#330 theoldmortuary ponders

Back in the ( time) zone. A day of homecoming chores. Getting our composite door serviced and a new handle fitted. Prescriptions collected and electricians contacted. Honestly the Tim Horton coffee was an unplanned Canadian throwback. As it happens, Hugo and Lola, who will never visit Canada, rather like a small portion of traditional ‘timbits’

In other throwbacks of the day I visited the trusty Abebooks, secondhand book store to catch up on two book purchases which travelling with only hand luggage had made conpletely impossible during our travels. First up the Chicago Diner Cook Book.

And secondly the book published to accompany the Nick Cave exhibition that we went to at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

Our Toronto catch up purchases were supplied by John Lewis who sell the brand Atheleta, even better all items were in the sale. So now we have compression leggings which would have stopped our feet getting plump and puffy on our flights. Back to normal now.

And a blog written before the midnight hour.

#313 theoldmortuary ponders

Let sleeping dogs lie. For two evenings every year Plymouth Sound is alive with the sound , and sights, of fireworks.

We are very lucky that our dogs are not fussed by fireworks. Last night, the first night of the British Fireworks Competition, we set off with them to find a good vantage point close to home. We were lucky and found the ideal spot and saw the first display . Unfortunately our vantage spot was discovered by a young woman carrying a wine glass while wearing a strappy dress and rather a lot of entitlement. Her dog was off the lead and bothering everybody. She remonstrated with ‘Arlo’ who really was way too excited to listen and when she did eventually put him on the lead she couldn’t be bothered to hold the lead. A lethal combination in the dark on uneven high ground. Common sense made us retreat home, our well behaved dogs tucked under our arms. Leaving her to irritate everyone else.

This might have been a real irritation had we not discovered a streaming service broadcasting the whole competition. Our ears could hear all the bangs and clashes as they echoed around our house but we could get a front row seat to see all the fireworks via our lap top.

Tonight the weather was not so perfect and we had already done a really long dog walk, the temptation to enjoy the fireworks on the laptop was too tempting when coupled with tea and biscuits.

Once again the crashes and bangs filled our ears in reality. The streaming service filled our eyes with fireworks and I discovered that I could even get a half decent photo while enjoying a chocolate digestive.

#304 theoldmortuary ponders

Desire paths that lead to a realisation.

Desire Paths have always fascinated me. Reading a recent blog from Spitalfields Life, nudged me into writing this blog today.

When I was a student at Barts Hospital my chosen Desire Path took 5 minutes off my journey to Moorgate Station. It was an ancient right of way. For nearly a thousand years medics and butchers have shared adjacent plots in the City of London.

Barts©The Wellcome Trust
Smithfield© Spitalfields Life. The Gentle Author

My short cut, or desire path, took me from the hospital boundary through slaughter yards, with bloodied water running into open drains. My desire path was almost certainly created by butchers, through history, making their way to and from one of the City gates. Moor Gate, so named because it led out to marshy ground known as Moor Fields. The to and fro on my little cut way was not just medical folk and butchers trying to make a quick access or escape, but, by passing so close to active slaughter yards the route may only have been tolerable for those with minds and stomachs already hardened to the sight snd smells of blood and gore. Butchers sometimes used the path as walking wounded, a quick way in to seek medical attention when sharp knives and cleavers have cut through living human flesh. A cleaver cutting through a femoral artery is a mucky and life or limb threatening event. Butchers, before the days of Health and Safety, often had bits missing, and the butchers of Smithfield were very regular and grateful customers when Barts had a fully functioning A and E. Anyway, I digress this blog is about a coastal desire path with much less to talk about. When I returned to work at Barts in 2013 I was hugely sad, but not entirely surprised, that I could no longer follow my short cut to Moorgate.

A desire path (often referred to as a desire line in transportation planning), also known as a game trail, social trail, fishermen trail, herd path, cow path, elephant path, goat track, pig trail, use trail and bootleg trail, is an unplanned small trail created as a consequence of mechanical erosion caused by human or animal traffic. The path usually represents the shortest or the most easily navigated route between an origin and destination, and the width and severity of its surface erosion are often indicators of the traffic level it receives.Desire paths typically emerge as convenient shortcuts where more deliberately constructed paths take a longer or more circuitous route, have gaps, or are non-existent. Once someone has already treaded out a path through the natural vegetation, subsequent traffics tend to follow that visibly existing route (as it is more convenient than carving out a new path by oneself), and the repeated trampling will further erode away both the remaining groundcover and the soil quality that allows easy revegetation.*

The desire path I walk on most days has none of the history of the Barts desire path. It cuts off only seconds of an already brief walk to the beach . It is the area in sunlight in this picture, the actual, brick path runs close to the wall of Stonehouse Tennis Club. But such is pondering that I only realised today that the South West Coastal Path, that both this Desire, and official, brick path lead to, must be made up entirely of historic desire paths that have been linked together. Unexpected enlightenment on a Wednesday

Today I am a rubbish photographer and have managed to cut off the vital words on this plaque. South West Coastal Path are the words I needed but managed not to include in this image.

