Time drifts by….


“Missing Ben’s Blog” said a text from our lovely neighbour Christine, this weekend. And I promised that I’d finally write one!  There’s been something about this wintery lockdown – partly the doing nothing, partly the fact that keeping on top of work is curiously hard and exhausting, that I get to the end of each week, and on a Sunday or Monday evening, when it has been my habit to write a blog of the weeks’ events, I suddenly feel too tired, and roll into an early bed. Do you know the feeling, I wonder?

But it has been a beautiful month, or even month-and-a-half; days and weeks given structure by nothing other than our once or twice daily walks, and then weeks of working from down here followed by weeks when I will try and compress site visits and London meetings together. I’ve been the only person on the train some days. It’s a bizarre time; we are, I imagine, simultaneously longing for it to be over and yet, and yet will find it curiously strange – like coming out of the cinema on a bright sunny afternoon, eyes blinking.

The last six weeks have seen beautiful clear cold days and then what feels like weeks of grey rain too. It’s been rather lovely looking back at photos from these last few weeks. The funny thing is, you forget individual days. But strangely a photograph brings something ordinary, essentially unmemorable, sharply into focus again…. and that is very nice as I sit here, by the fire, dogs fast asleep on the sofa, Sunday evening…. One day we waked up to the Kingston Russell Stone circle….

Happy times had by all. 

Some astonishing mornings….

Remarkable starry nights…

Hard, bitter frosts, the earth blue-grey….

Signs of spring…

Charlie’s huge new show flower patch….

There was a week of snow, but it never got closer than this – we are so near the sea, that it’s snowed just twice since I’ve lived here. 

Dreamy vistas from the high ground looking along Chesil Beach to Portland Bill.

Some very early starts, before taking the train to London…. the ground hard and cold.

Giving way to damp fog…. And grey, brown and green. Thank god a decision was taken all those decades ago to paint post boxes red!

Some morning the sun was transcendent, turning even power lines to cobwebs…

One morning, we walked over to Compton Valence to look at the famous snowdrops.  No snowdrop festival this year, but the hedgerows were full, and beautiful. 

The beautiful little church still and peaceful, sun streaming in. 

And then we made a quick visit to East Lambrook Manor, formerly the garden of Margery Fish, to collect one of Charlie’s rare snowdrop orders….

Back to a lowering sun in Dorset. 

bright skies the next day overlooking Chesil beach – the vast hulks of anchored cruise liners omnipresent on the shore. 

But largely, these last few days, it’s just been brown and green and grey.  It will be so startling to see this lane in May, in vivid new green. Not yet – we’ve still got March to go through…

Today I put a small bunch of flowers on Mum’s grave. It was on this equivalent Sunday evening, at exactly this moment, ten past nine in the evening, that I got that call from Dad that she’d fallen over at home. I was with Dad within ten minutes and soon afterwards the ambulance arrived, but it was clear, really, from the moment I got there that she had gone – taken, thankfully one must admit, by an instant heart attack. 

How we miss our mothers, and all our loved ones no longer with us, but we can celebrate life too, and a long life, beautifully lived – and that bright and cheerful little bunch of flowers, picked straight from the garden this morning, is full of that sense of hope and optimism too. I can’t help but be grateful that both of my parents – whose principle happiness in life was spending long hours with all their family – have been spared the long imprisonments of lockdown.  So many have suffered so much these last few months, nearly a year – but tonight I look to the happy moments too, and to the sense of bursting optimism contained in that small container of flowers, and to remember now that spring is knocking on the door.

43 comments on this post

  • Sue Johns

    Thinking of you guys over there! Thank goodness the vaccine seems to be lowering your covid stats. Beautiful photo’s, thanks so much. Greetings from a very dry Banks Peninsula NZ.

  • Herman Prager III, Ph.D.

    The photos really should be published in a book. Absolutely stunning.

  • Tracy Gooding

    Dear Ben,
    Thank you for your blog and for finding the time, your images are sublime as I soak in the grey, brown, and supremely green English countryside. Nature is truly a balm for the soul and those beautiful yellow sunshine flowers on your mum’s grave display such gratitude for a beautiful life lived. I absolutely agree with you on the red boxes and so looking forward to Charlie’s gorgeous display. Thank you Ben, take care both of you. Warm wishes, Tracy

  • violette Gurr

    I, too, like so many have missed your blog and especially your wonderful photographs. Thank you a million times for them. You are so good! You should organize an exhibition of them….perhaps in your shop! I go to it every time we go to London, my beloved London. Thank you again for such joy.

