Pandemic Pondering #246

Coffee and books, some days just ooze with pleasure.

This one started well with the arrival of our coffee prize from Extract Coffee. Our beans were roasted by hand restored roasters Big Bertha and Vintage Betty at Extract Coffee.

Home

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 final night, 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.

To be a reader is a cool thing to be.

To be a reader is wealth.

Pandemic Pondering #225

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.

Book bundle from https://www.deadgoodbooks.co.uk/
Coffee the ‘ no change’ habit @theoldmortuary . Less cake recently

Coffee and the pursuit of excellence is unchanged @theoldmortuary . Our prize will come from https://extractcoffee.co.uk/ A company we have used to send us lovely coffee by post.

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.

Tidal Pool, Devils Point, Plymouth
Tidal Pool, Devils Point ,Plymouth

Not a bad way to enjoy a prize.

Pandemic Pondering #194

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.

Pandemic Pondering # 89

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 morning well spent.

Pandemic Ponderings #44

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.

Pretty houses on the way back to the car.

Saturdays and Sunshine

Hutong Coffee

Elvira’s Bacon Butty

Lockdown rules all applied

Pandemic Ponderings #22

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.

https://m.facebook.com/TheHutongCafe/

Hugo inspecting Hutong light box

Similarly another regular spot, Koffehuis at Sutton Harbour was closing for good as the owner was returning to Holland.

Koffehuis A board

That leaves us with Jacka, the countries oldest working bakery on The Barbican.

https://m.facebook.com/JackaBakery/

Coffee at Jacka

and the diminutive but bursting with great cake. Cakewhole on Wilton Street in Plymouth.

Home

Coffee and Cake at Cakewhole

My final piece of Plymouth Coffee Porn comes from Ocean Studios , inside the Royal William Yard.

https://www.oceanstudios.org.uk/

Coffee and Cake at Ocean Studios

Column Bakehouse who run the cafe at Ocean Studios also have a great cafe at their Bakery, coincidentally another Old Mortuary. At Devonport Guildhall.

https://m.facebook.com/ColumnBakehouse/

Coffee and Pastry at Column Bakehouse

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.

https://m.facebook.com/GoodCoffeeHeadquarters/https

://www.blacksheepbrew.uk/https://www.monmouthcoffee.co.uk/

Monmouth at 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.

Coffee at Canteen at Maker

Liberty Coffee at Launceston is well worth the trip when world wakes up again.

Liberty Coffee , Launceston

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.

Lola at Otter Valley 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.

Many Coffees and comestibles at Lynwood

Further afield in England we found this gem in Bury-St-Edmunds in Suffolk. Paddy and Scott’s

Paddy and Scotts

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.

Gail’s, Dulwich Village

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/

Upton’s of Bassett

In no particular order here is a tiny world tour of coffee houses we have loved.

Uncle Sam’s Pancakes

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.

Anonymous in Seoul

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.

Coffee Pot Sculpture, Havana

Toronto in Canada gave us a lot of coffee action. I had a bad knee injury and we were ‘forced’ to rest often in coffee shops.https://www.hotblack-coffee.com/

HotBlackCoffee

HotBlackCoffee Queen Street, Toronto.

Kobrick, NY, NY

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.

Coffee Academics , Hong Kong

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.

Reaching Out Tea House, Hoi An

Texture change at theoldmortuary

Nothing big but February sees theoldmortuary joining a gym.

It’s 12 years since we last saw a gym or rowed competitively. Time to get the bones at theoldmortuary moving.

We certainly didn’t plan to be away from fitness this long but life has a way of confuscating plans and good intentions.

The London Years replaced leisure fitness with punishing work hours and amazing cultural experiences, coupled with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the capitals independent coffee shops and sourdough purveyors.

Yes we are that shallow, caffeinated and plumptious from bakery products and cultural experiences.

This blog is not about to become lithe and lycra clad . Pondering will remain at its heart. Occasionally though the humour of the life of fitness returners might make an appearance.

