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The View from Here

25 March 2020
Ben Pentreath
77 Comments

This evening, I’m sitting in the kitchen. The dogs are on the sofa, Charlie’s cooking, it feels like any normal evening in Dorset.  This was the view on our walk this morning.

But it is so far from normal that I can’t even begin to imagine where to start.

Yesterday, we heard the sad news that a lady in our neighbouring village has died from the virus; her husband is in hospital. This is the reality – and hasn’t it hit us all fast?

It is a changing, changing world, and what I realise is how quickly we become accustomed to utterly new normals, and realise how fragile the old normal was.

I have been troubled to even know how to put pen to paper (as it were), knowing that anything I’m thinking right now is utterly inadequate in response to the loss that people will be facing… and utterly irrelevant within hours, if not days, in response to how fast the news runs. Deaths without proper funerals (and how, how important were my parents funerals to me and my brothers, and to our family, and their friends, last year)… I cannot even imagine the heartbreak of that. And the collapse of so many livelihoods: I have spent the last week speaking so many times to our networks of small makers, suppliers, craftsmen with whom I have collaborated in our architectural and design practice, and the shop, whose world is falling down around their heads as I write.

There are many, many bright stories too – of the love and compassion that defines us – so, so much more than selfishness or hate. If you have read this blog for years, now, you will know my great, innate trust in the kindness of strangers, the intuitive sense of good people everywhere, the sacrifices that people will make at all times for the goodwill of others.  And, I am convinced we will see this now more than ever.

As you can imagine, my life has been swept up in the immediate and practical crisis. A week and a day ago, on Monday evening, as the Prime Minister asked us all to work from home if we could, we took immediate action – as you will have read in the last blog.  That day, Bridie and I closed the shop. Dear, wonderful Emily, our amazing shop manager (who the many of you that have visited the physical shop, may have met) has been really sick with the virus for a few days now – I know that you will all wish her a speedy recovery; today she’s at last getting a tiny bit better. Thank god. But, also, I said to Bride, a couple of nights ago, thank goodness that we took that decision as soon as we did…. stemming the flow of infection, as it were – it would not have been good if we’d been open for another 3 or 4 days.  These are all practical things, but so important.

Bridie and I have taken the decision now to close the shop entirely – that includes the website. We know you will understand. We just don’t want anyone packing orders, we don’t want anyone collecting them. We need to all do our tiny bit to help. It’s terribly sad, we’d have loved to keep some semblance of normality in your lives and ours, but it’s not the right thing for us all right now.

I’ve been working the longest hours of my life – going to bed at midnight, getting up at 4, to sort the logistics of the gigantic move of our entire office to home working within a matter of hours of the announcement; calling long-standing clients, reassuring staff, putting plans into place that I believe will be in place for a very, very long time.  Frankly, it has been utterly exhausting; I’ve been in a mode of alert alarm that I haven’t felt for a long time. I arrived in Dorset, pretty shattered, on Thursday night. Charlie has been like Florence Nightingale, if I’m honest – quietly administering, getting on with stuff, leaving me to it – and, of course, because I’ve arrived from London, in a quarantine too.

But there are consolations too. The same consolations I found and learned to trust when first Mum and then Dad died last year. The consolations of nature – of the walks that we have been having each morning with the dogs, who one would think would be ignorant, but actually, really are not – they can feel or maybe smell the tension in the air. The views have been so extraordinarily beautiful these last few days, as the clear hot days and cold, cold nights gently have settled over the south of England at exactly the right time. This is a beauty that is eternal. It teaches us to breathe, slowly, in and out, to be calm, placid almost, and above all, it’s a beauty that makes us look to the long view.

The view from here is not easy. I’ll be utterly honest – I think that we are in for a long, bitter, hard time. Our politicians simultaneously struggle but do a profound job, grappling with a conflict between protecting life, and livelihood. Doubtless, much commentary will be written over many decades as to the choices they make right now. For me, I’m totally and completely clear – we could never, collectively, have coped with the genoncide that the scientists and doctors have told us may have happened if we had carried on living our normal lives unchecked. I feel sure of that. These are not strangers, or hollow statistics; these people are, or would have been, our friends, our neighbours, our friends’ parents, or grandparents. We are making the right collective decision – of that I am sure. We can and will recover from the economic harpies shrieking down the quiet peaceful valleys of our ordinary lives…. we could NEVER recover from the bitter, unspoken shame of the alternative.

