#235 theoldmortuary ponders

Blogging about pondering is an almost inexhaustible subject. There are often a few potential blogs bubbling away in the background waiting for a denouement or an illustrative image. Todays blog is a little different as it only really has one image and no denouement in sight. I ping these words out into the ether never knowing where or with whom they will land. The daily stats on any blog tells me how many humans and in some cases bots have looked at the blog on any given day. People are also kind enough to comment on various platforms. This week has been a week of real world interaction and talk of blogs when I have been out and about. I’ve had some fabulous chats about how motherhood impacted the career trajectories of women who created families in the eighties and nineties and about the power of lateral chatting. The thing is with these lovely gems of blog induced natterings, they are never long enough and I always think of something useful to add ten minutes after I have walked away.

The gentle art of lateral conversations.

The picture above and the link below illustrates lateral conversations in a far better way than I can. Thanks to Jack for the real life conversation that inspired this particular train of thought.

https://www.stylist.co.uk/fitness-health/wellbeing/walking-benefits-talking-therapy/601584#:~:text=%E2%80%9CWalking%20side%2Dby%2Dside,person%20they%27re%20with%20directly.

Talking is the thread of this blog, this next conversation may not be so easy to have, laterally or otherwise, but maybe the women who held on to careers and some who couldn’t, need to talk about being a working mother in the eighties and nineties. Being a working mother was not about banging our heads on a glass ceiling, at least there was a chance of breaking through that. The bondage of being labelled a ‘Working Mother’ by society was the most disempowering title ever applied to me and a whole generation of women. Thanks Clare for our chat that made me realise what we all achieved against the odds.

©Matt Holmes.

And so back to my original illustration which nicely shows how life, and blogs, is a series of interconecting shapes all created by the line we walk and that even computers can’t make it perfect. Life like this image is made more attractive by its imperfections. The imperfections are what make great conversations.

#215 theoldmortuary ponders

Yesterday my early morning dog walk sent me down a Google rabbit hole. The picture above is from one of the emergency on -call rooms at St Bartholomews Hospital in London. St Pauls Cathedral and St Bartholomews Hospital have always been a big part of my life. I realised, yesterday, that there is another St Pauls in my life now.

This St Pauls is the early morning sniffing zone of Hugo and Lola. At the very least they must sniff across the forecourt once or twice a day. Yesterday the trail around the church was very enticing for them, and having nothing better to do I allowed them to make the most of the good sniffs. It occured to me that I have no idea how Churches or any other religious institutions get their names. St Pauls is remarkably common.

Not all St Pauls are created equal.

So while the dogs sniffed round rusty pipes, I googled. It seems that as this is a subject of faith rather than science the whole naming thing can be quite arbitrary. Arbitrary suits me very well in fact.

Gladioli and Sunburst Lichen in St Pauls Church Yard

Am I drawn to know more about St Paul, no not particularly, I’m sure he was a worthy and wonderful chap since so many places, both great and small are named after him, but my nature is always to search out the less populist things in life . The saints in the shadows perhaps, the ones at the bottom of the class or on the reserve list. To return briefly to the City of London there are two churches, St Bartholomew The Great and St Bartholomew the less. Surely the lesser Bart, as he would have been known to his chums, would have been the more interesting.

Pondering such things can bite you on the bum though. While I was pondering the lives of the saints and the places named after them, the dogs found their own interesting topic. Urban fox poo. Jerked out of my unusual ponderings I was alert enough to save myself from a morning of dog bathing. I wondered, briefly, which Saint I should thank for that.

Reflecting on St Paul and other Saints. Link below for an interesting lift ride.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=pfbid02CYqszb3JFEBawnvtaxqBxuawG8MhqLPM6jBVnUQbHfYK8Ko29qnyUbEGWoWfMDiZl&id=526761673

#209 theoldmortuary ponders

Pull up a chair for a classic meandering ponder. Yesterday there was a plan and neither fate nor serendipity stepped in to change it. Today we need to pull up a chair because our leg muscles in particular know that we achieved our set target of the day.

