Going nowhere

8 March 2020
Ben Pentreath

As the world, literally, loses its head, I’ve somehow been finding mine.

I’ve gone nowhere and done nothing. The routine has been simple. An early morning walk to the cricket pitch with the girls to throw a ball for half an hour, which is without doubt their favourite part of the day. Back for breakfast. I’ve been writing, pretty well; I’ve been having the odd meeting down here a couple of times; I’ve been sorting through things that needed sorting through at the Parsonage; I’ve been packing Mum and Dad’s flat with my brothers (a task that has been surprisingly fun, therapeutic, interesting, funny, occasionally-but not often-really sad—but not the grim thing that many people have told us it would be). I’ve been catching up on work stuff, managing to stay in touch just enough but not too much; I’ve been drawing lots, and just spending a good amount of time thinking. It’s been very, very good.  It’s not a holiday. I guess the word is sabbatical.

I think the lesson to myself is that I need to work a bit more like this from time to time. Nothing clears the head quite like a very quiet week, in the Dorset hills. And nothing is better than knowing that we’ve all got another week down here.

Sometimes the sunshine has been astonishingly beautiful on my afternoon walks:

Sometimes soft and delicate…

Winter is of course still here, some mornings with a vengeance in the air, but we are in that magical moment where she is on the brink of handing the countryside over to spring…

Other days have been damp and grey and misty. They are sensational in their way too.

One night I was at supper with my neighbours. I walked back by the light of a brilliant moon and took a few photos for fun, which are rather strange and rather startling. 

We’ve had some of the most astonishingly otherworldly days. 

But there’s been a lot of lying around on the sofa too. 

Most of all, I’ve been noticing the tiny things… the hedgerow that at the beginning of the week was not in leaf, now is.  And I don’t know about you, but I am really noticing the light mornings and evenings. Today, we went for a walk around 5ish and I thought to myself, a couple of months ago now it would have been pitch black and we’d have been tucked up inside by the fire. Today, the lengthening shadows of the sun stretched over the garden. The sky was bright. The woods are filled with birdsong – which, of course, two months from now will be a deafening crescendo, on a morning early in May.

God, how I love the seasons change; always changing, but the important things in life remain eternal—which I suppose after all these years is the single message of this blog, if you come to think about it.


20 comments on this post

Diane Whytesays:

thank you for sharing those wonderful photographs of my most favourite place on earth. You transport me back to Dorset with each beautiful scene.

Darlene Chandlersays:

Absolutely lovely pictures of spring on the arisen. It is just so peaceful to take time and walk and relax and gather one’s thoughts and relax and not go anywhere, but home, I have found. I walk 2 hours each day just to clear my thoughts and find it so calming. The pictures you took at night with all of the stars were so magical. I too cleared my parent’s home a couple of years ago and while sad, it did have it’s wonderful moments too just knowing more about my parents. It is wonderful that darkness is coming later and a walk early evening is still light and nice to see again your dogs enjoying their time outdoors, along with you enjoying yourself. I so envy the countryside that you have surrounding you on a daily basis because I live in a big city. Thank you for sharing and so look forward to when spring as arrived and everything is in bloom.

Southern Galsays:

Thanks for this post I drink in each photo wishing I could be there rather than here in one of the hot spots of the dreaded CV. I wish I could escape to the country too. Although I know yours isn’t an escape but a working time. Thanks for these posts.

David Sanderssays:

If ever you want a shot of optimism, just look at Ben’s girls (dogs). Blissfully enjoying life – seemingly without a care. Loved the upside-down poses; perhaps there is a lesson to be had there – when the world “loses its head” just look at things from a different angle.

As ever Ben, you are a voice of calm and reason. Best wishes from New Zealand and remember: foot taps and elbow bumps from now on.;)


So great to experience a change of paceand stay put once in a while, to appreciate and notice spring revealing itself – sounds like you’ve enjoyed a nourishing time in your valley with your lovely girls! What enticing photos too. We look forward to the publication too x


I am a firm believer sometimes we just need to go nowhere. Recharging at its best. Your photos are stunning. Your dogs are happy. Life is good.


So much to love about your post this morning, especially the bit about clearing out your parents flat. Last February, remember that stunning weather, I was back in England to help clear my favorite Aunt’s little house with my cousin and her adult kids. It was everything you described and bought us all closer together.

Oh and another coincidence, just reading Holloways by Robert Macfarlane and he talks about that amazing little catholic church in Chideock – interesting history.


Ben, I always so enjoy your words, and photos, thank you. I get a lovely sense of calm from your blog.

Rebecca Smithsays:

A week in the country is a real time-proven tonic! Enjoy your sorting and clearing. You will go back to work ready for anything!
The night time photos have a lovely dated quality to them.


Just beautiful, thank you!

Ashley C. Levisays:

The night pictures. Need more night pictures!


Dear Ben,
your blog is wonderful with all your words and very beautiful photos. One week to be at home is sometimes very productive and so good for the soul ! There is a house on your photos which is looking like the parsonage …… ! The night photos are very lovely and interesting. Spring is in the air and this time of the year is always very special and every year it feels like a miracle …. enjoy this time and thank you as always for sharing this week with us !
Have a wonderful time,
Yours Birgit from Germany 🙂


Absolutely love English pastoral. As for those moonlit shots… they are weird but very compelling to look at. This week’s post is the very tonic we need. Best wishes, Nicola

Leana Pooleysays:

Wonderful photos. Wonderful place.


So glad you are having a relaxing time Ben. Your life is usually such a whirl.
You must be missing Charles while he is in NZ.
Great phots by the way. I loved your last coffee table book

Debra Mooresays:

Dear Ben thank you for your blog the photos are all beautiful a real tonic after the long winter albeit mild and very wet. You are so fortunate to live in a beautiful place where nature is in abundance nothing better to help lift the spirits. So pleased you and the dogs are enjoying your moments of calm.


Daylight savings time in the States started yesterday and is having the same ‘bring spring’ effect. Thank you for that and for your comments and observations about Bloomsbury style, in the FT this past weekend!


How lovely to be able to step inside the world in your photographs, this morning and escape the real one, if only for a while. Dorset is looking beautiful as always and the Parsonage (especially the L’Oeil de Boeuf window) shines like a beacon in the darkness. Thank you


Glad to see you’re enjoying the country whilst Charlie is in NZ. Very excited to hear that work on your new book is proceeding apace,I’ve been on the lookout for it! My husband is a physician and his hospital sadly lost a patient to COVID19; it’s a living reality for us but all is actually eerily calm. No mobs fighting for loo roll or hand sanitizer,more like “ignorance is bliss”. Concern but not panic is the correct posture I think.
As always your posts are a welcome respite,many thanks!


Yes, so right. Here in Oz nature is carrying on as best it can after the fearsome summer. How anything in my garden survived 45°+ days I dont know but now, after some rain there is blossom and new shoots. Even the dahlias survived, albeit rather ragged, and the profuse flowers are now a good meal for slugs and snails, but they too deserve to live after somehow managing to survive.
Love your strangely atmospheric pictures.

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