Pandemic Pondering #544

Autumn Equinox was marked by some foraging in friends gardens, with permission, of course. We made an autumn wreath for the yard. This time next year it would be lovely to think we could be collecting our own figs from the new tree, but that seems unlikely. The fabulous weather of this week is scuppering all plans of getting on with jobs in the new house and yard. Apart from foraging in gardens there was just too much lovely sun to be enjoyed yesterday to get many jobs ticked off the to-do list.

Autumn really is a lovely time but the slow slide into short days and long dark nights is a definite mood drooper. Our evening swims now require torches in our tow floats and easy clothes to change into. Hot drinks in flasks can’t be to far behind.

Last night we welcomed back Kim to the bobbing group. She perforated an ear drum while perfecting an elegant swallow dive from the platform, anchored out in Plymouth Sound, six weeks ago. Those of us that just bobbed and flopped managed not to injure ourselves but did not bring quite the same style to the event. Style and sea swimming are starting to be reflected in local art exhibitions, we bought this print a few weeks ago.

©Black Pug Press

https://theblackpugpress.com/

Like many jobs it awaits time and bad weather before it will be framed and put on the wall.

Pandemic Pondering #543

Devon pretended to be Greece again today. Even mythical creatures were looking gorgeous in the sun.

Leviathan in the sun

Chocolate croissants were also looking tasty near the harbour.

And a lonely swan was looking arty among squiggling reflections.

All this loveliness doesnt get the jobs done though so after a longish walk in the sunshine we returned home to perform domestic diligence. Domestic diligence does not a fascinating blog make, but with full disclosure we have lovely clean windows, energy efficient light bulbs in every chandelier ( I know!) And non slip foam applied to 20 slats on a bed. Meanwhile in Hong Kong half of our family was celebrating the Autumn Moon festival, which makes better pictures than domestic diligence.

We had planned a moonlight swim for the last full moon of the summer but the moon didn’t put in an appearance. The sunset was pretty though and the sea was kind to us

Fingers crossed for more Grecian weather tomorrow.

Pandemic Pondering #542

©Debs Bobber

Devon threw out all the Greek vibes this Monday morning. Bobbers were a split pack today with two sessions, one at 10am and one at 7pm. This glorious blue tidal pool welcomed the morning bobbers. Meanwhile post the Burgh Island swim we were at Beesands. The lobster boats were also feeling a bit greek too

Hugo and Lola have no idea what Greek is but they struck a heroic pose regardless.

Meanwhile back with the early bobbers the summer clouds just kept drifting across the sky.

© Debs Bobber

The 7 pm bobbers didn’t quite get the Greek treatment from the weather. But a high tide and warm water is all we need and that is pretty much what we got.

Pandemic Pondering #541

The second day of this weekend with lots of colour and a little bit of anxiety. Coupled with some charity fund raising, this time a swim around Burgh Island just off the South Devon coast. Under normal circumstances Jenna would not be abseiling without full family support or Hannah swimming around an island without the same. Pandemic rescheduling has concentrated so much into the 4 weekends of September that everyone is spread a little too thinly to cover all commitments.

An early start at Bigbury gave us two seasons in the space of half an hour, summer glory then autumnal gloom. Thankfully the summer glory won through for the actual swim.

Hugo and his mum heading to the check in

The land bound support team tucked into scones Devon style.

Whilst the sea swimmers confidently circumnavigated the island and returned to us, very happy with their achievement.

©Katie Bobber.

The route, what you cant see is that at least half of the swim was through waves more traditionally used for surfing.

Pandemic Pondering #540

Both days of this weekend were always going to be colourful, tinged with a little bit of anxiety.

Getting the anxiety out of the way. This glorious blue building is the tower at The Royal London Hospital that is the home to the London Air Ambulance Helipad. One of the little ants clinging to a wire is my daughter, doing a sponsored abseil to raise money for the Air Ambulance Service. A charity forever in the hearts and minds of our family.

Less stressful colour was provided by a food festival.

Bao Buns by Barbican Bao

We ate spectacularly well for women with abseiling loved ones on our minds.

Saturday anxieties conquered. Just Sunday to go!

Pandemic Pondering #539

We live on a funny foot-shaped peninsular of land that juts into the sea. We decided early on to only plant things in our yard that flourish in other peoples gardens nearby. The micro climate of such a location is hard for us to predict. There will probably be a flurry of yardening at our home in the autumn. One of the key purchases will be a fig tree. There is rumoured to be a 400 year old one somewhere on the peninsular. The gorgeous thing about fig trees around here is that the fruit actually ripens. A restaurant just down the road from us bases some of their signature dishes on the figs that they harvest in their own garden.

We went there yesterday to celebrate a friends birthday.

Illustration from Med by Claudia Roden © Ebury Press

9 of us gathered indoors to eat lovely food and natter. Something we’ve not done since she was two years younger!

The weather was perfect for admiring fig trees

True to form Steph had a figgy desert.