But – the harpies are still descending. Every day I have heard awful stories of people suffering almost total loss of trade, business, livelihood.  Our government is helping, and doing what it can. But now, as never before, we need to help ourselves and each other.

I am witnessing the same struggles as everyone else, I’ll be completely honest; but of course on a slower trajectory than my great friends in the restaurant, hotel or travel business, for sure, for whom shut down has been instant and brutal – so – I am not complaining. Ours will be more gradual. I made a decision on Monday 16th that I would ask my office, my wonderful firm of so many superb collaborators, some with me for so long now, some very new into the practice, that we would stick together, showing love and clarity and get though to the other side ALTOGETHER.  We will.

For the shop, whose trade has been totally shattered by events, as has that of so many of my dear neighbours on Lambs Conduit Street and Rugby Street, and beyond; the government package does seem to be focussed, superb and one which will ensure our survival at the other side.

I will be honest too. I think the view from here is, right now, rather bleak. My own view – and I will be thrilled – ecstatic – if I’m wrong, is that the disruption could last a very long time. On Thursday afternoon last week, the last man out, as it were, I locked the door of our beautiful studio and wondered when we’d all be back there again, happily chatting, business as normal. I have my thoughts and plans; I think it’s sensible if I keep those to myself for now. But I think it will be a long, long time – definitely not, for poor old ancient beautiful LONDON, a matter of weeks, which so many of my friends seemed to be thinking when I called them last week. Maybe our views on this are shifting day by day. The struggle was not getting the office to work from home, and sending emails saying “business (almost) as usual” – how many of those have you received. That’s actually quite easy. The deeper, longer struggle is now.

So, how do we get to the other side?  My view is that we all need to be focused on that – this is a long-term place that we suddenly, unexpectedly, blinkingly, find ourselves in. The next few months are going to depend on absolute clarity about what is happening; about not just depending on the government; but being wise and aware; about being incredibly careful, but also incredibly generous and loving and kind too – and, fundamentally, about keeping abundant our confidence in our huge collective mutual abilities; about continuing to trust that you must commission people, and you must continue to trust that those who commission you will pay you, when they can.  It is about recognising that not everything is worth cutting back. Our amazing cleaners, in the office, and our flat – Helen and her husband Fernando – have been with us for YEARS. I’ve seen their daughters grow up from children to beautiful young women. The very first text I sent ANYONE was to Helen, just letting her know that however long – however long – this goes on, she’s going to get paid exactly what she’s always been paid. Likewise, the window cleaner who keeps the windows of Pentreath & Hall clean and bright. These are the connections that need to be kept forever, and we’ll all find them in our lives right now.  Love – and financial support where it is needed – now is more important than ever. These last sentences were not intended to sound smug, please don’t read them that way.

I am pretty nervous right for the small makers and craftsmen, the self-employed furniture makers, plumbers, electricians, carpet-fitters, wallpaper printers, you name it… the list is too long to even think of.  I’m nervous that trade shows and events which are the life-blood of so many wonderful people in our world cannot happen, and I’m nervous of the results of that. Whatever plans I can cook up, our industry can cook up, to keep the ‘show on the road’, albeit a bit more gently, are going to be vital right now. As I say – I think that for us all to survive, we simultaneously need to be incredibly kind and incredibly alert to what is happening and for how long.  This event is NOT going to be over in weeks. I know we’re beginning to realise it, but it’s much, much better to plan for the long haul – many, many, many months of deep restriction of normal life, and be pleasantly surprised if science gets us back to our most ancient principles – of phsyical human social and economic exchange – sooner than that.

But: the view from here feels optimistic too – those who’ve read my blog over these years will know that. The world will overcome this terrible shock – the health shock, and the economic shock. I believe that it will arrive at the other side smaller, and less frenetic, less wasteful, less addicted to cheap travel and more understanding of the things that are important. Of that we already know. We will form new habits that I believe will turn out to be good ones.

