A different sort of mask

Mystery Play mask. From 2018 or 2019. An outside play we did in the summer. One day only. About the history of the potteries. Set in a pottery museum that comes to life.

Why this? Because our local council want to cut jobs for curators and close the Gladstone Museum in Longton, Stoke-on- Trent, for five months a year and reduce the opening times for the Potteries Museum and Art gallery in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. Why aren’t we promoting tourism, getting people to visit? The council say their £600,000 will only have a minimal effect!

Comfort food…

Oatcakes are comfort food for me. Warm and sustaining. My hubby went out to the oatcake shop and got us some cheese and bacon oatcakes for breakfast because I’m not feeling well (I’ve done a lateral flow test today and it’s negative so I think I’ve got a cold, sore throat, sniffles and aches). I added the dots of brown sauce to make a smiley face. A Stoke on Trent /Staffordshire delicacy, oatcakes are our pancake / tortilla /crepes. You can eat them savory or with things like jam and butter. Our oatcakes are big and floppy, not like Scottish oatcakes which are far smaller and drier.

Fairy in a tree

If you visit Trentham Gardens in Stoke on Trent you can find various wire woven fairies dotted around the grounds. Some are easier to spot than others. One flies down to a fountain to fill a watering can, another holds onto a huge dandelion seed head as it is caught in the wind. A warrior queen fairy stands on a plinth by the lake. I liked this one, hanging down from a branch in the trees on a swing. She’s hard to spot as the tree is an evergreen pine. She’s a welcome addition after walking around the lake.

Outside sculpture?

At Keele University, seen one summer evening in the glow of the evening sky. The posts are square and mirror coated, the lights reflect off them and you see a miriad of reflections as you look through them. It’s an impressive sight. It’s near the Chapel and Students Union at Keele University in Staffordshire, England. The University is on a campus about a couple of miles west of up a hill from Newcastle-under-Lyme. I’m glad that public art is on display. It gives a place for artists work to be seen.

Mosaics

Just back from the last day of the BCB (British Ceramic biannual). I would have gone before but my leg restricted my movement. The exhibition was over three floors but luckily there was a lift. Of the numerous ceramics my favourites were a series of mosaics by a ceramic artist called Cleo Mussi. I will post other photos but I wanted to share these.

She was rehomed…

A couple of months ago we found a budgie loose in the street. We didn’t know where it had come from but we took it to an emergency vets called Vets Now.

When we took our cat there last week I remembered to ask about the budgie. Despite being mentioned on social media no one came forward to claim her. (I think it’s a she). So it has now been rehomed in an aviary. I just thought I would post the details here incase anyone sees this.

Heron

Seen today in Etruria

that grey thing is a Heron, or as a little child that was passing said ‘an evil heron’! It really did look prehistoric.

At Etruria on the Cauldon branch of the canal. The bird walked along the canal towpath then stood crouched at the side of the water. It was ready to spear into the canal to catch a fish. More intent on staring than wo was watching it. I was amazed to get photos of it.

Local industrial archaeology

Pottery bottle oven, Longport, Stoke-on-Trent. Next to the Trent and Mersey canal. I can’t remember the name of the pottery sorry. I think there are only 32 of these old pottery ovens left in Stoke-on-Trent. A few, like at Middleport pottery and the Gladstone Pottery museum are preserved and in good condition. Others are derelict or semi derelict. A few are just the bases of them left on the ground. Some are being rescued and repurposed, but others are dreadfully neglected as this one is.

Bottle ovens/kilns and enamel kilns burn at different temperatures. They were different shapes, the enamel ones are thinner. The outside bottle shape has a doorway into it and surrounds a cylindrical kiln where the pottery is placed. The pottery itself is stacked in ‘saggars’- round or oval shaped covers that protect the ceramics as the kiln is ‘fired’. These old fashioned kilns were heated with coal. The clay and fires lead to lung diseases, which were also found in local miners. As coal firing was stopped because of the clean air act many of these potteries closed or converted to gas firing in modern kilns. Old photos from the turn of the 19th century show many bottle ovens all over the city and the pall of smoke they created.

Stoke-on-Trent has clay, water and coal in abundance which is why the pottery industry set up here as well as a few other places in the UK. There are many books about the industrial archaeology of the area are available. Other information can be found at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in the city centre (Hanley), Stoke-on-Trent.

Sun pillar?

I don’t know if you can see on this photo, but there is a slight line of light in the centre of this picture. It’s not bright, but I think it was a ‘sun pillar’. I’ve seen a good one several years ago down in Devon. It’s something to do with sunlight shining up and hitting the clouds. Anyway this was on our walk around the Croft this evening. Stoke-on-Trent about 8.30pm.

Staffordshire Oatcakes

I just found this on the Internet when I was trying to describe Staffordshire Oatcakes.

A local artist, Arthur Berry, wrote an ode to the Oatcake. Likening it to pancakes, tortillas, chipatis, all sorts of thin flat round things that you can wrap food in. In this case the main constituents are oats, flour and yeast.

Enjoy hot from the grill or microwave with cheers, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes. What ever you fancy. Also jam. Maybe even tofu?