#211 theoldmortuary ponders

Early morning blogging, with birdsong. The sun is blindingly up and after a hard working weekend I have somewhere cute to sit and drink the first cup of tea of the morning.

Thanks to Google and the advice on how to neutralise the smell of dog wee,the concrete no longer smells like the leather making area of Marrakesh and more like nothing. Just the sweet smell of nothing!

This yard grows things extraordinarily well that our previously rural garden did not. Irises and Alliums are a big surprise this spring.

I might even move into this space to do a bit of painting, but todays task is more challenging. I am going to restring two old washing lines. That is going to be interesting…

The support team have their doubts.

#210 theoldmortuary ponders

Blogging reality rests on blogging fantasy

#209 theoldmortuary ponders promised the revelation of the weekends grand plan. Two long paragraphs were lost by inatentive fingers and no amount of searching in the nooks and crannies of my WordPress history or archive files revealed the missing links. I couldn’t quickly rewrite them and the grand plan itself required attention. The illustration above hints at the reliability of hard copy versus electronic.

The plan for the weekend was only decided on a whim on Friday. I’m not even sure I even thought about it before pronouncing. “I think I am going to remove all the fake grass this weekend” The job had been started 6 weeks ago when the first strip of fake grass was removed to give us a two metre flower bed. Then last week another four metre ‘L’ shaped flower bed was revealed. My pronouncement actually only involved a raised patio area but unlike the others we had covered it in container grown plants. What I had suggested was a monumental task with added unsavoury undertones.

The previous owners two pug dogs had used the fake grass as their toilet. The fake grass over flower beds had drained into soil, the patio area was a big old slab of concrete. When we moved in we were only renting the house so had to leave things as they were. We cleaned as well as we could and vowed to remove it as soon as we had bought the house. The house sale rambled on, delayed by the death of the descendent of Robert the Bastard who was given our tiny portion of land in 1066! Winter arrived and we did not have the appetite for a yucky job in the cold.

We are no strangers to yucky jobs. When we were rebuilding and repurposing the building that was the old mortuary next to our Cornish cottage we chose to clear out the undertakers workshop and Chapel of Repose ourselves, before the builders moved in to turn it into part of our home. 50 years of that sort of business, long before health and safety regulations and 50 years of neglect after it was closed because of health and safety, was a heady mix of bodily excrescences and vermin excretions. So we have some unusual expertise.

Obviously our dogs had taken to using the informal, low effort toileting area too. Saturday was spent moving full and heavy plant containers down to the far end of the yard, this meant that our energy levels were pretty depleted by the time we had to roll up and bag up the fake grass. It was every bit as grim as you might imagine and the urine soaked concrete slab was a pretty stinky thing. It has been scrubbed and hosed many times now. The plan was to allow it to dry off and paint it, but as it has dried off a curious thing has happened. The urine has discoloured the concrete and brought out the colours of the sands that were used in its manufacture. We may well be left with a slab of concrete that resembles a warm pinkish/orange marble or rock.

So yucky job done, there was a ridiculous number of plants to be either repotted or planted in the soil of the revealed flower beds. The job was just about completed by the time of the Sunday evening swim. Since then we have had heavy showers of rain. There has been no chance of taking a series of work complete photographs. This yucky job may well stretch to another blog!

To finish up, a picture of our neighbours chicken checking out the sweet new leaves of a Silver Birch that has moved closer to her strutting zone.

#209 theoldmortuary ponders

Pull up a chair for a classic meandering ponder. Yesterday there was a plan and neither fate nor serendipity stepped in to change it. Today we need to pull up a chair because our leg muscles in particular know that we achieved our set target of the day.

Before we get to ‘the plan’ there were the side tasks. Luck in the shape of an unknown sailor gave me this pretty image to start the blog.

A red rowing boat exactly in line with a red delivery van on the other side of the Hamoaze was a lucky moment during the dog walk. Our morning was spent doing unblogworthy tasks but we had a lunchtime date to visit friends at their allotment.

I must admit to having a preconception about allotments. Dusty rectangles of land in unlovely locations requiring hard work and a lot of heavy lifting. We were due to be met at the gate by a friend. These particular allotments are quite secure. My fanciful head has images of Narnia , my real life head thought   high fences and clanging metal gates. It turns out that Fanciful and I(n) R(eal) L(ife) had met and produced a love child that is Peverell Paradise or Aspirational Allotment World. The gate turned out to be a portal into another world.

