Last weekend, we had our friends Beata and John staying. The rain lashed down all weekend…wet walks, wet trips to Bridport, wet trips to the beach.

Wet dogs, wet people.  Drenched dahlias.

The rain and grey clouds rolled over all weekend.

But we had the best time, around the kitchen table, or by the fire, talking and drinking and generally putting the world to rights.  That Sunday evening, the sun finally glowed just as it went down. 

It’s been a busy week in London, and I got down to Dorset on Friday evening. The weekend has glowed. Warm sunshine.  Yesterday, I was at a beautiful house we’ve worked on, taking photographs in the sensational autumn light; a dreamy day.  And today, we woke bright and early, to beautiful sunshine. 

Such a contrast to a week ago.

This evening we had our harvest festival in the church. 

Every window and shelf was decorated and looking beautiful.

As the service ended, this astonishing ray of sunshine shone through the south aisle windows. 

And it was a moment to reflect that, however strange – and for some, terrible – this year has been, that this particular time of the year is one to give thanks, to count our blessings for the harvest, and for the food on our plate.

We live in a world – right now – where it is hard to find that quiet voice which says thank you; a world which seems to depend on turmoil and conflict and anguish as its narrative. In the midst of all that noise, it was good, this evening, to spend an hour with the village, in the village, quietly and calmly giving thanks for the good things at the moment where it can be hardest to find them.   A year ago, right now, we were still enjoying the rowdy delights of the village hall Harvest Supper, cancelled this year for the first time in living memory.

You can read the post about that here….  But I would merely like to reflect that a year ago, at the end of a very sad year for me, I had written this:

It’s so sad that she’s not here this year, and nor of course Dad – whose Memorial Service we are holding at Greenwich in just a few weeks now (if you are reader of the blog, and knew my father, and would like to attend, please email me for details).

But if there are any lessons to be learned from their absence – it’s to be grateful for the world, to live life to the fullest, to live in the moment, to love your neighbours…and to love life itself.  Not a bad mantra for an autumnal Monday night in London, I’d say.

My view on the world hasn’t changed.


21 comments on this post

  • Charlotte

    Thank you for this beautiful and very cheering post. I was sad to see that so many of the archive blogs, along with their photos, have disappeared – is there any chance of them coming back? The ones from a few years ago are also a rare bright spot online in a sea of incessantly miserable Covid news!

  • Valerie

    Hi Ben,

    I feel your loss – my Dad suddenly died in July – I live in San Francisco and had to get a flight to the UK to organize the funeral and empty the house, as I’m an only child and I lost my Mum a few years ago. It’s been a tough year and my heart is heavy.

    The church flowers made me smile – they’re so pretty.

    Thanks for a lovely post.

  • Debra Moore

    Love the church flowers l have missed visiting our beautiful village churches because of covid.Delightful photos as always thank you for sharing.

  • Kathleen

    Thank you for your heartfelt words. Like so many, we in Toronto are trying to stay sane and safe in this mad world. As an expat your photos are a welcome reminder of the beauty of England and its long and often tumultuous history tells us that peaceful times will return.

  • Darlene Chandler

    Beautiful pictures of the lovely green and nature at its peak. Sad the Harvest dinner did not take place this year. I so remember all of the wonderful pictures from last year. And your kind and lovely words on to be thankful and live for the day, who would have known that the world would change so much since last year. So hold true to everyone live and enjoy each day and make each day special. I was in London in January and only a few days, and I regret not planning to stay longer and now not able to, so again do and live life to the fullest as you say – who knows what tomorrow will bring. Thank you again for your wonderful words and the pictures, especially of the church so nicely decorated. Too bad the weekend was so rainy, but nice to have company and make the best.

  • Alison STringer

    Such good words Ben here in NZ I try and live by that mantra I know we are luckier here but I know we must never take it for granted.

  • LIsa DUnn

    Enjoy your posts so much. Your part of the world is just incredibly beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  • Kathie Johnson

    The feelings your images and words stir in me, I wish I could express simply. Thankful, that I can feel life. The flowers in the sanctuary with the autumn garden offerings cause me to linger and imagine the warmth of the sunlight and spirit. So lovely. Love from Texas, Kathie

  • Matt

    With less than a month until the US election, I’m going bonkers. I usually read your “non-political” political posts with skepticism. Yet, this one resonated with me. I’m trying (really hard) to remain positive come what may. Now – going to a happier place in my mind – I saw Beata’s home on Quintessence and then obsessively started following her work. I pre-ordered her book through Amazon, but will have to wait until March to enjoy it. Hopefully when I do read it, the crazy landscape of things will have changed for the better.

  • Anne Ellis

    I rose this morning feeling a little downhearted and read your blog. Thank you. My spirits have lifted and instead I feel peace and thanksgiving for all I have. Your photos inside the church were beautiful.

  • Joan

    Your posts give me a lot of joy. Magnificent photos, interesting history, but love in abundance. Peace and love to you.

  • Carolyn Brogan

    Your words me of the Desiderata . Thank you!

  • Nicki Rose

    Words to live by – many thanks to you for sharing.

  • Mary Brignano

    Thank you! I sent part of this to a friend who is having a difficult time (as are so many in the U.S. right now). But on a different subject, in many of your brilliant photos, you show a gentle, sympathetically sited manor house on your walking route. Could you say anything about it without compromising anyone’s privacy?

  • Sandra

    Thanksgiving here in Canada, and much to be thankful for in this peaceful valley in the mountains.

  • Craig Fitt

    Thank you, Ben, for this lovely post. We have been starving for rain this summer here in the Hudson River Valley. Today we, finally, have rain. I love the photos, and the ones of the Speed the Plough containers in the church are delightful. We have the same ones at home, and use them regularly. I love your blog, and read it regularly. Thank you for it!!

  • Kathleen Brenner

    Thank you for your message of hope and thanksgiving. You bring peace and light to a world of turmoil. Thank you also for the nurturing beauty you share. Be well

  • Emmy Gainey (USA)

    Thank you for such a strong message of love of life. It takes some of us years and years and years to realize the purpose of this journey! Best wishes to you.

  • Frances E

    Kind words and lovely pictures. Thank you!

  • Elaine BAmber


  • RIchard COrnett

    Thank you Ben for such a lovely, positive post. Through your posts, that Dorset Valley is etched in my mind. The photos of the church were beautiful. Thank you.

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