One month later….

16 October 2018
Ben Pentreath

You blink, and a month has whizzed by!  What happened? Well, I’m still alive, at least.

What happened was, I got far too crazy to blog.  Thank you for everyone for being patient.  As regular readers know, my normal habit is to write on a Sunday evening, sometimes a Monday evening, although I’ve learned over the years that there is nothing nicer on arriving at work on a Monday morning – particularly these dark autumnal mornings – to be able to be pretending to work while actually wasting 15 or 20 minutes reading Ben’s blog from the last weekend.

Well, for the last 3 weeks, that quiet, contemplative Sunday/Monday night ritual – which, almost by force of habit, I’ve come to look forward to and enjoy now, hasn’t happened. Charlie and I have been rushing around too much.  And some exciting – very exciting – things have been happening.

So this is a blog in three parts. Well, almost four.


Part I: New York

We arrived in New York on 20th September, and made our way straight to Connecticut. Charlie, Frances Palmer and their friend Emily Thompson were teaching a flower course at Frances’s amazing studio. Here is preparation under way. Dahlias for miles!

And, Frances’s extraordinary and beautiful garden.

We had a happy evening at Frances’s; the course was the following day, and I headed down to New York early for a very exciting meeting with Rizzoli. The Ben Pentreath book on all our varied work of the practice – interiors, architecture, masterplanning and urban design – is now underway! I’m afraid there’s a long time before anything will be published – 2 years or more – but watch this space. I can’t say how thrilled I am!!

And that evening, fresh from a brilliant day of Dahlia teaching, Charlie arrived in NYC too, and we had a fantastic weekend in that city that’s so close to my heart.  Friday night was with our friend Spencer, a riot. I think I went to bed at a certain moment, escaping the worst. Saturday morning was bright and breezy.

Popping into John Derian’s store (as always) and drooling over the agate ware….

And the paper cut out geraniums…

We had a wonderful walk up the High Line….

And met Frances and her husband Wally for lunch.  A strange visit to Hudson yards afterwards…. wondering what on earth has happened to this corner of New York, and what a disaster it is….

Walking back downtown, meanwhile, I loved this new building by Roman and Williams, now under construction: 

Scaffolders on 6th Avenue, looking like ants….

Saturday night was in Bushwick, with Val and Vito. Crazy and fun. This is Sunday morning. Charlie getting coffee. Serious. 

Details and wide vistas. What I love about NYC.

We visited MoMA, with its incredible collections; one forgets how every moment of the contemporary art century is recorded here in all its brilliance. 

On Sunday, later, brunch downtown with Peter Lyden and team, of the wonderful Institute of Classical Architecture and Art. HEAVEN. We drank bloody Maries and ate far too much and finished up as dusk was falling.  And walked out to this brilliant beautiful yellow car owned by the owner of Il Posto. We rolled around the corner for supper with Val and Kate. 

On Monday morning, bright up and early to the Flower Market, to meet Emily again. 

Nothing quite beats the rhythm and life of the New York Flower Market. We went up to Emily’s studio around the corner. What New York stories would be told and are happening in those windows opposite, and have been weaving their magic for decades now?

We drifted down to the highline to the Whitney, with its wonderful, dreamy top floor collection of the great American decades of painting. Maybe I was just missing the Parsonage at the moment I snapped this geranium…?

Edward Hopper. I’ve seen this painting so many times in reproduction; wonderful to engage in the flesh. 

The rooftop view is sensational, too. 

Our last hours were downtown, popping into see the AD crew, Amy, Mitch and Alison. 

And then the next morning, early, we were off, floating out of New York and home, looking at dream worlds in the sky, missing New York. 

We landed in London at dusk, beautiful, sprawling, messy. Home.

