Pandemic Pondering #402

A bit like this spider , I’ve been immersed in Wisteria today. I had an urge to paint Wisteria in a walled garden. In truth wisteria is not quite blooming yet in Cornwall so I had to work from photographs. Infinitely easier as apart from the spiders the pollen also doesn’t agree with me.

Here we are, another Friday and I have an action packed three hours before noon. 9:00 second vaccine dose. 10:00 first haircut with a stylist for five months and then a swim with the bobbers at noon.

Here is the wisteria painting, I did not include spiders in the composition but if this walled garden were real there would almost certainly be a few lurking in these blooms.

Pandemic Pondering # 401


Yesterday we did our usual evening swim at high tide. When we were leaving we passed a small non-swimming bay . The rising tide had brought a bouquet of long stemmed flowers to the surface, someones ashes had obviously been scattered earlier in the day. Scattering ashes on the shores of rivers or the sea is significant in some religions and something that many people choose to do religious, or not.

7 years ago I was creating work for a group exhibition in London.

On the way home from work I had seen a group of bikers scattering ashes on the beach of the Thames,a rather muddy location and not too far from Tate modern. Alongside ashes and flowers they had laid old motor cycle sprockets to be gently lapped and then consumed by the incoming tide. In Memoriam worked very nicely with the theme of the upcoming exhibition and with the help of a friend, Pat Calnan, who sourced old sproketts, for me, I was able to recreate the act of remembrance and make a series of paintings.

Choosing to scatter ashes in non traditional places can give family and friends spectacular places to return to as an act of remembrance.

The Bikers resting place. Below Millenium Bridge, London.
Unknown persons resting place yesterday. Firestone Bay, Plymouth

I realise in this smaller picture of sproketts in mud I’ve made them look a little like old headstones in a Victorian cemetery. Accidentally closing a circular creative thought process.

Pandemic Pondering #400

Yesterday I got the art cards printed that will be sold during art exhibitions this year. I realise I’ve chosen two smelly subjects as my images of choice. Scratch and sniff card seems to have gone out of favour but even if the print shop had offered such a service I doubt I would have chosen the option.

Mackerel smell wonderful when freshly caught and grilled, like all fish not so good after a while, and this chap was painted two years ago!

The second card is a digitally enhanced photograph of the back stairs of a disused Plymouth nightclub. For many years the club had been closed and was the desired location of a Super Church. While interminable and ultimately unsuccessful planning permission was sought the building was mothballed. Again not a great option for scratch and sniff.

Mothballs was not the fragrance that tickled my nose as I took this picture. Damp, mildew and the vestigia of human sweat, tobacco, beer and pleasure were the backnotes to the headier notes of urine and weed.

Maybe my art cards are not such a big ticket subject for Pandemic Pondering #400. But they are about recovery. Helping local business by spending money close to home.

Shop 4 Plymouth


It took less than an hour to visit The Artside in Plymouth and walk away with 100 beautifully printed cards.


Geddon- a word used in the Westcountry. It has multiple uses. Derived from two words get and on.

It is used to express surprise and disbelief, but in this context it is used as a word of encouragement. It can also be used as a greeting instead of hello or goodbye.

Pandemic Pondering#400

Pandemic Pondering #399

© Debs Bobber

What a difference a degree in water temperature makes. Yesterdays evening bob had all the qualities of a holiday swim.

The sun was out, the water really was lovely, once we were in, and just as any normal holiday, there was a frantic rush by one person to go and collect something forgotten.

Bobbing as you all know has been a winter pastime. A group of us swim in Plymouth Sound about three times a week. Mad as it may seem it has kept us all sane during the most recent, long lockdown. Friendship and fitness have developed within a tenuously linked group of people. Casual conversations, about swimming, in parks during dog walks has created a group of bobbers/ friends that swim together and laugh a lot afterwards.

©Debs Bobber

Yesterday the conditions made us remark how these swims have all the qualities of a beach holiday, somewhere exotic, without the stresses. And then out of nowhere came a holiday style stress. One bobber had to drive back home quickly to collect the essential hot drinks that had been left at home.

