#210 theoldmortuary ponders

Blogging reality rests on blogging fantasy

#209 theoldmortuary ponders promised the revelation of the weekends grand plan. Two long paragraphs were lost by inatentive fingers and no amount of searching in the nooks and crannies of my WordPress history or archive files revealed the missing links. I couldn’t quickly rewrite them and the grand plan itself required attention. The illustration above hints at the reliability of hard copy versus electronic.

The plan for the weekend was only decided on a whim on Friday. I’m not even sure I even thought about it before pronouncing. “I think I am going to remove all the fake grass this weekend” The job had been started 6 weeks ago when the first strip of fake grass was removed to give us a two metre flower bed. Then last week another four metre ‘L’ shaped flower bed was revealed. My pronouncement actually only involved a raised patio area but unlike the others we had covered it in container grown plants. What I had suggested was a monumental task with added unsavoury undertones.

The previous owners two pug dogs had used the fake grass as their toilet. The fake grass over flower beds had drained into soil, the patio area was a big old slab of concrete. When we moved in we were only renting the house so had to leave things as they were. We cleaned as well as we could and vowed to remove it as soon as we had bought the house. The house sale rambled on, delayed by the death of the descendent of Robert the Bastard who was given our tiny portion of land in 1066! Winter arrived and we did not have the appetite for a yucky job in the cold.

We are no strangers to yucky jobs. When we were rebuilding and repurposing the building that was the old mortuary next to our Cornish cottage we chose to clear out the undertakers workshop and Chapel of Repose ourselves, before the builders moved in to turn it into part of our home. 50 years of that sort of business, long before health and safety regulations and 50 years of neglect after it was closed because of health and safety, was a heady mix of bodily excrescences and vermin excretions. So we have some unusual expertise.

Obviously our dogs had taken to using the informal, low effort toileting area too. Saturday was spent moving full and heavy plant containers down to the far end of the yard, this meant that our energy levels were pretty depleted by the time we had to roll up and bag up the fake grass. It was every bit as grim as you might imagine and the urine soaked concrete slab was a pretty stinky thing. It has been scrubbed and hosed many times now. The plan was to allow it to dry off and paint it, but as it has dried off a curious thing has happened. The urine has discoloured the concrete and brought out the colours of the sands that were used in its manufacture. We may well be left with a slab of concrete that resembles a warm pinkish/orange marble or rock.

So yucky job done, there was a ridiculous number of plants to be either repotted or planted in the soil of the revealed flower beds. The job was just about completed by the time of the Sunday evening swim. Since then we have had heavy showers of rain. There has been no chance of taking a series of work complete photographs. This yucky job may well stretch to another blog!

To finish up, a picture of our neighbours chicken checking out the sweet new leaves of a Silver Birch that has moved closer to her strutting zone.

#209 theoldmortuary ponders

Pull up a chair for a classic meandering ponder. Yesterday there was a plan and neither fate nor serendipity stepped in to change it. Today we need to pull up a chair because our leg muscles in particular know that we achieved our set target of the day.

Before we get to ‘the plan’ there were the side tasks. Luck in the shape of an unknown sailor gave me this pretty image to start the blog.

A red rowing boat exactly in line with a red delivery van on the other side of the Hamoaze was a lucky moment during the dog walk. Our morning was spent doing unblogworthy tasks but we had a lunchtime date to visit friends at their allotment.

I must admit to having a preconception about allotments. Dusty rectangles of land in unlovely locations requiring hard work and a lot of heavy lifting. We were due to be met at the gate by a friend. These particular allotments are quite secure. My fanciful head has images of Narnia , my real life head thought   high fences and clanging metal gates. It turns out that Fanciful and I(n) R(eal) L(ife) had met and produced a love child that is Peverell Paradise or Aspirational Allotment World. The gate turned out to be a portal into another world.

