#462 theoldmortuary ponders

8:15 am on a January morning in Firestone Bay. I know I share this sort of image often but yesterday I did a little research on the area as it was in 1895. Because the tide is high the tidal pool is invisible apart from the three swimmers walking out on the slipway that forms one of the pool walls. In 1895 the pool did not exist. Next week’s research will be to find out the pools history.

I was able to spend a few minutes looking at old planning maps while I was working at The Box yesterday.

The orange arrow points out the place the Bobbers nearly always swim. We know our bay as Tranquility Bay but on this map it is marked as Ladies Bathing Place.

Here it is this morning. 5 minutes with an old map makes more questions than answers. When were the steps and walkways built that make this such a gorgeous and practical swimming location. Sadly the map also shows the more than thirty houses and a school that were lost in my own area during German bombing raids during World War II. Just looking out on my street I can roughly outline how many homes were lost. How many people and their beloved pets lost their lives?

5 minutes with an old map, so thought provoking, where will this Pondering end? Sunshine+ An old map= gratitude and the need to know more.

#448 theoldmortuary ponders

Yesterday was a surprise in many ways. Most significantly it did not rain anything like as much as predicted. Impending wet weather gave the morning a sepia tinge. My working day at the local museum was somewhat dull, many of the exhibition spaces are in a state of flux with old exhibitions coming down ready for a change. In consequence there were not many visitors. The Museum offers excellent facilities for family history research. So on a whim I sat down and had a dabble at a family tree.

The minute I started to achieve relative success the day began to feel even more sepia as old documents flashed up before my eyes. In honesty I don’t really know what I am doing, so half an hour of success had fished out more than enough information for a first day.

I had dabbled with a family tree once before and found an unknown, but close, relative had done a huge amount of research which was available on-line. I was impressed and wrote via the website to add myself to his family tree. While I had no expectation of a grand reunion so beloved of the media. I had thought that when doing a genetic jigsaw every little piece has some value. Not so in this case,he clearly preferred his relatives to be dead and historic, not current and breathing. No thank you email ever found its way to me. My brief foray yesterday did not uncover his precious resource so perhaps it has been removed to keep live people out of his way. He may also no longer subscribe… Who could guess?

The lack of visitors did not cut down on my talking at the museum. What I lacked in numbers I made up for with two exceedingly long interactions. One was with a very inebriated man who’s intensity of conversation took many intriguing twists and turns to unexpected places. The other was with a regular visitor who talks in ever expanding circles that then with no warning snaps back to the exact same point that he started at, many, many minutes before. Sometimes it is fascinating to be included in another, unknown persons mindscape without any responsibility or limited timeframe. Maybe a little like reading an unknown persons blog.

Some days not much happens, here is clip to show how the header artwork was created.

Some days not much happens…https://theoldmortuary.design/2023/01/12/448-theoldmortuary-ponders/

#427 theoldmortuary ponders

Winter Solstice, the sun rises on the shortest day of the year and in Stonehouse there is no scaffolding on the prettiest terrace of houses. Some of these old houses have needed a little facelift this year. The sound of scaffolders, plasterers and painters has been the background noise of morning walks for most of 2022. The other morning constant is a trip to the tidal pool, as a treat to mark the Solstice a golden cloud has been, briefly, trapped in the still water of the early morning. Small pleasures.

Tomorrow morning thousands of people will celebrate the end of the longest night at Stonehenge, a live stream event will be broadcast from 7 am tomorrow. Available on Youtube from English Heritage.

The sunrise at Stonehenge has been celebrated by gatherings of people for thousands of years.The rock monument at Stonehenge is a man-made structure. The sun has been rising over Drakes Island, Stonehouse for considerably longer. Less fuss, fewer people.

#414 theoldmortuary ponders

This morning is sharply cold and crisp -1 outside as I write this, under a winter weight duvet and with the first cup of caffeinated tea working it’s warming magic. The picture above was a jumble of Christmas decorations waiting to go up in a shop last year. I love the crisp cleanness of them which is my excuse to use the image in Advent+2022. The big excitement with a -1 temperature is that my Elephants Garlic needs some really cold weather to give it the best possible start in it’s growing life. Good news for the garlic is almost certainly bad news for the tomato plants which are still producing red tomatoes. From the perspective of a warm duvet a morning spent clearing out the frosted tomato plants does not excite me too much especially as I need to do it as soon as some daylight appears because the rest of the day is busy.

