#201 theoldmortuary ponders

©Debs Bobber

This is our almost daily reality on the morning dog walk . Royal Marines out for a training run. Yesterday the bobbers experienced this, perfectly, in time run as they walked from the car park. In our street marines were practicing running with 60kg weights on stretchers. Other days they run in full combat gear and carry guns. Hugo and Lola are never reactive which is a good thing. The bobbers, though, were a little more vocal. Obviously in a good and positive way. Without exception we have all worked in public facing jobs. Doing jobs that are made a good deal more pleasant by the public being, at the very least, clean. Royal Marines on these training runs may be a little warm but there is always a, just washed, fragrance about them which we can appreciate.

©Debs Bobber

Marine Green seems to be a bit of a theme for this blog. The saltwater pool that the marines were jogging past was also, like the marines, dressed in shades of green.

Fragrant , in a good way, and so perfectly in time that they can be turned into a kaleidoscopic image. Welcome to the Weekend.

#200 theoldmortuary ponders

200 days since Pandemic Ponderings shifted without fanfare into theoldmortuary ponders. In much the same way that the actual pandemic has become without fanfare ‘ endemic’.

Always anxious to throw numbers about to illustrate the depth of the situation, news channels have been throwing the figure 15 million around this week as a total for worldwide Covid Deaths. Of course nobody actually knows, since around  40 % of the world do not accurately record either births or deaths. I know this because I’ve been doing a good bit of driving around this week. We all love numbers, ( I actually only love numbers if they are not anywhere near the word mathematics) Numbers give us scale to lifes failures, tedium and success. Round numbers are particularly satisfying and easier to cling to for some reason. My little number of 200 is well within everyone’s imagination as is 201 but 200 just feels more comfortable. But what does 15 million actually look like, and yet 15 million sits more easily in a sentence in a way that 15.33 million does not. In the same way #201 theoldmortuary ponders, will shrink into the shadows tomorrow.

When I haven’t been driving around this week I’ve been doing domestic admin and some fun stuff, very little sketching. In fact just one very quick sketch all week but I can relate it to this blog. I have been trying to sum up the discomfort of the Pandemic years with one image. Something I can expand for an exhibition later in the year. Playing with the truism about numbers that statistics are of no value to the individual. The header picture of this blog is a digitally altered version of my sketch, reimagined to be chaotic. The original sketch is the simple version.

Who could not understand two round figures/ numbers hugging.

P.s You can tell a lot about a person by the way they hug.

#199 theoldmortuary ponders

Sometimes it is hard to know quite how to tie everything together for a blog. Today is one of those days and thank goodness I have this gorgeous rope, found at Delamore Arts earlier in the week, to tie things together.

Today was a huge red letter day for a good friend of ours who went to Buckingham Palace to collect an MBE from the Princess Royal.

On a far less significant scale we got a lovely Whatsapp message saying how much a family member has enjoyed yesterdays blog about St Just in Roseland.

Such a lovely thing to say.

And finally in this odd little blog the dogs had a red letter day because I had a contretemps with a bus on the way to work this morning. Minding my own business in a traffic queue a bus approached from behind and attempted to underpass me in the bus lane and ripped off my wing mirror with an enormous bang. The bus did not pull in or stop. No harm to me at all but I was so cross with myself because I had nothing to hand to take down the bus registration. I vowed to follow it but then a traffic light got between me and my target. This kind of stuff just requires so much admin to resolve and it put me in a grumpy mood. So grumpy that I couldn’t be bothered to pull on my wetsuit to go for the Wednesday evening bob. But that is where the dogs got their red letter day. I decided to take them to the sea for their evening walk while the bobbers were doing their thing. The dogs never usually come with us. I calmed my grumpy soul by sitting on the steps that lead into the sea and the dogs looked on as the bobbers bobbed.

The sea worked its magic, my grumpies left and the dogs had the excitement of welcoming the bobbers back in after a long and challenging swim.

Three very different stories all tied up with a beautiful knot.