Part II: Dorset

Dreamy autumn has reached Dorset.  It’s amazing, now, writing two weeks on, how much more autumnal we are – back then, Summer seemed to cling on for days, weeks, warm winds blowing…. slightly unnatural, but magical.
I love this time of year, when the landscape is transformed into a painter’s pallette, with slashes of golden ochre and grey-blue and vivid greens:

Walking with Mavis and Sibyl, the big house in the background. 

Charlie’s veg garden has gone wild, and wildly beautiful, ebullient and overflowing. 

His nine new ‘show beds’ as I’m calling them, dug into the meadow, to make space for agricultural show veg and flowers…. glowing in the sunshine. 

Crisp, bright mornings of astonishing beauty.

Landscapes like a Nash painting, aeroplane labour trails hanging lazily in the sky. 


Part III: Scotland

Okay – so. The rest was exciting in a usual humdrum sort of way. Actually, flower courses and books are more than just humdrum. But now, for the really exciting news.

Charlie and I have bought a little house in Scotland.  Here is the landscape around us.

Do you mind if I don’t exactly say where it is?  But if you go in a straight line west from Glasgow, stop when you hit the sea. That’s where we’ll be.

It’s all very new.  We don’t actually QUITE own it yet – missives are underway.  But this was our first trip since the dreaded ‘sealed bids’.  The really crazy part was – Charlie hadn’t even been up before.  I’d had to dash up to look around – C was submitting vast marrow entries into the Dorset show that weekend.  There wasn’t time to get up again before the agents announced the closing date. We submitted our offer and crossed our fingers and toes.

So here we were, in heaven. First walk with the dogs. 

Around the corner is an old stone jetty.  Mavis was in heaven. 

not a seal, but a black lab. 

The face of happiness:

More faces of happiness:

Rainbows were all around….

Here are our little houses. Our friend David had found them for us…sent with an email saying “I think this just might be the one”. It was.  There are two tiny bothies, next to each other.  They were being sold to be knocked down – development plots, to put up a giant modern bungalow.  We love them exactly as they are. There is a job of work to be done – the roof is gone on both; there is no water, there is no bathroom or kitchen.  But it’s a project for the long term, and we are so, so happy and excited. 

Sibyl inspecting the landscape:

And the sun began to go down.  

There will be so much more on the blog over the coming months and years… as you can imagine. For now, we are just getting going. It’s been our dream for well over two years now, and we’ve been on a lot of trips to Scotland looking at tiny houses, trying to find something unspoiled, remote, quiet, in the middle of nowhere.  We’ve found our little place. I’m sure along the way it won’t be easy, but it sure as hell is unbelievably exciting and amazing just now. For Charlie, who’s family moved to New Zealand from the Isle of Mull, 157 years ago, its like turning full circle to return to Scotland.

It’s a place where we really will be able to get away from it all.  Dorset will stay, and grow, and be amazing, but even I from time to time these days find myself muttering, it’s all a bit busy!

If you recognise any of these island views, I’d be so grateful if you’d just… keep that fact to yourself, in the comments! I’m sure you’ll understand.

We settled down for a pint in the pub, after our first long afternoon of exploring, and another rainbow shimmered on the dying rays of the sun, and we felt like we’d landed in Paradise. 

The next day, a huge storm blew in; we’ve never seen such rain. Amazing… but not quite so much fun when you don’t yet have your base sorted. We headed down to Dorset a day early, and chuckled at the joys of buying a house in what is probably the wettest place in the whole of Britain.

Part IV: even more exciting news

This is just a little taster.  And here’s the other reason I’ve been keeping my head down low and not finding time to blog.  Bridie and I are shortly sending to press an amazing book – to celebrate the ten year anniversary – can you believe it? – of the shop next month.  It’s called THE PENTREATH & HALL ALPHABET and it is a celebration of everything we dream of and love in the world of P&H.  We’ve been collating and photographing hundreds and hundreds of images, and designing a wonderful collage of delights with our friend Connie, the graphic designer.  We think it’s looking pretty incredible, and we hope you do, too.  We are printing only 1000, numbered, signed, first editions – and we’ll be taking pre-orders very soon.   Please watch this space, and the website, and our instagram.

