Weekend in Scotland…


We’ve just come back from Scotland – but first, a few photos from Dorset last week. We’ve had the most beautiful days and evenings; Charlie’s dahlia border is reaching its autumnal peak… I have been practising taking a few photographs with my proper camera recently – a Canon (I will find the model number for people who are really in to their photography) – it sets up a whole different frame of mind to taking pictures on your iPhone. But really, you can’t go wrong with a garden like this, looking like this… Incredible misty mornings… A sea-mist blowing in great swathes across the hills and valleys… I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything so beautiful on one of our morning walks. That day was the definition of calm.

And then – a few days later, to Scotland. I had been at working in Cheshire, and left before dawn to arrive in time for a glorious Friday afternoon. Inveraray, my favourite town in the whole of Scotland, sparkled. Loch Fyne was almost a mirror. 

I got to the bothy in good time. Work calls that afternoon and then we settled into a wonderful still evening. Everything was flat calm.

Down at the estuary….

And early, early to bed at the end of a very long week.  We woke to incredible sunshine and warmth.

I’d always thought we’d want a house facing west in Scotland, to get the last of the sun dipping into the sea.  On cold mornings like this, you are so incredibly glad to be facing east – to get the first rays of the morning sun.

We took the dogs for a walk; dreamlike reflections.

Back to the house doing a few errands before our friends Connie & Tom arrived for the weekend.

After lunch we went for a long walk down to the end of the peninsula.

Swimming in freezing water off the rocks and tea from Charlie’s new storm kettle…

Back home for an evening of happy conversations, supper cooked on the fire, and a perfect soft pink sunset.

There is something incredible in three of these days in a row, high pressure sitting over Scotland. 

Morning swim down at the jetty….

And after breakfast, we set off for a long walk around the Taynish Peninsula.  Beautiful black lakes, rich and peaty, like a Japanese drawing…

The sensational oak woodland…

Serene Taynish House…. at the end of the peninsula, with its handsome late-18th century bowed wings. Belted Galloways sheltering from the heat in the shade of the trees.

Down at Taynish rapids, hundreds, thousands of tiny starfish in the crystal clear waters. Up to the Barr Mor trail, with its astonishing views.

And home.

We had supper at the Crinan hotel, fresh and delicious langoustine and lobster… and rolled into bed at the end of the best day.

Everyone slept like logs. Charlie and I and the dogs woke up to a very early alarm and slipped away before dawn. We drove to Carlisle, where I jumped on the train to London; Charlie back to Dorset to cut bunches of dahlias for a project.  Beautiful Carlisle – we have stopped on this train before, so I’d spied the beautiful street after street of late 18th and early 19th century houses, which today, in soft sunshine, I had the chance to walk around looking at for half an hour before the train. Serene, and very, very inspirational for some of our new development work in the office – the power of elegant repetition, finished with occasional fine details at just the right moment.

I loved everything about that half an hour – so much to learn… and then had to tear myself down south.

The news in Britain this evening feels full of foreboding, but we probably already knew, in our hearts, that we weren’t on a completely straightforward path. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times (and, I’ll admit, I’m not too worried about the description from one blog commentator last week that I’m just Candide – one of my favourite books at school…) – I have always remained of the view that things are basically okay in the end.  As summer shifts to Autumn, on the eve of the equinox tomorrow, and as these incredible still days make way – literally – to storms blowing in, it’s important to remember that spring isn’t really far away at all. That’s one of the things I like most of all being married to a New Zealander; a tiny facet of life I’d never thought of before. As our trees lose their leaves, stretching their limbs before their great slumber, and as the woodland floor gathers another layer of leaf mould to add to the thousands and thousands of layers before that; well, right now, on the other side of the world, the daffodils are in flower, spring is bursting; and at precisely the same moment as we are saying ‘gosh, the evenings are getting dark early now’, on the other side of the world, others are saying ‘wow, aren’t the evenings brighter all of a sudden’.  The great cycle of life moves forward.


13 comments on this post

  • Malcolm Pym

    Dear Ben,
    Beautiful photos and Charlie’s dahlias are magnificent. I feel so calm and peaceful after looking at your wonderful scenes.
    Kind regards,
    Malcolm Pym

  • Eliie Cary

    I live in California, after our horrific Summer your photos and words remind me this too shall pass. Thank you

  • Mary

    Thank you for so generously sharing the beauty in your life. Your photos just slow down time. I’m not sure what was meant by the “Candide” comment, but you are no Dr. Pangloss, any more than Candide is by the end of the book. Anyone who gardens or loves nature has to appreciate the long view of “the great cycle of life.” Or, as the historian David McCullough reminds us, “Life felt every bit as uncertain to people in the past as it does today. But things worked out — because people behaved with integrity and resilience and determination. They figured out how to work with other people, and they tried to do the right thing.”

  • Peter and Bridgit James

    We, too, live in Dorset, in a village just outside Sherborne, but looking at your photographs of your part of Dorset makes us appreciate ours with new eyes. The photographs of Scotland are just gorgeous. We haven’t been there since our honeymoon, which was 43 years ago. Maybe we should go back and look again!

  • Helen Anderson

    Utterly beautiful photographs of beautiful, magical places. Some so beautiful they made me feel quite emotional. Thank you for sharing all these lovely places so generously, allowing us to enjoy the beauty vicariously (and don’t we all need it at this time…).

  • Gill

    Just….. thank you.

  • Lucinda Sunnucks

    Love the starfish photographs, and all of them as always

  • Patricia Childs

    Beautiful, serene & peaceful photos Ben. Thank you. Charlie’s Dahlias are stunning & amongst them I saw the stunning Cafe au Lait. Our days are getting longer by 2 minutes each day and thankfully, like you, our bluebells, clematis and iris are in bloom bringing comfort in these challenging times.
    Melbourne 22/9/20

  • Asher Rozenberg

    Such beautiful photos!
    So helpful and therapeutic…

  • Anna

    as uplifting as ever, thank you both!

  • Jane Golding

    Absolutely beautiful photographs, Ben, very atmospheric

  • Alex Jamieson

    Dear Ben,
    I was born just outside Glasgow but lived and worked in London for 35 years, working in Bloomsbury latterly. I love your shop and its unique eclecticism. Now I live in France but I always look forward to your “Inspiration” email posting with numerous beautiful photographs, in particular any from the north west of Scotland.
    Kind regards,
    Alex Jamieson

  • Henrietta Bredin

    Your photographs and posts are extraordinarily heartening and perceptive. Thank you so much. Particularly delighted to see Carlisle looking so lovely – greatly improved from the long-ago years when I spent part of my childhood living just north of there.

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