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The year is on the brink of turning….

6 December 2020
Ben Pentreath
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Is it the second lockdown, or was it just that we had a weird technical glitch that prevented me from writing (or at least, from posting a blog) for weeks? Whatever the reason this time, a month has passed.  Whereas in early November there were leaves on the trees, they have all gone. And dust is settling too in all sorts of other ways.

And it feels to me as if the year really is on the turn, as we hurtle now towards the shortest day.

Although I didn’t write, I was still looking, and taking photographs, so this is a long and mainly visual diary of nothing happening at all!

 

W E E K   1

The walks were cold and bright and breezy…. extraordinary vivid colours, as if David Hockney had woken up and rendered the Dorset hills, normally so soft, in bright technicolour.

This week it was my birthday.  Charlie and I celebrated by getting take-out fish & chips and downing a magnum of champagne. 

The Crown came out and we watched the whole lot in one go.  Oh, yes, maybe that’s another reason the blog didn’t get written one week?

We popped out for a breather, to get some air, and give the dogs a run around, down by the lake, looking beautiful in late autumn colours. 

The following week, bright and clear again. 

Then I was up in London for a few days of work, site visits, meetings (socially distanced – but there are some decisions that cannot be made, some conversations that cannot be had, over a screen).  Digital v. reality.

 

W E E K S   2   &  3

The following weekend, a heavy mist hung in the air for days.

Charlie is digging a new huge patch in the garden for his show bench entries 2021.  The meadow has made way for production. Watch this space!

Mavis had cut herself somehow, and needed stitches, hence her wearing a pair of my old boxer shorts – kinder than the cone of shame.  All is well now. Enid has taken to spending quite a bit of time with the Sunday papers these days. 

Eventually the mists cleared…

We went for a late afternoon walk….

It was utterly magical and dreamlike up top on the high hills…

Home for sunset…

 

W E E K  4

And then this week, I’ve been in Cornwall for 2 days visiting our sites there.   Here was Mousehole, icy cold, blue grey, on Friday morning as the sun came up – the village of my 18th and 19th century ancestors. We are working down beyond St. Buryan.

An early morning visit to Newlyn, to inspect a newly laid roof, which we will be doing something similar to…. views over the fishing harbour…. The most beautiful little artist’s studio, being perfectly restored by our builders.  And such a beautiful roof too!

Lanes of Newlyn – it is so good to be in Cornwall in the depths of winter.

On the way back from the project I called in to Truro, to the Crescent that I designed many years ago now, but which is finally nearing completion – it is thrilling to see.  It did all work out.  The square in the middle of these houses will be allotments for the development. This is incredibly exciting to me! Each patch waiting to go now.

And home after a long few days. 

Scaffolding nearly down and windows looking resplendent and repaired, with their fresh coat of paint. The colour changed from pale grey to sand, it’s a nice one, very old-fashioned feeling.

Sibyl inspecting things. 

Charlie’s been putting the Christmas decorations up! Tinsel this year!!

Camelias picked in Cornwall.

This morning, we went for a beautiful walk…

It was such a lovely morning we decided to make it a bit longer, and to head over toward the coast, on to the Ridgeway. 

Dreamlike landscapes and cloud and light, as if we were floating. 

Ancient standing stones and a distant view of St. Catherine’s chapel at Abbotsbury, on the horizon. The high places of Dorset. 

The road down to Portesham.

We continued over to the ancient burial barrow called the Hell Stone – believed to have been built 4500-6000 years ago, although restored in the 19th century. 

Old barns, at the bottom of the valley, nearly gone.

Imagine how this must have been once.  

And back up to Hardy’s monument, and then home over the high hills, the village in the distance, tucked into the folds of the valley. 

A holly bush was alight with berries.  The hills were alight with magic.  A view full of possibilities.

And so the year turns. I’m back up in London now, and we’ve got two busy weeks in the office as you can imagine.

I wanted to end by thanking everyone for their incredible support of the shop over the last few weeks. Emily, Kinga, Ben (not me) and now Roland and Jemima have been packing away – the Christmas elf department is in overdrive.  It’s really been one of the most amazing things for Bridie and I this year to see how kindly people have supported the shop through what has been one hell of a year. This Christmas will, I think, be making all the difference.

Last week, I put up our new poster on Rugby Street….

It bears a message from all the little shops of Lambs Conduit and Rugby Streets – and a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has continued to support us, and who’ll be shopping locally this month.  We’re all incredibly grateful:

With Seasons Greetings and best wishes for a Peaceful New Year – with love from your Traders’ Association!

I don’t think we can wish for more than that!!