#620 theoldmortuary ponders

Holidays are not just about the human members of the family. Hugo and Lola go on their holidays too. To somewhere they consider their second home. They have different responsibilities on holiday too. Hugo is an under gardener and Lola is security. Where they stay has sweeping views of the Tamar and Lyner River.

Are the dogs aware of the views, probably not. but they are very aware of their own geolocation in that landscape. They are also unaware that they holiday in the shadow of a castle.

Sometimes it is refreshing to just follow them round and photograph their significant places. In May every pause for a sniff is surrounded by wild and often overlooked plants.

Ten minutes in the Bracken gave me these two abstract and glorious images.

Being on holiday for the dogs is exhausting but exhilarating. The first night at home they sleep as if they have been working at optimum for two weeks. Then they swiftly return to normal home behaviour, just like their humans really, but without the washing pile.

There is no doubt that they absolutely love their holidays and their holiday family. We are very lucky that they have such a happy place to stay.

#329 theoldmortuary ponders

Our first 24 hours in Plymouth and the rain has not stopped. This gives me the chance to stitch together three unrelated rain stories of the last couple of weeks.

Rain Story 1 comes from Chicago. An epic storm heralded our first full day in the city. Since self guided walking tours were the flavour of our city visits, some compromises were required. Let me just say, the worlds largest Starbucks was not on our original itinerary, nor was it somewhere we aspired to visit. But when rain is running down necks and saturating hems, making even the most effective waterproof ineffective, desperate measures must be taken.

As Starbucks go it was huge and as a customer I was somewhat difficult. I am much more of an independent Coffee shop kind of woman. When in the biggest Starbucks in the world I drank iced tea.

Which leads me rather nicely to Rain Story 2, later on the same day. We took ourselves off to a district known, most recently, as ‘Boys Town’ now rebranded as a more inclusive North Halsted,not in search of boys but on a quest to find the Chicago Diner, a strictly vegetarian restaurant established in 1985. The Diner deserves a blog of its own but the rain that fell just after we left the diner was of biblical proportions, so much so it drove us into a ‘Boys’ bar. Not exclusively so but predominantly. The only reason for not letting us in was a lack of ID for age purposes. The barman however allowed us in because we looked every inch of 22, Ice Cocktails were bought and we settled in the window seat. Maybe not our best move for the bar to attract clientele but we were shameless in grabbing the best seat to people watch. It turns out that complicated cocktails including tequila in their blend are awfully good for weary feet and knees. They also set you up remarkably well with the Chutzpah needed to use the gender neutral/inclusive washrooms including both urinals and cubicles. There were very stern words about two persons not using the cubicles at the same time, but for some reason I got no offers to share and could go about my comfort break in solitary confinement with no fear of rule breaking.

In other rule breaking news, we made no attempt to take guns into the bar. May I say that in Toronto we were also well behaved and made no attempt to take cannabis into bars that requested us not to.

Which brings us to Rain Story 3. The return to Plymouth. For the last two weeks the big decision of the day has been where and when to get submerged in water. T-shirt, shorts and flipflops. First full day in Plymouth, DryRobes, socks! DM boots and steamed up spectacles, how to not get submerged in water!

Phew! Back in the right time zone but only just sneaking this out just before midnight…

#325 theoldmortuary ponders

Getting High in Toronto.The CN Tower Toronto, no we did not go up it. Our Toronto visit was brief and we were very much feet on the ground for the 24 hours we were there. More than 40,000 steps, type of feet on the ground , but you can’t get away from the CN tower, it is iconic and features in art work as above and the Cityscape as shot from Ward’s Island. There is a whole other blog to be written about our adventure to the distillery district and even there the CN tower sneaked into view.

We have nothing against the CN Tower but I dont feel we know the city well enough yet to be thrilled seeing it from 342 metres height. Somehow as tourists we get our kicks from seeing the CN tower in context with other landmarks. Travel is a funny old thing, wherever you travel someone will always tell you that you missed the best bits. Or maybe we didn’t miss the recommended best bits but those ‘best bits’ failed to ignite the same passion as something random does. Being up high in the CN Tower was not on our schedule this year but a very different high took us very much by surprise. Unknown to us Canada has legalised the use of cannabis. Our late Friday evening walk was accompanied by the familiar sweet smell of dope. Not so unusual on a Friday evening and not something we thought was particularly worthy of comment. But our early morning Saturday walk had almost the same ratio of fresh air: dope. Now that did suprise us, how can a city that smells like that on waking get any work done? Is it possible to be doubly high in Toronto?

