Pandemic Pondering #72

Spring in Cornwall is often beautiful but it is always tempered with a lot of rain. This year, in Lockdown, Spring in Cornwall has been magnificent. The beautiful show of wild flowers on Cornish hedges are more perfect than ever, almost Chelsea Flower Show perfect, because they haven’t been subjected to the bad weather of most years. Today I got up early to catch them in the rising sun. The bees were busy and the tiny lanes were a symphony of bird song, buzzy bees and pollinators whose names I do not know.

The pictures start at home and end with the Love Tree. I wrote a blog on 13th February called Love Tree/Jelly Shoe.
https://theoldmortuary.design/2020/02/13/

Tomorrow it will get another whole blog to itself .

@theoldmortuary poppies.

Beautiful seed heads on some grasses that have just turned up in our front garden planters

The perimeter wall of Trematon Castle swells with vibrant colour every May and June.

I painted one of the more formal walls of the castle,in Spring, a couple of years ago.

The next few images are an homage to perfect Foxgloves. These are the hardy perennial show stoppers of the Cornish hedges around here. Their strong architectural shape is indicative of Spring in Cornish hedgerows. Usually on closer inspection that are a little battered and bruised by traditional West Country weather. In Cornwall the day Lockdown was announced the weather became sunny and for the most part predictable . The next images are a celebration of Foxgloves in their prime, untarnished by the elements.

All Foxgloves were papped on the way to the Love Tree. I will start off with a couple nearest to the castle, after that the blog gets unashamedly pink.

I came across the cutest road sign on my travels. Steady On. Such a great statement to gently urge caution.

And it’s partner sign , politely thanking drivers for due diligence.

And finally, the Love Tree, tomorrow’s blog subject.

Pandemic Pondering #71

Lockdown and a new diet regime has had a funny effect on our store cupboards. We are cooking everything from scratch and also learning new things to cook with ingredients we’ve not used before. We’ve always cooked a lot of Asian food . Today it was time to incorporate the local Asian Supermarket into the morning dog walk. KW Brothers of Durnford Street is a great shop. We stocked up on sauces for a third of the price of non specialist supermarkets.

Other things may have slipped into the bag too. KW Brothers has an amazing smell, I’m never sure if it makes me homesick for the Asian Stores of South London or Asia itself.

Either way I love it. Random fact of the day . KW Brothers stands on the site of a doctor’s surgery where Arthur Conan Doyle worked. Durnford Street has quotes from Sherlock Holmes inset into the pavement between the Asian Supermarket and Firestone Bay.

Durnford Street is pretty.

Firestone Bay is beautiful.

We were planning a Fusion evening meal , it was a coincidence really that we went to the supermarket as we had everything we needed for tonight’s supper without a visit.

https://schoolofwok.co.uk/our-story/heritage

This is our favourite Asian cookery book.

Fusion supper, Fragrant Aubergine with minced pork.

Elderflower and raspberry gin and tonic.

Happy Thursday

Pandemic Pondering #70

Another friend has died in this curious time of Pandemic Lockdown. Just as my beloved friend mentioned in Pandemic Pondering #28, the friend who died yesterday died an anticipated death , unconnected to Coronovirus but most certainly affected by the restrictions imposed by the Pandemic. He died at home supported by a loving family.

We shared a love of books and music and he was kind and generous with his knowledge of both and equally enthusiastic about exploring new genres of either. I will miss his inspiration and enthusiasm.

Just as in #28 , I am a lower tier mourner. Unlike #28 I’ve had more time, as we all have to absorb the current way of marking a death. More experience too, our regular dog walk takes us between two graveyards and @theoldmortuary overlooks a church graveyard. In consequence we witness many restricted graveside services as voyeurs. We’ve become accustomed to the new way of marking death.

Not being able to join friends in a celebration of life at a traditional funeral has become an acceptable fact of life. The promise of attending a Memorial Service in the future is not something I’ve ever experienced before. It will, for many of us, be a new reality once communal gathering can take place.

For now, all I can do to mark a friend’s passing is quiet contemplation. Very Zen.

Pandemic Pondering #69

Pandemic wanderings.

Today found us having a small permissible family gathering midway between London and Cornwall.

We met at Ashton Court on the outskirts of Bristol. Acres of amazing walks and plenty of places to have socially distanced picnics.

The house has some lovely architectural details.

and some curious graffiti.

