Pandemic Pondering #46

Even in the midst of this pandemic there is some great thoughts and conversations happening around how we will remember this period of our lives.

A smart phone has made diarists of us all. My phone is set deliberately to store all the pictures my family and friends send me. I delete some but most are kept as a personal archive.

This blog contains my pictures and ponderings shared to those who care to read it. Facebook and Instagram are more public. Instagram is the quickest, I think, to give a flavour of the times. I just scrolled through my Instagram grid to check out how 45 days of restricted living and Lockdown looked in picture form from @theoldmortuary.

This grid marks the end of normal life. The bottom 6 pictures are from the days running up to the official lockdown. The next row up shows a poster for a cancelled art exhibition and the offer of local help plus the all important hand washing picture.

The cancelled art exhibition poster also marked the beginning of Pandemic Ponderings.

The top row are images from early Ponderings. In private I was pondering on the madness of thinking I would find something to write about, every day, when life was so restricted.

This second grid shows a life of settling into Lockdown. The bottom row shows memories of foreign travel. A wet footprint on some decking in Hong Kong, it was so hot that image lasted less than 5 seconds as it dried off. The picture represents my first meeting with our adored granddaughter in 2018,We thought it was awful that she was thousands of miles away and our meeting with her was so brief. Then her mum and dad decided to move home. Just 50 miles between us and still we rely on phone calls to chart her progress.

The Pangolin pictures in the middle were an homage to the poor creatures caught in the middle of the controversial ‘Wet’ markets where this pandemic is said to have originated.

An image of coffee shows our early pangs of missing out on coffee shops and the bottle of Cuban rum marks the beginning of our cooking obsession.

This last grid shows us settled into Pandemic lockdown life. No longer worried about the subject matter of Ponderings I just natter on about any thing. There are two images that mark slight freedoms. The roots on the second row up were photographed when it was made clear that we could drive a small distance to take exercise and the cogs on the top row were photographed on our first trip to a proper independent coffee shop this Saturday. Yesterday, the very first picture on the grid above, there was of course, Cake.

Pandemic Ponderings #44

A pondering in which we queue for good coffee in Plymouth. Saturdays are made for good coffee. For the 6 weeks of lockdown we’ve not had a coffee made with love and care by a proficient barrista. Given the Coffeeshop in question you could say we’ve missed out for 6 months. Hutong which closed in October for a rebuild, ‘popped up’ today at The Lord High Admiral.

Queuing for coffee is not unknown to us as Monmouth Coffee at Borough Market is another favourite coffeeshop.

Hutong coffee is worthy of the queue. The new environment at The Lord High Admiral is pretty cute.

On reflection , it was lovely to see George…

and Emma who didn’t make it into the mirror.

Perfect Social Distancing throughout the process we took delivery of our coffee.

It was every bit as good as we knew it would be. Right to the bottom of the cup.

If you are in Plymouth next Saturday the Hutong will ‘pop-up’ again next Saturday 9th May from 8am. The other ‘pop-up’ at The Lord High Admiral, Knead Pizza had sold out all their Pizza slots today and I think all of next week’s are sold out too. We were too slow for Pizza for both weeks and actually missed out on Hutong bacon butties today.

Note to self, get up earlier!

What to do after a Hutong Coffee? Drive to Stonehouse and do the usual walk.

This could not have been a better decision.

Firstly we parked up near Elvira’s,

who were serving bacon butties. By a strange coincidence we queued up at Elvira’s with a couple who had also been at the earlier coffee queue. They were much braver than us and ordered take-out Eggs Benedict. I would have been wearing egg yolk all day if we had ordered that.

Obviously once you’ve queued twice with people, observing social distancing, you can talk for ages even though they are complete strangers. (Pandemic observation, talking to strangers is a lovely thing now we all have more time)

Our Stonehouse walk is one we do often but everything in Lockdown is changed , there seems to be more to see.

Even at Elvira’s we saw these two lovely unusual things.

Non-local people can have a chuckle at the name of this location.

Admiral’s Hard; another saucy Plymouth location is Pennycomequick.

I just threw that in, it’s nowhere near our walk.

Stonehouse did not disappoint, we met another complete stranger at the proper distance, for more lovely conversations and Devils Point itself thought it was on the Mediterranean.

Pretty houses on the way back to the car.

Saturdays and Sunshine

Hutong Coffee

Elvira’s Bacon Butty

Lockdown rules all applied

Pandemic Pondering#43

May Day Ponderings start with a mosaic of flowers I’ve captured during Lockdown.

MayDay is pretty significant in Cornwall , usually, with Fairs and Parades.

In Essex where I grew up it was less significant, I remember watching, on TV, parades of military hardware in Communist Countries.

For no particular reason my primary school set up Maypole dancing classes. A riot of tangled ribbons where badly behaved boys sabotaged the less than accurate danced weavings of the girls. I think there was the promise of us doing a demonstration dance somewhere. I don’t think the Manor Street Primary School Maypole team was ever called into active service.

