Quiet days are the best right now

29 January 2017
Ben Pentreath

We’ve had the quietest weekend. Nothing happened at all. Bliss. Today, it’s rained all day – great swathes of rain washing over the valley, the skies dark and wintry. I’ve been doing a bit of drawing and Charlie has caught up on his blogs, articles and the beginnings of his new saleroom (if you are a tiny bit interested head over to have a look here).

But yesterday was a beautiful day. We had an early start to Bridport, glad to see the hedgerows are filling up with snowdrops, which is always such a thrilling sight in the dark days of late January. Spring beckons.

We had breakfast at Soulshine as usual, cleared out the £1 china lady of good bits and pieces as usual, and bumped into a lot of friends, as usual. Oh god, what could be the new activity this weekend?  Someone had said to me a week or two ago “Oh haven’t you ever visited the Unitarian Chapel?”  The answer, thankfully, was no.

The chapel is a tiny white painted building at the end of a long Yorkstone path leading through a  tiny garden, complete with dovecot, 

And complete with white doves.

Beautiful lettering is cut into the string course either side of the fine Ionic porch.

The walls on the approach are lined with tall gravestones.

The chapel is calm and straightforward, its original pitch pine box pews beautifully intact. 

The joinery is restrained and handsome, our own equivalent of the Shaker architecture of America. 

Several of the upper pews are painted in original flaking grey paint. 

The upper pews largely serve as second hand bookshop, for which there are no prices, just a donation requested.

Some of the titles may have raised the eyebrow of previous congregations, I wondered.

Tucked in the corner this beautiful faded sign of the Sunday School Anniversary.

The plaster ceiling rose below a ceiling of false asbestos panels.  I longed to know what the original ceiling might look like.

Needless to say there was a Henry Hoover.  Well, in fact Green ones are called George, as I am sure you know.

Incredible gloss paint walls, and the beaded board wainscot in ancient Oak graining:

And Bridie’s and mine favourite plastic chairs outside the door, of course.

We pottered around the quiet streets of North Bridport, for a change.  All very plain, and straightforward.  Nothing particularly celebrated about these little houses and streets, but they hit the mark, 100%. 

Yesterday afternoon we went for a walk, to make another new discovery. In light of our visit to the Kingston Russell Stone Circle last weekend, our friend Caddy had told us about ‘Grey Mare and her colts’, one of the other neolithic stone groupings on the high hills above the valley.

Cool hairdo:

After getting a bit lost we found the Grey Mare.  The views were extraordinary – you could see for miles.  We headed in to the next valley and had plenty of time to admire moss and fern covered trees…

Waiting for the Saturday shooting party to finish their whatever it is called (drive?).  We survived without getting shot. 

I love the moment when this path opens out on to the coast, hills dropping down to Chesil beach far below… The sea was shining white.

And we made our way home through The Valley of the Stones, filled with the remains of glacial stones, and which thousands of years ago were dragged up to the burial sites of Grey Mare and the Kingston Russell Stone Circle.  

The sun cast great long shadows across the hills and fields as we made our familiar journey home at the end of this long walk.

We came home for lunch, and I had a long afternoon sleep, the best kind of sleep, and in the evening we played scrabble for an hour or so in the pub, and came home and watched Mrs Doubtfire.

The best kind of weekend. I hope yours has been equally peaceful.

21 comments on this post

Deb Millersays:

That Chapel . . . serene in its simplicity . . . except of course for those Wicked Delights which sound like a companion piece to Herb Alpert’s Whipped Cream & Other Delights.

Peter Sullivansays:

Well done Ben, a deservingly good review of your book ‘English Houses” from Elfreda Pownall in the February edition of The World of Interiors.


Ticking the New Stuff box in magnificent fashion. George seems to much rarer than Henry. Not quite seeing the grey mare and colts in the stones, but I suppose many years of erosion have turned rock into abstraction. Would it be possible to see some examples of your £1 china purchases? Best, Nicola


ps….love the tall gravestones against the brick wall, thank you for caring/sharing such tender relics, dear ben.



thank you for sharing and seeing things as you do! dear ben….and charlie and mavis. so! unmessed up, such orderly wilderness and yes, way cool do on the beautious bovine. would have like to have seen your bees knees morris minor charioting you all about. blessings of great wonder all around you this week.



I think that you must live in a storybook……. and a very lovely one at that.

Hippie fishsays:

Thoroughly enjoying your weekends. Thank you for opening your life to the world. Fab photos by the way xx


On a strictly personal level my weekend was lovely juxtaposed against the turmoil of what was an awful weekend,culminating in the Québec terrorist attack. As others have noted your blog is a balm for the soul,a brief respite from the “real”
world. Appreciated as always.

Libby Lordsays:

I wish you would come to Ludlow. I just know you’d enjoy it, especially at this time of year.

Nothing ordinary about your day when you take such magnificent walks!
Shooters in Winter hereabouts keep us home. The dogs don’t even want to leave the garden.
Thanks for taking us along your route.


‘The sea was shining white….’ – that sounds like the first line of a poem!

Lovely post, Ben, as always. I love wet weekends! A walk in the rain then home for tea and buttered crumpets and a good book.

Pierre B.says:

Dear Ben, Arcadia seems to be in Dorset in our days.
Thank you for mentioning Charlie’s blog!


Echoing Charlotte’s sentiments I look forward to your Monday morning blogs with increasing anticipation these days as a sort of antidote to the increasing madness gripping my country. Your lovely photos and lyrical words always serve as a reminder that there is still beauty and calm and continuity in the world. Thank your for providing a balm to this troubled soul.

Virginia Vidonisays:

Thank you Ben for providing us with so much beauty. We, here in the US, are in such turmoil and hurting so badly. To wake up to such gorgeous pictures and your lovely descriptions makes my day so much better. A wonderful alternative to the US news which leaves me with so much despair. Thank you. We need you more than ever. Along with energy required to keep resisting, I am going to plan on Mrs. Doubtfire for this weeks entertainment!!! Thanks for the reminder!

Mary Jean Farmersays:

Dear Ben, I meant ten thousand years ago. Ooops, almost an alternative fact. Sorry.

Mary Jean Farmersays:

Lovely. I didn’t think the glaciation at the end of the last ice age, ten thousand thousand years ago, reached as far south as Dorset.I was told the arrival of those stones in the valley of the stones was still a bit of a mystery.
Best wishes from a massive fan of your blog here in Piddlehinton.


Always beautiful, a good news page, thank you.


Exquisite. Thank you

Charlotte Ksays:

Good lord, the English countryside, nothing can beat it. With all the turmoil here in the USA it’s nice to imagine oneself there,although I am proud of our people for rising up. We’re going to have to do a lot of it, I’m afraid.


Lovely images Ben wonderful to see the early signs of spring.Good to see everything becoming more green l particularly love the pics of the cows l don’t know why but lve always loved them.They seem so placid and appear to be mindful and so unperturbed by life wish l could be like that more nice blog enjoying lifes simple pleasures bravo!!Ben and Charlie you seem to have the life work balance perfected once again thank you for sharing with us we all need to take a page out of your book as the phrase goes long may it continue for you.


Thank you for such a calming and beautiful set of images,a testament to the continuity of humans,their capacity to make long lasting,significant and beautiful things.

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