#497 theoldmortuary ponders

I am the green message. The subtext was “I’ve just had a shower and I’m really warm and snug, a bob is the last thing on my mind but the dogs do need a walk so I will come for a natter”

This was the Bobbing zone. It was very persuasive.

Do you call this a dog walk?

As luck would have it there was no one else about. My coat came off and soon after it all my clothes. With a rising tide and a super quick submersion no one was any the wiser. The rising tide did cause a small problem.

Nothing that multi layers and deft dressing couldn’t cope with, the sunshine was very competent at drying me off and the reward was iced gems for all.

Where is the ponder in that I hear you all asking. Well…

Just about every local dog walk takes me past the sea. The only walk I do that doesn’t feature actual water is the Ferry Port and Royal Marine Barracks where there are security cameras and men with very big guns to dissuade casual water entry, casual anything really. In the winter, on a dog walk, my mindset is always one of gratitude that I am not about to plunge into the sea. This morning was no exception. I was fresh out of the shower and wrapped up very warmly against a bracing walk in 4 degrees centigrade. A natter with bobbing friends while doing the dog walk was as close to bobbing as I was prepared to get, until the sun lured me to take my coat off while they were getting ready to swim. We were in a sun trap and there were very few people about. The dogs were preparing to bask on the warm rocks and before I knew it my socks and boots were off, quickly followed by everything else. A very quick entry into the sea and my fate was sealed, I was bobbing. It was high tide so even getting out was easy to do unobserved. A moment in the sun, unplanned and lovely.

Temptation at 4 degrees

#496 theoldmortuary ponders.

Two months late but thriving. These small narcissi used to be a New Year event. One tiny clump existed immediately behind an old military fence at Devils Point. Last year the area was landscaped and the narcissi became collateral damage as the old fence was ripped up. Huge concrete posts were torn out and there was no sign of the tiny bulbs. Several visits at New Year showed nothing much in the freshly landscaped area, just some straggly leaves that may of may not have been the bulbs. But two months on there are two larger clumps than ever existed previously.

If the bulbs had been deliberately protected the outcome would not have been so great. The one preserved clump would certainly be celebrated but by getting no protection and being woefully mistreated by a big digger with caterpillar tracks, the clump has become clumps and seemingly much healthier. I can’t get a useful shot of them both together as they really are very very small and quite a way apart now. I wonder if they will manage to make up time over the summer and autumn underground and be ready to bloom on New Year’s Day 2024. I hope so, but seeing them so healthy in February feels like a clear sign that Spring is on the way and that, as is often the case, my moments of worry were moments wasted. They were doing just fine on their own

#495 theoldmortuary ponders

There is a human in my dog bowl.

This is a rare occasion. A hot bath occuring. Several things have made this unusual. All my life until two or so years ago there was no problem, hard day, ache or pain that couldn’t be solved by a hot bath. I loved to read for hours semi-submerged, hot top ups and tea were beautiful additions to my sense of well-being. More recently Podcasts became a lovely addition to bathtimes.

But as my body has acclimatised to cold water swimming I have lost the ability to slowly broil away my troubles in an overlong hot bath.

Cold swims certainly help with the aches and concerns of mind and body. But winter-feet bored of a life in socks and boots need either a good soak in a hot bucket, my feet still love to be broiled, or complete emersion in a tepid bath. Neither of these choices accommodate book reading. I’m sure my book reading capacity has diminished over the last two years. But overall the switch from hot bathing to cold bobbing has been beneficial.

A most unusual dog bowl.

#494 theoldmortuary ponders

When I was young and we took our holidays in Devon I was always thrilled to see a Dartmoor pony. Wild horses did not roam in North East Essex. Wild horses were the thing of pop lyrics and imported American dramas. At 30 I moved to the west country and took a job that required me to commute across Dartmoor for half of each year. Commuting is tedious wherever it takes place. I realise I have had some of the most picturesque commutes in Britain. 10 years along the seafront at Brighton, 20 years crossing Dartmoor and 10 on the number 3 bus, or walking across the Milleniun Bridge from Tate Modern to St Pauls in London.

