They are called Rose of Sharon. It says so in the book!

    • sbranch says:

      Rose of Sharon may be there too (look at these images), but climbing the front walls of Hill Top were real roses, called cabbage roses as far as I can tell…Rose of Sharon is not really a rose.

  31. Roma says:

    Thank you for the happy and pleasant times you have given me and others. I love your
    Book and the tour you gave us. I vote for the orange cake with pineapple. Hope I can
    Make it or my husband. Take care both you and your Joe.

  32. Patricia Anne Hulick says:

    Dear Susan,
    I am absolutely loving every minute of your book, “A Fine Romance, Falling In Love With the English Countryside”! It is so charming and beautiful! Absolutely love your hand written beautifully illustrated book with wonderful photos of English countryside and everything else you saw across the pond!
    Loving England as I do, your book is a feast for the eyes, heart and soul! YOU helped me realize there more to the UK than just Tudor sites!LOL!
    Hoping we can visit the Lake District too! I have the complete set of little Beatrix Potter books that I collected as a teen, and I make a charming little green bookshelf to hold them.
    I am thinking that if there is such a thing as reincarnation, and I’m not sure about that, but I’m thinking if there were, you may have indeed been Beatrix. The parallels between your lives are so similar and I saw a younger photo of Beatrix I had never seen before on the cover of a book on Amazon.com and you really resembled her in that photo!
    Thank you for your delightful book! I will treasure it and reread it often!
    Hugs, Patti

    • sbranch says:

      Patricia, thank you so very much, that was just lovely! xoxo

      • Patricia Anne Hulick says:

        Thank you, Susan!
        Do you have Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life”? I have the hardcover and the photo on the cover of Beatrix I was referring to in my letter reminds me of you!
        BTW, my hubby is an August 1954 baby just like your sweet Joe!
        Hugs, Patti

  33. Jean Burns says:

    Susan,
    I would like to order one of the limited edition books that you purchased from the BP Hill Top Gift Shop. Since I won’t be able to go to England in the near future, I need info on how to order the wonderful book. Thank you for any info you can provide. I am a huge fan of BP and you. :-) Jean

  34. Donna Crouch says:

    Just want you to know I’m reading A Fine Romance….for the second time. This doesn’t count the numerous times I’ve just leafed through the pages. I’m following along with a giant map of England! I recently bought the movie Miss Potter also. You have brought so much enjoyment to my world with your book and website. Thank you so much, Donna

  35. Another Susan says:

    What a great discovery your website is, on this late wintry day, with four inches of snow obscuring any flowers optimistic enough to prematurely pop up their little heads!

    I visited Beatrix Potter’s Hilltop Farm cottage on July 7, 1976 – an unusually hot, sunny day – those gorgeous pink roses were in full bloom, climbing over the front door, just as you saw them decades later. It was a very mature climbing rose then, and clearly had been there for quite a while. I wonder if anyone has ever taken cuttings from it??

    Thanks for taking me back, and for putting a smile on my face as this long winter outstays its welcome.

    Another Susan B.

  36. Sweet Sue says:

    Oh the joy, oh the wonder you must have felt when you visited and then revisited in the same week Beatrix Potter’s home and surrounding countryside. I almost cried when you told about going back to the gift shoppe to get the exact limited edition of the first book she ever wrote and then pressed a rose from her garden into it. How marvelous….how special! You are so blessed to have been able to go to England and see all the historic homes, places and countryside that you had only read about yet fallen in love with over the years. How very very special and how patient Joe was at each stop when you took as much time as you wanted to be sure you explored every nook and cranny and garden path so you could take the time to photograph or sketch it. I am happy for you and feel privileged to have taken this journey with you vicariously. Thank you Susan.

    • sbranch says:

      My pleasure Sue, it was an amazing gift, this trip. So grateful to be able to share it. Taking everyone on the blog along with us made it all even better.

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