#326 theoldmortuary ponders

And just like that, August is over. We saw August out immersed in Canadian family. Having spent our entire North American experience taking daily swims in lakes, today we had a pool day. It would have been a tremendous shock if this had happened at the beginning of our holiday because we have become very used to swimming in the salty water of the sea over the last couple of years. But 8 days of fresh water lake swimming has made us used to not being able to float so easily.

Swimming in a pool is a fabulous place to ponder, I was as immersed in water as we have been in family for the past 5 days.We are very lucky. The cast of individuals has changed every day but there has been chatter, reminiscing and food ever since we arrived on Saturday evening. It will continue until we leave. Just being with people who are kind and generous of their time and homes is so very good for the soul. Soon enough we will be standing on our own two feet again nurturing our own family on the other side of the Atlantic.

Covid robbed us of so much family time on both sides of the Atlantic, and further afield. This summer we have had some wonderful moments, lets hope we never have such big gaps between visits ever again

#274 theoldmortuary ponders

It’s complicated having Covid. Such gratitude that our experience has been so mild because we are triple vaccinated and usually well. But there are dark thoughts too, so many people have died from this actual virus. Including one close work colleague. I think I may never get over seeing his coffin,alone, in a multi-story car park, near his local Mosque. How could such a fabulous character, full of laughs and smelling of Tom Ford fragrance be contained in such a box. Unthinkable. And yet I do think. Never in my life has being negative meant so much. I really am just joining in at the scrag end of this virus, for the last 28 months I have just watched it from a distance, protected by isolations and then vaccine. Science, technology and luck have got me here, face to face with a notorious and prolific killer. I am very lucky that all our family lost, were some plans. There will be other days for plans.

#270 theoldmortuary ponders

And so, just like that, normal life stops with the screeching speed of a braking Heavy Goods Vehicle. What we had thought was a bad touch of hay fever turns out to be something entirely different. Routine testing prior to a visit to a vulnerable relation has put three of us in the Covid box. None of us are too poorly with it but it is the perfect excuse to watch Lion King.

Normal blogging service will resume when it cam

Pandemic Pondering #302

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.

Pandemic Pondering #273

A new Christmas Star combined with blue white lights , vaguely reminds me of the accepted depiction of the Coronovirus.

As a creative person, fond of flights of fancy, it is somewhat disappointing that, the much anticipated, vaccine is a clear fluid, all very clinical and reassuring, I’m sure. The magnitude of the job, though, surely requires something that resembles a potion, served in an old chemistry lab beaker and smoking with the addition of liquid nitrogen.

The imagined potion would be green, Lime green through to chartreusse. I’m not overthinking this at all! Well actually I am overthinking this, I’m keeping my eyes out for baubles in this exact shade of green to hang in the Christmas tree alongside the Covid Star for this year. A visual immunisation.

In future years we will unpack the baubles and wonder why anyone would choose baubles in such an unseasonal colour. I wonder if I should do a bulk order of Reindeers to grant my tree some ‘ Herd’ immunity?

I blame these short days, the long nights allow time for folkloric Ponderings of a meandering and pointless sort.

Pandemic Pondering #170

The Pandemic conundrum that is spitting. @theoldmortuary is opposite a pub, a normal sort of pub , regular clients, occasional live music which attracts non regulars and the passing trade of Church attenders for weddings, funerals and baptisms. A pub that causes no antisocial behaviour of note within the community. However some men attending the pub seem to think it is perfectly acceptable to spit either on the way in or on the way out . This was pretty dire before Covid-19 landed on our shores but now it just seems like the purpetrators of the spit somehow don’t grasp the increased significance of their vulgarity.

I’ve Googled ,so you don’t have to, Deep Throat Saliva still shows traces of active virus after 20 days in laboratory conditions. Obviously our local tarmac is somewhat more rugged than a laboratory but then to be fair some of the Saliva we get deposited locally comes from way further than deep throat. It wouldn’t surprise me to find portions of lung outside the pub or on the approaching pavements. Others chaps hawking echoes around their sinuses as they search for mucous and slime to deposit rancidly in the local landscape.

