The Battle Of Longslade Bottom

After another wet morning I made a set of A4 prints of his last session on our roof for Barry, then scanned the next five of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to ‘Little Dorrit’.

In ‘The cloudy line of mules hastily tied to rings in the wall’, our vision is certainly clouded.

With ‘He found a lady of a quality superior to his highest expectations’, both author and artist have the tongues firmly in their cheeks.

‘As they wound down the rugged way, she more than once looked round’, depicts the slender limbs of these beasts of burden. The circle of the sun balances the picture nicely.

There is a wealth of period detail in ‘I write to you from my own room at Venice’.

‘To the winds with the family credit!’, cried the old man’, displaying far more animation than we have seen before.

Later this afternoon the weather brightened and we took a drive to Longslade Bottom, a favourite venue for

walkers and frolicking dogs.

The stream at the bottom of the slope is a Winterbourne – only flowing in winter.

Keep an eye on the young woman with two children beginning to make her way back up the slope.

Ponies quietly crop grass and crows noisily gather in the treetops.

As I ambled down the slope, who should I pass but the woman, now struggling with the two children, who still managed to find the energy to respond to my greeting.

Can anyone spot the changes in the writhing burdens?

Having reached their vehicle the battle to install the children inside it continued against a threatening sky to the shrieks of “I don’t want to”.

Particularly having watched so many children and dogs on these slopes, I must mention that the piles of canine excrement which I needed to avoid rivalled those of the ponies. Do the dog owners have any idea of the danger that what they leave to fester among the grass presents to children? (Anyone who doubts this should read John Knifton’s comment below).

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty chicken and vegetable stewp, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Macon vin de Bourgogne 2019.


  1. As Anne has said, I empathise too –
    sometimes, as a mum, you just don’t seem to have enough hands… or hips, or shoulders, for carrying children!
    It is sad – I’m sure most dog owners are totally responsible, but some areas can be somewhat blighted, as you have highlighted. Hopefully there will be a change to that, in time, for the sake of all people and animals.

    1. Thank you very much, Emma. That young woman must have been very strong. This particular spot is certainly blighted by people going to empty their dogs. I think some possibly don’t get out of their cars.

      1. Oh dear – not getting out of the car seems to totally defeat the object of ‘taking the dog/s for a walk’ – to say nothing of the obvious results… Hopefully things will change in time.

  2. Aren’t dog owners mandated to clean up after their pets as they do here, otherwise they face a hefty fine?
    The tantruming little ones change places in the larger photo, which is only visible in the color photo, rather than in the expressive black and white ones.
    This set of illustrations is exceptional as the previous ones, but I was most impressed by the dynamic composition of two riders galloping downwards from the left corner and the open mouths in the last one that express different emotions of the characters.

    1. Well analysed, Dolly. You also saw the change of child burden. Dog owners are so mandated – but how can this be policed in open land? There are a number of popular spots and I try to draw attention to it sometimes. Thank you very much.

      1. My pleasure, Derrick. What about posting signs with boxes of plastic bags attached and a trash can nearby? That’s how they do it here. Also, hidden cameras in popular spots are effective deterrents; even though I am not sure they actually exist, but warnings are posted.

        1. There are special bins posted in the less out of the way areas, but even they are ignored at times. It’s a bit like covid – how can you get some people to be responsible?

  3. Love the birds in the trees. Thanks for the new word – winterbourne’. I suppose it has to be a decent sized stream, not just a temporary rivulet.

  4. First she carried the little one and then the elder gave her grief so she needed to pick that one up. It was a struggle. I must admit I would not have been as tolerant. I am always delighted to be given the chance to look for Diggory Venn.

    1. They do. It must be nearly 50 years ago now that The Folio Society invited members to make suggestions for pairings of books and artists. I made the suggestion of this series.

  5. The wonderfully descriptive piece from your opening can, I’ve rearranged into a poetic form…
    “Up here in the clouds
    Everything was seen through cloud
    And seemed dissolving into cloud
    The breath of men was cloud
    The lights were encircled by cloud
    Speakers close at hand were not seen for cloud
    Though their voices
    And all other sounds
    Were surprisingly clear” ….fantastic imagery Derrick…

  6. Was that a rhetorical question about dog owners? I have one too: do dog owners really think that I enjoy having dogs jumping up at me and putting their dirty paws on my trousers?

