#194 tholdmortuary ponders

A high tide and the sun at the right angle makes a pretty picture but not one that is particularly good for the marine environment. Earlier this week we started drinking Butterfly Pea Tea , it arrived from Hong Kong as part of a birthday package.The tea and the sea, in this location are similar colours

We discovered the tea on Lamma Island, part of the Hong Kong archipelago, after a very hot circular hike. Even a dip in the sea had not cooled us down enough to be normal rational humans. The iced blue tea we bought did the job just before we caught the ferry home. New to us then it was refreshing and had that distinctive taste that lingers at the back of every flavour of Jelly Bean. To bring out the flavour of the tea a little lime juice, or anything acidic does the job. It also changes the colour. Butterfly pea is also a natural food colouring. I might try painting a watercolour with it.

Careful what you google is the warning to the next part of this blog. Like all things botanical Butterfly Peas have a latin name, in this case not one that should be tripped off the tongue without complete accuracy.

Clitoria Ternatea.

Then there are the benefits of drinking the tea which is rich in anti-oxidents and flavenoids. My brain will be boosted and my stomach and intestines soothed. The growth of any worms in my gut will be retarded!!

On that happy note have a fabulous weekend, not something the worms in my gut will be having!

#193 theoldmortuary ponders

Nearly one year on from the house move and the work room is ready for business. Business for Hugo and Lola means an empty sofa each. For me it means clear desk space.

At 10:00 we were all ready for the first Zoom of the day. The dogs were already asleep on their chosen sofas and I had the lap top set in such a position that my head and shoulders could be at the meeting but my hands could be doing ‘other stuff’

Disaster struck, nothing I could do on any platform could get me into the meeting. This is the first time in over two years that Zoom has failed me. I have often wished it to fail but I’m sure I am not alone in that. With my vote handed over to some one who was actually in the room. I set about using the free two hours doing actual work for the organisation. This meant that the ‘other’ stuff had to wait until the evening.

And the dogs could take themselves off mute, or asleep as they call it.

For full disclosure, having shown you a tidy workroom. I have to admit that there is still a load of stuff that needs sorting in the garage, still. When working on the new shelves for the work room I needed to store some old shelves in the garage. I didnt have enough woman moments to make a space in the garage. I decided to deploy a South London trick and put the shelves outside the front of the house with a ‘free, help yourself’ sign and a message on our local residents Facebook page. Recycling at its finest, they were gone within two hours. To return to the failed Zoom meeting, the slight discombobulation of the fixed event of the morning becoming unfixed seemed to expand time for the whole day. I had already saved my self an hour and a half of travel by not attending in person and I worked solidly through the meeting time and stayed in touch with Whatsapp. Loads of extra jobs got done. The only casualty of the day was the ‘other stuff’ that my hands would have been doing while I was in the meeting. That remains unfinished even though I was still at it until the last dog walk of the day.

#192 theoldmortuary ponders

We are all made of stories. I’ve always known this but seeing a neon sign saying exactly that makes the notion seem less of an abstract thought. I would like to add something else to the statement.

In my previous career, talking to people was an add on. Medical Imaging requires loads of technical skills. Being ‘good’ with patients and colleagues is valuable but secondary to the main task. Being a gallery guide in a museum is the exact opposite, my art knowledge is a secondary skill to that of engaging, or not *, with people as they move around the space. Talking to people you don’t actually know is an adventure that can take you down the dullest cul-de-sac, or onto  a thought provoking moment. Even if the interaction isn’t the most positive conversation you have ever had, there is often something to be gained from it. We should all be grateful our thought bubbles remain our own private dialogue.

Thankfully I’m able to dump all the bad or negative interactions I’ve had with strangers in a pile that rarely troubles me. The good ones can be transient or live long in my thoughts. Sometimes with regret that they couldn’t have gone on for longer or had sequels. But mostly they become another one of the stories that I am made of, even if they are a teeny tiny piece of my own jigsaw. They also are, however briefly, a part of my journey.

Talking to strangers is life enhancing.

* Sometimes not talking to someone is a positive act, reading body language and judging the right time to not talk is also a great communication tool.

Now is my time to stop talking!

#191 theoldmortuary ponders

Just a little blog today about a moment, just a moment. My screaming stone is a good enough illustration.

Genes are a lottery and all of my life I have looked a lot like my mum. Obviously there are other peoples features packed into my face and my temperament comes from my dad, but on the whole it is her who looks back at me in a mirror. Until yesterday. I am now older than my mother ever was. The face that looked back at me yesterday was my grandmothers! That was quite a shock!

#190 theoldmortuary ponders

A lifetime ago in the early days of lockdowns a Hix Fix cocktail was brightening up the end of the first month of the pandemic. Facebook Time Hop flashed up this gem of a picture from April 2020. Cherry liqueur and Champagne seems an odd thing to drink in our own garden for no particular reason but I think it demonstrates an optimistic approach to Lockdown Life, we were probably celebrating a day of gardening.

Free of Lockdowns labouring is no longer rewarded with champagne. Building three shelf units and moving everything in the studio/ work room yesterday was rewarded far more appropriately with tea.