Frosty Flakes anyone?
https://thebristolmag.co.uk/mr-mrs-smyth-the-history-of-ashton-court-estate/

The views from the park are phenomenal. In the distance we spotted a beautiful church. How often in life are there so few pressures on time that you can just go and find a church that you’ve seen in a landscape? That’s how we ended up at St Michaels Church, Dundry. It has spectacular views over Bristol

and the churchyard has an unusual project.

Many of the old graves have been planted with bee friendly, and other polinator friendly, flowers. This whole area of the graveyard has a softness and distinctive look, created by the flowers that makes it mystical and beautiful in a way that is unfamiliar in Britain.

The church door of St Michaels is guarded by two faces. One has definitely done more years.

After leaving St Michaels we took a scenic journey to Chew Lakes to finish up our picnic that was started lunchtime.

Two days of meeting up with much loved family members has exhausted us. We might gently slip back into full lockdown tomorrow for a rest. But it’s been wonderful to see everyone.

Pandemic Ponderings #68

Some days are harder than others to distil down into a blog , on those days I often dig out a topic or theme and ponder on. But today deserves its moment in the sun.its just a struggle to find the right words.

We, like many others have been deprived of seeing our families . Today and tomorrow we have arranged to meet a small part of our small family, respecting government guidelines.

Obviously meeting loved ones has been looked forward to and anticipated with pleasure .

Lockdown is known to mess with most people’s heads . There are the obvious things like worry, insomnia, depression, grief . The serious proper head messes. I’ve had some of those but a few times I’ve had a curious little head mess that puzzles rather than worries me, and although you might think it is sad it doesn’t sadden me. It occurs in the Limnal spaces of my thoughts or when I’m waking or dropping off to sleep.

Sometimes imagining meeting with my actual living family after so many days of lockdown and self isolation gets complicated.

In these moments there are other people at these family gatherings. People like my parents or father-in- law who have been dead a very long while or Hannah’s parents who have crossed into the other realm more recently. I don’t put them in my thoughts they just appear and seeing them,after a gap of more than 30 years in some cases, feels as natural and normal as seeing the living people after only 3 months. The closest thing I can use to describe the sensation is Magical Realism.

https://bookriot.com/2018/02/08/what-is-magical-realism/

My entirely normal family is not going to be a powerful tool against political regimes any time soon, but my head, albeit briefly, sees nothing incongruous about me meeting my granddaughter in the presence of many dead relations. It seems to be entirely normal and quite unworrisome.

I’m really not sure where these thoughts are coming from.

Today , far away from Limnal spaces none of the deceased put in an appearance. The beach at Harlyn bay just held the live family members that I’ve missed so greatly. There was plenty of room for the others, they just didn’t put in an appearance.

Minds and thoughts are complex at the best of times, how much other strange and intriguing stuff will this curious period of our lives give us to ponder over.

Pandemic Ponderings # 67

Sunday musings on a sun lounger. Not everything goes to plan. This is true in real life, just as it is in pandemic life. I’ve always been accepting of the wonderful John Lennon lyric.

‘ Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans’

I’m surprised by the accepting way the whole world has taken to changing its plans, very little protest and a lot of understanding.

Things happen @theoldmortuary, under normal circumstances,that I had never even considered needed plans. A trip to the supermarket, coffee with friends, weekends with our family. These things happened, sometimes spontaneously with very little thought. Now doing anything takes great thought and the mundane has become something to dress up for and revel in, when three months ago it would have been a chore.

This weekend would not have been mundane.We should be exhausted and bursting with ideas and inspiration. This would have been a weekend in London soaking up the buzz and vibrancy of our favourite city.

Friday would have seen us at The Chelsea Flower Show, but like everything it has been cancelled.

The rest of the weekend would have been spent with friends and family in various parts of the city. Our hair would be cut, our minds would be restocked with happiness and great ideas, some shopping might have occured and, by now, we would be on the A303 chattering about everything and, in particular, how much our garden would be tweaked. Chelsea and Hampton Court are the two flower shows that inspire us.

I’m not actually dwelling on the might- have-been because there is a future out there for most of us , we just have to wait a bit to experience it. Today I should have been spending four hours on the road but actually I’ve spent four hours in the garden enjoying some of the stuff we’ve learnt in the past, at Chelsea, and the washing is dry.

So a Sunday, not as planned, but a Sunday full to the brim of unplanned loveliness.

Pandemic Pondering #66

Lockdown Saturdays have become so much more exciting since Hutong started selling take out coffee in a pub .

