Pandemic Pondering #288

There was always a plan to take a winter sea swim on my birthday. A stormy day made swimming impractical but just two days later things were a lot calmer.

Hugo and Lola never quite know which way to look when we swim in slightly different locations.

Today the beach was uncrowded.

There was even some time for some Land Art.

And because it was officially a birthday swim, there was a reward for us.

Plus a well earned sleep for our lifeguards.

Pandemic Pondering #284

Week 1 of Lockdown #2 completed. I have lower expectations of myself this time around. Managing expectations has turned out to be quite simple. If I have none they require no management and everything achieved is a bonus.

This sign in my favourite coffee shop is a beautiful example of managing expectations. If a complete apocalypse occured and this poster was discovered even in 100 years time it would still express optimism. I spotted it yesterday on my daily fresh air and exercise expedition.

Shamefully my exercise yesterday did not include a sea swim in Firestone Bay. But it would have been impossible to get a tranquil photo of the tidal Pool because it is busy most of the time in daylight hours now sea swimming has become so popular.

My bonus of yesterday was the exact opposite of a cold crisp swim. The link below shows you a video that will give you a flavour of the Thursday Bonus.

https://fb.watch/1Jbkuw3n3E/

A chocolatier has opened a tiny shop in The Royal William Yard. In truth we went for coffee but the offer of a brownie, especially when the word Caramac was used completely loosened any pretence of good behaviour. Unctuously decadent .

https://www.domeafavourchocolate.co.uk/

The experience was further enhanced by having the Brownie served warm. Nothing could be further from a cold crisp swim and unlike sea swimming in winter it required no special clothes or planning. It is entirely possible to just accidentally have a slightly warmed brownie in regular clothes while looking at a fabulous view.

Week 1 done!

Pandemic Pondering #276

Lockdown Eve dawned bright and sunny @theoldmortuary. .

The Window Fish were swimming on the rug and we were in for good day.

Anxiety about the US Election was controlled by some cupboard tidying.

For the same reason I helped a friend hang new curtains, overlooking happy red cows ruminating in the sunshine.

Hugo and Lola sniffed the tracks of squirrels that had earlier snacked on pumpkin seeds.

Which was when we discovered an Autumn tragedy. During the summer a Cock had escaped from the mythical land of Trematonia . ( Trematon Castle reimagined as a style of Interior Design.)

http://www.houseofhackney.com/

He has spent the summer strutting in Outer Trematonia, lots of Cock a Doodling, no canoodling and generally living a charmed life in convivial surroundings.

The evidence suggests that he will not have to endure another Lockdown. Perhaps he will appear tomorrow , partially plucked but with the swagger of someone who has survived a mauling. At the moment though, it looks most likely that he was beaten. Thankfully something similar happened in the U.S.

Pandemic Pondering #267

In Pandemic Pondering #265 I mentioned that dog walks often inspire blogs.

China Fleet Club

The afternoon walk at the China Fleet Club was planned just for dogs, no real blogging interest. Great for sniffing out squirrels and getting very muddy but beyond good company and nattering it was just an hour or so of soaking up nature. The morning walk was different, there is always something to think about . It was our regular walk around Sutton Harbour but today we discovered it is a Heritage Trail. The link below takes you to the official website.

https://www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk/print-walk/624/

We always start and finish the Sutton Heritage Trail at a different location to the one suggested on this website.

Despite walking this route numerous times we have never discovered the descriptively named Marrowbone Slip. That is a pretty specific piece of architecture. The point of mentioning this walk again in a blog is the lovely pictures we got of old chopped off wooden piles this morning.

Not perhaps everyone’s cup of tea but they were looking very fine this morning. It also gives me the chance to share my favourite picture of piles.

Piles at Statton Island NY

Just be grateful I am no longer creating medical imaging, that could have been a whole different picture!

Pandemic Pondering #262

Friday Night in Union Street 1948.

A couple of days ago a Local History group on Facebook published some photographs of a mural that was discovered under layers of wallpaper in a Union Street bar. If you have any interest in Plymouth history this is a great page to follow.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/879731115783323/?ref=share

Local History is one of the great strengths of Facebook. Local History Facebook pages are hubs of knowledge that become magnets for new information or insights into a local area. They are the modern version of the Local History shelf at Libraries.

I already had some photographs from the mural , taken during one of Plymouths Art Weekender Festivals. Gloria Dixon who is the administrator of the Facebook page Old Plymouth Society has a much better range of images.

She has written a very good account of the mural on the Old Plymouth Society FB Page, I urge you to visit the page.

The artist, who created the mural, Vincent Bennett took the well- worn path, familiar to many creative Plymothians and moved to London at the age of 20, where he not only painted commercially, but also boxed, to earn a living. It was the boxing that caused him to return to Plymouth just two years later. A head injury forced him to return to his home city in 1932 and he added teaching and drumming to his portfolio of money earning skills. Eighteen years later he painted the mural at what was then called the Sydenham Arms.

The story of Vincent Bennett seems so much more tangible and intriguing than the Plymouth to London story of Joshua Reynolds, another Plymouth man, nearly 200 years earlier. For me it is not only that much of the city he occupied still exists but that his subject matter is much closer to my own life experiences.

A drink in the Clipper, as the Sydenham Arms became, was always an experience, even if I was never as glamourous as the woman in the red dress. My grandfather, a sailor, far from his Essex home would almost certainly have known The Sydenham Arms and enjoyed all that Union Street had to offer.

The mural can be seen in its original location 63, Union Street, Plymouth. Currently the property is a Community Cafe.

