Three weeks in the country…

1 March 2020
Ben Pentreath

Actually, that’s what’s about to happen. Charlie has gone to New Zealand, last week, to visit his family – and for various reasons this time I’ve stayed behind. I decided that it was going to be a lot more fun for the dogs if we were in Dorset, so on Wednesday evening we dropped Charlie at Heathrow and headed on down. I thought I had two weeks ahead of book-writing sabbatical, but it turns out that most of my days seem to be taken up with meetings and phone calls, but I’ll be doing my best.

And so it’s been a rather hectic few weeks and I realise I am very long behind on the blog.  Three weekends ago, Charlie and I were down in Dorset but really down in Devon – heading over to see our friends Will and Brandon, and then on the Sunday to have lunch with my lovely aunt Barbara who lives nearby.

We had such a good time, but on the way back, in the spirit of the New Years’ resolution from a few years ago, that we’d revived – to do a new thing every week – late on Sunday afternoon, on the way home, we called in at the amazing Catholic Church in Chideock, which our friend Simon Tiffin had told us we must do.  He wasn’t wrong.

The Church is announced by a tiny finger post sign off a quiet lane to the north of the village.

From the first glance, it is amazing. 

Next door is fine Chideock Manor. 

The interior of the high Victorian church is sublime. 

Every detail is extraordinary, and beautiful.

The church is dedicated to the Chideock martyrs.  Of the 360 men and women known to have died for their faith in England, between 1535 and 1681, eight came from this tiny, beautiful Dorset village – now somewhat ruined by the thundering traffic of the road running west to Devon and Cornwall that hammers through the once-tranquil village centre.

Next door, is the church museum, which is in a way even more beautiful.

This museum needs a whole visit on its own. It is filled with treasures.

We tore ourselves away but it was time to take the dogs home for their supper.

Literally, a heavenly building.  If you are passing, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

On the way home, I somehow managed to snap this photo from the speeding car of Colmer’s Hill, Symondsbury, which I am ashamed to say I have never climbed.  Another new thing for another week.  It was tantalisingly beautiful as the golden sun began to set.

Storms were still blowing through. We went to Hive Beach for a quick brisk walk on the beach to see the waves, at sunset.

W E E K   T W O

Back to London and a busy week of work. On Tuesday, Charlie and the dogs drove north, and on Thursday evening, Bridie and I caught the sleeper train to Arrochar and Tarbet. We arrived home in time for breakfast in a howling gale and battering rainstorm.

We went for a blustery walk to the stone jetty overlooking Jura (you will have to take my word for that view). 

We saw all weathers that fine weekend – the first with a house guest! It was such fun having Bridie with us…. in hail….


And sunshine – normally all within minutes of each other. 

Silver light in Lochgilphead. 

Scudding rough seas over at Crinan, where we went for lunch. 

And then up towards Ardfern, and out to Kirkton, to see the beautiful deserted chapel.

Extraordinary colours in sea, stone and landscape.  And out to Craignish, and to the Aird Jetty….

unbelievably stormy seas…. freezing wind…. but beautiful. 

A great hail storm drifting across the sky towards Craignish Castle….

The view over to beautiful Barbreck House on the way back, serene in its wide flat valley.

And then home. 

We’d had a brilliant few days, happy evenings in the bothy, warm as toast by the fire. But on the Sunday we drove home, back to London. I had a few meetings to get through before I abandoned London for two and a half weeks, and Charlie had to pack and get ready for the long trip down.

W E E K   T H R E E

It’s Sunday evening, in Dorset. It’s been a beautiful day today; the weekend has seen huge rainstorms sweep over the valley, and we are saturated – but thankfully, not flooded, like so many parts of the country – I am sure hearts of all readers go to those afflicted.  Today, the sunshine came out and the hills just maybe began to dry a little.  There was a bright hazy light on our walk this morning. 

The sky shone and the fields glowed as if they’d been scrubbed clean.

And the leaves are bare, bare, bare – of course. Signs of early spring are all around, as you’d expect on St. David’s Day, but I can’t wait for that magical moment – a good few weeks yet – until every hedgerow and branch begins to burst with vivid life.  The house is totally quiet tonight, the dogs fast asleep, and Charlie just called from New Zealand, from the top of Little Mount Peel.  He seems so close and so far away all in one go. And now, for us, three weeks in the country gently tick by.

19 comments on this post


Hi Ben
Just to say that it was lovely to meet you on my doorstep in Truro today conducting your interesting architectural group. The development is nearly finished but is already becoming a jewel in Truro’s architectural crown. Are you involved in the Langarth project?


Having driven past Colmer Hill for 25 years I actually walked up it last week. Well worth the effort. So important to enjoy ‘the every day’.


Thank you for this post!


C’est toujours un plaisir de lire ces pages et de voir ces merveilleuses photos.

