#16 theoldmortuary ponders

Waking up in the dark to start the day is becoming our autumn/ winter normal. My phone woke me up this morning with a blast of sunshine, with the photograph above. Bright sunshine on 25th October at Rock in Cornwall 5 years ago.

This morning there is very little gap between bed and a swim in the sea. I can already tell there will be no sunshine to stroll to the beach in. I suppose that is part of the charm of October. It is never entirely certain what shape any particular day will take, weather wise. Our evening walk last night revealed beaches overwhelmed with seaweed after the storms of last week which is also in stark contrast to that beautiful beach of five years ago. There is an upside to this, we plan to start making our own compost again and it would make sense to gather seaweed to mix with our teabags and coffee grounds. So today may be the day to make our first harvest. Moving house and garden is, as is always said, a big thing. We’ve moved from somewhere that every square inch of the property and garden was lovingly designed and planned by us to somewhere that was someone elses home for longer than I have been alive. In this regard planning a new compost bin is almost the first new plan we have put in place, as we promised ourselves we would give the house some time to reveal its quirks and charms to us before doing anything major. I realise a compost bin is not major! We also need to learn to live in this location before we make too many changes that we may come to regret.

Luckily for this blog one of the other 25th October pictures, that I was woken up with, suggests calm contemplation. Something that is needed along with Google to make seaweed into compost. A cup of tea on Wembury beach, 4 years ago, is a lovely way to suggest time spent researching the rotting properties of seaweed.

I wonder how today is going to shape up?

The final of the three wake up pictures is also beach related. Sai Kung in Hong Kong, 6 years ago. I think I can say with some certainty that today is not going to be a day for vivid crabs. But this is October, anything could happen.

#15 theoldmortuary ponders

Risk assesment in the formal sense is not a normal part of a Sunday Morning at home. But no-one would serve this bagel without a generous portion of kitchen roll.

But as it happens, nothing happened.

The egg eruption remained contained even after several bites. The kitchen roll was never needed not even for tiny specks of yolk or seeds. The whole bagel was consumed without mishap. This, of course, would only happen on a day when a mishap wouldn’t really have mattered, I had nowhere to be in particular and my early morning dog walking outfit is never anything fancy.

Tomorrow I’m going to try it in real clothes.

#14 theoldmortuary ponders

©Debs Bobber

Sparkly new concrete and hand rails turned out not to be the main event this morning.

©Debs Bobber

When we arrived on the beach early Friday morning we were not the only occupants, and certainly not the most important beach dwellers. Spearmint, a young female seal had hauled herself onto the beach to digest a big meal.

Here she is happily sleeping off a huge meal and dreaming of infinite fish and,somewhat unusually for a seal, swimming with humans. Here she is this morning at Devils Point..


She stayed most of the day and the beach was soon cordoned off to keep her safe, with the constant watchful eyes of a Marine Animal Medic who were all happy to engage with the public and talk about seal behaviour.

Here she is just waking up after many hours of snoozing with a full tummy.

#13 theoldmortuary ponders

Two days of torrential storms and the path to the beach is flooded. But today the sun is out and that makes everything feel pretty. Despite the weather the contractors have managed to finish the refurbishments to our swimming area.

We have handrails now on the new steps that will safely guide us in and out of the water at high tide swims, in all but the worst of weathers.

This mornings swim is set to be a calm one with a bit of giddy excitement at having new concrete and handrails!

#12 theoldmortuary ponders

© Songlines The Box. The Seven Sisters.

My Wednesdays will be a real bright spot in the long,dark, drag of a British winter. Songlines a major International exhibition of the art of Australian First Nations People has opened today, Thursday, at The Box in Plymouth where I work. Yesterday was training and orientation day, like many such days in any subject I came away disorientated and aware of how little I know about the subject being taught, in this case non- western art. If those were my only thoughts on this wonderful exhibition that would be quite enough to deal with, but Songlines is not that simple. The subject matter of Songlines is both Ancient and Modern and is a thorny old subject to get my head around.

The heroines and positive energy of the Songlines in this exhibition are the seven sisters who use guile, magic and determination to protect themselves from a dangerous sexual predator who is named Wati Nyiru.

Shape Shifting and long distance travel are two of the methods used by the sisters to protect themselves. In the picture above, the seven sisters are expressed as highly decorated ceramic vases. Wati Nyiru is the malevolent vase lurking in the corner.

That is the limit of my day one understanding that I have the confidence to write down. I am in luck though. Such is the significance of this Exhibition, the BBC has made a T.V programme about it with Mary Beard . A Professor of Classics at Cambridge University, I have every confidence that Mary will shine a bright torch on this exhibition and succinctly explain all the nuances of these stories that it would take me forever to work out.

I have a date with her on Friday evening to watch her programme, Inside Culture. To be fair I often watch her either on a Friday or on catch up but never usually with the concentration that I will give this weeks programme.

#11 theoldmortuary ponders

My apologies in advance, this blog will use some of the same images as yesterdays. I’ve always thought the term Sea changes referred to the the fact that the sea can change its moods and behaviour really quickly.

The picture above was taken about 18 hours and 500 yards from the one below.

A substantial change in my opinion.

But it turns out Sea change is nothing to do with the actual sea and is something far more grizzly!

