1 January 2018
Ben Pentreath

I hope you’ve had a really peaceful Christmas and New Year. Charlie and I headed down to Dorset on the Thursday before Christmas, leaving behind a deserted London.  The countryside was grey and majestic on the Friday morning. A couple of days ago the tree in this photograph blew down in one of the storms.  Strange to think that something that is so familiar is gone now.

Fog and cloud clung to the hilltops.

Back in the church, the flower arranging team was making progress.  The church looked beautiful when we came that evening for a carol service held entirely by candlelight. 

Beautiful skies that evening.

Our good friend Rose, who runs the bookshop in Bridport (Bridport Old Books, the best) came for the carols, and for supper. Jolly times!

Charlie had decorated a beautiful tree. On Christmas day, we had Mum & Dad staying – and I completely forgot to pull out my camera at all, which was rather a good sign, in a way. A very quiet and happy day.

Boxing day saw the Annual duck race in the village.  Best Dressed Duck competition:

Ducks getting ready to be launched.

And the first intrepid ducks make it to the finish line…

The following day, in sparkling sunshine, my brother and his family came to stay – 

Another amazing lunch from Charlie.

The afternoon slipped into evening, games, more wine, more to eat. We were joined by the best present of the year. Don’t you have a life-size cardboard cut out of the Queen?

Bright skies the following morning;

Tim and Lisa and family left; and our friends Will and Brandon came for a couple of days on their way back up from Devon.  I can’t quite remember but I think another night of far too much drinking ensued.

Huge winds blew overnight and we decided to head to Portland Bill to watch the waves.  

Shining sea and silver road:

But the moment we got to Abbotsbury to see the little chapel, a stinging rainstorm swept in on the wind. 

Showers came and went quickly. Portland Bill Lighthouse glowed white against dark blue skies.

The photographs do little to portray the freezing gale.

I love Portland, its strange buildings and light, and the town of tiny beach huts down by the Bill.

The following morning, bright and early, we went to Bridport for the market – remarkably quiet. As we left, this morning sky glowed, and the Parsonage looked like a dreamworld.

I love Christmas, and its sense of renewal in the darkest days of the year; New Year itself I always find a little melancholy. We drove up to London under grey, grey clouds, and had a brilliant evening with Will and Brandon up at their flat. Too brilliant by far. Today has been a wipe out. Which, if you think about it, is quite a good way to see the New Year. It’s not even 7pm and we’re off to bed.

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? I like to. Last year, I seem to recall, it was to do something new – however small – every week of the year. We didn’t always make it, but it was a good target to have, and got us out of the flat or away from the garden more times than you could imagine. So that’s one I’d recommend (and will try to stick with this year again, although not quite so religiously perhaps).

This year my resolution is to try to read more and look at screens less (you can make an exception for this blog perhaps?). Charlie gave me a pile of books for Christmas, and for once, I’ve actually started reading them (and, just for a start, can strongly recommend The Village News, by Tom Fort, which I’m loving).

Anyway, I wonder how I’ll get on with that resolve.

For a lot of people, 2017 seems to have been a year to say goodbye to gladly. It was not without its dark horrors.  But I don’t feel quite so despairing; or maybe I just prefer looking on the bright side. I think the trick is – as I’ve said time and again on this blog – to concentrate on the local. What’s the state of your street, your village, your town, or your patch of the city? Some things might not be as good as they could be, but a lot is. And at the scale of the street, whatever isn’t right is generally manageable to fix.  And that’s something to think about as we take our first, tentative steps in 2018.

I suppose this year will rush by just a little faster than the last, which itself rushed by just a little faster than the year before that. Let’s try and enjoy the ride. On Friday, as it happens, Charlie and I are off to New Zealand. Now that is something that I can’t believe has come around quite as quickly as it has. And it’s going to be wonderful to see three things – family, friends…. and summer.

Have a really happy New Year.


For those that are interested in such things, this was a funny week in Dorset because I managed to leave all my cameras (normally, for those that are interested, a Panasonic Lumix) in London. So everything was entirely photographed on the new i-phone, and I’d say that’s the last time I need to worry about bringing my camera with me. Amazing clarity. And, just to be clear, this is not a sponsored message!

34 comments on this post

Beautiful photos! Brought a real sense of nostalgia – I’m originally from Dorset & now live in New Zealand! Have a wonderful time here – you’ll find the landscape different, but beautiful I imagine! Thank you for the lovely post 🙂

Stephen Footsays:

I think ‘The Village News’is by Tom Fort, but thank you for reminding me of Matthew Fort I still miss his Guardian column


Hi Ben,
A very uplifting post -thank you.
If you have time whilst you are in New Zealand I think you and Charlie would very much enjoy visiting Sir Miles Warren’s garden, Ohinetahi, located near Governors Bay. The homestead is equally wonderful -not at all the sort of place you would imagine New Zealand’s foremost modernist architect to reside in!

