Pandemic Pondering #444

Where to begin on Thursdays big day out! The beginning seems like a plan.

Dense sea mist as I left Cornwall, on the scenic railway.

I love the feeling of arriving at a London train terminus , the hubbub of people and anticipation is always a little intoxicating. Paddington, the station which serves the west of Britain, has all that and a much loved bear.

Farringdon was my tube station of choice, perfect timing as my friend Marc was just at the entrance as I arrived. Station to the first bar of the day about 30 seconds!

Next stop the Catheter Labs of St Bartholomews Hospital to hug my friends and colleagues. We really needed hugs!

Hugs and stories of the last 18 months, loads of emotion. The reason for the visit was that my lovely colleague Helen was working her last day in the NHS. Time for a limited numbers leaving party.

In the shadow of St Pauls.

We gathered for more hugs, stories, speeches and general happiness.

All the huggers in these pictures are tested regularly, physical health ✓ Hugging is amazing for mental health✓

When the night was over we did a circumnavigation of St Pauls because we love it.

Before heading once again for Farringdon Station via St Bartholomews for a photo or two.

This swanky bar is a holder of memories. The cardiac on call rooms overlook it and it used to be the location of classrooms where St Bartholomews students did their academic training.

A quick walk through Smithfield meat market, soon to be the new Museum of London.

and we were back at Farringdon. Time for a parting of the ways. Helen to the East and me to the West.

Time for me to jump on the GWR Night Riviera and head back to Cornwall. A Cheap Day Return train ticket very well used!

Pandemic Pondering #441

Domestic admin was the unplanned event of yesterday. There are times when unplanned events can make a days outlook not dissimilar to this beautiful sheep. Thankfully the whole day was not so complex. The day was not particularly photogenic so the illustrations to the text come from the Cornwall County show held on this day a few years ago. The big event in Cornwall this week is the G7 conference. Our garden bookclub meeting, where we discussed a novel that was somewhat sympathetic to fascists was slightly disturbed by some very heavy duty helicopters flying overhead. The cows in the surrounding fields did not bat an eyelid.

There is something incongruous about nattering in an English country garden while the hardware of defence passes overhead. But it is good to be in the company of people who are happy to talk, a lot, about a book with a difficult subject at its heart.

Our evening was also spent deep in conversation as our friends Sophie and Stephanie came over for supper. We haven’t seen Sophie for a long while.

Not such heavy topics as the afternoon . Among other things we discussed the drinking habits of the first Professor Dumbledore and Darth Vaders codpiece, and of course with G7 in mind the navigational aids used by miliary helicopters. Do they still follow the railway line into Cornwall or are there more sophisticated options available?

Steph and I have been friends forever and our families are intertwined. I think that is why we can talk nonsense for a whole evening.

Pandemic Pondering #134

Making Hay while the sun shines, part 2.

My apologies for the late arrival of today’s blog. After months of insomnia I was able to sleep last night. The usual time for tweaking and posting the next days blog was used for sleeping.

This morning was always going to be busy with good things. An early morning dog walk followed by a swim in the sea. The dog walk gave me this revised blog title.

Our local nature reserve is having a second hay harvest only a couple of weeks since the last.Today was always about making the best of things. We’ve had a sad old week which I’m sure I will touch on in various future blogs. So our is a metaphorical ‘ Making Hay While The Sun Shines’ kind of day. It turns out that is is also an actual Hay Making day.

The early dog walk was planned to facilitate an early swim with some old friends, pre 9am at Cawsand Beach. We found a quiet, almost Mediterranean corner of the beach to swim from.

The access to the sea was easy but very definitely more Cornish than Mediterranean, as was the sea temperature.

We had a fabulous swim, completely life enhancing and happiness creating. Followed by coffee and breakfast in our little cove. Emerging from our quiet spot there was very quickly signs of things to come!

The beach ahead of us was crowded even at 10 am.

Trying to get home involved an almost 10 mile traffic jam or a half hour drive to a ferry with a half hour wait.

Obviously from the picture you can see we chose the ferry.

This was a difficult decision for all @theold mortuary. A much loved family member was killed on the road to Torpoint and we’ve not ever travelled that road since. Some tears were shed.

South East Cornwall is full to the brim with people and traffic. Time to get back to part of today’s original blog.

The only link I can find is friendship.

Apparently government guidelines suggest that gatherings of 30 people are acceptable, with appropriate social distancing. Even with new additions I’m not sure I could gather 30 friends together and certainly not 30 family members. So once again I am unable to comply with new government guidelines. Meeting with a lower number of people suits us just fine. 30 seems giddyingly too many.

Just before lockdown I met two women. One at an art gallery and the other at a gym. Lockdown created a unique time and space to grow new friendships at a distance, we have also rekindled our old friendship with our swimming friends and nurtured existing friendships with the gift of more time. I’m not sure quite why the pandemic promoted the ability to speed up the cementing of really solid and valuable friendships both old and new, it’s a lovely positive in puzzling times.

I suppose that is something to ponder on!

The pictures below are lovely gifts that arrived this week from the Art Gallery friend and the Gym friend.

Lovely bursts of colour from flowers and crocheted bunting.

The pandemic has taught us to value friends and family and everything closer to home. It is a lovely feeling.

Pandemic Pondering #28

The inevitable has happened, a friend, who I loved bumping into, has died, not of Coronovirus but something that had got its claws into her long ago. It was undeserved as most deaths are and the world has lost a fabulous ball of energy. Not for me the excoriating grief of close friends or family, more a sort of dull acceptance of the inevitability of an inevitable event.

I suppose I’m describing the loss of someone to whom I was not close close but whose company I really valued when our busy lives coincided.

Our last such meeting was serendipitous, one of her favourite words and one that I stole soon after I met her.

My little town was briefly brought to a standstill by hundreds of motorcycling Santa’s.

I had ‘popped’ out to collect keys from an estate agent,a job that should have taken 10 minutes, two hours later I was using an unusual route to find my car which I had left down by the river.

My friend and I met, I was hugely surprised, not only because she was already terminally ill but because she lived 5 miles away and our little town is never going to be on anyone’s bucket list of things to do before you die.

We hugged and made one another laugh, caught up on each others news and shared snippets of information about our friends in- common that either of us had met recently.

She has never had ‘ an Elephant in the room’ . Her Cancer story was never hidden and her progress, or not ,with it was well known. We shared an update.

” It’s bloody everywhere now”

” That is such a bugger, bastard thing”

We agreed to catch up with some other friends ‘ In the Spring’ . She caught her bus and I walked down a 45 degree hill to find my car.

As usual meeting her had lifted my heart and soul , maybe some sadness but primarily she had, as usual, shone optimism and happiness into our conversation and we had luxuriated in sharing the use of the word Serendipitous, as we always did.

So here I am in April , she has died. Coronovirus and it’s social restrictions have cancelled Spring meetings, even if Cancer hadn’t already done it’s bit to blight our springtime meeting. Coronovirus has shaped and impacted the way us second tier mourners do mourning. I can’t go round to our shared friends and give them a hug, drink tea and wallow in reminiscing, love and happy memories. Hugging is the thing that wordlessly both links and restores us, it feels inhuman to endure bereavement without them. Hugging saves us saying too much or too little and making the misery worse. It also offers the opportunity of sorting out leaking eyes or a snotty nose behind someone’s back.

Not for anyone in the second tier of connection to her and many in the first the chance to gather together to celebrate and mourn the loss of a veritable power house of a woman.

It all feels kind of blunt really. Dreadfull sadness with no ability to hug or share seems to take on a previously unimaginable direction and poignancy.

The power of Hugging, I miss it.