Who could have guessed! I actually prefer my theory, large waves compared to calm waters is infinitely easier on the mind than the changes that occur to a drowned body. Thanks Shakespeare

#10 theoldmortuary ponders

This week is set to see the sea temperature drop almost 5 degrees . Yesterday and today it will be around 15/16 degrees, by the end of the week it could have dropped to 10/11. The sea as seen above was choppy and difficult to get into last night but,once in, it really was a good evening swim. The bags we carry with us are getting heavier though. Flasks of hot drinks, layers of clothes and wetsuits are making a return. Strangely most of us are enjoying the return to ‘proper’ cold water swimming. The late Spring and early summer were lovely as the sea temperatures started to rise and we could swim as long as we liked early in the morning or late into the evening without too much concern for anything beyond, perhaps, the tide.

Swimming in cold water has an extra frisson to it that we (the Bobbers) have missed in the warmer months. I write this now from the comfort of a warm house, by the end of the week proper cold water swimming will be a reality. We will have all the frisson we could wish for.

#9 theoldmortuary ponders

I’m not a huge fan of halloween but am aware that without halloween a lot less pumpkins would be grown. Pumpkins bring colour and eccentricity into the back quarter of the year.

Turks Head pumpkins are my favourites. Warty, imperfect and lumpy. They need no embellishment from carving to be interesting,unlike their rotund relations the Orange Pumpkin.

Pumpkin carving and me have history. There is an expectation that because I am ‘artistic’ the whittling of a face or something more into a pumpkin will come as second nature. Whittling Pumpkins doesn’t interest me and on the occasions I have tried it I have found it to be hard/dangerous. The effort put in is far greater than the end result. Of course my attitude was a source of huge disappointment to my children. Not for them dressing up in ghastly outfits and begging/ frightening neighbours/strangers in order to get sweets. They were not totally deprived at the end of October, we often had parties for some of their friends there was just less sugar, plastic and tat, and no intimidation of the local population. I’ve always wished Britain had adopted Mexican Day of the Dead as our end of Autumnal event. More authentic, joyous and less threatening.

Though related, the two annual events differ greatly in traditions and tone. Whereas Halloween is a dark night of terror and mischief, Day of the Dead festivities unfold over two days in an explosion of color and life-affirming joy. Sure, the theme is death, but the point is to demonstrate love and respect for deceased family members. In towns and cities throughout Mexico, revelers don funky makeup and costumes, hold parades and parties, sing and dance, and make offerings to lost loved ones.

Far better, in my opinion, to remember fondly and celebrate our deceased loved ones communally and with positivity. Maybe its time to do a DNA test and see if any part of me is Mexican.

For now I just have dancing carrots!

#8 tholdmortuary ponders

October days that are this bright need to be enjoyed to the max. Our weekend plans were slightly derailed by circumstance but with the weather still good we decided to carry on with our plans to visit Exmouth and Dart Farm. Both places are familiar to us but there has been a gap of more than ten years since our last visit.

Dart Farm is a farm shop selling lovely fresh produce, some of which they grow themselves, and home and beauty products. There is a massive outside area with picnic tables and walks and trails around the crops.

The pumpkin fields were beautiful and not just with brash show off pumpkins, the dark greens of this picture are just mesmerising.

Leeks, Chard and cabbage were gorgeous on our sunny walk and so unusual to be this close to fields of growing veg. After an hour or so we bought some picnic stuff and set off for the coast with two already exhausted dogs.

Exmouth has a huge length of beach and, thanks to Victorian Architects and Town planners, an equally long promenade that runs the length of the beach. We started as far away from the town as possible at Orcombe Point and made our way towards the town.

Miles of a view like this. Exmouth has so much sea and promenade and yesterday it was dotted with people harvesting vitamin D and a late tan from the comfort of chairs and blankets. After two summers of the British actually taking holidays in Britain, Exmouth looks very fine, jaunty even. Embellished by hard work and two years of holiday makers cash the whole area looks rejuvenated, dusted off and ready for anything. Ready for anything did not describe 4 human legs and 8 canine legs after our days walking in two locations. Time to jump in the car and head for home.

Not this car of course, a very proud owner would have almost certainly chased us off and we just didnt have the legs left to risk it.

#7 theoldmortuary ponders

Today is a red letter day. This cement mixer delivered the last pour of concrete to the new steps and slopes of our swimming area just as the tide was receding yesterday evening. Over the weekend the wooden shuttering will be removed and the concrete left to cure for a while and by next week we should all be able to swim at our favourite spots.

Swimming yesterday was not without excitement, but there is no photographic evidence. A submarine quietly slipped into port alongside swimmers who were swimming between the buoys. The deep water access to Devonport Naval Dockyard is just beyond the swimming area between Devils Point where we swim and Drakes Island which is on most of our ‘bobbing’ photos.

This misty shot shows the geography quite well. Swimmers are permitted to swim out to and along an imaginary line that runs parallel to the island. There is a cheeky fishing boat in the area that is the near the deep water, underwater trench. There were mackerel in there at the time, the submarine came later.

Mackerel accidentally played a big part in the serendipity of yesterday.

Last week at the blogging course, I had the fattest,juiciest,oak smoked mackerel for my lunch. Provided by a fabulous cafe in Bethnal Green.


© Leila’s Shop

The only place I know to buy these gorgeous, golden fish, locally, is our local Polish supermarket. Anxious to enjoy fat smoked mackerel again this weekend, a trip was quickly planned. The supermarket happens to be next to an eccentric and fascinating junk shop. This became the most random shopping trip.

There is a world shortage of Bistro sets, the cute French inspired table and chairs sets made of cast iron or aluminium. Apparently, they are all trapped somewhere in containers. On the hunt for mackerel, we found a bistro set outside the junk shop next door.

This may be the strangest two item shopping expedition ever. Thanks to


and Delta Supermarket https://www.westendplymouth.co.uk/

Thankfully last nights sunset just about brings this odd blog together riffing on a theme of red, orange and gold.