©Debs Bobber

Forgetting seems to be a bit of a theme in Plymouth Sound on 26 April 2021.

80 years ago Plymouth suffered one of the worst civilian losses of life in Britain during the second world war. To commemorate that loss and as an act of remembrance Plymouth Sound and the Royal Naval Dockyard were supposed to be illuminated by ships searchlights between 9pm and 9:30 last night. The act of remembrance was supposed to be the subject of this blog.

Many local organisations promoted the event.

©The Box

Absolutely nothing happened anywhere. Not a single searchlight. Perhaps there is someone very important to this event, still at home looking for the hot drinks before the button for the searchlights is switched on!

This blog will have a PS later when we discover which organisation forgot to flick the switch.

P.s apparently the failure of the searchlights was due to a full moon and clear skies. Moments to appreciate nature are retrospectively a good way to appreciate a sky without unwelcome enemies arriving with weapons of mass destruction.

Pandemic Pondering #398

The bright sunlight of Sunday turned this blog into a riot of blue and green. Starting at 8 am with vivid seaweed.

From the exact same location I could turn around to show you the sillouettes of the trees that were trimmed last week.

Its not only the trees that got a trim this week. Hannah also got a haircut this week so we are 25% tidy @theoldmortuary as Hugo and Lola can look pretty shaggy after only 4 weeks away from their salon visits.

The post swim dash to breakfast took us past this Ceanothus and this gorgeous door.

After a morning spent on human pursuits the dogos waited patiently for their turn, with a bit of a blue background.

A dog walk on a slightly different part of the coast found one more blue and green image.

So here we are, its Monday again.

Lets start the week with a splash!

Pandemic Pondering #397

Normal blogging service will resume later this morning. Its a swim lesson day and I haven’t even made the sandwiches!

So a late start for the blog but with the added bonus of some dog pictures. The stand out feature of this weekend has been the wind. A very brisk Easterly blowing into Plymouth Sound affecting everything weve done. Al Fresco Dining, Bobbing, and dog walking. Nothing I’ve produced photographically has shown the severity of the wind. Anecdotally Miss Lola was blown off her legs yesterday. A situation only remedied by a very tight cuddle. The swimming lesson outing required the van to keep Miss Lola on board and in a good mood.

Hugo was also not averse to a bit of van comfort while swimming lessons were affecting the quality of his Sunday morning.

Some outdoor activity was permitted in the morning schedule. Lola agreed to a pose that demonstrated the wind direction.

Hugo also attempted a similar pose but just ended up looking messy.

The most important part of the day was guarding the beach awaiting the return of the swimmers.

Pandemic Pondering #396

Friday night brought us closer to the weekend with a swim from our normal beach and a chance to check on the trees post lockdown hair cut. The trees had a haircut earlier this week,not us, we are still wild haired. I’m not sure we could see a huge difference with the trees. I hope a trip to the hairdressers will be more noticable!

This week has seen us step back a little bit into a more normal life. The high point was probably a trip to a charity shop where the staff were as pleased to see us and the dogs as we were to be there. We’ve also eaten out, out out, a couple of times and realised that in April eating Al Fresco carries with it the risk of stiff limbs and cold food but the pleasure of sitting with and talking to people is something we’ve missed a lot.

There was also a lovely episode of serendipity. When I took the dogs for their late evening walk, one evening, I was forced to cross the road to avoid a small hedgehog, who was going about his business snuffling in fallen leaves. The dogs believe all hedgehogs are their friends as the ones who live in our garden don’t object too much too their intrusive behaviour. On crossing the road, after a few steps,I saw a small dark object on the path. Someone had lost a wallet. There was a driving licence inside so I could find where the owner lived. No one was home when I drove over but on my return drive I found someone out walking with a torch. Owner and wallet were reunited.

There is a strange coincidence of kindness in that location.

The wallet was found very close to a house where @theoldmortuary saved someones life, almost exactly a year ago. Anybody would have done the same in those same circumstances. No one ever thanked us. Doing the right thing is never done for thanks but a well placed thank you really does put a smile on anyone’s face.

