March 1st St Davids Day. Monday . The last full month of Lockdown in Britain …
Meanwhile Fools Spring is still in full swing . To avoid too many people we set off for the beach early and were rewarded with a Mediterranean style morning coffee just west of Plymouths Ferry Port on wartime concrete set into the cliffs.
10,000 or so steps later we returned for an evening swim.
We are lucky, now, that we only have tide times and the weather to consider. Sunrise and Sunset have pushed back enough for them not to be a concern. The bright evening sunlight gave us an interesting moment. Is this the oldest Co-op shop in Britain?
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.
At no time in the last week or so would we have chosen to stand in this location . A cold wind has been blowing in from the East, today it was gone and a watery sun suggested that a taste of Spring was the style of the day.
This visit was not a ‘ Bobbing’ visit but we very much regretted not having our swimming stuff with us. Progressive as Plymouth is trying really hard to be I doubt if skinny dipping from a prestigious tourist destination would go unnoticed. So walking and talking was the focus of the morning 10,000 steps. Conversations were wide ranging but centred for the most part on what the future holds for us after the Pandemic. You can read the serious stuff elsewhere but consider this. What happens when we share an actual exercise room with other people. Will they be willing to see us stretching and moving in our pyjamas? No sports bra keeping our bouncing parts under control. Pilates! Pilates is well known for being one of the more fart producing classes. Doing it on- line in your own sitting room allows a certain casualness about such things. After nearly a year of a looser bottom etiquette, at home , the first few communal sessions may be windier than our last weekend.
We did return later for a swim, appropriately dressed. The weak sun had changed and the currents were not too kind. A good ‘Bob’ was had but it started on our usual beach and finished further to the west.
The tunnel, later, had a different light but was still wind free. Maybe Spring is lurking.
It was a ‘Tiara Bob’ today. In other words a Bobbers Birthday.
Also a two bob day.
Our informal ‘Bobbing’ group only has one rule. There always needs to be one non-swimmer for safety and photograhy.
Two bobs were called because Birthday Zooms were needed at the optimum tide . So we split into two groups, one for birthday zooming and one for optimum tide grabbing.
The birthday group were bouyant. The birthday bobber got gifts and Pandemically acceptable hugs.
In the afternoon the Optimal Tide Bobbers were obliged to not swim in the sea as the currents at our favourite beach were a bit too strong. Instead we opted an Atlantic Infinity Pool with a wave splash feature.
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.
Summer in February. The sun put in an appearance today and the Stonehouse beaches looked like socially distanced summer.
We enjoyed coffee in the sun and witnessed a charming rescue by Plymouths Plastic Patrol.
Pictured below before the current pandemic.
A toddler dropped a much loved Zebra in the water near the Royal William Yard. The tide was high and, sadly, Zebra had to be left to his watery fate. Some time later members of Plastic Patrol paddled past.
They swiftly recovered the Zebra and, as luck would have it, Archie and his parents were waiting for a take out-coffee.
Pandemic Pondering #300, again!!! After last weeks recalibration of pondering numbers . I can celebrate reaching 300 for the second time in a month. Dysnumeracy rules! Today we can celebrate with a naturally occuring heart, which I found at the rear of our regular swimming beach.
Regular or repetitive these posts maybe but today was the day for socially distanced swimming at Tranquility Bay. An hour of exercise, of which only twenty minutes was spent in the water. 10 minutes stripping off and probably another 20 trying to get our clothes back on when fingers and feet no longer belong to us.
The swim today was fueled by coffee from Cakewhole who were closing as we arrived but understood our need as they sea swim too.
Cake may also have passed our lips but winter sea swimming has a way of clearing out vexascious thoughts. Cake can be very vexascious.
The peril of a swim later in the day is the timing of the sleepy zone that follows the euphoria and energy boost that cold water swimming brings. By 9pm we thought it was midnight and slunk off to bed. Ostensibly to read books, the truth, of course, was that barely had the cup of tea cooled to drinking temperature before the sleep monster wrestled us into the duvet.
The quiet observance of two resin ruminants. One of our regular and frequent walks on the Stonehouse Peninsular takes in part of the Southwest Coast Path, Hugo and Lola always like a sniff of these two quiet cows.
They ruminate on a green which would have been a historic walk from a tunnel where animals were unloaded to walk across the green to a slaughterhouse that was part of the Royal William Victualling Yard. The place where the Royal Navy loaded up ships with food, drink, and essentials to keep sailors fed and effective.
We did a couple of circuits of our usual walk once in each direction. A friend had told me she had seen a rare daffodil on New Years Eve . I didnt find it first time around so I put on more clothing, the wind was brutal, and walked back in the opposite direction. Success!
A single clump of Grand Primo Citronaire.
Identified by Kathy’s photograph from a Daffodil Identification Day.
10,000 steps, ruminating ruminants and Grand Primo Citronaire. What more could I possibly want from an hours exercise!
Some days we commit to a dog walk regardless of the weather. Yesterday’s was a case in point. Our regular circular walk around Sutton Harbour in Plymouth was tied into the day by some chores that also needed to be achieved. Once the chores were done the weather had taken quite a turn for the worse, our walk from Commercial Street to the Barbican was definitely the sort of walk where you spend more time looking at your feet with your head lowered against the ice cold needles of rain. Pondering my feet as a distraction against rain gave me the topic of this particular walk. The Barbican area of Plymouth has more cobbles than any other area of Britain.
I am no expert on cobbles. I do know they can be lethal when wearing high heels or when out on work Christmas parties. Both things that the world has given up in 2020.
Cobbles fascinate me . I’ve even painted an abstract , still unsold unsurprisingly, that was inspired by the bright lights, happiness and occasional vomit on the streets of the Nightlife area of the Barbican. I called it Excressences. Even with a gorgeous title it didn’t sell.
In the time before Lockdown we would sometimes do Historic guided tours of Plymouth for pleasure. One of them taught us how to identify shrapnel damage to streets and buildings. I wonder if this is an example on the disused Railtrack on the cobbles of Tin Wharf.
As you can see, the weather did dry up and after a coffee we looked skyward only to discover Christmas had sneaked in early.