Early Autumn in Dorset doing nothing very much at all

16 September 2018
Ben Pentreath

The garden has reached that peak early autumn moment – wild and ebullient, blowsy, waiting for the first frost. I arrived on Dorset on Friday evening, and we had a slightly mad night in Bridport, with friends, riding home in a taxi, and jumping in the freezing lake at midnight.

The following morning, Charlie and I had to set off early to retrieve the car.  Time for a quick wander in the garden at first light. Charlie’s lilies have been amazing this summer.    Last week Charlie decided he didn’t have enough space in the vegetable garden for growing all the flowers and veg that he intends to enter in the shows next year.  About a minute later, nine huge new beds have appeared in the meadow, looking a bit like freshly dug graves in the lee of the church.  It’s going to look very beautiful in the height of summer next year to see Giant pumpkins and dahlia stands in amongst the meadow grass. 

The dahlia border is at peak too.  

We had a fantastic Saturday, after the hangovers had worn off… lunch in Beaminster, our favourite town… which has been on its knees since the summer, when some idiotic thieves decided to try to rip the cash machine out of the wall with a tractor – only to pull the whole building down. You can see the results here. Our friends Louise and Cass run the brilliant Brassica restaurant and the fantastic newly enlarged Brassica Mercantile.  Trade has been slashed since the road closures and the huge pile of rubble and security fencing hit the centre of this beautiful little place.  So, do me a favour, visit Louise’s website, and buy something amazing!!!

While we are on the subject of small shops, please don’t forget to visit the newly and beautifully redecorated Pentreath & Hall shop – looking resplendent in its new colour, which is, in a nutshell, the perfect cup of strong milky tea.  Just how we like it. I’ll get some photos on the blog soon.

Will and Brandon left after a long, lingering lunch and Charlie and I headed over to the Long Bredy Harvest Fete.  We arrived as the prizes were being given. It will come as NO surprise to readers of the blog that Charlie won first in the Animal made from Vegetable competition (Adult section), although it’s probably true to say the competition wasn’t quite as stiff as the Dorset County Show.  You’ll see photos of his entry in a bit (strictly speaking, not an animal at all, but a bird).

We got there so late that the prize rosette was actually handed out across the churchyard wall. 

But a win is a win!

Long Bredy church is one of my favourite in Dorset, with its beautiful setting in the bowl of a tiny valley, surrounded by hills and trees and, at the right time of year, grazing sheep. 

As the raffle was called, everyone anxiously watched their tickets.  A very large number of yellow tickets starting with the number 3 were called.  People holding blue and pink tickets were not amused. 

Our friend Caddy had grown an insane number of squashes, which decorated the porch.  Here are a tiny proportion.

The church was looking beautiful.

Apple Cake table. Stiff competition. 

Animals made out of Fruit and/or Vegetable.  Any guesses for which one’s Charlie’s?

My favourite:

We’ve admired these incredible Victorian windows on the blog before, but they looked even more beautiful decorated with Autumn flowers.

And as everyone knows Bridie & my stacking plastic chair fetish (found in churches around the world, needless to say), you’ll know I was happy to see these. 

Gwen Kinghorn, winner of the apple cake competition.

More chairs.

The Morris Minor has been having a good summer, after a little care and attention from the Charles Ware Morris Minor Garage of Bristol last autumn.  Never has she run better.   And she doesn’t feel happier than parked in a field with chalk downland rising behind.

Today has been incredibly quiet. Charlie went early to the Mapperton plant fair, while I walked the dogs; after lunch in the pub I went for a long sleep while he zoomed up to the Yeovil Chrysanthemum and Dahlia show (and don’t forget the tuber sale, in November… last year’s blog here).

This afternoon we picked 24 pounds of crab apples and Charlie’s making jelly.   And that’s about the long and short of it today.

In other words, a heavenly day doing nothing at all.

On Thursday, Charlie and I off to New York – my favourite time of year to go.  And when we’re back, there’s also some exciting news, but that’s going to wait for another blog!

18 comments on this post


Dear Ben,
I visited yesterday the lovely P&H shop, plenty of nice objects and even nicer with the new color. Is it a F&B neutral tone? I must say the area around the shop is also really beautiful, a part of London I didn’t know before, full of life and nice buildings. And on my way back I even saw Mavis and Sybil walked by a lady :-). I hope you and Charlie are enjoying NY.

Diane Keanesays:

Hang on–there’s Animal, Vegetable,& Mineral. What else would Charlie’s bird be except animal? Glad he won!

Deborah Wagnersays:

The garden was lovely when I started reading your blog, but now it’s—well, beauty on steroids. Charlie is so much more than another pretty face.

Your car fills me with envy, which is rare, as does your life.