I believe we are in a change time – which has emerged out of the clear blue sky. And, in the absolute heart of that change, if you can find the epicentre in your own mind, is the calm in the middle of the storm, and that is the place that I would like to take you tonight.

I don’t know that I’ve ever signed off a blog in this way, quite, yet – but I really, really mean it:

With love

Ben

 

 

77 comments on this post

Christine Gascoignesays:

The tears are just streaming down my face. Bless you Ben. You are one of my Archangels.Christine – Melbourne

Nicolasays:

You said it Ben. Best wishes as always, Nicola

Daniel colessays:

I think u are right we will come out stronger out of this and I like u hope the small firms make it .u and Charlie stay safe love daniel

JENNIFER PHILLIPPSsays:

All the very best to everyone, as we have become a worldwide team struggling to cope with this new reality….Here in NZ we are in lockdown and life changed in a week, but we must push through and get to the other side and do it with kindness….take care from a bloggett!

Jagnansays:

Thank you, Ben, for such a beautiful blog. You have a real tenderness toward all who are so impacted by this virus.

Kathie Johnsonsays:

Love from Texas.

Christiansays:

Toujours un plaisir de lire ces pages.
Je vis moi aussi dans une belle campagne, dans le sud ouest de la France, et je pense à ceux qui restent en ville, à Paris, à Londres.
Keep safe.

Nicola Lawrencesays:

Dear Ben

What a thoughtful and insightful post which I think would echo the thoughts of so many (I would like to think so anyway). Love to you and Charlie and your friends and family and fellow blog readers as everyone adapts and/or makes the best decisions they can for themselves and those around them, in this incredibly tough and truly daunting time. I too find nature a balm and an energiser and encourage people to take notice of the little things that nature will provide over the coming months.

Take care all and I agree with you Ben – love to all, Nicola xx

Andria Bendersays:

Your blog post is so heartfelt, poignant,and uplifting as well. Yes I think you are right this will be a months long ordeal for the world. Yet as so many times when you write your words just lift my spirit. Thank you! Prays you and Charlie stay well from Texas!

gretchensays:

Here in “New” Hampshire, in “New” England, we too are in isolation. Like John in a previous comment, I just recently lost my sweet dog; but then, only weeks after, like Simon, I lost the love of my life, my soulmate, my beloved husband of 22 beautiful and oh too short years in the most unexpected, traumatic and sudden of ways… and just when I thought my heart could take no more, only days after his passing I began to hear of a new dark cloud on the horizon – Covid-19 … it’s all been almost too much to bear, especially now that I am totally alone, unable to gather family and friends around me for comfort or to gather together to celebrate the life of my husband. At times the grief washes over me and I fear I will drown; it can quite literally drop me to my knees and yet I am still managing to hold on to hope …. what would we do without hope? What would we do without people like you Ben, who care so deeply about others and share with perfect strangers through words and photographs the love and beauty that you and Charlie are able to surround yourselves with? There is no act of kindness in this world too small or one that doesn’t make a difference in someone’s life even if is only making them smile and feel grateful for what we still have. We can’t rob ourselves of one precious moment of the present worrying about the future (easier said than done, I know – but we have to try). Hold on to the “now” and cherish it. I implore everyone who is reading this to go, right this minute, and tell your partner ( and/or your family and friends ) how much you love them; tell them multiple times a day; my husband and I always did – but what I wouldn’t give to be able to tell him or hear it from him one more time. You can’t ever say it enough… you simply never know if it’s the last time you will get the chance to do so.
I didn’t think my broken heart could ever hold anything again, especially so soon: and yet when I see the goodness of people as they are taking care of one another during these dark days, I find my heart still has the capacity to fill to overflowing… hope and love will see us through.

