Tangier, revisited

23 April 2017
Ben Pentreath

PART I – Tangier

It’s been a mad old week. More than once this weekend, Charlie and I were pinching ourselves thinking “this time last week we were….” to which the answer could have been any one of a dozen magical moments while we stayed in Tangier for Easter. You’ll remember, maybe, that three years ago to the weekend, I’d been there to stay with my friends Gavin and Boz. Only a few weeks later, I was to meet Charlie. And now we were going back.

I came via Palma and Madrid – a long story, but all to do with a bit of last minute work needing to be done. The memory of seeing the Easter Thursday night procession in the great Cathedral in Palma is one which will stay with me for a long time.  On Friday evening I was heading to Madrid – a city I’d never been to before but cannot WAIT to return to. It turned out that some great friends of mine were on their last evening of holiday in Madrid, so we had a slightly crazy time, despite our better judgement. This was the view out of my hotel window bright and early on Saturday morning. Beautiful.

The rest of the travel plans worked like clockwork. Charlie and I were staying with Veere Greeney, whose amazing house, Gazebo, deco-meets-English-Country-meets-French-Riviera (with a dash of Sir John Soane), is now finished after years of construction. As you would expect from Veere, it is perfect, and completely beautiful. A work of art.  We had gently stepped into heaven.  Here is the view.

Charlie arrived on the later flight from London with our friends Ruth, Andrew and Georgie – and soon after, we were whizzing down to the Kasbah for drinks with Gavin.

It was lovely being back in Gavin’s brilliant house. The party started gently,

And got crazy.

But the following morning we were on parade for the Easter Service.

More glimpses on the way out…

On Sundays, the Berber vegetable market surrounds the wall of the English Church.

Those who will remember reading my last blog will recall I found the grave of my great-aunt and great uncle. 

The graveyard of the English church is a beautiful, dreamy place.

On our way out of church, Easter Palm trees decorating the door and aisle. We were back to Veere’s for Easter Sunday lunch for a mere 30 or 40 people…. nothing much, then. Here’s Gavin and Boz in the garden….

And Jonathan Dawson inspecting the planting…

Two dandies… Hamish Bowles photographs Jonathan, looking impeccable in his Sunday whites…

That evening we went to Mickey Raymond’s house…. famous Mickey, who had once been a leading light at Colefax and Fowler.

Here is Mickey in the middle, talking on his right to Daniel Slowik, himself now one of the leading lights at Sybil Colefax and John Fowler (and fellow guest at Veere’s for the weekend…) 

Mickey’s wonderful yellow sitting room. Out of shot are his amazing pale pink curtains and lime green doors leading to the garden.

Mickey as a young man about town in London…

We ended up at Casa Italia that night for pizzas, wine and laughter long into the evening.

Here we are the following morning. Veere’s garden is magical at sunrise. I loved being up early.

Veere style: Jean Monro chintz walls, and geraniums.

The breakfast table:

A. N. Wilson, waiting:

Charlie and I zoomed off to the market that morning….

A successful purchase in the Weavers’…

Long, delicious lunch at L’Ocean….

Back to Veere’s… time for the quickest swim to sober up, and then we were out again for drinks with Gordon Watson and THEN with Nicolo Castellini Baldissera.  There is no rest in Tangier.

The view from Gordon Watson’s terrace (I’m afraid I can’t show you the house…)  Dream palaces waiting to be restored….

Walking (or should I say flying?) to Nicolo’s?

In Nicolo’s garden…

On the rooftop terrace, Anna McKew and Lawrence Mynott…

And an amazing view….

And the sunset drifted upon us…

And downstairs, in Nicolo’s bright pink drawing room, our old friend Maggie Deane, who runs Tangier, encircled by Gavin, and Rory O’ Connell, of Ballymaloe Cookery School fame. The evening was crazy. Back to Veere’s for dinner, and up early, early early for a chilling swim to wash away the night and back on the morning flight to London.  Dazed.  I love Tangier so much, and better still, so did Charlie.


PART II – Home

The week flew. I don’t think I’ve been quite so busy in a long time as we are right now.  But I survived.  It was complete bliss to get to Dorset on Wednesday night – I was working down here on Thursday and Friday. And even more bliss to get to Friday night. Charlie had just finished teaching a cut flower course with his friends Bridget & Henrietta of the Land Gardeners.

