The River Effra, digressions and a memorial bench.

The River Effra plays a big part in my London life. Rising out of the ground near my home in Crystal Palace it has been constrained by engineers and now runs underground nearly all the way to Vauxhall Bridge where it emerges from a culvert to join the Thames.

Effra emerges and looks like a small lake in Belair Park, Dulwich, where Hugo and Lola love to walk. Then she sinks back underground.

I always think of Effra as a woman because Effra is a character name in Ben Arronovitchs series of books The Rivers of London.
Effra, the character, is the daughter of Mama Thames she has a BA in History of Art and is said to be very involved in UK Grime.

Just a little digression there.
Effra gives her name to.all kinds of things .

Effra Parade in Brixton

Effra Parade bus stop on the number 3 bus route.

More digression.

One of the most interesting bus routes in London. During a conversation this weekend someone said I loved riding buses because I’m a socialist. I’m not sure that’s entirely true. I love riding buses because the front seat at the top of a London bus is a joyous calabash of cultures, particularly suited to a nosey person. The front seat on a number 3 is sublime.

Effra Social.A bar and casual dining location with iconic status in Brixton. Previously the Conservative Club.

Effra Farm in the 1790’s roughly where Effra Road is.
The point, however of this blog is the lake in Belair Park where Effra takes in some daylight between underground journeys.
Belair Park has less memorial benches than many London parks but there is one in a very picturesque spot.As usual with memorial benches I’ve used what3words to locate it.Whoever Guy Robinson was his friends and family have chosen a lovely spot to position his bench.It is very close to a picture I took to manipulate into some lacy pictures.The last image is my favourite, it sums up the mystery of an underground river.

Tobacco Tin

This little tin has been in every home I’ve lived. I know it and its content very well and yet I know nothing about the original owner.

This was all my mum had kept of her first fiance.

He was killed in a motor bike accident in the early 1950’s.

She would never talk about him but the nature of his death caused both my parents to be certain that they didn’t want either their only child or their grandchildren to ride motorbikes.

His name was David and he may have lived in or around Braintree in Essex England, but equally he could have been stationed at any East Anglian Air field and be from anywhere.

His surname may have been De’Ath but that could also be wrong.

These are the artifacts from the tin.

Its a sad little collection, on the whole as a family we’ve avoided motorbikes.

Libraries

Plymouth blue sky today, no filters.

Plymouth library, museum and art gallery all closed some time ago.

The site is being redeveloped to become The Box, a museum, gallery and cultural space . I’ve really missed being able to use the old facilities and have volunteered at the building site doing Hard Hat Tours as a way of being involved.
https://plymhearts.org/thebox/

Until today I hadn’t used the library in its new location. Primarily because I loved the old building and the new one, to be honest, is not charismatic. Plymouth deserves something glorious like Birmingham. In our dreams…

Libraries are not just about buildings and books.

theoldmortuary needed to find out the location of a deceased relations childhood address. We had tried all sorts of searches on-line line with no success. The library was our next choice and we arrived today with only scant information. The staff at the library were brilliant trying all sorts of searches. Eventually a pre war register of Plymouth inhabitants gave us the breakthrough we needed. Another member of staff delved into Cencus archives to double check the findings. After that we took a drive and found a cottage hidden from view up an alley and some steps. We would never have located it without the diligence of the library staff.
https://www.plymouth.gov.uk/libraries

Libraries are about friendly, knowledgable staff. Plymouth Central Library was very good to us.

Thankyou

Snowdrops

My first snowdrop of 2020. Known as the February Flower expected to appear at Candlemas on February 2nd. Always earlier in Southwest England. Stories stick to this little bulb which is the first to bloom in Cornwall as a sign of approaching Spring.

In the Creation story, it was gifted to Adam and Eve by an empathetic angel after they were cast out of Paradise following the apple incident. Gifted to give them hope of a future beyond banishment after their great transgression.

Neil Gaiman also gave the Snowdrop a positive spin in his novel Stardust giving it magical qualities.Character Tristan carries a small glass snowdrop to protect him from witches bad spells.

Not all myths and stories that are woven around the Snowdrop are positive . The Victorians blamed Snowdrops being brought indoors for causing the death of family members but the Victorians blamed lots of things for the death of family members. It can be known as the Death Flower.

One intriguing coincidence is that the snowdrop is believed to be the herb Moly mentioned in Homers Odyssey. Moly was given by the God Mercury to Ulysses to protect him from forgetfulness caused by poison. In the same poem it was also used to cure group amnesia . In the twentieth century it was discovered that the bulbs of snowdrops contain Galanthamine, an alkyloid used to manage Altzeimers Disease.

Fogblog

These lacy images were created by a tree skeleton in the fog, Fog in the Tamar Valley is clean and bright, it turns the world monotone. The light has no bounce, my favourite muddy squiggle lacks its usual twinkle and inviting silkiness.

Driving higher just makes things worse, the world is a bright white blanket of denser fog. Later in the day the bridges of Saltash are taking people to an unseeable destination.

Beyond these bridges lies the rest of the world or “Up the line”or ” Up Country” as it is known locally.
One more skeleton tree image, for now. This strange environment is perfect for them. I’m uncertain what else it is perfect for.

Mandalaesque Skeleton Tree ©theoldmortuary

Disdain and Apricity on the Hoe.

Sir Frances Drake. Pirate, Slave Trader, Explorer and Naval Captain.

Airstrike on the 3rd of January 2020, not the sort that makes world news.

