#353 theoldmortuary ponders

Despite declaring the arrival of autumn yesterday.

#352 theoldmortuary ponders

Autumn put in a very summery face, today, for my visit to Cotehele, despite being in the midst of Drawn to Cotehele, two more exhibitions are in the pipeline. We sat in the bright autumn sunshine planning a winter Portrait exhibition. It was our inaugural meeting, time for the curatorial team to get together and set a schedule. As if on cue, as we were discussing 3d art, we were visited by a chap called Alfie.

A very fine example of flesh and blood 3D.

Cotehele was looking gorgeous.

But you can see from peoples clothes that the seasons are on the turn. Spring and autumn sunshine is sharper than baking hot summer days. The clarity of light gave me one of my favourite ‘ it’s complicated’ shots.

The exhibition we are currently running at Cotehele was bustling with visitors and the red dots, signifying sold work, are stacking up. The art is constantly restocked so the exhibition looks fresh every time I visit.

©Jane Athron

This one by Jane Athron sold really early on but has been replaced by another vivid picture from Jane’s studio. Another Jayne, Jayne Ashenbury is also selling well.

It is such a pleasure to have Cotehele as a base for Drawn to the Valley for a month, I am not sure when I last looked forward to meetings quite so much. Maybe I wouldn’t feel the same if it was raining but I am really excited to see their pumpkin harvest display towards the end of our time with them.

Yesterday was just so lush, bright sunshine and glorious pools of shadow to give contrast and relaxation after the stimulation of early autumn colour.

Zoom meetings were never like this.

#351 theoldmortuary ponders

When this book was recommended to me a colleague warned me that I would need to take a break every now and then to calm down.

She was not wrong, I am only a quarter of the way through. Suddenly some things are blindingly obvious but not perhaps in the way I expected. From a historical perspective women often appear invisible because men took the credit for their work. I did not expect that simple fact to appear in my contemporary life this weekend. I was searching on line for a range of bone china that was designed a few years ago by a woman in collaboration with some art students. The design was easy enough to find using her name but when I thought about ordering some I noticed her name was nowhere to be seen. Instead the whole range was branded with her husband’s name. I am pretty certain I would have noticed this without being immersed in this wonderful book but now I am acutely aware and can’t quite bring myself to order the china.

Then today I was at a training afternoon and the course leader was trying to upscale a philosophy for children scheme * to engage with adults. I’m not entirely sure his plan was quite working as well as he had hoped, for anyone, when I also realised he had customised a visual aid by putting words in the shape of a male face with a moustache. The default male face as I now know these things are called.

So the warning on the book turned out to be a good one. Unfortunately real life is every bit as capable of winding me up now this book is my bed time reading. I also have the sequel. This could be a long week bookwise!

*P4C. Do not attempt to use on adults unless you are really sure of your material!


#349 theoldmortuary ponders

Mine and Lola’s first time in a department store for 3 years, if you don’t count M and S, which I don’t.

The target items were kitchen items but here we are relaxing in the shoe department. Lola having the best time chewing a disposable sock.

In other news paintings are flying off the wall and this afternoon was spent framing two more to go to the exhibition.

Green Man

Low Cloud over Calstock

Saturday’s are fabulous things but as I write this late blog we are almost in Sunday!

#346 theoldmortuary ponders

And so after 10 days of Royalty, but not Royalist-tinged blogs I bring the blog gently back to randomness and repetition. This morning Tranquility Bay was exactly that, tranquil. Hugo set about clearing the bay of floating seaweed, Lola ingratiated herself with a very impressed toddler and I talked about local cockerel activity with friendly neighbours, one of whom I have never met before. It was as if the last ten days had never happened. September days with gorgeous sunshine are just so blissful. Nothing more needs to be said.

#342 theoldmortuary ponders

The Thames and its river banks are the focus of news in London for the next two days. The Queue is taking the media strain off the Royal Family. The banks of the Thames are some of the easiest and historically significant walks that can be done in Britain. 22 hours in the dark and cold would be pushing my tolerance but every inch of the queues locations are familiar to me and some hold especially fond memories. College green where the infamous ‘snake’ part of the queue compresses is a green park like space where TV crews often broadcast from. It was also one was of my dads shortcuts when he was working locally. He could occasionally be seen scuttling past in the background, when the TV news was being filmed. Today College Green was the place when many people realised they were queueing with David Beckham, former England football captain and generally considered, lovely chap.

He had arrived at the start of the queue at 2am and had managed many hours largely unnoticed. When he was spotted he bought doughnuts for large numbers of people on the green. Not pulling any strings to take a short cut and buying doughnuts certainly suggests he is a really nice chap.

And yes ,there really is a ‘Live’ feed for a dead person.


Link above to video of whole queue.

Trust me there was nothing like the complexity when I saw Churchill.

#337 theoldmortuary ponders

Todays Royal pondering features King John, a monarch best known for creating the Magna Carta at Runnymead in Surrey. The Magna Carta was in fact a Peace Treaty between the King and his Barons.

The Magna Carta was a charter of rights agreed to by King John of England in 1215, and was Europe’s first written constitution. Prior to the implementation of the Magna Carta, English monarchs were considered above the law of the land and ruled with relatively absolute power.

Thankfully this blog is not an Opus Magnum so I need to turn the expectation down a little.

King John was not considered by many to be a particularly good or kind King but in England he scored a sartorial first. King John was the first person to be recorded as wearing a dressing gown. The Kings overshirt for rising in the night.

