On Bréhec Beach

Last night I began reading

and scanned, in addition to this Title Page and Frontispiece, three more of Charles Keeping’s wonderful illustrations.

‘My very particular friend Miss Tox’ has been depicted by the artist faithful to the author to the very last line.

‘Miss Tox soon returned with the party under convoy’ is again portrayed precisely as the author described.

‘The sun came with the water-carts…. and the people with the geraniums’

This was the one volume of my Folio Society that I thought I had lost, lent to a forgotten person who did not return it. Becky, however, gave me an identical copy she had tracked down for my last birthday.

I received an e-mail request from Sam for an electronic image of

himself of a colour slide I produced on Bréhec beach in Normandy in September 1982. I sent it to him. He is happy for it to appear on this blog. My father had framed an A3+ print for me, and Becky, knowing that her brother was to go on and row the Atlantic 20 years later, captioned it “One Day……”

This afternoon I posted https://derrickjknight.com/2021/10/15/a-knights-tale-51-working-with-families/

Later we took a forest drive out to Bramshaw where

the proximity of a pair of ponies caught my eye.

A helicopter chugged over Penn Common upon which

sheep. ponies, and crows shared the pasturage.

On our return ponies possessed the verges leading back to Bramshaw. The recently clipped tail of the adult suggested that a recent drift had taken place.

Elizabeth popped in for a cup of tea and to check that I had recovered from yesterday.

Afterwards Jackie and I enjoyed our second helpings of Wednesday’s Red Chilli takeaway. My wife drank Hoegaarden and I drank 1000 Stories Bourbon Barrel-Aged Zinfandel 2018, given by Jessie.

Bleeding Heart Yard

After two more chapters of ‘Little Dorrit’ I scanned two more of Charles Keeping’s excellent illustrations.

In ‘He ate all that was put before him’, Keeping has accurately depicted the character Christopher Hibbert described as the ‘one truly evil character in the book’.

‘You got out of the Yard by a low gateway into a maze of shabby streets’. Keeping has accurately represented the yard that Dickens knew.

‘Bleeding Heart Yard is a cul-de-sac leading off Greville Street, near Hatton Garden. The yard’s name probably derives from an old inn sign, the Bleeding Heart of Our Lady, which depicted the heart of the Virgin Mary pierced through by swords. However, the sanguinary imagery has inspired several colourful legends, which Charles Dickens summarises in Little Dorrit (1855–7) – where he also suggests that the name actually relates to “the heraldic cognisance of the old family to whom the property had once belonged.”

One tale has it that a lovelorn young lady, imprisoned in her bedchamber by her cruel father, pined away at her window, murmuring ‘bleeding heart, bleeding heart, bleeding away’ as she expired. Dickens says that this story was “the invention of a tambour-worker, a spinster and romantic, still lodging in the Yard.”

The goriest fable suggests that sometime in the early 17th century the much-wooed Elizabeth Hatton was murdered here by the Spanish ambassador – whom she had jilted – and was found at dawn with her heart still pumping blood onto the cobblestones. Another angle on this story, this time featuring Sir Christopher and Lady Alice Hatton and the Devil, was set to verse by Richard Barham in his Ingoldsby Legends.

“Of poor Lady Hatton, it’s needless to say,
No traces have ever been found to this day,
Or the terrible dancer who whisk’d her away;
But out in the court-yard – and just in that part
Where the pump stands – lay bleeding a large human heart …”

Richard Barham, ‘The House-Warming!!’ (1840)’ (hidden-london.com)

The Elizabeth Hatton story is thoroughly dismissed in https://d33c33.wordpress.com/elizabeth-hatton-and-the-legend-of-bleeding-heart-yard/

My own acquaintance with this historic street is detailed in https://derrickjknight.com/2017/12/06/changes/

The lamp in my photograph is very similar to that in Mr Keeping’s drawing.

