Daily pondering is a lovely habit. It doesn’t always go to plan. As I write this it is the evening of Remembrance Sunday and this morning it seemed entirely appropriate to just post a simple picture of one of our poppies.We should have harvested more Poppy pictures today for the Monday blog but that didn’t happen. Never mind, a ready-made subject for 11.11.20. Meanwhile the day took its own path. Loads and loads of walking, some coffee and some 2:1 government approved socialising outdoors. Next week a painting commission from last month’s exhibition has to be started. It is a little too wintery in the garden studio so the table in the actual old mortuary has been cleared ready for action.
I’ve been experimenting with some new paints this weekend. I didn’t get quite as much done as I had hoped but anything more will have to wait until the commission is finished.
To avoid temptation all the experimental stuff has been tidied away. This Lockdown has a project!
Coffee at my elbow, it was time to Bookclub Zoomstyle.
Again no spoilers, we all felt very much the same about this book. A complex beginning that could be off-putting but a good tale once the narrative established itself .
Three of us shared an emotional moment that had happened when we met earlier in the week,with the group. @theoldmortuary and a Covidfriend all lost our parents at an earlier than average age, we all loved our parents dearly. A passage in the book had made us all have a little weep. And then another weep when we discussed it and then today when sharing the tale of our weepings, there were more weepings.
The protagonist had never known her mother and now her father was close to death.
“On the third and finalnight, a bright light shines from my Father’s body. And in the sublime peace of his face, I saw my mother waiting for him.”
” I had never seen my mother’s face and had longed beyond all longing to one day see it. I still do.in fact- that is a desire that age hasn’t softened- because that night her face was hidden, covered by the thick tress of her dark hair.”
” But I knew it was her because she used words like mine and daughter and her breath was of the sea.”
” My father said to her: Hello my love. You’ve come back to me.”
” My mother said: I never left.”
“And in those three words was a lifetime.”
” He said: Shall we go then? And they turned to me and they said: Can you let us go do you think?”
” And I could say nothing. I raised my hand, a feeble attempt at a wave, I think. But I could say nothing. Because I was 14 years old and all I wanted to say was, Please, don’t go.”
There’s not much that can follow such a passage but fortunately the book offers a very upbeat Bonus Material addition to the book.
To be a Reader
by Sarah Winman
To be a reader, for me, is about entering a world of unimagined possibility; to have the willingness to suspend disbelief and to journey trustingly across the terrain of another’s imagination.
To be a reader is to feel a little less lonely. To be a reader is to be challenged. To feel anger, to feel outrage and injustice. But always to feel, always to think. To be a reader is not a passive state, it is active, always responding.
To be a reader is to have the opportunity to question ourselves at the deepest level of humanity – what would we have done in this situation? What would we have said? To be a reader is to feel empathy and compassion and grief. To be awed and to laugh. To fall in love, with characters, locations, the author. To be a reader is to learn and to be informed, and to rouse the dreamy inner life to action.
To be a reader is to take time out from the group. To not fear missing out; to turn off the TV, YouTube, the Internet. It is to slow down and engage; to be of the present. To be a reader is to find answers. It gives us something to talk about when we are unsure what to say.
To be a reader is to have the chance to collect stories like friends, and hold them dearly for a lifetime. It is to feel the joy of connection.
Lockdown @theoldmortuary changed many things , some things stayed the same.Today we received half of a prize that represents change and we await the half that represents no change. This is to encourage anyone who sees those ‘share and comment’ posts on Instagram for a chance to win a prize. The prizes are real and random people win them.
Our reading habits changed during Lockdown. Hannah completely lost the ability to commit to a book. I lost the focus for the kind of books I like to read and developed a thirst for foreign based detective drama. We weren’t unusual, everyone in my book group reported changes in genre choice. None of us managed to read the classics or ‘ difficult’ books that you might imagine time and limited life choices might allow.
Today we received the first part of our prize. 4 books fromhttps://www.deadgoodbooks.co.uk/ Neither of us are thriller readers but with changes in reading style so fresh in our minds and a gift of books, now must be the time.
What a clever coupling, books and coffee. Perfection would be enjoying both in a foreign place beside a pool. What may well happen is a flask of good coffee, a book and some warm clothes after a swim at the only pool available to us.
Covid-19 has not, thankfully attacked us personally with its Spiky little viral sphere, but it has altered our lives significantly and forever. One of the more acceptable changes is a new found love of swimming in the sea; or wild swimming as it is now known.
