#248 theoldmortuary ponders

Look at these vivid flowers, they just revealed themselves near a local roundabout. Another revelation yesterday was Kate Bush doing an interview on Radio 4. She was discussing her surprise elevation to the top of the music charts in Britain and America with the single Running up that Hill ( A deal with God).44 years after it was first released. The single is part of the soundtrack for Stranger Things. A TV drama featuring teenagers and supernatural events and curious government behaviour in a mundane Indiana location.

What struck me as unusual in the interview by Emma Barnett and the preview piece by Caitlin Moran was that at no point did anyone discuss Kate’s looks or her fabled allure to men. How refreshing to just talk about music, life and gardening.


I realise that BBC sounds does not play everywhere so I have included a newspaper report of the interview.


The fact that this interview struck me as both unusual and refreshing is a symptom of how women are still judged differently to men. This may seem like an odd kind of theme for a blog but it struck a chord.

Earlier this week while I was swimming up and down the wide part of the Lido I had to regularly pass 5 young men playing with a ball, something I would probably not have done in my entire life for fear of the ribald or sexist comments. Confident that age has made me almost invisible I pressed on. But no, my crime as a woman, this time, was to be ‘ too old’ to be a threat to them.

#247 theoldmortuary ponders

A blue letter day, with bells on. Blue was the colour of the day. After 6 months my passport arrived! 6 months of waiting. 6 months of sitting on phone lines listening to shocking music and on the rare occasions I made contact with a human call centre person several months of listening to a variety of lies about the location of my missing passport. Just one month of getting my local MP involved and the passport is snuggly in my possession. How I wish my passport was still a cheery red European one but after 6 months the blue British one will have to do. This unacceptable delay was apparently caused by the loss of my original documents, something that would have been of concern to me had all the documents not been posted back to me four months ago. Quite how a passport could be sanctioned last week with no documents is a mystery that I can’t quite get my head around. Maybe I just sounded really British to the nice young man who phoned me last week from Westminster …

In other blue related events, the scaffolding came down from the front of our house and we can see the new colour scheme. We are very happy with our choices.

The ‘bells on’ comment comes from the evening dog walk. Morris Men and clog dancers were performing at a local pub.

The local streets were alive with the sounds of leg bells. While the dancers  twirled and stamped and entertained, the dogs were curious and happy to watch, but jangling legs close up were too much for them in the confines of the pub and we left, no doubt,missing a jolly evening of music making.

#246 theoldmortuary ponders

It is an unusual day that sees me up at 4am and straight into my swimming costume, but then Summer Solstice is an unusual day. One where as many Bobbers, who are able, swim at Dawn and Dusk, in the rising and setting sun. The morning bob became quite a dog bobbing session.

Two dogs bobbing and one surfboarding.

The dawn was soft and the water fairly warm, for the time of year.

The evening bob was another lovely experience. Bubbles in both senses of the world were free flowing.

The water appeared to be a little cooler but the prosecco bubbles perked us up a bit. And so, at the opposite end of the day, I was ready for bed straight after my swim.

This is the second year we have marked the Solstice with double dipping sessions, a lovely way to mark time passing and the fellowship of swimming year round.

#245 theoldmortuary ponders

This was a day with an unexpected ending. Today was a yardening day. Almost a year since we exchanged an exposed but fertile country garden for a coastal, white painted, stone yard.  Yardening has been a huge surprise. Today the plan was to weed and tame the jungle that the yard has become, unexpectedly fertile too.

All went to plan, but with the temperature at 23 degrees it was quite the labour of love. A sea swim was suggested but the tide was not our friend. Then we planned a swim in a local outdoor pool. The website was decidedly wonky and ultimately we couldn’t book a session.  The alternative, an ice cream and some sunbathing was a good enough plan. Until we got too hot. Retreat into the house was timely in two ways. We really were too hot, but the curious twist was an email from the cranky website that said we had managed to book a swimming session.

We were very certain we hadn’t , but a cooling swim was exactly what we needed. Arrival at the pool confirmed the crankiness of the website. Apparently everyone who visited the webpage had been given swim sessions without payment. The pool was far from full so we did that old fashioned thing of buying two tickets and prepared for a dip.

Tinside Lido

This pool is probably very familiar to anyone in Britain who watches the BBC. This image is one of the regular infills between TV programmes. As you can see it was not very busy at all and we had a wonderful swim in the historic pool.

