Sunday, 30 September 2012

Tree monster

This tree-monster reminds me of all those story-book trees that 'come to life' - whether in Lord Of The Rings or as features in a children's playground. It has the right number of arms (two!) and a look to say that it is ready to start walking...
It is now just a silhouette of a tree, as it plainly no longer has growth. The long tendrils that seem to have suffocated it (perhaps they were of tree-ivy?) add to the ghoulishness.

This post was featured on the City Daily Photo Blog (CDPB) Theme Day site

Friday, 28 September 2012

Stafford's Sandonia theatre

The Sandonia - `which was a theatre then a cinema then a bingo hall then a snooker club - is down a back street (Sandon Rd - hence the Sandonia's name) in Stafford, where its grandiose facade stands out among the terraced houses.  When it opened in the 1920s, it must have been a red letter day in those poor streets.

For the last twelve years, it has stood empty, and of its glory only this facade remains. The inside was stripped some time ago, so I guess the Art Deco features inside are barely surviving.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

New arms for Keele University

Keele University (founded in 1949 as the University College of North of North Staffordshire) became a university in 1962 - and so is celebrating its fiftieth birthday this year.

The latest reworking of its coat of arms is seen on the banner in the photo above. The Stafford Knot is pre-eminent, while the open book represents learning, and the scythe is the symbol of the Sneyd family (the family which once owned the estate Keele is now built upon).
Apparently, the green slash marks the university's committment to sustainability, which is very modern of them.

See: Keele's heraldry

Monday, 24 September 2012

Lady of the roses

This entombed lady, and the chaplet / wreath of roses about her head, is nearly always the first item to draw the attention of the visitor coming to St Bartholomew Church in Tong. Tong is on the Staffordshire-Shropshire border. 

The story behind the roses is charming.
In medieval times, a local family had to place roses on the statue of the Blessed Virgin in the Lady Chapel at Tong Church once a year (on Midsummer Day). This act was part of a solemn agreement.
When, however, statues to the saints were removed from churches during the Reformation, the locals were not to be thwarted.  Instead they placed the roses on this tomb - which was next to the former Lady Chapel.

In a very English way, the tradition lasts to this day, though the roses are now more likely to be artificial (which is why they last so long, and can be seen on most days!).

By the way, the lady who lies in this tomb is Lady Isabel Pembrugge, who died in the mid 15th century.

This post has been featured on Taphophile Tragics (the cemetery-enthusiasts' website)   

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Wallpapers inspired by Stafford

The High House Wallpaper company has an interesting, Staffordshire-angled genesis.

Named after the Ancient High House, an old Tudor building which still stands in the centre of Stafford, the purpose of the company is to harness the creativity of design students at Staffordshire University - as the university's graduates have designed many of the company's patterns.

The range of papers in this photo come from the 'Dorrington Collection' - named after the man who built the Ancient High House four hundred years ago.  The deisgner of them, Anna Drezova, says she took inspiration from the old wallpapers discovered when the property was restored.

The university also lends expertise to the project in the shape of its academics, such as Rowena Beighton-Dykes, who are experts in the history of interior design.

I saw their stand when I was at the London Design Festival.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Animals damage cars

It's a shame that I couldn't take a 360-degree shot of this site, as the village in which these two posts are found (Boundary, near Cheadle) is about as sleepy and untroubled as you could ever find.

So, what the story behind this posting of this notice is is hard to guess!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Devil thwarted - by pyramid

Pyramid-style mausolea aren't unusual, but this one (in Rodney Street, Liverpool) carries a tale.

It is said that William MacKenzie gambled, and one night promised that the Devil could have his soul - once he was "six-feet under" of course - if only he won a big hand. He did.
But MacKenzie had the last laugh. It's said that ordered the pyramid tomb so his corpse could sit in it, and that thus... he would never be "six feet under". Clever.

The graveyard beongs to St Andrew's Church, which has now been decomissioned, and is being turned into luxury flats.
The tomb is being saved I believe - so the new tenants there will always have the salutary warning of MacKenzie's caution in full view.

This post has been featured on Taphophile Tragics (the cemetery-enthusiasts' website)  

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Harvest skies

It's harvest time, of grass for silage (winter feed for cattle) as well as crops; and as the cutting & baling machines go along they wrap the grass in large tubes of plastic.
The harvest is late this year because of the continual rain, but today was a wonderful sunshine day.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Do You Feel It Too?

I like public art, and the weirder the better. Something finely-fashioned and placed into our daily environment, no matter how odd, throws a jolt to the imagination I think. It doesn't matter if we even stand there and go - 'what the heck is this???'  It's just good to be (gently) shaken up, IMHO.
Anyway... rant over! 

This piece comes from Hanley Park.  And, no, I have no idea what it 'means'...

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Carved and trapped in stone

This carved face seems to me to be trapped in the very stone from which it emerges. The closed eyes and the strands of now dried-up vegetation make the image even the more intriguing.

Fradswell Church, which is where this memorial is sited, is a strange one, being very isolated and quite remote from the village itself.

This post has been featured on Taphophile Tragics (the cemetery-enthusiasts' website)  

Monday, 10 September 2012

Yoxall is top in the east

The winner of this year's Best Kept Village in East Staffordshire is Yoxall, which I passed through the other day.
Just like in any typical country village, the church and the pub are facing each other...

For the record, the winners overall in the county were Weston (large village) and Haughton (small village).

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Wetton takes in the heat

We're now in a minor heatwave apparently, which is a fairly ironic thought as the rain has been with us at least every second day throughout the, er, summer.  And now we get this.

Wetton Mill, near Dovedale, is the place to be on such occasions. One can wade in the cool of the nearby river, stroll in the surrounding shady green, or just slurp on an ice-cream.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Inspired (not) street name

This road-name sign makes me laugh…

You can just see the city-planners - seated round a table at the end of a long day where they have been having a meeting about what to name the ‘new’ streets which have been created after old parts of the city have been pulled down and rebuilt.

They obviously were running out of inspiration when it came to this street in Fenton…!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Heidi - tipped for stardom

Heidi Browne is a rising star locally...not only is she a fine musician (as also are the members of her backing band), but she can write observational, catchy songs in the 'sweet-pop' vein (alongside Kate Nash). She's not limited to that genre though - and a John Martyn fan or even a Bjork-lover might enjoy what she does.

Her big song right now is one called G.I.R.L.F.R.I.E.N.D.  It's all over YouTube.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Margarine sculpture

The Lichfield Food Festival took place this weekend, and I took advantage of some special restaurant offers (3 courses for £10..).
In the food hall, I came across this lady and this extraordinary sculpture - made of margarine! She was manning Simon Smith's stall - Simon was the chef at Thrales, which was a very good restaurant indeed.