New rhythms to life

17 November 2019
Ben Pentreath

For all sorts of reasons, I find I haven’t written a blog for weeks. The month of October slipped into November quietly… and Charlie and I have found ourselves in a new rhythm, that takes in both Dorset and Scotland – both are moving into deep Autumn. It’s strange looking at photos from only a few weeks ago, in the change season – and realising how much shifts so quickly. That’s one of the reasons I love the blog; it forms a sort of visual diary for me. You can compare this year to last, and last year to the ones before; the same themes repeat, now, again and again, threads that run quite long now… as you’ll see, right at the end.


October 25th

So, back in October, we made a trip north for a long weekend. The light, as always, was heavenly, the weather constantly shifting and changing.  Here was the first evening I arrived:

I find in Scotland that the eye focuses on the small, slow things – look at the birds in the centre of this picture… 

A walk up the hill, looking down to the bothy and the cottage.

And climbing a little higher – looking across to Jura. 

Family portrait:

Sunrise the following morning…  When we were first looking for a little house to buy in Scotland, I’d dreamed of a west coast facing house, to get the evening light sinking into the sea. Now I realise – not least in some of the freezing mornings we’ve had – how wonderful it is to have the east light, the first warmth of the sun at daybreak. I’m rather happy at how life worked out there. 

Here are the two little houses together:

This, too, is a useful photograph to explain the set up. The one on the left has our kitchen, which is very, very basic indeed. The one on the right has our sitting room and bedroom. There’s no running water, and no bathroom, just a compost loo, and it all works very, very well indeed. 

People often ask if we  are going to join the two houses together. For me that feels a funny suggestion, not least because of the trees and the all-important route up the hill, but also, wouldn’t it be a massive house then? Which completely defeats the object…!

It was a morning of flat stillness on the Crinan canal. 


October 27th

And then a week passes, and we are in Dorset, rich in autumn.

The last of the dahlias that week, really….

Charlie took his pumpkins out of the church, having finished their duty for the harvest supper a few weeks earlier.  The only way to get them out without 4 people lifting was to chop them up. 

The compost heap. 

Jewel tones….


November 2nd

Leaves are falling hard now, after powerful – indeed tragic – storms ripped through Dorset the night before.  We’d driven down to Dorset that evening – Charlie’s father, Gordon, and Sally, were with us from New Zealand, and on the Friday, we’d had a sad but moving day – my father’s memorial service, in the chapel, at Greenwich. A beautiful and emotional time, perfectly reflected in the season. 

Looking down the valley to the old farm. 

The elegy of old park railings:

That night, bonfire and fireworks with Jasper and Oisin at Bettiscombe. Bowls of soup and lots of laughter with many old friends. 


November 8th

And then, a few days later, to Scotland again. I met Gordon and Sally in Edinburgh, and we had the most serene drive through the Trossachs, totally still air, cold brilliant sunshine.  We drove through Inveraray as the sun was beginning to go down…

And arrived at our loch at sunset – the sea was mirror flat. 

The cottage had never looked warmer and more inviting than that evening – the dogs waiting for us at the gate. 

We had a brilliant time in Scotland, and I’ve had the busiest week since – I stopped in both County Durham and Yorkshire on the train journey down; Cornwall the next morning; back to London. Shall I sneak in mention of my birthday too? We said farewell to Gordon and Sally on Thursday night; on Friday morning, it was off to work early and with gentle relief I made my way to Waterloo for the train to Dorset on Friday afternoon. It was a social club night in the village hall – brilliant fun, but more importantly, good that for once we didn’t all go completely mental.

Charlie is putting the garden to bed now; the leaves are off the trees; autumn feels as if she is shifting into winter. The evenings draw in and the mornings are late. It’s one of my favourite times of year.

A frost this morning, but roses are still flowering.
First light. 

The dahlias are all to bed now. 

We had our friends Will and Brandon staying yesterday evening, and today we went for a beautiful walk on Eggardon Hill – the place that started it all, for this blog, on the 15th May, 2009.  Ten years ago. How much changes – but how much stays the same. 

