Village thanksgiving

29 September 2014
Ben Pentreath

Can you believe this autumn, shifting softly from September to October without a whisper?  I am not sure I can remember a more quietly beautiful time as this.

I got to Dorset on Wednesday night (with my friend Ben from the Prince’s Foundation) to find a new thing. Charlie had come down earlier and for the first time ever the lights were glowing warmly in the windows, the fire was lit, and the smell of woodsmoke hung in the air. Flowers were picked on the kitchen table, and supper was in the oven. Bliss. The following day my friend Kim Wilkie (who with his partner Pip creates his own microcosm of harmony at Franklin Farm) came to stay. It would be true to say that Kim more than once accused me of being rather spoiled just now. I’m afraid I can only agree.

We went for a walk down the valley. The sunset was extraordinary.

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I’m not sure I’ve seen anything like it.

Kim and I spent a day running through the many jobs we’re working on together. Somehow we’ve got so many things going that it’s not only good, but necessary, to take a whole day to carefully plot out ideas. I used to think I could do all this sort of stuff myself. Now I cannot think about starting the design of a new building in a landscape without Kim to bounce ideas back and forth. It’s can be a bit like a game of tennis. Sometimes the rallies are so exciting that we’re a bit breathless at the end… when the relationship between architecture and landscape just gels perfectly together. Although put it this way. You’d be better off getting me to draw a house than playing a game of tennis.

Charlie, meanwhile, baked delicious cakes. Can we set up a petition for Charlie to open a cake shop, please, Lambs Conduit Street? I’m putting on weight but I don’t care.

The vegetable garden was soft in the misty mornings.

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The dining room window; not a bad view from the office.P1050891 P1050895

But despite the gentle views it was a happily hectic weekend. Charlie had 4 girlfriends staying (I rapidly christened them Charlie’s angels, which I think is a name which might just stick). Not everyone made it to church on Sunday morning. We’d had a pretty good night the evening before.

It was the village harvest festival. The church was beautifully decorated.
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Everyone made it to lunch in the hall. It was a great afternoon, which I would say was enjoyed as much by the youngest member of the congregation (note: the wine was not his)…P1050913

…as by one or two slightly older residents, many of whom have been in the village for generations, while others have just arrived. I love days like this. And I suppose that the Harvest festival is our own little version of Thanksgiving. The crops are in. I really do think this is my favourite time of year.

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In the afternoon we decided a brisk walk to Abbotsbury was the order of the day.P1050918 P1050919 P1050921 P1050924

We climbed to St. Catherine’s chapel, and then the angels made their farewells. Charlie and I came home to the most beautiful late afternoon sunshine westering in the valley.P1050930 P1050934 P1050936 P1050944 P1050948

Something tells me these long autumn days will not be with us for ever. But I think the memory will.

Briefly, before I say goodnight, can I apologise once again to those readers who need their blog fix on a Monday morning? Bridie and I have been in interviews all day for the new shop manager position, starting very early this morning, and somehow there just wasn’t time to write between our return to London and this morning. It was wonderful to have met so many very strong candidates, and we’re excited to feel that we will have some excellent new energy coming into Rugby Street soon.

And a finally, finally… Thank you for the many kind comments on twitter, and instagram, and here on the blog, about the article that came out in the New York Times about my flat. You’re able to read the story and look at some photos here. Thank you Rita and Natasha, for a lovely story. And now, I can breathe a sigh of relief. I’m perhaps allowed to post a photograph of the flat once again.  A London weekend beckons… and in the meantime have a very happy week.

19 comments on this post


The pots on sticks are, I believe, so you don’t poke yourself in the eye on them.

Ben, I am pleased to see you go in for nasturtiums. They grow like crazy, even in my NE US urban container garden. They bloom and bloom and bloom, orange flowers with points like little elf caps at the back. And don’t get me going on those long bendy stems. Modern art, courtesy of Mother N. Next year, I intend to start putting the leaves into salads.

christine carpentersays:

loved the article in the New York times
What is it with the garden pots upside down on a stick -I have seen pictures like this in many English garden but have never understood the meaning or significance= is it like a scarecrow?
Just love all your pictures and so look forward to your blog.
Thank you

Melinda Jacksonsays:

For Felicity: Bishop of Llandaff is the name of a lovely red dahlia, but I don’t know if this is the variety in Ben’s garden. Llandaff Cathedral is in Cardiff, Wales, in case you were wondering.

