Pandemic Pondering #219


Speedwell is a light installation located on Mount Batten Breakwater.

It can be seen from many parts of Plymouth but is perhaps best seen from near the Citadel west of The Barbican.

Speedwell: Largescale artwork transforms Plymouth coastline to explore legacy of The Mayflower

Follow the link above to read about the thoughts behind the Artwork.

Briefly Speedwell was a ship destined to make the journey to the New World but was considered not to be seaworthy. The Mayflower was used to sail the settlers to the New World and grabbed the headlines.

Three words are illuminated in a random sequence and are there to provoke thoughts about many things both historical and contemporary.

The installation will be in situ for 3 months. The words do make you think, particularly on a day when Britain tightens controls on public freedom as part of the Covid-19 restrictions.

Thought provoking enough whenever this artwork was commissioned , unexpectedly pertinent currently.

Pandemic Pondering #218

No New Worlds is a new art installation in Plymouth it has a profound message which deserves its own blog. Contrarily @theoldmortuary has discovered new worlds while the installation was being constructed. We first encountered it when we went on the Dockyards and Warships boat trip. A New World, or an old world rediscovered for us. The installation was being constructed on the Mountbatten Break Water, we saw it as we sailed out of Plymouth Sound, at the time we didn’t know it was a significant commissioned Art Work.

Another New World for us is open water or Wild Swimming. We can see the sign from many of our new found bathing spots.

As an aside I had a very strange swim today which was also a bit of a new world. Maybe a little Queen World.

While swimming at Devils Point I was suddenly surprised by HMS Albion steaming towards me, towed by two powerful tugs. It is not every day that I am saluted by an entire ships company as I bob along in the sea. Obviously they were doing the salutations just for me. I so enjoyed the moment I couldn’t take a photo until the ship had passed by. A ship’s backside is an interesting change from the usual dog bottom in this blog.

Apparently this ship is the Swiss Army Knife of the Royal Navy. That’s quite a claim, I wonder where the corkscrew is?

I can say that not only did I experience a moment of Queenliness with the delightfully polite young persons saluting me. I also experienced a bit of Dolphinliness, the ship created quite a vibration in the water and some waves.

Another New World for @theoldmortuary was visiting the Mount Batten Breakwater, a place we had never visited before. We went to be up close to the Artwork to research and photograph for the proper blog tomorrow.

The installation is called Speedwell.

Pandemic Pondering #218

Insomnia and vivid dreaming are known side effects of the Covid-19 restrictions. I need to add an odd one to these but first a little about my blog writing. Most days, the next days blog is ready to publish by five past midnight. Occasionally I leave writing the blog until the morning, sometime before 8 am. Both methods work equally well. This weekend vivid dreaming affected the early morning writing of blog Pandemic Pondering #216. I already knew that it would be a brief blog with blue as the theme. A reason for confidently leaving the writing to the early morning. Imagine my horror when the pictures I planned to put in the blog did not exist in my phone. They had been part of a vivid dream!

PP#216 was about Wild Swimming and a much needed coffee afterwards. In my vivid dream, there was a beach just around the corner from Stonehouse where we buy our weekend coffees. I’ve managed to find pictures from my archive to augment reality.

This beach was tolerably pebbly but the best thing about the beach in the vivid dream was the option of renting a Beach hut by the day.

The texture of our beach hut was charmingly distressed.

It was two pictures like this that I searched for in the archive when I woke up to write the blog.

This is not the first time a morning written blog has been thwarted by my brain doing overtime at night.

I have a lifelong obsession with beach huts, starting with Frinton-on- Sea on the Essex Coast, followed by the South Coast between Brighton and Worthing, then the Kent coast at Whitstable. Interspersed by the beach huts of the Norfolk and Suffolk coast which are the ones I’ve substituted for the non-existent, in the real world, Plymouth ones. Plymouth does have beach/ coastal cabins which are built into the cliffs around Plymouth Sound and fabricated from concrete with sturdy doors, nothing like my fantasy but I’m sure gorgeous in their own way. The vivid dream even gave me a texture to its imagined doors. Knowing full well that I love a bit of distressed and weathered wood.