  • Deborah Robinson

    Mr. Pentreath,
    Thank you for sharing your world and “view”. I’m new to your blog/world and have enjoyed your postings immensely. Seeing your happy dogs brings a wide smile to my face!
    Working from home in the Northern California foothills for close to a year, I’ve traveled vicariously through your pictures of the lovely Dorset countryside. It has helped with my stunted wanderlust. Yes, Spring brings hope and renewal.

  • Virginia

    Thank you Ben for writing your blog post despite being tired. It is odd how being locked down has slowed everything down, Our lives are so less hectic and yet we are exhausted by bedtime. I so appreciate anytime I can see your magnificent photos and read your stories. My mother passed away last year in February right before we knew the severity of what was to come. We are so grateful to have been with her and that she did not have to suffer through covid. She was in a nursing home and we lost so may (including my mother in law) from this terrible virus. We are grateful for her peaceful passing. I love the stories of your parents and family. Thank you.

  • Judith

    Why oh why do some of your posts have me in floods of tears? They just touch a nerve: poignant, sad and at the same time, joyous.There’s a gravestone engraved with my parents names in Wimborne but my mother always said not to grieve there as her soul would be elsewhere, with those she loved.
    Last visit to Dorset with my daughter, we stood just where you took the photo in the beautiful little church in your village. The sun was also shining through the windows that day. Who could have imagined the sadness that engulfed the world just a few months later.
    So, thank you, once again, for your heartrending yet optimistic post.

  • Diane Keane

    PS—My Mother, too, has passed (in 2013). I was holding her hand when she departed. The quiet dignity of her passing will be with me all my days, and will ease my own when the time comes You will see your parents again.

  • Diane Keane

    Scrolling through email, everything seemed dire, news stories about Covid or Texas disaster, pleas for donations from political and animal rights groups, a reminder for an online event that happened last night, which of course I missed. Then…a new post from Ben!! Begone, ye shades of fear, anger and frustration! I’m off to Dorset to rekindle and refresh! Thank the gods for you, Ben, and Charlie and the fur babies. With love and gratitude from Diane 💕

  • Judith Haxton

    Ben , I too feel sadness that my parents are no longer here but also grateful they do not have to endure this pandemic.
    Thank you for putting your thoughts into words.

  • Clementine

    I have been missing your posts. Thanks for sharing these beautiful pictures of Dorset. Greetings from Avignon

  • Janey Pugh

    Simply wonderful photographs and as for the gorgeous girls….. They are the best. Thank you.

  • Weston Thomas

    THANK GOODNESS, have miss this so much,need this on a Monday a.m. need this all year. Such nice worded about your mother. Again, thank you.

  • Malcolm Pym

    Thank you Ben for those wonderful photos. I too, have really missed not hearing from you , with your optimistic words and photos. Oh ,to live in the UK. Australia is a lovely place to live, but we haven’t got those centuries of the past when grand manor houses were built and oak trees aged.

  • Darlene Chandler

    So wonderful to hear from you and so glad you neighbour sent the reminder that we had not heard from you and Charlie. Love the pictures, the scenery, swans, greenery, those ferns and those snowdrop flowers and the wonderful bouquet you left for your Mom. I too lost both my parents 3 years ago and they too would not have gotten through these times I am sure and we do have to appreciate what we have and nature and hope with positive thoughts to be rid of these terrible times and all come out better from this experience. Thank you for uplifting my day in this terrible snow storm in Canada that arrived last night, no Spring in sight and definitely no plants blooming here.

  • Celia

    Dear Ben. Thank you.
    Your photographs are inspirational, but the photo of the swans on the lake is just beautiful! The light on the water etc etc. Thank you again. Cx

  • Peggy

    Thank you, again for taking us all over hill and dale in beautiful Dorset, England. How many miles do you walk a week?!!
    Puppies in mud to a nosegay for your mother – wonderful to see and read about.

  • Wendy Smith

    So lovely to awake this morning to read your blog which I have missed. Having been through 3 lockdowns in TRENTHAM, Australia, we feel so lucky that we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. You are blessed to have such stunning scenery to experience on your walks & to witness the seasons changing & the new growth of spring . Sending understanding of your loss of your mother, she had a real warmth & vitality that shone through your photos. Wendy x

  • Southern Gal

    Thank you for this wonderfully long full of photos post… i too have been missing you.

    this has been indeed a sad time my mother died aug 30 in 2020. not from covid but it was hard to not be able to go down that last week (her medical emergency happened on the monday previous)… and then to miss her cremation and memorial service. and i have not seen my sisters or nephews who live nearby in over a year … but as there is grief so joy comes in the morning – i am closing on my first ever house this week.

    its sad and joyous at the same time – this purchase made possible due to my mother’s death – and so i will honor her in my home – (i already have the family silverware and some family china).

    your blog – and all the others i follow now because of your references – is and has been so inspirational to me. thanks for the solace and beauty it has provided all these years but more so in these past year.

    sending hugs to y’all and the animals.

