A series of firsts yesterday. A wedding! Beautiful weather despite warnings of a storm as we gathered in St Eustachius Church, Tavistock, for the wedding of a friend. A large number of family and friends , cleverly seated and spaced by a beautiful team of ‘ Best People’* witnessed not only a wedding but the first singing in that particular church for over 17 months. People have worshiped on that site since 1193 and in the current church since the 15th Century. I doubt if there has been such a long silence in that place of worship ever before.
I wonder if St Eustachius was as thrilled to finally give his Eustachian Tubes a good blow out as we were.
Goodness this was a well planned Wedding Service, the music and readings celebrating, most importantly a marriage but also shining a light on our human need to begin to mark the gradual return to a more normal life. Sacred spaces of all faiths carry some magic left by centuries of worshipping. It felt lovely to tap into some of that yesterday.
The first hymn to the tune of Morning Has Broken had us feeling a little tearful. Thankfully the serious business of the actual Marriage Service gave us something to focus on before hitting us with a hymn sung to the tune of ‘Thaxted’ by Gustav Holst. You can take a woman out of Essex but you cannot take Essex out of a woman. Particularly this one who has a fair bit of her gene pool resting in the graveyard of Thaxted Church!
The penultimate treat for our happy ears was the Widor Toccata. There is nothing better than an organist who can get his fingers competently around Widors Toccata. St Eustachius organist did exactly that, beautifully. Wedding service done we hopped off for a cheeky iced coffee.
And then returned to the churchyard for the glory that is Bell ringing. Something I can share with you with the link below.
As soon as pictures of people who were part of this wedding appear on Social Media I will include them in a blog but for now I just want this blog to reflect the flavour and sense of loveliness of just being able to be part of something like this once again.
Here is one of the readings, which was deliciously appropriate.
Thoroughly uplifted we travelled home.
* Best People. The bridegroom did not have a Best Man but a delightful team of Best People. Surely the way forward. Have a fabulous Sunday.
The end of the week coffee. Coffeeer than any other coffee, not as desperate as some and maybe not as chilled as a Sunday morning coffee. But still a landmark coffee. Today happens to be Friday but in my previous NHS life the end of the week could be any day.
Always celebrated at Black Sheep. Coffee to power me through the last 12 hours at Barts Heart Centre. Obviously the doughnuts are not part of an approved Cardiac Health Diet.
Today’s coffee from Hutong, hopefully doesn’t have such a big task. Or does it?
Today we took a trip to Totnes. The last time we took a trip deeper into Devon it was 6 months ago when we also went to Totnes to do Christmas shopping for the Christmas that never was.
By coincidence we recieved this traditional May Day gift of Lily of the valley from a friend who lives in France this morning, she and I have worked, danced and laughed together in Totnes and Brighton long before real life and children tamed us.
Totnes is an alternative type of place with a firm sense of the importance of traditional and Pagan festivals. Ordinarily a trip to Totnes on Beltane/Mayday would be a whirling, psychedelic , Maypole dancing festival of alternative experiences. Only partially out of Lockdown, today was never going to be as vibrant as normal but our visit today was still vivid in a low key way. Just to celebrate Beltane in its Phallic/ Fertility glory I captured an appropriate shadow.
Accidental because the reason for the photograph was this lost earring, preserved, for its owner to find on top of a bollard that has been many different colours in the past.
Other bollards dressed up for the occasion.
Totnes is a rich source of Street Art. Some featuring Tom of Finland . Quite appropriate for a festival kind of day.
And some just near some spiral stairs which is about as close to a Maypole as we got in 2021.
The smells from Street food and Coffee from the many independent cafes can’t be reproduced with words. Neither can the sounds of music in the streets, layered together , sometimes with a fusion no one would ever plan ( Prog Rock and Church bells) and other times with a mellifluence that was hard to walk away from ( Harp and Violin). Totnes made us smile today.
