#212 theoldmortuary ponders

Restringing two washing lines felt like a victory yesterday. I should have immediately washed all our pillow cases and hung them up like oversized bunting to celebrate. They are both now completely usable. One needs one more piece of refurbishment but I must admit the height that the previous generations thought appropriate to dry their washing is beyond my reach. We don’t have a ladder that can get me up high enough to get one of the lines onto its wall-fixed pulley.

Jobs like this have an almost holiday-like pleasure built in. Within walking distance of our new home is an old fashioned hardware store.

If this store were in a small greek town or a Honk Kong back street I would be in seventh heaven or maybe cloud nine. Somewhere, certainly, that would suggest a state of bliss. Hardware shops were a place of imagination and intrigue when I was a small person, I am still that small person. Only age and the fear of looking daft stops me from running my fingers through boxes of nobbly nuts, or shiny washers to feel hard metal behave like fluid. My dad would take me in to shops like this and then usually forget that he had a daughter while he rummaged through small boxes on the dusty shelves of the hardware stores of North East Essex. I realise now he was also freed of pester power, no small child would ever find anything in a hardware store that they would nag on about until they either got the item or, more likely, a lesson in those who want, don’t get. He would disappear to the back and have ernest conversations about grommets and other exotically named items with other adult men who gathered in small groups.

Delightfully yesterday there was a small group of men at the far end of the store nattering about such things as I entered.

Such is the language of these stores I mostly go in and immediately admit that I don’t know what I want but either describe it or explain the job it needs to do.

” What you need is essooks” was the reply when I described something metal shaped as a figure of 8.

” Oh, yes essooks” I replied with the certainty of someone who has only briefly forgotten the name of the item required. ” Two essooks please”

And so, for 75 pence, I am the proud owner of two ‘S’ hooks, and two refurbished washing lines.

#211 theoldmortuary ponders

Early morning blogging, with birdsong. The sun is blindingly up and after a hard working weekend I have somewhere cute to sit and drink the first cup of tea of the morning.

Thanks to Google and the advice on how to neutralise the smell of dog wee,the concrete no longer smells like the leather making area of Marrakesh and more like nothing. Just the sweet smell of nothing!

This yard grows things extraordinarily well that our previously rural garden did not. Irises and Alliums are a big surprise this spring.

I might even move into this space to do a bit of painting, but todays task is more challenging. I am going to restring two old washing lines. That is going to be interesting…

The support team have their doubts.

#210 theoldmortuary ponders

Blogging reality rests on blogging fantasy

#209 theoldmortuary ponders promised the revelation of the weekends grand plan. Two long paragraphs were lost by inatentive fingers and no amount of searching in the nooks and crannies of my WordPress history or archive files revealed the missing links. I couldn’t quickly rewrite them and the grand plan itself required attention. The illustration above hints at the reliability of hard copy versus electronic.

The plan for the weekend was only decided on a whim on Friday. I’m not even sure I even thought about it before pronouncing. “I think I am going to remove all the fake grass this weekend” The job had been started 6 weeks ago when the first strip of fake grass was removed to give us a two metre flower bed. Then last week another four metre ‘L’ shaped flower bed was revealed. My pronouncement actually only involved a raised patio area but unlike the others we had covered it in container grown plants. What I had suggested was a monumental task with added unsavoury undertones.

The previous owners two pug dogs had used the fake grass as their toilet. The fake grass over flower beds had drained into soil, the patio area was a big old slab of concrete. When we moved in we were only renting the house so had to leave things as they were. We cleaned as well as we could and vowed to remove it as soon as we had bought the house. The house sale rambled on, delayed by the death of the descendent of Robert the Bastard who was given our tiny portion of land in 1066! Winter arrived and we did not have the appetite for a yucky job in the cold.

We are no strangers to yucky jobs. When we were rebuilding and repurposing the building that was the old mortuary next to our Cornish cottage we chose to clear out the undertakers workshop and Chapel of Repose ourselves, before the builders moved in to turn it into part of our home. 50 years of that sort of business, long before health and safety regulations and 50 years of neglect after it was closed because of health and safety, was a heady mix of bodily excrescences and vermin excretions. So we have some unusual expertise.

Obviously our dogs had taken to using the informal, low effort toileting area too. Saturday was spent moving full and heavy plant containers down to the far end of the yard, this meant that our energy levels were pretty depleted by the time we had to roll up and bag up the fake grass. It was every bit as grim as you might imagine and the urine soaked concrete slab was a pretty stinky thing. It has been scrubbed and hosed many times now. The plan was to allow it to dry off and paint it, but as it has dried off a curious thing has happened. The urine has discoloured the concrete and brought out the colours of the sands that were used in its manufacture. We may well be left with a slab of concrete that resembles a warm pinkish/orange marble or rock.

