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When are you going to blog again?

5 July 2020
Ben Pentreath
64 Comments

There was a rather forlorn, but kind, comment posted recently on my last blog: “When are you going to blog again?”.

And I’m sorry it’s been such a long time.

But it’s for various reasons.  First, was I alone in feeling that the world had taken a turn of events where the last thing anyone needed was more commentary, more writing? Instead, I felt very keenly, it was a time to be quiet – a time to listen, to reflect, and not to speak.

Second, I’ll be honest too, work’s been a struggle, keeping on top of things as the months have tumbled inexorably by; and we find ourselves, blinkingly, in July, the year half gone, rolling into a sense of autumn now.

Third, weeks have flown by, merged into one another, spring hastened into a turbulent summer. Those strange, halting, sad yet emotional and strangely releasing early weeks of lockdown gave way to different, more complicated energies.  Writing anything has been the last thing on my mind.

It feels to me as if malicious and unsettling forces are abroad, in many aspects of life.  Many of them fuelled, perhaps, by a media that constantly needs a new narrative – that constantly seeks to build heroes up, only to their tear them down, and find new heroes, who turn all too soon into villains.  So, now, comes the recrimination time. Someone must be to blame! And that’s something I’m anxious to avoid. I’ve always, always lived my life on a mantra of – look after and care for the things that are directly within your control. Do so diligently and happily and thoughtfully. Regular readers of the blog will know this. Don’t freak out about the things that are out of your control. Your mind is being constantly manipulated by a diet of daily news, instagram, social media and politics to do so. Sometimes (quite recently, in fact) I’m criticised by readers for sticking my head in the sand – ignoring the world as it is.  But, you will have to find me as I am. I’m not going to enter the debates on who is to blame for what. It’s not ignorance, it’s not complacency on my part.  It’s maybe, just maybe, that tiny reflection of true human nature – which many would do well to learn, that it’s easy to be right with the benefit of hindsight. And ultimately, that the truth is more complex and more subtle than that.

What a year it’s been. Charlie, just this evening, sent me a photo of the beach down at Hive Beach one year ago today – on a beautiful, flat calm evening, with hardly a ripple in the sea. A contrast to the unseasonable storm howling through the cracks in the windows and tearing down the chimney tonight.

A year ago, we were less than a week away from my Dad’s funeral.  That was a terrible year for me, lurching from sadness to sadness. And I’d had such a gentle, good feeling about 2020, this near year; a feeling of life restoring itself, Charlie heading to NZ to see his family this spring (their autumn), a year of happy times ahead to be spent at the bothy – and a hard year, too, moving into our new office and lots of work, and completing the book which was due this autumn, for publication next year.  How strangely the world still seemed on the tipping point of normal, back in February, when Charlie flew to New Zealand and the dogs and I drove to Dorset for what I thought was going to be a blissful three weeks of self-isolation (before the term had been invented).

Now: friends are dead, the world is turned upside down, there is anger afoot. But for me, if I’m allowed, can I say that I’ve also seen the most beautiful, gentle, caring sides of human nature; the best of times in the office, and at the shop, and in Dorset, amongst our neighbours, as everyone rallied so hard to make things work out well. It’s the most exciting of times too, now, as Rugby Street and Lambs Conduit Street carefully and cautiously and happily get back to life; and the most serene of times, as we’ve enjoyed an incredible, incredible spring – day after day of which was recorded in the earlier pages of the blog. To spend so much time without moving, observing tiny changes of nature day by day, was a gift and privilege that we all in the village felt.

I’ve written before that it feels like a dream time is ending now. I’ve been up in London now for a few weeks, re-opening the office after a huge renovation, and helping to re-open the shop too, last week this week, after a beautiful refit. Like waking from a long sleep, it’s hard, sometimes, to actually get up and get on. But that is what I think is needed now. We’ll need moments of reflection – throughout our waking hours – on what we’ve seen and thought in our dreams – but nonetheless, it’s about the day now. It’s time to wake up.

You’ve made it to the end of a rambling monologue. So here are photographs, in no particular order, and with no captions, of the further six weeks that have passed since I last wrote. Amongst all the troubles of the world, it’s been a time of staggering natural beauty. And, tired as I am this evening, nice to be able to cast my eyes back, week by week, on every change in field, and garden.

We end, appropriately, perhaps, with the hills of the village shrouded in fog, yesterday. A moment of ethereal beauty, but we hope the clouds will clear soon. There was just the tiniest hint of autumn in the air.