Moving art ‘stuff’ is a dirty job, the dirt is just more colourful. Tea alone was not enough of a reward and the sun was out so a swim was also scheduled.

Hurst Point ©Coach Andy

This massive boat sailed past with three tugs making the water extra choppy. The sense of scale in this photograph does not reflect how wierd this really feels when we are in the water. It is like a twenty storey office block is floating past extremely close to us.

The informal sundial was very nearly accurate.

Enlivened by the swim, work continued on the storage/ shelf units and room reorganisation. There is every chance the job will be finished today.

Although not worthy of a blog of its own something happened for the last time this week. I’m not sure if technology or the Pandemic is the cause. One of my earliest memories is of going to banks with my parents or grandparents while they organised their financial affairs. My nose pressed against wood or leather panelling as a grown up did business way above my head in both the physical and literal sense.

Cheque books,Standing Orders, Direct Debits, Cash machines and posted bank statements meant I never really needed to take my own children to a bank and I will never take my grandchildren. The savings account I have had since I was a small person transitioned this week from a passbook to an App. I popped in to have the book updated, the last of my, not on-line banking. With a few taps on a computer my passbook was turned from the physical evidence of savings to a relic. The old passbook will be sent to me in the post. No longer something to be proud of, or grateful for, just a piece of history. Physically the same but in every way a shrivelled husk of what it used to be.

#189 theoldmortuary ponders

Yesterday the blog drove life, rather than lagged behind it. Some friends were reading the blog on their way to shop at Ikea. Realising that we would all be there at the same time they Whatsapped us and we all had breakfast together. Then we parted, them to browse and buy things they didn’t need and us to click and collect with no chance of temptation. With our van loaded with multiple Kallax units we drove off to the South West Coastal Path to walk a little chunk of it. We really did pack a lot into one Ikea trip. Despite the sunshine the sea mist was not kind to us at all so there are no glorious seascapes to share.

Wildflowers had their moment in the spotlight. As did small portions of Atlantic Rainforest.

We had a really comfortable few hours in the sun, walking in a new area. We stopped for lunch at the intersection of three footpaths and took some time reading about the walk we were doing.

If you can read the text you can see that beautiful, white, Park Cattle were predicted.

We met Brown Cattle with horns. Brown cattle who had been absolutely pissed off by teenage boys running at them and screeching on the very very steep rough pasture where we met them. Brown cattle who took one look at us and decided that they would graze and wetly defaecate on the only narrow track that was available to us. Just because they could and because as representatives of the human race we had to pay the price of too much testosterone in teenage boys.

The cattle had safety in numbers so we sat down again to enjoy the non view and give them the chance to wander back off. We also had our own slight testosterone problem. At the sight of the cattle blocking our path Hugo was pumping himself up to be the Alpha male of our pack and started practicing his latent herding manoeuvres, while firmly on the lead. Despite a wait of nearly twenty minutes the cattle were going nowhere and even if they did leave, the footpath had become a stinky puddle of post lunch poo. Our choices were limited; retrace our steps, possibly the simplest, but 3 miles distance, solution to get to a point 500 yards away. Take an unknown footpath for a similar distance in a different direction or scramble up an almost 90 degree, gorse covered slope. Obviously we chose the gorse covered slope!

The details of the scramble will remain hazy. All was well that ended well. There was a huge fallen tree at the top of the slope, the perfect place to stop, take a sip of water, gather our thoughts and allow our pumping hearts to return to a normal rhythm. We could also observe, 500 yards beneath us the brown cattle still quietly grazing and pooping on the footpath. They had an air of solidarity and victory about them.

#186 theoldmortuary ponders

This is what procrastination looks like. I’ve been trying to buy some popular shelving from Ikea, I dithered about yesterday and didn’t check the website until later in the afternoon. All the units I wanted were available in the colour I wanted but I had missed the deadline for click and collect. Suddenly a trip to Ikea had turned into a spontaneous overnight camping trip as we ‘made the most’ out of a trip to Exeter and wild- camped overnight on the seafront at Exmouth. Close enough to Ikea to get there when it opens on Sunday morning.

In all my Ikea life such a plan would never have been hatched before. Our most regular Ikea was always Croydon and before that Bristol and Thurrock, none of these destinations scream wild camping wonderfulness. But Exmouth really is rather fabulous for an overnight spot of Van life.

In an effort to put International in our life while I still have no passport we are eating our way around the world while remaining in Plymouth. Before we even thought about Ikea or camping trips we went to Canada for lunch. Kickin Caribou on Mutley Plain serves Poutine and other Canadian treats.

We had the window seat and had an unusually vivid street scene to enjoy while we tucked into chips, curd cheese and gravy. Yesterday was St Georges Day and one of the biggest charity events that Plymouth hosts. The St Luke’s Mens Day Out, passed by our window seat. The link below explains the great ethos behind the event. The route of the walk takes in some amazing scenery and passes plenty of pubs. It is a thoroughly wonderful event. There are some unplanned additional events related to these pubs. My following comments are tongue in cheek and not representational of the organisers plans.

