Let’s Be Pen Pals

Hello sweet ones. 

A hearty, yet belated welcome to 2023 and all of the grand opportunities it brings with it.

I hope things are chugging along nicely for you, after what has been for many, a difficult 2022. Personally, I have had challenges over the last few months and it has taken a good while to feel my feet firmly on the ground again. 

But I am happy to report that things are looking up and I am quite excited about my prospects for 2023.

I have missed baking and doing my sweet little vintage shoots, however I managed to defy the forces of nature by continuing with the market stall throughout the stifling summer months. (Can we pause for a moment to shout hurrah that Summer is finally over!!)

The market stall brings me so much joy. For those of you who have visited, you will know how gorgeous she is with her pink gingham curtains, hanging retro aprons and cutie patootie cupcakes. It’s so much fun watching people walk past, slow down, check everything out, smile and appreciate the whimsical beauty of it all.

This year has started with an unexpected opportunity for Mama Bear. Those of you who have known me for more than five minutes, would be aware of my passionate love of history, especially English history, and my adoration of Queen Elizabeth II (may she Rest In Peace).

Earlier in the year, a dear friend invited me to go to England with her. Yes! You heard right, England, home of the world’s history, master artists, poets, my beloved Jane Austen, Tolkien, the Bronte sisters, Sherlock and Peggy Porchen cupcakes!!

 It was a tough decision, as you can imagine, taking about fifteen seconds to answer. 

“Go to ENGLAND!!! Are you kidding me?! ahh YES!

For a long as I can remember, literally years, my deepest heart desire has been to go the the British Museum in London. After reading so much history to my children when they were being home schooled, I realised that this particular museum holds the history of the world within its walls. Tales of conquest, discoveries, exploration, it’s all there. Back in the day, the British Empire was the power force of the world, and its hoard of treasures were usually taken back to the British Museum. 

I remember reading about Charles I to the children and how, right before his execution in 1649, he was shivering from the cold. He didn’t want the gawking public to think he was scared facing his beheading, so he requested an extra shirt to wear, which was granted. 

The season is so sharp as probably may make me shake, which some observers may imagine proceeds from fear. I would have no such imputation”.


Anyway, as you may guess, the extra shirt he wore is of course on display in the British Museum. I will stand in front of it in absolute awe. (Don’t even get me started on the Rosetta Stone).

His final words…

I go from a corruptible to an incorruptible crown: where no disturbance can be, no disturbance in the world.”

Ok, enough of the history lesson. 

So my friends, it is time to bring out my funky hippy purple fur frilled coat that has been waiting oh so patiently in my cupboard to be flaunted around the streets of Notting Hill. My matching hot pink Irish cap, purple fringe bag, doc boots and coloured woollen skirt will take me back to the days when I was young and rambunctious at heart, without a care in the world. 

While trying on my London outfit, I showed the girls, hopeful that they may catch a glimpse of the ‘real’ me. After a casual glance, virtual eye roll, the best one darling could muster up was ‘you will look like such a tourist Mum’.

“Ahh EXCUSE me!!! I will look nothing like a tourist!!” (exclaimed with a huff of indignation).

“The tourists will all be wearing black puffer jackets, jeans and white sneakers thank you very much!! Not me!”

No offence to practically minded black puffer jacket wearers, but I refuse, refuse to stoop to such ‘1984’- esq bleak uniformity. To quote Carson from Downtown Abbey (and yes we are going there too!! aargh!!)

I would rather be put to death My Lord

I will be spending my birthday in Haworth, which is Bronte country. It also happens to be Mother’s Day in England. (woo hoo). As I have mentioned in previous posts, Jane Eyre is my all time favourite book and to be going to the parsonage where dear Charlotte lived and wrote…oh my beating heart. I am taking along my linen pinafore dress to wear with my boots while exploring the wily windy moors on a (hopefully) blustery, freezing cold English day, getting lost in fantasies of Catherine and Heathcliff with Kate Bush blasting in my ears. Oh glorious imagination!