Jennifer Phillippssays:

Lovely to see your wintery images as we are reasonably hot here in NZ just now…I think you may head to Canterbury on your visit, I just had a week down there taking in the new buildings, the spaces still needing buildings and the other changes to Christchurch. As another respondent said, there is still a lot to do, but good to know the cathedral will be restored….and hopefully they will go ahead with restoration of the Catholic Cathedral….a rather grand building and surely worth saving, given how many other buildings have been lost. Some lovely art at the main Art Gallery – currently, worth a look. Have a lovely warm visit….and Happy New Year!!


These pictures are amazing, especially the ones of the sunrise!


Crikey. Quite forgot to read your post this past week,so something must have been happening. Please accept my belated New Year Good Wishes to you both. Nicola


Happy New Year! (please don’t stop blogging! 🙂

Debra Morgansays:

We had a similar life-size cut out of the Queen. She made an appearance at several going-away parties when we moved from the US to London in 2016. At the last gathering, friends had arranged an evening sail on the replica of America, the first vessel to win the race that became known as the America’s Cup. She had left her home port of San Diego that summer to do a tour of the northeastern US. We boarded the massive ship with Her Majesty and had a wonderful evening sailing around Boston Harbor. Apparently we had too much fun, because we completely forgot to take the Queen with us when we left. I like to think of her as part of the America crew now, plying the waters and smiling benevolently on all the guests as they board.
Happy New Year!


Dear Ben and Charlie,
a happy New Year to both of you.
It is true and sad, that every year rushes a bit quicker than the year before. I think we can´t do much, however the awareness of that may help on focusing on the present, and the nice moments one lives now, rather than being constantly projected on the future, being it the weekend, the end of the month, or even worse the retirement.
Looking forward to receiving the prints from Charlie. Enjoy NZ – may be you manage a little bit of Milford track? A dream.


I was hoping for a Christmas in Dorset blog entry, looks cozy and beautiful. The 2nd to last paragraph here on concentrating locally was very inspirational to me. Wishing you all that’s good in 2018!

Diane Keanesays:

Happy New Year, Ben & Charlie! Ben, you’ve gotten 2018 off to a good blogging start, and thank you for all the great posts in the old year. Love the photo of Mavis almost disappearing into the dusk outside the festively-lit window, and the one of the Queen is amazing! You’d swear she was really there. The light house is a fine one. If you haven’t read “The Light Between Oceans” by M.L. Stedman, please add it to your stack. Aside from the compelling plot, there is a lot about what it’s like to live in a remote light house. Congratulations on your resolve to read more! Mine is to spend LESS time reading and more time making art. Have a grand time in NZ, enjoy the summer weather! Will Mavis be going too? She will miss you both if not, but there’s always Facetime. Safe travels!

Hugs from Diane


Reading this post from my home in New Zealand I was thinking how beautiful it must be to experience a wintery Christmas in the English countryside. It wasn’t until you mentioned the New Year and fresh starts that I realised how much I looked forward to that renewed and refreshed feeling our January summer brings. How lucky are you to experience both!
It’ll be fun to see your posts from New Zealand. Travel safe.

Alison Lewissays:

Thank you so much for the beautiful introduction to 2018 and a jolly New Year to you all. We’ve just had a visit from Storm Eleanor and so I truly hope many of the trees in your photographs were spared of her wrath! Love your Christmas table setting and Christmas tree … so pretty and welcoming. Have a wonderful and safe trip to New Zealand x

Deborah Wagnersays:

Gorgeous photos, good advice. You had me going for a minute over on Instagram with the Queen. I put nothing past you! In the new year, I would like to try to read—or should I say finish—a book. I have a towering pile of nine on my bedside table, not to mention those strewn around the living room. In the New Year, I shall persevere with that. All the best to you and yours. Deborah


A pleasure as always to catch up on your doings. Your sense of optimism is to be admired,I’m not optimistic by nature but like you I do try to see & acknowledge all the good in life. Much goodness & much beauty- I will savour those moments and try not to dwell upon the negative.
More reading is on my list as well, I received two books about Crown Princess Margaret of Sweden and her gardens; they’re vintage circa 1920. She was a daughter of the Duke of Connaught who brought many English flowers to her new country and as a bonus was a talented artist who captured them beautifully. I think Charlie would love these if you don’t already have them. The tipped in colour plates are stunning.
Happy New Year,all the best in 2018.

chris webbsays:

Hi Ben and Charlie
It is nice and warm today in Thames although the forecast is not great
A tropical storm
If interested I can probably arrange a visit to see Keith Hammett

David Sanderssays:

Happy New Year Ben and Charlie. It’s still hot and dry in Canterbury NZ, so your stay here should be a pleasant one. Please have a good look around Christchurch when you are here and tell me what you think – things have moved along somewhat. The Cathedral is now to be restored, after a seemingly interminable battle to save it and many new buildings have popped up. There’s still much to be done, but you will get a clear indication of the direction the rebuild is heading in. Lots of glass and steel, of course; which is partly a reflection of the need to build in a more resilient manner and to meet the new building codes. For a historical fix, have a look around the Arts Centre and Christ’s College; both are now well down the path of restoration – so overall a good part of our Gothic Revival heritage will be intact for future generations.