And we came back down via Wynford Eagle, and the dreamiest Jacobean Manor House in the whole of Dorset….

And lunch in the pub, and the laziest afternoon at home, watching episode after episode of the Crown (did you?). And so a month passes by, but in a sense, a decade too. Old stories and new adventures.

34 comments on this post

payson knappsays:

Lovely and inspiring. I always get a delightful sense of calm when I read your Blog. Thank you.


Another gorgeous blog. Fabulous time of year. We spent 2 weeks driving around Cornwall and Dorset just recently After a brief stay in London and a couple of months in Croatia and Montenegro. Never been to that part of the UK before. Loved everything about it. Now we’re back home in NZ waiting for summer to kick in.


Wonderful to see. I will be in the UK February next year 2020 and cant wait to explore the countryside. Please keep discovering because we love seeing it.


A lot can happen in 10 years. And some things remain unchanged, thank goodness. Landscape, memories, people. All life is there. Here’s to the next decade! Best wishes, Nicola


Merci Ben de nous faire partager vos moments passés en Écosse et dans le Dorset…
J’adore l’idée de vivre spartiatement dans ces deux petites maisons perdues dans une nature époustouflante de beauté mais pas sûr que j’y arriverai!
Je fonds devant vos boules de poils…la photo avec Charlie est ma préférée…
Mais toutes sont réussies et me donnent envie de revenir dans votre beau pays!
J’ai suivi les épisodes de The Crown quand j’etais dans les Costwolds il y a deux ans et maintenant la nouvelle saison arrive en France! Je vais la regarder avec un grand plaisir, c’est sûr…
Bon anniversaire, Ben
Catherine de Bordeaux


Please never stop writing here.
The Crown is in a queue. We have only just discovered The Big Bang Theory. Hope we live long enough!

Darlene Chandlersays:

So lovely to see the beautiful pictures of scenery and the green and the gardens being readied for winter. Lovely picture of the cottage and very interesting the separation of the two buildings. Loved the picture of Charlie with the dogs. Sad but happy of hearing about your Dad’s memorial. So nice Charle’s parents visited and that you have had many good times and gatherings with friends. The bond fire evening with the soup looking so nice and pleasant. We have had snow in Canada and the leaves have not all fallen off the trees, which is very strange to see snow fall with green and gold leaves. Heading to London in two weeks and so looking forward to Lamb’s Conduits Christmas Street function when there. Cannot wait to see more lovely pictures and blog of your wonderful times.

Alice Minnichsays:

Your photos of Charlie’s chopped up pumpkin made me laugh! What a wonderful ten minute escape. Thank you, Ben, for continuing to share your magical world…as always, it’s an inspiration xo


Your blog never fails to enchant. The first photos of the loch and its sky look like paintings. They remind me of the painting by WC Piguenit, The Flood in the Darling 1890. Same immense, masterful sky defined by a few birds. Thank you for sharing your diary with so many of us.


Another blog filled with everything I love about England and Scotland. Once again you filled me with all those quiet joys of the countryside. When I was back in Somerset in February we were driving cross country thru Dorset en route to Burton Bradstock, too crowded, then the beach at Abbotsbury, just us and the rolling of the shingle and a watery sky, when we came upon that house, that absolutely “holy s***, back up and look at that house” at Wynford Eagle. It and the countryside around it are the stuff of dreams.

Lindsey Backsays:

I too long for England when I see your pictures and read your story. As I sit on my deck in Brisbane Queensland with drought and fires flickering at the edge of my world I remember my childhood in Sussex and having a November birthday around bonfire night…. a different sort of fire entirely. That was warm and comforting, relaxing and embracing. Ours is terrifying, relentless confronting and seemingly never ending….millions of hectares destroyed and it’s not even summer yet. Thank you particularly for the photos of your small corner of Scotland. They are balm for this worried soul and I appreciate it.


Lovely, just lovely. thank you.