64 comments on this post

Peggysays:

You, your writing and photos, are missed!!!
Badly.

Suzysays:

Thank you for being such a top life enhancer

MaryBsays:

Thank you for your words, they are so sensible and calm. Thank you for the pictures, they take me to a beautiful place!

I hope you are well, and Charlie also. And the dogs and garden…

What a year.

Tanyelsays:

Thank you for these beautiful images. Please keep writing. Like many others, I find this blog to be very soothing. Although I am at home now (working remotely) I am usually working in intense and sometimes challenging environments like Basra and Mosul in Iraq or rural Liberia. Making a cup of (usually instant, but better than nothing) coffee on a weekend morning and then reading your blog has become a little ritual and has given me what feels like an outsized sense of calm and happiness in what is often chaos around me. I am always grateful when there is a new entry.

Tracy Goodingsays:

So poignant and so beautiful. Thank you Ben. Love Tracy

Jennifersays:

Always nice to read your words and see images of your surroundings, the glorious countryside, in fact many of your pastoral scenes remind me of your chap Eric Ravilious and his glorious landscapes. Greetings from an also seemingly grey wintery day in New Zealand…stay safe and well… Cheers

Avrilsays:

Like you I live in a beautiful house, take country walks and take photographs of my lovely garden. It has been calm and restful to self isolate in such lovely surroundings. However, it has not been like that for many in our country so I feel that the decision makers who have overseen the deaths of 45053 people as I write must be held to account and the media has a key role in doing so. My privilege must not allow me to forget the realities out there.There is worse to come I fear unless decisions are made sensibly now to prepare for the autumn and I cannot see that happening with our current policy makers.

Nicola Lawrencesays:

Oh to Dorothy’s beautiful comments, above.

I hope you have a chance to rest again Ben – you do sound busy (the photos are beautiful). All well at our end – enjoying nature and pretty things – albeit on the hop. xx

Cackiesays:

Thank you for sharing ALL of this. Your words were such a balm and so aligned with how I have been feeling during this turbulant time. And your beautiful photos give me a delightful and serene rabbit hole to escape down into. Many blessings to you from across the pond.

Maureensays:

I, like everyone else, have missed your blog and your lovely photos. I love your writing and am always transported away by it. Thank you so much for your post.

Southern Galsays:

so glad you are back… have been working hard remotely…a balm to see these images…like coming home. please continue being you.

Junesays:

Your “rambling monologue” is nothing but solace to me. Thank you, Ben.

Silsays:

Thank you, Ben! 🙂

Pierre B.says:

Where was I? I meant “posts” of course. Sorry.

Pierre B.says:

Dear Ben, you don’t “have” to write but many of your usual readers welcome your blogs whenever they come. Though I miss the dogs even if cows and ducks are nice.

Deborah A Hardtsays:

BRAVO.
Have missed your posts very much and glad you are back.
Enjoy your books, blog and shop.
From a fellow Architect in the USA,
Deborah

Karensays:

Beautiful words, beautiful photos. Thank you for sharing them with us.

Narissasays:

It’s so lovely to read your blog again, your beautiful words and photos of day to day life are always a joy as are those of your growing menagerie of animals! Thank you from far away in Australia and take care.

Kathsays:

We are heading into winter now down here in New Zealand. Our lives are looking pretty good at the moment. No more Covid19 within our community’s thank god. Borders closed to the world. I fear it will be quite a while before we all can venture out into the rest of the world. I will miss my yearly visits to the UK but your blog makes me feel closer. Our trip around Dorset, Devon and the Cornwall coast last (your) summer will be remembered for a long time. Such a beautiful part of the UK. Will dream of returning one day. Your blog keeps me connected. Thank you Ben.

Annasays:

Like all the best things in life: worth waiting for, and I trust you know from your commentators that your thoughtful words of wisdom and exquisite and generous images are definitely high on the list of ‘best of all things’. In the world of social media it is so easy to fall prey to thoughts that everyone’s life is more charmed, ‘better’, etc etc. You remind me to simply look out of the window into my tiny urban garden and see that all is also good and beautiful here. Thank you

Darlene Chandlersays:

Dear Ben:

So happy to hear from you today; and happy that you and Charlie are fairing during this upheaval in our world. I too try and keep a positive attitude and appreciation for all, without having debates. I am happy that your shop is open and your new offices. Yes this summer is going by fast it seems. Thank you again for the lovely pictures. As that other reader noted, you both are an inspiration to everyone and so appreciated. I just love your beautiful surroundings that you can escape to and have some calmness. Lucky we all have our nature to turn to during this time. I do so love your duck family. Please take care and all the best to you and Charlie and thank you.

