Pandemic Pondering #71

Lockdown and a new diet regime has had a funny effect on our store cupboards. We are cooking everything from scratch and also learning new things to cook with ingredients we’ve not used before. We’ve always cooked a lot of Asian food . Today it was time to incorporate the local Asian Supermarket into the morning dog walk. KW Brothers of Durnford Street is a great shop. We stocked up on sauces for a third of the price of non specialist supermarkets.

Other things may have slipped into the bag too. KW Brothers has an amazing smell, I’m never sure if it makes me homesick for the Asian Stores of South London or Asia itself.

Either way I love it. Random fact of the day . KW Brothers stands on the site of a doctor’s surgery where Arthur Conan Doyle worked. Durnford Street has quotes from Sherlock Holmes inset into the pavement between the Asian Supermarket and Firestone Bay.

Durnford Street is pretty.

Firestone Bay is beautiful.

We were planning a Fusion evening meal , it was a coincidence really that we went to the supermarket as we had everything we needed for tonight’s supper without a visit.

https://schoolofwok.co.uk/our-story/heritage

This is our favourite Asian cookery book.

Fusion supper, Fragrant Aubergine with minced pork.

Elderflower and raspberry gin and tonic.

Happy Thursday

Pandemic Pondering #66

Lockdown Saturdays have become so much more exciting since Hutong started selling take out coffee in a pub .

I think we are better humans after a properly made Flat White. If this is the case , today we will be even more improved because we had two . One either end of the walk. Definitely more caffeine than I’ve had in three months.Giddy with excitement I’ve settled to writing a blog on one of the more mundane subjects of Lockdown.Soap bars, I think caffeine induced excitement might drag this blog into something vaguely interesting.I’m inspired to write this today because the first of our lockdown soaps has lathered it’s last.Bar soap is not something we ever really had @theoldmotuary. Hannah has traditional dry skin and I have non traditional. Either way the harshness of soap in a bar was something to avoid. Pump soaps disappeared off the shelves early on in Lockdown and bars it had to be. We have really enjoyed them and the extra time that there is in Lockdown allows for plenty of hand moisturising.The stand out bar soap in our house comes from Niagara in Canada. Not somewhere anyone outside of Niagara can nip to right now but it lasts and lasts doesn’t dry out skin and smells amazing. We bought a few bars two years ago and had forgotten we had them. More than two months on and there is still loads left.Soap Opera on-the-lake
15 Queen St, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0, Canada
+1 905-468-7627https://g.co/kgs/3jwBYVNext favourite and the one that needed to be replaced today is Waitrose own.This little bar has lasted the whole of lockdown only needing replacement today.Least popular is this blue bar from Pears. Proof of any was needed that the enemy of good is better.

Despite being one of my favourite brands, this one dries out our skin and is really disappointing fragrance wise. I wish I had picked up the traditional version, which I know is ok for our skin.So…Soap and Caffeine not normally a traditional pairing but if you have enough of one you can Witter on about the other.The great thing about writing blogs is the need to research my own image archive. While checking the name and any photos of the soap shop in Niagara-on-the-lake I found one of my favourite pictures which was also taken in the town.kingstgallery.comThis tiny Private entrance enchants me.The Gallery has some lovely quotes . This one says it all.King Street GalleryNiagara-on-the-lake

Pandemic Pondering #58

Deja vu.

©Wikipedia

Hours, days, weeks and now months have blurred boundaries. Just about everything we’ve done this week has been done several times in the last couple of months.

Saturdays have a new shape, for three weeks we have been able to get our favourite Hutong Coffee. Following that we do a favourite dog walk but we’ve done todays so many times I won’t bore you with the details. But everything on our walk looks a little bit brighter. Lockdown has given people the chance to get all sorts of jobs done and everywhere looks a little bit twinklier.

The best example of twinkle was this motorbike which had been ridden into town and was still so pretty. Presumably it has had a lot of attention in the last few weeks.

Plymouth has also gained some new street art and not a moment too soon.

We also found this picturesque wasteland.

And finally our used compostable coffee cups crossed the Tamar to our compost heap.

Not a bad Saturday.

Pandemic Pondering #57

All dressed up and nowhere to go.

Smeatons Tower on Plymouth Hoe has shrugged off its ungainly scaffolding and has emerged into the bright sunlight with a beautiful paint job ready for the Mayflower 400 Celebrations. COVID – 19 will have disrupted the events that this bright new livery was created for. Just like humans, Smeatons Tower is not going to be at the centre of of a party any time soon. Luckily a few more people can visit the Hoe now, to enjoy the view and the lighthouse with its crisply painted stripes.

Smeatons Tower even made the clouds smile today.

