Out of Season

16 October 2017
Ben Pentreath

We’ve been trying to find a weekend to visit our friend Ruth Guilding down in Cornwall for months. Regular blog readers will recall Ruth not only as author of the brilliant and inimitable Bible of British Taste, (and author of serious works of art and social history) but as our regular London drinking buddy in the everlasting search for the perfect dark pub that sells warm, unusual beer, has no TV, no jukebox and no food, but which does have ancient gloss paint on the beaded board walls and ceiling.

We had last visited Ruth at her beautiful cottage in Lamorna way back last summer, in the height of August. You can read about that high summer trip here (scroll to about half way down to reach the Cornwall bit).  So it was something of a treat to go back to Cornwall out of season.

Grey skies hung over the West Country while London basked in unseasonable sunshine.  The mood felt perfect for ours.

I was glad nothing had changed at my favourite crossroads. 

We were here for the meet of the local Hunt, that has been running in these parts since the 1820s. Now, I know that not everyone who reads this blog will love hunting. 

But it is still just a way of life in country like this. With the arrival of drag hunting, hopefully, a reasonable compromise has been found to allow the continuity of rural life at the same time as preserving the sensibility of civilised folk who consider the practice “the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable”. Maybe we have reached an acceptable impasse in the politics of the matter.  Or maybe we have not. I am not sure.

All I can attest is these are not bad people. 

Neither are they ‘high-falutin’.  Not down here. 

They were meeting for the Saint Levan’s day Feast. We left, and went to Porthgwarra. 

Mavis leapt in the water.

We were a bit suprised when we suddenly saw a real seal, not own our little version. 

Mavis and Bunny, Ruth’s dog, went mad playing with seaweed.

We drove up out of the bay. We popped in to the Organic Farm shop. One of the things you discover about Cornwall fairly quickly is that the entire county is covered in a golden orange or silvery grey lichen. 

The roadside flower stand where Ruth normally buys her dahlias has sweetly scented Narcissus in stock already.

Meanwhile we were dropping off one of Charlie’s buckets of dahlias with the great Rose Hilton, wife of the artist Roger Hilton and herself a marvellous painter.  Here we are in Rose’s conservatory with its beautiful vine.
We were on the way to walk the dogs at Botallack, a landscape scattered with the detritus of 19th and early 20th century tin mining, magnificent and austere.

A diagram in the National Trust cafe explains the extraordinary engineering feats reaching the seams of tin ore far under the sea. 

Nearby, we drooled over the beautiful Botallack Manor House, currently deserted.  This place could be heaven.

In the pub for lunch, I got the pleading eyes treatment. Is it possible to resist?

We set off up to St. Ives. 

The Tate has just re-opened its doors, and was free all weekend.  But as we arrived, it was clear that there was a huge queue snaking all down the street. We aborted our mission, and stared briefly at the surfers way out at sea, like little flies on the water. 

We came back by Mousehole.  Last August, the town of my ancestors was so crowded that we’d had to escape the second we had arrived.  Mousehole in October is deserted. 

One valiant family making sandcastles on the beach. 

And the Christmas lights being installed. 

We got home to Ruth’s. 

Incidentally her perfect cottage may be rented.  Visit her website here for more details. 

We went to sleep for a long afternoon nap, under scudding grey skies.

We woke to a perfect soft late autumn afternoon.  It was time to set off for a little pub crawl. An ancient standing stone on the way:

Penberth Cove.

Followed by a pint at the Logan Rock. 

Which was PACKED to the gunnels for the St Levan’s Feast. Look at the food table.  Perfect. 

So we left the pub and went for a walk, in the gloaming. 

Up into the rabbit fields, for Bunny to have a run (Bunny likes chasing rabbits, but they always outrun her).  Right in the centre of Treen is the little Treen Farm, selling delicious raw Jersey milk from the side of the road. This is one of the most special things about this tiny corner of West Cornwall. I obsessed briefly about this building, now a cow barn.

