#91 theoldmortuary ponders

Not every ‘bob’ renders a blogworthy photo. Todays sea temperature was 10 degrees and despite it looking like a murky, bumpy ride, it was a pretty good swim. The currents though were something else. A moments inattention and one current swept us off towards the rocks. The swim back then took us into another current which pulled us quickly in the opposite direction. This area is not called Devils Point for nothing. Fortunately we are all more than one year experienced at swimming from Tranquility Bay and know well enough the tricksy currents and the need to carefully look out for one another.

My pre swimming energy came from a festive breakfast cereal.

We didn’t manage to eat any of them during the festive season. I’m not sure I particularly need to buy them again except that they provide the most glorious whiff of nostalgia if you plunge your nose into the packet before pouring them into a cereal bowl. I am hugely nose orientated. For inexplicable festive reasons we also have a mulled wine spice air freshener for the loo. No sane person on the planet needs their bathroom to smell like a bar in December, it just needs not to smell of poo. I am a festive smell marketing directors favourite shopper…

In other news I remember that pre-Christmas I wittered on about a sewing project but couldnt reveal too much as the item created was a gift. May I introduce you to Madame Cholet. A Womble of Wimbledon Common who gathers the left over embellishments from a man who brings huge joy to some of the streets of London.


Should you be wildy interested in Wombles the link above gives you the Madame Cholet official biography.

My Madame Cholet was created from completely recycled fabrics. Her eyes are the only new thing about her. I bought an original and second hand sewing pattern from EBay.

The fabrics came from my own stash. The stash of a friend and fellow artist, Tess.


And the wonderful organisation, Plymouth Scrap Store


The whole project was inspired by a man who brings so much joy to the London streets that he cycles on. Wombles are keen recyclers and as this amazing man, who has turned tragedy into joy, cycled past me I wondered what the wombles would make of any bits that might blow off his bike or costumes. ( I suspect he is a master craftsman and bits do not really drop off) You can find him on Instagram.

Is there a point to this blog I hear myself and many other people thinking. I’m writing it as I warm up, it could end up as complete nonsense, which is exactly what we talk as we thaw out.

There is. This meandering blog comes from a very dull January day from an entirely average person who has never excelled at anything.

Writing a daily blog is about stitching any old stuff together to tell a story.

Making a womble out of mine and other peoples cast offs is more or less the same.

Swimming in cold water really is no big deal.

Most of us are ordinary,there really is no need to be special to achieve things.

Anyone can turn nothing into something. We all just need a tiny scrap of inspiration.

#71 theoldmortuary ponders

Oh these silky waters were a fabulous swim on Friday morning. Miss Spearmint, the seal, was away swimming near the Hoe so there were no sudden departures,from the sea, required of swimmers to give her space. Today was a birthday swim so there was cake and conversations to follow once we were dressed. The richness of the aquatic wildlife in Plymouth Sound was one such conversation.I managed to find this picture of a specimen jar to illustrate the conversation in a festive way.

And then later in the day we found some more underwater creatures all gussied up ready for the festive season.

I wish this was the last thing I could discuss about wildlife but sadly a bout of food poisoning has wracked my body and mind. The physical aspects do not need to be elaborated on but the mental ones were quite daunting. I must stress that, beyond food, only tap water and tea was ingested all day. After my personal eruption and once I was well enough to return to my bed I was straight off to sleep only to be dumped into a hideous nightmare. Large birds that under normal circumstances adorn our wallpaper started to fly off the wall and wrap themselves wetly around my body. They were warm and wet, as if freshly dipped in hot wallpaper paste and alive but as flat as any wallpaper bird would be. Try as I might I could not stick them back on the wall in the right places. Waking up was the only way to save the situation. A lurid way to welcome the weekend. Of course this morning they are all perched calmly in the right places, catching the first of the morning light.

#67 theoldmortuary ponders

A happy sleeping seal means just one thing. The lunchtime bob/swim will be uninterrupted by Miss Spearmint. Many Bobbers gathered and had a fabulous rough swim in Tranquility Bay. In other news we have finally finished the bulb planting, shelf putting up and the Christmas decorations are finally finished. All somewhat complicated by the odd angles we encounter in this old property.

