Cemetery Days

Imposing


London is almost fifty per cent green, an astounding statistic for a city that is home to some nine million people (or the metropolitan élite if you prefer). we have an abundance of parks, small public gardens, private gardens, churchyards and cemeteries. The cemetery Celia and I visited on Sunday was not one of the Magnificent Seven. It was Camberwell New Cemetery. Situated next door to Camberwell Old Cemetery. Since generations of my father’s side of the family lived in Camberwell, I half expected to spot the name of one of my ancestors on a grave stone.

I didn’t.

But I did see a lot of graves. Hardly surprising. There are obviously fashions in monumental masonry as in everything else. When I was making arrangements for Aunt’s headstone I wanted something made from local stone. I was thrilled to find the monumental mason was of the same mind, and we spent a happy quarter of an hour agreeing that black marble headstones are an abomination in this country. Evidently not everyone shares our sensibilities. But despite the fact that I was supposed to be looking at plants, I couldn’t help but wonder what the story was behind this grave with its VW ornament.

Camper Van Grave

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A Walk in the Cemetery

I like a cemetery, so when Celia provided me with the excuse to leave my chores and go out to one on a beautiful autumn afternoon I wasn’t going to say no.

We were headed for a plant identification walk. Admittedly I thought it was going to be fungi, and planned to photograph it, leaving the identification to others. Most of the plants held up to the surprisingly large group were tiny, and my attention and photography soon turned in other directions. Celia remained at the front, looking keen. I hoped she’d enlighten me later.

It was warm and sunny when the walk began. Walk is rather an overblown word for the gentle stroll, though the uneven terrain at times could have turned an ankle, and long wet grass played havoc with my less than waterproof shoes.

However, it was the trees and the graves that really got my attention. Actually not just the graves, but people’s names. I have never heard of anyone called Nind before. It could make a rather nice gender neutral first name. Better, in my view, than Farqueson which one person had been saddled with. Imagine trying to get your tongue round that as a toddler. I called myself Ogg. Most small children call me a variation of Lisobel.

I spotted this grave from a distance and broke ranks to take a closer look.

Clifford

Poor Clifford. I hope his parents’ derived some comfort from this sculpture, though it doesn’t look a lot like his photo.

We veered off into a strange little area almost, it seemed, devoid of graves. I happened to be beside one of the cemetery’s Friends, and she explained this was for public graves. I raised my eyebrows in enquiry. Graves where you can have only a very small marker stone, or none at all; cheaper. Like a green burial! I exclaimed, that’s what I want. Untended graves and gravestones get cleared aside, and after one hundred years the grave is reused. Discarded marker stones made a strange sight.

Mary

Jumbled

Another Mary

This grave dates from 1934, but the inked details suggest someone is still remembering.

Remembered

I found these more poignant than some Celia and I saw when we explored further after the plant identification had come to an end. We wondered at first if this was a famous boxer of whom we had never heard,

The Boxer


But when we found this one, we concluded it was a way of recording something the departed was fond of.

Footballer

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Captain’s Log 4th October 2018

The forecast for today was good, so when I woke up to a morning where the thick mist muted the birdsong, I assumed it would burn off in an hour or so and the sun would shine down on das Boot. Breakfast, shower, washing up all accomplished and still no sun, MasterB had retreated to under the rug in the forecabin, placed on the seating to protect the upholstery from cats’ claws. So I kept my layers on, turned on the car heater and set off on my travels.
Nial and Jan met me at the cemetery. We were all armed with gardening tools, and I had a selection of bulbs. The chrysanthemum I had planted on my father’s grave had vanished, but at Aunt’s more extensive plot (Dad was cremated, so it’s just a small marker stone showing where his ashes were buried) we were pleasantly surprised to find quite a few plants were flourishing. So many in fact that quite a few of the bulbs will be coming back to London with me, even after planting a clutch of them on Dad’s grave.
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Captain’s Log 3rd October 2018

I am at das Boot with the First Mate (MasterB has been promoted). We are both  in the rear cabin, I’m on the director’s chair looking out at the quiet marina, MasterB is purring on the pink fleecy blanket at the end of the bed.

In the field beside us the calves are grazing with their mothers. I got off to photograph some of them. They are so very pretty. One or two were curious but shy. I like to think their mothers recognise me as the woman who uproots sticky weed from my side of the barbed wire fence to give them. Certainly they seem unconcerned by my presence, and do nothing to warn their calves not to speak to me.


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New Calendar, Feeling Better, and Heading Boatwards

It was around supper time last night when I realised the lurgy was leaving me and health once more was returning. Today, if not completely rebooted, my energy levels are up and I’ve cracking through my to do list. So the Walworth falafels are prepared. some are in the freezer, some are cooked and cooling down, ready to go in the car tomorrow when the plan is to head to das Boot. The forecast isn’t all that, but I’ve said no to work at this end of the week, and Older Nephew is able to join me for a day and return my keys.

High up on the to do list is MasterB’s 2019 calendar. It always takes far longer than I anticipate. I’ve made PDFs of two versions so far, but there has been a lot of swapping of photos, and I’ve sent copies to two people for their constructive criticism. A few days break from it will probably be a good thing.

I caught up with Celia this morning and we had a constitutional over to the Old Kent Road so I could recycle my electric blanket at the municipal site. Gentrification has not yet caught up with most of the Old Kent Road, which is the eastern boundary of Sunny Walworth, and it is dominated by large business properties designed more for practicality than aesthetics.

Still, there are gems in between. The Livesey, once a library, then a museum, now a place for children who cannot for one reason or another attend main stream school, is one of them. The Royal London Friendly Society building is another, though at ground floor level it is an ugly display of corporate bookmaking. Neither Celia nor I knew what the RLFS was, but thankfully the internet has enlightened at least one of us. If you want to be similarly enlightened, click here.