A good fug was building up in the Logan Rock Inn.  A great night was getting going. 

But we were off to Penzance for the second part of the pub run. To The Crown, with its own brewed beer. 

Then home for crab pasta.

On Sunday, Charlie and I went for a good walk while Ruth went to church. 

Afterward, we were meeting in The Star Inn, St. Just. 

We screeched to a halt, on the way, at this amazing road sign, which we’d driven past last summer, but I’d failed to photograph. 

St. Just is a wonderful small town. 

We arrived before pub opening time, so had a little wander in the church yard.

And then met Ruth, exactly on time, at this best of places. 

And after a while, this is how I felt.

All weekends must drift to a happy conclusion, and after a lingering lunch at the cottage we drove home to Dorset, our minds full of the magic of the strange country of Cornwall, and of places that rest deep in my bones. Thank you, Ruth.

29 comments on this post


Dear Ben,

Sorry if the subject is completely different one from the present blog, but: have you ever thought to dedicate a blog on colours? I have decided to repaint the walls of our house with much stronger and assertive colours as it is used to be and I am making patches of colours everywhere (you know the feeling may be?), but I am a bit confused at the moment… So before ending up with a patchwork of stone blue, parma grey, ball green or – even worse – repainting everything in white – I thought to give a try and ask you whether you could think to dedicate a blog on which are the criteria you use to choose one or the other colour or which are the mistakes you have done, if ever- and how much the light plays a role in the choice. Or may be even better organize a workshop on colours, I would jump on the earliest plane (again 😉 to London! I am sure I would not be the only one interested…
Thank you,


Dear Diane Keane,
I am delighted that you read the and thrilled that your neighbour has taken to it too.Please do leave me comments – there is a little box, just like the one here, at the very end of each post.
My very best wishes RG

Diane Keanesays:

A lovely post, Ben, albeit somewhat controversial. I refrain from offering an opinion on fox hunting (except to observe, that I hope none of the folks against it are meat eaters–what goes on in factory farms and commercial slaughter houses is beyond cruel!) Anyway, I enjoyed the beautiful scenery, both land and sea. Wouldn’t the pattern on Mr. Oats’s lichen-bedecked headstone make a wonderful wall-covering? I am a reader of BOBT, but it seems one cannot leave comments there? Please let Ruth know that my 96 year old neighbor, who is something of a Luddite, truly enjoyed seeing Wiveton, and David Bridgwater’s fantastic house, on my kindle when I visited with her recently.

Hugs to you and Charlie and the fur people,

Thank you for this wonderful post. People seem to forget that it often is the hunts and other country sport activities which keep the countryside alive, the land properly kept and in order to be enjoyed by everybody. People who live off the land and who add to rural economy and community should be supported not worked against. I thoroughly enjoyed this post!


Dear Ben,this is so interesting on many levels. May I take this opportunity to bring to your attention a translation from the German that I have done for the private Cornish Guillemot Press, which will be published in May 2018? Entitled “Times in Cornwall”, it is a playful memoir of the German artist/writer Wolfgang Hildesheimer, who visited Cornwall in the 1930s and then again in the 1960s. It examines such topics as hunting, tin mines, and the colours of the county that you highlight in your blog. Best wishes, Nicola


Ha! Love the blurry pic! What a great post. Six days a week I stare at a tin shack across the road from my shop and I worry of it’s demise. Wish I could save it. Lovely doggie pix. Just remember the eyes of the beloved are hard to resist. Thus I never can with mine. Cheers!


Save your breath and emotive rhetoric people, there are no logical arguments against (or for) any form of hunting. There is however another dimension; those who are against hunting consider themselves morally superior.

Janey Pughsays:

This is one of your best, possibly as my ancestors came from this part of the world. I had tears.. And as for darling Mavis! What a girl!

