Pandemic Pondering #135

August 1st 2020.

For a month Pandemic Ponderings will be slightly controlled by the prompt list that my art group, Drawn to the Valley is using to inspire a response from members on Instagram and Facebook during August.

As you know from PP#133, I am slightly churlish about prompts but am choosing to see this as a creative challenge not only for art but my creative writing/social history Ponderings.

#1 Gardens

About two and a bit years ago garden design @theoldmortuary took on a new angle when we had to make it safe for an anticipated grandchild.

At the time that little family were living in Hong Kong so we had time on our side for alterations to the structure of the garden.

Then with great excitement they returned to Cornwall to live and our garden plans were properly tested and found to be pretty exciting for someone under two.

Then the Pandemic hit and she couldn’t visit. Then the Pandemic hit in a different way and they have had to return to Hong Kong.

Here she is inspecting the garden for herself, from above.

Then she required a meeting with the Head Gardener to discuss changes and improvements required for when she is able to visit again.

By embracing prompts I have been able to explain in a gentle way why we’ve been a little sad for a few months.

In the future the little person will know that she was loved and we were sad to see her go in 2020.

I’m looking at prompts in a new way let’s hope I am not a recidivist and return to my grumpy prompt hating ways.

For completeness sake here is the picture I’m going to pop into Instagram for the Garden prompt.

Dead heading into a turquoise bucket.

Pandemic Pondering #131

The boots have left the building.

For the past year we’ve been hands- on grandparents @theoldmortuary. The period of the pandemic has changed the way we can be grandparents, just as it has disrupted aspects of many peoples lives. As of today we have become Zoomgrandparents. Google has many sites suggesting different ways to be gramdparents when the physical distance and an ongoing pandemic make actual contact impossible.

Eliminating the miles has always been a grandparent thing.

Distance is entirely relative, my dad didn’t get to see his grandparents often. It required my great grandparents to travel the ten miles between Braintree and Great Bardfield with a pony and trap. That’s 20 miles per visit and about 4 hours travelling time at a walking trot. Beyond rare visits the only other method of communication would have been a letter.

I lived closer to one set of my grandparents, a walk by road of maybe 2-3 miles. I was only about 6 when it was entirely acceptable for me to take a short cut, alone, though two dairy farms divided by a river. The other set of granparents lived 12 miles away. Unusually they both had cars. My grandad drove an Austin A40 and being picked up by him often meant sharing the inside of the car with barrels of beer for his pub.

In contrast his wife, my Nan, drove a Zephyr 6. She ran a private taxi company, lifts and visits to them were entirely dictated by their business needs. It was always a surprise as to which of these,now classic, cars would pick me up.

In contrast my children lived 100’s of miles from their grandparents. Visits were often long weekends the journeys to and fro in fairly dull cars on motorways. Contact in between visits would be by phone.

Zooming and googling, Different, but hopefully effective. A talking head.

Pandemic Pondering #96

Pods , Bubbles and Raindrops and a metaphor.

Rain did not stop play this weekend, but it did rain in Cornwall, this weekend. Our schedule had enough flexibility built into it to avoid a drenching. Thank goodness. We formed a government approved Bubble with my daughter and then socially distanced with some other familial bubbles.

If I know anything significant about bubbles it is that they pop in the rain. I would have felt safer if the government had used the word ‘pod’

Podding with someone feels robust and resilient. There is a protective element to the word.

Bubbling with someone seems frivolous and fanciful, flimsy.

A sensible mother would protect her child in a pod, we were only offered a bubble. People go into space in a pod not a bubble.

Without becoming over political this reflects the whole sorry state of Pandemic Precautions in England. Run by a government that chooses the flimsy alternative to the more robust one, every time.

We had a good weekend skitting about in our bubble avoiding rainshowers. Raindrops posed boastfully on flowers everywhere, calling attention to themselves and providing a visual metaphor for the virus that could at any moment pop our ‘ bubble’ of a slowly easing Lockdown.

Other flowers though had shrugged off the rain and were ready to get on with life as normal. A happy state that we humans are not quite at.

Hugo , being a dog flitted wilfully between bubbles and at other times posed in flower beds. Having completely misunderstood which restrictions have been relaxed.

Pandemic Pondering #95

Father’s Day

@theoldmortuary we don’t have any fathers. Definitely a cause of sadness but within our micro family we have two Father’s, my ex-husband and my son. Today was a socially distanced family gathering to celebrate at a distance those father’s both with us and those no longer with us.

