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 #330

At no time in the last week or so would we have chosen to stand in this location . A cold wind has been blowing in from the East, today it was gone and a watery sun suggested that a taste of Spring was the style of the day.

This visit was not a ‘ Bobbing’ visit but we very much regretted not having our swimming stuff with us. Progressive as Plymouth is trying really hard to be I doubt if skinny dipping from a prestigious tourist destination would go unnoticed. So walking and talking was the focus of the morning 10,000 steps. Conversations were wide ranging but centred for the most part on what the future holds for us after the Pandemic. You can read the serious stuff elsewhere but consider this. What happens when we share an actual exercise room with other people. Will they be willing to see us stretching and moving in our pyjamas? No sports bra keeping our bouncing parts under control. Pilates! Pilates is well known for being one of the more fart producing classes. Doing it on- line in your own sitting room allows a certain casualness about such things. After nearly a year of a looser bottom etiquette, at home , the first few communal sessions may be windier than our last weekend.

We did return later for a swim, appropriately dressed. The weak sun had changed and the currents were not too kind. A good ‘Bob’ was had but it started on our usual beach and finished further to the west.


The tunnel, later, had a different light but was still wind free. Maybe Spring is lurking.

Pandemic Pondering #323

Storm Darcy brought windchill factors of -3 to -5 . Beyond that the weather was gorgeous and while doing two walks, that have been in many blogs, the bright winter sunshine gave Plymouth the look, if not the feel of Greece.

Leviathon

The Leviathon was looking pretty sparky this morning. While a doughnut from a 400 year old bakery fueled our 10,000 steps.

Just having my hands out for long enough to eat my share of the doughnut was enough to lose all feeling in my fingers but a huge positive was that the jam was so solid we didn’t end up wearing it.

The harbour looked Mediterranean.

And ultimately dogs and humans found a sheltered beach to bask and scamper.

Morning walk done, it was time to return home for a few hours of domestica before the next little dose of Mediterranean sunshine.

Hugo and Lola wait patiently for the return. No chance of a 10,000 step walk this evening after the ‘Bobbers’ have had a swim but warm snuggles in front of the fire is a great substitute in the middle of February.

They don’t have to wait too long for the ‘bobbers’ to return.

A day to lift the spirits!

Pandemic Pondering #131

The boots have left the building.

For the past year we’ve been hands- on grandparents @theoldmortuary. The period of the pandemic has changed the way we can be grandparents, just as it has disrupted aspects of many peoples lives. As of today we have become Zoomgrandparents. Google has many sites suggesting different ways to be gramdparents when the physical distance and an ongoing pandemic make actual contact impossible.

Eliminating the miles has always been a grandparent thing.

Distance is entirely relative, my dad didn’t get to see his grandparents often. It required my great grandparents to travel the ten miles between Braintree and Great Bardfield with a pony and trap. That’s 20 miles per visit and about 4 hours travelling time at a walking trot. Beyond rare visits the only other method of communication would have been a letter.

I lived closer to one set of my grandparents, a walk by road of maybe 2-3 miles. I was only about 6 when it was entirely acceptable for me to take a short cut, alone, though two dairy farms divided by a river. The other set of granparents lived 12 miles away. Unusually they both had cars. My grandad drove an Austin A40 and being picked up by him often meant sharing the inside of the car with barrels of beer for his pub.

In contrast his wife, my Nan, drove a Zephyr 6. She ran a private taxi company, lifts and visits to them were entirely dictated by their business needs. It was always a surprise as to which of these,now classic, cars would pick me up.

In contrast my children lived 100’s of miles from their grandparents. Visits were often long weekends the journeys to and fro in fairly dull cars on motorways. Contact in between visits would be by phone.

Zooming and googling, Different, but hopefully effective. A talking head.

The possession of a bleep in London. Bishops Brothels.

For the last ten years of my working life I was either based in Marylebone or the City of London. On-site, On-call was a requirement of my job. Sometimes depending on the rota I was lucky enough to be on- call with people who would be travelling in from home. That gave me some freedom when there was no actual work to do. Depending on the type of on- call I could be out walking, with the bleep, and as long as I was either 15 or 30 minutes from work everything was hunky dory. In normal hospitals this time would be spent studying, reading, or watching TV but in the centre of two historic locations walking the urban environment was a bigger pull for me. Bankside and Tate Modern was well within the half hour walking time from the City. Bankside became a favourite late night walk. It felt very safe. Historically this was not always the case.

Bankside was as well known as Amsterdam for its red-light district in the 16th and 17th centuries. The area had been historically linked to the sex trade since the development of the Roman city. Slaves of both genders provided a full menu of erotic services to military men and sailors. The area was effectively legalised in the 12th century. The Bishop of Winchester was granted the responsibility for the area.

The Bishops of Winchester made themselves the surprising benefactors of immoral earnings. They granted licences to operate for the brothels and taxed the money earned. They lived well on this income.

Prostitutes here were known as Winchester Geese. Clients travelled to Bankside by boat or horse, a dangerous journey, not only urologically but also because the area was a general dumping area for criminals and chancers who were not welcome in the city. They would happily rob or murder a man whose mind was not fully on his own safety.

Despite the luxurious life that the Bishops court maintained, thanks to the business, the prostitutes were not welcome in consecrated ground when they inevitably died. Winchester Geese were buried, or dumped on unconsecrated ground not so far from their workplace.

During early works in the 1990’s for Crossrail or the Elizabeth Line as it has become known, a graveyard was discovered just off Redcross Way. Crossbones as it is known holds 15,000 skeletons , predominantly women , one third are foetuses or infants and some older children.
http://crossbones.org.uk/

The industrial wasteland at Redcross Way has become the focus of remembrance for the outcast dead. Vigils, performances and other acts of observance are regularly created here. The gates of the site are a shrine that has become a place of pilgrimage.It is likely that a permanent Garden of Remembrance will be created here. The property is owned by Transport for London . The first recorded mention was in 1598 and the last body interred in 1853.