Pandemic Pondering #231

Just a little blog today. The subject has been covered in a couple of different ways in other blogs. A regular dog walk for us starts on Commercial Street in Plymouth and follows a circular walk around Sutton Harbour and the Barbican in Plymouth using the footbridge by the Marine Aquarium and then back via Sutton Wharf. Within Pandemic Ponderings we have only done it in daylight

Last night was our first walk this year in the dark. I hadn’t really planned a blog about it but two nice photos presented themselves and it seems a shame not to use them

The first was a flock of swans with the twinkly lights of The Barbican behind them.

The second was a lovely flat tide image of some fishing boats.

Either of these images would have charmed us if we were on holiday in Greece, but they are very close to home and it may well be the Pandemic that has made us appreciate , more fully, local scenes. The dogs , of course, never go to Greec e so have no idea why we keep stopping to take pictures on home territory. Quite possibly they are wondering why we are not making the effort to have a good sniff or do a little wee.

Being more appreciative of everything is a curious side effect of Covid-19. @theoldmortuary we plan on being better at appreciating everything more effectively. A hard way to learn a simple lesson.

Pandemic Pondering #230

Don’t you just hate wisdom that gets shared on Instagram and Facebook. I’m not a complete quote/ inspiring text pooper but in truth many are pretty dire. And then completely by accident you write one of your own.

I was messaging a former work colleague, who works hard under difficult circumstances. Her only moan was that age was ‘ getting’ to her. Without thinking I replied ” Age is unavoidable, surf it with style”

I’m not normally that profound but I had just got out of the sea after a really long morning swim. Last night we wild camped near to Tregirls Beach so we could make the most of a high tide early in the morning.

The evening dog walk was dramatic, but we had missed sunset so walking on uneven ground was tricksy.

Long Carrow Cove

Hugo and Lola settled in with books and the newspaper while we got supper ready.

Breakfast with the view.

Tregirls beach was the location that inspired my profoundity. A good long swim with just the right amount of chill was exactly what was needed to clean the cobwebs from my mind, and indeed prepare the ground for a memorable quote. Depending on your standards of course.

And then, of course there was the footprints.

Pandemic Pondering #229

A little bit of weekend meandering. I realise that 2020 is both a landmark year and one that many of us would like to see the back of. I’ve caught myself twice this week discussing how I would like to look back on this year and understand its significance on the  future. I don’t think I’m wishing my life away but I’m intrigued to know how life will be post pandemic ponderings. For now I’m sharing some random thoughts and images that have brightened our weekend.

A very late wildflower patch is maturing under our outdoor tomatoes, tomatoes that would not exist if we hadn’t been in a Lockdown for so long.

The glorious poppies of late spring and early summer, much loved and instagrammed by our neighbours during lockdown are long gone but one lonely little seed pod came indoors with me today and nestled in a sunbeam on a velvet cushion.

The next  pictures are related because they were taken at the same location. The first two are tiny figureheads that mark the gender of the Loos at our favourite pub/coffee shop. I’ve included them because during last week I’ve been working at The Box, a new museum and gallery in Plymouth during the soft opening sessions before it opens properly. Figureheads are a big feature of the entrance area, but any photographs of the actual museum are banned until the museum is properly open. These two are at the Lord High Admiral in Plymouth. A fine substitute until I can share the real things. The Lola picture was taken just after we had had our weekly coffee fix at The Hutong ‘pop-up’

Four pictures from the weekend that would not have existed if the Pandemic had not happened.

Pandemic Pondering #228

Trematonia is a fantastical design for wallpapers and soft furnishings based on the gardens and woods of Trematon Castle.

https://www.houseofhackney.com/uk/trematonia

Obviously it’s a fictional land but it is one we overlook every day when we take the dogs for a walk.

By slightly extending the fiction I can say that we have many friends who live in Outer Trematonia, in real life the village of Trematon that stretches to the west and far beyond the castle. Today we had quite the adventure and went for Afternoon Tea at Trematon Hall, also within the fictional world of Outer Trematonia, Afternoon Tea has always seemed a slightly fantastical meal, I blame Lewis Carol and his Alice in Wonderland

@theoldmortuary we are partial to an afternoon tea. A subject we have studied diligently over the years. We were not disappointed , the reverse in fact. Close to home we found one of the tastiest afternoon teas we’ve had in a while. Julie, our host, is an amazing baker, everything was home made.

