Pandemic Pondering #380

On reflection, moments like this are very rare. A still tide and no river traffic causing movement or ripples in the water. I do this walk almost every day but rarely catch moments like this. The proper business of dog walking is the purpose of the visit, but yesterday I just took a moment to capture these two pictures. I could already hear the sound of outboard motors approaching to ruin the perfect reflection.

Moments after this picture was taken the tide direction switched and the river started to flow again and I was able to concentrate on walking the dogs.

The road bridge in the front of this picture was completed in 1960 and the rail bridge behind 100 years earlier. Together they carry passengers and goods in and out of Cornwall, a hundred feet or so above the heads of humans standing on the riverbank. I never give it much thought on my daily walks but for the people living on the banks of the river in 1859 the first trains crossing the rail bridge must have been an extraordinary moment. I’ve only recently discovered that, less than two weeks after the railway service into Cornwall started,a train fell off a bridge just a couple of miles from here. That cant have made living under the bridge feel very safe at all. A future ponder will emerge from this new information once I can freely visit the local museum and research the story. Rail and road safety being what it is I happily walk beneath these bridges never anticipating a train or motor vehicle landing on my head. I may give it more consideration now!

Pandemic Pondering #297

Pondering numbers recalibrated and we are looking forward. But for this blog a little bit of retro. Every morning Facebook offers a look back at old posts. It is not something I look at often , but today the images were very varied , I’ve picked four to ponder over. The first is a heavy snow day in Dulwich Village in 2010. 11 years ago.

Memorable because the walk to and from work in Marylebone was a challenge, and a milk float overturned just outside this gate scattering milk bottles everywhere.The milkman was unhurt but he must still have the memory, as do I, of a thousand tinkling bell sounds as the bottles smashed on the icy road.

10 years ago January 13 th was very bright. These lovely sculptures by Mauro Perucchetti were located at the top of Park Lane near Marble Arch. For 3 months between October and January they were smiling observers of my journey to work.

8 years ago a new puppy called Hugo wakes up a friend with early morning snuggles. ( This is the day I had to hide a puppy poo up the sleeve of my jumper in order to give Hugo top good behaviour points, when his toilet training failed him when visiting someone)

2016 Brixton, 5 years ago, a street memorial to David Bowie who had recently died. Another travelling to work landmark.

My idiosyncratic use of a cameraphone might be a little bit, or a lot, irritating to my nearest and dearest but today this little retrospective imagery reminds me that January life is as varied and colourful as any other month and every day is filled with moments, even in a lockdown.

Pandemic Pondering #284

©Melinda Waugh

2021 dawned spectacularly in Saltash this morning. @theoldmortuary was set for less pastoral pleasures though.

The ‘Bobbers’ were booked to swim at Firestone Bay first thing this morning.

© theoldmortuary

Bobbers braved-2 temperatures to swim or gaze , or both, into the New Year.

©Andy Cole
©Andy Cole
©Andy Cole

The morning was beautiful and the sea was 10 degrees . An amazing way to welcome in the New Year. Cold water immersion is good for all sorts of things, we all talk a good bit of jibberish straight after a dip though. Then the endorphins hit and we are ready to take on the world. Although, due to Coronovirus restrictions, the world is not available, I did manage a quick nip into the Co-op for some bread rolls before we strode off for a lovely wintry dog walk. Endorphins though, in a similar way to pride, come before fall. The afternoon was spent attempting to read books but achieving dozing on the sofa. The fall to come.

Our evening took in a local harbour and a few Christmas lights.

©theoldmortuary

But then things took a turn towards the awkward. In my haste to get a perfect shot for this blog I tripped over a curb and the precious camera/phone skidded in slow motion towards the harbour edge. I’m a bit bruised and the camera teetered on the edge but ultimately stayed on land.

All is well but the parking machine which told us it was out of action struck another blow. When we put a card across its reader, it was actually rather over active and charged us twice. Perhaps we should have stopped the day at dozing on the sofa!