I’m not sure if these blog related dreams are in fact my subconscious berating me for not having the blog written before sleep. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could rent beach huts by the day. Even better if they were in Plymouth just round the corner from Stonehouse.

In real life I’ve probably not spent more than four hours in a beach hut, my obsession is built on pure imagination, gleaned from novels and looking into other people’s tiny coastal dream spaces with envy.

Pandemic Pondering #211

August 2020 slips effortlessly into September 2020. No more Art Group prompts,back to more freestyle pondering. Todays pondering reflects back on the last day of August, a Bank Holiday in Britain, the last before Christmas. We started the day early for a sea swim. The tranquility of these pictures was captured just moments before masses of people descended on the pebble beaches of Devils Point.

Plymouth has had a fabulous Bank holiday weekend. We have been tourists, seeing our city from new perspectives. Enjoying the Mediterranean vibe of the Ocean city.

Love where you live.

Pandemic Pondering #210

Todays prompt word for the art group is ‘paint’ slightly tricksy for an art group that encompasses 3D and Makers for whom paint is not a part of their creative process.

I chose to illustrate how paint brightens our lived environment.

Plymouth was in fine form today, the sun was out and the sea and sky were blue.

There were three stand out paint jobs.

The carousel on the Barbican

The Lighthouse on the Hoe.

The fishing boats in the Harbour.

Pandemic Pondering #202

The Art Group prompt word is Collage today.

Collage is a popular activity in art classes at all levels. It has never particularly interested me.

I love Palimpsest though, The layering and changing art form so often seen on urban streets.

Palimpsest in its serendipitous form has inspired me to create collage more often and, rather belatedly, I am beginning to enjoy making them just for pleasure, there are many ways to make a collage, some of them without glue.

Mental collage or Palimpsest has started to fascinate me during the pandemic. As our horizons were abruptly limited with lockdown the way I think about certain things has changed. I’ve realised that experiences at home or locally can be as interesting and thought provoking as those moments we rave about when we are away from our domestic location. Extra thinking time and the inability to leave the familiar has made it more interesting.

The month of August and in particular yesterday are two ways I can illustrate this statement.

I’ve always rushed headlong through August in eager anticipation of a holiday or break in September. With no such treat in store, this is the first August I have given due diligence and attention to. Many of my previous thoughts are entirely true , the weather is unreliable, roads and places are too busy, gardens and parks are slightly tired and not as vibrant as earlier in the summer. All true but not as bigger deal as I have previously thought. Adaptation and a little more time makes all these things more interesting this year.

I’ve started forming local holiday type memories and experiences a month earlier than normal simply because I’m paying August more attention.

Holidays @theoldmortuary require



Good Books

Some culture



So far August has delivered all of that and more without us leaving a 10 mile radius of our home.

Yesterday was a day of the most tedious shopping; cleaning product stock up time.

Serendipity delivered us a holiday moment on one of our regular dog walks. Mental collage made us notice it, in part I think because the colours reminded us of Greece.

We ordered a fishy tapas at a local restaurant, enjoyed classical music and talked to the owner.

Mental collage around a plate.

If we had been on holiday it would have been a precious nugget of the holiday. What it actually was was a precious nugget of life.

Researchers in the future will look back to this time of Pandemic. There will be many positive findings amongst the sea of bleakness.

Our positive nugget of life happened here.

Pandemic Pondering #196

View is the prompt word for the Art Group today.

The greyness of today brought the greens in this shot to life. It’s a view we see often and it changes every day. Most days in the last five months Firestone Bay has looked like a Mediterranean Resort. Today the SUP riders and the green of the rocks gives it an Asian feel.

The Greyness of today is a speciality of Plymouth and the surrounding area.

Devils Point, where this picture was taken is a coastal park of great beauty, despite the uniqueness of the location it is rarely busy. The area takes its name from the numerous, possibly 7, tides that converge on this spot making it devilishly difficult to navigate in a boat.

Just a little blog today but four lovely photos from Devils Point this year.


Pandemic Pondering#145

Tension Posts.