Phew, I don’t think I can cope with any more news just for now.  And I reckon you’ll need a cold compress now too, having read everything that’s been going on.

But for those with a tiny bit more energy, I’ll give you a postscript – written by our friend Ruth Guilding, over at the brilliant Bible of British Taste. Ruth’s just posted a long blog about the interiors at the Parsonage, and for those who would enjoy the tour – please step this way.

I hope all this has been worth the wait!

47 comments on this post

Yes you were missed but so very delighted for you and Charlie. The Scottish chapter will bring lots of happiness and escape I’m sure. Yes you will be a touch closer to the elements but that just means
you grow different stock in the garden plot and have a bigger log store that’s tapped into all year round !

We all thoroughly adore reading your blogs here in the office. Inspiring. Visual. Tactile. Sumptuous scenery!
We follow your religion !

Nicola Lawrencesays:

By the sea! I didn’t pick that up from the IG posts – thought it must have been a lake or a watercourse of some description. Heavenly and I love that you have two bothies. Wonderful and inspiring times ahead. x


Aww, Ben – Part III Scotland is breathtaking! Great good luck and happiness with this project.


You are so right about the cold compress!!

Scotland looks like a slice of paradise and will be so enjoyable to read about on your blog, especially as you both take the best pics ever and a huge relief that you aren’t leaving the Parsonage. Can’t wait for the new P&H Alphabet book.


You’ve found your pot of gold! Best wishes, Nicola


fantastic post!
You’re off galavanting and I managed to get to your shop on my latest trip to London. Bought your book and love it!


Ben, I can understand the thrill of it all (Scotland) an adventure to unfold. I know you have worked on some Scottish projects before but this will be remote. We renovated a house in the same area and had a wonderful project manager because it was all impossible from London to keep under control (Glasgow based but worked well with a range of trades). If you would like any information message me and I’ll gladly pass on details. It will be magnificent come what may, as much for what you experience in that place as for what you physically do.

mary martinsays:

a piece of heaven in Scotland. I look forward to hearing all about it in future blogs. double rainbows for health love and Happiness. mary in Ireland


Love following your blog. It lifts the heart to see so much gentle English beauty. Love the mountains of China too, have to say I’m a bit of a China collecting addict myself, and vintage textiles.
Really looking forward to following the story of the Scottish cottage.
Keep up the good work

Deborah Wagnersays:

Oh! What a lovely blog post, and what SPLENDID news about the house in Scotland! You will love that little house so much, and it will be gorgeous when you are finished.

New books are such exciting news, all that potential.

I am flying to London this evening, and tomorrow, after lunch with an old friend at Petersham Nurseries, will be heading over to Pentreath & Hall. I am so looking forward to it! On my short list is a brush pot, and I see you have a plaster medallion of that rock star for the ages and my great passion, Beethoven. This, my friends, will be fun.




SO lovely! All of it! Everything! I was so tickled to read and see more after seeing your Instagram post about your new home. Cheers!

Alison Carnesays:

Still enjoying your blog but so sad only a few photos will open on my little iPad! It has been some months now so maybe you are using a new, elaborate camera and only photos taken on your phone are visible.
Great news all round but would love to have been able see it!


The little bothies are delightful, so glad you aren’t building a modern bungalow! Really looking forward to seeing how you conserve them. Very pleased you aren’t leaving Dorset though.

Lindsey Backsays:

One can only be happy that you are saving a little piece of Scotland for posterity. So looking forward to following along and living and enjoying Scotland vicariously.

