Pandemic Pondering #315

After a ‘ bob’ last night we pondered on the role of Hugo and Lola on our Lockdown exercise routine. 5 days out of 7 the dogs are central to the plans of the hour long exercise event. The other 2 days the exercise is our cold water swimming session.

I think we both agreed that without the dogs some days would pass without any outdoor exercise. Today was certainly a day when indoors would have won the vote if it were not for the @theoldmortuary fluffs. To be honest if they had been given a choice they would rather have stayed in their pyjamas and read books.

As it was we made it, in dreadful weather to the Scott Memorial. The weather was so shocking nobody was there before us!

On the way we found this old tunnel and door.Revealed recently by storms blowing down the protective metal screens. It seems like a fine metaphor for January 2021 . All a bit dark and never ending with the promise of something different beyond the door. But who can even guess what the ‘different’ will be.

Pandemic Pondering #314

This slightly tatty perfume bottle has a story to tell. For a time it lived in my work bag and the fragrance perked me up at low points in 24 hour shifts.

Tom Ford fragrances were introduced to me by a work colleague, Haji. Haji always wafted into my work area on a cloud of fragrance, no matter what the time of day or night. His subtle perfume and his smile arrived slightly ahead of the man himself. Sometimes I would have to guess which particular version he was wearing. When a new one came out he would encourage me to go and try it in Selfridges on the way home. Maybe not his best idea, anyone who does massive shifts in the NHS knows the error of ‘reward’ shopping after a gruelling night of work.

My lovely friend and colleague Haji has died of Covid-19 his Janazeh, funeral prayer, was held yesterday.

A man who was such a valuable part of a place that was called The Heart Hospital when we worked together.

Social media is the hub of communual mourning now and the comments all mention how much people enjoyed working with him.

I’ve stolen and paraphrased another friends comment.

David said “I loved the football banter”

Haji, I loved the perfume banter.

Pandemic Pondering#313

This is the start of a good day. A Christmas parcel, missing for 6 weeks turns up in Hong Kong. Miss VV checks the paperwork.

Every two year old needs a new bee.

The box contained more than just the bee, just in case you think we are wicked people who wrapped up something small in a big box.

So by video we get to share the excitement of Christmas in January. And I get to think again about our Christmas Festival @theoldmortuary which looks set to run for a few months yet. Fake Christmas, or Christmas extended is causing some complications. Our ‘Bobbing’ friends are amused by constant Post swimming snacks of Mince Pies.

I groan at the thought of cooking the bargain turkey who is resting in the outside freezer. In early January a local farm advertised frozen turkeys for £20

I booked one and turned up to collect him. He was one huge turkey. Common sense should have pre warned me that the only left over turkeys in 2020 would be massive. Cold and slippy I wrestled the turkey to the car with the same style as I’ve used with drunken work colleagues on the tube, I rested him in the child seat at the back of the car and strapped him in. There were immediately two worries. Would he fit in the freezer.? He does but the only other thing we can get in there is the ice we bought for our non existent Christmas socialising. That was a couple of interesting days of culinary experimentation trying to eat the frozen foods evicted by the Daddy of Turkeys. Worry number two was can we get him in the oven to cook him?
This is a problem, we have no idea which cooker we will be using for Fake Christmas. It’s a worry but nothing a good swig of Christmas Advocaat can’t solve.

Christmas 2020 a never ending feast!

Pandemic Pondering #312

Greige is the colour of the day again. But an hours exercise must be taken . It was low tide and I decided to take the dogs to one of their favourite beaches. By coincidence it is the same beach we regularly swim from. Long before year round swimming was a thing it was a popular dog walk at low tide and we often had it to ourselves. Also in those giddy pre-Pandemic times, beach visits also involved a coffee shop stop.

Lola loves this beach at low tide because for once she doesn’t merge into the background.

Here is Hugo posing by the very rocks I managed to lose skin on last week.

Today the view is very different. Greige is enveloping everything. Beyond enjoying the visual pleasure and thrum of busy tugs passing the beach, there was not a lot of point looking out to sea. The benefits of dog walking in the pouring rain surrounded by fog might not seem immediately obvious.

The dogs were oblivious, enjoying seaweed and the excitement of being caught by waves as they scampered about. While I cast my eyes downward and captured the vividity of the shoreline.

The pebbles and seaweed that are agony to my sensitive feet after a cold swim put on quite a show in the pouring rain.

Tiny gems of sea glass and shells added to the glamour. But will stepping on such beauty ease my way in and out of the sea on future swimming days ?