So yucky job done, there was a ridiculous number of plants to be either repotted or planted in the soil of the revealed flower beds. The job was just about completed by the time of the Sunday evening swim. Since then we have had heavy showers of rain. There has been no chance of taking a series of work complete photographs. This yucky job may well stretch to another blog!

To finish up, a picture of our neighbours chicken checking out the sweet new leaves of a Silver Birch that has moved closer to her strutting zone.

#207 theoldmortuary ponders

Our only outside space is a bright white stone yard. We have only just recovered the two patches of actual soil from the clutches of artificial grass. The one below was planted up two months ago and has established itself very quickly.

But we are only in May and the yard may get too hot once the summer arrives. These pink alliums are the best we have ever grown.

The other bigger patch of actual soil has only just been reclaimed and will be used for summer vegetables. Wild garlic will be not so wild and will be contained in a pot.

So far so good but we have a new revelation in the yard. Our neighbours have gained some chickens, gorgeous fluffy bummed creatures who make clucking noises that could charm the birds from the trees. Unfortunately the birds that are actually charmed from the trees are magpies. Who even knew that Magpies have diligent digestive systems, in their urge to be closer to the chickens they empty the contents of their bowels on our yard and plants. I am not such a fan of magpies. This development may, however ultimately be of benefit to us. Our neighbours also have an inappropriately placed trampoline that looms large over our yard wall and is a constant eyesore. The magpies shit on it and will surely make it unusable and then hopefully it will be removed. Or of course, which is more likely, we will have a black and white eyesore. In which case we are going to need to be very creative with our future yardscaping.

#175 theoldmortuary ponders

This is the most common view for writing a blog. Out of screen are a cup of tea, a notebook, a pile of clean washing, a Filofax ( oh yes I said Filofax ) and a lap top. All fairly normal dining room table flotsam and jetsam in a world that features working from home, Zoom meetings and family that live thousands of miles away. We are in mid April now and ten months into living in a house with a yard and not a garden. Container gardening is our new way of creating a green space. In the dark months of winter the plants in this view are decorated with fairy lights in an attempt to bring light into our lives through the french windows. Container growing has been largely a success, one moving casualty and one new plant that didnt make it through the winter. This morning I was struck by the random colour pairings that container planting creates. I had a bit of a spring move around earlier in the week. We have been much more succesful growing tulips in containers. Purple Sage and fancy tulips are not something we would have planned, but this pairing is lovely.

I can only assume that our yard has less wildlife than our country garden. One of our autumn pumpkins has just about survived the winter, in our garden pumpkins were devoured before firework night most years. A beautiful, almost black tulip bent forward after heavy rain causing this wonderful colour combination. Yardening is going to suit us very well.

#160 theoldmortuary ponders.

Three solid days of Spring sunshine and it was time to raise the level of our yardening. The last six months or so have been about moving plants in containers into their most comfortable positions in the new yard. A chance event, the delivery of some free seeds from the local Primary School pushed us into greater action.

Most of our container plants have survived well, despite doing well some of them are not so suited to a blisteringly hot, coastal yard and need rehoming. The free seeds spurred us into action as the plants needing rehoming were in a container that was perfect for a bee corridor.

So far so sensible but somehow things got out of hand when we popped into a garden centre for some anting compost. The tiny project inspired by some free seeds suddenly involved reinstating a 2 metre long raised bed that had been lawned over with artificial grass by the previous owners.

Many plants and hours later we have a beautiful new border and some cute plants.

Which was not the plan at all!

The neighbours, meanwhile, look on in disgust, nothing worth eating at all

#145 theoldmortuary ponders

This time last year our precious Cornish garden plants had been in their containers,for moving house, for nearly six months. Ready for a pre Christmas move in 2020. The transaction was long, with many pitfalls along the way. Right now they have all spent 18 months in containers despite many of them not being considered suitable for container growth, we have only had one casualty. The house sale contract was only actually completed late in September 2021, not a time when we could do too much about them. Another whole winter in containers has done them no harm and this weeks brief sunshine has brought out some blooms from under planted bulbs.

This Buddha got a major head injury in the move but has grown, over winter a fine wig of succulents to cover up her caved-in temporal and parietal bones.

