Pandemic Pondering #197

As September slips gently into October it seems the pandemic has erased Halloween from many of the places it would normally be a quite obvious marketing season. ( Quite honestly I couldn’t be happier I have always hated it’s trashy threatening undertones) Mexican Day of the Dead is a whole different matter, a positive festival around the same topic.

The lack of Halloween has liberated me from disliking the colour orange at this time of year. 2020 the year of loving orange in October. Today started well with a spot of bright rust.

Followed by a gorgeous autumnal crema on my morning coffee

October is the time of the gourd and this year, so far, they are not being pushed out of the limelight by obese bloated pumkins.

Thank goodness there were some yellow squashes in this picture . It gives me the chance to lead into this zingy yellow Citroen.

With the absence of Halloween, Christmas has come a little early, so I managed to grab a little autumn colour enhanced by fairy lights, what’s not to love.

Without being overly contrived let’s hope that October goes swimmingly.

Pandemic Pondering #196

@theoldmortuary has been involved with a new museum and art gallery in Plymouth for the last couple of years. Until recently as a hard hat tour guide of the building site. A job that involved wearing shared PPE, hard hat, steel toe capped boots, fluorescent waistcoat and rubberised gloves to enable me to show groups of people around the museum site as it was being built.  Tours stopped once the museum was ready for its internal fit out and the return of exhibits to the new space. Then Covid-19 struck and everything was delayed.

Yesterday the museum finally threw it’s doors open to the public albeit in a more controlled, socially distanced way than anyone had planned..

Staff and volunteers have had a few days of soft openings with restricted numbers of visitors to practice on.

Photographs were and always will be allowed but publishing them on social media, blogs etc was banned until the first full day of opening to the public. Rather than bombard you with many glimpses of the museum I will share pictures as I learn my way around the museum. I’ve done two shifts so far in the same space. St Lukes Contemporary Art Space.

The new fused glass window by Leonor Antunes is the first thing that dazzles visitors.

As the light outside changes the mood of the gallery alters significantly. Within St Luke’s there is an installation by the same artist, it is fascinating and relevant to Plymouth it deserves its own blog at a later time.

The link below is a positive piece of publicity that explains, far better than I can, the whole Box experience.

And here a link to a less positive article.

I will spend many hours in The Box during the current Pandemic; focussing on just one exhibit at a time will be an intriguing discipline.

Pandemic Pondering #195


Sunflowers on a tricksy day. Pandemic Ponderings is not the place to share all the ups and downs @theoldmortuary . More a place to ponder on the pandemic and the effect it has on a fairly normal household. Today a small family pet went on that dreaded one way trip to the vet. Not one of the coffee hounds. Visits to the vet are a hugely affected by Covid -19 precautions and restrictions. So today was difficult plus difficult. Yet the vet we met was brilliant at expressing kindness and compassion at a distance and with a mask on. A sad experience made better by someone who was brilliant at being a good human.

The death of small pets, always seems to be a particularly poignant grief. I’ve always thought it gathers all the sadness that is laying around in your mind from other experiences and allows it a way out which seems disproportionate. I suspect the pandemic has magnified that sensation. Which is why I’ve allowed this subject into Ponderings.

Living through the Pandemic has probably made @theoldmortuary all a little bit more fragile or sensitive. The normal tribulations of life just seem that little bit more taxing.

Sunflowers help.

Pandemic Pondering #194

Yesterday was a day for basking in afternoon sunshine. Autumn may have arrived but the sunshine had forgotten and we sat, like lizards on hot rocks, taking in the late September sun. The wind however was very much in Autumn mode and swirled and nipped at us whenever we turned a corner between buildings. In truth the basking was accidental , we were only on one of our regular dog walks but we had stopped for a coffee and some people watching. Neither were exciting enough to be pondered about but the sunshine was lovely. For reasons which I don’t fully understand the water which accompanied our coffee arrived iced and with a straw. Leave two women with a straw in strong sunshine and this is what you get!

Pandemic Pondering #192

The  link below takes you to an excellent article published in the Guardian today.

Pandemic Ponderings has covered most of the topics mentioned but the whole lot, covered by a proper newspaper, makes for a less whimsical read. Even before this article appeared, today, other people’s writing was going to inform this blog.

