#90 theoldmortuary ponders

Yesterday started and ended with the sea.

My morning walk, at dawn, was a chilly experience. I was wrapped up snuggly but the wintery wind nibbled, coldly, at my fingers and ears. From this picture you can see that there were already hardy types out swimming. I was so grateful to be warm inside layers of winter clothing. My mind was elsewhere as I also knew that I had plans to be swimming at sunset. Nothing seems quite so contrary as knowing that a well and appropriately dressed walk is pretty cold and yet there are plans afoot to take a swim later in the day

My first day back at the museum, post Christmas, was the usual lovely mix of talking to visitors and catching up with colleagues. With all afternoon breaks covered and a last loooooooong conversation with a visitor it was time to rush home for a quick dog walk and a slow enrobement of my winter swimming wet suit. My legs and feet, tired from a day of many steps in museum galleries just wanted a cup of tea and ten minutes on the sofa. Instead they were forced into constraining neoprene and forced to walk again, this time to the beach.

There were only three bobbers available for the sunset swim. We were the lucky ones, the sea was as calm as a mill pond and the light was quite magical. The tide was coming in, everything conspired towards a very succesful bob. While swimming we didn’t particularly notice the water temperature of 11 degrees and had longer in the water than we would usually do at this time of year. Getting out was a bit of a shock, our feet were all a bit useless at walking on dry land and the dressing process was hampered by fingers that felt like ice cold silky sausages. No words can describe just how good it feels once our clothes are back on and we have warm drinks to hand. Looking out over the bay, as we nattered, made a January evening look gorgeous.

#54 theoldmortuary ponders

Gratuitous sunset shot

When I was a teenager growing up in North East Essex, absolutely not the ‘cool’ or ‘trashy’ Essex of modern urban myths, I thought I lived in the Boondocks.

© dictionary.cambridge.org

With only a few people of my own age,and even fewer of them that I actually knew, I imagined I was having the dullest adolescence ever. My internal imaginary life was vivid and full of colour, teenage passion and adventure. Real life not so much.

Travel, maturity, and now a lived experience of a Killer Pandemic, has made me recalibrate my thoughts on my adolescence and life in general. Some of my travel has taken me to actual Boondocks, making me realise my teenage years were actually giddy with opportunity. Only a few of which I took.

During the Pandemic many of us have lived a bit of a Boondocky existence, for various periods of local or national lockdowns.Venturing out only to take exercise or undertake essential tasks. People who actually live a Boondock life have possibly been the least affected.

© Spitalfieldslife – The Gentle Author

Writing a daily blog since November 2019 has stretched my mind in all sorts of curious ways. If I were ever to find myself in an actual boondock or when I find myself in a mental boondock, I am obliged, to myself,to find something to ponder, this has been a valuable and enriching experience. Not one I am keen to give up any time soon.

Detail from stained glass window. Plymouth Synagogue

1st of December 2021, welcome December. Who knows quite how you will shape up pandemicwise or in general, something to ponder on, I’m sure.

Pandemic Pondering #529

Yesterday was designated as a tech sorting out day. I haven’t hooked up my printer in the new studio. Just a case of finding a lead and signing in to the new wifi. In the process my camera battery was reunited with its charger. It has been a long time since they have been together Maybe 2 years since they were both in the same place at the same time. The Pandemic and the numerous lockdowns meant that I have not particularly needed a camera better than my phone in those two years. In the scrabble for leads I managed to not sort out the printer but to find the camera battery charger. The printer stubbornly resisted linking to the new wifi and needs a different lead to any in our large collection! The only tech victory of the day was the unplanned one of the camera The last picture on the camera was taken in Greece 23 months ago, the last time we travelled abroad. Yesterday the battery was charged in time to do the last dog walk of the day.

A proper camera did a good job of sorting out the clouds at dusk, and a very fine job of catching a dark sunset.

The conundrum of the printer remains. I suspect thick walls and the wrong type of lead are the problem. For now I will take the minor victory of a fully charged camera. Todays quest will be to find the camera instruction leaflet …

Pandemic Pondering #516

Hot on the heels of yesterdays morning blog is an evening blog of the same day, and two pictures from the exact same position with only a dog walk between them. Between yesterdays blog and this one lies the path of a day taken up by stuff, complicated by maintainance work on a local bridge. A normal 20 minute journey swelled to fill an hour and I missed an appointment. Rebooked for two hours later I filled my time with delivering brochures for an upcoming Open Studios event.

And took a trip to the supermarket. The appointment required me not to drive for two hours after so I was ‘forced’ to enjoy a late lunch in a friends garden and soak up the sun whilst my eyes returned to a normal, not blurry, way of life. Time then to head for home and get all the day jobs done. Before heading out for the evening dog walk which provided the two pictures that top and tail this blog. Since moving, our evening dog walk always takes in the area around the Royal William Yard, especially since the evenings have started to get darker. Royal William Yard is a collection of Military Buildings in Plymouth.

https://www.visitplymouth.co.uk/explore/areas-to-visit/royal-william-yard

Between the two photos we walked up to a meadow and the dogs chased each other inside the old, second world war gun emplacements of Devils Point.

https://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/news/history/world-war-two-defences-you-2750611

I’m sure the longer we live here the more the history will soak into our bones but right now every slab of concrete is a complete mystery to us.

Returning to our original position, night was properly upon us.Time to turn our twelve feet for home.

