Sunday was the 35th anniversary of my move to Martha’s Vineyard, that step I accidentally took into the unknown, and the beginning of my brand new life. A good day to celebrate! Let’s have MUSICA! And yesterday was mine and Joe’s 30th Anniversary of wallowing joyfully in said life! I love February! Not only is it the month for our best anniversaries, and the wonderfully sweet holiday of Valentine’s Day, it’s also my mom’s birthday. And it’s also the month Joe and I will be taking the train out to California to be with her! A red-letter month if ever I saw one.❤️ And look who else thinks so:

The robins are back and frolicking! For some reason, in the last few years, robins show up here in droves (actually it’s a “round” of robins, not a drove) when they get even the slightest perception . . .

against all visible indications, that it might be getting near spring. They just know.

It’s definitely not spring here, but they don’t care, in they come for a landing . . . to splash and play in ice water.

They are believers.  And then, partly because of them, so are we. Here comes spring!

Our 30th Anniversary. This is the guy I fell in love with. A lilac-cutting kind of guy. Just my cup of tea. No one gets everything right the first time, especially me, queen of hit and miss, but we shouldn’t blame ourselves because it’s true that we’re all doing the best we can. There’s always another chance. As Oprah said, “Now that we know better, we do better.” And so, perhaps, a reward such as this is what happens.

Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same. 💞 Franz Peter Schubert

Our house, we bought in 1989, dressed for the season, in white hearts to confuse the snowflakes.

Isn’t he cute? I just love his plaid shirt and tie in this old photo! He’s a good fabric mixer! And so, speaking of plaid . . . shall we?

Here we are in Edinburgh (say it Edin-burra), Scotland. An amazing city in an amazing country, and I am definitely not a city person, except this one. I loved the whole country. Land of plaid and cashmere, castles and kilts, scotch and bagpipes, Highland fairies, and J.M. Barrie, the man who wrote Peter Pan who said (among other things), “All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust” ~ and this too . . . 

So let’s start here. There was the MOST darling store on the Royal Mile (fantastic main street of Edinburgh that I will show you more of later) that I would love to go back to. We didn’t have long enough! We were traveling! So all I could do is run around the best store I’ve ever been in, and take pictures, because I knew you’d want to see it too. It’s ridiculous, so-so-so-so cute. Called “Ragamuffin.” If you ever get to Edinburgh you have to save time for this store. It’s worth it for fingerless gloves alone!  Have you ever seen cuter ones? No. Neither have I.

Scarves anyone? Like you have never seen before?  Oui! I should have grabbed the blue and orange one top right and just paid for it and run! But, I didn’t. What was I thinking?  Nope, they’re not on-line. I checked. 😢 You have to go there.

Soft sweaters? In vibrant happy colors? They have them.

And then, unbearable, tops and skirts in cozy cottons and wovens and wool and all the real fabrics we forgot they ever made because they’re so hard to find. Moosh.

I did not get to try on one single dress. Nothing. Don’t you feel sorry for me? Me, too. I didn’t know this store was going to be there, so I didn’t plan for it, and we were booked up with places we had to BE. Don’t let this happen to you. Write it down. Ragamuffin. You’ll need at least two hours of no-man time. You’ll want to plan for total concentration. You’re welcome. ❤️

But you’ll love Edin-burra for lots more reasons than this store. I’ll show you in a future post. Doesn’t it look unreal? This was the view from our hotel room. Between us and that hotel over there was the train station down below. We could see all the tracks and trains lined up. So civilized, hop a train, and the world is your oyster.

It’s a beautiful old city with cozy plaid scarves everywhere… very hygge.

Plaid capes . . . and plaid skirts

And this is a purse! A plaid tweed skirt-purse!

A window-full of plaid. How do you choose?