Carol slacksays:

Last night at 8pm my husband and I stood in our garden with our two little granddaughters,aged 4 and7, and clapped for mummy and daddy, both front line NHS workers.
My husband has always said that there are ‘givers’ and ‘takers’ in this world and I think Ben you are so right on so many levels. The human race is never so smart that Mother Nature can’t teach us a lesson, and yes, once this is over the world will be different because the ‘takers’ will realise how reliant they are on the ‘givers’ and the ‘givers’ will be seen for the shining examples of humankind that they are.
Take care both yourself and Charlie, you have given me untold hours of pleasure over the months following your lives which I can only describe as lives of ‘honest quality’, the way all people should be living.

Amysays:

Thank you for this. ❤️

Debra Morgansays:

I keep coming back to Julian of Norwich: “…all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
I pray that you and yours will be well and will come out of this crisis unscathed.

David Sanderssays:

The global nature of this ghastly event is truly extraordinary – whether we like it or not, we are now all interconnected. It may be a bit of a long haul, Ben – but you have absolutely the right attitude to see it through. Best wishes to everyone, from New Zealand.

Philsays:

The comment I posted yesterday, which I think was one of the first, has disappeared from this list – strange.
Just saying thankyou for taking the time to write all that down – thoughts that echo in many of our hearts.
Just thinking. John posted of his sadness at loosing his beloved dog and his job, someone else suggested that a rescue dog might help, and Anne K suggested a help fund for people struggling. Perhaps all those things could be put together somehow and people with money to give could pay the rehoming fee, which is several hundred dollars, on behalf of someone like John who may be much helped by a companion animal but because of no job cant afford to get one. Goodness knows how to work that, but maybe on a local level it could be done.
…………. and of course love in return to Ben and his family.

Brent McKenziesays:

Thank you Ben for your thoughtful words. Here in the South Island of NZ we are in day two of lockdown. As a self employed gardener I have no income, as I cannot work. Our government has worked incredibly fast on a package to help and there is already financial assistance there. But that is nothing compared to our health. Like you I believe that there could be so many positive things that will be the legacy of these events.
Stay safe and please keep up the blog

Margueritesays:

Thank you Ben (and Charlie, Mavis, Enid ,Sibyl and Henry) for being a beacon of hope and kindness sharing beauty and compassion when we need it most. May kindness prevail and become the norm during this challenge to all we know and love. and John in Australia, way above me in the comments, when you are ready I am sure Angel Martha would want you to take in a dog who needs you. May you both, and all of us come through this to a kinder, softer world. ,

Cackiesays:

Thank you

Debra Mooresays:

Dear Ben. Thank you so much for finding the time to write your blog. The past few weeks have been so exhausting as we all try to process what horror we are facing. We all have made changes that we would of thought unthinkable beyond our imagination. So much to organise and do and while in the midst of our own confusion and anxiety. We have just returned from West Dorset it was idyllic new life spring lambs skipping in the fields primroses and daffodils in abundance and the birdsong just heaven. But all this was tainted with the fear of what is to come will our loved ones be safe will we and when can we meet up with family and friends. We returned home to self isolation and the reality it could be for some time. So pleased for you that Charlie got back safely from NZ. You like many others have had to make some tough decisions but we have no choice. Lets hope we can all get through it l am so sad to hear of the loss of your neighbour in the village. It is difficult to muster the motivation and optimism at this time but never before have we needed each other more. Oce again thank you for your blog it does lift the spirits and offer hope. God Bless you Charlie Mavis Enid and Sybil keep safe and well x

Jansays:

Thank you for such a moving beautifully written post.Up here in Cumbria we’ve already been devastated by Foot and Mouth dreadful flooding and now this. So many small businesses will go down now it’s heartbreaking. Luckily there is wonderful community spirit here. It will see us through.The beauty of the Lake District will heal us all.

Libbysays:

If you can continue to post your fantastic photos, especially in these stressful times, I’d be most grateful
One is currently my top page wallpaper. Food for the soul. Thanks, Ben!

Sallysays:

from NZ, thank you Ben. This did my heart good to read as we go into day 2 of lockdown. All of you, stay safe x

the Elegant Economistsays:

You’re a good man, Ben Pentreath.