Something to ponder next time we visit.

#322 theoldmortuary ponders

There are a lot more blogs in the store cupboard from Chicago and there will be an equal number, I’m sure from Toronto. Today we left our days of city visits, we have averaged a little under 20,000 steps a day for four days of city exploration. Thats a lot of walking and a good bit of blogging inspiration too.

Todays blog was inspired by bobbing. Our bobbing friend Gilly suggested Ward’s Island as a fine place to spend an afternoon.

We love an island hop, and this one turned out to be a little piece of paradise. It was so paradisiacal that We got lost in the moment and forgot to take many pictures, blogging fail but sometimes being lost in gorgeousness is overwhelming.

A cute cafe moments from the ferry, and a glorious beach to swim from.

With a very picturesque boat. Ward’s Island was suggested by Gilly because her old school friend lives there. When we wondered the few street of Ward’s we saw somone sitting in the garden of the house where Gilly had last met her friend almost 20 years ago.

It was with such pleasure that we had found the right person, who also is an “Essex Girl”. Immediate Whatsapp messages were shared with Gilly and then we had to hasten off to catch the ferry ready for our next adventure in rural Ontario. The views from the island are spectacular.

#319 theoldmortuary ponders

A funny thing happened on our way for a bob. I have never written a blog from a significantly distanced holiday before. I didn’t truly imagine I would become an instant travel writer but I thought there may be a slight change of flavour to my daily ponderings. Instead I find that the ponderings continue on in much the same way with different stimuli.

We are in Chicago because Hannah worked here 25 years ago and had never been back. Her time here formed part of a misspent youth with bars, friends and adventures but her working life was not a particularly happy one as an au pair to a wealthy Anglo/American family.

The men of the family, a husband and ex-husband were kind but the woman who was her de facto employer was quite a dreadful person.

The family and Hannah lived in a large apartment on Lakeshore Drive overlooking the beach, looking towards the Drake Hotel.

25 years on Hannah thought it would be a fine idea to book into the Drake Hotel and cleanse the memory of an unkind person from her memories of a spectacular location. I suppose that is the core of our travel plans here and within hours Chicago has put new memories in place, but as is the way with ponderings, not exactly as we planned.

Coming out of our room for a swim/bob in Lake Michigan we spotted some comfy sofas

They looked like the perfect spot for weary travelers to spend an evening reading books. The view was great even if the windows were a little mucky.

We wandered about a bit and were overwhelmed and surprised by the decor of the space and facilities that were available. It was only when we stumbled on an unmade bed that we realised we were not in a palatial lounge area .

The area next to our room was a massive suite, with double doors so huge that when they were left wide open they just looked like an area of paneled corridor. The mirror picture at the top of the blog was snapped as we left.

When we returned, after our bob, the door was firmly shut and our room was once again at the end of an unremarkable corridor. Just a label on the door suggesting why we thought the sofas looked especially comfy.

In other ponderings, the baby seagulls here are epic and unbothered by being close to humans.

#318 theoldmortuary ponders

Today we, @theoldmortuary are playing the Summer 2022 game of airport roulette. The wheel spun and awarded us with a cancelled flight and a rebooked one four hours later.

Apple juice and a plum feeling all arty at stupid ‘O’ Clock when we started this endeavour. Now we are hiding out in the comfy seats of an airport cinema long before any films will be shown. This will be a fine way to while away the extra hours as long as no-one decides to show any films. All being well tomorrows blog should be a feast of Jazz Age Architecture and bobbers bobbing in Lake Michigan.

Today however we are in the Oceanic Terminal as Terminal 3 at Heathrow was formerly known. Opened on my 3rd Birthday I feel I have weathered the decades better but, of course, I have had nothing like the footfall and also not so many facelifts. None so far! I can’t comment on the architecture but the cinema is a quiet spot with comfy seats and that is all good. For a visual end piece I offer a rather dusty BOAC flight bag.

