Saturday, 30 August 2014

Wedgwood's curvy museum

Wedgwood museum

The museum at the Wedgwood factory in Barlaston is not very pretty on the outside; it's rather functional really (I think).  Also, the interior design of it is rather staid in my opinion, though the actual route through the museum is nicely curvy.
The museum is more of an art-lover's and historian's place than a fun day-out - though is none the less valuable for that.

The wide & undulating of the roof-design reminds me of the roof at the Mitchell Memorial Theatre extension in Hanley.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Jewish cemetery marks decline

North Staffordshire Jewish cemetery

One surprising aspect of north Staffordshire Jewish population statistics is that the number of Jewish families in the area has reduced from 200 to 20 in just fifty years - an decline of ninety per cent!
The reason is hard to pin down, but it could be that many of those 200 families were twentieth century refugees, and so they have just moved on again.  The community tries to be active nevertheless.

The grand old synagogue has had to be sold, and a tiny little new synagogue was built by the already established cemetery instead.  The cemetery is gated off, but has a solemn air.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Sir Robert Peel & Sgt Pepper

Cover of Beatles' Sergeant Pepper album

The only Staffordshire person to appear on the Beatles' Sergeant Pepper album cover is, as far as I know, Sir Robert Peel, the nineteenth century politician.  
Sir Robert came from south Staffordshire, was MP for Tamworth, and one of the country's better Prime Ministers.  I have a soft spot for him, as, in 1846, fighting his own supporters, he pushed through the repeal of the notorious Corn Laws, which had caused so much misery.

But why Peter Blake (the artist who created the cover) and/or the Beatles themselves picked Sir Robert to be one of their crowd, I do not know. Nor can I find out.  If you know, please let me know too!

Sir Robert is the black-and-white figure, two in from the left on the second row down.  Just underneath the infamous magus Aleister Crowley.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Jumble for a fantastical journey

Flying car sculpture at Alton Towers Hotel

The flying car sculpture at Alton Towers Hotel by Peter Price demands to be seen from every angle, as something new appears on each side!  The objects in this jumble (deliberate jumble to be fair) are all ones that would have been taken by the inventor and explorer Sir Algernon Alton in his fantastical journeys.
Sadly, Sir Algernon is a completely fictional character, invented as a 'theme' for the hotel.  Ah well.

You can see the front side of the sculpture by clicking here

Friday, 22 August 2014

Four centuries of sunsets

Mill House, Cheadle

Sunset on red brick is literally a warming experience.  Mill House in Cheadle is a seventeenth century building - it has seen nearly four centuries of the sun coming and going.

The other thing that struck me was that the sun went down today about eight o'clock - which, at first, I thought as terribly early... but of course, the season is turning.  Why do we human beings forget that the things we are experiencing in the moment - like cold, heat, summer, winter - do change?

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Grimacing grave

Tombstone at Tamworth

The weathering on this tombstone has left a rather macabre shape... it looks like a grimace of broken teeth to me.  Maybe that's just me though.

This grave seems to be in a rather odd place - round the back of Tamworth Library!
(However... the library was built on the site of the churchyard - but the graves were left in place, which all explains that).

Monday, 18 August 2014

Keeping feet dry in Milford

Stepping stones at Milford

As you'd expect of a well-kept estate like the Shugborough environs, these stepping stones across the stream at Milford are almost too tidy to be believable. 
Still, they are very useful !

You'll see lots of walkers - and bicyclists - on these paths... not surprisingly, as the location is very attractive.  You'll find a very good, flat walk that passes along these stones on the mapmywalk website.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Flying the county

Flag of Staffordshire

One sees the flag of Staffordshire (actually,,, the flag of Staffordshire County Council) relatively rarely, but I think it has a rather good-looking design, so it'd be nice to see it a little more (IMHO).

The knot and the chevron are both symbols that have represented Staffordshire in one or another way for many centuries.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Living inside the cliff

Rock Houses on Kinver Edge

The Rock Houses on Kinver Edge either look appealingly rustic or chillingly primitive, depending on your outlook.  These homes, actually cut into the side of the rock-face, were lived in right until the 1950s...
They are a tourist attraction now.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Thou wall, O wall

Wall in Whittington

I was walking along this road for about a mile - and this wall and I stayed together nearly the whole way. 
It struck me that I had never come across a wall that was so long and straight (ie without a corner).  It is continuous - apart from just a couple of small sections where it had crumbled.
The wall borders one edge of a large estate in an area called Fisherwick.

Surely a wall as long and straight as that must be setting some sort of record (?) - for the region at least...

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Appetite for imagination

Bike rider - of the Appetite Stoke group

A series of events & projects appealing to the imagination - hoping also to enable residents to see their surroundings in a new light - is going on across Stoke on Trent for a three-year period. It's all being led by the Appetite Group.

Last weekend, they took over Hanley Park for a large 'event of the mind & body'.  This character was cruising the park - all part of the attempt to help people get in touch with their fantastical and even visionary side.
A drama-of-movement-and-light, The Bell, was the culmination of the day.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Erotic library

Books display

Who'd have thought it???  The library in Leek has this display, on one of its window-sills, of books of erotica for women - under the generic label Shades Of Grey (after the book by EL James, of course).
Actually, I congratulate the curators at the library.  As half the female population (or so it seems) has read EL James, maybe they are just reflecting popular reading habits...

Well!  In my day, the most rousing book one could hope to find in a public library was usually one on anatomy.  We live in changing times.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Golden fields

Harvest field

This spell of hot dry weather, which itself followed days of successive warm rain, means that the harvest is already under way, and actually has been for some days.
In the light of the late afternoon, the wheatfields produce a startlingly golden effect.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Women in WW1

WW1 memorial stained-glass in Gnosall Church

The commemorations for the 100th anniversary of World War One went with some dignity I thought, which was good to see.  The ceremonies that I saw remembered those who died quietly and solemnly.

One interesting 21st Century element in these remembrances was the determination not to forget the part played by women in the conflict. 
In some cases of course, as in this memorial piece of 1920s stained-glass in Gnosall Church, women (nurses) were already properly remembered, as well as the male sailors, soldiers and airmen.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Memorial weekend

Kinver War Memorial

People are remembering the 100th anniversary of the First World War this weekend. 

One of the most successful aspects of all the community-work being done to remember the conflict is that of trying to find all the country's war memorials, clean them up, and, in many cases, try to discover more about the men and women whose names are actually on the memorials.
It has not been easy to identify these dead just by their names, as collective memories have faded, and some official records are even missing - yet communities have been making concerted efforts to find out who these people were who left their villages and towns never to return alive.

Kinver War Memorial is an odd one. It is out on the heath, far from any residences, and one wonders why it was put there.  But I am sure the local community groups are researching the names on it too.