Keeping Dickens

Charle Keeping https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Keeping was probably my favourite contemporary book illustrator. So, when, in the late 1970s, the Folio Society sought members’ recommendations for pairings of books and illustrators, there was only one possible submission for me.

In 1981 the first of the Dickens series was published. Derek Parker reviewed it thus

in The Times on 4th of June that year. This cutting is slipped inside The Pickwick Papers, which I am currently reading.

Normally I do not feature a book until I have finished it. In the case of this tome I might be some time. I will comment on the text when that time comes, but I have decided to take my readers on a ramble through Mr. Keeping’s signature line drawings as far as I have got.

Here is the frontispiece.

Such pagination as the overflowing layout allows will indicate the publisher’s generous proliferation of penmanship exuberantly deployed.

I have scanned full pages in order to display the artist’s scintillating gems bursting from the text.

Should there be sufficient interest I will present further pictures as I turn the pages of the book.

While I occupied myself preparing this post Jackie photographed a crab apple tree full of sparrows debating whether to trust a new feeder.

Strong winds and very heavy rain had beset us overnight and this morning.

Later, all was reasonably calm and we took a short drive into the afternoon sun.

Clear streams ran down the gutters on Holmsley Passage where

the crossing gate and scudding clouds were reflected in rippling pools.

Trees on the skyline stood against the lowering sun as it peered from behind the clouds;

a mud-caked pony nibbled at yellow gorse;

and the hide of chomping cattle was tinged with red outlines.

Sunset occurred as we returned by Holmsley Road. That, too, was reflected in waterlogged terrain.

This evening we dined with Elizabeth at Lal Quilla. I enjoyed Goan King Prawn; Elizabeth’s choice was Lamb Chana; and Jackie’s Chicken Sag. We shared mushroom and pilau rice, a plain paratha, and Tarka Dal. Jackie and I drank Kingfisher; Elizabeth chose Cobra. The welcome, food, and service were as good as ever.

Comparatively Unscathed

Jackie produced a few photographs of dawn this morning.

Although the skies would darken with rain squalls and the windspeed increase at intervals after lunch the morning was brighter and the speed 45 m.p.h.

I toured the garden investigating what turned out to be very little damage.

The patio planters in front of the French windows were unscathed;

a few pots, like this one on the Kitchen Path,

and this beneath the clematis Cirrhosa Freckles, had toppled;

a few slender branches had been ripped from the copper beech and the weeping birch;

the already disintegrating rose arch had lost a piece of its top;

the back drive gate had shed some of its screen;

empty compost bags had been blown about a bit;

but many areas, such as the Shady Path were unscathed.

Nugget’s Wisteria Arbour was intact. “Where’s Nugget?” (67)

This afternoon the weather alternated between dark sleet showers and bursts of sunshine during which

darting blue tits took what opportunities they could to grab a peck

between those squabbling sparrow trapeze artists swinging on the swaying feeders

from which they spilled more than they consumed.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata plentifully packed with peppers, mushrooms, onions and garlic. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

A Quarrel Of Sparrows

Stealth bombers dominate our front garden feeders.

Silently they crowd the seed provider, with a

considerable amount of spillage

cleared up by robin Ron for whom this particular container was provided,

and larger birds like blackbirds

and woodpigeons.

The voracious field sparrows dart onto any vacant perch. They engage in fearsome face-offs. Spreading or violently flapping their wings and viciously pecking they dive-bomb their rivals to take their places at the trough.

It is hardly surprising that a collective noun for sparrows is a quarrel.

This afternoon Jackie went into the garden in search of Nugget, who she photographed as he cocked his head awry.

“Where’s Nugget?” (60)

She thinks the solitary crow on our rooftop is Russell, who latched onto her in its infancy in June 2018.

She also photographed

an iris,

the Weeping Birch,

a vinca,

an owl on the stumpery,

an osteospermum,

campanula,

heuchera leaves,

and emerging snowdrops.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent beef and mushroom pie; creamy potato and swede mash; firm carrots and Brussels sprouts; tender cabbage; and thick, tasty, gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Garnacha Syrah.

 

Waiting Their Turn

We have now watched half the episodes of The Crown Series 2. My general impression is unchanged.

Much of the morning today was spent getting us back on line. The details are boring.

On another dull day the birds made full use of the feeders.

Sparrows tend to dominate in the front garden,

although they do occasionally allow the tits a look in.

The heavier wood pigeons and sparrows who cannot find room above find easy peckings from what has been tossed aside by the messy feeders.

Eventually Ron was able to take a turn on his own special feeder usually commandeered by voracious sparrows;

while the long tailed tits left a little for Nugget.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with sautéed peppers, onions, and mushrooms with which she drank Diet Coke and I drank more of the Valréas.

This Is A White Rose Christmas

Winchester Cathedral blooms today.

The crowded seed feeder sways from side to side in the gloom as aggressive

sparrows squabble over occupied perches.

Regular readers will be aware that I have been on two secret trips with Elizabeth. This afternoon she collected me and took me back to her house to help me transport Jackie’s wrapped Christmas present that she has been keeping for me..

Resting in a garden refuse bag for ease of lifting, it now nestles beside the Christmas tree.

It is now 7.10 p,m. Five minutes ago Becky and Ian from Southbourne and Mat, Tess, and Poppy from twice as far away in Upper Dicker arrived at the same time. Five minutes before that Jackie had gone to Hordle Chinese Take Away for dinner for us all. When she arrives we will eat it with various beverages.

Happy Christmas everyone.

One For GP

As was the case this morning, the seed feeder in the front garden is usually overcrowded by sparrows,

with the inevitable pecking consequence.

Great and blue tits share more harmonious meals.

This afternoon we drove into the forest and got no further than Holmsley Passage before we witnessed

a string of ponies crossing the moorland in our direction.

They were headed for pastures new,

and a visit to their swollen waterhole,

now freely flowing.

The Assistant Photographer produced an image she has entitled “two white manes”

while I leant on the bridge to photograph a grey drinking.

Others leaving the stream cast long shadows in the glow of the lowering sun.

Our blogging friend GP Cox really likes the ponies. So, here you are GP – a post for you.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s chic cottage pie; crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli; tender cabbage, and tasty gravy with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Barbera d’Asti 2016.

 

 

Survivors December 2019

Today was the third bright, sunny, and cold one in a row. Given that overnight temperatures are in the low minuses, I wandered around the garden to photograph some of the albeit somewhat poorly looking surviving flora.

Two that seem to bloom continuously are the yellow bidens

and the white solanums from last year.

A few primulas,

penstemons,

pelargoniums,

and pansies linger.

The yellow antirrhinums refuse to die.

Mrs Popple

and Delta’s Sarah are two of the still flowering fuchsias.

Fatsia,

vibernum bodnantense Dawn,

and clematis Cirrhosa Freckles we may expect to enjoy at this time of year;

but not the hebes.

Carpets,

Paul’s Scarlet,

Just Joey,

 

Winchester Cathedral,

and Festive Jewel carry the baton for team roses.

Hoards of Hunnish sparrows occupy the hawthorn, swooping on

sad little Muggle’s

feeder for which he has to wait his moment,

while more of Attila’s marauders concentrate on the front garden robin’s seeds.

We didn’t see Nugget today.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Chateau Pinenc Minervois 2017.