High Summer, already

30 May 2016
Ben Pentreath

It’s been a rare bank holiday of beautiful weather from start to end. When did that last happen?P1000065

Dorset has fallen headlong in to summer. P1000070 P1000074 P1000084 P1000086 P1000089 P1000092 P1000095 Our weekend began on Friday evening, as it will also end tonight, with a drink with our next door neighbours Nic and Jim.  There was the softest pink sunset as we made our way back home.
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On Saturday we got up bright and early for Bridport Market, and breakfast with Mavis at Soulshine. We popped into Beaminster, to the shop at Brassica, and to my sister-in-law Laura’s exhibition for Dorset Arts. She is very shy about her sculpture but will have to get a bit less so when her pop-up comes to Rugby Street in November.

And then, returning home after an already packed morning, we decided to go to Wilton. We called in on the way at a job I’m working on, a great Dorset mansion, a dream house – wonderful to see progress there as new owners bring life back to a sleeping beauty.  And then on toward Salisbury. It was years, in fact decades, I suppose, since I’d visited the great Palladian mansion on the banks of the clear-flowing River Nadder in Wiltshire, the ultimate arcadia. A blue haze filled the air and it felt, and smelt, like full-blown high summer.P1000143 P1000144 P1000145The house is beautiful, and architecturally magnificent, but a strange place to visit; cold, perhaps. One dreams of walking around in the late ’30s, deep in conservation with Rex Whistler, on a hot lazy afternoon, with a glass of lemonade or gin. The visitor experience is rather austere, by contrast. I wonder why?P1000146

The laburnum tunnel was a vivid shade of chartreuse, on the brink of bursting into flower.P1000160

The famous Palladian bridge was under scaffold, which I was sad about.P1000191 Roses baked in the forecourt.P1000194 P1000195

The drive cross-country over Cranborne Chase was somehow more breathtaking than anything we’d just seen in the darkly classical rooms. The air was hazy but you could see for miles, hills vanishing into blue mist. Luckily for all of us, Charlie didn’t mind stopping the car from time to time, pulling into verges overflowing with cow parsley.P1000204 P1000205 P1000211 P1000212 P1000213

We were on our way to Edward and Jane Hurst’s, whose idyllic house will take a starring role in my new book when it is published in September. On Saturday, in the heat of the late afternoon, that threatened to break into thunder but never did, we spend happy hours in the garden, completely beautiful.  Tea turned to wine, and better and better gossip.P1000249

We made our way home cross country, as evening fell. Mavis was exhausted after her day out but still had time to carry on digging her enormous hole in the garden as soon as we got home.P1000277 P1000278

Charlie’s Eremurus are going crazy. I suspect there will be about 500 in the garden next year.P1000283 P1000288 P1000290 P1000292

Sunday was the laziest day ever. We went nowhere. We woke early in the bright morning light, and took Mavis for her walk.
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The afternoon was as hot as I ever remember it being Italy, and we spent the entire afternoon on the grass terrace, rolling from sunshine to shade and back again…P1000316 P1000318 P1000319

…Occasionally popping into the kitchen for a snack or another bottle of beer. Heaven.

Or for charlie’s scones (a small batch, which we devoured in seconds).
P1000327P1000338(not that I usually post photographs of food).

We are about to repaint the kitchen walls in an extremely bright gloss yellow paint. It will be like walking into a boiled egg. Second down on the left is the final choice. Watch this space.P1000336 In the evening we had another Mavis stroll – luckily at this stage these are just up the road rather than for 8 miles –

Past the cricket ground where the Scouts have had their campsite all weekend, looking like a scene out of Enid Blyton or Moonrise Kingdom:P1000344 P1000346 P1000348 P1000351Jane Hurst had told us, incidentally, why the verges are looking so beautiful in Dorset this year. It’s because of council cut backs – no more verge cutting on rural lanes. Heaven. So much more beautiful, and so much better for wildlife, and I am sure we will all naturally drive a bit more slowly because we can’t see quite so far around the corner. P1000354 P1000356 P1000360Needless to say we decided to pop into the Goodwin’s, whose house was buried in yet more clouds of cow parsley. More wine and chat.P1000361 P1000362 P1000367 P1000378 P1000381 P1000382 P1000395 P1000396 P1000401Home to roast chicken and bed. Happy summer days.

31 comments on this post


thank you for sharing beautiful moments and sweet memories. food for the soul.

Adrienne T.says:

I was looking at the photo of Charlie with rugs and Mavis and at that moment Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’ came on the radio How appropriate is that?
Saluti dall’Italia


I have a digger labbie too – once thought he was gone, but soon found him all curled up deep in his hidey hole. I let him keep it,so as not to encourage more!

As a fellow Dorset fanatic, I love your beautiful photos. We moved about 9 months ago, and our garden is still at the ‘breaking eggs’ stage, but when I get to making omelettes I will be heavily inspired by Charlie’s vegetable patch! Please keep the pictures coming, until I have something to look at here!


Book? September?


