#244 theoldmortuary ponders

Sunshine and showers was the weather serving for this weekend. Not exactly bittersweet but certainly two sides of the same coin.

Much like Fathers Day, which was for many, the focus point of the weekend. As an outside observer to many traditional family gatherings I wonder if living through a pandemic has sharpened the focus on marking significant days with family and friends. There seems to be less marketing of these events and more gathering together, less gifts more visits. We had a lovely family visit, despite not being able to offer the inducements of any fathers or grandfathers. Just a father on the horizon and an actual one,for one of our number, across the river in Cornwall. Enough to make the weekend have a little buzz of purpose. Three of us, unable to visit father’s in the other realm or in another country had an unhurried afternoon of wandering around the shops with no great schedule or aim in place. Possibly many people’s idea of hell, but for us, something to be enjoyed, not so much because we were shopping but because sometimes it is really comforting just to hang out together doing something mundane and nattering about it. Most unusually we were on the search for some fast fashion. Not something I really approve of but its hard not to get caught up in the constant fiesta of fashion fun that stores like Primark, New Look and H and M create. I did also break my own rules of reuse, repurpose or recycle and bought myself a fabulous string shopping bag in bright orange.

Social Media plays a huge part in the celebration of Fathers Day. Through it I get a sense of community with those of us without fathers or grandfathers to celebrate in person for whatever reason. It certainly helps to be aware of the many others there are, who are feeling a twinge, or more, of sadness on such days. The enormous positive of Fathers Day on Social Media is that people actively introduce you to their fathers or father figures on line. So Facebook and Instagram feeds are full of truly wonderful role models, representing many generations of paternalistic love.

After 36 hours of delicious busyness we were back down to just the two of us and two dogs. The weather had taken a turn for the worse but our evening walk was enlivened by stone skimming and stone hunting something both humans and dogs take very seriously. All good prep for the week ahead.

#227 theoldmortuary ponders

Welcome to the Thursday that thinks it is Saturday. The Queen has been on the throne for seventy years, so in Britain we have a four day weekend with today, Thursday,being the first of the days off.

The Queen as Ziggy Stardust, both great British institutions.

My head has been incapable of adjusting to a Thursday Bank Holiday.I can’t help but be puzzled that this is not Saturday. Our usually quiet week day walk was enlivened by huge numbers of tourists. The dogs took their time reading all the pee mails that the unknown holidaying dogs have left, almost making us late for our usual, free, two hour parking spot. A big celebration in London with us not visiting is unheard of, but we never considered going this time. We no longer have our own Welsh Guardsman performing for Her Majesty.

Not because we have lost him, but because he has retired his Bearskin. To be fair his instrument of choice made him one of the men in the back row so we have spent many events of great national significance waiting for a glimpse of his bottom.

We often got front row seats, again really very lucky. On one occasion the seats were so special we had a slightly awkward sartorial moment. We had taken some South African friends, with us, who were dressed amazingly, I suppose we were dressed well enough for normal but as it turned out our tickets were anything but normal. London, on these occasions, is also far from normal so when our tickets, being checked at pinch points, sent us nearer and nearer to Downing Street we were not particularly perturbed. Alarm bells were slightly raised by the fashion and style of all the other people who were being gently directed with us. If we were dressed to an OK standard the others in the queue clearly had a different dress code. Men in Morning Dress ( three piece suits with tails) women in fabulous outfits with high heels and hats of the most fabulous sort. What sealed the deal for the strangeness of our ticket allocation, was the last part of our journey which was through the gardens of Number 10 Downing Street. The home and Office of the British Prime minister. We had randomly been given tickets on the same stand as International Diplomats. We diplomatically stuck close to our South African friends, who looked more dressed for the  occasion than we did. We took our places in the stand and had fabulous views. No one noticed us at all,  apart from those moments when our friends caught a glimpse of a black Welsh Guards musician and ululated with joy. Having done it once, those diplomats and their families, who could ululate, joined in on on every subsequent occasion. I suspect that is not the normal behaviour from the Diplomats stand, but it made the days events joyful and memorable.

Thursday as the new Saturday, a Platinum Jubilee is unlikely ever to happen again. My confusion is unlikely to be repeated. Probably just as well!

#159 theoldmortuary ponders

Mothers day weekend passed in glorious sunshine. There was an arrival of flowers and the promise of some books but no actual face to face mothering to be done. Our own mothers are long dead and beloved human children were busy elsewhere. So with a bit of magical realism in mind, we took ourselves and them off to a place we have all loved, and did some reminiscing.

We love Fowey so much we held our short notice wedding there.

When I first moved to Cornwall my parents were both unknowingly pretty poorly with terminal illnesses. It would have been easier to fall in love with any number of the beautiful locations surrounding us, especially ones with sensible Victorian promenades, so much easier to push a wheelchair and manage two small children. But as we all know no-one chooses who they fall in love with, the same is true of choosing favourite towns to visit.

Briefly empty, the streets of Fowey demonstrate the challenges I faced.

Building muscle and precious memories over the five years of their illnesses Fowey was always the go-to destination even when it took very precise planning to make a visit happen.

Despite being born in Hong Kong, Hannah has lived a big chunk of her life living near to Fowey and regularly rowed in the annual regatta. Her mum loved an excuse to visit the shops of Fowey, there was never a visit that didn’t produce an essential purchase.

So we have individual memories and blended memories, all of which make for a good day out. Never let it be said that you can’t join in with Mothers Day just because there is no actual mothering to be done.

