The mid Argyll Show

11 August 2019
Ben Pentreath

Charlie and I have been up at the bothy for a progress meeting with the builder. Things have moved along amazingly in the last three or four weeks since we were last here. It’s so exciting.

We have had every weather…. rain, mist, winds and hot sunshine. That is one of the joys of the west coast, perhaps, each in turn heralding the next. This was the beautiful view from our bedroom of the Crinan Hotel on Friday afternoon…

A few minutes later, a huge rainbow and shafts of brilliant sunshine…

Looking across to gleaming Duntrune Castle…

More rain, and then a quick walk before supper in the bar, which as a place has got to be as close to heaven as anywhere in the whole of Britain. 

An amazing light on distant shores, the Isles of Jura and Scarba in the distance…

The following morning the sea was glass flat, the air completely still. 

It was a morning of total peace after the storms and gales that had swept over Scotland (and the whole of England and Wales, I think) they day before. 

We went back down to the cottages early that morning.  This is the loch on the way down – so often a perfect mirror. 

And here we are!! PROGRESS! Windows are in, everything is moving on so well, doors nearly ready to be installed once the electrician has finished. We’ve pulled out the old fence and overgrown hedge in front of the house, so that once again it can all breathe again and you can see the sea from inside – so magical. 

He we are looking out from our shoreline south to Jura and Islay. 

And looking back to the bothy (the one with the red roof) and the cottage.

Beautiful reflections…

Here, you can see the relationship between the two little houses. We think the little bothy on the left would have been built in the mid-late 18th century, originally with a thatched roof – which were so often replaced with corrugated iron.  Extraordinary to think that there was planning permission to knock this beautiful little building down – it was considered ruined – and replace it with a large modern bungalow, but such is life. We’ve put a new roof on, and new door and windows; we’ve fixed the masonry and the rest we’ll leave maybe for ever, knowing that at least it’s watertight and dry now. To start with, we’re going to use the bothy as our little ‘kitchen’ house – although that will be interesting, as there’s no running water, only a spring.  To the right, is the cottage, mid-Victorian, two tiny rooms lined in pitch pine match boarding. Total heaven. This needed less work, just a lot of fixing up, and re-wiriing. This will be our bedroom and sitting room. note the absence of a bathroom in all this! Hello bucket showers and compost loo!
Charlie’s begun to plan his garden…

Here is the huge trench that was needed to underground the electricity cables that used to run right to the back of the house with a giant pylon and transformer.  It was buried this week. SO much better, the houses alone in their landscape now…

We left full of excitement and with that sense of anticipation and frustration that comes from having to wait a few more weeks before move in date. Watch this space…

And then to the Mid-Argyll show, which was the real reason for our trip this particular week. As you know, Charlie is up to his eyeballs in summer show preparation – Shaftesbury and Gillingham this week, Melplash the next, Dorset County a week or so after that. But we’ve now got to add some Scottish shows to his swelling calendar…

The Mid-Argyll is close to perfect, small but without flaw.  Here are the show tents which greet you on arrival.

We made a beeline for Home Industries…

A good display of veg, flowers, fruits….

Children’s table:

Walking stick competition – beautiful…

Amazing cups…

Heaviest Marrow may have some competition next year….

The Judge’s Decision is Final!

Flowers and floral art…

I think the Dahlia table may also have something new coming next year…

Then, out to see animals…

Tractors, some of which would fit rather well down at the bothy!

The mid-Kintyre pipe band was getting ready to play…

Beautiful songs, which always make me cry, but not least because it was only eight short weeks ago that Charlie and I were at Carskiey, listening to the incredible sounds of the Kintyre Schools pipe band on the evening that I’d just heard that Dad had had his stroke. Time flies, and suddenly it catches you and you realise it hasn’t flown by so fast after all. 

Watching the sheep judging.

Young farmers and their sheep…

Cattle judging…

Champion Highland Cattle:

A plastic crate of silver cups:

The tractor parade, to the sound of the pipe band – literally, heaven on earth.

Charlie was so happy to have met Dee Lyon, who he’d been emailing with a little bit about the show before we came up. Dee’s husband is President.  She had said, ‘oh, you’ll be sure to find me, I’m very small” and sure enough, we did. Fabulous Dee! 

Highland dancing demonstrations: 

Champion Clydesdale horse judging…

The Champion duck on the way to the central ring for the final Championship judging.

Which was quietly and thoughtfully done – the judge knowing how much effort and love have been poured into animal husbandry and rearing over the last year, by these farmers. 

The final champion of champions was awarded to this sheep.  A lot of emotion in the face of the owner when she found out…

And another happy winner, snapped on our way out of the show ground.

It had been a long day, but a fabulous one.

We went back down to our new village, for a drink or two in the pub on the eve of what was beginning to be a big night out.  Reluctantly, we tore ourselves away – we had the earliest start in the morning, Charlie back down south to look after the marrow and the pumpkins, and to be reunited with the dogs who’ve been down in Dorset being looked after down there.

I’m on the train now from Glasgow up to Inverness – three days of site meetings in Scotland. Tomorrow and Tuesday, we’re at Tornagrain New Town, our fantastic project up near Inverness, which is honestly one of the most exciting in the office and always so good to see progress.  Then down to the Borders, before we head south again and ALMOST beckoning… two weeks of holidays in Dorset.  I am not sure the heatwave will return, entirely, but this year of all years, it’s going to be very good indeed to gently catch up.