Rural Cornwall does not suffer in quite the same way as places with bigger concentrations of population or indeed China and other parts of Asia. But surely we should have Zero Tolerance to this filthy habit particularly during the Pandemic.

Rant over…

Illustrations from the archive of droplets of a nicer sort.

Pandemic Pondering #169

Life took @theoldmortuary to a cemetery this morning. The weather was shocking for September and a dense fog filled every nook and cranny . Taking the dogs for a scenic walk was pointless so we took a walk in a cemetery that began its existence to accommodate the dead from a different sort of Public Health Crisis

The Plymouth, Devonport and Stonehouse Cemetery was set up to alleviate overcrowding in church graveyards. 400 victims of the Cholera outbreak of 1848 are buried there.

This morning it was atmospheric to say the least and I did find a grave of the Baskerville family. Probably no coincidence that Stonehouse GP Arthur Conan Doyle used that wonderful surname in the title of his novel The Hound of the Baskerville’s, set in nearby Dartmoor.

Actual or literary Baskerville’s aside the morning had an aura of Victorian drama.

Ford Park Cemetery as it is now known needs continued burials to enable it to stay viable.

Prepaying gets you the sort of receipt that would be hard to tuck into a pocket or wallet.

The fog filled nearly the whole day but by 4pm the sun finally chased it away and by sunset I managed an entirely more cheery photo of a bird, in contrast to the morning bird of gloom.

The Seagull was perched on the perimeter of The Royal William Yard which was completed just 15 years before the Cholera outbreak in Plymouth. Plymouth , in common with many other cities had a growing population in the mid 19th Century and became overcrowded Cholera is caused by water born bacteria. People in overcrowded areas drinking water that is contaminated by a cocktail of filth both biological and industrial are highly susceptible.

Residents and workers at the Royal William Yard would be safer and luckier than other Plymouth inhabitants, because the Royal William Yard had its own reservoir for fresh water. The Western Kings Reservoir.

So in a wonderful coincidence my two pictures of birds taken today demonstrate rather nicely the benefits of safe drinking water.

Which leads me serendipitously to an article in The Guardian.


In contrast to the drear of the morning the evening took vivid to heart. Pessimism to Optimism in 12 hours.

Pandemic Pondering #46

Even in the midst of this pandemic there is some great thoughts and conversations happening around how we will remember this period of our lives.

A smart phone has made diarists of us all. My phone is set deliberately to store all the pictures my family and friends send me. I delete some but most are kept as a personal archive.

This blog contains my pictures and ponderings shared to those who care to read it. Facebook and Instagram are more public. Instagram is the quickest, I think, to give a flavour of the times. I just scrolled through my Instagram grid to check out how 45 days of restricted living and Lockdown looked in picture form from @theoldmortuary.

This grid marks the end of normal life. The bottom 6 pictures are from the days running up to the official lockdown. The next row up shows a poster for a cancelled art exhibition and the offer of local help plus the all important hand washing picture.

The cancelled art exhibition poster also marked the beginning of Pandemic Ponderings.

The top row are images from early Ponderings. In private I was pondering on the madness of thinking I would find something to write about, every day, when life was so restricted.

This second grid shows a life of settling into Lockdown. The bottom row shows memories of foreign travel. A wet footprint on some decking in Hong Kong, it was so hot that image lasted less than 5 seconds as it dried off. The picture represents my first meeting with our adored granddaughter in 2018,We thought it was awful that she was thousands of miles away and our meeting with her was so brief. Then her mum and dad decided to move home. Just 50 miles between us and still we rely on phone calls to chart her progress.

The Pangolin pictures in the middle were an homage to the poor creatures caught in the middle of the controversial ‘Wet’ markets where this pandemic is said to have originated.

An image of coffee shows our early pangs of missing out on coffee shops and the bottle of Cuban rum marks the beginning of our cooking obsession.

This last grid shows us settled into Pandemic lockdown life. No longer worried about the subject matter of Ponderings I just natter on about any thing. There are two images that mark slight freedoms. The roots on the second row up were photographed when it was made clear that we could drive a small distance to take exercise and the cogs on the top row were photographed on our first trip to a proper independent coffee shop this Saturday. Yesterday, the very first picture on the grid above, there was of course, Cake.

