#3 theoldmortuary ponders

Long before I started a blog, I had a normal job in London. One of the places I would seek refuge, after a nights work, was The Townhouse, Spitalfields. Home made cake and coffee embellished by the Townhouse itself always slowed the busy pace of London down to something more manageable. The link below describes the Townhouse far more comprehensively than I ever could.

Town House Spitalfields

There was serendipity at work when one of my favourite blog writers, The Gentle Author offered blog writing courses based at The Townhouse.

Returning this weekend for a second writing course with The Gentle Author was a treat, both visual and experiential. In between learning and enjoying wonderful food I hopped around like an overactive magpie gathering photographic trinkets for future blog use. It helped that bright autumnal sunshine barged its way into the corners and recesses of the early Georgian building, making everything a little more magical.

Taking magic to a different place was the bathroom we used this weekend.

And the kitchen where refreshments were served.

https://www.townhousespitalfields.com/

The link above takes you to the Townhouse website. I”m sure this will not be the last blog I write about this gorgeous building.

#2 theoldmortuary ponders

I could be in complete denial that autumn is in full glory this morning. The trees outside my room are uniformly green. Yesterday was bright and sunny and the street markets I explored were still selling whisps of dresses in bright sunshine. It is all a bit of trickery, the trees rustle with squirrels busy stockpiling seeds and acorns and market traders need to sell summer stock to empty their warehouses for heavier winter clothes.

Likewise, in denial, this beautiful assemblage of coloured- glass, domestic objects and a tea strainer, twinkle in bright sunlight against a robustly healthy Banana tree.

More trickery of course. The banana tree lives in a micro climate. Surrounded on all sides by tall, Georgian town houses that protect it from harsh easterly winds that whip the east of England and blow up the Thames estuary, burning delicate foliage at first touch.

Attending a writing course is a lot like trickery and microclimates. The conclave ( secret meeting) format relaxes absolute strangers into shared and deeper mental intimacy; providing a fertile literary microclimate to explore and evolve writing styles and to sort out the dry areas in our creativity.

The beauty of attending face to face meetings again is that we can be experimental and risky away from our domestic environment. The sights, sounds and smells around Spitalfields are so stimulating, the architecture spans centuries and the people are from every corner of the world. Every course member walks into the writing room with some new common layers of sensation sprinkled on to their existing diverse life experiences. Advanced blog writing was a blast this weekend, thanks to everyone who shared it. You know who you are.

#1 theoldmortuary ponders.

A weekend away on a blogging course and a little rebranding. Moving on from Pandemic Pondering as the world moves from Pandemic to Endemic @theoldmortuary will be pondering at large. My walk from Spitalfields to  Islington yesterday evening gave me the gift of this totally apporopriate sign.

There is an agreement within our blogging group that the course and its goings on are in the form of a conclave. While sticking very happily to those restictions I’m almost certain to natter on about the course in the future but not about the attendees or the contents. The venue is one of my favourite spaces in London and is always inspirational so talking about the course while not being explicit is easy.

There are 12 bottoms.

©Pádraig Macmiadháchain @Spitalfields Townhouse

Occupying 12 seats.

We talk about our blogs and how we would like to allow them to evolve and improve. Refreshment and blogging nattering occur over beautiful food.

Right now I’m on my way back for Day 2. Have a fabulous Sunday.

Pandemic Pondering#442

Quite a red letter day @theoldmortuary . Nearly time to get on a train and take a trip to my old workplace. St Bartholomews Hospital in the City of London.

I’ve always loved the contrast of City and Country/Coastal life. Today is a fine day to leave Cornwall. A huge blanket of fog has settled on the peninsular over the last 24 hours. Somewhat perverse as the Worlds press has descended on the area to cover the G7 meeting. The famed beauty of Cornwall is wearing a murky mask just like rest of us. The slow trickle of VIP helicopters on Tuesday never got going yesterday and film crews search for scenic backdrops is going to be fruitless for a day or two. Yesterday was Ocean Day, our tiny corner of the Atlantic didn’t really make an appearance.

Luckily the ‘ bobbers’ brought some colour to the coast.

Picture not taken yesterday!

Last nights swim was really pleasant at 14 degrees and a high tide that we could just step straight into. Not a single photo opportunity that would lift anyone’s spirits though!

Luckily for tomorrows blog I’m briefly off to the bright lights.

A sign of a good night out in London has always been how late a return to home is. With the certainty of a train timetable I know I will be getting home at 5:30 am. Great night out guaranteed even under Pandemic restrictions and by 10:30 I will be back in the sea.

This is how dense the fog is, there is a house 10 yards from this wall.

Pandemic Pondering #251

This is a little bit of a one trick pony of a pondering. One of my favourite Facebook History Pages, asked the question. ” What is your favourite street name?”

No other name comes close to Grotto Passage in Marylebone. It was on one of my regular work walks. As an aside but slightly work related, some of my work colleagues were big fans of post work hook-ups using the dating App Grindr. If it were me there could only ever be one address for a liaison post work. ” Meet me in Grotto Passage’ would be my first choice everytime.

As it happens history got there before me. In the 18th Century Grotto Passage led to a Grotto. A pleasure garden, greatly embellished with sea shells by the owner John Castle, an acknowleged expert builder of such things. The fashion was brief and after John died the grotto fell into disrepair and was eventually built over. Most notably in 1846 by a children’s home and school entitled ‘ The Grotto Ragged and Industrial School’ and later ‘ The Grotto Passage Refuge’ It was around this time the area became known for the sort of sexual liaisons I jokingly referred to at the beginning.

