#524 theoldmortuary ponders

Bobbing has not had many mentions in March. Today was my third dip of the month and the most photogenic by a very long way. The sea temperature has risen a bit to 9.4 after last week’s 8 degrees. Just a brisk there and back in the bay this morning followed by some excellent quality chatting and a Tim Hortons coffee to warm me up. I think I have cracked swimming year-round without a wet suit. Last year I gave up my wetsuit in April and made myself feel very poorly. I then went back to wearing the wet suit and didn’t get out of it until late May. Anxious not to go down a similar path again, I have cut down on my time in the water but stayed just in a swimsuit since last May. There have been two dippings without the swimsuit and I decided a skinny dip a month is the new target for 2023. These events may not make it into the blog.

The sunshine today is gorgeous, as demonstrated by the plant convalescence corner in our dining room.

I’m not sure these plants will ever move to other places in the house. They exude happiness from every leaf and frond.

Happiness also exuded from the dogs when their afternoon adventure took them to just the other side of the water from home, for a walk, and they got Mount Wise park to themselves and could do chasing and wild running on a grassy hillside, unbothered or interrupted by any other dogs or humans.

Their human companions were not so lively. Our morning swim was fabulous but sometimes swimming in these cold temperatures produces severe lethargy a few hours later. Even caffeine in the afternoon didn’t give us the required fizz to do anything more than a circuit of the park with a few stops to admire the view. It was important to make the most of the day though, the weather forecast for the rest of the week is dire.These blue skies and blue seas are unlikely to be back until April.

©Debs Bobber

#523 theoldmortuary ponders

The secret of happiness? Embrace the boring, lay claim to the mundane and rejoice in repetition.

I am not someone who loves winter. The clothes are great but the weather that dictates the clothes and the short days wear me down. Mid January and February are the dullest. Simple things like left-over Christmas cake and some family birthdays pull me to mid- January but then I have a mental lethargy that requires buffing with little treats and activities to keep me twinkling until Spring reliably kicks in.

Writing this daily blog for a few years has taught me that within the mundane and the repetitive, there is nearly always a pearl of something that can be weaved into a story and once the story is created the day has a gem. Yesterday was a day of repetition but within the repetition there were pearls.

The day may also have had actual Pearls too. After very high tides, large Oysters were washed up onto the dogs favourite beach. It is a flight of imagination that pearls would ever be found in Tamar Valley Oysters. The secret to not being disappointed is to leave the Oyster alive and intact returning it and its potential, but unlikely, pearl to the sea. Treasure imagined but not realised.

Our morning was spent breakfasting with friends. We have done many breakfasts with these friends over many years. There is much that is repetitive, the usual suspect is always late and we do talk some mundane shit. We pretty much know each others views on things but there is no pressure to be anything other than ourselves and within that relaxed framework the subject of conversation could be anything.

Our great act of the day can be described as mundane, boring and repetitive. Watching the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. A two horse (boat) race on the same course every year.

As a child I watched it in the bosom of my family, some of them genetically from the city of Cambridge. We watched it on the television about 5 miles west of Cambridge, everybody supporting the light blues of Cambridge. As soon as I could think I decided to support Oxford, it gave the family gathering a little grit, some pushback and singled me out as different.

As soon as I left home I reverted to Cambridge and have never wavered. T.V is my preferred method of watching. During the London years it was entirely possible to jump on a bus and watch the event live on the banks of the Thames but I realised then that my pattern was set in my formative years. For me this is an indoor event with cups of tea and chocolate digestive biscuits.

Just like daffodils this event is a proper marker of Spring. So significant in my mind as a marker of time passing, that when Covid restrictions cancelled the event I didn’t really feel that Spring had happened at all.

Boring, repetitive and mundane, the building blocks of normal life.

#522 theoldmortuary ponders

First Ice Cream of the season. Soft whip with clotted cream and a chocolate flake.

A late in the day pondering, possibly not hugely interesting but worth pondering, I feel.

I recently read a very bitter editorial by a woman journalist who was bemoaning that the craft of good journalism was being diluted by people like myself who blog.

She claimed we were “flooding the world of the written word, with bad grammar and poor punctuation.”

Maybe she was having a bad day but that comment seems counter intuitive to a profession that holds on tight to the right of free speech.

There are some professions whose job of work is quite rightly protected by law. So that amateurs, people without formal training and qualifications cannot do the thing in question.

Writing is not one of those occupations. But her pithy article made me think, ponder if you will. I am all too aware that my punctuation and grammar can be hit and miss at times. I am comfortable with this, I realise. For the most part nobody has paid me to write so I have only rarely stolen work from ‘real’ journalists. My cranky punctuation and grammar are my written voice. Just as my actual voice is not perfect, neither is my written one.

I am comfortable with my writing peculiarities, not necessarily proud of them, could do better, of course.Thank you, anonymous journalist for pricking my conscience on a Sunday. It was a brief and productive ponder.

Last muddy boots of the season ?

#521 theoldmortuary ponders

Daffodils were yesterday, today is tulips.

