Pandemic Pondering #560

Yesterday was a proper English holiday day. It rained all day but we still managed a ‘bob’ on a grey beach. After a hot shower and breakfast we set off on foot to explore the cold wet beauty of the North Devon coast.

I will spare you the monotony of grey seascapes but we did manage to find some local and not so local colour.

Rock formations and tidal pools

Sometimes holidays in England definately need the right clothes because the right weather does not always blow our way. We have the right clothes!

We brought colour and interest to people walking the coastal path by bobbing in the sea when no-one else bothered. I also thoughtfully used my fluorescent bouy so they didnt incorrectly assume I was a seal at play. My natural grace in the water is easily confused with the movements of a marine mammal and it would be cruel to trick people,on the 630 mile hike of the South West Coastal Path, into believing that they had seen Martine the Coombe Martin Seal frolicking with a mackerel.

Although I do sometimes tinker with them.

We located rain forest plants. Although locating a good coffee after 4pm takes an intrepidness we do not possess.

Dicksonia Antarctica

Perhaps most significantly in these Covid times of restricted travel we found a cute Japanese Tea Set in a charity shop. Which helps me to spice up this blog with quite a lot of foreign influence.

And at least an illustration of foreign travel.

Pandemic Pondering #388

This is a funny old meandering blog. Caused in part by a day of domestic admin, zoom meetings and long but rather too familiar dog walks. I was tied to the house awaiting a call that would herald the arrival of a gas engineer to service our boiler and hob. It is entirely possible, close to home, to do a really long dog walk but be able to quickly take a short cut and get home in twenty minutes to keep a Gas Engineer happy. His window of opportunity was 8-6. He arrived at 4:30 and was gone by 5, thats a lot of anticipation and not much action. A fair bit of time to fill. Some of it was spent delving in my picture archive to illustrate this blog.

The picture above appeared in yesterdays blog that required staircases to illustrate the pondering. I’ve tweaked it a little to bring out all the colours.It is one of my favourite images of the last few years. Yesterday I was unsure of the location. If asked I would have confidently said it was from an old refugee hostel in Hong Kong. As I had loads of time yesterday I looked its location up and discovered it came from much closer to home and is in fact a rather smelly old staircase from a disused Plymouth night club.

While looking up the location I discovered another favourite picture that shares some of the same colours on a distressed wall but has a completely different feel. Finding this gave me an idea for todays blog. Loosely it is about colour and texture using four pictures from my archive

This gorgeous wall from a coffee shop in Hoi An in Vietnam is shabby, not through neglect but through over use. The under colour bleeds through the newer paint as the top coat is gently worn off by countless customers leaning against the wall while enjoying a coffee and pastry.

Taking the coffee shop theme forward I found this picture which has no easily discernible colour.

Another coffee shop find. This picture mesmerises me with its blandness and impracticality. There is nothing going on here and yet I am drawn to this image because it is beige and my mind is free to explore the texture and shape of the pillows and hard surfaces. The last picture in this quartet has even less colour but is conundrum. Still a pillow but one that has a feather on the outside.

A journey of vivid to white in four pictures and loads of textures. Today, you may be pleased to know, I will get out more…

Pandemic Pondering #108

July 4 the and the first time @theoldmortuary were able to travel and stay overnight somewhere. The early morning cup of tea gave it away. Getting our hands on a fluffy Sally or being trusted with the business end of nursing are not normal @theoldmortuary behaviours, so clearly we were not at home for our breakfast.

There were many giddy moments as we ticked off counties and the differing landscapes that we drove through. Oh, the exotica of the Somerset Levels and the Cotswold Hills. Wimbledon welcomed us, no wombles today, they are still shielding, but lovely family members and some great walks.

A tiny blog, but useful. Never will you be puzzled by the term ‘ fluffy Sally’ ever again.


Vivid is my word of choice on a dull, wet January day. Vivid brightens the world. Vivid people enrich the world. Vivid is never dull. I searched my files for a picture or two to illustrate vivid. My vivid file is rather full and I’m unable to just pick one so join me on a vivid journey for January. The route will be erratic.

