Everything will be alright

26 June 2016
Ben Pentreath

From time to time there are moments in life when I feel quite calm, completely clear-headed, even managing amongst it all to find a vital sense of humour, when everyone around me seems full of despair and panic. I think it’s a mood I inherited from my dad, who crops up from time to time on this blog, as regular readers will know. My Dad can be the most stubborn person on the planet, infuriatingly so at times (just talk to my Mum), but when something’s going wrong he’s the steadiest person in the world. You feel completely safe and you know that absolutely everything will be alright. I remember, quite young, as a child, I guess aged 10 or 11, when we were sailing Dad’s boat up the west coast to Scotland. Only my mother, father and I were on board. We had stopped at Lundy Island (which I long to visit again) when a huge and unexpected storm blew in from the Atlantic. There was no safe harbour in the prevailing wind and massive swell. Dad decided that the only safe course of action was to make sail, into the storm, and head north to Milford Haven. We had a gruelling trip, arriving after many hours of foul weather, rain, wind and seasickness. But the curious thing is that at no time, not even for a minute, did I feel scared. The calm presence of my father, his hand on the wheel, or navigating through the night by a dim flashlight on the chart table, was enough to make me realise that I was in safe hands. It was such a visceral and powerful emotion that I can remember that night vividly, thirty five years later. Everything will be alright.  And I feel it now as strongly as I felt it then.

Much has been made in the last 48 hours that Britain is in meltdown; that we live in a violently divided nation where the people in one tribe don’t understand the other; that we are marooned on a racist, bigoted, narrow-minded island which has turned its back on progress, the rights of man, and – of course – on Europe.

I would like to say that I disagree, from the bottom of my heart. Maybe it’s because Charlie and  I spend so much time deep in West Dorset – which voted wholeheartedly to leave the European Union – that I know my neighbours are not racist, they are not bigoted, they are not narrow-minded; they love progress, and rights, and they love the future. On a personal level, I think the amazing welcome that everyone in our tiny village, and in the valley, has given to me, and then to Charlie, is proof of that; especially the earth-shattering cheer in the tent on our wedding night, nearly a year ago now, which was a cheer full of love and welcome.

Neither do they hate Europe, even if they wished to leave the Union. Of course, let’s not forget that maybe a third of my Dorset neighbours voted to remain; and please let’s not forget also that about 40% of our great city of London, or the great country of Scotland, voted to leave. So the landscape is more complex than headlines sometimes allow. Everyone I’ve talked to gave thought to their decisions very carefully.  People who have never voted, voted.  This was serious, and it was treated with the seriousness it deserved. It’s true, no-one could have predicted the final result; few did. But that is the result, and I think we must have the humility to respect it – whatever our politics.

I have detected, on Instagram, it has to be said in particular, from people who I would have thought might have be calmer, a hysteria that is unprecedented as it is unexpected. If part of the reason of this vote was a cry of anguished rage from large swathes of our wonderful country (from the parts that have tended to be forgotten by politics for so many decades now, and which are in such urgent need of attention, care, and restoration), well, how sad it is to me that a shrill shriek of equal rage and disgust from the so-called elite is the only answer.

This evening I received an email from a colleague, a distinguished architect, urging me to add my signature to a petition for a second referendum. I’ve seen the same request dozens of times on twitter and instagram. Who do we think we have become, when one tribe demands that we must carry on voting until we get a result we are comfortable with – rather than listening, and reflecting, and working out how we can, over time, change our politics and our country for the better?

I am sure that whatever your emotion on Friday morning, the only worthwhile solution is to get on and build the new world we find ourselves in; with love, care, dignity and great attention to the finest qualities of our wonderful human spirit – which is capable of so much when times demand it.

If you wish to comment on this blog I would sincerely ask that your thoughts are kind, thoughtful and respectful of all.  Peace.

95 comments on this post

Pasquale Casullosays:

Oh, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you.

I discovered you a while ago, through Instagram, and throughly enjoy your work, your style, and your wonderful life. After reading this post, I thought to myself, ‘I like this splendid Mr. Pentreath EVEN MORE, now’. Such a smart, well-rounded, thoughtful reaction to Brexit – from a smart, well-rounded, thoughtful Londoner who spends weekends in the ‘other’ Britain.

A nice breath of fresh air on the topic, for me, a Canadian living in Toronto.



that is very beautiful and very true. I hope it goes viral

Janelle McCullochsays:

Here in Australia, many of us were just as shocked as the British when the results came through. It wasn’t the final result that surprised many of us (although that was certainly unexpected, no matter which side you stood), but the reactions that followed, including David Cameron’s resignation and Boris Johnson’s decision to follow him.

Australia has also just experienced a divisive federation election (this weekend), where the result was far from what most people — and indeed the political parties — expected.

As a result of these two astonishing elections, many international political commentators are now wondering what will happen in the US elections. A few months ago, many of us would have laughed at the idea that Trump could be sitting in the White House, with his right hand on that famous top drawer. Now…?

I shall continue to look forward to your weekly posts of flowers and landscapes and heavenly Dorsetian sunsets so I don’t have to think about it all too much.


Dear Ben, thank you. Perfectly put.

Best wishes

Nessa Ryallsays:

Thank you.I am so sad and worried.Your blog has helped reduce my anxiety.