  • Kim

    My sympathies go out to you and to Charlie. I know you lost both of your parents in a short amount of time. Words can’t express how difficult that has to be. It has nearly been a year ago that I lost my mother too. I don’t need to speak to all that I miss. I know you have those too. I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your positive words and how helpful they were to me.

  • Mary

    Every photograph so beautiful and each scene always different in some way. So beautiful, every one. Thank you!

  • Jack Montrose

    I laughed out loud at the picture of the girls in the mud. Oh, the delight in their eyes!

  • Mair Cawston

    Dear Ben,
    Thank you for the glorious landscape photos and the hints of things to come…
    We’ve had a hellish week here in Dallas with temperatures dropping to -1F. I lost power for 30 hours and it got down to 34˚F inside the house. All is well now, although others were not so lucky.
    Your photos have inspired me to get out into the garden to get ready for spring!
    Stay warm,
    Mair Cawston ~ Dallas, Texas

  • Annelies Veronica

    Dear Ben,
    I just talked the things over with my husband you mention in your blog: I miss my parents everyday since they are gone, but I’m thankfully that they won’t have to suffer from a lockdown. I have a lot of things like lamps, earthenware, oakchest , photos etc around me in our house so I can feel them around me. It remembers me of other times.

  • Donald L. Combe

    Sitting here in mountains of gray skies and mounds of Canadian snow you have brought my mind back to the many days I spent in Dorset visiting old friends and exploring the magical byways of that perfect bit of England. Much gratitude for sharing your glimpses of a special world.

  • Odl Bauer

    oh, so simply illuminating! dog bless you and all of your darling family once again, dear ben pentreath!


    A perfectly beautiful way to start the week, with your lovely words, Mr. Pentreath. Thank you for
    this special blog.

  • jean Clapp

    So beautiful, Ben, have you ever considered writing poetry?

  • E Faris

    Good morning Ben, I am so pleased and happy to see a post when you make one, but also understand that it’s just not the same writing in pandemic times. I hope you are not oppressed by thoughts of needing to post, I don’t think any of us want that. Thank you for the joy and inspiration you bring.
    I have been struck by how many of my close friends also feel grateful their parents were spared living through the pandemic. And for me here in the U.S., I’m also glad they didn’t see the bitter politics.
    You are right about flowers, and springtime..

  • Jagnan

    Beautiful scenery and happy dogs!

  • Janice

    Beauty heals. Such a beautiful post in its words and pictures. Thank you for the lovely inspiration.

  • Jules Wauchope

    Oh Ben, how you capture the low sunlight in your photo … thank you. x

  • Ursula Buston

    Absolutely love your images and miss Dorset. Thank you so much for sharing.
    I frequently realise that the same walk yields different beauties.
    With best wishes

  • Roberta

    I’ve had such a busy few months, I’d actually forgotten we haven’t received an update from you recently. I too lost my mum, 5 years ago now and whilst I think about her all the time, I often wonder what she would have made of the strange way we are living our lives at the moment. I feel a wonderful sense of peace when I read your blogs, I think it’s all the wonderful photoes! Do keep them coming. Thank you.

  • Catherine

    Thank you for these beautiful scenes of early spring in the UK, and thoughts about your mother.

  • Patricia Childs

    Missed your posts Ben so happy you’re back. Melbourne

  • Gill C

    What beautiful images for a grey suburban Monday morning – transporting us into the heart of Hardy country. Lovely thoughts to end with as well.
    Thank you.

  • Gillian Thompson

    Thank you so much for this, Ben. Your pictures are beautiful and, as ever, your concluding thoughts bring a tear to my eye! I’ve been feeling exactly the same about my parents – lockdown would have been even more of a trial to them as it is to us.

  • Sarah

    Lovely, thanks Ben. Spring flowers bring such joy and optimism – a single violet in the hedgerow made by day

  • Anna

    Thank you Ben, wonderful photo’s, greetings from Amsterdam

  • Maria

    Thank you Ben, I was soooo awaiting your blog, and finally here you are.. so so grateful for those pics, the trees look majestic, with their branch architecture getting ready to burst with green, and those views from the hills!
    Thank you for making lockdown more bearable, you’re such a sweet special person, thank you.

  • Mike

    So good to “hear” from you again! Your optimism is cheering & I shall take it to heart. All the best to you, Charlie & the ménagerie.

  • Henry Gillespie

    Dear Ben,

    It was lovely to have you back online with the beautiful photographs. The tribute to your mother was touching and having recently lost my mother I appreciated what you conveyed.

    In this topsy turvy world your post is refreshing.

    Best wishes,


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