Here’s a photo in a wonderful shop that IS on line. A huge store, filled to overflowing with wool, plaid, cashmere, and tweed and so much more. Coats, jackets, sweaters, skirts, cute shoes too. Called Bruar, House of Scottish Country Clothing. Another place that requires hours of concentrated attention. It’s room after room of this and so much more.

I did get a hat. I look like Paul McCartney in it, but what else is new.

Kilts everywhere, and in all the clan colors a heart could desire . . .

Here’s Siobhan (with Map Man) in her darling plaid coat. Coats. They have the cutest coats in England. I kept noticing how cute everyone looked in their coats. All colors and prints, not just brown or black. Around here, we usually wear jackets, but this coat thing, I grew to like it very much.

You didn’t have to be dressed up. They just wore them with jeans. Just throw it on when you go to the market. I thought it was so feminine. And cheerful, all the colors.

Rachel too. All the English girls were wearing them . . .

Here we are on the train . . . Ray in her cute coat, and me with my jacket off. (We’re wearing poppies ~ for remembrance ~ in these photos ~ for those not familiar with poppy history, I’ll do a post and explain soon.)

Here’s another of Rachel’s coats. (But it’s the expression on her face that I love more than anything. Isn’t she cute?)

I got this hat too, and those gloves, because I love the bows. Sometimes in the winter I feel like a mountain made from sweatshirt material. It’s not cute. I was noticing in England you could be warm and still dress like a girl! So when we were in Oxford, and shopping with Carrie, I found a coat! And she made me buy it. And I’m so glad I did!  It’s plaid. I don’t have any photos of it yet, but I’ll show you someday. I love it, although I’m like a headlight at midnight mixed in with all the dark jackets around here. Still it makes me feel perky. Dark winter + bright colors = good thing. 🌤

‘Course, the dogs wore plaid too . . . some were decked out in it . . .

So, with all this shopping inspiration, the place we were staying ended up looking like this . . . hygge to the nth degree, in front of the wood stove . . .

and this . . .

And our Christmas tree got plaided up too.

Plaid became our new thing. 💙

So here’s something else I noticed. See the deer heads on the walls? Very popular in the UK. An old tradition, I imagine, left over from King Arthur and his ilk. I’m not sure, but there were lots of them. Remember the unfortunate stag in The Queen being a sort of magical symbolic thing? Well, deer heads are everywhere . . .

. . . In restaurants, pubs, and homes, but they aren’t so much the real thing anymore.

 Now they look more like this . . .

So of course when I saw these in one of the gift shops . . .

I thought, yes! What our wood room (where we watch TV, it’s paneled in wood, hence the creative name “wood room”) needs is a deer head. So here he is, over the door. Isn’t he cute? I’m extremely impressionable in case you can’t tell. Trying to grasp and hold on to the wonderfulness of our experiences. And I LOVE nature! And we needed a deer head too! Like everyone else! But, you’ll be interested to hear, not everything we saw made it back with us ~ so far, since we got home, I have not once made haggis! You can fool some of the people some of the time!

Cuteness ⤵️

  Here’s a spy-cam-in-action moment. I loved what this family was wearing despite no plaid. I had to chase after them to take this picture. Look how they are dressed . . . all five of them. Ready to walk and no rain storm or mud puddle would slow them down. I took this picture to remind myself, THIS is how to dress for traveling in a rainy country. (Also loved the red heads! Very cute family. Note, there’s bunting too.)

Wellies! (and dog, of course)

And you can get them in every imaginable color and print.

I’m reminded.

So Girls, I just finished the 2018 calendars, 💖 (yay) and today, with all these anniversaries around me, including that 2016 was the 30th year of my first book, is the first time in all these years that I don’t have anything due. No deadline! For the first time ever. What shall I do with myself? Leap and shout hurray? Yup!I have loved every moment of my work, but I have to say, I’m wallowing in this feeling for a while. It’s only been two days and I know when we get home from California in April I’ll be excited to start something new, but I’m allowing it all to float around right now, like being on a merry-go-round, knowing I could grab that ring, but choosing not to for a while ~ to just enjoy the ride and feel the wind on my face without the stress of missing that little ring!  Choices. A lovely thing. I’ll get the ring later.