Here I am in Cornwall on one of its favourite festive days and I have nothing to report,but I can share a last image of pale blooms until next year.

May Day 2021, lets all get as giddy as Maypole dancers and hug each other until our bones hurt. It’s a date.

P.S

If you enjoyed Pandemic Pondering#18 about loo rolls , I’ve just read a fabulous blog written on 28th April 2020 about the history of toilet rolls.

Follow this link for enlightenment.
https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/londonist-792557/toilet-roll-in-london-a-feculent-history-7444378015

Pandemic Pondering #40

40 goodness me that’s a significant number. And it’s Tuesday, Tuesday!!!

Last Tuesday I was pondering life settling into a new routine and that Tuesdays tend to be when we run out of food. Not so this week. It could be Friday before we need to shop.

Tuesday finds us halfway down the hill or halfway up the hill depending on your perspective.

The Cornish hedge that forms one of the borders of the garden is as out of control as our hair. At some points it is 12 feet high and normally we pay someone with hard core tools to get the job done. That’s not an option this year and unlike our hair we can’t just leave it. The local or county council, whose responsibility both the hedge and the rough ground were before the age of fiscal austerity, are quick to point out any overgrowth. Despite never having asked us if we would take over the responsibility for these two areas once they arbitrarily decided not to bother.

We warmed up on Monday doing the easiest half.

Rain is the new weather pattern, after weeks of sunshine,not particularly conducive to hedge trimming. We also have a problem storing all the prunings, the easy end of the hedge yesterday filled a whole builders dumpy bag. This morning’s dog walk saw us visiting a very close building site and being gifted two more bags by builders who were more than happy to give them away.

Before I thrill you all with a photo of dumpy bags. Here are two roses we also met on the dog walk.

Full dumpy bag.

Empty dumpy bags.

Half done Cornish Hedge.

Maybe this is the time to thank everyone who gives me feedback on this blog. I love knowing that people enjoy the blog even though it’s subject matter is pretty mundane. Apparently lots of people are really picky about brownies. Hix Fix cocktail was very popular and that is a little sad as the Hix Restaurant Group is a business that has succumbed to Coronovirus Covid- 19, something I discovered whilst trying to correctly credit them and share a link. So for all of us the derivative version is the best we can get.

Hix Oyster and Chophouse, Cowcross Street, Farringdon, was close to Bart’s Hospital where I worked for a while. Eating there was a huge and rare pleasure. Too bad I never ventured to the Cocktail menu. I think I went there for breakfast so it’s an entirely understandable oversight but still lamentable.

Once again I digress, onward to hedge trimming day 2.

Well, thank goodness I digressed, there will be no denouement on the taming of the Cornish Hedge today. We’ve filled the two new dumpy bags gifted by the builders this morning and still have about 6 metres of it to chop, trim and tidy.

For today’s blog this is the end of the road.

Pandemic Pondering #37

Saturday Confidential. Lockdown is a great time to make confessions. Within the four walls of home with a very limited audience, two of them dogs, my ignorance will remain virtually a secret.There is some shame, I must admit, I’ve always been a wordnerd and I’ve always been an ambivert.There you are it’s out. I’ve learnt a new word, ambivert, and I should have known it years ago because I’ve been living that psychological profile since I was a foetus.©Google

I learnt this word quite by accident. I chanced upon another bloggers blog.

Hannes van Eeden writes Wandering Ambivert. A blog that I enjoy because I love his writing style.

https://wanderingambivert.wordpress.com/Fanwoman stuff out of the way back to the word.I’m really not sure how I’ve missed the word . I love a personality test and the NHS where I worked for years was an early adopter of Psychometric Testing . To be honest I’m still not sure that Psychometric testing really helps to make the best decisions if you follow it slavishly, without using instinct, yes I do know about unconscious and indeed conscious bias. This is not the point of this blog. Personality tests, for me, have always been a bit of fun.Personality tests have certainly pointed me the way of being an ambivert but have used way more words and explanations than the simple explanation at the top of this blog. A week or so after learning the word I’m luxuriating in and snuggling right into it. It feels like the warmest cuddly jumper and just like a cosy jumper I can pop my extravert head out anytime I need to, to leave my introvert self. Perfection.

Pandemic Pondering #36

Free Friday Feeling… In a Pandemic what is a Friday Feeling? I’m not entirely sure, I’ve researched pictures from Fridays past that were freer than our current Fridays. I took orange as a bit of a theme.

This Friday is the first of Ramadan, although gathering is not permitted the fabulous call to Prayer coming from a Mosque is one of the loveliest sounds.

Ramadan Mubarak

Marrakech

Iftar, the breaking of the fast, will be be less sociable than normal years.

Breaking a fast brings me to food, orange is the link.

Tate Modern
Boston Tea Party
Rosemary and Chilli nuts @theoldmortuary
Afternoon Tea
Oranges and Lemons
Crumpets @theoldmortuary
Vegetarian Platter

The last two images are not exactly food related. First one of my favourite glamour models for Watercolour paintings.

