RIP Ben’s Blog

26 October 2014
Ben Pentreath

I was terrified to read a comment posted by Jess last week that said “RIP Ben Pentreath’s Blog, thanks for the good times, you’ll be missed”. You realise what happens when you fail to post for a weekend. I know that things have been a bit erratic recently. I’ll explain why in a little while. But I had supper with a friend on Thursday who told me (if you’re into such things) that the moon and stars are completely crazy at the moment. So perhaps that’s what it’s all about?

This blog is a week late. Charlie and I were staying with my great friends (and my old boss) Charles and Rachel, up on the Suffolk coast. It was a perfect weekend, all except for one thing, which I’ll tell you about soon. We had a glorious visit to Southwold. Let’s face it, Southwold ‘in season’ is probably as close to hell-on-earth is you can get; Southwold out of season is probably as close to heaven as possible.

I found this beautiful engraved brick on a little side street, and wondered if after all I should save this blog for the 1st February?


The Swan Hotel is one of my favourite buildings in town:

We meandered down to the seafront, which is perfect.P1040897 P1040898 P1040899 P1040903 P1040906

I love the lighthouse, peeping over the rooftops.P1040911 P1040919 P1040920 P1040922 P1040924

Much speculation was had about what colour you would paint your hut?  Perhaps this one with scraped paint is the perfect answer.

The huts go for a fortune these days, which says everything you need to know about high season Southwold.

Hello lighthouse again.
P1040927 P1040930 P1040932

And again. Charles’s daughter Daisy and her husband Nathan are moving into the little house right under the lighthouse. I love their house and its remarkable setting.P1040934

Charlie and I went for a beautiful walk along the Blythe Estuary in the quiet late afternoon autumn light.P1040944 P1040945 P1040946 P1040948 P1040952 P1040953 P1040957 P1040958

I love the views all the way back to Southwold and to the lighthouse again.

Charles and Rachel have made the most magical garden in the six years that they have been here. All of this was a giant patch of lawn when they arrived.P1040968

It’s a beautiful view looking back to the little arts and crafts house which nestles underneath the remarkable spire of Blythburgh church (which I remember I wrote about a long time ago here, in the days when blogs were very short and very intermittent).P1040970 P1040969

So, what was the problem? I bet you’re wondering. Have you ever had complete insomnia? From time to time I don’t sleep very well, to be sure – I am sure we are all like that. But last week, for some extraordinary reason, which I can’t quite put my finger on, I didn’t really sleep for eight nights in a row. Perhaps an hour or two; some nights, no sleep at all. It’s amazing how long and how well you can last without sleep.   There were a few work things which probably set the thing off; but they were quickly passed and dealt with. Sleep did not return. Each night I would be very tired but when bedtime came… nothing. Charlie could not have been kinder; but sympathy, or even worry, didn’t seem to make a difference. I wonder if a few people reading this blog will be looking in the small hours when the rest of the world is completely silent? I’m sure I’ve mentioned this once of twice before, but what I had last week was a whole different order of sleeplessness. I had hoped and prayed that when we went to Suffolk the quiet country air and a change of scene would be all I needed… but no. So now, I really really understand when someone tells me they’ve got insomnia.

We got back to London last Sunday night and I slept like a baby. I cannot tell you how relived I was. And I’ve been catching up ever since. I’m beginning to wonder if I can blame the lunar activity after all?

It’s been a quiet week, but an exciting one – I popped out to see a lovely potential job on Friday and on the way back called in to see our project at Fawley House. The scaffold, after what feels like years, is down. Here is our new building, nearing completion, and looking at one with its autumnal[2]

And here is the new stair window; nearing completion. There is about to be a beautiful plaster ceiling made by my friends Geoff and Jenny Preston, which is almost too exciting for[1]

Today, we’ve been in the shop. It was time for one of my periodic tidy ups. I’ll try and post some photos later in the week; but here, in the meantime, is the new wall of Peter Hone plasters looking amazing as dusk

So do call in to the shop soon. It’s looking beautiful, and full to bursting. But if you can’t, don’t worry at all… I promise, the blog is back. I might not post every Sunday evening, these days; please may you get used to the odd Monday or Tuesday? I’m sure you won’t mind if I say that sometimes, just sometimes, I’d rather be having a completely quiet evening at home with Charlie on Sunday nights. Because that’s the nicest thing of all.

29 comments on this post


I read your blog now every week and loving hearing about Charlie too – Auntie Catherine


Yes, here I am at 2.24am! I often read your blog in the middle of the night. Like many others I was surprised last week by your absence and this title surprised me for a minute but posting anytime of the week is just great. These photos brought back memories of lovely visits to Southwold.

Dear Ben,
As long as you keep on writing your blog it doesn’t mater whether it’s a Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday! It’s wonderful to see you mention Charlie and to see you beautiful photos and the much awaited progress of you stunning project. You never fail to give us food for thought.

My insomnia is back full blast! I’m afraid I only slept for couple of nights after our dinner it can no longer be the moon and stars. I do however feel that everything else is back on track so maybe the lunar hullabaloo has finally subsided!