Vivid Hugo in January 7 years ago. An 8 week old puppy. As I write this he still loves a vivid backdrop. Today he is sleeping on a Chartreuse coloured pillow.

One last Hugo centric image comes from Brighton Pavillion Winter Ice skating rink possibly 6 years ago. I love the accidental or serendipitous heart shape of the illuminated portion of the image.

Taking my next link as architecture Brighton Pavillion we to Neal’s Yard just North of Covent Garden Tube Station.

I’m completely lost as to where these beach huts are. Pink and orange takes us to the seaside, either Suffolk or Sussex.

This wall is in Marrakech, dropping the orange we go pink. A pink wall in Majorelle Gardens famed for their blue. There is a tiny triangle of the eponymous blue if you look hard enough.

Pink Marrakech walls guide me gently towards the next new direction, which will be sartorial with a nod to a traditionally dressed market porter. What is intangible from this picture is the vivid smell eminating from the tannery area. A rare example of vivid not being a good thing.

Sartorially vivid takes us to South Korea. A chance photograph of a proper dapper chap.

Another chance photograph. Not so dapper but definately a chap taken at Whitstable Carnival.

Body habitas gives me the next cue for a change of direction. Statues by Mauro Perruchetti. Jelly Baby Family at Marble Arch.

Jelly baby sculptures neatly swerve me to foodstuffs. Next up Dolly Mixtures at a baptismal party.

The glitter and twinkly confetti party table takes us effortlessly to a live Christmas Karaoke party in Peckham.

Then on to yet more twinkle. This time for Chinese New Year in Hong Kong.

Peckham to Hong Kong, quite a journey but as we’ve arrived there is more Hong Kong to reveal.

Close up of a lantern , quickly followed by a photographic error but vivid and thus valuable to this blog.

As luck would have it I have a Chinese New Year textile link.

My packing for Chinese New Year.

That was a lucky turn as textiles are awkward to weave into a story. The craft tent at The Royal Cornwall Show tempted Psychedelic crochet out of the closet.

Port Eliot Festival, also in Cornwall ties up trees as gifts.

Which brings me gratefully to Vivid Nature.

February tulips in Saltash

Artichokes in June.

Which briefly return us to Hong Kong for spiky plants.

Rambutans at Tuen Mun market in the New Territories. Fruit directs me to some of my paintings. Starting with Fig, Blackberry and Cob but.

Then on to an invented abstract fruit.

Which bears a little resemblance to a real flower,

at the Chelsea Flower Show, which of course returns us to London.

This is a very expensive monitor in a hospital in Marylebone. This intriguing pattern was caused by an unexpectedly vigorous movement of an x-ray machine, known as a C-arm it orbits around the patient. Swinging us neatly to the actual Orbit at The Olympic Park. Sculpture by Anish Kapoor.

Red neon effect and East London track me back to The City.

A favourite bar and coffee shop opposite Smithfield Market and close to St Bartholomew’s Hospital . Ask For Janice is a refuge from the realities of work. It is also the location for celebrations and socializing with work friends. Often before more physical challenges , which bowls us along nicely.

Posh bowling in Bloomsbury with the boys.

Buoys on the Norfolk coast.

And finally some vivid music and more spheres.

Congratulations on completing a vivid journey. Have a chocolate.

Moon, barge and sunrise.

An early morning drop off at Exeter Airport gave us the chance to go for an early morning walk at Topsham, the weather was all things bright and beautiful. The moon was still up when we started. Our only previous visits to Topsham were related to delivering or collecting students doing the Topsham 10. No mention ever, from them, of the amazing architecture.

Topsham is beautiful. The architecture is stunning. We accidentally walked the Topsham Goatwalk. At 7:30 we pretty much had it to ourselves.

A bit of googling on our return home and we discovered that in the 17 th century Topsham was the second busiest British port after London. Which explains the architecture.

Topsham took precedence over Exeter as a port because an assertive woman, Isabella de Fortibus built a partial weir in 1290, on the River Exe to run her mills and cut off Exeter as a navigable port direct from the sea. In 1300 a local landowner Hugh De Courtney added to the effect of the weir by felling trees and chaining them together to further block the navigable river to Exeter.

