Quite the red letter day in the yard today. Firstly the bees were going crazy for the poppies in the early morning sun.
Then a small under gardener arrived from Hong Kong via London and Sennen Cove. Never has the 10:15 from Penzance brought such a precious person.
She quickly set about the watering tasks. Then it was time to find the play park and walk the dogs.
Dog walking is a serious business when you are 3 years old. But for us all wildlife spotting became very serious when we spotted a Smooth Hound Shark at Freemans Wharf, not far from home. That is setting the bar very high for the rest of her visit. We will do our best, but I fear we may have peaked too soon!
Yesterday was all about watching family members doing sporty things. The weather was kind to everyone. Hannah and friends Emily and Becky swam to Drakes Island and back.
Just once a year swimmers are allowed to swim across the deep water channel entrance to Devonport Dockyard between Devils Point and Drakes Island. The swim was sponsored to raise money for the Chestnut Appeal, an organisation that raises money for research into Prostate Cancer. A disease that is close to our hearts and minds as far too many men have lives blighted by this disease. When I say close to our hearts the comment is emotional not anatomical. The prostate gland actually lives just below a mans bladder and surrounds the urethra just after it leaves the bladder. Clearly nowhere near a woman’s actual heart! It is the size of a walnut or chestnut. The prostate is a busy thing making the juice that sperm swim in, but in engineering terms it is badly designed for longevity. My dad described it as having ‘built in obsolescence’ . As men age it swells and becomes thickened, which is benign disease, and makes men wee a lot at night, sadly it is also the site of a very common cancer.
The swim was a little delayed because a big ship needed to pass.
But soon enough the swimmers were off.
And 30 minutes later back again.
Rewarded by coffee provided by their very attentive support team.
My second stint of watching involved the TV, our family had tickets for Wimbledon and while on an outside court had front row seats. Unfortunately the BBC overlayed the exact spot they were sitting with a score checker.
When they were in court 1 they were just tiny dots of pink and blue.
Never in the history of @theoldmortuary has a blog had so many people in it! The dogs were there, at swimming, not Wimbledon, too.
So after a day of watching other people do stuff I felt duty bound to take a little dip in the sea. The crowds were smaller and reaching the island positively not allowed.
3 years since the last Glastonbury Festival and,coincidentally, 3 years since we have seen two sets of friends, who we met up with this weekend. The TV coverage of Glasto has been the soundtrack of our weekend and on Sunday Glastonbury defined where we could meet our friends without either set of people getting caught up in festival traffic.
West Bay became our destination of choice and the sun came out with a side serving of cold blustery wind.
The day started with marmalade for breakfast. Traditional enough you might think but for us the day started with marmalade ice cream. A very fine toilet on our route can be found at an Ice Cream Farm. Despite the earliness of our arrival it seemed rude not to partake in their titular product.
The next stop was Bridport, it seemed fitting on this occasion to have cake as this comfort break was at a bakery.
These were way to fancy for our tastes and we decided to buy something a little simpler, and save it for the return journey.
And so the three year reunion occured. We hugged and laughed and walked a lot and drank coffee.
West Bay did not disappoint it even gave me two of my favourite things. A glitterball and an old weathered door.
Three years has been a long time, the gentle trickle to normality is gathering pace . I’ve loved seeing great crowds of people enjoying themselves at Glastonbury and at a different level it is just so good to give friends a good old hug and a squeeze when we meet. Ice cream for breakfast; not an everyday occurrence for sure but definately an opportunity to be taken occasionally. Random opportunities are assets waiting to be realised. It may have taken a world pandemic for me to fully realise their value.
Blogging about pondering is an almost inexhaustible subject. There are often a few potential blogs bubbling away in the background waiting for a denouement or an illustrative image. Todays blog is a little different as it only really has one image and no denouement in sight. I ping these words out into the ether never knowing where or with whom they will land. The daily stats on any blog tells me how many humans and in some cases bots have looked at the blog on any given day. People are also kind enough to comment on various platforms. This week has been a week of real world interaction and talk of blogs when I have been out and about. I’ve had some fabulous chats about how motherhood impacted the career trajectories of women who created families in the eighties and nineties and about the power of lateral chatting. The thing is with these lovely gems of blog induced natterings, they are never long enough and I always think of something useful to add ten minutes after I have walked away.
The picture above and the link below illustrates lateral conversations in a far better way than I can. Thanks to Jack for the real life conversation that inspired this particular train of thought.
Talking is the thread of this blog, this next conversation may not be so easy to have, laterally or otherwise, but maybe the women who held on to careers and some who couldn’t, need to talk about being a working mother in the eighties and nineties. Being a working mother was not about banging our heads on a glass ceiling, at least there was a chance of breaking through that. The bondage of being labelled a ‘Working Mother’ by society was the most disempowering title ever applied to me and a whole generation of women. Thanks Clare for our chat that made me realise what we all achieved against the odds.
And so back to my original illustration which nicely shows how life, and blogs, is a series of interconecting shapes all created by the line we walk and that even computers can’t make it perfect. Life like this image is made more attractive by its imperfections. The imperfections are what make great conversations.
And then the sun came out properly! After 4 days of mist with just an occasional sunny break through, Monday, finally, delivered on some good weather. Our morning walk took us to Mount Wise overlooking Plymouth Sound and the Stonehouse Peninsular. Looking back towards our home and regular swimming, bobbing, location.