Celebrate takes on a whole new way of being when the only alcohol is in the hand sanitizer and everyone has prepared their own picnic.

Our destination was the Eden Project as previous visits, since the relaxation of lockdown, have been very easy. It is never busy and has plenty of space for a family to social distance.

Our progress is always slow around Eden.

Today, patterns was my photographic project , beyond the family of course.

This first image is a pierced stained glass design and it’s projected image stitched together and then tiled.

The rest are just pierced metal and bright sunlight.

Finally we have the three people,all in the same log, that celebrated Father’s Day with their Dads today.

Pandemic Pondering #81

A pandemic 1st for @theoldmortuary. A Day Out.

Today we went to the Eden Project in Cornwall to have a socially distanced meet up with some of our family.

The Eden Project opened to the public recently for the first time since Lockdown.
https://www.edenproject.com

The Eden Project has got socially distanced tourism spot on. You have to book a slot, so it can’t be a spontaneous visit but beyond that the amount of control is so deftly handled, once you are in, it is easy to forget the restrictions of the pandemic, without ever flouting them.

On arrival there are ample public toilets, water stations and a take out coffee shop. The hosts who welcome you have the same welcoming charm as London 2012 Olympic Volunteers, and that was considered a Gold Standard of hosting. Hand sanitising gel is available as soon a you reach the welcome concourse and throughout the site.

Only the outside area is open during this pandemic opening. Visitors are guided to wander through areas that can be overlooked by anyone dazzled , quite rightly, by the magnificence of the Tropical and Mediterranean Biomes or the Science of The Core in more normal times. This is a fabulous chance to experience the outside with restricted visitor numbers. The peace is magical.

Instead of biomes we got intimate with bees.

And wandered down Cornish lanes.

Flower meadows and single specimens slowed us down. This was the most tranquil visit we have ever made to Eden

Fragrance is everywhere. Once we had meandered our way down to the Biomes more toilets were available and another take- away coffee stall, again social distancing was imposed with a gentle reminder.

A great time was had by all.

And for Miss VV, her first experience of being, very gently, escorted out of a venue as the last woman standing.

Pandemic Pondering #69

Pandemic wanderings.

Today found us having a small permissible family gathering midway between London and Cornwall.

We met at Ashton Court on the outskirts of Bristol. Acres of amazing walks and plenty of places to have socially distanced picnics.

The house has some lovely architectural details.

and some curious graffiti.

Frosty Flakes anyone?
https://thebristolmag.co.uk/mr-mrs-smyth-the-history-of-ashton-court-estate/

The views from the park are phenomenal. In the distance we spotted a beautiful church. How often in life are there so few pressures on time that you can just go and find a church that you’ve seen in a landscape? That’s how we ended up at St Michaels Church, Dundry. It has spectacular views over Bristol

and the churchyard has an unusual project.

Many of the old graves have been planted with bee friendly, and other polinator friendly, flowers. This whole area of the graveyard has a softness and distinctive look, created by the flowers that makes it mystical and beautiful in a way that is unfamiliar in Britain.

The church door of St Michaels is guarded by two faces. One has definitely done more years.

After leaving St Michaels we took a scenic journey to Chew Lakes to finish up our picnic that was started lunchtime.

Two days of meeting up with much loved family members has exhausted us. We might gently slip back into full lockdown tomorrow for a rest. But it’s been wonderful to see everyone.

Pandemic Ponderings #14

Yesterday was unusual because I didn’t feel particularly inspired to write and was in the lucky position of having written two blogs in one day earlier in the Pandemic so had the chance to stay numerically correct . It is 14 days since Pandemic Ponderings started. I’m not sure what made me not want to write . We needed supplies so I drove the car to a farm for eggs and then hit two supermarkets for provisions. We went for another massive walk. In the same direction as #13 but the opposite riverbank.

The need to bake became imperative and a rich black Guinness Cake sits in the kitchen this morning, some of it already eaten.

In London Cornish Pasties were being made by my daughter and her boyfriend.

Last night we attended a virtual Pub Disco, streamed on Facebook. Hosted by family member Lee Anthony

So there was a lot going on.

