Cruck Frames

Jackie spent most of the morning watering the garden. I managed a token dead heading session which nevertheless filled two trugs. Nugget even followed me around. It helps if you use his name.

Regular readers will know of my penchant for leaving bookmarks or other tokens in my books, for posterity’s pondering.

Occasionally previous owners of my second hand copies have had the same idea. The volume I finished reading this afternoon contained two examples.

One is an engraving or possibly a linocut clearly cut from another book. I wonder whether I will ever see the original?

The other is a transparent bookmark. Who left it? Perhaps a rep for CIBA; perhaps a sufferer of chronic bronchitis. Could it have been Kellettt (or perhaps Kenneth) Carding whose name appears inscribed upside down on the bottom left-hand corner of the endpaper? If so would that explain the equally sized clip taken from the top right hand corner of the flyleaf; perhaps the name of an earlier owner?

If the first is an engraving, although charming, it lacks the finesse of the work of Robert Gibbings, whose ‘Sweet Thames run Softly’ is the book concerned.

This is the first of the author’s meanderings along an eponymous river. Originally published in 1940, my copy is the third imprint – darted 1941.

Gibbings blends elegant descriptive prose into simple philosophy, amusing anecdote, sensitive observation, and informative history; profusely illustrated with fine wood engravings.

Here I present

sample pages

displaying both the author’s engaging writing and his exquisite illustrations.

With a work of Robert Gibbings, my delight is often enhanced by his material having been covered by me, either in prose or photography;

an example of a cruck built house as described above, is more fully featured in my post “Afternoon Tea”.

This final sentence would surely not be out of place in any publication today.

Later, I retouched this image of my Grandpa Hunter, Mum, and Uncles Ben and Roy taken at Conwy c1926. The sandcastle being built may have heralded Ben’s later employment as Clerk of Works.

This evening Jackie produced a meal of roast chicken marinaded in Nando’s spicy Chilli and Mango sauce on a bed of succulent peppers and mushrooms; crunchy carrots; and tender runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Domaine Franc Maine Bergerac 2016 – one of Lidl’s finest.

“Doing [My] Research”

One of the benefits of a thoroughly wet day, apart from watering the garden, is that it gives an opportunity to finish reading a book such as

Apart from the evident foxing, this virtually unblemished dust jacket has protected and preserved

the gold embossed design on the cover of J.M. Dent’s first edition of the work for 66 years, 40 of which have stood on my shelves in various abodes. Even the desiccated spider which slid from between two pages as I opened them left no mark on the almost pristine leaves.

Mr Gibbings has treated us to another delightful ramble into his mind and his talents. He takes us along the river of Paris from its source to its mouth, diverting from his poetic prose descriptions into the realms of history, pre-history, geography, nature, geology, myth, and legend. We are treated to anecdotes picked up on the way; to the Bayeux tapestry; to relations between England and France, and even Quebec; to the Lascaux caves; to the art of Sisley and Monet. And much more. All this with effortless humour. The many wood engravings number more than 50.

As usual I have reproduced complete sample pages

in order that the elegance of both engravings and writing can be displayed.

When, after drafting this, I settled down to start on my next book, Jackie decided to offer an image of me “doing [my] research”.

On Sam’s stag day in December 2007, we toured the wine tasting establishments at Margaret River. I had enjoyed the samples so much that I enquired about the cost of shipping a case to England. It was prohibitive. I had no such problem with the superb bottle of Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 brought all the way from Perth by Mick and Gay on their recent visit. This was a superb accompaniment to Jackie’s chicken thighs marinaded in sweet chilli sauce; vegetable rice, and broccoli served for our dinner this evening. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden.

Xylonite

Pelican Books is the non-fiction imprint of Penguin Books. From 1938 to 1940, a few books within the series Penguin Specials (and thus given numbers starting with “S”) were given blue covers and labelled as Pelican Specials. These paperbacks were claimed by the publishers to be ‘books of topical importance published within as short a time as possible from the receipt of the manuscript. Some are reprints of famous books brought up-to-date, but usually they are entirely new books published for the first time. S16, which I finished reading this morning, is

Here is the frontispiece;

sample pages with drawings and texts;

and, in particular, the plates of the underwater pencil sketches. These were made on xylonite, a waterproof early plastic which would, when suitably prepared, take pencil.

The intense expression in this portrait of Robert Gibbings reveals the penetrating eye that provides his vision for detail; his evident power belies the delicacy of his hand. The strength required to manage his drawing in a fairly primitive helmet weighed down by lead piping to enable him to remain underwater is evident in the striking image.

Gibbings “was born in Cork in 1889 and educated in the snipe bogs and trout streams of Munster.” He attended the National University of Ireland, and in London the Slade School and the Central School of Arts and Crafts. During the first World War he served in Gallipoli and Salonica; in 1924 he took over the Golden Cockerel Press and ran it for nine years, producing books which will long remain some of the finest examples of English printing. It was largely through his efforts that the Society of Wood-engravers came into being. (From the jacket blurb).

This delightful little volume bears the author’s descriptive, poetic, prose; useful information about fish and coral reefs as they were 80 years ago. His eye for colour and form is evident throughout, and he brings an elegance of movement both to the drawings and to the wood engravings.

Originally published at 6d or 2.5p in today’s money, the book is so well made that it remains intact.

This evening Jackie will produce a roast chicken dinner. Before then Giles will collect me and drive me to the bird hide at Milford on Sea where I hope to photograph waterfowl. I will report on that tomorrow.

