At The Tea Interval

On a drab, drearily dull, day I tuned into the start of the second cricket Test Match between England and New Zealand, and scanned eight more of Charles Keeping’s excellent illustrations to Charles Dickens’s ‘Nicholas Nickleby’.

In turning ‘Nicholas found Bray lying on the floor quite dead, and his daughter clinging to the body’ upside down, Charles Keeping has given the image an additionally morbid perspective.

‘Mrs Nickleby would draw up a chair and run through a great variety of distracting topics in the most distracting manner possible’

In ‘Some of the neighbours threw up their windows and called across the street to each other’ the artist has sprawled across two pages, symbolising the crossing of the street.

‘As they stole further and further in, the old hag and Squeers were busily occupied with their tasks’ gives Keeping the opportunity to display perspective by having the foreground figure burst from the frame.

‘With eyes almost starting from their sockets, and in a fit of trembling which quite convulsed his frame, Smile was shrieking to him for help’

Keeping’s trademark dog in the street appears in the foreground of ‘To Gride’s house Ralph directed his steps, now thoroughly alarmed and fearful’

‘Ralph sat down, pressing his two hands upon his temples’

‘ ‘That’s my own brave Kate!’ said Nicholas, pressing her to his breast’

During the cricket tea interval and for a while afterwards I cleared and transferred to the compost bins some of Jackie’s weeding refuse, then wandered around with my camera.

Jackie continued planting hanging baskets and other containers

on the patio.

Other views include those beside the wisteria and along the Shady Path, where, beyond the shot containing the Arthur Bell rose,

a red climber stands over a spanning wooden arch;

the peeling bark of the eucalyptus; from Margery’s poppies through the Cryptomeria Bed; and

the Rose Garden, including

pink Mum in a Million, peach Flower Power, white Winchester Cathedral, yellow Crown Princess Margareta and Absolutely Fabulous, red and pink For Your Eyes Only, white Kent carpet rose, and pink Festive Jewel.

This evening we dined on succulent lemon chicken and roast potatoes; crisp Yorkshire pudding; firm carrots and broccoli, with tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Cotes de Gascogne.


  1. They day might have been drab and drearily dull, but the garden certainly isn’t! It’s lovely to see your roses. I’d guess you are a week or two ahead of us.

  2. Jackie looks like she’s in her element–and/or happy to see you out and helping! She has such a great smile.

    Margery’s poppies are such a beautiful color. (It was good of Margery to share.) ?

    The roses are luscious.

  3. Jackie…your smile always brightens our day! 🙂

    The roses are perfection! 🙂 I always enjoy hearing their names! 🙂
    The peeling bark is always so interesting! And seeing the poppies pop is a joy! 🙂

    Ha! On Mr. Keeping’s illustrations of the neighbors! What great faces! 🙂 Always love his dogs in the streets and how he crafts the buildings! Excellent! 🙂
    (((HUGS))) 🙂

  4. Your roses and poppies are well ahead of ours in Sussex!
    I think that all of your wonderful flowers have the sub title Absolutely Fabulous; they really are!
    As always, every inch of your garden is full of intrigue and inspiration 🙂

  5. Oh, your roses! I could just smell them!! To quote the old song, “June is bustin’ out all over.)

    This group of Keeping illustrations is INTENSE, the first one in particular.

  6. Again Derrick, I am amazed at Keeping’s intricate drawing of the bricks and pavers in this illustration ..
    “Keeping’s trademark dog in the street appears in the foreground of ‘To Gride’s house Ralph directed his steps, now thoroughly alarmed and fearful’”

    1. That wheel kept getting lost in the grass so Jackie just plonked it there while she wondered what to do with it. The blend with the peeling bark claimed it. Thanks very much, JoAnna

  7. Your garden has a never-ending supply of beautiful subjects. In contrast, Dickens supplies a never-ending supply of fascinating, grotesque subjects, things an artist would never think to draw on his own. You have to admire the designs in Keeping’s illustrations. For example, in the first one, I love the contrast of the straight lines of the floorboards with the flowing, graceful lines of the daughter’s skirt, the delicate lace around her neck and the perfect part in her hair. It’s a poignant scene.

  8. Having had savoured a sumptuous series of Keeping’s illustrations, I am convinced he is one for the founding fathers of graphic novels. You have been meticulous in bringing his precious art to your readers. Meanwhile, the roses you have raised are models of the legendary flowers that keep charming us on the earth.

    I have a feeling a significant number of Jackie’s saplings are going airborne. What an amazing garden you two have in that corner of New Forest!

  9. I loved seeing a eucalypt peeling in a far away country. They are such versatile trees. Here they grow in every type of weather condition, including the Australian Alps, where the winters can be mighty cold.

  10. The pictures on pp 724-725 are marvellously inventive and the dark street with the dog is not far behind. The best seriesof pictures so far, in my opinion.

  11. I enjoyed the illustrations, and your tour of the garden with camera, Derrick! You and Jackie have created a bit of paradise there. The roses are especially beautiful, and the eucalyptus tree bark makes an artistic photo.

  12. cheers to the whole post and the nice way the single roses popped out (and Jackie is a bit of rose as well – with her smile and garden pose)
    also the Nicholas Nickleby’images were nice – you really have a mind for literature and I sometimes forget that side of you because you have such good photography – 🙂

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