But not necessarily in a good way, in TripAdvisor of the time the sort of sexual entertainment that could be had in Grotto Passage was considered to be inferior to the services available in Haymarket and was described as ” Depraved in every sense”

That seems as good a place as any to finish this ponder.

Pandemic Pondering #248

©thegentleauthor

Oh my goodness, I’ve completely missed my year anniversary of daily blogging. As regular readers know , daily blogging was never a plan but the Pandemic has stepped in and daily blogging is where I have ended up. It would be tempting to leave a missed anniversary as just that but admitting my error allows me to share some photographs of an area I’ve loved since long ago when it was shabby and even more since the rest of the world has discovered it.

1 year and 12 days after my blogging course I bring you Spitalfields. A year and 10 days ago I wouldn’t have had the confidence to write a random blog. On the 9th and 10th November 2019 none of us had any idea what was coming; a Pandemic that has given me the time to ponder.

What thrills me is that the amazing Palimpsest that is all over Spitalfields inspired a friend of mine, Anne Crozier, to create Palimpsest for an Art Exhibition in Tavistock.

Pukka Palimpsest © Anne Crozier
Spitalfields Palimpsest

Great images just happen in this special corner of East London.

My relationship with the building the course was held in goes back many years . The Townhouse , Spitalfields is an antique shop with beautiful contemporary pieces sprinkled among older items. It is an art gallery and cafe and holds some resources to demonstrate the importance of the area to families linked with Hugenot migrants. Accomodation is also offered in unexpectedly comfy rooms.

On a previous visit, before he knew how to behave, Hugo hid in a corner pretending to be stock.

Here is the back door of The Town House.

And some more street art that was just around the corner.

And a link to the website of the Gentle Author who ran the course I attended.

https://spitalfieldslife.com/

And another to the townhouse, I don’t know how it has fared during the pandemic.

https://www.townhousespitalfields.com/

Both links show beautifully why I am inspired by them.

Pandemic Pondering #158

Todays word for the Art Group is Skyscraper. I’m going to be perverse today and talk about the absence of Skyscrapers.

I was 17 when I first became intimately acquainted with St Pauls Cathedral. I calmed my nerves before a career interview at St Bartholomew’s Hospital by wandering the Crypt and Whispering in the eponymous Gallery.

Training in the City with its associated highs and lows gave me ample chance to explore the nooks and crannies of this amazing Cathedral and to develop a humanistic love of the Evensong Service. There is something lovely about doing something that humans have been doing in the same location since 604. Not all history in this area bears repetitions quite so comfortably.

The lack of Skyscrapers around St Pauls is no accident. This is the view from Nunhead Cemetery in South London.

It has a protected view.

You can read more about protected views in this link. https://www.citymetric.com/fabric/protecting-view-how-st-pauls-cathedral-has-been-shaping-rest-london-centuries-2577

This is a painting a little way from St Bartholomew’s Hospital , showing the scale of permitted development closely around St Paul’s. The picture below shows a more distant view from Tate Modern.

Skyscrapers define modern cities but the absence of them near St Paul’s opens up the sky and gives the City a different visual experience.

Pandemic Pondering #140

Cityscapes, a word ripe with possibilities.

I describe myself as an abstract landscape artist but in truth many of them are urban inspired, Cityscapes might be the word.

The pandemic has slightly changed the way I work but in essence I consider a landscape/cityscape to include close observations of just a tiny fragment of the viewed surroundings as well as massive milewide vistas. I love the juxtaposition of manmade materials and nature. The way plants find a crack and grow in it with tenaciousness and vitality, nature will always win.

It’s not just my work that has been altered by the Pandemic. This delightful view of London owes its clarity to the lowering of pollution during Lockdown. A Massive Cityscape in every sense of the word.

A Cityscape is more accessible by foot than the equivalent rural landscape and in many ways more interesting and unique.

This butterfly has settled on Church Road , Crystal Palace. Just outside 66a.

66a was once the home of a stand-up comedian, Daniel Kitson, who has painted a whole comedy cityscape based on this address.
http://www.chortle.co.uk/review/2008/01/01/35862/sixty-six_a_church_road:_a_lament,_made_of_memories_and_kept_in_suitcases,_by_daniel_kitson

My cityscape of this small portion of South London is informed by my own observations of Crystal Palace and the observations of a comedian who loves it, regardless of its imperfect, slightly grimy urbanity. Close by there is some spectacular street art.

Street art and street furniture is integral to Cityscapes.

This watercolour is a formal landscape representing my working life in the City.

But in truth it was the little details on my walks to and from work that created my personal Cityscape. This one beautiful sign is a fine way to live life.

Street furniture and graffiti on daily walks.

One more cityscape for this blog.

The walk to De Bouvoir Town, Cityscapes not always what you might expect.

Pandemic Pondering #109

Restrictions being lifted on travel and overnight stays could not have come at a better time for @theoldmortuary.

A scumbag fly tipped outside our flat in London this week

Imagine our happiness when we discovered our neighbours/friends had tidied it up.

London , like many big cities, has a reputation for being an unfriendly place but from the moment we moved here we were surrounded by neighbours who quickly became friends.

Shit happens everywhere and our neighbour/ friendships were forged over another adverse event. Three days after moving in we were burgled, traumatic enough in itself, but the day after, our flat and by extension ourselves were subjected to a frightening police raid.

Our lovely new neighbours swooped in and picked up the pieces just as they did this weekend.

Socially distant Pandemic Pondering in the garden with our neighbours.

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.