Obviously bulb planting does not make great photos but the shelves in our tiny utility room could be worthy of a photo or two.

And the fireplace and window are ready to shine.

All in all an effective use of a day. Which is more than we can say for Miss Spearmint who many hours later is still dozing, still flatulently full of fish, safely protected on her own private beach.

#49 theoldmortuary ponders

Illumination in the countdown to Christmas.  Rain, Petrol and a rusty gulley. Whats not to love! Rain was the predominant weather today and would have featured somehow. The plan was to write a bobbing blog with accompanying rain seascapes. Nature thwarted me. We met at high tide, which coincided with dreadful rain. We procrastinated a good bit. The thought of a plunge into cold water while being drenched by cold rain was not enticing. The precipitation was persistent but eventually we shrugged off our warm dry clothes to a certain fate of getting damp while we swam, not a great help when trying to dress. Beyond getting out and dry I had also planned some gorgeously grey shots of Plymouth Sound. When my hands had warned up enough to take a post swim photo the weather decided to put on its party face.

Not what I had planned at all but useful as another Illumination shot on the countdown to Christmas.

And there’s more.

You just can’t trust the weather, I’m sure to get gloom sometime soon

#35 theoldmortuary ponders

Our winter swimming- hut had been attacked by vandals overnight. This is the only piece of their graffiti that is reproducible. Strangely prophetic, as,unknown to me, there was a surprise morning party planned to follow the swim. We also regularly eat cake and drink tea in this particular hut. This morning Facebook memories reminded me that 3 years ago I was in South Korea and a quick visit to my photo archive brought up a piece of actual street art that featured tea and cakes.

South Korea also provided us with actual tea and cakes, of course!

And coffee and cakes.

And indeed coffee and breakfast.

Which has nicely removed this blog away from the nasty homophobic, racist, mysogynist, violent graffiti that we were confronted with yesterday, by focusing on the one sentence that offended no-one. Note to the writers of the graffiti, the teachers and word nerds in our swimming group were not impressed with your grammar or punctuation. The artists among us thought your anatomical drawings were pretty rudimental.

#10 theoldmortuary ponders

This week is set to see the sea temperature drop almost 5 degrees . Yesterday and today it will be around 15/16 degrees, by the end of the week it could have dropped to 10/11. The sea as seen above was choppy and difficult to get into last night but,once in, it really was a good evening swim. The bags we carry with us are getting heavier though. Flasks of hot drinks, layers of clothes and wetsuits are making a return. Strangely most of us are enjoying the return to ‘proper’ cold water swimming. The late Spring and early summer were lovely as the sea temperatures started to rise and we could swim as long as we liked early in the morning or late into the evening without too much concern for anything beyond, perhaps, the tide.

Swimming in cold water has an extra frisson to it that we (the Bobbers) have missed in the warmer months. I write this now from the comfort of a warm house, by the end of the week proper cold water swimming will be a reality. We will have all the frisson we could wish for.

#4 theoldmortuary ponders.

Yesterday evening was the first time for a few weeks that I was able to walk along the coastal path nearest to the swimming beach that the ‘bobbers’ prefer to use. The beaches and the coastal path beyond the Artillery Tower have been closed for essential maintenance. Although the path is now open, the steps and slopes that allow us to get into the water at high tide are being refurbished.

We often joke that our ‘free’ hobby is anything but free as we buy various bits of equipment to make winter swimming easier and safer to achieve. But for our local council maintaining the concrete against twice daily tides and winter storms must be a huge budgetary responsibility.

Looking at the amount of work that has been done I’m pretty grateful that my only responsibility before winter is to get a wetsuit. But for now October is still being kind to us.

