#93 theoldmortuary ponders

This time last year our Christmas decorations had been packed away extra carefully in preparation for a house move. Not a single one was broken. The job this year is much easier. They are just stored away in shoe boxes and then kept in a large Sandalwood Chest which in itself a tough old thing that survived the Indian Uprising of 1857-59. A series of mutinies and rebellions against the British East India Company that functioned as a sovereign power on behalf of the British Crown. The uprising is more properly known as the First War of Independence. 900, 000 people, mostly Indians lost their lives in a series of violent and cruel events where civilians were the largest group of victims. Truly dreadful things were done to innocent people. All of the usual cruel and demeaning acts of war and domination plus a torture that is readily relatable to everyone who cooks. A paste of mashed chillies and peppers was applied to the eyes, genitals and rectums of victims.

Our Sandalwood box arrived in Britain after the Partition of India in 1947 and has lived with me since the death of my parents. It has lived a peaceful life for the last 30 years protecting Christmas decorations.

A somewhat grim meandering for a ponder about Christmas decorations , but not without reason.

With a nod to history, our Christmas tree always has a few peacoocks, an unintended but direct nod to the Victorian domination and rule of India. Only the tail is visible in the picture above. This may just be family folklore but it does make some sense.

It would have been rather dull to remove our Christmas tree without some form of celebration. The tree has been part of our lives for a month and has provided light for the darkest of days and a focal point for our festive gatherings. Mince pies and Baileys was the perfect accompaniment to a prickly end of the Festive Season.

#81 theoldmortuary ponders

We took ourselves off for a coffee date this morning with friends and then took a walk around the old Elizabethan Port of Plymouth. An area that still roughly conforms to the pink area on this map of 1620. We walk it so often we quite take it for granted and I took very few photographs today.

Just as the Pandemic took hold of the world, Plymouth was gearing up to celebrate its part in the founding of the New World with the Mayflower 400 celebrations. Plymouth was being primped for many visitors and events. All that preparation and anticipation came to nothing as the world shut down. One of our favourite, tiny corners of Plymouth has been shut ever since. To our surprise the Elizabethan gardens were open today on our walk and we popped in.

December is not a great time to admire a garden but it was really nice just to be back in a favourite space.

I think I was so surprised to be in there at all I only took a couple of pictures, but all around there were signs of the refurbishment of historic buildings which would have been so central to the 400 year anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower to what we now know as the United States of America.

I am disappointed in myself photographically but sometimes ot is just good to lose yourself in the moment which is exactly what I did. A perfect reason to go back, very soon when Spring starts to make an appearance.

In other news, we had a sporting day yesterday with golf and Ten Pin Bowling.

Both venues were totally artificial but we had a great time being competitive indoors away from the somewhat murky weather .

We have been lucky in our new home, and totally grateful,that none of our Christmas visitors have involved grumpy old farts like this chap on the golf course.

My commiserations to any of you who have suffered a friend or family member who has cast shade on your festivities, there is nothing worse. If this Pandemic has taught me anything it is that life is too short to share extended moments with people whose habitual attitude to life tends towards the negative.

We have been extraordinarily lucky this festive season. Smiles and happiness overload.

#51 theoldmortuary ponders

A life before Covid-19 or a ghost of Christmas past? Both really. Carnaby Street in 2018. We had recently returned from South Korea and Hong Kong. In both countries mask wearing in public was a fairly common occurrence but beyond the fastidiousness of some Asian tourists mask wearing in public was unimaginable in the joyous throng of people enjoying the Bohemian Rhapsody, themed lights,of London’s Carnaby Street.

Two years on in 2020 and the World is in full Covid-19 swing and we are one month into,experimental, Winter cold water swimming. A ghost of Christmas future, or more accurately future winters.

As it happens exactly that. One year on from that sunny November beach scene and this is the pot of hot coffee that is pre- warming us before this mornings swim, the croissant is already gone. We are discussing the ‘Are we mad theory’ the same theory that we will discuss this weekend when we return to London to see Christmas Lights.

Were we mad?

