Going away and not doing too much at all

8 April 2019
Ben Pentreath

Thank you for the kind, thoughtful, beautiful comments on the last post; there’s no doubt whatsoever that the thoughts and prayers of friends – and of those who read the blog, or who have left messages over on instagram – really do make a difference.

We were back in Venice this weekend, staying with our friends Skye and Anthony. We arrived on Friday. Storm clouds scudded across the city as we came in, but blue sky was breaking through, and the last of the torrential rainstorm that had hit the night before blew away.  We were lucky.

There is such a thrill every time the water taxi turns into the canal from the lagoon…

And then on to the Grand Canal…

We arrived at Skye’s in time for a tour of their amazing new flat, followed by lunch and a long lazy sleep.

That afternoon, we ventured out for a stroll.  Strong font action, as always:

Strong marble screen action, too, at the Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista…

And even stronger brick rustication…

We popped into the Frari, which I have never visited before…. Canova’s extraordinary, massive tomb, in the shape of a pyramid, contains his heart. 

The lettering was outstanding, 

Although the mournful lion to the left of the open tomb door did slightly remind me of Mavis’s face if we are not taking her out for a walk. 

The monument next door is to the Doge Giovanni Pesaro. The lettering is superb, and skeletal…

With grim figures holding up banners in between beautifully carved giants holding up the monument. All rather heavy in symbolism. 

My stacking chair fetish took on new directions in Venice. 

This wall is clearly where Bridie has got her inspiration for her new collection of marbled papers, coming soon…. 

more folding chairs… 

We left, and went to Pasticceria Tonolo to buy a Colomba – an Easter Cake.

Snapped on the way back… a strong Doric facade on the State Archive. My sort of building.

More typeface action, just to prove that we are back to business as usual on the blog.

Home for supper. My sister in law Laura and our niece Daisy were in Venice and came over. We chatted long into the evening and we rolled in to bed as tired as mice.

Saturday was bright and blue-skied.
The air was perfectly still.  An empty Venice glowed in the morning light. 

I couldn’t help snapping this, to add to my extensive collection of buildings that look like faces….

Or, indeed, this door bell, which is in a separate drawer of that filing cabinet, “building details that look like robots”.  

Just in case you are wondering what the Signum Foundation is all about… here you are.

our destination was the Rialto market, buying langoustine for lunch.

I thought to myself, can you imagine any single city in England where the original market buildings are still in use, not converted into some inane tourist attraction that is a hollow echo of the real thing?  Look at this beautiful water tap, still in use as it has been for, I guess, a couple of hundred years.  The buildings themselves of course much older. 

Coffee on the way back. That’s Skye’s shopping trolley FYI.

All this before breakfast.  Eggs and pastries. 

The amazing, magical breakfast room in the flat.  Don’t we all need a breakfast room?!?! LIKE THIS?!?!? 

And then I needed another sleep. The sun streamed in as the morning stretched on.  And here is lunch, laid in the dining room…. honestly, the dreamiest room I’ve ever been in, in Venice, both grand and intimate all at once, watched over the by Doges who once occupied this building. 

It is no surprise that you eat like princes when staying with Skye.  Here was lunch. 

(shameless plug for her beautiful cookbook, to be ordered here now!).

Here is the view across the garden. 

Heading out for a walk….

Pretty much dream garden situation….

And here is one of the boatyards where gondolas are made…

Sawn wood seasoning: 

Insane light and reflections. 

Anthony and Aeneas:

Saturday night at Trattoria Alla Madonna. We slept deeply that night.

On Sunday morning we woke to find Skye and Anthony had already been out for pastries from Tonolo.

Another beautiful breakfast….

A lingering morning at home, reading Harry Potter to Aeneas…

And then to lunch, via the briefest zoom in to the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. It is always reassuring to see fluorescent strip lighting on the barrel vault of a 16th century Italian staircase…

Outside, a quiet aquamarine corner…

Look at the gap between the buildings…

Dream palazzo garden situation…

The beautiful fire station….

And then, after a last lunch, to the Ca’ Rezzonico, where we zoomed around the entire building in about 5 minutes. But really it’s all about the staircase, after all. 

We were just back in home to pack our bags and leap in the taxi back to the airport. 

A last glimpse of that beautiful watery Prussian blue door on the grand canal… 

And we were off.

Time away with friends and doing nothing in particular at all… is perfect at any time, but no more so than right now.  Looking at the photos, it looks like we’d done masses, but it’s not really true.  It’s just that a trip to the market is slightly more photogenic than going to Tesco on a Saturday morning.

