If unseasonably sunny weather appears in any February, in Britain, the moment is known as Fools Spring. People usually flood the streets in lighter clothing and floral patterns. Sunshine on the weekend late in February 2021, after nearly a year of restricted Pandemic living was a recipe for quiet sartorial skittishness. The flood was replaced by a gentle trickle but along with floral patterns, shorts were worn and socks were abandoned so blue white toes could lay flacidly on the corky soles of Birkenstocks.
Colours took on a vivacity that lifted our spirits.
And even the moon put on a vivid show for the end of the day.
Foolish it might well have been but it felt like Spring was close.
Yesterdays ‘ Bob’ events happened either end of the day. Mr Stan was off to the groomers so his swimming parents had to swim early in the morning.
The day started well for them.
The later swimmers took the sunset slot.
The evening swim was epic.
But unknown to us , something was afoot.
David Partner, a world renowned photographer was collecting images for a project he is working on. Here we are swimming off, oblivious to man in small speedos. Also oblivious to man with large Hasellblad. Just oblivious really!
On returning to land David Partner asked our permission to take photographs of us for his project. Obviously we stripped off to reveal our gorgeously honed bodies and our thong bikinis. Just a slick of lippy and we were camera ready. You will be relieved to know the last two sentences are pure fabrication.
Just a regular ‘ bob’ at Firestone Bay.
Links to David Partner and Plymouth Open Water Swimming below.
I could, of course, be talking about the effect of the current Pandemic. Absolutely it has, and will, cast a long shadow on all of our lives. Not all the long shadows will be negatives. @theoldmortuary, in common with everyone, we’ve had some absolute shockers of negative experiences associated with Covid-19 but there have also been some life changing positives.
Casting a long shadow. Part II.
But today , I’m talking about the long shadows cast by our fish sculptures. The bright sunshine caused, George, our 22 year old cat to bask on the stairs. As the afternoon progressed the fish shadows started moving towards her. At the same time her own particular sunbeam left the stairs and started tracking up the wall. She was not impressed.
Being a predominantly black cat George rarely features in photographs, which made todays impromptu photo shoot all the more lovely. It also gave me the chance to consider long shadows.
There was a time when Thursday blogs were based on my experiences as a gallery guide at The Box. A Pandemic put a stop to that but here we are on a Thursday and this blog will be distinctly Boxlike.
Not Real World of course. Another new tech experience .
The Box Quiz
The low tech answer sheet.
What I can’t show you are my fellow competitors. Microsoft Teams was new to me and I had failed to download the system . In consequence only the hosts/quizmasters were visible to me eveyone else was just a disembodied voice as I was to them!
The questions were fired at us at speed, all the better to thwart googling cheats. It was a fabulous quiz and reassuring that I could actually retrieve random facts from my pandemic befuddled mind.
As it happens @theoldmortuary did quite well. Which just goes to prove that straddling the digital/ Analogue divide is entirely possible, especially if you have your comfy pants on. Or even if you don’t. No video evidence!
I am very lucky, one of my responsibilities within an art group is to manage the groups social media output. Part of that role is to keep an eye on the groups Instagram page. Another friend does the same for Facebook. During the Pandemic, Social Media, Zoom Meetings, a Newsletter and a fabulous new website have been the groups only way of keeping in touch and sharing their creative outputs with members and the wider community. In normal times there would be Workshops, Drawing Days, Exhibitions and Open Studio events.
Checking the Instagram page of Drawn To The Valley daily is an absolute pleasure. Our members and other artists work appear on our feed. It took no effort to find these great images from todays feed.
Our Social Media team meet monthly to plan what we need to promote for the group but we also work out ways to increase engagement and attract followers to our pages.
For 2021 each month will have a # that brings the art created in that month together in a grid. #januaryinthevalley, #februaryinthevalley and on for every month of the year.
So far #februaryinthevalley is looking good.
We’ve really had to reconsider how best to use social media to support our members during the Pandemic. We are lucky that Drawn to the Valley adopted social media early and effectively a long time ago, we have some vibrant and effective wisdom in our team. Zoom meetings are never dull.
The pandemic has forced us to shake things up a bit.
The Nearly There Trees get a second outing this month simply because ‘Nearly There’ is my bonus point on my game of Boris Bingo . A game played by matching words used by the Prime Minister during a press conference.
As it happens ‘ Nearly There’ didnt come up! I don’t have a painting called ‘Some Way to go still’ Not as prepared as I thought I was!
By contrast our sea swim was a huge success . Blue, twinkly with plenty of sunshine.
We had a fabulous half hour in the water and the sunshine on our faces was a massive boost.
Our Vitamin D harvest took very little effort today. The water was still a bit grubby from the weekend storms but calm enough that we were joined by paddle boarders and Kayakers.
Not too bad for the middle of February.
P.S my failure at Boris Bingo can probably be explained by the Prime Minister taking on a new team of advisers. I had planned for the Cockwaffle Protocol. I was not prepared for the change!
There has been a good bit of pondering over this blog today. No standout trail of random thoughts stood out yesterday ready for publication this morning. The tomato figurehead was a late arrival, its significance will be revealed later.