Weekends used to be about getting a good cup of coffee to start the weekend. Now the Coffee has a higher purpose, to warm us up after a dip.
And for today’s brief blog it gave me a colour theme.
Blogging and running a series of prompts for #augustinthevalley on Instagram for my art group is challenging me. Yesterdays word Metaphor was great for the wordynerd but more of a challenge for my arty head. Todays prompt for the Art Group is 3D and I had no trouble finding the image I wanted to use as the prompt.So far so good you might think. I love this image for the one Red Coffee Pot in this apparent wall of coffee pots. Loving an image is all well and good but this image is not the whole story.This wall of coffee pots was one side of an art work/ sculpture by Roberto Fabelo a Cuban artist who created Catedral/Cathedral and it is both a Metaphor and a fetish object.@theoldmortuary we are exactly the sort of people who fetishize coffee. Not for us the Cathedrals of the large Coffee retailers. We attend the tiny chapels of independent coffee shops. There is even a little bit of on-line worship, this morning beans arrived, roasted to our idea of deliciousness in Bury St Edmunds.We plan a visit to a local roastery, Owens, very soon, always optimistic of an amazing cup of coffee. Fellow coffee fetishists have nagged us to make this pilgrimage.In place of religious artifacts our house boasts much coffee paraphernalia, including the contemporary version of the red coffee maker that I love so much in the top image of this blog.Roberto Fabelo has summed us up pretty well with his sculpture.Coffee has fueled my creative endeavours today todays prompt is, as you know 3D.I’m still trying to craft in watercolour a 3D image out of swirls of paint. Less obvious than the previous painting my androgynous person only just gains 3 dimensions. Maybe more coffee worship is needed. Thankfully it’s a fairly harmless fetish.
What do you do on the day non- essential shops open in England.
For once I agree wholeheartedly with the government. They are non- essential shops. Obviously we avoided them. Three months without a non-essential shop has become a self fulfilling prophecy.
Actually what I do miss is mooching in a charity shop. The day they open will be something to celebrate.
The morning was all about dog walking and coffee. Inadvertantly a doughnut and a croissant also slipped onto the counter while I was ordering coffee. Some anonymous steps near The Mayflower Steps was our suntrap location of choice.
A great location to see swans flying under the lift- up bridge and out into Plymouth Sound.
But a moment’s inattention to photograph swans was almost the end of my doughnut breakfast.
This gorgeous orb of bakery loveliness and its accompanying coffee came from Jacka. Britain’s oldest working bakery.
Oat milk flat white , a doughnut and sunshine on these steps was everything that a visit to non- essential shops would not have been.
There was even time to bask before post breakfast exercise.
Lockdown Saturdays have become so much more exciting since Hutong started selling take out coffee in a pub .
I think we are better humans after a properly made Flat White. If this is the case , today we will be even more improved because we had two . One either end of the walk. Definitely more caffeine than I’ve had in three months.Giddy with excitement I’ve settled to writing a blog on one of the more mundane subjects of Lockdown.Soap bars, I think caffeine induced excitement might drag this blog into something vaguely interesting.I’m inspired to write this today because the first of our lockdown soaps has lathered it’s last.Bar soap is not something we ever really had @theoldmotuary. Hannah has traditional dry skin and I have non traditional. Either way the harshness of soap in a bar was something to avoid. Pump soaps disappeared off the shelves early on in Lockdown and bars it had to be. We have really enjoyed them and the extra time that there is in Lockdown allows for plenty of hand moisturising.The stand out bar soap in our house comes from Niagara in Canada. Not somewhere anyone outside of Niagara can nip to right now but it lasts and lasts doesn’t dry out skin and smells amazing. We bought a few bars two years ago and had forgotten we had them. More than two months on and there is still loads left.Soap Opera on-the-lake 15 Queen St, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0, Canada +1 905-468-7627https://g.co/kgs/3jwBYVNext favourite and the one that needed to be replaced today is Waitrose own.This little bar has lasted the whole of lockdown only needing replacement today.Least popular is this blue bar from Pears. Proof of any was needed that the enemy of good is better.
