Autumn song

A month has passed now, since the death of Queen Elizabeth. I was in Oxfordshire, that evening, and for work the following day – so I only got down to Dorset in the evening, where the house was quiet and filled with sadness. Yet again, the consolations of nature work their magic.  The days were beautiful, a hint of early autumn in the air, mornings full of mist.  Charlie cut the meadow. And the house was draped in flags.  A couple of days later we were back up in London and got up in the depths of the night to join the memorial queue for the Lying in State.  London was so beautiful that night. The Thames was mirror flat, not a breath of wind, the night air warm.  We arrived at the turn of the tide, water like rippled glass.  It was a brilliant decision to floodlight St. Paul’s, the dome was magnificent in the night sky.  The breadth of the river reminded you of Canaletto.  We quietly moved on.  The BFI had a large screen playing amazing vintage films of The Queen.  Dawn, and we were opposite Parliament.  Looking back… It was a most profoundly moving experience; we were so glad we’d been. And we were lucky, too, I think, that we joined the queue at around 3.30am and left Westminster Hall at 9.30 that morning.

We walked up to Buckingham Palace and to The Green Park to see the floral tributes, which were beautiful and immensely moving. Whoever had come up with the brilliant idea of removing all packing and cellophane from the flowers deserves a medal.
And the following day we went to Scotland. There is never a better moment than the first glimpse of Inverary across Loch Fyne.  And of our own loch, nearly home.  We slept like logs and woke early, so happy to be at the bothies at last.  Morning coffee in bed.  Followed by a walk…. And a mud bath, the first of many.  Luckily the sea is good for a wash.  Spring clean.  Hot sunshine in the afternoon…. Beautiful light that evening.
A beautiful motor yacht anchored in our bay one afternoon… Flat calm…. The Sound of Jura was like a mirror… Until Mavis took her customary dip… Hot sunshine most days. There’s no more perfect weather in Scotland I think, than these warm autumn days.  The morning of the Queen’s funeral.  We watched on our projector.
And went for a walk that evening, filled with sadness.   Morning walk. Breakfast outside. And then I was off – up to Tornagrain, the wonderful town we’re designing on the Moray Firth, beyond Inverness – I had a fantastic drive up the Great Glen, taking it slowly, drinking it all in – such a beautiful day.  We were hosting a visit by the Prince’s Foundation, a day for landowners interested in doing a better way of development – as I hope we are demonstrating here, led by our fantastic client, the Earl of Moray.  As the time came for the tour to commence, the clouds parted – sparkling blue sky and sunshine took us around.  There’s something about the light and shade on the white painted buildings that is so good, so we were lucky.  Here’s a view of the first allotments.  Brand new houses, waiting for their beech hedges to be planted this autumn to form the front boundary gardens.  I simply adore moments like this, when people take over and start brilliant gardening – this is a true gift to the street.  Croy Road.  The village shop for the first phase of houses.  Malvina Green, named in honour of John Moray’s mother, who led one of the groups at a cracking pace.  And then back home, another beautiful drive home, in time for tea – with my brother and sister in law, who’d arrived for the night at the end of their brilliant camper van fortnight on the Isle of Mull.   The most beautiful sunrise the next morning.  Mirror flat seas.  More mud.  Plenty of time in the sea that afternoon, in a very high tide.  And then – down. We came back down to London on the Sunday, ready for a busy week.  More blue skies for our office day out in the middle of the week, visiting beautiful Kirtlington Park…. Followed by lunch with Matthew Rice at Ham Court – heaven…. And an afternoon at Buscot.  It was a tired crew that got back onto the train that evening…!  Dorset was wonderful, soft and simple, at the end of what felt like the busiest week.  Autumn in the trees.  Brilliant blue skies.  Sunset walk.

What a sad start to the month, and what a strange end to it, as the world feels – yet again – like it’s tipping into a kind of madness; but the best things in life carry on, and don’t change. Have a good week and remember to only worry about the things that are directly within your control!

Never has this mantra felt more sensible to me. Enjoy the beautiful autumn sunshine.


Dear Ben Pentreath,
I’m late, only now catching up on your year. Happy moments reading your blog and merrily missing the gloom outside. She should be renamed “Mudvis”. (I went to Poundbury the other day and thought it’s only missing that: trees and random front gardens.)
Wishing you a happy 2023 and many more blog entries.

Gabriela Pilkington

I love that someone gave up a prize dinner plate Dahlia in memory of the Queen.


I love your photographs of the Dorset countryside,they are Eric Ravilious’ artwork come to life.How I wish more landowners would do developments like Tornagrain,instead of letting developers throw up more cod Victorian boxes!

Elizabeth Cornwell

A lovely post, beautiful photographs and words at such a very strange time


another beautiful post with amazing photos and such true words at the end; thank you again, and again!


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