#404 theoldmortuary ponders

This was quite the morning for a bob. Not that the water was quite like this when we were in. Half an hour before this picture,while we were in the water, it was bumpy and grey, 13 degrees in the water and 9 out.

Rainbows were an added bonus. This is how all winter Mondays should start. Then lunch out and an afternoon spent with a carpet cleaning machine, I’m not sure that necessarily is the way the day should have gone but any artistic endeavours involve a man relieving himself in a back street. So the options are not great.Last Monday we were leaving Dublin and a week on I still haven’t nattered on about The Guinness Storehouse. One of Europes best tourist attractions. It was the only truly tourist haunt that we visited. Not exactly the worlds most hardened drinkers the building was definitely the most intriguing aspect of the visit. The whole point of the building is to turn lime green hops and water.

Into black and white porter, in this case Guinness.

The finer points of brewing passed me by but the magisterial building was wonderful.

People who know a whole lot more than me believe that Guinness tastes better in Dublin. At the end of our tour we got a pint each. That is a lot of something to base an opinion on and yet I remain quite unable to tell anyone if a Dublin Guinness is significantly different from one served anywhere else, but regardless it slipped down very well in a very beautiful building.

#402 theoldmortuary ponders

River Liffey in Dublin looking towards Temple Bar.

I suppose the picture above would be fairly typical of a night scene in Dublin. We only visited the infamous Temple Bar once, always preferring less busy options. This was the view from our airbnb. The illuminated Viking ship was quite a draw for ultra late night shenanigans. Friday night was packed with working people celebrating the weekend to the max they were only chased away at dawn by road sweeping vehicles and street cleaners. Saturday night bustled with jubilant Irish rugby supporters celebrating a win over Australia, trumpeters at 4 in the morning was both jubilant and joyful, curiously melodic when leading happy chanting. Sunday night was calm. Every daybreak marked by the sound of road sweepers making the city pristine.

All this is a bit of waffle to make our night tours of back streets more interesting. Dublin has so many historic back streets, untouched by redevelopment that it is like walking in a city 300 years ago. The streets felt safe but there was a recurring theme that I felt compelled to sketch from memory.

Nearly all back streets held the same night time characters. Chefs on their phones, taking a break from cooking with a cigarette and a sit down. An inebriated man taking a piss in a pool of light. I decided to do my first sketch with Charcoal, a messy few hours later. I had the beginning of something that had the flavour of all the back streets we visited. I just need to find a way of getting more colour in.

The chefs face needs to be blue and the peeing man needs to look more drunk and there should be some essence of coloured lights just reflected on the brick work. A project for next week.

#398 theoldmortuary ponders

Sunday in Dublin found us going unashamedly touristy a trip to the Guinness Storehouse Experience followed by Dublinia a museum dedicated to Viking Invasion and Medaeval Dublin. There was, perhaps, some over-optimism in achieving anything after a trip to the Guinness Brewery.

Local street art suggests the slight unfocussed effects that might occur after drinking a Guinness.

Not to be outdone by street artists I took a suitably unfocused photograph of one of the pony and trap taxis that are on hand to spirit well imbibed visitors back to the city centre.

The Guinness experience will get it’s own blog in the fullness of time.

The Viking experience was somewhat overshadowed by our slightly enhanced sense of humour, maybe the fault of a perfectly poured Guinness direct from source.

The exhibition was billed as immersive with sound and smells of the period. There were no discernable smells unless damp tourist exactly matches Viking fragrance. The only sound beyond the chatter of damp tourists was a regular quiet groan. The exhibition was hugely interesting, perhaps a little dated but we learned a lot. The groaning grew louder with no obvious source until we discovered a Viking taking a dump and preparing to wipe his bottom with lichen. Either lichen is the very devil on tender parts or the Viking diet was not conducive to smooth elimination. Either way we were very amused by it.

#396 theoldmortuary ponders

First steps in Dublin lead us to an Irish/Italian Cafe Bar serving homely food in cosy surroundings. Two bottles of Jameson* later we tuck into food that smells and tastes like our mothers made it.It being Friday night our habitual back street wander took us into cobbled streets alive with the sounds of boisterous fun being had just out of sight. A few men leaned on walls for support as they splashily dampened their boots with misdirected urine. Dublin is new to us, but not. Dublin feels like a mythical, hidden suburb of New York or Chicago. A concentrated, vivid place full of young people. Two of them stopped us in the street to take a selfie, perhaps thrilled that people over 40 had joined them in their night-time place. Too soon our travel weary knees called us away to a sofa and curative cups of tea. As we slept the night noises of Temple Bar kept going until they were chased away by the dawn chorus and road sweepers. Tweaking Dublin back to perfection after a bachanalian night just beyond our windows .

* Jameson bottles used as water carafes @theoldmortuary would barely function after two glasses.

#395 theoldmortuary ponders

Starfield Library, Seoul.

We are off on an adventure to Dublin. A trip, to possibly the most beautiful library in the world. We have been to some fabulous libraries and bookshops so the bar is already set quite high. The serendipity of the picture above could not be allowed to pass. The picture of a gentleman, not reading his book was in a temple. The same day I found this contemporary man, not reading his book in the Starfield Library, Seoul. I will let you know how the comparison goes.

#389 theoldmortuary ponders

All of life is a journey, either of the mind or the body. My today journey was to a destination I have known and loved for many years. The Townhouse, Fournier Street, Spitalfields. For many years it was a coffee/ tea destination and then by the greatest of coincidences The Gentle Author started running blogging courses there.

Today my journey was pretty simple. 19 stops on the District Line. My reason to travel was another blogging course. How I originally found my way to Fournier Street has been forgotten, it almost certainly started with curiosity about my Huguenot forbears and my love of the Spitalfields area when I was a student. The Huguenots were the first refugees to arrive in Britain and 1 in 6 of us are descended from them.

My parents also often took me to the market in Wentworth Street, not so much to shop but to experience the hustle and bustle of a proper London Market. 5-year old I would have stared up at this actual London underground sign in Aldgate Station in wonder and excitement.

I am no less in awe of Spitalfields than I ever was, no less excited either. Tomorrow I get to do it all again.

#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.

#327 theoldmortuary ponders

Flying day. Toronto -Chicago-London. More paperwork and electronic permissions than would be imaginable pre-Covid. No matter how much we have there is always more needed. 3,000 very slow steps in a variety of queues. Once again crossing borders is easy. Curiously getting onto the beach at Crystal Beach on Lake Erie took far more effort and paperwork. This is so not a moan. Lake Erie was our destination of choice we plan to swim in all of the Great Lakes, 4 out of five done, then we start on the Finger Lakes. North America you have been fabulous. Normal blogging will resume very soon.

#179 theoldmortuary ponders

This blog had a theme in the planning stage but an early morning message from a school friend, who lives in Australia slightly changed the narrative journey.

There is an inevitability about being a woman and revealing the county of your birth if that county happens to be Essex.

But life is a path travelled, and for now my path has taken me to Devon, and currently not too much further. I am 14 weeks into a wait for a new passport which has transitioned from being a holiday busting pain in the arse, to a smug sense of relaxation as the news media constantly broadcasts travel doom. Showing over- busy airports struggling to move a whole Easterworth of happy travellers for the first time in two years.

For now, this Essex Woman is going nowhere, and yes I have been many of the things Sarah Perry observed, so maybe not imposing myself on the wider world for a few months is a kindness imposed by the United Kingdom Passport service.