Anyway, just to say what a joy your blog is. Have a great Halloween with lots of trick or treating and a wonderful weekend Mxxxx


hi ,love on you page , and have just got one of your books , etc ,


Hi Ben,
Thanks for the post ! I was starving for new pictures…
I was in London two weeks ago and bought an antique blue and white china bowl, and some other burleighware and books from your shop.
Nicolas and I both love the bowl, living in our drawing room now.

We have been received by this charming lady, making her debuts at P&H. Cute !!!

it’s fun to read you, and it’s fun to read the comments… 🙂 Belgian beaches are great too !

take care you and Charlie !


Insomnia? Is purgatory. Like being shut out of yourself. I’m glad yours has gone and may it never (or seldom, just to be realistic) return.

And if you miss an entry once or twice in a blue moon – lawdy, big deal.

So nice to have Charlie mentioned more and more on the blog. May he continue thus. Hello Charlie.

I feel I have to weigh in on the Uhstraya/England beach controversy. Not because I have anything useful to say, mind; merely because I’m closely acquainted with both. I was born surrounded by English beaches (Isle of Wight childhood) and I shudder whenever I draw close to them. Association, most probs – the parochialism of what people do to them – nothing inherently wrong with the beaches themselves. I always think of the English sea as one of consolation, gently sucking on its pebbles, quietly withdrawing. Strayan beaches are very different – wild, ravaging, spectacular in the most part. They benefit from being more numerous and more untouched. In Winter they’re most marvellous. Places of great drama. But in summer, in towns, parading bodies, glare, sticky sunscreen, bluebottles, rubbish – you can keep ’em.

Nicola Lawrencesays:

I am feeling shabby at the thought of causing offence (previous comment). I should state that I ‘lived’ (tried to immerse myself in that short time) in England for four months in 2011 – and adored every second and everything I saw and did – and the people I met. There are layers and therefore depths of beauty in so much of England (so much to take in it was breathtaking) – including layers of history, and beauty both natural and man-made. I long to return and hope to next year. My point, probably badly worded, is that my beach comment was not meant to offend, but was finding some beauty in where I too, live. I agree with Deborah’s point about the sun ravaging our skin (it is worse where I live further ‘in’), and we could definitely do with a few Hercule Poirots, a Ben Pentreath, or Vicars of Dibly or two! . Sorry for taking up space on your blog, Ben. Kind regards, Nicola L

Nicola Lawrencesays:

Hello Dorothy Lindsay and Deborah (via BP). I am sorry – I didn’t mean to denigrate the beaches of Britain. Yes I have been to the UK and in summer. I love all of the posts that Ben sends. My comments were a bit tongue in cheek (will have to be more careful in future). There is so much to enjoy in what Ben posts (words and pics), and I was having a little ‘three cheers’ for Australian beaches. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and yes, I think our beaches are exquisite. Kind regards, Nicola


The greatest things about English beaches are that they do not ravage your complexion after five minutes’ exposure to the sun, and you might spy Hercule Poirot in a deck chair.

Dorothy Lindsaysays:

Dear Nicola, at the risk of setting this blog off on a different tangent – (VitD3, beaches) – I just could not let your comments on our English beaches go unchallenged. Have you ever been to England, I wonder? I am familiar with Australian beaches as my eldest son lives there and I visit him and the beaches are, you know, fine, some of them have great surf and some of them have penguins, but I wouldn’t describe them as exquisite.
Ben’s blog , on the other hand, is full of photographs which could always be described thus.

But he’s not writing a travel brochure and he takes photos which have a particular focus and which reflect a personal interest – social commentary, historical, architectural, cultural – but not necessarily to show whatever it is in a conventional way.
And, last but not least, it is almost winter in England. So if the beaches look a bit grey, you must should it down to the weather, but not the beach! Come and see us sometime…..


Blog. Schmog. We all have a life and you’re entitled to yours. Your posts are always worth attending to whenever they appear. All the very best to you and Charlie. Nicola


Love the photos of sleepy Suffolk, meanwhile on this side of the pond i was out on the byways of the foothills of Alberta during the magic season between harvest and when the snow starts to fly. Your blog always makes me homesick for a particular Englishness you capture so well, but i know that if i moved back i would yearn for the wide open spaces and mountains. So thank you each and every week for the blog which reminds me of all the beautiful things that i love about Little England.


Hi Ben….for this relief, much thanks! We were worrying about you…..
t is just lovely to have you back, but I agree with all the other bloggers, family and love and health should always come first.
I was interested to read the post from Mrs H; I have just been put on Vit D3 for neuropathic pain and I am hoping for a miracle…..

Looking forward to visiting the shop the first week in December. It’s one of the “must-do” items on my trip.


I have not slept much this week either…and originally thought it was because there was no blog last Monday! Now I will attribute it to the movements of the stars and planets. Much more romantic. Anyway, complete permission granted for Sunday nights with Charlie!

Mrs Hsays:

When I saw the title of this post I gasped, thinking you were saying goodbye to your blog. Thank heavens you’re not. Mondays are not the same without you.

I had insomnia for so long and so badly that my GP referred me to a neurologist. Turned out I just needed iron and vitamin D3 supplements, and now sleep like a baby.

