Pandemic Pondering #400

Yesterday I got the art cards printed that will be sold during art exhibitions this year. I realise I’ve chosen two smelly subjects as my images of choice. Scratch and sniff card seems to have gone out of favour but even if the print shop had offered such a service I doubt I would have chosen the option.

Mackerel smell wonderful when freshly caught and grilled, like all fish not so good after a while, and this chap was painted two years ago!

The second card is a digitally enhanced photograph of the back stairs of a disused Plymouth nightclub. For many years the club had been closed and was the desired location of a Super Church. While interminable and ultimately unsuccessful planning permission was sought the building was mothballed. Again not a great option for scratch and sniff.

Mothballs was not the fragrance that tickled my nose as I took this picture. Damp, mildew and the vestigia of human sweat, tobacco, beer and pleasure were the backnotes to the headier notes of urine and weed.

Maybe my art cards are not such a big ticket subject for Pandemic Pondering #400. But they are about recovery. Helping local business by spending money close to home.

Shop 4 Plymouth

©shop4plymouth

It took less than an hour to visit The Artside in Plymouth and walk away with 100 beautifully printed cards.

https://www.theartsideshop.co.uk/

©TheArtside

Geddon- a word used in the Westcountry. It has multiple uses. Derived from two words get and on.

It is used to express surprise and disbelief, but in this context it is used as a word of encouragement. It can also be used as a greeting instead of hello or goodbye.

Pandemic Pondering#400

Pandemic Pondering #397

Normal blogging service will resume later this morning. Its a swim lesson day and I haven’t even made the sandwiches!

So a late start for the blog but with the added bonus of some dog pictures. The stand out feature of this weekend has been the wind. A very brisk Easterly blowing into Plymouth Sound affecting everything weve done. Al Fresco Dining, Bobbing, and dog walking. Nothing I’ve produced photographically has shown the severity of the wind. Anecdotally Miss Lola was blown off her legs yesterday. A situation only remedied by a very tight cuddle. The swimming lesson outing required the van to keep Miss Lola on board and in a good mood.

Hugo was also not averse to a bit of van comfort while swimming lessons were affecting the quality of his Sunday morning.

Some outdoor activity was permitted in the morning schedule. Lola agreed to a pose that demonstrated the wind direction.

Hugo also attempted a similar pose but just ended up looking messy.

The most important part of the day was guarding the beach awaiting the return of the swimmers.

Pandemic Pondering #396

Friday night brought us closer to the weekend with a swim from our normal beach and a chance to check on the trees post lockdown hair cut. The trees had a haircut earlier this week,not us, we are still wild haired. I’m not sure we could see a huge difference with the trees. I hope a trip to the hairdressers will be more noticable!

This week has seen us step back a little bit into a more normal life. The high point was probably a trip to a charity shop where the staff were as pleased to see us and the dogs as we were to be there. We’ve also eaten out, out out, a couple of times and realised that in April eating Al Fresco carries with it the risk of stiff limbs and cold food but the pleasure of sitting with and talking to people is something we’ve missed a lot.

There was also a lovely episode of serendipity. When I took the dogs for their late evening walk, one evening, I was forced to cross the road to avoid a small hedgehog, who was going about his business snuffling in fallen leaves. The dogs believe all hedgehogs are their friends as the ones who live in our garden don’t object too much too their intrusive behaviour. On crossing the road, after a few steps,I saw a small dark object on the path. Someone had lost a wallet. There was a driving licence inside so I could find where the owner lived. No one was home when I drove over but on my return drive I found someone out walking with a torch. Owner and wallet were reunited.

There is a strange coincidence of kindness in that location.

The wallet was found very close to a house where @theoldmortuary saved someones life, almost exactly a year ago. Anybody would have done the same in those same circumstances. No one ever thanked us. Doing the right thing is never done for thanks but a well placed thank you really does put a smile on anyone’s face.

Finding a wallet and returning it, a small thing in comparison obviously made a whole family happy and they sent some really lovely thankyou messages the next morning. I may smile all weekend.

