14 October 2019
Ben Pentreath

It’s been a good week, and a productive one, but it felt like quite long at times too. I got back from Scotland on Sunday night. A very busy few days back at my desk, after the week off unpacking.  On Wednesday, I was out all day, photographing a project, which is always a long and slightly exhausting moment. Then on Thursday, I was at the seaside in Belgium, in Knokke, catching an early train.  We are working on a beautiful apartment there and had a meeting with the local architect, and owners.  The ever-changing view across the North Sea is serene and breathtaking.

We had a little time on the way back to the railway station and had a proper walk around Knokke. it’s a beautiful arts and crafts town, with many houses built in the 20s and 30s, many by English architects. An incredibly civilised place.  This is the church, one of the most beautiful small churches I have ever been in, like an illustration from a story book. 

It has a wonderful open air church contained within the cloister. 

The altar. The door to the church proper is behind me. 

Incredible red-orange doors and white, white walls. 

Our client took us to his father’s house and garden in the town – one of the most intense and magical gardens I’ve been in for a while. 

Like a dream landscape.  Heavenly. 

The town is full of fine houses like this one… white walls and red roofs behind green hedges – a perfect palette. 

And then via one or two other dreamy Belgium buildings on our way back to the train. 

On Friday, I was out on the Wiltshire chalk downs at a fine farmhouse, thinking about ideas there for new owners. I’ll be honest, it was a very tired me that made it down to Dorset that evening, in the middle of a drenching rain storm. We had a PCC committee meeting for the church that night, and supper with our neighbours Jim and Nic afterwards. I fell into bed.

On Saturday, we work up late to more pouring rain. The garden is sodden but beautiful, the last of the dahlias putting on the most incredible display. The frosts feel a little way off yet, I must admit. 

Our neighbour Ed and Christine’s roof is lovely and mossy at this time of year, its colour merging into the wood on the hills beyond, as the trees lose their leaves in each gale.

The garden is nearly at an end, but it’s been too wet (and Charlie’s been too busy) to put anything to bed. 

Dark trunks of beech trees, black in the wet, while I walked the dogs in the woods.

Yesterday, we woke to more rain, after a late night home.  But after lunch, the clouds suddenly passed, and we had remarkable blue skies and warm sunshine. 

We’d been getting the church and hall ready for the village Harvest Supper. 

The church was looking absolutely beautiful.

A small candle had been lit on the altar. Our new vicar, Jane, said at the beginning of the service, that it had been placed there in memory of those who couldn’t be with us for this harvest supper – namely, Mum, and Dad, who had enjoyed this evening so much, this time last year. 

Dahlias by Charlie on the altar; the giant marrows caused a degree of horror for those who hadn’t seen them before…

Nipping back home, the Parsonage glowed in the late afternoon October sunshine.

And as we left church, the last of the light.  It’s the tipping point of the year. 

Apples and dahlias glowing pink in the grand. 

The start of Harvest supper… I forgot to take any more photos, the evening was so fun. 

And yet again, I rolled in to bed, tired, tired, if I’m honest slightly needing another weekend to recover from this one.

Harvest time is such a good time – as Jane said, a moment to literally, and metaphorically, thank our blessings, to count the harvest, and be grateful for this beautiful world we live in. Especially, we in the village are grateful that the church roof is mended and in fine shape for decades to come. The generosity of many readers of my and Charlie’s blog and instagram was given a special notice in the thanks that were made this year.

To end: here was Mum, last year, at the end of a brilliant Harvest supper… so happy.

It’s so sad that she’s not here this year, and nor of course Dad – whose Memorial Service we are holding at Greenwich in just a few weeks now (if you are reader of the blog, and knew my father, and would like to attend, please email me for details).

But if there are any lessons to be learned from their absence – it’s to be grateful for the world, to live life to the fullest, to live in the moment, to love your neighbours…and to love life itself.  Not a bad mantra for an autumnal Monday night in London, I’d say.

17 comments on this post


Thank you for sharing those lovely pictures of the beach in Belgium and that wonderful church. The Harvest dinner decorations and the dahlias were beautiful. Your garden I see is still in abundance with the Dahlias. That was a wonderful picture of your Mum and a wonderful memory for you.