Duvet shrugged off and the cold embraced. Sunrise was spectacular.Nothing more needs to be said. Tomatoes gone Advent+ 2022

#412 theoldmortuary ponders

We have entered the twilight zone of bobbing. Tide times and light are now the two main factors that control when we plan a bob. 4 pm was particularly kind to us yesterday. The water was a balmy 10 degrees and the outside temperature was 6. My personal dip was brief but effective. I think it took longer to drink my restorative cup of tea than my actual immersion time. Over tea the chat turned to Christmas Day. It has taken two years of Covid affected Christmases to establish a new tradition. A brief dip on Christmas morning with the ‘bobbers’ before we plunge headlong into whatever we would normally do with families and friends over the festive season. I can’t even remember what the restrictions were for Christmas 2020. I think we kept big distances between our ‘bubbles’ * and shouted happily to one another, marvelling at the madness of new friendships and the urge to swim in the sea in winter, when many of us had lived locally for many years and not bothered to swim much at all until a pandemic hit. 2021 we were cautiously closer to one another, wary of passing on Omicron but sharing individually wrapped snacks of chocolate and Christmas snacks, while we damply struggled into dry clothes. 2022 is likely to be giddy, there will be bubbles and huggles and maybe kisses on chilly cheeks. Thank goodness for Bubbles! In the spirit of Advent +2022 here is a previously unseen picture of bubbles over our swimming zone.

* Bubbles were legally acceptable indoor gatherings of no more than 6 adults during the lockdowns of 2020. This rule applied to everyone unless you were serving in the Conservative government who set the rules.For them bubbles were what they always were, a pleasant fizzy drink to be enjoyed while working, partying or indeed groping colleagues in the corridors of power.

#383 theoldmortuary ponders

Farewell Gilly Bobber. The bobbers gathered for a goodbye gathering for a bobber who is moving to West Sussex. Gilly has been a musical addition to our bobbing gang for some time. She wears a raspberry beret and cocktail length swimming gloves. Which always promotes the other bobbers into a Prince tribute act.

A good selection of bobbers gathered today to see her off the premises.

Bobbing and bobbers are one of the great positives to have come out of the Covid years. Time to use a fabulous quote from Mark Twain to send Gilly on her way.

Goodbye Gilly from our home bobbing safe harbour.

#316 theoldmortuary ponders

We’ve had a fab weekend of doing lovely stuff, all ultra local and within walking or swimming distance of home.

I was reading a review of a travel programme over the weekend and realised that with a few alterations the sentence above more or less describes this blog. I’m aware that my thoughts and feelings are not always lovely but I do try to extract the positive out of anything that I put on the blog. My inner bitch kept firmly out of blogland.

The same newspaper also ran an interview with the actress Angela Griffiths and two of her answers could have come straight out of my own ponderings.

I do try to always be kind and although the word ‘nice’ has been devalued over the years, the sentiment is what I strive for. My personal mantra, though, when people try to take advantage is, I fear, delightfully passive aggressive.

” Don’t mistake my tolerance for indifference”

I rarely need to say it but have perfected a look which should leave the erring person to rethink their strategy towards me. I found it really refreshing to see my thoughts so eloquently expressed by someone else. A look I definately used during one those awful annual appraisals that the NHS does so badly.

My line manager at the time said I used kindness and niceness to manipulate people for my own purposes.

Words failed me then , but really, what a twat!

The words Ultra-local and slow burn in the first newspaper cutting so accurately reflect this blog I felt another little grain of comfort. If BBC4 think that ultra local and slow burn is OK then all is well.

Here is a giddy thought, ultra local in the blog tends to mean what is ultra local to my geographical location, which for three years now has definitely been confined to England. Mostly confined to South West England with very rare forays to London and usually set in a ten square mile radius of my home. Later this week my ultra local is crossing the Atlantic. Travel may broaden the mind but you will be treated to the same old ponderings just stimulated by North American coffee shops, beaches and museums. No dog bottoms though, they and their bottoms will stay here. I’m sure there will be some dogs bottoms but no guarantees.