We stepped into an area of wooden buildings just off a main road, the ground was carpeted with dense and aromatic woodchip. There was a composting toilet, a small sales area and other sheds that no doubt held magical creatures brewing acorn gin and baking nettle pastries. The whole area was under a canopy of trees that created the sort of dappled shade beloved of film makers with a soundscape of birdsong. Just as in an adventure we were led on an undulating path to the actual allotment of our destination. But not before we passed the allotment of an ‘Influencer’.  An Influencer!! We did not expect that.

https://www.thorntonsgrowingandliving.co.uk/

the_young_grower is his Instagram name.

Our minds were blown, which just shows how unimaginative, or closeted, minds can be when thinking about allotments. Warning to anyone checking out his Insta account, there is some male nudity… I know, there is another preconception about allotment life, blown out of the water , or maybe more appropriately, plot lost completely.

©Instagram

Our lunchtime date was completed with the purchase of freshly laid eggs. There is a little bit of colour serendipity in the next shot.

Eggs live in a heart shaped basket in our kitchen. In the bottom of the basket is a really old Polaroid photograph of my dad, so old that it has been faded to that odd shade of fading that over exposure to UV often causes. The polaroid is adorned with a star of the same colour that was sent to us by our thousands of miles away grandaughter. Getting to the bottom of our egg store always gives a little frisson of pleasure when I see the two people connected in a way they will never be in real life. A sort of egg basket Magic Realism I suppose. Imagine how thrilled my inner colour nerd was to find a turquoise egg in our egg box!

Now here is the thing, real time blogging failure. I had written a lovely paragraph about the actual planned task, which in truth we are only half way through. My fingers deleted it and no amount of digging around in my WordPress history can locate it. In the interest of actually publishing a blog today I am going to abandon writing about the actual planned task and give it a blog of its own when we finish it later today. Until tomorrow…

#208 theoldmortuary ponders

Some mornings the only cure for a busy, overwhelmed head is a cup of black coffee and some fresh air. Yesterday was such a day. I didn’t get out of the wrong side of the bed exactly, two very entitled dogs make that an impossibility, but my head was unproductively busy. Later in the day a friend described such thoughts as ” Like a murmuration of Starlings or a shoal of fish turning in the sea.”

As I had predicted the coffee, some conversations with neighbours and a small pastry set me right.

Greek Yogurt lemon Pastry

An in- person meeting with a colleague provided more mind nurturing in the form of freshly picked mint tea and a take away bunch of mint to grow my own.

And actually who wouldn’t be smoothed out by such a gorgeous napkin!

Things were all falling into place quite nicely. Hugo had even taken on the role of P A for a while to keep me on schedule.

Although there were times when he was definitely blocking productivity.

With or, probably without, Hugo’s assistance all the jobs got done and some order returned to my mind. But I am left with the lovely images of thoughts being like murmurations of Starlings.

Or shoals of fish.

Two lovely videos to start a chilled out Saturday with.

#207 theoldmortuary ponders

Our only outside space is a bright white stone yard. We have only just recovered the two patches of actual soil from the clutches of artificial grass. The one below was planted up two months ago and has established itself very quickly.

But we are only in May and the yard may get too hot once the summer arrives. These pink alliums are the best we have ever grown.

The other bigger patch of actual soil has only just been reclaimed and will be used for summer vegetables. Wild garlic will be not so wild and will be contained in a pot.

So far so good but we have a new revelation in the yard. Our neighbours have gained some chickens, gorgeous fluffy bummed creatures who make clucking noises that could charm the birds from the trees. Unfortunately the birds that are actually charmed from the trees are magpies. Who even knew that Magpies have diligent digestive systems, in their urge to be closer to the chickens they empty the contents of their bowels on our yard and plants. I am not such a fan of magpies. This development may, however ultimately be of benefit to us. Our neighbours also have an inappropriately placed trampoline that looms large over our yard wall and is a constant eyesore. The magpies shit on it and will surely make it unusable and then hopefully it will be removed. Or of course, which is more likely, we will have a black and white eyesore. In which case we are going to need to be very creative with our future yardscaping.

#206 theoldmortuary ponders.

Currently this woodpile is a woodpile gold standard. I love a good woodpile, they endlessly fascinate me. I pass this one most days and am in awe of its perfection. I’ve only ever owned one, woodpile suitable, house and I never managed anything quite as beautiful as this. My woodpile lived under a large open porch that ran along the front of the house, there was a bench next to the woodpile. On rainy days it was possible to sit under the porch and remain dry while enjoying the woody fragrances that the damp atmosphere enhanced. In the early days of on-line shopping a van delivery person thought the ideal hidden spot would be behind the woodpile, without any regard for the several tons of wood that would need to be moved to retrieve the item. They had no proof that they had delivered the item and ultimately the shoes were replaced. No one would move that much wood without the certainty of a prize. We never burnt our way to the bottom of the pile and so when the house was sold so were a pair of original 2002 crocs, if they ever were actually delivered. One day someone will find them, they are probably, after 20 years, a collectors item.