Today the prompt for the Art Group was ‘moor’.

I cheekily created this image, which on many days exactly sums up how Dartmoor, in particular, feels. I’m sure today it was glorious but I had my back to it.

As you all know I struggle a little with prompts and today was just not my day for posting about the Moor.

In fact,serendipitously,I was hugely engaged by a rusty tension post and hawser caught in the early morning sunshine.

So there is a little tension in this post as I actually turn my back to the moor, and consider a Tension Post.

In this image Dartmoor is on the horizon.

My love of rust and humble history is summed up in this lovely early morning shot

This is humble history, the bigger picture is certainly the rings of Palmerston Forts and Batteries built after 1850 and into the 1870’s to protect Plymouth from invasion by the French, led by Napolean.Fencing is the humble part of this protection, designed to replace normal field hedges that would have given visual protection to invaders coming from inland Old hedges were ripped out and replaced by fencing created with metal posts and hawsers. Every now and then there was a more complex post where the tension of the metal hawser could be tightened by hand.

It was one of these that attracted me this morning. When confronted with something like this I can never stop wondering about the person who last tightened this bolt , who would have never imagined that his turns of the bolt would still be holding the hawser in position nearly 200 years later.

I’m sure he would have stopped his labours to take in the view.

This morning was not all about Tension Posts . There were indeed other tensions.

How cold would the water be for a swim ?

The answer is- very.

Would we all still be smiling afterwards?


Would we get a table at the café for a restorative breakfast.

Yes again.

Just a little tension on the return when a herd of cows and a bull approached us , but that ended without incident.

A good day was had.

Pandemic Pondering #141

Cityscapes, a word ripe with possibilities.

I describe myself as an abstract landscape artist but in truth many of them are urban inspired, Cityscapes might be the word.

The pandemic has slightly changed the way I work but in essence I consider a landscape/cityscape to include close observations of just a tiny fragment of the viewed surroundings as well as massive milewide vistas. I love the juxtaposition of manmade materials and nature. The way plants find a crack and grow in it with tenaciousness and vitality, nature will always win.

It’s not just my work that has been altered by the Pandemic. This delightful view of London owes its clarity to the lowering of pollution during Lockdown. A Massive Cityscape in every sense of the word.

A Cityscape is more accessible by foot than the equivalent rural landscape and in many ways more interesting and unique.

This butterfly has settled on Church Road , Crystal Palace. Just outside 66a.

66a was once the home of a stand-up comedian, Daniel Kitson, who has painted a whole comedy cityscape based on this address.,_made_of_memories_and_kept_in_suitcases,_by_daniel_kitson

My cityscape of this small portion of South London is informed by my own observations of Crystal Palace and the observations of a comedian who loves it, regardless of its imperfect, slightly grimy urbanity. Close by there is some spectacular street art.

Street art and street furniture is integral to Cityscapes.

This watercolour is a formal landscape representing my working life in the City.

But in truth it was the little details on my walks to and from work that created my personal Cityscape. This one beautiful sign is a fine way to live life.

Street furniture and graffiti on daily walks.

One more cityscape for this blog.

The walk to De Bouvoir Town, Cityscapes not always what you might expect.

Pandemic Pondering #117

Making hay while the sun shines.

Rural chic is having a moment, probably inspired by any number of city dwellers who have managed to endure lockdown in the countryside.

The nature reserve near us has cut and laid the hay ready for collecting. As a backdrop for fashion photography this location would be perfect.

It is a fabulous image of rural charm, as is the Guardian article about the decorative Mr Beckham.

My recollection of Hay making in my youth is that it is a dirty, dusty job that has been romanticised way beyond its reality.

The term first appeared in a 1546 collection of proverbs by John Heywood. It is believed to have been in regular use in Britain since the proliferation of farming in Mediaeval times. Being included in a collection of proverbs suggests it quickly moved from sage farming advice to general life event guidance.

Literally or idiomatically, making hay while the sun shines was picturesque this morning.

To make the most of the idiomatic moment I can throw in two pictures of fluffy dogs making hay while the sun shines, one of them hay coloured.