#459 theoldmortuary ponders

Stepping softly into another week. January is a funny month. Not one that I ever feel particularly warm towards, but a weekend of crisp bright days has made me feel quite perky. Our trip to St Ives was 100% sunshine so we walked and basked as much as possible, turning our winter faces to the sun, like Sunflowers in August. We were staying on a tiny lane called The Didgy but our kitchen overlooked Virgin Lane and this beautiful door.

Both evocative of a different age. The beauty of being in Cornish fishing towns in January is the closeness, that it is possible to feel, to the history of these places. There are not so many people about and the sounds and smells of the town are just as they would have been centuries ago, minus perhaps body odour and poor sanitation. The first building on Virgin Lane was a bakery, it swung into action at about 7am in the morning. Bread, pasties and baked goods delivered from an out of town industrial unit. The romantic smell of baking created by modern warming ovens pressed against its 16th Century walls. However the smells are created, the effect was the same. 21st century people, wearing fishermen’s sweaters flocked to the bakery drawn out of their cottages by the smell wafted into every home in the vicinity. After shopping many of them then took a turn to the harbour where eager Seagulls hover in the hope of stealing a beakful of baked goods.

Coffee in hand, bread under one arm. 21st Century people, in fishermen’s sweaters, look out at resting fishing boats. Sunshine and peace makes romantics of us all.

#458 theoldmortuary ponders

Some blogs are slow burning, ripening slowly over many days, weeks or months. Others present themselves in a moment. This one is a hybrid, the Pondering has been bubbling away for a couple of months, the moment today, was perhaps 60 seconds of decision making. That moment is the top picture. After a small amount of walking, the coastal path at St Ives, we came upon this idyllic beach. After a moments paddling the decision was made to throw caution to the wind and strip off completely for a swim. Confident that my weekly sea swims, or bobs, as they are known, have equipped me with the ability to quickly submerge in any chilly sea temperature.

It would not do to fanny about, frightening fellow walkers, with my nakedness. The long, slow, ponderous part of this blog has its inspiration from a comment made by a fellow course member at a blogging course.

” Your blog would be better with more of you in it”

Since November I have tried putting a little more of me into the blog. In truth I have always been there, peeping from behind words or hiding in pictures. Trying to find my voice, or style, while nattering on about not very much. I wonder, sometimes, if anyone has noticed the slight changes since November.

Ten or so minutes of swimming in a cold sea, off the North Cornwall coast was just fabulous this morning. I could be evangelical about the benefits of cold water immersion, likewise the buzz of not giving a moments thought to just taking my clothes off in a public space. Put the two together and the skills of fully clothed camera- wielding friends and the blog gets all of me for one time only.


I got a life boosting, energy creating, moment. Fizzy as a firework, giddy as the giddiest goat, happy as a human hippo. Naked, cold and loving life. All time stood still, the sun was out and I was feeling elemental.

#457 theoldmortuary ponders

A January weekend in St Ives, the streets and the beaches are empty. Plenty of space for dogs to think that they own the world and humans to be the only people in the pub, apart from the faces looking down from the walls.

Hugo tried being masterful with the waves and the waves won.

We, the humans, knew the waves would always win and were not tempted in for a swim, as yet. But for now just staring at the sea and pondering the massive changes the last 100 years have seen in this beautiful coastal town while the sea remains unchanged. History of St Ives below.

P.s we may have found the perfect art studio, overlooking the beach.

#426 theoldmortuary ponders

©Steve Blake

Those of us who live by the sea or large rivers know the debt of gratitude that is owed to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in Britain, a volunteer service of water-born rescuers who keep our island nation as safe as possible while on our coastal waters and rivers. 41 years ago 8 lifeboat men lost their lives while trying to rescue the crew of the Union Star, a ship whose engines had failed in Mounts Bay off the South Coast of Cornwall. The Soloman Browne lifeboat was launched from Penlee Lifeboat Station near Mousehole in rough seas. The lifeboat rescued four of the ships crew members but both the lifeboat and the Union Star were overwhelmed and lost at sea. 16 lives in total were lost.

41 years ago news gathering was much slower. The news leaked out to the wider world in hourly news updates on the radio. Locally the news moved slightly quicker by word of mouth, much as it would have done in seafaring communities for centuries. The BBC have created a radio docudrama that gives a sense of the event unfolding in real-time and being reported as it would have been 41 years ago. Worth a listen.


©BBC Radio

It has become tradition, in Mousehole,to honour the lives lost at sea in what has become known as the Penlee Lifeboat Disaster by dedicating, to them,the illuminating of the small fishing village of Mousehole each December.This tradition started in the sixties and the lifeboat was launched to a backdrop of festive lights. Money raised from the hundreds of visitors goes to the RNLI.

©Steve Blake
©Steve Blake
©Steve Blake

#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.