Only a fool could ever be bored on such journeys but a commute is exactly that. A journey between A and B with a time constraint. The pressure to be somewhere on time and ready to perform. So when I visit these locations as a non commuting person some of the old commuting anxieties flood in. The London commute was obviously complicated by traffic, protesters and terrorism at different times in my ten years. Similarly Brighton, the IRA bombing The Grand Hotel on Brighton seafront affected an already congested seaside city for months. Dartmoor was a distinctly different sort of commuting jeopardy. Livestock grazing on common land have no respect for a busy clinic schedule up in North Devon so meandering slowly up a road is their birthright. Similarly Dartmoor farmers, slow moving tractors with rickety trailers and truculent attitudes rarely bothered to pull over. In Devon and Cornwall many people really do check to see if you have a local numberplate before they decide if they will let you pass. The summer months bring the joy and wealth of tourists. Tourists who think nothing of abandoning their cars on the side of an already small road to capture a photograph of a wild pony. Which is exactly what we did yesterday.

I have no shame and no commuting anxiety.

Catkins on Hazel
Lychen on twigs
Dogs in a tree-stump cathedral.

#493 theoldmortuary ponders.

Pride comes before slump day. Many Bobbers gathered for an early morning swim. Despite the dire warnings of a sea temperature website.

The bob was a fabulous experience, the sun was out the Bobbers were in good form and all was well. We even stayed in longer than the suggested 10 minutes. The post bob conversations were wide ranging and witty fueled by hot drinks and the famed cold water endorphins. Fuel was the thing @theoldmortuary had not factored in, adequate fueling of the caffeine sort. One early morning cup of tea is not enough to keep us going, we had failed to make a coffee pre swim and then the post-swim drink was caffeine free. By 2pm we were ravaged shells of human beings. We dragged ourselves out for the afternoon dog walk, bemoaned our lack of energy. Wondered why we felt so diminished and then realised that one caffeinated drink does not an effective Bobber make especially Bobbers who need to get other stuff done. Breaking all the caffeine rules we made a fully loaded cup of tea at 4pm and got a burst of energy that made us do a second much more sprightly walk and were rewarded with a blue evening and a bright moon.

Caffeine is a wonderful thing.

#492 theoldmortuary ponders

Here we are, past the middle of February by some way and I have not given daffodils the usual blog space that is normal for this time of year. This year I am not driving all over Cornwall arranging arty stuff so I don’t get the thrill of seeing wild and often unusual daffodils growing in the hedgerows where they were discarded during the second World War, when flower fields were changed to food production. Our house has had the easily available £1 daffodil bunches available in most supermarkets. Pretty enough to bring joy to the house but standard looking. Until this week. This week’s bunch took a while to open and were unusual in that they have a different shape, a bit like a cross between a daf and a tulip. Their outside petals form a cup and don’t open.

Extensive googling can’t find the name of these unusual daffodils. I wonder if they were picked in error for the bottom end of the daffodil bunch market. I am very happy to have them. Googling however took me somewhere a little sad. Supermarket Flowers is a song written by Ed Sheeren in 2017.

The actual words were unknown to me but really resonate with the moments when a family gathers to clear up after a mum has died.

