Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Erratic geology...

This glacial boulder is a well-known meeting point on Cannock Chase. It even has a car-park named after it. Many walks on the Chase start here - including the AA recommended one.

It's also called the 'erratic' boulder, not because of its odd, semi-phallic shape, but because, in geology, an erratic is a stone that is quite different from those around it.
In this instance, this boulder is a stranger to those around it because it was swept down from a place hundreds of miles away to the north during the glacier movements of the Ice Age.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Stone's ninety year old man

For ninety years my glass has run
And now my God to thee I come
Receive my soul for sake of him
Who paid a ransom for my sin.

William Lycett lived to a pretty ripe age till his death in 1813 - and is buried in St Michael's Church at Stone.

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

Friday, 26 October 2012

Foxlowe - a top community cafe

'Community cafes' have a record of turning out to be dingy, badly-run coffee-and-cakes places in a chilly village hall.
But, that's far from the case with the Foxlowe in Leek. The old building at the top of Market Place was saved after a long campaign, and is now a thriving arts centre.  It relies on donations and ticket sales, so its existence is never far from precarious, but it is successful...

...and classy. Though there are some very good tearooms and cafes in Leek - in fact, this is one of the best towns in Staffirdshire for such - the Foxlowe Cafe (run by volunteers, seven days a week) is up there with the best of them.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Topiary phantasms

In the privacy of their own gardens, some folk will just let rip with their imaginations... going for the bizarre as well as the conventional.

I prefer the bizarre - as in this house-front in Cheadle...  It's all about self-expression...!

Monday, 22 October 2012

No body - no tomb

Less than a month after being 'adopted' by the people of Stafford during World war Two, the submarine Perseus was sunk off Cephalonia (later famous as the site of the book Captain Corelli's Mandolin). Only one man survived - the rest perished with the vessel, which was not re-discovered until divers found it in 1997.

This tribute to the crew can be found in the churchyard of St Mary, Stafford's parish church. Though it looks like a flat tombstone, and is placed alongside tombstones, it is better described as a memorial - because no one is interred there.

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

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Confusing the tourist - by turning signs

This signpost in the town of Stone, with its directional signs, looks innocent enough - except that every single sign is pointing in the wrong direction.
Clearly some mischief-makers thought it would be fun to confuse the poor visitor by turning them all the wrong way.

Strangely enough, it's relatively easy to do this, as the collars on most posts like this are not locked into place, and once loosened, can be rotated.

I wonder if town authorities shouldn't consider something more sturdy.
The reason I say this is that I have now realised (after many mistaken, er, misdirections), is that this type of mischief-maker lives everywhere. So much so that I gave up following signs on Staffordshire's rural lanes, and had to buy a sat-nav in the end, as I was continually getting 'lost'!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Marstons beer - and the Queen...

Sixty Glorious Years??? What anniversary could this poster that I saw in the Raddle Inn (on top of Hollington) be referring to?
Surely that of the coronation of our long-lived monarch?

Er, no.  In a slightly cheeky manner ("sixty glorious years" indeed!!!), the beer company Marstons, which is based in east Staffordshire, is reminding us that one of its finest pale ales, Pedigree, was launched in 1952. Just as the Queen was.

Good old Pedigree. Happy birthday.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Donkeys show affection

This affectionate pair are kept as pets I would guess. I came across them on a walk.

Now I think about it: why would one keep donkeys? These two are clearly not working animals. I shall ask around.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Stafford Knot meets deer

The brilliant colours of a russet autumn are upon us - the display this year seems brighter and redder than ever. Walking on Cannock Chase is just a feast for the eyes.

However, this photo is really about the logo in the top right-hand corner of this sign. It's a deer head (symbol of the Chase), which has then been incorporated into a Stafford Knot design. The Stafford Knot is the symbol of Staffordshire county. I like the mix.

Link: Stafford Knot 

Friday, 12 October 2012

Albert's house

Whoever Albert is, I admire him. He clearly has decided that his name is all the explanation that is needed here.

I can't help wondering though if this house - in Oakhill - is a business or a private home.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

New English - hearts in pottery

I was at the London Design Festival last month (Sept 2012) where I noticed a number of Staffordshire firms (High House Wallpapers being another one) had stalls.

This was one of the most dramatic stands, installed by The New English Ceramics, which is based in Stoke-on-Trent.

Basically, New English made sixty pottery hearts - complete with valves, aorta etc - and asked international artists to decorate them and sell them for charity. The proceeds went to the children's medical charity Herz Fur Kinder.
Some of the hearts were quite fascinating...

Link:  New English & Herz Fur Kinder

Monday, 8 October 2012

Rugby - a game for families

The Longton Rugby Club site is not just some muddy field in the middle of nowhere with a tin bath in a shed for a dressing room.  Far from that old cliche, the beautifully looked after pitches here, and the modern buildings, make it look like some corporate outreach job.

However, it's a really family-oriented place. Though the senior team plays at a very high level, it almost feels like the junior teams and ladies teams are as important.
Going to watch the first team on a Saturday (it's free) is a proper day-out, with the clubhouse facilities open during the match. Around 200 or so is the usual gate.

I captured this shot at the end of the game. As the team walked off the pitch (having won the game), many of them stopped to play with their kids before they got changed. I think it's a charming scene.
You wouldn't see that at Stoke City FC!

Link:  Longton Rugby Club

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Crossed love at Ilam

The story of the restoration of Ilam Cross (think Charing Cross but a bit smaller) is quite a triumph.

The monument was built on the crossroads in the tiny, very pretty village of Ilam in north-east Staffordshire in 1841 as a testament of love by one man for his wife (another way in which it pays homage to the Eleanor Crosses - such as Charing Cross).

However, up till recently, it was literally crumbling to bits - and had even become a danger (see photo).
And then some concerned folk formed the Ilam Cross Trust to restore it. It is now back to its full glory, and is yet another reason to visit Ilam.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Princess Royal in Dresden

Princess Victoria? Yes indeed, this pub is named after her; and the pub-sign shows a likeness of this Victoria Princess Royal.
However, this is not the lady whom we know as Queen Victoria, but her daughter - who had the same name.
The man who built this pub (in the 1850s) in the Dresden district of Stoke-on-Trent was clearly of a monarchist turn of mind, and clearly was determined to tie in his fortunes with royalty.

However, the pub (and its sign) only confirm in my own mind that walking through parts of Stoke-on-Trent is like going back in time. Where else would a pub not only retain the name of a long-forgotten princess, but still have her portrait hanging outside?

(If you enjoy such facts, you'll be pleased to know the pub-sign picture is based on the work by the painter Winterhalter).

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Leek's timorous lion

This lion, which stands guard outside Moorlands House (the home of the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council in Leek), is probably the most unfrightening lion in history. His gormless and slightly timorous look undermines any attempt by him to be king of the jungle.
It really doesn't matter which angle you look at him from, he always looks rather unhappily startled.

It would be fun to know something more of his history.