Advent and the run up to Christmas is not all about the ‘front-of-house’ stuff. Some prep is definitely more mundane. A new loo seat and a consignment of loo rolls were part of this week’s plans.
As it turns out some nice soft tissue was exactly what we needed. Christmas is bittersweet for many people. There is the excitement of gathering with family and friends tinged with sadness remembering the people it is no longer possible to mingle with on the earthly realm. With this in mind we took ourselves off to see the Stephen Spielberg, West Side Story.
Having both grown up with this vinyl recording of the soundtrack in our homes, we thought it was a good way to remember our mums. Obviously @theoldmortuary blog is not normally a film reviewing blog.
We loved it, a fabulous way to spend three hours in a reclining seat. Spoiler alert. You may need tissues.
Yesterday was vivid. The exuberant creativity of a passing cyclist embellished the day and boosted our happiness in a way that sweaty lycra never would.
Instagram @bondwimbledon added to a day that was full of texture and sensation. Starting with a purple cabbage.
In truth the day actually started with dusty, filthy feet when I got a little lost on Wimbledon Common, but nobody needs to see those bad boys on a Monday morning. The inevitability of Autumn gave more texture with fallen Oak leaves which have way more charm than my grubby toes.
Fuelled by lunch from Wimbledon Market, Turkish flat breads and salad.
We set off for the Sky Garden in the City for vertiginous views and some much needed, after the last 20 months, or so, family time out and about.
Even there,in a highly controlled environment, Autumn gave us some gorgeous form and texture.
Natures way of mimicking the King of Bling!
The Sky Garden is an extraordinary place to people watch although the style bar for the day had been set to unreachable high standards already. An accidental photographic moment , the red crane that forms a tick, sums up my relationship with London. Some of the best moments of my working life were had in hospitals that are part of the annonymity of this urban landscape. Some wonderful friendships were formed within the boundaries of this image.
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.
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.
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.
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.
That really was a weekend of dodging heavy rainfall and sometimes being defeated by the gallons of water falling from the sky. Yesterday the only dog walk that wasn’t done in raincoats and wellies rewarded us with this lovely old window aperture. It overlooks The Elizabethan Garden. Nearby this brave rose had bloomed unseasonably early only to have its outer petals battered by the weather, but the internal folds look just like rippled ice cream.
Increased rainfall changed our plans but we just replaced walking activities with talking activities and eating out with eating in. Normally a weekend spent talking to friends and family might be described as ‘ putting the world to rights’ . But with a world with Labyrinthine problems, not unlike the folds of this rose, we talked ourselves in circles and had a great time doing it. The name of this fishing boat neatly sums up our revised weekend.
Good Morning, Good Friday and we are embarking on another strange Easter. Yesterday my list of jobs included finishing the Christmas present wrapping. Not a usual deadline for early April but these are not usual times.
I don’t fully understand the movement of Easter dates but it must be around this early part of April quite often as my Facebook Memories page for today has lots of photographs of us specifically doing family stuff on the 2nd April. The dogs also appear to always be well groomed around now. Ready to charm relations into cuddles and tasty nibbles.
In contrast, like many people this Easter, Hugo is looking rugged.
Motorways also seem to play a big part in memories of past April 2nds. The M25 and the M3 have their own mentions on Facebook . The M3 is recorded as being more like a car park than a motorway. 11 years ago we were heading to Southampton to visit a family member in Southampton and then travelling on to Cornwall We were stuck somewhere on the M25 and could see our friend Suzannah in a car next too us. She was also travelling between London and Devon. We managed a twenty minute catch up before the traffic moved!
Food is also a big part of any Easter and 10 years ago despite an over-full fridge and many Easter eggs we felt the need to visit Pattiserie Valerie and stock up on fancy calories.
In a previous iteration of record keeping there is also a lot of mentions of visiting comedy clubs or venues in early April. We trailed all over London for comedy but our ‘home’ pitch for laughter was the East Dulwich Comedy Club.Based either at the East Dulwich Tavern or The Hob in Forest Hill. We are never hecklers but we do often fall for being the victims of witty banter.
One Easter 6 years ago myself, Hannah and Hannahs mum had the mammoth task of sorting a mountain of Lego and Silvanian Families. It was a production line of cleaning and packing away for future family members.
In the middle of the task we were stopped by a phone call from Japan. Sam, my son, and his friend Martin had managed, in a drunken state, to upset members of the Japanese mafia, the Yakuza and were being chased around a city by them. Silvanian families and Lego were put aside as we nattered to a loquacious Sam who was hiding in a doorway.
Family, friends, travel, food, laughter and memories. The stories of Easters of the past .