Sir Francis Drake, Statue on Plymouth Hoe

theoldmortuary took a walk in the sunshine yesterday around Plymouth. Number 2 in Condè Nast best holiday destinations. We would have visited Number 1 but no busses went there from home.
https://www.cntraveller.com/gallery/best-holiday-destinations-2020

Apart from the small and acurate act of seagull disdain on Drake, Plymouth was looking pretty good.

We basked in the winter sun, protected from the wind by the Collonades above Tinside pool.

Hugo and Lola took to basking in Winter very quickly.

The required 10, 000 steps were broken up by nearly an hour of basking and drinking coffee.

It was all as you might expect from a Number 2 holiday destination.

A red wreath and red cars added a late festive flourish.

As always with theoldmortuary walks we found a nice example of rust.

Another Plymouth blog

https://theoldmortuary.design/2019/11/16/plymouth-quietly-having-a-moment/

Advent#22

Suburban Winter Solstice

Waking up on the morning after the shortest day is always a little bit perkier than waking up on the shortest day. We could have bust a gut to be at Glastonbury but the reality is that the solstice has been happening here in Gipsy Hill just as long as it has been just north of the A303.

This area of London was countryside until 1856 when the railway station opened. The abstract photograph above is of the sky above the council estate which was built on the original coal yard and sidings for steam trains. They brought prosperity to the area and crowds to the nearby Crystal Palace. The posh houses that were built on this part of Alexandra Drive would have been directly in line of the steam and soot of shunting steam trains starting and ending their working days. The corrosive effect explains why some of them have been rendered.

As a sideline Alexandra Drive was named for Princess Alexandra, the long suffering wife of Edward The Caresser. Edward VII, 10 years on the throne, a lifetime of sexual incontinence.

Before the railways not much is written about this location. Part of the Great North Wood, this particular area is where Gipsies lived and worked. Samuel Pepys mentions in his diary that his wife, Elizabeth came here to visit them.

Another sideline, Samuel also suffered from sexual incontinence and married Elizabeth when she was 14.

Street Art on The Paxton

There was a plague pit in the triangular park opposite the Paxton pub at the bottom of Gipsy Hill, also the location, occasionally of contemporary short-term Gipsy encampments.

Post Victorian development of Gipsy Hill has expanded as a South London suburb. It was substantially bombed during WW2 and had a nuclear bunker built in the Cold War.

Most importantly, Gipsy Hill has Fanny, the Gipsy Hill Cat. Often on duty at the train station and always available on her Twitter account. Fanny unites this suburb with her cuddles and affection on Platform 1.

Residents crowd funded when she had a mishap. The Friends of Gipsy Hill are building her a workplace garden. She also has a loving home and family when not on-duty.

Today she is the face of Suburban Solstice.

Last sideline, Fanny keeps herself nice.

Advent#19

It’s serendipity again that leads me from the surprise experience of Dragon dancing kites in Plymouth yesterday to home via another tradition that also has its roots very firmly in Chinese Culture.
https://theoldmortuary.design/2019/12/17/advent18/

It’s a busy time in Christian churches in December. School Carol services fill the mid-week evenings. theoldmortuary overlooks a church. Last night’s school Carol Service had a lantern lit path leading to the church.

Lanterns of the paper sort have had a rise in popularity in Europe over the last fifty years. The type that are lit with a night light and float away like a balloon had a rise in popularity and then a meteoric fall when the effects of their ultimate descent was highlighted by a series of accidents caused to property, livestock and the emerging awareness of the environmental impact.

Lanterns as part of celebrations started in China 2000 years ago, the earliest lanterns held captured Fire flies. The lantern habit soon spread to South East Asia where they continue to be popular throughout the year rather than the more European habit of winter time lantern activity.

Korea

Hong Kong

Vietnam

Home.

Advent#18

The advent series of blogs started as a way to make a daily step towards the festive season. It could equally be called the Festival of Light. It is a way of marking the days towards the shortest day, the Winter Solstice and then on to Christmas Eve and Yuletide. For ease I started on 1st December, the day when chocolate advent calendars start and for completion it will continue until 2nd January the end of Yuletide 2020. Nothing is planned, this is after all a blog of serendipity and chance. For busy or truly uninspired days I do have some nuggets of ideas tucked away.

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Firestone Bay, Plymouth.
Today was another where the light element of Advent was provided by beautiful midday weather. It also turned out to be truly serendipitous giving me a quite different story to the one I thought I would write. That story has joined the nuggets for a later day.

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The tidal sea water swimming pool at Firestone Bay.

Firestone Bay is my favourite winter walk with dogs. It is entirely possible to walk for several miles, avoiding mud but still allowing them the freedom of running off the lead on the small beaches or in the non traffic areas of the Royal William Yard. Winter gives ever changing conditions and these two pictures of the tidal swimming pool were taken ten minutes apart.

Tidal pool at Firestone Bay.

Our turning point today was the last accessible beach walking to the east. Since I was last here someone.has given the beach a graffiti sign and named it Tranquility Bay. I have no idea if this is official but it is the perfect name for this lovely place of quietude.

Tranquility Bay.

We retraced our steps but as we approached the car park red fabric blowing in the wind caught my eye.

On turning the slight corner I saw the unexpected sight of two men flying Chinese Dragon streamers, accompanied by familiar Chinese classical music.

It takes immense strength to get these flying so extravagantly.

Three styles of dragon took to the sky overlooking Drake’s Island.

Adding to the atmosphere was a gently drifting smoke haze.

Not what I expected to write today but very definitely serendipitous.