Pandemic Pondering #395

Some blogs write themselves. This one started life 80 years ago when 6 volunteer firefighters left the small Cornish town of Saltash to support fire crews, from all over the southwest, working in Plymouth during the Plymouth Blitz. Unfortunately they drove over an unexploded bomb in King Street and were all killed. This morning a service was held in the local church to mark 80 years since their deaths, later a wreath was laid at their graves, which are all in the same place in the church graveyard.

A vintage fire engine and crew attended the ceremony.

For a time the area in front of @theoldmortuary was busy with people attending the service and posing with the fire engine. A World War 2 Air Raid siren and the fire engine bell were strange sounds to hear on a sunny spring morning.

It is probably at least 80 years since a fire engine like this drove past @theoldmortuary. Strange to think that hundreds of mourners would have filled this little village and used the local pub to show respect to 6 local men who set off for Plymouth one night. Taking their fire engine across the Tamar on the ferry and never returning alive.

Pandemic Pondering #394

We are going to hear a lot of the word languishing in the next few months. It is a descriptive word for a sort of midpoint of mental health and is apparently where many of us have ended up after over a year of Pandemic anxiety. It is precisely described as failure to make progress or be succesful.

The sketch in the image above is one that I did for a project that never came to fruition. It might even be described as a project that languished.

I’ve always been quite attracted to a bit of languishing. The leather deck chair in the picture would be an ideal place to do some languishing.

A fine location for mass languishing.

Obviously I’m being a bit flippant, the consequences of a whole world where many people are caught in a mental fog where progress and success feel unachievable is dreadful. But many of us will return to our old habits of chasing success, over-commiting and celebrating progress soon enough.

Languishing lives at the mid point between depression and flourishing. It will certainly be used with negative connotations in its association with our post pandemic recovery.

But I would argue that sometimes languishing is a positive choice. It is precisely why benches like the one above are positioned near a beautiful view. To allow passers by to just languish, to do nothing, to just be.

Languishing in our house is a full time occupation for some.

I’m sure Hugo does not see Languishing as a negative thing. He quite properly knows it is what he does between achieving and sleep and probably the thing that gives his fluffy life equilibrium and purpose.

A bench in the sun, a lovely spot for a languish.

Pandemic Pondering #392

Budgie smugglers and body oil is not exactly what you would expect on a beach in Devon in April but that is what we got on our unfamiliar beach this morning. We also got a good swim and warm sun to heat us up after. We struggled into our usual post swim layers and drank hot drinks, deciding that a drizzle of oil and scanty whisps of Lycra were not appropriate beach wear for bobbers, we will leave that level of hardiness to others. There was something quite eccentric about our swim this morning, the change of location gave me a little inspiration for some micro land art. Making a little tree while the bay echoed with chain saws doing unspeakable things to our familiar trees on the raised path.

And there was a naturally occuring heart.

Other Bobbers were not too far from water either. Although not a budgie smuggler in sight in Oxfordshire.

©Marianne Bobber

Pandemic Pondering #391

Oh! The drama of a Monday morning. The footpath to our usual swimming beach is closed for three days for ‘ Tree Work’. Seems it is not just humans who need a bit of a trim after another long lockdown. This is going to discombobulate the ‘ bobbers’. We have become creatures or indeed Merthings of habit. The pesky and ever changing currents of Firestone Bay are best observed from the high level footpath that runs 12 feet or so above the beach. We ponder them from above, then decide on the route for the day and then return to the footpath afterwards to change and cogitate over the swim and life events while warming up. The raised footpath gives the perfect vantage point to view the whole of Firestone Bay and Plymouth Sound beyond. It can also provide interesting images.

Today we will be swimming and chattering from the beach next to the tidal pool.

Have a good week.

Pandemic Pondering #387

L’esprit de l’escalier is a French term used in English for thinking of the perfect reply too late. I think it is mostly considered to be a witty or clever retort that would finish of a conversational or indeed confrontational encounter more perfectly.

Where is the handy french term for when you/ I, have thought of the perfect retort and delivered it leaving the other person stunned and perhaps uncomfortable. A linguistic victory certainly but not always kind.

