#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.

https://www.thorntonsgrowingandliving.co.uk/

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.

©Instagram

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…

#123 theoldmortuary ponders

A busy day crowded with different stimuli, but brought to a standstill by a few lovely flowers. Just twenty minutes spent quietly in a garden easily resets a busy mind ready for the next challenge. I’ve never really been a fan of Primroses but today this ethereal specimen stopped me in my tracks, hiding by a tractor shed.

Building up the colour temperature of this blog is an exploding yellow crocus.

Then after all the innocence and quietude of pale whites, creams and yellows this beautiful purple crocus shouts out for attention.

Its insides swirling like a sensual dancer lost in music.

Re- calibrated I leave the garden.

Pandemic Pondering#433

Plenty of sunshine and a lovely bit of misogyny.

A sunny Bank Holiday weekend has brought many moments of mirth and pleasure. I took this comment from our towns community page on Facebook. I too think the mowing of the wildflowers is a dreadful shame. In the portion of the graveyard that we overlook, the graves  are so old that they are extremely rarely visited. The wild flowers make the area calm and contemplative. Pollenators love it. Never could the author of the comment have imagined she would get such a delicious example of misogyny as a response. Alan R is quite the man for going off at a tangent, in unexpected ways. In other churchyard news the poppies are  really showing off.

Planted to mark 100 years since the end of World War 1, this their third year is their most glorious.

Despite spending over a year walking every inch of our local area we discovered a new viewpoint yesterday. High up, ovelooking Plymouth Sound. There is a tarmac viewpoint just behind the old Marine Biology building on the Hoe.

The views are splendid.

On such a beautiful day it would have been impossible not to swim, or bob, in the sea. An evening bob with bobbers, friends and families was the perfect end to a gorgeous Monday.

Unexpectedly early, some of the bobbers took delivery of their new summer, post-bob, cover ups, this weekend.

All excitedly modelled on the Whatsapp group.

In other news my fabulous school friend Dai Pullen, an occasional contributor to Pandemic Ponderings has entered a short story competition. If you have the time please visit the facebook link below, read his entry and vote if his wordplay floats your boat.

Pandemic Pondering #428

What an amazing day! First a perfect un weather-damaged Poppy bloomed.

And the sun came out, so hopefully pollinators were busy later harvesting this tasty purple pollen.

Then I got to take a friend, who is recovering from surgery, for a little road trip to visit the exhibition. We also met another friend there so some nattering occured. The red of the morning poppy was much in evidence as we looked round the works on show. Red dots all over the room. Red dots are the traditional way to denote that a piece of artwork is sold.

There are several columns like this around the exhibition showing the success for many artists in selling work. As one of the co- curators of this exhibition it is incredibly exciting to see so much work selling. Even better was the huge hug I got from a very happy Allie Cole who was so thrilled to sell a new style of work. She still has two more to sell but her happiness felt better than seeing a red dot on one of my own paintings!

©Allie Cole- details from her paintings awaiting new homes.

We couldn’t have picked a better day for a small trip out , the sunlight was amazing and the views across the valley as stunning as ever. The sunshine lasted through to the evening swim.

A fab day of sunshine, friends and red dots ( of two sorts).

Poppies @theoldmortuary

Pandemic Pondering #369

Four Seasons in One Day.
Yesterday was a funny old day weatherwise. There were two sea swimming sessions planned but the weather forecast of the evening before suggested that neither would be possible. Heavy rain and a nasty wind might make things tricky.

We made a firm commitment to the morning session when we woke up  and the sun was out. Almost the minute the wetsuits were on a sharp shower of rain appeared.  Undeterred we set off and were rewarded by an empty beach and a calm sea.

Good swimming was had even though the tide was out.

©Debs Bobber
©Debs Bobber

It was out so far I could make a close inspection of a rock that had stripped some skin off my leg during a swim a few weeks ago. The surface, despite this cute shell picture, is like razor blades to a flailing limb.

The swim set us up for a session of gardening . The first serious gardening session after winter is always a bit gooey. Moving overwintered stores of garden waste and taming the jungle that has a duel purpose of emergency winter dog loo and a summer lawn . Once the poo was picked up two strimmers attempted the task of taming the long grass. Both failed with spool issues, a trip to the DIY store was required, coincidentally about the same time as the second swim was planned. As we were in the area it would have been rude not to check on the swimmers who had chosen the afternoon slot for swimming. What a difference a few hours had made. Still bright sunshine but the nasty wind had arrived and despite it being high tide the swimmers were kept very close to shore.

The sneaky weather had also given them the chance of the bay to themselves. Moments after they got out of the water the rain arrived.

Followed by a rainbow or two.

Too much of a good thing when the excitement of a DIY store is the planned event of the evening, we set off into the sunset to collect strimmer spools. Oh the excitement and glamour of a Friday night in Pandemic restrictions.

Have a fabulous week end.