Ben, This is my first comment on your blog, which I read regularly and enjoy immensely. Though I understand your perception of Britain as strong and steady, that is very much the image which has been constructed and accepted by the English, I must ask you who you feel is steering the ship during these very choppy times?
As a former Londoner, a citizen of two countries which were parts of the British Empire, and married to an EU national, my perspective on this is could not be more different. Do you feel assured that Mr Johnson will steer you to safety as your father did? Do you feel it significant that incidents of racist violence have increased by over half in the past week? What is your opinion of the fact that Cornwall now seeks to be assured, after voting leave, that they will not lose EU subsidies worth tens of millions? What is your opinion of the desire, even feeling of entitlement, to access the single market without being burdened with the free movement of people?
These are dark and dangerous times for those who do not share the same privilege as you and whose place in England is not as assured. Your village accepted you and celebrated your marriage, and that is a beautiful thing. I would hope they would do the same for their Pakistani, Polish, Italian, or German neighbours. Do you think they would do the same?

Jessica Marcumsays:

I am a long time reader of this blog, I hardly ever comment but I had to just say thank you so much for this peaceful commentary. I’m American and have been watching the EU vote with some interest as it seems to mirror, in some ways, the political unrest associated with our upcoming presidential election (besides all the implications of the actual vote). You’ve given me the courage to face, whatever the outcome, with peace and understanding. Thank you.


Dear Ben, I echo Sarah’s comment (27.06 at 10.51 pm)100% and thank you from the bottom of my heart for your optimistic well written piece. We are being subjected to so much negativity so it should appear on the front page of every national newspaper! You’re a star!!


I know all here are good people – but those who voted to leave must have at some moment realised who exactly they were throwing the hat into the ring with – I don’t find Marine le Pen’s congratulations terribly edifying – and I would hope hope that none here would. A very telling early comment here said all will be fine because this is ENGLAND – no I’m sorry this is the United Kingdom – for now … Yet all those people in Ulster who voted to remain, Unionists especially ( and yes they aren’t all right wing nutters either)are coming to the very stark realisation that England cares little about their fate …

As far as Dorset or Bloomsbury are concerned The north of Ireland or indeed Scotland must be as remote as the moon- and of as little consequence .


Thank you for eloquently summarising what many people are feeling, but are perhaps, and rather sadly, too nervous to share for fear of being seen as defensive, too philosophical or even provocative.
I too have been surprised and saddened at the tone of social media posts since the referendum and whilst feeling the urge to comment, have veered away in anxiety over the fear of being seen as defensive or perpetuating the angst that’s evident in many quarters.
My biggest concern has not been for the economy, which will have more chance of resettling when the media stop exacerbating the ‘crisis’ that need never be.. The worrying fact is how angry some appear to have become and how that anger seems to be negatively impacting behaviour and respect for friendships. I have always admired the reserve Brits have over certain subjects; I was taught in the traditional sense to never talk about religion, money or politics, yet the cat’s now ‘out of the bag’ and there’s an undercurrent which seems to unreasonably demand a reason for why individuals voted as they did. I was asked directly today by a client and felt horribly uncomfortable and herded into a corner..this is private business and we should not have to reveal or defend our vote choice to anyone, except to our own conscience should we feel the need.
So here I sit, nervous yet about making comment where I may be recognised, and my instinct is that very feeling is potentially the biggest threat to this good country of ours.

I similarly believe Britain has the potential to thrive going forward and I’m behind your positive sentiment all the way and hope, well trust, that time will heal the immediate upset caused to so many by last Thursday’s result. There is nothing to gain for any country or organisation by creating unecessary barriers to trade, treating other countries badly or attempting to manipulate the democratic result of a free vote. We are exceptionally lucky to have had the chance for a free vote and should respect every single vote cast either way.
Thank you again for sharing your perspective.

lissy parkersays:

Beautifully said!
xo, lissy

Andrew Bsays:

Thank you for your sane and sensible post.
We are a stoic people who have weathered far far worse storms than the current one over our head… usually these situations bring out the best in folk and the worse.
We can hope that it will be the best and all will come well eventually.
The biggest crisis is by far the fragmenting of the UK… we can only hope that a miracle happens at that crisis is also adverted..
But whatever happens we will survive… to laugh and love and enjoy reading your wonderful posts…



Being English but (currently) living in France, I am a huge admirer of your blog for it affords me a journey each week of dipping into the very best of the English arcadia. Something that appears to have been lost in modern media which focuses instead incessantly on the worst. So your words are no surprise for they provide the same beacon of light which you offer your readers each week. Searching for the best that we can achieve in life.

For me coming out of the EU was perhaps a bit like your own business enterprise – celebrating smaller – where individuals and communities matter rather than huge monolithic organisations where people become merely numbers. And maybe it is a story of hope into “Small is Beautiful” which the economist Schumacher wrote about over half a century ago. (A copy of which apparently resides with the Prince of Wales).

At the end of the day I have faith in people (rather than politicians and big business who have their own agendas). Because my experience this last Sunday when walking round a vide grenier (flea market) in one of our local villages was not antagonistic. In fact when perusing a particularly beautiful antique faded cushion cover in old French linen, the French stallholder said to me in broken English “if it gives you pleasure and you enjoy it you can have it for a Euro.”

That pretty much sums it up.

Winona Stewartsays:

Beautifully stated. My friends and I, as Americans, applaud Britain’s courage to make a painful but very needed change.