This afternoon, the winds of three day storm Christoph having desisted, Jackie drove us to Ferndene Farm Shop. So smooth was the shop that my wait in the car was just a four page one, after which we diverted on our journey home via Forest Road, giving me the opportunity to wander among the ponies in

the soggy woodland alongside.

The damp, muddy, matted shaggy haired animals bore the effects of days in the wind and rain,

one adding the battle scars of torn out tufts.

Jackie photographed a helicopter flying overhead as I approached the ditch I needed to cross to enter the woodland.

The minute I returned to the car heavy rain set in once more.

This evening we dined on roasted sturdy chicken thighs, extremely tasty parsnips, and crisp potatoes; Yorkshire pudding, sage and onion stuffing; firm carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli, and flavoursome gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank vin de Bourgogne Macon 2019.

A Stag Party


Becky and Ian returned this morning to their home at Emsworth. This afternoon Jackie drove Flo, Dillon and me out for a drive in the forest.

On the way to Beaulieu, Flo spotted a row of antlers among the gorse on the moors. They belonged to a string of stags. Jackie turned the car round and returned to the spot, where the animals still congregated. As long as we stood still and kept our distance, cervine curiosity kept them interested. When I edged forward, slowly at first they turned tail and suddenly rushed back into the golden covert.

In the foreground of this landscape are some of the many pools springing all over the forest at the moment.

As we approached Beaulieu an obliging pony put on a display of disrupting the traffic for our family visitors.

We visited The Yachtsman’s Bar at Buckler’s Hard for refreshments.

A number of yachts and motorboats were moored in the harbour.

Helicopter over Isle of Wight

We made a small diversion down to the beach at Tanner’s Lane where  we watched a helicopter flying across the Isle of Wight.

The next stop was at Lyndhurst where, in the churchyard of St Michael & All Angels, Flo and Dillon were shown the grave of Mrs Reginald Hargreaves, otherwise known to the world as Lewis Carroll’s Alice. Dillon produced these selfies, while I photographed the stone commemorating Anne Frances Cockerell which I suspect was that of a 23 year old who probably died in childbirth, leaving her husband to live on into the next century.

I also photographed roofs of the Crown Hotel and adjacent buildings,

while Flo crouched to focus on the street below, before she and I photographed each other.

The next grave to be visited was that of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, complete with pipe. It was Flo who captured these images whilst I focussed on her and Dillon.

This was in the graveyard of

Minstead Parish Church. Only the first, vertical, picture of these last seven is mine. The others are Flo’s. The list of rectors, beginning in the thirteenth century, bears out the age of the shattered, regenerated, yew tree to the left of the last photograph, said to be at least 700 years old.

Back home, we dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips with mushy peas, pickled onions, and gherkins.

In A Different Light


The car was repaired this morning and passed its M.O.T. test whilst it was at it. We therefore celebrated with a drive to Keyhaven and back.

Barnes Lane

The outward trip was via Barnes Lane and Milford on Sea.

The tide was far out. Without water on which to float, the damaged boat, Blue Dawn, lurched even more than it had a couple of days ago.

Hurst Castle, its lighthouse, and the recumbent hulk that is the Isle of Wight were all more clearly visible.

There were fewer birds about. Tinkling of the wind chimes in the yachts’ rigging replaced the honking of geese and the squabbling of seagulls.


Like a lofted shuttlecock, a helicopter whirred overhead.

Leaving Jackie in the car, I walked along the pebbled shore, past the paddling birds near the castle, and round the bend as the sea wall makes way for a coastal footpath.

Dog white

Spotting a potential passage through the undergrowth to the promenade, I pushed through it. On the upper level I was warned off by a big beautiful beast. Scaling a slope with vociferous open jaws ahead of me and brambles encircling my legs, I was loath to miss a photo opportunity, although not in complete control of the framing. Clearly no stranger to the camera lens, my subject sheathed its fangs and adopted an angelic expression. My canine friend at last obeyed its master’s voice, and caught up with him and his more obedient companion, whilst I made my way back to the car in the opposite direction, there to

bid farewell to waders and gulls. The apparently preening cygnet is in fact a stray buoy.