Pandemic Pondering #215

https://www.thegardenhouse.org.uk/

You would be forgiven for thinking that my visit to The Garden House was all about hot reds and tangy yellow colours but there were also some subtle shades that were equally compelling.

These beautiful lichens were hiding in a damp outdoor stairwell. The colours are a bit similar to one of my ‘Aloneliness’ sketches.

Part of the reason for seeking some less vivid colours at The Garden House was to find some subtle colour pairings that appear in nature to incorporate into my current project.

The silver birches provide some lovely colour combinations that I’ve not yet used in watercolour sketch notes. They may make for a more gently forlorn image.

Just for completeness I’m including the steps to the original damp turret. All the colours here are softer, bathed in sunlight that has bounced off a few walls before landing on these lower steps.

These more subtle colours will be explored very soon in watercolour. I’m still working on my early sketches and really very unsure exactly where these androgynous characters and their colour fields are going. I wonder if I might call them Pandemic Ponderings…

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 #126

We met a friend this evening whose words of welcome reflect the subject of this blog.” I saw some really blousy flowers the other day and thought of you”It’s hard to know how to respond to that but as luck would have it I have some bold flower pictures to share, as the same friend has some expertise in identifying bee bottoms so I forgive her for the blousy comment.Today is the day in our corner of South East Cornwall. The Artichokes have burst forth their pollen coated flowers and bees are all over the place, apparently this is a buff bottomed bee. There were many bees of buff bottom fame.Wikipedia suggests they are called White Tailed Beewhich is far less exciting.What is exciting is that we also had a Cornish Black Bee.The Artichokes are a gorgeous blaze of hot summer pink at the moment. They will get bluer in a day or two, some summers they deepen to a Klein or Majorelle Blue.When the Artichokes get bluer they tend to attract red-tailed bees. Something to look forward to later in the week.Meanwhile back to Blousy. I’m not sure Artichokes quite fit the bill.But they do have an essence of blousy. If an artichoke walked into a bar it would expect to be noticed. Not because of the unusualness of a walking artichoke obviously, but because it has a provocative way about it, it looks like a good- time plant, the plant that knows where the after party is and is confident it will brazen its way passed the bouncers into the VIP area.Very Impressive Plant.

Pandemic Pondering #119

The Saturday newspaper runs a Wordplay section every week. One part is a quiz to guess the meaning of unusual words. I don’t catch it every week and it doesn’t always spark my inner word- nerd. This week, though, a lovely word popped up.Shikantaza is one of those words, a firework of a word; it could go off in any direction. Street Food, the art of folding tree branches into mysterious shapes, a high fashion garment, the possibilities are endless.What it is, though, is Zen Meditation involving sitting and thinking. I do a lot of sitting and thinking , often adopting other positions too. Already I’m anxious to find the word for Zen Meditation while leaning on a wall. Thinking is one of my favourite activities. I also like to meditate which is the opposite of thinking.I’m not particularly good at static meditation, intrusive thoughts are the fuel of Ponderings why would I want to banish them?I’m more inclined to meditate when doing onerous tasks or when doing something that is regular and repetitive.
This morning I did a very familiar walk that, recently, has been very conducive to a snippet of meditation and sometimes if a bench can be found some Shikantaza.

Today there were loads of people about, quiet contemplation, of any sort, was not possible.It was very easy though to concentrate on the buzz of busy bees on spiky plants and feel wistful about the quieter days of lockdown.

Busy bees are buzzing in these next three pictures but unlike this singular chap above they did not stop to pose.

Too many humans, and not enough busy bees, I suspect, are a major part of the problem expressed on this embellished piece of slate, found later in my day.I found this pebble hiding on the edge of a field, while walking again, Another thing to contemplate. The message is compelling after such a pretty walk this morning.

It’s also been a day of thinking; time to sit down and turn it into Shikantaza.

Pandemic Pondering #101

@theoldmortuary had a bit of a Sunday snooze .Having a guest author for PP#100 was a great chance to step back and have a think. As many parts of the world ease out of Lockdown it could have been a good place to stop but the virus is still out there with no sign of a vaccine. The pandemic is not over so neither is the pondering.

Better later than never this little blog is about a sailor from World War 1. The sea being a bit of a theme on the cusp of PP#100
I found a plaque recording his story at the Lost Gardens of Heligan today. Charles Dyer was one of twenty gardeners who had worked at Heligan before WW1 who ultimately lost their lives as a consequence of that conflict.

https://www.heligan.com/

Charles’ story is a little more complicated than many. This plaque tells his story.

In 1918 Charles was hospitalised at Chatham Naval Dockyard. One day he put on his uniform and walked out of the Dockyard never to be seen again. He was listed as a deserter and his family were shamed and deprived of a pension.

2 years later a body was found in a wood close to the dockyard. It was identified as Charles by his wedding ring. He was taken off the deserters list, his family granted a pension and his body was returned to Mevagissy Cemetery and given a Commonwealth War Grave headstone.

I’ve aged some photographs I took today to illustrate this desolate tale.