Jennifer Phillippssays:

Well, that explains the long gap between drinks/blogs, lots of lovely images as always, glimpses of the New York in all its finery and Dorset in its autumn garments and then to Scotland – what a wonderful spot you have found…lots to do, but given your joint skills, it will be fun to see how you develop the spaces…..happy dogs are always good to see too….Congrats on the books…will look forward to hearing more about them also….Well done all round….Greetings from a Springy NZ, which is in a bit of flux too right now….J


The little bothies are delightful, so glad you aren’t building a modern bungalow! Really looking forward to seeing how you conserve them. Very glad you aren’t leaving Dorset though.

David Sanderssays:

The contrast between New York and Dorset couldn’t be more striking and Scotland even more so. Yikes, that Scottish rain looks pretty ferocious.

The wee bothies look utterly magical and what a wonderful thing to do, in saving them – will be eagerly awaiting regular updates on the progress of your restoration of them.


All so loverly! Thanks for including us.
Years ago I bought a Rizzoli publication, John Stefanidis, Living by Design, a collection of farm buildings transformed into a wonderful home. Cannot wait to see what you two do with your Scottish purchase.


Ben &Charlie great to read about your busy lives and the new house.I can certainly understand you need for keeping the location secret sometimes we need to get away from it all.
Charlie you visitors from the Christchurch Art Gallery certainly enjoyed their visit and the sponge was divine apparently.
Michael and I were quite envious of their tour of you wonderful Garden.


Hoowee. I love this blog. Really. Can’t wait to catch a glimpse of B&C&M&S’s new adventures in dream house restoration. Thanks, Ben.

Diane Keanesays:

Congratulations in triplicate for the bothies, and not one but two new Ben books coming! I suspect resurrecting the Scottish buildings and property will require more money even than building a new manse would, but how wonderful that the past in all its irreplaceability will live on. I enjoyed Charlie’s remark on his Gram about coming full circle by returning to Scotland after his ancestors left there for New Zealand where he was born. Indeed, everything about your lives seems blessed! And we are so grateful to you for sharing it all with us. (Those rainbows–unbelievable!)

Hugs from Diane


Such exciting news, congratulations! I know where your new house is but I promise I won’t tell! I grew up in that part of the world and your photos made me homesick – the sea, the tawny hills, the rainbows, even the rain. That sharp stinging rain that comes slanting over a landscape still lit by golden sun. I can’t wait to see what you do with the bothies. As ever, a wonderful post xx


I cannot tell you how I have missed your blog, and today reading about it all I feel so happy for you both in achieving a dream that you have cherished.
the pictures of the countryside are sublime and all those rainbows!! Heavenly. I will be following most avidly. Thank you for being so generous and sharing all your lovely experiences. Congratulations. Carole

Stephanie Grahamsays:

Congratulations on buying your own slice of heaven!

Darlene Chandlersays:

That you so much for you and Charlie’s delightful blogs. I so enjoy and look forward to seeing your place in Scotland as you work on it. Good luck on the new book. I was visit from Canada and visit your shop 5 times a year; and was in your shop in September to purchase prints from your wonderful staff member, and returning in December. I look forward to purchasing one of your 10 year anniversary prints to bring home. Thank you again for your inspirations and beautiful blog. And your lovely shop in London, which I have been visiting since you first opened.


Dear Ben and Charlie your blog was certainly worth waiting for.I can almost feel the excitement of your dream home the photos are beautiful great to have a project.Some of the best things in life are the joy in the planning and watching your dream unfold.I was pleased you won’t be leaving Dorset just yet your weekly blog of my favourite place give me so much pleasure.I am so thrilled for you both and Mavis and Sybil thank you for sharing.


Another fantastic blog – thank you. I love the way you capture my ongoing love affair with the energy of a frantic, dynamic city and soothing, bucolic Wessex countryside.

Oh BTW Sibyl has a doppelganger living in my hood, saw her yesterday, she’s pretty popular with the Fluffians.


What a great blog,I was so frustrated,here at home we have dreadful internet reception,living in the middle of nowhere and a mile from the nearest road I suppose it’s to be expected.Until a few minutes ago all i could see on your blog was the writing, then suddenly the photos appeared.Oh Ben they were beautiful,rather envious of your trip to New York and especially your visit to John Derians.One day I will get there.
Huge congratulations on the new purchase,the bothy looks wonderful.Your readers I am sure will look forward to following all your new adventures with your new home.