Ahh, ravishing. Cow parsley, gentle hills, mists, saturated green and the mention of gin. It was all so utterly ravishing a few months back that I couldn’t come and read – it triggered my homesickness too much. But now we’ve plans to come over for a year in a couple of months, I can tolerate a spot of ravish again. Need to gear up to it, in fact.

How good you’ve got Mavis. She’s a lucky ducky. And cheers to dogs sporting names with that sort of 50s Coronation Street glamour. We have an Elsie.


Yet another delightful blog! Thanks for sharing the beautiful photographs of your idyllic weekend.


Mavis and mist. Love this.


Summer alright. Two comments: I’ve got those green plates – they do go well with cheese; and why is Charlie carrying spears?! Best, Nicola

Allison Holmessays:

On this washed-out Tuesday afternoon in SW London (and first proper day of half-term with just me and the kids and wet cats all climbing the walls, cabin feverish) I am devouring your post. Am looking forward to seeing photos of your re-paint but surprised that you are going GLOSS (inside?). No doubt it will look amazing though and you will revive a Victorian (and 70’s) trend.

Looking forward to the dog show in June. What are you entering Mavis for?

Mavis is obviously digging a rabbit hole to (one of her) daddy’s place of origin. When she has completed her task you will all have easy access to the land of the long white cloud. And of course the means to return!


Peacefulness abounds after reading your blog. Photos are lovely. Mavis is adorable.

All gorgeousness…
We recently painted our billiard room Farrow and Ball ‘Print Room Yellow’ (against the wishes of long-suffering Mr Smith) and added divine linen curtains in a Kate Forman fabric, also in this muddy deep yellow. I am a big big fan of yellow inside and out and always sneak it into my clients gardens in some way.

Andrew Beansays:

Thank you for yet another sublime post


But you missed the New Zealand themed salisbury Festival opening ceremony and Whakatuwhera Maori welcome ceremony !


Made me cry it all looked so Beautiful!


Oh please do more pictures of food in the coming weeks…the scones look scrumptious !!!

Kate Hsays:

Don’t wish to post a downer but apparently Cow Parsley
rampant because we’re still over fertilising everything. It’s drowing out other wild flowers. But I agree it is HEAVEN to look at especially as you’ve photographed it rolling down the curve of a hill….

Just love reading and looking at the world through your refined eye. Each post is truly a pleasure to read and look at. Enjoy the dreary Monday rain in London! Your blog post fills me with sunshine.

Patricia Taylorsays:

Monday morning, pouring with rain in London, but you have
given me beautiful Dorset to get lost in – thank you as always.


I can’t tell you how soothing it is to check in to you first thing on a work day morning whilst drinking my first cup of tea – your dreamy, beautiful photography always sets me up for the week – thank you.

David Sanderssays:

The Dorset mansion looks very much like Wilton House, if my memory serves me correctly; wonderful interiors too, as I remember.

The cow parsley seems to have gone crazy in Dorset this year – positively rampant.

Everything looks gorgeous Ben.

Nicola Lawrenceesays:

Can’t wait to see the yellow kitchen – beautiful colour. I love the gentle rolling landscape in these images – heaven. xx


I’m swooning over the gorgeous photos of the weekend. Even tho’ you don’t usually post pictures of food, those scones of Charlies looked very good. Wouldn’t mind the recipe actually, as it looked like a nice small amount. Any luck?

oh thank you for this. we have had the most dreadful Memorial Day weekend… only this afternoon has it finally become pleasant. Heat wave started last week and by the weekend it was 94 hot humid and yucky.. and yesterday more humid and 90s and then finally at midnight last night a HUGE Tropical Depression rambled thru and today after a drizzily morning an afternoon of cooler temps and a little lower humidity.

oh well, at least i was not at the beach… spent the weekend parked in front of a fan and knitting and surfing web and binge watching THe Americans and Grace and Frankie… so nice to see these gorgeous photos … to pretend that was my weekend instead of the humid mess of reality.

the best photo is of mavis entangled with the blanket
my kitchen is the most glorious yellow.. reminds me of tuscany, i have never regretted the color!

cant wait to see yours!

and of course the garden is glorious. i have a few shots of my wee secret garden (well 2/3rds) at flickr and instagram under sogalitno. nothing like yours but its TEN years this weekend… and even though i rent i love it. )

yours inspires me…how i wish for a real garden and house (and yours is a dream house)

Karen Donohue Fleersays:

All the photos transport me — but those images of Charlie and the pup, now that’s the very best of life.

Pierre B.says:

P.S. Charming photos of Charlie and Mavis. Ben, you are the ghost of your blog: we never see you on any…

Pierre B.says:

Judging by those photos, Dorset seems to be some kind of paradise on earth. May the three of you enjoy a great summer!

oh goooooorgeous….so beautiful. nothing is more beautiful than an English summer day. just got back from London myself and that’s what I thought – how lucky I was to land in a perfect sun storm of a rather late spring and early summer. all the flowers……… and lush greenery. it was just so perfect.

thanks for sharing your bank holiday weekend with us! (in arid-but-differently beautiful L.A.)

hope you get more such weekends!

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