#466 theoldmortuary ponders

I was struggling a little bit to ponder on this Monday morning. Caused, in part by failing to drink the first cup of tea of the morning in a timely manner. The chill in the air had caused it to cool quickly and I had missed the perfection point. The first cup of the day is important and today I have missed that moment. Thankfully the first coffee has no such temperature requirements.

I missed the moment because I was trying to get my head round the privelidged shenanigans of our current government.For those not in this particular loop a minister who was once responsible for the countries tax affairs has been found to have been avoiding tax paying himself.

I would have been better off concentrating on my tea. After my early morning disappointment I took a little look at 30th of January photos of the past and found to my delight one of my favourite pictures. Sunflowers simply wrapped in newspaper, placed as a memorial in a church in Havana..

This is very fortutuitous as my only photo of yesterday was very loosely also a newspaper story. On my Sunday wanderings, the dogs took a pee on a copper noticeboard. The sort of place that must be sniffed and investigated before being anointed with another small squirt of Hugo pee. Lola prefers to leave her news at the base.

The angle of sunlight perfectly illuminated dog news. Rarely visible to humans this is a chance encounter with canine communication. I had no idea how to weave this image into a blog, but as is often the case, serendipity did my work very conveniently.

Digital Media

Print Media

Canine Media

#465 theoldmortuary ponders

I feel I have been a little harsh with January. I am not alone, an early morning conversation drifted over to me from above the dogs heads.

” When exactly does January finish, it does seem to have dragged on and on this year, bloody hell not until Wednesday”

Are we all all still affected by the lag of Covid years when January’s have been uncertain. This January has definitely felt more like a liminal space than an actual flesh and blood, lived in Calendar month.

Like all months January has its own distinctive personality. If it was a person I would not be drawn to it, we would not be going out for coffee or hooking up for a dog walk.

There are, though some lovely, unique positives about my most unloved month.

1. Left over Christmas Cake- ours left the building last Thursday. Small squares of it have accompanied our evenings of binge watching T. V.

2. The pile of Christmas books. Always a satisfyingly reassuring interior design feature. Enough reading matter should we ever get snowed in with power cuts. With enough candle power boredom can be banished.

3. Christmas toiletries. Morning ablutions become foamy fantasies of far away places with coconut and jojoba. Personally I avoid mintiness. It does not remind me of Alpine meadows. It could just be me, but mintiness on one’s soft parts is torture. Nothing Swiss about it. Pure Spanish inquisition of the red hot poker sort.

I think 3 January positives is enough. I need to discuss the header image. One of three pure white tulips that were in a Christmas bouquet. Strangely they were supplied still attached to their bulbs.

One month after their arrival they are languishing floppily in the kitchen. Their stems are weak but the flower is still willing. Willing for what, I have to ask. Their flower friends have long ago joined the compost gang. My hope is that the bulbs will dry out from nearly a months immersion in water. I just couldn’t bare to keep them in a vase any longer, being all droopy and gloomy. They were a plant reflection of my own pathetic seasonal ennui. Wednesday is a deadline for both bulbs and humans in this house

#464 theoldmortuary ponders

Yesterday was a Bobbers birthday. Bobber Birthdays have evolved over the more than two years that we have been swimming as a group year round.

Inexplicably, the Bobber whose birthday it was, opted for a spa day rather than joining us at Tranquility Bay. Maybe the message above informed that decision. She missed out on a lot. A warship arrived to give her a sail past and there were the usual cakes and hot drinks. Because she was missing out on her birthday dip we called her and sang happy birthday down the phone. That mellifluous sound must have torn through the tranquility of the spa like a wax strip on lady parts

At Tranquility Bay though it was sung with enthusiasm and affection for an absent friend. The singing took our minds off chilly fingers and toes and inadequately dried crevices. What even is a Spa Day?

#463 theoldmortuary ponders


Yesterday I pondered on the difficulty of painting a sea picture in January. Compared to May, for instance. Two months both 31 days long and yet nothing alike. January for me is a month to be filled with stuff to do. Which is just as well as January features 31 days of the, mentally, longest days of the year, so plenty can be done, but not necessarily thrillingly done. January is a month to be endured and got through. Lightness and brightness are savoured and celebrated like small victories.

January is the under-painting for the rest of the year. The last Friday of January is a double joy day. The end point of the official working week and the last Friday of the longest month.

Shuang Xi ( Double Joy)

Happy last Friday in January.

P. S The header image was created in 3 stages.

An original snippet of a water colour. Added to

A back lit photo of beach pickings. Added to
Shuang Xi ( Double Happiness)

#462 theoldmortuary ponders

8:15 am on a January morning in Firestone Bay. I know I share this sort of image often but yesterday I did a little research on the area as it was in 1895. Because the tide is high the tidal pool is invisible apart from the three swimmers walking out on the slipway that forms one of the pool walls. In 1895 the pool did not exist. Next week’s research will be to find out the pools history.

I was able to spend a few minutes looking at old planning maps while I was working at The Box yesterday.

The orange arrow points out the place the Bobbers nearly always swim. We know our bay as Tranquility Bay but on this map it is marked as Ladies Bathing Place.

Here it is this morning. 5 minutes with an old map makes more questions than answers. When were the steps and walkways built that make this such a gorgeous and practical swimming location. Sadly the map also shows the more than thirty houses and a school that were lost in my own area during German bombing raids during World War II. Just looking out on my street I can roughly outline how many homes were lost. How many people and their beloved pets lost their lives?

