Business as usual

4 July 2016
Ben Pentreath

In the interests of business as usual, here is a blog about nothing particular at all. I’m glad to say that some things don’t change in Dorset…. Charlie’s huge flower arrangements, for instance.P1020244 P1020245

But look carefully, and some things do…P1020249

The garden is behind. The weather has been cold and stormy this month, and things which you’d expect to be up and about are not.  The first lily was a welcome sign of high summer coming.P1020254 P1020256 P1020258 P1020270There was beautiful sunshine on Friday evening, and the garden glowed.P1020271 P1020273 P1020274 P1020277 P1020278 P1020288 P1020291 P1020295 P1020296 P1020299 P1020301 P1020303 P1020318 P1020322

But Saturday was a day of showers. This was Bridport on Saturday morning. We’d gone for an early breakfast at Soulshine with our friend Maria, who was staying for the weekend. Downpours hit the market, to be followed by bright sunshine. It felt more like April than July. P1020338

In the afternoon we went to our friend Gracie’s, up at Toller Fratrum, the home of the wonderful Little Toller Books that I have written about several times as regular readers of the blog will know.  Gracie has just opened a new gallery in their wonderful farmhouse – The Room at the End, and we were nipping into say hello. If you are in Dorset, very worth visiting.P1020342 P1020344 P1020345 P1020346

The new gallery space is brilliant – very beautiful.  Large drawings by Bea Forshall.P1020348

Part of the Lost buildings series by my great friend Ed Kluz hangs on the opposite wall. I should also admit that Charlie and I bought the Dark Town painted chair by Johnny Hannah…. very exciting.
P1020349 P1020350 P1020355 P1020357 P1020364

A box of letters by Johnny Hannah:P1020367

The door, appropriately, is held open by the Common Ground stone.P1020379

It’s a hidden away spot with views down a beautiful soft valley.P1020380

The drinks tent was necessary from time to time as rain showers swept through. That’s Ed Kluz in the shorts, feeling summery.P1020387

Here is Gracie’s mum, Sarah, Hugh Dunford Wood (founder of the National Gallery of Lyme Regis and wonderful wallpaper designer and artist), John Makepeace, furniture maker extraordinary, and finally his wife Jennie, who does not like being photographed. P1020393

Gracie and Charlie. Smiles all round.  P1020394P1020395We had to tear ourselves away for dinner with friends down the valley in a beautiful Baroque house with a dreamy garden, a place with a deep and romantic sense of history.

If you happen to follow Charlie or me (or, and please don’t scream, Mavis) on instagram, you will already know about Henry and Percy our kittens. My niece Daisy was given a pair of kittens for Christmas. Unfortunately there was a teenage pregnancy in the family. Both her kittens were pregnant aged 3 months. So my sister-in-law found herself with nine kittens to look after.  We’ve taken two, and they are christened Henry and Percy. This is Percy. Right at the beginning of the blog you caught a glimpse of Henry.


They are very very funny and very cute, as you can imagine. They are going to be Dorset cats. We will give Mavis a bit of respite in London. She wasn’t very happy when the kittens first arrived but they are all very friendly now, which is a bit of a relief. P1020412 P1020413 P1020414

I’m sure many more photos will follow, although I promise this is not going to turn into a kittens blog.

In the afternoon we went to our friend Emily Cave who was opening her garden for the church over in Litton Cheney.  A beautiful house, a beautiful garden, and a beautiful hot afternoon.
P1020424 P1020433 P1020435 P1020437 P1020441 P1020443

The setting, with leafy streams and ponds running deep below the house, is spectacular. P1020447 P1020450 P1020451 P1020469 P1020471

For many decades, the house had been the home of the artist and wood engraver Reynolds Stone and his wife Janet. The greats of the English Art world for a generation came to stay here. Reynolds’ gravestone is in the churchyard next door.
P1020473 P1020474

And that of his son-in-law, Jonathan Gili, remarkable designer and film maker, who is someone I never met but know a bit about and who sounded the most amazing man.  It was good to see them resting in such a beautiful place.P1020472We came home and basked in the heat of the July sun, and Mavis tore around the garden chasing her ball, as opposed to chasing the kittens.
P1020481And then Maria and I had to pack our bags and with sadness in our hearts drive to the station and catch the train to London and get ready for another week. I’m glad that the sunshine is streaming in through my bedroom windows this morning. We need it!

33 comments on this post

Cynthia Reyessays:

What a lovely garden! Thank you both for sharing it with us, as well as the photos of the cats, the dog, the cattle, your friends. My best wishes.

Elizabeth Cornwellsays:

In the middle of all the nastiness,bile & tragedy that is happening around us,its lovely to realise that there are still beautiful places in England,inhabited by nice,gentle people who know what is important in life & what isnt!This blog has cheered me up so much,long may the sun shine on you in Dorset!By the way your garden is beautiful!

Diane Keanesays:

P.S. I hope you and Charlie will commission a double portrait from Hugh!!

