Pandemic Pondering #282

Merry Christmas, who needs a big blog on Christmas morning, probably no one . What we all need is our friends and family around us. The hurly burly of traditions all bound up with over crowded homes and too much food. What we have this year @theoldmortuary is the time to go and look at Christmas lights after last minute shopping.

Southside Street, The Barbican, Plymouth.

And the chance to make home made cranberry sauce.

While watching Christmas Carols from Kings College, Cambridge.

Very peaceful and lovely, but not normal. We love and miss our festive season regulars, the irregulars and those in other realms. Love to our families and friends far and wide. You light up our lives.

Cranberry Sauce 2020

Pandemic Pondering #281

Christmas Eve 2020, what to say! Facebook reminded me yesterday that the day before Christmas Eve is usually Christmas Jumper Day, if it is a work day. Not @theoldmortuary we usually rock a festive t-shirt, you can hide it under scrubs and flash when appropriate.

Which is very fortunate for this meandering blog . Facebook also shared a video with me this morning. It seems only right to share it on here too.

My favourite Christmas tune of all time.

It’s very strange looking into a fridge on Christmas Eve and still see spare capacity. It’s also odd to feel able to crack open the festive treats, Cheese Footballs, without a pang of guilt that I am depriving my children of a heritage, festive, comestible. No family for us this year, just an empty table where sometimes there have been over twenty. Not this actual table obviously.

Back to Cheese footballs.The more retro cheese footballs become the more significant it is to hunt them down early in the festive shopping season. I’ve had these little chaps since September. I have even supplied other families with them. I am obsessed!

In these Covid times where even trivial things have disappeared I thought I would share my personal timeline of cheese footballs

My grandparents owned a country pub for most of their lives. A substantial meal in their establishment was a pickled egg and a bag of crisps.

© Beresfords Estate Agents

High days and holidays were marked by bar snacks. This was long before the health hazards of such things was common knowledge. Christmas was marked by swapping out the dry peanut and raisin combo for Huntley and Partners Cheese Footballs. The tin below is the retail version. Pubs could get a substantial size catering pack in the same design. Nobody ever knew that my greedy hands helped themselves to the Christmas stock long before it got to the bar, which for reasons explained below is a good thing!

© https://h2g2.com/edited_entry/A4960

Time moved on and pubs like The Red Cow have disappeared. The illustration of the building above is an image I found earlier today on the internet.

Bar snacks have been tested and declared a bad idea because, pre- Covid, the words man, pub toilet and hand washing rarely appeared in sentences or real life. High levels of transferred urine and faecal matter could be detected in free bar snacks within half an hour of being placed on the counter. Women may also have been guilty of the non hand washing crime.

Cheese footballs not unlike the England football team are a long way from their golden years of the sixties. Every September they can be spotted in the Seasonal aisles of a few supermarkets. Dressed up in a fancier tub and sold by KP.

At this point pondering took a curious path. I googled the Red Cow to see if the internet had an image. It did and a whole lot more.

I can share with you an article from the Daily Mail discussing the conversion of the Red Cow to a dwelling. The toilets get a mention. Fascinating too that the new owner was a microbiologist.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/property/article-2174208/amp/How-turned-Red-Cow-Daisy-Cottage.html

Somewhat stranger is an image of my grandfather’s grave in Wethersfield Cemetery that appears on the same Google. Something I have never seen before. My family did mild dysfunction long before it was a ‘thing’. My grandmother , Gladys, is buried in Melbourne, Australia.

As it turns out this is exactly the right blog for Christmas Eve 2020. A curious mixture of festive, reflective, emotional and pragmatic. I urge you to view the video, it is gorgeously poignant.

Merry Christmas, thankyou for being here.

P.S Following the publication of this blog a local history group sent me two photographs of The Red Cow.

Thanks to https://wethersfield-history.org.uk/ for sending these.

The top photo is how I remember the pub but with the signage of the lower picture. The pub was a Ridley’s establishment or house as it would have been known.

Pandemic Pondering #265

The Theft of the Family Baubles
Yesterday saw the gathering of three friends for breakfast @theoldmortuary table. For those of you who have read the ‘about’ page of this blog will know the table is where many Ponderings start.

All three of us had rather sad tales involving the theft of our familial collections of Christmas decorations. I suspect it is unusual to have such sorry tales involving something as trivial as Christmas decorations but the triviality underlines the unkindness of people.

Memories for all three of us are triggered by Christmas decorations. As a collective group of women we have been robbed of Christmas decorations that we knew and loved as children. Between the three of us they represented memories from Woolworths, Hong Kong, Poland, Harrods and many unremembered locations and events , in age they possibly stretched back almost 100 years. The theft of them says so much about the character of the people who took them as their only true value is within the loving memories of family members. Sadly, they are likely to all be in landfill somewhere now, as detached from their memories they do become worthless tat.