We start with the walk-round.

We are coupled with a glossy and lovely pair of people. In our hands we have various complimentary vouchers.

The club we joined has a new gym and refurbished areas. As we were shown into the spinning room.( I could act faux naive and say I expected homely weavers creating yarn from their Vegan Yaks. But I know what goes on in a spinning room and I know that with our current level of fitness , walking would not occur for many days after a spinning session)

Not so for the glossy couple.

” Oh ” she says with genuine joy ” We could live in here”

We remain impressed but silent as we continue the tour.

The coffee shop is our last port of call on the tour. We have free vouchers.

A thought bubble erupts from my slightly over-awed head. Nothing I try contains it.

And we had vouchers!

Ocean Studios, Bakery and Cafe.

IMG_0998This summer Ocean Studios at the Royal William Yard has opened a bakery and cafe. Sourdough and other bakery products are supplied by Column Bakehouse of Devonport.

IMG_1001.JPGThe Bakery also sells jams and other luxury provisions all displayed beautifully.

The Cafe spills out into the gallery area of Ocean Studios.

IMG_0995.JPGIMG_0992.JPGCoffee at Ocean Studios is great, full bodied and fruity. Beans are supplied by Origin Coffee.

There will be regular art exhibitions in the gallery that envelopes the cafe . Currently and running until 11th August is Made In Plymouth. An exhibition featuring contemporary souvenirs created by students from Plymouth College of Art. Held in collaboration with the Real Ideas Corporation it featured Plymouth specific art.
Plymouth has culture and history in abundance and is establishing itself as a creative hub with a thriving and diverse arts scene. The bespoke items at this exhibition show the talents and creativity that the city has to offer.
The merchandise on display is exquisite, some of it so gorgeous it might slip from souvenir to fetish object without any trouble at all. I’m thinking particularly of the collection of Pilgrim Hats , preserved in an old Victorian shop fitting.

IMG_0409.JPG
Close to the cafe servery there is s display of silk scarves, moving as only silk can do in the gentle breeze.Each one giving a slightly different, colourful,perspective to the Plymouth theme.
The mundane objects, tea-towels, tote bags, beer mats, badges and aprons are not overshadowed by their more sensualist competitors for attention. Well thought out and stylishly created they present an edgy contemporary example of how good souvenirs can be, both representational and abstract at the same time.

IMG_0410.JPG
Fashion is represented by Fisherperson smocks and Jewellery by badges both intriguingly different from the standard coastal fashions.
Ceramics are well represented by Paulina Chromik, simple black and cream designs that are calm and considered.

IMG_0402
2D art and printing fill the walls of the gallery. It is stunning, even the difficult subject of Plymouth Blitz is rendered in a way that is considered and beautiful.
Alan Qualtrough was the artist in residence on our visit .His Kiss and Bite Letterpress prints are both lexicographically and visually pleasing. The usual quiet of the gallery  gently disturbed by the rhythmic thump of an Adana hand printing Press.

IMG_0418.JPG

Home

https://www.plymouthart.ac.uk/

ocean studios plymouth

Travelling with a Coffee Addict

For a variety of reasons we are doing a lot of travelling this year. Good coffee is the fuel that gets Hannah around the world. In an effort to make mornings more calm regardless of our location. I bought this little device from China

Smugly , I relaxed on our latest outing. Happy in the knowledge that a hand grinder was in the case. What I had not checked was that the beans were packed. Thank goodness that on this occasion we had only travelled to the depths of Crystal Palace. Once again the morning plans developed with a central coffee searching scenario.

IMG_0704Crystal Palace , thank goodness, is not a coffee shop free zone. Quite the reverse.

Dalhousie had recently followed theoldmortuary.design on Instagram so with an embarrassment of choice on the Triangle we hastened to them to “wake up and smell the coffee” and in fact buy the beans.

Dalhousie is super stylish , the coffee is great as are the cakes. Furry coffee hounds are also welcome.

IMG_0734