I very much doubt it, for someone who has a robust and sturdy body my feet are clearly someone elses. The fairy story of the Princess and the Pea exactly summarises my access and egress to the sea. Drama Queen steps on Pebbles would be the best description. Every step is a symphony of pains, my body contorts like that of a puppet with knotted strings and a drunken puppeteer. Currently I stride in wearing an old pair of Crocs but even those dont stop me feeling a particularly persistent pebble and wincing a bit. The dogs, of course, dont really see what all the fuss is about.

Pandemic Pondering #311

The greige is back! This picture is in full glorious colour but you would never know it, only a life jacket on the pontoon gives a tiny splash of colour. Headlines are a starker version of greige, the United Kingdom has recorded an excess of 100,000 deaths linked to Covid.

This picture is also in full glorious colour again there is a tiny splash of colour on a pontoon . On this occasion the splash of colour is an office building painted a curious shade of salmon pink. The thing neither of these pictures show is the unrelenting rain. What they do demonstrate is why safety equipment is painted red, or in unusual circumstances Salmon Pink. The salmon pink office is part of a Royal Navy Munitions Depot. Barges, called Lighters, make their way to the Jetty, on which it stands, from the Dockyard to collect armaments to transport down the river to load onto warships. I had often wondered why the building was pink. I presume now that is is because Salmon Pink also stands out in Greige. There would not be a jetty if the barges had trouble seeing it.

As ponderings go this one is biased towards the dismal end of the spectrum. Late January, dreadful pandemic statistics, jetties solely built to deliver weapons are not the ingredients for a joyful blog particularly set within a background of a third lockdown.

Thankfully Facebook timehop gave me an eight year old image, also with some obvious red to twink the mood a little.

Hugo loves a drink of tea. He is never too fussed about the design of the mug, but for the purposes of this blog I’m quite grateful he chose this one for his morning refreshment. A tiny uplift of encouragement in a world that is rather greige.

Pandemic Pondering #310

Bagels, Basking, Bobbing.

Our introduction to Hutong Bagels was a couple of days late but serendipity delivered them on a day when we could bask in winter sun.

Dressed for the cold, we felt as  warm as toast. I’m wearing a tweed coat I picked up at a charity shop over the New Year. It was in the window and the subtle colours called out to me. What a find. A Saks 5th Avenue brand, every edge is bound with leather . A Transatlantic coat to keep me warm while I look out over the Atlantic. Not that I would have dreamed of scrabbling about on rocks in it if I had actually bought it in Saks. Truth be told the only time I could ever have shopped in Saks I needed an afternoon sleep. Rooftop bars and the New York tradition of free pouring spirits meant I was not a very effective tourist in the afternoons!

Coats are only temporary though. After an hour of basking it’s time to get our clothes off and swim with the ‘ Bobbers’

©Andy Cole

Cold sea swimming has become addictive. Not just us, the whole of Britain is dunking in the sea more than ever before.We go out twice a week. Today we shared the water with boats and a seal. The seal is called Sammy and lives in Firestone bay. There are no photographs of the seal but the boats were more co-operative. Clyde Fisher was the big chap. Powerful and Faithful are the tugs.

Tugs, we love tugs.
©Andy Cole

Pandemic Pondering #309

A glorious weather weekend lifted our cabin fever this weekend. Snow and Bagels were forecast.

A favourite coffee shop reopened as a take away destination. Sweetening the deal with home made bagels. Bagels it seems got the good people of Plymouth out of their beds very early and by the time we arrived at 10:30 the bagels were just a memory. Good coffee in hand we set off on a city walk enjoying the sunshine. The sunshine kept coming and the walk kept walking. 7 miles or 11 km later we arrived home. Only then did the snow arrive!

©Helen Flinton

Our social media in-boxes were filled with friends and family sharing snowy photos.

©Mark Curnow

Even the dogs friends got in on the act.

©Monty and Murphy

We received Dinosaurs.

©Emily Yates

And tranquility

©Debbie Sears

Paths to walk

©Helen Flinton

And the boot prints of walkers.

©Jenna Blake

Have a marvelous Monday. P.S we got the Bagels!

Pandemic Pondering #308

Some Sunday Pondering.

“Turn the other cheek”

“Let Bygones be Bygones”

“Forgive and Forget”

Obviously I ponder, I’ve always pondered, and I’ve pondered sayings like this for as long as I have pondered. Several years in Sunday School failed to drum Christian forgiveness or much else into me.