We have been home birds for the whole of Easter and we have had many adventures but all the photographs look like this.
This was the view from our Sunday lunch destination, booked for the combination of extensive, breathtaking views and good food. The food did not disappoint. Below is a link to how the view should be.
Fog or mist included we had a great weekend of socialising with family and friends. By Monday evening it was time to get back to normal and an evening ‘bob’ was called. 10 bobbers gathered in the evening sun with tales of Easters elsewhere, and photographs to make us jealous.
Not that Tranquility Bay put on a bad show last night itself.
Tranquility Bay, though, was in a tricksy mood and had some nasty currents which exhausted one of the bobbers. Last night was a fine lesson in why we are Bobbers who Bob together. Towards the end of our time in the water two bobbers were a little late returning to the chattering zone. After some robust shouting our two strongest swimmers realised there was a problem and took off back to the buoy. Coach Andy has his finger poised to call the emergency services, but the tired and emotional bobber was dragged back to the safe area and we all left the sea, happy that we have each other and that some of the bobbers are good enough swimmers to keep us safe. Easter eggs and hot drinks returned everyone to their normal settings and Coach Andy’s Emergency Finger was returned to his coat pocket until it is next called into action. And with that Easter 2022 was concluded.
Some days should be celebrated for their ‘ normalness’. Lola has returned to her pre-surgery, happy, self so the dog world, in our house, has returned to near normal. In the outside world, we had a day that was really very similar to pre-pandemic life. We said goodbye to some friends heading off for some prolonged travelling and I went to an in-person bookclub where 90% of the members attended with no-one away with Covid. The only person who couldn’t attend couldn’t come because she was too busy elsewhere. These may be really mundane observations on the activities of a day but the fact that they are so normal is spectacularly exciting. Near normal days have been almost impossible for more than two years. Normal is really rather lovely. A normal day ended with a beautiful, but normal for here, sunset. Pretty much a perfect day.
A day to be grateful for mothers and nurturers. Thankfully almost anyone can nurture so even those of us without actual mothers can celebrate being cared for and nurtured. Nurturing has come in all shapes and forms during this last two years of a world Pandemic
Science and Nurture have pulled most of us through some very dark times. Nurturing one another will make our recovery far more comfortable.
The morning after the weekend before. Birthdays and Vernal Equinoxes in Pangbourne.
It was all going on this weekend, living our best life by going to an actual party, eating and drinking a little too much, dancing on carpet and finding new friends amongst the old.
The dogs had a sleep over in Wimbledon with an actual Womble.
The dawn of the Vernal Equinox, and also the morning after the party, found me sharing nature within a pastoral scene of a Thameside, water meadow, with a gentleman who was finishing off his night before. He was anxious to share his love of nature with me I was anxious not to reciprocate. Not quite the mellow meditative experience I had planned when waking in our campervan to a glorious dawn chorus. But Plein Air meditative painters do not always have the world to themselves, even at 6:30 in the morning. My other companion was definately perkier but no less inquisitive.
Fortunately my quick, abstract sketch/ colour note was of no interest to either of them, the swan honked a bit and wandered off, all too aware the sketch was inedible. The befuddled gentleman had no understanding of my visual Venn diagram, believing I think, that his inebriation was a good deal worse than he could have imagined. He was unaware he was not welcome in my picture and certainly not on my bench! The Venn Diagram was explicit, I thought.
Sketch finished I unwound myself from the slightly frozen pose I had been adopting. As I thawed out I realised a scamper back to civilisation was required as a wee made itself known and I was all too aware that I was not alone in the countryside for any more informal seeking of comfort.
There has been a curious circularity to the week which has been radled by a virus. Mostly exhausted, I have also had some lovely, in person face to face but masked up and at a distance conversations and some zoom or Video meetings. Lovely Ralph wearing his daffodil was part of the Video gang, he didn’t really play an active part in the commitee meeting but he clearly is aiming to be Chairman with this fabulous pose of authority. After yesterdays blog with my photo of the resting bee, Ralphs’ mum sent me this picture with a rescued bee which she popped into a daffodil to recover his equilibrium.
The stand out theme of the week has been the non- Covid virus and its debilitating symptoms. It is on the wane now leaving me a bit bunged up and still without any taste or smell. My amnosmia and phantosmia are on going. I’ve given up cooking from scratch unless under supervision. Early in the week before I realised that I was more than just a little taste and smell impaired, a chilli dish that I produced caused quite a response in other people but for me the only response was the stinging of my gums. I am quite lucky that the phantosmia for me is not too negative. At its worst most foods taste slightly mildewy or just stale, but for the most part I taste nothing. It has been a great week for drinking all those unusual teas that seemed like a good idea in the supermarket, that then languish in the cupboard because they have all the allure of fresh urine. Last nights curried chicken was not strong enough to register anything, my gums remained un tingly and I thoroughly enjoyed what I thought I was eating which was fresh Mango.
My drink of choice has become ginger beer, the more gingery the better. Normally I can be a right lightweight with ginger beer but this weekend I will be heading to the Afro- Caribbean shops to buy virtual firewater. This is the hottest I managed to get in the west country. Depicted as a colour doodle.
Not a scintilla of heat in that! Talking of heat, I kept my phantosmia of burning wood and tar to myself whilst working at the museum, it really was better for everyone that way.
One more Ralph to send you on your way this Friday. I’ve not really been taking many pictures or been quite so out and about but whatsapp is a wonderful resource of other peoples pictures
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.