Two pumpkins from October have also survived the winter and are bringing colour to our yard. Despite all the recent storms, we are due another one today, Spring might well be just around the corner.

#16 theoldmortuary ponders

Waking up in the dark to start the day is becoming our autumn/ winter normal. My phone woke me up this morning with a blast of sunshine, with the photograph above. Bright sunshine on 25th October at Rock in Cornwall 5 years ago.

This morning there is very little gap between bed and a swim in the sea. I can already tell there will be no sunshine to stroll to the beach in. I suppose that is part of the charm of October. It is never entirely certain what shape any particular day will take, weather wise. Our evening walk last night revealed beaches overwhelmed with seaweed after the storms of last week which is also in stark contrast to that beautiful beach of five years ago. There is an upside to this, we plan to start making our own compost again and it would make sense to gather seaweed to mix with our teabags and coffee grounds. So today may be the day to make our first harvest. Moving house and garden is, as is always said, a big thing. We’ve moved from somewhere that every square inch of the property and garden was lovingly designed and planned by us to somewhere that was someone elses home for longer than I have been alive. In this regard planning a new compost bin is almost the first new plan we have put in place, as we promised ourselves we would give the house some time to reveal its quirks and charms to us before doing anything major. I realise a compost bin is not major! We also need to learn to live in this location before we make too many changes that we may come to regret.

Luckily for this blog one of the other 25th October pictures, that I was woken up with, suggests calm contemplation. Something that is needed along with Google to make seaweed into compost. A cup of tea on Wembury beach, 4 years ago, is a lovely way to suggest time spent researching the rotting properties of seaweed.

I wonder how today is going to shape up?

The final of the three wake up pictures is also beach related. Sai Kung in Hong Kong, 6 years ago. I think I can say with some certainty that today is not going to be a day for vivid crabs. But this is October, anything could happen.

#6 theoldmortuary ponders

I suppose the middle of October is a reasonable time to start mentioning mists. This was yesterdays early walk and if I set off now it would also be todays. Only an hour or so later the sun was properly out and this scene would have looked quite different. As it was I was struggling with heavy metal objects at the tip during the best sunshine of the day. Not really the best place for photography. But there is something uplifting about leaving the tip with an empty car. Yesterday passed with many small and irritating domestic admin jobs achieved. On days like yesterday the dogs get especially good walks because walking a dog is infinitely more interesting than the next dull, but essential job. I know that some time in the future, hopefully next year, my repotting of the Fig tree will bring strong new growth and lots of glossy leaves but yesterdays labours saw the fig tree move into his new but temporary home. A new (old) pot just a few inches bigger. Where, oh where is the instant gratification in that!

What Fig does not know, is that just a couple more inches of growth and he/she will have a friend, who is not much bigger to natter to. Just the other side of the wall our neighbours also have a fig growing. Never one to speculate! I think having a figgy friend so close might encourage all sorts of fig related development. Perhaps future October’s might look a bit like this in our kitchen.

For now the only figs in this house will be supermarket ones.

Pandemic Pondering #548

Despite all the talk of too much talking over the weekend, the back yard is looking more stylish with Hannahs diligence with a paintbrush and a pot of black paint. The outside toilet has also been rehabilitated as a usable space instead of somewhere where stuff was dumped.

Of course my previous two blogs didn’t lie, there was a lot of nattering. Yesterdays nattering was with a woman we had never met before, although during the 18 months we have exchanged baking and crochet with her. Ruth is a friend of a friend. Our friend in common became a vital go between delivering bakes from us to Ruth. Ruth in turn made vital crochet for us. I can already feel you thinking what is ‘ vital’ about crochet. @theoldmortuary crochet became a conduit of love. During lockdown our toddler granddaughter moved to Hong Kong with her parents. I’m not sure such an occurrence is ever easy to bare but with the complextities of a pandemic and other worries it caused hard to manage grief. Ruth crocheted super hero clothes for our grandchild’s plush pig and the pig also flew off to Hong Kong with a crocheted and enchanted cape for safe travel and a happy return. In sad situations it is sometimes the little things that give comfort.

Recently, after our house move, we were in need of crochet again. Hannah’s mum had made beautiful crochet when she was alive and we have a few pieces of her work. An old house really needs some little touches to link the everyday contemporary world to the past. Once again Ruths nimble brain and fingers created two beautiful runners for us in a similar style to the one Hannahs mum had made. Another meaningful link to love and loss in a way that something mass produced could never be.

And out of all of this we have gained another friend.