Diagnostic imaging was my trade for many years. The majority of modalities in imaging produce pictures in black and white or more correctly in Grey scale. As an artist grey scale has always been my guide when judging my coloured work. A black and white photograph always lets me know if a painting has the balance I am hoping to achieve.

Cookworthy Knapp © theoldmortuary

In photography I often search out a monotone image in the real world.

Petersham Nurseries

Hugo and Lola have been known to pose in locations that lend themselves to Black and White.

In this case at Dungeness, Britain’s only desert on the Kent coast.

The unusual environment lends itself to greyscale.

All round the coast of Britain, black and white somehow brings peace and silence to an image that could, with colour be garish or over ripe.


Gigs at Saltash, Cornwall

Another monotone shot in real life colour.

Retaining walls at Samphire Hoe Country Park. An artificial land mass built from the extracted materials created by the tunneling for the Chanel Tunnel. A Nature Preserve.

And finally back to Radiography.

A cardiac angiogram of the left coronary artery, the basis of the pattern that heads this blog.

Left coronary artery

Beachcombing, bringing colour to the blog in January.

Winter time is beach time, storms bring odds and ends onto beaches. Even in Cuba, where we had hoped for sun, beach combing post storm became a holiday pleasure. Beachcombing brightens up a winter walk and takes your mind off the weather. Cornwall opens the majority of its beaches to dogs in the winter months, parking is often free so a lot of dog walks take us to the coast at this time of year.

Let’s start with the bright but bad stuff. Portwrinkle is one of the easiest beaches to get to from theoldmortuary but winter tides bring masses of plastics onto the beach. It is literally ” a drop in the Ocean” but every time we go there for a stroll we pick up a couple of carrier bags of plastic waste.

After yesterday’s monochrome blog I really wanted some colour. I knew I had these pictures in the archive. Bright but not beautiful, this is the result of just twenty minutes picking.

The next two pictures are genuine January photos.

Watergate bay in North Cornwall, where these pictures were taken, gets a different sort of man-made detritus. sea glass. I keep sea glass in jars. One for each coastline in the South West

Watergate Bay seems to get larger chunks of sea glass than other beaches I suspect it’s also not as old as some of the stuff that washes up nearer to Plymouth on the south coast.

January in Cuba, a couple of years ago, still landed us with stormy weather but thankfully the detritus was all natural. I used the sunset to provide lighting.

A colourful haul of flotsam and jetsam . Not exactly the correct definition but I’ve always loved those two words.

Jetsam describes debris that was deliberately thrown overboard by a crew of a ship in distress, most often to lighten the ship’s load. The word flotsam derives from the French word floter, to float. Jetsam is a shortened word for jettison.

One of those days


I took this photograph at the Royal William Yard during an art exhibition a couple of summers ago. Signs like this are common in ex services buildings, I keep a little file of them, you never know when a specific image like this will come in useful. Today is the day. Our part of Cornwall is drenched in cold rain that blows into every crevice or body part that is foolish enough not to be covered by waterproof clothing. I had hoped to get some pictures of snowdrops and early daffodils first thing this morning but the skies turned grey and our morning walk became all about doggy elimination and getting home. Rather than wandering the lanes of South East Cornwall looking for early signs of new growth I am catching up with post festive laundry, hence the picture from my strange archive. Fear not, this is not a blog about my laundry habits. That is a subject so dull it is only equalled as a dampener by Cornish rain.

Today’s blog is about the reward for festive laundry diligence.Soft, yielding gingerbread that accompanies my cup of tea between bouts of laundry activity. I have always been a lover of soft gingerbread treats, mostly around Christmas time and exclusively from Lidl

This festive season was about meeting new family members and deepening knowledge of people we’ve only met fleetingly before. Our Polish family members arrived bearing gifts, one of which was the most gorgeous soft gingerbread from the city of Torun. Somewhat late to this particular packet there were only three left when I had my first, and only one when I needed my mid laundry snack. Big mistake , these were the best gingerbreads I have ever eaten.

I’m told Torun is the world epicentre of gingerbread. Time to do a little research. The first record of gingerbread creation in Torun is in 1380. The city is ideally placed for making gingerbread because the landscape lends itself to the production of fine wheat on good soil and copious honey production by the village bees of the area. Spices were imported from India via Germany. Pierniki as they are known in Poland are soft gingerbread bakes, enrobed in dark chocolate with a hidden 💓 of fruit preserve. My particular Pierniki were made by the biggest manufacturer Kopernik, who’ve been making Gingerbread for 250 years.