Before we get to ‘the plan’ there were the side tasks. Luck in the shape of an unknown sailor gave me this pretty image to start the blog.

A red rowing boat exactly in line with a red delivery van on the other side of the Hamoaze was a lucky moment during the dog walk. Our morning was spent doing unblogworthy tasks but we had a lunchtime date to visit friends at their allotment.

I must admit to having a preconception about allotments. Dusty rectangles of land in unlovely locations requiring hard work and a lot of heavy lifting. We were due to be met at the gate by a friend. These particular allotments are quite secure. My fanciful head has images of Narnia , my real life head thought   high fences and clanging metal gates. It turns out that Fanciful and I(n) R(eal) L(ife) had met and produced a love child that is Peverell Paradise or Aspirational Allotment World. The gate turned out to be a portal into another world.

We stepped into an area of wooden buildings just off a main road, the ground was carpeted with dense and aromatic woodchip. There was a composting toilet, a small sales area and other sheds that no doubt held magical creatures brewing acorn gin and baking nettle pastries. The whole area was under a canopy of trees that created the sort of dappled shade beloved of film makers with a soundscape of birdsong. Just as in an adventure we were led on an undulating path to the actual allotment of our destination. But not before we passed the allotment of an ‘Influencer’.  An Influencer!! We did not expect that.

https://www.thorntonsgrowingandliving.co.uk/

the_young_grower is his Instagram name.

Our minds were blown, which just shows how unimaginative, or closeted, minds can be when thinking about allotments. Warning to anyone checking out his Insta account, there is some male nudity… I know, there is another preconception about allotment life, blown out of the water , or maybe more appropriately, plot lost completely.

©Instagram

Our lunchtime date was completed with the purchase of freshly laid eggs. There is a little bit of colour serendipity in the next shot.

Eggs live in a heart shaped basket in our kitchen. In the bottom of the basket is a really old Polaroid photograph of my dad, so old that it has been faded to that odd shade of fading that over exposure to UV often causes. The polaroid is adorned with a star of the same colour that was sent to us by our thousands of miles away grandaughter. Getting to the bottom of our egg store always gives a little frisson of pleasure when I see the two people connected in a way they will never be in real life. A sort of egg basket Magic Realism I suppose. Imagine how thrilled my inner colour nerd was to find a turquoise egg in our egg box!

Now here is the thing, real time blogging failure. I had written a lovely paragraph about the actual planned task, which in truth we are only half way through. My fingers deleted it and no amount of digging around in my WordPress history can locate it. In the interest of actually publishing a blog today I am going to abandon writing about the actual planned task and give it a blog of its own when we finish it later today. Until tomorrow…

#208 theoldmortuary ponders

Some mornings the only cure for a busy, overwhelmed head is a cup of black coffee and some fresh air. Yesterday was such a day. I didn’t get out of the wrong side of the bed exactly, two very entitled dogs make that an impossibility, but my head was unproductively busy. Later in the day a friend described such thoughts as ” Like a murmuration of Starlings or a shoal of fish turning in the sea.”

As I had predicted the coffee, some conversations with neighbours and a small pastry set me right.

Greek Yogurt lemon Pastry

An in- person meeting with a colleague provided more mind nurturing in the form of freshly picked mint tea and a take away bunch of mint to grow my own.

And actually who wouldn’t be smoothed out by such a gorgeous napkin!

Things were all falling into place quite nicely. Hugo had even taken on the role of P A for a while to keep me on schedule.

Although there were times when he was definitely blocking productivity.

With or, probably without, Hugo’s assistance all the jobs got done and some order returned to my mind. But I am left with the lovely images of thoughts being like murmurations of Starlings.

Or shoals of fish.

Two lovely videos to start a chilled out Saturday with.

