Pandemic Pondering #444

Where to begin on Thursdays big day out! The beginning seems like a plan.

Dense sea mist as I left Cornwall, on the scenic railway.

I love the feeling of arriving at a London train terminus , the hubbub of people and anticipation is always a little intoxicating. Paddington, the station which serves the west of Britain, has all that and a much loved bear.

Farringdon was my tube station of choice, perfect timing as my friend Marc was just at the entrance as I arrived. Station to the first bar of the day about 30 seconds!

Next stop the Catheter Labs of St Bartholomews Hospital to hug my friends and colleagues. We really needed hugs!

Hugs and stories of the last 18 months, loads of emotion. The reason for the visit was that my lovely colleague Helen was working her last day in the NHS. Time for a limited numbers leaving party.

In the shadow of St Pauls.

We gathered for more hugs, stories, speeches and general happiness.

All the huggers in these pictures are tested regularly, physical health ✓ Hugging is amazing for mental health✓

When the night was over we did a circumnavigation of St Pauls because we love it.

Before heading once again for Farringdon Station via St Bartholomews for a photo or two.

This swanky bar is a holder of memories. The cardiac on call rooms overlook it and it used to be the location of classrooms where St Bartholomews students did their academic training.

A quick walk through Smithfield meat market, soon to be the new Museum of London.

and we were back at Farringdon. Time for a parting of the ways. Helen to the East and me to the West.

Time for me to jump on the GWR Night Riviera and head back to Cornwall. A Cheap Day Return train ticket very well used!

Pandemic Pondering#442

Quite a red letter day @theoldmortuary . Nearly time to get on a train and take a trip to my old workplace. St Bartholomews Hospital in the City of London.

I’ve always loved the contrast of City and Country/Coastal life. Today is a fine day to leave Cornwall. A huge blanket of fog has settled on the peninsular over the last 24 hours. Somewhat perverse as the Worlds press has descended on the area to cover the G7 meeting. The famed beauty of Cornwall is wearing a murky mask just like rest of us. The slow trickle of VIP helicopters on Tuesday never got going yesterday and film crews search for scenic backdrops is going to be fruitless for a day or two. Yesterday was Ocean Day, our tiny corner of the Atlantic didn’t really make an appearance.

Luckily the ‘ bobbers’ brought some colour to the coast.

Picture not taken yesterday!

Last nights swim was really pleasant at 14 degrees and a high tide that we could just step straight into. Not a single photo opportunity that would lift anyone’s spirits though!

Luckily for tomorrows blog I’m briefly off to the bright lights.

A sign of a good night out in London has always been how late a return to home is. With the certainty of a train timetable I know I will be getting home at 5:30 am. Great night out guaranteed even under Pandemic restrictions and by 10:30 I will be back in the sea.

This is how dense the fog is, there is a house 10 yards from this wall.

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 #432

Along time ago @theoldmortuary used to row pilot gig boats competitively and have even rowed in World Championship competitions, but a busy working life in London stopped all that .

The clip below shows an on board perspective of the sport.

Yesterday tentative steps were taken to return to the sport. Which has given me the chance to use some old photographs of an arty farty sort.


Surprisingly good rowing was achieved , not perhaps worthy of a video and no wildlife joined in ( see video) but it was a happy and sunny return.

The weather remains wonderful for a Bank Holiday weekend.

Pandemic Pondering #429

Regular readers of this blog may recognise these images filmed at our local ‘ bobbing’ location.

©BBC News

This morning National TV is covering a remarkable ‘bob’ . A military veteran with only one arm and a huge personality is swimming 1000 metres to raise money for REORG . A charity that introduces Brazillian Jiu Jitsu to Veterans, Military personal and Emergency Services staff, to support their physical and mental health.

Link –

A local man, Mark Ormrod, has attracted the National press to our bobbing zone.

©BBC News

Which enables me to share some different views of the bay. Bobbers dont have the budget of the BBC to hire drones to follow our bobbing sessions!

©BBC News
©BBC News

This may be the freshest blog ever. Mark has only been out of the water for twenty minutes as I push the button. Normal bobbing will occur this afternoon. No Drones. Please follow the links for proper journalism. Happy Friday.

©BBC News

Pandemic Pondering #427

And another day of rain! Thankfully I had to go and replace some spotlights at the art exhibition so I could at least see some sunshine in paintings as I worked.

© Sue Richardson Drawn to the Valley

This picture has everything, sunshine, maskless faces, and a crowd. Spotlights fixed, I had hoped to take a walk around the Industrial Heritage, old mine workings, around Gunnislake, but the weather chased me into the car and back home to domestic admin. Finally just before sunset the rain stopped and the sun popped its head out for 30 minutes of golden moments.

The harbours captured the best images of the turbulent clouds.

This was our usual walk around Sutton Harbour, Cattedown and The Barbican, the sun put in only the briefest of appearances. Luckily one of the entries at the art exhibition shows the Plymouth Gin Distillery in a better light than we saw it last night.