Pandemic Pondering #55

Easing of lockdown in England and Cornwall. There is a joke here as Cornwall believes it is, in many ways, a separate entity from the rest of the United Kingdom. Unlike Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland which have some self-determination, Cornwall has not been able to stick to comfortable, safe lockdown.

We were obliged to travel into the rest of the UK this morning across the Tamar Bridge.

Watercolour © theoldmortuary

We’ve had to do it a few times during Lockdown but always in very controlled situations where social distancing has been easy. Shopping at Marks and Spencer and Holland and Barrett in Drake’s Circus, in Plymouth, was entirely relaxing and easy, but one other destination was just too much contact with other humans. We quickly left.

Emerging from Lockdown is going to be a strange and challenging experience. We felt like country mice suddenly being thrust into the Hurlyburly of Christmas shopping on Oxford Street. In truth the experience this morning was nothing like that , but that’s how we felt.

A Jack and Jill Book . 1962©Fleetway Publications

The illustration is from a book I had as a child and it always made me anxious, although Katie Country Mouse was always quite a role model.

The project for today was to sort out our glass jar storage area on the Cornish Range and label the jars , as many of our new healthy eating ingredients look similar. It was quite the task, but meditative and relaxing, which was just what I needed after the jarring retail experience to get the bloody labels. Now I’m a bit further away from the expedition it’s easy to see why it was quite stressful. The store was just too big and we probably saw more people than we’ve seen in two months. Everyone was pretty good at social distancing but there were too many people there and too many who should not have been out, let alone in a large retail store. I’d be struggling if I had been told to isolate for 12 weeks and I might also have slipped out for a bit of fresh air. A massive shop is not the place for those with compromised health. My worry for them made me sad.

Anyway back to the jars. All filled up and properly labelled whilst I watched Sewing Bee on the TV.

Link to The Great British Sewing Bee.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03myqj2

Two friends have sent me something, via digital media, today. Both are appropriate for the end of a blog.

One is a quote from someone I’ve known since I was 11, we share a love of language.

What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make beginning. The end is where we start from.

T.S. Eliot.

The other is a sunset over Plymouth Sound from someone I’ve known two weeks. We’ve shared a large space in a coffee queue.

Happy Hump Day

Pandemic Pondering #50*

* The late edition.
Apart from garden chores, we had no great plans for today. VE Day has written this late edition itself. The day started, as they all do, with a Joe Wicks Work Out.The picture below was taken during the two minute break between exercises. The dogs love Joe Wicks, the cans are our improvised dumb bells and the velvet cushion , an item that should actually be in every gym, is a great asset for the kneeling exercises. Out of shot are the cake plates.

Once Joe is out of the way it’s time to shower but the dogs were very excited by something outside.A small, unannounced, outdoor memorial service was happening just across the road. Just a vicar and a standard bearer and 5 or 6 people all standing apart, silently witnessing the service. 2 minutes silence in the midst of so much silence was intensely moving.

I was, however, not dressed for church.

Sometime later a Civic group appeared to lay a wreath.

Our poppies put up a natural show of respect.

Clean and sparky we set off on a dog walk. Someone in the estate just beyond the church was playing Glen Miller on a sound system that would not have been out of place at Notting Hill Carnival. The sound was the epicentre of our circuitous walk and we’ve chosen to listen to similar music all day.

This cute window display was just beyond the Glen Miller Sound System.Then a little further on this jeep appeared.

The Nature Reserve itself was unmarked by anything, but in its quietness it has always marked history

During lunchtime I remembered a friend in London has a Union Jack, in pristine condition. It survived the whole of the second World War and spent actual VE day flying from the roof of a house in Grimsby. This morning he ironed it and it posed in his garden and ethereally in his bedroom window, for this blog.

His cat Banjo was perplexed and intrigued. Banjo is a Gipsy Hill cat but not ‘ the’ Gipsy Hill cat.

While we are in Gipsy Hill, on the route of the number 3 bus, we found a shot of a number 3 trying to get through Crystal Palace on VE Day.

This evening we were on a social distancing adventure. The evening dog walk was in Plymouth where we had Click and Collected an order of fish and chips which we ate in the van. The van was cleaned today for its first run out in a month.

Then it was off to the Hoe for the evening dog walk and a visit to the many war memorials. This year there is a new one for the Merchant Navy.

Plymouth Sound was looking gorgeous.

We also found a new sculpture, the bottom and hand prints of the Beatles.