Dorothysays:

Dear Ben
Your blog is more important than you know.
I first wrote those words eight years ago, when my husband died, and now I am writing them again….

Your blog is such a source of solace and comfort and it grieves me so much when people who are lacking any sort of empathy are unkind.

It is absolutely lovely to have you back, and I shall go to bed tonight knowing that all is right with the world whilst there sre still people like you in it.

Dorothy

Donnasays:

Such eloquence and such poignancy

Alexandrasays:

We have just returned from a glorious weekend in Eype where the waves were huge and we never got into the sea as it was borderline frightening! It was our first weekend out of the big smoke and felt like the world had calmed as I lay in bed listening to the waves pound the shores below. We drove into the fog on Friday morning as we hit the Bride Valley (we went to look at a house in Long Bredy, but alas, too small, for a move out of town to accommodate my gargantuan children). The light and those soft hills like patchwork from a distance. . They are what constantly amaze me. And tea with friends in our little cabin on Saturday. It is such a wonderful part of the world you live in. The search continues for a house. We return next week to try again! I love your writing.

Sallysays:

Thank you.

Patriciasays:

Even saying the word autumn makes me wistful. Thank you for your post it’s always inspirational. Wishing you the best of health.

Arthursays:

Thank you for the comments, and photos. I am in San Francisco and the days are often challenging. You provide a break and hope.

Julianna Vaughansays:

Thank you for taking the time to write. I love your thoughts and photos. I agree with everything you said!

odl bauersays:

lovely dearest ben! you are the guardian angel of all of our hearts and souls with your beautiful positive way of living life, and keeping us all inspired by sharing all of your simply exquisite photos
with us! I thank you forever for this very precious gift! je vous embrasse fort! Odl

Birgitsays:

Dear Ben,
thank you very much for all your words and amazing photos. You are so busy and that you still take your time always and always again to do this. I always enjoy every IG post and also your blog , a big hug and thank you so much dear Ben. All my best wishes to you and Charlie, yours Birgit from Germany 🙂
Unfortunately no travelling into the UK ….. hopefully for better times …..

Rivasays:

Back-lit pastured cows – breathtaking! Wish I could paint it. Just one of your gorgeous images, such respite during troubling times. Thank you.

Emmasays:

Thank you for sharing these very special pictures, welcome back.

Allensays:

So simply and beautifully stated. I agree with all of your sentiments! Thank You. Welcome back. 🙂

Florence Fellmansays:

NEVER CHANGE! YOU ARE CHERISHED AS YOU ARE AND WE KNOW EVERYTHING YOU SAY COMES FROM YOUR HEART TO OUR HEARTS. OUT HERE IN PACIFIC PALISADES,CALIFORNIA I LOOK FORWARD TO EVERY PHOTO OF YOUR DISTANT LIFE AND YOUR GENTLE, NOURISHING DRIVE TOWARDS BEAUTY. THANK YOU FOR MAKING THE WORLD A LITTLE MORE GENTLE AND A LOT
MORE WONDROUS.

Carmen Pachecosays:

Hi, Ben, I have never left before a comment in this blog although I follow you from Spain far time ago. Every time I come to London, I visit your pretty shop and I have bought all your books, even your last one,together with its good and practical bag. But at this time, I’ve felt that I must give you a present making this, giving my opinion -for firts time- on your last entry in the blog: I must say you I understand so well all you explain, describe -feelings, thoughts, expressions…- and above all, I think that one of best things of life is to be and to feel free to live, without pretensions of injury. If you live like this -and suspect you are like this- you will design a nice path for you trip of life and everypeople accompanying you.

Feel happy, you are a good guy, good professional and are surrounded of people who love and respect you.
Carmen Pacheco R.
(Seville,Spain)

Alidasays:

Within all that is current underneath there is a deeper sense of change a play in me, and with change comes movement, movement that throws everything up in the air and settles into a new patterns, yet to be discovered.
On the edge of change is turbulence which is disturbing, central to everything being turned upside down can be found a steadiness by holding on to values and sentiments as you have voiced in your blog, in which to focus. If I ask myself what kind of world I would want and if it isn’t where degeneration is, It will call for me to make stances against it but in doing so there is no need to reside there but rather be with what is regeneration. Some folk have welcomed the being free from stress and time to rebalance and appreciate what is worthwhile about being alive, others unfortunately not. What is to come is unknown and how it will all fallout, for myself it is to keep as still as possible which needs working on in the face of it all.

