Today is almost certainly the last day I will be able to harvest a red tomato 🍅 grown outside in the backyard. This is hugely significant for two reasons, I have never before achieved growing even one red tomato outdoors in any garden during my lifetime. This year our new location and probably the warmest year on record are the factors that have made this possible. Not newly sprouted green fingers on my own fair hands. The warm year had made our yard positively Mediterranean until late October. Since then the yard has grown a velvety carpet of mould. Like the set of Tolkiens’ ‘Middle Earth’ in the Lord of the Rings film franchise, everything is cloaked in green flock. The spring clear-up is almost certainly going to involve a pressure washer but maybe nature or the predicted cold snap will remove the green tinge in the next month or two. Today’s tomato is not a thing of beauty, I already know that, but in the spirit of Advent+2022 I can share a very pretty tomato from November, never before the subject of a pondering.
It was a shock, this morning, to look at a December calendar and realise how the days actually fall. I have been putting in our commitments without looking at the names of the days they fall on. Christmas day falls on a Saturday which means there are only three effective weekends in December and one of them is in two days time. I am not a festive catastrophist, nor a perfectionist, so this is not a worry, more an observation. Those of us, who can, will gather together and have a good time. I think this feeling of unease is just about the sensation. A month of normal, mundane weekend activities must be squeezed into three rather than the usual four. Months that give me five weekends equally give me concern. May is a good one to give me the jitters of over-commitment when it provides 5 weekends. That is usually 5 weekends of visits or visitors that are planned and never go wrong but nonetheless give me waking nights of cold chills when I imagine that I have overbooked myself. I think it is safe to say I am a four weekends to the month kind of person. You know where you are with four weekends. Three is definitely too few and five just makes me giddy .
Welcome December, here is some sea glass and fishing net picked off our local beach, and with that a theme for Advent+2022. A bit of a daily pondering including photographs that have never made it into the blog before. A sort of Advent+ Calendar of surprises.
Sharing the care of a newborn gives plenty of time for pondering, not so much out and about, but lovely Facebook Timehop provides substance to ponder over. 5 years ago on the 8th October I was at Devils Point, taking the picture above. Nothing in my life at that time would suggest that in five years time I would be a Stonehouse local, living 5 minutes away from the tidal pool.
Art is always busy in October. 8 years ago I was exhibiting an abstract inspired by Cornish tin mines at Dulwich Picture Gallery.
I love that painting, it lives in North London now. At this time living by the sea could not have been further from my thoughts. Living and arting in Dulwich Village was brilliant fun.
But 5 years ago I was a little closer and living on the shores of the Tamar Valley, watching a steam train cross into Cornwall.
October is also a time for visiting Art Galleries, a couple of years ago I chanced upon this brilliant piece of art/prose. Right up my street.
Since then life has taken more than a few twists and turns. For us, but also for the world. We have washed up on the shores of the Atlantic at Stonehouse. Currently I am looking at Stonehouse from a distance and loving the Stonehouse Sunrise from a distance, courtesy of a fellow sea swimmer, who long ago was a work colleague.
However wonderful Wimbledon is I miss my nearly daily dips. A trip to the Ladies Pond on Hampstead Heath it will have to be, or failing that the nudist beach at Brighton because even the most organised Nana does not pack a swimming costume for a birth.
It’s not every day that I go for a walk in a completely unknown part of the city and find myself face to face with something very familiar. This Street Art depicts an old pub, previously called The Long Room. The actual yellow building is on my daily dog walk. I had gone to get my flu and Covid boosters and had completely misjudged the parking situation about 2 miles from home. Searching for a space in labyrinth of small streets and cut through footpaths I abandoned the car and hastily found a way to my appointment.
Jabs done I had to find the car again. The route was a curious mix of elegant Victorian town houses and modernist social housing. A sure sign, in Plymouth, that I was in an area that was heavily bombed in World War II.
Something tells me I am going to have to find this mural again and try to make some sense of it, it is certainly not geographically accurate. I wonder if there are a series of them in the area. Finding it again might be tricky but street art is nearly always worth the effort of further investigation.
October the first has blown in on the coattails of Hurricane Ian. We have had our first winter style swim. A really rough swim in rainy conditions. The sea was warmer than the outside temperature and it was wonderful. After the swim we felt so full of good vibes, a healthy dose of free radicals and positive ions set us up for a busy day of doing things. We powered through a list of jobs and then at around 5pm the energy left us, almost as swiftly as we had gathered it. There was nothing left in the tank.
