Quietly welcoming the New Year

2 January 2013
Ben Pentreath

Three quiet days in Dorset, with closest friends, to ring out the old and welcome in the New Year. I was sad to see 2012 go; a strange year in many ways, but can I be honest and say I liked the typographical symmetry of two 2’s? I am not convinced 2013 will look so good; personally I’m very happy about the idea of 2014 when it comes, for the same reason. In the myriad newscasts about fiscal cliffs and stagnating economies and general gloom, which I have to confess I don’t particularly see myself when I look around the place, I’m surprised no-one has thought to mention the problem of a 3 at the end of the year. You read it here first.

I suppose the problem with most years is that deep down they are generally exactly the same as the ones before, and after. I haven’t quite had a chance yet to touch base with my old friend Marianne, in the States, who has an uncanny ability to pick the ‘vibe’ for the year spot on. When I do, I’ll let you know her thoughts.  Or better still, let me know yours.

Resolutions? I think I may have written before, I’m not a great one for resolving things, or at least not on the first day of the year. Better, perhaps, to set a resolution on the 18th of each month, why not? Probably more chance of keeping those. But mine, if you’re interested, were to write more letters (not surprising after my recent email rant) and to say thank you more often. I will try to keep both those up all year.

I imagine I wasn’t alone in being thankful for the sparkling clear sunshine of New Year’s day. Sunny days really do make a difference at this time of year. We went for a blowy bright walk to Abbotsbury and Chesil beach, and blew away the cobwebs on the sea shore, and returned to London—without trying to sound too clichéd (hard in benblogland, I know)—refreshed and reinvigorated, and with a small step in our toes.

Thank you for reading (and don’t worry, I’m not going to write that at the end of each week). Happy New Year!

Part of the great Medieval barn at Abbotsbury.

Catherine outside St. Catherine’s Chapel

Bony white Gothic tracery inside the chapel, like being in Italy.

Why I love West Dorset.


20 comments on this post


This reminds me of the beautiful country walks I was taken on as a child, now I live in London and lucky if I see the countryside once a year. Thank you.

What a lovely post. I’m originally from the UK but have been living in San Francisco for nearly 16 years now. I go back to the UK every Summer as my parents have a summer home in North Wales, where I have my favourite book store that sells some wonderful old, vintage and antique books… my suitcase is always so heavy upon my return (oops)!!!

Loved that your dinner party turned out so well… the best of times often are the unplanned events – casual, nice and relaxed.

Thanks for sharing – makes me feel closer to home.


Want your Christmas and your new Year ! Visited the shop last month and had a nice little browse, came away with a few things including two lovely candlesticks – will be back , happy 2013.

Dear Ben,

I was feeling rather low yesterday and so went to our tiny English bookshop here in Geneva yesterday, whereupon your book was simply crying out to go home with me 😉 What a joy. I am reading it with a magnifying glass so I can see what books people have on their shelves. . . . Happy New Year!


dear ben
your blog & your book are currently my best antidote to gloominess and even dismay in a world of cheap sparkling and compulsory modernity that frightens me. i have no words to say how grateful i am

Thank you for your nice and lovely picture, I remember Dec 2010 when I went to New Zealand with my father and mother to see my auntie and uncle there. I live in Indonesia, we now are lack of green forest like those, because of the illegal logging and fire in the forest. I wish you 2013 will be a good year for you and us all….


I have to respectfully disagree and say I rather like the number ‘3’. I do prefer ‘2’, and ‘5’ is my favourite, but 3 shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s like the middle child. You never know what it’s capable of, underneath that quiet, unassuming facade…

Also, don’t forget that the number 3 is very strong in literature, mathematics and spirituality. Think of triangles (reportedly the strongest shape), and the symbol of 3 in religion – the father, son and the holy spirit, and so on. (I’ve only realised this as I’m writing a novel and my editor pointed out the significance of the number; she’s clearly much more well-read than I am.)

I think 2013 might just surprise us all…


Happy new year Ben, looking forward to many more pictures and blogs to come.

I really like your photos , but the one of West Dorset is especially beautiful
Thanks for sharing


Dear Ben, I hope that among your many typographic resources you can locate an attractive number 3 to live happily with numbers 1, 2 and 0.
I’ve never been able to come up with worthwhile resolutions at this time of year. The Christmas holidays are too frantic for any worthwhile introspection in this household. I find that during the Summer holidays I have more time to think, reflect and plan. I’m also much more likely to act upon those resolutions as my energy levels are much higher in the sunshine.
Please let us know Marianne’s thoughts about the vibe for 2013. My thought is that 2013 will bring a growing appreciation of longevity – that we will appreciate the quality of craftsmanship and things that are made to last a lifetime, and even be passed down to future generations. That craftsmanship also brings individuality and personality into our lives and provides fulfilling employment. (I realise I’m sounding rather William Morris here). So thats my predicition for 2013 – an Arts and Crafts movement/revival.
Happy New Year.


Dear Ben, I’m writing a list of everything I’m grateful for in 2012 and I just want you to know that your lovely blog is on my list. Your posts have brightened up the past year and inspire me to keep dreaming. 2013 will be wonderful and amazing if we allow it to be. I think my New Year’s resolution is to let my life be good – I’m usually the only thing standing in the way. Best wishes Ben and every other reader here – Thank you!!


Happy New Year to you, too, Ben. What a treat to have an earlier blog from you. I always look forward to Mondays and your blog.

I agree with you regarding 2013. I made almost identical comments to my friends on NYE. I think 2013 looks quite ugly – and also believe 2014 is far more attractive, which must reflect in the ‘good things’ for that year. However, we have 2013 and we must make the best of it – for ‘this too will pass’.

Thank you(!) for your interesting blogs and wonderful photos. They are a marked contrast to the where I currently live (on a station in the far west of NSW – flat, hot and spiky! – although the stars are fantastic). I long to visit the UK again but your pics provide visual relief in the meantime.

Regards, Nicola


I love your thinking, and writing. Never a cliche.

Oh lawdy – I felt a great swelling of tears low down in my stomach when I saw these pictures – and then the inevitable hit of homesickness. Everything so deeply familiar – the trimmed hedgerows, the muddy, puddled lanes, the gentleness of the landscape. Above all an English sea. As someone said above, the way it sucks on the pebbles like an elderly lady seeking solace.

I agree with you about the 12 and the 14. A 3 there sticks into the mind, like something pointy and unsettled.

Mary Andrewssays:

I love your posts and pictures. I am homesick for your beautiful Dorset and I’ve never even been there! Your photographs are windows into your world. They let your overseas readers share the exquisite place you call home. Thank you.

deb millersays:

Your pictures of the surf and sunshine on Chesil Beach made me homesick. I could hear the sound of the pebbles being dragged in and out and hear the seabirds crying overhead. Probably something to do with the fact that Burton Bradstock was our go to beach in all seasons. Putting up our canvas windbreakers to make a sheltered fort, all those pebbles sticking to beach towels, and swimming against the undertow (not to much concern for health and safety in my family).

Beautiful. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your blog, so thank you!

Happy New Year!


I dislike how 2013 looks too, 2012 just seemed so much more pleasing! I couldn’t put my finger on why I wasn’t looking forward to 2013 and that is it, thanks Ben!

shippen (paris, france)says:

Your post is a true pleasure. I look forward to it every week. Thank you for the lovely pictures and the every so thoughtful writing. Your book is a hard copy extension of this — cannot wait for another!

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