#609 theoldmortuary ponders

Ten, tired, travelling toes, took a trip to Shueng Wan for some pampering. They went in slightly blistered and care worn and emerged one hour later rather glossier than I had anticipated. My toes are brilliantly embellished with chrome! Like millionaire supercars in London during the summer. Despite being decidedly glam they still have to carry me on my travels. Although last night they went to a glam toe appropriate setting. Hutong, Hong Kong for a belated Mothers Day meal.

A postprandial walk by the Walk of Stars gave the toes their final outing of the day.

Chrome shins, no Chrome toes

#537 theoldmortuary ponders

We are boggle eyed from painting doors, stairs and anaglypta panels a very dark grey. This morning after we made the most of the very early light we went out for an Easter morning walk before most people had thought about breakfast. This fabric hanging from a building, soon to be renovated has a plaintive feel, but the rest of the walk was full of spring colour.

Full disclosure the job was greater than the time we had. We deliberately started with the hardest end of the hallway and it has taken all of the time available to get about half of the ground floor hallway done. Our cut- off deadline was always 4pm on Sunday. Apart from one from one swim and many dog walks we have politely declined social activities all weekend. The work left is, by any measure, much less time consuming and can be achieved over a couple of weekends.

Work in Progress shot.

The under stairs cupboard door will also go grey. It is unimaginable how many hours have gone into this small space. My jaw tells me that I painted spindles through gritted teeth and we both have lower backs that are stretched by the constant crouching to reach hard to reach places. Our minds have been stretched by the music and podcasts we have listened to. YouTube failed me on Spindle painting. Apparently the modern way to achieve the same effect as hours of teeth clenching is to mask everything except the spindles in plastic and use a spray can or gun. After ten such jaunty videos I gave up and did it the Victorian way. When I was a small child living in a house with a much smaller staircase my mum took me away for the weekend while my dad ” Got on with the hallway. “

He arrived triumphantly, at my grandparents pub saying “I’ve boxed it all in”

In the space of 48 hours our between- the-wars semi had been turned into smooth 1960’s minimalism every panelled door or ornate spindle hidden behind sheets of hardboard and painted white.

After this past weekend I understand the sentiment but cannot praise his architectural vandalism. I hope whoever lived there after us was thrilled one day to take off the boxing-in ( thank you Practical Woodworking Magazine) and reveal the real charms of the house.

#441 theoldmortuary ponders

A bus stop rainbow. 8 a.m

Some days a bus stop rainbow is the best and only option. The run-up to Christmas is all about preparatory domestic admin. The week or so after New Year is about clearing up. Over the festive season, a couple of Gherkins had made their escape from their pickling brine. There was a bitter smell coming from the fridge. It is amazing what gets put back into a fridge over Christmas.

My plan was to de-Christmas the kitchen and dining room but the bitter whiff of escaped gherkin in the fridge made my number one priority clearing out the fridge. Our fridge has an energy-saving function that means when 2 minutes or so have elapsed, with the door open, it squeals like an urban fox in the mating season. It took me 30 minutes to empty the fridge and find the whiffy gherkins. That’s an awful lot of squealing. It is possible to silence the alarm but only by pushing the door-activated button. But that only buys another 2 minutes. OK while I was up close and intimate with the fridge not so great when I was discovering, over at the sink that the salad and vegetable drawers, were not water-tight after I had filled them with warm soapy water. Only a fool would shout expletives at a fridge, I was that fool.

So an hour or more into the big post-Christmas clear-up, Christmas was still untroubled by my plans for domestic order, I had an unplanned clean, twinkly, and most importantly silent fridge. Half a lemon that never got to dive into the fizzing abyss of a Gin and Tonic and two nearly empty jars of mayonnaise.

The lemon

There was also a bin with out-of-date stuff dating back 18 months. An archive of unrepeated recipe ingredients stretching back to the day we moved in.

Sidetracked by the mayonnaise jars I decided to move everything off the mid-century modern, solid wood furniture and nourish the wood with the leftover mayonnaise. Once that was done I moved some plants into a window to refresh their light-starved leaves.

And then at 4 pm as the light started fading, I took the Christmas tree down, packed up his baubles and lights, folded the tree into his cardboard box, and posted him up into the roof space. At 5 pm the bus stop rainbow had gone. Where exactly had my day gone?

#422 theoldmortuary ponders

The sunset on my evening dog walk.

For someone born 60 miles inland, I have spent an extraordinary amount of time living on the coast. Yesterday I had a great day by the sea. In the morning I went to a post-Covid, reunion,social gathering of women in the majestic buildings of the Royal William Yard. Quite cheeky really as the word reunion did not apply to me. I had never met many of these people before. The cafe we met in has several massive sofas that can fairly comfortably sit ten people. I was not the only cheeky one. Lola and Hugo came with me because there is nothing they love more than a walk that terminates in a cafe. Lola is always a sociable soul, Hugo more reticent. By the time I left Lola had cuddled and been cuddled by everyone on the large sofa. I realise that makes non dog lovers recoil but there was no recoiling from her warm curly cuddles yesterday. Hugo noticed the attention she was getting and made slower progress along the row of laps. After a brief interlude of domestic admin* I was back for a small afternoon gathering of friends, mulled wine and rats.

We met in old Stonehouse pub that has recently reopened. A bar that also sells coffee and cake, a game changer for me. I am fairly certain I have never paired coffee cake with mulled wine before. It works. Hidden in the pub are four small rats. I plan to only ever find three, that way there is always a reason to return.

Did you say Quiche?
Do you have any Coffee Cake?
Yes, I am the Bass player, who’s asking?

