Out of the fog comes hope


Our walk this morning somehow felt appropriate.

It was a beautiful morning, but a thick fog filled the valley. The air was still, silent, muffled. No one was about.

Trees appeared like ghosts in the landscape. 

We climbed the hill, as always, at just the moment the sun was rising. 

And, coming up above the clouds, we entered the most beautiful winter landscape…

Everyone was happy… the dogs were happy.  Some of you have kindly been asking about Mavis’s absence. She’d had a cut, we’re not sure how, and hadn’t wanted to go on every morning walk recently. All good now – that is the Mavis roll of happiness, when she hurtles down the hillside on her back. 

I’ve got to admit, I can’t really remember a morning like it…

Friendly cows in the lower paddocks…

Later this morning, the garden was bathed in warm, spring-like sunshine. 

Charlie’s new growing bed is full of promise… and soon to be full of composted manure. 

The structure of the winter garden is almost more beautiful than thinking about how this will all look in a few weeks, a few months’ time. 

The gardener in his new happy place… And, on the bank above the house, I suddenly noticed dozens of tiny early primroses – perhaps a bit too early for their own good, if we carry on getting hard frosts like these. 

But what a beacon of hope and promise they provide – of spring, and of Easter, not too far around the corner now.

America, the country I love so much, has been through a bitter week.  Britain – indeed the whole of Europe – is going through our own bitter weeks too, as severe lockdown strangles the ebb and flow of normal life once more.

But do you mind my saying that I’m optimistic about 2021? It just feels to me that the turbulent seas of politics are calming a little; and it feels also that we can see a clear – albeit still distant – end to the pandemic.  Closer to home – back to my mantra, of worrying about the things that you can deal with yourself… the design practice is busy – and I know many others are too. We’re not working side by side as I’d like, but that will come. The shops of Lambs Conduit Street somehow are surviving – Bridie, Emily and I have been quite overwhelmed, if I could just say, by the support that so many customers have given the shop over these past few months. Spring is just around the corner, and the days are perceptibly longer – and that always puts a bounce in my step!  But today, just somehow, I really felt it all the more.

I hope you have too.

27 comments on this post

  • Alicia Whitaker

    Dear Ben, your photos, as always, are beautiful and I loved seeing all of the fog blankets! The gardens will be spectacular this year and if all goes as it should, we will again be sitting around a table with our friends, happy to be together. I’m starting seeds now — some outside in a new to me process called “winter seed starting” and others inside on a heat mat. It always makes me confident regarding the future. Yes, let’s remain optimistic and patient. I’m scheduled for the first vaccine shot on March 1 — hope you will get them soon too. My best to you, Charlie and the girls!

  • Jennifer Phillipps

    Happy belated New Year to you from Nelson, New Zealand.
    Good to catch up with what has been happening in your beautiful part of the world and see that you just keep on keeping on despite the setbacks from Covid….all the best for a fabulous 2021…Jennifer

  • Allison

    I love your optimism that shows through many of your posts as it is so dreary and draining hearing people complain endlessly. Charlie’s garden is looking fabulous and I note is creeping closer and closer to the house! I still have not planted all the bulbs I bought… I love Mavis’ roll of happiness, legs akimbo in the air, down the hill!

  • Susie

    You write like a poet Ben, so beautifully.
    Your bothy in magical Scotland, glorious Dorset, the dogs of course!
    You and Charlie are indeed blessed.

  • Lillian

    Such exquisite photos. They are absolutely beautiful. Thank you

  • Lillian

    Such exquisite photos. They are absolutely beautiful. Thank you

  • María

    Ben, desde la pandemia sigo tu blog: inspiration, y fue como disfrutar del aire fresco del sur de Inglaterra. Nosotros vivimos en el campo, pero es distinto al vuestro. Te conocí por medio de Persephone Books.
    Leí tus post de años atrás, y de igual forma, la perdida de tus padres. Mi madre se fue de forma similar a la tuya y lo sentí mucho. De momento mi padre vive solo.
    Mi marido es arquitecto técnico, una profesión que en Inglaterra no existe, pero le encantan tus diseños. Especialmente los Crescent.
    Solo me queda darte las GRACIAS por continuar transmitiendo calma, esperanza, y lo mejor el amor por lo que se hace a diario de forma cotidiana… Muchas gracias por tus palabras desde aquí. Te seguiré leyendo siempre que pueda.

  • Sara Longman

    Very simply Inspiring thank you.

  • Ann

    Thank you Ben, as always, for your exquisite post. The photos this morning took me to a bright experience of the primordial, ancient being of the landscape in which you live as well as the deep love and stewardship with which you and Charlie care for Her. Blessings and peace to you both…

  • Sally Leonard

    “Mavis’ roll of happiness” made me smile.
    Blessings for a more peaceful new year.