There’s a building that has a municipal air which houses a church. There are many churches of various hues along the Old Kent Road. This one has a very fine artwork on the outside giving a pictorial history of the area. the Romans, Chaucer’s pilgrims, Henry V all feature.

Chaucer’s pilgrims

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No Wiser

It was hot today, with very little breeze. The streets were hot, the air was hot, the buses were baking. I was only working in the morning, and fortunately in a fairly cool (in all senses of the word) building so tucked my little TG3 into my bag and when I finished working trekked off to the West End and the camera shop where I bought it four years ago. I’m not going to name and shame that shop, but after today, it is not likely to receive more custom from me. I shall return to the London Camera Exchange on the Strand.

I’m not being entirely fair I know, but I was disappointed in the whole thing.

So. I trotted into the shop and was met with smiles. I got the camera out of my bag and explained that I was trying to work out what the problem was: a battery that had run its course; a poor connection with the charger; something more serious. I also explained that when plugged into the charger it lit up as though charging but didn’t.

I was therefore somewhat disappointed when the assistant plugged the camera into the charger and turned to me with a slightly triumphant look when the orange light comes on.

I was blunt, there’s no other way to describe it, but it was a long time since breakfast and I was hoping to get this sorted and have some lunch soon. “That proves nothing,” I said, “it’s doing what I told you, but either the battery isn’t charging or the problem lies somewhere else.” He looked more irritated than crestfallen. This continued as he searched for a charger case that the battery would sit in. “I didn’t get one of those with this camera,” I said, channeling Job quite successfully, “there was only the lead.” His irritation was now apparent.

I made an effort. “Do you have a charged battery we can put into the camera to see if it works, as if you do we can isolate that the problem is with the battery or the charger rather than the camera itself.”

He told me he couldn’t unwrap a new battery unless I was going to buy it. My smile became more fixed. “How about taking a charged battery out of the display camera?” I suggested, through not-quite-gritted-teeth. Continue reading

Oh Olympus TG3, Thou Art Sick

MasterB is fully recovered from his anaesthetic, and the fur on his throat is beginning to grow back.

Bare throat

He’s not so keen on the return of the hot weather. We enjoyed two days of lower temperatures and I assumed wrongly that summer would resume a more reasonable temperate course. The humidity builds up, and you think there’s going to be a storm, but then the winds come along and blow the humidity away leaving us with more temperatures in the high 20s and low 30s. Too hot for central London, and a country where we are ill equipped for extremes of weather.

I am starting to fantasise about rain; proper rain, though a good long shower to soak the earth and freshen the air would do. We haven’t had rain here since 28th May. And it would be really nice to have day off from watering the plants.

Guarding a watering can

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From Where I’m Sitting

Blue sky. Tree tops. I have to sit up to see more. Wood pigeons are calling. Leaves rustle on the trees. A bird I can’t identify peep peeps somewhere not far away. When we arrived there was a swan serene and calm. My starting the engine to check/charge the battery and ensure hot water for tonight didn’t seem to worry it. But after a while it moved off and into the river.

Blue sky and treetops

I was tempted not to come, despite having blocked these days out in my diary and written BOAT across them. I’m tired. My boat days should have started yesterday, but I still hadn’t found time to book the train and coach journeys in New Zealand to get me between various locations. The coach site was annoying. It decided early on I was looking to book two seats and no matter how many times I tried to correct it, that was what came up in my basket. I was going to cancel and try again but I got a message saying I might not be able to get seats at all. I emailed the company, and had some lunch. Of course no one replied; what was I thinking? It was the middle of the night there. So after humming and hawing for a while, I took the plunge.
In the evening I got a reply to my email. It was suggesting that the error was mine and offered a number I could call. I replied pointing out I had emailed about the problem before confirming my booking, was on the other side of the world, and had spent around half an hour trying to get the site to ‘modify’ what was in my basket.
It’s a long story and in the end I got a refund, but the company insisted all the time the error was mine. I found this tedious and patronising.
Despite this and the disappointment of England being knocked out of the World Cup (I couldn’t bear to watch), I slept well. This morning I was slow and sluggish, and if I had more free dates in my diary  to come East should probably have stayed at home.
Celia, who has been in Wales for weeks, is back in London, and kindly gave me a second coffee while we caught up a little. My neighbour Jolita will water the plants, my bags were in the car. I lifted MasterB from the drawer under the bed where he was sleeping and away we came.
The traffic wasn’t bad; a few hold ups, but I was congratulating myself on having covered most of the miles before the end of the school day and the hoards of parents who collect their children by car,  when we came to a sudden stop. Roadworks, I thought, temporary traffic lights. But I was wrong. Car after car in front of me turned and came back where we had come. I reached the front of the queue and followed suit. I hadn’t seen much, but it was enough. A red car across the road, doors open, glass on the ground. The detour was long but effective and we met fire engines racing towards us, making me wonder if someone needed to be cut free.
Always a cautious driver, I became doubly so. Continue reading

Seven Years Plus One Day

Tonight Celia and I enjoyed our first g&t of the year sitting out in the garden chaperoning MasterB, who was, I am pleased to say, being very brave in the face of a fairly full on Hartley.

Last night, MasterB and I had a long session in the garden which delayed my bedtime by quite a bit. Hartley does not understand personal space and stayed close to me, leaving MasterB stuck under a car for a very long time until tempted out by play.

Perhaps not the best way to celebrate our Seventh Anniversary, but since his first night here in 2011 was spent confined to the bathroom in the company of his uninvited flea companions maybe it wasn’t so bad.

Today, pre and post g&t, but alas not during as I didn’t take my camera outside, I took some photos of Himself.

Enjoy.

Pre gin:

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