Weeks of endless Summer

24 July 2017
Ben Pentreath

Where has the time gone?  I’m afraid you must have been wondering if I was ever going to blog again, but at the same time, I also know that you know that I will eventually- it’s a question of when, not if.

First of all, I’d like to thank all the comments last time from people offering to contribute to the church roof cause. That’s an unbelievably kind offer.  I haven’t had time to think about the easiest way to do that, but Bridie and I have been thinking, as a result, that it would be a wonderful thing if the blog could start raising a small bit of money here and there for good causes, especially the unusual ones that you never hear about and where some fundraising could make a difference.  We’ll give it a bit of thought…. work in progress. Thank you again.

It’s been a happy few weeks – we’ve had Charlie’s aunt Catherine staying, followed hot on her heels by our great friend Anna,nover from New Zealand as well. I suspect Charlie can’t quite remember how many trips to Mapperton, Soulshine, Brassica and our other ‘Dorset visitor haunts’ he’s made. I’ve been a bit more tied up with work but have been managing not to be too crazy, for once. Bliss.

And what long, hot summer weeks we’ve been having. Here, in four acts, is the last two weeks…

One: Jasper’s party

Two weeks ago, our friend Jasper Conran gave a brilliant party at his house in West Dorset; the theme: ‘Pastoral’. Charlie and I went a bit crazy on the fancy dress. I spent the morning making a floral hat, which I was a lot of fun, despite the fact that Charlie would have probably done it better. It got crazier and crazier.

We arrived in deepest, darkest West Dorset to blue sky and hot sun.

Lunch, which was as delicious as the setting was bucolic, was being cooked in the stable by Margot Henderson. 

Scenes from the garden:

The fantastic Fisher children! Will Fisher runs Jamb, one of the most beautiful shops on the Pimlico Road. 

Conran spring summer ’18:

Julian Bannerman dressed as rustic peasant. 

It was the perfect Fete Champetre.  You couldn’t help but think of Cecil Beaton at Ashcombe.  A heavenly day. Thank you Jasper.

Two: Camels at Buscot

I think I’d mentioned that we were going to the wild camel preservation lunch at Buscot?  You couldn’t really make it up.  So last Sunday, we found ourselves driving up to the Cotswolds.  I’d never been to Buscot Park and had been longing to go. The garden and park is outstanding; the house looked pretty perfect too, in its austere Georgian way, but was completely covered in scaffolding, so you may want to save your visit for next year.

Dream Edwardian gardens were laid out by Harold Peto.

Delicious pale yellow planting on the terrace.  

The first glimpse down to Harold Peto’s famous water garden.  

Back on the other side of the grounds the camel event was going mad.  We didn’t quite get to ride on the camels; but some people were enjoying the rides…

Some less so.

It was a brilliantly eccentric day. We had Scottish piping:

Mongolian wrestling….

Camel dressage:

Tug of war:And a delicious lunch of Mongolian salads eaten in a Mongolian tent (which I completely forgot to photograph).  

But I did get a photo of the resident camel lover.

A last glimpse of the walled garden.

We made our way gently home through Wiltshire, arriving in Dorset in time for a drink with Jim and Nic.  

We suddenly had the idea that we should get up to the top of the hill to watch the sunset.

On top of the world:

Three: Hampshire gardens

The next day we were setting off to visit two beautiful gardens, starting at Bramdean, with Victoria and Hady Wakefield. Years ago I’d helped design a house on the estate, and I’d always wanted Charlie to meet Victoria and see her remarkable garden (and sweet pea collection).  Here she is on the steps, a formidable British Gardener.

The garden is sublime.

Inside the walled garden.

Ancient sweet peas, highly scented.

The summer house has a door painted sky blue – from a distance it looks as if you are looking straight through.

In the newly-planted meadow.

Victoria’s famous double border, with the sky blue door at the end. 

The flower room:

When awards were worth winning:

We had lunch at Hinton Ampner, and revisited the house, now owned by the National Trust, that I’d first been to when I was about twenty, I reckon. It’s a strange place, unsettling. Something doesn’t feel quite right.  So my camera generally stayed in my pocket.

That afternoon we went on down to Kim Wilkie’s farm.  I had a client meeting with Kim for a project we’re working on together.  After everyone had left, we had a wonderful walk and an even more wonderful gin, overlooking the hay meadow, before I took the late train back to London and rolled into bed.   

Four: Just mooching in London

Dear Anna went home yesterday. We had to take her to the airport very early – but on Friday night, her farewell from London, we went out with friends for a night on the tiles. Things really could have been better on Saturday morning. We decided it was impossible to drive on to Dorset, which had been the previous plan. “Who did the driving to the airport” someone asked us that afternoon…. “The train driver” I replied, which was definitely for the good of all.  We came back into London and settled into a stupor. But then we took Mavis for a lovely long walk on the Heath, which felt like a dream world. It’s unreal to think how close London is and how far away it feels. The air was hot and heavy with high summer.