  • Darlene Chandler

    Beautiful pictures of the countryside covered in fog and mist and then the bright sunshine. Love that it certainly looks like Spring is coming with the primrose and such lush greenery. Happy that Mavis is out and about. Very happy to hear that the design field is busy and that the shop is doing well with all of the restrictions. Canada this winter in Toronto is lush and green, which is quite amazing. Hopefully it will stay that way and we too get an early start to spring. Trying so hard to stay optimistic about the issues in the States and hope the best for our neighbours. We are heading for more restrictions here and today cozy with my crumpets and tea and a good read. I hope Spring will bring positive things for us all. So miss still my 6 trips to London a year and visiting your shop and staff more and more. Great hope for the future.

  • Mary-Anne Borrowdale

    Ethereal and lovely, Ben – thank you.

  • Diane Keane

    Thank you for the perspective, Ben. Listening to the radio this morning, I learned that many politicians from both parties are welcoming the chance to make positive changes in Washington D.C. in 2021, hopefully to forestall any more nightmares like the past 4 years. The attack on the U.S. Capitol last week, if I may use a suitably disgusting metaphor, was like the bursting of a giant, infected pimple on the face of “Uncle Sam”. Once the detritus has drained away, our country will be on the way to healing and health, and vigilant against new infections.

    Meanwhile, how I love the photo of Charlie in his new greenhouse! And glad to hear Mavis is back. Bless you all.



  • Deborah Wagner

    I knew where you were going with this from the first sentence, and I was very happy to float along with you to the end because I know you are wise. In the last week or so, I have gone through days of shock, disbelief, rage, and fear and then, inevitably, into serenity. My job in life is to love my family, order seeds, and plant them, and I will. Bless you, Ben.

  • Jennifer Campbell

    Please add my name to your mailing list. I love receiving the posts but must rely on a friend to send them.
    Best, Jennifer

  • Jagnan

    Lovely photos-so peaceful. I am glad to hear about Mavis. I missed her.

  • Liz Allen

    Love your winter shots (ours here in Annan ONT are a little more snowy)! Enjoying your morning fog photos lifting in the sunshine reminds me of the morning mists lifting in the meadows of my Aunt and Uncle’s farm in the South Island of NZ. We had our family visits during Canadian Summer – best time to ship off the kids to visit rellies. Thanks for stirring that memory -mean to look for my photos from then today. I now can’t remember a time not walking your hills with you virtually and appreciate the spirit lift they always bring, especially over the past year. May 2021 be kind to you and Charlie, and your furry kids.

  • Teddy Witherspoon

    Am envious of Mavis’s “roll of happiness “. What a life!

  • Annelies

    I hope your wishes come true and that the pandemic will give us creativity and positivity for the world and all who live here

  • Dana Jenkins

    I too appreciate your thoughtful, optimistic, musings but really all I needed was to see mavis in her ‘roll of happiness’ and Charlie in the greenhouse!

  • Trudy

    Dear Ben, almost always when I find myself in a state of excitement appropriate to the current circumstances, your optimistic words come and calm me down at the right time. Your great photos of Dorset bring back many memories of this beautiful part of England, where I have had many wonderful vacations and I hope to have again soon. Thank you very much for your blog, that is doing me so good and which I am always looking forward to. I wish you all a happy new and hopefully healthy year Greetings from Germany…

  • Marion Buchanan

    I share your optimism and hope to infect others! I am certain of an explosion of creativity ahead after these dark times. Sending positive vibes!!!

  • Kay Langevin

    Thank you, thank you for your incredible lovely post! How can one not have hope in such a beautiful place; all the new growth, so much promise! And happy dogs.

  • Tracy Gooding

    Dear Ben,
    There is something about the natural world and seasons that just puts everything into perspective. We are heading toward the longest day and by just getting out and about for walks and observing the little signs, that truly we can always find hope. Charlie is in his element with the greenhouse, looking forward to seeing the beauty and bounty.

  • Mike

    I’m feeling optimistic too,really what’s the alternative at the moment? But I’m a realist as well and it’s going to be a very turbulent time in the states for the foreseeable future. Aside from the political turmoil we’re recording record COVID deaths here in California,almost 700 yesterday with no end in sight. On a positive note my spouse has received both jabs now being a physician on the front lines and there is hope at long last. But at the moment it is dreadful. I wish you,Charlie,the pets and indeed all of old Blighty a Happy New Year.

  • Jessica Marcum

    Thank you, as always, for your calm and optimistic perspective. This continues to be one of my very favorite corners of the internet. Now, more than ever!

  • southern gal

    thank you for your kind words to those of us Americans… its been a horrific week, the culmination of four nightmare years and the realization of many of our fears. 1-20 can not come soon enough.
    seeing your wonderful photos and the GREENHOUSE!!! is so relaxing taking me to another world…
    and happy new year to you both! (and the animals!)

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