#120 theoldmortuary ponders

A different perspective. Two hours before I took this photograph I was doing the pre-swim dog walk in the area very close to the orange arrow in this photograph. The weather was the polar opposite of this bright blue scene. Literally, ice cold needles of rain were penetrating my warm clothing and the dogs were super grumpy, actually they needed a poo but were both not prepared to spin and then stand still in such disgusting weather. I was absolutely not feeling the love for the morning bob. The grumpy dogs did eventually complete their eliminations and I could return home to the ritual of pouring myself into a damp wet suit. Rumpling chubby bits into neoprene with some degree of speed never improves my state of mind. Achieving a relatively quick turn around I was shocked to discover that the area below the orange arrow had taken a better turn and the water that awaited me looked like this. The bob was absolutely wonderful, and the post bob snacks of afternoon tea cakes,bought by Kim Bobber, gave the morning a proper boost.

Swimming/ bobbing achieved we had another quick turn around and drove off to Mountbatten which is where the top photograph was taken along with the following ones.

Plymouth Barbican and Sutton Harbour from Mountbatten
The Citadel and the Hoe from Mountbatten

Fired up by the sugar hit from Kim’s cakes I decided to do a longish but quick walk around the Mountbatten peninsular. I found some very curiously marked bollards. I was late for a planned meeting time so I was unable to unearth their significance or reason for being. But for now I can use them as a Saturday warning to all.

Re arranged for effect, of course .

#119 theoldmortuary ponders

©Patsy Wilis

This old theatre poster has some relevance, but before the relevance comes some pondering. I’ve had a busy two days attending actual meetings, with real people, in indoor spaces. I’ve achieved in two days what I could never have achieved in a month of zooming.

The meetings were not held in committee rooms or other closed off spaces. By coincidence, both days were spent in large old industrial spaces that have been converted into co-working areas. So a bit like the above poster, a big space with lots of people doing their own thing in their own box, be it virtual, plugged into a computer or real world isolation of sitting at separate tables.

At the beginning of the working week I had one thing to achieve and had I been zooming I like to think that one thing could have been successfully achieved. In co-working spaces, though, going about your business is not a shut off activity, people walk past you. Maybe they slightly recognise you. There is a nod or a smile, or even a brief introduction. This week I have found that one succesful meeting led to two more informal but equally significant meeting of minds. Because of the one planned and succesful meeting I had to arrange another meeting in a different shared space again succesful and again leading to another unplanned and very interesting interaction. Two days of really positive collaborative thought quite blew my mind. After the last interaction I stepped across the road and took shelter under an old theatre canopy while I gathered my thoughts. Which brings us, in a roundabout way to the poster.

The Palace Theatre in Plymouth was the last place Laurel and Hardy performed on stage together, as top of the bill variety artists. On May 17th 1954 Oliver Hardy had a heart attack during their performance of Birds of a Feather. This brass plaque, of one of the shows posters, marks this seminal moment in the careers of the two men. There is no explanation anywhere near the plaque. Dr Google filled in the gaps. The sketch was cut short and Hardy spent the rest of their time in Plymouth recuperating in a local hotel. For the remainder of the run Stan Laurel collaborated with and supported the other entertainers who were performing in the show. The last ever performances, on stage, of a very famous entertainer were spent supporting other people on a stage in the theatre where I was sheltering. A very uplifting thought after two days of good outcomes from collaborative work. A real post- covid moment.

#45 theoldmortuary ponders

Todays blog was knocked off the front page by another story of bobbing. This is how tranquil the area was when we went for a dip last night. But what lies underneath?

A playful seal! Spearmint the seal joined the two distance swimmers at the furthest buoy and swam back with them to one of the other swimmers. They calmly warned her that they were not alone. Not trusting them at all she disbelieved them. Calm, was not, in truth, how any of them were feeling . An onlooker who was alerted by their excited chatter said she had never seen anyone swim back to the shore so fast. On arrival back in Tranquility bay Spearmint played around with two other bobbers before noticing that the others were getting out, she joined them in a rush for the beach and the video that follows was her being calm with a background soundtrack of excited chatter.


