Monday, 6 July 2015

Country house living


Callingwood Hall in Tatenhill

One of the pleasant aspects of walking in the English rural footpaths is the sight of country houses in the distance... which gives one a sense of how it was a hundred years ago.

Most of these old houses have been re-purposed of course, and no longer belong to just one family.  Callingwood Hall in Tatenhill was split up into 'wings' - which were sold separately, as luxury accommodation.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Micro pub

Crossways MicroPub

A micro-pub is one that looks back to the very (very) old days - being more like a drinking parlour or beer-shop rather than the 'gastro-pub' so prevalent today. 
And, it's quite a new (if very old) concept...

The Crossways MicroPub in the centre of Blythe Bridge is, as you can see, pretty basic.  It's just an unadorned room, with no piped music - and with low prices (£2.80 a pint!).  The most exciting thing on offer, apart from the excellent (Peakstones Brewery) beer is ... card-games.

Will micro-pubs succeed?  The Crossways has only just opened, so it hasn't had to take on an English winter yet... but, yes, there is interest from the town.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Plenty of sun for 'glass-lands'

Solar panels farm

As we are experiencing something of a heatwave (well, for Britain anyway), the farmers who invested in solar-panel complexes must be thanking the gods of the weather for their good fortune!

I don't dislike these types of installations, which some environmentalists, however, refer to disparagingly as 'glass-lands'.  But, mostly, they seem to be laid out as sensitively as they can be.
And - let's face it - alternative energy sources must be found...


Saturday, 27 June 2015

Rebels' bullet holes

Doors to the tower at St. John The Baptist in Mayfield

The doors to the tower at St. John The Baptist in Mayfield bear distinct marks, as you can see.  They are a peculiar and historic form of vandalism - which is why they have not been repaired in over 250 years.
In fact, they are said to have been made by balls fired from muskets by frustrated rebels who were trying to frighten local villagers who had locked themselves in the church.  Quite what Bonnie Prince Charlie, the rebels' commander, thought of their actions is not recorded.
These 'scars of war' remain untouched to this day.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Teapot sheds light in Middleport

Tea-room at the Middleport Pottery Attraction

It looks at first like a magically suspended teapot, shedding rather science-fiction-style rays of luminescence.  In fact, it's an ordinary teapot - umm, acting as a lampshade.  (As it's pierced, that means it would be a poor teapot in actual practice... but I digress...)

We are in the tea-room at the Middleport Pottery Attraction in Stoke on Trent.  The site is half a loving restoration of a Victorian potbank, half a working pottery factory (using traditional skills).
The willow-pattern painting on these walls is a nice reference to one of the commonest designs you might find on nineteenth century ware.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Blithfield opens up


Gateway entrance to Blithfield Hall

"Something there is that doesn't love a wall..." is the wonderful rhythmic first line of Robert Frost's poem, Mending Wall.  The poem discusses the merits of walls...
I wonder if you can apply the same feeling from that poem to gateways - which I happen to like a lot.  Them, and bridges, I am very partial to.

This gateway is the entrance to Blithfield Hall.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Fountains and sun

The fountains at Hanley Park

The wonderfully warm spell continues, even if there was a slight breeze.

The fountains at Hanley Park are a little underwhelming as a spectacle, but ... well, at least there are some!

Monday, 15 June 2015

Keep away from fire!!

'Keep away from fire' label

Actually, I'm in favour of strict health & safety rules - they save lives.    But when I saw this 'Keep Away From Fire' label on a shirt in a local shop, you do begin to wonder about some people...

Friday, 12 June 2015

Hatton's posh flats... and dilapidated gates

Victorian pumping station at Hatton

Another curious structure with an equally unexpected present is the late Victorian pumping station at Hatton.  This quite beautiful Italianate building, which once housed giant machinery, has been converted in recent years into ... luxury flats!  It makes an odd sort of sense...

But quite why the posh folk who live here allow the dilapidated old back-gates (still marked as the property of the Staffordshire Potteries Water Board) to the grounds to remain unrepaired and in situ is puzzling.
Is it a heritage thing?  Maybe.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Watch-tower on the canal

Roundhouse at Gailey on the Staffs & Worcester Canal

This curious medieval-looking structure at Gailey turns out to be a watch-tower of sorts.  It's a 'roundhouse', the last of its kind on the Staffs & Worcester Canal, built originally to allow the toll-keeper to keep an eye on what was going on beneath him (or her). 
I wouldn't have thought such height or even size was necessary - but what do I know?  Maybe they dropped things from the top on to malefactors below.

The bottom layer now houses a shop selling ice-creams and souvenir canal ware.