This is the book,randomly chosen, for the September choice of my book club. By a huge coincidence a character in this novel visits Plymouth . A couple of comments in the book reminded me of things I have not yet pondered about . Given that this blog is about Plymouth, I will just share the Plymouth based one today. But before that an aside.

An hour or so before this blog was due to be published I finished this book. Further curious and serendipitous connections come to light. I love the book for many reasons, including its locations. It is based geographically in places I know intimately, Cornwall and the area around St Pauls Cathedral in the City of London.

Just as I sit through the rolling credits of films, I also read the acknowledgements in books. This one dealt a huge dollop of serendipity. The author, Sarah Winman writes ” Thank you to The Gentle Author and the community that has grown around the Spitaldfelds Life Blog- you are a constant reminder of why we do what we do”

Spitaldfelds Life is the Gold Standard that drives my writing @theoldmortuary . The Gentle Author guided and encouraged me, and many other blog writers to simply write. The surprise to see him mentioned at the back of this novel gave me such a warm and welcome boost. He really is the loveliest of men , the courses he runs are inspirational.

Returning to talking about the pondering the book inspired. In,A Year of Marvellous Ways, a sexual awakening and affaire de coeur is marked by the gift of a penny which is significant to the location of the entwinement. To illustrate this I need to rummage a bit.

It didn’t take long to find an old penny. Significantly this one would have been used in the Plymouth Area. It was designed by Leonard Charles Wyon an adaptation of a design by his father William Wyon for earlier pennies.

1967 British Penny ©theoldmortuary

The lighthouse, which can just be glimpsed behind Britannia is Smeatons Tower. Plymouths Iconic Landmark. Imaged on the coin in its original position on the Eddystone Rocks. 9 miles south west of Rame Head in Cornwall. Despite being closest to Cornwall the rocks are within the City limits of Plymouth and therefore considered to be within Devon.

Another blog that shaped its own destiny. Not the journey I planned but the journey that happened whilst I was planning.

Pandemic Pondering #191

Our Staycation trip this morning took us to visit the new Antony Gormley sculpture , Look II on the Waterfront in Plymouth. A cultural dog walk on a blustery day.

Look II

If I were a sound artist I would record twenty second snippets of the conversations that occur as People get close to it. Then play them in the echoing paths near the Tinside Lido that overlooks the sculpture at a distance.

It is no surprise that a piece of contemporary sculpture would have a mixed reaction in Plymouth. The link at the top of this blog takes you to a selection of local opinions.

Look II

My creative head was lucky enough to share my first experience of Look II with a couple of people who I will call Twat I and Twat 2. I have precised the conversation to protect my word count.

Twat 1 ” Its a bit rusty for a million pounds”

Twat 2, thinking quickly, how can I uptwat him?

” Oh well it’s been here a week, I expect it’s the sea”

Twat 1, thinks, bugger I’ve been uptwatted! Best play my trump comment.

” My grandchild built something like that over the weekend”

Both get a little closer and kick the sculpture as if it were the tyre of a second hand car that they were giving an opinion on. Twat credentials fully exposed .

Far better the fishermen who demonstrate so deftly why this is a beautiful, thought provoking work of art.

Pandemic Pondering #190

This is going to be a funny blog, for a start autumn seems to be imposing itself on us. Yesterday we had beautiful sunlight and a beautiful Begonia.

This morning we had the bright sunshine but the air was certainly crisper. Autumn shouted loud from a farmhouse wall.

Virginia Creeper

Pretty soon after rain started to fall and that set the tone of the day. Staycation or not some chores needed doing so that was the plan for a couple of hours. Chores and then an adventure. As it turned out we got the adventure but not one of our planning . South East Cornwall is divided from Devon by the Tamar Bridge or the Torpoint Ferry. Further north there are many, mostly mediaeval bridges that cross the Tamar as it gets narrower. A quick pop into Plymouth became a day out. The twenty minute journey home extended to well over four hours when a road accident closed the Tamar Bridge which in turn overwhelmed the Torpoint Ferry which left us with the Mediaeval option at Gunnislake. Mediaeval bridges need a little respect so progress was not swift. That’s exactly why this is a very small blog, no time for an adventure after the unplanned one.

One tiny post script.