Yes we were and it was one of the most tranquil, gorgeous swims of the year. Will we be mad enough to visit some of London’s Christmas lights this weekend. I really hope so.


Pandemic Pondering#313

This is the start of a good day. A Christmas parcel, missing for 6 weeks turns up in Hong Kong. Miss VV checks the paperwork.

Every two year old needs a new bee.

The box contained more than just the bee, just in case you think we are wicked people who wrapped up something small in a big box.

So by video we get to share the excitement of Christmas in January. And I get to think again about our Christmas Festival @theoldmortuary which looks set to run for a few months yet. Fake Christmas, or Christmas extended is causing some complications. Our ‘Bobbing’ friends are amused by constant Post swimming snacks of Mince Pies.

I groan at the thought of cooking the bargain turkey who is resting in the outside freezer. In early January a local farm advertised frozen turkeys for £20

I booked one and turned up to collect him. He was one huge turkey. Common sense should have pre warned me that the only left over turkeys in 2020 would be massive. Cold and slippy I wrestled the turkey to the car with the same style as I’ve used with drunken work colleagues on the tube, I rested him in the child seat at the back of the car and strapped him in. There were immediately two worries. Would he fit in the freezer.? He does but the only other thing we can get in there is the ice we bought for our non existent Christmas socialising. That was a couple of interesting days of culinary experimentation trying to eat the frozen foods evicted by the Daddy of Turkeys. Worry number two was can we get him in the oven to cook him?
This is a problem, we have no idea which cooker we will be using for Fake Christmas. It’s a worry but nothing a good swig of Christmas Advocaat can’t solve.

Christmas 2020 a never ending feast!

Pandemic Pondering #289

The last day of the old year and the last day of Merryneum. Tomorrow we will have the freshness and promise of a New Year. But first a dissapointment of the Merryneum. Not many gifts found their way to @theoldmortuary this year. Many have been held in a secure location until ‘ Fake Christmas’ being held sometime in the New Year. New Pyjamas though did reveal themselves on Christmas morning.Their patterns are the illustrations of this blog.

You would expect with all the free time created by not entertaining family and friends during the festive season we would have been able to have a designated Pyjama Day.

It has not happened! Dog walking and inclement weather have restricted the ability to have a day not wearing clothes. Dark mornings and afternoons permit pyjama dog walks but only if the weather is not wet and a substantial coat can cover up the evidence.

So to top off any lingering dissapointments that we may all have with 2020 , we need to add general disappointment with the weather over Christmas. A very British way to sign out.

Pandemic Pondering #287

Its been a funny old festive season @theoldmortuary . We have a smallish family circle and a larger circle of friends. We are very lucky. One Christmas lost to being decent citizens, who stuck to the rules, is not actually a ‘ lost’ Christmas just a diminished one without all our treasured people around us.

Pyjamas @theoldmortuary

Today it is 360 days until Christmas 2021. Our strange distorted world will look very different.

Anish Kapoor at Pitzhanger Museum and Art Gallery

And while it can never turn the full 360 degrees to return us to our pre-pandemic normal. ( We can’t ever turn back the clocks.) Things will look and feel very different 360 days from now.


A feature of a cleaning cupboard at The Box

And more.

The tunnel at Royal William Yard during Illuminate 2019

Pandemic Pondering #282

Merry Christmas, who needs a big blog on Christmas morning, probably no one . What we all need is our friends and family around us. The hurly burly of traditions all bound up with over crowded homes and too much food. What we have this year @theoldmortuary is the time to go and look at Christmas lights after last minute shopping.

Southside Street, The Barbican, Plymouth.

And the chance to make home made cranberry sauce.

While watching Christmas Carols from Kings College, Cambridge.

Very peaceful and lovely, but not normal. We love and miss our festive season regulars, the irregulars and those in other realms. Love to our families and friends far and wide. You light up our lives.

Cranberry Sauce 2020

Pandemic Pondering #278

An unusual blog today, made up of a variety of things . A portmanteau blog if you like.

© Britannica

Our weekend had a plan that most definitely conformed to a usual pre-christmas weekend. Saturday started and finished with a watery theme.