©theoldmortuary

But we did find a naturally occurring (ish) heart.

©theoldmortuary

Pandemic Pondering #266

Dog walking can be repetitive, particularly the walks closest to home or favourites. London Park walks became meditative but also made me really appreciate the subtle way the seasons shift and change. Walks in Cornwall have a bigger diversity even if they all start more or less in the same area. In 12 hours I have done the same dog walk twice. Into the town and then off for a run by the river. I wasn’t lacking in options for other walks but I needed to do other things in the same location and not everything was open at the same times.

Last night’s walk was brightened up by our local towns festive project. Winter Wanderland. Local people and businesses were encouraged to make illuminated window displays, using sillouettes to brighten up walking about town, in place of the usual Christmas Carol Festival

The was no worry about avoiding crowds. We didn’t meet anyone else doing any winter wandering. Ours is not a town that gets giddy with excitement at the best of times. The promise of illuminated windows did not tickle anyone’s giddygland in this Tier 1 destination, despite many of the windows being really good.

Less than twelve hours later , nature threw a visual sillouette party of its own.

Still no giddiness or excitement or even any other people , but definitely something good to look at on a dog walk.

Pandemic Pondering #73

The Love Tree in Spring. My last visit to this intriguing tree was in early February when a pandemic was brewing far away. A little over a month after my first visit to the tree,despite the government’s inactivity @theoldmortuary we were already limiting our contact with other humans. Better to be safe than sorry.

I had read about the tree in a local publication and was interested in using it as an image
https://issuu.com/cornerstonevision/docs/issuu_love_saltash_february_20

The February photograph I used to create a print. The first of a series of works, I hope.

Love tree , wearing Spring green. Taken from the opposite side of the tree.

The Love Tree is also known as the Family Tree. People have carved their initials on the trunk for centuries. It is said that there was a leper colony nearby and that some of the early carvings date back to that period. The tree is also known as the Family tree with people hiding small fetish objects associated with their children in the nooks and crannies of the tree and it’s roots.

This gnome was an engaging chap with his apple harvest in his basket. Who put him here and what is his significance , hidden in this tree, on a remote Cornish lane. The same question hangs over each little object.

Some of the objects are placed in hard to reach places.

High up among the carved initials.

The Love or Family tree also has a new pandemic message.

Something we are all trying to do.

Pandemic Pondering #72

Spring in Cornwall is often beautiful but it is always tempered with a lot of rain. This year, in Lockdown, Spring in Cornwall has been magnificent. The beautiful show of wild flowers on Cornish hedges are more perfect than ever, almost Chelsea Flower Show perfect, because they haven’t been subjected to the bad weather of most years. Today I got up early to catch them in the rising sun. The bees were busy and the tiny lanes were a symphony of bird song, buzzy bees and pollinators whose names I do not know.

The pictures start at home and end with the Love Tree. I wrote a blog on 13th February called Love Tree/Jelly Shoe.
https://theoldmortuary.design/2020/02/13/

Tomorrow it will get another whole blog to itself .

@theoldmortuary poppies.

Beautiful seed heads on some grasses that have just turned up in our front garden planters

The perimeter wall of Trematon Castle swells with vibrant colour every May and June.

I painted one of the more formal walls of the castle,in Spring, a couple of years ago.

The next few images are an homage to perfect Foxgloves. These are the hardy perennial show stoppers of the Cornish hedges around here. Their strong architectural shape is indicative of Spring in Cornish hedgerows. Usually on closer inspection that are a little battered and bruised by traditional West Country weather. In Cornwall the day Lockdown was announced the weather became sunny and for the most part predictable . The next images are a celebration of Foxgloves in their prime, untarnished by the elements.

All Foxgloves were papped on the way to the Love Tree. I will start off with a couple nearest to the castle, after that the blog gets unashamedly pink.

I came across the cutest road sign on my travels. Steady On. Such a great statement to gently urge caution.

And it’s partner sign , politely thanking drivers for due diligence.

And finally, the Love Tree, tomorrow’s blog subject.

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,

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