Extraordinary spring


We had been planning a trip north. But on Friday morning, early, when Charlie should have been hitting the motorway early (I was going to meet him later in Glasgow, coming up by train) he suddenly realised, like an epiphany, that he just needed to be in Dorset, looking after his amazing greenhouse, filled with seedlings and cuttings, which couldn’t quite cope with a heatwave on their own. The weather forecast in Dorset was extraordinary. You cannot be in two places at once – a lesson that’s quite useful to remind ourselves of, from time to time, as we hurtle around trying to pack more than is humanly possible into our days.

And so, instead of myself heading up to the early, early train at Euston, I had a nice unexpected catch up in the office and caught the train down to Dorset in time for lunch and a sweltering afternoon in the garden.

I had a couple of phone calls and as the sun was lowering we went for a walk up top. The air was still and hazy and filled with the heat of the day, quickly turning cool as the sun went down.

The primroses in the churchyard are astonishing this year – we think, the result of the decision the church has taken not to mow large areas of the churchyard but just to let it grow to meadow, cutting once in the autumn.
The hills glowed with the pinky-orange of the setting sun.

We had supper at brilliant Dorshi, in Bridport, that night, to compensate for not being in the bothy, and the following morning we woke incredibly early to the most beautiful spring day. Another walk.

These days are so curiously reminiscent of the 2020 lockdown – those long March evenings, when we basked, and when nature and spring provided the most extraordinary consolation to the fears and unknown of those strange, dark, beautiful days. 

Here again was the same light, the same misty air.

And here again the world is beset by a new set of fears and tragedies, this time entirely of human making, and all the more terrible for that. 

But faced with a beautiful spring, it’s hard, honestly, not to stay optimistic for the future – because the cycle of life continues.  It had been a sad week – last weekend, as I wrote, I’d been at the memorial for my friend Roma; this week, Charlie and I were at my cousin Edward’s funeral, who died far too young, aged 50, after a whole brave lifetime of quietly grappling with tremendous health issues. It was a beautiful, sad service, but we left filled with admiration for this gentle, determined man who did so much to improve the world around him – despite the fact that he’d had his first heart bypass aged just six months, at the Great Ormond Street hospital, in 1972.

Charlie’s garden is astonishing. Months of effort over the winter are coming to fruition now. Spring is bursting everywhere in this amazing heatwave.

In the afternoon, I got the watercolours out that Charlie had bought me for Christmas and did a small drawing of this familiar front of the parsonage. I’ll do a little blog about paintings one day perhaps. 

The evening set fair, perfectly still.  We had friends over for a long-overdue catch up, which was so good.

This morning, another beautiful clear day – and the clocks have changed, so we suddenly slip into light evenings again. 

The news is so sad at the moment, and we all feel so powerless, except to pray for peace.  High up on the hills, the terrible destruction of the Ukraine seems far away, but I think the lesson of this time of year, as the season slips towards Easter and a profound sense of renewal, is to remember always that love is stronger than hate, and always wins in the end, however long it takes.

11 comments on this post

  • David Boylan

    Dear Ben,

    I always look forward to reading your blog and seeing your beautiful photos. As someone who lives in a flat in London without outdoor space, I long for a garden and seeing what Charlie does to your garden lifts my spirit.

    I must pop over to Rugby Street and see your new collection of goods since I was last there around Christmas
    and I always find something nice to take home with me!

    Looking forward to more reading in the following months.

  • Jeanie

    I always enjoy your blogs , I love Dorset and have been missing going down on our yearly trips for the last two years , this year we are coming down .your blogs feel very much like home to me, as I have fallen in love with Dorset . Cycling ,walking and exploring the countryside thank you Ben for giving me moments of contentment as I read your blogs .

  • Donna

    Long driveway impassable, still cold nights, your blog: hope and heaven.

  • Mary

    Astonishing photographs. The scenes are different every time. Thank you!

  • Sandra Flood

    The primroses are truly amazing, how lovely. Such a green and seemingly peaceful land compared to the wretched and unnecessary devastation in Ukraine.

  • Darlene Chandler

    Thank you for this wonderful blog and the beautiful scenery. In Canada it snowed a bit today an the past weekend and today -5 degrees, so very very cold, so these wonderful pictures of the flowers of nature and greenery is certainly making my day a bit brighter and hoping Spring will soon come where I live in Canada. The only thing I have is 2 Orchids to brighten my day. Can’t wait to see Charlie’s garden when all the beautiful flowers start blooming. And can’t wait to see your Bothy and the scenery there. Thank you for this glimpse of nature when other parts of the world are in such turmoil. And can’t imagine how these people will get through their Easter. Love nature and all its surroundings and their is usually a rainbow.

  • Debra Moore

    Lovely blog Ben gorgeous spring photos.What a dilemma bothy or look after garden and greenhouse l am sure to stay was the best choice worth the sacrifice.We were in Dorset the past week enjoying the glorious weather.We visited Harriet and Evie to pop by and say hello.It was 2 years to the day the last time we had seen them that fateful day we were all put into lockdown.I will never forget the uncertainty will we ever see spring again and the joy if nature.Two years on thankfully we are still here and nature is in abundance.Your blog and reflection on the world is always comforting thank you.

  • Merne

    Againy ou have given everyone a beautiful glimpse of spring. In Ontario Canada, we still have very cold days .I am looking o wrmer weather and tulips in my gardens. forward to warmer weather and seeing tulips in my gardens.

  • Christina Sharp

    So enjoy this blog & the marvellous pics, thank you! Would also love to see your drawing & see a blog about painting.
    Thanks again

  • Phyllis Kornegsy

    Enjoy our blogs so much
    Coming to London in May

  • Laura Harrison

    As always , your blog is a welcome tonic. At the moment, outside my window, there is a raging blizzard! It is nice to remember what grass looks like through your pictures. This has been one of the longest winters in my memory, and it seems not to want to let go! Oh well, at least I can gaze upon your beautiful and peaceful pictures and avoid looking outside! You really should make some of your snaps into greeting cards Ben, you would have a hard time keeping them in stock!!

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