Lie of the land

3 August 2014
Ben Pentreath

It’s been a beautiful weekend in Dorset, but I’ve been a touch reclusive as well. Those who fell victim of my hermit-like nature know who they are, and they know that I’m very sorry. But it’s been one of those days where the peace, the quiet, and the calm beauty of the immediate landscape was so all-encompassing, so complete and whole—that it was hard to leave. It’s been a pretty frantic week. The value of a day where there’s no driving, no talking, no rushing around… is like gold. P1040335

But last night I made a sudden plan to have supper with Chris & Roy on Portland. The drive over was spectacular.


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In the evening haze was the magical moment when the whole of Lyme Bay turns to brilliant silver-gold:P1040363 P1040361

The spire you can see just peeping through the trees is the church next door to the Parsonage:P1040354

Chris and Roy’s house is perfect (as regular readers of the blog will know).P1040364 Their garden is looking even more perfect:

I love their new neighbour’s glam beaten up Merc parked among the little seaside front gardens.P1040391

We went for a sunset walk pre-supper.P1040392 P1040396 P1040398 P1040404

A good thing this house is called Hollyhocks:P1040405 P1040401 P1040408

There are so many beautiful houses on Portland, if you care to look. If anyone reading this blog happens to be looking for a wonderful Georgian house in West Dorset with stunning coastal views and for about a quarter of the price of anywhere else within 150 miles…. well, it might just be worth looking at Portland. I love its strange mysterious sense of history and reality.P1040409 P1040415 P1040418

Equally, I love this begonia and geranium garden. Perfect.

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A perfect spot for dinner:P1040447

The beach huts cling in a random pattern to the cliff-side:P1040429

Houses emerge out of the rock itself:P1040448

As dusk settles over Chesil Beach, little clusters of all-night fishermen gather in their tents, in the warm breeze.
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I might be off to Greece in a couple of weeks (and I cannot tell you how happy and excited I am about that)… but in its own tiny way, sunset from Portland on Saturday gave a nice preview.P1040426 P1040441

This morning I woke up feeling tired… Not quite ready to head to London. So I cancelled plans and stayed in Dorset. I love a walk around the garden in bare feet on dewy grass paths.P1040463 P1040453

It was a perfect day. I did very little indeed. As the sun set, I reflected on how insanely lucky I’ve been to be able to make this small corner of Dorset my own for a few years.P1040464 P1040465 P1040468

The west facade of the church caught the last rays of the sun.P1040472

Everywere, the moment is waiting… the tipping point from late summer to Autumn. I love these points of the year, poised on the cusp… the garden rushing into final hyper-production at the end of this glorious July.P1040471 P1040476

I love travel at the moment; I love being in London, and all the moments in between. But most of all, just now, tonight, I cannot think of anywhere else I’d rather be than tucked up in bed in my corner of the house, in my tiny corner of Dorset, and thinking about the lie of the land, and of the month to come.

23 comments on this post


Lovely photos, as per usual, but I definitely got a strong whiff of “too bad I’m leaving it” from this. Maybe we are all wrong, but whichever way it goes, life is – and should be – an adventure, so do whatever is necessary in order to grow and stay challenged.

Sending all the best. I harbor a great affection for you as a kindred soul, even though we have never met :->

Thanks for lovely pictures of Portland – it is truly a magical place rivalling St Ives for its quality of light but with a much much weirder and intriguing atmosphere AND it has its own Colour Chart!

Also some fantastic underground architecture

And the beautiful serenity of St Georges church (built 1754-66)

I could go on….
sorry but Im a bit of a Portland fan.

Ben, I am mad about your garden. I have captured your photo of your view out of the window onto the garden and I’ve got it as my computer wallpaper. I can pretend I am sitting at your window and enjoying your garden whenever I want.

As an incurable anglophile, I savour all your posts and pictures and you never let me down. I’m so glad I found you so I can share in some small way the extraordinarily beautiful life you are living. Many thanks for all that you share with us, your devoted readers.