Dear, dear Ben. You made me cry last week and you’ve done it again. I’ve been wondering what you’d think of the referendum, and you’ve given me more reassurance than I could have hoped for. Thank you. I won’t forget the story of your dad in the storm.


Dear Ben,

I have been an avid reader of your blog for quite some time now, over here in the south of Germany. At the start of each week, as the tide of weekday tasks and turmoil came rolling in, your beautiful photos and insights have reminded me of the beauty with which we are surrounded (despite all the ugly things we may see around us), of the blessed, peaceful life we lead, of friends, family and the many things to be grateful for. Equally, your blog has been helpful in bridging the gap till our next vacation in Britain and in dreaming of all the places we want to go to.

This is my first comment here, too, today. I wanted to thank you for your measured words and for your exhortation to build the world we live in with love, care, and dignity. To me, the core achievements of the EU do not lie in economic or financial action (indeed, I find much to question there) but in subscribing to humanistic values in a peaceful Europe.
Hence, while I recognize that both sides had their good reasons to vote as they did, personally I still feel saddened by the fact that so many have decided to vote for Brexit. I continue, however, to believe that everything will be alright in the end. However bumpy (and I hope not too much) the democratic process will be.

Thank you, then, today especially, for sharing your wise thoughts and your thoughtful outlook.

With love,

Don Rogerssays:

Very well said Ben! Peace to you and yours as well.


Please forgive another intrusion, but there is an interesting point to be made regarding the legal aspects of a referendum. A referendum is advisory only and is not binding on Parliament or the Government. Parliament would be totally within its constitutional rights to override the referendum if, in its considered judgement, its implementation were not conducive to the public good.

A Member of Parliament is not a delegate, mandated to vote as instructed by his constituents. He is a representative, your representative whether you voted for him or not, and as such, he is entitled to exercise his judgement, even if it is in conflict with the majority opinion of his constituents. The great 18th century orator and parliamentarian, expressed it thus:

Certainly, gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion, high respect; their business, unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But his unbiassed opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
Certainly, gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion, high respect; their business, unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But his unbiassed opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.


Thank you Ben for this post. I echo Anna’s last paragraph (28thJune at 1.08).


Yes, we should try to keep calm after the referendum and I applaud your evoking this sentiment. But we cannot assume the happy ending to your sailing story will be replicated for the UK. Indeed, in the context of the referendum, the phrase “everything will be alright” resembles the rhetoric of the Leave campaign: it is too Panglossian.


Bravo Ben! You should be prime minister – exactly the reasonable thinking and warm heart we need to steer us through this next turbulent stage in our history.


I’m not worried. There will always be an England (Great Britain). I am sorry for the turmoil, but embarrassingly enough, my first thought upon hearing of the tumble taken by the pound was “Good time to order yarn”. So, perhaps my opportunism will be mirrored by others and business will pick up……


You could have avoided the elephant in the room and didn’t, Ben, and I applaud your post. I also agree wholeheartedly with Anna’s exposition of what is wrong with the EU, why for many in this country it imploded, and the need for a peaceful outcome. Having spent much of my adult life in the field of modern European languages and literature I am also dismayed at but totally understand the result of this referendum. Best, Nicola

julien devergniessays:

OMG where are the garden pictures ?! Does that mean we will have to wait a week before seeing new pictures ?!
I don’t think I can survive to this week without any romantic views of West Dorset…;-)
We are sad but we respect, or at least I do, respect your decision, UK ! Everything is going to be alright, demain est un autre jour.


Ben, I was not surprised by the vote because I never thought the EU made much sense to begin with. Why would the strong countries want to support the weaker countries, when they never had to before? The economics and diverse cultures without a shared history did not add up. Carry on!

Ashley Levisays:

Keep Calm
Carry On



Diane Keanesays:

Ben, thank you for this encouraging post. You’ve inherited your Dad’s ability to instill calm. I’ve been an Anglophile since childhood and I am so concerned that the outcome of the referendum might create more strife than it solves. No one knows better than we in the divided U.S. how fear can drive people apart. I never did think the Brexit issue had anything to do with “hating Europe” but rather a desire for more autonomy. I think there were good and not-so-good points on both sides of the debate. (When people in this country gripe about immigration, I say: Now you know how the Native Americans felt!) The outcome has been decided, and I hope everyone will follow your clear-headed, heart-felt example and work for the greatest good possible. It is never easy living through history in the making. Blessings and hugs to you and Charlie (and Mavis).


Teresa Personsays:

Here in the states my friends and I applaud Great Britan..(which I love) gives us hope….thanks, Teresa


I was born in 1956 and feel so fortunate to have lived in Western Europe during the last 60 years. The East Europeans were not so fortunate post-war . I deeply regret this result and worry for the future security of Europe.


A beautiful and thoughtful post,Ben.

I voted In in 1975 with joy in my heart, as did 66% of the country. I was born during a bombing raid;my father returned wounded from a terrible war, one of many that had torn our continent apart for centuries, and he carried the scars to an early grave. And now we had the chance to build a new Europe on the ashes of so much destruction, suffering and grief; a Europe of friendly nation states, working together to create a lasting peace through trade and prosperity, and sharing in our rich European cultural heritage. The future looked exhilarating.

