#545 theoldmortuary ponders.

©Hannah @theoldmortuary

Without any planning this week is turning into a low tide kind of week. Hannah did the late evening walk and caught this beautiful image, which is exactly as it presented itself to her. This is an unused wharf,which again we rarely photograph. In fact, just like an old fisherman tale, it is the site of the ‘ one that got away’ We were here last summer with our granddaughter VV, who was visiting from Hong Kong. She,at 3,was a very diligent dog walker, taking complete care of Lola’s needs for the whole walk. This, in turn required us to be hypervigilant so no chance of a quick smartphone photo. The tide was in and the day was very hot with no shade. Something was going on in the water, there was a lot of fishy activity. We all looked intently into the water. Basking in the shade of floating seaweed we spotted a small shark or a large dog fish. Most likely the Lesser Spotted Dogfish which is common in these parts,where it is also called a Murgey. Just like fishermen, this one who got away from our photography, was larger than average. For an excited 3 year old there was no Murgey or Dogfish about the find. We had gone on a dog walk and found a shark. A Shark! At the end of the road!

Nothing to see here.

#448 theoldmortuary ponders

Yesterday was a surprise in many ways. Most significantly it did not rain anything like as much as predicted. Impending wet weather gave the morning a sepia tinge. My working day at the local museum was somewhat dull, many of the exhibition spaces are in a state of flux with old exhibitions coming down ready for a change. In consequence there were not many visitors. The Museum offers excellent facilities for family history research. So on a whim I sat down and had a dabble at a family tree.

The minute I started to achieve relative success the day began to feel even more sepia as old documents flashed up before my eyes. In honesty I don’t really know what I am doing, so half an hour of success had fished out more than enough information for a first day.

I had dabbled with a family tree once before and found an unknown, but close, relative had done a huge amount of research which was available on-line. I was impressed and wrote via the website to add myself to his family tree. While I had no expectation of a grand reunion so beloved of the media. I had thought that when doing a genetic jigsaw every little piece has some value. Not so in this case,he clearly preferred his relatives to be dead and historic, not current and breathing. No thank you email ever found its way to me. My brief foray yesterday did not uncover his precious resource so perhaps it has been removed to keep live people out of his way. He may also no longer subscribe… Who could guess?

The lack of visitors did not cut down on my talking at the museum. What I lacked in numbers I made up for with two exceedingly long interactions. One was with a very inebriated man who’s intensity of conversation took many intriguing twists and turns to unexpected places. The other was with a regular visitor who talks in ever expanding circles that then with no warning snaps back to the exact same point that he started at, many, many minutes before. Sometimes it is fascinating to be included in another, unknown persons mindscape without any responsibility or limited timeframe. Maybe a little like reading an unknown persons blog.

Some days not much happens, here is clip to show how the header artwork was created.

Some days not much happens…https://theoldmortuary.design/2023/01/12/448-theoldmortuary-ponders/

#445 theoldmortuary ponders

Early morning and no rain! Monday shows promise. Yesterday was a proper drencher, probably due to my own bad planning. On a positive the rain chased me into a newish coffee destination near home. Block in the Royal William Yard.

Loads of lovely texture to enjoy while drying out and enjoying a plain chocolate, hot chocolate. The dogs and my feet dried out ready to carry on walking, swamp foot avoided for another day.

#352 theoldmortuary ponders

Sunrise but looking west.

It, has happened in Stonehouse, the last vestiges of summer have slipped away and there is a chill in the air. Today was my first day in tights and a jacket, other clothes were worn. I was not just prancing around like a principal boy in a ballet. Walking around Stonehouse often involves random conversations with strangers. Today it was all about the weather.When the bobbers gathered at 6pm many layers had been added to our summer casualness of a towel, a costume and some summer clothing. It’s not the swimming that has particularly changed but getting out of the water is decidedly cooler.

Sunset looking west.
Sunset superimposed on sunrise

#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.

