The first time I entered Pentreath & Hall was around eight years ago. Instagram was just an odd place where you posted pictures of trees (my first post was a tree) and not the interiors monster it is today. Pentreath & Hall was everything I knew I loved but didn't know how to experience it. I went in and was blown away by the style, the collection, the look. I wanted everything in there, and that sentiment has stayed true to this day. Between the design eyes of Bridie Hall & Ben Pentreath, how could it not?
Bridie's eye for colour is something to behold, and thankfully we all can as her range of products has been in every interiors magazine imaginable. A few years ago Pentreah & Hall let House & Garden pop up in their shop next door; it was great for me as I was assisting in the setup. I got to know Bridie a little better in those two weeks, and of course her excellent dog Max. I remember asking her then whether it was hard coming up with all her ideas, to which Bridie replied: 'I have too many ideas, it's hard choosing which one to do' (perhaps not verbatim as it was a few years ago). Having now done Tat for several years I am still no closer to producing anything. So I am amazed that people can consistently make exciting & beautiful pieces that people are proud to have in their homes, all of which rings true for Bridie's range of products.
In the heady days of 2019, Tat spent two weeks popping up there. If you had told me a few years ago that I would have been in this position then I would have said you were a loon. But there I was, with my odd bits and bobs, wandering into P&H to have a gawp and a natter. That shop still fills me with excitement to this day, and I am going to hazard a guess that that excitement ain't going anywhere!
Favourite Day of The Week?
It’s got to be Thursday because the hardest tasks of the week are normally completed and then quickly usurped by Friday which is then also instantly forgotten upon waking on Saturday.
It’s normally whatever restaurant I happen to be sitting in at the time. Across the road from the shop is Nobel Rot which is always just the best, especially for a sneaky work lunch. But then we’re spoilt with La Fromagerie being our next door neighbour and having the epic cheap and cheerful Ciao Bella at the end of the road too. I won’t complain about being spoilt for choice and can say I’m happy to keep sampling regularly from each.
Best Moment in your career so far?
I’m not so sure that there has been a moment, I do have these flare-ups of excitement and pride when I realise that I’m still thrilled at how things are turning out and still feel like the best is absolutely yet to come and it’s going to be from lots of different things and no one singular moment.
Someone who has helped you?
I can ruminate on something like this for a long time and again could not single out any one person in particular who has helped me. I can say that I have had had the excellent fortune to be blessed with many personal champions and supporters in my life but then again I don’t think this comes through luck and more like hard work and that hard work being recognised for what it is.
I feel like if I say one then I’ll be cheating on all the others! Colour plays far too an important role in my life to favour just one! I’ll say what gardeners say when they are asked what their favourite flower is, they say ‘whatever is in season’. So I’ll say ‘whatever colour I’m looking at’
Any good advice? Who gave it to you?
I wish I had the memory to retain and requote the countless pieces of good advice I’ve been given over the years and I hope I’m continuing to apply them whatever they might be. Actually, one that does stick in my mind is when I went through the briefest spell of waking up in the middle of the night to worry’. “Worry is your imagination making up things that don’t exist yet,” I think I heard it on the radio and it seemed to immediately calm all that down for me.
Being completely visually minded I rarely read fiction and can never retain a single word, not even the title, so I’m always stumped when asked for anything like holiday book recommendations and normally say that I can’t really read. I do a lot of looking through and I own a lot of books and being given “Je suis le cahier - The Sketchbooks by Picasso” earlier this year was the greatest treat and one I keep going back too.
What is the thing keeping you sane at the minute?
Lots of resting and eating and watching good television. And going to bed very early. I loved the newest remake of the series ‘All Creatures Great & Small’ so much, so started watching the originals. There are 90 episodes and are so good. This weekend just gone we began re-watching ‘The Darling Buds of May’ and it’s pure gold. Set in the post-war Kent countryside, Ma and Pa Parkin dazzle the boring visiting tax inspector Charlie with their generous hospitality then marry him to their daughter (Catherine Zeta-Jones) the most beautiful girl in the land, so he happily stays there forever helping them dodge tax and live the good life. It’s totally hilarious.
If I’m working I can listen to every and any Desert Island Discs episode, I’ve listened to my favourites as much as five or six times each now and I think that would be my specialist subject if I were to ever appear on Mastermind.
Savoury things, like a chicken roasting or souffle baking, onions frying, cheese scones baking. Maybe because I think these all taste as good as they smell. I’m extremely food focussed and am often completely set off by the smell of frying garlic or grilling cheese wafting through my office window from the kitchen of La Fromagerie next door. I really love the smell of my little cat Albie too. He doesn’t do it very often but when he comes in for a cuddle he really likes to press himself up close and he smells like hay and nature, even though we live in Islington and it makes me think about his life and what he gets up to out there and how he likes to spend a part of it with me and I love him for that.
Do you believe in Star Signs?
Sometimes yes and sometimes no. I am a Libra and I have to say it hasn’t gone unnoticed that I’ve answered a lot of these questions in a fair and balanced Libran way. So today – yes.
Best Tube Stop/ Line?
Whichever one I’m walking past and don’t have to go into. I practically walk everywhere, failing that the majority of my life happens off (and on) any one of the stops of the number 38 bus.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I really badly wanted to be a vet, I think I still do and I feel like my revisiting the All Creatures Great & Small series is virtually as good as vet school, almost every episode includes an all too graphic scene involving some kind of procedure to do with the back end of a cow. I reckon I could handle that.
What is the worst job you’ve done?
They’re always when you’re a student aren’t they? You know those weird orange lantern flowers that are just a stalk and then the orange lantern things? I had a job for a week or two once having to meticulously pick off any tiny roots coming off the bulbs under freezing cold water and standing on concrete, it was freezing and back-breaking. My best job was working at the Auckland Museum and there was an exhibition about forensic science on where they staged a murder and the visitors had to go through the exhibit solving the murder through various forensic clues. I got to dress up as a forensic scientist for a summer and boss everyone around the murder scene.