We fly into Heathrow. I can’t just get off the plane all jet-lagged and hire a car and drive off, so we stay in London for a couple of days to acclimatise a little. One of the first things we do is to go to the British Museum and the V&A.
There is such a lot to see a day isn’t enough, and although we have been here before there are still a few surprises. Like this lovely pot. We’ve only just left Korea and here we are back in it’s orbit.
Out in the street we see that London is a decade ahead of Sydney in regard to electric vehicle acceptance and support facilities.
The next day we head to the Portobello road markets and what do we come across, but more indigo. What with Moon jars and indigo, we can’t seem to leave our Asian adventures behind. This time it’s Chinese silk, dyed using Indian indigo, by a Nepali minority hill tribe, in a remote area in the mountains of Nepal. The lady is quite sweet, she tells us that she is here working and studying and travels home each year to visit family and bring with her new stock that here family have been making and dying at home. I choose the shiburi knotted, indigo dyed silk scarf on the far right.
We eventually leave London and drive our hire car, which by the way is a ‘Smart for 4’ car and turns out to be not so smart and quite inefficient on fuel. I’m not impressed with it. Our 13 year old Mitsubishi Colt at home is more fuel efficient while being a bit more powerful. The original Smart for 4 was a rebadged Colt. The new model Smart for 4 is now built in Eastern Europe somewhere. We chose to buy the Colt instead of the Smart car, as the Colt was half the price. No need to pay for an expensive badge.
We head for Stoke on Trent to build our kiln, but on the way we stop off at the ‘Earth and Fire’ potters market, as it is on our way. We get to catch up with so many of our English potter friends, as they are all there selling their work. The standard of work that we see there is really high. We spend the best part of 2 days there, meeting, catching up, chatting. We even buy a few small things.
This is the ‘Gin Fairy’, I’m guessing that she turns up at about 4 pm for this potter and rescues her? I really don’t know. I just made that up. It’s a lovely image, so we bought it. It now hangs in our kitchen, but the icon hasn’t managed to work its magic yet on this side of the other hemisphere.
We turn up for work on the Monday morning at the ‘Clay College’ in Stoke. We introduce ourselves, show a short video and a presentation of other kiln building jobs like this that we are about to build.
The Clay College is a brand new start-up pottery training college located in the grounds of the Middleport pottery factory grounds. The building is a grade 2 listed nation trust building that the Prince of Wales Trust has refurbished. The school is funded entirely by charitable donations and closely associated with the ‘Adopt-a-potter’ charity founded by Lisa hammond, who was recently knighted, if that is the correct term, with an MBE? So maybe she is now possibly Dame Lisa? I’m not too sure. I’m sure that someone will correct me. She has worked very hard to raise funds for the practical training of potters.
England didn’t have any full time practical hands-on pottery courses left. All the ceramics courses had been closed or converted into ceramic design courses over the past decade or two, so Lisa decided to start the ‘adopt-a-potter’ charity to fund apprenticeships with professional potters. That appears to have been very successful. So this is the next step. Start your own Art School! I’m really pleased and honoured to be associated with the school and charity. I really believe in what they are attempting to do there.
Old Middleport Pottery bottle kiln in the grounds of the Clay College.