Pandemic Pondering #74

Saturday at Elvira’s

Saturdays in Lockdown got a whole lot better once we could get our favourite coffee fix at The Lord High Admiral provided by the lovely Hutong Crew.
https://m.facebook.com/thelhaplymouth/
https://m.facebook.com/TheHutongCafe/

Either before or after good coffee we go for breakfast at Elvira’s.
https://m.facebook.com/ElvirasCafePlymouth/

We’ve developed an unusual socially distance friendship with people we met on the first day in the Hutong queue. We meet for coffee and breakfast.

Breakfast at Elvira’s is immense, normally I go for a bacon buttie. For some unknown reason after four weeks on a super healthy diet I opted for the Farmhouse Breakfast.

As an aside this cafe in normal times is the favoured haunt of Commandos based at Stonehouse Barracks.

The Farmhouse Breakfast is exactly what a commando would deserve after a hard nights soldiering on night exercises

This breakfast was a thing of beauty and despite only doing a Joe Wicks work out I was determined to enjoy every mouthful. It was wonderful .

Elvira’s is very close to the Plymouth side of the Cremyll ferry. A boat ferry has crossed the Hamoaze, a stretch of the River Tamar, here, since the 11th Century.
https://www.plymouthboattrips.co.uk/ferries/cremyll-ferry/

Whilst waiting for my take away breakfast I discovered a combination of two of my favourite things . Rust and a Ghost Sign.
http://www.ghostsigns.co.uk/

A ghost sign is a faded sign, often seen on the walls of city buildings.

This one was set into the ground where passenger alight from the Cremyll foot ferry.

There wasn’t an easy way to capture the words in the bright sunlight.

The text reads.

WELCOME to Plymouth, now wipe your feet.

It is a matter of great pride that salmon have come back to the Tamar . A gentlemen was fly fishing on the slipway near where the ferry comes in. He was not a picturesque fisherman but he was standing in a picturesque place. I was anxious that he leave so I could get a nice photograph. I was very happy when his breakfast was delivered and he moved out of shot.

After a couple of long dog walks and no Hutong coffee, I had declined earlier, I was pretty sleepy after all that breakfast. An afternoon of reading turned into something much more relaxing.

Zzzzzzzzzzz

Pandemic Ponderings # 67

Sunday musings on a sun lounger. Not everything goes to plan. This is true in real life, just as it is in pandemic life. I’ve always been accepting of the wonderful John Lennon lyric.

‘ Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans’

I’m surprised by the accepting way the whole world has taken to changing its plans, very little protest and a lot of understanding.

Things happen @theoldmortuary, under normal circumstances,that I had never even considered needed plans. A trip to the supermarket, coffee with friends, weekends with our family. These things happened, sometimes spontaneously with very little thought. Now doing anything takes great thought and the mundane has become something to dress up for and revel in, when three months ago it would have been a chore.

This weekend would not have been mundane.We should be exhausted and bursting with ideas and inspiration. This would have been a weekend in London soaking up the buzz and vibrancy of our favourite city.

Friday would have seen us at The Chelsea Flower Show, but like everything it has been cancelled.

The rest of the weekend would have been spent with friends and family in various parts of the city. Our hair would be cut, our minds would be restocked with happiness and great ideas, some shopping might have occured and, by now, we would be on the A303 chattering about everything and, in particular, how much our garden would be tweaked. Chelsea and Hampton Court are the two flower shows that inspire us.

I’m not actually dwelling on the might- have-been because there is a future out there for most of us , we just have to wait a bit to experience it. Today I should have been spending four hours on the road but actually I’ve spent four hours in the garden enjoying some of the stuff we’ve learnt in the past, at Chelsea, and the washing is dry.

So a Sunday, not as planned, but a Sunday full to the brim of unplanned loveliness.

Pandemic Pondering #65

We’ve got to #65 before I mention hair. Rather too much of it if I’m honest. Curls give me a bit of leeway but today I started to pin it up and tied it up with a scarf.The writing is on the wall. Hannah has a sculptured crop and has snipped a bit around the edges. Hairdressing scissors have been bought. Apparently she feels confident with them

The summer weight scarves have been laundered ready to control curls and provide face masks if we need them.

Hay fever season makes us prone to explosive sneezes. A quick cowboy style scarf/mask makes us more socially acceptable.

If there is much more talk of confidence with scissors I could be in trouble.

