Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Bicycle of good intentions

Bicycle under leaves in bike-shed

What story does this picture tell us?  
Does it tell us that the weather has been windy?  Perhaps.

My own interpretation is that this is a story of good intentions.  I think the owner of this bike was planning to use it to cycle in and out of work ever day, but actually, as an exercise project, it was never really going to work. (Remember those gym memberships that become an utter waste of money?)
And so the cycle is slowly being buried, over time, under whatever detritus eddies into this corner of the bike-shed.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

All that is left of what-was

William Edwards gravestone in Longden Green

As one wanders along a wooded path in Longdon Green, suddenly one sees, up upon the bank, this gravestone: "William Edwards died 1775, Clerk of this Chapel for 19 Years".  Nothing else.
Apparently the chapel was pulled down years ago, and so all that is left of what-was is this gravestone... and it looks like (to me) somebody is regularly clearing it of ivy.  I wonder who.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Matching the mismatching

Mismatching crockery

Catching up with fads can be a puzzle.  At the trendy Spout Cafe in Leek we sat at shabby chic tables, and were served tea in mismatching crockery.  It was explained to me by my companion that this was not a careless mistake, but is the very latest way to present accessories in avant-garde eating-out venues.

I'm told it's something to do with: retro / vintage / [ place your own word here... ]. 

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Medieval practices - coming back

Wellington Street Almshouses, Burton

It's amazing to think that there are over thirty almshouses still going in Burton.  Dating back to medieval times, these charitable institutions still provide small homes for the elderly & bereft. 
And, believe it or not, almshouses are still being built by these charities even today; clearly there is a need for this medieval practice...
The Consolidated Almshouses Charity manages this particular, rather lovely one (built in the nineteenth century) in Wellington Street.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

'Main Street' streams along

Main road through Butterton village

Believe it or not, this flooded cobble-stones path is actually the main road through Butterton village!  And the recent rains have turned the puddles into a proper shin-high ford.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Peace undermined

Statue of Peace on war memorial in Burton.

With Armistice Day this week, one looks to war memorials.   This statue of Peace (with dove in hand) stands on one side of the war memorial in Burton. 
As is usual - but extremely odd to modern eyes - this female classical figure seems to be wearing a tight body-stocking under her voluminous cloak and helmet.  One wonders what the point of that is...

Her message of peace is also rather undermined by a huge figure of Victory which stands on the top of the plinth, towering well above her (see a photo of the whole memorial by clicking here).
Oh well.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Factory makes Biennial

British Ceramic Biennial 2015

The British Ceramic Biennial comes to an end on Sunday - the exhibition, which highlights contemporary work in the ceramics world, has been taking place over the last few weeks.

Frankly, I wasn't that impressed this year; everything seemed a bit flat, and the exhibits and ideas were a little underwhelming.   But, once again, it was the venue that saved the day - the now empty and decayed Spode factory in Stoke, which housed the show, is fascinating in itself.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Last of the season

Sugnall Walled Kitchen Garden

It's been very misty/foggy recently, and there has been a dull pall over everything.  At the Sugnall Walled Kitchen Garden, everything looked fairly grim - but then, it is after all, the end of the growing year. 
We found half a dozen apples still left on some of the trees, and three pears.  They tasted pretty good though.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Tunnel for Halloween

Swainsley Tunnel on the Manifold Way path

Question for Halloween: why are tunnels so spooky?  There are some Freudian answers to this I suppose, but it gets complicated.

My favourite 'ghost' scene' from a movie occurs in Kurosawa's Dreams, which is surely one of the most imaginative films of all time.   In the scene, some soldiers - in strict march formation, their boots clacking loudly, unseen by the main character - emerge from the darkness of a tunnel.  The twist is that the soldiers are ghosts, but they don't actually know it.   That premise is scary enough, but the tunnel (as Kurosawa knew) is the key element.

Swainsley Tunnel, should you care to walk it (!), is on the Manifold Way path.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Sam Johnson is a favourite

Portrait of Samuel Johnson which hangs in County Buildings in Stafford

There are a quite few figures that vie for the title of 'Staffordshire's favourite son', but Doctor Samuel Johnson is up there. 
Of course, virtually nobody in Staffordshire actually reads much of what he wrote any more - though, at Christmas, yes, one can buy little volumes that contain his collected witticisms.
Curiously, he had a lot of strange bodily afflictions in his life, including an incurable facial tic, and what we would now call Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. 

Anyway, he now has pride of place (a statue in the square!) in Lichfield and in Uttoxeter; and, as you can see,  his portrait has been chosen to hang in the grand 'Judge's Room' in County Buildings in Stafford.