#521 theoldmortuary ponders

Daffodils were yesterday, today is tulips.

Plymouth is a city like any other with suburbs. Many of those suburbs are unknown to us in any real sense. Sometimes they are just corridors from one familiar place to another, often these journeys are taken by just one of us. Yesterday we did one of those journeys together with the dogs. On this particular journey there is an odd little car park, often full with no obvious purpose.

” I’ve always wondered why people park there.”

” Me too.”

“Let’s park there”

And so began a lovely early Spring walk with bright green moss and foliage surrounded by Elizabethan ruins.

We had stumbled on the site of Radford House.


Plymouth was a very significant city in Elizabethan times and this was a very significant house in those times. Many of the illustrious names who visited here are viewed somewhat differently in recent times, as Colonisation and Acquisition are considered at a more granular level.

The Harris family who owned the property were very wealthy and the house has been linked with many myths and legends of lost treasure and hidden assets.

One substantiated story is about the Armada Service. Crafted between 1581 and 1602 from Silver and Gold captured,most likely,from Spanish ships that were raided in the New World. 22 plates, bowls and cups made from plundered precious metals

The family held onto their silver until the English Civil War. 1642-46. At that time the family had a cunning plan to hide their wealth by burying it underground on nearby Dartmoor. Unfortunately not such a cunning plan as after the war nobody could remember the location .

The silver was found in a potato store in 1827 by an agricultural labourer, and after changing hands a few times it is now held in the British Museum. Some other items from this collection have been identified by United States auction houses but the whereabouts of these items are unknown. U.S readers might like to check their basement store rooms. Link below to identify.

The Armada Service https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/the-armada-service/PQH1iUIHlXHh1w

So this is what happens near a car park with no obvious purpose. A lovely walk and a few minutes of googling. Some exercise, a story and some moss covered logs. Blogging perfection.

#501 theoldmortuary ponders

Rather a late blog. No particular reason. Certainly not giddy celebrating of blog 500.Our weekend plans have flipped completely and maybe that has affected my time line. For whatever reason I overslept considerably this morning leaving no gap for some gentle Pondering before the day started. A news article piqued my interest as I was scrolling while cooking breakfast. It seems that one of my favourite doors has a life of its own beyond its home town of St Ives or my blogs.

This 200 year old door is opposite the kitchen window of a cottage that we like to rent in St Ives during the winter months. Below is the 2018 article that popped up while I was scrolling.


I hastened to Pinterest and Instagram and had a look at their picture grids of the door.

It seems I am not the only person to find old doors with flaking paint fascinating.


By one of life’s wonderful coincidences we found an old, green, ghost sign in Plymouth, this example of flaky paint may not interest any branch of the various Tate Galleries but it has a green flaky charm of its own.

Below is another WordPress Blog with the exact same subject.


Flaky paint on a Sunday. Pondering is a funny old habit.

#499 theoldmortuary ponders

©Time Out

On this one occasion where @theoldmortuary goes Time Out follows, albeit at the number 7 spot on their list of most overlooked places in the world. Who even knew @theoldmortuary was quite so on trend!


I’ve copied and pasted the Plymouth section so I can use my own illustrations and add my own small pearls of wisdom. Actually these Pearls are of wealth and not mine to share. There is every possibilty these Pearls passed through Plymouth in the 16th century. Elizabeth I favourite man with very dubious morals, Francis Drake, opperated almost exclusively out of Plymouth. She liked gifts and he supplied them.

The Armada Portrait, currently at The Box Plymouth.

Plymouth, England
If the Devon city of Plymouth were any smaller, it’d be considered a jewel of a day-trip destination. If it were any bigger, it simply couldn’t be overlooked. Perhaps because of its middling size, it’s slipped under the radar, and that’s pretty unfair, if you ask us. I like a city that I can do most things by walking or using public transport, not always possible but defiantly achievable most days. Like art? The Box is a brilliant, recently opened gallery that celebrates local artists.

Local artist, not celebrating.

Like architecture? You’ll be dazzled by the newly done-up Market Hall, which also has its own ‘immersive art dome’.

@theoldmortuary goes there often, good coffee and cake, 360 degree films and a memorable lesson in Aerial Yoga.

Like swimming? Few pools are more spectacular than the Tinside Lido.

Tinside, fun swimming and fuels my obsession for abstract photography through glass bricks.

Like gin? England’s oldest distillery is smack bang in the historic city centre.

Cocktail from a glug jug.

Book a room at the Bistrot Pierre B&B, in the revamped Royal William Yard, and you’ve lined up pretty much the perfect weekend away.

