#226 theoldmortuary ponders

The dogs have a new beach of choice for one of their daily walks. It is a river beach that lies on the Devon side of the Hamoaze , a sort of watery border area, the sort known as 4 corners in some parts of the world. To the west is Cornwall, the east is Devon, north is the Tamar River and to the south the Atlantic, or Pymouth Sound. For the dogs the beach is a collection of freshly changed fascinating smells. At high tide the beach doesn’t exist but at mid tide a treasure trove of smells for them and treasure for their human companions is there for anyone to pick over. It is hard not to be fascinated by little pieces of sea glass and pottery. This handful was gathered in about ten minutes

The dogs love the area because even the most time conscious human loses all sense of time while picking up treasure. This allows them to sniff and track all manner of fascinating fragrances without interruption by a human anxious to get home. We go there so often I have created an indoor collection of ‘treasure’ that has definite boudaries. A box lid that can only contain a finite amount of bits. As new and more colourful bits are added, less interesting ones must be returned to the beach to continue their journeys.

So far this system has worked, only time can tell if discipline or hoarding will ultimately win.

#221 theoldmortuary ponders

©Mark Fielding

Setting up a group art exhibition is exhausting but the thrill of unpacking other peoples creativity is an enormous treat. The other great pleasure is meeting and talking with the artists as they arrive, weighed down by their precious creations.

©Sue Richardson

After the last two days of setting up and installing we have a week now of being open to the public and plenty of time to chat. Anyone local to Gunnislake or the Tamar Valley, we would love to see you, there will always be a warm welcome.

©Sarah Grace.

#217 theoldmortuary ponders

This should be the high flying version of a blog. Over this last weekend Zip Wire Flying should have happened at the Eden Project but Covid afflicted one of our friends and the group activity has been postponed. Instead a weekend in coastal towns and on the High Sea has filled our days and indeed led to this late blog, colour and not location is the flavour of this late blog. Sunday Cornwall thought it was in Greece. We stayed in the village of Golant just two miles up the river from our family favourite Fowey, more of that later in the week. Fowey River Class Dinghies created the first kick of colour.

We had over an hour to wait for the ferry to Mevagissy but being at the turning buoy kept us entertained and the sunshine was very welcome on our faces.

The slipway for the Fowey to Mevagissy Ferry couldn’t have been more Greek.

The ride was a little more lively than the average ferry.

We landed in yet more Hellenic vistas.

Meva harbour also joined in the colour project.

Two days with virtually no signal and no wifi does not a daily blog make. Normal service will resume tomorrow.

#148 theoldmortuary ponders

Morning mist cleared, yesterday, to reveal a very blue day, all fresh and twinkly. We had plans to catch a ferry to the local park which is just across the river in Cornwall.

A very low tide and being the first customer gave me the chance to take this photograph of the sweep of the slipway. Four of us had planned a combined dog walk, we gained an extra dog as another friend has succumbed to the dreadful non Covid virus. So Ralph joined us, very much dressed to have a blue day.

We were early enough to see the heat rise from a freshly manured flower bed. Surely a sign that Spring is here.

Also a sign that writing a daily blog can affect the way you respond to things. The fountain should be the star of this photo but I am more thrilled to have captured the steam rising from the flower bed behind.

A day out with dogs can have its moments and the dogs took off, unleashed, into the formal gardens where a gardener shouted at us for their bad behaviour. To be honest it could have been a recorded warning as we never saw the actual gardener at the time. So intent and camouflaged, was he, with his bush trimming that the only evidence of the man himself was his fury.

The whole incident must have un nerved me because after that I failed to take any further photographs for the blog and it is a spectacular location. Our walk was always going to be shorter than the location deserves as a trip to the dentist was planned and a friend was coming over for the afternoon. We have decorated three rooms since she last visited and she has undergone a few medical procedures so stairs are currently not her friend. So we employed technology to show her round the upstairs rooms.

Another friend was supposed to be presenting the interior design improvements but probably won’t get a call any time soon for real TV work, as waving and clambering in the bath does not make particularly slick viewing.

Still photography may have done the job more effectively but would not have caused quite the same levels of mirth and merriment.

A day well filled with people and moments.

#131 theoldmortuary ponders

My apologies for the blogs being more than usually peppered with art stuff. I am in the midst of an on-line art course called Finding Your Colour Voice. I am trying to complete the course initially in a little over the ten working days and two weekends. My plan is to do each day’s tutorial and weekend projects as soon as I can after they drop onto the website. After that I have another 4 months when the content is available to me to study more at depth. Precious Pondering time is mostly colour related at the moment.

My project yesterday was to create colour charts from a huge variety of sources. I made a start by producing 4 colour charts of places from memory. I’m going to share two of them as they are my short term memory efforts. Unsurprisingly they are of places close to home and easily visited to check out how accurate my memory is. I also have recent photographs to share my thoughts. On reviewing yesterday’s work, I am immediately struck that with these two I have very specifically created a winter colour palate. The other two places I completed are clearly less season specific, I haven’t visited either of them since the pandemic started.

I am particularly pleased with the Cornish colours, I wanted to show the softness of the county. Something that is less obvious in the brashness of summer. Something that doesn’t show well in the photograph is the greigeness that cloaks the county frequently.

Stonehouse is altogether ‘harder’ despite being geographically not far away. It does however share the greige and that colour,or indeed sensation is much better depicted on the Stonehouse colour chart.