Teresa, the quick thinking onlooker who filmed this also had a video of Spearmint having her supper.


I think it is safe to say that the whole encounter was a lot more exciting for the humans, Miss Spearmint just takes the whole thing very much in her stride.


Soon after she returned to the sea the water if not the ‘ bobbers’ was entirely tranquil.

#44 theoldmortuary ponders

I had known for a little while that this particular blog was going to be about illumination because I had tickets to attend an illumination festival in the Royal William Yard.What I hadn’t expected was that the sunset over our evening swim would be quite so spectacular. Just a tiny tweak on the saturation of this image brought out all these gorgeous colours.

After drying off and warming up we set off to visit the area around Ocean Studios which was the location of Illuminate.

Like lots of things this event has been postponed a few times.

Many of the illuminations were similar to previous years but a new one was a fabulous, luminescent squid called Bobby Dazzler by Kate Crawford and Beth Munro. Visitors were invited to add embelishment to Bobby with fingertips dabbed in luminescent paint.

Outside we could write on a graffiti wall. My rookie error was to seek out a clear piece of wall to advertise this blog without checking the appropriateness of the surrounding marks.

Also new to Illuminate were the thousands of bugs and moths fluttering in the breeze to remind us that we must protect biodiversity and species around the world. There was also the luxury of a cafe serving decent quality late night coffee, always a bonus!

The architecture of the Grade 1 listed buildings lends added texture to projected videos.

And although I failed to record a video the musical pipes and interactive lights were fascinating. Although not particularly musical in our hands.

Returning just for a final comment and illumination to our sunset swim. Here I am wearing my night swimming hat which was a birthday gift last week.

©Gilly Bobber

#26 theoldmortuary ponders

The better late than never blog. This morning I got lost in a world of responding to complaints letters, to an organisation I do some work for and ordering wallpaper. One distinctly more pleasurable than the other, then the sun came out and it would have been rude not to have been out in it. So here we are…

More tales of the river banks from my Tamar cruise of Tuesday. It seems to me that regular readers of this blog will have seen the locations in these pictures many times but always from the perspective of me having my feet firmly planted on one bank of the Tamar or the other. Tuesday, unusually found me sailing up and down the Tamar. The top picture is of course the Tamar Road Bridge and the Albert Rail Bridge two structures that link Cornwall with Devon and by extension the rest of the world. As best I can these pictures are in order as we sailed past them, some locations photographed better on the way up and others in the setting sun on the way back. First up is Smeatons Tower on the Hoe.

The picture below is our swimming beach, 5 mins away at cruising speed. Tranquility Bay at just after midday at  high tide.

Last night we were swimming there while Miss Spearmint a,newly resident seal, was having a supper of very fat fish just off the steps. I’m not sure any of us were aware that very fat fish swam anywhere near us! Below is the Royal William Yard where at least one of our daily dog walks takes place.

The next picture is of part of the waterfront of Devonport Royal Naval Dockyard. Not somewhere anyone can casually walk a dog. Some of these buildings are High Security, Ministry of Defence areas.

Maybe that is enough for one blog. Allowing even more tales of the River Banks later.

#12 theoldmortuary ponders

© Songlines The Box. The Seven Sisters.

My Wednesdays will be a real bright spot in the long,dark, drag of a British winter. Songlines a major International exhibition of the art of Australian First Nations People has opened today, Thursday, at The Box in Plymouth where I work. Yesterday was training and orientation day, like many such days in any subject I came away disorientated and aware of how little I know about the subject being taught, in this case non- western art. If those were my only thoughts on this wonderful exhibition that would be quite enough to deal with, but Songlines is not that simple. The subject matter of Songlines is both Ancient and Modern and is a thorny old subject to get my head around.

The heroines and positive energy of the Songlines in this exhibition are the seven sisters who use guile, magic and determination to protect themselves from a dangerous sexual predator who is named Wati Nyiru.

