Snow expected & snow unexpected

18 March 2018
Ben Pentreath

Charlie and I went skiing last week for a few days, to France. It was the first time I’d been in years, and it’s always reassuring to realise I’m not much  worse today than I was six years ago. We arrived on Saturday to find, unexpectedly, that it was raining. Even at the top of the mountains.  Hmmmm. The next couple of days were good, with lots of snow, but I can’t say I love skiing in a blizzard. So we had been eyeing the weather forecast which predicted a perfect day of blue skies and sunshine on Wednesday.

A shame, therefore, that we had planned our flights to leave early on Wednesday morning. Hmm.  How frustrating.  There was only one thing for it.

Change our flights.  Instead of having a last day in a cold snowy white out, we woke to this:

Clear skies and warm sunshine all day.  Heaven.   I’m not a huge one for taking photos of mountains; there’s something curious that happens when you frame vast panoramas – the meaning of the space changes.  But it was very beautiful in the still silent empty places with the feeling of spring bursting around us. 

And no people.

A long, long lunch at a perfect restaurant and we skied away that afternoon, only slightly wobbly, and eventually made our way back to London on the last flight out of Geneva, happy and tired, blinking as we arrived back home.

As Brandon says, you can ski for ten years and not have a day quite like that.  Worth the change.

On Thursday, we got down to Dorset. I had site visits on Friday up in North Dorset. The beautiful Baroque house I’ve been working on is nearing completion – always an exciting moment after years, now, of anticipation: installation of furniture in just a few weeks. And then we are working on another wonderful site just up the road. I must admit just how much I love working on houses here, and being able to start and finish each day here.

On Friday evening our friends Veere, and James, were arriving. We had a happy supper and talked long and loud into the evening. I suspect everyone was a little shocked to be woken at 7.30am for the early trip to Bridport Market, but as I’ve said a dozen times, the early bird catches the worm at the Market.  The famous £1 china lady did not disappoint.  Breakfast at Soulshine; a huge haul of superb books from Rose & Caroline at Bridport Old Books, a stash of 1960s and 70s royal memorabilia found on another stand, for Charlie, and we were still home before 11.

We had tea with Mum and Dad that afternoon, and then a magical dinner in the dining room, lit by candlelight, with some of our valley neighbours.  When people left, it had begun to snow. We rolled into bed, tired as the dogs, fell fast asleep, and woke to this:

Sibyl was very happy: The snow was intensely beautiful, although for a second I wondered if I’d rather be looking at bunches of Eastery daffodils than at Christmas cards at this particular time of year.

We went for coffee with our friends the Goodwins.  Kate’s dresser is of course famous in the world of china-laden dressers.

The snow was bright outside the windows.

Dream house:

On the drive out of the village;

And after a wonderful, filling roast lunch at Brassica, in Beaminster, we headed out to a snowy Bettiscombe, perhaps the most beautiful house in Dorset, for tea with our friends Jasper and Oisin. 

Several bottles of bubbly later (how did that happen, again?) we left, by the light of the gloaming, and crept home through deserted, snow-laden lanes. 

James and Veere left for London. We are all in bed, Mavis and Sibyl fast asleep after their day’s adventures, and I think Charlie and I are about the turn off the lights too.  Outside, it’s completely still and silent.  Spring has been frozen away for another week; the daffodils will be confused beyond imagination, but on balance, I can’t say I mind. I just love the snow.  And its rather nice, just for once, that it suddenly doesn’t quite feel like the year is rushing by quite so fast.

14 comments on this post

Sally Leonardsays:

Ben, I love your stories and your and Charlie’s life! Gorgeous settings and with your evocative words, I feel as if I’m right there.

Diane Keanesays:

Ben, those mountains–! Especially the final photo, with the snow like melting mirengue drifting over the pines. Those ski slopes look heart-stopping, better you and Charlie than me! An interesting comparison to the lovely, domestic snow we live with (which can also turn deadly on occasion). The images of your snowy garden look like a scenes right off of 19th century Christmas cards.

Also enjoyed the visit to the musical Goodwins, the stop at Bettiscombe, and the gate posts in the blue gloaming. What a lovely old word, we don’t hear it much anymore.

I have some Coronation memorabilia too. Not Queen Elizabeth, but King George! I have a copy of the May 13, 1937 Daily Mail Coronation Souvenir edition (which is 43 cm wide! Were all the newspapers that broad in 1937?) and also the Weekly Illustrated, “Full Story of the Coronation in 32 Pages of Pictures”!) I have no idea where I got them.

Ben, I invite you and Charlie, when you have a moment, to stop by my blog to see some of my latest artwork:
I hope you like it.

Thank you for another enjoyable post!


We have more snow here and it’s really beautiful. Hard to believe I see it this way but my feeling right now is not hurried. Spring will come before we blink.


Skiing – Megeve me thinks?
We’ve been going there for over 15 years – such a fabulous place.


Snowed in here in East Devon for the second time in a fortnight and it’s actually nice to do other stuff than one would normally be doing – including wearing ridiculously thick sweaters, rearranging a ceramic and shell collection, reading picture books, and redecorating – in the mind’s eye only – certain rooms in the house. Love the snow-puppy. Best wishes, Nicola

Laurel Bernsays:

Oh Ben,

Your home – no matter what the season, the property is exquisite and I still can’t believe I was THERE! What a magical day!

And I so enjoyed seeing all the rest shared with us too. Kate’s extraordinary china collection went straight to Pinterest. And that gorgeous house! It’s cold here in New York too. Last year, we had an early warm spell and the dafs popped up only to get blasted with ice and snow. Poor things looked shell-shocked a week later! xo ~ Laurel

Hazel Lavellesays:

Lovely !! Lovely photos
Yes Ben ! I agree spring has been frozen in time !!”” Magic “” X
Thanks Hazel

Joanne Blacksays:

That dresser…

Teresa Personsays:

Beautiful snow… always love seeing your countryside no matter the time of year…. snow has a way of bringing a sweet calm … thanks for sharing… Teresa


Winter winter winter ……. also here in Germany …..
The parsonage and the landscape looks like in a fairy tale, so quiet and frozen, a mystical moment !
Sibyl`s first adventure with snow, how funny it is for the Dogs 🙂
The photo from the window in Bettiscombe is so beautiful !
I love also royal memorabilia and have some jubilee mugs, also a mug from the The Prince of Wales 1. Juli 1969 in Caernarfon Castle.
Hope this is the last week with winter temperatures, eastern must be with a spring feeling, we hope so !
So nice all your meetings with your parents and friends, I’m sure it’s always a pleasure !
Wish you a nice week, have a nice time,

Yours Birgit from Germany 🙂


Perfection! I didn’t realise Charlie collected royal memorabilia- I just found a Wedgwood mug for the Siver Jubilee for £5 – perhaps I overpaid but I’ve always been a fan of Lord Snowdon. Bridport sounds delightful,I’d love to visit one day.


Wonderful blog ! Like a dream the church and old parsonage look beautiful in the snow. Sybil looks like she is enjoying the snow too.Thank you so much for sharing your photos a few seconds of bliss.


sibyl’s happy snow smile is exquisite! same for kate’s glamorously catholic china cabinet! sigh on bettiscombe! even snow looks more enjoyable, this time of year, in your thoughtful gallery….a most beautiful ski area/france!

you sure know how to make a fabulous blog, dear ben!

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