Woodland And Moorland

This morning I finished reading ‘Our Mutual Friend’ by Charles Dickens, and scanned the last three of Charles Keeping’s superb illustrations to my Folio Society edition of 1982.

‘Riderhood went over backward, Bradley Headstone upon him’

‘They both laughed, till they were tired’

‘A canopy of wet blanket seems to descend upon the company’

Christopher Hibbert’s introduction is useful and insightful.

I have to say that I found this novel at times quite heavy going. Hibbert opines that the author found the work difficult to write.

Dickens deals with the contrast between the false lives of the nouveau riche and the hardship and poverty of those living from hand to mouth. It is perhaps his distaste for the former group that makes their sequences boring to me.

The sets of parallel pairings of characters I found somewhat confusing – perhaps because I took so long to read the book. This possibly only became clear during the author’s typical summing up of how the protagonists lives panned out.

Dickens’s pacing, descriptive prose, and dry wit is still in evidence despite his struggle to complete the book.

Sensing that the River Thames itself is an important character sent me back to Peter Ackroyd’s history “Thames: Sacred River”. This former Literary Editor of The Times deals at length with our famous Victorian novelist’s drawing on the capital’s waterway, none more extensive than in ‘Our Mutual Friend’.

After lunch we sent a Birthday Card on it way from Everton Post Office, and continued briefly on a forest drive.

Burnt gorse and browned bracken straddled Holmsley Passage up which a group of women walked, passing pasturing ponies.

Among the woodland and the moorland alongside Bisterne Close grazed or dozed more ponies,

one of which enjoyed a good scratch against a convenient tree.

A log stack had been built to provide winter quarters for various forest fauna.

This evening we dined on Red Chilli’s excellent takeaway. Jackie enjoyed a Paneer Chicken starter with Saag Chicken to follow; my main choice was Tiger Prawn Dhansak. We shared Special Fried Rice and a Plain Naan. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.


  1. Though the illustrations are always outstanding, today I prefer the Autumn colours. How lovely that biggest shot of dead tree trunks in the brown and green ferns. So perfect.

  2. This is a difficult and uncomfortable topic to deal with, but for what I think Dickens understood what it meant brilliantly (although not easy reading in bed at night)

  3. Few things feel better than laughing so hard it makes you tired. Dickens was a master storyteller. These days, readers prefer a fast pace to a lot of detail. I admit, I do too.
    Thanks for the pony love.

  4. I found the ‘log stack that was built to provide winter quarters for the local fauna’ to be both intriguing and fascinating …

  5. Dickens deep rooted dislike of the nouveau rich and his consequent reluctance to project them deeper leaves most of his works a step or two short of the grandeur they deserve. I hope you will pick another volume with Keeping’s illustrations.

    The outdoor photos are great. The scape with dried up trees and the ponies are all charming images.

  6. Thanks for clarifying Dickens’ important themes….. and for the ponies. I like the log stack for forest fauna. It reminds me of how much I liked to make forts as a child, or at least imagine forts. It was kind of someone to make a shelter for the animals.

  7. I was sitting here thinking…(yes, I know that’s dangerous! πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜€ ), if I had seen Mr. Keeping’s illustrations when I was a little girl I would have been so mesmerized by them. Then I realized, I’m a well-seasoned gal-little girl at heart and I am mesmerized by them now! πŸ™‚
    Love The Laugh-ers! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜›

    Perfectly posing ponies provide precious photo-ops! πŸ™‚

    To me, the B&W photo has so much emotion in it. Heart-touchingly beautiful!

    Sometimes we just have to scratch the itches! πŸ˜‰
    (((HUGS))) πŸ™‚

  8. I haven’t read this one, but it does sound slow going. “They both laughed, till they were tired” definitely made me smile.

    I especially liked the pony in the landscape in the series with the gorse, and the silhouetted pony in the next group.

  9. Lovely photos and very interesting string of comments! Derrick you have a remarkable, intellectual, and literate group of followers who share beautifully!

    1. That is the real pleasure of blogging. I particularly enjoy your intelligent questions which sometimes get me searching fo answers πŸ™‚ Thanks very much, Maj

  10. Lovely photos of your beautiful ponies, Derrick. And it was fun to see more of those amazing line drawings. We’re enjoying a relaxing afternoon in Sierre after an amazing day yesterday visiting a picturesque Swiss farm where the cows were our main objects of interest. I posted on FB. Will resume WP when I get home and can purge my WP photo collection of old videos that are taking up way too many megabytes! Meantime, bee ? well and hug Jackie for us.

  11. I don’t know about “various forest fauna”, that looks like a group of goblins or maybe even elves knocked up that structure. Whoever it was, they seem to have little regard for fire regulations.

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