Pandemic Pondering #63

The world for now has become a little smaller and our garden a little more stony. The two are linked. The area in front of the garden studio is a muddy lawn during the winter months and for some time we’ve wanted to turn it into a Dungeness, Derek Jarman style garden.


https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/mar/15/writers-join-campaign-to-save-derek-jarmans-cottage

It was my love of the poetry of Derek Jarman that first took me to his home on Dungeness and it is Dungeness that has stolen a big bit of my coast loving heart.

His poetry book, A finger in the Fishes Mouth, found its way into my life a long while ago. It took me to Dungeness.

I love the serendipity of following a poet to his special place and then finding one of my own. The flat blank mounds of pebbles inspire me to paint, and photograph


and now obviously to garden.

Who knows when we can next travel to Kent to recharge our batteries but Lockdown has given us the chance to start our stone garden .

Much laying of membrane and humping of pebbles, quaintly described as Raspberry Ripple, has turned the grotty lawn into a miniature space of pebbles , I can read a Sunday paper on it.

Today we are resting our aching muscles on it whilst basking in the sun.

Dreaming of endless pebbles.

Pandemic Ponderings #60

A day of two words.

Now there really is no link between these two words apart from the serendipity of them turning up within a lunchtime conversation within one minute of each other.

This is Pandemic Pondering #60 and I like to make special numbers a little bit different or special.

Kakistocracy could be worthy of a blog as some parts of the world are living through one right now , but I’m not certain I would feel uplifted by discussing it.

Petrichor is quite another matter. I’ve loved Petrichor all my life without knowing the word until today.

In rural Essex , where I grew up, Petrichor was pretty rare. Essex has one of the lowest rainfalls in Britain. But when it happened it was glorious.

The word was created by two Australian researchers in the 60’s. The smell is actually produced by bacteria that release Geosmin into the air when rain hits healthy soil. Humans are particularly sensitive to the fragrance and it is almost universally loved. Curiously it is also responsible for the earthy taste of beetroot which is not universally loved.

Beetroot and feta galette with za’atar and honey.

Sam’s Tamimi and Tara Wrigley, from Falastin a cookbook.

So the smell of Geosmin is what I and most humans love, and certainly my Essex experience would exactly be explained by Geosmin.

But what about my love of London streets after rain, there is precious little healthy soil in some parts of the city but there is warm tarmac and cement added to the Geosmin from parks and gardens.

© theoldmortuary

St Paul’s and its neighbours in the City of London.

Cornwall and rain are inextricably linked and Petrichor is a rare treat because once the rain sets in there are very few chances to enjoy that wonderful smell despite us having acres of lovely healthy soil. Some of it on riverbanks.

Pandemic Pondering #55

Easing of lockdown in England and Cornwall. There is a joke here as Cornwall believes it is, in many ways, a separate entity from the rest of the United Kingdom. Unlike Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland which have some self-determination, Cornwall has not been able to stick to comfortable, safe lockdown.

We were obliged to travel into the rest of the UK this morning across the Tamar Bridge.

Watercolour © theoldmortuary

We’ve had to do it a few times during Lockdown but always in very controlled situations where social distancing has been easy. Shopping at Marks and Spencer and Holland and Barrett in Drake’s Circus, in Plymouth, was entirely relaxing and easy, but one other destination was just too much contact with other humans. We quickly left.

Emerging from Lockdown is going to be a strange and challenging experience. We felt like country mice suddenly being thrust into the Hurlyburly of Christmas shopping on Oxford Street. In truth the experience this morning was nothing like that , but that’s how we felt.

A Jack and Jill Book . 1962©Fleetway Publications

The illustration is from a book I had as a child and it always made me anxious, although Katie Country Mouse was always quite a role model.

The project for today was to sort out our glass jar storage area on the Cornish Range and label the jars , as many of our new healthy eating ingredients look similar. It was quite the task, but meditative and relaxing, which was just what I needed after the jarring retail experience to get the bloody labels. Now I’m a bit further away from the expedition it’s easy to see why it was quite stressful. The store was just too big and we probably saw more people than we’ve seen in two months. Everyone was pretty good at social distancing but there were too many people there and too many who should not have been out, let alone in a large retail store. I’d be struggling if I had been told to isolate for 12 weeks and I might also have slipped out for a bit of fresh air. A massive shop is not the place for those with compromised health. My worry for them made me sad.

Anyway back to the jars. All filled up and properly labelled whilst I watched Sewing Bee on the TV.