Finding a wallet and returning it, a small thing in comparison obviously made a whole family happy and they sent some really lovely thankyou messages the next morning. I may smile all weekend.

Pandemic Pondering #395

Some blogs write themselves. This one started life 80 years ago when 6 volunteer firefighters left the small Cornish town of Saltash to support fire crews, from all over the southwest, working in Plymouth during the Plymouth Blitz. Unfortunately they drove over an unexploded bomb in King Street and were all killed. This morning a service was held in the local church to mark 80 years since their deaths, later a wreath was laid at their graves, which are all in the same place in the church graveyard.

A vintage fire engine and crew attended the ceremony.

For a time the area in front of @theoldmortuary was busy with people attending the service and posing with the fire engine. A World War 2 Air Raid siren and the fire engine bell were strange sounds to hear on a sunny spring morning.

It is probably at least 80 years since a fire engine like this drove past @theoldmortuary. Strange to think that hundreds of mourners would have filled this little village and used the local pub to show respect to 6 local men who set off for Plymouth one night. Taking their fire engine across the Tamar on the ferry and never returning alive.

Pandemic Pondering #394

We are going to hear a lot of the word languishing in the next few months. It is a descriptive word for a sort of midpoint of mental health and is apparently where many of us have ended up after over a year of Pandemic anxiety. It is precisely described as failure to make progress or be succesful.

The sketch in the image above is one that I did for a project that never came to fruition. It might even be described as a project that languished.

I’ve always been quite attracted to a bit of languishing. The leather deck chair in the picture would be an ideal place to do some languishing.

A fine location for mass languishing.

Obviously I’m being a bit flippant, the consequences of a whole world where many people are caught in a mental fog where progress and success feel unachievable is dreadful. But many of us will return to our old habits of chasing success, over-commiting and celebrating progress soon enough.

Languishing lives at the mid point between depression and flourishing. It will certainly be used with negative connotations in its association with our post pandemic recovery.

But I would argue that sometimes languishing is a positive choice. It is precisely why benches like the one above are positioned near a beautiful view. To allow passers by to just languish, to do nothing, to just be.

Languishing in our house is a full time occupation for some.

I’m sure Hugo does not see Languishing as a negative thing. He quite properly knows it is what he does between achieving and sleep and probably the thing that gives his fluffy life equilibrium and purpose.

A bench in the sun, a lovely spot for a languish.

Pandemic Pondering #393

The Artists Companion- dog slobber is an essential part of sketching and painting. ©Drawn to the Valley

Tuesday was a proper out day. Not just out, but out out. Out with other artists talking, painting and sketching in the grounds of Pentillie Castle. Such a beautiful place and so many options, so little time to opt.

© Clare Law

15 members and their guests gathered in the car park before setting off to find a cosy space to get creative.

Pentillie Castle ©Alison Freshnay

@theoldmortuary wandered down to the Bathing Hut at the riverside but other artists found lovely places of inspiration.

Texture ©Mrs Marvelous – Jo Shepherd
© Clare Law

As usual I was a complete sucker for an empty bench.

Meanwhile at the Bathing Hut I had a huge amount of help with my sketching.

I had taken my Christmas and Birthday ,art material, presents with me to experiment. But the biggest discovery of all was how these materials worked when mixed with an enormous amount of dog slobber.

©theoldmortuary The Bathing Hut, Pentillie Castle

Dog slobber as it turns out works very well with water colour and acrylic pens. Apparently I can also paint while nattering- on like a person who has only recently been released from a Pandemic Lock down.

©Kathy Lovell

Luckily my lovely dog companion was very intent on ball throwing and retrievals as well as adding slobber to the painting. This little fellow landed about a metre behind Stephanie, my fellow painter.

©Stephanie Yates

Painting and bat watching ended when I needed to find a loo, nearby I found these two circular things. I have no idea what they are but they make a great photo.

They look like the most amazing biscuits.

Thanks to Anne Crozier for organising our Drawing Days and thanks to to Pentillie Castle for making us so welcome. The link below takes you to their website .