#182 theoldmortuary ponders

A mobile phone and notebook made me unusually productive yesterday. Not exactly as busy as a bee but close. Apart from the times when I was walking the dogs I was hanging onto a phone line for the passport office. The notebook had significant dates in, that I knew I would need to quote and the phone was on loudspeaker so everyone in hearing distance was subjected to the truly terrible ‘on-hold’ music and the constant message about busy operators and suggestions that I use the on line system.

I will spare you my rage in full, a synopsis is the kinder option.

I have spent almost ten hours in the last two weeks on the phone to the passport office. Most of it listening to their dreadful music, not dreadful because the composer had a bad day but dreadful because the recording is reproduced so badly. The music is constantly interrupted by an announcer who speaks so gently and patronisingly that I wished harm on her.

Nearly two and a half hours on hold, in total, yesterday got most of the days dull jobs done.

Plenty of yardening which is where the illustrations come from.

All the washing done, no need for you to be bored by that. I even managed a small water colour doodle for my art course.

The thing I didn’t achieve was a resolution to the Passport situation. I still dont have one and it seems not even to be on the horizon. The Passport Office, in line with our Conservative Government Guidelines, lie. It seems that after surviving the aural hell that is their phone line queueing system, their overworked operators will tell you any old, plausible guff to get you off the line so they can lie to next person and achieve their lie goals for the day.

I have now entered the complaint system, lets see where that takes me.

Not abroad, that much is certain.

#106 theoldmortuary ponders

Morning has broken in St Ives with the gorgeous colour of Cadbury Chocolate wrappers.

In truth not the most thrilling of sunrises but the clear sky was a sign that the day was going to be a bit of a colour sensation. Early morning duties were the pleasure of sharing the start of our day with Miss VV, our granddaughter in Hong Kong. Our early morning adventures with her via video call involved stories involving sand horses and naughty seagulls. For the rest of our day we had strict instructions on the photographs that needed to be taken to be sent to her for when she wakes up. Seagulls were top of her list.

This one is a bit of a visual joke as he had managed to poo on the reflection of his own head.

Another request was dogs on their holidays.

Miss VV did not request a piece of Barbara Hepworth sculpture but we took our own initiative and took one anyway.

Gifted in 1965 to the town she had adopted as her home.

We did a three hour coastal path walk and found some small and deeply personal sculptures. Love locks attached to a small metal fence on the sea side of the path. Stuck together and corroded by the salt spray of the Atlantic.

The thing we didn’t manage to capture was a dolphin feeding frenzy which we witnessed but luckily for the blog a more proficient photographer was about earlier in the week.


That’s enough St Ives for one day, more tomorrow.

#105 theoldmortuary ponders

Yesterday did not go as planned. But I knew the best laid plans had failed by 6pm the night before so a different plan was hatched. Serendipity stepped up to take the place of forward planning and for the first time in just over two years we got a seat in our favourite and now local coffee shop, so the birthday fairies were not totally having a bad day. First World problems and all that but it was lovely to have coffee in a cup sat at a table indoors. The surprise element of the birthday outing still happened but not in the way it was meant to be. A pair of pyjamas in a carrier bag does not have the same impact as pyjamas served in a biscuit tin which depicts the destination of the next couple of days. The irony is not lost on me that 6 months ago we moved out of a Cornish cottage and yet I had booked our first break away in a Cornish cottage. To be fair to me my search area for a cottage was anywhere between Penzance and Bristol. I had four search parameters.

1- Price

2- Dog friendly

3- Plenty of walking with no need to use the car for three days

4-A homely cottage, not cute and absolutely not decorated in blue and white, with beach huts, seagulls or fish as decorative features.

Number 4 turned out to be the deciding factor.

When we moved from a non touristy part of Cornwall to a very touristy part of Devon we moved our decorative fish with us but beyond that one detail we prefer a more organic style of interior design. Stuff gleaned from ebay, skips or dumpster, charity shops or friends and neighbours discarded or unneeded items.

After a sunshine filled hour or two in Truro, we took the road to St Ives.

Truro Cathedral

We arrived after dark and just like short stay tourists everywhere we trundled our little suitcases the ten minute walk from a car park to our destination.

Comfy cottage.

More irony as we settled down with a cup of tea. A programme about Cornwall was on the TV as we settled in.

We did not eat spider crab last night, but fish and chips and sausages for dogs filled us up ready for today’s walking.

Not a beach hut, Seagull or fish in sight.