Deby (in Canada)says:

Oh, that was a lovely weekend Ben… I am still feeling the relaxation of it on Thursday!
Your friends sound a treat, pink pj’s perfect for summer mornings, the light and the flowers amazing and best of all your plans for holiday in Greece… so happy for you…
in the comments nice to be reminded of the floor polisher at the Parthenon- a favourite of mine as well! Cheers Deby


And how ‘insanely lucky’ are we readers that you have been so generous to share your beautiful Parsonage and this little slice of heavenly Dorset with us. Thank you Mr Pentreath.


Ahhhhhhh….thank you.


Thank you for the roaming summer light, Ben. Theses landscapes and seaward views carried me into the summer evening with such grace.

You say you’re traveling to Greece soon? I’m envious. And excited to see your Greek (island hopefully) pictures and perspective. I’ve wanted to visit the Greek islands since I read John Fowles “The Magus” and succumbed to the spell of the remote Greek island the young Englishman visits. I was young when I read the story making it quite a few years ago, but I can still remember the smell of the wooded hillsides Fowles describes so clearly.

Wishing you a joyous visit.


This is a very poetic post. Loved it. Thanks.


I am a 65 year old woman from Ohio, and discovered your blog maybe a year ago. I look forward to Monday mornings for the photos and great writing, my favorite perhaps being the Floor Polisher at the Pantheon. Thank you so much for a glimpse into your life both in Dorset and London. My week couldn’t be started in a more quiet and thoughtful way. Thank you again!


Funny, I didn’t read any hints of you leaving the parsonage in this post – more the opposite really. I saw a sense of consolidation there. But I do get the anxiety that others express because, damnit – forget Havanna – you’re our man in Dorset and London.

Thanks Ben, that was a lovely evening – and come and visit the Isle, everyone: we promise to make you very welcome.


Yes, you are lucky, Ben. But, the parsonage is also rather fortunate to have found you, too, I’d say.

lillian sharpsays:

Ben, I have said before, I would like to have a book of your blog . Can you suggest a way for me to do that? Would it be a long difficult process for me? I would want slick pages of course to get the full color. I honestly would refer to it all the time. It is so beautiful.
The best way of course would be for you to do it for all of us. I wonder if you have the remotest idea how much pleasure you bring to everyone . There are no words to describe the perfect imperfection ( though I have yet to find the imperfection) of your blog.

THANK YOU SO MUCH for all this beauty.

lillian sharpsays:

No, No, NO, you arent planning to move from the Parsonage are you? Please, no.

As Penny said above, there is something in your tone which makes it sounds like you are thinking of leaving the Parsonage? A bit of melancholy mixed in with beautiful light and the start of August – definitely time for a few weeks off. Enjoy Greece!

yesterday i made my flight arrangements to cross the pond for my annual 4 week stay in sherborne. portland? was unaware but my next step is to google this town…….maybe a future visit

thank you ben for my english fix!

I’m not quite sure why Ben, but your photos of Portland remind of my recent trip to Wales; perhaps it’s the quality of light which in the west is so markedly different to what it is here in the east. Over the weekend Autumn felt very close here, so much so that I began clearing things up in the garden ready for winter. (Note to self: buy more late flowering plants next year…)

Taking a break from the rush and hush is like bliss to me! There are days when I want to stand still amidst nature.. being alone but not lonely.. peaceful and silent.. fresh and not furious. This is it, everything so perfect and delightful. I so want to spend my lone time in such a place.


What I wouldn’t give to spend time in such beautiful places- too bad there’s an ocean of separation between home and England.
Thank you for a beautiful post, Ben.


A delicious post Ben. Thank you!

That pinky gold evening light illuminating the Portland stone is eye wateringly lovely. Please never leave the Parsonage Ben, I find myself feeling quite anxious when you express anything other than absolute certainty that you will always be there- absurd I know but there it is.


Beautiful, evocative blog post tonight, setting good thoughts for the week to come. Thanks!


Yes, insanely lucky. Me too. Dorset on such a day is paradise indeed. And I am inspired to take a trip down to Portland Bill, all those moody greys and mauves and blues. Love the random beach huts too, there are some like that near Eype, just a bit up the coast.

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