We stepped into an area of wooden buildings just off a main road, the ground was carpeted with dense and aromatic woodchip. There was a composting toilet, a small sales area and other sheds that no doubt held magical creatures brewing acorn gin and baking nettle pastries. The whole area was under a canopy of trees that created the sort of dappled shade beloved of film makers with a soundscape of birdsong. Just as in an adventure we were led on an undulating path to the actual allotment of our destination. But not before we passed the allotment of an ‘Influencer’.  An Influencer!! We did not expect that.

https://www.thorntonsgrowingandliving.co.uk/

the_young_grower is his Instagram name.

Our minds were blown, which just shows how unimaginative, or closeted, minds can be when thinking about allotments. Warning to anyone checking out his Insta account, there is some male nudity… I know, there is another preconception about allotment life, blown out of the water , or maybe more appropriately, plot lost completely.

©Instagram

Our lunchtime date was completed with the purchase of freshly laid eggs. There is a little bit of colour serendipity in the next shot.

Eggs live in a heart shaped basket in our kitchen. In the bottom of the basket is a really old Polaroid photograph of my dad, so old that it has been faded to that odd shade of fading that over exposure to UV often causes. The polaroid is adorned with a star of the same colour that was sent to us by our thousands of miles away grandaughter. Getting to the bottom of our egg store always gives a little frisson of pleasure when I see the two people connected in a way they will never be in real life. A sort of egg basket Magic Realism I suppose. Imagine how thrilled my inner colour nerd was to find a turquoise egg in our egg box!

Now here is the thing, real time blogging failure. I had written a lovely paragraph about the actual planned task, which in truth we are only half way through. My fingers deleted it and no amount of digging around in my WordPress history can locate it. In the interest of actually publishing a blog today I am going to abandon writing about the actual planned task and give it a blog of its own when we finish it later today. Until tomorrow…

#207 theoldmortuary ponders

Our only outside space is a bright white stone yard. We have only just recovered the two patches of actual soil from the clutches of artificial grass. The one below was planted up two months ago and has established itself very quickly.

But we are only in May and the yard may get too hot once the summer arrives. These pink alliums are the best we have ever grown.

The other bigger patch of actual soil has only just been reclaimed and will be used for summer vegetables. Wild garlic will be not so wild and will be contained in a pot.

So far so good but we have a new revelation in the yard. Our neighbours have gained some chickens, gorgeous fluffy bummed creatures who make clucking noises that could charm the birds from the trees. Unfortunately the birds that are actually charmed from the trees are magpies. Who even knew that Magpies have diligent digestive systems, in their urge to be closer to the chickens they empty the contents of their bowels on our yard and plants. I am not such a fan of magpies. This development may, however ultimately be of benefit to us. Our neighbours also have an inappropriately placed trampoline that looms large over our yard wall and is a constant eyesore. The magpies shit on it and will surely make it unusable and then hopefully it will be removed. Or of course, which is more likely, we will have a black and white eyesore. In which case we are going to need to be very creative with our future yardscaping.

#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.

#204 theoldmortuary ponders

Bluebell woods can be tricksy to photograph effectively. This was my best shot of the day in some new to me woods. New England Woods near Ivybridge. The river Yealm runs through the woods and will become a freshwater swimming location very soon. Alongside the bluebells the Ransomes, or Wild Garlic were bright and white and happy to pose for a phone camera.

Not that they would have been quite so happy to pose if they realised that a bit of wild garlic is a wonderful thing when added to roast potatoes.

Unlike bluebells the wild garlic were easy to capture.

And the birdsong was equally compliant.

#203 theoldmortuary ponders

Sunset to start the day! @theoldmortuary has not gone completely mad. I wanted to ponder the soft pinks and oranges of May. The pink on the horizon of last nights sunset and the orange of the artificial lights illuminating the Royal William Yard.

My eye was caught by a scruffy little Geum in the garden centre earlier in the week.

There were much showier plants of late spring to look at but this one seemed to reflect the mood of the day more accurately. I am also a bit more aware of flowers in the softer pink spectrum since I did a colour mixing painting course. One of the pictures in yesterdays blog featured a painting by Beryl Cook that featured a silk dress in these soft colours.

©Beryl Cook

I’ve finished the course now but haven’t quite managed, yet, to fully utilise these soft colours in my own compositions. But my awareness in the last few weeks makes me think again that I need to give soft orange/pinks a proper go.