Speaking of hunky English gents, the temptation to recreate My Darcy’s wet shirt scene at Chatsworth House (Pemberley) will be too much to resist. My friend and I are already rehearsing lines, practicing hand gestures and looks of embarrassed astonishment for our private performance.

(We must leave here at once!!)

It remains to be seen which of us will be Elizabeth and who gets to stroll up from the pond with a jacket over our arm looking as dashing as possible. Sigh.

I picked up some English pounds at the bank the other day. Did you know that Jane Austen is on the ten pound note!? Neither did I. I couldn’t believe it! That is just sooo cool. Well now I know, and so does a room full of customers and staff at the Commonwealth bank. 

Ahhh. I can scarcely believe it. Who would have thought that I would have this incredible opportunity to make a spectacular dream come true.

I was hoping to get to England a few years ago. One of my sons in particular was very encouraging, noting how long I have spent serving and caring for our family with many years still to go. He knows how much I love photography, and has a shared interest in street photography. We talk about going to London together, walking the streets with our cameras and letting our creativity flow.  

That trip didn’t work out, for the best in hindsight, but he sent me a beautiful message, paraphrasing my favourite author (yes, I know I have a lot of favourites). It made my heart come alive.

“Then something Tookish happened inside of you

and you wished to go see the great mountains,

and hear the pine trees and the waterfalls,

and explore the ancient towns of old,

and wear a camera instead of an apron.”

JRR Tolkien

And so, I won’t quite get to ‘see’ my dear Lilibet. I will however, stand at the gates of her home, marvel at her country and weep beside her resting place.

If you see a news report of a wild woman clad in purple cleaving to a column of the British Museum refusing to let go, kneeling down on thousand year old cobblestone streets, lost in sentimental wonder at the ancient bricks, or running wildly around the grounds of Pemberley with arms flailing in the air, you know that will probably be me. 

It will be physically impossible for me to hold in such excitement, so I hope you will come along and share my marvellous journey. I will post about the trip on my blog when I get back after Easter, but in the meantime, I plan on sharing my joys through instagram and Facebook posts. I promise not to overload you with tacky travel pics, but will carefully select brilliant moments and creative shots to share. 

For those who may want to make these cupcakes, it is my delicious  London Fog cake recipe. Follow the recipe exactly, but use two muffin trays filled with 18 cupcake liners and bake in a moderate oven for 18 minutes. 

And so I must say farewell, or as the French say, adieu! 

I am already beginning to grin like a cheshire cat. Spare a thought for my darling friend sitting next to me on the plane. I will try sooo hard not to bubble over, but I’m not convinced I will be able to. The struggle is real.

In the words of dear Jane Bennet,

“To know that what I have to relate will give so much pleasure!

How shall I bear so much happiness..”

See you all on the other side. Arrgh!

Love Anna xx


  • smmio1966

    So excited for you.
    You are incredibly gifted and inspiring.
    Praying for the most awesome holiday !

    • A
      Anna Hogbin

      Thank you so much. I am really excited and can’t wait to share my adventures xx

  • You’re hilarious!!!!!!

  • Oh my goodness. Reading your post makes me feel like I am there! Sooooooooooo exciting!! Enjoy every single second dear Anna!!!! Xo

    • A
      Anna Hogbin

      Thanks Haley! I cannot wait to share all of my adventures xx

  • Woo hoo Span!! Check out the Natural History Museum while you are there…our old ‘work’ place (under ground) in the data gathering days. Therein, marvel at the inner staircase – filming place for Paddington Bear…
    And, note to self, not to wear my puffy coat in your presence ????
    Love Spinny ❤️????

    • A
      Anna Hogbin

      Thanks Spinny! yes, I remember those days when you and Grum were deep underground at the museum with old skulls and your cross stitch! Can’t wait to check it out. Lots of love xx

  • Alison Hay

    All the quotes I know, and I am feeling your excitement. I look forward to living your journey with you. Also a dream of mine, maybe not the outfit, I don’t think a six foot, well endowed woman could get away with it!!

    • A
      Anna Hogbin

      Ha ha! Oh I think you would look fabulous Alison! Thanks for the encouragement. xx

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