Love your brilliant blog after all these years. Yes, I too, binged the Crown all day yesterday…think the cast is excellent, especially Tobias Menzies as the Duke of Edinburgh and naturally-love Olivia Coleman in everything she’s done…not mad about Helena Bonham-Carter as P. Margaret, though I love her other work. All in all I give S.3 a win!


Thank you for another beautiful post, Ben, as they all are really.And for the dream inducing photos.
The link to your first blog post got me to wandering through the archive and I settled on 27 September, 2010, Better Looking Brothers. I’m quite old enough to remember their events vividly and those photos brought tears to my eyes. So thank you for that, too.

Jan Fawkesays:

Your photos and words always make me long for England! As NSW suffers with drought and bushfires , does my heart good to see and read about your green and pleasant land…

carolyn morgansays:

How amazing it is when we are diligent about self-care. Life’s busyness can never be an adequate reason for NOT tending to that care.


Dear Ben,
thank you very much for your wonderful and very long blog ! It was such a pleasure to read it and enjoy all the very beautiful photos. Everything is wonderful, I love it how you live, it’s amazing and heaven for me !
Happy Birthday to you, you mentioned your birthday, wish you all my best wishes dear Ben.
Time flies and the time before christmas is coming now, have a wonderful time, this time of the year is also my favourite time 🙂
Yours Birgit from Germany 🙂


I like your Scotland cottage gravel path design. It cuts out a green lawn triangle which mimics your roof line. Very simple but clever!!!

Catherine Steelesays:

Happy Birthday Ben.Thank you so much for the beautiful photos ❤️


I love your writing and your photos are stunning. Such a joy to read your blog. Happy belated birthday.


Happy Birthday! I love the thought of you two lingering around the dinner table and then strolling off to the other house to end the night. Beautiful I imagine, unless its pouring!

Gilian Faulhabersays:

Thanks for the lovely blog Ben. The Dorset views show an interesting landscape feature called strip lynchets where the land slips down and forms ridges. These are apparently caused by ancient medieval farming systems and there are lots on the hillsides in your area of Dorset.

jean clappsays:

Thanks for the beautiful photos – your 2 little houses are magical sitting alone in that spectacular landscape.

Richard Duncalfsays:

Beautiful blog of contrasts.

David Sanderssays:

I am always struck by the uncanny resemblance of the landscape around your Scottish hidey-hole, to the landscape surrounding me, here in Banks Peninsula, NZ. Just wondering if Charlie had a big influence on your decision to buy there – great choice, by-the-way. Looks like a perfectly idyllic retreat for you both.


So happy that you share such a beautiful life-Happy Birthday! I am a Scorpio also. Retired from Wall Street and back home on the Northshore of New Orleans, Louisiana. I enjoy all of my journeys to England/Scotland/Ireland for the past 20 years. My daughter started it all when she studied in England & introduced me to the wonders of your world. My DNA shows me to be 90% English! What! No wonder I love it. Thank you for sharing.

Lesley Coopersays:

Gentle joy; thank you for sharing it all.

Suki Fanesays:

What sort of camera do you use? Your photographs are stunning! You can’t be using a phone……

mary a perley-martinsays:

Thank you Ben for this beautiful post. Your place in Scotland seems to sit so comfortably in a little piece of Heaven. It is a beautiful crisp cold day here in Ireland. I am enjoying a day off. This too is my favourite time of year. Best wishes for your Birthday.

Margaret Bollensays:

Love your posts Ben. Your blog is so calming. x

Tracy Goodingsays:

Gorgeous images as always. Happy Birthday Ben! Love your little place in Scotland, Dorset as always is sublime.


Thank you for the lovely respite before digging into another crazy work week. Scotland tugs at my heart.


Perfection. I’m eagerly awaiting your new book-it’s out soon,yes?

Debra Mooresays:

What a lovely blog Ben so heartfelt the images are beautiful. The seasons come and go l love that about living in England. Thank you for sharing images of the Dorset countryside and the farm animals l love that place. Good to see your little cottages in Scotland what spectacular scenery you have there.

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