Mention of Dorset makes me think of the tiniest postscript, in response to one or two readers’ comments, or questions on instagram. There’s no hiding our excitement about Scotland at the moment, but we are not giving up Dorset just yet! I somehow suspect that London is the place where the already rare McCormick will become even lesser spotted… and I think as Charlie begins to make his new garden up north, we’ll all be okay with watching the results of that…

16 comments on this post

Sally Leonardsays:

I was happily absorbed in your pictures and accounts in beautiful Scotland, UNTIL you said you and Charlie aren’t done with Dorset YET!?
Please don’t leave Dorset and the parsonage. After reading so much about your life there, I’ve become attached to your life there!


As always thank you for a wonderful interlude.
I must admit that the thought of you two EVER leaving Dorset makes my heart sink through the floorboards. However, keeping an open mind on the bothy tales and especially Charlie’s acreage development. A wonder it will be I’m sure.


I always save your posts for when I can sit quietly and am not likely to be interrupted. I can loose myself then in what I know will be a magical show of scenery and can forget the world and it’s troubles. I always manage to end up back in the 1950’s and my childhood in Sussex. After living in Australia for 50 plus years I still consider myself English, connected to the landscape for ever. Thank you for taking the time to share this wonder.

Patricia Cartersays:

I am always amazed at how generous you are in sharing all of this with us!

Darlene Chandlersays:

So lovely to see the progress in Scotland with your home. It will be interesting to have your kitchen in one building and bedroom and sitting in another. I can’t wait to see each when finished. The lovely Mid Argyll show and all of the animals, music and flowers was lovely to see this event. I too can hardly wait to see Charlie’s entry with his Dahlias and vegetables. Do love your home in Dorset too. You both are so busy and it is so refreshing to hear all of your accomplishments and work ahead. Looking forward to more lovely pictures and inspirations ahead.


Oh, my — from rainbows to a bothy (new word!) to a farm show with bagpipes and a tractor parade, this post is just heaven! Thank you for letting us tag along.

Tracey Ellinsays:

Gosh this has taken me home to the annual A&P Show in the Wairarapa, NZ. The old tractors, bagpipes, Highland dancing and the stock – I can almost smell it. Thank you for sharing these real life moments.


I especially love your agricultural fair posts.

Allison Holmessays:

Hi Ben, your Scottish place looks so beautiful. What a lucky find, for you and the buildings that had a very close shave and now are saved for the future. Are you tempted to dig a tunnel, “Cornish- style”, (Norfolk-style too) between the two buildings? What if you guys get peckish during the night on a freezing Scottish winter night? I suppose you could consider decent hampers but I’m thinking also that you could train Mavis…

Your comments about the marrow and dahlias had me laughing my head off. They don’t know what’s coming now Charlie has clocked it! It’s quite spooky how similar New Zealand (and Tassie) looks like Scotland, despite being on opposite sides of the world.

best wishes,


I love this post-with my DNA I have discovered how many of my people have been from here & it is so magical to see this part of the world today. I live on the Northshore of New Orleans & we have similar events which we love to attend. Thanks for sharing!!

Kathie Johnsonsays:

I linger on each photograph. I’m so thankful to lose myself there, imagining how it all feels. Each post reads as another chapter of life story that I find incredibly soothing. Thank you for these journeys. I so look forward to a few more pages. Love from Texas, Kathie Johnson


That show will not know what will hit it next year when Charlie’s wonderful blooms arrive!The photographs of the show and the people are splendid giving me a longing for the simple things in life in this mad crazy world we now live in. One thing I don’t envy is your lack of a bathroom ….brings back memories of the sand toilet we had in our holiday home In the 50’s.Enough said!

David Sanderssays:

Everything looks to be just as it should be – just right. I think you will need to purchase a classic, little Fergusson tractor and erect a wee barn for it to reside in. What’s with the “bucket showers” – you two must be pretty hardy souls.

Nothing like a good country show and the mid-Argyll Show looks to be near perfect. Scotland certainly does have some breathtaking scenery and the west coast doesn’t disappoint, as long as you can put up with the four seasons in one day.


Beautiul! May I ask a rather trivial question? Where did Charlie get those wonderful trousers from?


Dear Ben,
thank you so much for sharing your lovely Scotland weekend with us. The bothy`s progress looks wonderful, love the bright and cheerful yellow windows, they`re looking amazing in this beautiful landscape ! I`m looking forward to the interior and I`m sure it will be amazing too ……. 🙂
The Mid Argyll Show must have been amazing too, love always the proud of the people of their animals, vegetables, tractors etc. ….. my favourite is the Champion duck !!! Love the last photo of the elderly Sir !
Hope in the next year we can see Charlies own vegetables and dahlias …..
Have a very lovely week,
Yours Birgit from Germany 🙂


What an action packed wknd! Your London place is a nice pied à terre for when you’re working in town or Charlie decides to pop in. I can see why he prefers to spend his time in Little Bredy & soon Scotland- he’s a country lad at heart. He must be over the moon!

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