Finally the Canadian Soap first mentioned really early in Pandemic Ponderings became a tissue thin sliver of soap this week and today slipped without ceremony down the sink. Another Canadian soap has stepped up to take its place in the bathroom sink. It happens to be the colour of Autumn so I think we have conceded. Autumn 2020 you’ve arrived.

Pandemic Pondering #189

Reflecting on where we finished yesterday

Regular readers will have no problem with the order of this blog and the previous one. But if a reader is playing catch up and reading them in order as they appear the newest is always first. For clarity we are walking down Totnes High Street towards the river. From Fifty5a and the gorgeous assemblage from Lucie Swain in their shop window.

We love a bit of street Palimpsest , Totnes gives good Palimpsest. This assemblage of stickers and graffiti is not of the finest quality but it did grab my attention long enough to attract my attention to the piece that inspired yesterday’s search for Alice Oswald.

High Street Palimpsest
Beautiful Street Palimpsest

Slightly awkward as I’ve published this early in error. It’s not even finished yet! Carrying on down the hill we popped over to the public loos and found this little chap.

Is it a Banksy?

Googling ” is this a Banksy?” takes us down another rabbit hole, although, of course, rat run would be more appropriate. My mind is caught up in a trail featuring a Michael Shuman who , perhaps, created this graffiti and claims to have had his identity stolen by Banksy who is of course anonymous. Is it even possible to steal an identity if you are anonymous. The rudimental dickpic above the rat is unsigned. Let’s just leave the whole conversation there.

Things did actually go downhill from here both geographically and in real life. A large hairy lurcher dog flew out of a boutique and attempted to intimidate Lola with both teeth and size. He was 100% successful, she has pulled a shoulder muscle during the scuffle and is demanding cuddles with added diligence to gentle strokes.

Totnes turned out to be quite the adventure. Two last pictures a lovely calm Presbytery with just one perfect autumn leaf to give a flash of orange to an otherwise Lilac view.

Totnes Presbytery

Finally some chains , from Totnes, to show that in these blogs there is always a link. Apologies for scatterbrained blogging. Normal service will resume very soon.

Pandemic Pondering #188

Our Staycation took us to Totnes overnight. I worked in Totnes over twenty years ago, at the time it was known for being a town sympathetic to New Age and Alternative Lifestyles. Pandemic Pondering #232 Going up the hill at Totnes.

Twenty years later Totnes has the same vibe but wears it a little less obviously, the town seems smarter. Pondering in Totnes took me down quite a rabbit hole. A particularly lovely piece of Palimpsest caught my eye.

The name Alice Oswald can be seen through the layers of stickers and paint. Googling Alice Oswald I discovered she is a Poet of note and is the first female Oxford Professor of Poetry and also a winner of the T.S Elliot Poetry Prize . Something I only know exists because my favourite poet Roger Robinson won it this year.

As luck would have it I had taken a picture of the River Dart half an hour before I found the Palimpsest that started this ponder. Lucky because Alice is known for her work ‘Dart’.

I’ve shared the Guardian review of the poem/ book because it is all very unknown to me currently. I’ve ordered a copy of the book from the library. Let’s get on with the rest of Totnes.

Lovely Jubbly

A little smile and a nod to a favourite British sitcom Only Fools and Horses as we arrived in town.

We were camping overnight at Steamer Quay which is a really quick walk into town or onto several beautiful Riverside walks. As usual @theoldmortuary our day started with a coffee. On a day when new restrictions were set to be announced the message was loud and clear at the café.

The Curator cafe set us up perfectly for the steep incline that is Totnes High Street. The high street is full of independents , we had a fabulous browse in regular retailers and charity shops . Earmarking purchases for when we were on the descent. Arrival at the top was rewarded with a visit to.

Another coffee shop with great coffee and outdoor seating overlooking one of my favourite Vintage shops.

We were in Totnes so obviously bumping into a stranger involved a conversation about Dry Needling , fascinating, not for me, but apparently it works.


Interesting women were all over the top part of the town. This strong image was in the shop window of Revival

Ramping up the glamour opposite was this gorgeous creation.

This is the point that this blog ends, tomorrow we will return down the hill. is our final stop at the top. The artwork featured in the window of fifty5a is by Lucie Smailes.