#199 theoldmortuary ponders

Sometimes it is hard to know quite how to tie everything together for a blog. Today is one of those days and thank goodness I have this gorgeous rope, found at Delamore Arts earlier in the week, to tie things together.

Today was a huge red letter day for a good friend of ours who went to Buckingham Palace to collect an MBE from the Princess Royal.

On a far less significant scale we got a lovely Whatsapp message saying how much a family member has enjoyed yesterdays blog about St Just in Roseland.

Such a lovely thing to say.

And finally in this odd little blog the dogs had a red letter day because I had a contretemps with a bus on the way to work this morning. Minding my own business in a traffic queue a bus approached from behind and attempted to underpass me in the bus lane and ripped off my wing mirror with an enormous bang. The bus did not pull in or stop. No harm to me at all but I was so cross with myself because I had nothing to hand to take down the bus registration. I vowed to follow it but then a traffic light got between me and my target. This kind of stuff just requires so much admin to resolve and it put me in a grumpy mood. So grumpy that I couldn’t be bothered to pull on my wetsuit to go for the Wednesday evening bob. But that is where the dogs got their red letter day. I decided to take them to the sea for their evening walk while the bobbers were doing their thing. The dogs never usually come with us. I calmed my grumpy soul by sitting on the steps that lead into the sea and the dogs looked on as the bobbers bobbed.

The sea worked its magic, my grumpies left and the dogs had the excitement of welcoming the bobbers back in after a long and challenging swim.

Three very different stories all tied up with a beautiful knot.

#195 theoldmortuary ponders

Saturday was always about two decent length walks, one very urban and the other deeply rural. They are so different that in normal circumstances they would be two different blogs but a common theme has linked them. There is a lot of subject matter from this weekend so I have plenty of photos and natterings for a few blogs. The common theme for this one turns out to be Spring Green. Amazingly both walks had plenty of it although the first walk produced it rather unconventionally. Walk #1 was a circular tour of Devonport and Mount Wise very early in the morning. Friends of ours who normally live in France like to explore new coffee shops and the walk we did has two, and as we discovered later a new coffee van. Our meeting place was the first coffee shop. Where quite by chance me the decor and my drink were matching in shades of green, some of it Spring Green.

Much of the Devonport and Mount Wise walk is urban and uninspiring. There are some lovely buildings but for the most part they are unloved and somewhat rough around the edges, the view though once these streets have been passed is beautiful. The Tamar, Hamoaze and Plymouth Sound all stretched out in front of you.

A little bit of Spring Green in the grass but our next stop provided the unconventional part of this blog. Our friend is an ex-military man and has a strange addiction. The curiously named Bogey Knights Military Surplus Stores. He was like a dog with several bones. The rest of us soon began to see the attraction.

Unbelievably this lurid green leather jacket and its marching leather biker trousers are a uniform somewhere in the world.

Bogey Knights also sells Spring Green ropes.

And number badges to attach to buttons.

Sadly the item that took most of our attention was not Spring Green, but a rather clinical steel. The workings of a drugs toilet kept us entertained for many minutes and it was a bargain at £120!

Walk #2 was some two hours away.

Although these instructions do not mention it. This walk is an old coffin path between one village and the nearest church with a burial ground. There are thousands of these paths criss crossing the countryside. Kissing Gates are the give away, not at all for romance. Kisten Gate is derived from Kist an old word for box. It enabled two or more people to pass through a gate while carrying a coffin without having to put the coffin on the ground. Since we love a country churchyard, walking footpaths that were formally coffin paths takes us to some interesting places. This one is our best so far and arriving at the churchyard by any other route would not have been so beautiful.

Plenty of Spring Greens.

The walk and destination deserve a blog of their own but one more Spring Green to complete this one.

@theoldmortuary posing as a green woman in a leaded glass window.

To the May Day blog, a little late, but full of Spring Green which is no bad thing.

#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.

