#139 theoldmortuary ponders

Blue Sunday, the sun is erratic today but when it is out it is OUT.

© Jenna Blake

Last night we went to some Cuban contemporary ballet. Just mind blowing and we were in the front row so the sweating and the heavy breathing of the dancers was very very real. In truth the raw energy of the performers made our evening.

The picture below is another blue example of raw energy and huge joy.

A rogue kite wrapping up our grand daughter in Honk Kong.

©Sam Blake

Finally in the theme of blue is the Plymouth Christmas lights, reprogrammed to show solidarity with Ukraine

Blue Sunday in three pictures.

#16 theoldmortuary ponders

Waking up in the dark to start the day is becoming our autumn/ winter normal. My phone woke me up this morning with a blast of sunshine, with the photograph above. Bright sunshine on 25th October at Rock in Cornwall 5 years ago.

This morning there is very little gap between bed and a swim in the sea. I can already tell there will be no sunshine to stroll to the beach in. I suppose that is part of the charm of October. It is never entirely certain what shape any particular day will take, weather wise. Our evening walk last night revealed beaches overwhelmed with seaweed after the storms of last week which is also in stark contrast to that beautiful beach of five years ago. There is an upside to this, we plan to start making our own compost again and it would make sense to gather seaweed to mix with our teabags and coffee grounds. So today may be the day to make our first harvest. Moving house and garden is, as is always said, a big thing. We’ve moved from somewhere that every square inch of the property and garden was lovingly designed and planned by us to somewhere that was someone elses home for longer than I have been alive. In this regard planning a new compost bin is almost the first new plan we have put in place, as we promised ourselves we would give the house some time to reveal its quirks and charms to us before doing anything major. I realise a compost bin is not major! We also need to learn to live in this location before we make too many changes that we may come to regret.

Luckily for this blog one of the other 25th October pictures, that I was woken up with, suggests calm contemplation. Something that is needed along with Google to make seaweed into compost. A cup of tea on Wembury beach, 4 years ago, is a lovely way to suggest time spent researching the rotting properties of seaweed.

I wonder how today is going to shape up?

The final of the three wake up pictures is also beach related. Sai Kung in Hong Kong, 6 years ago. I think I can say with some certainty that today is not going to be a day for vivid crabs. But this is October, anything could happen.

Pandemic Pondering #438

On reflection. True to many British holidays, we’ve taken the van away for a couple of days and the weather has turned to persistent precipitation. So small tasks in the van have filled some of the time. Fitting a usable mirror has long been a project. Today we achieved with Superglue something that we are both happy with.

We are on a campsite with shared WiFi so connection to the internet is sketchy due to the number of people stuck in tents, caravans and campervans. So research for this blog is not so easy. But I vowed to use the first photos that came out of my cloud using the search, reflection.

I’m sure I could have waffled on about anything that appeared but the two pictures of Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong give me huge pleasure. Victoria Harbour has been in my life all my life. My nightlight as a small person showed the twinkling lights of Victoria Harbour, now it is the home of treasured but distant family members.

These pictures were taken in June 2019 long before we had ever considered a life with such unimaginable restrictions and deprivations as those we live with now. 2019 a year when we thought humans had control! Little did we know.

Maybe it is best to reflect on the little things in life. The small achievements , the things we do still have control over. Hanging a mirror perhaps.

Pandemic Pondering#152

The Art Group prompt word takes @theoldmortuary to some interesting places. Who doesn’t love a landscape?

My thing for years has been abstract landscapes. For this blog I plunged into my ideas and inspiration file.

I am intrigued and galvanized by nature’s ability to always overwhelm the constructs that man creates or just change the way things look. In doing so there is often unexpected beauty.

The dunes suffocating a beach hut at Wells-next-the-sea, Norfolk.

Here is an urban reclamation. Tarmac in Dulwich Park being broken up by tree roots and covered by autumn leaves and other natural detritus.

@theoldmortuary. The Smith Family Collection.

Nature is not exactly reclaiming this wall, but the Landscape Street Art is so famous as a site for Instagrammers that it is being worn away by sweaty hands and carefully posed leaning. This picture was taken some time after it was painted but before it became insanely popular as an Instagram background.

