We are off on a little adventure today. Not words that have been used very often over the last two years. The weather has been checked and a booking made but beyond that nothing has been done in preparation, because the adventure is a surprise for everyone else @theoldmortuary. Which makes this a very brief blog.
Thankfully a friends new Podcast was released yesterday which gives me something to share with you.
Earlier this week the dogs had a true post pandemic moment. Of course they probably have no concept of the pandemic but they must be aware that the past two years they have spent far more quality time with us. This week they went to the vets and a mummy was actually allowed to accompany them into the consulting room. Such is the skill of animal nurses and vets that they almost certainly have no thoughts on attending the vets without us. But for the humans @theoldmortuary visits to the vets have been additionally traumatic as we have had to wait in the car park as they have endured, and not always silently, their various treatments and procedures. Our veteran 24 year old cat took the single ticket, one way trip to the surgery last summer and Hugo has had a very intimate area probed. His howls of indignity filled the car park and set off supportive howls from all the dogs in the car park. Lola in particular took the howling to operatic levels of sound and drama. So as they snuggle on the rug I imagine they are looking at me with gratitude.
But in reality I think they would like me to move on and leave them in peace.
Christmas in a new home is always a voyage of discovery. Past Christmases have sometimes involved up to 24 family members and friends joining us in previous homes. Our last Christmas 2020 drew our lowest numbers ever with just the two of us @theoldmortuary , due to Covid restrictions. This first year in our new home has hardly ramped the numbers up. We are 3.5 rising to 5.5 people this year. Curiously our new house is just a tiny bit older than Christmas reinvented. Reinvented meaning the Victorian mass introduction of imported or invented Festive Tradition . The new house has made a welcome and comfortable refuge for us all from the norma, not normal life of 2021. Time to just hang out together after a highly unusual couple of years. We are very comfortable here.
The award for the most useful room, at Christmas, in the new house goes to the utility room pictured above. This picture has been published in a blog before and inspired the most unusual and unexpected Christmas gift of 2021.
3 boxes of Thompsons Tea arrived from a blog reader who noticed we favoured Yorkshire Tea. She reccomended Thompsons as a good alternative to our favourite brew. We had never heard of Thompsons and thought no more about it until Christmas morning when we unwrapped a parcel from her. Suddenly the uncertain future of 2021 has a purpose! 3 new flavours of tea to try while we wait for Covid to pass. Contemplating boxes of tea on Boxing Day.
Advent and the run up to Christmas is not all about the ‘front-of-house’ stuff. Some prep is definitely more mundane. A new loo seat and a consignment of loo rolls were part of this week’s plans.
As it turns out some nice soft tissue was exactly what we needed. Christmas is bittersweet for many people. There is the excitement of gathering with family and friends tinged with sadness remembering the people it is no longer possible to mingle with on the earthly realm. With this in mind we took ourselves off to see the Stephen Spielberg, West Side Story.
Having both grown up with this vinyl recording of the soundtrack in our homes, we thought it was a good way to remember our mums. Obviously @theoldmortuary blog is not normally a film reviewing blog.
We loved it, a fabulous way to spend three hours in a reclining seat. Spoiler alert. You may need tissues.
A weekend away on a blogging course and a little rebranding. Moving on from Pandemic Pondering as the world moves from Pandemic to Endemic @theoldmortuary will be pondering at large. My walk from Spitalfields to Islington yesterday evening gave me the gift of this totally apporopriate sign.
There is an agreement within our blogging group that the course and its goings on are in the form of a conclave. While sticking very happily to those restictions I’m almost certain to natter on about the course in the future but not about the attendees or the contents. The venue is one of my favourite spaces in London and is always inspirational so talking about the course while not being explicit is easy.
There are 12 bottoms.
Occupying 12 seats.
We talk about our blogs and how we would like to allow them to evolve and improve. Refreshment and blogging nattering occur over beautiful food.
Right now I’m on my way back for Day 2. Have a fabulous Sunday.
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.
