#477 theoldmortuary ponders

This morning was a bobbing morning and a small grandchild morning but not a blogging morning. The swim was sharp and crisp in a bright winter sunshine. Everything felt clean and fresh. We were not at an equilibrium, the outside air was 2 degrees cooler than the water temperature. I am still swimming in skin rather than a wetsuit so there is no faffing about really. Just in, then out to get colder and then in and the water feels warmer, not tropical exactly but just a little less cold.

In other news Drawn to the Valley had a Creative Table event at Ocean Studios yesterday.

Extra excitement was caused by the delivery of two old print machines. One was not quite unpacked but here is the badge of the one already installed.

#462 theoldmortuary ponders

8:15 am on a January morning in Firestone Bay. I know I share this sort of image often but yesterday I did a little research on the area as it was in 1895. Because the tide is high the tidal pool is invisible apart from the three swimmers walking out on the slipway that forms one of the pool walls. In 1895 the pool did not exist. Next week’s research will be to find out the pools history.

I was able to spend a few minutes looking at old planning maps while I was working at The Box yesterday.

The orange arrow points out the place the Bobbers nearly always swim. We know our bay as Tranquility Bay but on this map it is marked as Ladies Bathing Place.

Here it is this morning. 5 minutes with an old map makes more questions than answers. When were the steps and walkways built that make this such a gorgeous and practical swimming location. Sadly the map also shows the more than thirty houses and a school that were lost in my own area during German bombing raids during World War II. Just looking out on my street I can roughly outline how many homes were lost. How many people and their beloved pets lost their lives?

5 minutes with an old map, so thought provoking, where will this Pondering end? Sunshine+ An old map= gratitude and the need to know more.

#444 theoldmortuary ponders

Backtracking slightly to an earlier blog of this week. My Sunday ponder tackles the subject of procrastination again.

Sometimes while procrastinating I watch videos on art techniques, I am fascinated by the Japanese art of Kintsugi. Where broken porcelain is repaired, the repair is enhanced with gold.

I find the whole process mesmerising but am both self aware enough to know that I don’t have enough broken china in my life or the the tolerance for this meticulous craft. But knowledge can always be adapted.

This Christmas I was gifted a female torso vase. She had rather pneumatic breasts, if she were real I think she would almost certainly have ‘had some work done’

For some time I have felt the urge to depict the curious sensation of swimming in really cold water with a shortie wetsuit on.

Pneumatic Nancy is now officially a bobbing woman. Modified Kintsugi shows exactly the sensation of water finding it’s way into the openings of a wetsuit and then rivuleting over mounds and crevasses as it streams downwards. To be completely accurate the gilding should be done in ice cold silver. A project for another day, and another torso.

Procrastination creates gaps where serendipity can flourish.

#440 theoldmortuary ponders


Farewell, old friend. Not having a nautical bone in my body, it is a surprise to me to love something so clever as a cardboard tide time calculator. In the big January clear up this friend of the past two years moved into the recycling pile. Having only a two-year life cycle it has moved into obsolescence during the festive season. Apart from informing me about the safest time to call a ‘bob’ for our group of hardy, year-round swimmers; I think I loved it because it reminded me of a Gestational calculator. An essential tool for anyone who works in obstetric medicine.

A quick whizz of this in a clinic gives an estimated date of delivery as long as a woman knew the date of her last period. Most of us who have used this calculator professionally have been asked to spin the wheel inaccurately by patients, anxious to make an acceptable man believe he was the father of their child, rather than the likely, but not necessarily acceptable, man that the true date indicated. We never did as they asked.

My mastery of these two sorts of calculators is miraculous to me given that a slide rule and logarithmic calculator books brought me to my knees in mathematics lessons .

© Ebay

Predicting the future my dad even bought me a round slide rule. It didn’t help.

The slide rule in any shape was just a method of torture to my poor dysnumeric brain. I wonder if learning maths is any easier in the 21st century. To be clear slide rules were not part of my formal education. My dad loved a slide rule, to him they were a miraculous magic wand into a world of mathematical calculations, a world that he entered for both work and pleasure. Despite his best efforts it is a world that I stand on the threshold of. I know enough to get by both in life and professionally but Maths is definitely the kind of party that I avoid wherever possible. A lovely man called Dan told me a maths joke last week. I was both fearful and mesmerised. Impressed by his ability to use the two words maths and joke in the same sentence.

So goodbye old friend, you gave me some brief credibility as someone who could use charts effectively. 2023 will not be the same without you.

P.S Straight after writing this I went to a news website. Our current Prime Minister wants to make studying maths compulsory up to age 18.

BBC News – Rishi Sunak wants all pupils to study maths to age 18

#231 theoldmortuary ponders

©Gilly Bobber

The sun sets on an unusual 4 day weekend when the Queen celebrated her Platinum Jubilee.

The bobbers got together in their usual place, Firestone Bay, to have a dry bob. A bob that does not require immersion in the sea but that does involve food and nattering. We gathered for a picnic at Stonehouse Lawn Tennis Club for a picnic overlooking our usual swimming spot.

The topics were, as usual, wide ranging but the Queen was touched upon and South West Film Archive provided vital evidence of one bobber presenting the Queen with a bouquet of flowers, she also, thoughtfully, gave Prince Philip a button hole, carefully wrapped in tin foil to protect his uniform. Posterity did not record that moment but we do have a still from the bouquet presentation.

©SW Film Archive. Shelley Bobber meets the Queen.

