Down Time

29 January 2012
Ben Pentreath

“A few people are worried you’re working too hard” said the text message from my friend Ben. Hmmmm, I thought. Okay. They have a point. Except that if you’re quite as busy as we’ve been in the office for the last few weeks, it kind of doesn’t help to be told you’re working too hard; it’s easier just to get on and do the work.

The fact is, I’ve probably been working too hard for most of my life. Haven’t you? Every six weeks or so, it’s time to go and get a haircut. Isn’t there something a bit strange about taking an hour off in the middle of the day, sitting completely still and handing your life over to someone (right now, to lovely Tom at Frankie Cochrane on Lambs Conduit Street, just down the road from the office)? And every time I have my haircut, which is almost, let’s face it, an alternative form of therapy, I find myself saying “We’ve never ever been so busy… how nice is this to step outside life, for a minute, and relax?”.

And that has been the story for a very long time indeed. So isn’t it all the more important, every now and again, to stop; reflect; spend a bit of time with friends, and go some where complete different and new?

It was therefore with happy heart that yesterday morning bright and early I found my way to Heathrow airport to meet my great friend Valentina off her flight from New York, and head to Italy. Meanwhile our friends Adam and Sarah were making their own way across from NYC, and we all met up—exactly as planned, a few hours later—in the beautiful little town of San Cassiano in the Dolomites. Where we are having a few days off… Down Time.

It’s not entirely days off. I will be honest. I’m finishing up captions. For what? For the book that I’m writing at the moment, and which will be published this autumn… but more about that another day.  For now, let’s enjoy the fact that the sun has been shining, we’ve had a fantastic day skiing, and I slept all afternoon, and we’ve just eaten a delicious supper, and now, incredibly early, it’s time for bed.

I was thinking about this little trip and realised that pretty much every year, for a long time now, I’ve gone away for a quick escape in January. Partly this is because my great friend Will has a birthday at the end of January, which for ages has been the best excuse for travel that I’ve known. But whatever the reason, I do think as the year shifts subtly from winter to hesitant spring, there is nothing at all that is better for the soul than to spend a little time away. One can reflect on the year to come; think about the year that has passed; and above all drink far too much wine.

Here is a little snapshot of Januaries away, past. Happy memories, and fantastic inspiration.

No prizes for guessing the location of all these places; although if someone got all of them—well, I would be seriously impressed. The names of each city would be enough to impress me. Apart from Venice.  I should point out that the final two photos are the impossible ones.
And for now – please don’t expect me to return your call or reply to your email immediately. Happy Down Time.


6 comments on this post

Venice in Іtaly іs solеly the mοst beautіful city on thе planet!

The Venice Carnival is outstanԁing!
Thе masκs anԁ clothing are eуe-catching pluѕ thе scеnery iѕ
meгely fantastіc. Throughout Venice, often there is sοmething new to discovеr.

Thаnk you for Dоwn Τime | Ben Pentгeath
Ltd and for speaking abοut Veneziа.

A visual feast indeed, really fabulous photographs and exciting news re your book. I can’t remember the name of the beautiful lime green veg (is it a form of broccoli?) – I once saw a cushion in that form and have regretted not buying it ever since.

Luke is right about the first two – it’s the Jemaa el Fna in Marrakech. I have a feeling that the Islamic architecture is also Marrakech – it looks like the Medersa ben Youssef – but it might easily be southern Spain (I’m thinking Granada). Are the sacks of beans and the hardware from Marrakech too?

The fountain – southern France, somewhere like Arles perhaps?


Dear Sir Fopling Flutter, and Luke, an excellent response. You are spot on about Marrakech and the Medersa ben Youssef. The town in France is Aix… beautiful at this time of year. And the books… from the Strahov Library in Prague. Have you ever seen such a beautiful case of books?

Well, the first two are the snail sellers in Marrakesh. The Islamic architectural shots are probably either Marrakesh or Fez, and those radio-active green, triffid-like things are Romaine Cauliflowers. The rather wonderful library sort of says to me “Andalucia” for some reason- though this is a random stab in the dark.

Thank you for the lovely post – a visual holiday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *