Pandemic Pondering#503

Yesterday was all about doing essential tasks but taking the odd moment off to take in the signs of summer. Rolls of straw disappearing into infinity were a good reminder that the summer, which has barely got started weather wise is already on the home run towards autumn. I spent a good part of yesterday harvesting wisdom. Sometimes when I spend too long cogitating on things alone it can be like drinking champagne to share those thoughts with a friend. A moment of someone elses perspective or experience brings light and clarity to a situation that I was making murky by over-thinking. I visited a friend with a new Shepherds Hut yesterday, and in its tiny space and in a few minutes of nattering she quickly gave me a precious nugget of wisdom that solved a situation I had been mulling over for some time.

Even the Shepherds Hut made me think of autumn. Maybe I’m expecting too much, but so far in the summer of 2021 my stand out piece of summer clothing is a lightweight but very effective raincoat. We may have been over excited in buying a big garden parasol for our new back yard, an essential item for safe outdoor socialising in these Covid times. We’ve only needed it twice in a little over 6 weeks of prime-time summer. Earlier in the week we managed a whole morning of yardening untroubled by over zealous sun or blistering heat. Our yard is essentially a bright white box of enclosing stone walls facing west. A perfect sun trap if there was any of it about! The yardening was an exercise in potting and repotting container plants that we had moved from the old house. Just to show off the sun and a little heat made a late appearance yesterday in the yard and warmed the newly potted plants.Which makes all my moaning about a lack of summer sun seem like nonsense.

But stuck in England as I am I would like to have some consistency of sunshine and some sweltering heat so that when autumn does arrive I can fully appreciate the cooler days with occasional showers. Which perversely, of course, is exactly what the whole summer of 2021 has been like here!

Pandemic Pondering #500

500 Pandemic Ponderings and the world is still in the grip of something that affects everyone. Currently our planet is still gripped and the Pandemic is far from over.Who knows how this part of our history will end.

@theoldmortuary, just like everyone, is in quite a different place at #500 to where we were at #1. No longer living at the actual Old Mortuary, that was never a plan!

Today though, beyond PP#500, is pretty average. We took a trip out to Tavistock in the rain. The rain gave me all the images for this blog. A rain swollen river + my silky water feature on the phone camera is as good an illustration for time passing as I could muster today.

We went to Tavistock to visit the Drawn to the Valley exhibition again and to visit the Saturday market.

We also had a Bubble Wrap popping and styling date with our grandchild in Hong Kong.

Not something we were planning to do in the street but that is where we were when the call came through. We had planned ahead and just whipped our Bubble Wrap out of a handbag and struck some poses and popped away. Passers by were certainly puzzled! A fine way to spend half an hour on a normal day with an auspicious number.

Pandemic Pondering #438

On reflection. True to many British holidays, we’ve taken the van away for a couple of days and the weather has turned to persistent precipitation. So small tasks in the van have filled some of the time. Fitting a usable mirror has long been a project. Today we achieved with Superglue something that we are both happy with.

We are on a campsite with shared WiFi so connection to the internet is sketchy due to the number of people stuck in tents, caravans and campervans. So research for this blog is not so easy. But I vowed to use the first photos that came out of my cloud using the search, reflection.

I’m sure I could have waffled on about anything that appeared but the two pictures of Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong give me huge pleasure. Victoria Harbour has been in my life all my life. My nightlight as a small person showed the twinkling lights of Victoria Harbour, now it is the home of treasured but distant family members.

These pictures were taken in June 2019 long before we had ever considered a life with such unimaginable restrictions and deprivations as those we live with now. 2019 a year when we thought humans had control! Little did we know.

Maybe it is best to reflect on the little things in life. The small achievements , the things we do still have control over. Hanging a mirror perhaps.

Pandemic Pondering#435

I’m a little obsessed with the sad fate of Octopus mothers. They mate only once and after caring for their babies they die and are consumed. I always felt quite octopus-like as a mother, certainly wishing that I had more than one pair of hands. But very glad that the whole experience was not so all consuming that I succumbed to maternal death in order to provide my beloved children with a snack.

I’ve been doing a little Octopus research before I start a series of Octopus watercolours, and discovered a fascinating fact about Octopus anatomy that would explain a lot about some humans if only they shared the same anatomy.

We’ve all met some shockers of human beings. Often at work, certainly in general and public life and unluckily for some , within families.

Just look at this simple anatomy of an octopus.

Right by the Octopus heart there is a poison gland.

Everyone knows a human with one of those!

I’m not too sure where this blog is going. Watercolour research to fantasy anatomy.

But I think in the future when I meet a bad human I may try to imagine them being overwhelmed by their own poison gland. I hope it is unpleasant.

Bonkers Pondering.

Pandemic Pondering #426

This one picture is all that was left of the day once weather and breakfast had taken what it wanted out of our waking hours. The Pandemic, guilty as it is for so many things, did not affect Sunday, or indeed this blog.

The weather was the most damaging. Another day deluged out of existence. This blog should have early morning action pictures of Pilot Gigs and happy rowers rowing on the Tamar. But the wind and rain postponed that. Nothing stopped our first meeting with friends indoors to share breakfast and natter over too much coffee. The rain continued to pour down on their courtyard garden , making everything lush and tropical looking. The trouble is we forgot our manners, we’ve not really used them for more than 15 months. A breakfast gathering suggests that other things might be done with the rest of the day. Not with guests like us! We left the breakfast gathering at 4:30 in the afternoon. We had talked and talked, fueled by good coffee and breakfast, but we had talked the day away, our ribs and faces aching from mirth. At 4:30 the rain still battered the streets but dogs needed walking, any pretence that anything else might be achieved was washed into the gutter with rainfall. A brief dog walk in waterproofs got the essentials done before book reading and cooking filled a couple of hours. Finally at 8:30pm we could find a rain-free period when dogs could be walked and 10,000 steps could be achieved. One day, one photograph, some sort of milestone.

Pandemic Pondering #421

Life is starting to stack up. With every slight loosening of government restrictions our lives @theoldmortuary get a little busier. In many ways it feels as odd as the sudden deceleration of our lives over a year ago. We are not even pushing ourselves to the max possible.

Lunch indoors with one set of friends yesterday followed later by a meal inside a pub with different friends was lovely and an enormous pleasure but it felt both exotic strange and exciting to behave almost normally for once . Just as lockdown deeply affected my sleep patterns, last nights sleep was disturbed by recalling the days events. We also have some longstanding domestic admin that keeps us awake and an art exhibition to organise at the end of the week. Just as Covid-19 has the physical nasty that is Long Covid, all our lived experiences will suffer from the after effects of this pandemic for a long while even if we have been lucky enough not to catch the wretched disease.

Another period of sleeplessness will not be welcome in this house.

Some people are, of course, oblivious, although even this doggy naughtiness is Covid related. Thermal socks for outdoor socialising and post swimming are the best for chewing and there are plenty of pairs to be stolen.

In other news, the Advanced Blogging course has been announced for October. Alongside this announcement, the delightful Gentle Author has decided to return to teaching the art of blogging. I will pop a link below, his courses are wonderful.

https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/spitalfields-life-1516790/departure-arthur-beale-8006014249

So in a fine example of art imitating life everything is starting to stack up.

Pandemic Pondering #407

May the 4th be with you. Except, of course this is the 5th. May the 4th always brings rich pickings of Star Wars quotes.  I’m unsure if just loving the original 1977 film, correctly and simply known as Star Wars makes me a Star Wars luddite. The surrounding films and obsessive fandom makes me feel saddened that the one original film can’t be enjoyed as one unique moment of great creative, cinematic collaboration.

But without the hullabaloo, that irritates me so much, I would not have found a lovely quote from the actress Carrie Fisher who played Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise. She was open and honest about her, nearly life- long, struggles with drink, drugs and bi-polar disorder. She was also a wise and clever woman.

Discussing her difficult life patches she wrote.

” Going through challenging things can teach you quite a lot, and they also make you appreciate the times that aren’t so challenging”

A simple sentence that works under normal circumstances and especially as we emerge from beneath the pressures and sadnesses of the Pandemic.

Pandemic Pondering #390

As the sun sets on a sad old week we are struck today by a coincidence. In Britain Prince Phillips coffin and his funeral will fill hours of television broadcasts and give the Sunday Newspapers plenty to report and speculate on. Exactly 4 years ago we were sharing a ferry journey with an unknown Hong Konger who was being returned to their home island for burial.

Just as at Windsor Castle there was only a small amount of family accompanying this person on their final journey.

Death is just a sad old business whoever you are.

Pandemic Pondering #387

L’esprit de l’escalier is a French term used in English for thinking of the perfect reply too late. I think it is mostly considered to be a witty or clever retort that would finish of a conversational or indeed confrontational encounter more perfectly.

Where is the handy french term for when you/ I, have thought of the perfect retort and delivered it leaving the other person stunned and perhaps uncomfortable. A linguistic victory certainly but not always kind.

Kindness at the end of a conversation is another of those moments with no useful term. Hugely important during difficult conversations when serious, possibly hurtful and important points need to be conveyed. If there is love, care, affection or even just integririty that must be built into that conversation the parting words need to be perfectly judged if the conversation is to be effective rather than harmful. A lifetime of harm can be caused without the right conversational ending included. If only these things could be straightforward.

The whole business of ‘stair case wit’ which I have expanded to Staircase Wisdom is chronically complicated and acutely regrettable. I have a huge dusty box in my personal archive of conversations that were not perfect because I got the end wrong.

The trouble is, unlike this collection of staircases, conversation with another is never black and white, and it can be complicated and unpredictable. The conversations in my head always go much better to plan.

The link below takes you to a less personal consideration of L’esprit de l’escalier. I hope that is the perfect ending.

L’esprit de l’escalier

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%27esprit_de_l%27escalier

Here is a less than perfect ending , the steps that I imagine take me to my store of archived badly finished conversations. I don’t imagine I’m ever going to be diplomatic or wise enough not to need to store badly finished conversations in an imagined room beyond these stairs any time soon. These steps will continue to be well worn, a little bit smelly and unloved until I can no longer engage in meaningful conversation.

Pandemic Pondering #382

©Debs Bobber

Another Friday swim day with the Bobbers. A tiny Whats app group of 5 people has expanded to 12 regular swimmers and one land based Andy who keeps an eye on everything on land and in the sea. The swimming is the primary function of Bobbers but also loud natterings on any subject. Some of the natterings would make a nun blush, especially as we base ourselves below the perimeter wall of a convent.

There was a fine show of tugs today.

Tug Spotting

This one sailed out just before we plunged into the somewhat chilly sea. Sometimes if the conditions are right you can feel the resonant thrum of moving tugs when you are in the water. Not the case today. This busy tug sailed out before we got in and then back in again pulling a Royal Navy Survey vessel after we got out.


The reward for swimming yesterday was a tiny chocolate biscuit shaped like a penguin. Another unexpected treat is a visit to the same beach today at extreme low tide to hunt for goggles which were lost during the talking phase of the swim. Not a phase usually shown in swimming events but one in which the ‘ Bobbers’ excel.

Later, on a regular dog walk we chanced upon a new import being brought into Plymouth Fish Market.

If only I had known you could buy this stuff. I’ve had many unavoidable colleagues and huge numbers of equally unavoidable patients who could have done with a big dose of this stuff. Humans with no discernible traces of charisma are all over the place. As soon as this product becomes available on the retail market, I’m getting a pocket spray , the use of which the pandemic has made entirely acceptable. I am assuming it has a similar transmission but without the fatality of Novichok. When I meet those all too frequent people who have no manners or any measurable social graces, a quick squirt, will sort them out, probably only briefly, but for as long as I am forced to endure them.

Once the pandemic is over we could even repurpose all the sanitizer dispensers and make all our lives a little easier when interacting with increasing numbers of other humans. Charisma dispensers would really make emerging into the post pandemic world a little easier.