Blackberries are ripening fast. There is the tiniest hint of autumn already.  

Kenwood looking serene.

The walk ended with a long swim. It’s so exciting that Mavis has suddenly taken to the water.

And then we had the laziest afternoon, visiting Bridie in her sublime new house (watch this space) and going for a long lunch at the brilliant Duke of Cambridge, and rolling up to supper in Belsize Park, planned at the last minute. Such fun. Today we had every intention of getting up early for Columbia Road. It was not to be.  Sometimes it’s the times that you don’t bounce out of bed that are the best.

We have’t had a weekend in London for months and months. It was the ultimate treat; quiet to the point of nothing happening at all; no plans, just nice times.  And that has been the sense of this summer for me: long sunny days, drifting by almost endlessly, quietly abating the confusion of the world around and about. Today in London the temperature has dropped. It feels like those weeks of never-ending summer may have turned.


23 comments on this post


Your blog is wonderful Ben. To be reading of high summer and seeing your beautiful photos is such a good tonic for the dark and cold of a Tasmanian winter.
Beautiful photo of you and Charlie!


Another wonderful post! Always a treat. Thank you!

Carol Brynersays:

Oh – I DO love your blog so much. Thank you thank you!

Charlotte Ksays:

Oh, Ben, worth the wait. Such beauty. Living in the US in some of our darkest times wondering if we will make it through but this beauty you show means at least it is there somewhere.


The photo of that little boy and his rabbit with your hat on is priceless. Thanks for sharing these glorious photos that prove there is nothing like rain to make your garden grow. Too bad we don’t have more of it in California!

Shine Handicraftsays:



Well worth the wait. More nostalgia for me with the photos of Buscot – I see they’ve got round to repairing the balustrading, and a nice job too. Love the portraits of Charlie and his new friend. And another one of you too,Ben. Jolly good fun all round. Thank you for this summer special. Best wishes, Nicola



Jan Fawkesays:

Nothing like an English summer… sorry I’m missing this one, it looks like a beauty. Mind you, clear bright skies and the chilly evenings of a Sydney winter aren’t that bad!!

Randy Coxsays:

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing! How I love England! I live in the Southern US. Much inspiration here!

Pierre B.says:

Great post! Both you Ben and Charlie look glorious!


lovely! better than july 2017 edition of town and country magazine. thank you for sharing so much culture, dear ben. love the englishness of the parked cars on the parking lot lawn at the camel celebration, not sure if any other culture could park without big yellow lines painted on the ground, telling them how/where. what did the camels do when the bag pipes fired up? my favourite, the two pupz’ enjoying the beautiful flowers, on the exquisite crumpled rock path. wonderful that mavis girl loves the water!

a heart eye soul filled chapter, dear ben. much gratitude for your sharing seeing knowing doing.



What beauties and summery lovelinesses. I think that Jasper’s house (i still think of it as Caroline’s) is the prettiest in Dorset, and such a glorious setting for a rustic country lunch. Good to see Hampstead Heath too, where I grew up, took me back to my misspent youth!

Rebecca Smithsays:

Oh and Oh! and Oh! again. How truly lovely to be shown a glimpse into your summer world.
Bramdean is divine, one of my favourites.
Thanks for this cheerful post on a rainy blustery day.


The camels are positively smiling in their photos with Charlie ! Camel saddles make excellent footstools. And what a treat to see Deerhounds, they are the sweetest dogs. Thank you so much Ben, for this armchair vacation, and for sharing with us great beauty, sense of place and lovely people.


Dear Ben, Dear Charlie
Thanks so much for such beautiful summery photos.These are my dreams of summer …….. and also thanks for the nice photo of Prince Charles !
Last week William, Kate and the two wonderful kids visited Germany and we enjoyed so wonderful pictures in TV, three days along ……it was fantastic !
Also we have had a Shakespeare Open Air evening Richard III.
A little bit England last week , but nothing in comparison with real England !!!
Thanks a lot again to give us always a little Piece of heaven 🙂
Yours Birgit


Ah,that was worth waiting for. Beautiful, thank you very much. PS I hope you repeat those wonderful hats at the Bridport Hat Festival (my sister is helping to organise it!)


What was unsettling about Hinton Ampner? I want to think it was ghosts. Was it some other thing?


Just beautiful! Lifted my spirits. Inspired me to look ahead… Thank you!

Teresa Personsays:

Needed another cup of coffee this morning to read your beautiful post… Thank you for sharing… Xo, Teresa


Sublime .What a perfect weekend. Thank you for the beautiful images.

David Sanderssays:

‘Deepest, darkest Dorset’ and ‘Camels at Buscot’… well worth the wait I’d say. Edwardian gardens are just so dreamy; the mere thought of them sends me into a sort of delicious, languid stupor.


I feel breathless just reading about all your outings. The photos are wonderful too. Thank you again for sharing.

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