#457 theoldmortuary ponders

A January weekend in St Ives, the streets and the beaches are empty. Plenty of space for dogs to think that they own the world and humans to be the only people in the pub, apart from the faces looking down from the walls.

Hugo tried being masterful with the waves and the waves won.

We, the humans, knew the waves would always win and were not tempted in for a swim, as yet. But for now just staring at the sea and pondering the massive changes the last 100 years have seen in this beautiful coastal town while the sea remains unchanged. History of St Ives below.

P.s we may have found the perfect art studio, overlooking the beach.

#452 theoldmortuary ponders

City walks in January need plenty of stop offs. The last time I was in this glorious Tom Dixon interiors shop was in February 2020. I was feeling as ill as it is possible to feel and still be more or less functioning. In reality I very probably had Covid and could barely appreciate the joy of his designs or the fragrances of his beautiful candles. Three years have passed and my personal score of Covid( before testing) Novid ( – test, all the symptoms) Covid (+test minimal symptoms) My pleasure in the visual remains high, but sadly the pleasures of fragrances have all but left me.

The barge, glimpsed through the window says it all. So much has been lost by so many over those three years my sense of smell is a small loss to bare. A January afternoon in the Tom Dixon store is such a feast for the eyes I barely missed the fragrances.

#451 theoldmortuary ponders

Our day started, as it went on, doing entirely normal things in unusual locations. A visit to our favourite bakery seemed very standard until I decided to use the loo. Only to discover that it was in the strong room, the bakery was in a former bank.

Unfortunately the name of the Strong Room could also be considered a judgement of my years of expertise in enjoying bakery products. No such judgement on the next stop.

Be-oom a Korean tea shop whose outdoor space was very unexpected.

I was particularly thrilled by the nearby what3words location.

After the tea, this silver author wished for somewhere cosy to relax after my rose petal infusion. There was no relaxation, though, in a day of long city walks. The last of the normal things in unusual spaces was a book shop on a canal.

And just to bring this unusual blog to a close is a clever door stop.

#424 theoldmortuary ponders

Yesterday’s breakfast in Cornwall

This weekend is shaped very differently than planned. Train strikes forced us to cancel a trip to London. Not for us a festive visit to experience the sights, smells and textures of, what was once, our local market. We were supposed to meet some friends for a decade old tradition of breakfast at Borough Market. We have yet to re-establish our pre Christmas treat with them after the Covid years. But in the spirit of Advent + 2022 I can share a little story never before seen on ponderings.

Texture at Borough in the past

I was waiting alone, at Borough on one occasion, waiting for the other three festive marketers to join me. They were all a little late but as we all worked in the NHS that was nothing unusual.

A man approached me and asked if I was his Tinder date. I explained, politely that I wasn’t

15 minutes later we were both still there and he approached me again, asking if I was sure I was not his date. I assured him that I was not. He was shuffling and a bit agitated by then, his old and ill fitting ‘ date clothes’ making him look like an extra from a 1970’s Police drama.

Moments later he approached me a third time and came out with a sentence I have never forgotten. “Even if you are not here to meet me, you will do, do you want a coffee?”

© Mark Curnow. Yesterday’s breakfast at Borough

Politely, I declined.

#371 theoldmortuary ponders

We are big fans of Thomas Heatherwick Designs. His Double Decker buses ran on our route from Crystal Palace into Oxford Street. As we are staying near Littlehampton, it seemed a good idea to visit another of his designs on the promenade at East beach. An easy decision as the sun was shining and the dog’s love a day at the seaside and the design in question is a cafe.

We arrived just before closing time and sat outside in bright sunshine just enjoying the views.

This tranquil picture is missing one vital and invisible element. Which the dogs rather elegantly demonstrate.

Happy, windy dogs and a kite surfer

Because I gave you the back of a bus, here is the back of the cafe.