Link to The Great British Sewing Bee.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03myqj2

Two friends have sent me something, via digital media, today. Both are appropriate for the end of a blog.

One is a quote from someone I’ve known since I was 11, we share a love of language.

What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make beginning. The end is where we start from.

T.S. Eliot.

The other is a sunset over Plymouth Sound from someone I’ve known two weeks. We’ve shared a large space in a coffee queue.

Happy Hump Day

Pandemic Pondering #54

The Colour Purple.I am thrilled and happy when people comment on the blog, whichever platform they use and especially in a hand written note or just through good old, and much missed currently, random conversation. I’m going to try to answer FAQ within this blog.Today’s blog shaped itself early. As of yesterday we have to adopt a much healthier diet .

This morning’s first step was a blueberry smoothie,
which when set down beside the tagine from yesterday’s blog created a nice purple image.Both these images were popped into my archive because I know I am short on purple images. Then coincidence played the trump card of images.Our daily exercise with Joe Wicks gave another little pop of purple. Which sealed the fate of today’s blog.https://youtu.be/UW7b-hDt2OkA new purple cast on Joe’s wrist gave me the ability to write a blog I’ve intended to write for a little while but with a purple theme to drag the story along. We are working our way through his exercises from the beginning, hence the date disparity.A daily blog is quite a commitment and it was never planned to go on for this long but the follow up course is delayed by the current situation. I decided to stick with it because the follow up course is postponed indefinitely. Pandemic Ponderings has probably persuaded me that a daily blog is entirely managable.The important point is to get a blog out and I’m very aware that my punctuation is, at times, scatty and my narrative a bit rambling or convoluted. Correct spelling can at times elude me. I’m also aware that I can be guilty of ‘Purple Prose’ but there are worse things kicking around the internet.Thinking of a subject has not turned out to be the problem I imagined , even in lockdown. My range is certainly curtailed but as you will see from the end of this blog. Today’s blog pictures were all a few places from each other and the filler is all in my head. Last night for the first time I dreamt about a blog. I had, in my dream failed to write a significant blog over a year ago. It was so vivid I actually checked my phone to be certain that no such subject matter had ever been planned or the photographs filed away.It is the very ordinariness of my life that inspires me most of the time. Normal stuff is what most of us do nearly all the time.I can’t imagine writing about cleaning the bathroom, but one day it might just feel like the exact thing I need to natter about.The final purpleness of today is a bottle of beer awaiting a beer drinker being allowed to cross our threshold and a favourite jug and some ageing tulips that sit next to the television as we exercise with the man in the purple cast.https://www.staustellbrewery.co.uk/beers-and-brewing/all-our-range/tribute

Pandemic Pondering#50

Another significant number in Lockdown and a significant day. The 75th anniversary of VE day.

In lockdown this anniversary will be something that we have more time to reflect upon than usual.

There will be no street parties, civil events, sombre church services or riotous family gatherings around our own familial heroes.

Flags and bunting are popping up in our local town, but not in the amount that would have happened had life been normal.

Britain does not wear its national flag on its sleeve or in its gardens or even up its flagpoles quite as much as many other countries. Days like today are the exception. Although our own riverside town has quite a flamboyant exception to this statement.

The Union Inn, on the Cornish side of ‘ The Great Divide’ , the River Tamar, boundary between Cornwall and the rest of the world, is an almost daily fix of the Union Jack.

As I write this I can look out on our local church at a flag that would have fluttered on actual VE day

In the past my daily commute took me up Regent Street, a street that was never shy about getting its flags out.

Pandemic Pondering #50. A significant number and for world history the anniversary of a truly significant day.

Worthy of two blogs I think. This is the Early Edition.

Pandemic Pondering #49

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Or preserve them, a couple of years ago we had a lemon grove attached to a holiday villa in Greece. We preserved a litre and a half of lemons , brought them home and they’ve lasted until now.

Gathering lemons in Greek sunshine to the accompaniment of goat bells and in the company of leathery faced women wearing black is not a chore.

It was not a particular chore to buy unwaxed lemons at Lidl but it does have zero romance. The sunshine today was pretty similar to Greece. No goats and the only leathery faced women were wearing fleeces, not the same at all.

Now preserving lemons is not a huge subject for a pondering but it saves you all from more hedge trimming Ponderings. The storms of yesterday disturbed the bits of hedge we had chopped but not been able to pull out. We’ve tweaked it to near parfection now.

I really believe this is the last time the hedge will get a mention.