I think we are better humans after a properly made Flat White. If this is the case , today we will be even more improved because we had two . One either end of the walk. Definitely more caffeine than I’ve had in three months.Giddy with excitement I’ve settled to writing a blog on one of the more mundane subjects of Lockdown.Soap bars, I think caffeine induced excitement might drag this blog into something vaguely interesting.I’m inspired to write this today because the first of our lockdown soaps has lathered it’s last.Bar soap is not something we ever really had @theoldmotuary. Hannah has traditional dry skin and I have non traditional. Either way the harshness of soap in a bar was something to avoid. Pump soaps disappeared off the shelves early on in Lockdown and bars it had to be. We have really enjoyed them and the extra time that there is in Lockdown allows for plenty of hand moisturising.The stand out bar soap in our house comes from Niagara in Canada. Not somewhere anyone outside of Niagara can nip to right now but it lasts and lasts doesn’t dry out skin and smells amazing. We bought a few bars two years ago and had forgotten we had them. More than two months on and there is still loads left.Soap Opera on-the-lake
15 Queen St, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0, Canada
+1 905-468-7627https://g.co/kgs/3jwBYVNext favourite and the one that needed to be replaced today is Waitrose own.This little bar has lasted the whole of lockdown only needing replacement today.Least popular is this blue bar from Pears. Proof of any was needed that the enemy of good is better.

Despite being one of my favourite brands, this one dries out our skin and is really disappointing fragrance wise. I wish I had picked up the traditional version, which I know is ok for our skin.So…Soap and Caffeine not normally a traditional pairing but if you have enough of one you can Witter on about the other.The great thing about writing blogs is the need to research my own image archive. While checking the name and any photos of the soap shop in Niagara-on-the-lake I found one of my favourite pictures which was also taken in the town.kingstgallery.comThis tiny Private entrance enchants me.The Gallery has some lovely quotes . This one says it all.King Street GalleryNiagara-on-the-lake

Pandemic Pondering #65

We’ve got to #65 before I mention hair. Rather too much of it if I’m honest. Curls give me a bit of leeway but today I started to pin it up and tied it up with a scarf.The writing is on the wall. Hannah has a sculptured crop and has snipped a bit around the edges. Hairdressing scissors have been bought. Apparently she feels confident with them

The summer weight scarves have been laundered ready to control curls and provide face masks if we need them.

Hay fever season makes us prone to explosive sneezes. A quick cowboy style scarf/mask makes us more socially acceptable.

If there is much more talk of confidence with scissors I could be in trouble.

Pandemic Pondering #64

As dusk falls Smeatons Tower, on Plymouth Hoe, is lit up in shades of blue as a sign of respect for the regular Thursday night clap for carers.

I have to admit to a huge conflict with the whole thing. For political and personal reasons. I’m inclined towards the views of the anonymous author of the article in this link.
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/may/21/nhs-doctor-enough-people-clapping

A whole career in the NHS, when I was repeatedly expected to work in less than optimal conditions,has always made me want to be in a properly funded work place with good working conditions.

All the clapping in the world cannot make this a reality.

However I am not so hard hearted or embittered not to be moved by the regular Thursday night clap. It affects me in a way I find hard to explain.

The silence surrounding the blue- illuminated Smeatons Tower, two hours after the clap, was a completely different sensation. Something entirely secular, thought provoking and calming. A sort of visual two minutes silence.

Time to reflect.

Pandemic Pondering #63

The world for now has become a little smaller and our garden a little more stony. The two are linked. The area in front of the garden studio is a muddy lawn during the winter months and for some time we’ve wanted to turn it into a Dungeness, Derek Jarman style garden.


https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/mar/15/writers-join-campaign-to-save-derek-jarmans-cottage

It was my love of the poetry of Derek Jarman that first took me to his home on Dungeness and it is Dungeness that has stolen a big bit of my coast loving heart.

His poetry book, A finger in the Fishes Mouth, found its way into my life a long while ago. It took me to Dungeness.

I love the serendipity of following a poet to his special place and then finding one of my own. The flat blank mounds of pebbles inspire me to paint, and photograph


and now obviously to garden.

Who knows when we can next travel to Kent to recharge our batteries but Lockdown has given us the chance to start our stone garden .

Much laying of membrane and humping of pebbles, quaintly described as Raspberry Ripple, has turned the grotty lawn into a miniature space of pebbles , I can read a Sunday paper on it.

Today we are resting our aching muscles on it whilst basking in the sun.

Dreaming of endless pebbles.