Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Lobby in Bulgaria

Lobby Bar, in Veliko Tarnovo in Bulgaria

I know this is a little daft obsession of mine but -- I like to look for 'signs' of Staffordshire even when I have to leave the county.
This bar in Veliko Tarnovo in Bulgaria is known as the 'Lobby Bar'... and lobby is the great dish of workign-class Staffordshire.

OK... a bit tenuous, I know - but it pleases me.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Threatening land-owner

Threatening notice on public footpath

This is the sort of thing that really gets my goat.  A selfish land-owner (near Ashley) has put up a threatening notice on a public footpath warning walkers not to use the path.

Of course I understand that land-owners don't always want strangers on their land, but the fact is that these are established common routes - by law - and the owner must have bought the land (or inherited it) knowing that a right of way existed across it.  So they need to learn to live with the fact and adapt.
Secondly, ramblers and farmers have one common aim - to protect the countryside. What farmers don't grasp is that, by being aggressive to walkers, they are making enemies where they should be making friends.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Hidden factory

JCB Earthmovers factory at Uttoxeter

I can't help admiring the way that the JCB Earthmovers factory at Uttoxeter is so beautifully concealed. It is deliberate of course: a great desire to disturb the visual environmental as little as possible is the motivation.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Deceptive country scene

River Tean at Spath

Glorious weather as summer gets under way.  Enough sun to ensure warmth, and (of course, this is England!) cool enough to be outdoors a lot.

This stretch of the River Tean (which is no more than ever this wide, and which, curiously, never leaves Staffordshire) at Spath suggests the forgotten English countryside of yore.  However, behind the treeline, and about half-a-mile away, a huge industrial estate is taking shape.
Most deceptive.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Artist's playground

Playground at Hanley Park

The playground at Hanley Park is as attractive as you can get... but I always think the lay-out is a about more than just banging in a lot of brightly coloured circles.
There seems to be an artist's mind behind the design, especially from this angle.  I know it's a bit off the mark, but it reminds me of the paintings of Sonia Delauney.

Interestingly, the park is now open 24 hours a day.   In the old days, the 'parkie' would close the gates at dusk.  I suppose there is no money to pay park-keepers now.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Here lieth George

Gravestone in Rushton churchyard

The earliest 'modern' gravestones erected to the memories of individuals date back to around the sixteenth century - but few of them survive.  Though this gravestone, from Rushton churchyard, is much later (1738), it has the same shape as ones of 200 years earlier.
The quote starts "Here lieth y' body ... George" and then goes on to mention his parents (probably). We can only guess what words are missing , as the fascia is crumbling off.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Junction that is not a junction

Junction Inn, Norbury

It's turned warm now, and sitting on the Junction Inn terrace watching the canalside activities around is a good way to relax...
The surrounding waterside is called 'Norbury Junction' but in fact it's no longer a junction: the adjoining Newport Canal is now derelict. 
Still, there are shops and maintenance yards, and it is in the countryside, so families still turn up in numbers.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Knot on the water

North Staffs Rowing Club member

Yay... I spotted another Stafford Knot on the weekend, which I can now add to my Knot Collection.

This young lady was rowing for the North Staffs Rowing Club in the annual Shrewsbury Regatta - she and her team-mates reached the final too...

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Walking without fear

Ecton Hill

Now that Easter is been and gone, all walkers can go out on the hills without fear of extreme wet or cold.
These walkers are on Ecton Hill.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Lichfield mysteries

Lichfield Mystery Plays 2016

Aren't regional 'mstery plays' a great thing?
Traditionally, and deliberately, the actors are recruited from the local populace, so their performances are raw and uneven.  The old-English text of the plays is anachronistic and strange.  The whole idea is to be flexible and even to ad-lib...  The old Bible stories are not as familiar as the might be to a modern audience.
But, somehow, it all works. It's all charming.

It was Lichfield's turn this weekend to stage their cycle of such plays. 
The scene above shows Eve talking with The Serpent; the scene below is Mary learning that she is to be a mother.

Lichfield Mystery Plays 2016

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Staffordshire Day today!

Josiah Wedgwood statue at the Victoria & Albert Museum

It's Staffordshire Day today!
It is 1000 years since the first recorded mention of the term Staffordshire, written as 'as Staeffordscir'  in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (for 1016) - so this is a millennium anniversary. 
And why May 1st?  I wondered that; but it turns out that May 1st was the date of the founding of the
Wedgwood pottery company, which is based in Staffordshire, and, arguably, the county's most historically famous name.
Staffordshire Day logo
Why the powers that be wanted to tie Staffordshire Day into the pottery industry, I don't know, but even the Oxford Companion to British History states quite categorically that "Staffordshire is one of the counties most affected by the industrial revolution" so, there you go.
It's all a bit artificial, but it's fun.

Old Josiah Wedgwood himself might have be surprised at seeing his work made quite so central to the whole county's identity, but then again, there are probably more famous images of him than any other Staffordshire figure.     (Barring Saint Chad of course - and Sir Stanley Matthews...)       The one in the picture above is on the side of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London - although the most famous statue of him is in Stoke.

Strangely enough, I celebrate 1000 posts on this photo-blog myself this month.  Bit of a coincidence...