We were up and out early which gave us the advantage of empty streets. The weather was beautiful and gave us sharply contrasting stolen views.

We hadn’t made a lunchtime reservation and were disappointed that our favourite cafe, Pinky Murphys was closed.


But that turned out to be an absolute bonus as we eventually got a perfect balcony table at a cafe bar that is one we have been to with all of our family over the many years of loving Fowey. Over 30+ years the bar has had many names and styles of food. But physically it remains pretty much the same


The views are always amazing, the sunshine was out and we did not miss the current offering of “unmissable’ Tiramisu. Every family member got a good share of the conversation between mouthfulls of pizza and good red wine.

How do you finish such a perfectly unplanned and serendipitous day?

A trip to the car wash. It turns out that the seagulls of Fowey recognised us as regular visitors and dropped off their loyalty cards without us even asking!

#68 theoldmortuary ponders

Advent and the run up to Christmas is not all about the ‘front-of-house’ stuff. Some prep is definitely more mundane. A new loo seat and a consignment of loo rolls were part of this week’s plans.

As it turns out some nice soft tissue was exactly what we needed. Christmas is bittersweet for many people. There is the excitement of gathering with family and friends tinged with sadness remembering the people it is no longer possible to mingle with on the earthly realm. With this in mind we took ourselves off to see the Stephen Spielberg, West Side Story.

Having both grown up with this vinyl recording of the soundtrack in our homes, we thought it was a good way to remember our mums. Obviously @theoldmortuary blog is not normally a film reviewing blog.

We loved it, a fabulous way to spend three hours in a reclining seat. Spoiler alert. You may need tissues.

#33 theoldmortuary ponders

Sunrise over Plymouth Sound on Armistice Day. Both my great uncle and grandfather sailed to war several times from Devonport Naval Dockyard. My great uncle as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces in World War 1 and my grandfather in a submarine in World War II. It is funny to think of them as young men spending their last nights ashore on Union Street. A nearby street famed world-wide for night life. Certainly a world away from their rural upbringings in Essex and Cambridgeshire or in the case of my recently migrated Great Uncle, rural Ontario. I hope their heads were not too sore as they sailed past Drakes Island.

Pandemic Pondering #565

We lived in Cornwall long enough to never quite trust a weather forecast fully.

Even through the curtains it was easy to see that the forecast was a little out of synch with local conditions.

Even our prediction of being without family on this beach was a bit flawed.

Our little granddaughter took a tumble in Hong Kong and needed an overnight stay in hospital so we took a good number of phone calls while enjoying the non rain. So some definite family time was had.

This morning the news from Hong Kong is better and the weather is also doing a fine job of putting a brave face on the situation. A good start to Monday.

Pandemic Pondering #540

Both days of this weekend were always going to be colourful, tinged with a little bit of anxiety.

Getting the anxiety out of the way. This glorious blue building is the tower at The Royal London Hospital that is the home to the London Air Ambulance Helipad. One of the little ants clinging to a wire is my daughter, doing a sponsored abseil to raise money for the Air Ambulance Service. A charity forever in the hearts and minds of our family.

Less stressful colour was provided by a food festival.

Bao Buns by Barbican Bao

We ate spectacularly well for women with abseiling loved ones on our minds.

Saturday anxieties conquered. Just Sunday to go!

Pandemic Pondering#434

The lost blog in The Lost Gardens of Heligan. This mornings blog was lost in the herds of tourists that have arrived in Cornwall for their holidays now no-one can travel abroad. Then it was further lost in an uncharged phone.

A trip to the Lost Gardens of Heligan is a regular treat for us and one that normally we dont plan too formally. But in these busy times we had to book and the only time slot available was really early. Not too tricksy I thought I can blog before I go. Unfortunately due to fashion and stupidity I needed to quickly collect some blister plasters before we even set off. I plugged my phone in to charge on the drive down and was surprised to arrive with only 10% battery. Three pictures later that was it.

One dead battery and many photo opportunities missed.

So apologies for the late arrival of this blog some days the moments in life just dont quite stack up for 600 words before 8 am.

Pandemic Pondering #386

Last night we needed a decent length dog walk, and luckily our Waterside destination pulled out all the stops for visual pleasure.

Our 23 year old cat, George, made a one way trip to the vets yesterday. She had had a remarkable life. Early years in a Naval town were followed by rural bliss with special responsibilities for laying in the sun , extravagantly posed on a War Memorial when not hunting mice and rats. On one occasion she failed to completely kill a rat but dragged it indoors through the cat flap spurting arterial blood from its ravaged neck. 10 years as an urban cat in South London sharing her patch with urban foxes gave her an attitude on top of her already well formed personality. Returning to her rural home when she was twenty she opted for a quiet life and spent her days chasing patches of sunlight around the garden. She was in that process yesterday before her appointment for a tooth extraction. George always had robustly good physical health, her mental health was more precarious. She had periods of very precise over grooming taking the fur off exactly a quarter of her body, other periods when she would live under a bed for months at a time. All of her life she was the cat version of Eeyore. She loved only one woman and it wasnt someone she lived with, but our friend Steph for whom she always turned on the charm.

Part of the responsibility of loving and caring for pets can be making the difficult decisions. Her poorly tooth turned out to also be a tumour, her life would never again been one of sunbeam hunting and casual grumpiness. Sometimes death is not the worst option.

A good long walk on a sad evening was exactly what we needed to put things into perspective.