Hello Peter Rabbit and a beautiful spring to you all!

Peter Rabbit has become one of the iconic characters of the spring season. As we visited the Hilltop Farm home of his creator last October in the green valleys and charming towns of Windermere and Hawkshead we fell under the spell of the Lake District.

I am a Beatrix Potter fan girl. For years I dreamed of seeing the home of the woman who brought the world the tales of Peter Rabbit and friends.
Watching the biographical movie Miss Potter kindled a desire to visit the Lake District in northern England. When my son, an American soldier, was sent to Europe for 3 years, I finally found the passion and courage to begin planning a trip to the Old World. We worked and planned, researched and saved and were finally on our way to see our son and to visit Hilltop Farm.

From the first step off the train from London into the Booths market at Windermere and the hike down the winding roads to our Airbnb, the charm of the Lake District is refreshing and awe-inspiring.

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Windermere Booths – my favorite market in the UK!

At Booths we would purchase local cheese, freshly-baked bread, garden-fresh vegetables and a few treats to fuel our expedition.

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Our Airbnb suite featured Rabbit-themed decor, a comfy bed and an old-fashioned key for the wooden door.

The lanes of Windermere were lined with Peter Rabbit-themed memorabilia. I found a calendar and set of colored pencils.

Years ago, Newell bought me this complete set of the works of Beatrix Potter.

The day we traveled on a local bus from Booths to Hawkshead and Hilltop Farm was cold and clear. The chill of late October had taken the vegetable gardens but the hardier greenery and ferns were still standing strong.

Hilltop Farm was a 16th century farmhouse near Hawkshead in the Lake District where the Potters vacationed during the summers of Beatrix’s childhood. When she purchased the property it was still a working farm; today the historical land trust maintains the property that was bequeathed in Miss Potter’s will.
The art at Hilltop reflected the interests of a single Victorian woman – I was surprised that there were no family representations anywhere.
The original 16th century kitchen was updated only minimally to include indoor plumbing. A child of wealthy parents who employed servants, Beatrix had probably not been taught many domestic arts such as cooking.
Her father painted these plates to decorate her nursery when she was born. His artistic talent was downplayed by his family and he became an attorney but never practiced law.
Beatrix was very particular about the quality of the products that featured her characters.
Her childhood dollhouse was the scene for the story Two Bad Mice.

Her home and furnishings often showed up in illustrations for her books.

Her antique bed was used in other stories.
While recovering from surgery, Beatrix embroidered the curtains of her bed.
Potter’s adorable watercolors were sized to fit in her tiny books. Although painted with amazing detail, each was only about 3″ or 4″.

Although well-appointed for a farmhouse in its day, Hilltop was dark and rather stuffy. Its no wonder that Beatrix spent a lot of time outdoors working in the garden and with the animals on the farm.

The artichokes in the kitchen garden were thriving in the autumn chill.
One last look at Hilltop Farm.

On our way out of the farmhouse we stopped in the gift shop where I found this adorable scarf . I’ve been saving it for spring! I also got a tea spoon holder that became an ornament on our Christmas tree.

After a picnic lunch in the sun outside of a 9th century church, we headed into town to see the Beatrix Potter Gallery.

Later in life, Beatrix married a solicitor, W. Heelis. His office in Hawkshead has been turned into a gallery of her art.

The original office equipment of a turn-of-the-century attorney in a small town. He seems to have specialized in real estate and according to the movie Miss Potter, represented her in her purchase of Hilltop Farm and other rural properties.
Jemima Puddleduck, one of the most beloved Potter characters.
Tom Kitten in the kitchen.
The pre-Photoshop paste-up of the title page of Samuel Whiskers
The playful flagstones of a nearby tea shop.
Wherever you celebrate this spring, I hope you are surrounded by friends.

While you are enjoying your butterscotch nests, you can thank Beatrix Potter for her imaginative menagerie!

Here is my earlier post about Hilltop Farm – enjoy! If you need a little spring inspiration, hop on over to my Pinterest Spring Holidays board: