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.

A Very Thoughtful Gift

As Jessie left this morning to return home to Primrose Hill, Jackie and I drove to Elizabeth’s to wait for a Parcel Force delivery while she kept a hospital appointment.

We took a minor diversion through the forest on our way home.

Groups of pigs from the verges and the greens of Pilley converged on the sward carpeted with silver birch catkins which they crunched with the delight of a child chomping on his Rice Crispies breakfast cereal.

A llama pricked up its ears as I approached its field at East End, where

donkeys dawdled up the road, pausing to sample prickles along the way.

While at Elizabeth’s I read more of ‘Our Mutual Friend’ and this afternoon scanned three more of Charles Keeping’s inimitable illustrations.

‘The train rattled among the hose-tops’ gave the artist scope to display his perspective skills.

‘They began driving among low-lying water-side wharves and docks’

‘Bella and Mrs Boffin took a good long look and one another’

Before dinner we drove out to Hatchet Pond in order to Photograph the sunset.

During the afternoon Jackie received, delivered by Amazon, a very generous gift from Jessie, who had enjoyed the solar lights.

As soon as we arrived home she dashed out to plant and photograph the treasure. Thank you very much, Jessie.

This evening we reprised yesterday’s roast dinner with similar beverages.

Illustrations Accommodated By The Text

Early this afternoon we discovered a leak beneath a bathroom tap, dripping into our downstairs utility room. A local plumber could only promise a visit tomorrow afternoon, but said he would try to come later today. Considering that a pretty good response given the shortage of available plumbers nearer than Geelong, we were confined indoors for the rest of the day.

This gave me the opportunity to read more of Charles Dickens’s ‘Our Mutual Friend’, and to scan six more of Charles Keeping’s illustrations demanding that the author’s text accommodate them.

‘She always walked with her husband to the railroad’ has the couple carefully placed in the background.

‘The river and its shores rang to the terrible cry she uttered’

‘ ‘If he ain’t a-going to bathe!’ ‘

‘Mr Fledgeby went rolling over and over again’

‘Dozing women-drunkards’

‘Hours and hours, days and nights he remained in this same condition’

Dave, of D J B Plumbing visited shortly before 6 p.m. and fixed the leak quite quickly at a price less than other firms’ call-out fees. He is a very engaging gentleman, too.

Afterwards we dined on Jackie’s tasty steak and onion pie; crisp Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes; cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, and broccoli all cooked to perfection; and meaty gravy, with which she drank more of the Pinot Grigio and I drank Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2019.

Friends From Montana And Switzerland

Early this morning I posted https://derrickjknight.com/2021/09/30/a-knights-tale-43-an-engagement/

Afterwards I scanned the next three of Charles Keeping’s excellent illustrations to ‘Our Mutual Friend’

‘Georgiana ran up to embrace her’

‘Wegg was holding him in the chair with the grip of a wrestler’

‘Gruff and Glum waving his shovel hat at Bella’

This afternoon we very much enjoyed the company of Jan and Bob Beekman and their daughter DeAna who have come to stay for a few days. Conversation was convivial, wide-ranging and open as we got to know each other in person having become distant friends on WordPress. The 21st century equivalent of fond penfriends.

Jan and De worked out how to access the internet from our router thingy, and Bob joined in the amusement.

Jackie produced one of her trademark succulent steak and onion pies; creamy mashed swede and potatoes; firm carrots and cauliflower; tender leak and cabbage melange; and meaty gravy with which she drank Tesco Finest Pinot Grigio Blush 2020 and the rest of us drank Val de Salis Cinsault Reserve 2020 and Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2019.

She had photographed us all as we prepared to tuck in.

Enough Petrol For Sunset

This morning was spent cleaning, tidying, and vacuuming the house, and completing bed-making. After lunch I scanned the next five of Charles Keeping’s inimitable illustrations to ‘Our Mutual Friend’.

‘ ‘There’s nothing new, I suppose’, said Venus’ gives the artist an opportunity to represent the distance between three men in the room by occupying a double page spread.

‘ ‘Yah,’ said Mr Boffin, with a snap of his fingers’

‘Mincing Lane’

‘Mr Twemlow lays down his aching head’

‘The two men looked at one another’

Later this afternoon we shopped at Tesco. The woman on the check-out normally worked in the attached petrol station, which was now closed. She told Jackie that they were receiving uninterrupted deliveries as usual, but were sold out early in the mornings.

This evening we dined on pizza, the remains of Jackie’s arrabbiata sauce, and plentiful fresh salad, with which she drank Diet Coke and I finished the Cotes du Rhone Villages.

Afterwards we considered our tank still contained enough petrol for

a nip down to Milford on Sea to catch the sunset.

We were not the only watchers upon whom

the Needles Lighthouse shone its warning light.

The Wind And The Rain

After overnight rain on a morning of winds still over 50 m.p.h. I was blown around the garden while investigating the damage. The sunlight was very strong, but birds remained silent.