#198 theoldmortuary ponders

Over the weekend we did a coffin walk from Trethen Mill to St Just in Roseland. Our micro excursions over the weekend are very random events powered by just a little bit of research. Often the location is inspired by news of an interesting coffee shop, eating location or small event. Instagram is a favourite source of random inspiration. This was just such a find.

Footpaths that lead to churches are mostly relatively easy to navigate because as the name suggests long before motorised transport it would have been possible for two people, or more, to carry a coffin to a burial ground using the path.

The beginning of our walk was pretty in the way that many Cornish paths are but the view above was the first sign that this particular walk was going to be special. At this point I should admit to not doing a lot of research about this particular part of our weekend trip. Had I done so I might have been better informed.

Oblivious to what we were walking towards I was happy enough with the spring flowers and a winding path. But then just around the corner this happened.

There was also a signpost to a Holy Well.

Then on the return from the well the path opened up and the full view of the church appeared.

Really just a magical moment, a few steps further and we were at the ancient entrance to the churchyard that would have been a very welcome site to weary travellers carrying a coffin.

This was all reward enough for what had been a couple of miles of gentle downhill walking. But just as John Betjeman said this arch really does lead to a most beautiful churchyard. Oblivious to all this gorgeousness we had chosen this walk to be our evening adventure, not doing research really paid off, we were the only people here apart from a lone bell ringer and the rooks who created an amazing soundscape for us to explore this remarkable place in the setting sun.

Among the gravestones we found the most evocative name.

Bathsheba Tiddy.

And a perfect endnote for a blog.

#197 theoldmortuary ponders.

What to do on a damp Bank Holiday Monday when the dogs are at the groomers? Take ourselves off to Delamore Arts, a, not dog friendly Art Exhibition set in beautiful surroundings. This year is the 20th Anniversary of the event and I am ashamed to say that we were newbies, never having been before. In our defence we were not living in the South West for much of those twenty years but that seems a poor excuse to miss something so gorgeous and quintessentialy British in the very early summer. Regular visitors probably have a better chance of concentrating on the art,we were all over the place. Wowed by the parkland and the formal gardens before we even thought of looking at 3d or 2d artwork. Open for the whole of May this is an experience not to be missed. Full disclosure, there are lots of Drawn to the Valley Artists and Makers involved. I will only mention one DttV artist in this blog. Tessa Jane, who has been heavily involved in the organisation of this years exhibition as a local ambassador for Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis, the charity that is the beneficiary of Delamore Arts 22.

He Says Live With the World Inside You. Tessa Jane

The image below is the view looking out of the OMS Carriage Shed Gallery. Curated by Tessa Jane. So much to learn about OMS, the organisation, and Tessa Jane’s perspective as well as the valuable work being done by the University of Plymouth, all contained in a welcoming small space.

OMS seems to me, as an outsider, an organisation that supports people with MS to look outside and beyond their diagnosis. Hence my outside and beyond image.

I suppose in writing this blog without too much actual art I am encouraging local people to go and see this event for themselves. I am also supporting my own decision to go again and be able to write another blog that does talk just about art. Some hope!

Looking at plants like this was both diverting and the perfect preparation for looking at 2d art like this.

Wet Apples © John Hurford Hon SWAc

Wet Apples by John Hurford catches the eye at the Stables Gallery further away from the main house. Still authentically a stables, horses were being exercised as we exercised our minds. The Stables Gallery was the first one we visited after following the pencil trail.

A trail that took us, two cold water swimmers, past a swimming pond.

You can understand the pull and the fascination we felt towards just a quick sneaky dip in this tranquil water. But like the dedicated art lovers that we are we pulled our attention back to the job in hand and found life imitating art.

Gravel at Delamore
Azalea Leaves by Louis Victory

Then nature beguiled us into observing the search for pollen, by a very busy bumble bee. Who was up to his many armpits in the flowers of an Ichium.

Time to head off into the woods…

Portrait of Feathers Dawn Brooks-Ensor
Shattered Steve Hedley
Please Sit Isabel Coulton

Time to finish this particular Delamore Blog with my favourite sort of pictures. Its complicated…

Purbeck Form Four Andrew Thomas
Duet Dianne Griffin
Walnut Leaf Richard Cresswell

#196 theoldmortuary ponders

Our Beltane feast at the Hidden Hut, Portscatho.