5 minutes with an old map, so thought provoking, where will this Pondering end? Sunshine+ An old map= gratitude and the need to know more.

#461 theoldmortuary ponders

Tranquility creeps up on me in surprising places. Our evening dog walk coincided with the exact point when the sea was still. High tide before the tide started to ebb away. There have been a few tranquil moments in recent days. These steps, leading to a soft sandy beach, showed signs of immense human and dog traffic but they were from the day before, preserved by neap tides and calm weather. Looking out at the beach there was no-one to be seen.

Similarly in this very complex photo from the Barbara Hepworth exhibition at Tate St Ives there was not another person in my eyeline.

Tranquility, even the word makes me want to relax. I looked up an on- line Thesaurus to check other similar words and reciting this list would have me nodding off in moments.

Should you feel the same I have one last picture to fit the mood. Glass bricks at Tate St Ives.

#460 theoldmortuary ponders

What are early mornings about?

1- Cold walks towards a sunrise.

2- Early morning chattering to swimmers, some known some not.

3- Waiting for paint to dry.

4- Going to the Gym.

5- Reward for all of the above.

6- Write the blog.

Which is exactly where we are now. The paint is still drying. Ready, I hope, for the Winter sun to make an appearance in the studio in an hour or so. I suppose the gym is the unusual topic for a blog. My last foray into the world of a gym was in late February 2020. COVID lockdown made the experience very brief. I did not expect to love it as much as I did. Three years later the cold weather has driven me into a different gym. Neither the dogs or my knees love walking distances in this very cold weather. The gym is in an old military building, I’ve been going for a week. I may never mention it again in a blog but I just wanted to share this lovely old notice, which I look at while abducting and adducting.

Rust, old printing and human notes. My favourite kind of stuff.

‘Keep your head and use it’ What a fabulous instruction.

#459 theoldmortuary ponders

Stepping softly into another week. January is a funny month. Not one that I ever feel particularly warm towards, but a weekend of crisp bright days has made me feel quite perky. Our trip to St Ives was 100% sunshine so we walked and basked as much as possible, turning our winter faces to the sun, like Sunflowers in August. We were staying on a tiny lane called The Didgy but our kitchen overlooked Virgin Lane and this beautiful door.

Both evocative of a different age. The beauty of being in Cornish fishing towns in January is the closeness, that it is possible to feel, to the history of these places. There are not so many people about and the sounds and smells of the town are just as they would have been centuries ago, minus perhaps body odour and poor sanitation. The first building on Virgin Lane was a bakery, it swung into action at about 7am in the morning. Bread, pasties and baked goods delivered from an out of town industrial unit. The romantic smell of baking created by modern warming ovens pressed against its 16th Century walls. However the smells are created, the effect was the same. 21st century people, wearing fishermen’s sweaters flocked to the bakery drawn out of their cottages by the smell wafted into every home in the vicinity. After shopping many of them then took a turn to the harbour where eager Seagulls hover in the hope of stealing a beakful of baked goods.

Coffee in hand, bread under one arm. 21st Century people, in fishermen’s sweaters, look out at resting fishing boats. Sunshine and peace makes romantics of us all.

#458 theoldmortuary ponders

Some blogs are slow burning, ripening slowly over many days, weeks or months. Others present themselves in a moment. This one is a hybrid, the Pondering has been bubbling away for a couple of months, the moment today, was perhaps 60 seconds of decision making. That moment is the top picture. After a small amount of walking, the coastal path at St Ives, we came upon this idyllic beach. After a moments paddling the decision was made to throw caution to the wind and strip off completely for a swim. Confident that my weekly sea swims, or bobs, as they are known, have equipped me with the ability to quickly submerge in any chilly sea temperature.

It would not do to fanny about, frightening fellow walkers, with my nakedness. The long, slow, ponderous part of this blog has its inspiration from a comment made by a fellow course member at a blogging course.

” Your blog would be better with more of you in it”

Since November I have tried putting a little more of me into the blog. In truth I have always been there, peeping from behind words or hiding in pictures. Trying to find my voice, or style, while nattering on about not very much. I wonder, sometimes, if anyone has noticed the slight changes since November.

Ten or so minutes of swimming in a cold sea, off the North Cornwall coast was just fabulous this morning. I could be evangelical about the benefits of cold water immersion, likewise the buzz of not giving a moments thought to just taking my clothes off in a public space. Put the two together and the skills of fully clothed camera- wielding friends and the blog gets all of me for one time only.


I got a life boosting, energy creating, moment. Fizzy as a firework, giddy as the giddiest goat, happy as a human hippo. Naked, cold and loving life. All time stood still, the sun was out and I was feeling elemental.

#457 theoldmortuary ponders

A January weekend in St Ives, the streets and the beaches are empty. Plenty of space for dogs to think that they own the world and humans to be the only people in the pub, apart from the faces looking down from the walls.

Hugo tried being masterful with the waves and the waves won.

We, the humans, knew the waves would always win and were not tempted in for a swim, as yet. But for now just staring at the sea and pondering the massive changes the last 100 years have seen in this beautiful coastal town while the sea remains unchanged. History of St Ives below.

P.s we may have found the perfect art studio, overlooking the beach.