Beltane wouldn’t be Beltane without the leafy face of the Green Man.
Coffee at my elbow, it was time to Bookclub Zoomstyle.
Again no spoilers, we all felt very much the same about this book. A complex beginning that could be off-putting but a good tale once the narrative established itself .
Three of us shared an emotional moment that had happened when we met earlier in the week,with the group. @theoldmortuary and a Covidfriend all lost our parents at an earlier than average age, we all loved our parents dearly. A passage in the book had made us all have a little weep. And then another weep when we discussed it and then today when sharing the tale of our weepings, there were more weepings.
The protagonist had never known her mother and now her father was close to death.
“On the third and finalnight, a bright light shines from my Father’s body. And in the sublime peace of his face, I saw my mother waiting for him.”
” I had never seen my mother’s face and had longed beyond all longing to one day see it. I still do.in fact- that is a desire that age hasn’t softened- because that night her face was hidden, covered by the thick tress of her dark hair.”
” But I knew it was her because she used words like mine and daughter and her breath was of the sea.”
” My father said to her: Hello my love. You’ve come back to me.”
” My mother said: I never left.”
“And in those three words was a lifetime.”
” He said: Shall we go then? And they turned to me and they said: Can you let us go do you think?”
” And I could say nothing. I raised my hand, a feeble attempt at a wave, I think. But I could say nothing. Because I was 14 years old and all I wanted to say was, Please, don’t go.”
There’s not much that can follow such a passage but fortunately the book offers a very upbeat Bonus Material addition to the book.
To be a Reader
by Sarah Winman
To be a reader, for me, is about entering a world of unimagined possibility; to have the willingness to suspend disbelief and to journey trustingly across the terrain of another’s imagination.
To be a reader is to feel a little less lonely. To be a reader is to be challenged. To feel anger, to feel outrage and injustice. But always to feel, always to think. To be a reader is not a passive state, it is active, always responding.
To be a reader is to have the opportunity to question ourselves at the deepest level of humanity – what would we have done in this situation? What would we have said? To be a reader is to feel empathy and compassion and grief. To be awed and to laugh. To fall in love, with characters, locations, the author. To be a reader is to learn and to be informed, and to rouse the dreamy inner life to action.
To be a reader is to take time out from the group. To not fear missing out; to turn off the TV, YouTube, the Internet. It is to slow down and engage; to be of the present. To be a reader is to find answers. It gives us something to talk about when we are unsure what to say.
To be a reader is to have the chance to collect stories like friends, and hold them dearly for a lifetime. It is to feel the joy of connection.
Lockdown @theoldmortuary changed many things , some things stayed the same.Today we received half of a prize that represents change and we await the half that represents no change. This is to encourage anyone who sees those ‘share and comment’ posts on Instagram for a chance to win a prize. The prizes are real and random people win them.
Our reading habits changed during Lockdown. Hannah completely lost the ability to commit to a book. I lost the focus for the kind of books I like to read and developed a thirst for foreign based detective drama. We weren’t unusual, everyone in my book group reported changes in genre choice. None of us managed to read the classics or ‘ difficult’ books that you might imagine time and limited life choices might allow.
Today we received the first part of our prize. 4 books fromhttps://www.deadgoodbooks.co.uk/ Neither of us are thriller readers but with changes in reading style so fresh in our minds and a gift of books, now must be the time.
What a clever coupling, books and coffee. Perfection would be enjoying both in a foreign place beside a pool. What may well happen is a flask of good coffee, a book and some warm clothes after a swim at the only pool available to us.