Pandemic Pondering #386

Last night we needed a decent length dog walk, and luckily our Waterside destination pulled out all the stops for visual pleasure.

Our 23 year old cat, George, made a one way trip to the vets yesterday. She had had a remarkable life. Early years in a Naval town were followed by rural bliss with special responsibilities for laying in the sun , extravagantly posed on a War Memorial when not hunting mice and rats. On one occasion she failed to completely kill a rat but dragged it indoors through the cat flap spurting arterial blood from its ravaged neck. 10 years as an urban cat in South London sharing her patch with urban foxes gave her an attitude on top of her already well formed personality. Returning to her rural home when she was twenty she opted for a quiet life and spent her days chasing patches of sunlight around the garden. She was in that process yesterday before her appointment for a tooth extraction. George always had robustly good physical health, her mental health was more precarious. She had periods of very precise over grooming taking the fur off exactly a quarter of her body, other periods when she would live under a bed for months at a time. All of her life she was the cat version of Eeyore. She loved only one woman and it wasnt someone she lived with, but our friend Steph for whom she always turned on the charm.

Part of the responsibility of loving and caring for pets can be making the difficult decisions. Her poorly tooth turned out to also be a tumour, her life would never again been one of sunbeam hunting and casual grumpiness. Sometimes death is not the worst option.

A good long walk on a sad evening was exactly what we needed to put things into perspective.

Pandemic Pondering #292

Some winter days start with promise and just keep giving. Today was a day for harvesting vitamin D.

Either end of the day were gloriously golden . The middle bit was filled with a happy Zoom meeting and some packing up and planning for our future fake Christmas. Date currently unknown. The freezer holds all sorts of festive foods and decorations are packed away, not for the usual year but for a shorter period.

As our days begin to stretch slightly at either end the sunshine is a great bonus.

Pandemic Pondering #280

I’m not certain visiting a new part of the coast is entirely sensible at dusk and low tide, particularly in late November. Despite being fairly close to home, Hannafore Beach is completely unknown to me. After a walk towards Talland Bay and back I thought I would give the dogs a low tide rock pool scamper. They loved it.

I’m just not quite so sure myself. Apologies to the many people I know who really love this place and find it restorative. Alone on an incongruous concrete pathway leading out to sea at sunset I felt a sense of foreboding and menace. There was a sense of dead seafarers souls winding round my ankles like silken slippery manacles.

Having thoroughly spooked myself, with fanciful imaginings and uncertainty about how the tide would come in, we called it a day. Two exhausted dogs and an overactive imagination. Time to research shipwrecks in Looe Bay and put my mind at rest , or not.

P.S. I found this dog centric page on line. A much more positive vibe! I’m clearly just inventing my own ghost stories for these dark days around the winter solstice.

Hannafore Beach, Looe

Pandemic Pondering #274

Another day, another afternoon dog walk and another sunset. Portwrinkle was a very fine reward for a day’s work that failed to live up to expectations. It was nowhere near as dull or difficult as I had imagined.

Clearing a shed sometime this week was a plan that required reasonable weather and some sort of reward. As it turned out clearing the shed was not so bad. Two big bags of miscellaneous ‘stuff’ was whittled down to one small bag in a surprisingly interesting afternoon. Quite how the content of those two big bags had ended up together is a big mystery but ultimately the sort out was not so onerous that it required a beach trip afterwards. The dogs, however, insisted. Not that they helped in any way with the shed clearance.

We had the beach and harbour to ourselves which is always an extra pleasure. the dogs exhausted themselves on the black sand and I watched the sun set.

An afternoon well spent.

Pandemic Pondering #272

Twilight dog walk.

One week from the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere. These three photos were taken within the space of about ten minutes and all within the same geographical location at either end of the tunnel that leads to the sea from the Royal William Yard, in Plymouth.

It had been a very grey day but just at the last moment some colour grazed the sky. The photo above does have a filter applied and the other two are artificially lit but the vivid colours brightened up the end of the day.

These last few short days of December are my least favourite time of year. I completely understand why many cultures and religions choose to throw a festival into the schedule to perk things up a little. Two of the three daily walks get closer together as I try to catch the best of the day at either end of the available daylight.

Left to their own devices Hugo and Lola would not choose to interrupt quality sleeping time with scheduled walks at this time of year. They accompany me out of love not neccesity. To be honest I feel the same but we have never discussed it. Perhaps we should…

P.S This 10 year old post just popped up on Facebook, nothing changes!

Pandemic Pondering #255

A funny thing happened overnight on Thursday.

©Karen Mills

The picture above was taken at sunset. My Thursday evening started well, witnessing these amazing skies, but then took a more arduous turn when I joined in with a Zoom AGM. The meeting took serpiginous routes through regular business and decision making and lasted three hours. Not many important decisions were made and, as can happen at these things, some folk got on some high horses and rode the poor things into the ground. Thankfully I am not a chairman , I fear my finger may have inadvertantly grazed the mute button on more than one occasion.

Safe to say three hours prepped me very well for sleep. Not the restful sort though. I woke myself up reciting a poem, almost word perfect, that I had no idea was still stored in my brain.

Who could guess why such a volatile poem hijacked my sleep . Maybe that dramatic sky or maybe an AGM where raging and raving were bobbing just under the surface.

Do not go gentle into the night.

By Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning theyDo not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

After all that nocturnal culture it was good to wake up to a calm morning.

©Clare Law