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.

©www.paintel.co.uk

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.

http://www.clifftopcafe.co.uk/index.html

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.

https://www.coastmagazine.co.uk/content/meet-beachcombing-artist-nicola-white

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

Pandemic Pondering #431

Cornwall pulled out all the stops yesterday weatherwise. The traffic situation was less blissful as any road or motorway turned from a place of movement to a congested collection of vehicles going somewhere slowly.

As Sunday starts with gorgeous weather and the promise of more, people can begin to forget the misery of their journey and start to enjoy their holidays. Willingly delivering doubloons, other forms of money also acceptable, into the hands of a land that previously took it by force.

The article linked below is a lovely read for a Sunday.

The Darker Side of Cornwall’s Smuggling Past

Joking apart the photos used in this blog were taken yesterday in a small Cornish village whose architecture speaks very eloquently of a less than squeaky clean past.

Pandemic Pondering #395

Some blogs write themselves. This one started life 80 years ago when 6 volunteer firefighters left the small Cornish town of Saltash to support fire crews, from all over the southwest, working in Plymouth during the Plymouth Blitz. Unfortunately they drove over an unexploded bomb in King Street and were all killed. This morning a service was held in the local church to mark 80 years since their deaths, later a wreath was laid at their graves, which are all in the same place in the church graveyard.

A vintage fire engine and crew attended the ceremony.

For a time the area in front of @theoldmortuary was busy with people attending the service and posing with the fire engine. A World War 2 Air Raid siren and the fire engine bell were strange sounds to hear on a sunny spring morning.

It is probably at least 80 years since a fire engine like this drove past @theoldmortuary. Strange to think that hundreds of mourners would have filled this little village and used the local pub to show respect to 6 local men who set off for Plymouth one night. Taking their fire engine across the Tamar on the ferry and never returning alive.

Pandemic Pondering #393

The Artists Companion- dog slobber is an essential part of sketching and painting. ©Drawn to the Valley

Tuesday was a proper out day. Not just out, but out out. Out with other artists talking, painting and sketching in the grounds of Pentillie Castle. Such a beautiful place and so many options, so little time to opt.

© Clare Law

15 members and their guests gathered in the car park before setting off to find a cosy space to get creative.

Pentillie Castle ©Alison Freshnay

@theoldmortuary wandered down to the Bathing Hut at the riverside but other artists found lovely places of inspiration.

Texture ©Mrs Marvelous – Jo Shepherd
© Clare Law

As usual I was a complete sucker for an empty bench.

Meanwhile at the Bathing Hut I had a huge amount of help with my sketching.

I had taken my Christmas and Birthday ,art material, presents with me to experiment. But the biggest discovery of all was how these materials worked when mixed with an enormous amount of dog slobber.

©theoldmortuary The Bathing Hut, Pentillie Castle

Dog slobber as it turns out works very well with water colour and acrylic pens. Apparently I can also paint while nattering- on like a person who has only recently been released from a Pandemic Lock down.

©Kathy Lovell

Luckily my lovely dog companion was very intent on ball throwing and retrievals as well as adding slobber to the painting. This little fellow landed about a metre behind Stephanie, my fellow painter.

©Stephanie Yates

Painting and bat watching ended when I needed to find a loo, nearby I found these two circular things. I have no idea what they are but they make a great photo.

They look like the most amazing biscuits.

Thanks to Anne Crozier for organising our Drawing Days and thanks to to Pentillie Castle for making us so welcome. The link below takes you to their website .

https://www.pentillie.co.uk/

Pandemic Pondering #380

On reflection, moments like this are very rare. A still tide and no river traffic causing movement or ripples in the water. I do this walk almost every day but rarely catch moments like this. The proper business of dog walking is the purpose of the visit, but yesterday I just took a moment to capture these two pictures. I could already hear the sound of outboard motors approaching to ruin the perfect reflection.

Moments after this picture was taken the tide direction switched and the river started to flow again and I was able to concentrate on walking the dogs.

The road bridge in the front of this picture was completed in 1960 and the rail bridge behind 100 years earlier. Together they carry passengers and goods in and out of Cornwall, a hundred feet or so above the heads of humans standing on the riverbank. I never give it much thought on my daily walks but for the people living on the banks of the river in 1859 the first trains crossing the rail bridge must have been an extraordinary moment. I’ve only recently discovered that, less than two weeks after the railway service into Cornwall started,a train fell off a bridge just a couple of miles from here. That cant have made living under the bridge feel very safe at all. A future ponder will emerge from this new information once I can freely visit the local museum and research the story. Rail and road safety being what it is I happily walk beneath these bridges never anticipating a train or motor vehicle landing on my head. I may give it more consideration now!

Pandemic Pondering #354

Its been a funny old week. Too much domestic admin has tied me to the house and the weather has been too contrary for us to plan any coastal swims.

As soon had we cancelled this afternoons ‘bob’ the sun came out in a blaze of glory.

What you cant see in this photo is a very chilly wind blowing up the river.

The local RNLI have been suggesting all week that sea swimming should be a wisely considered option considering weather and tides on a daily basis.

We also follow a local swimming group for advice on safety.