It began well with some cold water bobbing.

In the evening we went to the National Marine Aquarium for a ‘Night at the Museum’ dining event which in itself was a curious piece of serendipity. The pictures we took will illustrate the rest of the blog.

We had been booked to attend this event at a different time of year but it was postponed until this weekend because of Covid-19. Our socially distanced dining area was in the room holding the Eddystone tank which is where the tenuous serendipity comes in.

In the morning we were swimming in Plymouth Sound above unseen sea creatures. In the evening we were dining surrounded by the same types of sea creatures that would have witnessed our flailing limbs from below. Not that I’m suggesting that ‘Bobbers’ swim to the Eddystone Rock, or in anyway disrupt sea lanes. We ‘ bob’ in the vicinity, quite a distant vicinity in reality and always with regard to the Sea Lanes. We are not the sort of sea swimmers who get mentioned in the Plymouth Evening Herald or are reprimanded by Harbour Masters or Port Admirals. I don’t think we even trouble seagulls.

In between these two events at 4:30pm Boris Johnson had delivered a monumental clusterfuck. Or Prime Ministers Briefing as it is officially known.

Without going into details, these can be found on any, far more reliable, news source. Christmas in Britain has been Clusterfucked.

This certainly affected the mood and ambience of our evening at the aquarium. We had plenty to talk about just trying to reset the logistics of a Bubble Christmas to the Clusterfuck variety. This may be the time to say that the food was great and being in an aquarium at night was wonderfully calming. The Rays were particularly meditative. We had a great evening.

Understandably, under the current circumstances, the streets of Plymouth, on our way to the Aquarium, were unusually quiet for the last Saturday before Christmas, as were some tanks at the aquarium.

The Sea Horses, our favourite exhibit, were missing.

Only time will tell if the Sea Horses and the good residents of Plymouth were spending their Saturday night doing the same thing. Officially the Sea Horses were ‘ away breeding’
It was a massive disappointment in a day inadvertantly filled with disappointments. I’ve been forced to design my own Christmas card. Exclusively revealed here!

Pandemic Pondering #273

A new Christmas Star combined with blue white lights , vaguely reminds me of the accepted depiction of the Coronovirus.

As a creative person, fond of flights of fancy, it is somewhat disappointing that, the much anticipated, vaccine is a clear fluid, all very clinical and reassuring, I’m sure. The magnitude of the job, though, surely requires something that resembles a potion, served in an old chemistry lab beaker and smoking with the addition of liquid nitrogen.

The imagined potion would be green, Lime green through to chartreusse. I’m not overthinking this at all! Well actually I am overthinking this, I’m keeping my eyes out for baubles in this exact shade of green to hang in the Christmas tree alongside the Covid Star for this year. A visual immunisation.

In future years we will unpack the baubles and wonder why anyone would choose baubles in such an unseasonal colour. I wonder if I should do a bulk order of Reindeers to grant my tree some ‘ Herd’ immunity?

I blame these short days, the long nights allow time for folkloric Ponderings of a meandering and pointless sort.

Pandemic Pondering #271

Baubles, bubbles and the rule of 6. Driving home for Christmas 2020.

December 2020 in Britain and we are all finalising our rule of 6 festive bubbles to celebrate Christmas. Driving Home for Christmas is going to be different and in many cases impossible this year.

Nothing to be done about it. We are just going to have to sparkle within a confined gathering. Except sparkling may not be exactly what we do. This weekend we ventured into a physical shop to buy some festive clothes. Like hybrid magpie/moles, in drag, we are normally drawn to sequins and velvet accesorised by high heels( briefly) for the festive season. This year we’ve plunged into the high tech world of thermal underwear and wicking layers all the better to enjoy our outdoor gatherings. The high heels forgotten in favour of walking boots. Flamboyance is not found in the aisles of the thermal underwear world. Sparkle on a personal level will be replaced by the gentle glow of a pair of women who have the double security of knowing that the vest that is tucked into their knickers has additional thermal qualities. Seasonal Security in a 2020 world of uncertainty.