Goodness we have wanted to find the Hidden Hut for ages! When we lived and worked in London it was the aspirational destination of food writers in all sorts of magazines.

Our weekend visits to South East Cornwall never seemed to have the time for a trip down to the Roseland Peninsular. Being busy and Covid restrictions have run away with our time since our return to the South West. Yesterday we were up early to do another tiny chunk of the South West Coastal Path and more importantly to be at The Hidden Hut in time for lunch.

As you can see we were well on time and enjoyed an aperitif of coffee and ice cream while we waited for our lunch

As is obvious from these blogs I am a very confident consumer of wonderful food but live in awe of actual food writers. So I will share two reviews from my favourite eating gurus. Grace Dent and Jay Rayner.



Jay and I often commuted into central London on the same early morning tube from Brixton perhaps we we both dreaming of seafood by the sea.

No London food critics obvious yesterday at The Hut, no longer hidden from us! But plenty of Londoners and food savvy visitors flocked, some of them in box fresh country gear, to this small corner of Cornwall.

A new flat cap reflected in the window.

Nature and beach detritus are carefully arranged to catch the eye.

It really makes a point to see such soft beauty and plastic waste both arranged with effortless charm.

Nature wins over in the battle to catch our eye but it made us think, again about plastic waste, and that is no bad thing!

Was the Hidden Hut worth finding?

Absolutely, great fish stew and mackerel pate.  Served with plump flatbreads, if that is not an oxymoron. The rain held off until we were safely back in the van. Promises to return were made, we loved it.

#195 theoldmortuary ponders

Saturday was always about two decent length walks, one very urban and the other deeply rural. They are so different that in normal circumstances they would be two different blogs but a common theme has linked them. There is a lot of subject matter from this weekend so I have plenty of photos and natterings for a few blogs. The common theme for this one turns out to be Spring Green. Amazingly both walks had plenty of it although the first walk produced it rather unconventionally. Walk #1 was a circular tour of Devonport and Mount Wise very early in the morning. Friends of ours who normally live in France like to explore new coffee shops and the walk we did has two, and as we discovered later a new coffee van. Our meeting place was the first coffee shop. Where quite by chance me the decor and my drink were matching in shades of green, some of it Spring Green.

Much of the Devonport and Mount Wise walk is urban and uninspiring. There are some lovely buildings but for the most part they are unloved and somewhat rough around the edges, the view though once these streets have been passed is beautiful. The Tamar, Hamoaze and Plymouth Sound all stretched out in front of you.

A little bit of Spring Green in the grass but our next stop provided the unconventional part of this blog. Our friend is an ex-military man and has a strange addiction. The curiously named Bogey Knights Military Surplus Stores. He was like a dog with several bones. The rest of us soon began to see the attraction.

Unbelievably this lurid green leather jacket and its marching leather biker trousers are a uniform somewhere in the world.

Bogey Knights also sells Spring Green ropes.

And number badges to attach to buttons.

Sadly the item that took most of our attention was not Spring Green, but a rather clinical steel. The workings of a drugs toilet kept us entertained for many minutes and it was a bargain at £120!

Walk #2 was some two hours away.

Although these instructions do not mention it. This walk is an old coffin path between one village and the nearest church with a burial ground. There are thousands of these paths criss crossing the countryside. Kissing Gates are the give away, not at all for romance. Kisten Gate is derived from Kist an old word for box. It enabled two or more people to pass through a gate while carrying a coffin without having to put the coffin on the ground. Since we love a country churchyard, walking footpaths that were formally coffin paths takes us to some interesting places. This one is our best so far and arriving at the churchyard by any other route would not have been so beautiful.

Plenty of Spring Greens.

The walk and destination deserve a blog of their own but one more Spring Green to complete this one.

@theoldmortuary posing as a green woman in a leaded glass window.

To the May Day blog, a little late, but full of Spring Green which is no bad thing.