I voted In again on Friday, but with a heavier heart. Here’s why. I still love Europe with a passion, but the community of friendly nation states has been forced into a superstate, an empire indeed; not a brutal one but incompetent, bureaucratic, undemocratic, corrupt and detached, bent on forcing states with very different political traditions into a false and superficial cohesion. Time and again, the UK tried to say,’Don’t enforce this false union’, and we were shouted down as ‘non-communitaire’, and told, ‘If you don’t like the rules, get out of the club.’ I hoped, when I voted In last week that there would be a narrow remain majority, enough to fire a shot across the bows of the EU, to make them stop and re-consider their move towards a superstate which was clearly not working.

Look what has gone wrong: the Euro, forced through against much misgiving, has left half the countries in the Eurozone in dire poverty and Greece in utter destitution. Greece was admitted because Goldman Sachs cooked the books and the EU turned a blind eye to advance the spread of the Euro. Things went wrong, as was predicted, and Greece, the cradle of democracy, was reduced to a vassal state with foreign economists and politicians running the country, while jobless doctors scrabbled for scraps in dustbins.

The dismaying lack of purpose and unity over the tragic refugee crisis was another confirmation of the EU’s sclerotic response to an emergency. Quite unilaterally, Mrs Merkel opened the German borders while the East Europeans met the refugees with barbed wire and guns and the poor beleaguered Greeks them with their customary hospitality despite their own desperate plight. Germany went into panic at the influx, Mrs Merkel’s popularity tumbled and she had to scurry off to Turkey and bribe a budding tyrant with billions of Euros to stem the flow.

When Ireland voted in a constitutionally-required referendum not to ratify the Lisbon treaty, Mr Barosso arrived from the EU to threaten them into a second referendum, advising them to vote the right way.’

The financial corruption in the EU beggars belief. In Eastern Europe alone 900 million Euros have disappeared. The accounts in Brussels have not been audited for years and a Swedish MEP who protested was physically assaulted in her office.

Bureaucracy has strangled trade and left most EU members in the economic doldrums. Millions have fled to the UK to find work and we, the most densely populated country in Europe, and possibly one of the most phlegmatic nations on earth, had no way to stem the flow under EU laws and we have buckled under the pressure. ‘Space not race’ as someone said. The people who bore the burden, the poor and dispossessed, felt crushed further as the wealthy employed their Polish plumbers and Czech nursemaids at the cheapest rates. They have turned and bitten back at last but it is they who will bear the burden as we face an uncertain future.

Now that we are to leave the EU we are full of soul-searching. Is the EU soul-searching, wondering if they have perhaps made mistakes, failed to listen; wondering how they might address the growing anti-EU feeling throughout Europe and perhaps reform? No: the mood is ‘Britain must be punished to deter others from leaving.’ Read that again and tremble. ‘Oderint dum metuant’ – Caligula’s mantra, and the slogan of tyrants everywhere: ‘let them hate so long as they fear.’ Is this the European Union or the Soviet Union?

I could write much more, but I hope I have made my point. I am furious with the leaders of Brexit for their mendacious and malevolent campaign. I am furious with the Prime Minister for initiating this referendum to appease his right wing. I am sorry for the excluded who believed the Brexit lies,having suffered most under EU regulations and who will surely suffer most with our withdrawal. I am dismayed that the EU is deaf to criticism, an arrogance that might finally destroy it. And I am heartbroken at the loss of that dream of the independent nations of Europe, each with its own traditions, united in mutual respect and friendship, building a new Europe from the ashes of the old.

Tami Bolandsays:

In the US we’re constantly reminded that free speech can be very ugly, the will of the people unpredictable, extreme opinions stymie progress, and most importantly that democracy is Messy. We also are reminded that free speech can be inspiring, the will of the people surprising, extreme opinions edifying, and democracy representative of the unacknowledged. Thank you for your beautifully expressed opinion and your incredible blog. The best of luck to us all.


Thank you so much for this Ben – I was a bit cautious of reading your blog this week when I saw that it was about the vote, but so glad that I did. I have also been shocked and frustrated by the hysterical and bullying backlash and that many want to re-run the vote until they get their desired result. That is not how democracy works.

I love the image of your Dad on the boat. My Dad is like that too, my siblings and I call him “The Zen Master”, so perhaps that’s why I’m feeling quite positive about the future.

Stefanie Mehrtenssays:

Dear Ben,

I do admire your Dunkirk spirit. My english husband is furious, that his personal freedom to move has now been reduced so drastically. We live in Switzerland and were looking forward to move back to the
EU and were searching for property in Somerset. Now we have seconds thoughts. As a German/Swiss and proud European I feel very sad that the UK has decided to leave, but am also quiet anxious to hear these nationalistic outburst, especially from Mr. Farage and urge you to listen very critically to his propaganda. Rasicm and Nationalism is not a solution, trust me, I am a German!

jane mcintyresays:

Well said Ben, my sentiments entirely – and brilliant for having the courage to say something which I am sure will alienate your more elite London clients.