* note to readers. My grandmother took me to Sunday School, my parents were casual atheists. However my parents were always rapturous and industrious when I was returned to them several hours later. I was always puzzled about having to attend Sunday School when, even to a child, it was obvious that Church lay in the same place as Unicorns or Mermaids for my parents. Parenthood cleared the whole thing up, ‘Sunday School’ was a guaranteed child free space for my parents to enjoy ‘ conjugal bliss’ in much the same way that a Thomas the Tank video might have done in the nineties or for more prolonged events a Disney Film.

” Never bear a grudge” is another one. I do not bear grudge for the whole Sunday School thing. I do rather wish two hours a week had been better spent with my grandparents in a swimming pool or soft play area, but those were things of the future.

All of this is a perambulation taking us to my home grown philosophy. One that has never been peer reviewed or researched.

My cheeks stay resolutely in the same place. Bygones are inclined towards the dusty. I do forgive, and mostly I forget. But I don’t forget, the really big, important harms to my soul. That really does seem to be an act of foolishness.

Instead my non- forgiveness, my grudges if you will. Live in a small disheveled carrier bag within the massive Industrial Unit of my happy, glorious memory bank of fabulous life experiences. The grotty, grudge carrier bag lives in a closet in the small room of sad memories that sits within the massive Industrial Unit of happy stuff.

There really is a point to all this pondering. Just before New Year I received a text asking me to do something. Every point of my personal moral compass was twirling round to point towards me saying ‘ Yes’. The whole Industrial Unit of Happiness said ‘yes’. The small room of Sadness said ‘Yes’. But when my thoughts delved into the very small, very grotty, carrier bag of grudges, my fingers found the unfamiliar word ‘ No’. Knowing that this was the guidance I actually needed the decision was made. It has not caused me a single sleepless night.

Don’t bear a grudge. Discard the unimportant ones. Keep the significant ones in a grotty carrier bag out of sight. Pop your hand in very, very rarely if all the happy or sensible stuff is not giving you the right answers. Not all wisdom comes from a good place.

Sometimes to get a good nights sleep we need wisdom from the grotty carrier bag.

Pandemic Pondering #307

Mornings can be strange when winter sea swimming is a regular habit. The times we swim are predicated by tide times and anticipated weather. The weather is the least important. It has become entirely normal to wake up, look out at frosty cars and know that all we actually need to put on for breakfast is a pair of swimming knickers and a wetsuit. The contrast is even madder when we realise that only twelve hours before we had felt cold dressed in several layers of thermal underwear and winter clothing to walk the dogs at the same location.

Sea swimming is a massive, positive, side effect of the pandemic. We have formed an informal group of swimmers and watchers so that anyone who wants a swim can find a swim buddy on our Whatsapp group. Everyone in the group knew someone but before winter swimming most of us did not know each other. We have never seen each other with our clothes on!

Equipment is the thing, in the balmy days of October we rocked up in normal clothes and congratulated ourselves on this wonderful free hobby that we had discovered. Incrementally winter started biting at our resolve to ‘keep things simple’. Birthdays and Christmas came and went and with it the gifts of accessories for our new hobby. One person gets something new and others fancy getting the same. Recently this took us to a strange place. Researching Sinx gloves on line is not for the faint hearted. Coupled with the phenomenon of jabbering like crazy beasts when the endorphins hit, our post swimming ‘ bobbing’ chats are far reaching and without the usual social restraints that you might expect in a group of people who don’t know one another well. Over-sharing might be the correct term. To onlookers it probably sounds like the random squeals and hoots of a seal colony. Social distancing doesn’t help matters but I think we would be loud even in a close knit huddle.

©Andy Cole

Pandemonium in a Pandemic might be the word.

Pandemic Pondering #306

Storm Christoph blew off today leaving us with this gloriously red sunset. Firestone Bay living up to its name, although it has this name for a different reason.

It is named for all the canon balls that were fired into the bay in canon ball times.

The day started pretty greige but the weather forecast showed us a rain free gap in the morning. A walk in the woods was prescribed during the gap between yet more unexpected and unplanned domestic admin. The woods did not disappoint, some lively vibrant colours, plenty of water, courtesy of Storm Christoph and the first signs of Spring.

Our hour of exercise was soon over and it was time to return to the domestic admin but not before we sought out some more vivid colours in the car wash.

Our domestic admin had some requirements beyond our home, the timng of which was random but had to be done before 5 which took us to Devils Point at the perfect time for a brief and unexpectedly lush sunset. This is a good thing because domestic admin can be dull!

Lets build up to this, we all know where this is going.

And Boom!

Twenty seconds of perfection.