And, did you notice the groundhog did NOT see his shadow? That means an early spring! So I’ve started a little spring cleaning. 🌷I went to the flower store today (wearing my cheerful coat), and then I shopped at the supermarket, read labels and perused all kinds of new this and that and just took my own sweet time about it. Joy oh Joy. I hung up our heart banner in the kitchen and wrote Valentines and got stamps on them, and now I’m going out to dinner with my honeyman to celebrate 30 years of feeling like the luckiest girl in the world.❤️

This is a card I made for Joe from a past Valentine’s  Day 💞. . . and here’s one for you . . .

I hope you are watching A Place to Call Home! It’s as good as Downton in the totally addictive way that you can’t WAIT to see what will happen next! You will love it! There are four glorious seasons already . . . and another is coming soon. Joe and I are almost through the fourth, so I speak from experience! Watch, and then we can gossip about them!  We’ll start with Regina! 👿 She’s hideous!

Don’t forget, I’ll be at the Apple Farm in beautiful downtown San Luis Obispo, California on Saturday, March 18, at 2 pm, speaking, answering questions, signing books, and hanging out with everyone. They’re selling tickets because there will be a tent and food ~ it will be very fun! 🍎 I hope some of you can come! And those mugs I designed? Coming soon! I’ll let you know!

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In honor of Mary Tyler Moore (who could turn the world on with her smile), today is the perfect day (since she loved them, and all animals so much) to do DOGS of the English Countryside. MUSICA  And do not think I am insane, remember I am only the reporter. I didn’t think of this all by myself, and don’t forget this isn’t just one day, it took two and half months to take all these photos. I actually didn’t take pictures of every dog we saw, but I tried.

fullsizeoutput_1393British people are famous for their love of dogs. It starts right at the top, and is met with a mighty roar by everyone else in the Queendom. Dogs are everywhere.animals

Queen Elizabeth

The media has lots of fun with the Queen’s well-known adoration of Pembroke Welsh Fairy1Corgis, which have followed her around for her whole life. My favorite part of the wonderful movie The Queen was seeing those dogs with Helen Mirren, they just made every scene they were in. And it was all real, as you can see HERE.  According to Welsh folklore, Corgis were the “enchanted dog of the Fay,” and the perfect mount for tiny fairy warriors.

Queen Elizabeth

It all began when Elizabeth was a child . . . the look on both of their faces says it all…dog

dogI thought I might show a few of the British dogs we encountered on our walks. Of course, there were Corgis like this adorable one at Stourhead. If I had a dog, this sturdy little fellow is the one I would want!! They are always smiling. And when they want to play, they bounce on their front feet.


Dogs provide the perfect opportunity to talk to strangers when you’re traveling. And as you know, dog owners are the best people (right up there with cat owners)! Here we are on a walk, hooking up for a meeting of the minds. Two dog owners and us and plenty to talk about.


This dog was reaching up for a head pat and a smile.


And then expressed joy of gorgeous fall day in the leaves and the wind . . .


She wouldn’t stop. She was in heaven.get-attachment.aspx


We definitely had nature’s address, so here we go … here’s my dog gallery:  This cutie was prancing along just fine, but was suddenly put off by the camera and the strange person behind it . . . he came to a stop, and was just about to step back . . .

dog at blenheim castle

This big boy was wearing his plaid best while walking the grounds of the Palace where Winston Churchill was born. His lovely owner shared him with us.


This one thought it knew me. Just for a moment.


Here come the twins. Yes, I am on my haunches ready and willing to be licked to death.


Swans are another thing you see lots of. Most people know to walk around them, even when they look sociable, it’s a ploy. But that little dog wants them so bad.