Shape Shifting and long distance travel are two of the methods used by the sisters to protect themselves. In the picture above, the seven sisters are expressed as highly decorated ceramic vases. Wati Nyiru is the malevolent vase lurking in the corner.

That is the limit of my day one understanding that I have the confidence to write down. I am in luck though. Such is the significance of this Exhibition, the BBC has made a T.V programme about it with Mary Beard . A Professor of Classics at Cambridge University, I have every confidence that Mary will shine a bright torch on this exhibition and succinctly explain all the nuances of these stories that it would take me forever to work out.

I have a date with her on Friday evening to watch her programme, Inside Culture. To be fair I often watch her either on a Friday or on catch up but never usually with the concentration that I will give this weeks programme.

#4 theoldmortuary ponders.

Yesterday evening was the first time for a few weeks that I was able to walk along the coastal path nearest to the swimming beach that the ‘bobbers’ prefer to use. The beaches and the coastal path beyond the Artillery Tower have been closed for essential maintenance. Although the path is now open, the steps and slopes that allow us to get into the water at high tide are being refurbished.

We often joke that our ‘free’ hobby is anything but free as we buy various bits of equipment to make winter swimming easier and safer to achieve. But for our local council maintaining the concrete against twice daily tides and winter storms must be a huge budgetary responsibility.

Looking at the amount of work that has been done I’m pretty grateful that my only responsibility before winter is to get a wetsuit. But for now October is still being kind to us.

©Debs Bobber

Pandemic Pondering #546

A late blog, apologies. Yesterday I went to a real world meeting. It required me to catch a real world train on what turned out to be a not so scenic, Scenic Railway. The Tamar Valley, however, had other ideas about the scenic part and filled itself with a mist so impenetrable that the journey almost past without seeing any landmarks

This is a bridge. Fortunately for the sanity of this blog I have painted it. Not the actual bridge but a painting.

Fortunately a cow loomed out of the mist which brings some level of interest.

Beyond that there was hedgerows, the first one with mist the second a little higher with actual sunshine.

Eventually we got high enough up the valley to be above the mist.

And at long last some countryside.

Before we dropped down again to the river and the village of Calstock viewed from the viaduct.

Before arriving at my destination of Gunnislake.

There are days, like yesterday when I feel pretty confident on the way a blog is going to work. How wrong could I have been! I had bright sunshine as I boarded the train , a gorgeous blog with amazing photos was just going to drop into my lap, I thought. The weather of course had other ideas. For those of you with half an hour to spend, I’ve included a youtube of the journey in good weather.

For everyone else here is some lovely rust at journeys end.

Pandemic Pondering #543

Devon pretended to be Greece again today. Even mythical creatures were looking gorgeous in the sun.

Leviathan in the sun

Chocolate croissants were also looking tasty near the harbour.

And a lonely swan was looking arty among squiggling reflections.

All this loveliness doesnt get the jobs done though so after a longish walk in the sunshine we returned home to perform domestic diligence. Domestic diligence does not a fascinating blog make, but with full disclosure we have lovely clean windows, energy efficient light bulbs in every chandelier ( I know!) And non slip foam applied to 20 slats on a bed. Meanwhile in Hong Kong half of our family was celebrating the Autumn Moon festival, which makes better pictures than domestic diligence.

We had planned a moonlight swim for the last full moon of the summer but the moon didn’t put in an appearance. The sunset was pretty though and the sea was kind to us

Fingers crossed for more Grecian weather tomorrow.

Pandemic Pondering #508

©Ricky Fenn Mazie Shalders

Last week a favourite piece of Plymouth Street Art got a sad addition and at 11 this morning there will be a Silence held across the country to remember and reflect on the events of last Thursday.


Yesterday evening nature also marked some time in Plymouth. A dense sea fog briefly cloaked the city making everything grey and a little more silent.

Overlooking Plymouth from Down Thomas. ©Kevin Lindsey