Nicola Lawrencesays:

Sounds a dreamy weekend to me. I love Ruth’s posts – you were in good company. The pub looked perfect and the one mentioned by one of your readers (the pumpkin story) does too. My daughter Emily, one of her friends and I spent a funny night in Cornwall a few years ago. Emily and I thought it was funny – her friend was not amused. xx


Thanks for sharing.


I missed seeing you in The Crown – it’s my local! I was there Saturday, late afternoon, and would’ve said hello had we met.

Liz Fyffesays:

Dear Ben…I looked forward to your soothing photos and lovely stories with the usual anticipation only to be shocked and disappointed by your comments about hunting. I had you down as a gentle peaceful guy who appreciates the beauty of nature and the wildlife the countryside has to offer and I am amazed that you seem to be of the opinion that hunting is not a despicable barbaric pastime and wonder how you can love Mavis as much as you do while not showing the same respect for an innocent wild animal.
A wild fox killing chickens cannot be compared with so called civilised human beings on horseback riding with the ultimate goal of seeing the fox being torn apart if it hasn’t died of a heart attack first. It is extremely cruel and causes great pain and distress all in the name of sport.


terrific photographs, Ben! x


Dear Ben & Charlie
Thank you for sharing your once again wonderful weekend, Now Cornwall, with us.
I love ‘Bible of British Taste’ and Ruths Cottage ( the blue & white and Staffordshire dogs! ) and I love Cornwall ….. we visited North Cornwall in summer 2015 and enjoyed it so much,
also the west coast footpath along the sea by magical blue sky !
Seals and also whales have we seen on the Isle of Skye, it’s
amazing ( mainly whales ) !
Great Britain is always a big big pleasure and all the regions
are for me heaven on earth. It’s always fascinating the typical
british way of life ( and hunting ) !
Great Britain my love forever 🙂
Have a fantastic autumn week, Yours Birgit from Germany.


What a lovely corner of the world. I’m not sure why here in New England we don’t have those cozy pubs but they look like such wonderful places to visit. Not sure I could do warm beer though. Again thanks for sharing your fabulous photos.

Tami Bolandsays:

Dude, You had me at, in the gloaming, then won my heart with fug. Thank you for my descriptive grammatical sojourn.


I love your posts..the pictures carry me away.


What a lovely weekend, I love that area so much. The granite, the walking, the early flowers, Rose Hilton’s glorious work, Christmas decs at Mousehole, those lovely stone signs, my friends there have introduced me to Rose and other artists including great potters, so thanks for sharing. The big pile of stones at Lamorna always freaks me out though! PS: If you’re ever Wimborne way, the Vine at Pamphill is an old favourite. I second Paula’s Square & Compass suggestion, you probably know it, often busy I know but worth it and the best NY eve. Check out the Augustus John nailed to the wall!


Ben Thank you so much for this. There is such a misunderstanding between the town and country over hunting, so it is so good to see people like you, who straddle the two, giving it and the communities it is so important to, a fair chance. I suspect the antis will be more vocal as ever, but hey ho. The difference I think is that we live and let live, yes really now we only trail hunt.

Incidentally drag hunting is a load of crazies galloping over a line of fences, stopping for a sloe gin and then doing the same again. Trail hunting is following a laid trail up hill and down dale, which is when you get to see the hounds work and the countrymen putting their wiles into practice. Thank you again.


Five years ago, we spent a week in Cornwall with Mousehole as our base and went everywhere and saw everything, then one afternoon Morris dancers showed up at the inn! Thank you for your wonderful reminder of a wonderful place!

Maggie Aldersonsays:

This is HEAVEN. It’s made me long to go back to Cornwall. The picture of the buoys is just perfect. Bravo.


Many thanks for those wonderful images of Cornwall. With a name like Pentreath, no wonder you are able to capture the magic of this beautiful region.