Dear Ben,

I also live on the East Coast of the U.S. As I settled into my usual morning wake up routine ( make coffee, turn on the news, settle in my knitting chair, open up my email) this is the first email I read. I actually muted the news so that I could focus on your important words. For me, your mindful thoughts have been just like your father’s presence on the boat to Milford Haven. I would love to believe that the United States will also be “alright”. The storms in your country and in my country are “grueling” but not unexpected. May we all follow your father’s extraordinary example and keep a steady hand and use our flashlights. Thank you Ben. You have made my morning. Take good care,

James McDonaldsays:

Editing my interior images and doing some gardening to try and carry on as per normal, you are right Ben; we must be optimistic and build with love the new world we find ourselves in.
Yet, sadly, this Brexit debate far from over. Grave decisions lie before us. And our voices must be better heard.
With a referenda without any of the usual ensuing Westminster checks & balances we are used to in General Elections, a majority decision based on 1.3 million out of 44 million eligible to vote, with a Leave campaign focused on populist immigration rather than an less populr, but economically realistic exit plan (the Norway or Swiss?), we are due to end up in a place neither argued for. The coming fudge might leave everyone dissatisfied. For the clash between free trade and immigration is not yet resolved – and Merkel’s ‘no cherry picking’ is a hint of what is to follow.
One hope, and truth of the British is that the main battleground on which past General elections were won and lost was the economy. Before we leave for good, I hope there is a General Election, as I’m sure the majority, would prefer the Norway type option to a “straight Leave”. Economic arguments, pragmatism & the value of our nations exports, should come to the fore. And should. I’ve got to get back to photo-shopping, but I for one, realise I need to be more engaged, and have written to my MP, the PM and even Angela Merkel. Slightly ridiculous I know, but let us not forget that each grain of sand makes a beach – and even a landmark.

Laura Harrisonsays:

In this day and age, it is refreshing to read such a well thought out essay on what is going on. Britain will be just fine, it has survived much worse for hundreds of years and has only been part of the E.U for 40. As a Canadian I am very happy to have the Queen on our currency. Let us remember, that the cost of two wars and millions of lives, men (and women) who died on foreign soil, were so that the English people would have a right to have their say (even in the form of a referendum). They did. Now let us all respect that outcome!

Gillian Charlessays:

Pentreath for President!
Thank you for a reasoned, considered and calm commentary – we now live in very interesting times. It may well be a bumpy ride but I am proud that so many of us (absolutely NOT bigoted or small-minded) are sure of Britain’s ability to stand on its own two feet and fully retrieve its personality – full of idiosyncracy but also – on its best days – tolerant and fair minded, creative and courageous.


Thank you Ben for such wise words. We must respect the process of democracy, whatever our feelings. There can be no second Referendum unless we are prepared to accept that democracy means nothing.


reasonably and perfectly said


I wish I could share your sentiment. I have been dismayed since from just before the result. It depends I think on what is going on around you, I live in Inner London. I was woken at 1.30 am Friday morning by a tirade of racist shouting. My neighbours and I had remain posters in our windows. I felt like I was back in 1979 when I had to leave school early because the National Front were marching on our routes home. I feel this result has legitimised some peoples racist,intolerant and divisive views and allowed them to feel they have support to express them. I am lucky in that I am relatively cushioned but I have grave concerns for the many people who are not so fortunate.


Dear Ben- likewise I have never commented on a blog before but want to say what an incredibly thoughtful piece. We are where we are and we must all do what we can to ensure we remain, tolerant, kind and gracious.

Thank you

Karl Stedmansays:

Thank you forthis post Ben.


Thanks for this Ben – it is good to see all sides of this, and also to be reminded that not everyone who voted Leave is xenophobic or a follower of Farage and UKIP. In my family, we all voted Remain, except my dad, and I totally respect his (not xenophobic!) reasons for doing so. I think over here in NI we are having a different response to it all however. On one hand, we have dual citizenship so many of us have Irish Passports already or we are eligible to apply for these. However being the only land border in the UK with the EU will be strange and these are worrying times over here – there have been no answers yet as to how everything will pan out here – will there be another border again (potentially damaging to our burgeoning sense of peace here), and it is unclear how it will work with the dual citizenship situation. We as a province voted Remain, and it does feel as if we have been forgotten about and left behind, as if someone else has made a decision that relates directly to us without consulting us. I hope that the government rallies together now, and starts making decisions, and that goes for the local government here in NI as well. I have been saddened by how GB is appearing in international press and am trying to share your optimism that all will be well, and will sort itself out and get back on track. I’m currently doing a lot of gardening, as it seems lots of my friends on Instagram are doing too, and I look forward to seeing more pictures of your beautiful garden in Dorset for inspiration. Thanks again for such a measured and optimistic post. Brenda


Dear Ben, very brave of you to tackle this in your blog so frankly. I share my time between the Isle of Wight (which voted wholeheartedly to leave) and a London suburb (which was close to 70% ‘remain’) and I too have seen how conflicted neighbours in both places have been in making their decisions. Apart from your measured response to the outcome, the only other person I have heard give such an upbeat, balanced view is my 20 year old son, which I find very encouraging. When we hear all the time that it is their future that has been wrecked, it is good to know that there are some under-21s out there who don’t think it’s all doom and gloom and are determined to help shape a new future. We are still European. We are still a tolerant, multi-cultural society. We are still leaders in many areas of services, research and technology. Our universities are still amongst the best in the world. We just need to find a way forward where we can sit alongside Europe and the rest of the world, and do business with them, without the constraints of an organisation whose strictures our Country has rejected. Surely it can’t be that hard. Gill

Victoria Powellsays:

I’m not a great fan of “If” but it is relevant from time to time

“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs..”

I’m so glad that someone has put my own thoughts into words, thank you. Incidentally, my ‘grown-up’ children are delighted that their grandfather, aged 88, a life-long Conservative who lives in a small Norfolk village, voted to REMAIN without any persuasion from them.