Plymouth is a city like any other with suburbs. Many of those suburbs are unknown to us in any real sense. Sometimes they are just corridors from one familiar place to another, often these journeys are taken by just one of us. Yesterday we did one of those journeys together with the dogs. On this particular journey there is an odd little car park, often full with no obvious purpose.

” I’ve always wondered why people park there.”

” Me too.”

“Let’s park there”

And so began a lovely early Spring walk with bright green moss and foliage surrounded by Elizabethan ruins.

We had stumbled on the site of Radford House.


Plymouth was a very significant city in Elizabethan times and this was a very significant house in those times. Many of the illustrious names who visited here are viewed somewhat differently in recent times, as Colonisation and Acquisition are considered at a more granular level.

The Harris family who owned the property were very wealthy and the house has been linked with many myths and legends of lost treasure and hidden assets.

One substantiated story is about the Armada Service. Crafted between 1581 and 1602 from Silver and Gold captured,most likely,from Spanish ships that were raided in the New World. 22 plates, bowls and cups made from plundered precious metals

The family held onto their silver until the English Civil War. 1642-46. At that time the family had a cunning plan to hide their wealth by burying it underground on nearby Dartmoor. Unfortunately not such a cunning plan as after the war nobody could remember the location .

The silver was found in a potato store in 1827 by an agricultural labourer, and after changing hands a few times it is now held in the British Museum. Some other items from this collection have been identified by United States auction houses but the whereabouts of these items are unknown. U.S readers might like to check their basement store rooms. Link below to identify.

The Armada Service https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/the-armada-service/PQH1iUIHlXHh1w

So this is what happens near a car park with no obvious purpose. A lovely walk and a few minutes of googling. Some exercise, a story and some moss covered logs. Blogging perfection.

#520 theoldmortuary ponders

This blog is 3 years late and could have been another year in the Procrastination Pile. I had arranged to attend a Daffodil Festival with a friend in 2020. The festival was cancelled in the early weeks of Covid Restrictions and this is the first time it has been held since. The extra year of procrastination could easily have been added to, by my poor choice of clothes yesterday.

As you can see from the header picture things were a bit wet! I had had a perfectly tolerable dog walk without a coat and in Birkenstocks while at home in the morning. The further I drove into the Tamar Valley the wetter it got.

The lanes were running with brown rainwater pouring off the fields. I phoned my friend and suggested a different outing. A snug pub with warm food and no drips.

Her response was to bring me warm socks and wellies and feed me a scone and a cup of coffee.

And with that we were off! Some daffodil varieties were being shown indoors. Definitely an easier environment to appreciate them, were it not for steamed up glasses and rivulets of cold water tracking down my neck.

Daffodils and Pewter in the Great Hall.

I started recording the names of the Daffodils but honestly I think I am going to get into a pickle with that, so these beauties are enigmatically anonymous.

Outside nothing had improved despite making the absolute most of sitting with a scone and coffee. We hadn’t even managed to put the world right.

The outside locations were not overrun with visitors, the cafe on the other hand was heaving with wet humans. There is a point in every adventure when enough is enough, even for a woman in borrowed, vivid, socks and wellies. I love these socks!

Below is an experiment, I don’t know if this QR code will work,but if you can,give it a try.

Readers, it works! The audio clip Seagulls and Sunrise is lovely and tells the history of Daffodils and the Tamar Valley.

#519 theoldmortuary ponders

The End of the Day, Tinside Lido © theoldmortuary.

There is a magical moment, on Summer evenings when the swimming public have been ushered out of Plymouths Iconic Tinside Lido.The fountain is still turned on, but there are no swimmers in the water,no bystanders sat on the walls. All the staff are out of view, stacking sun loungers and deck chairs against walls far below us. For a moment the fountains sounds are not masked by squealing swimmers and all you can hear is splashing water . Then, just like that, an unseen hand flicks a switch and the splashing water of the fountain is silenced. A funny pocket of silence occurs before all the normal,environmental, sounds of a busy seafront road take over as the sun sets on another day. Why does splashing water sound so good?

I listened to a radio programme the other day about a charity that makes requested soundscape tapes for prisoners on death row in the United States. Even in completely land locked States the requests often included some sort of watery sounds. I’m still pondering what my sounds would be, were I to find myself in that somewhat niche environment.

#518 theoldmortuary ponders

Today would have been my Dads 92nd Birthday. For many people, including myself, he was the easier person in my parents marriage to get along with. His genetic gifts to me have been reliable, useful and enabled me to see the world and my place in it easily. My mothers character, skills and temperament was more skittish and impulsive. She divided a room, he could bring a room together.Their combined talents have given me a skittish core with a practical, sensible overcoat Sometimes I bore myself, other times I wonder what an earth I am going to get up to next. As their only child I was a puzzlement to them both. Neither could see their characteristics reflected in me because their two strong personalities masked any obvious inherited characteristics reflected in me.I was their conundrum. My skittishness was measured and my steadiness unreliable.

Marmalade is the perfect illustration. My Dad loved it and my mother hated it. There were often five or more varieties in our larder at home, experimental flavours tried once and then left to gather a dome of mould, a source of constant irritation to my mother who, once the mould level threatened good housekeeping, would throw them away with a flourish of delighted satisfaction or sometimes more fiercely, the mouldy marmalade standing in for someone or something that had really pissed her off. If my dad pissed her off she would throw away his absolute favourite, Rose’s Lime Marmalade, whether it had mould or not.