No need for a room at Bistro Pierre but @theoldmortuary can easily bore the socks off you all with our daily dog walks here.

Thanks to Time Out for giving me an excuse for a quick dip into my photo archive. Congratulations for getting to Friday with me.

#489 theoldmortuary ponders.

I have been having a bit of a fiddle superimposing photographs with watercolour washes. This is not the look I was aiming for, even in digital art happy accidents happen. I love the coppery tones that a splash of watercolour brings to this sunrise. Suddenly a real photograph becomes fantastical. More like a stormy sunset but facing in the wrong direction. This is absolute serendipity, I could never have planned this but accidents happen.

#306 theoldmortuary ponders

Sometimes I have a nugget of a blog in mind that doesn’t quite have enough substance. The story of Darwin and his Origin of Species came into this category. No disrespect to Darwin is meant but I wanted to express the flavour of his relationship with Plymouth. He was only 22 when he set sail from Plymouth for a two year exploration and survey of the coast of Patagonia and Tierra Del Fuego. He was rich enough to pay the £30 a year cost of the voyage, was making a name for himself as a naturalist and had no responsibilities. The yellow boat in the picture above is moored roughly in the position of the Beagle at Barn Pool.

©Plymouth History Festival

Darwin arrived in Plymouth in late October and eventually sailed in late December. He described his months in Plymouth as the worst time he had ever experienced. He was able to spend time with many great scientists and engineers of the time and also listen to sermons given by university friends, in many first hand accounts he expresses great pleasure in doing such things. But Plymouth, as the city is now known, had a vibrant night culture which Darwin made no effort to study. The city was too bawdy and licentious for a man who delighted in sermons. Devonport where his lodgings were was a place well used to having young men slightly bored waiting for a boat to sail. Devonport had bars and Theatres and many many ways a man with money could have found stimulation and good times. I suspect he was a prissy young man who would not have know a good time if it had jumped up behind him and said Boo!

The Beagle was eventually ready to sail in late December when the weather had become more favourable. One more thing was set to cause Darwin misery. It was just another thing for him to disapprove of, furthering his judgement of Plymouth as a giant den of iniquity.

On Christmas Day 1831, Darwin went to church, most probably Stoke Damerel, where the guest preacher was a friend from Cambridge University, William Strong Hore of Stonehouse. Hore was at that time Assistant Stipendiary Curate to Saltash; after ordination he became Curate at Stoke Damerel.

Whilst Darwin was at church, the Beagle’s crew got drunk and disorderly. The weather on the 26 December was ideal for sailing, but the crew were either hung over or in irons as a result of their behaviour the day before. At 11am On Monday 27 December 1831, in perfect weather, the Beagle did weigh anchor and set sail. On a friend’s yacht, Darwin caught the ship at 2pm beyond the Breakwater, and so began his epic voyage.*

Nearly 200 years on I can sense the look on his face and the set of his body language as he eventually set sail for South America. Most of us know a Darwin!

* Shaun Standfield 2008 Plymouth History Festival 2022

#286 theoldmortuary ponders.

Facebook reminds me that it is five years since I was in North America. That is a timely reminder as yesterday we had planned a North American experience.

Lets be honest a coffee in an independent Coffee Shop, Hot Black Coffee, in Toronto is a very different experience from a Tim Horton coffee, but needs must and we are in Plymouth not Canada. Tim Horton opened in Plymouth yesterday.

Now that was the plan. But domestic life got in the way and inadvertantly solved a year old problem.

When we moved house a year ago we had made a grab bag of important documents and items that must not be lost. The plan was that one of us would grab the, highly visible, leopard print clutch bag, and move it safely from one house to the other. That didn’t happen and neither of us know how. The bag has been missing for over a year. The contents were so important that every room in the new house has been turned upside down and inside out several times. The loss of some of these items has been crucial and the 6 month wait for new passports is probably the most painful result of our loss.

We were up early yesterday to visit Tim Horton’s for breakfast. In the quiet of the morning there was the sound of a drip in our utility room.

Our utility room is know as the ‘Futility Room’ as it is too small for its true purpose and yet somehow is a perfect store room, and loo!

We had to move a lot of stuff to get at the drip. Having located and fixed the fault we decided to reconfigure some of the shelving installed by our diligent removal men. Unbelievably behind the shelving the Leopard print clutch bag was resting, safely holding all of our important things. One of the removal men must have picked it up, tucked it under his arm and moved it with the shelving and then just put it to one side at the new house. That is the end of a year of puzzlement. It was also the end of breakfast at Tim Horton’s. We did drive over at 2pm having mentally swapped breakfast for doughnuts but the rest of Plymouth had got there before us. Huge queues for drive-thru and eat in. Maybe we will go back, maybe not. In less than a month we are Toronto bound, the queues will be shorter there and we can also go independent. After 5 years we may well do both.

