Old window, light pouring through. Old packing room at Middleport pottery. It’s now the cafe. How different it must have been. I presume that plates and pots would have been packed in straw or hay so they didn’t move about too much. It would have then been put in packing cases so that the pottery could be transported on barges. The packs would have been lifted onto the boats using an old wooden crane which sits on the side of the canal. The crane was hand cranked and used a set of gears, a ratchet and a band brake to slow down the boxes of pottery as they were lowered down into the holds of the barges. I’m imagining the packing room bustling with people as the orders went out.

One advantage of the canals was that larger amounts of ceramics could be transported safely, with less breakages than would have happened on a rutted and uneven road in the back of an old horse drawn cart. It also helped speed up deliveries.

The smoke around the potteries must have caused a dark and gloomy atmosphere as the people worked there. The sunlight would not have shone into the window as it did today and the glass was probably filthy with soot and clay. The air was poor and people suffered from breathing difficulties and illnesses. The mortality rate was very bad. Life was difficult and short. I would like to suggest the book ‘When I was a child :Growing up in the potteries in the 1840’s’ by Charles Shaw, which gives an idea of the reality of the time.

Farewell feathery frost

I just found this photo and remembered the morning I sat in my car and saw these spectacular frosty fronds inside the windscreen. I think it was when the heater in the car was broken. It was a few years ago. I don’t think we have had such a cold spell in a few years. Yes it gets cold, but not this cold. It’s due to get cold again this weekend, a few snow showers, maybe some rain.

I remember when I was a child having frosts like this on the inside of our bedroom windows, Jack Frost really did visit in those days. We even had snow in June one year. We had been on the train and when the sky turned orange grey and the snow fell. But that was fifty years ago. Times change.


The wind is howling and making the window in the kitchen buzz… But I heard a different buzzing this morning, and not from the window. I looked and in amongst the foliage and there was a large bumblebee trying to get out. I grabbed a cup and some paper.. But I just could not reach and the bee kept falling down. Then. I remembered, I’ve had this bug catcher for years. It still took a few goes, you have to place the catcher over the creature with the sliding door below it then swivel it so the door is above. You give the trap a little shake and the door should slide down. In this case the door stopped part way so I had to get a knife and tap the top of the door so it closed. Then I released the bee outside (you turn the trap round so the door opens up again), so happy to let it go safely. Glad I remembered the bug trap, now back under the sink.

Boarded up

An old ruin made of pinkish grey stone. The window has a white windowledge stained with green algae caused by the wet atmosphere in the area. The window is boarded with some sort of chipboard. The lower section is sodden with damp from successive rainstorms. It must be screwed into the window frame because it is sunken into the window surround, not flush with it. A bracket of metal, almost the shape of the number ‘2’ is on one side of the window, and a thin line of stonework shaped almost like an eyebrow sits in the stone course above the boarded window. This is on the first floor of the building so it would not be easily accessible from the ground. The light on the building is grey, reflecting what the sky would look like if it was visible in the photo.

I was trying to write this in a simple descriptive way. It’s harder than I thought to be accurate!

Through the arched window

Arches are strong. Arches support weight because pressure is pushing inwards towards a central point. They have a keystone that holds everything together. I wish I knew the mathematics that explained this. But it is something amazing when you see arches in churches or castles or other religious or secular places supporting the rooves of buildings. They can be so elegant and flimsy looking but they have innate strength. All due to forces, and geometry.


Looking out of our house, I can see gardens on the side and rear of the house, but a grey factory building in front. I wish we had a view of the sea or countryside. The road in front of our house is on a steep hill, and quite often cars roar up and down it, ambulances rush by with sirens blaring, or motorbikes speed up, exhausts popping and banging. The hill is one of the steepest in the area and seems sometimes to be a racetrack! Oh to see a yatch in the distance, sails catching the rising or setting sun. That would be magical.