Tamar Chronicles

Quickie #2 12th November 2019

I popped into this local visitor attraction this morning.

When I asked Brian, the Centre volunteer for today why he joined this tiny new museum as a guide. His answer was simple.

” Because I’ve been in construction all my life.I just love seeing something that has been designed by engineers, fulfilling its purpose effectively” he explained

Enthusiasts are so great to talk to, alongside his extensive knowledge of both bridges I also learnt that Brian had started life in a drawing office.His technical drawing skills were way more advanced than my meagre ‘O’ level. He explained that final, finished-build,technical drawings were done on waxed linen and that the fabric was amazing quality, if there was any spare you could take it home and wash the wax off to reveal beautiful fabric to sew with.

It must be a fabulous experience to draw on waxed linen, I find it hard to imagine the process. The smells and textures would be so different from the usual paper. Perfect though if a tea spillage occurred..

Amazing fact, and the excuse for this picture. The workers on the bridge wore normal every day clothes and used no safety gear. There are photographs of men at work in flat caps and suits. Maybe not as visually pleasing as this shot, more ordinary. This image is a strange mix of ordinariness in an extraordinary location.

Image credit. Tamar Bridge Visitor Centre

Friday 15th November 2019

This stretch of mud is one of my favourite sights. It appears on the banks of the Tamar. Pill Creek feeds into the main River at Saltmill; at low tide it’s serpiginous track into the main body of water is clear to see. There are many others that can be seen from the road bridge but this one is easy to get close to on foot. I never plan my walks to deliberately to see it but serendipity is kind several times a year. Time stops still for a bit when I catch it at perfection. It recalibrates me until the next time.

Plymouth quietly having a moment.

A Plymouth Mackerel- Juliet Cornell

Plymouth was quietly having a bit of a moment in the National Media this week. Firstly the Eddystone Lighthouse was a google doodle. Strangely to mark its 321st anniversary of the first time it was lit.

https://www.google.com/doodles/321st-anniversary-of-the-first-lighting-of-eddystone-lighthouse

Then The Guardian ran an article about the city centre being designated as a conservation area.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/nov/16/plymouth-city-centre-designated-conservation-area?CMP=share_btn_link

This could be a coincidence or a sign that the City PR team are ramping up the pressure now Mayflower 400 is just edging into view. Commemorating a 400 year shared history with what is now the USA and the sailing of the Mayflower , Mayflower 400 is a multi location celebration. Plymouth was the port the Mayflower successfully set sail from to reach America.

https://www.mayflower400uk.org/

2020 also sees the opening of The Box, a long awaited reincarnation of the Museum and Art gallery. Reimagined and re-engineered to bring contemporary, world class exhibition space to the West Country.

A Hard-Hat tour of The Box

https://plymhearts.org/thebox/

An earlier article in the Guardian puts into perspective the struggle the city is overcoming to grab some headlines. The actual amount of war time damage was so shrouded in secrecy that it is rarely mentioned in the way London or Coventry are. Without proper mention of the damage it is difficult to then applaud the regeneration.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/11/post-industrial-plymouth-business-social-enterprise?CMP=share_btn_link

It’s good to see Plymouth getting some well deserved positive press.

Meeting Mrs Marvelous

https://theoldmortuary.design/2020/01/27/meeting-mrs-marvellous/

I first met Mrs Marvellous at a Drawing Day, in the Autumn, organised by Drawn To The Valley, an art group based and inspired by the Tamar Valley. The Tamar, running North to South, forms the boundary between Devon and Cornwall. We arranged to meet again but work and life commitments got in the way until today.
https://www.mrsmarvellous.co.uk/

This is not the blog I had expected to write but like all the best conversations at theoldmortuary it swirled and grew organically taking us in many directions, some of them sad but mostly hugely positive.

Mrs Marvellous uses appliqué, embroidery and quilting to create memorial quilts or pillows and dementia friendly aprons or lap quilts.

” I take the material fragments that embody the most priceless of times- the milestones, the adventures, the hurdles conquered- and stitch them into something magical to preserve memories”

Mrs Marvellous likes to meet the families who commission her quilts or aprons, just receiving a bag of anonymous fabrics wouldn’t feed the creative process for her at all . Engaging with families or friends who have lost someone to death or dementia must be tough, there are often tears but also pleasure in sharing stories. I know that when I have been sad and grieving Mrs Marvellous and her magical stitchery would have been just the uplift I would have needed to shed a little light into the gloom. After consultation, the families or friends collect clothes and textiles together for their bespoke item. All washed by the family they are delivered to Mrs Marvellous.

” Every parcel has its own fragrance, in part a vestigia of the person to be commemorated but also the fragrance of their washing products and home”

So much more than stitchery goes into every creation. Mrs Marvellous has had personal experience of both dementia and loss, but beyond that she is involved with Plymouth Dementia Action Alliance. She says Plymouth is a hotspot of dementia innovation and research. She advocates the need for protection of pride, respect and dignity for those living with dementia. Her lap quilts and aprons are designed to keep people warm and engaged, with pockets, textures, familiar fabrics, perhaps samples that are representational of their old life and loves. A brilliant techy addition to the magic of the creations is a tag sewn into its own pocket.

The tag activates recordings of favourite music or voice messages.

Three images of a dementia lap quilt. All completely washable. This is a man’s lap quilt. Apparently keys are hugely significant to men , equivalent to a woman’s handbag. Who knew?

The bottom image explains just a tiny proportion of the memories, textures and love sewn into this quilt.

I guess that’s more or less the blog I thought I’d write .

You just never know when you meet someone new how a conversation will flow. This one travelled like the Severn Bore. It surged in places, gently rolled in others and quietly crept where appropriate. Appropriate really as Mrs Marvellous grew up.in Clevedon, and played in the grounds of Clevedon Court.

©MrsMarvellous

We found people we knew in common, many that we didn’t. Talked at length about Drawn To The Valley, the art group we both belong to. Podcasts, Social media, Saltash all took a turn in our nattering. Finally. Finally! We ended with my Ice Breaking Questions. Clearly no Ice to break with Mrs M.

Mrs Marvellous favourite place in the Tamar Valley.

Mount Edgecumbe by the Folly overlooking Plymouth. Especially when fog hangs near the water, snaking up the river.

Mrs Marvellous best place to take friends.

The footpath walk along the river at Newbridge near Callington.

( I have to add a note of caution. Otters have been seen here. Good. My dogs love to roll in Otter poop. Bad)

Mrs Marvellous Sunny Day Outing

Devils Point Plymouth with a packed lunch.

( Another warning, don’t try this at night.)

Mrs Marvellous Rainy Day Outing.

Not one to share.

Her bedroom overlooking the Tamar through massive windows. Great accoustics with rain clattering on Velux windows and properly cosy apparently.

Mrs Marvellous best cafe.

Away from the Tamar for this one.

Inkies Cafe at Golitha Falls.
https://m.facebook.com/inkiessmokehousebbq/