We didn’t actually attempt loving our local gin. Its not a good midweek habit on a school night.

Pandemic Pondering #419

That really was a weekend of dodging heavy rainfall and sometimes being defeated by the gallons of water falling from the sky. Yesterday the only dog walk that wasn’t done in raincoats and wellies rewarded us with this lovely old window aperture. It overlooks The Elizabethan Garden. Nearby this brave rose had bloomed unseasonably early only to have its outer petals battered by the weather, but the internal folds look just like rippled ice cream.

Increased rainfall changed our plans but we just replaced walking activities with talking activities and eating out with eating in. Normally a weekend spent talking to friends and family might be described as ‘ putting the world to rights’ . But with a world with Labyrinthine problems, not unlike the folds of this rose, we talked ourselves in circles and had a great time doing it. The name of this fishing boat neatly sums up our revised weekend.

Pandemic Pondering #418

A wet day out. Today we went to Fowey, a town we regularly visit but it is almost 2 years since we last were able to come. Many old favourite shops and cafes remain closed, maybe for ever, which is very sad. New kid on the block, North Street Cafe, looked very fine.

The weather was not kind to us but the occasional bursts of sunshine encouraged us to walk much further than usual and we found a secret garden on the site of an old Grammar School.

And watched sail boat racing. The day took on a dark turn , not only with the weather.A new sculpture has arrived in Fowey.

The sculpture celebrates the work of local author Daphne Du Maurier and in particular her book The Birds.

On a personal level the Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name scared me silly when I was a young Human. I’ve  never really felt an affinity with birds since , particularly when they accidentally get trapped indoors. I’m not so daft that the sculpture bothered me but at the end of our walk we sat by the Boddinick Ferry slip way to eat ice-cream and enjoy a rare moment of vivid sunshine. We were opposite Daphne Du Mauriers house. As the sun burnt through the rain clouds a huge cacophany of Crows calling and squarking filled the air behind us in the Rookery near by. The valley was filled with the sound that Hitchcock so effectively used in his screenplay. Right opposite the authors house, it must have informed her original writing.  Anyway it unnerved me so much I failed to take a picture of her old home. It is easy enough to find it on the internet.

Instead I took a picture of the cottages she would have seen from her home and made them look a little nostalgic.

Despite the weather and ‘The Birds’ a good day out.

Pandemic Pondering # 401


Yesterday we did our usual evening swim at high tide. When we were leaving we passed a small non-swimming bay . The rising tide had brought a bouquet of long stemmed flowers to the surface, someones ashes had obviously been scattered earlier in the day. Scattering ashes on the shores of rivers or the sea is significant in some religions and something that many people choose to do religious, or not.

7 years ago I was creating work for a group exhibition in London.

On the way home from work I had seen a group of bikers scattering ashes on the beach of the Thames,a rather muddy location and not too far from Tate modern. Alongside ashes and flowers they had laid old motor cycle sprockets to be gently lapped and then consumed by the incoming tide. In Memoriam worked very nicely with the theme of the upcoming exhibition and with the help of a friend, Pat Calnan, who sourced old sproketts, for me, I was able to recreate the act of remembrance and make a series of paintings.

Choosing to scatter ashes in non traditional places can give family and friends spectacular places to return to as an act of remembrance.

The Bikers resting place. Below Millenium Bridge, London.
Unknown persons resting place yesterday. Firestone Bay, Plymouth

I realise in this smaller picture of sproketts in mud I’ve made them look a little like old headstones in a Victorian cemetery. Accidentally closing a circular creative thought process.

Pandemic Pondering #400

Yesterday I got the art cards printed that will be sold during art exhibitions this year. I realise I’ve chosen two smelly subjects as my images of choice. Scratch and sniff card seems to have gone out of favour but even if the print shop had offered such a service I doubt I would have chosen the option.

Mackerel smell wonderful when freshly caught and grilled, like all fish not so good after a while, and this chap was painted two years ago!

The second card is a digitally enhanced photograph of the back stairs of a disused Plymouth nightclub. For many years the club had been closed and was the desired location of a Super Church. While interminable and ultimately unsuccessful planning permission was sought the building was mothballed. Again not a great option for scratch and sniff.

Mothballs was not the fragrance that tickled my nose as I took this picture. Damp, mildew and the vestigia of human sweat, tobacco, beer and pleasure were the backnotes to the headier notes of urine and weed.

Maybe my art cards are not such a big ticket subject for Pandemic Pondering #400. But they are about recovery. Helping local business by spending money close to home.

Shop 4 Plymouth


It took less than an hour to visit The Artside in Plymouth and walk away with 100 beautifully printed cards.


Geddon- a word used in the Westcountry. It has multiple uses. Derived from two words get and on.

It is used to express surprise and disbelief, but in this context it is used as a word of encouragement. It can also be used as a greeting instead of hello or goodbye.

Pandemic Pondering#400