Monday, 30 September 2013

Sexy redhead in church

A lascivious redhead? It can only be Mary Magdalene - here seen at the foot of the Crucifixion, in a church window.

By tradition, Saint Mary Magdalene - one of the three women in Jesus' life - was a reformed prostitute. So, medieval artists gave her flowing scarlet hair, a bit of bare flesh usually, and an erotic pose. 
But this glass is dated 1926, so it's a surprise to find a later artist still really going to town on poor old Mary.

The window is in Mapleton St Mary Church, on the Staffordshire-Derbyshire border.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

The smallest room - and coldest

Original outside-toilets - 'privies' - can still occasionally be seen in the back-yards of some terraced houses in Stoke on Trent, though these days they are more often used as junk-storage areas.
Most however have been pulled down, and modern extensions built in their place.

But, in the alley-ways of some of the less renovated parts of the city - like Smallthorne, as here in this pic - one feels little has changed in 100 years, and I saw this perfect example there.
Municipal laws meant that they had to be built a little way from the house, which is why they are often the last building in the yard (making for an unpleasant walk on a winter day).  Even the coal shed is nearer to the house.

(Depending on which part of the world you come from, they are given different names - such as jakes or khazi. I'm fond of 'dunny' myself, though it's really Australian idiom).

This post appeared on the My Town Shoot-Out Photo-Blog

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Misty day in the cemetery

Misty autumn day today, though the temperatures are still in the 'mild' range.

Tunstall Cemetery runs up the side of a long hill, so the graves at its top look out over the valley.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Unisex etiquette

Unisex toilets are pretty commonplace now, being mostly just simply rows of cubicles (which each contain a toilet & sink) in the one space.

However, what about one that is just a small room containing just the one cubicle within it?
The unisex toilet in the reception area at South Staffordshire Council Offices in Codsall is a little tricky. In this instance, in the one small room (with hand-basin) and the toilet cubicle.

So, does one queue inside the room, ie standing by the hand-basin - or outside the room's main door?

I wasn't sure how the woman who went in before me would feel about standing by the basin, next to her cubicle, waiting for her to finish. 
I decided to wait outside the door.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Fairy on the water

There are over a dozen fairy sculptures to be found while walking round the lake on the Trentham Gardens site. They are in trees, behind benches, etc.
I thought that the fairies, created by artist Robin Wight, were curiously model-thin and provocative, but maybe that's just me.
The idea is that children try to find them all while following the 'Fairy Trail'.

This one, near the lake shore, is, erm, relatively easy to spot.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Roman knot

What does the Roman Empire have to do with the Stafford Knot?
I was watching a TV programme about Rome, and suddenly this image appeared - and I was able to take a photo of the TV screen.

SPQR simply means the 'Senate & People of Rome', and was the inscription carried on the Roman legionnaires' standards. 
But I've not been able to work out what the knot shape above it in this photo refers to. (The programme was no help, and not even specific about where this plaque is).

It looks like a Stafford Knot to me; though I know it's probably not.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Happy birthday, Doctor

Dr Samuel Johnson, the creator of the first 'proper' English Dictionary, is one of the most famous people to have been born in Staffordshire.
His birthday - on 18th September - is always celebrated in Lichfield, his home town, with a big dinner. Even in Uttoxeter, another Staffordshire town associated with him, there is a small public ceremony.

However, he actually lived most of his life in London.  In fact, one of his most famous witty sayings was about his adopted city: "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life."  I suppose he couldn't have said the same about Lichfield at the time...

The photo shows the house Dr Johnson lived in in London, which is now a museum.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Mellow month of September

So... autumn is here.  The arrival of a chill in the air, the finally-harvested fields, the shortening days - all point toward the beginning of that 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness'.

Well, Staffordshire Summer of 2013, I salute you...   You were good while you lasted!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

The other William Morris

Poor William T Morris! Despite being a fine stained-glass designer - as witness these panels in High Offley Church - he is almost forgotten.

He had the misfortune to have the same name as the famous nineteenth century artist William Morris, (whose own stained glass products are admittedly wonderful), so he gets 'lost' in all the stuff about the more well-known man.
He also worked for Morris & Co, so, once again, his name gets swamped.  He doesn't even get a reference on Wikipedia.

The glass you see was put up in High Offley in the 1940s.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Walking ... football !

Over-50s want to play football too, even if they don't necessarily want to be sprinting around for ninety minutes on a large pitch.
So... that's why Walking Football has been invented.  Basically, the rules are completely the same except that running is not allowed.

Amazingly, Staffordshire seems to be one of the national hotbeds of this form of the game.  Cheadle Leisure Centre has three sessions of walking football a week.  It's pretty competitive too...

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Eccentric annual event

The 'Abbots Bromley Horn Dance' is Staffordshire's own eccentric annual event.  Every Wakes Day in September, a chosen group of villagers dress up and dance at various locations in and around the village.
The 'horns' - which are in fact sets of antlers - are carried by the main dancers, who are joined by a set of characters who depict a Hobby-Horse, a boy-archer, a Fool and Maid Marion.  It's supposed to be a form of fertility dance, with its roots going back to the 13th century.
I guess it's a form of morris-dancing.

To be honest, it's more interesting to read about than to see, as the dance is rather basic, and the villagers are not skilled dancers (though, of course, they are not supposed to be...).

I saw them this year as they danced on the lawn at Blithfield Hall.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Taking tea in the graveyard

Garden furniture is not common in a graveyard, and I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable taking tea and cake on these particular benches.

The old Congregational Church in Cheadle is being used as a form of offices now though, so I guess the new inhabitants have just come to terms with the building's listed status.

This post was featured on the Cemetery Sunday website

Friday, 6 September 2013

Pleasant days

We're experiencing an Indian summer... the beginning of September has been as warm and langorous as the months of July and August.

The light over the hills above the Manifold Valley has just been glowing in these late days.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Protest music is back

Radical protest bands have been a bit thin on the ground since the demise of Red Wedge, the movement that Billy Bragg and Paul Weller famously created in the eighties.

But... now we have Headsticks, a Stoke-on-Trent band that don't pull their punches demonstrating their disillusion and anger with 'modern Thatcherism'.
I wonder if they will be the first of many.  In this age of unemployment and low wages, it seems likely.

Headsticks was one of the bands at a small roots festival, Cloggerfest, in Draycott-in-the-Moors.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Smallest telegraph pole

Another curiosity of Staffordshire (there are so many!) concerns the odd structure that you see here in the opening just under the bridge's top.
It is a telegraph pole... which Wikipedia says holds the record for the UK's smallest telegraph pole - maybe the world's.

The pole was placed there in the 1860s as part of a string of telegraph wires and poles along the Shropshire Union Canal, and this is the only one of them to survive.  Without its wires nowadays...

If you want to glimpse it yourself, you'll need to get on the canal near the village of Woodseaves and head for 'High Bridge'.
By the way, this part of the canal is in a deep cleft, which is why the bridge is so high, supporting the road that passes over it from ridge to ridge.  The bolstering extra arch - on which the pole is placed - had to be inserted because the strain on the walls was so great.