Mr Lobster

And finally not food for humans, Herons maybe.

Goldfish in a spin.

Pandemic Ponderings #34

Pandemic Ponderings started on 17 th March sometime before the Government Lockdown restrictions and a little before my own self isolation due to a common virus. That’s about 36 days of life being significantly different from anything any of us have experienced before. Have we @theoldmortuary developed a new set routine? The answer would have to be no although we do seem to run out of food/ provisions on Tuesdays. Our world has shrunk and the weekly trip to two supermarkets, one each, is an event in life rather than something squeezed into life. Communication is everything and we’ve not quite got that right. Yesterday was National Tea Drinking Day, unconsciously we took the cue and bought 500 teabags, both bagging a bargain. Stockpiling at its most shameful, the T bags join the six tins of sweetcorn.Gardening has become a routine but we are fast running out of places to store lawn cuttings, bush trimmings and weeds. It is weather related rather than supply and demand which governs shopping. Storage of garden waste is soon going to be the factor that controls us. The weather flip opposite of the gardening routine is interior DIY. It’s amazing how much we can achieve just by using stuff we already have in our shed.Curiously Mondays have become our laundry and house cleaning day. This is exactly the routine my grandparents had and it’s one that has crept up on us. In non pandemic times we washed whenever there was a load but with no life beyond home we are producing less washing. House cleaning is not so bad when you are not exhausted from working elsewhere, I can only think of two pre-pandemic routines that we’ve not modified. One is the bedtime walk for the dogs, we never meet anyone even in normal times and that’s not changed, people don’t whizz past us in their cars anymore . No cars means no pollution and what is noticibly more lovely about our evening walks, this spring, is the intensity of fragrance from people’s gardens and the hedgerows.The other unchanged routine is having flowers in the house. The weeks of daffodils have passed and currently we have tulips.One slightly odd juxtaposition is our fireplace. An interiors psychologist suggested keeping Christmas lights up until Spring as it helps to make darker evenings less dire. Weve stuck with that because a Pamdemic needs light shining on it. Fear not, that is not a Trumpian solution , we just love a bit of twinkle, any excuse. Now we have tulips and Christmas lights,if this goes on it could be sunflowers. In this shot the pandemic gets a mention too. It does not improve with twinkle.

Not to be outdone the garden has some new solar lights to brighten up the evening of whoever walks past the house. Something we do at Christmas time but it seems important to do it now too.Lola reminds me that there is one other routine that must be adhered to, dog hugs. This is the face of someone who wants me to stop pondering.

Pandemic Pondering #31

Last night we watched Bait an award winning film telling the story of a fishing village. It is well worth a watch.It is a very good film, filmed all in black and white with so many unique techniques that add up to a great cinema experience. Even if , as now, it’s an at home experience. I was inspired to take black and white images myself during a walk around Plymouth Harbour . With added Turquoise for no other reason than I fancied doing something different. It’s a walk we do often in all sorts of weather, it made the walk more interesting to just focus on just one colour .

Pandemic Ponderings #25 Chapter 5

Easter 2020 in Lockdown was an intriguing one. Throughout the world people were unable to gather.

Our Lockdown Easter for two involved chocolate and some lovely home cooking. Pandemic Ponderings #25 gave us the chance to gather together with friends and family, sharing stories and anecdotes using technology. It wasn’t as lonely as I anticipated and the food lasted longer than it ever has, but next year it would be good to get back to normal, I accept that means the weather will be shocking.

Pandemic Ponderings #29

Be the nosey neighbour.

Walking the dogs gives us a rhythm to our day and a purpose that we sometimes, in dreadful weather, would rather not have. In Lockdown our walks have become much more home centric. In particular our late evening walk follows a pattern . There is a pattern for the dogs who like to sniff which other dogs have passed that way and a pattern for us which involves graveyards, patches of grass, the backs of a few houses and never other humans.

Yesterday a neighbour came to.see us concerned about another neighbour who had not drawn their curtains.

We immediately knew that all had been fine the night before because the pattern of lights had been quite normal on the last dog walk.

With some trepidation we did nosey neighbour things, realised there was a serious problem and called the emergency services.

I’m writing this because of the trivial things we thought about that might have stopped us doing the right thing.

Fear of doing the wrong thing.

We had previously offered help to these neighbours and were politely declined.

We were not afraid of finding the worst possible outcome. It’s what we used to do in our day jobs and it doesn’t bother us.

What we were, for a moment, concerned about was upsetting people who had politely declined help a year or so ago. We were concerned that someone might be cross with us or upset about us invading their privacy. Thankfully our brains defaulted to working heads and we got on and did the right thing.

Covid 19 is shrinking all our worlds to something more like the 17 th Century except we don’t know our neighbours as we would have done then. All the technology in the world would not have sorted out yesterday’s situation. It just needed us to be nosey, however awkward and worrying that felt at the time.