Tales from the woodpile.

#205 theoldmortuary ponders

You can tell a lot about a person by the way they hug.

For the next couple of months hugging is the loose starting point for my quick sketches. I don’t really know where the sketches will lead.

Hugging dropped out of favour during the pandemic and is only now rising, Phoenix like, from the still glowing embers of the new endemic era.

Have our hugging habits changed significantly. Will some people slink back away from the sensation of physical touch and isolate themselves forever from the causal embrace?

Others who have previously had a hidden,but effective, force field resisting hugs may decide that now is time to embrace their fellow humans in a way they never did.

I have always been a keen observer and practitioner of the hug. Watching it slowly return into the normal hurly burly of life is a rare opportunity to watch a human interaction re-establish itself.

Sketching and pondering hugs is proving to be an interesting project even if I have no idea where it is going.

The new etiquette of the social hug. It’s a jungle out there.

#204 theoldmortuary ponders

Bluebell woods can be tricksy to photograph effectively. This was my best shot of the day in some new to me woods. New England Woods near Ivybridge. The river Yealm runs through the woods and will become a freshwater swimming location very soon. Alongside the bluebells the Ransomes, or Wild Garlic were bright and white and happy to pose for a phone camera.

Not that they would have been quite so happy to pose if they realised that a bit of wild garlic is a wonderful thing when added to roast potatoes.

Unlike bluebells the wild garlic were easy to capture.

And the birdsong was equally compliant.

#203 theoldmortuary ponders

Sunset to start the day! @theoldmortuary has not gone completely mad. I wanted to ponder the soft pinks and oranges of May. The pink on the horizon of last nights sunset and the orange of the artificial lights illuminating the Royal William Yard.

My eye was caught by a scruffy little Geum in the garden centre earlier in the week.

There were much showier plants of late spring to look at but this one seemed to reflect the mood of the day more accurately. I am also a bit more aware of flowers in the softer pink spectrum since I did a colour mixing painting course. One of the pictures in yesterdays blog featured a painting by Beryl Cook that featured a silk dress in these soft colours.

©Beryl Cook

I’ve finished the course now but haven’t quite managed, yet, to fully utilise these soft colours in my own compositions. But my awareness in the last few weeks makes me think again that I need to give soft orange/pinks a proper go.

These colours were highlighted in the colour course, that I was doing recently, to be deeply embedded in my memory archives, although had I considered these shades even six months ago I would have dismissed them as my least favourite and now I seem to be, subliminally, seeking them out. I suppose that is the point, of course, of courses, to make me think. I just never expected to think pink. Now I just need to find a way to use it.

One more sunset with a hint of pink to kick off Monday!

Course details-https://tansyhargan.com/

#202 theoldmortuary ponders

Lurid dreams, reflux, and Wordle. Where could this possibly be going ?

Just one of those nights I suppose. A busy day was followed by a late supper and the evening dog walk amongst Pirates on the Barbican.

Pirate weekend is a big thing in Plymouth by 7pm it was a little ragged around the edges but it was obvious that after a two year break, everyone was anxious to bring out their inner Corsair.

Our favourite Saltash Pirate had been out and about earlier in the day.

© Chris Wotton What’s on Plymouth

We were just a little late for all the full on Pirate antics but the soft evening light made the boats look good.

The Barbican itself was possibly looking more truly authentic than earlier in the day. There was an air of too much sunshine and booze but in a good way, the sense of a day well spent having fun and the promise of an evening with high heels on cobbles, some wobbly flesh and tears before bedtime.

© https://www.berylcookprints.co.uk/

Visit the website below to get a flavour of Plymouth with it’s going out mood on. Beryl Cook is a notable Plymouth artist.

https://www.berylcookprints.co.uk/

None of this really explains my opening sentence, but I had a shocking nights sleep last night. Mostly due to eating a lively Levantine soup too late at night, reflux and a vivid imagination kept me in and out of sleep and this morning I had my first Wordle fail.

Pirates are life disrupters.

© Anheuser-Busch InBev
Cerveceria Bucanero S.A. (CBSA)