#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There was also a bin with out-of-date stuff dating back 18 months.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.

#182 theoldmortuary ponders

A mobile phone and notebook made me unusually productive yesterday. Not exactly as busy as a bee but close. Apart from the times when I was walking the dogs I was hanging onto a phone line for the passport office. The notebook had significant dates in, that I knew I would need to quote and the phone was on loudspeaker so everyone in hearing distance was subjected to the truly terrible ‘on-hold’ music and the constant message about busy operators and suggestions that I use the on line system.

I will spare you my rage in full, a synopsis is the kinder option.

I have spent almost ten hours in the last two weeks on the phone to the passport office. Most of it listening to their dreadful music, not dreadful because the composer had a bad day but dreadful because the recording is reproduced so badly. The music is constantly interrupted by an announcer who speaks so gently and patronisingly that I wished harm on her.

Nearly two and a half hours on hold, in total, yesterday got most of the days dull jobs done.

Plenty of yardening which is where the illustrations come from.

All the washing done, no need for you to be bored by that. I even managed a small water colour doodle for my art course.

The thing I didn’t achieve was a resolution to the Passport situation. I still dont have one and it seems not even to be on the horizon. The Passport Office, in line with our Conservative Government Guidelines, lie. It seems that after surviving the aural hell that is their phone line queueing system, their overworked operators will tell you any old, plausible guff to get you off the line so they can lie to next person and achieve their lie goals for the day.

I have now entered the complaint system, lets see where that takes me.

Not abroad, that much is certain.

#169 theoldmortuary ponders

Every picture tells a story. This picture however tells two stories, one a simple story of making and the other, the story of the consequence.

For some time I have tried to be more sustainable in my painting and creating world. I no longer buy new canvasses to paint on but rely on finding donated canvasses at charity shops. Where possible I buy my paints from independent manufacturers. Similarly I like to get all my fabric and haberdashery requirements from our local Scrap Store where all sorts of things are directed away from landfill and sold at very very low prices for upcycling or repurposing projects.

The picture above is of some rustic bunting that I have wanted to make for a little while. This is the second attempt. Last week I picked up some fabric from the Scrap store, it appeared to have a plastic backing which seemed a good idea for bunting.  This is the second story.

I always wash anything I get from the scrap store, where possible. A plastic backing did not seem a reason not to wash the fabric.

Towards the end of the wash cycle the washing machine had an error code that suggested the washing machine was failing to drain.  Youtube told me how to clear the problem. Nothing I did, though, could undo the machines filter. More YouTubing took me to places way beyond my strength or competency so I rang a local washing machine repair company who gave me an appointment in a few days time. Once more on YouTube I learned how to drain the water out of the machine and open the door to get the fabric out. In horror I discovered that the plastic backing of my recycled fabric had in fact been a complex and glossy paper backing which was now a glorious gloop of papier maché in the bottom of my washing machine. I feared the worst and felt quite sweaty about the cost implications of washing exceedingly beautiful but cheap fabric in the best washing machine German engineering can provide.

Complete honesty was the only way to approach the engineer and his apprentice on their arrival. They seemed a little surprised but not particularly concerned. Twenty minutes later they emerged with a tiny quantity of papier maché and a bent and tarnished twenty pence piece. The machine was well on its way through a normal cycle.

German engineering can cope with papier mache but not, it seems with a twenty pence coin trapped in the filter.

Finding the twenty pence piece cost me £45. I still have to wash all those pieces of fabric to remove the thousands of particles of paper off them. This time by hand, I have no wish to see error E18 again even if the machine has proved it can cope. My bunting is made with unwashed fabric, another hand washing project for later in the week.

I’ve saved nearly three kilogrammes of fabric from landfill in a week. This does not feel as virtuous as it should! So far even the twenty pence is out to vex me. Every parking machine, so far has rejected it, and handing it over in a shop will just look as if I am trying to pass over an archaeological find rather than legal tender.