Every last crumb was eaten, in no particular order these were our  highlights , Ham and Piccalilli (the best piccalilli we’ve tasted) Pear Tarte Tatin (Pears from the garden) Scone, Clotted Cream with Tayberry Jam ( Tayberries from a neighbours garden)

Controversial image I know , especially as we are in Cornwall but the bigger news is that one of our friends cousins bred the Tayberry in 1979. Apparently it is like a blackberry on speed, which is all a little bit Alice in Wonderland, so just as well we were in the fantasy land of Outer Trematonia.

Julie showed us around her stylishly renovated home. One that many local women would be familiar with, as the Trematon Women’s Institute met here, when Liz Turner owned the Hall. Another reminder of Liz was the family Beach Hut which she had moved to the gardens to remind her of family holidays by the sea.

Following the fantasy theme of this blog I took some pictures that have nothing to do with afternoon tea and everything to do with distilling the magic of a place into a few photos.

You can just see the cousin of the Tayberry Breeder in this shot.

In all seriousness @theoldmortuary had a fantastic afternoon tea in an idyllic setting at Trematon Hall, which is in the real life village of Trematon.

Hall Farm, Trematon, Saltash PL12 4RU
01752 842351 https://g.co/kgs/97Tqb6

But one last fantasy nod to both Alice in Wonderland and Outer Trematonia.( I blame all this fantasy stuff on the sugar and copious cups of tea )

An Outer Trematonian caterpillar arriving for his own cup of tea, wise chap, excellent choice.

Pandemic Ponderings #227

Golden September, this time of year we are usually starting to raid the holiday box for clothes appropriate to September in Greece. This year of curiousness found us delving into the box earlier and for hometown pleasures.

We’ve been regularly sea swimming for the last 6 weeks. The recent good weather has expanded swimming time right up until the last moments of daylight.

Last night we realised that we are swimming far later into the day than we ever would on a holiday. It was nearly high tide when we swam last night and the promenade above the rocky coves of Devils Point was crowded with people who had taken, or were about to take, a sunset dip.

One local resident was puzzled by the large amount of humans.

He didn’t have too long to wait before the sunset chased us all out of the water.

Pandemic Pondering #226

As a non-Plymothian my interaction with Union Street in its prime was very limited. Visits to friends in the city nearly always took in a trip to the famous Plymouth Street, but it wasn’t until the eighties when I moved to the area that it became the location of work nights out.

There was a film made in 1982 set on Union Street that was part of the early output of Channel 4 . Remembrance must have done the rounds at Arthouse cinemas because although I’ve seen it I’m fairly certain there was no Channel 4 coverage in Brighton, where I was living at the time. It was filmed only a couple of years after I had last visited the street as a tourist and before I lived locally. It is the story of a last night out for naval ratings prior to a six month deployment in the U.S. It does not end well.

Last run ashore is also the subject of the lyrics of Union Street ( Last Post) by West Country Folk band, Show of Hands. The playing of the Last Post, in this song, is a chilling reminder that Union Street would have been the ‘Last Run’ not only ashore but also in any earthly Pleasure Dome for many serving servicemen.

Union Street was not always a street famous for night clubs and evening shenanigan’s although that is what defines it. When the street was first built in 1815 to link three waterfront towns it housed prosperous families. Later when the Theatres were built the area began to attract other venues and providers of after hours entertainment. Union Street become known for drunkenness and libidinous behaviour long before Plymouth, formed of the three towns of Plymouth, Devonport and East Stonehouse, became a city in 1928.

The area was heavily bombed in the second world war but Union Street as a destination for a night out thrived and grew out of the rubble. Nightlife always creates a heady mix of pleasure and excitement but there is usually a side order of lawlessness and aggression that is not so comfortable. In the ‘good’ times both regular and military police patrolled the area. Nearby residents were uncomfortable in their streets and many stayed safe indoors on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

It was the hedonism of 90’s club culture that tipped the balance for Union Street. Clubs and bars started to close as the drug culture changed the way things had always been. Lifestyle changes and technology around dating combined with massive cuts in the numbers of people employed by the Navy also fueled the slow burn demise of Union Street as a party place.

The residents are still there though amid the shadowy and decaying grand buildings, awaiting a master plan, people still go about their daily lives . For the last few years people rather than partygoers are shaping the area. Local residents held their annual street party last weekend.