Rebecca Smithsays:

Dear Ben,
Thank you for this voice of reason in the growing hysteria. I too have been emailed by people I respect, suppliers whom I use, to sign the petition. Let us not make a mockery of the system. Democracy only works if there is respect for the results.
I hope that there are blue skies ahead and a steady hand on the tiller.

Angela Buntsays:


Thank you for your voice of reason and calm. I’ve shared your blog post on my FB to counteract the negativity and hysterical comments.

What happened to “stiff upper lip”? More like “whinging Poms” as the Aussies say!


Hello Ben
Like many others who have commented on this post, I am a great admirer of your blog and thoroughly enjoy reading it each week. It truly is a inspiration to me in many ways. The tone of this post is admirable and I am trying to take comfort in it. I know, of course, that not all the people who voted to leave are racists and xenophobes, however this calamitous decision to hold a referendum has give a voice and validation to many who are, and that makes me very fearful. Unfortunately, the difference between your experience in the boat with your Dad and our country’s position is that we have no strong, calm and confident hand on the tiller.
Very best wishes Gill


Oh,Ben how I fervently hope that your optimism & level headedness prevails. Direct democracy is a funny thing as it sometimes brings the worst to the fore;I lived through the divisiveness of Prop 8 here in CA and though it was eventually overturned,the damage was done. I keep hearing that perhaps the Leave vote can be blocked by one means or another but even if it was there would still remain all the underlying issues. Britain is my spiritual home and I grieve to see its people at sixes & sevens. Sending all the best from California with much love.

Rob Rosesays:



Dear Ben,
You seem to lead a wonderfully charmed life, and for you I have no doubt that everything will be alright. But for others it will be a disaster, the recklessness in this is astounding – and many folks will be dragged down through no fault of their own. And that will be a sorrow for us all.

Sarah Bankssays:

I have read and listened to so much coverage over the last few days regarding this referendum and have been horrified at the narrative in the media and on social media that is growing up around the ‘leave’ result. Your blog post is one of the most intelligent articles I have read, full of optimism, humanity and common sense which is something we are in real need of at this time of change. Thank you.


Thank you Ben, I hope you are right. My 30 year old son is ‘broken hearted’ , I fear the result of last week will affect his generation more than mine, let us hope for the best. Much appreciate your wise words,thank you.


As the pound reaches a 30 year low, as the city considers moves to Frankfurt, Dublin or Edinburgh, as Leave voters express regret and thought it was just a protest vote and could never happen…so I feel that your view of the stormy waters are well meant but naive. I want it all to be well but as I consider the opportunity denied to my grandchildren to live in a wider community and be European citizens I can feel nothing but despair. What a mistake we have made.


Ben – what a well written thoughtful piece!


Well put Ben
There are many people who value democracy and freedom and are prepared to put up with less to see that it will continue.
The buzzword of “tolerance”has been overused but is now more needed than ever,
unfortunately …
It seems that those who have been preaching tolerance seem to have become the least tolerant and that
We are in for a bumpy ride.
To be honest I reckon keep calm and carry on ,is probably about right for now


Thank you for your thoughtful post. I am from the Netherlands and love your country dearly. We will be holidaying in Cornwall very soon to enjoy your beautiful country. I understand the sentiments for Brexit but i have a heavy heart for the UK leaving the EU. I will keep my fingers crossed for a prosperous Great Britain and the wellbeing for the less fortunate


I am so proud of the British for voting with their hearts rather than based on, “How much will it cost me?” If Britain had asked that in 1939, we’d be goose stepping. The country is more than capable of governing itself; it has done so, and done it well, for centuries.

All the post-vote hysteria is unbecoming of such a brave nation, and I blame it on the media. According to my financial advisors, the market turbulence won’t be nearly as bad as the press would have you believe.

I have similar memories of sailing with my own father, still vibrant at 86. Stay the course, the boards will hold, and the storm will be weathered. Fortune favors the brave, my friend.




Dear Ben,

Words of wisdom. Yet it’s been odd to notice that most (if not all) of those who are saying that everything will be all right, and that people voted leave not for hateful reasons, voted leave themselves.

I don’t think people voted leave out of ignorance, or that they’re stupid – anything but. Most of us – myself included – surely followed a gut feeling. Mine include wanting to welcome people rather than exclude them on the basis of nationality, ability or race; trying to strengthen rather than weaken cooperation between countries; building on forty years of legal and economic harmonisation – and doubtless several other rather woolly liberal ideas along the same lines. I’d love to know what your gut feelings were.

I’m sure you’ll laugh but I actually really like the European Union, for all its self-evident faults; and really, what’s the big deal about national sovereignty and the prospect of a federal Europe? I think the EU has done a huge amount of good for Europe, and sometimes for the wider world. It’s certainly a major success story as far as many less wealthy and stable countries are concerned; why else would so many migrants be risking their lives to get there? Yes, the EU is in trouble and needs reform (you could say the same about our own system), but it seems childish and short-signed for us to shrug our shoulders and walk away whistling “I’m all right Jack”, when we could instead be trying to help out all we can.

Maybe I’m terribly naive, but I’m guessing that a lot of people who voted to stay felt something similar, and like me they now feel rejected and regarded as dupes of a broken system. Still, I’d rather feel that way than belong to the side that’s been energised by people like Nigel Farrage and congratulated by Marine le Pen.

But let’s keep talking and working together as best we can in the hope that, as you say, everything will work out all right in the end.