Home

https://www.jmlondon.com/product-category/vincent-bennett/

The link above is to a gallery website.

Pandemic Pondering #257

Today’s planned blog was knocked off the agenda by a day of glorious weather. I’m a big fan of autumn sunshine, my dad called periods of good weather in autumn “Indian Summers” I never really questioned this title , I’ve just googled and this is the answer and it’s not what I thought at all.

” Although the exact origins of the term are uncertain, it was perhaps so-called because it was first noted in regions inhabited by American Indians, or because the Indians first described it to Europeans, or it had been based on the warm and hazy conditions in autumn when American Indians hunted.”

Plymouth Hoe, was gorgeous today which is an interesting coincidence given the links between Plymouth and the First Nations people of North America. Our walk did visit a significant Mayflower 400 site. More of that later.

Lola basking in sunshine and hiding a lighthouse

We stopped for a while near the official but not genuine Mayflower Steps. There was a momentary rainbow on the water.

Our next stop was a genuine Mayflower heritage location. Jacka Bakery, Britain’s oldest working bakery, supplied the Mayflower with baked goods. Today we pondered on how history could have been changed.

Would anyone have set off for the New World, 66 days of a tricksy voyage to an uncertain future if the alternative was staying in Plymouth and enjoying such plumpscious doughnuts. Ships biscuits v Jam Doughnuts, no contest. No New Worlds

Pandemic Pondering #238

Yesterday was a day for basking in afternoon sunshine. Autumn may have arrived but the sunshine had forgotten and we sat, like lizards on hot rocks, taking in the late September sun. The wind however was very much in Autumn mode and swirled and nipped at us whenever we turned a corner between buildings. In truth the basking was accidental , we were only on one of our regular dog walks but we had stopped for a coffee and some people watching. Neither were exciting enough to be pondered about but the sunshine was lovely. For reasons which I don’t fully understand the water which accompanied our coffee arrived iced and with a straw. Leave two women with a straw in strong sunshine and this is what you get!

Pandemic Pondering #236

The  link below takes you to an excellent article published in the Guardian today.

Pandemic Ponderings has covered most of the topics mentioned but the whole lot, covered by a proper newspaper, makes for a less whimsical read. Even before this article appeared, today, other people’s writing was going to inform this blog.

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2020/sep/25/top-10-locals-guide-to-plymouth-mayflower-400-anniversary?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other

This is the book,randomly chosen, for the September choice of my book club. By a huge coincidence a character in this novel visits Plymouth . A couple of comments in the book reminded me of things I have not yet pondered about . Given that this blog is about Plymouth, I will just share the Plymouth based one today. But before that an aside.

An hour or so before this blog was due to be published I finished this book. Further curious and serendipitous connections come to light. I love the book for many reasons, including its locations. It is based geographically in places I know intimately, Cornwall and the area around St Pauls Cathedral in the City of London.

Just as I sit through the rolling credits of films, I also read the acknowledgements in books. This one dealt a huge dollop of serendipity. The author, Sarah Winman writes ” Thank you to The Gentle Author and the community that has grown around the Spitaldfelds Life Blog- you are a constant reminder of why we do what we do”

Spitaldfelds Life is the Gold Standard that drives my writing @theoldmortuary . The Gentle Author guided and encouraged me, and many other blog writers to simply write. The surprise to see him mentioned at the back of this novel gave me such a warm and welcome boost. He really is the loveliest of men , the courses he runs are inspirational.

Returning to talking about the pondering the book inspired. In,A Year of Marvellous Ways, a sexual awakening and affaire de coeur is marked by the gift of a penny which is significant to the location of the entwinement. To illustrate this I need to rummage a bit.

It didn’t take long to find an old penny. Significantly this one would have been used in the Plymouth Area. It was designed by Leonard Charles Wyon an adaptation of a design by his father William Wyon for earlier pennies.

1967 British Penny ©theoldmortuary

The lighthouse, which can just be glimpsed behind Britannia is Smeatons Tower. Plymouths Iconic Landmark. Imaged on the coin in its original position on the Eddystone Rocks. 9 miles south west of Rame Head in Cornwall. Despite being closest to Cornwall the rocks are within the City limits of Plymouth and therefore considered to be within Devon.

Another blog that shaped its own destiny. Not the journey I planned but the journey that happened whilst I was planning.

Pandemic Pondering #235

https://www.itv.com/news/westcountry/2020-09-23/opinion-divided-on-plymouths-new-sir-antony-gormley-sculpture

Our Staycation trip this morning took us to visit the new Antony Gormley sculpture , Look II on the Waterfront in Plymouth. A cultural dog walk on a blustery day.

Look II

If I were a sound artist I would record twenty second snippets of the conversations that occur as People get close to it. Then play them in the echoing paths near the Tinside Lido that overlooks the sculpture at a distance.

It is no surprise that a piece of contemporary sculpture would have a mixed reaction in Plymouth. The link at the top of this blog takes you to a selection of local opinions.

Look II

My creative head was lucky enough to share my first experience of Look II with a couple of people who I will call Twat I and Twat 2. I have precised the conversation to protect my word count.

Twat 1 ” Its a bit rusty for a million pounds”

Twat 2, thinking quickly, how can I uptwat him?

” Oh well it’s been here a week, I expect it’s the sea”

Twat 1, thinks, bugger I’ve been uptwatted! Best play my trump comment.

” My grandchild built something like that over the weekend”

Both get a little closer and kick the sculpture as if it were the tyre of a second hand car that they were giving an opinion on. Twat credentials fully exposed .

Far better the fishermen who demonstrate so deftly why this is a beautiful, thought provoking work of art.