My mind was almost certainly taken up with thoughts that swirled around reregistration as a Radiographer. A decision made for me by the government.
It was a big decision to deregister when I left London two years ago. My long career in the NHS had accidentally gone full circle ending exactly where it started at St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

An injury in New York, I fell over a flower bed, had thrown up a number of health ssues I was unaware of and some that I had chosen to ignore. The pragmatic approach and slightly early retirement seemed the right answer to these problems. Which it was, the Health issues have righted themselves with rest, medication, weight loss and exercise.

Reregistration is usually bloody hard and involves crossing the government’s palm with Silver and donating time freely to the NHS to prove worthiness and usefulness.

As if by magic in a Pandemic, reregistration becomes easy, which makes me wonder why such apparently useful people have always been made to take a difficult path if they change their own minds.

No time to be churlish.

Both myself and Pandemic Ponderings will be taking a path unimaginable to me 14 days ago. Let’s see where serendipity is taking us tomorrow.

Pillow returns home again.

Four years ago a pillow left Cornwall for a journey that shows no sign of ending. As I write this it is safely in a flat in Wimbledon, following two months of a residency at the Austrian Cultural Forum
https://www.acflondon.org/

The Pillow is part of ‘Pillow Talk – conversation with women’

Pillow Talk is a transportable installation featuring 59 pillows devised and curated by Mellisa Budasz, Jasmine Praddissitto, Kim Thornton and the late Moira Jarvis. Featuring the work of members of South London Women Artists.

Here is the story of the installations event at Tate Modern.
https://www.southlondonwomenartists.co.uk/tag/pillow-talk/

Each pillow was created by an artist to express how her creativity was inspired or shaped by another woman.

My pillow was inspired by my mother. Here it is with my daughter at Tate Modern.

There is a book to accompany the installation . Each artist wrote a brief explanation of their pillows story.

This blog is the longer story of my pillow.

I was my mother’s only child and the result of an unwanted pregnancy. I realise that this statement seems harsh but it was a truth she never attempted to hide from me. I am not at all unique, a large percentage of the human race are the result of unwanted pregnancies. Her unwanted pregnancy spurred her on to set up Family Planning clinics in a rural corner of Essex early in the 1960’s. She and a small group of friends set their clinics up under the umbrella of the Family Planning Association. Contraception freely available to all was not the organisations original mission. Contraception was only available to married women with written permission of their husbands, or Vicar in the case of soon to be married women.

My mum and her friends ran their clinics a little differently and offered contraception to anyone who wanted it and faked the male permissions. Progressive sexual literature was available and all women were encouraged to attend for smears.

Running these clinics was not without personal cost. There were occasional protests and stuff was put through the letter box at home. Our house was at one time surrounded by women pushing prams.

Eventually the country caught up with North East Essex and contraception and sexual health advice became freely and unquestionably available.

The pillow records the actions of normal anonymous women doing something forward thinking but not universally popular for all women in their community. Their strength of character is my creative inspiration.

The pillow on its latest outing.

And in the book.

Advent#30

Betwixtmas

The shapeshifting days of the festive season when some normality returns, a return to work perhaps or family members returning to their own homes. There is some normalcy but it’s still hard to actually name the day easily or give up on the notion that grazing is regular behaviour.

As a family we have a birthday within the Yuletide. So one day of Betwixtmas is always designated as a birthday gathering for all the available extended family. Including Hugo and Lola. The cast and destination change from year to year but it is always a little oasis of birthday bliss amongst the glitter and twink of the festive season.

Malpas was our destination of choice today. A river village not far from Truro.

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Malpas was new to most of us and we had a beautiful walk before we had lunch. It was a grey old day and all my photos were a bit ‘meh’ which is not a good look and somewhat dull for a blog.
We had a late, non festive lunch at the Heron Inn, the food was wonderful. The company was as familiar and convivial as usual, with an age range of 1 to 89, everyone left Malpas happy.

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http://www.heroninnmalpas.co.uk/

Even on a grey day Malpas was a picturesque spot. Just not so great for blogging photography

And so, back to Betwixtmas after a birthday interlude.

Tomorrow (Monday) sees another incremental edge on the normality scale. Tuesday the normality reading hits a plateau until 5pm when festive recidivism plunges everyone feet first into New Year’s Eve. Regardless of your view on New Years Eve it forces you to actively do something . Either to mark it in a positive way by staying up past midnight or to deliberately snub it by going to bed and ‘ missing all the fuss’

Before that though we have two more days of Betwixtmas to fill.

©theoldmortuary.design