The View from Here

28 June 2017
Ben Pentreath

Apologies for those who use this blog as a way to ease themselves into the week ahead on a Monday morning.  Last week, for some reason, I couldn’t quite think of anything to say. Too many bad things happening?

Just one photograph then, taken on Sunday evening a couple of weekends ago, in the middle of the heatwave…. Charlie’s garden heavy with flowers now. We’ve tipped beyond the longest day, and our friends and relations in New Zealand have had the shortest day – the world turning gently on, despite everything. 

This weekend we’ve had our friends Austin and Spencer staying over from New York. I would have posted as usual on Sunday evening but everyone was too busy getting drunk. I have had long days on site on Monday and yesterday; here we are half way through the week already.  So, sorry for lateness.

We didn’t do anything new at all, so my blog resolution to always do something new is slipping, in a sense; but it was a case of visiting favourite haunts for new people to see rather, than the other way around.  On Saturday, we went to Abbotsbury, and, as the fog lifted, for neo-classical pints in Poundbury.  On Sunday, after church, we went to Mapperton – screeching to a halt as we drove through Beaminster and noticing that John & Jenny Makepeace’s fabulous garden was open that afternoon….. 

The perfect facade of the house, and then at the back of the garden, Jenny’s fabulous cottage planting at its peak. 

We sat with Jenny in her idyllic garden shed, and drank home made fruit spirits and consoled her about the destruction of their remarkable former house, Parnham, in Dorset, a dreadful story, when it burned to a shell in a terrible fire, caused by arson, earlier in the year. Some actions are unforgivable, and this was one.

Mapperton is perfect as always. If you are visiting Dorset I cannot recommend this beautiful house and garden more highly.

Spenny and Austin take in the Georgian facade….

Steps down to the Orangery:

Dreamy Edwardian days….

The pool garden, one whole level below the terraces above….

Meadow bank goals…

We drove back through empty Dorset lanes, the countryside heavy with high summer.

Back home, dramatic skies and sunshine. 

Cocktails and cake on the terrace.

The very first dahlias are arriving.  Watch this space…

Mavis basically hates me taking photos when I could be doing something useful, like throwing a ball.

The meadow has gone crazy.

Charlie’s veg garden is looking amazing.  Standard sweet peas.

Icelandic poppies.

First year of the delphinium.

We went to look at the sunset and met our neighbours Jim & Nic going for a walk.

Drinks back at home, which drifted into a happy dinner.

Outside, that magical moment when the light turns blue.

And as sunset fell, we popped up to Nic’s garden to look at the view, newly revealed since they chopped down a few scrappy old trees… which had been in the way… of this…

Nic’s garden:

We rolled back to the Parsonage for supper cooked by Charlie.

It’s been a dreadful couple of weeks; I think we are all distraught by the horror of the Grenfell Tower blaze.  I’m finding it hard to know what the questions are, let alone the answers.

With all this going on, is it so very wrong to bury one’s head down in our tiny burrow down here in Dorset, and take wonder at this amazing, unchanging view of our valley, and take comfort in the company of new friends, and old?

It’s been the weirdest of summers, the strangest few months; I can’t help focussing on things as I always try to – concentrate on what you, personally, can affect in front of you.  Do what you can to improve things, to make the world around you a more interesting, happier, friendlier, better and more beautiful place. Don’t worry about the things you can’t influence, but worry a lot about the things you can.

34 comments on this post


Made me think of my childhood ♡

anne eldersays:

I borrow your books, especially ‘English Decoration’ on almost permanent loan from my library(while they still have them, they keep selling them off), and always have one open to sit down next to. The beautiful rooms and photographs lift my spirit and I find great calm comes over me when I devour the pages over and over and over. When Grenfell happened, it made me feel so so fortunate to be in my own modest little HOME in north east England and be so appreciative Of what I have.


Your Edwardian observations are on point;your photos are so gorgeous,so perfect yet… I feel a strong sense of foreboding looking at them. So much brilliance before a terrible denouement.
Like you I do what I can to make the world a better place and get on with life – what else can one do? It’s a very trying time indeed.


So sorry you have been down. Thank you for your lovely blog which is such a treat. I hope you feel better soon!

Randy Coxsays:

Many thanks for this post. The poppy shot is divine. As you say, we have no control over what happens. We try to make the best of life. Thanks for sharing.

Naheed Tourishsays:

Love your amazing blog!

Diane Keanesays:

Ben, your closing words put me in mind of the Serenity Prayer,

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change what I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Based on this, I would say you are a very wise person. Thanks as always for another lovely post.

Hugs from Diane


Ben this post was just what we all needed, my mind drifted away in the Edwardian summer at Mapperton House. You always make the world a better place. xxx


Ben – Your closing thoughts ….. yes, absolutely. It’s the way to be. Everything else in the post …. beautiful as always. The Dorset visitor’s board, if there is such a thing, should be paying you.
Michael in SC


Such wonderful things as your photos and descriptions and thoughtful and gentle wisdom are well worth waiting for. I’m sure I’ve thanked you for your generosity in sharing your world with your appreciative blog ‘audience’ in the past, but doing so again. I really treasure the moments when I can immerse myself in all that beauty – particularly Charlie’s garden. Love to you both

Thank you for your lovely post! It is truly wonderful to have a little escape from the world.
son, lissy


There is nothing wrong with enjoying your own gorgeous patch whenever you feel the need, and highlighting the unbelievably beautiful ones of others. Best wishes, Nicola


thank you! for sharing life’s constants, dear ben, mavis with ball in her purdy dog mouth and charlie’s exquisite and constant garden. it is kind to see some places where all is always well!


deby (in Canada)says:

Oh Ben….as always thank you for sharing the gentle beauty of time in the countryside…
that and the anticipation of Charlie’s dahlias gives hope for the future…
xxx Deby

Judth Haxtonsays:

Dear Ben, I usually love your posts and in these times we surely need a reminder of the beauty of our natural world .. I know you don’t have the answers but we all certainly have the questions don’t we and sticking our heads in the sand in Dorset or anywhere else just won’t cut it anymore. Judith


This week’s photos are particularly lovely, Ben. The stuff my dreams are made of when eyes are closed. Opened eyes see the vastly different, though equally beautiful, high desert landscape of Santa Fe. I always look forward to your posts. Thank you!