Alex Croft painted this as a commission for Goods of Desire. Countless Instagram photos feature this slowly fading wall.

©Instagram

Closer to home our century plus garden wall looked like a hedge as ivy took control.

It took quite a bit of effort to bring it back to wall status.

Next up 2 beaches slowly consuming man made structures.

And finally some box fresh images taken on Monday evenings combined swim and dog walk adventure.

A landscape shaped by the sea. Even if you visit this beach every day it will always be different.

Harlyn Bay, Cornwall

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 Ponderings #22

Unadulterated Coffee Porn. With the occasional tea.
We know how fortunate we are @theoldmortuary. The trivial nature of these pandemic blogs is just a small moment of inconsequential pondering amidst a sea of serious stuff. Things come and go in the ponderings one of them is tiny obsessions with something we can’t have. In truth of course we can easily have a coffee, or tea, and a piece of cake at home. But it’s not the same. Coffee and Cake is our guilty pleasure, artisanal, independent, skilful, visually beautiful and quirky are the basic requirements.Shallow, pretentiousness, maybe twatty , yes all of those things but supporting local businesses and taking pleasure in something simple is no bad thing.I popped the word coffee into the search bar of my image archive. I had not expected it to serve quite so much…This blog will be longer. than I thought and I’ve only chosen the best pictures.April was always going to be tricksy in our coffee world. Hutong Cafe,just outside Royal William Yard in Plymouth, our most regular coffee house is closed for refurbishment.

https://m.facebook.com/TheHutongCafe/

Hugo inspecting Hutong light box

Similarly another regular spot, Koffehuis at Sutton Harbour was closing for good as the owner was returning to Holland.

Koffehuis A board

That leaves us with Jacka, the countries oldest working bakery on The Barbican.

https://m.facebook.com/JackaBakery/

Coffee at Jacka

and the diminutive but bursting with great cake. Cakewhole on Wilton Street in Plymouth.

Home

Coffee and Cake at Cakewhole

My final piece of Plymouth Coffee Porn comes from Ocean Studios , inside the Royal William Yard.

https://www.oceanstudios.org.uk/

Coffee and Cake at Ocean Studios

Column Bakehouse who run the cafe at Ocean Studios also have a great cafe at their Bakery, coincidentally another Old Mortuary. At Devonport Guildhall.

https://m.facebook.com/ColumnBakehouse/

Coffee and Pastry at Column Bakehouse

Other great coffee places happen in Plymouth, I just don’t have photographic evidence.Good Coffee HQ in Ebrington Street is one.Black Sheep Brew in nearby Tavistock sells the mythical Monmouth Coffee from London’s Borough Market.

https://m.facebook.com/GoodCoffeeHeadquarters/https

://www.blacksheepbrew.uk/https://www.monmouthcoffee.co.uk/

Monmouth at Borough Market

Let’s be honest Plymouth is also the home of some shocking coffee, not all sold by chains, although they do account for a lot of crimes against the bean.South East Cornwall is not a friend to great coffee. My only happy coffee photo comes from The Canteen at Maker.

Coffee at Canteen at Maker

Liberty Coffee at Launceston is well worth the trip when world wakes up again.

Liberty Coffee , Launceston

Coffee Porn @theoldmortuary is off on a little travelogue now. As luck would have it there is a great cup of coffee as we leave the SouthWest.Otter Valley Ice Cream on the A30 does a lot more than Ice Cream.

Lola at Otter Valley Ice Cream

Lynnwood Coffee in Lechlade features heavily, not only because they do great coffee but our friends love to send us Coffee Porn from there. A lot of Coffee Porn.

Many Coffees and comestibles at Lynwood

Further afield in England we found this gem in Bury-St-Edmunds in Suffolk. Paddy and Scott’s

Paddy and Scotts

A regular favourite in London, even though it has become quite a big chain is Gail’s Dulwich Village. Cheese straws by which all others are judged.

Gail’s, Dulwich Village

Finally a curious place for coffee, a butchers shop in Southampton, famed quite rightly for their breakfasts the coffee was great too.http://www.uptonsbutchers.co.uk/

Upton’s of Bassett

In no particular order here is a tiny world tour of coffee houses we have loved.