Dana Jenkinssays:

I’m so glad you’re back in words and , although you’ve heard the “you should be” words from a few, you will now read a lot of “your meaningful to us just as you are”. Many of us are listening to diverse voices and trying to decide what to live with, what to discard, what to mull on. We may change, we may not, we probably will but not as much as some would like us to. What I respect about your words is the quiet place you provide for the thinking to occur. Please don’t let the angry voices change that.

Jennifer E.says:

I was just thinking the other day that I’ve missed seeing your name in my inbox and here you are! These are such strange times and I find myself going back to your blog to reread old posts as a way of taking a break from the chaos of current events. Thank you for your thoughtful posts and your beautiful pictures. As you can see from the comments – they are important to many of us out here even if you don’t know us. Thank you!! xx

Deborah Wagnersays:

I’m glad you’re back, and I understand your delay. One must be ready for it, and sometimes one’s mind is simply too antic.

Speaking of, I have started to wake up in the depths of the night. Rather than toss and turn and disturb my husband, I slip out of bed, make a cup of herbal tea and curl up on the sofa with The Wind in the Willows. In the face of all the ugliness in our world, Mr. Toad and his motor cars and Mole’s foray into the Wild Wood in search of Badger are just the thing. I return to bed and slip into a blissful slumber.

When I reach the end of the book, I shall find my old copy of The Water Babies, because I think these ill winds will take some time to blow themselves out. Blow themselves out they will, though. We must keep hold of that.

Sending love, because love is the only thing that is real in all of this.

Deborah

Teddee Gracesays:

So good to know you and yours are faring as well as can be expected. Always enjoy and am refreshed by your beautiful photos.

Elizabeth Ksays:

Chiming in from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to agree with everyone else that we are so sorry that you’ve apparently been targeted by the self-righteous and over-simplifying anger addicts. I hope all these comments tell you how much back-up you have.

My only complaint: I’ve never been able to understand why you re-covered that wonderful Josef Frank-fabric-covered chair you had in Great Ormond Street. I was sighing over it again this weekend while looking at one of your books. Then I decided that someone must have spilled a glassful of red wine on it during a merry conversation, and new upholstery was the only cure. A cheering vision– so now I forgive you!

All good wishes to all creatures great and small at the Old Parsonage–
Elizabeth K

Stephanie Louise Murraysays:

I like you Ben, I am Scottish so ‘like’ means something else than the current easy click of a mouse. I totally relate to your mantra which is also mine and like you am constantly accused of not ‘living in the real world’ wherever and whatever that is ! I am lucky in that despite the madness around me I was able to move into a wonderful old house, unlived in for years with a huge garden once home to antelopes! Like you I rent and probably for the same reasons. I do not look for the huge shiny new thing but only to the small exquisite accidents of nature and the tail wagging of my two gorgeous dogs each day and all day. Keep smiling, the world is ours to see as we wish, the rest of it and all those who would have us tremble can go to hell. Love ( a big word ) Stephanie Louise Murray

David Sanderssays:

We seem to be living in strange and unsettling times, Ben. So, your feelings are entirely understandable. Heroes and villains – who knows? As you say: the media puts them up, then shoots them down; I no longer take any notice. In New Zealand, the virus threat is pretty much under control, so the lockdown has ended and schools, businesses etc. are all opened up. The borders are still closed, which means that a 14 day quarantine period in isolation is required for entry. Of course, there has been a considerable amount of economic carnage done and a fair amount of people have lost their jobs – but on balance we’re probably doing better than most. The thing is; until the world gets back to some sort of normality, we are all in this thing (deliberate vagueness intended) together. Best wishes, David.

DURANDsays:

COIN COIN
you again with yr words and photos
Thank you Ben.

joaniesays:

Well come you are and with a perfect reflection for going on. Thank you for your thoughts and photos tha always allow me to just move into a long deep inhale and exhale. Our summer in the Great Lakes is still in full green and flower, but I have spotted the isolated red.orange leave here and there to remind that fall ahead. It will be a very complicated season, as will winter. Yet wi will abide with your gentle reminder to just do good work and keep moving….just like the seasons. Amen and may the summer wind up be full and really hope you can get to the bothy!

Mary Brignanosays:

Oh, it’s so good to hear your voice — and how we have missed your wise words. Your photos are works of art. And as Mike says, have soothing effects. Thank you for taking time to blog.

