Living the dream

The world goes quiet in August, but I’ve noticed for rather a few years now that the silly season never seems so funny anymore, does it? But then again, I’ve repeated a million times on this blog that the news – unrelentingly bad – is always filled with terrible things that you can do nothing about. And this, in itself, is both exhausting and demoralising. For years now I’ve taken my main sense in life to be to look after the things that are actually in your control. If we all tackle those, I have a sense that life will feel just that little bit better.

At times, it feels like pure escapism to enjoy the garden, to even – dare I say it – just enjoy the sunshine.  But actually it’s what keeps us sane and balanced in a frenetic world. I’m writing half way through August. The London parks and garden squares are pale golden brown, the colour of sugar, in a way that I’ve never seen before. The countryside is parched, dusty, bone dry.  At the end of the week, I’m heading off to Italy for a week with Valentina – after what feels like way, way too long, but it’s strange to be leaving an England that looks like Italy already, this summer.  Charlie’s staying here to look after the garden and enter many more shows.

And before I leave, I’ve been looking back at a few photographs of the month.  July in 150 images.

late June – there was still the sense that rain might come, but we haven’t seen it for weeks now.

Charlie’s cordoned sweet peas were perfect in the garden. 

And in London….

The verbascum have been spectacular this year, too. 

I got up very early one morning to take photos at sunrise in Poundbury – the tower I designed a few years ago seen across a field of barley to the west, the morning glow. 

Houses along the park edge, glowing in the first light of dawn. 

Back for a walk over the hills. Still some green, then. 

The Uplyme & Lyme Regis summer show – Charlie entered many classes, and did exceptionally well – although we live too far away to take the cups home with us! 

The perfect cricket club clubhouse. 

We had our friends James and Arthur staying.  Quiet evening for supper. 

A serene evening. 

Knowing it was going to be a beautiful sunrise, I went a bit crazy and nipped down to Truro in time for the sun coming up to take some photos of our crescent there, designed a few years ago now for the Duchy of Cornwall. 

The little square of houses behind the Crescent.  Worth the trip – home, breakfast, a sleep in the sun, and a beautiful party at Jasper & Oisin’s that afternoon and evening…

Home the next couple of days…

And the next weekend we had our friends Daniel and Benedict staying – an evening drink on the cricket ground, looking like a painting. 

Road trip to Weymouth – complete with scooter parade.  Tea at Chettle, the astonishingly beautiful Baroque house we worked on a few years ago in North Dorset. 

Late summer ebullience.

The landscape has turned brown and dry, now.  The heatwave descended. 

Sibyl knows the best place. 

Down by the sea, that evening… The woods are still green and cool. Chicks are growing. 

Rather amazingly, the hedgerows are filled with blackberries now – the autumn will be early and long this year. 

Folk Festival in Bridport…
The following day, mist rolls in from the sea – cool, welcome. 

Charlie and I went down to the Cattistock Show that afternoon. The horticultural tent is always rather empty, although it is a beautiful tent. 

Conversely, the Bar is always full. 

As we slip towards late July, the garden reaches peak production… astonishingly full.  Charlie’s dedication knows no bounds.

We went to Cornwall to stay with Ruth and Andrew for the St. Buryan Steam Rally.  The day we arrived was classic Cornwall – bright blue sky and sea.   Tea with a client who moved to this amazing view in the spring, after a long renovation of their amazing arts and crafts house. 

Around the coast at Lamorna, with Ruth.  I did venture in that morning. 

Ruth’s brilliant cottage is available for rent – you can read about it here.  The St. Buryan Rally is amazing.  A grey claggy fog rolled in all day but spirits remained un-dampened.  A lot of tractors.  Choppers, and standing stone.  The tractor rally.  The WI cake tent.  Steam Rally.  Down to Penzance for a wander in the streets of my ancestors – maybe this is why I always feel so at home here?  To the best pub. Ruth – aka Bible of British Taste on instagram, also writes the Bible of British Pubs, another of her passions.  To Cape Cornwall for a walk on Sunday, before lunch.  And then home.   More heat.  Charlie exhibited at the Taunton show this weekend. These are carnations grown by the famous Ivor Mace.  Charlie cleaned up in many categories. The hard work is paying off – perfection.  Living The Dream.  It’s Tuesday evening now. On Sunday we were in Weymouth under clear blue skies. 

a morning on the beach with Graham Snow, and lunch at Hamiltons. Living the Dream! Because, Weymouth really is our dream Dorset town, we’ve decided – basically, every right ingredient in perfect combination.

And despite the dark clouds that seem to be gathering on the horizon, this summer has been like a dream-like state, one from which I would quite like not to wake, just yet.  Are you with me?



Echoes of summer 1913? I seem to remember reading that it was a hot one as well and of course the last peacetime one for some time. I admire your ability to tune out the wretched goings on of the world – enjoy these halcyon days.


Thank you, thank you Ben. Another stunningly beautiful blog. Always. Like Sarah, I now don’t watch or listen or read the news. Sadly I live in Australia – but I can “live my Dream” through your blogs. (I’m English). I LOVE Poundbury, and the Crescent – why can’t all affordable housing projects be like these. I mean that as a serious question. You give out so much joy Ben, and positivity. I read and re-read your blogs – going back over the years. Bliss ! Christine. Mount Macedon.

Christine Gascoigne

I love finding a new post from you!
Scenery, Charlie’s spectacular gardens and show-flowers, the family dogs, architecture, friends, pubs, local doings all quite delightful. I am very curious how your people photos show no awareness of the photographer. Another of your many, many talents.
You once reminded us that Earth is a very ancient place. Yes, take heart!

Peggy Stanwood

Wouldn’t it be nice of you could publish a volume of your architectural works. I know I’d purchase one.

Clay McCleery

Beautiful words and pictures, as always Ben. Congratulations to Charlie, the garden is truly a wonder!


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