  7. I feel sorry for the mules and the “slender limbs of these beasts of burden,” and like how the artist drew them with emphasis on the chains. It was a nice contrast to see all the frolicking going on among families and dogs. Most of our public parks have stations with plastic bag dispensers and signs to clean up after your pet. There are still a few piles, though. I bet those children (and parents) had a good night’s sleep.

  8. I’m always impressed by these illustrations! Gorgeous photos Derrick! Who would want to leave such a wonderful place ☺️ I understand the kids ☺️ I absolutely love dogs but unfortunately there are lots of dog owners that don’t pick up the ? after their companions ? That’s very sad!

  9. I love the black and white crow photos.

    That poor mother. It was a crack up though. Both Norm and I had a good laugh. I wonder if it’s the last time she takes her children for a walk.

  10. I see the children exchanged places, the walker was now being carried. πŸ™‚

    Dog excrement in parks and public places is unfortunately a problem over here, too. One has to be vigilant, and children can be oblivious to the smaller landmines dispensed from canines. πŸ™‚

  11. thank you for the beautiful variety of pictures you brought us today, Derrick. just delightful. i, too, can relate to the woman and her children. quite a familiar scene. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  12. The Battle of Longslade Bottom turned out to be a pitched crusade to hold the grounds. Each of the gladiator was temporarily mobilised by the Arch-rival by lifting them in the air in turn, an act fairness of which depends on the perspective you to choose to view it from. The dog piles though are certainly a matter of concern, no matter what angle you apply for review.

    Thank you, yet again, for enriching us with Mr Keeping’s mesmerising sketches.

  13. Beautiful photos…frolicking dogs, gathered birds, pretty ponies, and active Human-Beans! πŸ™‚
    But, OH MY, your B&W photos and silhouettes are so amazing! πŸ™‚

    I bet that young mum would appreciate those photos…maybe more in a few years than today…but she would appreciate them! πŸ˜‰

    Okay, dog owners…come on…pick up the pooh! ?
    (((HUGS))) πŸ™‚

  14. Supposedly as many as one dog in 300 carries toxicara canis which is a parasitic creature that travels from dog dirt to children’s eyes via sitting on the grass, throwing a dirty football, a kite dragged across a field, any number of methods. When it gets to an eye, it can blind the child first in one eye then both.
    My younger brother had a school friend with TC and he was at the stage of the first eye being infected. I don’t know what happened because I went back to university but there is little reason to think that it ended well.

  15. In the days before bags were (supposedly mandatory) my Mum and Dad had problems with a man allowing an Alsatian to deposit its monstrous turds on the grass verge outside their house. Each one was about the size of a small dachshund, and they ended up with the job of moving them.

    One day I was in the garden with Mum whilst visiting when he brought his dog down and let it perform.

    “I wonder what he’d do if I followed him home and did that in the middle of his front lawn.” I said to my Mother, loudly.

    She shushed me as she had manners and no desire for confrontation. However, the dog owner later returned, removed the offending item and never returned.

      1. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ˜‰ That sums up the world of today Derrick. Just been speaking to a mate of mine who has been isolating as he is halfway through having a pacemaker fitted. I said it was difficult to enthuse about getting dressed when locked down over Christmas. He lives in Grantham and tells me that pyjamas are the preferred dress for shopping in supermarkets. Strange world.

  16. Wonderful photos, Derrick–and illustrations, too. I didn’t know you had suggested the series.

    The mother looks very strong and totally unfazed, as she switches children to be carried. I remember those days of having little ones tired and just done.

    I don’t understand dog owners not cleaning up after their pets, especially now when it’s so publicized.

      1. derrick ! oh my goodness is this awesome
        – i am going to post about little dorrit this sunday – and so is trent – and i will mention your endeavor (if that is cool)

  17. Leaving dog poo anywhere public in New Zealand is an offense with stiff fines – once general plastic bags were off the market, then new companies came up with ideas including places to store your collection bags on leads etc…

    And there are rules about roaming dogs, which are soon latched upon by local social media pages …and council officers visit with owners about keeping dogs tied up or behind dog proof fences…

    I never realise quite how many dogs were in my neighbourhood until our major lockdown and then later lockdowns!

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