One of my recent paintings combined with typewriting sums this whole blog up really. Todays in particular but pretty much in general too.

* definition of Desire Path. Wikipedia

#237 theoldmortuary ponders

With reference to yesterdays blog. The plan was to be wearing Coastal Granny attire for another day. Remarkably the pale colours of coastal chic had remained clean and bright, almost certainly because there were no coastal small persons around and because I had remained, unusually, far away from paint. Just some gentle sewing was attempted. On balance I may aim for Coastal Nana, a less influential style in terms of fashion 2022, but more achievable. On balance is absolutely the two key words of this blog. In the picture above I am wearing lycra because plans change. We did not spend Sunday with me wafting around in pale colours and Hannah flying down a zip wire. We registered for an aerial class at short notice. Then we worried a bit about quite what we had signed up for.


We went to the beautiful Market Hall in Devonport and put our trust in gorgeous orange fabric.

And 3 aerial instructors from Off The Wall Aerial.


©Off The Wall Aerial

It was a blast, an anxious blast at times, but most certainly the blastiest Sunday morning in a very long while.

We were gently introduced to our silken slings and warmed up in such a way that trepidation was replaced with temptation to actively try everything that was suggested. However unthinkable moments earlier.

Some of the exercises were fascinating and the urge to just hang, supported only by fabric was impossible to ignore.

Pointy toes and a concentrating face.

Towards the end we threw ourselves backwards, confident that we would be caught by the cocoon of orange fabric.

Trust in the instructors and their ability with knots was instant , a morning well spent and never to be forgotten.

#228 theoldmortuary ponders

Not an average evening on Plymouth Hoe. Faithless blasting out from a music festival and a beacon lit for the Queens Jubilee.

A lovely evening walk, ripe for a good old ponder. How effective was the beacon system as an early warning system. There is a good bit of theorising on the internet hampered by not a huge amount of recorded data. It is said that when the Armada was spotted of the coast of Lands End the beacon system alerted London about 6 hours later. Beacons were located about 5-15 miles apart depending on the geographical features of the land. Each beacon would have had a watcher and a beacon lighting team, their efficiency would have had an impact on the transmission time. Beacons were dotted along the south coast of England as far as Portsmouth and then turned inland and spread the news to London and the rest of the country. It is said that the news reached York in the north of the country in under ten hours. This is all vague because at the time no-one kept the time. The specificity of the news would have been carried by a messenger on a horse, the horse and probably the rider would have changed regularly between the start point of Lands End to the end point London. The news would then have then been spread far wider by horses and messengers being sent in all directions from London.


Tonight however the Queen touched a symbolic globe and without any horses or messengers, the beacon lit up in Plymouth and many other locations , just like magic. Although not exactly magic, we were close enough to the beacon to hear the gas being turned on several moments before the Queen placed her gloved hand anywhere near the globe. A moment made all the more memorable by ceremonial bagpipes adding unexpected notes to very well known Faithless anthems. Its been a day of anthems.

P.s. here is a proper photograph from a proper photographer.

©One Plymouth

#214 theoldmortuary ponders

A quick skim of some of the photographs of this week suggests a little bit of an accidental theme. I often re edit old photographs so my weeks output is not always chronological. This old picture of the rope bridge at the Eden Project is in this weeks archive because my daughter bought a print by another artist, which made me wonder what I could do with my own image. So on a theme of interesting journeys not to far from home I can bring you stairs at the museum I work at.

Two accidental early morning walks on the Barbican gave some more whimsical journey images.

The image above camouflages the image below. They all suggest time travel or indeed travel to a different time.

All four of these images have a lot of steps involved even if they are not seen. My final image is the fuel for travel.

Cardamom Cakes, a gustatory journey to unusual flavours, fuel for all the steps on an unplanned walk.

#24 theoldmortuary ponders

Same view this morning and a completely different reason for looking. Usually I am most interested in the stretch of water between the shore and the swimming buoys. Today my interest lies between the swimming buoys and the island. Later on today I am going on a Tamar River Cruise, not a booze cruise or a tourist cruise but a cruise to see sights of special scientific interest, historic interest and industrial heritage interest. A fact finding cruise on the challenges and projects that working in an area of outstanding natural beauty presents. For now though I am only bothered about the sea sickness quota that Plymouth Sound will serve me.

Looking to the east I’m feeling pretty confident that I will only see breakfast once today. This is a good thing in my opinion. Looking to the west no judgement could be made as everything was shrouded in mist but I am very confident that if the east looks good then the west will be in exactly the same mood. Who knows what shape tomorrows blog will take after an actual cruise, albeit 5 hours rather than days or weeks. For now though another view looking to the east, almost Mediterranean!