Angélique Willemssays:

Thank you so much for your beautiful words….you really moved me….
Stay safe….Love to you, Charlie, Mavis, Enid and Sybil…..X

What a wonderful blog post Ben. I totally agree we need to be protecting the artisans who are the backbone of our industry and the soul. Maybe we will appreciate all those small things we take for granted. I too have closed my shop for now.. and the holiday cottage business , life will be strange, scary at times and painful if we lose those we love and care about . I do however, in all this feel a certain peace , stepping off the treadmill , taking a breath, life at a slower and very different pace for now… take care x

Darlene Chandlersays:

Thank you ever so much for giving me some calm, and as noted this is just a break in the storm. I am so sad to hear that Emily has been ill. She helped me so many times in the shop; and hope she gets well soon. I am glad that Charlie is at your side and Bridie working with you to get through this. I have close friends working for the airline and it is a very scary time for those staff members too, trying to get people back home and friends that are medics. They all tell me this is going to go on for some time and to please be vigilant in my only outings for groceries. I have also received so many uplifting emails from other shops in London to add some brightness to one’s day just to know they too are going to get through this. I am so happy that Helen and your window cleaner will be looked after by you. Please enjoy any beauty during the day of your beautiful scenery outside your home, even with a short walk for some peace of mind. I so look forward to Lamb’s Conduit and Rugby Street to be busy again with pedestrians and visiting your shop with this all passes. Take care, please keep writing, it all helps each of us in some way to stay connected during this time and is heart warming.

Valeriesays:

You made me cry… it’s so lovlely to hear from someone who gets it… I have a little interiors store in San Francisco and I am worried for us, our vendors, our cleaners, etc., just like you said. Thank you Ben xoxo

Lesliesays:

I echo the comments of others … with tears in my eyes as well. Thank you and all love to you and Charlie, Mavis, Enid and Sybil.

E E Deeresays:

Thank you so much Ben.
For what it’s worth, I would buy artisan and other carfted goods now, to be delivered when it’s safe to ship again. Or a gift certificate. Just to keep the creative community supplied with a little cash.

Julianna Vaughansays:

Thank you my cyber friend.
It helps me to hear from you so please don’t ever stop!

Johannasays:

Sending love and best wishes to stay safe from Canada.

Diane Keanesays:

The tears in my eyes right now are due not only to the present state or our sorry old world, but more so in response to your heart-felt words. Ben, no one can put all our thoughts out there like you. You are an unquenchable source of reason and optimism that I know I can always turn to for heart’s ease. Thank you, thank you!

With love, Diane in Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Rebecca Smithsays:

Beautifully written and sobering. As a self-employed garden designer, I do not know what will happen to our businesses for the next year or so, but the contractors with whom I work and the nurseries which supply my clients are all hoping for brighter times. In the meantime, I have been taking advantage of the weather, sunshine and quiet times to create a new vegetable patch in our garden. It is a luxury which I have not had time to work on for too long and something which is keeping me busy and sane. I am thankful that I have the space in which to do this theraputic work.
All best wishes to you, Charlie and Bridie for a healthy isolation.

Conniesays:

Sending much love from Kentucky, USA. Stay well and safe.

Barbara Leblancsays:

Thank you for your beautiful, inspiring thoughts and words. We hear your compassion. This one sentence keeps me grounded ” Forgive the present moment”.

Sincerely, a hospital nurse working in California

Lesly Dalysays:

I feel compelled to write my thanks to you for this post. Your words are sobering, but laced with compassion and hope. 

I feel for those who do not have the luxury of knowing where the next penny will come from.
My daughter is one of the legion of self-employed, an equestrian with little to no income right now – and I fear for her situation.
But I can share in her joy at being with the creatures she has built her life around. Just as you write of the comfort that the countryside and your animals give you.

Thank you for your words of wisdom. I shall carry them with me for a long time to come.
Safe journeys through Life to you and yours, and to each of your army of readers.