Nicola Lawrencesays:

All gorgeous – including the post harvest celebration in the village hall… I love the video of your home and shop, and Bridie’s dog (a groodle/spoodle?) Oh, I love the William Morris bedroom! Ben what is the name of the wallpaper in your sitting room, please? Kind regards, Nicola

Bridie Hallsays:

A poodle!

Ben, congratulations on your T magazine interview and video. What a delight! Congratulations also on your new home life with Charlie, he sounds a prize! Your evocative description of arriving at the OP on an autumn evening to find windows aglow, the scent of woodsmoke (is there any more typical autumn smell?) and dinner in the oven sounds like bliss indeed. I suspect we are all looking forward to Charlie becoming a fixture on the blog, and in your life. You deserve all good things, Ben, and it is our pleasure that you share them so delightfully with us.



Oh, autumn clearly has arrived in your beautiful part of England. Here in San Francisco, we too are witnessing the first subtle signs of the season with the slightly cooler misty mornings and deciduous trees beginning to shed their leaves.

I always wonder if autumn or spring is my favorite season. I feel rejuvenated and energized at both times of year. Perhaps one day I’ll figure it out for myself.

Lovely church pictures and yes, I do miss harvest festival time and the beautiful old churches I recall at a child.


Dear Ben,
You see, this is why seasons are so great. Cakes and Castaing and other names beginning with C. What’s not to like. Thanks for indulging us once more, and I forgive the wait, because we get to hear you speak!


……. and the best is worth waiting for!! Definitely one of your most enjoyable blogs so far ……. the video so brings it all to life!
and Dorset such beautiful photos …. the September sunset and the garden captured so well! It has indeed been a brilliant month. October tomorrow …. but it too has it’s personality. I look forward to your captured images of it.
PS Ben – are you really still using that little Lumix TZ10. I need a new camera …. lost mine in the garden for two months ….. ruined!

Steve Truncellitosays:

Thanks Ben for another great post from across the Atlantic. Congrats on the piece in the NY Times as well. Your American following is sure to grow and grow and grow…..


Those dahlias are absolutely wonderful especially the very dark red ones. ?Bishop of (something, I cannot remember)
Lovely pics.

Warm light from the windows, fire on, flowers on the table and dinner under way to welcome you home. Bliss. The cakes sound wonderful, perhaps ongoing Charlie would consider sharing his recipes with your readers? X


the nytimes piece was lovely + well worth the wait. loved the video chat w/rita.

also, a big YES + pretty please to “charlie’s cake shop” on lamb’s conduit.


Your home is even more beautiful on video, the grasscloth wallcovering is fantastic and the curtains are of Madeline Castaing which you previously wrote about, yes? Tons of beautiful inspiration, thank you.

Cate C.says:

Very beautiful. Very exciting also to see the entirety (?) of your new apartment in T Magazine. I was surprised to see Madeleine Castaing’s Rayure Fleurie fabric and Aesthetic Movement touches — some of my favorites also.

Martyn Whitesays:

I think that you deserve to be spoiled right now. Enjoy it! The constant supply of cakes sounds lovely
Fantastic pictures a always, especially the ones of the sunset
Congratulations on the article and the video

spoiled, oh no! perhaps, if you kept it all to yourself but you are so generous in sharing it all with us. thanks for a lovely weekend!


It was so nice to read the article on the NY times magazine ! can’t wait to see other pics of the Madeleine Castaing’s curtains at your flat.
Gorgeous dahlias by the way !
x Julien

Deby (in Canada)says:

Oh sigh… this post was worth waiting an extra day for! What a blissful weekend!
If you need a gift for Charlie I suggest Justin Gellatly’s recent publication – I made a his ginger cake for a big birthday last week-,,9780241146057,00.html?strSrchSql=gellatly%2A/Bread,_Cake,_Doughnut,_Pudding_Justin_Gellatly

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