There was another lovely bonus, bright sunshine and recently cleaned 1930’s glass bricks in the shower area gave the most wonderful distorted, abstracted views of the pool.

A fine end to a busy day.

#244 theoldmortuary ponders

Sunshine and showers was the weather serving for this weekend. Not exactly bittersweet but certainly two sides of the same coin.

Much like Fathers Day, which was for many, the focus point of the weekend. As an outside observer to many traditional family gatherings I wonder if living through a pandemic has sharpened the focus on marking significant days with family and friends. There seems to be less marketing of these events and more gathering together, less gifts more visits. We had a lovely family visit, despite not being able to offer the inducements of any fathers or grandfathers. Just a father on the horizon and an actual one,for one of our number, across the river in Cornwall. Enough to make the weekend have a little buzz of purpose. Three of us, unable to visit father’s in the other realm or in another country had an unhurried afternoon of wandering around the shops with no great schedule or aim in place. Possibly many people’s idea of hell, but for us, something to be enjoyed, not so much because we were shopping but because sometimes it is really comforting just to hang out together doing something mundane and nattering about it. Most unusually we were on the search for some fast fashion. Not something I really approve of but its hard not to get caught up in the constant fiesta of fashion fun that stores like Primark, New Look and H and M create. I did also break my own rules of reuse, repurpose or recycle and bought myself a fabulous string shopping bag in bright orange.

Social Media plays a huge part in the celebration of Fathers Day. Through it I get a sense of community with those of us without fathers or grandfathers to celebrate in person for whatever reason. It certainly helps to be aware of the many others there are, who are feeling a twinge, or more, of sadness on such days. The enormous positive of Fathers Day on Social Media is that people actively introduce you to their fathers or father figures on line. So Facebook and Instagram feeds are full of truly wonderful role models, representing many generations of paternalistic love.

After 36 hours of delicious busyness we were back down to just the two of us and two dogs. The weather had taken a turn for the worse but our evening walk was enlivened by stone skimming and stone hunting something both humans and dogs take very seriously. All good prep for the week ahead.

#243 theoldmortuary ponders

The search for squares of abstract colour and shape in my local neighborhood has become all consuming. My current group of images are all early morning shots in bright sunlight. This shot is of my own front door. Evening walks bring different crazy combinations of colours and shapes and I make a mental note to return to a particular area in the morning to see if it is as interesting in morning light.

My evening walk took me past the location of this combination.

It is not so mouth wateringly sharp, at dusk, especially on a damp grey evening. But in the evening other senses take over as the lime green is the exterior wall colour of a local restaurant. Still mouth watering though, for entirely different reasons.

We are having an out and about kind of weekend. Trying to get somewhere with 50% of local knowledge, some vague and bad instructions and those two elements over riding the practicality of using a SatNav. Thank goodness for going on a wrong road, we found an old Wharfside area, the road runs along the backside of very old waterside buildings, scarred and patched up as their uses have changed. The perfect location to find more abstract areas to photograph.

Nature, as is often the case, adding another layer of interest once I got up close.

Sunburst Lichen for a Sunday morning. Have a good Sunday, pondering .

#242 theoldmortuary ponders

Another locally sourced colour square has been created today. This one is a corroded corner of a closed corner shop.

As I traverse the local streets it is very obvious that the time of day and weather conditions really affect the tiny colour snapshots that I take with my camera phone. The old corner shop catches the sun beautifully in the morning. The corner shop is fondly held in the heart of this community. When we moved here it was on the downward turn and did not immediately grab our attention and then just like that it was closed and then, not so long after, floral tributes and messages of condolence appeared. Rather incongruously a large sun hat with the words ‘ On Cloud Nine’ appeared.

Not having been part of a community that loses a much loved character and very popular shop there is a sense of dislocation and puzzlement at what we may have missed. Anecdotally I am aware that we missed a much loved shopkeeper called Ann. Everyone says what a wonderful person she was and what a hub of the community the shop was. There was definitely a sense that something locally important had been lost. The hat as an act of remembrance puzzled me. On Cloud Nine usually denotes someone who is extremely happy. Perhaps the hat was reflecting the character of the departed shopkeeper. Cloud nine is actually a very specific type of cloud. The etymology of Cloud Nine makes nothing clear.


