#470 theoldmortuary ponders

Today’s late blog is late because the planned blog did not go to plan. I had an early start this morning and a lazy evening last night so there was no back up plan. The 3rd of February is an insignificant date @theoldmortuary but a trawl through past photos taken on the 3rd of February have a strange coincidence. In recent years the footpaths and fields of our Cornish lives had become quite difficult to navigate as winter rains make the ground underfoot muddy and slippery. By February I was pretty intolerant of me and the dogs being grubby after every walk. Sometimes I would seek a more urban environment with tarmac paths in parkland. Devils Point in Plymouth was often my choice because there was also good coffee at Hutong.

Hutong 2018

And fabulous views.

Devils Point 2021

Of course between these two photos Covid struck and that changed everyone’s lives. By February 2021 we had evolved into the sort of people who loved to swim, year round in the sea. Not something we could achieve safely near to our home in Cornwall. By late 2021 we were living in Stonehouse, a quick walk to the coffee shop, the swimming area and the beautiful views. The beautiful flowers, Cafe Au Lait dahlias, were left in Cornwall.

#392 theoldmortuary ponders

©Gails Bakery

Yesterday was my birthday. Under normal circumstances I don’t think birthdays always get a mention in my ponderings. This one gets a mention because it was quite unbirthday-like. After a week in London providing love and support to a new grandaughter, and attending the blogging course, my birthday was the day to travel home.

Not that the birthday was unmarked. Sunday evening there was a fabulous curry for supper boosted by savoury Bengali snacks from Brick Lane and a Connie the Caterpillar Cake.

Our drive to Devon was made birthday-special by visiting a Gails Bakery on our pre-drive dog walk. Gail’s is a large, London, chain of bakeries. Their cheese straws are my personal gold standard. Because it was my birthday I chose two baked goods to accompany me to Devon and a flat white, oat milk coffee. I picked, as my luxury item a brioche bun. Unknown to me it was not just any bun but a Christmas Bun!

Despite being a fairly loyal customer , I had never encountered a Christmas Bun before. Why do these things happen just as I leave London? To save me from myself would be the best answer.

The revelatory moment occurred as I drove on the A3 almost certainly beyond the last outpost of the Gails sphere of influence. Out into the world of Surrey and beyond.

No other incident in my life has made me inspired to make brioche buns before. Googling gives me the other ingredient I will need to learn to make – frangipane.

If I manage to crack this project there is one thing certain. These buns will not just be for Christmas.

The other end of the journey also had a surprise. We stopped on the edge of Dartmoor to collect something, the unusually warm November had allowed Lichen to thrive on Gabions that had been used instead of Traditional dry stone walling. I am normally very sniffy about such poor practice but who wouldn’t be charmed by these quilt- like patches of lichen.

Now this may seem an odd pairing for a blog but anyone who regularly drives long distances knows just how hard it is to get enough green into your diet on driving days. The same goes for blogs.

#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.

#204 theoldmortuary ponders

Bluebell woods can be tricksy to photograph effectively. This was my best shot of the day in some new to me woods. New England Woods near Ivybridge. The river Yealm runs through the woods and will become a freshwater swimming location very soon. Alongside the bluebells the Ransomes, or Wild Garlic were bright and white and happy to pose for a phone camera.

Not that they would have been quite so happy to pose if they realised that a bit of wild garlic is a wonderful thing when added to roast potatoes.

Unlike bluebells the wild garlic were easy to capture.

And the birdsong was equally compliant.

#189 theoldmortuary ponders

Yesterday the blog drove life, rather than lagged behind it. Some friends were reading the blog on their way to shop at Ikea. Realising that we would all be there at the same time they Whatsapped us and we all had breakfast together. Then we parted, them to browse and buy things they didn’t need and us to click and collect with no chance of temptation. With our van loaded with multiple Kallax units we drove off to the South West Coastal Path to walk a little chunk of it. We really did pack a lot into one Ikea trip. Despite the sunshine the sea mist was not kind to us at all so there are no glorious seascapes to share.

Wildflowers had their moment in the spotlight. As did small portions of Atlantic Rainforest.

We had a really comfortable few hours in the sun, walking in a new area. We stopped for lunch at the intersection of three footpaths and took some time reading about the walk we were doing.

If you can read the text you can see that beautiful, white, Park Cattle were predicted.