February is watercolour month @theoldmortuary . Not this year, the studio is partially packed away. I’ve not painted anything since a commission was finished before Christmas. Not able to quite control creativity I found something I can keep in a small bag, Lino printing is likely to become a method of illustration for these blogs once I get going effectively.
For similar reasons watercolour is my medium of choice in the dark months of January and February. It doesn’t require studio space, just a dining table which happens to be in the actual old mortuary, which is lovely and warm. ( Not a sentence associated with real mortuaries)
February is often about experimenting. So linoprinting is not such a great leap. Watercolour portraits, fascinate me. This one is of Fred, one of my schoolfriends. Painted a couple of years ago. I enjoyed the discipline and probably need an excuse to do more.
February is also about buying new art materials and getting to know them. The quickest way for me to do that is to revert to my earliest artistic endeavours and one that I only truly revisit on holidays ( no time soon I think)
Watercolour landscapes, a fine way to relax and experiment a bit. As a holiday activity it is unequalled, although many of mine are not truly watercolour as it is all too easy to dip a brush in my gin and tonic in error. This last watercolour will feature in tomorrows blog too, as it is a painting of the ‘Nearly There Trees’ a famed Landmark on one of the routes into Cornwall.
The storms keeping us out of the sea have abated , but only just. Overnight the rain has been torrential. There is a plan, this Sunday morning, for us to have a swim . I’m fairly freshly out of the dream state , illustrated above.
On waking I have immediately landed into the Procrastinate Zone. The, nearly year long, series of lockdowns and life restrictions have given me the luxury of time and in turn that has allowed procrastination to become a decision process. An alternative or extra option to add to any decision making moment.
This morning the cogs are turning slowly.
Shall I have a shower before I swim?
Can I actually bear to get out of bed and get into a hot shower?
No , there might be a moment of chill before the shower gets really hot.
Ok, I will just lay here. Procrastinate a bit and think about it in 5 minutes.
There is no logic to this thought, in an hour or so I’m going to be stepping into the sea for fifteen minutes of swimming in water that is about 8 degrees. It is unlikely to be as beautiful as the picture below, but this is the mental image that will get me out of bed and into the shower.
If thats not enough then at the weekend there is the added promise of good coffee.
None of these lovely images are actually persuading me to make that move into the shower. Writing about it , has of course given some legitimacy to procrastination. I could have just posted a different blog and got on with the shower but burbling on about procrastination has kept me in bed for an extra fifteen minutes and now there is no time for a shower.
Sometime soon I’m going to be back in a real world.
A micro blog today, the storms hitting the Tamar Valley have made outdoor activities almost impossible for the last couple of days. Regular walks are taken with our heads bowed against 50 mile an hour winds coming up from the south. Bobbing has been abandoned for safety reasons.
Being focused on just keeping upright has had two bonuses. Firstly this tiny daffodil , who against the odds, is growing through tarmac, near a busy cut through. In normal times the views here are spectacular so no one looks at the ground. I cannot imagine he will be here long.
Close by on the outside wall of an old pub, that is now a coffee shop, there is some old carved graffito. The wall was offering precious shelter from the worst of the weather. Again under normal circumstances the landscape and architecture of this area would grab anyones attention. Just like the tiny daffodil the graffiti shouldn’t exist. The old pub is built of very tough stone but there is this one random stone that is soft enough to carve on.
Just a tiny search on Google brings this little nugget up.
An Ernest Deves was born in a house at the red marker position. The old pub is currently known as the Hutong Cafe.
A chance finding in the London Gazette shows us that Ernest Edward Deves was a skilled labourer in Royal Naval Dockyards.
The Royal William Yard, a former Royal Navy Dockyard is less than ten steps from the Hutong Cafe.
Today did not go to plan. There is a fair old chunk of domestic admin to do currently, some of the admin filled nearly the whole morning and I had an afternoon Zoom scheduled. I planned a socially distanced take-out coffee and walk with a friend in the small gap between commitments. The walk had the same restrictions as yesterday, quiet and dog free. Low tide offered the chance to walk further along the riverbank than usual.
We basked in sunlight and enjoyed our drinks while the dogs snuffled around. We talked and talked and walked until we reached the most distant town slipway.
Slipways are areas of sloped concrete to launch or reclaim boats.
We discovered a whole new world of slipway. Unknown to us the dry looking green area was a slippery slope of doom. I was the first to go down. Six to eight feet of sliding down on my bottom took me beyond the dry looking area straight through the slippery looking stuff and into the seaweed coated riverbed. Meanwhile Steph had leaned forward to catch me and also lost grip joining me very swiftly on the riverbed.
This was our view, the dogs had also been dragged down the slope. They managed to stay on their paws. We checked that we were not too badly damaged and then laughed loudly for five minutes or so. The riverbed was impossible to stand up on. The only way out of our predicament was to scramble back up the slope on all fours. More mirth!
We returned home to medicate and clean our wounds. Zooming came and went and it was time for another walk, the river was once again the destination but this time I kept myself out of it.
Just as well, as mud is the stand out feature of the afternoon walk.
My favourite patch of mud.
A blue sunset and as the sun goes down my bones are aching a bit. Tomorrow needs to be a bobbing day. The cold water is wonderful for sorting out aches and pains. I will avoid slipways!