Achievements of the day. One more satisfying than the other.

Clean washing
Empty Box



The shapeshifting days of the festive season when some normality returns, a return to work perhaps or family members returning to their own homes. There is some normalcy but it’s still hard to actually name the day easily or give up on the notion that grazing is regular behaviour.

As a family we have a birthday within the Yuletide. So one day of Betwixtmas is always designated as a birthday gathering for all the available extended family. Including Hugo and Lola. The cast and destination change from year to year but it is always a little oasis of birthday bliss amongst the glitter and twink of the festive season.

Malpas was our destination of choice today. A river village not far from Truro.


Malpas was new to most of us and we had a beautiful walk before we had lunch. It was a grey old day and all my photos were a bit ‘meh’ which is not a good look and somewhat dull for a blog.
We had a late, non festive lunch at the Heron Inn, the food was wonderful. The company was as familiar and convivial as usual, with an age range of 1 to 89, everyone left Malpas happy.


Even on a grey day Malpas was a picturesque spot. Just not so great for blogging photography

And so, back to Betwixtmas after a birthday interlude.

Tomorrow (Monday) sees another incremental edge on the normality scale. Tuesday the normality reading hits a plateau until 5pm when festive recidivism plunges everyone feet first into New Year’s Eve. Regardless of your view on New Years Eve it forces you to actively do something . Either to mark it in a positive way by staying up past midnight or to deliberately snub it by going to bed and ‘ missing all the fuss’

Before that though we have two more days of Betwixtmas to fill.



Bubble, friends, terrorists and artists.

“Bubble” spoken or shouted in a broad, loud, East London/Essex accent.

Bubble and Squeak is a staple of our festive season. It was always part of our childhoods, made as a way of using up Christmas leftovers. Our abiding love of “Bubble” currently involves an early festive meeting in London, with friends. “Bubble” happens regularly at Maria’s Cafe in Borough Market. We’ve settled very happily into an annual December breakfast at Maria’s after searching for Christmas breakfast perfection high up in London’s Skyscrapers with extravagant prices for many years. Height does not necessarily dictate breakfast good quality or satisfaction. Closer to the ground, and reality, Maria’s has become our regular pre Christmas breakfast haunt, they do the best breakfast we’ve ever had in the area. Any breakfast comestible with their bubble and squeak is festive perfection on a plate.

Fortified by calories, laughter and cups of tea we set off to sample, taste and shop.

Coffee from Monmouth is always enjoyed with a chocolate truffle, we drink our coffee and nibble our truffles, overlooked by the Market Porter. A flat-capped sturdy chap depicted in Street Art painted on the wall of The Market.

Illustrations by Josie Jammet


Art at Borough is not only about the working life of the market.

London Bridge and Borough Market have been the location of two seperate terrorist attacks. The second only weeks a go. The first in June 2017 has been commemorated by a mural by James Cochran or Jimmy C. on a railway arch in Stoney Street, part of the perimeter of the market. Jimmy’s work is a joyous multicoloured commemoration of the lives lost and the lives forever marked by the event. It also reflects the vivid and resilliant nature of London which will rise above the harm and wickedness of terror attacks. A series of hearts float like bubbles on a background of blue. The code 44A is the identification number of the railway arch.

Following this sad but resilient image, this blog about bubble shifts location from Borough Market and heads for home.

Bubble is a traditional left-overs treat in our house. Formed from the remains of the Christmas day roast it has a domestic ritual of its own.

Bubble is prepared during the evening after the big roast has been served. Portions of bubble rest in the fridge overnight, awaiting frying in butter the next morning.

Reminiscent of Jimmy C’s bubble-like hearts on the Borough Memorial a heart shaped knob of butter softens in the pan.

An edible landscape of buttery fjords and pillowy potato mounds form in the pan.

Once the outer surfaces are crispy, dark and caramelised it’s time to serve up the bubble and share.

Bubble, 💕 on a plate.


Seaton Beach Christmas 2019

Christmas Day 2019 and the weather was very kind to us. It took extremely creative photography to make the beach seem as quiet and tranquil as this. There were hundreds of people and dogs taking in the sunshine .

The pre- turkey sandwich beach walking team.

Going back to Advent#24

Two strangers who discovered they were siblings, walking on a beach.


Kings, candles, cheese, chocolates and a flood.

I have a very dear friend who wears the cloak of eccentricity throughout life. In the summer it’s gauzy, flimsy and scuds gently behind her like a cloud. In winter, it’s a different thing, cumbersome and dank, it holds her back and can be overwhelming. Over the years, we have developed little strategies to lighten its load.