* Who gives a crap about my domestic admin? There was a small order error when I ordered the festive toilet rolls. The error was quickly rectified, rather generously, by the company. Yesterday’s most pressing domestic admin task was to find homes for 100 toilet rolls.

42 rolls on each shelf.

Suddenly I have become the sort of person who over-caters for Christmas.

#420 theoldmortuary ponders

This joyful scene of snowy hospitality from Monday makes me smile because I am not contemplating trying to get to work with slippery roads and an unreliable train service. In the spirit of Advent+2022 it also gives me the chance to share a photograph that has never made it into a previous ponder. This snowy view or even the same view without snow is immediately outside Gipsy Hill Station in London. Gipsy Hill Station is the home of a very famous London cat.

Fanny has her own Twitter account.

I follow Fanny on her Twitter page and was pleased to see she approves of this year’s Gipsy Hill Christmas Tree.

© The Gipsy Hill Cat

Not that she was neglecting her normal duties.

© The Gipsy Hill Cat

When I returned home to Gipsy Hill Station and Fanny was on duty I would get a warmer welcome from her than the aloof and reserved cat I shared my home with. In fact even after the aloof cat and I moved to the West Country I would still get a more joyful sense of recognition from Fanny when I returned to my London home than ever I got from my own black and white cat.

Fanny has a loyal following both locally- https://gipsyhillfriends.org/2017/11/05/the-gipsy-hill-cat/

Nationally and internationally. In 2022 she has her own calendar.

And the local brewery has a beer with a name that probably isn’t accidental.

Happy hump day and here is my own picture of Fanny making sure I swiped my Oyster card.

#382 theoldmortuary ponders.

This is the time of year, the lull of winter before Christmas,when journalists seek words from Scandinavian countries to ease the pain of cold, wet weather and shorter days. We’ve had a couple of days of walks, talks and rainy days. I can recommend days spent with friends doing exactly that. Cake and coffee may also have been an intrinsic part of our activities.

Talfädighet is the Scandinavian word I have chosen as the way to lead a better life in the run up to the festive season. It means talkative, it may look like a tall cupboard from Ikea but it is one of those delightful words like Hygge which will,for certain, make November more tolerable. Let’s all be more talkative.

#257 theoldmortuary ponders

Sunshine and Fl(Sh)owers, mostly showers. So much rain in the last two weeks, the new flower beds in our yard have become mini jungles. After the vivid colour of the late Spring ; Summer is a different yardening business. The greenery is wild and vibrant, the flowers mostly shy and retiring, preferring to stay inside or appearing only as coy buds.

Domestic admin is the winner in this sort of weather, we are a week ahead of the game, which feels very luxurious. The game in question is a family holiday, at our house, followed very swiftly by an art exhibition. The smug feeling of being prepared is almost certainly going to be fleeting. We had double smugness as we tucked into a vegetable curry featuring courgettes from the garden.

The sun came out yesterday evening and just like flowers, people and live music popped out to bask for an hour or so.

The perfect setting for a party at the Tinside Lido

The minute the sun came out we set off for a walk, and a quest for junk food.What better way to finish off after a healthy veg curry than a walk to the lighthouse and some 2 for 1 chocolate. Saturday all sorted.

#250 theoldmortuary ponders

Just a little blog today as we have to be further along the coast quite soon.

Our homestyle Glastonbury continues with domestic life enlivenened by Glasto on the TV.

If only we had some of the Glasto magic dust to keep us up and awake. An 80 year old man headlines the Pyramid Stage,Sir Paul McCartney, but after a fabulous meal out with friends. We don’t even make it through half of his set, appalling behaviour!

Time to turn off the TV and the lights in the TeePee. See you all again tomorrow.

#219 theoldmortuary ponders

Sunflowers in Cuba

Todays blog is a little late due to holiday travel. Not mine, for certain, as I am still without a passport. But it did give me the chance to share one of my favourite holiday photographs. This morning I dropped some friends to the airport for their holidays and by coincidence several friends and family are travelling to Europe for weddings this weekend which makes my whatsapp notifications bright with happy holiday images.

©Debs Bobber

All of my adult life I have taken foreign travel for granted. Covid and now an inept passport office have kept my feet very firmly on United Kingdom soil for nearly three years. This has made me appreciate the similarities and pleasures of Britain that I previously would, perhaps, have not even noticed. After the drive to the airport this morning I went to Sutton Harbour area to have new tyres fitted. I heard a sound that would be well known to anyone who has spent time in the Mediterranean . A handbell being rung from the window of a white van carrying food items. Today was not freshly caught fish or locally grown vegetables but the humble pasty!

So, I am a little envious of my nearest and dearest sampling foreign sights and sounds. The minute a passport lands in my hands, foreign adventures will be planned. But today I walked past scenic lobster pots with a baguette under my arm, only the weather proved to me that I was not, currently, somewhere more exotic.

#206 theoldmortuary ponders.

Currently this woodpile is a woodpile gold standard. I love a good woodpile, they endlessly fascinate me. I pass this one most days and am in awe of its perfection. I’ve only ever owned one, woodpile suitable, house and I never managed anything quite as beautiful as this. My woodpile lived under a large open porch that ran along the front of the house, there was a bench next to the woodpile. On rainy days it was possible to sit under the porch and remain dry while enjoying the woody fragrances that the damp atmosphere enhanced. In the early days of on-line shopping a van delivery person thought the ideal hidden spot would be behind the woodpile, without any regard for the several tons of wood that would need to be moved to retrieve the item. They had no proof that they had delivered the item and ultimately the shoes were replaced. No one would move that much wood without the certainty of a prize. We never burnt our way to the bottom of the pile and so when the house was sold so were a pair of original 2002 crocs, if they ever were actually delivered. One day someone will find them, they are probably, after 20 years, a collectors item.

Tales from the woodpile.