Uncle Sam’s Pancakes

Breakfast in South Korea, we stayed in an Airbnb in an untouristy suburb of Seoul, Yongsun-gu. Uncle Sam’s Pancake was our closest cafe. This next image was my birthday breakfast also in Yongsun-Gu.

Anonymous in Seoul

Havana in Cuba gave great everything, it is a wonderful country.Coffee here is represented by art. A sculpture made from old and damaged Stove-top Espresso pots.

Coffee Pot Sculpture, Havana

Toronto in Canada gave us a lot of coffee action. I had a bad knee injury and we were ‘forced’ to rest often in coffee shops.https://www.hotblack-coffee.com/

HotBlackCoffee

HotBlackCoffee Queen Street, Toronto.

Kobrick, NY, NY

Kobrick Coffee, amazing vintage coffee house serving great coffee and wonderful Jazz in the Meatpacking District.https://www.kobricks.com/A reward after a blisteringly hot walk on The High-Line, my favourite park in the world.https://www.thehighline.org/Although it’s landscaping did cause the knee injury that forced so much coffee drinking in New York.It is only a tiny tour, bringing up the rear is Hong Kong. Birthplace of both Hannah and our lovely VV.

Coffee Academics , Hong Kong

Hong Kong also gave us two lovely coffee quotes. From the stools at Coffee Academics.

My last picture comes from Hoi An, I’ve used it before in blogs but it represents, for me, the current situation and a hope that nattering in coffee shops will become normal again.This pillow rests on a bench in a tea house , that also serves great coffee, where noise and conversation is discouraged always.

Reaching Out Tea House, Hoi An

Pandemic Ponderings #10

Yesterday was a strange one . It started off sad and strange and finished off stranger.

Yesterday I decided to put away our grandchild kit @theoldmortuary.

Stuff that we gathered in a hurry in July last year when she arrived in the UK at 8 months old.

It was surprisingly sad. I thought we were well used to not seeing her. Even before she was born there was the knowledge that any contact was only ever going to be fleeting. She was born in Hong Kong and we met her two weeks later fully aware that it would be a Hello/Goodbye relationship. Then her parents decided to return to the UK and we spent a month in Hong Kong caring for her during the beginning of the troubles whilst they fulfilled their contracts. She was a resilient little soul as we made the most of being with her and being in Hannah’s home town. Public transport was sketchy and the climate unforgiving as we visited government offices and Embassies to facilitate the paper trail of three people leaving their home of five years. We also managed swanky afternoon teas and less swanky but far more interesting visits to Sham Shi Po and Cape Collinson, the former home of Hannah’s family and the last resting place of her parents and sister.

One last goodbye we thought as we jumped on a plane in Hong Kong, a few hours ahead of her and her mum and dad. As luck would have it they were moving to Cornwall.

It’s strange having an 8 month old baby arrive in your home. The equipment needed is massive and happened all at once. Since July we’ve settled into a routine of seeing her most weeks , sharing family time and viruses in equal measure.

We waved her off ten days ago, clean and sleepy in her pyjamas fully expecting the new routine of life to continue.

But we don’t know when we will see her again . Social distancing and self isolation have isolated bits of families and friendship groups in a startling way. Lock down which was announced last night further breaks our social and familial ties . We’ve all had last goodbyes without ever realising the significance of the moment.

Some of those last goodbyes will have been exactly that.

What strange times.

Leap Year

What to do with the extra day in 2020.

©Hong Kong Ballet

Obviously after just one Barré lesson we are fizzing to leap around on Leap Day, but this young man does it so much better .

February always needs more red.

Leap Year attracts flimsiness and fun, see my efforts above, or read Guardian flimsiness.
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/feb/29/leap-year-day-how-you-could-and-should-celebrate-29-february

But it exists to keep us all ticking along nicely in time. Introduced by Julius Caesar over 2000 years ago.

Leap day recalibrates and corrects time keeping because every year is actually 365 days and 6 hours long (one complete earth orbit of the sun) so once every four years those extra 6 hours are gathered together to make an extra day.

29 pictures in red to fill your extra day.