Link above is to a video taken at our swimming beach at the time we were planning to swim.

Im glad we made the call not to swim today.

The dogs benefitted from a very sunny walk . There is always tomorrow for a swim.

Pandemic Pondering #338

I am very lucky, one of my responsibilities within an art group is to manage the groups social media output. Part of that role is to keep an eye on the groups Instagram page. Another friend does the same for Facebook. During the Pandemic, Social Media, Zoom Meetings, a Newsletter and a fabulous new website have been the groups only way of keeping in touch and sharing their creative outputs with members and the wider community. In normal times there would be Workshops, Drawing Days, Exhibitions and Open Studio events.

Checking the Instagram page of Drawn To The Valley daily is an absolute pleasure. Our members and other artists work appear on our feed. It took no effort to find these great images from todays feed.

Our Social Media team meet monthly to plan what we need to promote for the group but we also work out ways to increase engagement and attract followers to our pages.

For 2021 each month will have a # that brings the art created in that month together in a grid. #januaryinthevalley, #februaryinthevalley and on for every month of the year.

So far #februaryinthevalley is looking good.

We’ve really had to reconsider how best to use social media to support our members during the Pandemic. We are lucky that Drawn to the Valley adopted social media early and effectively a long time ago, we have some vibrant and effective wisdom in our team. Zoom meetings are never dull.

The pandemic has forced us to shake things up a bit.

Below is a link to our website.

Home

We can also be found on Instagram and Facebook.

There is some lovely art.

Pandemic Pondering#324

I’m not even sure which day of Lockdown 3 we are in. The day is probably irrelevant and can, of course be fact checked later. A daily blog in a time when we are not supposed to do very much might seem something that could be a struggle. But as a writer or recorder of things my bar is set extraordinarily low. Todays ponder is officially about the boundary between Devon and Cornwall, very specifically either side of the Tamar Bridge. Which is why the pretty image of the bridge heads up this blog. Before that however I wanted to share a side ponder not truly worthy of a full ponder. One that really would scrape the boredom level if I were to illustrate it. Lockdown 1 was the lockdown of some personal and public anguish and a lot of getting things done.

Lockdown 2 . Anguish accepted as a way of life on a sliding scale of severity depending on the day. Beyond that it was full on-prep for the Christmas that never was.

Lockdown 3 . Eat all the food puchased for the Christmas that never was. Emerge from that lifestyle to one that is not normal and also doesn’t feature a lot of getting things done. Stuff still happens though, no day is a void.

Over the weekend we watched a Christopher Plummer film. Not the Sound of Music but Beginners. The implausibility of The Sound of Music would have gone unnoticed but watching Beginners felt implausible not because it was the story of a 75 year old man embarking on his true life as a gay man but because the film featured almost impromptu parties. It felt so unbelievably wrong in a way that a family saga involving the Third Reich and clothes made from curtains never feels.

A small point I agree but this side ponder is about small points.

Small point number 2, in the mornings I wake up and am excited that the first cup of tea with caffeine is about to happen. Since the insomnia of Lockdown I , I have become tediously fastidious about no caffeine after 1pm. Were I to have some after 1pm , I could get giddy and throw a party. No I wouldn’t , but you get the picture!

If there were to be a party, I would almost certainly wear new thermal underwear. Today was a red letter day. New thermal leggings arrived. Essential for getting my 10,000 steps during my permitted, outdoor exercise. Such excitement!

Back to the Bridge, I have used this bridge regularly for nearly half of my life. I only realised this weekend that travelling west I am welcomed into Cornwall.

Welcomed in this instance is a loaded and slightly disingenuous word. I was not born in Cornwall, I have been a second home owner, I do come from ‘ up the line’ and for a long period of time I was from ‘ down London way’. The likelihood of me truly being welcomed by everyone in Cornwall is extremely unlikely but entirely livable with. Devon in the easterly direction offers no such welcome, genuine or otherwise.

Halfway across the bridge drivers or walkers enter the City of Plymouth. No mention of Devon, no warm welcome. At no point on the A38 are travellers welcomed to Devon. Most skirt Plymouth on the Devon Expressway. Once they have left the environs of the Plymouth City Boundaries they are left uncherished until they cross the county boundaries of Dorset or Somerset when other counties offer them an unconditional welcome.

The far South West of England, one welcome, not as whole hearted as you might think and one completely absent one.

Pondering- it makes you think.

Pandemic Pondering #318

Thermal underwear can make you do crazy things. Yesterday was a day of sunshine with a side order of mud.

Everywhere here is pretty sodden with rain and winteriness. Some regular dog walks have been abandoned because they are just too muddy. The arrival of unexpected sunshine coupled with thermal underwear made walking without a warm coat entirely possible. My choice of walk has a semi-permeable surface that drains well, all should have been well but the dogs did not stick to the path. Beyond the confines of the path the parkland was a riot of quagmire and fascinating smells. Some of which the dogs felt obliged to roll in.

It was such a sunny day , two circuits of the park were completed. I was feeling toasty but the dogs were two muddy sponges, filled to capacity with moisture and mud. The ecstatic cuddles when we returned to the car were a mixed blessing.

The second walk of the day involved Tarmac and water contained in its proper place.