The garden, meanwhile, is looking insane. Charlie seems to be becoming known as the Dahlia king but I think the tulips must be a rather close second?

It’s Sunday evening. We’ve just popped our friend Maggie back on the train to London.  Charlie’s fast asleep on the sofa and the only sound is birdsong in the garden and woods. Tomorrow, early, I’ll be back to the mayhem, but for this evening only, I’m grateful for this tiny moment of peace.


Post script – two brief notices:

Here are BP Towers, we’re so incredibly proud of Bridie and her new pop-up shop, Bridie Hall at Home, at Harvey Nichols. Get down there as soon as you can. Eye-Popping!!

Far less exciting (but still quite exciting). 450 years ago this year, our landlord, Rugby School, was founded. This coming Friday afternoon sees our street festival to celebrate. Come and visit Rugby Street and Lambs Conduit Street if you are able. We’ll all be there.

18 comments on this post

Miriam Sacklersays:

Did you attend the Crucible on 1st Sept 2018 at Veere’s house?


Is there a ghost in the machine? Last weeks truly beautiful Tangier’s post arrived this week amidst the Waterloo Station post? Just thought I should let you know in case others have also had issues. P.S Thank you for you gorgeous blog


Oh my goodness the tulips are so utterly beautiful…..what a splendid site to see each day as more and more open… must be a welcome treat when you get to Dorset after a hectic week. The images of Tangier are also amazing….thanks for the armchair travel experience!


Love ‘travelling’ with you! Thanks for sharing your trip… and the tulips!

Ashley Levisays:

Darling photo of Charlie at the weavers! I’d say he enjoyed Tangiers? Work hard play hard.

Randy Coxsays:

What a delightful Holiday excursion and your garden is just glorious! Thanks for sharing.

Weston L. Thomassays:

what do you mean, did we notice that you went gone for 3 weeks, worried to death about both


Oh I am so happy this popped up today and not yesterday. This morning we are slogging through a cold rainy Chicago dawn with no sign of sun (or warmth) for a few days. This will do nicely in keeping my spirits up…the Tangier pictures are dreamy and the garden flowers are amazing. It is interesting to look at the garden pre and post Charlie. Lovely work. Happy week and welcome home.


Just fabulous. Sensory overload. Weirdly found myself trying to count the pots in Veere’s garden. Loved the parrot. Brits abroad are so hilarious and eccentric. Well done! Best, Nicola


What amazing photos, thanks for taking us along and Charlie’s flowers are ever so beautiful. Have a peaceful week.


Vicarious travel–the next best thing! Thanks for all the amazing photos of Tangiers. The tulips are incredible! Good thing you don’t have deer around to eat them.


What a lot has happened since your last trip to Tangier, the biggest, of course, being Charlie.

Speaking of whom, instead of being the Tulip King or the Dahlia King, maybe he is more King of Floral Colour. I’m sure the planting of those sublimely graduated tulip colours was not accidental.

What a mega post. So much visual joy. The long hanging green plaited thing in Mickey Raymond’s garden, all those eggs, and the black and white shop – I don’t know what it was exactly, but it was so good to see something from one of those shelves unfolded. I hope you bought it. And the tulips. Ah, the tulips. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such magnificent tulips, outside the colour plates in Anna Pavord’s book.


Enjoyed your photographs of Tangiers beautiful scenery colours and flowers.How wonderful to meet such creative people and to have friends who live in such amazing places.I must say the second part of your blog was captivating nature at its best how fortunate you and Charlie are to be able to call it home.I know where l would prefer to live where was Mavis?I missed her once again Ben thank you for sharing your idyllic world.


thank you for transporting; yet again. So many lovely images


Sublime. It is rather special when your beloved is as smitten with a place as you – the proverbial cherry on top. Thanks for transporting us to such a charmed existence.


be still my beating heart….whenever i need inspiration above anything and all, i click on tangiers photos online, to blow away my internal cobwebs….thank you ben and charlie! what a treat!!!!!



Lovely post and I do hope Gordon Watson will do another BBC series!


Holidaying with Hamish and the heavy hitters in Tangiers! You go! And the tulips….oh glory! Thx for a dreamy glimpse into other worlds.

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