We were pretty surprised to see a Thames Barge resting up on a slipway. Even more surprised to discover that the barge, Vigilant had spent some time in the same relatively unknown area of North East Essex where half of theoldmortuary grew up.

The sun was rising as we approached the actual Goat walk, a raised path alongside the water. Loads of benches there for future memorial bench blogs.

We carried on walking into the sunrise and then followed footpaths and lanes back into the centre of town for a brew at Route 2 cafe.

Topsham is so worth a visit. If you can’t get there visit the links on this page.

Beachcombing, bringing colour to the blog in January.

Winter time is beach time, storms bring odds and ends onto beaches. Even in Cuba, where we had hoped for sun, beach combing post storm became a holiday pleasure. Beachcombing brightens up a winter walk and takes your mind off the weather. Cornwall opens the majority of its beaches to dogs in the winter months, parking is often free so a lot of dog walks take us to the coast at this time of year.

Let’s start with the bright but bad stuff. Portwrinkle is one of the easiest beaches to get to from theoldmortuary but winter tides bring masses of plastics onto the beach. It is literally ” a drop in the Ocean” but every time we go there for a stroll we pick up a couple of carrier bags of plastic waste.

After yesterday’s monochrome blog I really wanted some colour. I knew I had these pictures in the archive. Bright but not beautiful, this is the result of just twenty minutes picking.

The next two pictures are genuine January photos.

Watergate bay in North Cornwall, where these pictures were taken, gets a different sort of man-made detritus. sea glass. I keep sea glass in jars. One for each coastline in the South West

Watergate Bay seems to get larger chunks of sea glass than other beaches I suspect it’s also not as old as some of the stuff that washes up nearer to Plymouth on the south coast.

January in Cuba, a couple of years ago, still landed us with stormy weather but thankfully the detritus was all natural. I used the sunset to provide lighting.

A colourful haul of flotsam and jetsam . Not exactly the correct definition but I’ve always loved those two words.

Jetsam describes debris that was deliberately thrown overboard by a crew of a ship in distress, most often to lighten the ship’s load. The word flotsam derives from the French word floter, to float. Jetsam is a shortened word for jettison.


Despite once appearing in a ‘Style’and ‘Lifestyle’ magazine theoldmortuary is never going to appear in a sophisticated magazine shoot at Christmas.

Our festive decorating taste has a ‘hoarder’ aesthetic. We have no colour theme or mood board planning.. We are a rest home for gaudy, exotic and outrageous baubles . Baubles that might not get chosen in other homes are free to swing on our Nordman.

A subset of the bauble collection is the travel section. Either bought by us or gifted to remind us of a specific time or place.

This gorgeous creature arrived today and despite being a little late to the party she was straight up into the tree and asserting herself as the new Queen of the Tourist/travel bauble coterie. She knows she inspired this blog. Ice Skating Canadian Moose. New to Cornwall.

Seriously no one would mess with this powerful Moose woman . She has blades and she knows how to use them.

We have a few Canadian baubles, nothing quite as lively as Ms Moose.

Inuksuk hanging not so far from her hoped she wouldn’t realise there was a fellow Canadian in the room. He has always seemed a quiet unassuming cultural symbol.

Another other Canadian bauble @theoldmortuary looks innocuous enough but the strips of fabric inside this bauble come from the offcuts of fabric from the costumes of Macbeth, performed at the Shakespear Theatre at Stratford Ontario.

The shadow behind Ms Moose is the Elizabeth Tower, mistakenly known the world over as Big Ben.

Big Ben features on a really subtle bauble slightly reminiscent of the infamous London fog known as a ‘Pea souper’ because if its density. I’m not sure who would ever think of producing a fog themed set of baubles. Festive brightness dialed right down.

The London theme continues with a black cab.

The black cab is the first of the transport baubles. He is my favourite and is unlikely to be joined by a novelty Uber any time soon. Even though it would considerably cheaper.

But just like in real life there is a red bus right behind him.

