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.
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.
15 members and their guests gathered in the car park before setting off to find a cosy space to get creative.
@theoldmortuary wandered down to the Bathing Hut at the riverside but other artists found lovely places of inspiration.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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!
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.
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.
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.
Blue Monday is a strange concept in a World Pandemic where, to use the same colour qualities, the United Kingdom is currently in deepest Navy Blue.
Our hours exercise took us to a quiet beach where I got three pictures of an annonymous surfer. There was a bit of blue to carry on the colour theme . Hopefully, with the arrival of a vaccine, we can all ride a wave of recovery.
As well as he does.
This is not a perfect surfers beach however . The skill shown in these pictures is all the more impressive when some of the harder geographical features of the same beach are revealed.
A fine Blue Monday metaphor for the current situation.
I’m not certain visiting a new part of the coast is entirely sensible at dusk and low tide, particularly in late November. Despite being fairly close to home, Hannafore Beach is completely unknown to me. After a walk towards Talland Bay and back I thought I would give the dogs a low tide rock pool scamper. They loved it.
I’m just not quite so sure myself. Apologies to the many people I know who really love this place and find it restorative. Alone on an incongruous concrete pathway leading out to sea at sunset I felt a sense of foreboding and menace. There was a sense of dead seafarers souls winding round my ankles like silken slippery manacles.
Having thoroughly spooked myself, with fanciful imaginings and uncertainty about how the tide would come in, we called it a day. Two exhausted dogs and an overactive imagination. Time to research shipwrecks in Looe Bay and put my mind at rest , or not.
P.S. I found this dog centric page on line. A much more positive vibe! I’m clearly just inventing my own ghost stories for these dark days around the winter solstice.
Naturally occuring hearts have been a little thin on the ground.
This one is not on the ground nor is it particularly naturally occuring. The bright blue heart is just an accident of light reflection.
Nothing in this picture shows how windy it was during this walk. Maybe the picture below gives a sense.
Dog walks in weather like this are for one reason only. Elimination. Picking up a dog poo in such winds is unusually difficult. It was hard to stand and open the plastic poo bag but once I had grasped the evenings offering the wind whipped one little nugget and blew it away before I could tie the bag up. I did not chase it!