We met Brown Cattle with horns. Brown cattle who had been absolutely pissed off by teenage boys running at them and screeching on the very very steep rough pasture where we met them. Brown cattle who took one look at us and decided that they would graze and wetly defaecate on the only narrow track that was available to us. Just because they could and because as representatives of the human race we had to pay the price of too much testosterone in teenage boys.

The cattle had safety in numbers so we sat down again to enjoy the non view and give them the chance to wander back off. We also had our own slight testosterone problem. At the sight of the cattle blocking our path Hugo was pumping himself up to be the Alpha male of our pack and started practicing his latent herding manoeuvres, while firmly on the lead. Despite a wait of nearly twenty minutes the cattle were going nowhere and even if they did leave, the footpath had become a stinky puddle of post lunch poo. Our choices were limited; retrace our steps, possibly the simplest, but 3 miles distance, solution to get to a point 500 yards away. Take an unknown footpath for a similar distance in a different direction or scramble up an almost 90 degree, gorse covered slope. Obviously we chose the gorse covered slope!

The details of the scramble will remain hazy. All was well that ended well. There was a huge fallen tree at the top of the slope, the perfect place to stop, take a sip of water, gather our thoughts and allow our pumping hearts to return to a normal rhythm. We could also observe, 500 yards beneath us the brown cattle still quietly grazing and pooping on the footpath. They had an air of solidarity and victory about them.

#179 theoldmortuary ponders

This blog had a theme in the planning stage but an early morning message from a school friend, who lives in Australia slightly changed the narrative journey.

There is an inevitability about being a woman and revealing the county of your birth if that county happens to be Essex.

But life is a path travelled, and for now my path has taken me to Devon, and currently not too much further. I am 14 weeks into a wait for a new passport which has transitioned from being a holiday busting pain in the arse, to a smug sense of relaxation as the news media constantly broadcasts travel doom. Showing over- busy airports struggling to move a whole Easterworth of happy travellers for the first time in two years.

For now, this Essex Woman is going nowhere, and yes I have been many of the things Sarah Perry observed, so maybe not imposing myself on the wider world for a few months is a kindness imposed by the United Kingdom Passport service.

#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

#45 theoldmortuary ponders

Todays blog was knocked off the front page by another story of bobbing. This is how tranquil the area was when we went for a dip last night. But what lies underneath?

A playful seal! Spearmint the seal joined the two distance swimmers at the furthest buoy and swam back with them to one of the other swimmers. They calmly warned her that they were not alone. Not trusting them at all she disbelieved them. Calm, was not, in truth, how any of them were feeling . An onlooker who was alerted by their excited chatter said she had never seen anyone swim back to the shore so fast. On arrival back in Tranquility bay Spearmint played around with two other bobbers before noticing that the others were getting out, she joined them in a rush for the beach and the video that follows was her being calm with a background soundtrack of excited chatter.


Teresa, the quick thinking onlooker who filmed this also had a video of Spearmint having her supper.


I think it is safe to say that the whole encounter was a lot more exciting for the humans, Miss Spearmint just takes the whole thing very much in her stride.


Soon after she returned to the sea the water if not the ‘ bobbers’ was entirely tranquil.

#44 theoldmortuary ponders

I had known for a little while that this particular blog was going to be about illumination because I had tickets to attend an illumination festival in the Royal William Yard.What I hadn’t expected was that the sunset over our evening swim would be quite so spectacular. Just a tiny tweak on the saturation of this image brought out all these gorgeous colours.

After drying off and warming up we set off to visit the area around Ocean Studios which was the location of Illuminate.

Like lots of things this event has been postponed a few times.

Many of the illuminations were similar to previous years but a new one was a fabulous, luminescent squid called Bobby Dazzler by Kate Crawford and Beth Munro. Visitors were invited to add embelishment to Bobby with fingertips dabbed in luminescent paint.

Outside we could write on a graffiti wall. My rookie error was to seek out a clear piece of wall to advertise this blog without checking the appropriateness of the surrounding marks.

Also new to Illuminate were the thousands of bugs and moths fluttering in the breeze to remind us that we must protect biodiversity and species around the world. There was also the luxury of a cafe serving decent quality late night coffee, always a bonus!

The architecture of the Grade 1 listed buildings lends added texture to projected videos.

And although I failed to record a video the musical pipes and interactive lights were fascinating. Although not particularly musical in our hands.

Returning just for a final comment and illumination to our sunset swim. Here I am wearing my night swimming hat which was a birthday gift last week.

©Gilly Bobber