I took the supermarket flowers from the windowsill
I threw the day old tea from the cup
Packed up the photo album Matthew had made
Memories of a life that’s been loved
Took the get well soon cards and stuffed animals
Poured the old ginger beer down the sink
Dad always told me, “Don’t you cry when you’re down”
But mum, there’s a tear every time that I blink

Oh I’m in pieces, it’s tearing me up, but I know
A heart that’s broke is a heart that’s been loved

So I’ll sing Hallelujah
You were an angel in the shape of my mum
When I fell down you’d be there holding me up
Spread your wings as you go
And when God takes you back we’ll say Hallelujah
You’re home

Fluffed the pillows, made the beds, stacked the chairs up
Folded your nightgowns neatly in a case
John says he’d drive then put his hand on my cheek
And wiped a tear from the side of my face

I hope that I see the world as you did ’cause I know
A life with love is a life that’s been lived

So I’ll sing Hallelujah
You were an angel in the shape of my mum
When I fell down you’d be there holding me up
Spread your wings as you go
And when God takes you back we’ll say Hallelujah
You’re home

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Johnny Mcdaid / Edward Christopher Sheeran / Benjamin Joseph Levin

If the last Supermarket Flowers I ever received were daffodils, I would be a very happy woman. Even the boring ones bring such happiness.

A Daffodil Sunset. Over the daffodil fields of Cornwall.

#491 theoldmortuary ponders

Lovely winter daylight in the studio has given me some time to try a landscape that mingles the visual experience of checking out our swimming zone with the physical experience of checking out our zone. In truth we all predict how the swim is going to be in various ways. The Bobbers who cross the Tamar river have an observation that if the river is rough then the sea to the east will be calm. Bobbers from the North of the city travel together but many of them have already met in a park earlier for dog walking when various predictions for the upcoming bob are discussed. Those of us who live closer shiver in our thick winter coats while walking our dogs only an hour before we slip into something briefer to slip effortlessly, we imagine, into the chilly sea. What is the point of this predictive group Pondering, nothing really ever stops a well planned bob. On only one occasion have we taken the easier option of swimming in the tidal pool, and in over two years only a couple of bobs have been cancelled for safety reasons. We actually bob just a minute or two further east from this location but for every bob, we stand looking at this view and try to predict how much pleasure, or not, will be extracted from the days dip. We are rarely disappointed. If I were to paint an ‘after’ painting it would feature non-stop nonsense talking, flasks and many layers of clothing, not necessarily in the correct order.

#490 theoldmortuary ponders.

Tidal Pool, Firestone Bay ©theoldmortuary

I am very very late to the practice of doing Yoga early in the morning, but 6 months of an acute phase of arthritis has left me stiff and limpy in the mornings. As the first signs of things improving co-incided with the opening of a new gym nearby, I joined and am working my way through the classes that take my interest. Hatha Yoga gets my vote so far. The thought of walking to a warm beautiful space is definitely easier on the mind in those last sleepy moments of bed than my more common habit of plunging into the cold sea.

But both are invaluable in loosening up my cranky, creaky joints, which is my primary need but increasingly I am aware that my happily busy head takes some time out while doing these two disparate activities. Now to work out a way to combine the two.

Work in Progress.

#489 theoldmortuary ponders.

I have been having a bit of a fiddle superimposing photographs with watercolour washes. This is not the look I was aiming for, even in digital art happy accidents happen. I love the coppery tones that a splash of watercolour brings to this sunrise. Suddenly a real photograph becomes fantastical. More like a stormy sunset but facing in the wrong direction. This is absolute serendipity, I could never have planned this but accidents happen.

#487 theoldmortuary ponders.

Every once in a while we drop some widely travelled friends at Exeter Airport in the early hours of the morning. The day always has the same shape, we drop them and then head to Topsham to walk the streets and the Goat Walk, above, before Topsham has properly woken up.

Then once the walk is completed, after 8 am we can indulge in breakfast in an old pub that is now a cafe.

Before heading into Exeter to shop in John Lewis and many other enlightened stores that allow well behaved dogs in. Today’s simple quest was a non stick roasting pan. Oh the glamour! The dogs were on a spending roll though, t-shirts, stem less champagne flutes and room fragrance joined the non-stick roasting pan in the shopping basket. Either their spending or the 15,000 human steps they accompanied us on have exhausted them. This afternoon they are dog tired.