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In suspension



Ben

Wednesday evening was not good. Here is our friend Ruth Guilding (author of the incredible Bible of British Taste) and Charlie, at the Pineapple, Leverton Street, which was the perfect place to watch England cruise to the World Cup final. It was not to be.

Ruth’s husband, A. N. Wilson, expressed the national mood, while buying consoling drinks for the whole pub.

It did occur to me that it might have been better, ultimately, to lose quietly on Wednesday rather than to France on Sunday afternoon. Luckily for readers of the blog, either way, things looked up on Thursday, when Charlie and I had a day at Wimbledon, which was a whole new experience for us.

Nothing was better than getting down to Dorset late that night. I had an early meeting in North Dorset on Friday. I got home as the sun was setting on Littlebredy. The magical days and nights of summer continue. The land is burned to a dry brown. Driving around Dorset literally feels like being in Italy these days.

Charlie’s veg garden is going mental, in a beautiful way.

A rogue lily has come up yellow in the garden which is unbelievably beautiful.

Saturday morning was misty.

Early morning walk.

But the sun soon burned off. We went to Bridport as usual. Charlie, his sister Annabel, and their friend Lucy, went up to the Yeovil Show.  I stayed at home, Mum and Dad came over for lunch, and Mavis and Sibyl went crazy chasing balls in the garden.  Too hot.

On Sunday morning we got up early to go swimming at Durdle Door.

The water was sparkling, turquoise.

We dropped the girls at the station to head back up to London, and Charlie and I headed home, and saw something very special. On the road just south of Dorchester is the tiny church at Whitcombe that we have driven past a thousand times and have always been a little too busy or  too late to stop at.  Now was the moment. 

The church is approached down a narrow footpath.

Sheep graze peacefully under the branches of a great oak.

The churchyard is beautifully overgrown.

Inside the interior is cool and white, but with some amazing fragments of early wall paintings. Here is St. Christopher.

Nearby lived William Barnes, the Dorset Poet, at Winterborne Came Rectory.  Barnes preached his first and last sermons in Whitcombe Church. This small plaque is in a niche by the altar. 

Looking across water meadows to the small thatched hamlet beyond.

A Holm Oak with long branches shading the path and gravestones.

Redundant now, the building is cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust.  The building and setting are perfect. Ignoring the noise of cars speeding by, you are transported to 17th or 18th or 19th century Dorset in the blink of an eye. Time travel does exist. And from this perspective, the world feels calm and eternal.

We had a great lunch with Mum and Dad, and our niece and her boyfriend, and then came home for a long sleep. That evening we went with our neighbour Anne Lambton to the beach at Hive.

And a bottle of wine and fish soup and chips at the Seaside Boarding House, before driving back through the summer heat, in the small Morris Minor which is having the dream of a time at the moment. 

Tomorrow, Charlie and I are off to Stockholm for a couple of days of life inspiration, and then I’m teaching there on Friday. The days and weeks slip by so fast, but are held, by the heat of this amazing summer, as if in eternal suspension. 

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