Which brings me to another pondering pondering and explains the two photographs in this blog. Our daily walks always take in a bit of The Royal William Yard and I often mention it in passing but have never actually blogged about it. After the transatlantic adventure I will give you a proper tour. This amazing image came up on an Estate Agents website. I thought it was good enough to share. The back of our house is even in this shot.


If you cant wait for my return there is a website with information.


#314 theoldmortuary ponders.

We need to talk about Bobbing. Bobbing evolved during the Covid Crisis. The first nugget of a gathering took place on Cawsand Beach 2 years ago. A regular sea swim, maybe once a month, of four friends developed into several times a week swims throughout the year and now involves about 16 people. It is a very rare swim that gets us all in the water but sometimes the number gets to more than 10.

Friday’s swim turned into quite a gala with Hawaiian Leis, cakes, figs, dancing lessons and gathered seaweed.

None of it was planned and I am at a loss to quite explain the serendipity of it. Possibly a natural summer phenomenon of some people returning from holidays and others preparing to take their leave. In two years we have been through quite a bit of ‘ stuff’ together. 16 people thrown together by a pandemic have formed a bond of friendship that supports and celebrates lifes game of snakes and ladders. I read a book a little over two years ago that centred on a group of wild swimmers who found friendship in the chilly waters of a Scottish Loch. At the time I thought it was a charming but fanciful fiction. But here I am writing about such a thing in real life. Who would have predicted such a thing? Our bobbers are lovelier than fiction but maybe a little stranger. Our Whatsapp group messages can be practical with tides and weather updates or crazy with multiple streams of consciousness running parallel with one another or at times crossing wildly into the most obscure, unfiltered conversations.

Todays Whatsapp featured holiday pics. An empty field, a Cornish Cream Tea and a swim in Lake Garda. Bobbers getting about a bit.

#309 theoldmortuary ponders

Morning rituals are a thing. Mine are caffeinated tea, a blog, Wordle and a dog walk. In no particular order. All should be completed by noon. Sometimes all done by 6 am.

Yesterdays Wordle was enlivened when this smiling face popped up, telling me there was a message for me from a friend and work colleague. We worked together at the dawn of the new century, but now she lives in New Zealand. We worked in a very specialised Critical Cardiac Catheter lab. Older than most of the staff we had a lot in common. I loved Sue for her insistence on hospital corners on the  thin mattress on the complex operating area/ x-ray, image intensifier. No matter what madness was going on everything was in its proper place and the sheets had sharp corners. She could also talk and laugh about anything. When our younger colleagues didn’t quite measure up to her standards she would mutter to me. “The trouble is we are predominantly in the minority”

Attending conferences with her was hysterical. She once hurried me up so effectively that we managed to get onto a VIP bus to entirely the wrong, and very luxuriously catered for Conference Social Event, and I had failed to get my knickers on. I may never have laughed so much at a work event. The ‘do’ was for the high flyers of the Cardiac World. Our few colleagues who were there wondered,  I am sure, how we had been invited, and to a degree kept a rather snobbish degree of distance from us. No so the really lovely people we shared a table with who knowing full well that we were there in error made us very welcome. All professional chat and one upmanship ceased, not because we couldn’t have joined in but because our inclusion in their group freed us up to talk and laugh about other stuff. A great evening was had and we were promised jobs in Liverpool or Ohio if we ever had the urge.

The next morning was a little bit of a blur, not helped by the owner of our small hotel crafting a home made water feature in her lobby, despite or perhaps because of her best efforts to make her entrance a haven of tinkling water, she has created a multicoloured, and rather large erect penis, bedecked by flowers from the tropics.

I was thrilled when she messaged me to say she would be at my local beach at 9 pm yesterday, she is in England to visit family, I was very happy. The bobbers had already planned to bob at the same place and time.

Of course we had failed to be quite specific enough! Here is Sue 20 feet below me on a different part of the beach. No hugging for us, just happy shouted greetings and a promise to meet up more accurately next week.

We keep in touch via Facebook and the blog. She, like many of you know almost too much about Bobbers. Once I had located her it seemed only polite to take all the bobbers to my viewing point and introduce them to her at my elevated location.

A very happy, if distant reunion.