I think, encouraged by this sad talk, we decided to mark 2020 with some new decorations. We were aiming for gaudy colours with maybe a hint of retro and perhaps a little bit tastelessness. These new additions illustrate this blog.

Several things revealed themselves to us.

Gaudy and tasteless is not a thing in 2020.

Woolworths has gone.

The first week of December is way too late to get peak choice in Christmas Bauble World.

Some stars look a little like a Covid-19 Virus.

And to those Bauble thieves in three different locations – we know where you live.

Pandemic Pondering #227

Beach day after Storm Aidan. Last night was very stormy @theoldmortuary. It was a blustery walk at Seaton Beach this lunchtime.

As it happens it was good that we got out for a blow through on the beach, soon after we got home there was the promise of an evening briefing from the Prime Minister. This really can mean only one thing. A further Lockdown in Britain.

There was a little stone heart caught up in a pile of tidal detritus as we got onto the beach. Maybe a metaphor for the next few weeks. Some days beach days are also about the people who are not there with us.

This weekend was also the second birthday of our darling VV. This was her first birthday in Crystal Palace Park

This year she is living in more exotic places with different sartorial needs. Beach walks are not the same without her. These little feet are in Hong Kong now.

Meanwhile after the walk it is Saturday evening and time for Strictly Come Dancing. Even the Guinea Pig, Ginny and Hugo are ready.

Here we go headlong into another Lockdown, thank goodness this weekend was about a bit of mingling.

Pandemic Pondering #135

August 1st 2020.

For a month Pandemic Ponderings will be slightly controlled by the prompt list that my art group, Drawn to the Valley is using to inspire a response from members on Instagram and Facebook during August.

As you know from PP#133, I am slightly churlish about prompts but am choosing to see this as a creative challenge not only for art but my creative writing/social history Ponderings.

#1 Gardens

About two and a bit years ago garden design @theoldmortuary took on a new angle when we had to make it safe for an anticipated grandchild.

At the time that little family were living in Hong Kong so we had time on our side for alterations to the structure of the garden.

Then with great excitement they returned to Cornwall to live and our garden plans were properly tested and found to be pretty exciting for someone under two.

Then the Pandemic hit and she couldn’t visit. Then the Pandemic hit in a different way and they have had to return to Hong Kong.

Here she is inspecting the garden for herself, from above.

Then she required a meeting with the Head Gardener to discuss changes and improvements required for when she is able to visit again.

By embracing prompts I have been able to explain in a gentle way why we’ve been a little sad for a few months.

In the future the little person will know that she was loved and we were sad to see her go in 2020.

I’m looking at prompts in a new way let’s hope I am not a recidivist and return to my grumpy prompt hating ways.

For completeness sake here is the picture I’m going to pop into Instagram for the Garden prompt.

Dead heading into a turquoise bucket.

Pandemic Pondering #123

100 WordPress readers for the blog. I know it’s nothing compared to hugely popular blogs, but 100 people who are happy to read along on the pondering journey of someone insignificant, who just enjoys writing and connecting, is thrilling!
I was pondering the longevity of Pandemic Ponderings when I remembered one of my favourite books, ‘The Long Weekend’ by Robert Graves. It is a social history of the interwar years.

I wonder if we are entering a Pandemic ‘Long Weekend’ in Britain. Restrictions of the draconian type are being lifted and bits of life are returning to some form of normal. @theoldmortuary lives a more resticted life than the government suggests whilst still connecting with family and friends. We are mindful of the Second Wave of the pandemic which could start anytime between August or October depending on who you talk to.
So I will ponder on through the Pandemic ‘long weekend’ and into the second wave taking at least 100 of you with me.

On with the Sunday blog.
Two quotes landed in my social media feed today. They are properly robust pieces of secular writing with not a hint of whimsy, new agedness or religion.

I love them both. They need no explanation, but I would say they represent quite accurately my attitude to life.

Time to catch up on 3 regular topics in the blog.

The first dahlia of Pandemic Pondering #120 is the only Dahlia still. This morning he was looking gorgeous but as you can see from the photo, protecting him from slugs and bugs comes at a cost. He cannot live out in the green areas of the garden but has to live on the decking area where domestic life happens. Here he is this morning amongst the drying washing.

This evening he is still wide awake at sunset.

Our fitness regime, at home with Joe Wicks on YouTube continues, and has often had a mention blogwise but after more than 18 weeks of exercising at home we are addicted to having a velvet cushion for our aching knees. Surely all gyms could provide such comfort.

And finally we did our regular walk around Sutton harbour and the Barbican in Plymouth. Our regular haunt of Jacka Bakery was enhanced today by having some of our lovely family in it.