Sunk into the earth where they, the Beatles, relaxed in the sun before their gig in Plymouth in 1967. The moment preserved by an iconic photograph.We finished the day with a cup of tea and a scone. The scones were traded to us by a neighbour for the loan of our hedge trimmer.A cup of tea is a fine way to end a blog on VE Day. The last image of the day is my favourite WW2 picture from the South West Image Archive. The Archive is held by The Box, Plymouth and is of a woman, drinking tea while sitting on the rubble of her destroyed home near Plymouth Dockyard,

Pandemic Ponderings #44

A pondering in which we queue for good coffee in Plymouth. Saturdays are made for good coffee. For the 6 weeks of lockdown we’ve not had a coffee made with love and care by a proficient barrista. Given the Coffeeshop in question you could say we’ve missed out for 6 months. Hutong which closed in October for a rebuild, ‘popped up’ today at The Lord High Admiral.

Queuing for coffee is not unknown to us as Monmouth Coffee at Borough Market is another favourite coffeeshop.

Hutong coffee is worthy of the queue. The new environment at The Lord High Admiral is pretty cute.

On reflection , it was lovely to see George…

and Emma who didn’t make it into the mirror.

Perfect Social Distancing throughout the process we took delivery of our coffee.

It was every bit as good as we knew it would be. Right to the bottom of the cup.

If you are in Plymouth next Saturday the Hutong will ‘pop-up’ again next Saturday 9th May from 8am. The other ‘pop-up’ at The Lord High Admiral, Knead Pizza had sold out all their Pizza slots today and I think all of next week’s are sold out too. We were too slow for Pizza for both weeks and actually missed out on Hutong bacon butties today.

Note to self, get up earlier!

What to do after a Hutong Coffee? Drive to Stonehouse and do the usual walk.

This could not have been a better decision.

Firstly we parked up near Elvira’s,

who were serving bacon butties. By a strange coincidence we queued up at Elvira’s with a couple who had also been at the earlier coffee queue. They were much braver than us and ordered take-out Eggs Benedict. I would have been wearing egg yolk all day if we had ordered that.

Obviously once you’ve queued twice with people, observing social distancing, you can talk for ages even though they are complete strangers. (Pandemic observation, talking to strangers is a lovely thing now we all have more time)

Our Stonehouse walk is one we do often but everything in Lockdown is changed , there seems to be more to see.

Even at Elvira’s we saw these two lovely unusual things.

Non-local people can have a chuckle at the name of this location.

Admiral’s Hard; another saucy Plymouth location is Pennycomequick.

I just threw that in, it’s nowhere near our walk.

Stonehouse did not disappoint, we met another complete stranger at the proper distance, for more lovely conversations and Devils Point itself thought it was on the Mediterranean.

Pretty houses on the way back to the car.

Saturdays and Sunshine

Hutong Coffee

Elvira’s Bacon Butty

Lockdown rules all applied

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 #17

April sweeps in with more promise than March. These two months share the joint responsibility of bringing in Spring and hosting the Easter holidays. This April of course will be unique and this Easter, unusual, because whatever way we traditionally spend the four day weekend. This year will not be the same, in any way, for humans.

The natural world and built environment knows nothing of our 2020 restrictions. Away from our homes all these things are happening. Aprils past have provided these images.

The only one I’ve actually seen in 2020 is the first, 500 yards from @theoldmortuary.

The others are out there, but not for this year.

Wild Garlic brings vibrancy to rural lanes, and fragrance to the kitchen.

Sunshine illuminates beaches effortlessly.

While wild grasses hold the dunes in place.

Old cars twinkle in London Streets.

While bossy notices fail to realise Bill Stickers is currently Socially isolating, untroubled by threats of prosecution.

Closer to home a city beach and sea water pool look crisp but chilly.

Even closer to home the bridges between the rest of the World and Cornwall look super sharp in the evening light.

For now we are at the far end of these bridges and nowhere else.

Arrivals and Departures

I think I’m a bit of a romantic when standing in Arrival or Departure areas. There is something that refreshes my faith in human relationships. There is anticipation,sadness, anxiety and hope but familial love and the closeness of friendship are the uppermost emotions.

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours in a combined arrival and departure area of a train station. I have embarked on heart wrenching journeys to visit dying parents from here, excitedly started fascinating journeys to the rest of the world. Alternatively I have waited patiently to welcome many people I love and care for. On Sunday evenings there is often a gathering of young people just embarking on their careers in the navy being gathered up from all corners of the country to be bussed off to Torpoint to start their basic training at HMS Raleigh.

Yesterday I was going nowhere , just there to promote Daffodil Growing , Art and many other fascinating aspects of the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

What a perfect excuse to people watch. Plymouth Argyle were playing at home so the green and white army were the biggest recognisable group. Closely followed by happy Cosplay participants. Then there were the family or friend groups and the excited gathering of university students. There were some tears but there was overwhelming happiness too.

It was unpredictable who would interact with the joyous yellow of our leaflets and posters. The happy travellers of Plymouth Station took our yellow missives, who can guess how far they will travel.