Which gives me the chance to ponder one of my mother’s pithy comments. She used to describe some people as having a face like the back end of a bus. Not necessarily kind but accurate in some cases. I wish I was as beautiful as the back end of Mr Heatherwicks bus or even his cafe. A bus that changes perceptions. The rest of East beach also features some modern and classic design features.

The Worlds longest beach bench, 1,000 metres of seating, some traditional and simple and at other times twirling in complicated shapes, offering high up view points and places to lay back and take in the vibe, sheltered against inclement weather. Local people can buy a slat to celebrate life events or to create a memorial message for loved ones who have died. Further on, classic beach huts standing firm for decades.

We had a long overdue post-covid catch-up with some old friends after our beach walk. There is still something wonderful about a good long hug with special people. A little bit of digital magic and I found a chubby Buddha in the sky. A day well spent.

#229 theoldmortuary ponders

This is the first sign of the day that Friday was not going to go to plan but not necessarily in a bad way. The early morning dog walk was complicated by the dog poo bag holder not being replenished. Lola performed in a deeply rural part of the walk and I was able to flick her early morning elimination into a deep bramble bush, land that has not seen the light of day since the second world war. At the end of our walk I treated myself to a cup of coffee to enjoy in the yard.

At this point we were in an urban environment. At the most built up part of the walk Hugo decided to make his early morning deposit. Still no bags and too early to borrow from other dog walkers I had no choice but to stand over his steaming offering and drink my coffee down very quickly so I could use my coffee cup and lid to dispose of his poo in a proper way. This all took way longer than planned and then I was almost late for the 9 am bob.

©Rich Bobber

As you can see the sea was not to be missed this morning. The morning slipped away with bobbers drinking tea in the yard after what turned out to be a wonderful long swim. I also handed over a commission to a happy new owner. Then the day took a new and unexpected turn, two friends messaged to say they were in St Pauls Cathedral for the Queens Jubilee Service. In an unusual turn of events I was glued to a televised church service plus all the waffle that goes with it to try and see our friends.

Thank goodness for the green tie, and the fact that they took the seats at the back that nobody wanted. That green tie really stood out and the seats no one wanted were exactly where all the V.I.Ps had to stand before going down the aisle. They were often in shot. I am immensely proud of them for refusing to make eye contact with Boris Johnson. Credit too for whichever wit chose the reading from the Bible for Boris to read.

The passage Johnson read was from Phillipians 4:8.

He said: “Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable … think about these things.”

That was no accident. All this serendipity gives me the chance to share this audio/ video of one of the most joyous sounds in London. The bells of St Pauls.

©Mark Curnow

And to finish this blog off, of an unplanned day, with the quiet space of a much smaller St Pauls also celebrating a Jubilee on my evening dog walk.

#209 theoldmortuary ponders

Pull up a chair for a classic meandering ponder. Yesterday there was a plan and neither fate nor serendipity stepped in to change it. Today we need to pull up a chair because our leg muscles in particular know that we achieved our set target of the day.

Before we get to ‘the plan’ there were the side tasks. Luck in the shape of an unknown sailor gave me this pretty image to start the blog.

A red rowing boat exactly in line with a red delivery van on the other side of the Hamoaze was a lucky moment during the dog walk. Our morning was spent doing unblogworthy tasks but we had a lunchtime date to visit friends at their allotment.

I must admit to having a preconception about allotments. Dusty rectangles of land in unlovely locations requiring hard work and a lot of heavy lifting. We were due to be met at the gate by a friend. These particular allotments are quite secure. My fanciful head has images of Narnia , my real life head thought   high fences and clanging metal gates. It turns out that Fanciful and I(n) R(eal) L(ife) had met and produced a love child that is Peverell Paradise or Aspirational Allotment World. The gate turned out to be a portal into another world.

We stepped into an area of wooden buildings just off a main road, the ground was carpeted with dense and aromatic woodchip. There was a composting toilet, a small sales area and other sheds that no doubt held magical creatures brewing acorn gin and baking nettle pastries. The whole area was under a canopy of trees that created the sort of dappled shade beloved of film makers with a soundscape of birdsong. Just as in an adventure we were led on an undulating path to the actual allotment of our destination. But not before we passed the allotment of an ‘Influencer’.  An Influencer!! We did not expect that.


the_young_grower is his Instagram name.

