Pandemic Pondering #373

The warmest day, so far, of the year and day 2 of a loosening of restrictions in England and I’m still following the protocol of the last few months and walking the dogs and staying local. Just like this rusty supermarket trolley I am adrift from the social buzz of being amongst my own kind. Thankfully unlike the trolley I have not spent the last few months in a muddy tributary. I have yet to put concatenation into practice.

In theory the rules say I ( we) can meet in groups of six in the great outdoors. What I have failed to do is build the next chain in the series and go significantly further afield or meet other people for a natter . Its not that I’ve lived the life of a recluse but I have grown to love the days of a familiar walk listening to a podcast and watching nature unfurl. Today I downloaded a whole months worth of podcasts. I’m actually unlikely to need them once my social butterfly emerges from my Pandemic induced Chrysalis stage.

Socialising has been restricted to Coffee queues followed by a walk, or swimming followed by shouted socialising while we scramble into clothes,forcing not quite dry skin into garments that feel two sizes too small.

I know that once concatenation takes hold and I embrace the sequential changes as they ease me into normal life, slowly link by link, there will be no stopping me. But I am going to miss having the time to notice the small things.

Pandemic Pondering #372

Yesterday was bright in our corner of Cornwall/ England. So bright in fact that we largely forgot that there had been some easement in Covid restrictions. We could have met another household in our garden or theirs or any other outdoor space but instead just pottered about in the garden making it ready for Spring. The only loosening of behaviours was on a Zoom meeting where the Bookclub arranged an outdoor real life book club meet up next month. Yesterday we discussed literary connections to foolishness as we are close to April 1st . It was good to see so many readers on screen to discuss nonsense. The day finished with a swim in the sunshine, the water temperature had dropped a bit and the currents were not kind but sunshine on your face makes it easier to cope with these things. The daffodils at the top and bottom of this blog have popped their fancy heads up in the old part of the cemetery near @theoldmortuary. They look like fancy hats ready for a very dressed up occasion.

There is also a fine crop of wild garlic, some of which I will harvest later today if the sun stays out. Yesterday I harvested an image from the Victorian part of the graveyard. An eternal message that has been made abstract by Lichen and illuminated by sunshine.

Pandemic Pondering #371

A gift has arrived for the administration of our Bobbing sessions. A cardboard wheel chart that can give me the times of low and high tides without having to use google for the next two years!

For two of us ‘bobbers’, wheel charts have been an intrinsic part of our professional lives. We were both Obstetric Sonographers and the Gestational wheel chart was a vital part of  our diagnostic tool box. Spinning the wheel to work out an approximate birth date was one of the many bullet points to be added to our diagnostic reports. A lesser known and not recorded date that the wheel can predict is the approximate conception date. It was not unusual to be begged by our patients to alter the anticipated birth date in our reports; so that the conception date would be better suited to the man that they wanted to be the father of their child rather than the man they suspected was the father. No such complexities with a Tide Time Wheel. A tide is just a tide.

Who knew such things even existed!

Pandemic Pondering #370

Sunshine and a spiky tulip to start the day. A bullet was bitten today. New glasses needed to be chosen. I’ve struggled on with two less than perfect pairs for the whole of the pandemic . Both coated with anti- glare coatings that are slowly wearing or being rubbed off. One pair worse than the other are now unusable and the pair that are in a better state, coating-wise, do not like to be on the same face as a mask and fly off my face at every mask wearing opportunity. The reward for choosing new frames, always arduous when you have poor eyesight, was a trip to a bakery and coffee shop.

We took the rather splendid cronuts to Down Thomas and nibbled them while looking at the Plymouth Breakwater from a different angle to our usual viewpoint. There is sometimes an organised swim from the Breakwater back to the Plymouth shore. Link below.

With Cronut in hand and overlooking the distance and geography of the course it is easy to see why viewing the race from whichever angle is infinitely preferable to doing it.

Have a good Sunday!

In Britain the Clocks have gone forward an hour.

The evenings will be lighter.

Another sign that Spring has arrived.

Pandemic Pondering #369

Four Seasons in One Day.
Yesterday was a funny old day weatherwise. There were two sea swimming sessions planned but the weather forecast of the evening before suggested that neither would be possible. Heavy rain and a nasty wind might make things tricky.

We made a firm commitment to the morning session when we woke up  and the sun was out. Almost the minute the wetsuits were on a sharp shower of rain appeared.  Undeterred we set off and were rewarded by an empty beach and a calm sea.