Yesterday and today have been days of nattering around the table. In the evolution story of @theoldmortuary , chattering around the table was the original source of the daily blogging three months before the pandemic gripped and nattering around a table with friends or family was banned as an unacceptable infection risk.The daily blogging became lone pondering and almost 18 months later we have only just returned to the habit of nattering with friends around the table over a cup of tea or coffee and baked goods.
We seem to have nattered all weekend with very little actual work occuring!
The top picture represents the main topic of conversation this September and actually most Septembers. The sudden realisation that evenings are getting darker. It happens every September and yet every September it is a surprise. Baked goods from a bakery fuelled this weekends natterings, this mornings trip for baking perfection took me past Smeatons Tower, I managed to grab this shot while the streets were still quiet.
The weather today was not glorious, it was perfectly fine but we decided to hit the to-do list. Hannah picked up a paint brush and the exterior paint pot and took on walls and the outside toilet. I rearranged the work room and found a new home for @theoldmortuary neon sign. The reason for this flurry of activity is that while we were renting this house we promised the previous owner that we would do nothing structural. So when we moved in many of our unpackings and placements were temporary and we had to store quite a bit of stuff in the work room. Now we have actually owned it for a week it’s time to crack the whip on our to- do list. The paintwork is just on a first coat so that will feature on another blog. Oh the anticipation of a freshly painted outside loo !
A tidy work room also benefits from some neon placement.
The yard is proper twinkly now the neon has been unpacked and turned on.
Which makes for some interesting shapes and shadows.
Mid to late September is habitually the time of year when @theoldmortuary are getting ready to set off for a holiday. Holidays always involve some painting, or sketching in the sun. Usually in Greece because that is the destination of space and relaxation.
Pollen II , above was sketched in Greece and then painted at home. A roadside plant possibly a weed bursting with pollen. The paintings that emerge from holiday sketching follow no real theme or style.
Last September our usual holiday time was filled with non holiday activities at the height of the pandemic. There was no random sketching. It seems a shame to have given up my regular September sketching habit just because a pandemic has blighted travel and relaxation plans.
Last year was such a muddle of Lockdowns, Eat Outs, Stay ins, that September passed without any thought of what a normal September was like. This year I am a little more mindful of what I am missing. There is no reason not to take some time out to randomly sketch just because the pandemic still has travel and many other aspects of our lives twisted out of all recognition.
We have some holiday booked this year, no big trips and possibly a good bit of home maintenance but I might just pack my self a little sketching kit and take inspiration from closer to home.
We had a fabulous bob this morning. The sea was cool and bumpy and we had two invisiting bobbers from Oxford, both with the skills required, bobbing obviously and nattering. The more gregarious of the two guest bobbers got into conversation with a gentleman who had, he said, retired from the glamour industry. Women writhing to keep their bits covered up must have been quite a novelty for him.
Writhing occurs during the changing phase. Relatively easy during the dry change but post swim all sorts of curious movements occur, sea water and cold skin can be a sticky pairing. Even the simplest garment can become a tenaciously gripping piece of fabric, intent on clinging in the wrong place.
In other news a new cook book has arrived @theoldmortuary . Med by Claudia Rodin. The waves in the blog come from the cookbook not Plymouth Sound.
There is an update on Pandemic Pondering #524.
Only 24 hours after a few bobbers had watched the cremated remains of an unknown person belatedly drift into the bay, other bobbers visited for an evening swim. Two high and two low tides had occured and had returned the roses to the high tide point. Once again bobbers gently returned the floral tributes to the sea. Whilst we are in thoughtful mode I can share a poem about swimming in a cold sea that Angela Bobber shared on our Bobbing WhatsApp group
The link above takes to you to Samantha Reynolds Instagram page.
Bobbers don’t particularly fill their swims with worries of rocks and sharks. We have smaller fears, eels and seals with caves full of plundered treasures and enchanted seaweed with the power to grab ankles. It’s all in the mind, of course, but we never allow fantasy or fact ruin good conversations or good bobbing.