#273 theoldmortuary ponders

So whilst I am languishing about like an overcooked parsnip, being Covid Positive, in a record heatwave. The print exhibition that I have been planning for months went and made a success of itself without me. An amazing curatorial and hanging team set it all up on Monday.

They worked incredibly hard, all day, in the blistering heat.

Today was the first day of being open fully to the public. Stewarded by volunteers, there will always be someone on hand to chatter about all things print related.

Thursday evening, this week, the 21st of July, between 6pm and 8pm we are holding our Private View. There will be fizz and singing. Everyone who is able to attend is welcome to the Private View, or of course, any other time over the next 3 weeks.

#248 theoldmortuary ponders

Look at these vivid flowers, they just revealed themselves near a local roundabout. Another revelation yesterday was Kate Bush doing an interview on Radio 4. She was discussing her surprise elevation to the top of the music charts in Britain and America with the single Running up that Hill ( A deal with God).44 years after it was first released. The single is part of the soundtrack for Stranger Things. A TV drama featuring teenagers and supernatural events and curious government behaviour in a mundane Indiana location.

What struck me as unusual in the interview by Emma Barnett and the preview piece by Caitlin Moran was that at no point did anyone discuss Kate’s looks or her fabled allure to men. How refreshing to just talk about music, life and gardening.


I realise that BBC sounds does not play everywhere so I have included a newspaper report of the interview.


The fact that this interview struck me as both unusual and refreshing is a symptom of how women are still judged differently to men. This may seem like an odd kind of theme for a blog but it struck a chord.

Earlier this week while I was swimming up and down the wide part of the Lido I had to regularly pass 5 young men playing with a ball, something I would probably not have done in my entire life for fear of the ribald or sexist comments. Confident that age has made me almost invisible I pressed on. But no, my crime as a woman, this time, was to be ‘ too old’ to be a threat to them.

#245 theoldmortuary ponders

This was a day with an unexpected ending. Today was a yardening day. Almost a year since we exchanged an exposed but fertile country garden for a coastal, white painted, stone yard.  Yardening has been a huge surprise. Today the plan was to weed and tame the jungle that the yard has become, unexpectedly fertile too.

All went to plan, but with the temperature at 23 degrees it was quite the labour of love. A sea swim was suggested but the tide was not our friend. Then we planned a swim in a local outdoor pool. The website was decidedly wonky and ultimately we couldn’t book a session.  The alternative, an ice cream and some sunbathing was a good enough plan. Until we got too hot. Retreat into the house was timely in two ways. We really were too hot, but the curious twist was an email from the cranky website that said we had managed to book a swimming session.

We were very certain we hadn’t , but a cooling swim was exactly what we needed. Arrival at the pool confirmed the crankiness of the website. Apparently everyone who visited the webpage had been given swim sessions without payment. The pool was far from full so we did that old fashioned thing of buying two tickets and prepared for a dip.

Tinside Lido

This pool is probably very familiar to anyone in Britain who watches the BBC. This image is one of the regular infills between TV programmes. As you can see it was not very busy at all and we had a wonderful swim in the historic pool.

There was another lovely bonus, bright sunshine and recently cleaned 1930’s glass bricks in the shower area gave the most wonderful distorted, abstracted views of the pool.

A fine end to a busy day.

#219 theoldmortuary ponders

Sunflowers in Cuba

Todays blog is a little late due to holiday travel. Not mine, for certain, as I am still without a passport. But it did give me the chance to share one of my favourite holiday photographs. This morning I dropped some friends to the airport for their holidays and by coincidence several friends and family are travelling to Europe for weddings this weekend which makes my whatsapp notifications bright with happy holiday images.

©Debs Bobber

All of my adult life I have taken foreign travel for granted. Covid and now an inept passport office have kept my feet very firmly on United Kingdom soil for nearly three years. This has made me appreciate the similarities and pleasures of Britain that I previously would, perhaps, have not even noticed. After the drive to the airport this morning I went to Sutton Harbour area to have new tyres fitted. I heard a sound that would be well known to anyone who has spent time in the Mediterranean . A handbell being rung from the window of a white van carrying food items. Today was not freshly caught fish or locally grown vegetables but the humble pasty!

So, I am a little envious of my nearest and dearest sampling foreign sights and sounds. The minute a passport lands in my hands, foreign adventures will be planned. But today I walked past scenic lobster pots with a baguette under my arm, only the weather proved to me that I was not, currently, somewhere more exotic.