Monday, 29 April 2013

Stoke ladies top the Midlands

Turned up to see the Midlands Ladies League Cup Final at the Marston Road stadium in Stafford, and quite a match it was.
Stoke City Ladies (who have already won the league by a long margin) were clearly the stronger side, but Leafield Athletic played their part too.  Stoke (in red & white) won 8-4 in the end before a crowd of around 400.

I was well impressed with the pace, power, skill and bravery on the pitch, and surprised at how much women's football at this level has progressed.
Amazingly, the World Cup referee Howard Webb (you can see him in the left of the photo) turned out to oficiate at this game, and that is quite a compliment.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Getting eco-friendly in Longton

In the back streets of Longton, they've renovated the old America Hotel (in front), and built on to it a brand spanking new structure - now taken over by CORE (Centre of Refurbishment Excellence)
CORE is a sort of learning centre for people in the construction industry wanting to know about eco-friendly methods.

I suppose the CORE building itself had better be a good example of what they are promoting, or it would fail in its own mission!
Actually, inside and out, it looks okay.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Canal crosses canal

The Hazlehurst Aqueduct by the Hollybush pub at Denford carries one canal over the top of another, and has been doing so since 1841, as the plaque indicates.
The fact that there is a plaque there, and the fine appearance of the aqueduct itself, gives a hint of the pride the engineers must have felt in building it.

Under it, according to the story recounted in Pint Sized History Of The Staffordshire Moorlands, James Brindley, who designed the structure, had one day come back to Denford to admire his work – and he caught a chill. He died of it.  Hmm.

Incidentally, don't confuse this structure with the Hazlehurst Junction bridges, which are further down the Caldon Canal.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

George & Dragon in trouble

Oh, the plight of the English pub!
On St George's Day today, I guess it's a good idea to reflect on the disappearance of so many of our pubs. An astonishing number of eighteen pubs a day are closing in this country.

I like pubs a lot, though I'll only have a pint or two on each visit; I won't stay all day.  And maybe it's people like me who are causing the demise; we just don't drink like we did in the old days. 
However, it's as well to remember that pubs have been diminishing in number since the 1870s, so it's not entirely a new phenomenon.

The George & Dragon at Rough Close has been closed for some years now, although a forlorn To Let sign is still erected on the roadside in the bid for some saviour to come along.

This post was featured on the City Daily Portal 'St George Day' theme

Monday, 22 April 2013

Contemplating nature in a pit

There aren't many spots in grimy old Stoke on Trent where one can truly relax and also contemplate Nature.

Westport Lake may be an exception. It's still quite busy with dog walkers and so on, and it's now acquired a visitor centre, but it seems a calm place to me.
You'd hardly believe that it's hidden behind one of the most run-down parts of the city, though, yes, it is a regeneration project - in which a nature reserve has been created out of what was an old marl pit.

There is a story that it was the site of a former ground for Port Vale FC before the ground just sunk away and forced the club to move on. That can't be true, can it?

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Lichfield's German twin

The fad for twinning with other European cities seems to be fading away (though it's true that many twinning associations still exist). In the same way, you don't see many signs now for towns announcing their 'nuclear-free' status either.

However, even to this day, Lichfield twins with Limburg an der Lahn, an historic town in the Rhine Valley.
It's still a good idea for nations to speak unto nations, so I like the suggested idealism at least of such projects.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

The Colours of the Playground

The colours in this photo of the playground at Hanley Park all seem to work together, from the green of the grass to the blue of the playground equipment and the brown of the flats beyond.
I like that it's largely empty too.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Inaccessible castle

We are not known for authentically old castles in Staffordshire (though Tutbury has some special ruins).  Which is why it's a shame that the ruins of the imposing thirteenth-century Chartley Castle are not accessible to the public.
I had to take this photo on a zoom lens to avoid trespassing.

The castle is most famous for being one of the prisons of Mary Queen of Scots.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

The beauty in Brewood

I'd never heard of St Mary of Cleophas (aka St Mary Clopas), but a little research shows that she was the mother of two of the Apostles, and was one of the “Three Marys” who followed Jesus, and was present at the Crucifixion (which is why, I guess, she is holding the Crown of Thorns in her right hand).

Anyway, it wasn't her story but the beauty of this piece of stained glass in Brewood Parish Church that drew me to take the photo.
Old churches really are unrecognised art galleries, with some amazing stuff... in my opinion.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Playtime at 107 in Burton

Walking into the big car-park that fronts the old building on '107 Station Street' in Burton is a bit like entering an architect's playground.
The old brewery building (on the right) has been revitalised by a property development company, but they also had some fun with what looks like huge lego bricks during the process.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Rudest house in Staffordshire

Madeley Old Hall is slap bang in the centre of the village, overlooking the Pool. It's an interesting seventeenth century building in its own right, but new passers-by always look shocked by the motto written over the ground floor windows.  It reads "WALLK KNAVE . WHAT LOOKEST AT" - which is just about the rudest thing I've heard a house utter!
Still, I guess it stops those who might wish to stare in its windows...

The hall is now a 'boutique' bed & breakfast

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Bad time for lambs

It's been a tough year for lambs. Quite a few haven't made it because of the lengthy periods of freezing & snowy weather, and there's a disease doing the rounds too, the Schmallenberg virus (SBV) infection, which can leave them deformed at birth.

So, the last week of sunshine has been very welcome. The temperatures haven't risen much until the last day or so - but this little one looks healthy.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Skull and... smiley faces

The prsence of the caredfully-placed brooding skull atop the Jana narrowboat rather belies all the smiley faces...

The boat was photographed on the Cauldon Canal at Consall Forge.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Slppery gravestones

Saint Giles Church in Newcastle-under-Lyme was rebuilt in the nineteenth century. The builders (it seems) couldn't be bothered to remove all the soil they had to dig up so they almost literally chucked it to one side, creating the hillock you can see next to the church to this day.

The gravestones too seem to have been disturbed at the time, and - with space in this urban centre very limited - seem to have been rearranged in the clumsy jigsaw fashion you see in the photo...  Walking over them is not to be advised on wet days, when they are almost waxy in their slipperiness.

This post was featured on the Cemetery Sunday website