©Debs Bobber

Pandemic Pondering #567

Yesterday was a strange one, Autumn has certainly arrived. The sea temperature and air temperature were equal, both at 14 degrees. The evening bob felt completely fine but we may have stayed in the water too long as we felt the effects of afterdrop for the first time in about 5 months. Afterdrop is the effect of body temperature continuing to drop after leaving the water. Hot drinks, brisk changing and lots of layers help to minimise the effects but we’ve got used to leisurely chats after swimming and not being too fussed about layers or bringing hot drinks. Time to take sensible precautions again. The word Christmas was mentioned!

A Christmas day morning bob is looking likely for this year.

On our walk to the beach we passed this glorious Virginia Creeper and Hop combination on a wall. A sure sign Autumn has arrived and is settling in for a few months.

Another crochet painting emerged from my new painting space in the garage. The paintings are stacking up in the studio ready to have their fine details and finishing done in the warmth of the indoor studio. Such luxury!

Pandemic Pondering #566

You might think that a day spent pondering the interior decoration of two rooms would be a day without incident.

The new house is a few minutes walk from a street filled with repair garages, workshops and Trade Counters for various essential items to the marine and building trades.

Armed with a fair idea of what we needed we went to one of the Trade shops for decorators needs. There was an instant, underlying hum of manliness as we walked in. There were few other customers in the store, all men. Their fleeces told the stories of their masculinity. ‘Babcock’ only needs a small wrinkle of fabric before it looks like Bob cock. Some men wore t-shirts bearing the name Princess Yachts. The word Princess stretched across impossibly toned trapezius, deltoid and pectoral muscles. A sure warning that calling the owner ‘Princess’ might be ill advised.

We were left to our own devices and without too much trouble made our decisions and gathered up our purchases. We waited some time at the counter. Tea was being made for all the customers, not quite all of course. Tea was made for the fleece and t-shirt wearing men! We did not register on anyone’s tea radar. Tea arrived in bright mugs bearing the names of English football clubs. The talk was of standing at football matches and the exact opposite of standing, clearing slime off slipways.

The conversations ranged around and over me. Then one of the men asked my opinion on a product I was buying.

Did I think it was any good, and could he use it to paint body parts. What was I planning to use it for?

Horror flooded my mind, the idea of painting any body part with noxious paint seemed like madness. I suggested that it would be a bad idea. He looked at me as if I was a little crazy, a look that only intensified when I told him I was painting crochet. His mind fixed firmly on the industrial and mine on the creative.

We returned home, made our own tea and started using our various purchases. Then a text message came through for a last minute ‘ bob’ in the sea. A birthday bob for a visiting bobber. Even this simple activity took a turn!

So far so good, a birthday bob achieved.

How to make a birthday bob memorable?

For the moment access to our beach is blocked by essential works. The only access is via the grounds of a rest home and convent. Unknown to us there is a curfew on using this route. Our birthday bob was ended by us being seen off the premises. Being thrown out of a convent is a pretty unusual way to mark a birthday.

This birthday photo was taken with the photographer using a normal word to make us all smile.
This photo was taken with the photographer using a word that would make a nun blush.

A day of unexpected outcomes!

Pandemic Pondering #544

Autumn Equinox was marked by some foraging in friends gardens, with permission, of course. We made an autumn wreath for the yard. This time next year it would be lovely to think we could be collecting our own figs from the new tree, but that seems unlikely. The fabulous weather of this week is scuppering all plans of getting on with jobs in the new house and yard. Apart from foraging in gardens there was just too much lovely sun to be enjoyed yesterday to get many jobs ticked off the to-do list.

Autumn really is a lovely time but the slow slide into short days and long dark nights is a definite mood drooper. Our evening swims now require torches in our tow floats and easy clothes to change into. Hot drinks in flasks can’t be to far behind.

Last night we welcomed back Kim to the bobbing group. She perforated an ear drum while perfecting an elegant swallow dive from the platform, anchored out in Plymouth Sound, six weeks ago. Those of us that just bobbed and flopped managed not to injure ourselves but did not bring quite the same style to the event. Style and sea swimming are starting to be reflected in local art exhibitions, we bought this print a few weeks ago.

©Black Pug Press


Like many jobs it awaits time and bad weather before it will be framed and put on the wall.