A tremendous exercise, many more charts to paint…

UK-based visual artist

#123 theoldmortuary ponders

A busy day crowded with different stimuli, but brought to a standstill by a few lovely flowers. Just twenty minutes spent quietly in a garden easily resets a busy mind ready for the next challenge. I’ve never really been a fan of Primroses but today this ethereal specimen stopped me in my tracks, hiding by a tractor shed.

Building up the colour temperature of this blog is an exploding yellow crocus.

Then after all the innocence and quietude of pale whites, creams and yellows this beautiful purple crocus shouts out for attention.

Its insides swirling like a sensual dancer lost in music.

Re- calibrated I leave the garden.

#26 theoldmortuary ponders

The better late than never blog. This morning I got lost in a world of responding to complaints letters, to an organisation I do some work for and ordering wallpaper. One distinctly more pleasurable than the other, then the sun came out and it would have been rude not to have been out in it. So here we are…

More tales of the river banks from my Tamar cruise of Tuesday. It seems to me that regular readers of this blog will have seen the locations in these pictures many times but always from the perspective of me having my feet firmly planted on one bank of the Tamar or the other. Tuesday, unusually found me sailing up and down the Tamar. The top picture is of course the Tamar Road Bridge and the Albert Rail Bridge two structures that link Cornwall with Devon and by extension the rest of the world. As best I can these pictures are in order as we sailed past them, some locations photographed better on the way up and others in the setting sun on the way back. First up is Smeatons Tower on the Hoe.

The picture below is our swimming beach, 5 mins away at cruising speed. Tranquility Bay at just after midday at  high tide.

Last night we were swimming there while Miss Spearmint a,newly resident seal, was having a supper of very fat fish just off the steps. I’m not sure any of us were aware that very fat fish swam anywhere near us! Below is the Royal William Yard where at least one of our daily dog walks takes place.

The next picture is of part of the waterfront of Devonport Royal Naval Dockyard. Not somewhere anyone can casually walk a dog. Some of these buildings are High Security, Ministry of Defence areas.

Maybe that is enough for one blog. Allowing even more tales of the River Banks later.

#25 theoldmortuary ponders

Sharp November sun and calm waters were exceedingly kind to our river cruise yesterday. So much so that there are too many pictures for just one blog. Today I’m going to concentrate on the, almost abstract, waterscapes that presented themselves in the liminal time an hour or so before sunset. They will be a little bit repetitive because all they involve are the sky, a river bank and the river itself.

In these images I am looking out of the back of the boat in the direction of Calstock. The land with autumnal colours of tan, gold and orange is in Devon and is enhanced by the setting sun about an hour before sunset.

This picture is looking directly towards the east, the Devon Bank, just a few minutes later. There is, deliberately, barely a trace of human habitation in these pictures. A slightly longer exposure time enhances the effect of light on water.

Not so long later the Cornish and Devon river banks take a turn in the sun together , everything changes as the river winds itself through the valley to the sea.

Cornwall is the thin slice of  bank that meets  the Devon bank on the horizon. Although they look joined in this image, caused by another twist in the river. The Devon bank identifies itself by being indistinct because there is an example of an Atlantic Woodland growing down to the riverbank at this point.

As the light fades further the Cornish bank takes over the star roll, the river is less winding as it opens out into the Hamoaze and eventually Plymouth Sound. This shot looking towards Saltash gives no hint of the thousands of people who live in the first large town on Cornwall’s border.

Not so very far along is the sunset over Torpoint.

More tales of the riverbanks tomorrow.

Pandemic Pondering#461

Late in the day blog. I’m blaming massive domestic admin again. @theoldmortuary has relocated to the other side of the Tamar. Often with this view it could be predicted that this is a blog about bobbing but today this was our early morning walk. So brief and sometimes late blogs this week while we find ourselves in our new home and also find our stuff in the many boxes that crossed the Tamar yesterday.


Pandemic Pondering #455

Chalets on the cliff at Whitsand and Bay

The Rame Peninsular in South East Cornwall is often called the forgotten corner of Cornwall. As it is on our doorstep it is not forgotten by us, but it managed to surprise us a few years ago. At the time we were living in Gipsy Hill in London and a neighbour rented a chalet on the Whitsand Bay cliffs for the New Year and excitedly told us about the breakfasts he had enjoyed at the Cliff Top Cafe expecting us to know it. With his recommendation it became a family favourite until one of our family members was killed in a road accident and we couldn’t quite face the cafe without her. Time has passed and this weekend we got up early and headed off for breakfast without any misgivings.

Hugo took posing for a photograph very seriously.


Whitsand Cliff chalets have had a bit of a metamorphosis in the last 20 years or so and many are rented out as Airbnb. The cafe sell this lovely postcard which sums up the general vibe very well.

http://www.tidelineart.com/ © Nicola White

I used a postcard image of the cafe because the necessary outdoor structures to comply with current Covid-19 restrictions and regulations don’t let the cafe look as pretty as normal.

The postcard, though, took me on another little circle of research about the artist and she too lives a London/Cornish life the link below takes you to a magazine article if you are interested.


What intrigues me, reading this article, is the similarity in our London experience. Living in South London the Kent coast and the River Thames become substitute Cornwall. There is nothing similar about them but the call to water can forgive the differences and nourish a coastal seeking soul. The Cornwall/London circle turns for many of us. The sea also allows memories to return more comfortably after a while.

Tregonhawk Cliff, Whitsand Bay