I will be in London 19-22 October, and I intend to visit Rugby Street while I’m there. After that, I’ll stay a few days on the Hatfield House estate, which is close to my family.

Enjoy NY.

Deborah in Cambridge, Massachusetts


A country classic. Veg,(I think Charlie understood fauna in its widest interpretation of the rules), tasteful plastic chairs, Morris Minor,etc. Love Charlie’s land grab. Singularly disgusted at attempts to grab money only to succeed in demolishing ancient property. Best wishes for the best of autumns. Nicola


Lovely blog as always and I love Charlie’s carhardtt overalls, the official uniform of farmer’s everywhere. my family has a farm with a large garden so I entered several of our garden gems at our local state fair for my children, ages 6 and 8, to have a thrill at growing and entering the competition. we were thrilled to have won several ribbons and when I called my husband to report our success, his response was “I guess this makes me Ben Pentreath now!” Thank you so much for sharing!


Jane, I wish I could be there, oh god english antiques are my passion. I’m now enjoy my new addition, a Victorian oil painting “A scene near Buxton ” very summery hangs across from my bed 🙂

Jane Goldingsays:

Yes, please come to Beaminster! We’re opening a new antiques shop there very soon – at our old stable in the garden of 19 Hogshill Street. Country furniture and decorative items … There’s also a lovely new florist, Rambling Rose, near the Square.

Pierre B.says:

English culture at it’s best. God knows why I had guessed the peacock was Charlie’s. Congratulations!


Mamma mia! Those dahlias!
Ciao from Adrienne in Italy


The long and short of it are just perfect for the ending of long days and beginning ofshort days to come. The shift seems already creeping into the light of your beautiful photos of Dorset and the weaker coffee morning light here in Chicago. Have a lovely time in NYC. Fall is really the most beautiful time there. Forget all that Christmas nonsense. Safe travels!


Dear Ben & Charlie,
thank you again for another very beautiful blog, your garden is a firework of colors, Charlie is a master of his work. What a shame in Beaminster! Love the Brassica restaurant and the website, it’s so lovely. The church is amazing with all the decoration and colors, Charlie’s bird is fantastic but my favourit is also No. 2 …….. so funny 🙂 Your Morris shimmers so beautiful, love the color. Wish I could see your very beautiful shop, I enjoy all the photos via Internet and also as always all the photos from your very beautiful England, it’s a pleasure to see how nice it is.
I enjoy your blog this week from my bed, have abdominal influenza, but your photos and words are half recovery, thank you.
Wish you a very nice time in NY, all the best,
Yours Birgit from Germany 🙂

Mary Haynessays:

I visited with the James Bolton group a couple of weeks ago. Most beautiful house, garden and CAKE!

Thank you

David Sanderssays:

Ben, I think Charlie has decidedly agricultural tendencies. Possibly the purchase of a small-holding is in order; to unleash his inner farmer – you can take the boy out of Canterbury, but you can’t take Canterbury out of the boy. Of course, it would need to have a suitably decorous assortment of farm buildings and a handsome residence.

Whoever polished the Morris Minor did a very fine job; it looks positively pristine. I only mention that, because I have developed something of a fetish for car detailing since I purchased my little Audi sports car.

I noticed that Dorset was featured in the August issue of Tatler and that you and Charlie got a suitable mention. Seems to be the place to be now – forget about Gloucestershire and Hampshire; not remote enough now.


and only last week I put in a largish order with Brassica Mercantile! Hadn’t heard about the Beaminster destruction. Hope trade picks up for Louise and Cass and their oh so wonderful restaurant. Also lovely to have a reminder of Charlie Ware. Did you know he was one of the people who valiantly rescued bits of Bath during the dreadful “Sack of Bath’ in the 1960s? (Particularly Kingsmead Sq.) Heavenly to see those country shows and well done Charlie for prizes. Have a great time in NYC

Jennifer Phillippssays:

As always a delightful meander through your part of the world is a pleasant way to spend a few minutes before bed on this side of the world…loved the winning bird and the Dahlias and the Morris and all the usual lovely tranquil images of the Mother Land…..cheers from a slightly mad Spring in NZ with fresh snow in Queenstown and fresh heat in the Hawkes Bay!


Charlie’s bird is elegant but I think that cucumber centipede was robbed! The light in the church is so beautiful. thanks for taking us with you.

Ingrid Haidvoglsays:

Thank you – for all your pictures/impressions,for letting us participate in the joy that British nature can give and – in your lives…incl-2 dogs! 🙂
ingrid / Austria ( to be precise- from Lake Traunsee/ Upper Austria – east of Salzburg)


Love it all, but especially those ancient French metal chairs painted orange and blue, Are they Farrow & Ball colours or trusty old Dulux, please share… Best to all

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