Fig Créme Brulé with Fig ice cream. https://thefigtreeat36.co.uk/

I’m not sure how old a fig tree has to be to produce copious ripened fruit so we better get on with planting one if we want to make fig based foods anytime soon.

Pandemic Pondering #538

Nobody expects, when they set out on the journey of a house move, for it to take one month short of two years.

Crystal Palace ©cpsubway.org.uk

Yesterday we finally completed on the end point of our house moving journey. We are not where we expected to be, but there were times when we had no idea what or where the outcome of our relocation would entail.

Of course the Pandemic played a massive part in making the whole process more complicated but in a strange twist Medieval history was also responsible.

In 1066 William the Conquerer gave his loyal warrior Robert the Bastard considerable chunks of land in Devon and Cornwall as a reward for victory in the Norman Conquest of England. Unusually the land has stayed in the same family since 1066.

Unknown to us, the house we ultimately planned to buy was on a patch of this land, ordinarily this would have complicated things a little. In our case it complicated things a lot when the current descendant, the 8th Earl of Mount Edgecombe died just two weeks before we were supposed to move. The house moving rule books don’t really have a legal strategy or flexibility for such an event, beyond just giving up and walking away from the situation. With the co- operation and a lot of trust between ourselves and the sellers of the house (but not the land) we opted for a homemade solution and rented the house for three months while the legal teams were able to catch up with the paperwork. Sometimes risks have to be taken and yesterday the paperwork was in order and the house became ours, the land transfer will catch up with us later.

Last night we celebrated with English Champagne, anything French seemed a little inappropriate as the events of 1066 had created such a massive wrinkle in our recent lives.

Pandemic Pondering #537

Almost overnight in mid-September the days have got short enough to affect the timings of our evening swim. With one year of year-round swimming done, we are a lot braver than this time last September. Last night was our first planned moonlight swim, it suited the tide and work commitments. Tides this week are very low at our optimum evening swimming time so there is far more contact with seaweed than we would normally choose. While we were swimming a sail training ship slipped into port under the moonlight. No cameras were available to capture the moment. (Waterproof bags have been tried, the bags work just fine but camera phones dont respond to our cold fingers) Witnessing the ship in the Sound did give a little shiver of watching history sail past.

Dar Mlodzeizy ©MarineTraffic.com

Dar Mlodzeizy, owned by the Maritime University of Gdynia is from the Polish city that is twinned with Plymouth. Good timing to arrive as a new Polish supermarket has just opened here. By coincidence we had had blueberry and curd pierogis from the new supermarket yesterday. Hannah lived in Chicago, a city with a big Polish community which introduced her to pierogis, years ago and now we have Polish family members to extend our knowledge and love of the little dumplings.

Too many dumplings would not be good before a swim however. They might fuel an over active imagination which is the only slight downside to swimming in the dark…

Pandemic Pondering #536

© theoldmortuary, Pollen II

Mid to late September is habitually the time of year when @theoldmortuary are getting ready to set off for a holiday. Holidays always involve some painting, or sketching in the sun. Usually in Greece because that is the destination of space and relaxation.

Pollen II , above was sketched in Greece and then painted at home. A roadside plant possibly a weed bursting with pollen. The paintings that emerge from holiday sketching follow no real theme or style.

©theoldmortuary, Naturists at Paleochora

Last September our usual holiday time was filled with non holiday activities at the height of the pandemic. There was no random sketching. It seems a shame to have given up my regular September sketching habit just because a pandemic has blighted travel and relaxation plans.

©theoldmortuary, Phospherescence on an unknown Greek beach

Last year was such a muddle of Lockdowns, Eat Outs, Stay ins, that September passed without any thought of what a normal September was like. This year I am a little more mindful of what I am missing. There is no reason not to take some time out to randomly sketch just because the pandemic still has travel and many other aspects of our lives twisted out of all recognition.

©theoldmortuary, Elefonisi

We have some holiday booked this year, no big trips and possibly a good bit of home maintenance but I might just pack my self a little sketching kit and take inspiration from closer to home.

Pandemic Pondering #535

Back to the usual morning dog walk. In the hours we have been back from the weekend sojourn to Wimbledon, dog walks have been slow paced affairs. We have only lived in our current location for a couple of months. The dogs obviously dont feel that their cachet of news filled wee stops is quite extensive enough to keep in the canine loop while away for three days. Yesterdays home return walks were very sniffy, news gathering, affairs with many replies needing to be sprinkled en route. This morning there was canine disdain when their usual early morning routine was disrupted by a closed footpath. I managed some lovely photos but they are unmoved by such things .

The footpath will be closed for two weeks. This will upset the dogs but it is also the footpath that leads to our regular ‘ bobbing’ beach , our regular haunt for the whole of the pandemic!

While the dogs are sniffingly detained on information gathering I am sometimes left standing around a bit. This morning I noticed two lifting rings on an old manhole cover.

One of them had been quite crumpled. It is really hard to imagine what could possibly have caused such harm, but I am very glad not to have been standing in the same place when the damage occured.