Red car Plymouth Hoe

Miss VV

Tywardreath rail crossing

Crystal Palace Rail Station

VV and Mum talk Rothko

Posters Devonport Playhouse

Redcurrants Butler’s Cottage

Red vase @theoldmortuary

Poppies @theoldmortuary

Jewel Salad @theoldmortuary

100 Homes Project, Plymouth

Chinese New Year , Hong Kong

Bowls South Korea

Hugo and Lola hit the Red Carpet

Gipsy Hill Brewery at The Lord High Admiral , Plymouth

Nasturtiums

Detail of painting

Street Art Haggerston

Chilli lights and cook books

Welsh Guards

Autumn Leaf Dulwich Picture Gallery

Beach plastic, Portwrinkle

Croxted Road, Dulwich

Detail from painting

Street Art, New York

Dodging the spray, Niagara Falls, Canada

Post Box, Barnes

Brixton Market

Hoi An

Vivid

Vivid is my word of choice on a dull, wet January day. Vivid brightens the world. Vivid people enrich the world. Vivid is never dull. I searched my files for a picture or two to illustrate vivid. My vivid file is rather full and I’m unable to just pick one so join me on a vivid journey for January. The route will be erratic.

Vivid Hugo in January 7 years ago. An 8 week old puppy. As I write this he still loves a vivid backdrop. Today he is sleeping on a Chartreuse coloured pillow.

One last Hugo centric image comes from Brighton Pavillion Winter Ice skating rink possibly 6 years ago. I love the accidental or serendipitous heart shape of the illuminated portion of the image.

Taking my next link as architecture Brighton Pavillion we to Neal’s Yard just North of Covent Garden Tube Station.

I’m completely lost as to where these beach huts are. Pink and orange takes us to the seaside, either Suffolk or Sussex.

This wall is in Marrakech, dropping the orange we go pink. A pink wall in Majorelle Gardens famed for their blue. There is a tiny triangle of the eponymous blue if you look hard enough.

Pink Marrakech walls guide me gently towards the next new direction, which will be sartorial with a nod to a traditionally dressed market porter. What is intangible from this picture is the vivid smell eminating from the tannery area. A rare example of vivid not being a good thing.

Sartorially vivid takes us to South Korea. A chance photograph of a proper dapper chap.

Another chance photograph. Not so dapper but definately a chap taken at Whitstable Carnival.

Body habitas gives me the next cue for a change of direction. Statues by Mauro Perruchetti. Jelly Baby Family at Marble Arch.

Jelly baby sculptures neatly swerve me to foodstuffs. Next up Dolly Mixtures at a baptismal party.

The glitter and twinkly confetti party table takes us effortlessly to a live Christmas Karaoke party in Peckham.

Then on to yet more twinkle. This time for Chinese New Year in Hong Kong.

Peckham to Hong Kong, quite a journey but as we’ve arrived there is more Hong Kong to reveal.

Close up of a lantern , quickly followed by a photographic error but vivid and thus valuable to this blog.

As luck would have it I have a Chinese New Year textile link.

My packing for Chinese New Year.

That was a lucky turn as textiles are awkward to weave into a story. The craft tent at The Royal Cornwall Show tempted Psychedelic crochet out of the closet.

Port Eliot Festival, also in Cornwall ties up trees as gifts.

Which brings me gratefully to Vivid Nature.

February tulips in Saltash

Artichokes in June.

Which briefly return us to Hong Kong for spiky plants.

Rambutans at Tuen Mun market in the New Territories. Fruit directs me to some of my paintings. Starting with Fig, Blackberry and Cob but.

Then on to an invented abstract fruit.

Which bears a little resemblance to a real flower,

at the Chelsea Flower Show, which of course returns us to London.

This is a very expensive monitor in a hospital in Marylebone. This intriguing pattern was caused by an unexpectedly vigorous movement of an x-ray machine, known as a C-arm it orbits around the patient. Swinging us neatly to the actual Orbit at The Olympic Park. Sculpture by Anish Kapoor.

Red neon effect and East London track me back to The City.

A favourite bar and coffee shop opposite Smithfield Market and close to St Bartholomew’s Hospital . Ask For Janice is a refuge from the realities of work. It is also the location for celebrations and socializing with work friends. Often before more physical challenges , which bowls us along nicely.

Posh bowling in Bloomsbury with the boys.

Buoys on the Norfolk coast.

And finally some vivid music and more spheres.

Congratulations on completing a vivid journey. Have a chocolate.