Good swimming was had even though the tide was out.

©Debs Bobber
©Debs Bobber

It was out so far I could make a close inspection of a rock that had stripped some skin off my leg during a swim a few weeks ago. The surface, despite this cute shell picture, is like razor blades to a flailing limb.

The swim set us up for a session of gardening . The first serious gardening session after winter is always a bit gooey. Moving overwintered stores of garden waste and taming the jungle that has a duel purpose of emergency winter dog loo and a summer lawn . Once the poo was picked up two strimmers attempted the task of taming the long grass. Both failed with spool issues, a trip to the DIY store was required, coincidentally about the same time as the second swim was planned. As we were in the area it would have been rude not to check on the swimmers who had chosen the afternoon slot for swimming. What a difference a few hours had made. Still bright sunshine but the nasty wind had arrived and despite it being high tide the swimmers were kept very close to shore.

The sneaky weather had also given them the chance of the bay to themselves. Moments after they got out of the water the rain arrived.

Followed by a rainbow or two.

Too much of a good thing when the excitement of a DIY store is the planned event of the evening, we set off into the sunset to collect strimmer spools. Oh the excitement and glamour of a Friday night in Pandemic restrictions.

Have a fabulous week end.

Pandemic Pondering #368

This is the last photograph I took in March 2020 before the first Covid-19 lockdown in Britain. It was mid afternoon at Cotehele and I was recovering from a nasty virus. My last virus as it happens, a welcome benefit of adhering to Covid restrictions is that @theoldmortuary we’ve been virus free for a year now despite doing public facing/touching jobs.

In colour this picture is nothing much. Reeds on a managed flood plain on a typically greige day in the Tamar Valley. What the colour picture would never have shown was the amazing sound that was produced as the wind blew through the reeds. I took the picture just to remind me of that sound. True Whispering Grasses.

Really the original picture was nothing much, just a diary note to remind me of a lovely serendipitous sound on a walk that was being done more out of a sense of necessity and desperation than for pleasure.

I tinkered about with the image altering the contrast and then converted it into black and white.

Ta Da!!

A dull photo has turned into a sound. Not perhaps the gentle sound of whispering grasses, although I can hear them when I look at this with an imagined low volume. If I switch it up to medium volume I hear the interference on a television in the eighties or nineties when the signal was lost. Up a notch again and it is the feedback on a performers mic ( when ever have I felt nostalgic about that piercing scream ) it could also be, currently, two people having different Zoom meetings with their laptops too close together. My final auditory assault from one picture is this.

Imagine sketching it in chalk on an old school blackboard.

I’m fairly certain that last suggestion was not kind. The link below is a gentle salve to give you a good earworm for Friday. The mellifluous Sandy Denny.

Whispering Grass

Pandemic Pandemic #367

Starting Thursday with Maritime Sunburst Lichen because the day has actually started with rain.

Yesterday evening though was graced with a lovely sunset and an increase in water temperature of 1 degree. We were giddy with the tropicality of our evening swim. Five months of winter swimming in the same location might seem a little dull and I suppose excitement at a tiny improvement in water temperature only enhances the dullness quota. Tranquility Bay is the lovely name of our swimming destination but it doesnt really describe the swimming conditions. Tranquility Bay is a beach on Devils Point opposite Drakes Island. Darwin set off on what was to be the voyage that inspired and informed his later work ‘A Theory of Evolution’ from Barn Pool a bay opposite both Devils Point and Drakes Island.

Drakes Island

The origin of the name Devils Point is uncertain but 7 currents converge nearby making this area of water dangerous to navigate.

Tranquility Bay is a little way from the convergence point of these currents but they still play a vital part in our regular swims.

When we arrive for our dip all bundled up in warm clothing we lean over the sea wall to assess the days swim. If any of us were beardy men there would be a lot of beard tugging as we sagely consider the quality and safety of our swim. In truth we never really know until we get in. Appearances are deceptive and knowing the tide times, wind direction and weather are helpful but cannot predict what is going on under the surface. Sometimes the most unappealing looking days turn out to be a delightful swim and the reverse can so easily be true.

All this is, I suppose, a long preamble to a description of my curious feeling during last nights swim. It was at sunset and the water temperature was 9.6 degrees so everything was pretty chilly. I was doing my usual paddle across the width of the bay. I was swimming towards the sunset and I had a strange sense of being somewhere else. The whole swim felt like the last swim of a much enjoyed holiday, just as it is on holiday, it was hard to get out of the water and break the magic of the moment.