Men’s Day Out: The power of hundreds of men on the move

The clue is in the statement ‘ there are plenty of pubs on the route’

Many of the men choose to walk in fancy dress, some of them drink far too much. Some of them fight. Lets just say that history does not suggest that Crusaders or the Flintstones ever got involved in street fighting or T Shirt pulling but there were pockets of such behaviour along the route. The walk started at 10am, when we decided to leave for our unplanned Ikea adventure at 5 pm there were still the walking wounded shuffling their way along the route. There may be a few sore heads this morning alongside the many more sore feet. Most importantly a lot of money was raised.

#185 theoldmortuary ponders

Cheese and Bacon Fries

When we lived in London we lived 6 miles from a very good burger van.

©Zephyr Burgers

The burgers were so good that we were always happily tempted away from our, no red meat, lifestyle choice. When we returned to live in Cornwall a happy coincidence occured when Zephyr Burgers relocated to 6 miles from our Cornish home.

©Zephyr Burgers

6 miles in London or Cornwall can be a lifetime of travel so our burgers were always eaten on the hoof. A process that could be both an absolute joy and horrendously messy. Of the many reasons we decided to relocate to the Devon coast, Burgers were not on any pro or con list. Earlier this week the chef/proprietor of Zephyr was back in London winning the Burger Chef of the year award. This prompted us to have a burger outing.

©Zephyr Burgers

We now live about one mile from our favourite red meat indulgence. Last night was epic, not because the burger and dirty fries were wonderful, which they were. Not because the burger was cooked by the best burger chef in the UK. Not even because I almost got a photo of an owl shadow reflected on a wall as we returned home. Juggling a bag of burgers and a smart phone does not make me a speedy photographer.

Last night was epic because, for the first time ever we managed to eat our burger at a table in our own home. Neither one of us ended up wearing any part of the burger on our clothes. We can even wear the same clothes this morning. This has never happened before. Suddenly we are respectable burger eaters.

©Zephyr Burgers

#184 theoldmortuary ponders

Bobbers and their dogs left their usual Atlantic location and travelled up the River Tamar last night to celebrate an evening of live music and Coach Andy’s birthday. Bobber Helen was performing after recovering the lower register of her voice, the upper one having been temporarily disabled by Covid.

Bobbers always celebrate birthdays in the sea but Coach Andy is a special bobber because he never gets wet. So a landlocked celebration at the Who’d Have Thought It suited him very well.

Covid has robbed us all of so much but the curiously named pub exactly reflects the sentiments of last night.

Who would have thought that fifteen people, most of them strangers to one another, would have created such a bond because of a pandemic. During the dark days of lockdowns in England people were only permitted to travel short distances for exercise. Open water or the sea was the only place that swimming could happen. Crazy as it seems now Bobbing started when we even had to keep our distance in outside environments including the sea. Bobbing requires us all to struggle in and out of our clothes on a public promenade, Coach Andy keeps an eye on piles of clothes and the bobbers in the sea. We swim in an area with very tricksy currents. During lockdown even though travel was restricted to essential or exercise some people saw this as an opportunity to steal phones and valuables from swimmers clothes piles. There was also a Voyeur who would casually cycle up and down the promenade in a high visibility jacket hoping to catch an eyeful of damp flesh as we struggled in or out of our clothes. At one point Coach Andy was supplemented by members of the Police Force who showed the Voyeur the error of his ways and he cycled off never to be seen again. Although as his disguise was a high visibility jacket that statement is not strictly true. Someone, somewhere else is almost certainly seeing him. Coach Andy is an absolute master at wandering off and staring at the horizon for long periods when we get to the damp flesh bit of bobbing. He is also pretty good at a good old natter when other people come to visit the bobbing zone to marvel at the madness that is cold water swimming in all sorts of weather. His emergency finger is never far away from his phone whatever situation he finds himself in

Who would have thought you could put 15 strangers into a very unusual situation and then turn them into friends.

Who would have thought that three dogs could listen so attentively to a night of the Blues . I suspect no high notes may have been the secret.

#183 theoldmortuary ponders

Yesterday was a strange one. I had arrived at work without my phone. Routines revolve around using my phone to photograph the days work rota and our little team keep contact and change plans using our phones. For me it is also my watch and camera. Photos taken at the museum also regularly create a blog. There are always moments that would make a good photo, but armed with only a pen and scraps of paper I discovered I could capture moments that I would never photograph, by making tiny, fast sketches.

The sun suddenly breaking through cloud and a fused glass window. Throwing light onto a white wall and floor.

Two girls, dressed as butterflies, arrive to visit the Natural History exhibition.

A Royal Marine Veteran steadies himself on a Barbara Hepworth sculpture after leaving a film dedicated to the 40th anniversary of the Falkland War.

Sketches are almost more observational than a photograph, by taking away the reality something is gained not lost. The last two I would never dream of taking a photo, and the last one I should certainly have taken the time more officiously and reminded the gentleman not to touch the exhibit. I was very aware, in the moment, that I had no idea what was going through his head, and that the cold marble was giving him comfort.

This last one slightly gives me the chills…