December 31st 2019, the last day of a decade. The blog has grown into itself. Pondering has become the driving word for narrative and visual creations. All thanks to a writing course with The Gentle Author of Spitalfields life.

Pondering the past year, I grabbed one picture for each month from my smartphone. There was no theme. No images of dogs or family or friends. In reality I ponder my friends, family and dogs often in the moments of these images. Taking you all into the next decade is the best gift imaginable.

Time to gently close the door on 2019 and lift the latch on the one marked 2020.

@theoldmortuary , pondering 2019 one month at a time.

Portwrinkle, Cornwall. January 2019

Portwrinkle again. Shells on a rusty GPO box. February 2019

Cheese straws. Gail’s Bakery, Dulwich Village. March 2019

Wild Garlic, Port Eliot, St Germans, Cornwall. April 2019

Spring Flowers, Trematon Castle, Saltash. May 2019.

Hong Kong. June 2019

Shadows at the Dior Exhibition. V and A, Kensington July 2019

Rusty watering can rose and geranium. @theoldmortuary.August2019

Quick sketch of a 90 year old theatrical crown. Kelly House, Kelly. September 2019

Spider web, Waterside, Saltash October 2019

Corrugated cardboard rolled. St Ives, Cornwall. November 2019

Scavenged Festive wreath @theoldmortuary December 31st 2019.

See you there …


Some days ‘popping’ into town takes a bit longer than planned.

Hundreds of Santas rode into town at 1pm. Raising money for Little Harbour Children’s Hospice .

The town, already closed to traffic for a winter fete, was soon bursting with bikers in red, astride throbbing engines with fake fur on their faces.

Saturdays are never normally this vivid in South East Cornwall.

theoldmortuary meets enthusiasts.

The blog writing course by The Gentle Author, founder of Spitalfields Life, encouraged course members to do many things. Visiting small museums, was one of his top tips,        “Because they are always full of enthusiasts” were his exact words.

Saltash has a Museum, which I have never visited, a shameful admission. I do know, however, that it would fit the description of small.

I did a little pre-visit research and discovered that the museum themes the exhibition space annually. This year’s theme is Grannies Attic, Grandads Shed. As a new grandparent, it was quite exciting to think I could pick up some attic tips.

As a side reason for visiting, I wanted to check the local archive and see if there was any information on the past life of theoldmortuary.

What I also found, just as Paul ( The Gentle Author) had predicted was enthusiasts. Upstairs above the small museum is the Local History Centre. This is where the enthusiasts hang out. So many of them too.

Bruce Hunt, the vice chairman applied himself to my research. To be honest we didn’t find anything specific to theoldmortuary but loads about the locality. Intriguingly just 10 steps from our front door was the location of a now non -existent pub called The Church House Inn, owned by the church and run by the vergers. Their signature beer was called Church Ale, The war memorial stands in the pubs exact location. 10 steps from our front door makes the current 30 steps to The Cecil seem like a marathon. The church, St Stephens, features frequently in the photographic archive and about 2,000 St Stephens wedding photographs are held there. The wedding picture at the top of this post is James McIntire and Susan Lanyon in July 1937.

The Local History Centre was buzzing with activity on the Wednesday afternoon I popped in. People sorting photographs by hand and others transcribing paper data onto computers. Terry, the archivist was everywhere and when he wasn’t obviously somewhere his name was being called.

Bruce pulled up a couple of maps that showed theoldmortuary. One, the 1841 Tithe map, showed two dwellings on the site of theoldmortuary, 60 years before our home was built in 1902 or 1903 . The same dates that the Cecil Arms, the current pub was built, sounding the death knell for The Church House Arms which was demolished as soon as The Cecil was open.

My time upstairs took me beyond closing time of the museum, so another visit is needed. All I could manage was a quick peak into Grandads Shed. A perfect recreation, including the politically incorrect pin ups. Shame it didn’t have the fragrance of Old Holborn tobacco and wood shavings.

All images courtesy of Saltash Heritage.

Thanks to Bruce Hunt for information and research.

Drawn to the Valley, Drawn to London. Artists of the Tamar Valley.

As someone who has spent their entire adult life actually being drawn to the Valley and then drawn to London, on repeat, and loving both equally, this was always going to be a ‘ not to be missed’ exhibition. The Valley in question is the Tamar Valley, the natural border between Devon and Cornwall. Beautiful, spectacular and largely undiscovered this vivid corner of England is home and sometimes muse to a vibrant gathering of artists. Some of whom belong to the collaborative group Drawn To The Valley.

The group has over 160 members, thirty-five of the artists have brought their work to Pall Mall.

The exhibition which runs from 22-27th October at The Royal Opera Arcade Gallery is an eclectic mix of art, some very representational of the area from which the group hails and some inspired by world travels or fantastic imaginations. This exhibition has something for everyone. West Country expats will love seeing familiar landscapes rendered in so many different ways, while those who are quite unfamiliar with the area will be exposed to its charms by the skill of artists who really love the place they call home. Not all the art here is representational, there are some amazing abstracts and 3D pieces. London and other world locations have also inspired this talented group of artists. Some pieces are pure creativity and inspiration.

Invigilators or gallery assistants can be a huge part of setting the tone of an exhibition. It’s not an easy job to gauge how much interaction gallery visitors want. Drawn to London benefits from having the artists themselves as invigilators. During my visit everyone was warmly welcomed and conversation about the art flowed freely and enthusiastically.

The ‘Hang’ at this exhibition, which covers three floors, is whimsical. Not unlike the Royal Academy Summer Show. Works that look good together, hang together. Maybe this style is not for everyone but I think it adds to the really happy feel of this exhibition.

I hope I can get back for another mooch around, I can’t recommend this refreshing exhibition too highly. If you have a blank wall there is almost certainly something here that would fill it nicely. for Marianne Sturtridge for Tessa Sulston

A Planter, or not?

IMG_0655.JPGOh dear, yesterday, we popped into Stax Reclamation to buy a door to turn into a garden table. Barely 5 seconds in, we were seduced by this old water tank with printing on the side. Only there for a few minutes we could have bought loads of things. I particularly liked the old dentist chair with clamps to hold the patients head still. We didn’t buy the door though, a fine excuse to browse again.

Saltash Regatta

Potential Energy

IMG_0192Saltash Regatta weekend.

A bustling brightly coloured celebration of river and community based pleasure. I always like to get to the waterfront at dusk on the Friday or dawn on the Saturday to catch the hardware of the event in preparation. The symmetry and stillness of the gigs and pilot boats belies the ferociousness of the events later in the day

IMG_0197These weighty oars have the delicacy of ballerinas feet as they rest peaceably together on the green. In a few hours they will be battling for prime position, one on one contact is not unheard of.

IMG_0196I love the laced-on leather handgrips, resting here, they have an erotic quality, suggesting laces on corsets passively waiting to be undone. In reality, the leather provides grip but the combination of endeavour, leather and salty water is punishing to the flesh. Soft palms and finger tips can be shredded to bloody remnants of their former selves.

IMG_0195Gigs, resting neatly in the water, delivered overnight from all over the West Country await their teams to give them energy and purpose.

IMG_0190Their skeletal insides waiting for race-ready muscles to give them power.

IMG_0193Blades, polished to cleave the water whilst the rowers cleave together, rhythm and energy effectively brought together.

IMG_0191Flashboats announcing every rowers hoped-for outcome. Just a few hours peace before the rowing begins.