It is fair to say that we had achieved our aim to see Keyhaven in a different light.

This evening we dined on lean beef burgers, new potatoes, and crunchy cauliflower, followed by blackberry, apple, and plum crumble with vanilla ice cream. I finished the Côte du Rhone.

‘Nice To See You Again’

After lunch on a glorious summer’s day, we took Sheila on a drive through the forest via Brockenhurst, Lymington, and Milford on Sea.

It is the season for foals in the forest. Traffic calming structures include short wooden bollards and widened kerbs on either side of the roads, forcing traffic into single files. The necessity for this was evident as one little filly, closely chaperoned by her mother, perched precariously on the kerb, in an effort to relieve herself of irritation she probably didn’t yet know was caused by the flies that would plague her for the rest of her life. Eyes closed, she vainly rubbed her head against the bollard. She had trouble arranging her hoofs.Foal and mother pony

Foal Foal 1

Foal 3

Ponies on road

Other adult ponies wandered across the road, holding up the vehicles as usual.

Cattle, ponies, toddler in arms

Further along, a toddler in the arms of his carer, was being introduced to more ponies and cattle sheltering in the shade of a tree on the green.

I had met Percy on 29th January in Polly’s Pantry, when I produced ‘Portrait Of A Village’. Because I had enjoyed this teashop, I took Jackie and Sheila there today. Over our beverages, I told them about Percy. Just before we left, in struggled Percy, with the usual amount of courteous assistance and service from the staff. Usually, when you speak to someone you have only met once, and that six months before, you are inclined to think that the observation ‘Nice to see you again’, which is usually accompanied by a quizzical expression, is just a matter of politeness. Not so with Percy. This very bent, disabled, gentleman, definitely did recognise me. His comment was genuine.

Back home, Jackie continued weeding and tidying the garden.

Sycamore seeds

Helicopters can make a vertical descent and land with precision. So it is with those carried by sycamore trees. Stretching across our back drive from North Breeze next door is such a tree that has self-seeded against what is left of the ancient fence. Its seeds, nicknamed helicopters, hang threatening to drop onto our newly gravelled drive. Despite the fact that they are coloured so as to suggest that they may be support vehicles for the Red Arrows, they cannot be allowed to land among our stones. They had to go. I cut off a few of the branches.

Elizabeth called soon after this and joined us for the usual splendid repast served up by the lady of the house. Roast chicken mealWe all dined on roast chicken thighs, roasted mushrooms and peppers, Yorkshire pudding, creamy mashed swede and potato, boiled potatoes, carrots, mange-touts and green beans; followed by Sheila’s lemon cake and evap. Jackie drank Hoegaarden; Sheila lemonade; and Elizabeth and I, Louis de Camponac merlot 2014.

Barton Common

Barton Common 1Barton Common 2Barton Common 3What I had stumbled upon three days ago was the edge of Barton Common, into which, Jackie had read, had been reintroduced New Forest ponies in order that, by their chomping and defecating, they could return the area to its natural habitat. As it was indeed a day of enticing light, Jackie drove me there this PoniesPony 1Pony 2morning. I wandered around the common, and  found the six very well fed ponies.  As I crouched down to take its companion’s portrait, another crept up behind me and disconcertingly breathed down my neck.
Golf course maintenanceI then walked through the golf course that was still undergoing maintenance, and back along the cliff top to West Road and home through Shorefield.
GolfersGolfers silhouetteGolfers were out in force. A trio of the sportsmen, silhouetted against the skyline, gesticulated and indicated that I had strayed from the public footpath. Once I got the message, I called to them and, waving my camera, asked for a repeat performance. One gentleman obliged. I can only assume he was being polite. The patterns on a neatly raked Bunkerbunker had yet to be disturbed.Helicopter
A helicopter, its propeller blades whirling overhead, was probably safe from sliced golf shots.
WalkersFrom the golf course I could see a family walking along the cliff path which, keeping as far FootpathCliff edgeClifftopCrumbling footpathaway as possible from the edge, I soon joined. At one point I preferred a scramble Bramble and barbed wire alongside crumbling cliffJPGbetween brambles and barbed wire to the precarious looking path. An approaching gentleman, made of sterner stuff, stuck to the footpath. When I told him he had more nerve than I have, he replied: “Stupid, probably’.
While I was uploading these photographs Barrie dropped in to present me with a signed copy of his latest publication ‘Lawnmower maintenance and other pastimes for the elderly’. I shall enjoy reading it.
This afternoon I continued digging up bramble and ivy roots from the North side of the back drive. Now I have reached inside the gate, I am measuring my slow progress by the lengths of the bricks in the border that we have been unearthing as we go along. Today’s total was eight. I’ll probably need an abacus by the time I have finished.
Our dinner this evening consisted of tender beef casserole, mashed potato, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, followed by lemon drizzle cake and evap. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the rioja.