Despite being one of my favourite brands, this one dries out our skin and is really disappointing fragrance wise. I wish I had picked up the traditional version, which I know is ok for our skin.So…Soap and Caffeine not normally a traditional pairing but if you have enough of one you can Witter on about the other.The great thing about writing blogs is the need to research my own image archive. While checking the name and any photos of the soap shop in Niagara-on-the-lake I found one of my favourite pictures which was also taken in the town.kingstgallery.comThis tiny Private entrance enchants me.The Gallery has some lovely quotes . This one says it all.King Street GalleryNiagara-on-the-lake
Hours, days, weeks and now months have blurred boundaries. Just about everything we’ve done this week has been done several times in the last couple of months.
Saturdays have a new shape, for three weeks we have been able to get our favourite Hutong Coffee. Following that we do a favourite dog walk but we’ve done todays so many times I won’t bore you with the details. But everything on our walk looks a little bit brighter. Lockdown has given people the chance to get all sorts of jobs done and everywhere looks a little bit twinklier.
The best example of twinkle was this motorbike which had been ridden into town and was still so pretty. Presumably it has had a lot of attention in the last few weeks.
Plymouth has also gained some new street art and not a moment too soon.
We also found this picturesque wasteland.
And finally our used compostable coffee cups crossed the Tamar to our compost heap.
A pondering in which we queue for good coffee in Plymouth. Saturdays are made for good coffee. For the 6 weeks of lockdown we’ve not had a coffee made with love and care by a proficient barrista. Given the Coffeeshop in question you could say we’ve missed out for 6 months. Hutong which closed in October for a rebuild, ‘popped up’ today at The Lord High Admiral.
Queuing for coffee is not unknown to us as Monmouth Coffee at Borough Market is another favourite coffeeshop.
Hutong coffee is worthy of the queue. The new environment at The Lord High Admiral is pretty cute.
On reflection , it was lovely to see George…
and Emma who didn’t make it into the mirror.
Perfect Social Distancing throughout the process we took delivery of our coffee.
It was every bit as good as we knew it would be. Right to the bottom of the cup.
If you are in Plymouth next Saturday the Hutong will ‘pop-up’ again next Saturday 9th May from 8am. The other ‘pop-up’ at The Lord High Admiral, Knead Pizza had sold out all their Pizza slots today and I think all of next week’s are sold out too. We were too slow for Pizza for both weeks and actually missed out on Hutong bacon butties today.
Note to self, get up earlier!
What to do after a Hutong Coffee? Drive to Stonehouse and do the usual walk.
This could not have been a better decision.
Firstly we parked up near Elvira’s,
who were serving bacon butties. By a strange coincidence we queued up at Elvira’s with a couple who had also been at the earlier coffee queue. They were much braver than us and ordered take-out Eggs Benedict. I would have been wearing egg yolk all day if we had ordered that.
Obviously once you’ve queued twice with people, observing social distancing, you can talk for ages even though they are complete strangers. (Pandemic observation, talking to strangers is a lovely thing now we all have more time)
Our Stonehouse walk is one we do often but everything in Lockdown is changed , there seems to be more to see.
Even at Elvira’s we saw these two lovely unusual things.
Non-local people can have a chuckle at the name of this location.
Admiral’s Hard; another saucy Plymouth location is Pennycomequick.
I just threw that in, it’s nowhere near our walk.
Stonehouse did not disappoint, we met another complete stranger at the proper distance, for more lovely conversations and Devils Point itself thought it was on the Mediterranean.
Nothing big but February sees theoldmortuary joining a gym.
It’s 12 years since we last saw a gym or rowed competitively. Time to get the bones at theoldmortuary moving.
We certainly didn’t plan to be away from fitness this long but life has a way of confuscating plans and good intentions.
The London Years replaced leisure fitness with punishing work hours and amazing cultural experiences, coupled with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the capitals independent coffee shops and sourdough purveyors.
Yes we are that shallow, caffeinated and plumptious from bakery products and cultural experiences.
This blog is not about to become lithe and lycra clad . Pondering will remain at its heart. Occasionally though the humour of the life of fitness returners might make an appearance.
We start with the walk-round.
We are coupled with a glossy and lovely pair of people. In our hands we have various complimentary vouchers.
The club we joined has a new gym and refurbished areas. As we were shown into the spinning room.( I could act faux naive and say I expected homely weavers creating yarn from their Vegan Yaks. But I know what goes on in a spinning room and I know that with our current level of fitness , walking would not occur for many days after a spinning session)
Not so for the glossy couple.
” Oh ” she says with genuine joy ” We could live in here”
We remain impressed but silent as we continue the tour.
The coffee shop is our last port of call on the tour. We have free vouchers.
A thought bubble erupts from my slightly over-awed head. Nothing I try contains it.