Re: hunting. I have always recoiled from fox hunting but really enjoyed the meet before a drag hunt. The sense of community, the beauty of the horses, the lively, friendly hounds and the spectacle of the elegant riders were all there; and it was good to know that the participants would have a good day’s riding with no creature terrified and hunted to death in the process.

Sheila Williamssays:

Fox hunting is illegal. It is against the law. People who disregard the law are committing a crime.
It’s really very simple.


Hi Ben, glorious blog made me yearn for the West country. On hunting, I feel it’s a tradition, a way of life. Recently we called RSPCA as a twerp in a car had hit a deer and it needed to be put down. They did not want to know although the animal was suffering instead they suggested we call the local hunt to dispatch it. One of the chaps from the hunt kennels came out and did the deed. It’s all a matter of perception and as soneone who keeps hens I have no problem with hunts as I have seen the damage that foxes can do!

Jennifer Phillippssays:

Lovely as always to read of your meanderings and in particular this time the lovely images of the wilds of Cornwall. My family on one branch came from Cornwall to NZ in the very earliest of arrivals and so I have tin mining Methodists from Cornwall trotting through my veins. Sadly I have not visited Cornwall yet, but hope one fine day I will. It really is nice to have your thoughtful insights and lovely images to enjoy before bed. Have a great week. Cheers

Paula Harvey-Gorbuttsays:

Dear Ben
I am new to your blog so apologies if this has been mentioned before (I am still catching up on hundreds of blogs) but if you are in search of the most magical pub in the world that has a nicotine yellow gloss ceiling, no bar as such other than a stable door, warm beer, home pressed cider, no tv, no mobile signal or wifi and the only food available is a traditional pastie then you have to visit the Square & Compass at Worth Matravers. I may be biased but the Square really is like heaven on earth, the views are stunning and even on a misty day there is something quite magical about the place. Oh I forgot to mention it even has its own fossil museum! I recently went to the annual pumpkin festival, lots of strange creatures made out of squashes and pumkins and then Charlie the owner sweeps in with his tractor to lift the biggest pumpkin aloft to a very loud cheer, oh what fun. Hope to see you there sometime!


thank you for including me/us we all on your place of another time’ cornwall expedition. love the interior pub(?) photo, second last, or so, someone could pay thousand$ to achieve that soul charged “look”. i, too am pleased that there was no scent for the hunt. your photos offer things i have never seen done, thank you! for sharing your amazing heart, dear ben. love that mavis is a water girl!

blessings of inspiration to you and your charlie and your mavis, dear ben.



Here here to the last comment.I quite agree fox hunting is nothing but a cruel archaic activity enough said.
I loved your photos of Cornwall especially the seal and wonderful pics of Mavis she looked like she was having great fun and enjoyed her trip with you.
Brilliant photo of the tin mines l had no idea they went under the sea however anyone could go down and mine there l do not know.
What l enjoy most about your blog Ben apart from the wonderful photos is the way you enjoy and celebrate life nature people without an ounce of pretentiousness it is so rare in modern day society but so uplifting thank you so much for allowing us to share a little of your world it really does help in this hard hostile world we live in today.


Dear Ben … lovely to read your blog, as always. I’m afraid I am one of those who does not love ‘hunting’. It may have been a ‘traditional’ country pastime but times change and activities and practices which were once acceptable are, thankfully, no more. It is naive to think the people who engage in blood sports are cosy and colourful ‘harmless country folk’. If you had witnessed an innocent creature being chased to exhaustion and then ripped apart by a pack of hounds … or, if your pet cat – which happened to get In way of the hunt – had suffered a similar fate, then you might feel differently about it. It’s important to remember that a key reason hunting with dogs was banned was because the RSPCA (hardly a radical or political organisation) decided it was – simply – extremely cruel and that animals suffered greatly … But … I am sure you do not want your comments page to turn into a debate about the wrongs and wrongs of hunting. I just felt compelled to removed your rose coloured glasses just for a moment or two and perhaps ask you to see it as it really is!

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