Hi Ben,
Still a regular reader of your blog- a couple of years a go I offered to show you some local sights (natural, urban and architectural) if you had the time while visiting New Zealand. I live in both Auckland and Wellington, so let me know if your itenerary is full or not. I’d be happy to help.
I also know where the good coffee is 🙂


Happy New Year and have a great time in NZ. summer . . . bliss!

I left rural life in Somerset in 1980 as a twenty something for the wilds of British Columbia, and love getting my fix of the old country from your blogs. It always reminds me of the many happy hours I spent stomping around the countryside with friends and their dogs, dining by candlelight and listening to the wild winds blow above our cottage on the hill. Life changes lots, but good friends and family, great experiences, both locally and in the wider world, and good health are the things that make up the intricate, colourful tapestry of life.

Looking forward to getting my Brit fix in February when I will be in Dorset and Somerset helping celebrate some BIG birthdays.


So well written and I will always make time for your blog where I can escape for just a little while. I hope this is a beautiful new year for you!

Eva Weis Bentzonsays:

Dear Ben. Wonderful photographs. I have been in Dorset but only traveling through to and from Devonshire in the 60es with my parents and brother and cousin and my other and his wife 6 years ago. I am Danish; but have live a year in Buxton Derbyshire and have since then been in England many many times. These days mostly to London and Topsham Devonshire, where I have friends. It’s my London friend, who have made me aware of your shop and wonderful blogs, whichI love.
Thank you for it all.
Happy New Year Eva.

Hazel Lavellesays:

Iso nice to see your blog again ” new year fresh start for every body ”
I personally write my diary and set myself achveable goals for the year keep good health and look after family and friends . Look after your selfs on your vist down under !! And keep blogging !!!

Love Hazel X. ( from Manchester uk )


I loved seeing the beautiful wintery countryside of Dorset and chuckled over the life size cut out of the Queen Somehow this must be a British thing because I wouldn’t give space to him who will not be named room in a broom closet! Ahem! I’m thinking they don’t deserve to be linked in the same sentence. Enjoy 2018 in good health and happy days.


Happy New Year to you! A beautiful blog-such a pleasure to read and always something to look forward to on Monday mornings. Have a lovely time in New Zealand.

The photos are perfect! Remember to keep your i-Phone charged!

Safe Travels!


Thank you, Ben, for starting my new year with such lovely photos. I dream of traveling in England but, alas…… Your posts are are always happily anticipated.


Happy New Year to you both. The cell photos are remarkable so no worries. I like your resolution and monthly would suit well. Thanks for the tip. Here in sub zero freezing Chicago, we start the year with a bit of struggle. Our neighborhood shopping area (Andersonville) has seen some beloved shops close due to internet sales and climbing rents. So I might propose a second resolution…shop local small business. Unless we are shopping overseas. 😉 Happy travels and safe home to you both. Now off to organize for the Women’s March on 1/20!


Thank you so much for all your gorgeous photos – especially the last one of the Parsonage in the glowing morning light! Loved seeing your Christmas Tree and beautiful table setting! I also feel melancholy on New Year’s Day – I love the season’s magic and craziness and am sad when it is all over and decorations are put away.
Thank you for this incredible blog. I so look forward to seeing your photographs and reading what you are up to!


So amazing photos, especially the Queen herself 🙂
I love the countryside and the Old parsonage,
wish you all a very peaceful and healthy New Year !
Yours Birgit from Germany.


Oh, I have missed reading your blog! It seems ages since I had any kind of routine where I could fit in a little displacement activity (reading you is one of the best ones) Back to relative normality now and always cheered by your words. Lovely pictures as ever. I spied a Mousehole cat in the crashing wave at Portland. (lovely illustrated book by Antonia Barber) Looking forward to your NZ pics. x

Natalie Canningsays:

Thank you for sharing! We had a local duck race here once, but it has not been repeated, great shame as they are great fun! Wishing you a very happy new year and please tell me where do you get a life style cut out of the queen? Love it! Best wishes for 2018! Natalie


Happy New Year Ben and Charlie. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photographs. Have a great time in New Zealand. Here’s to a happy 2018 x


thank you for sharing your england, dear ben, so real and true and unfake! love the annual duck race, made me smile! am sad to hear/know of the beautiful old tree being blown down and thankful that you have “noticed”. travel blessings to kiwi land, dear ben and charlie and a wonderful and good 2018!


Wonderful post as always. I do enjoy watching your seasons changing Ben. Thankyou again for sharing. PS I was given your new book for my birthday this year – just before Christmas. Thoroughly enjoying reading it and examining each and every photograph very closely. Wonderful!


Happy New Year fellas! Sleep tight!!

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