Using a prompt today, not because I was lost for a subject to ponder, but more because there is always something to ponder.
I’ve always been a ponderer and on the whole pondering is a private occupation, unless a daily blog is written. So with some self judgement I would say that I am a particularly avid and accomplished ponderer. Being good at something carries responsibilities, I have been accused of having too vivid an imagination or being lost in my own world. Well I adore vivid, that’s why some of my images are over-saturated and trust me,I have never been lost in my own world. I know exactly where I am.
So after all that self-justification here is todays ponder which is a little late and ludicrously vivid.
A chance encounter with a patient took us to Buckfast Abbey early this morning.
It was the most peaceful spot for an early morning dog walk with friends.
So peaceful that, beyond the vivid stained glass,I forgot to take photos.
The whole place is rather overwhelming and the Stained Glass is certainly a show stopper.
But coupled with an organ recital of some contemporary music the whole experience was quite other worldly.
Today was a big day for the blog. I swapped to a new platform for publishing. Pushing the button and uninstalling the old system was a moment of anxiety. But guess what happened? Nothing, everything slipped smoothly into the new format and off I go. Everything is pretty much the same except every day there is a spunky little suggestion as to what I might like to write about. I may not take their suggestions seriously, the first one thought I might like to discuss what my parents did at my age. Well let me think..
Their ashes had, at this point, been buried in a country churchyard for two years. Idyllic in many ways but I am sure they would rather have been living and laughing. As it was they had been moved from their last resting place by a very industrious mole. This does not make for a great travelogue or even a great blog. So this is the first and last time I will seek my inspiration from spunky suggestions from Jetpack. WordPress was never quite so frivolous. I prefer raking through my own thoughts for these ponders. For reading to the end of this transitional blog I gift you an earworm. Answers tomorrow.
Some blogs are slow burning, ripening slowly over many days, weeks or months. Others present themselves in a moment. This one is a hybrid, the Pondering has been bubbling away for a couple of months, the moment today, was perhaps 60 seconds of decision making. That moment is the top picture. After a small amount of walking, the coastal path at St Ives, we came upon this idyllic beach. After a moments paddling the decision was made to throw caution to the wind and strip off completely for a swim. Confident that my weekly sea swims, or bobs, as they are known, have equipped me with the ability to quickly submerge in any chilly sea temperature.
It would not do to fanny about, frightening fellow walkers, with my nakedness. The long, slow, ponderous part of this blog has its inspiration from a comment made by a fellow course member at a blogging course.
” Your blog would be better with more of you in it”
Since November I have tried putting a little more of me into the blog. In truth I have always been there, peeping from behind words or hiding in pictures. Trying to find my voice, or style, while nattering on about not very much. I wonder, sometimes, if anyone has noticed the slight changes since November.
Ten or so minutes of swimming in a cold sea, off the North Cornwall coast was just fabulous this morning. I could be evangelical about the benefits of cold water immersion, likewise the buzz of not giving a moments thought to just taking my clothes off in a public space. Put the two together and the skills of fully clothed camera- wielding friends and the blog gets all of me for one time only.
I got a life boosting, energy creating, moment. Fizzy as a firework, giddy as the giddiest goat, happy as a human hippo. Naked, cold and loving life. All time stood still, the sun was out and I was feeling elemental.
We’ve had a fab weekend of doing lovely stuff, all ultra local and within walking or swimming distance of home.
I was reading a review of a travel programme over the weekend and realised that with a few alterations the sentence above more or less describes this blog. I’m aware that my thoughts and feelings are not always lovely but I do try to extract the positive out of anything that I put on the blog. My inner bitch kept firmly out of blogland.
The same newspaper also ran an interview with the actress Angela Griffiths and two of her answers could have come straight out of my own ponderings.
I do try to always be kind and although the word ‘nice’ has been devalued over the years, the sentiment is what I strive for. My personal mantra, though, when people try to take advantage is, I fear, delightfully passive aggressive.
” Don’t mistake my tolerance for indifference”
I rarely need to say it but have perfected a look which should leave the erring person to rethink their strategy towards me. I found it really refreshing to see my thoughts so eloquently expressed by someone else. A look I definately used during one those awful annual appraisals that the NHS does so badly.
My line manager at the time said I used kindness and niceness to manipulate people for my own purposes.
Words failed me then , but really, what a twat!
The words Ultra-local and slow burn in the first newspaper cutting so accurately reflect this blog I felt another little grain of comfort. If BBC4 think that ultra local and slow burn is OK then all is well.
Here is a giddy thought, ultra local in the blog tends to mean what is ultra local to my geographical location, which for three years now has definitely been confined to England. Mostly confined to South West England with very rare forays to London and usually set in a ten square mile radius of my home. Later this week my ultra local is crossing the Atlantic. Travel may broaden the mind but you will be treated to the same old ponderings just stimulated by North American coffee shops, beaches and museums. No dog bottoms though, they and their bottoms will stay here. I’m sure there will be some dogs bottoms but no guarantees.
Which brings me to another pondering pondering and explains the two photographs in this blog. Our daily walks always take in a bit of The Royal William Yard and I often mention it in passing but have never actually blogged about it. After the transatlantic adventure I will give you a proper tour. This amazing image came up on an Estate Agents website. I thought it was good enough to share. The back of our house is even in this shot.
If you cant wait for my return there is a website with information.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.