With love as always,



I am not worried for Britain, which is a great and powerful country, even without Europe. But I am french, and here in France, I am sad, a bit like after a break-up …
Thank you for your blog, the beautiful photos of your wonderful garden and your wonderful home, and for this post, so sober.


I just wish I was as sanguine as you are, Ben.
We live in the only West Midlands constituency to have vote Remain and only have one Brexiter in our street: the effect on neighbours has been one of shocked incomprehension and anger. It is one thing to be reconciled to those who voted out [how many are already regretting their vote, led by the Sun’s Kelvin MacKenzie?], but we are all going to have to live with the consequences and it may be worse for those who voted out than for many of your readers.
Let’s hope that the financials don’t continue as they are now; I’m sure the next ‘event’ will be a rise in the price of petrol and clearly the poor and those who drive a lot as they live in the country will suffer most.


When I see opinions like yours expressed I know everything will be alright. The British have always muddled through!


Basically to reiterate what nearly everyone else has been saying… wise and calm words. Quite right, not all those in favour of leaving are ignorant and/or racist. I have seen so much nonsense in my FB and IG feeds this weekend, mostly by people panicking, misunderstanding what has happened (yes, there is a difference between Europe and the EU), or being downright dismissive of those who chose to vote Leave. Let’s hope this is the start of some common sense being brought to the table.


Well said.

From over here in New Hampshire, this just does not look like the end of the world. It’s not the Battle of Britain, it’s not Napoleon, not the Wars of the Roses. It’s a surprise, a shock, but also a beginning.

The “European project” is not dead, either. But you don’t have to create a superstate in order to prevent war. The USA is a superstate, and still had a bloody civil war with wounds that have not healed right down to the present day. We (sort of) resolved our differences by leaving a lot of powers to the individual states, but we still have problems, even financial issues between states. And union obviously hasn’t stopped hate crimes here, Orlando is just one horrible example.

I see some possible upside to Brexit– the reunification of Ireland, independence for Scotland, even a positive reform for the EU, which is flawed in many ways. A union that can nearly destroy Greece, the mother of Western democracy, is far from perfect. The EU needs positive reform, and Brexit could be the catalyst.


A voice of reason amidst the chaos. Now we need to channel The Little Engine That Could. As a business owner, it was my mantra during the credit crunch and could prove useful again.


Thank you Ben. Deeply sensible. One reason I feel so thankful I live in my house is that whenever I feel panic, I just think of the rafters, which have seen Charles I lose his head, the Glorious Revolution, two World Wars, the loss of the Empire etc etc. Perspective, understanding and kindness are the things we need now.


Well said.


I totally agree with all that you say – your piece should be published to a wider audience to encourage some balance and thoughtfulness. We have to pull together.

Kate Douglassays:

I salute your optimism and, like Will, I’d love to feel able to share in it. But while I admire your calls for calm, the repercussions of this are deeply troubling – and huge. You only need to ask the hundreds of foreigners who were targeted this weekend in a dramatic rise in hate crime.


…thank you for this…and…like your father…you are a steady hand in the storm…blessings…from an american…laney

Joanna Plantsays:

Well said BP.


Thank you Ben.

Angela Robertssays:

Dear Ben, I am a regular reader of your wonderful blog and felt certain that you would have something important to say today. I have not been disappointed: you have made a very good point, a wise and sensible one. However, I would add that a weekend is not long enough to process this momentous change and to weigh what the consequences will be; it is normal, even necessary, for people to express how deeply this has affected them, however uncomfortable and angry their words. It’s also important to mention that the “hysteria” is not helped by the current chaos of leadership on all fronts. It has become patently clear that neither camp seems to have a serious idea about how to proceed, and although there have been some words of calm these have also been mixed with undermining equivocation about the claims made during the campaign on all sides. Direct democracy is a very serious responsibility and not something to be dabbled in: the fear-mongering and exaggerations on both the leave and remain sides often came at the expense of a larger sober discussion of all the facts in this issue and I think many people now feel as though they’ve been betrayed. I agree that, ultimately, everything will be alright, the question remains what form that “alright” will take and for whom. If only there was someone at the helm who inspires trust, as your father clearly does. In the meantime, yes – Peace!

Patricia Taylorsays:

Your words of calm and optimism are certainly whats needed at this time but there will be casualties on both sides due to this result.The first thing that has to happen is for both political parties to get themselves sorted out and get on with the job of running the country with skill and diplomacy through this difficult time.


As a long-time reader of your blog who admires your posts and imagery from afar but in silence, I feel it is time to speak up, thank you for this post and tell you how much I enjoy your blog.

As the daughter of an English mother and a Swiss father who was born and spent her formative years in England but has lived in Switzerland for all of her adult life, I can speak from the perspective of someone who lives in a country which is outside the EU, but maintains close relations with the bloc and its neighbours (which are, bar one, all EU member states). One of the reasons why the Swiss will never join is the tradition of cantonal autonomy and direct democracy, which is incompatible with the centralist way the EU is governed. Another reason is the diversity of the Swiss people (language, culture, religion), which makes bottom-up rather than top-down government very necessary. Swiss voters are consulted four times yearly on a wide range of issues. Sometimes we get it spectacularly wrong, but much more often, pragmatism and cool-headedness win the day. I’ve been on the ‘losing’ side of a vote more times than I can count. Sometimes the margin between winning and losing is extremely marginal. But despite the divisions, we have learnt to pull together, find compromise and move forward. I am confident that when the hysteria and fear (a direct result of a viciously-fought, polarising campaign) subsides the people of the UK will do the same.