In a perfect reflection of my genetic make-up, I love marmalade. Until recently there was only ever one Marmalade for me. Frank Coopers, Thick Cut, Oxford Marmalade. From shared student homes to home ownership and settled domestic home maker, Frank Cooper has been my bitter preserve companion. More recently one of the Bobbers, Gill, has been sharing, with me,her short season Seville Orange, home -made marmalade. Gill is up there with Frank. A mass produced God and a small batch Goddess. They share the marmalade shelf now, Frank there all year, reliable. Gill fleetingly, only in season, both bitter to their core, both adored.

Wherever my parents are, and they may not have chosen,or been sent to the same other realm destination, both would be satisfied over my adult marmalade development.

My dad , thrilled that I love marmalade. My mother, grateful that it is only ever one flavour, at worst, two jars- no mould.

#517 theoldmortuary ponders

The first day of Spring washed in on a wave of persistent, penetrative rain.

Drips were the tiny gems of the day hanging around waiting to catch the sunbeams that resolutely failed to arrive.

Raindrops when gathered together turn into puddles. So one puddle two ways is the endpoint of this blog. It is a puddle we have been to before, but the alternative, a variety of shots of room settings at Ikea is one step too far for a blog that has no problem celebrating the mundane. IKEA is almost a global experience, all around the world people were sat in IKEA cafes, at the exact same time as me, pondering on their various domestic needs. Ours were simple and we managed the, almost impossible, task of getting out with only one extra item. A tool to fish spaghetti out of bowls or saucepans.

The first day of Spring, raindrops, puddles and IKEA.

#516 theoldmortuary ponders

We had an accidental weekend of nostalgia. The high point of yesterday was going to see the recently released film Rye Lane. Just about every location had been part of our South London home life. From the very first London Park, Brockwell, where Hugo took his first small, off-the-lead puppy steps in, to Brixton Market where we bought the most amazing fruit and veg, and ate Street Food from around the world. The film cleverly never fully crossed the Thames to the better known and more Iconic north shores. The film was both a rom-com and a love letter to a part of London that, only infrequently, gets a joyful spotlight on its many different faces. I will admit that my eyes stung with a little moistness of the eyes when the film went to places that I had spent time with my family and friends from all over the world. We are now dispersed but South London was where the good times rolled.

Nostalgia of a different sort on Saturday when we caught up with the first race of the Gig Rowing season in Saltash. 85 wooden boats, crewed by 6 rowers and a cox, took part in The Three Rivers Race. I was always on the heavy side for a rower but that is exactly what is needed to keep the back of the gig in the water.

The nostalgia on this occasion took the shape of appreciating that rowing was the only team sport I ever actually loved and thrived in. My eyes stung a little with the memory of fracturing and dislocating my jaw at the back end of this gig when my paddle hit a buoy that was, unusually, made of concrete and did not move in the way that plastic ones do. Unsurprisingly the buoy came out of the encounter better than I did.

These paddles are 13 feet long and weigh just under 6 kg. A quick bang on my chops when paddle and buoy collided silenced me, a bit,for a few days but the race was both continued and lost. The true nature of the injury not realized until the swelling went down many days later.

Sometimes revisiting past pleasures is absolutely the best way to spend a weekend.

#515 theoldmortuary ponders


Mothers Day in the UK dawns bright and early. My baby octopi and their baby octopi are many miles away. For some years,I have been so very pleased not to be an Octopus Muma. I would not be writing this now if I were. Octopus Muma makes a great big life changing sacrifice when she books into the underwater maternity world. Bigger than giving up sleep, listening to live music and restful days doing nothing. Octopus Muma becomes a snack.

© Jenny Jones

The Netflix Documentary, My Octopus teacher shows the intelligence and wisdom of an Octopus Muma, link below


Beyond the final sacrifice, being an Octopus Muma seems fabulous. Swimming in warm waters with my children. No lego to step on, no last minute costumes for school plays or ingredients for cooking projects. No need to join parents groups or be a taxi. Just all the fun stuff, adventures in kelp forests. Hide and seek in underwater caves. Catching a ride on a thermal current. The fun stops though when Muma becomes supper.

So although it is a little sad to be apart on Mothers Day. I know that I am safe. My beloved children and grandchildren are far enough away and enjoying their lives elsewhere. With no thought of turning me into something to be served from a bowl!

P.S just as I finished writing this I opened my Mothers Day card. It features a bee so cannot be included in this blog but the sentiment is worth sharing.

Motherhood is no joke, but I am proud to have nurtured two lovely human beings into adulthood. At times I have been eaten up with worries, sadness and the pressure of getting ‘Motherhood’ done right. For the most part I know I have ‘winged’ it, usually dropping down on the side of ‘Good Enough’which is fine by me. In an age where everything seems to have external assessors, or users reviews, with the goal being ‘The Best’ it is easy to forget that ‘Better,is often, the enemy of Good’

Three or four stars is just fine .