#317 theoldmortuary ponders.

Surprises are lovely things and I have had or witnessed a few in the last few days. The first was a gift of speciality soughdough over the weekend. What a loaf, full of flavour, and full of flavour sensation and memories. Asian Street Food and Brixton market sprang to mind. Partnered with cured meats, smoked  fish and cheese, all tasted wonderful paired with this bread but the real magic happened when the bread got old enough to enter the toast zone. Fusion fabulousness happened when Gochujang sourdough met Marmite with Truffle. Quite the Surprise!

Surprise 2 was a gift from a neighbour.

How unbelievably kind, pertinent because he knows how often I pass his house on my way to the sea for a bob. Pertinent also because we have both washed up on the shores of Stonehouse via a life in London where swimming at the ponds was once a part of life. And so, with this book,as so often happens, we are back to bobbing which has also been full of surprises in the last 24 hours.

There was a rather grumpy impatient swimmer who barged past the bobbers last night before throwing himself into the sea with no fuss or preparation.

Moments later another unusual event occured. A small wedding celebration on the beach.

The colours behind the happy couple lead to another surprise. After the bob I was thrilled to see Stage drapes, created from one of my seascapes, set up in my studio. Nothing could quite prepare me for seeing my watercolour, sumptuously replicated on a huge scale on draping silk.

I could have endlessly played with the flowing fabric but it has serious work to do and the next time I see this fabric it will be at a distance on a stage. With a mind full of flowing blues and greens I go off to make a cup of tea and just when my head and heart are full of lovely surprises one of my sunflowers decides to get into the surprise game. Behind her large beaming head she has grown a little sister, what a surprise!

#308 theoldmortuary ponders

What lies beneath?

Our early morning dog walk produced a cute breakfast treat. Fresh windfall figs, minding their own business, resting on the pavement.

Enrobed in creamy yogurt they soon fulfilled their destiny. Later in the day the camouflaged net disguised another gustatory pleasure. Soupe au Pistou. A French tradition neatly relocated to the Stonehouse Tennis Club. In late summer when there is a glut of vegetables, communities in France come together for a communal meal of Vegetable Soup served with Parmesan and Pistou, a sauce made of garlic, oil and basil. Pistou is similar to pesto but does not have the addition of pine nuts or cashews.

Beneath the camouflage was a community of people enjoying charcouterie, the eponymous soup, a cheeseboard, tarte au citron and loads of chatter.

We met many people who we would normally pass on the street with a nod or brief good morning/afternoon. Released from just a simple polite greeting by sitting together for a couple of hours in the sun we had wide ranging and fascinating conversations with people who would quite rightly have been categorised as strangers only moments before. Well fed and watered we made our way home. The evening plan was to work off all the days fabulous food with a swim from our regular evening location.

Not a bad day at all and all within a five minute walk from home. This is turning out to be a very fine weekend.

Recipe below for Soupe au Pistou


#307 theoldmortuary ponders

Tranquility Bay, where we usually swim.

A heatwave is a funny thing in this part of England, we are used to gentle weather with most sorts of weather,apart from rain, served in moderation. The weather of the last few weeks has been the sort of weather we fly around the world for under normal circumstances.

Normal English Summer = Lets go to Greece in September.

And so, we adopt Greekish habits at the weekend, early rising to do dog walks, shopping and chores. Swimming when the tides are right. Somehow that frees up time for book reading in the cool of the house while avoiding midday heat. This luxury of ‘found’ time has enabled me to finish reading a fantastic tale of pirates set on the Kent coast. I can hugely recommend this book.

The illustration by Rafaela Romaya has been my bedtime companion for a couple of weeks.

I’ve been doing a little bit of digital fooling around to create an image of Bobbers enjoying Tranquility Bay in this great weather.

It wasn’t such a great leap to have them swimming in the shadow of Pirate Ships.

