Summer passing

4 June 2018
Ben Pentreath

The late spring and freezing winter is forgotten. Summer has burst upon the valley and, blinking in the early, early mornings, we realise that we are only a few weeks away now from the longest day now.

The days and weeks have been drifting into one another in Dorset.

The garden is rich and heavy with flowers now – it is incredible how quickly spring has left. Charlie’s borders are blowsy and full to bursting. 

The light has been changing almost instantly, thunderous one minute:

glowing the next;

We are still fundraising for the church roof. Needless to say! But the amazing thing is, we are nearly there now – just a small amount to go! You can visit the page here. Thank you to so many blog and instagram readers for helping.

If I’m honest the village has been rather amazed by the response. 

Mornings have been bright and breezy. 

The evenings, soft and hazy. 

Yesterday morning, I woke at first light to take Sibyl out.  The garden was astonishingly beautiful; cool and dew soaked.

We’ve had a lovely couple of weeks, with friends, with Mum and Dad, and just pottering around the lanes of Dorset doing nothing at all.  But this has also been a time of great sadness – at dawn, on Sunday 27th May, our wonderful vicar Stephen Batty died, aged 59, of Motor Neurone Disease. Everyone in the Bride Valley will know how much he has touched so many lives. For Charlie and me, we couldn’t have had anyone more kind, more thoughtful, and more encouraging, as we made our own lives together, with a blessing of our marriage just under three years ago now. It is awful that Stephen has been taken from us all so early, but amazing to have known him for these short three years.  He will be remembered forever.  Thoughts and love to his wife Frances and daughter Evie.

For those on instagram, a beautiful glimpse into Stephen’s wisdom and talent may be seen on the instagram diary that he kept of the last year of his life, illustrated with photographs and images from his sketchbooks and paintings, and all written through with his brilliant wit and cheerfulness.

12 comments on this post


Light and shade. God bless Stephen.

Nicola Lawrencesays:

Dear Ben and Charlie, I was scrolling through your images thinking that your garden is such a reflection of happiness (pure joy) and love – and how much it has bloomed over a few short weeks and then I read about your Vicar, whom I know you were so fond of. I felt very sad to read this and even though I didn’t know him, my sincere condolences go to his family, parishioners and you both. There is something very special about that Church in the midst (well, almost) of your garden and the two together. I hope others will be inspired to donate. xx

Diane Keanesays:

Ben, sometimes life is so unfair! I had no idea your vicar was such a talented, witty man. I just came from his Instagram page, such humor, compassion, and dignity which the world so sorely needs these days. It just stinks that he is gone but at least he is at peace. My condolences on his loss.

Thanks for all the beautiful photos! My own garden is just getting started. Peonies done, foxgloves in their glory and everything else in ready-to-burst bud.

Hugs from Diane


As always your photos & soothing words transport me – albeit temporarily- to a happy place. For this alone (leaving aside your architectural contributions) you deserve an OBE or the like. A Sir Pentreath one day,I wager but I digress. A compilation of your photos published would raise an inordinate amount for the charity/cause of your choosing. Queen Alexandra did this and her book is still in print today!
So sorry to hear about the loss of your dear vicar. I hope happy memories of him will be a solace to you all.


Oh my goodness…just went to Stephen’s Instagram. It is stunning and a beautiful reflection of spirit and his connections to his past and present. Thank you so much for sharing it.


First light and last are always the most magical. Thank you for taking the time to get pictures to share between the moments you just absorb all that beauty. Sorry for your loss of friend and neighbor. Will hold his family and all your community in my prayers and thoughts. I am sure there are many funny, tender, and warm stories being told. Those will keep him very much alive in all your hearts.


So beautiful – as always

Charlotte Ksays:

thank you for the beautiful pictures. Unearthly beauty, your own corner of the world.

An American poet named John Holmes, long associated wit the university where I work, wrote lines that your photos made me think of–which he wrote about our campus: “This is the world/the kingdom I was looking for”

I am sorry to hear about your friend’s death. It’s been that kind of spring too for some of us.


Cedric Morris/ Benton End irises?


Dear Ben and Charlie, I am so sorry that you have lost such a dear and special friend. When you hear such sad stories it makes you realise that you should appreciate all the wonderful things life gives you, the big but also the smallest things that make us happy. Thank you for sharing with us all the things that make you happy.


Dear Ben and Charlie may l express my sincere condolences so sad to hear of the passing of your friend. My thoughts and prayers will be with his family and friends and all who knew him.


Dear Ben & Charlie
Love all your photos, summer has arrived, I can smell the air and the blossoms in the photos and enjoy all the colors, so clear and golden glowing and typically summery. The light in the summer is amazing at every daytime.
Good luck in the future for the fundraising to repair the church roof !
I’m very sorry for the death of your vicar.
Wish you all the best,
Yours Birgit from Germany.

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