Hartshill Nature reserve

Although the nature reserve is on a steep slope, there is still a pool on it. The end with the bridge over it might be a dam. I don’t know the history of the place but there are steep steps down into it and in some areas what paths there are, are quite slippy.

I had to lean on my friends arm to get down one section, not socially distanced but I was wearing a mask.

Today was sunny with very warm temperatures, the warmest March day since 1968. Red admiral butterflies were flitting about in pairs and triplets. The bird song was loud and liquid. Buds were bursting and insects humming.

I did another five miles today, that seems to be my upper limit for walking at the moment. Tomorrows planned walk is about the same length!

Walking in the sleet

Walked a bit further today as there was less ice on the pavements. It did try and sleet or snow for part of the walk. We walked towards Hartshill church past the old hospital on one side and the local cemetery full of old trees on the other, then turned off towards Penkhull church. We saw some interesting ferns in a stone wall by the hospital and if the cloud had broken we might have seen a nice sunset but the sky remained cold grey and overcast…. Brrr

Tonight’s drawings


I briefly went to an art city presentation tonight. It was good to see some old friends. I couldn’t stay for the whole thing but the number of people there was impressive.

I had my sketch book with me, so decided to do some urban sketching. The first drawing was hard because I started drawing the front view of  a man’s face. The trouble was he made eye contact! I couldn’t tell him what I was doing, so it was a case of dodging around and quickly glancing over at him. The other figures were easier, I round it hard to indicate it was crowded so drew partially obscured figures in the background to try and make it more realistic.

The second drawing was done in a large area where there were tables and chairs set up and a screen for video to run. I looked around and spotted this paper lantern, full sized, bull at the back of the room. I liked the way the structure contrasted with the regular bricks and metal grills. What an amazing lantern!


He’s only quiet with a book.


Went for lunch with my hubby. He chats away all the time, but as soon as he gets an interesting book he’s away in his own world. This one was about the mafia, he was so enthralled that he didn’t finish his lunch!

The book was from Bread in common, a little cafe that opens on a Friday and is vegetarian. You can pay what you feel for the food. They also sell bread on a seperate counter and have a book exchange where my hubby got the book. It’s called ‘the rise of the mafia’ by Martin Short. If you want to visit its on Hartshill, in Stoke-on-Trent.

Babka rose


There is a place in Hartshill in Stoke-on-Trent that opens on a Friday and they sell Babka’s.

It’s called Bread in Common and they bake delicious bread but also babka buns, tea cakes and other delights.

I’d never tasted a babka before, they are apparently made in many places, as far apart as Poland and Israel. They are folded in layers and rise because they have yeast in them. The ones we bought have a sweet mixture including poppy seeds folded into them. They are cooked in little tin trays and when they come out of the oven they have swollen and spread out so that they are a spongy, bready consistency. They are delicious.

Winkhill Mill Co

I needed a break today from painting, so I went out with Stoke Urban Sketchers for a couple of hours this afternoon. I’m still a bit in and croaky so I couldn’t manage more than that. Thanks to Danny, Andy (hope I’ve got his name right) and Richard from Winkhill Mill for letting us have access to the building. If you wonder what the machine is I think it’s a dust press for making tiles.

I went to the Mill a few weeks ago to see an exhibition there and I drew one of the tiles, the Fox and the Crow.

Stoke has lots of hidden museums. It’s open on a Friday and I think Saturdays?



Photo of an old painted sign on Hartshill Road, Stoke on Trent.

I noticed it as we were walking down Hartshill and heading for Stoke. The paint is peeling and will be gone in a few years, but it clings on.

Part of an old industrial heritage in the city of Stoke-on-Trent which is gradually decaying.

Some places rejoice in their heritage. Manchester turned old warehouses into loft apartments. The Black Country museum in Dudley in the West Midlands has rebuilt old Victorian houses and workshops to create a living museum.

Somehow Stoke-on-Trent has got left behind. Yes there are glimmers of growth, but old houses get knocked down and are either not rebuilt, or when they are, are too expensive for people to buy.

I’m not completely sad about the place, it is unique, but it needs looking after, the people caring for, and caring about this wonderful city.