Kindness at the end of a conversation is another of those moments with no useful term. Hugely important during difficult conversations when serious, possibly hurtful and important points need to be conveyed. If there is love, care, affection or even just integririty that must be built into that conversation the parting words need to be perfectly judged if the conversation is to be effective rather than harmful. A lifetime of harm can be caused without the right conversational ending included. If only these things could be straightforward.

The whole business of ‘stair case wit’ which I have expanded to Staircase Wisdom is chronically complicated and acutely regrettable. I have a huge dusty box in my personal archive of conversations that were not perfect because I got the end wrong.

The trouble is, unlike this collection of staircases, conversation with another is never black and white, and it can be complicated and unpredictable. The conversations in my head always go much better to plan.

The link below takes you to a less personal consideration of L’esprit de l’escalier. I hope that is the perfect ending.

L’esprit de l’escalier

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%27esprit_de_l%27escalier

Here is a less than perfect ending , the steps that I imagine take me to my store of archived badly finished conversations. I don’t imagine I’m ever going to be diplomatic or wise enough not to need to store badly finished conversations in an imagined room beyond these stairs any time soon. These steps will continue to be well worn, a little bit smelly and unloved until I can no longer engage in meaningful conversation.

Pandemic Pondering #384

Sometimes you have to get up early for the twinkliest of moments. We got double twinkle yesterday. -1 degree and a frosty car as we set off very twinkly. Then a twinkly sea to swim in.

We only exchanged christmas gifts last week, during Easter. This weekend we got to use some of them. Swimming lessons and a silk shirt, neither particularly suited to the day but we are living in unusual times .

I got the easier option of wearing a new orange silk shirt while walking the dogs.

Hannah opted for orange accessories for her swimming lesson. Accidentally orange became the colour of the moment as an orange noodle was thrown to her during the early part of the lesson.

https://www.aceswimming.co.uk/

Me and the dogs watching on the beach.

Just a tiny tweak on the saturation of this photo shows up the orange of the tow floats as the lesson continues. It also gives the shine on the sea a pale purple hue which matched the weed I was leaning near to get these photos

Then as the lesson concluded I got a lovely splash of the complimentary colour to orange. Turquoise. This was not a cunning plan to introduce colour theory into the Monday blog!

Just luck, but serendipity does play a large part in these blogs. Because as luck/serendipity would have it we have a red flask for post swim warming up. Another portion of colour theory is that a small dash of red can improves the overall look of a picture. The same could be said for this blog.

For the story about a dot of red read this.

https://www.cassart.co.uk/blog/colour-speaks-volumes.htm

An accidental lesson in colour theory during a deliberate swimming lesson. Pandemic Pondering in a nutshell.

Pandemic Pondering #383

Today is an unusual pondering, not because it comes a day after the death of Prince Phillip, The Duke of Edinburgh. Although that fact is in some ways central to this blog. It is unusual because I can mention the great diarist Samuel Pepys for reasons other than his diary.

We did one of our usual dog walks near the coastal part of Plymouth Sound. Plymouth, being a naval city, was one of the locations of the 41 gun salute to mark the passing of the Queens husband. There is always something intriguing about witnessing something that has happened in the same location for many centuries, to mark significant events.

Gun Salutes started in the late Middle ages. Fixed odd number salutes of 21 and 41 were formalised as an economy measure by Samuel Pepys when he was a Naval adminstrator .

Another thing that was different today was that when HMS Westminster sailed out of Plymouth just after the Gun Salute the flag on her Jack Mast, the one at the back, was flying at half-mast.

Gun salutes are a complex old business. The link below will take you to a website with more information should you require it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/21-gun_salute

On a brighter note a couple fresh from their teeny tiny Covid Regulation wedding had their photographs taken at the tidal pool in Firestone Bay.

Coffee and tea was, of course, essential to a day of lots of walking, talking and listening to 41 Gun Salutes. Hugo and Lola do not get left out during comestible breaks.

Sun setting on another day of action in Plymouth Sound.