These colours were highlighted in the colour course, that I was doing recently, to be deeply embedded in my memory archives, although had I considered these shades even six months ago I would have dismissed them as my least favourite and now I seem to be, subliminally, seeking them out. I suppose that is the point, of course, of courses, to make me think. I just never expected to think pink. Now I just need to find a way to use it.

One more sunset with a hint of pink to kick off Monday!

Course details-https://tansyhargan.com/

#201 theoldmortuary ponders

©Debs Bobber

This is our almost daily reality on the morning dog walk . Royal Marines out for a training run. Yesterday the bobbers experienced this, perfectly, in time run as they walked from the car park. In our street marines were practicing running with 60kg weights on stretchers. Other days they run in full combat gear and carry guns. Hugo and Lola are never reactive which is a good thing. The bobbers, though, were a little more vocal. Obviously in a good and positive way. Without exception we have all worked in public facing jobs. Doing jobs that are made a good deal more pleasant by the public being, at the very least, clean. Royal Marines on these training runs may be a little warm but there is always a, just washed, fragrance about them which we can appreciate.

©Debs Bobber

Marine Green seems to be a bit of a theme for this blog. The saltwater pool that the marines were jogging past was also, like the marines, dressed in shades of green.

Fragrant , in a good way, and so perfectly in time that they can be turned into a kaleidoscopic image. Welcome to the Weekend.

#197 theoldmortuary ponders.

What to do on a damp Bank Holiday Monday when the dogs are at the groomers? Take ourselves off to Delamore Arts, a, not dog friendly Art Exhibition set in beautiful surroundings. This year is the 20th Anniversary of the event and I am ashamed to say that we were newbies, never having been before. In our defence we were not living in the South West for much of those twenty years but that seems a poor excuse to miss something so gorgeous and quintessentialy British in the very early summer. Regular visitors probably have a better chance of concentrating on the art,we were all over the place. Wowed by the parkland and the formal gardens before we even thought of looking at 3d or 2d artwork. Open for the whole of May this is an experience not to be missed. Full disclosure, there are lots of Drawn to the Valley Artists and Makers involved. I will only mention one DttV artist in this blog. Tessa Jane, who has been heavily involved in the organisation of this years exhibition as a local ambassador for Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis, the charity that is the beneficiary of Delamore Arts 22.

He Says Live With the World Inside You. Tessa Jane

The image below is the view looking out of the OMS Carriage Shed Gallery. Curated by Tessa Jane. So much to learn about OMS, the organisation, and Tessa Jane’s perspective as well as the valuable work being done by the University of Plymouth, all contained in a welcoming small space.

OMS seems to me, as an outsider, an organisation that supports people with MS to look outside and beyond their diagnosis. Hence my outside and beyond image.

I suppose in writing this blog without too much actual art I am encouraging local people to go and see this event for themselves. I am also supporting my own decision to go again and be able to write another blog that does talk just about art. Some hope!

Looking at plants like this was both diverting and the perfect preparation for looking at 2d art like this.

Wet Apples © John Hurford Hon SWAc

Wet Apples by John Hurford catches the eye at the Stables Gallery further away from the main house. Still authentically a stables, horses were being exercised as we exercised our minds. The Stables Gallery was the first one we visited after following the pencil trail.

A trail that took us, two cold water swimmers, past a swimming pond.

You can understand the pull and the fascination we felt towards just a quick sneaky dip in this tranquil water. But like the dedicated art lovers that we are we pulled our attention back to the job in hand and found life imitating art.

Gravel at Delamore
Azalea Leaves by Louis Victory

Then nature beguiled us into observing the search for pollen, by a very busy bumble bee. Who was up to his many armpits in the flowers of an Ichium.

Time to head off into the woods…

Portrait of Feathers Dawn Brooks-Ensor
Shattered Steve Hedley
Please Sit Isabel Coulton

Time to finish this particular Delamore Blog with my favourite sort of pictures. Its complicated…

Purbeck Form Four Andrew Thomas
Duet Dianne Griffin
Walnut Leaf Richard Cresswell

#196 theoldmortuary ponders

Our Beltane feast at the Hidden Hut, Portscatho.