Winter swims are just the best thing, even in the autumn!
The sun sets on the second Elizabethan era. Hyperlocal, of course, this is a view of Cummulonimbus over the Hamoaze as the sun sets on the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
Flags are at half mast over Stonehouse.
I took myself off media for 24 hours once the announcement of her serious health situation was announced. Waiting for the inevitable, for any family, should be an entirely private occasion.
Bobbers had their first bob of the new Carolean Age. We would not be bobbers if we had not had a good old chatter afterwards, we hunted in our heads but not our phones for the title of the new age. Not one of us came up with Carolean. To be honest we favoured the new King using one of his middle names and entering a new Arthurian Age. It was not to be. Surely it is a tough enough act to follow Queen Elizabeth 11 but rehabilitating the title of King Charles is also a historical challenge. On an absolute positive the name Charles may become more popular.
Other subjects touched on, in a wide ranging, Bobbing conversation were the theory of Mother Trees and mushroom music. Appropriate subjects,for the day, I feel.
And the experience of making music with mushrooms.
One thing really does lead to another when bobbing.
Hyperlocal again, as I write this on the Stonehouse Peninsular I can hear muffled bells from the City of Plymouth and soon there will be a gun salute from Devonport Dockyard. A historical moment being marked.
As grandstand views go we got the best table this morning for breakfast with Sail GP. Four women, three dogs and a lot of water action.
We especially got to see the start and finish of the races.
One of our bobber friends, Helen, has hair to encourage team GB to do their best.
The dogs were more interested in bacon butties and chocolate brioche than super elegant sailing boats, which missed the point a bit.
This wonderful viewpoint is a long term favourite spot of ours. It is a complex landscape of rocks and WW2 defensive concrete just below The Long Room, Plymouths civilian and military maritime Port Control.
We call it the area ‘Greek Beach’ because on a good day it feels like a million miles from Plymouth. Greek beach is moments away from our usual swimming beach . You can see how close everything is in the picture below. The yellow buoy is the one that we swim to when we bob.
Today we discovered our Greek Beach has new graffiti to embellish the whole experience.
And just like that, life returns to normal. Maybe in the three months leading up to July I would have thought that there would be a bit of a pinch point, late in July, when I would have a full commitment to family plans and a full commitment to running an exhibition, that had been in the pipe line for a long while. What I had not factored in was catching Covid. Two and a half years of avoiding the dreaded virus had given me a false sense of security. Exactly at my identified, life plan, pinch point, Mr Covid came calling, taking out three family members on the same day and one family member a week earlier. The two episodes cannot have been linked. But they reshaped our summer plans and added to the pinch point.
The trouble with pinch points in life is that they look more dramatic when they are just abstract plans. Sometimes they look like a near impossible juggle. Juggling two balls certainly seems doable but throwing in the third ball seems foolhardy. As it happened life just flowed past the hurdle of Covid, our family replanned its plans. The Print Exhibition went beautifully to plan.
And here we are on the other side, bobbing in the sea and wondering what all the overthinking was about.
What have I learned about being Covid + during a heatwave. Caffeine in an iced coffee at 3pm is the most magical thing. Sapped of energy by both internal and external forces, caffeine is the wonder drug I have discovered. Normally caffeine does not pass my lips after midday. If it did that old charmer,insomnia, would be snapping at my muscles and picking around in my head to cause upset. However Mr Covid has made my head thicker than porridge and the tentacles of doom that caffeine energises cannot penetrate in any way at all.
Fresh air this evening, our little coven of covid positives took ourselves off to an enchanted wood where we knew we were no risk to anyone. Two hours of paddling and fresh breezes rustling through trees perked up our viral load, with no human contact, the end.
Rather an appropriate quotation for a day with a late blog. A busy day in beautiful weather but very much a day for making the most of the moment and having our family around us.
Plymouth was beautiful but we turned our back on Plymouth and headed to Cornwall on the ferry. Not exactly the gateway to Cornwall but certainly an interesting portal to a different world.
Castles and canons were the perfect props for a small girl obsessed by Pirates.
Then a cruise past our usual dog walks.
And then time to set foot back in Plymouth.