Our minds were blown, which just shows how unimaginative, or closeted, minds can be when thinking about allotments. Warning to anyone checking out his Insta account, there is some male nudity… I know, there is another preconception about allotment life, blown out of the water , or maybe more appropriately, plot lost completely.


Our lunchtime date was completed with the purchase of freshly laid eggs. There is a little bit of colour serendipity in the next shot.

Eggs live in a heart shaped basket in our kitchen. In the bottom of the basket is a really old Polaroid photograph of my dad, so old that it has been faded to that odd shade of fading that over exposure to UV often causes. The polaroid is adorned with a star of the same colour that was sent to us by our thousands of miles away grandaughter. Getting to the bottom of our egg store always gives a little frisson of pleasure when I see the two people connected in a way they will never be in real life. A sort of egg basket Magic Realism I suppose. Imagine how thrilled my inner colour nerd was to find a turquoise egg in our egg box!

Now here is the thing, real time blogging failure. I had written a lovely paragraph about the actual planned task, which in truth we are only half way through. My fingers deleted it and no amount of digging around in my WordPress history can locate it. In the interest of actually publishing a blog today I am going to abandon writing about the actual planned task and give it a blog of its own when we finish it later today. Until tomorrow…

#143 theoldmortuary ponders

Today we are saying goodbye to a new, old, friend. New friends who die in the early stages of friendship are a huge potential loss. Who knows what fabulous shared times are to be missed. With only a tiny repository of past shared memories there is not much for us to trawl through. Bolstered by coffee and pastries we are celebrating what our dear friend Ken did best, we are caring for his granddaughter whilst his older family members and friends celebrate his life at a service to mark his passing. We have big boots to fill, a grandpa is a very special person. Ken was a very special grandpa and he was also a very twinkly new friend. Off now to twinkle somewhere else.

#40 theoldmortuary ponders

Just a little blog today about the joys of an early morning start, and another unexpected morning joy.

Starting the day early with a cup of coffee, the sunrise and a natter with swimming friends at Tranquility Bay. Even though this was officially a dog walk and not a ‘ bobbing’ session.

They were not averse to some morning basking. It is going to be a beautiful day.

My day got a little more complex soon after this when I took the car, an automatic, to have some body work done and the courtesy car had one of these!

Both feet doing something while I drive is quite a novelty.A bit of driving round early morning, empty car parks soon put my driving skills back into the manual world. And the word novelty allows me to add a small serving of another fairly unique experience of the past weekend.

I suppose Covid has altered the way hotels can serve breakfast. My inner child was properly thrilled to have a one person serving of breakfast cereal. A treat that only occured very rarely when I was an actual child and pretty rarely when I had actual children.

#34 theoldmortuary ponders

Goodness me, another late blog for the best of reasons!

November is my birthday month so I always get a boost of love and gifts in one of the darkest months.

November 2019 was pretty stormy and in November most normal human beings knew little of what the next 4 months would do to the whole of the worlds population. At a more granular level we certainly thought life would evolve and change at a fairly normal pace. In November 2019 we got our kicks on my birthday walking on stormy beaches Then a pandemic happened and strange and unsettling things changed our lives forever. Wind on two years and we get our kicks swimming in stormy seas in November and any other month. What started as an alternative to swimming in swimming pools during lockdown has become at least a twice a week habit. Winter swimming in particular is addictive and hugely rewarding, the buzz after a winter swim is hard to explain.

Todays swim was pretty rough and bouncy but enormously energising.

And then the bobbers had a surprise in store, and this is the reason for the late blog. After our 9:30 swim we had an 11:00 birthday party. The sugar and carb rush of party food on top of the post swimming high is an extraordinary feeling. We may never give this sea swimming malarkey up and with 14 of us in our group now there will always be the occasional party!