Days lengthening

28 February 2016
Ben Pentreath

Sorry for no blog last week. The trouble is, life’s pretty busy from time to time, as I’m sure you know. So there will be the odd intermittent delay – I’m sure you don’t notice or mind.

One thing I have noticed is the days suddenly getting longer.  Of course, it’s not sudden at all – about 3 or 4  minutes every day, as our neighbour Nicky was saying on Friday evening – but that’s twenty minutes a week, or an hour every three weeks – and that’s when you notice things. It creeps up on us, quietly, but one day you wake up and think “golly, the sun is up already”.  Or one afternoon you’re walking home from work and think… goodness, it’s quarter to six and it’s still light.

It’s a moment in the year I adore. Strange to think that in four weeks’ time it will be Easter, which is when (someone said today) the clocks change. Spring is coming fast.

It’s been a beautiful weekend in Dorset, cold, with grey starts, but the cloud burning through to give way to afternoons of warm sunshine. Charlie and I haven’t been up to too much at all, except to re-charge batteries, see friends, potter about and catch breath.

The sunshine streamed into the kitchen late on Saturday afternoon….


In the dining room, Charlie has set up trestle tables to get his sweet pea seedlings going, in the big bay windows, which for now are the best we have for a greenhouse:

P1070753 P1070754

The sun was pouring into the drawing room.P1070757

The garden work is finished, and is looking amazing, although of course it probably now needs a year or two to settle in.P1070758 P1070759 P1070760 P1070761

The grass terrace feels so long. The house sits more comfortably, the whole garden feels so much larger. It’s transformational.

Tulips are in flower, stunted little things that need far more warmth and daylight to grow properly, but there we are….P1070762P1070773

In the veg garden, Charlie’s rows of daffodils are doing much better.P1070774 P1070776 P1070778 P1070780 P1070783 P1070784

Charlie’s moved his stand of bulbs into a sunny spot on the south side, between the bay windows.P1070786 P1070789 P1070790 P1070797 P1070804 P1070809

We went for an evening walk up the valley, the light a soft warm grey.P1070818 P1070819 P1070821 P1070822

Today we went down the coast for lunch in Seatown, where the sea was sparkling and the wind cold and brisk.  On our way home we called in to see Chris and Caddy, our friends with the dreamiest house just in the next door village to ours. If you’re familiar with my book you’ll know that their interiors played a quietly starring role. But the garden is just as beautiful.P1070829

Chris and Caddy have just chopped down a stunted brute of an old tree that dominated the garden. There must be something in the air in the valley at the moment – time to get rid of old trees that are doing no good to anyone.  The result is extraordinary – the walled garden can breathe again, and feels like a blank canvas waiting for Caddy to work her magic.P1070830

I love this house, with its eccentric old stone facade, perfectly beautiful.

And this evening we went for another walk down the valley, marvelling at the soft golden sunset, and the fact that it was still daylight at 6 o clock…P1070833 P1070835 P1070838 P1070840 P1070842 P1070843 P1070844 P1070845 P1070846 P1070847

And we walked home feeling quiet, and rested, and incredibly happy, savouring this moment where the countryside hangs in the balance between winter and spring, waiting for the turn.

20 comments on this post


I second the hill fort question. That hill has a suspicious shape.


Amazing. Someone jigsawed the new turf into the stone edging. Nice. Very nice. Best, Nicola

Pierre B.says:

All what you show and write about your garden would (or will?) make a wonderful book. Thank you for being back!


as so many others have commented; did miss you last week and glad you’re back, safe and sound, Absolutely love reading about my beloved Dorset and seeing all the garden photos; your blog is a ‘highlight’, an inspiration, please continue!

What an enticing array of images, Ben. The season is truly on the cusp between winter and spring. I am wondering about those tortured-looking trees in the photos from your 6 PM walk. Surely not wind damage? I love the way the new terrace leads straight out onto the green fields beyond the gate. What of the area above the new steps in the first exterior shot, will that also be leveled? So exciting to see the developments! Carry on!




Thankyou you for sharing these nice moments and photos with us! It was wonderful again to read and see the nice pictures of the English countryside, and the very good transformation of your garden! Chapeau!


So glad you are back; yes, I noticed there was no blog last week!!! The photos are lovely. It is a joy to see the garden progress. The stone wall is a real knock out – a great addition. Thank you for sharing England’s beautiful countryside.


I started reading, then when I saw your trays of sweet pea seeds & I had to add it to my list of things to do. The changes look great, so enhancing.
Was leafing through your book last night for some bathroom inspiration, it did not disappoint.


I can deal with you missing a week, or even more, now and again but my mind does go to worst case scenario…ben is sick, ben is tired of dealing with the blog, ben has started a huge project for a bold face name person and will surface in a year or two, charley has decided to dig up most of dorset and needs ben’s help with the wheelbarrow. so many things that really could happen. it’s so reassuring to know that “stuff” happened and you’re still there, noticing the turn of season and length
ening of the days.


Well, we can forgive you if you miss a week, but we do nevertheless mind, so please do try and maintain the weekly output, even if it is to share some brief despatches from London/rural life.

Whilst I don’t want to appear to be a frightful bore, if Charlie has time to cultivate some sweet peas then I think you can find a moment to scribble, don’t you?

And as you say…the days are getting longer and lighter, so no excuses.

I look forward to next week’s installment.


Sounds like a blissful weekend. I do miss Dorset, but Yorkshire is beautiful too and we went on a beautiful walk around Dingley Reservoir on the Pennines on Saturday which was great. No pub supper though – assume you were at the Anchor? My cousins used to manage it until a year or so ago!

I am really enjoying watching your garden progress and think the terrace a great success. Looking forward to seeing it all in bloom on the blog in due course.


You’re right, I don’t mind when you miss a blog, Ben, but I do miss it!


oh Ben, no didn’t mind a missed week, but of course noticed. As if your loyal followers wouldn’t….The house and garden and surroundings enchanting your fortunate blog readers as always. Thank you.


I’ve always loved those gate posts with the avenue of trees. Where does it lead to??
Looking forward to seeing the new garden mature, am inspired now to start chopping up my lawn a la Charlie!

elizabeth csays:

Wonderful photos and words Ben ! You really cheer us . I love the decor in your house …and the garden is going to be blissful …more please !


Lovely, posted some on my Pinterest Board with your name !

John Hartsays:

I am a newcomer to your blog having discovered it via your wonderful book that I bought myself for Christmas. I look forward to it every week and so while understanding that you have to miss a week sometimes I certainly miss it. Love reading about your garden and house as well as the places you visit. Have a good week.

Nicola Lawrencesays:

Exquisitely beautiful. I love everything about that photo of the sitting room with the Suzani rug over the sofa – and the kitchen – and the terrace – and the trestle tables in the dining room – garden – walking scenery – the lot!

the Elegant Economistsays:

Is that a hillfort you have on your horizon?

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