Time flying

4 April 2016
Ben Pentreath

Where’s the blog gone, you’ll have been asking… and time has been rushing by.

It’s been one of those moments where I have just had to get my head down and press on.  I have been deep in writing the final text for my next book – which I am happy to say is now finished. It comes out in the Autumn, published as before, by Ryland Peters & Small, and it will be called ‘English Houses’. People keep on asking when I’m going to be writing a book on my own work, but if I’m absolutely honest, I’m not really ready for that. So it is going to be another book of inspiring houses – the Parsonage, I guess you could have guessed; our flat in London, ditto; and then ten other beautiful houses where I have sneakily managed to persuade friends to let me and Jan Baldwin (with her camera) in through the door. Although I say so myself, it’s looking visually stunning.  In fact, I can say that because I’m merely praising Jan’s incredible ability to catch a moment and a mood.

Anyway – watch this space.

Meanwhile Charlie and I have been having VERY quiet times down in Dorset. From time to time I’ve stepped outside to snap a shot here and there as the light creates a moment in the garden. Spring is on the brink of bursting, but after the warmest start ever to the year, it has felt rather cold and restless for the past fortnight, as if the garden is a little held back.

But what is magical, still, is seeing how much changes in a week.  This was at the Easter weekend:IMG_0485 IMG_0486

IMG_0490 IMG_0510 IMG_0511 IMG_0512 IMG_0513 IMG_0523 IMG_0528 IMG_0530It has been an incredible year for primroses, I wonder why?IMG_0532

We went for a walk on Good Friday to Eggardon Hill, looking majestic:IMG_0549 IMG_0551 IMG_0555 IMG_0562

before making over way over to Powerstock to catch up with Jane and Johnny and friends. We got home at sunset:
IMG_0573 IMG_0577

We haven’t seen a lot of sun in Dorset these last few weeks, but that evening, it glowed and was perfect.IMG_0591 IMG_0603 IMG_0606 IMG_0609 We were away on Saturday, during the midst of a huge storm, to our friends Kim and Pip over at the farm in Hampshire, and got back to Dorset in between blustery sunshine and huge clouds and rainstorms rolling in from the west:
IMG_0693 IMG_0699 I had to go back to London on the Tuesday, but Charlie stayed down for most of the week. Huge container loads of compost arrived and have been distributed; on Friday, three huge boxes of dahlia tubers turned up. It’s a full scale production in the garden right now, incredible. So these photos are from this weekend, and you can see how much has begun to change.
IMG_0772 IMG_0773 IMG_0778 IMG_0782 IMG_0784 IMG_0792

The tulips have suddenly decided it’s time to come out:IMG_0805 IMG_0806 IMG_0807 IMG_0809 IMG_0814 The veg garden is looking amazing. Never has it been so neat and tidy. It was softest, mistiest light early on Sunday morning – the morning I got up to finish writing the book (a very good feeling to pen the last word).
IMG_0832 IMG_0838I’m writing on Monday morning now, at the end of a lovely weekend, although the rain clouds continue to roll through. The weirdest thing is, I am hardly here now for the rest of the month. Next weekend we are in Lisbon, which we were very excited about when we booked the tickets a few weeks ago but now are not quite so sure at all.  I mean, it is going to be wonderful, I’ve longed to go to Lisbon forever, but don’t you sometimes find that the most exciting part of a holiday is deciding to go? Then when the time comes you realise that you are basically very content at home (and always so glad to get back at the end). Perhaps, after all, this is the true purpose of travel – to remind you why you are happy with day-to-day life, which from the perspective of the here-and-now can seem a little bit relentless?

The following weekend we go to Suffolk, and the weekend after that we have a friend’s birthday party in London, and still we won’t be down here. I’m not quite sure I can cope. Charlie will be here dipping in and out of the tulip beds, of course, but to me it will feel like hearing a huge fireworks display, but not being able to watch it.  I may need to make an emergency trip. Watch this space.

20 comments on this post

I always enjoy your amazing photos. The countryside there is so idyllic. 2 questions: Why the clay pots on sticks in the garden? And what is the tall, purple kale-like plant in the garden?


Ben, have you or any of your readers read anything by Beverly Nicho;ls? They ( his books) are fabulous. They are all about gardening and his neighbors and are VERY very charming and funny . Surely you have heard of him.

Been dying to go to Lisbon for ages which is silly as it really isn’t so far away. Have the best time! Looking forward to seeing pics on your return.
Isla xx

Kudos on completing the latest book, Ben. We are all on tenterhooks until Autumn. You’ve given the Parsonage gardens such “good bones” they are attractive any time of the year.(You are Harold to Charlie’s Vita, so to speak!) I have tulip envy–the deer won’t let any grow on my property.