Interesting to compare domestic Belgian and English Arts and Crafts. Very good presentation of how and why we should appreciate all those important people and beautiful things that surround us. Many thanks for sharing; as ever best wishes from Nicola.


Such a beautiful picture of your mum. Your post is so timely. To remind us of what is important in our lives even as the 24/7 news cycle makes us despair. Thank you for taking the time and trouble to share.


“Cabbages grew in plain sight; and a pumpkin vine, rooted at some distance, had run across the intervening space, and deposited one of its gigantic products directly beneath the hall-window; as if to warn the Governor that this great lump of vegetable gold was as rich an ornament as New England earth would offer him.” The Scarlet Letter.


Theirs was a life well lived,until the end. May we all be so fortunate. Happy Autumn to you, Charlie et al.

Mary Lou Bethunesays:

Are you moving lock, stock, and barrel to Scotland? In Bible of British Taste….she says you will be dismantling the beautiful house in Dorset? Oh well, home is where the dogs are …

Debra Mooresays:

Dear Ben
Thank you so much for kindly taking time to share your beautiful photos. I loved seeing the village in Belgium l am a big fan of art and crafts architecture.The houses are simple in design but manage to provide every comfort for its occupants while not cluttering the space very calming and organised. The parsonage and garden are always a joy to see and of course the church. What a lovely photo of your dear mother she seemed to have such a happy fun personality. It is quite touching how you speak of change and how we must make the most of our gift of life. You are truly an inspiration to so many and l thank you for the interest and joy your blog brings. Hope life will be a little less hectic and you can have some cosy relaxing time at home with Charlie. God Bless your mum and dad and l am sure they are together as they would want to be. I am sure your late father’s memorial will be filled with love and pride for a very courageous man who loved his family comrades and country.


Thank you for sharing and reminding us what’s important in life.


The Belgians and the Dutch do block paving much better than the UK. to your claret choice too.


Dear Ben,
thank you again for sharing your busy but wonderful days with us. Amazing photos as always and that you’ve always such a power to write your lovely blog despite your busy life ….. thank you dear friend. The Harvest time is really such a good time and I remember your blog last year ! What a lovely photo of your Mum, she was always such a happy lady on your photos !
All my best wishes, have a wonderful autumn!
Yours Birgit from Germany:)


You are so blessed to have had such a happy mother. A glorious smile !!!!!! Thank you for sharing her picture.


Enjoy life Ben, you have some wonderful memories, I was very moved reading your email.
So lovely to see your mum and everyone enjoying harvest time. I still miss my mum so much.
Take care and pace yourself.

Clay McCleerysays:

You had your parents for a great long time, and I know you’re grateful for that. But be grateful, too, that they were briskly taken, and (almost) together. I know you suffer pain, but theirs was brief. In that you can be glad.


Oh such lovely photos especially the one of the stained glass window which for some reason really spoke to me this morning. Rest up and peace to both of you.

David Sanderssays:

I can sort of imagine the consternation caused by the giant marrows in the church, as they have a slightly grotesque, almost alien quality about them. I like the way you insert the dogs into some of your landscape photographs; it’s a point of interest, which brings life and movement to the scene and besides, they’re such dear little creatures.

Cherish the memories you have of your parents, as they do begin to fade over time. Best wishes to you Ben and take care of yourself.


Oh yes……. I so echo your last thoughts and lovely final picture. And those perfect symmetrical and pristinely tidy Belgian (and Dutch) houses, so right for just where they are. Do they still dress their groundfloor windows to present a pleasing picture to passers by – with draped sheer curtains framing a perfect pot plant or flower vase and ornaments.
I’m still reading back through your blogs (and hey! found an archive listing) but have been stopped with a real emotional and intellectual jolt by the Habitat Catalogue post. How those first two set the scene for our first home making efforts, not by copying but by sparking an awareness of what felt right for us. Mostly too expensive at the time but we still use the wedding present teak salad bowls. And how the William Morris covered chesterfields were coveted. ……….. So is ones aesthetic sense for what is right for us, whether for décor or art or music , innate or learnt through exposure?
Giant veg – are they a British thing or do other countries grow them too??


So lovely to see your mum’s happy face in this blog. I always did love blog posts that included her.
And those giant marrows remind me of what the BFG ate – a snozzcumber.
Thank you for another beautiful blog post Ben (and congratulations to Charlie for his recent showing wins!)

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