Skye & Anthony, thank you for a perfect weekend! We’ll be back (if we may).

17 comments on this post


I have just read your resumed blog posts and say bravo and thank you for your frankness. It was also moving to read the ensuing comments and know that we are not alone. It was also great to enjoy the old Ben’s remarks about Venice and its strange details. Best wishes, Nicola.

Deby (in Canada)says:

Oh Ben … Instagram didn’t do justice to your weekend in Venice – you are so kind to share this with us… hope it soothed both you and Charlie…

xx deby


Dear Ben and Charlie
I was so pleased to see that you had managed to get a few days away.Venice looked beautiful so full of surprises around every corner.Thank you for sharing your wonderful images.I love the one of your friends little boy on the steps full of zest for life eagerly wanting to go out he reminded me of you.I hope your little trip and seeing friends as given you a little boost as well as the lovely spring weather.Time really does heal and lessens the pain of loss and our memories become the greatest gift of all.When we have loved and can recall so many happy special memories we have had a life worth living and that life goes on it maybe different but nevertheless it is life with many amazing discoveries and lessons to learn so that we grow and continue to hold dear the ones we love.

Priscilla Rulesays:

Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful photos. i have really enjoyed dreaming of being in Venice.

Cilla Rule – Melbourne Australia


Stacked chairs and interesting fonts – a reassuringly familiar blog for us all to enjoy. It is very generous of you to continue to share your world, at a difficult time for you both. Thank you.

Sebastian DeGrandissays:

Hi Ben and Charlie,
What great photos, especially of beautiful Venice. And what a place to retreat to, after the passing of your mom. I wish you strength and peace, and thank you for posting the wonderful photos of La Serenissima. My partner and I were there last June and – overcome with the beauty – have decided to move there one day. Your photos are a reminder that we need to make that happen. Soon. Take Care and love the beauty of your blog.


Oh, me once again ….. does Smithfield Market Farringdon not still work as a meat market in Historic buildings ? I thought it, because we’ve seen it two years ago and opens in the middle of the night ….. 🙂
Thank you, Birgit 🙂


Dear Ben & Charlie,
thank you for sharing this beautiful weekend in Venice with us !
Amazing photos, love the different colours of buildings, the market, the Easter cake ….. ! Your friends flat is gorgeous ……. to sit down in this dining room and enjoy this good food must be heaven … ! ‘Your’ stacking chairs are always present 🙂
Never been in Venice but I would love it too !
Wish you a lovely time at home again and all the best,
Yours Birgit from Germany 🙂


valerie Wynne-Williamssays:

What bliss. Thanks for the memory. I long to revisit Serenissima.

Debra Morgansays:

The Frari is one of my favorite churches in the entire world! The Titian altarpieces simply take my breath away. Thanks for all the wonderful photos of the water, the stone, the light, and the colors (esp. that Prussian blue door). Beauty can be such a balm for a grieving heart.


What a dreamy beautiful post of light and water. Only Venice can produce that quality. Your stunning pictures brought back some lovely memories for me. I am glad you and Charlie had rest and love of family and friends as your lives move on without your dear mom. The days, months and even year after such a loss can be so quixotic in quality and emotion. All one can do is live through them and do ones best to take rest and renewal time. Hope you get back to Venice for more of that. Your wonderful hosts provided well.


A gentle touch of bliss for you and Charlie.


SO cheered me on a really miserable April day. Adored everything about your post Ben but especially that row of heavenly coloured glass siphons at your bar.


Dear Ben
I have just caught up with your last blog, I was so moved when reading your words,I must admit I was moved to tears. Sad for both of us, I too have been there not that long ago. I was so pleased when I read your latest blog in Venice, a magical place like no other. Your phots were great what memories you bought back to me. So pleased you relaxed and enjoyed the weekend. I hope you have a very happy Easter with .charlie and the doggies

David Sanderssays:

Venice: ancient, beauteous, dilapidated, enigmatic – and always utterly captivating.

I couldn’t help being fixated on your line: “All rather heavy in symbolism.” Mainly because I find much of the symbolism in Venice quite dark and forbidding and yet, it has a reputation for being such a romantic destination.

Best wishes to you and Charlie.


Venice seems to be a balm that soothes & comforts,just what you & Charlie require. Enjoy your visit and as always thanks for sharing. It’s quite generous and much appreciated.

Ben Thomassays:

Dear Ben, I have only just caught up with your blog and am so sorry to hear what a sad time it’s been for you and Charlie. It’ must be comforting to know so many people are concerned about you and how you touch so many people’s lives with your marvellous blogs. Take care and take time out for yourselves. Thinking of you, Ben

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