I took this shot the moment I got out. Had this been a holiday I might be enjoying this view with a good coffee and a plate of seafood having barely bothered to dress

The reality in March in Plymouth was somewhat different. A flask of Horlicks and a square of chocolate while squeezing cold damp skin into warm layers of clothes. None of them quite layering correctly on imperfectly dried skin.

A good way to end a day though.

Pandemic Pondering #366

A mini festival of positivity of the past year. I’m not about to load you all with the downsides of the pandemic as it has affected us @theoldmortuary but in common with many we’ve had some dodgy days in this last year . But it has been a year that has been fully lived and many positives have emerged from the negative spaces created by the sad days.

We are much better cooks , not only baking but also healthy vegetable loaded meals. If only I could stop there and mention healthy snacks but we’ve succumbed to pouch chocolate . A packet of Minstrels is not safe in this house.

Covid-safe extended walks on a limited number of routes has curiously provided us with some lovely new friends. We already had some superb ones. Nodding with recognition on a regular walk or queueing for coffee in a pandemic has encouraged us to talk to strangers. If you do that often enough, over a year, people cease to be strangers.

Finally the wonder that is cold water swimming. Originally started because we needed to boost Vitamin D levels and our immune systems. I’m not sure either of us truly believed we would keep on swimming throughout the winter. With the swimming came the little support network we built. A Whatsapp group called Bobbers and a whole informal group of swimmers who swim in Tranquility Bay. Sometimes we share the sea with a seal and sometimes with something bigger.

Pandemic Pondering #365!

Sun rising on one whole year of Pandemic Pondering.

The United Kingdom is marking one year since the first Lockdown announced with a minutes silence at noon and a collective act of reflection and rememberance at 8pm, when people are encouraged to leave a candle or other source of light on their doorsteps.

When plans for a UK wide act of reflection was announced last week I had mixed feelings. One year on we are still in the midst of this pandemic with no clear idea of how or when it will end. In the future 23rd of March may well be the day we remember, reflect and count the cost of the Pandemic but at the moment it is still our lived experience and most of us reflect and readjust many times a day. The world may decide to have a different International Day of Mourning once this Pandemic has been brought under an acceptable level of control. The details of the end remain unknown and the only thing we can reflect on is our personal current running total of loss which is accurate. Governments figures will be adjusted up and down as the pandemic is considered over the years and statistical analysis is argued over. Individuals and families know with upsetting accuracy exactly what they have lost in one year.

I would hope not to still be Pandemically Pondering in a years time. An additional P for Post will be added just as soon as it seems appropriate. Thanks for reading along and commenting on various platforms, thanks for stopping me in the street and saying that you read and enjoy Ponderings. Tomorrow will be a festival of Positives sharing the good things that have happened over the past year @theoldmortuary

Pandemic Pondering #364

What a lot of miles we’ve walked this weekend. Sometimes on very familiar routes and other times on city roads hardly ever visited before. Always trying to avoid large numbers of people. There wasn’t really a plan blogwise, but as often happens a subject revealed itself. Random signs we’ve never noticed before.

So far this one resists quick research. Writing this blog will possibly inspire somone with a comment that points me in the right direction.The sign is near Millbay Dock in Plymouth. Named Millbay because tidal Mills were established here in the 12th century. Millbay is currently best known for being a ferry port. Not too far away we found St Demetrios & St Nikitas Greek Orthodox Church.

A sign that should inspire us to revisit the classroom , a coincidence as we were urged, yesterday, to visit our friends in Katerini and Upper Apple Tree Village as soon as travel is permitted.

Closer towards the city centre this Street art is new to us.

Plymouth is having a surge of thought provoking street art. Another new to us piece in the city centre are these two happy birds.

© None Here

I’ve written about the work of None Here before, typically the transient nature of street art requires people to photograph and record it for many reasons. It can become a target for thieves and disappear overnight or become part of something bigger as others add to it or obliterate parts of the original work.

This sign is far from new but I’ve never noticed it before.

I’ve often pondered on how the Plymouth of the future will reconcile the true history of Francis Drake now he has toppled from the romantic and always false notion that he was a romantic and heroic buccaneer. Pirate and slave trader are much more difficult subjects to consider. Some others from the time can be more easily removed from the modern city by renaming streets or buildings but Francis Drakes name is all over the city like a rash.

Also all over the city like a rash are the links to the Armed Services. The last new sign is a tiny sticker.

Have a fabulous first Monday of Spring/Autumn depending on your hemisphere.