Worth the wait…

I’ve been in Scotland, back up in the Moray Firth for a few very happy days working on our architectural project there – shaping the early development of a new town near the coast just to the east of Inverness. An amazing project, the sort of thing that doesn’t come around so often! Anyway, long days drawing out the master plan and visiting site meant that, well, there wasn’t a lot of time to blog. So for those of you who make a habit of checking in on a Monday morning, my apologies. I hope it will be worth the wait. Some photos will follow.

But thinking of things being worth the wait, I wanted to post about two things which were a long time in the making.

First, an email I got the other day from my (internet) friend Martin Hibbitt over at Hibbitts of Oswestry, who has a fantastic website selling lots of very good things for your garden. Some of you, I know, have written from time to time asking me where I’ve got the lantern cloches that add a little bit of structure to the garden at this time of year and are the best thing I know to get your courgettes or early lettuces going. Here’s a reminder of what we’re talking about.

(It’s nice to look at a few photos from last year isn’t it? Rather gives one hope). ‘Sorry, Ben’ he wrote, ‘that it’s taken quite so long to get your garden cloches in’. Yes, it was an order for a few more cloches that I’d placed in about, um, March last year. But all good things come to those who wait.  Martin now has quite a few in stock. Can I recommend that if you crave a lantern cloche in your life that you move swiftly while they are here?


Another thing that took a long time in the making. Over the years we’ve collaborated a few times with fantastic Pat Randle, the son of John & Rose who run the Whittington Press. Pat (who has his own press, the Nomad Letterpress) printed the letterpress invitations for our Three Classicists Exhibition two years ago, and right now he and Ed Kluz are hard at work on the poster and invitations for the fantastic ‘Theatre Britannica‘ Exhibition of Ed’s work that we’re holding in the shop in May.

Well, about 2 years ago, I realised that I needed to hang a ‘health and safety’ poster in the office in order to comply with some dreadful law or another. Have you seen that Health and Safety poster? What a piece of visual junk.  See the attached image from the Health and Safety executive website. The real tragedy is that the old poster, which was, how can I put this politely, complete crap, was then replaced with a far more hideous version that came close to an inner circle of hell, where ugly typography, absurd photographs and sick liver background colour combined perfectly with patronising text to make something that simply did not belong here in Ben Pentreath towers.


All the more extraordinary, then, to read the Health and Safety Executive’s reasons for their bold new design:


HELLO!?!?!  More readable and engaging? Give me a break. Send the HSE on a Good Taste and Common Sense course, please!

Anyway, back to Patrick. Despairing of the situation, I thought that Pat might be able to help create a remedy. Our very own Ben P Health & Safety poster. He immediately got what I was after. We pulled out the Big Caslon. We contacted Reynold Stone’s daughters to get a copy of his Royal Crest. And we a created a handsome typographic printers’ primer sheet. That happens to contain the words of the H&S poster beautifully set in varying fonts and sizes.

Now, it took quite a long time to complete. Pat went AWOL on a trip to Africa for a good few months. But when he got back, he and I slowly collaborated to get it all just perfect.  And here are the photographs of the first poster of all, hanging here in the office.

Graphic designers, architectural firms, interior designers, business owners of taste – please note. Your health and safety poster crisis is now over. We’ve a limited edition of 250 posters, and they’re available from the shop here.  I might add for less money than the hideous plastic laminated thing for sale over at the Health and Safety Executive.

Do you know the really interesting thing? Everyone in the office kitchen now has a little read of that poster. You sort of can’t help it. It’s that nice to look at. As everyone knows, I am extremely in favour of Health and Safety at work. I am very very pleased to have done my little bit to help.

What was this blog all about? Oh yes. Here are some photos of Scotland, a little town called Dunkeld, on the River Tay, that I visited on my way north on Saturday afternoon—one of the happiest days I’ve had in a long while. A sober yet friendly town; qualities encapsulated in the painted Newsagent sign that I show below; don’t you love the way the plain sober text of ‘Newsagent’ and ‘Tobacconist’ contains the extraordinary fancy text ‘Gift Shop’? Bliss.

The sun broke through misty spring clouds. Rainbows bounded from every field, literally. A heavenly little place: inspiration on a plate.




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