This is that same walk past the swans, along the canal in Aylesbury ~ you can see the little dog from the last photo in the back.  As we visited with the person who owns these dogs, she told us the black one carries his toy because it keeps him from barking. Brilliant!


It was a beautiful, misty, fall day in the neighborhood.


Then there was this one. In a store . . . she let me take her photo, one ear up, and one down, but soon it was clear she’d had enough,


She opened the door . . .


and left.

Dog George and Dragon Pub, chacombe

Because they are a civilized country and very people-oriented, dogs are welcome, along with their bones, bowls and chew toys, in almost every pub and tea shop, and most hotels.


So, if you don’t mind the separation every night, you CAN bring your dog with you on the Queen Mary 2.  THAT’S how civilized this country is! Not so sure I see happiness in everyone’s faces, but still, dogs and cats can come along, they just aren’t allowed to sleep in your room and have to stay in this kennel where the owners can go visit. This would turn me into a smuggler. Look at that bulldog’s face. It says it all.


And will be welcome wherever you go. You’ll note the water bowl with the heart in it. MAS MUSICA!

pub dog

All three wearing plaid, in a pub, and with all different owners . . .


This one is at the table next to us at an outdoor tea room . . . extremely interested in …


. . . this guy, just across from us.


This one, and the one up ahead, are right at home at the beautiful Devonshire Hotel. And why not, look at the wallpaper. (Excuse me for a moment, Jack is insisting I come into the bathroom and watch him drink water from the faucet.)

words cat critters love life is good

dog lucas paul

Speaking of love, this is Alice. She is the lucky puppy who belongs to Rachel and Paul, our wonderful English friends.


Here’s Alice among the flowers. She is beloved and they take her everywhere. She knows her way around the train too.


This is Alice’s collar.


And here are some of the decorative Alice collection, antique and otherwise, that reside on Ray and Paul’s kitchen shelf.


Rachel is a dog lover from way back. This photo is in her childhood bedroom.


So you can imagine how Joe and I felt at this antique store when we saw all of these wonderful old toy dogs . . .


We were almost drooling over them through the glass cupboard doors, especially loving the one on wheels . . . thinking what a good gift one of them would make and how cute it would look in their living room.


Trying to decide . . . very exciting, so many choices. “Maybe I could make cookies,” I was telling Joe, “and give them to Ray and Paul in this darling box.” Good idea!


And then I started asking for prices. And was horrified to discover they are NOT FOR SALE. None of them. They were just put there to torture us!  The store owner’s private collection. Really! And I’m sorry to say that begging didn’t help a bit.

dog gift for ray and paul

Later on in the trip, we found this little iron door-knocker in another antique store, probably the only one of these dog things in England that other lady didn’t own. So we snapped it right up. Not big, furry, or on wheels, no straw hat, but still, old and kinda cute.fullsizeoutput_3738

There were dogs on every walk . . .


We didn’t even have to get out of the car to take pictures of them.  This is at Loch Ness in Scotland. Look at the man wearing a kilt, talking to that white-haired person over the garden wall . . . Ahh Scotland . . .


Doggies on display at stoplights . . .


. . . and when we come out the front door of the house we were staying in, this car was parked across the street. Look at the little pillow hanging on the window.


Don’t you think this pup would look perfect with Jack? They would make a beautiful pair. He seems very fit to me, and dressed tastefully, like the boots and pants of his owner.

dog caledonian canal

Photographing dogs means you get a good excuse to do the shoe-cam . . . these two look so alike, something about the eyes.


Look at that eyeball. Isn’t he darling. What kind is he? I don’t know. Morning Science. I would like hair that color. Or those colors.


Cool dogs in Bath.


Farm dogs . . . in a car pulling a trailer filled with hay.

dog Joe and Mike

 Here’s Joe and a man we met on our walk named Mike. That’s our walking path off on the left (don’t you just want to follow it and see where it goes?), he was coming down as we were going up. He has a dog, so of course we got to talking ~ he was so nice and so funny. He had that cute English accent and all . . . . . .and after a while, among other things, he shared with us that he was a recent widower, he’d lost his wife Hazel, just six months before. We could easily see how much he was missing her. But his memories seemed to be all joy. 💝


There is his beautiful dog, and I mean this dog was beautiful, standing near the fairy circle Mike had built for his wife . . .


We’d seen this mysterious circle (at least to us, imaging all sorts of ancient Mists of Avalon Druid-y things) before we ran into Mike and started asking him about it, what it was, how long it had been there . . . he told us he was the one who’d actually made it (not a Druid after all) because his wife asked him to, from tree stumps that he buried . . . she wanted a magical place outdoors where the local children could have birthday parties. Isn’t this the best remembrance?  Shows how really easy it is to go on living forever.❤️

met Peter with dog Rex on walk

Same walk, different dog, in the English Countryside, which among other things, defines the meaning of the word “green.”

dog "largest in terrier breed"

This one liked to model for us. He was excellent at it.


Very playful sweetheart of a dog. So see? It’s not all just trees and things . . . dogs and their masters are part of the discovery too.

endorse dog

Remember? I showed this one on the blog the other day. We’re in Birnam Wood, where we went to see an ancient tree, alive in Shakespeare’s time ~ I’m down low to take this photo, and he just kept coming. . .


Getting cuter and cuter, he almost knocked me over! But it was worth it.

TV BBC 1 watching "one man and his dog"

Dogs on TV too . . . I was just going through the channels and happened upon this show and it was the BEST!  Could have watched it every night . . . it was called One Man and His Dog. You can see an episode HERE ~ you’ll love it too. Who knew? It’s a whole other world.

dog on tv shepherd contest

This was the winning dog in the episode I watched. Dogs have so much heart.


Seeing that show on TV was what got us wanting to see the dogs and sheep in person . . . so when we got to Scotland we found Neil Ross, a shepherd and spent the afternoon enjoying his wonderful display of working dogs . . .


I wrote an earlier post about them. So beautiful. And amazing, what they can do.

dogThey had puppies at the farm too . . .


We spent part of our time in Scotland with our friends Elizabeth and Mike . . . and all of us fell in love with the dogs.


Elizabeth has two dogs at home in California, one looks just like this one, this cairn terrier we met on an abandoned WWII landing strip (as we learned from his mistress) we found while walking the perimeters of Stourhead. See? Meet a dog, and you get all kinds of interesting information and history.


Pretty and clean ~ obviously not walking through the English countryside. A town dog.


Another Scottish dog.


The look of love.animals


And this little one is called Jack, and belongs to Carrie (our friend from Twitter @holywellbnb), and has a wonderful life chasing birds in Oxford. Soon, on an upcoming post, we’ll go visit the whole family and see inside Carrie’s really old, beyond normal, darling, cottage.


And then there was this beauty. Perfect for a winter in the northlands.


This is an English doghouse. Because charm is their middle name.fullsizeoutput_11032

Not every picture I took had a dog in it… some, like this one, had to stand on its own. And does a pretty good job of it. Loveliness-wise. Can you just feel yourself on that path. Look at that “architecture!” Who does that?ruralenglandistoobeautiful


Ahhhh, deep breath, the English Countryside . . .

april 2014 sweetnessWell, I suppose it’s back to real life for me . . .


Hope you enjoyed that ~ I’ll be back soon with more . . . maybe some amazing pub food, or maybe some Scottish plaid. Something quirky, no doubt.  I hope the sample mug shows up this week, if it does, and it’s good-to-go, we’ll have a Giveaway in the next post.💖 And, remember, if things get rough while I’m away, follow the old Mark Twain rule of thumb and it will all seem better . . .EatABullfrog OR, watch this . . .

Or, this . . . (you can go on all day with these!)

Or, if you have a special dog in your life, you can make these:dogbonesflowers


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