Alicia Whitakersays:

It will be amazing to watch to see what you do with these houses in Scotland! The land is so beautiful and I’m relieved to hear that you will still have the wonderful place in Dorset. What a wonderful time in your lives! Wishing you all the best as you pursue these new dreams.


Well, this four-parter was worth the wait!
Love your vision of New York, my hometown. Living in London these days, I’ve found my heart can be happy on either side of the pond. I so agree with you, each is wonderful and special in its own way.
Your pics of Dorset, as always, are a dream.
So looking forward to vicariously sharing in your Scotland adventure.
Thank you!

Pierre Bsays:

I can’t wait to follow the Scotland project; you both seem to collect papadises. Good luck and… courage!

julia hoskinssays:

your life. your lives! so much beauty! (can i be your friend?!)


The sun is rising in autumnal Chicago and grateful for the two cup post! Old and new, new and old…so looking forward to winter Monday (or Tuesday, Wednesday, etc.) mornings as the Scotland adventure unfolds amid all the others. Congratulations! “Happiness just doesn’t have one address” and may that be the case!


My! What a grand time you’ve been having. I am looking forward to the Scotland project. What fun!
Thank you so much for sharing.

Deby in Canadasays:

Oh Ben this is a post worth waiting for …. such adventures… delighted you and Charlie to have found a bit of paradise in Scotland. I have already enjoyed how perfectly Ruth has captured the magic of home in Dorset. News of both books is lovely.
xx Deby


What an exciting time you’ve had. Scotland looks beautiful! Looking forward to seeing it all come together.


I love how you find beauty everywhere and share it with us, your loyal readers. Worth waiting for! and absolutely right to keep private the whereabouts of your Scotland bolt holes. It looks an exquisite part of the country. I look forward to ordering a copy of the alphabet. Best wishes and gratitude

Henry Gillespiesays:

Dear Ben,

Your new property in Scotland looks wonderful. It will give Charlie and you so much pleasure and I look forward to seeing how you restore it.
It is great news about the new book with Rizzoli, such great publishers, and brilliant to do a limited edition. I will keep my eyes out for the order application. Your last book gave much pleasure and several friends rushed out and bought it.
Best wishes,


Ben, what a wonderful post and worth waiting for. Congratulations to you and Charlie on the new project. Thank you for sharing.


The Parsonage …… an absolute English dream !!!!!
The china in the dining room is amazing, like an antiques market, my heart goes on ……… 🙂


Dear Ben & Charlie
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, what a lovely blog. Love so much you have bought a (Crofter ?) Cottage in Scotland, this is a dream of me ……… I look forward to the development of the House 🙂 Love all your photos and News, also the idea of Bridie and yours book ! That`s fantastic ! Thank you for Ruth`s blog about the Parsonage, I enjoy it so much …..
Congratulations for all News, for me your life is the best !!!
Yours Birgit from Germany 🙂

Southern Gal (@sogalitno)says:

what wonderful news about your scottish wee bothies… looking forward to many posts of their resurrection.. i have a dear cherished spot in the highlands (but would need to win the lottery to acquire i)} – its not a castle but a house on a hillside overlooking the north sea… i will live vicariously thru yours.


Ruth did an outstanding job capturing the essence of your charming home,it’s an utter delight.Now I can point to your massive piles of books and say “look dear,mine are mere molehills in comparison.” As more books arrived in the post yesterday!!! Carry on gentlemen.


You never cease to amaze,congrats to you,Charlie,Mavis & Sibyl on your new wee home.
Now I shall head over to see those interiors!


lovely! all of it! dear ben!

Brian timothy Askewsays:

Congratulations on your house purchase, the views are epic and so very beautiful.

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