Catching up


There’s only one way to stay on top of things, I suppose… which is, try to stay on top of things. So although the blog is a little overdue, I’ve just had a nice evening looking at photographs from the last two weeks. No wonder, in a sense, that I might be feeling a bit tired from time to time.


We start 2 weeks ago in Scotland.  I was north for the Johnston’s of Elgin project I’m working on – which launches this Autumn… and will, when it arrives, be very exciting.  But first, a turn around my favourite, perhaps, of all our projects – the Tornagrain new town, which we are masterplanning for Moray Estates, near Inverness, and which I’ve written about many times before on the blog.  This view will be getting familiar now!  Tornagrain was basking in incredibly warm sunshine – the last day of that almost-early-April-heatwave, before the weather changed and an arctic chill settled in.  It was wonderful while it lasted!

It’s always good to spend time walking around and seeing new phases coming forward… these houses were finished last winter. 

New houses under construction a little further to the east. 

The first phase of the town really feels substantial now, like a place taking shape…

Amazing to think all these houses are just a few short years old.  The allotments are booming and the new allotment area is being opened up at the moment, thanks to the amazing efforts of Nicole Petrie who keeps the show on the road…

The primary school, always one of my favourite buildings…  (designed by Nicole, too!) 

Good to see cyclists in the sunshine.

That afternoon I headed along the coast for a catch up at brilliant Gordon Castle Walled Garden…

Where Zara and Angus Gordon-Lennox are doing the most amazing job of restoring and replanting their huge walled garden – six short years ago it was completely derelict. It’s incredible how much has changed even in the few years since Charlie and I were lucky enough to visit. 

Beautiful new fruit canes just planted;

Crocus heaven…

Angus took me for a quick hurtle down the magnificent River Spey and then I settled in for a night before our Johnston’s visit the next morning.

Snow! the factory gleamed in the sunshine. 


And then, the weekend. Charlie was entering the Dorset County Show, but we had a lovely Saturday down in Weymouth, taking in the sights of this, my favourite of Dorset towns, ending with a huge plate of fish and chips down at the harbour front.

The best shop of all time – Books Afloat. If you ever visit Weymouth don’t miss it. 

Remarkable mad terraces, of course. 

Lovely crumbling ones too. it’s such a relief being in a town that has still seen ‘better days’ as opposed to all being done up. 

The replica of King George’s bathing machine. 

Everywhere needs a weird giant plastic dinosaur and palm trees. 

Ominous rain clouds threatened. We got home just in time…

D O R S E T   C O U N T Y   S P R I N G   S H O W

The next day, bright and early, Charlie was ready to exhibit.

The show was being held in Poundbury. I actually haven’t been in ages so I had a quick whizz around, while he was setting up, to look at some of our more recent buildings there….

One of Charlie’s entries:

Tough competition in the daffodil classes…

New streets designed by me and my great friend George Saumarez Smith. 

This little terrace very inspired by Weymouth, as I’m sure you can tell.
New houses…

Very new houses! 

All set up, we came home to take the dogs for a walk…

And then back in to see how everyone had done. 

Charlie had done brilliantly, of course. 

Collecting his cup, for the most points on the horticultural table, from Lord and Lady Fellowes. 

Plant people. 

Charlie and Mark Read, daffodil grower extraordinary.  And home to a beautiful evening. 

T H E   B R I D P O R T   A N D   D I S T R I C T   S P R I N G   S H O W

And then it’s this weekend just past. The Bridport and District Spring Show. I think my favourite exhibit?

Charlie winning prizes….

And more prizes! That’s the mayor of Bridport on the left!

And over to our friends Julius and Anaïs for a cup of tea and to look at the newborn lambs. 

And home again, to a magical sunset. 

It’s that time of year again.

Week after week, I’ve been writing, and I think it’s still on my mind, how the world feels so unsettled and so full of sadness. The simple things in life carry on, though, and I can’t help but admit – that always brings me a real sense of hope.

Our friend Gracie, of Little Toller Books, has done the most magnificent task of raising a huge sum of money and garnering hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of donations to bring ten thousand backpacks to Ukraine, filled with books and goodies, for refugee children of all ages.  You must read the brilliant story here and they are setting off within a matter of days to deliver lorryloads of books. Please support this fantastic initiative if you are able. I am so, so thrilled to see what she has done. If ever there was something we need, it’s to see a world quite literally, packed with hope.

13 comments on this post

  • Whit Hendon

    Yay! Charlie McCormick!

  • Mary

    Magical, as always. Thank you, Ben and Charlie!

  • erik sexton

    your beautifully made tea towel commemorating queen elizabeth’s platinum jubilee was delivered this afternoon . i think it’s absolutely exquisite .

  • Darlene Chandler

    Happy Easter to you and Charlie. Charlie is doing famously at the flower shows with his trophies and awards, so happy for him. The garden at your house with all of the array of flowers are magnificent. It is a different Easter this year, with so many in Ukraine suffering. Your friends donating the backpacks for the children is a wonderful idea to bring some positive light for these suffering children. That town development is really coming along nicely and that bookshop you went to looks so quaint. You Spring landscapes are again so nice to see. We are in a cold weather phase in Canada where I live and some areas just out of the city are to get snow. We don’t think it will ever end and not a bud on the trees as of yet. When I see Charlie’s tulips and daffodils that he planted, they are so joyful.

  • Phil Golden

    Weymouth Sands is one of my fave reads but I have yet to make it there. Very much as I imagined. Thanks! Great pics and updates.

  • Peter Sullivan

    Fascinating blog Ben covering so much ground. Poundbury such a successful project. You must be very proud of your achievements. When will you be visiting Cape Town? I am having Easter Lunch with Patrick and Isabelle Vlerick before they return to Belgium.

  • Janice

    How lovely to see photos of Weymouth as I hail from Weymouth, Massachusetts. Our Weymouth was settled two years after the pilgrims landed in Plymouth.

  • Clay McCleery

    Does Charlie have a trophy room, or is it simply ’the parsonage?
    Tornagrain and Poundbury are both beautiful, but I have a particular fondness for Tornagrain, as you can tell by my surname. We come from Clan Cameron, you see, and our clan chief resides not too far from Inverness.

  • Liz Allen

    It is serendipitous that your blog posts arrive at just the right moment in my inbox. Thank you for your wonderful timing, the brilliant pics. and leaving me with the visual of newborn leaps doing their newborn lamb crazy leaps and sproings about a paddock. Cheers! Liz Annan,Ontario

  • JayneAnn

    So enjoyed this wide ranging blog updating your and Charlie’s comings and going. Feel like an armchair traveller. Thank you

  • David Sanders

    Charlie seems to be cleaning up at these Spring shows, I do hope all of the others are getting a look in. The new housing-estate projects are really maturing quite nicely – developing that lived-in quality.

  • Sian Hughes

    Your blog is such a tonic always, thank you.

  • Celia

    Thank you Ben.
    I do so wish we could see some regeneration of buildings in our market towns! The market towns are dying, no doubt because of the internet and also out of town outlets!! It is very sad..

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