Do get a blood test, especially if you suffer frequent headaches too.

Amy McRaesays:

Oooh naughty Ben – you rather terrified me with that ominous title. But much as I love love love your weekly post, I wouldn’t want you to suffer in any way for your art – health comes first. Can’t imagine a week or more of little to no sleep, poor you. Do take care.


Please don’t have Blog anxiety. I will savor your posts whenever you care to share one.
I promise.

p.s. In another life I will be your friend and I will live in some fabulous and lovely place.
(That said, I am thankful for the beauty in my own life.)


O Ben, I was only teasing…I was just missing my weekly BP fix!

You must try a Chamomile tea before bed, it might just help you sleep soundly.

Jess xxx

Sunday nights with Charlie. Ben, how could any of your loyal readers grudge you that? Wishing you many contented Sunday evenings ahead, and will enjoy your blog whenever you choose to post. X


Hey hang in there. All kinds of people, unexpected people, and unexpectedly, get insomnia. Change, even good change, work, even exciting work… Especially careful, brainy, seeing people. S’ok to hand in the blog late all the time or once in a while or whatever – we will all let you, I feel sure. x


Dearest Ben P, firstly ‘to the lighthouse’ …thank you. Second, insomnia, lack of sleep, inability to sleep, eight nights in a row … it has been my burden when I am unable to deal with everything, don’t mind a bit of insomnia now and again, quite like waking in the middle of the night, watching the dawn, having a very early cup of tea, but this is not that is it?… you see I am a top coper, I am amazing multi-tasking supremo … I am super busy and super positive and achieving everything, and of course I like life to be picture perfect … and then a bad body blow, also known as the reality of life (3 times in 30 years, could be worse) fear and anxiety set in. Quite good to write about it actually. Eyes wide open, no sleep. Pain in face, exhaustion. Looking about 100. Finally went to docs, he gave sleeping pills – amazing sleep – took them for 9 nights – never again. Breathing, yoga, walking in Botanical Gardens, running, exercise, lavender spray on my pillow, no alcohol, no coffee, praying, counting my blessings, trying to have a simpler life. Making changes. Life though beautiful, is hard, challenging, sometimes horrendous. We are so fortunate. When one door closes another one opens. Thanks as always and apologies for mini rant. I’ll be thinking of you and I wish you sleep, and read Sir Philip Syndey’s verse Astrophel and Stella written in 1591, words perfect.

Come, Sleep! O Sleep, the certain knot of peace,
The baiting-place of wit, the balm of woe,
The poor man’s wealth, the prisoner’s release,
Th’ indifferent judge between the high and low;
With shield of proof shield me from out the press
Of those fierce darts Despair at me doth throw!
O make in me those civil wars to cease!—
I will good tribute pay if thou do so.
Take thou of me smooth pillows, sweetest bed,
A chamber deaf of noise and blind of light,
A rosy garland, and a weary head;
And if these things, as being thine in right,
Move not thy heavy grace, thou shalt in me,
Livelier than elsewhere, Stella’s image sees.

A. Stewartsays:

Ben: real life must always come first – a day or so won’t make any difference to the rest of the world!


Ben, you write the finest blog in all the world, and I love reading it and slipping into your world, if only for a moment.
But if it all ended tomorrow, I’d be very, very, very sad, but certainly wouldn’t blame you, how could I?
Real life should always take precedence..
Thankfully, your wonderful book is forever!

Michelle Cloversays:

I am so sorry sleepy Suffolk did not work its normal soporific magic on you insomnia. However it’s wonderful to have your blog back and it was a special treat to see you had visited our county.


I hadn’t read Jess’ comment, but did notice the absence of the regular blog post and instead hoped that you were having too much fun at work and life, so the blog title today terrified me! I cannot imagine not sleeping for an entire week, you must have been so exhausted. I hope you catch up on more sleep, and look forward to reading more stories, when you post them.

Rose Dwightsays:

It’s funny how this blog world steps over a few boundaries!! I am grateful for your words and the photos whenever they appear. My age is preventing my frequent visits to the UK and I so look forward to all your comments, your walks and the catalog of photos. Sorry that you can’t sleep but I’ll bet Charlie could fix you a Hot Toddy and you would be off to ZZZZZ land. thanks so much.

Erica W.says:

Oh dear — sorry to hear you had such trouble sleeping and glad to hear you’re back on a more regular schedule. Best wishes from a faithful reader!

Nicola Lawrencesays:

Dear Ben, I too felt a shock when I read Jess’s post (RIP BP blog). Perhaps she was also affected by the moon…. I’m glad you are back and sleeping well – and yes to quiet Sunday nights with Charlie. (On an unrelated matter – your new bedroom wallpaper looks beautiful). Ben I usually view your photos with much envy and longing…. however this week I can quite piously say that the beaches of England have very little compared with our exquisite Australian beaches. It is the combination of soft sand, light and magnificent coastline which work together to make ours so beautiful – and seemingly without exception. I hope you will see for yourself one day – if you haven’t already.

I love the Fawley House window! and garden beyond. Cheerio, Nicola

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