A time to remember

18 November 2018
Ben Pentreath

It’s been a sensational two weeks, although I’ll confess I got back from Scotland and down to a project in Cornwall and promptly got the cold that’s been doing the rounds in London for the last month or so. Nothing for it but to head for bed, which in a sense, when it happens, is a highly welcome thing to do, listening to endless repeats on Radio 4 and thinking about not very much at all.

I recovered, as you do, and last weekend we were in London for a friend’s party. Saturday was dreamy and bright. We went to Hampstead to walk the dogs.  No frost on the gardens there:

Charlie and I briefly day dreamed of living in an Art Deco apartment building three minutes walk from the heath.

The dogs love it there so much.  It was the most brilliant autumn day.

Sybil is not often far from a muddy puddle if she can help it.

Back home, Charlie’s bearded iris, brought up from Dorset, had decided, unseasonably, to flower. The sweet smell of June briefly filled the bedroom.

Very early the following morning, on Remembrance Sunday, Charlie and I met our friend Maggie and made our way for a 6am service at Westminster Abbey.

It was pouring – literally pouring – with rain. As we approached in a taxi, all roads to the Abbey were closed. We made our way down Whitehall, drenched despite our umbrellas. The cenotaph shone out in the darkness.

The tiny service was held around the tomb of the unknown soldier, a memorial that I confess I’d never really studied before. 

There were a handful of people and this young guy played the lament on the bagpipes.  Powerful, simple, and moving. 

The rain passed and a brilliant sparkling day blew through.  We took the dogs to Regent’s Park this time.

Then we went to lunch, and met Bridie in the Duke of Cambridge.  Here’s Lloyd Square on the way: 

And on the way back. Short days, long afternoons of happy beer and roast in the pub.

And then another hectic week.  Charlie and I are getting ready to head south – New Zealand beckons in a little over a week.  Work is busy for me; Charlie is furiously getting ready for winter in the garden. The dahlias are all lifted.  Tulips in this week. 

On Saturday, I got down to Dorset around lunchtime – the office having taken one of our departing colleagues out for a big night on Friday – before he heads to a new life in Belfast.  I got down a little worse for wear but happy to be in the Dorset sunshine after two weeks away.

I took the dogs for the walk and yet again I am startled by the presence of John or Paul Nash in the hills around and about us. 

A misty haze hung in the air.

We went for a late lunch at the Hive Beach Cafe, and then back to the Parsonage in time for the sun lowering behind the hill on the other side of the valley. I had a deep long sleep that afternoon.

We saw our friends up the valley, and today has drifted by with coffee with Caddy; lunch at the Parsonage with our friends Molly and Wilfred. Mum and Dad called in for tea. The evenings are dark earlier and earlier now; low slanting sunshine pouring into the wide bay windows and then vanishing.

Charlie and I are sitting by the fire; the dogs are asleep, Henry (the cat) is staring at the flames. Everything is completely silent apart from the quietest flicker of the flames. Nothing stirs. The church bell has just sounded seven o’ clock, and I think back to just a few months ago, when we’d still be lying in the sun in the garden, or thinking of going down to the beach right now.  I love the passage of the seasons and the slow rhythms of time almost more than anything else.  It’s important, too, to remember that however crazy the world looks right now, the important things do just carry on.

Autumn evenings; remembrance time.

12 comments on this post

The Rev Robert & Rose Dwightsays:

Your blogs are always so thoughtful and I love your photos of everything – dogs,leaves,streets, church, flowers,etc. I so appreciate that you take the time from your busy schedule to let us peak into all this wonderfulness. Thank you.
Rose In Ohio


So agree about the Nash landscape still in evidence. The arrival of the “mini beast from the east” has meant that my bathroom ladybirds have decided enough is enough and are hunkering down; plus we had a tame robin flying/hopping about in the house quite unconcerned about us and our surroundings. Nature – don’t you just love it?! Best wishes, Nicola


A lovely blog. Thank you. I am visiting New York City for Thanksgiving and thought of you. I wondered if you ever visited Ellis Island. Safe travels to New Zealand. Also, thank you for sharing the remembrance service.

Jennifer Phillippssays:

Beautiful images as always and nice stories to go with them….the autumn hues and the dappled light in the afternoon is glorious…it almost makes me long for autumn again, only briefly of course as we are trying to work our way towards summer. Interestingly, as you are about to head here to NZ, we have had a wild little stormy patch, with snow and hail and all those good things across the South Island..Canterbury and south where I think you will be heading was blasted, but hopefully it is a brief interlude and by the time you arrive we will have resumed summer warmth…safe travels to our shores…

Mary Nicollsays:

As always, your post has filled me with peace and happiness.

Southern Gal (@sogalitno)says:

as always a post filled with lovely images of london and dorset… about that art deco apt… it looks eerily like the one that was used in the Hercule Poirot series.

have a wonderful trip to NZ …


Lovely post, yet again. I must admit I am just a klitzeklein, teeny weeny bit envious of your idylic life in Merry Old. Thank you very much for sharing all the wonderful images.


Well done getting up for a 6 AM service!


“A deep long sleep” is what autumnal changes are preparing the landscape for…beautifully photographed. Over this way we are preparing for Thanksgiving before the full tilt launch into the Season of Light. On my list is giving thanks for Inspiration popping up in my email ever week or so. May you and Charlie have safe travels and fufilling days to come.

David Sanderssays:

Wishing you both a lovely time down in New Zealand – it’s still a relatively peaceful and sunny corner of the world down here. Although the images you have taken in London’s beautiful parks, convey a sense tranquillity too.


Dear Ben,
hope your cold is complete over! From time to time it gets us .
Thank you for your very autumnal photos, love the London ones, they are very special with so many different buildings, all the leaves in the streets, it’s a time to live cozy with shorter and early dark days. Love your new Instagram photo ! It’s a very special time and now starts the time before Christmas and we all start to decorate for another special time in the year.
Dorset is beautiful as always, the Parsonage and Charlies garden, so perfekt 🙂
Love to read how do you live and spend all the time, it’s always fascinating ! Was this week not the 10 years birthday from P&H ???
Maybe I’ve it misunderstood ……
Now wish you a very nice new week with also many fascinating moments,
Yours Birgit from Germany 🙂


Good evening Ben thank you for a very calming and uplifting snippet of your life London and Dorset what a contrast.There is no question which one l would prefer gentle nurturing welcoming Dorset nature at its best.How lovely to share the changing seasons in such a beautiful peaceful place.Lovely to see Mavis and Sybil on the photos.It must be heavenly sitting by the fire as the church bell strikes seven.We will be in Burton Bradstock for christmas cannot wait first time visiting in winter.Thank you Ben for your wonderful blog that has become one of my joys in life and thank you to Charlie for sharing your beautiful garden hope you have a wonderful time in New Zealand.

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