“Doing [My] Research”

One of the benefits of a thoroughly wet day, apart from watering the garden, is that it gives an opportunity to finish reading a book such as

Apart from the evident foxing, this virtually unblemished dust jacket has protected and preserved

the gold embossed design on the cover of J.M. Dent’s first edition of the work for 66 years, 40 of which have stood on my shelves in various abodes. Even the desiccated spider which slid from between two pages as I opened them left no mark on the almost pristine leaves.

Mr Gibbings has treated us to another delightful ramble into his mind and his talents. He takes us along the river of Paris from its source to its mouth, diverting from his poetic prose descriptions into the realms of history, pre-history, geography, nature, geology, myth, and legend. We are treated to anecdotes picked up on the way; to the Bayeux tapestry; to relations between England and France, and even Quebec; to the Lascaux caves; to the art of Sisley and Monet. And much more. All this with effortless humour. The many wood engravings number more than 50.

As usual I have reproduced complete sample pages

in order that the elegance of both engravings and writing can be displayed.

When, after drafting this, I settled down to start on my next book, Jackie decided to offer an image of me “doing [my] research”.

On Sam’s stag day in December 2007, we toured the wine tasting establishments at Margaret River. I had enjoyed the samples so much that I enquired about the cost of shipping a case to England. It was prohibitive. I had no such problem with the superb bottle of Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 brought all the way from Perth by Mick and Gay on their recent visit. This was a superb accompaniment to Jackie’s chicken thighs marinaded in sweet chilli sauce; vegetable rice, and broccoli served for our dinner this evening. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden.


  1. Is that a description of the paintings in the Lascaux caves that you have enlarged for us Derrick – it is wonderfully observational! It makes me want to read what he has to say about the more modern French painters you mention. Jackie’s photo of you in your reading corner is another delight to see – surely the dust jacket photo for your collected diaries ๐Ÿ™‚ I wonder though should you be mentioning Jackie’s chicken thighs?

    1. Glad you got the chicken thighs joke, Pauline. Couldn’t be further from the truth – in a positive way. Yes – it was the Lascaux caves, which he, of course would have seen in the original – today visitors are given a facsimile. He has good descriptions of the more modern ones, too. I’ll soon feature what I was reading in the photo. Thanks very much

  2. It looks like a day well-spent, and you look comfortable doing your research!
    It was nice of Jackie to drink something else and leave more wine for you. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. YAY for a rainy day! And getting time to read! You look well and happy and cozy in your research-spot. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ™‚ I love when you share the books you have and/or read. And the illustrations are always a joy to pour over.
    “Jackie’s chicken thighs”…I snort-laughed! ๐Ÿ˜› I’m sure her thighs are not chickeny-looking! I’m sure they are quite beautiful!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜€ Although, my Dad did have chicken legs! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
    HUGS!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. That is as beautiful and lyrical an opening as can be possibly imagined. I am already headed to Amazon to pluck a paperback of the book, if available, or else Iโ€™ll try my luck on the Kindle.

  5. Incidentally, that is a classy portrait that captures the vibrancy and magnanimity of the person complete in his environmental trappings. Kudos to Jackie!

  6. the drawings (in ink) of this book are absolutely fantastic.
    I still enjoy virtually (what a pity it is virtual) menus of the queen of the kitchen: D
    When to your reading corner; I imagine so in winter near the radiator, a good book between the hands
    Beautiful weekend

  7. One of the very few days when our weather seems to have something in common, but alas i do not have something of comparable quality to spend my time with, certainly not in the figurative sense at least. ๐Ÿ™‚

    That fireplace of yours looks worthy of a photo story in itself and you look eminently suited beside it.

    It is a sad truth that one of the few disadvantages to living here on the West Coast of Aus is the exorbitant cost of sending (or receiving) anything to anywhere else by post. (Something the Chinese seem to have completely overcome somehow??) it is a pity that Customs prohibit the entry of more than 2 bottles of the Margaret River produce to your country at one time… but at least they allow it!

    Here’s to ‘research’ – Cheers! ๐Ÿ™‚ ?

  8. That research looks like very hard work Derrick! You look quite the quintessential Englishman sitting there. โ˜บ
    What a lovely book and the engravings are wonderful.

    1. Andrew, how did you manage to have three sunny days? Thatโ€™s so unfair, maybe I should move to the East Coast! The day before yesterday we had torrential rain for most of the day and yesterday it began again after lunch, today it has rained non stop since around eight oโ€™clock.

      1. Wednesday we were in York and the sun shone now and again and by the time we got to Whitby it was glorious, on Thursday we had lovely weather in Robin Hood’s Bay and for a NYMR train ride to Pickering and on Friday we had good weather all the way south until we arrived in Lincolnshire. How wonderfully unpredictable is the English weather!

        1. I have watched rain falling heavily across the fields and my house didnโ€™t receive a drop.

          Love all three places mentioned, and was just talking to Brian (Lord Beari) earlier about both York and Whitby. Brian said he had the fish n chips ever and best beer ever in York. I said my best fish n chips came from Whitby. Was the NYMR the steam train? Lovely journey that one.

  9. I actually donโ€™t mind the rain if I have nowhere to go. Nothing better than curling up on the sofa, feeling warm and dry, a good book in hand and listening to the sound of the rain hitting the window panes!

  10. I like nothing more than finding a fellow book lover and also That pic of you sitting in the chair by the window reading is my dream of a perfect moment. Thank you so much! c

  11. Loved the share of your beautifully preserved book Derrick, and while you were researching these beautiful engravings I finished of the front of my sweater ๐Ÿ˜€ But Hubby was saved from watering the allotment..
    Chatsworth calls tomorrow.. rain or no rain..
    Enjoy your weekend Derrick..
    And LOVED the photo of you sitting researching! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. What a wonderful book, Derrick! I have made a note of it and it has gone on my ‘to be read’ list. I also think the photo Jackie took of you in your cosy corner is a winner.

  13. Such a cozy nook
    to read a book,
    in that ample
    leather chair.
    It might rain all day,
    but with book in hand,
    You really don’t
    need to care

    Cheers x Boomdee

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