Coronovirus restrictions made it less vibrant than the last few years but it always brings a smile . It is the most multicultural part of Plymouth and the smells wafting from the street food stalls demonstrate this better than anything. The weather was kind and people were happy. Union Street is waiting…

Pandemic Pondering #225

Lockdown @theoldmortuary changed many things , some things stayed the same.Today we received half of a prize that represents change and we await the half that represents no change. This is to encourage anyone who sees those ‘share and comment’ posts on Instagram for a chance to win a prize. The prizes are real and random people win them.

Our reading habits changed during Lockdown. Hannah completely lost the ability to commit to a book. I lost the focus for the kind of books I like to read and developed a thirst for foreign based detective drama. We weren’t unusual, everyone in my book group reported changes in genre choice. None of us managed to read the classics or ‘ difficult’ books that you might imagine time and limited life choices might allow.

Today we received the first part of our prize. 4 books fromhttps://www.deadgoodbooks.co.uk/ Neither of us are thriller readers but with changes in reading style so fresh in our minds and a gift of books, now must be the time.

Book bundle from https://www.deadgoodbooks.co.uk/
Coffee the ‘ no change’ habit @theoldmortuary . Less cake recently

Coffee and the pursuit of excellence is unchanged @theoldmortuary . Our prize will come from https://extractcoffee.co.uk/ A company we have used to send us lovely coffee by post.

What a clever coupling, books and coffee. Perfection would be enjoying both in a foreign place beside a pool. What may well happen is a flask of good coffee, a book and some warm clothes after a swim at the only pool available to us.

Tidal Pool, Devils Point, Plymouth
Tidal Pool, Devils Point ,Plymouth

Not a bad way to enjoy a prize.

Pandemic Pondering #224

The Mewstone, Wembury.

A vision of the Mewstone means that @theoldmortuary it is dog grooming day. Now we are addicted to sea swimming it no longer means coastal path walks and coffee. It means 2 hours of swimming without dogs waiting not so patiently for us on the beach. Serendipity is a funny thing, when I was doing training at The Box, mentioned in Pandemic Pondering #220 I met a woman who had lived close to us in London, we discovered this when she commented on my tote bag.

East Dulwich Tote Bag

In London we lived 2 miles apart, in Devon/ Cornwall 13 miles divides us.
We met for the first time last Thursday and today by complete co incidence we sat next to each other on the beach at Wembury. Tomorrow despite neither of us wishing to work at The Box on a Tuesday we find ourselves both rota’d to do our first days work, in the new museum and art gallery, as you read this blog. It seems we were destined to meet somehow. Luckily neither of us were hiding behind the ubiquitous British windbreak. Less about protecting from the wind and more about defining territory I often think.

Serendipity is a wonderful thing.

Pandemic Pondering #223

September 13th often gives us the gift of sunshine. It was Hannah’s mums birthday and we were always able to plan a birthday picnic for her, safe in the knowledge that the sun would shine.

This morning we started the day with a sunshine yellow breakfast. Sweetcorn fritters, bacon and egg.

A morning spent doing Sunday stuff, including clearing up fragile, ageing, yellow roses.

Then a trip to Union Street for a Street Party, more about that later in the week.

Sunflowers bought on Union Street replaced the discarded roses.

Then an evening spent swimming at Devils Point!

Dog bottoms in the Sunset…

Pandemic Pondering #222

Another Day, another cafe.

Ashburton again today for coffee. This time Cafe Latino, a themed coffee shop serving very fine coffee with a Latino soundtrack. https://m.facebook.com/cafelatinoshop/about/?ref=page_internal&mt_nav=0

We drove home to Cornwall through Dartmoor to hunt out some overnight stops for a future staycation.

Driving into Widecome was beautiful this morning. I was probably about 10 when I last visited , not much has changed which is as it should be in a National Park.

Home to find the Order of Service for my Uncles funeral had arrived in the post.

The Pandemic has certainly altered our way of marking death. As previously discussed in Pandemic Pondering I wonder how things will be when we have shrugged off the restrictions imposed by Covid-19.

The current restrictions of only 30 mourners means that for many people the receipt of an order of service is the only connection possible to celebrate the life of someone important.

I’m not sure grief in isolation is a good thing, something we are all getting used to but not a practice that will be good for us as a society or as individuals in the long run. Memorial services may help but as the numbers stack up of people we’ve loved and lost in 2020 the unreality of the situation becomes quite abstract.

When life is tough on the mind taking a little time out with a puppy is a lovely treat.