Bottle oven / pizza oven….

A replica bottle oven is growing on the grounds of Spode at the moment. It’s going to be a pizza oven at the hotel on the Spode site.

Around the other side of Spode near the Church Street side is the base of an original bottle oven which had been demolished years ago. There are very few real ovens still standing in the city. Many were knocked down or fell into disrepair over the years. Where hundreds once stood and smoke stained the city sky less than fifty are still standing and many of these are in danger of being lost to the history of the city, county, and country.

Even now buddleia and other shrubs are growing in between their bricks, pulling the ovens down in continued dereliction. Hopefully some can be conserved.

For those who don’t know bottle ovens are bottle shaped buildings containing a central kiln which the oven surrounds. Pottery was stacked inside the kiln and fired by stoking fires under the ovens with coal.

Ducks

DSC_1835it’s not often that you walk down the road in your local town and see a duck and a drake walking down the road in front of us. Crossing by a taxi rank. There is a river called the Trent that runs through the town, but it is in a culvert until it comes out near our local football ground.

When people say hello to each other in Stoke they say “hello duck” where in other places it might be “hello chick, or hello dearie”.

So we hope the ducks found the river or flew off to a park. I didn’t know who to contact and neither of them were injured. Just taking a walk….

Spode pots

Spode heritage Centre is closed at the moment because they are choosing photos for the 3 counties open photography exhibition. I had a quick glance as I was meeting the man in charge of the space to make arrangements for a show I’m holding there in May/June this year.

I have some paintings ready, but I might use photos from the Spode shop as inspirations for new paintings. I’ve been doing a lot of Blue and white work and the ceramics there are very striking. I also like looking through cabinets or windows to the view beyond. Using them to frame the subject.

Anyway my suggestion for today for you is “stay curious!”.

Thai-m for food

Well after painting all afternoon we’ve decided to go out to our favourite Thai restaurant for tea. It’s valentines day so I’m treating my hubby.

We have ordered Tom Kha (Thai soup), Gang Phed Ped Yang (roast duck curry) and pork with pac choi, plus some rice. I think that’s plenty. I imagine I will be asleep before we finish it I’m so tired! As usual the chef has sent us out extra food!

Have a lovely valentines night if you are celebrating! Might be back later.

X

Choir practice

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I’m off out to choir practice today. Learning new songs, and old ones to different tunes.

I’m sure my mental health has been better since I began going to a choir over ten years ago. It’s good for things like relaxation and concentration. I would recommend it to anyone who nerds some stress busting.

I can be sitting with the choir with no memory if the words or tune. Then almost miraculously they come to me as we start singing. We sing mainly acappella and my voice is most suited to alto and low parts.

We learnt a version of let your little light shine for the Stoke sings choir festival the weekend before last. With words that were appropriate to the cities history of pottery and mining.

I hope we sing it again tonight. It was fun to sing with 600 other people belting out the various parts. It is on YouTube  somewhere.

Barn dance coming up..

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Imagine whirling around with a bunch of people… Then imagine some of them looking completely confused, going in the wrong directions and flinging each other about in mad abandon. That’s a barn dance. Add amazing live music. A caller explaining the dance moves to people trying to understand what on earth he’s saying. The fun that can be had getting dizzy, twisting and turning, jumping about….

And a pie and peas supper that has both meat and vegetarian options.

It’s all in aid of the Penkhull Mystery play this July.

If you are in the area perhaps you would like to come along to these February Frolics and then get involved in the mystery play itself where there are openings to act, make props and help paint scenery. You never know you might enjoy it.

Icy

You know it’s cold when the ice that was put in the sink on Friday night is still frozen in the sink on Sunday.

This is what had happened at the “an, exhibition of Blue”, which I was helping invigilate yesterday.

The exhibition space is in part of the old Spode Factory which has been converted into artists studios. The building used to be full of pottery machinery and pottery kilns. I imagine they did not need much insulation in those days. Now, however, thin walls and single glazed windows together with thick concrete ceilings high up which allow all the heat to rise make for icebox conditions in the winter.

We also did not know where the switch was for the space heater that sits next to the lift. So guests and artists alike stood next to or inside the kitchen where a small electric fan heater was trying to defrost the ice in the sink! People tried to sit on the couches to keep their feet off the freezing concrete floors. I’d been there three hours before one of the other artists at Spode found the heater switch in a cupboard! I did feel foolish for not looking.

Even though it was cold we got a good turn out. The exhibition will be coming down soon but it may be possible to get one of the exhibitors to show you round if you are interested.