I love the photo of the weathered bench & wall behind it at the end of the new terrace. I have often wondered about the thatched roof buildings adjacent to the Parsonage. What are they? If you written about them before, I must’ve missed it.

Enjoy Lisbon!

Hugs from Diane


Looking at the front elevation in the third photograph, I’m wondering whether another of your charming bays might be worth considering as an alteration? I’m assuming the sash window is the kitchen. Just a thought from an admirer of your architecture. Can’t wait to buy your new book!


Don’t know what happened to the last blog, but it is reassuring to see all is well and springing in Dorset again. As others have already mentioned, I’m looking forward to a personal tour of Lisbon and your future publication. Best, Nicola


Oops – posted too soon, more to add! Would be great if Charlie had a garden blog as I have so many questions: are the sweet peas germinating, are the dahlias already planted? etc. etc. Try not to leave the spring garden for too long as it’s truly magical and changes every day.


Really looking forward to your book which is on my ‘wish list’. Your garden is looking gorgeous


So glad to see you & your always enchanting photos back online! Like the others I’m eagerly anticipating your new book,I shall have to see if it’s available for preorder yet. Have fun in Lisbon with Charlie,you’re in for a treat.

Nicola Lawrenceesays:

I’m not wanting to wish my life away, but I’m so looking forward to August and your new book!

Enjoy Lisbon with Charlie and I hope you find yourself back at The Parsonage sooner than you think. I wouldn’t be able to stay away! xx


Hello Ben,

I’m writing you from the historic Watergate building in Washington and reading this post with a view of the Kennedy Center out the window; the soft, bucolic images of this post are in stark contrast to the modernist Italian marble and gold-painted steel columns.

Your insight of traveling being exciting when booked but the desire to use the time to stay home resonated with me and glad to know I’m not the only one with these mixed emotions.


A warm hello from Germany- I am new here and fascinated by your photos. I am trying to understand who is who… ARE YOU MARRIED? This is not a proposal, but coming to think of it…don’t worry, just joking.

lillian sharpsays:

What I would like to have is a book of your blog. Your photographs and comments are just wonderful. I will be looking forward to your new book though.

Lovely blog as always.

Ashley Levisays:

Ben, I fell down a rabbit hole on Pinterest and found you! I feel like I’ve found my long-lost best friend. And come to think of it, we probably have some mutual friends? Anyway, I binge-read your blogs over the weekend. Love it all! Thank you for all your great taste, thoughtful words, keen eye and quintessential English lifestyle. I especially love your love for friends, gardens, weather and an afternoon in the pub. I want to meet Charlie too?
Enjoy Lisbon! Hopefully, it will be as inspiring and relaxing as your trip to Amsterdam, which was an enjoyable Blog post too. Thank you again for the blog Ben. It’s a treat.
Love from Nashville, TN


Being a faithful reader of your blog, I´m sure you´ll like Lisbon and its quirky streets. Looking forward to the nice pictures you´ll take and reading your views on this still quite hidden away european capital – the city where I live!

Should you need any tips don´t hesitate to contact and make sure you don´t miss the amazing candle shop of Loreto ( or the palace Marqueses de Fronteira (


It’s looking lovely, such a lot of work but it will be so beautiful come summer. I know what you mean, I’ve have planned so many trips but as the garden comes alive, all I can think about is what I’ll miss….and the hard work to catch up when back! As always Ben, a beautiful post. Dead excited about your book in th Autumn 🙂

Everything looks beautiful! I particularly love that shade of tulips that you planted. Have a wonderful and productive Spring-can’t wait for the new book!
xo, Lissy

Gisela Barringtonsays:

Nice to have your blog back, i thought already that fb does not send alerts any more and have been rummaging round your fb site and website. But if one does not know about your blog it is very difficult to find it……may be you like it this way?
Thrilled to see that your tulips are more advanced than mine, your garden better looked after and so much tidier! No wonder with a live in gardener….
Now looking forward to your book and many more blogs.

Mary Jenkinssays:

We were in Powerstock a few days ago visiting the Three Horseshoes – haven’t been there for a few years and am pleased to say that it hadn’t changed! Good pub grub! We told the hosts about your blog and that you lived locally, as they weren’t followers! They may be now though?

I am very fond of Powerstock, but always forget how deeply situated in Dorset it is? We also drove past Eggerton Hill on that very scary road out of Powerstock!

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