A Tryst

Today I scanned Charles Keeping’s next seven illustrations to ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’ by Charles Dickens.

‘ ‘Go, sir,’ returned Dick, leaning against a post and waving his hand’. He is quite clearly drunk.

‘The boy threw his wasted arms around the schoolmaster’s neck’ is a typically tender scene.

‘They drew up there for the night, near to another caravan’

‘The game commenced’ leaves us in no doubt that these are three rogues and the un-pictured gentleman facing them will lose his money.

‘One young lady sprung forward and put the handkerchief in her hand’ pictures a rare act of kindness.

‘Miss Brass went scratching on, working like a steam engine’

‘ ‘Hallo there! Hallo, hallo!’ ‘ faithfully depicts the author’s description of a scene in which two characters are now clearly recognisable.

This afternoon we drove to Everton Garden Centre the where we purchased a garden water feature which we hope to set up tomorrow, and continued with a short trip to the east of Lymington.

We stopped at Saint John the Baptist Boldre Parish Church, in order to photograph

the clusters of daffodils on the bank and around the grounds. The first two of these images are mine; the rest Jackie’s.

While I was wandering around the side my Assistant Photographer featured in her third picture,

a horse, protected against our currently cold nights by a rug, trotted over to the fence between the field and the church. I thought perhaps it was interested in me.

No such luck. I had noticed a gentleman take up a seat in the churchyard. His equine friend had found a way to get to the church fence where her gentleman friend was waiting to continue the conversation that ensued. It was clearly a regular occurrence.

I comforted myself over the rejection by communing with a bay pony on the verge further along the road.

My next conversation was with a family of donkeys;

then alpacas at East End where stands

one of the three mimosa trees was saw blooming today, and numerous gnarled oaks awaiting their own plumage;

a lone thatcher exercised his craft.

Variously coloured crocuses are bursting through the soil before the war memorial on South Baddersley Road.

Jackie’s final offering is a rook she photographed from Hightown Lane yesterday.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s savoury egg fried rice; tempura prawns; and a rack of pork ribs in barbecue sauce with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2020. This was followed by Bakewell tart and New Forest Rhubarb and Ginger ice cream.


  1. I’ve know many a horse to carry on conversations, but that would have been my first with donkeys and alpacas! I don’t see how it would be much different though.
    You both are doing such wonderful jobs with the photography!

  2. I love Dickens illustrations. Daffodils and crocus are the best things about the start of Spring they are so beautiful after winter when they open up to the sun.

  3. The illustrations are wonderful, but the photos are stunning. I love both daffodils on the bank, and that man and horse, long-time companions perhaps communing, warmed my heart.
    Jackies’ rook is also wonderful.

  4. Again, I have enjoyed Keeping’s precise characterization and the flowing lines so vividly expressing emotions.
    I am glad to see that you have had meaningful conversations with a variety of animals, Derrick. Jackie’s photo of the rook is exceptionally well done.

  5. This piece warmed my heart this morning Derrick…. “I had noticed a gentleman take up a seat in the churchyard. His equine friend had found a way to get to the church fence where her gentleman friend was waiting to continue the conversation that ensued. It was clearly a regular occurrence.”

  6. I confess to some envy, as our recent severe freeze has increased the amount of gray, black, and brown in our landscape exponentially. Our leaden skies and fog make it feel rather more like deep winter than the cusp of spring — thank goodness I have your photos to sustain me!

  7. Another beautiful day and a fine selection of photos, as well as Charles Keeping illustrations. March is the month of spring, and that golden host of daffodils is quite cheery! I’ve never seen a mimosa tree, though I have herd of them.

    Thatched roofs have always intrigued me. They are beautiful as well as utilitarian. A bit of the past carried into present day.

    I love Jackie’s rook photo. Nicely captured!

  8. I’m glad you found plenty of company after discovering the tryst. The daffodils are lovely in every setting. Ours are just beginning to bloom, but our mimosas here in the eastern Carolinas don’t even have leaves and won’t show their feathery pink flowers until late spring.

  9. Charles Keeping is at his expressive best. The golden daffodils, the thick coated ponies, the thoughtful donkeys and the solitary rook poised on a stalk make for a wonderful gallery. How do you differentiate between a rook and a crow, or a raven for that matter?

    1. I always have to google the differentiation between the birds. The colour of the beak is significant – also rooks nest in high colonies. This may have been one of the artist’s last works. It was published in 1987, whereas he died the following year. Thanks very much, Uma.

  10. Lovely bright daffodils. Here’s a quote from Van Goethe about the color yellow: β€œwith yellow the eye rejoices, the heart expands, the spirit is cheered and we immediately feel warmed.”

  11. Such a splendid variety of photographs to enjoy today! Keeping’s illustrations never fail to please. I am fascinated by the intricate thatching process taking place and can appreciate why the appearance of daffodils elicit such joy after the kind of winter you experience over there. My heart though is completely drawn to the man communing with the horse – you might remember I featured a similar relationship some time ago. As soon as I saw your header picture I scrolled down to see the context (very satisfying) and then returned to ‘begin at the beginning’.

  12. Absolutely gorgeous photos, Jackie and Derrick! πŸ™‚
    Love all the conversing going on! You won’t be surprised to hear that I’ve had conversations with many many many mammals, fish, birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians… πŸ˜€
    The rook photo is wonderful, Jackie…he looks like he is proclaiming himself to be top bird. πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜€
    To me, yellow and purple say Spring is sprunging…I so love the daffodils and the crocus!
    PS… Q: What does a donkey do when you tell him a joke?
    A: He-ha’s.

  13. tell
    jackie i love that rook (and to save some prawns for me/ just kidding)
    and completely enjoyed the illustrations to dickens’s work and liked your little highlights of the section takeaways
    and two things come to mind
    first / it is very special to have had Dickens offer illustrations so we know what he had in mind – so often without author approved sketches it leads to a myriad of interpretations – and even with the drawings people still take liberties with some characters tthey use for plays and the screen
    and second
    seeing the carriage and idea of caravan
    i heard that Dickens knew the horse and buggy were on their way out as the railroads emerged and he intentionally wanted to preserve that in his stories
    and part of the Pickwick 20 installations really showcased some carriages

    and just curious – how many books do you have in your library ?

    1. I have no idea how many books I have. A lot. I don’t know if you have picked up that 40 years or so ago The Folio Society asked members for suggestions of pairings between authors and artists. This particular set was my suggestion. Jackie is pleased about the rook – I had already told her. Thanks very much, Yvette

  14. Wonderful photos Derrick! That sketcher made some scroungy looking people in the story! Your daffodils are gorgeous. Ours are opening now.

  15. You very lucky people! Spring is there! I can tell you it’s not here, and likely won’t be for another 6 or 7 weeks, so I am glad to see your photos.

  16. What a great day! The horse and his gentlemen friend are so cute! Animals and humans can live so well in harmony only if people could be more responsible…

  17. I love the convivial conversation between man and horse! I had a mimosa tree right outside my bedroom window when I lived in Virginia. I got such enjoyment from it.

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