#194 tholdmortuary ponders

A high tide and the sun at the right angle makes a pretty picture but not one that is particularly good for the marine environment. Earlier this week we started drinking Butterfly Pea Tea , it arrived from Hong Kong as part of a birthday package.The tea and the sea, in this location are similar colours

We discovered the tea on Lamma Island, part of the Hong Kong archipelago, after a very hot circular hike. Even a dip in the sea had not cooled us down enough to be normal rational humans. The iced blue tea we bought did the job just before we caught the ferry home. New to us then it was refreshing and had that distinctive taste that lingers at the back of every flavour of Jelly Bean. To bring out the flavour of the tea a little lime juice, or anything acidic does the job. It also changes the colour. Butterfly pea is also a natural food colouring. I might try painting a watercolour with it.

Careful what you google is the warning to the next part of this blog. Like all things botanical Butterfly Peas have a latin name, in this case not one that should be tripped off the tongue without complete accuracy.

Clitoria Ternatea.

Then there are the benefits of drinking the tea which is rich in anti-oxidents and flavenoids. My brain will be boosted and my stomach and intestines soothed. The growth of any worms in my gut will be retarded!!

On that happy note have a fabulous weekend, not something the worms in my gut will be having!

#193 theoldmortuary ponders

Nearly one year on from the house move and the work room is ready for business. Business for Hugo and Lola means an empty sofa each. For me it means clear desk space.

At 10:00 we were all ready for the first Zoom of the day. The dogs were already asleep on their chosen sofas and I had the lap top set in such a position that my head and shoulders could be at the meeting but my hands could be doing ‘other stuff’

Disaster struck, nothing I could do on any platform could get me into the meeting. This is the first time in over two years that Zoom has failed me. I have often wished it to fail but I’m sure I am not alone in that. With my vote handed over to some one who was actually in the room. I set about using the free two hours doing actual work for the organisation. This meant that the ‘other’ stuff had to wait until the evening.

And the dogs could take themselves off mute, or asleep as they call it.

For full disclosure, having shown you a tidy workroom. I have to admit that there is still a load of stuff that needs sorting in the garage, still. When working on the new shelves for the work room I needed to store some old shelves in the garage. I didnt have enough woman moments to make a space in the garage. I decided to deploy a South London trick and put the shelves outside the front of the house with a ‘free, help yourself’ sign and a message on our local residents Facebook page. Recycling at its finest, they were gone within two hours. To return to the failed Zoom meeting, the slight discombobulation of the fixed event of the morning becoming unfixed seemed to expand time for the whole day. I had already saved my self an hour and a half of travel by not attending in person and I worked solidly through the meeting time and stayed in touch with Whatsapp. Loads of extra jobs got done. The only casualty of the day was the ‘other stuff’ that my hands would have been doing while I was in the meeting. That remains unfinished even though I was still at it until the last dog walk of the day.

#192 theoldmortuary ponders

We are all made of stories. I’ve always known this but seeing a neon sign saying exactly that makes the notion seem less of an abstract thought. I would like to add something else to the statement.

In my previous career, talking to people was an add on. Medical Imaging requires loads of technical skills. Being ‘good’ with patients and colleagues is valuable but secondary to the main task. Being a gallery guide in a museum is the exact opposite, my art knowledge is a secondary skill to that of engaging, or not *, with people as they move around the space. Talking to people you don’t actually know is an adventure that can take you down the dullest cul-de-sac, or onto  a thought provoking moment. Even if the interaction isn’t the most positive conversation you have ever had, there is often something to be gained from it. We should all be grateful our thought bubbles remain our own private dialogue.

Thankfully I’m able to dump all the bad or negative interactions I’ve had with strangers in a pile that rarely troubles me. The good ones can be transient or live long in my thoughts. Sometimes with regret that they couldn’t have gone on for longer or had sequels. But mostly they become another one of the stories that I am made of, even if they are a teeny tiny piece of my own jigsaw. They also are, however briefly, a part of my journey.

Talking to strangers is life enhancing.

* Sometimes not talking to someone is a positive act, reading body language and judging the right time to not talk is also a great communication tool.

Now is my time to stop talking!