Margsays:

Heartfelt loving thanks to you and to all the front line workers helping us in grocery stores, long haul trucks, long term Seniors homes as well as hospitals and research labs.
Toronto, Canada

Deesays:

Thank you for your wise words Ben. Stay safe. x

Simonsays:

As always a wonderful uplifting post.
Can I perhaps give some comfort, I am informed by my GP that I have had it, it is unpleasant but is not a death sentence.
I would have been surprised if I had not caught it as a friend persuaded me I needed to go to Paris to see the art as a way of coming to terms with the very sudden and unexpected death of my partner and fiancee in early February.
Can I also flag up that the statistics are very much flawed because there is not enough testing being carried out. The UK rate is 5.9%, Germany is 0.5%.
So please try and put perspective that we are not going to know how this will evolve, the human spirit does survive and we are not all going to die from this disease, what we can do is change the way the world works and have as much compassion and understanding for all our neighbours and their problems do not pass by on the other side of the road but be a true Samaritan (as my fiancee was) to those in need and who many would reject and pass by.

Joan MacDowellsays:

Thank you Ben for taking the time to send such a heartfelt post…indeed a scary, surreal time. We can only hope for brighter days ahead and come away with a new appreciation of life. Stay safe, sending love from Texas to you, Charlie & dogs❤️

Elspeth Westbrook Willcoxonsays:

Ben, your thoughts are lovely and just what I need to hear this morning. Much love to you and Charlie.
XO Elspeth

Susnsays:

Thank you. That was beautiful.

Fionasays:

Thank you – this has hit my inbox after a frustrating week trying to work from home and with my self employed carpenter husband now no longer able to work. This helped. Our sons are in Ireland, America and Australia and we are all worried about each other and envy those who have their families close by.
This morning saw some amazing small birds in the garden from my vantage point of my desk in the bay window of our sitting room and felt strangely happy. This post from Ben has been the icing on the cake.

Debrasays:

Dear Ben
Heartfelt thanks for a poignant sobering blog.
At this present time all of us are confused scared and sad at the speed this pandemic as changed our lives and our world. God bless us all and hope we can get through to the other side.So sorry to hear about your neighbour take care Ben and Charlie thank you fir finding the time to write this blog your words are always a comfort.

Thank you, Ben! These are indeed shockingly difficult times, but I think you’re right that something beautiful will come of all this. In solidarity, and sending love and very best wishes to you and your wonderful P&H family, Erika

Meredithsays:

Your words, and the love and care behind them go straight to my heart…..when I think of all my favorite places and people in such hurt and turmoil-I will try and take a huge, deep breath and then exhale nothing but love and hope for us all. As a lover of history, I know that taking the long view will show us many instances where we have weathered shocks to the system such as this….but your spirit and generosity of heart gives me even more hope we will emerge better and with more compassion for our fellow travelers.
Sending virtual hugs….

Melaniesays:

If there’s one thing I’ve come to understand, it’s that everything has a way of working out. Your words and pictures have inspired me. I send you all love and healing ❤️

Gillysays:

Thank you for that lovely post. Big massive thanks to the health worker who left a comment too.
You are all heroes in my book. Big thanks to all the shop/ supermarket/ delivery workers too..

Johnsays:

Hi Ben,

I’ve had an awful time and your post helped me…. My lovely dog Martha died on Feb 24 and I lost my job the same week. I’m in Australia so I somehow think we’ll be sheltered but I’m not so sure now.
It’s time to be friends and look at the good things that bind us. I miss Martha terribly and I’m not sure how I will cope isolation. But I’ll try. x

Mary Jean Farmersays:

Hello from Piddlehinton. I have been self shielding (for health] on my own for a full week now. At first I felt really sad for myself but I have been shown such kindness from friends and neighbours I feel really lucky.
Thank you Ben for being so realistic about the situation. If people aren’t anxious they won’t obey the rules. I hope you will give us the progress of your garden. I feel I’m beginning to know every nook and cranny. I’m determined to live long enough to glimpse it for real myself one day, even if is only from the church yard.

Sarasays:

THANK YOU Thank you

Elainesays:

Your words bring tears to my eyes because you verbalise what hopefully many of us feel. Thank you and love to you, Charlie and the dogs
.

Donnasays:

I am a health care provider, and any encouragement is truly appreciated. Your words will resonate with me throughout my day and into my future days.

Angiesays:

Thank you for your thoughts Ben. With my family in Brazil and Australia I worry worldwide but we must breathe deeply and concentrate on the Beauty of the World if at all possible. Keep Safe.