Darlene Chandlersays:

Thank you for the lovely pictures of Scotland and the beaches and rough sea. I did notice the daffodils at the Bothy, even though the weather was rainy and cold, they were nice to see. The Catholic Church was magnificent in beauty. So nice that Birdie made the trip also to enjoy all the sights. The lovely pictures of Devon and as mentioned the trees will be soon plentiful with leaves and Charlie shall be back from New Zealand before you know it to enjoy. I so look forward to more beautiful images and your travels.

Janice Hughessays:

Wonderful blog Ben as always. I look forward to reading it each month as the Parsonage reminds me of the Old Vicarage we currently live in. Best regards from Cumbria

my father died three weeks ago today due to a head injury . this has been an unbelievably bleak period for me . for the first time since he passed away i actually felt encouraged while reading your inspiring post . thank you .


Hello Ben and everyone — The spelling of the name of Chideock and its unhappy Catholic history during the 16th century caught my eye. Turns out that the young member of the Babington Plot against Queen Elizabeth I, Chidiock Turnburne, who was hanged drawn and quartered for treason, and whose unforgettable Elegy on the Eve of His Execution has made him live for 400 years, was named for this village, his ancestors’ home. A sad and touching echo down the centuries…. — Elizabeth


Dear Ben,
thank you so much for showing us all your wonderful experiences ! Such beautiful photos from everywhere …. it’s such a joy to see it ! I need always to say Great Britain is an absolutely Beauty, I love every kind of landscape there and am always so happy when you show us your wonderful homeland . Thank you for this blog and I hope that Charlie will coming home healthy and soon again. Have a wonderful time and enjoy the beginning of spring !
Yours Birgit from Germany 🙂


It’s always worth the wait! For me the photograph of the jetty near the abandoned building is the most redolent of unknown past lives lived under mostly difficult conditions. I also can’t wait for those first spring shoots from hedges and trees. Best wishes, Nicola

Sylvia Kromsays:

Dear Ben.Thank you for the beautiful pictures It was a renewal of the goodness in human spirit in this hectic world. The church was awesome and the stillness before spring was wonderful. We need more humans like you and Charlie in this world.


Hello Ben. Thanks again for a great post. Your photos are mesmerizing. What kind of camera do you use?


Hi Ben – the church and museum are beautiful, and your landscape photographs so good. If I were you, I’d be a photographer first and foremost…betsy

Deborah Wagnersays:

P.S. Nice job on the fencing to keep the dogs off the road. Very well done.

Deborah Wagnersays:

Dear Ben,

When I looked at your pictures of Scotland, the funniest thing happened. I stepped into them, away from the gray cold city day and into the wilds, with the wind sucking the air out of my lungs as it rushes by.

The photos remind me of a day when my husband and I, visiting my sister outside Galway, hired a ghillie and went fishing on Louth Corrib. The water looked just like that, but the day was nastier. I sat quietly, rod in hand, while the menfolk pontificated about fishing as if I didn’t exist.

At the end of the day, I had caught a very fine brown trout, but the men had nothing to show for themselves.

I see Charlie has your father’s old duffle coat on again. The last time I posted here, I said my new duffle had a long way to go before it looked that good. Our Westie, Primrose, apparently heard me, as she chewed off one of the toggle loops shortly afterwards. I have replaced it, but the jute the maker sent doesn’t quite match, so it is now on its way to having the requisite sartorial character.

Thank you for taking me off the sofa, away from the iPad and the sad old news, and landing me in a far more uplifting place, if only for a little while.

Deborah x

Clay McCleerysays:

Any picture books in your future? Today’s were most impressive!

Susie Somerset-Holtsays:

Dear Ben, I so look forward to your blog and the glorious photos,I lived in Dorset from the age of 9 till I was 20 (1968-1979), on a farm in North Chideock, bitter sweet I now live in Australia.
Every Christmas I went to Midnight Mass in the Catholic Church.
In the football team photo Wilf Symes in the back row,owned and ran the petrol station in Chideock , and Reg Biles was a known village’character’, either wheeling or riding his bicycle (he had a gammy leg from the war) wearing an old suit tied around the waist with bailer twine.He worked for Colonel Weld who owned Chideock Manor then and Reg used to lay a mean hedge and make an eye watering scrumpy.
Do find time to do Colmers Hill and also walk the holloway from Symondsbury up the hill to just under Quarr Hill and then down the otherside into Hell lane, which runs straight through our old farm) and down to Hell farm.It is quite eerie with lots of faces,initials and dates scratched into the sand cliff face 16-18 feet below the level of the fields .The story goes that Hell Lane was used in the film of Rogue Male (geoffrey Household) and starring Peter O’Toole.

Connie from Toowoombasays:

Monday morning breakfast! Thankyou for your lovely blog and photographs.

Debra Mooresays:

Dear Ben what amazing photographs the Catholic Church and museum at Chideock looks interesting we will try to find it on our visit to Dorset at the end of the month. I love your blog at this time of year especially the excitement that spring is here. Enjoy your time at home in Dorset hope you get some nice dry sunny days to walk the dogs thank you for posting some beautiful images.

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