Sharon Chansays:

Greetings from Texas!

Your post is such a treat.

Many thanks.

Parnham also makes me sad. I’ve frequently referenced a Parnham photo page torn from some magazine long ago as my house landscape goals. Does a house like that get rebuilt?

Enjoyed the memorable Mapperton last summer with my children and nephew. It was a rainy day, but still lovely. Thanks for sharing how it glows in the summer sun. Definitely worth visiting again.

Priya Christiansays:

What a lovely post! The world is a better place with you and Charlie, looking forward to seeing Charlie’s dahlias and reading your next post.


It seems to me that you have dancing flowers in your sweet garden…So delicate!


Always an uplifting pleasure in reading your blogs. Gardens are wonderful there at this time of year while we here in NZ are looking at twigs and moss. Looking forward to some time in the UK in a month or so. Please turn the temperatures down a bit tho. Heatwaves I don’t do.


What a lovely surprise to see you all on Sunday, you always cheer me up and what super photos too. Your blog is rightly flagged up as the best there is. Yes, awful happenings everywhere, our gorgeous 20 year old grand daughter evicted from her London flat near Primrose Hill, at least she had a home to come back to.


oh made me sigh with pleasure, you are quite right about improving what is around us and doable, we cannot do something about everything xx


Dear Ben
I’m from Germany and a big big fan of Great Britain and it’s
fantastic decoration style ,all these beautiful houses, villages,
landscapes , I’m always very happy when we are could be there for
holidays .
Since I have found your website, I follow all the News and blogs
and are very proud to own your book ” English Decoration “.
I try since years to put many english home Accessoires like
antiques, pottery ,furniture etc. to make our home similar an
English home !
Today I want to say Thank you for all your wonderful blogs and
photos, it is always a big pleasure for me to enjoy the peaceful
landscape and the beautiful houses also your parsonage !
In bad times like these, it is very comforting to get such blogs.
Sorry for my bad english,
Best Regards,


“oh sweet spontaneous earth – thou answers them only with summer” – slightly altered e.e. cummings.



Hi Ben,

What a beautiful post, with sublime photos. Transported me to another world. It was lovely meeting Charlie and you. I am looking forward to seeing Charlie’s dahlias. I will visit Mapperton next time I am in Dorset. The world is a better place with people like you who help us view it with a new sense of aesthetics.

Liza Wittsays:

Your writings (and photos) always bring me back to my spiritual center.
It is a place within me where I can once again see, feel and, ‘become one’ with the sacredness and beauty that is in all of life.
This is especially needed even more now, as the world spirals through such tumult!
Thank you for sharing you stories with us.


Hello Ben,
It’s pure pleasure to find you here sharing your thoughts and photos. There is much to grieve about and much to rejoice over. Reminding each other of what we can achieve, what we can aspire to, is healing. It nurtures hope and that is what we need to make the world a better place. More gardens, more love, more kindness. Keep showing us this. We need it.

peg donahuesays:

So lovely…


Beautiful images Ben your blog really does inspire.You give so much pleasure by sharing your home and wonderful places you visit.Your appreciation of life and nature and your kindness about trying to make a better world in our own lives is so true.Positive energy begins with good thoughts and actions and can be shared with us all. So please Ben even though we are all hurting from the tragic recent events please continue to inspire us it is what the world needs more of bless you for what you are doing.

Nicola Lawrencesays:

Dear Ben – every image and detail so beautiful – almost too much to take in – in a lovely way. xx


Hi Ben
Thanks so much for putting photos up of Beaminster. I knew the gardens were open and was planning to go on Sunday as well 🙂 But unfortunately I was ill on Sunday so I missed them 🙁 Nice to see some photos of what I missed. Also thanks for sharing photos of Mapperton- one of my favourite Dorset manors. I just love this place; it’s such an escape.
Enjoy the rest of your week and hope that the sun comes out for the weekend 🙂

David Sanderssays:

Of course you are forgiven for any tardiness in putting out your weekly blog Ben. Indeed, I would be most reluctant to venture any sort of criticism of you at all; such is my appreciation of your words and images that you send out into cyberspace with such unerring (well usually) regularity.
I have always valued the appreciation of beauty, and your blog has very much reaffirmed that belief. I also can’t help but reflect that such an appreciation, is more important now, than it perhaps ever was – when it is under ever increasing threat. Best wishes to you and Charlie, from the land that has just endured it’s shortest day – NZ

Alicia Whitakersays:

Nature and the garden always provide solace in disturbing times like these. They help us turn off the noise in our heads so we can regroup and go on. I agree with you, we need to do what we can to improve things around us. I’m looking forward to seeing Charlie’s amazing dahlias – a sign to me that the earth continues to turn.


I think you can rest easy, Ben, that your designs have already made the world a much more beautiful place.

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