The Camperdown Elm

Stream, Running HillStreamI have before mentioned the small bridge over the stream at the bottom of Running Hill.  Today I decided to follow the stream.  As it reached the side of Hungerford Cottage, it tracked the side of the garden and continued along the back of it and the other houses at Seamans Corner, Mare and foalthence alongside the fences to the fields behind the houses on Seamans Lane, eventually running through the field that is home to the mare and foal beside Suters Cottage. Suters Cottage It took quite a few ducks, and a number of trips, to learn this fact.  I made my way home through London Minstead.

Just as I arrived at the Corner, a driver asked me the way to the New Forest Inn.  This, of course, is in Emery Down.  You can imagine the confidence boost it gave me to be able to give her precise directions.

At the tree seat on the green a mother was photographing her family. Family group I offered to take one with her in it, and, naturally, asked if I could also use my own camera, explaining why. Father and sons As, camera raised, I prepared to frame my shot, ‘are you local?’ was yelled from a stationary car with another behind it.  That familiar queue was forming.  ‘Yes’, I replied, turning round. ‘Wait a minute’.  They didn’t, but they did disturb the family group, so I had to take another picture to do the father justice.  I allowed myself to hope the vehicles stayed lost.

HelicopterA microlight had whined over London Minstead.  A, possibly military, helicopter, chugged over the corner.

This afternoon Jackie drove us to Poulner and Bill’s 80th birthday party.  Helen and Bill put on a splendid spread in the garden where Ron was on excellent barbecue duty.  Bill, John, and Stephanie's motherFriends and relatives flocked to their home. Many of these brought contributions of food and drink.  When we left soon after seven, the host and hostess were still going strong.

As the A31 was fairly slow-moving, it being a Sunday evening with holidaymakers returning home from the West country, we took a leisurely drive through the lanes, villages, forest, and heathland of this northern section of our National Park.  The evening light lent a russet glow and dappled contrasts to the landscape.  Various animals, even more leisurely than us, sometimes held up the traffic.  These jams were shorter-lived and more pleasant than those we had just left.

Mare and foal, FroghamA mare and her colt were eventually persuaded to the roadside.  The foal looked back at us as if wondering what we were doing on his road.  He had already learned to use his fly whisk.

Further on, the road was completely blocked by a string of donkeys seeming to congregate at one cottage.Donkeys

Donkeys 2This was the home of Roy who explained that they were hoping for something to eat.  I expressed the view that this was not likely to be in vain.  The very friendly and fit-looking 83 year old then told me about the Camperdown elm.  I would not have known this tree, and neither had Roy until an arboreal expert had recognised it.  It was the creatures’ favourite delicacy.Donkeys being fed

Roy showed me the umbrella shape that his assinine friends had chomped  out of the tree.  He had his own private topiarists.  Donkeys and Camperdown elmThe donkeys pruned his tree, but he wasn’t sure, at his age, whether he would be able to get up to do the same for the rose on the side of his house this year.  He took me inside.  The Camperdown became a parasol, and Roy broke off branches to feed to the animals.