In his last days there would be a lot of rising in the night. The King was suffering from Dysentry and somewhat foolishly ate an excessive amount of peaches which finished him off.

#336 theoldmortuary ponders

Todays Royal related blog is perhaps not for the squeamish. I will ease you all in gently. Where does the tradition of flowers come from at funerals? Bodies become odorous, quite quickly, after death unless steps are taken. Flowers and in particular their fragrance can help a bit, as does quick, deep burial or burning. Incense or any other strong smelling fragrance has nothing to do with spirituality and everything to do odour masking. It matters not what any religion dresses the rituals around death up as,the disposal of a body is pragmatic and good for public health.

William the 1st, William the Conqueror had a Royal funeral, planned, quite possibly by Monty Python Funerals.com

Held in Caen, France, things did not go to plan. Injured in battle, possibly a self inflicted injury of a big belly being ruptured by the pommel on the saddle of his horse. William was taken alive to Rouen but died of his injuries. His body was stored in a place that was ransacked and looted. Everything of value was stolen and his naked body left on the floor. There was an attempt at embalming, almost certainly too little, too late and he was transported to Caen for his funeral where a stone sarcophagus awaited him.

There was a kerfuffle immediately when someone claimed the Church and by association the burial site had been built on stolen land but worse was to come. The pre prepared stone sarcophagus was just a little too small. Not enough that the body would obviously not fit, but just tantalisingly too small. The sort of ‘too small’ where a practical person would step up and offer to try and squeeze the King in. This was not a good idea. William the Conquerors damaged and decaying bowels burst at the first application of pressure. All the flowers in the world or Incense for that matter were not going to hide that particular stench. Mediaeval life was not for the fragile…

Where will all this Royal research take us tomorrow.

#335 theoldmortuary ponders.

Saturday morning and Britain has entered a 10 day period of mourning. I thought I might entertain blog readers with snippits of Royal History in these 10 days. While researching one thing I found another which will bubble about unless I let it out immediately.

England once had a King called Sweyn Forkbeard!

Crowned in Gainsborough on Christmas Day 1013 he was dead five weeks later. He was the first Viking King of England.

How did I not know this when I was 10 and unnaturally nerdy. Why has it taken until now. How could I not have noticed on my poster of the Kings and Queens. Sweyn was the father of East Anglian, Poster King Canute and still I had never heard of him when I was growing up there. I demand a refund on my state education, or my free library subscription.

Googling lets me know that I am late to this particular party.

©Sweyn Forkbeard

Sweyn Forkbeard is big in Camden where he fronts up a male grooming company. He has cleaned up his act somewhat in their tagline.

©Sweyn Forkbeard

Their publicity suggests that he was known for his lustrous hair and beard, even in battle. Other evidence suggests that even by contemporary standards he was a cruel and brutal man.

I am rather preferring the fragrant and well groomed image of Camden Sweyn to Gainsborough Sweyn. A man whose only weapons are big pair of scissors and a fistful of shaving balm.

10 days of this nonsense, you have been warned.


Link to fabulous male grooming, should you ever be in Camden.

#333 theoldmortuary ponders

September in my part of the world is Second-hand September. I have had a personal second hand two years. I made a bit if a pledge to buy mostly second hand clothes at the turn of the century. Definately not a New Year/New Century resolution and something I doubted I could stick with, so kept on the down-low until now. New things allowed in my little pledge were underwear and leggings and, of course, gifts. I also had a stock of good clothes from living in London with a plethora of great independent clothes shops in addition to the chains. The reason I’m celebrating Second Hand September is to get my mojo back. For the most part my experiment has worked, maybe one or two bad purchases but nothing too serious and the items were recycled back to a charity shop. Covid, of course, helped, I should probably do a clear out of things I have not worn for a while.

For the most part the project has been easy, I have always loved clothes but been intimidated by clothes shops, especially the overstimulating ones. E-Bay and selected Charity shops are my suppliers of choice and I just research and search for the brands I loved when I had a London salary.

I fell off my second hand wagon a little this summer which is why I am glad to be reminded. When buying new garments this summer I realised that I have become much more observant and know my own style far better than I ever did before, I also have a much better tolerance of shopping as the process no longer bamboozles me into making expensive mistakes. One lovely second hand gift took a trip home on our recent holiday. My friend Kathy gave me a leopard print scarf from her deceased, Canadian, mothers magnificent cache. I wore it in Chicago and Toronto knowing that it was very close to home. Similarly I stood outside Saks 5th Avenue looking at their fall collection of tweed coats, knowing that my own winter coat started out life there so many decades ago that it looks current.


#328 theoldmortuary ponders

Leaving Chicago, and then, suddenly, not leaving Chicago. The book planned for my return flight, titled ‘The Paris Wife’starts off in Chicago. Set in the first chapters, somewhat unexpectedly, on the exact streets that my over used feet walked their daily 20,000 steps last week. I bought the book in Toronto because it promised to take me to Jazz Age Paris. 20 pages in and I am in Chicago and in Chicago. Two weeks ago the streets would have just been abstract names but now I have a real feeling for the geography of the early plot. This is the most delightful surprise and, as so often happens will take this blog somewhere entirely different to the planned destination.

The funny thing is that the book was chosen because it is a book written about Ernest Hemingway and his time in Paris, two subjects I am familiar and comfortable with. Already I am hoping the characters will make a visit to the Drake Hotel, a beautiful survivor from the Jazz Age.

And just like that the characters have moved on to Paris and I am in an Uber to Wimbledon.

No trips for either of us to The Drake.