A Collaboration

One of Robert Gibbings’s diversions in ‘Trumpets from Montparnasse’ was his recounting of the request of his friend, Charles Ede of The Folio Society to produce a series of engravings for ‘The Discovery of Tahiti’ by George Robertson. This was a joint project with Gibbings’s publisher, J. M. Dent, published in 1955.

Naturally, this led me to my own copy of this work, in fact a 1973 reprint. I finished reading it this morning.

The transparent jacket to this slender volume reveals the embossed designs on the front and back boards and the spine.

Here is the frontispiece. Oliver Warner’s editing and his introduction are exemplary. He has modernised the spelling of his 18th century source, and interspersed summaries of sections from other seamen’s diaries when they provide amplification of the narrative. His explanatory footnotes and occasional correction of Robertson’s assumed facts are enlightening.

But, of course, my major interest was in the illustrator.

In order to produce reasonably large images of the woodcuts, I have scanned sections of the pages, with a little of the text by way of explanation.

Here is the dramatic opening paragraph,

and what was soon revealed to the crew’s delighted eyes;

and yet more.

This paragraph reflects the difficulty of establishing trust with no common language.

Sailors and islanders were fascinated by each other’s artefacts. In particular the nails of various sizes carried on board became the most valuable trading items.

Robertson never established the purpose of this place.

What nails could buy is suggested here.

Fresh food was also essential to the traders.

The artist’s final illustration admirably encapsulates what was clearly a very sad day for both parties of this 6 weeks’ acquaintance. The paragraph in square brackets is one of the editor’s additions.

I watched the last three matches of this year’s Six Nations rugby tournament. Before the England versus Scotland game we dined on pork spare ribs and a selection of Chinese starters, with which I drank Doom Bar. Jackie now has the cold as well, so this finger food suited us both.

Beside The Breakwater

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED.

This morning I pulled up a chair for Eric Gill, with whom I was soon to part company.

The Four Gospels 1The Four Gospels 7

When, four days ago, we visited All Saints’ Church at Bransgore, I knew that I would present the parish with my Folio Society facsimile copy of the Golden Cockerel Press edition of The Four Gospels, designed and illustrated by Eric Gill. The original was published in 1931. The Folio facsimile, from 2007, comes with a companion volume of essays by John Dreyfus and Robert Gibbings. The reason for the chair is that the work is too large to fit into my scanner, so I had to use a camera to record the book. Gold leaf is applied to the cover, the spine, and the edges of the pages.

The Four Gospels 4The Four Gospels 5The Four Gospels 6

A church that houses Gill’s original stone carvings is surely a suitable home for this book, containing his bold illustrations and superb lettering. Enlarging these illustrations will show the texture of the paper.

The Four Gospels 3

Each of the four evangelists is introduced by his own page.

The Four Gospels 8

All is contained in a strong box bearing the craftsman’s trademark elegantly simple calligraphy.

In order for me to present the book Jackie drove me to the home of Ingrid Tomkins who had shown us round the church. She explained that it would be kept in a safe place to which interested visitors would be given access.

Landscape 1Landscape 2

Afterwards, Jackie and I took a trip into the forest. We drove through the moors towards Burley. Ponies could be seen across the landscape, also bearing the embers of controlled burning of gorse;

Landscape 3

and beside the roads stretching into the distance.

Landscape 4

One cyclist preferred to push his bike up the hill.

Landscape 5

Most of these roads have a limit of 40 m.p.h., reducing to 30 on the approach to villages. Even at 30 m.p.h. collision with a pony could be fatal.

Forest Leisure Cycling

The tourist season is not yet over for Forest Leisure Cycling in Burley,

Sows 1

where a quintet of grunting, snorting, snuffling, scampering young Gloucester Old Spot sows informed us that this year’s pannage had begun. They scratched backs, flanks, and bums against the bollards and street sign as they fell over each to enter Burley Lawn.

Sows 2

Their elegant turns of leg belied their ungainly appearance as they raced to the next possible source of food

Sows 3

upon which, like seething maggots, they all seized at once.

Forest trees

 

We travelled along the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive

Bracken 1Bracken 2

where the bracken is browning

Needles of arboretum 1Needles of arboretum 2

and fallen needles carpeting their tree roots.

Drink can on grass

During the hundred or so metres along the forest verge I ventured, I counted upwards of a dozen discarded drink containers and other detritus;

Stream 1Stream 2

and lobbed into an otherwise picturesque stream

Special Brew cans 1Special Brew cans 2

were more than that number of Carling Special Brew cans.

From here we continued to Kitchen Makers at Sway where Ann took us through two different proposals, both of which look exciting, but one of which is probably ruled out by the shallowness of our drainage system. We are to consider these two options. I told Ann that we have very good reports of her firm from Geoff Le Pard, whose mother had used them twice. Ann had fond memories of Mrs. Le Pard.

We brunched at The Beach Hut Café at Friar’s Cliff. Readers may remember that on a recent visit I chose a meal described as pulled pork burger with chips and salad, and pointed out that this was not what I had been given. My observation was accepted and an undertaking to change what was written on the board was promised. The specials board now features a quarter pound burger topped with pulled pork. There is no mention of salad. I expressed my appreciation of this, which went down well.

Couple on beach beside breakwater

The sea was rather wilder today. There was just one couple on the beach, basking beside a breakwater.

It will come as no surprise that, after Beach Hut big breakfasts, pizza and salad sufficed for our evening meal.