Then we head East to Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong tram is a little bittersweet . We love the city and everything about it . But we’ve had to bury the cremated remains of two family members in Hong Kong in recent years. The administration office and Cemetery were most easily reached by tram so they both took their final journey in a bright red tram which is so much more fitting and interesting than a black hearse. I think we might struggle to find a home for a hearse bauble even on our eclectic tree. I realise somewhat belatedly that a festive hearse might be entirely appropriate @theoldmortuary. However such is the proximity to the local grave yard the customers of 50 years ago would have been carried over.


The tram, however, brings me nicely to the Chilli’s. A good place to stop as they bring good fortune to all.

Saturday Walking at Kingsand and Cawsand

Kingsand and Cawsand are coastal villages in the ‘forgotten’ corner of South East Cornwall. Every bit as beautiful as other, more famous, villages in Cornwall they remain largely undiscovered . They were a big part of our lives when we rowed for the local gig racing team. Our walk on Saturday took on a familiar pattern. The beaches are available for dog walking now the summer season is over. This was our primary reason for going as well as a birthday lunch. Gig rowing reared its head, or more accurately its bum almost the minute we arrived in the village. We stopped just by the Rame Gig sheds and a familiar voice shouted out. ” Look who it is, we were only talking about you a week or two ago when we were at Port Isaac ” We stopped gig rowing ten years ago so it must have been something memorable. ” We were at Port Isaac and talked about the time you had terrible trouble with your bum” Not for us the glamour of a memorable race, cleaving through heaving surf, oh no, memorable because a nasty blister gained in a 23 mile London River Race had impacted, in all senses of the word, on a performance more than ten years ago at Port Isaac. Obviously this was all said with love and humour. After hugging sweaty rowers fresh from a training session we moved on to the first of the days beaches.

Cawsand beach, where the Rame gigs are launched.

Hugo and Lola love this beach, twenty minutes of scampering and eliminating and they are ready for a walk. Quickly up The Bound past the gig shed with no further mention of bottoms.

Rame Gig shed

We followed Garrett Street keeping the Sea to our right. Beautiful coastal cottages line the street as we climbed a gentle hill.

This lovely gateway gives the perfect opportunity to look back over Cawsand.

Our destination today is The Devonport Inn on The Cleave , Kingsand. This portion of the Cornish coast overlooks Plymouth Sound. Devonport is the location of Plymouths Naval Dockyard it is also the name of one of the original towns that were merged to create modern Plymouth.

We were a little early for our booked table so the dogs got another scampering session on the second beach of the day.

Now this is not a food blog but today’s destination was chosen because the food served at The Devonport Inn is fabulous. We had Skate Wings and mussels both served with super chunky chips deep fried in beef dripping. All properly lovely. The Devonport Inn is an unfussy but really comfy place to enjoy food and drink.

A cosy corner

Replete with good food and conversation we retraced our steps towards Cawsand, one more beautiful sunshine shot to complete our afternoon.

Memorial Benches

I’ve been mulling over Memorial benches for some time. Where appropriate or acceptable I would love to tell the stories behind the plaques on so many benches around the world.
The what3words app makes things a little easier.
For continuity I would like
1. A picture of the plaque or inscription.
2. A picture of the bench
3. A picture of the view it overlooks
4. A bio of the people whose lives are being commemorated.
5 The exact location. Better still using what3words code.

Please send me your bench stories to include them on this page.

VW Kombi and a map

IMG_9978This monoprint has been knocking around in my head for ages. It’s taken a while to pull together the various strains of thought and to find the products that would give me the feel I wanted.

I wanted to depict the unique sensation of travelling in unknown territory looking for holiday destinations using paper maps. That curious mix of anticipatory pleasure and stress. The Combi is depicted by translucent glaze and glitter because it is a memory and is for many of us only representational as we may have been travelling in a Mini, Ford Capri, Hillman Imp or any other car that was iconic in the 60’s 70’s or 80’s.

Each monoprint is unique and is printed on an old map. A3 size, mounted ,each print costs £65. Other destinations and vehicles are possible , please contact me either via this blog or if interested