#177 theoldmortuary ponders

I have a little store of pre-prepared pages that I can take out with me when I know I am going out for a natter and some creativity. Sometimes, like this, one just an outline of some shapes. The destination of these watercolour doodles is never certain. I had a vague theme in mind but doodles like daily blogs tend to have a mind of their own. I suppose in art I am the opposite of a perfectionist, this may also be my my life planning style too. I like to allow enough space in life and in my creations for serendipity, for happy accidents, for the joy of whimsy. In common with perfectionists and every other living thing I also suffer from the bad things life can throw at an individual. I have found, however, serendipity, happy accidents , whimsy, and the love and friendship of some wonderful people and animals pulls me out of the mire of life in the most beautiful ways. Enjoy your long weekend wherever you are.

#114 theoldmortuary ponders

©Gill Bobber

There was a time in deep Covid when our little group of Bobbers stayed pretty much in the same geographical area. The photographs that appeared on the Bobbers Whatsapp pretty much depicted scenes from a small area of the Tamar Valley. But now photographs appear from places further away. These Sunday Llamas are hanging out with Bobbers further West in Cornwall . The one below is called Grumpy Brian.

© Gill Bobber

Grumpy Brian lives near Playing Place, near Truro. Surely a location that should spark joy in anyone?

In other Sunday news, the sticks to provide texture in a flower arrangement have gone rogue and started to sprout new leaves. Looks like we will be growing contorted willow in the yard this year.

#91 theoldmortuary ponders

Not every ‘bob’ renders a blogworthy photo. Todays sea temperature was 10 degrees and despite it looking like a murky, bumpy ride, it was a pretty good swim. The currents though were something else. A moments inattention and one current swept us off towards the rocks. The swim back then took us into another current which pulled us quickly in the opposite direction. This area is not called Devils Point for nothing. Fortunately we are all more than one year experienced at swimming from Tranquility Bay and know well enough the tricksy currents and the need to carefully look out for one another.

My pre swimming energy came from a festive breakfast cereal.

We didn’t manage to eat any of them during the festive season. I’m not sure I particularly need to buy them again except that they provide the most glorious whiff of nostalgia if you plunge your nose into the packet before pouring them into a cereal bowl. I am hugely nose orientated. For inexplicable festive reasons we also have a mulled wine spice air freshener for the loo. No sane person on the planet needs their bathroom to smell like a bar in December, it just needs not to smell of poo. I am a festive smell marketing directors favourite shopper…

In other news I remember that pre-Christmas I wittered on about a sewing project but couldnt reveal too much as the item created was a gift. May I introduce you to Madame Cholet. A Womble of Wimbledon Common who gathers the left over embellishments from a man who brings huge joy to some of the streets of London.

https://wombles.fandom.com/wiki/Madame_Cholet

Should you be wildy interested in Wombles the link above gives you the Madame Cholet official biography.

My Madame Cholet was created from completely recycled fabrics. Her eyes are the only new thing about her. I bought an original and second hand sewing pattern from EBay.

The fabrics came from my own stash. The stash of a friend and fellow artist, Tess.

Home

And the wonderful organisation, Plymouth Scrap Store

https://www.facebook.com/plymouthscrapstore/

The whole project was inspired by a man who brings so much joy to the London streets that he cycles on. Wombles are keen recyclers and as this amazing man, who has turned tragedy into joy, cycled past me I wondered what the wombles would make of any bits that might blow off his bike or costumes. ( I suspect he is a master craftsman and bits do not really drop off) You can find him on Instagram.

Is there a point to this blog I hear myself and many other people thinking. I’m writing it as I warm up, it could end up as complete nonsense, which is exactly what we talk as we thaw out.

There is. This meandering blog comes from a very dull January day from an entirely average person who has never excelled at anything.

Writing a daily blog is about stitching any old stuff together to tell a story.

Making a womble out of mine and other peoples cast offs is more or less the same.

Swimming in cold water really is no big deal.

Most of us are ordinary,there really is no need to be special to achieve things.

Anyone can turn nothing into something. We all just need a tiny scrap of inspiration.