Ah, we were almost there but alas there is always one commenter and proves that right now there is no place where Leave voters aka the silent majority are safe from getting lectured on why they were wrong.

But that is the nature of the beast and I so very much appreciated your post. I was also taken aback that in the land of peonies and still zen moments there was professions of crying, hysteria, and mob shaming. I think Andrew Marr said it rather well too when he said – it won’t be as good as you hoped nor will it be as bad as you feared.

Ulla Oxvigsays:

Hello Ben
Even though I too am very sad about the result of the referendum – what it will mean to you and to the rest of us – I look at the Keep Calm and Carry on-poster above my desk and think that you are absolutely right.
Ulla, weekly reader from Denmark


Basically, if I understand you correctly, you said “We live in a democracy, therefore we have to accept the outcome of a democratically made decision”, and I think you are right. My bottomless love of England was born a long time ago, when I was in primary school, in Italy, and our mistress – who had been a partisan – taught us that England was the cradle of modern democracy. Your words resume very well the dignity of this incredible country. It hurts like hell, though, it hurts like hell, even across the Channel, and I wish I had the confidence you seem to have in the present skipper(s)




I absolutely agree with what and how you have expressed your reaction to the seismic result announced on Friday morning. Happily there are now more calm and sensible reactions being expressed in greater quantity in the MSM too; the immediate hysterical reaction was very unnerving, and I think that affected all of us. Now is the time to get on with making this extraordinary opportunity work for the good of UK, and indeed the EU. Even with a seemingly captain-less SS Britannia, sensible voices such as those made in your blog are very welcome.

Robert Gladdensays:

I couldn’t agree with you more. I have been shocked, angered and distressed by the venom unleashed by the certain members of the ‘elite’over the result of this referendum. Their response was, and continues to be, as you say, hysterical. It is perhaps because they find themselves ignored by the likes of me, and the majority of people up here who didn’t vote as they thought we should? Who knows? As a result I now have much less respect for those individuals, vocal on both twitter and instagram, who I would have naturally warmed to and would have common ground with. It’s all very sad.

David Sanderssays:

I do hope calmness and reason prevails Ben, I heartily endorse the sentiments you have expressed here, and wish the UK – in whatever form that emerges – all the best. I am absolutely sure that your great country will have a prosperous and peaceful future, but fully understand the nervousness and uncertainty that is now apparent.

carol osgoodsays:

Oh thank God! A voice of reason! I live on east coast of US, am not unsophisticated, and could be considered a moderate conservative thinker–not a popular position to hold these days. If I speak up, I am roundly scolded. Interestingly, I agree with EVERYTHING you say here, though I doubt you’d describe yourself as conservative! How great!

Who, indeed, have we become? What is the point of having a vote for a referendum or a candidate when we are not civilized enough to accept the will of the people and then try to get on and build, as you say?
I love how you describe your Dorset neighbors. Why does the media never tell that story? Because it doesn’t fit their narrative, perhaps? They’re not being helpful.

Sometimes I despair of human nature, but then here comes your lovely, measured, reasoned post. Thank you for this. Hope your message reaches far and wide. Love your blog–each and every post and photo.
Thank you.


What a breath of fresh air Ben! I agree things look chaotic at the moment, and l wish we had someone like your father at the helm, but like you I think that in years to come it will be seen to be the right decision.


So very thoughtful. Thank you Ben for your voice of reason and calm.

connie kennedysays:

Thank you for this post Ben. Thank you for reminding us to remain faithfull to the democratic process.


Dear Ben, Your sentiments are reassuring and I’d like to try and share them. But, like many, I am deeply concerned at the outcome. I could have accepted the result more readily if I believed that those who voted to leave were voting for the right reasons. But, sadly, it appears many have used it as protest vote against an elite who have ignored them, rather than out of dissatisfaction for the EU. How else can we explain Wales who voted overwhelmingly to leave and yet have received millions of pounds (more than any other region) of investment from the EU? The leave voters will soon discover the the promises (vastly reduced immigration, for one) can not and will not be delivered, let alone the diverting of hundreds of millions a week into the NHS. Hoping that things will be alright is fine but, as we are about to move into a period of instability possibly ruled by a far right government, then anyone who is classed as an ‘other’ needs to be concerned.


Very, very magnanimous, Ben. I have been really upset by the vote, and I don’t even live in the UK! But it’s so incredibly important to remember that divisiveness only breeds more division.

Chronica Domussays:

Very well put, Ben! If there was ever a perfect time to remember the 1939 motivational poster “Keep Calm and Carry On”, today is it.

Jenny Hawkessays:

Thank you for saying this Ben, the most reasoned and sensible reaction I have seen, of course we will be allright


I read your blog regularly but up to now have not commented. I want to say thank you for your thoughtful response to what has been a momentous weekend. Living in Dublin we will all feel the result of our neighbours decision. However respect and calm are what is needed now. Do keep sharing your thoughts and photos. Joseph

Oliver Timssays:

Dear Ben — I have never commented on your blog before, although I have long been an avid reader. This post has moved me to do so at last. In all the comment and controversy of the last few days, I haven’t read or heard anything as wise as this; a message of rationality and reconciliation that inspires hope for the future and faith in our country. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.