The pictures display a range of the comparatively minor disturbance requiring attention when the wind subsides. As usual, individual images are titled in the gallery.

All is not hopeless as shown by these further photographs.

The wind subsided somewhat but the rain returned this afternoon; petrol needs preserving, so I read some more of ‘Our Mutual Friend’ and scanned the next four of Charles Keeping’s skilful illustrations.

‘Mr Dolls collapsed in his chair’

‘Bradley went with him into an early public house’

‘She gave him her hand’

‘The old man looked distressfully at Fledgeby’

This evening we dined on hot and spicy, and tempura, prawns; served with Angela’s authentic sticky rice (supplemented with egg by Jackie) and spring rolls. Mrs Knight drank more of the Rosé and I drank more of the Cotes du Rhone.

Woodland Ecology

After lunch today I posted https://derrickjknight.com/2021/09/23/a-knights-tale-38-girls/

The day remained largely overcast, but reasonably warm, so, after a trip to Ferndene Farm Shop we took a drive among the forest lanes.

I am not sure what these tractors were doing alongside Preston Lane, but they were sending up clouds of dust.

We can never normally stop on the A35 to Lyndhurst, but, as a consequence of extensive bridge widening works near Holmsley, there are long tailbacks enabling me to photograph the adjacent woodlands from my window.

We turned left into the road to Burley where

Jackie parked the Modus in order for me to wander into the woodland

with its green and golden bracken, its live, dead, fallen, and decaying trees, and its magical views.

Later, I scanned three more of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to ‘Our Mutual Friend’, each one bearing recognisable portraits of characters previously depicted.

‘Wegg held the will tight, while Venus searchingly and attentively read it’

‘The darkness gone, and a face bending down’

‘Bella kissed her on the cheek’

This evening we dined on second helpings of our Red Chilli takeaway, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.

Considerable Versatility

This afternoon I posted https://derrickjknight.com/2021/09/21/a-knights-tale-36-some-schoolmasters/

Later, I scanned the next five of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to Charles Dickens’s ‘Our Mutual Friend’, demonstrating the artist’s considerable versatility.

‘ ‘Does anybody down there know what has happened?’ once more admirably depicts the fog – this time in a text sandwich.

‘Sweet delusion for Pleasant Riderhood’

‘Bella arrived in the Boffin Chariot’

‘Mr Boffin had a child’s delight in looking at shops’ makes use of a two page spread.

‘They stood interlocked like a couple of preposterous gladiators’

This evening we dined on baked gammon moistened by juicy ratatouille; boiled new potatoes; firm carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.

Burnt Out

This morning I scanned three more of Charles Keeping’s excellent illustrations to ‘Our Mutual Friend’.

‘Conveniently elevated above the level of the living, were the dead’

‘Tippins the divine’

The artist’s inspired evocation of Dickens’s ‘The whole metropolis was a heap of vapour charged with muffled sound of wheels’ prompted me to post https://derrickjknight.com/2021/09/11/a-knights-tale-32-the-great-smog/

On a still sultry afternoon we took a drive around the forest.

Dumped beside the entrance to the paddock on Braggers Lane was a burnt out Daihatsu Fourtrak.

Whoever left it there did not destroy the number plate.

Looking over the landscape at Rockford End. we could see a sunlit distant marina.

Jackie parked beside the very narrow lane while I wandered about with my camera and photographed

a grassy verge; tumbling farm buildings in an overgrown field; a dappled bank; and a gate into a similar field

From the lane up to Gorley Common and Hyde we observed a basking herd of deer.

At the top of the hill ponies shared the pasturage with cattle. One pony found its tail in a tangle; one cow stopped the traffic.

At North Gorley three donkeys were employed clipping a hedge, and

a huntsman and hound took note of the wind direction.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie; crunchy carrots; tender cabbage and runner beans, with meaty gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Cepa Lebrel Gran Reserva Rioja 2011.

A Dazzled Spider

With our dry heat now reaching 30C we carried out watering this afternoon before retreating indoors where I posted: https://derrickjknight.com/2021/09/07/a-knights-tale-29-early-interviews/ ,

read more of Dickens’s Our Mutual friend and scanned the next five of Charles Keeping’s Inimitable illustrations.

‘The objectionable Sloppy’

‘She folded her hand round Lizzie’s neck, and rocked herself on Lizzie’s breast’

‘Riderhood looked amazedly from his visitor to his daughter’

‘Limehouse Hole’

‘Betty Higden gravely shook her head’

Early this evening as we sat drinking water and Diet Coke on the decking the unrelenting sun beat down so hard that all was silent.

A wood pigeon confused its claws with fleur-de-lys.

Sunlight dazzled a spider which dropped its dangling prey;

after which Jackie photographed it on its trapeze.

This evening we dined on pork shoulder steaks; tasty gravy; fried onions and mushrooms; crisp Yorkshire puddings; boiled new potatoes; firm carrots and cauliflower, with which neither of us imbibed.