Today was a significant moment in history. None of us will ever see a Royal Jubilee again, so full on picnic time it was, with Sandwiches, Sausage Rolls, A cheese, pineapple and silver skin onion hedgehog, Fritatas, Scones, Strawberries and cream, Savoury Pin Wheels, Cherries, Crisps and Prosecco.

Games were played.

Trees were planted, cheers were cheered, and the National Anthem attempted. A good day was had.

#184 theoldmortuary ponders

Bobbers and their dogs left their usual Atlantic location and travelled up the River Tamar last night to celebrate an evening of live music and Coach Andy’s birthday. Bobber Helen was performing after recovering the lower register of her voice, the upper one having been temporarily disabled by Covid.

Bobbers always celebrate birthdays in the sea but Coach Andy is a special bobber because he never gets wet. So a landlocked celebration at the Who’d Have Thought It suited him very well.

Covid has robbed us all of so much but the curiously named pub exactly reflects the sentiments of last night.

Who would have thought that fifteen people, most of them strangers to one another, would have created such a bond because of a pandemic. During the dark days of lockdowns in England people were only permitted to travel short distances for exercise. Open water or the sea was the only place that swimming could happen. Crazy as it seems now Bobbing started when we even had to keep our distance in outside environments including the sea. Bobbing requires us all to struggle in and out of our clothes on a public promenade, Coach Andy keeps an eye on piles of clothes and the bobbers in the sea. We swim in an area with very tricksy currents. During lockdown even though travel was restricted to essential or exercise some people saw this as an opportunity to steal phones and valuables from swimmers clothes piles. There was also a Voyeur who would casually cycle up and down the promenade in a high visibility jacket hoping to catch an eyeful of damp flesh as we struggled in or out of our clothes. At one point Coach Andy was supplemented by members of the Police Force who showed the Voyeur the error of his ways and he cycled off never to be seen again. Although as his disguise was a high visibility jacket that statement is not strictly true. Someone, somewhere else is almost certainly seeing him. Coach Andy is an absolute master at wandering off and staring at the horizon for long periods when we get to the damp flesh bit of bobbing. He is also pretty good at a good old natter when other people come to visit the bobbing zone to marvel at the madness that is cold water swimming in all sorts of weather. His emergency finger is never far away from his phone whatever situation he finds himself in

Who would have thought you could put 15 strangers into a very unusual situation and then turn them into friends.

Who would have thought that three dogs could listen so attentively to a night of the Blues . I suspect no high notes may have been the secret.

#140 theoldmortuary ponders.

©Debs Bobber

The bobbers have effortlessly slipped back into the usual routine of three dips, into the sea, a week after a period of very stormy weather . Right now the water is 10 degrees but the outside temperature is only 4 degrees. This is a strange combination to get our heads around, but right now it is almost worse for Andy our regular coach/safety man. He stands on the shore keeping an eye out for Spearmint the seal or anything else untoward. It is really cold just standing still and watching. Last nights bob had three other non swimming onlookers so they all kept each other warm by chattering. Spearmint kept away, so the chatting was not interrupted by safety issues.

The sunset last night was rather gorgeous. The sun sent out an evening sunbeam to slightly warm us up, post swim.

©Debs Bobber

Before slipping away into a golden dusk.

©Debs Bobber

Something three bobbers celebrated with tea in bone china cups.

#140 theoldmortuary ponders.

Daily blogging started as an exercise between two parts of a blogging course. Covid 19 stepped in and the exercise stretched from 8 weeks to being indefinite. Doing something daily for just a few minutes for 18 months becomes a habit. If there was a plan it was always to record the mundane in a ‘normal’ persons life. After blogging for 18 months during the height of the Covid 19 pandemic I saw little reason to stop daily blogging once the ‘advanced’ part of the course was completed. The picture above may well have been in todays blog, simply because the ship and its tugs were very close to our swimming area. As usual in a blog about the mundane I would have told you that I missed a really great picture because I was picking up a dog poo, which was true. Yesterday was different though, Russia invaded Ukraine and the story takes a twist. Normally I would check which ship I was seeing on a Marine Tracking App. Yesterday the tracking App told me my eyes deceived me. There was no ship, just a big gap between two tugs.Big world events reflected on a very normal dog walk.

#137 theoldmortuary ponders

Bad weather has stopped bobbing for a week or so. We’ve all missed our regular dunking in the Atlantic edges. Over the 18 months or so we have been bobbing some not inconsiderable skills have been gained, talents that should not be allowed to go to waste simply because the weather is having some bad days. A Dry Bob was called. Cake and conversation without the bother of getting cold and wet. Really the only things we could safely do while Firestone Bay is quite so unwelcoming.

Our cake and conversation is fully primed and up to speed for when the sun comes out again.

#113 theoldmortuary ponders.

Not exactly another blog about bobbing but possibly a blog about plans, chance and expensive serendipity. Everything came together for this blog. The tide was perfect for bobbing at midday. The sun was scheduled to come out between 12 noon and 1pm and Spearmint the seal was hauled up a mile away . There is reason this picture is a little bit unusual, and the reason I have allowed myself to bore you all with another blog about bobbing. You might notice that there are gentle undulating waves for two of the bobbers to swim on. This is far from normal in our little bay. Friday was serendipitously not a normal day nautically. Out to sea, beyond our field of view there were many Nato warships taking part in an exercise. In the hour or so that we were bobbing or drying off, there were many tugs going in and out of the dockyard to help the larger ships navigate the complexities of Plymouth Sound. Almost certainly a very expensive way to provide us with gentle rolling waves for the duration of our bob. Serendipity at its serendipitous best.