Nancysays:

Thank you for such a thoughtful commentary on these extraordinary days.

Wishing you and everyone around you the very best in the coming months.

Bridgetsays:

Thank you

Faribasays:

Thank you for your beautiful writing and for being realistic… it’s easier to close our eyes and dream that these days will be over soon, which is what I am trying so hard to do, but maybe it’s best to accept that the world will be a very different place after everyone is vaccinated, and keep optimistic thinking about how we will all have a chance to shape the new ‘normal’ – Much love to all

Helen Andersonsays:

What a thoughtful, lovely, and somehow heartening post. Thank you, and best wishes to you and Charlie and the animals. Keep safe x

Bill Follettsays:

A lovely read to begin my day. Best wishes and good health to you all

Pamelasays:

Thank you Ben for taking the time to write such a thoughtful piece . It speaks on many levels to the difficult times that face us. Bless you and your family.

Kimsays:

❤️

melaniesays:

Thank you Ben for taking time to write such a beautiful post.

It’s as if we are all holding our breath for others, at the sadness around us and the times to come and who knows what the world will hold once we get to the other side.

Love to you all and everyone your post touches.

Davinasays:

As usual, your post was beautifully written. Today if really touched me. Thank you.

Birgitsays:

Dear Ben,
thank you so much for your words, I believe also we are in a change time and whatever this time brings, I do hope everything will ending good for all of us ! I hope it so much ….. please stay safe and healthy, you, Charlie and everyone you know !
All my best wishes, yours Birgit.

Tracey Ellinsays:

Kia kaha

Anna K.says:

A heart rending post, Ben.

When disaster strikes overseas we respond speedily and generously. Surely we can set up a disaster fund for the self-employed here at home to supplement government payouts. Lucky retired people like me, with mortgages paid, would love to feel we are doing something, however small, to help those whose lives are crumbling around them.

I’m an oldie, and wouldn’t know how to start the ball rolling on social media, but if anyone is prepared to set up a fund I stand ready to contribute – and others will too, I am sure.

Gwynsays:

Thank you Ben, from Canberra, Australia, where it would seem we are a little behind Britain’s virus timeline but it is catching up fast. I too wonder where it will all end, to be honest I try not to dwell on it too much and try to take one day at a time. I do know that we more people like you around, people with good heart and attitude. Love to you and Charlie and you beloved pets.

annie riggsays:

Thank you Ben for such a wonderful, thoughtful and measured post. It moved me to tears.
Wishing you and yours the very best of health

Rebecca Haydensays:

Dear Ben, Thank you for taking the time to write to write your post. It is indeed such difficult times for everyone. My husband is self employed and desperately worried about his business and his staff. I am a trained nurse, not quite on the frontline yet but I fear it is only a matter of time. My family are in Norway and I know it will be a long, long time before I can see them again.
I am frightened that this terrible virus will take people I love and maybe me but I know we have to go on. Humans have faced things like this before and survived.
Please keep writing, it is such a pleasure to see your photos and be taken away from grim reality even for a short time. Much love to you, Charlie and the animals, stay safe. Xx

annie riggsays:

Thank you Ben – what a wonderful, measured and thoughtful post. It moved me to tears.
Wishing you and yours the very best of health.

Patricia Lillian Taylorsays:

Thank you so much – keep safe x

Lesleysays:

Thank you Ben.

Lesley

Ellen Hoffmannsays:

Thank you,

marta tominssays:

Thank you so much for this wonderful essay, Ben. Here in Ontario, Canada, we’re in lockdown right now trying to “flatten” the terrible Covid-19 curve. My daughter and her family make it possible for us, who are in the most vulnerable category (age and health), to live with hope and determination and pleasure — today, for example, watching 17-month-old Sammy learning to wash his hands! All the best to all of us. Marta

Scottsays:

Love to you and yours, Ben.

Philsays:

Oh my goodness, love in return Ben, and thankyou for taking the time to write all that down.

Kathleensays:

Thanks for your lovely post Ben. A surreal time indeed. Love to all my fellow Brits from an expat over the other side of the Atlantic. Stay safe everyone.

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