Diane Keanesays:

I see Percy is doing what cats do best–helping with paperwork. And now you are five, how wonderful! Looking forward to seeing the zany chair in situ. Thanks for introducing us to Hugh Dunford Wood’s amazing work. (His website is a treat, too.) The garden looks gorgeous, guys, especially those swoon-worthy delphs. Happy summer to you!

Hugs from Diane


Heh heh. Now for the parrot! Cheers, Nicola

Liza Vandermeersays:

Much as I love cats and kittens, your neighbourhood cows are truly the most photogenic beasts in your blogs. I am enraptured by your photos of cattle, with background hills disappearing off into the misty distance.

Looks like a lovely weekend. The kittens are just the cutest things ever!
xo, Lissy


Love the cheeky cow,and oh joy ,what wonderful little kittens and what fabulous green pools .Your blogs always remind me of what I always thought Britain was when I was a child,mystery ,large trees and verdant overgrown gardens behind a weathered farm gate
I look forward to your weekly blogs.Thank you for a slice of peace


Dear Ben,
What a surprise! I love everything on your blog – the flowers, the architecture, the sun, the fog, the rain, the interiors, the stories about artists, designers and painters, everything! Especially the animals – the cows, MAVIS AND THE TWO KITTENS! Great! What a wonderful life to share with the cuties!
All the best, Gabriele.


It’s so nice to see your family grow Ben. Suzy


Oh Ben, I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your weekends. Please never, never stop posting.


Beautiful post. I laughed out loud when I saw the cheeky cow.


‘Tis a charmed life you & Charlie lead. I saw Henry & Percy on your IG feed and they are delightful, I’m glad they & Mavis are getting on. It’s quite generous of spirit to provide all of us with a weekly therapeutic dose of loveliness – beats Prozac by a country mile! Perhaps Dr. Pentreath might be more fitting. Have a wonderful week,Ben.


Kitten power! Delphinium power! And….ah – les vaches! Thanks for another nice wkend in Dorset. I feel ready for the week now too. 🙂


Often as I scroll through your blog photos my jaw literally drops at the beauty. Your little corner of Dorset is like a slice of heaven to me. Thank you for the sharing.

Isla Simpsonsays:

Loved the formal introduction to Henry and Percy Ben, your blog is much too stylish for a kitten takeover though. The light is just magical at this time of year and you’ve captured it beautifully. xx


I am lucky enough to have the set of engravings of Litton Cheney by RS that Jonathan and Philida published

Pierre B.says:

A nice and peaceful post. Thank you!


mavis gets to ride the trains? oh the joys of dog friendly Britain.

Robert Gladdensays:

Lovely as always. You’re getting quite a menagerie there.


Wonderful, as always, Ben: so life-affirming and grounding in these uncertain times.

christel kulchesays:

Thank you for these beautiful pictures !! One question: who made the beautiful cardigans of both Sarah (Gracie’s Mum) and Jennie ??

Such nice patterns and colors !! Christel K.

Jane Nicholsonsays:

Another beautiful set of photos to provide an uplifting start to the week: thank you.


Please explain what “Dorset cats” means. Who will look after them? I know being from the USA we have a tendency to take pet care to extremes, but I’m worried Ben.

Isla Simpsonsays:

Loved the formal introduction to Henry and Percy Ben, your blog is much too stylish for a kitten takeover though. The light is just magical at this time of year and you’ve captured it beautifully. x


Love my Monday mornings with your fabulous pictures and text.


So gorgeous. Love Monday mornings at my desk with your email blog awaiting me. Pretty kitties! Just be careful cats and lilies don’t mix. There will be others more educated than me to comment on this but we tend to avoid bringing them in to the house…..


Am a little awestruck at all the ‘perfect weekends’ you have and feel such delight to see the photos of them. Good to see Jonathan Gili’s final resting place – met him a few times, such a lovely man. Have to confess to thieving the occasional photo (usually meadows and trees, never people or houses) to use as desktop wallpaper on the pc. They are so soothing! Oh, and a wonderful one of foxgloves a couple of weeks ago. So an extra thank you quite apart from the great joy of starting the week with your blog. oh, for the first time ever your server didn’t like my email address (ending .coop) when I tried to leave this comment so had to put .com which it isn’t


Ha ha! We acquired a dog and a kitten in the same week…they are now best friends and the cat thinks he’s a dog (or cat-with-benefits!).

Gill Csays:

The photos of your beautiful Dorset home and garden always look like we’ve stumbled into a Hardy novel. Just idyllic and a perfect start to a Monday morning.


Ben, the Parsonage always glows in such a magical light. I’m hoping I can achieve the same effect with the power of positive thinking (at which you seem to excel).

The remodelled garden looks stunning too.


I was lurking in Lyme and enjoying a similar but different weekend, in a parallel world. i also bought art and hung out under a gazebo. Beautiful photographs.


Gosh Ben what a beautiful weekend. The pond at that garden was idyllic. The photos of the cattle and that beautiful hazy golden light! Just stunning. Thank you so much.
Karen NZ

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.