Goodness we have wanted to find the Hidden Hut for ages! When we lived and worked in London it was the aspirational destination of food writers in all sorts of magazines.

Our weekend visits to South East Cornwall never seemed to have the time for a trip down to the Roseland Peninsular. Being busy and Covid restrictions have run away with our time since our return to the South West. Yesterday we were up early to do another tiny chunk of the South West Coastal Path and more importantly to be at The Hidden Hut in time for lunch.

As you can see we were well on time and enjoyed an aperitif of coffee and ice cream while we waited for our lunch

As is obvious from these blogs I am a very confident consumer of wonderful food but live in awe of actual food writers. So I will share two reviews from my favourite eating gurus. Grace Dent and Jay Rayner.

https://www.theguardian.com/food/2018/aug/10/hidden-hut-porthcurnick-reataurant-review-grace-dent?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/jul/15/food-with-a-view-great-places-to-eat-outdoors

Jay and I often commuted into central London on the same early morning tube from Brixton perhaps we we both dreaming of seafood by the sea.

No London food critics obvious yesterday at The Hut, no longer hidden from us! But plenty of Londoners and food savvy visitors flocked, some of them in box fresh country gear, to this small corner of Cornwall.

A new flat cap reflected in the window.

Nature and beach detritus are carefully arranged to catch the eye.

It really makes a point to see such soft beauty and plastic waste both arranged with effortless charm.

Nature wins over in the battle to catch our eye but it made us think, again about plastic waste, and that is no bad thing!

Was the Hidden Hut worth finding?

Absolutely, great fish stew and mackerel pate.  Served with plump flatbreads, if that is not an oxymoron. The rain held off until we were safely back in the van. Promises to return were made, we loved it.

#195 theoldmortuary ponders

Saturday was always about two decent length walks, one very urban and the other deeply rural. They are so different that in normal circumstances they would be two different blogs but a common theme has linked them. There is a lot of subject matter from this weekend so I have plenty of photos and natterings for a few blogs. The common theme for this one turns out to be Spring Green. Amazingly both walks had plenty of it although the first walk produced it rather unconventionally. Walk #1 was a circular tour of Devonport and Mount Wise very early in the morning. Friends of ours who normally live in France like to explore new coffee shops and the walk we did has two, and as we discovered later a new coffee van. Our meeting place was the first coffee shop. Where quite by chance me the decor and my drink were matching in shades of green, some of it Spring Green.

Much of the Devonport and Mount Wise walk is urban and uninspiring. There are some lovely buildings but for the most part they are unloved and somewhat rough around the edges, the view though once these streets have been passed is beautiful. The Tamar, Hamoaze and Plymouth Sound all stretched out in front of you.

A little bit of Spring Green in the grass but our next stop provided the unconventional part of this blog. Our friend is an ex-military man and has a strange addiction. The curiously named Bogey Knights Military Surplus Stores. He was like a dog with several bones. The rest of us soon began to see the attraction.

Unbelievably this lurid green leather jacket and its marching leather biker trousers are a uniform somewhere in the world.

Bogey Knights also sells Spring Green ropes.

And number badges to attach to buttons.

Sadly the item that took most of our attention was not Spring Green, but a rather clinical steel. The workings of a drugs toilet kept us entertained for many minutes and it was a bargain at £120!

Walk #2 was some two hours away.

Although these instructions do not mention it. This walk is an old coffin path between one village and the nearest church with a burial ground. There are thousands of these paths criss crossing the countryside. Kissing Gates are the give away, not at all for romance. Kisten Gate is derived from Kist an old word for box. It enabled two or more people to pass through a gate while carrying a coffin without having to put the coffin on the ground. Since we love a country churchyard, walking footpaths that were formally coffin paths takes us to some interesting places. This one is our best so far and arriving at the churchyard by any other route would not have been so beautiful.

Plenty of Spring Greens.

The walk and destination deserve a blog of their own but one more Spring Green to complete this one.

@theoldmortuary posing as a green woman in a leaded glass window.

To the May Day blog, a little late, but full of Spring Green which is no bad thing.