Pandemic Pondering #42

I’m not normally a lover of alliterative phrases linked to days of the week or names of the month, although I do quite like cleverer, less trite, alliteration. Today though #ThrowbackThursday, works for me, as the glasses featured are very retro.

Today the weather in Cornwall is strange. It’s been windy and stormy overnight and the heavy rain of the early morning, interspersed with bright glorious sunshine, was at one point replaced by icy hail. I realise that this scenario is just local to us and it set me thinking.

It is said about Covid- 19, Coronovirus that we are all in the same boat in the storm.

But we are not all in the same boat , we are not even all in the same storm.

We all share a storm in common, but we also all have our own storms and boats that determine how we cope with the shared storm.

In common with many, we are cooking a lot more, remembering dreams more vividly and are craving coffee and curiously bright colours.

Which brings me to the point of this pondering. I got caught in the Hail storm this morning whilst walking the dogs, it’s not what I expected in late April, but I also didn’t expect a sharp bright shaft of sunlight to give me such pleasure this morning.

We’ve been using some 1960’s or 70’s glasses to brighten up our water drinking during the lock-down. They were a gift from our friend Steph who gave them to us as a keepsake from her parents house.

They go in the dishwasher just like any other glasses. When I got in from the hailstone walk, sunlight was pouring through the window and then onto these freshly clean glasses. The Abstract patterns that illustrate this blog were created on the work surface for about five minutes between showers and absolutely illustrate why a slightly quixotic decision was a good one.

We are not all in the same boat

Or even the exact same storm

Surprising things will happen

Sometimes fresh out of the dishwasher.

Pandemic Pondering #28

The inevitable has happened, a friend, who I loved bumping into, has died, not of Coronovirus but something that had got its claws into her long ago. It was undeserved as most deaths are and the world has lost a fabulous ball of energy. Not for me the excoriating grief of close friends or family, more a sort of dull acceptance of the inevitability of an inevitable event.

I suppose I’m describing the loss of someone to whom I was not close close but whose company I really valued when our busy lives coincided.

Our last such meeting was serendipitous, one of her favourite words and one that I stole soon after I met her.

My little town was briefly brought to a standstill by hundreds of motorcycling Santa’s.

I had ‘popped’ out to collect keys from an estate agent,a job that should have taken 10 minutes, two hours later I was using an unusual route to find my car which I had left down by the river.

My friend and I met, I was hugely surprised, not only because she was already terminally ill but because she lived 5 miles away and our little town is never going to be on anyone’s bucket list of things to do before you die.

We hugged and made one another laugh, caught up on each others news and shared snippets of information about our friends in- common that either of us had met recently.

She has never had ‘ an Elephant in the room’ . Her Cancer story was never hidden and her progress, or not ,with it was well known. We shared an update.

” It’s bloody everywhere now”

” That is such a bugger, bastard thing”

We agreed to catch up with some other friends ‘ In the Spring’ . She caught her bus and I walked down a 45 degree hill to find my car.

As usual meeting her had lifted my heart and soul , maybe some sadness but primarily she had, as usual, shone optimism and happiness into our conversation and we had luxuriated in sharing the use of the word Serendipitous, as we always did.

So here I am in April , she has died. Coronovirus and it’s social restrictions have cancelled Spring meetings, even if Cancer hadn’t already done it’s bit to blight our springtime meeting. Coronovirus has shaped and impacted the way us second tier mourners do mourning. I can’t go round to our shared friends and give them a hug, drink tea and wallow in reminiscing, love and happy memories. Hugging is the thing that wordlessly both links and restores us, it feels inhuman to endure bereavement without them. Hugging saves us saying too much or too little and making the misery worse. It also offers the opportunity of sorting out leaking eyes or a snotty nose behind someone’s back.

Not for anyone in the second tier of connection to her and many in the first the chance to gather together to celebrate and mourn the loss of a veritable power house of a woman.

It all feels kind of blunt really. Dreadfull sadness with no ability to hug or share seems to take on a previously unimaginable direction and poignancy.

The power of Hugging, I miss it.