The origin of sense 1 (“a state of bliss”) is uncertain; however, the following etymology has been suggested:

The first edition of the International Cloud Atlas (1896),[1] which defined ten types of cloud, described the ninth type as the cumulonimbus which rises to 10 km (6.2 miles), the highest a cloud can be.[2]
Compare cloud seven (“state of complete happiness or euphoria”),[3] which may have originated from confusion of cloud nine with seventh heaven.[2]

Sense 2 (“a state of fantastic or impractical dreaming or thinking”) may be due to a confusion between sense 1 and the phrase head in the clouds.

So, on this occasion, pondering has made me none the wiser. A sun hat embroidered with the words ‘ on cloud nine’ is a very unusual object to place as an act of remembrance on the steps of a closed corner shop. I suspect it will always remain a mystery to me, but I will ponder it often when I walk past.

#241 theoldmortuary ponders

I am still trying to capture squares of colour in Stonehouse as first mentioned in blog #239. The early morning light gives me completely different colour combinations to sunset and I’ve decided to limit myself to early morning squares of colour for this first painting.

The dogs are complicit in these morning sojourns to gather watercolour inspiration. Yesterday I rewarded myself with a coffee and croissant down by one of the harbours. The dogs need for croissant was apparently just as important as mine. Their faces trap more crumbs than mine which is saying something, croissant crumbs have the tenacity of Super Glue sometimes.

On our little colour square hunt we found the door to the Edes Vinegar/Pickled Onion workshop open and got a fabulous stolen interior shot of the vinegar barrels.

I think local people would, quite likely, want to bop me on the nose if I tried to do a series of images of just inside their front doors. But this one is a gem.

Normal life got in the way of too much painting yesterday. So just the one square completed.

We do have quite an abstract little square going on at our own front door.

Hugo and Lola were not the only dogs, yesterday, to participate in proper human activities. The bobbers were out in force to support Helen Bobber, who was knocking peoples socks off at the Who’d Have Thought It , Open Mic session. Here are Stan and Ralph, Bobberdogs, eager to get to the pub and listen to soulful sounds.

Hugo and Lola stayed at home, four dogs at an Open Mic is at least two too many to be comfortable. Especially as Helen is now fully recovered from Covid and after some months can easily hit her high notes.

She is also an abstract square all of her own making.

#240 theoldmortuary ponders.

The was a touch of the Mediterranean and some mythology to last nights’ swim.

Mythology because it was a bobbers birthday and the cake was so soft and gorgeous that it required cake forks. Definately styled on Neptunes Trident if Neptune would ever have considered a collaboration with Laura Ashley.

Mediterranean because the beach looked like this at 6:30 pm.

I’ve always been envious of summer birthdays, especially now I am a year round sea swimmer. Winter bobbing birthdays have their own vibe but a summer, bobbing, birthday has a far more relaxed feel.   Less scrabbling into clothes more relaxed chattering.

Last night had perfect conditions but even without perfection the sea has been filling up with swimmers, this month, as the water slowly warms up. An average June temperature of 14 degrees was boosted a little, last night to 15 degrees. Suddenly the sea has the intimacy of a swimming pool, we are close enough to other swimmers to converse with people other than our little band of bobbers. Even the proper out to the third buoy swimmers had a little more competition for sea space. Now we have done a full second winter of sea swimming there is a familiarity to the circling of the sun. The topic of conversation in early June is how many of us can fit in two swims on the summer solstice and achieve the real life commitments of families and work. Sea swimming became so popular during the Covid lockdowns; now they can, cafes are opening early to offer early morning breakfast to the swimmers who are up for a 4:45 swim. What fabulous luxury, no more wrestling with baps, bacon and tinfoil before the early morning dip. Just the regular bap wrestling that is an integral part of getting dressed in the public domaine after a sea swim. One last watery image to clear your minds of the bap wrestling. Maybe the first day of summer in Stonehouse.

And a psychedelic birthday cake.

This slightly crazy image exactly replicates the lemony gorgeousness of last nights cake.

#239 theoldmortuary ponders

Bright sunshine set me off on a project yesterday. Stonehouse Peninsular is known for its architecture, history, sea views and brightly coloured buildings. I took off early in the morning to capture some of the colour combinations on camera before the sun got too high.

The plan is to create an abstract watercolour that features some of the beautiful and whacky colour combinations that occur when neighbouring buildings get a paint job. There are also beautiful abstracts that just occur naturally when colours follow the contours of the buildings.


Others are just subtly beautiful just because of age.

The one below I particularly love because a grubby downpipe becomes the star of the watercolor.

This is a project that is going to keep me very busy this summer!