Sunday pondering, a little bit deep, a little bit superficial. Thanks for being 1 in 100 xxx

Pandemic Pondering #96

Pods , Bubbles and Raindrops and a metaphor.

Rain did not stop play this weekend, but it did rain in Cornwall, this weekend. Our schedule had enough flexibility built into it to avoid a drenching. Thank goodness. We formed a government approved Bubble with my daughter and then socially distanced with some other familial bubbles.

If I know anything significant about bubbles it is that they pop in the rain. I would have felt safer if the government had used the word ‘pod’

Podding with someone feels robust and resilient. There is a protective element to the word.

Bubbling with someone seems frivolous and fanciful, flimsy.

A sensible mother would protect her child in a pod, we were only offered a bubble. People go into space in a pod not a bubble.

Without becoming over political this reflects the whole sorry state of Pandemic Precautions in England. Run by a government that chooses the flimsy alternative to the more robust one, every time.

We had a good weekend skitting about in our bubble avoiding rainshowers. Raindrops posed boastfully on flowers everywhere, calling attention to themselves and providing a visual metaphor for the virus that could at any moment pop our ‘ bubble’ of a slowly easing Lockdown.

Other flowers though had shrugged off the rain and were ready to get on with life as normal. A happy state that we humans are not quite at.

Hugo , being a dog flitted wilfully between bubbles and at other times posed in flower beds. Having completely misunderstood which restrictions have been relaxed.

Pandemic Pondering #95

Father’s Day

@theoldmortuary we don’t have any fathers. Definitely a cause of sadness but within our micro family we have two Father’s, my ex-husband and my son. Today was a socially distanced family gathering to celebrate at a distance those father’s both with us and those no longer with us.

Celebrate takes on a whole new way of being when the only alcohol is in the hand sanitizer and everyone has prepared their own picnic.

Our destination was the Eden Project as previous visits, since the relaxation of lockdown, have been very easy. It is never busy and has plenty of space for a family to social distance.

Our progress is always slow around Eden.

Today, patterns was my photographic project , beyond the family of course.

This first image is a pierced stained glass design and it’s projected image stitched together and then tiled.

The rest are just pierced metal and bright sunlight.

Finally we have the three people,all in the same log, that celebrated Father’s Day with their Dads today.

Pandemic Pondering #94

Northern hemisphere Summer Solstice 2020 and in Britain Stonehenge is all closed up and guarded by security.

Gathering in numbers is still illegal, although on our evening walk there were larger gatherings,than permitted, out and about but pretty nasty rain would have dispersed them. So the longest day will still pass without being marked in a communal way.

Trawling the archive seemed the right way to mark a solstice like no other.

For interest sake I researched the days either side of the solstice.

Without too much trouble it was easy to see some themes and maybe a little bit of Midsummer Madness.

1. People

Today @theoldmortuary spent time with our daughter and granddaughter.

In past years we’ve spent time with Brenda our mother-in-law. Who in this picture was captured by a sunbeam. We will also see her again today, who knows if she will bring the sunbeam again.

Breakfast in Southampton with Uncle Mohammed and Aunty Margaret who live in Canada but were passing through.

2. My fascination with street signs.

3. A fascination with stairs.

4. Flowers

5. Aberdeen , Hong Kong

6. Cups

7. Dogs , ending with a sunset on the longest day.

Pandemic Pondering #81

A pandemic 1st for @theoldmortuary. A Day Out.

Today we went to the Eden Project in Cornwall to have a socially distanced meet up with some of our family.

The Eden Project opened to the public recently for the first time since Lockdown.
https://www.edenproject.com

The Eden Project has got socially distanced tourism spot on. You have to book a slot, so it can’t be a spontaneous visit but beyond that the amount of control is so deftly handled, once you are in, it is easy to forget the restrictions of the pandemic, without ever flouting them.

On arrival there are ample public toilets, water stations and a take out coffee shop. The hosts who welcome you have the same welcoming charm as London 2012 Olympic Volunteers, and that was considered a Gold Standard of hosting. Hand sanitising gel is available as soon a you reach the welcome concourse and throughout the site.

Only the outside area is open during this pandemic opening. Visitors are guided to wander through areas that can be overlooked by anyone dazzled , quite rightly, by the magnificence of the Tropical and Mediterranean Biomes or the Science of The Core in more normal times. This is a fabulous chance to experience the outside with restricted visitor numbers. The peace is magical.

Instead of biomes we got intimate with bees.

And wandered down Cornish lanes.

Flower meadows and single specimens slowed us down. This was the most tranquil visit we have ever made to Eden

Fragrance is everywhere. Once we had meandered our way down to the Biomes more toilets were available and another take- away coffee stall, again social distancing was imposed with a gentle reminder.

A great time was had by all.

And for Miss VV, her first experience of being, very gently, escorted out of a venue as the last woman standing.