“He’s Just Found He’s Got Legs”

Yesterday evening I reached a point past nine more of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to “Nicholas Nickleby”. and scanned them today.

Keeping depicts such movement in ‘The animals were no sooner released than they trotted back to the stable they had just left’.

‘A female bounced into the room, and seizing Mr Squeers by the throat gave him two loud kisses’. When repeated further in the book these portraits will be most recognisable.

The three boys in the foreground of ‘Mrs Squeers stood at one of the desks, presiding over an immense basin of brimstone and treacle’ are recent arrivals. Keeping shows by the chubby, innocent, profile of one that they have not yet adopted the description, including the harelip, Charles Dickens gives to the others. The mixture of sulphur and molasses was commonly used as a cure-all at the time. Here it was mainly employed as an appetite suppressant.

‘When they were both touched up to their entire satisfaction, they went down-stairs in full state’

‘The timid country girl shrunk through the crowd that hurried up and down the streets, clinging closely to Ralph’ displays the artist’s mastery of perspective.

‘They stopped in front of a large old dingy house that appeared to have been uninhabited for years’ displays historically accurate buildings.

‘The poor soul was poring hard over a tattered book with the traces of recent tears still upon his face’ represents the portrait given in the book’s frontispiece.

‘Pinning him by the throat, Nicholas beat the ruffian until he roared for mercy’

‘Dingy, ill-plumed, drowsy flutterers, sent to get a livelihood in the streets’ is one of Mr Keeping’s text sandwiches.

Between showers we prepared a site for the new, as yet unopened, wooden bench.

Later this afternoon we drove to Everton Nurseries where Jackie bought some trailing petunias, and continued into the forest.

where I was tempted from the car by the sight of groups of ponies who had been much more in evidence today than yesterday.

Purple violets beneath a yellow gorse bush; scattered bluebells; and a fossilised hand caught my attention.

I thought I could discern at least two foals in the distance.

To reach them I needed to follow a track across the running stream created by the ponies above.

That reminds me. The pony in the foreground of the first picture in this gallery determinedly emerged in my direction and took up a position with splayed legs right in front of me. It had made me rather nervous. Fortunately missing my feet it released a powerful stream from its rear end. Naturally I lifted my lens enough for decency. This was still creating its own little puddle when its companion did exactly the same thing. Were they trying to tell me something?

This was quite an undulating landscape.

Climbing up to the next level I was rewarded by the sight of two foals.

As its mother wandered away the first of these rose to its feet, stretched its limbs, trotted after her, then felt safe enough to look me in the eye.

On our journey home through East Boldre we encountered a group of donkeys and their foals.

Perhaps attempting to arouse the attention of its comatose mother,

one excited youngster repeatedly ran rings round the gorse bushes, causing Jackie to exclaim: “He’s just found he’s got legs”.

This evening we dined on plump lemon chicken thighs; creamy mashed potatoes; spicy hot ratatouille; and firm cauliflower, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Trivento Reserve Malbec 2019.


  1. I loved seeing the foals of both the ponies and the donkeys. This afternoon I watched as a young bull was sniffing the rear end of a male donkey, which stood perfectly still for a while and didn’t even seem to mind when the bull rested its head on the donkey – until the attention became a bit too intimate for comfort: the donkey spun round and nipped the bull, which went haring off in another direction! The donkey resumed eating the grass as though nothing had happened ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. The little ones have such fun when they first discover their legs! You caught some great shots of them this time, Derrick!

  3. What a fantastic, happy header image – and a great Caption, Jackie!
    The Joys of Spring – embodied by springy youngsters!
    I love the idea of a text sandwich ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Unfortunately, you didnโ€™t use โ€˜burstโ€™ setting to get a beautiful action shot from the pony with the splaying legs. Opportunity missed but your dancing skills came in handy.

          1. I have dabbled in a lot of sports. I was really a hockey player in my youth but couldn’t find a team locally after I got married.

  5. I think those Keeping illustrations are splendid, but those pony and donkey foals are so wonderful. I love the one finding his legs! And the little pony foal doing a dance move.

    Our white cat, Mickey, who died last year had very long legs. He turned out to be very athletic and a great jumper, but when he was a kitten, it took some time for him to control them. I had never saw a foal-like kitten before. And it was very funny. ?

    1. Thanks very much, Merril. A strange kitten, indeed. When we have a plethora of animals just eating, and Jackie asks “Do you want them?” I say “Nah – they are just being ponies…..” or whatever. Yesterday this applied to a sleepy foal for which we didn’t stop.

  6. OOH! Loud smooches! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ ๐Ÿ˜€ More great illustrations! A lot of throat squeezin’ goin’ on! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Ha! ๐Ÿ˜›
    OOH! A new bench! Can’t wait to see it! ๐Ÿ™‚
    OH OH OH! on the babies finding their legs! Twill be a lot of jumping, dancing, and running on those young strong long legs! ๐Ÿ™‚
    (You know I ALWAYS love seeing the donkeys!)
    (((HUGS))) ๐Ÿ™‚
    PS…Yikes on the ponies giving you a P-critique! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜€

  7. I enjoyed all the photos from your day out, Derrick and Jackie! The pony and donkey foals are adorable! Big heads and long legs, their little bodies eventually grow into them. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Glad you missed getting splattered by the puddle-makers, Derrick. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. You win the award for most adorable photos so far this year! I hope the comatose Mama donkey is okay. You had me going for a second with that fossilized hand. lol.

    1. Comatose Mother donkey was fine, she eventually had to get up and keep an eye on her bouncing baby, who then attempted to climb on top of her.

  9. Thatโ€™s a riot of illustrations and pony pictures. The curious incident of releasing jet streams in plain sight of bipeds hints at some equine ritual whose significance remains unknown to us. The foals look adorable, especially the one who had realised he had just found his legs!

  10. I have to say, the fossilized hand did give me a turn; I had to biggify it to confirm it was a piece of wood. The foal pictures are utterly irresistible. Of course, the gamboling donkey foal is my favorite.

    1. On my shopping list now!

      “On the nose – the Trivento Reserva Malbec 2016 has aromas of cherries, raspberries with balanced notes of vanilla and coconut imparted from oak. On the palate you can expect to taste well balanced, sweet tannins and a velvety finish.”

  11. A glorious post today Derrick, with a superb collection of Keeping’s illustrations, and then magnificent of the horse and donkey foals … and yes I am going to save a few into my ‘Derrick’ File..

      1. Actually, today I submitted a new poem of mine to the Spillwords Magazine in New York, along with a photo of yours .. ‘the white horse in a paddock with herd of deer’.. from 2 weeks ago? .. Lets hope we get accepted… Oh, here is the poem Derrick, a world debut on your site …

        “Horses for Courses”

        “there is something about the freedom of horses
        beyond green pastures and steeple courses

        there is something about the purity of lifeโ€™s sources
        from the snowy mountains down the river courses

        there is something about the madness of wartime choices
        beyond bloodstained lands of the killing forces

        there is something about deathโ€™s silent voices
        riding in wooden coffins down the hearses brief courses” — by Ivor Steven (c).

  12. I bet that hands come from one of those bog-people that they dig up every now and then. Keep your eyes open for the rest of him. He’ll be kicking about somewhere.

  13. Honestly? I love the illustration of the rooster and hen. Of course the foals are fun, and the other illustrations are interesting, as always, but that fowl pair isn’t foul at all!

  14. Oh I love the foals.
    Bob Ross who was an artist and American television presenter died last year. He always desribed the trees in his paintings as happy little trees. This is the way I feel about the images here, Happy little images!

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