Or even enjoying a game of modified water polo. And that is the kind of madness that comes from hotter weather than normal on an English person

#304 theoldmortuary ponders

Desire paths that lead to a realisation.

Desire Paths have always fascinated me. Reading a recent blog from Spitalfields Life, nudged me into writing this blog today.

When I was a student at Barts Hospital my chosen Desire Path took 5 minutes off my journey to Moorgate Station. It was an ancient right of way. For nearly a thousand years medics and butchers have shared adjacent plots in the City of London.

Barts©The Wellcome Trust
Smithfield© Spitalfields Life. The Gentle Author

My short cut, or desire path, took me from the hospital boundary through slaughter yards, with bloodied water running into open drains. My desire path was almost certainly created by butchers, through history, making their way to and from one of the City gates. Moor Gate, so named because it led out to marshy ground known as Moor Fields. The to and fro on my little cut way was not just medical folk and butchers trying to make a quick access or escape, but, by passing so close to active slaughter yards the route may only have been tolerable for those with minds and stomachs already hardened to the sight snd smells of blood and gore. Butchers sometimes used the path as walking wounded, a quick way in to seek medical attention when sharp knives and cleavers have cut through living human flesh. A cleaver cutting through a femoral artery is a mucky and life or limb threatening event. Butchers, before the days of Health and Safety, often had bits missing, and the butchers of Smithfield were very regular and grateful customers when Barts had a fully functioning A and E. Anyway, I digress this blog is about a coastal desire path with much less to talk about. When I returned to work at Barts in 2013 I was hugely sad, but not entirely surprised, that I could no longer follow my short cut to Moorgate.

A desire path (often referred to as a desire line in transportation planning), also known as a game trail, social trail, fishermen trail, herd path, cow path, elephant path, goat track, pig trail, use trail and bootleg trail, is an unplanned small trail created as a consequence of mechanical erosion caused by human or animal traffic. The path usually represents the shortest or the most easily navigated route between an origin and destination, and the width and severity of its surface erosion are often indicators of the traffic level it receives.Desire paths typically emerge as convenient shortcuts where more deliberately constructed paths take a longer or more circuitous route, have gaps, or are non-existent. Once someone has already treaded out a path through the natural vegetation, subsequent traffics tend to follow that visibly existing route (as it is more convenient than carving out a new path by oneself), and the repeated trampling will further erode away both the remaining groundcover and the soil quality that allows easy revegetation.*

The desire path I walk on most days has none of the history of the Barts desire path. It cuts off only seconds of an already brief walk to the beach . It is the area in sunlight in this picture, the actual, brick path runs close to the wall of Stonehouse Tennis Club. But such is pondering that I only realised today that the South West Coastal Path, that both this Desire, and official, brick path lead to, must be made up entirely of historic desire paths that have been linked together. Unexpected enlightenment on a Wednesday

Today I am a rubbish photographer and have managed to cut off the vital words on this plaque. South West Coastal Path are the words I needed but managed not to include in this image.

One of my recent paintings combined with typewriting sums this whole blog up really. Todays in particular but pretty much in general too.

* definition of Desire Path. Wikipedia

#289 theoldmortuary ponders.

Late evening swimming has become an add on to the very last dog walk of the day. Last night the tide and sunset concurred to facilitate some skinny dipping. I have been a life- long, intermittent skinny dipper. In my youth I used to sneak into posh hotels and swim in their closed for- the -night swimming pools. In London the icy charms of the Hampstead Ladies Pond was a post on-call treat on a few occasions. Any deserted beach is an opportunity not to be missed and abroad I am much freer to just get on and do it as I always believe that I will never see any accidental observers again.

Now I live in a close knit community, a village in a city. I will, almost certainly, meet any casual observer again and yet even that didn’t matter when the chance to swim between rocks with only bats for company presented itself last night.

I was not alone, as the dimpsy light darkens, others cast off their bathing suits for a brief sensation of complete freedom, the moment marked with squeals of joy as celebration.