The Christmas shopping adventure is one such thing. It involves shopping not exactly locally but within the confines of Cornwall. There are rules… We only buy from businesses that are on farms or that started on farms.

As individuals, we navigate on completely different systems, hers is innate, puzzling and mostly effective. She leans forward on the steering wheel her nose twitching like a wise matriarchal badger, sensing the direction we should travel. Mine is Google based but impaired by too much talking and the erratic nature of mapping in Cornwall. What could possibly go wrong?

Spoiler Alert- There was a lot of rain.

Cheese first up. Google gets us to within a mile and then the badger takes over, ignoring me completely she takes a road. “This road doesn’t even bloody exist” I protest. We press on.

Blue cheese of two sorts, goat and cow are loaded into the car. Beautiful round ‘wheels’ of cheese, festively wrapped in tin foil and bundled into a carrier bag.

The next part of the journey brings the unexpected. Google aided we head off to St Eval.

Behold a King! That’s a fine festive sentence. In this case however, the last ever cornish King whose death is marked on a quiet Cornish road at the site of an ancient crossroad. The poor chap met a watery end and drowned. More than that is not explained but on this very wet day on Bodmin moor it is not inconceivable that you might drown by simply wandering off to commune with nature. I take a very wet photograph of his spot, King Donierts Stone and the information board and jump back into the car.

This is what we learnt…

King Dungarth (Doniert) of Cerniu ( Cornwall) drowned in the River Fowey in 875. His death is marked by these remnants of carved stone crosses on Bodmin Moor. The river Fowey runs near to this site.

Google got us to St Eval first stop Kernow Chocolate. Admittedly no longer on the family farm but that’s where it started. Chocolate Stollen and a cup of tea warmed us up for the serious business of choosing chocolate. The Stollen was moist if anyone is interested. Gifts occured.

Then off to St Eval Candle Company, courtesy of Google, still based on a farm. Fabulous smells and many candles, we learnt that to reset our noses we just needed to sink our noses into a pot of coffee beans. Gifts occured.

This had all been achieved a little quicker than planned. The excellent coffee and cake at Strong Adolphos called us and if we got a wiggle on we could get there before the 4pm closing time.

Google planned us a route that got us there with 15 minutes to spare. The badger twitched a bit at the quality of the grass running up the middle of the roads we were using , the depth of the first puddle shocked us both. Unwittingly we had entered the Bermuda Triangle of Cornwall. The next puddle was bigger and the Googler ( me) offered to test the water with my Welly depth . The water won. The next puddle was the same, no rec alibration of the wellie gauge was needed , water flooded in. It was both impassable and impossible to go in either direction. Of the three roads we could use all had deep ponds of chocolate coloured water. Strong Adolfo’s was not going to happen. The badger decided to drive back through the puddle we had safely conquered twenty minutes ago . She was right , we created an impressive wave and headed for the hills. Happy to have survived the Cornish water in better shape than King Doniert.


Nearly Home Trees- watercolour by Juliet Cornell

The Nearly Home Trees.

Cookworthy Knapp. 140 Beech trees, planted 120 years ago near Lifton on the border of Devon and Cornwall. Clearly seen from the A30. They have become a sign to many returners and travellers that they are ‘nearly home’ or ‘ nearly there’

This coming weekend will see the highest volume of road traffic, of the year, on the A30 and A38 . Those who travel on the A30 in daylight hours will see the familiar mound of trees on the hill and feel a whole kalaidoscope of emotions . Love being the most significant in all its nuances, textures and intensities.


It’s serendipity again that leads me from the surprise experience of Dragon dancing kites in Plymouth yesterday to home via another tradition that also has its roots very firmly in Chinese Culture.

It’s a busy time in Christian churches in December. School Carol services fill the mid-week evenings. theoldmortuary overlooks a church. Last night’s school Carol Service had a lantern lit path leading to the church.

Lanterns of the paper sort have had a rise in popularity in Europe over the last fifty years. The type that are lit with a night light and float away like a balloon had a rise in popularity and then a meteoric fall when the effects of their ultimate descent was highlighted by a series of accidents caused to property, livestock and the emerging awareness of the environmental impact.

Lanterns as part of celebrations started in China 2000 years ago, the earliest lanterns held captured Fire flies. The lantern habit soon spread to South East Asia where they continue to be popular throughout the year rather than the more European habit of winter time lantern activity.


Hong Kong