The shortest day has lost daylight and quite frankly the few hours of daylight were of pretty poor quality in our part of the world.
Hugo and Lola tolerated another day of dog walks planned around the rejigging of Festive Logistics @theoldmortuary . Nothing on our walks was inspirational enough to illustrate this blog so the Christmas tree has stepped in, rather camply, to shine a light in the darkness. Apart from fog and rain it was a successful day, the last of the Christmas gifts were wrapped and sorted for collection. All the gifts for our family, marooned so suddenly in London and the South East, have gone off in the post or with a kind friend who was driving up to the city today.
The shortest day is always a day of optimism that from here days start to lengthen and we can begin to look forward to Spring. This year the feelings have extra significance given the mental and physical load that everyone is carrying during the Pandemic.
So now concentration must turn to creating a festive season for two people and two dogs. This could be tricksy, we have never catered for such low numbers over Christmas.
I wonder if a quiet year will give us the chance to think about all the amazing people we have shared the festivus with in past years . There is also a chance that for once the TV might actually be turned on but if the weather is good that is unlikely.
Today we hosted a family gathering and at one point the impromptu junk band started playing a Christmas tune.
I joked that it was like Christmas in July in the U.S, which we had experienced once . TV channels playing Christmas films, large family gatherings in parks. At the time it was explained to me that sometimes families who are widespread across the U.S have trouble getting together for actual Christmas because of extreme wintry weather. It all seemed pretty sensible to me.
Discovering that Saturday was actually the 25th of July and that we were having a family gathering with too much food and the obligatory walk prompted some pondering and research.
The internet gifted me the above article that didn’t list the weather as a factor in the U.S but did baffle me with the information that Christmas in July is actually a thing in the U.K.
Not anywhere near me at any time ever!
I completely get the Southern Hemisphere thing. The need to celebrate/perk up the midwinter season was understood by primitive man and just hijacked by Christianity with some judicial juggling of dates.
After reading this I realised our accidental gathering was pretty amateurish. We do have solar powered lights for the summer season so I’m including these in the blog to give us a little more authenticity.
Also accidentally some sunflowers were bought which is a great way to end both this blog and retrospectively enhance yesterdays.
Time to start getting Christmas in July Boxing Day organised…
#25 is significant because it’s a quarter of 100 and it falls on Easter Sunday. A significant day in the Christian Calendar and the 25th Pandemic Pondering. @theoldmortuary we have a cheerfully Agnostic view of life and will embrace any faiths festivals especially if food and drink are involved. Science, I find, has all the answers and yet fails to pull humans together for a good old communal eating session. Big error there I feel.
I threw the blog open to several platforms that I’m using to communicate with, asking people to send me pictures of celebratory/ festival meals. Hopefully I can tell a good story to link them all up. It’s going to take a week at least to finish as Greek( Orthodox) Easter happens next week. So there will be a few versions of #25 as images arrive.
I needn’t have concerned my self about nobody responding. I’m just grateful not to have to have been polite and eaten something from every contributor.
To start us off I give you the celebratory meals of Mr Abid Mahboob. Abid is a friend I met at a hospital named The Heart Hospital, not only did it fix all manner of broken hearts, and lungs. It was one of the most joyous hospitals to work in. Abid and I also worked together at BartsHeartCentre as St Bartholomew’s Hospital, at both these places Abid produced the most amazing festive creative catering , besides being a radiographer the same as me. Abid as his name suggests is Muslim and he produces the most amazing Eid celebratory meals. Christmas work celebrations or leaving/wedding parties at The Heart or Bart’s are the most amazing feasts when Abid takes charge. He has a fabulous family who support him in his culinary excellence. In London NHS staff come from every corner of the world. Not only did Abid cater wonderfully with his Pakistani Heritage food he also encouraged us all to bring in traditional food from our own homelands. I always felt I got off somewhat lightly with Pasties and cream teas.
The next few pictures are examples of Abids amazing catering. They are from his smaller gatherings. At work he would cheerfully feed 70 or more people on occasions. All images were taken before Social Isolation and Coronovirus restrictions.
Abid is currently working in the front line at Bart’s Hospital.
Another front line friend is Jane Cooke, she is a chef, currently providing excellent catering in a rest home. The following pictures are the Afternoon Tea the rest home residents were offered today.
Afternoon tea and cake was also the subject of my friend Karen Mills celebratory food.
All this cake brings me to a 60 th Birthday. I’m not sure I imagined a boat in this particular Blog but here are Kim Coles photos of Andy Coles birthday, his picnic happened on a boat. Family gathering at its best.
Gratefully I’m going to take a break on Pandemic Pondering #25. Time to enjoy my own Easter Lockdown Feast before more lovely contributions from others. More soon.