Staying still

8 March 2015
Ben Pentreath

I haven’t felt like moving very far this weekend. And I haven’t moved very far at all.  I walked down for tea with my landlord yesterday, and across the road for a delicious supper with our neighbours Jim and Nic last night, and across the garden to church this morning. And that was that – no more, no less.

A good thing. Last week was hectic… three long days in Oxfordshire, County Durham and Norfolk in quick succession, each with an earlier start than the day before. It was a weary me that drove down to Dorset late on Friday night, chatting on the phone to Charlie (who was already in Saturday morning) to keep myself awake. I arrived at the Parsonage by the light of a bright moon and fell into bed.

The rest of the country, as far as I could tell, was enjoying warm spring sunshine all weekend, but a thick coastal fog lingered in Dorset. I sometimes find that I’m frustrated if I’m in London pouring with rain knowing that the sun is shining in the West Country, or vice versa. But this weekend, the gentle grey light suited my mood perfectly.

This was this morning, looking out of the dining room window.


Potatoes were chitting, ready to be planted before I head away.P1080872

In the sitting room the light was even gloomier.  The house was dark and quiet, and felt so empty. P1080874

Even the scented geraniums on the stair landing were a little melancholic:P1080879

Or in a bedroom window:P1080881 P1080882

P1080889From the attic you could see hardly anything:P1080886

I must admit. I didn’t mind this at all. When you’ve been rushing around, there’s nothing better than going no-where and doing nothing… quietly letting the mind wander. And I don’t mind admitting either… golly gosh, I’m missing Charlie just now. I cannot WAIT to be heading to New Zealand.  We’re counting down the days now.

In the late afternoon the clouds finally cleared and the house was suddenly filled with warm, bright, redemptive sunshine, streaming in through the bay windows. I had a sleep on the sofa in the window which is about a nice a thing as you could do on a Sunday afternoon.

P1080895 P1080897 P1080898I’ve cleared the dining room. The purple (Patrick Baty’s ‘Plum’) has had its day and is shortly to be replaced with a bright cornflower blue. Charlie’s choice! I think I’m going to love it.P1080899

Piles of stuff made their way to the kitchen:P1080900 P1080901

Upstairs, bright sunlight bounced around the landings which just a couple of hours before had been grey and gloomy:P1080905 P1080912And outside our bedroom window the garden sparkled:
P1080908 P1080920

Crocuses are in the meadow:P1080924 P1080925

And the first narcissus:P1080927 P1080928 P1080929

Yes. I got it done. A row of freshly-planted first early potatoes:P1080933

A familiar view:P1080936 P1080937

And the dying rays of the sun:P1080941

For supper tonight I had forced rhubarb. Insanely soft pink and delicious.P1080945 P1080947

I love the quiet days down here. They really are unbeatable. I was meant to be driving back up to London tonight, but I couldn’t face the motorway… or, for that matter, moving anywhere at all.  So I decided to stay down another night.  My neighbour Mike will give me a lift to the station tomorrow morning, earlier than either of us like to think about.  It’s been a perfect completely silent evening.  There is nothing quite as good as staying still.


I’m conscious that a lot of very good questions were posted on the last blog and I’m sorry not to have had time to answer any of them yet! I’ll do my best.  It was one of those weeks.

20 comments on this post

Sometimes melancholic places are more charming that we can imagine. Loved the post!


Reply to Deborah above:- they are pots for forcing rhubarb. You you get those lovely slim bright pink stems


My eye was drawn to your Rustic Fete poster, so I tracked down the printer and have ordered one for myself. I’m looking forward to reading the small print for the Grinning Match (of, which is the Ugliest Prize!!).

Glad I found this nice blog! I love this one “Potatoes were chitting, ready to be planted before I head away.”

David Sanderssays:

The view of the Parsonage, with the veg garden in the foreground is perfection – an idyll, no less.

Hope you get a chance to see the wonderful autumnal colours – down in the South Island of New Zealand – when you visit our fair shores.

I hope enough people tell you how much they love your posts so you never stop. They make my week!

Beautiful post Ben, especially for a Scottish person living on the other side of the world – Queensland, Australia. I can just feel the atmosphere.


Glad the purple patch is over. At least you’re keeping your decorators in work. Can’t wait for the blue. Amazing how in modern life resting is increasingly a luxury. zzzzzz

Forget “A change is as good as a rest” and substitute, “Ben’s blog is as good as a holiday”.

What are those terra cotta things with lids in the garden? I am trying to recall what grows in the dark, and all I can come up with is mushrooms :->

Love the egg crates used for chitting potatoes. Will try…

I am new to your blog but so glad I found it, your beautifully evocative house tour was like doing meditation, so soothing, thank you fro sharing.

deby (in Canada)says:

Agree with Nicola… Bliss….
and with Simon C… we have heaps of snow in Port Hope so to see spring arriving in Dorset is an absolute treat. and imagining your quiet pottering at The Parsonage very restful…
As you count down the days to New Zealand I count down the days to London…
hugs Deby

Cecilia Stauntonsays:

Lovely, what a nice post. Thank you!

Pierre B.says:

“L’absence est à l.amour ce qu’est au feu le vent:
Il éteint le petit et allume le grand.”

Marquise de Sévigné

Very free translation:

“Absence is to love what wind is to fire:
it extinguishes the small one and lights the big one.”

What an enchanting place! And to see things growing! We’re still under feet of snow so it will be a while before our bulbs or rhubarb show. Looking forward to seeing the blue walls.

robert plantsays:

Glad the purple is going. Ten marks for trying. Looking forward to Cornflower Blue.

Jane Goldingsays:

Lovely evocative post, Ben. Next time you and Charlie are in Dorset, you should go to the new Brassica restaurant in Beaminster! We think you would like it – a Conranesque vibe and delicious food.

Oops, that would be “antidote” not “anecdote” – obviously my relaxing weekend at home has turned my brain to mush.

Simon Csays:

Perfect post Ben. We’re still under a foot of snow here in Toronto and Port Hope. Your crocus and narcissus are so welcome to see. Have a wonderful trip to NZ.

How right you are. Staying put is sometimes the best anecdote to a busy week. I did just that this weekend, digging up an army of weeds that have sprung up in the garden, enjoying home cooked meals, and lazying around with a good book. Heaven, as are your photographs in this posting.

Looking forward to seeing the dining room transform (should be wonderful with that blue lantern).

Nicola Lawrencesays:


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