Blogging and running a series of prompts for #augustinthevalley on Instagram for my art group is challenging me. Yesterdays word Metaphor was great for the wordynerd but more of a challenge for my arty head. Todays prompt for the Art Group is 3D and I had no trouble finding the image I wanted to use as the prompt.So far so good you might think. I love this image for the one Red Coffee Pot in this apparent wall of coffee pots. Loving an image is all well and good but this image is not the whole story.This wall of coffee pots was one side of an art work/ sculpture by Roberto Fabelo a Cuban artist who created Catedral/Cathedral and it is both a Metaphor and a fetish object.@theoldmortuary we are exactly the sort of people who fetishize coffee. Not for us the Cathedrals of the large Coffee retailers. We attend the tiny chapels of independent coffee shops. There is even a little bit of on-line worship, this morning beans arrived, roasted to our idea of deliciousness in Bury St Edmunds.We plan a visit to a local roastery, Owens, very soon, always optimistic of an amazing cup of coffee. Fellow coffee fetishists have nagged us to make this pilgrimage.In place of religious artifacts our house boasts much coffee paraphernalia, including the contemporary version of the red coffee maker that I love so much in the top image of this blog.Roberto Fabelo has summed us up pretty well with his sculpture.Coffee has fueled my creative endeavours today todays prompt is, as you know 3D.I’m still trying to craft in watercolour a 3D image out of swirls of paint. Less obvious than the previous painting my androgynous person only just gains 3 dimensions. Maybe more coffee worship is needed. Thankfully it’s a fairly harmless fetish.
What do you do on the day non- essential shops open in England.
For once I agree wholeheartedly with the government. They are non- essential shops. Obviously we avoided them. Three months without a non-essential shop has become a self fulfilling prophecy.
Actually what I do miss is mooching in a charity shop. The day they open will be something to celebrate.
The morning was all about dog walking and coffee. Inadvertantly a doughnut and a croissant also slipped onto the counter while I was ordering coffee. Some anonymous steps near The Mayflower Steps was our suntrap location of choice.
A great location to see swans flying under the lift- up bridge and out into Plymouth Sound.
But a moment’s inattention to photograph swans was almost the end of my doughnut breakfast.
This gorgeous orb of bakery loveliness and its accompanying coffee came from Jacka. Britain’s oldest working bakery.
Oat milk flat white , a doughnut and sunshine on these steps was everything that a visit to non- essential shops would not have been.
There was even time to bask before post breakfast exercise.
A pondering in which we queue for good coffee in Plymouth. Saturdays are made for good coffee. For the 6 weeks of lockdown we’ve not had a coffee made with love and care by a proficient barrista. Given the Coffeeshop in question you could say we’ve missed out for 6 months. Hutong which closed in October for a rebuild, ‘popped up’ today at The Lord High Admiral.
Queuing for coffee is not unknown to us as Monmouth Coffee at Borough Market is another favourite coffeeshop.
Hutong coffee is worthy of the queue. The new environment at The Lord High Admiral is pretty cute.
On reflection , it was lovely to see George…
and Emma who didn’t make it into the mirror.
Perfect Social Distancing throughout the process we took delivery of our coffee.
It was every bit as good as we knew it would be. Right to the bottom of the cup.
If you are in Plymouth next Saturday the Hutong will ‘pop-up’ again next Saturday 9th May from 8am. The other ‘pop-up’ at The Lord High Admiral, Knead Pizza had sold out all their Pizza slots today and I think all of next week’s are sold out too. We were too slow for Pizza for both weeks and actually missed out on Hutong bacon butties today.
Note to self, get up earlier!
What to do after a Hutong Coffee? Drive to Stonehouse and do the usual walk.
This could not have been a better decision.
Firstly we parked up near Elvira’s,
who were serving bacon butties. By a strange coincidence we queued up at Elvira’s with a couple who had also been at the earlier coffee queue. They were much braver than us and ordered take-out Eggs Benedict. I would have been wearing egg yolk all day if we had ordered that.
Obviously once you’ve queued twice with people, observing social distancing, you can talk for ages even though they are complete strangers. (Pandemic observation, talking to strangers is a lovely thing now we all have more time)
Our Stonehouse walk is one we do often but everything in Lockdown is changed , there seems to be more to see.