Roy and donkeys

While I was being thus entertained, Jackie waited patiently a little further down the road, where she had to wind up the car windows to keep errant asses’ noses out.

Already amply fed, we relaxed for the rest of the evening.

A Splendid Occasion

Today completes a blogging year.  As is appropriate for this particular one, it  rained throughout in Minstead, although not in London.

Jackie was pleased to be able to drive Gladys and Dave to Southampton Parkway with us.  Their trip to Edinburgh happily coincided with my London visits to Norman and Carol.

I took my usual walk from Waterloo to Green Park where I boarded my Jubilee Line train to Neasden.

I don’t normally plan a photograph or manipulate the image to change it.  I picture what I see and crop if suitable.  At almost any time of the day or night in central London, a helicopter will be seen hovering overhead or making a dash to a hospital.  Helicopter over ThamesToday one was hovering apparently motionless high above the Thames.  After I’d photographed it, I realised the potential for setting the flying machine against the London Eye.  Walking on to that feature of the skyline, I raised the camera and pressed the shutter.  Helicopter, London Eye, PigeonFaster than the movement of my finger was the flight of the pigeon that stole the shot.  Serendipity indeed.

The London Dungeon exhibition first opened in Tooley Street near Guy’s hospital some time in the 1970s.  It is a series of waxworks tableaux representing historic horrific happenings in the capital.  When Matthew and Becky were still quite young I took them there to see it.  No way would they be persuaded to enter.  These horrors are now housed in part of the old County Hall, alongside the river. The London Dungeon For years I have been under the misapprehension that it was such as the body that lies at the top of the steps outside the new premises that deterred our children.  Not a bit of it.  ‘It was the rats’, was the explanation Becky recently gave me.  Given that Matthew soon kept them as pets, I was rather surprised by this.

At eleven o’clock this morning Westminster Bridge was marginally easier than usual to traverse half way across.  After this point it was far more populated than ever.  Every race and nationality in the world must have been represented.  Whitehall was cordoned off.  The only way to cross it was via the public subway at Westminster tube station.  The reason for the helicopter became apparent when police cars blocked the entrance to the Houses of Parliament car park.  Every few feet along the approaching streets stood a police officer facing rows of crash barriers.  Crowds of people packed the thoroughfare, cameras hopefully raised at arms lengths above the throngs.  There seemed to me no chance of any point and shoot device snatching a reasonable image of the horse guards and ceremonial coaches glinting in the occasional sunshine. Crowd at State Opening of Parliament I focussed on the crowds through which I was elbowing my way, thankful that I could see over most of the heads.  I had stumbled upon the State Opening of Parliament.

Having reached the comparative sedateness of St. James’s Park, my way across The Mall was again blocked.  Guards bandThe band I had heard getting nearer as I crossed the park turned out to be a military one.  The crash barriers and police protecting the musicians were supplemented the length of this famous street by guardsmen in their splendid uniforms.  There was one pedestrian route across, reminiscent of Birdcage Walk during the London Marathon (see 25th September last year).  Every so often one of the guards would present his rifle and march back and forth across the pathway, eventually returning to his place and shouldering arms. Guards lining The Mall Pedestrians had to hang fire while this went on.  The whole route from Admiralty Arch to Buckingham Palace was a sight to behold.

Green Park entrance

At the entrance to Green Park itself, a pair of golden arches suggested that McDonalds was now sponsoring this national treasure.

Church Road Market

Walking through Brent’s Church Road market, I felt I was in a different city.

Norman produced a roast pork dinner followed by apple strudel, accompanied by a fine Italian red wine.  I then took my usual route to Carol’s, and afterwards the amazingly frequent 507 bus to Waterloo and the train back to Southampton for Jackie to drive me home.

The two way train journey was sufficient for me to devour Jack London’s excellent story ‘The Call of the Wild’, in the Folio society edition, superbly illustrated by Abigail Rorer. The Call of The Wild It is the savage yet tender tale of Buck, a phenomenal dog who eventually obeys the call.