Tomsays:

Thank tou. Absolutely lovely photos and thoughtful words. Love the ducks!

Dagmar Perezsays:

I enjoy reading your blog in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Good to see you writing again; I find your insights and observations soothing and inspiring in these strange times! God bless!

Alidasays:

Within all that is current underneath there is a deeper sense of change a play in me, and with change comes movement, movement that throws everything up in the air and settles into a new patterns, yet to be discovered.
On the edge of change is turbulence which is disturbing, central to everything being turned upside down can be found a steadiness by holding on to values and sentiments as you have voiced in your blog, in which to focus. If I ask myself what kind of world I would want and if it isn’t where degeneration is. It does call for me to make stances against it but in doing so there is no need to reside there but rather be with what is regeneration. Some folk have welcomed the being free from stress and time to rebalance and appreciate what is worthwhile about being alive, others unfortunately not. What is to come is unknown and how it will all fallout, for myself it is to keep as still as possible which needs working on.

Annasays:

My heart lifted when I saw your name in my inbox,Ben, knowing that your voice would be one of sanity, calm and gratitude in the midst of so much tubulence. Thank you for your wise, consoling words and for wonderful images that remind us that the flowers bloom, the trees come into leaf and the sweet,green world rolls on despite the chaos among ‘the madding crowd.’

Margaretsays:

Thank you so very much for your blog. It is thoughtful and beautiful in every way.

AnnieDsays:

Thank you for blogging again. I understand the challenge and difficulty so well. There have been too many voices, too much anger, too much sadness – especially here in the US. Every issue is a political one here at the moment, so filled with resentment and, yes, blame. Deciding not to join the noise is a conscious choice on my part. Just saying that leads to accusations of privilege and a lack of commitment to important causes and social justice. It’s exhausting and constant.

I’m drinking a cup of tea on Monday morning, trying to get ready to go into my office for only the second time since mid-March. I’ve worked harder than ever from home, and now relish the quiet and lack of commute. It is like waking up and I’m struggling against it.

I also felt there was a real sense of community and courage at the beginning, but it does seem to have disappeared. I fight back against the never ending media assault – can’t do more than glance at the news. I would shut my computer down completely except for blogs like yours (and there aren’t many other I read anymore) and the very carefully selected shows and lectures I find online that have helped give me hope and a sense of peace.

Thank you for voicing many of the things I have been feeling and for sharing your beautiful photos.

Deby (in Canada)says:

Oh Ben
Thank you for that …. I’m teary and calmer after reading your thoughts and soothed by your heavenly photos
Much love to you and Charlie xx Deby

Madelinesays:

Always a joy to see your beautiful photos. Thank you

Lucillesays:

Thank you again. I am sending a copy of your sixth paragraph to a young friend. When my own thoughts are too scrambled your writing and photos bring a precious moment of calm and tranquility.

Margaretsays:

Your words have brought tears to my eyes, thank you for your clarity. And of course, for your wonderful pictures.

Karensays:

So agree with Christine and all that you say Ben. Love to hear your take on life and the combination of your commentary and beautiful photos never fail to uplift my spirits.
So grateful you allow us to journey with you and Charlie. Thinking of you both.
Karen in NZ.

Fleursays:

Dear Ben

Thank you for sharing your words and beautiful photos. They bring a wonderful sense of peace after a difficult time for everyone. I have loved seeing the daily changes in the garden (and yours) and finding a wren nest. Best wishes, F.

Catmacsays:

I find your blog inspiring and am delighted you have felt able to blog again. Christine has described eloquently how we feel. Welcome back!

Christine Gascoignesays:

Dearest, dearest Ben – oh please do not let the naysayers get you down. Leave them to their own inadequate little world. YOU are one of the most wonderful, positive, grateful people on the planet. Surely you must know how much joy you bring to all of us who are devoted to your blog. I love the life you live. And admire what you do for so many in this world – a lot of which is unsung. I could feel a little deep sadness in this blog – but keep your chin up – you are precious to us !! With very much love to you and Charlie.
Christine Mount Macedon Australia

Lizziesays:

A real tonic – thank you.

Judithsays:

dear Ben, I may be over emotional but after reading the beginning of your blog, I could not hold back the tears. I have been wondering what ever will you think with all the goings on. You have written so eloquently; just exactly what I would if I had the talent; thank you and thank you again!

Mikesays:

I’ll add to the chorus of welcome backs,it’s good to hear all is well! Your photos are sublime as usual with their usual soothing effects.

Sandra Floodsays:

Good to see you back.

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