Even at Elvira’s we saw these two lovely unusual things.
Non-local people can have a chuckle at the name of this location.
Admiral’s Hard; another saucy Plymouth location is Pennycomequick.
I just threw that in, it’s nowhere near our walk.
Stonehouse did not disappoint, we met another complete stranger at the proper distance, for more lovely conversations and Devils Point itself thought it was on the Mediterranean.
Unadulterated Coffee Porn. With the occasional tea.
We know how fortunate we are @theoldmortuary. The trivial nature of these pandemic blogs is just a small moment of inconsequential pondering amidst a sea of serious stuff. Things come and go in the ponderings one of them is tiny obsessions with something we can’t have. In truth of course we can easily have a coffee, or tea, and a piece of cake at home. But it’s not the same. Coffee and Cake is our guilty pleasure, artisanal, independent, skilful, visually beautiful and quirky are the basic requirements.Shallow, pretentiousness, maybe twatty , yes all of those things but supporting local businesses and taking pleasure in something simple is no bad thing.I popped the word coffee into the search bar of my image archive. I had not expected it to serve quite so much…This blog will be longer. than I thought and I’ve only chosen the best pictures.April was always going to be tricksy in our coffee world. Hutong Cafe,just outside Royal William Yard in Plymouth, our most regular coffee house is closed for refurbishment.
Other great coffee places happen in Plymouth, I just don’t have photographic evidence.Good Coffee HQ in Ebrington Street is one.Black Sheep Brew in nearby Tavistock sells the mythical Monmouth Coffee from London’s Borough Market.
Let’s be honest Plymouth is also the home of some shocking coffee, not all sold by chains, although they do account for a lot of crimes against the bean.South East Cornwall is not a friend to great coffee. My only happy coffee photo comes from The Canteen at Maker.
Liberty Coffee at Launceston is well worth the trip when world wakes up again.
Coffee Porn @theoldmortuary is off on a little travelogue now. As luck would have it there is a great cup of coffee as we leave the SouthWest.Otter Valley Ice Cream on the A30 does a lot more than Ice Cream.
Lynnwood Coffee in Lechlade features heavily, not only because they do great coffee but our friends love to send us Coffee Porn from there. A lot of Coffee Porn.
Further afield in England we found this gem in Bury-St-Edmunds in Suffolk. Paddy and Scott’s
A regular favourite in London, even though it has become quite a big chain is Gail’s Dulwich Village. Cheese straws by which all others are judged.
Finally a curious place for coffee, a butchers shop in Southampton, famed quite rightly for their breakfasts the coffee was great too.http://www.uptonsbutchers.co.uk/
In no particular order here is a tiny world tour of coffee houses we have loved.
Breakfast in South Korea, we stayed in an Airbnb in an untouristy suburb of Seoul, Yongsun-gu. Uncle Sam’s Pancake was our closest cafe. This next image was my birthday breakfast also in Yongsun-Gu.
Havana in Cuba gave great everything, it is a wonderful country.Coffee here is represented by art. A sculpture made from old and damaged Stove-top Espresso pots.
Kobrick Coffee, amazing vintage coffee house serving great coffee and wonderful Jazz in the Meatpacking District.https://www.kobricks.com/A reward after a blisteringly hot walk on The High-Line, my favourite park in the world.https://www.thehighline.org/Although it’s landscaping did cause the knee injury that forced so much coffee drinking in New York.It is only a tiny tour, bringing up the rear is Hong Kong. Birthplace of both Hannah and our lovely VV.
Hong Kong also gave us two lovely coffee quotes. From the stools at Coffee Academics.
My last picture comes from Hoi An, I’ve used it before in blogs but it represents, for me, the current situation and a hope that nattering in coffee shops will become normal again.This pillow rests on a bench in a tea house , that also serves great coffee, where noise and conversation is discouraged always.