British Ceramics Biennial (BCB) Stoke On Trent 2019
The international ceramics festival is fast approaching it final weekend but there is still time to catch it as it runs until the 13th of October. Now in its 6th festival and 10th anniversary year it features the works of both international, national, and aspiring ceramicists. This was my third visit and I can honestly say it gets better with each biennial. With over 300 artists and makers spread across 25 exhibitions and projects this year’s features more works than ever before.
Some of the featured works having wonderful back stories making the works on show both emotive and evocative. BCB also involves international artist exchange this year in Japan, China, Korea and India, with works produced on display in the Spode China Hall. As you visit the various venues taking part in the festival you cannot miss the “Cast of Thousands” over 2000 ceramic figures made by local schoolchildren as part of the BCB CLAY school project. It is also possible to book a guided tour of the main exhibition in the China Hall. We id and it was well worth it. As the tour is primarily focused on the works of the nominees for the AWARD the main prize of £10.000 its offers a great insight and depth both into both the works on display and the artist behind them.
Whilst the main exhibition is held in the wonderful and cavernous Spode China Hall famous potteries across the Stoke regions also take p[art in the festival too, many offering free workshops and the opportunity to create and get your hands stuck into some clay.
Even better entry to the various pottery museums is free for the duration of the festival. The main centers of display and activity include the China Hall, the Airspace Gallery, Middleport Pottery, The potteries Museum and Art Gallery Spode museum Trust Heritage center and last but by no means least World of Wedgwood. For those intending to visit using public transport there is a free shuttle bus to take you to the various aforementioned venues. Middleport port has a very nice café which is if the weather is good offers seating by the adjacent canal. World of Wedgwood offers its lavish afternoon high tea as well as its dining hall which offers a very good value carvery on Sundays.
My top tip to anyone visiting is to both book any of the activities you wish to take part in in advance and also to allow at least a couple of days for your visit. Put simply, it’s just too much to fully take in, appreciate, and absorb in a one day visit.
Despite having visited Sheffield twice before in the past it took an invitation from the Mercure “St Pauls Hotel and Spa” for me to truly discover what this oft overlooked UK city has to offer.
I was fortunate enough to be part of a group of travel and lifestyle bloggers to be invited for an action packed 24 hour city visit.
St Pauls Hotel and Spa, being Sheffield’s only 4 * Hotel, is the perfect spot to stay, being centrally located, and as if that wasn’t enough, it also boasts doors leading directly onto the fabulous Tropical Winter Gardens. Having stayed at the Mercure in the past I arrived early, check in is 2pm, in order to take full advantage of the hotels Spa and Pool, free to use for hotel guests, it also offers a range of therapies and massages at an additional cost. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the spa area has had a makeover, with both the steam sauna and dry sauna benefiting from a complete overhaul, this is the perfect way to unwind before heading out for the evening.
Day Tripping North Wales, Walking in Sunshine, Almost!
With the first weekend of proper blue sky sunshine upon us and a bit of heat in the air to accompany, thoughts turn to getting out of the city, even if just for a day and heading into the countryside.
Living in Manchester we are lucky enough to have a host of easy to reach destinations whether traveling north, south, east or west. That said, it is never a difficult one you make in choosing Wales, one of my favorite places on the planet. It doesn’t matter how far or wide I travel this globe of ours I never tire of trips to Wales, where even a familiar landscape causes me to smile as the light shows it in a subtle different and ever changing fresh perspective.
August Bank Holiday 2016 Llŷn Peninsula Gwynedd North Wales
The Llŷn Peninsula extends some 30 miles into the Irish Sea and I am told on a very clear day you can see the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland. In my humble opinion its a place of outstanding natural beauty. Being on the gulf stream this is also one of the sunniest places in the UK. From glorious blue, to broody grey, the changing light adds to the drama of this stunning landscape.
Craggy rocks atop a hill afford a view through purple heaters and fading grassy mounds to mountains beyond.
Beetle on lichen covered rock. This one has some really cool twists!
On a visit to The Llŷn peninsula in Gwynedd Wales over the August bank holiday weekend I couldn’t help thinking how much the landscape and topography reminded me of Cornwall. That set me to thinking that somehow this area of Wales is missing a trick. This was my first visit to this part of Wales and to be honest it was never really on my radar prior to this, nor had I heard very much about it. In fact it was a small feature in the Sunday Times travel supplement that caught my attention and made me do a bit more research, eventually leading to a desire to visit. What is missing is the crowds one would expect in Cornwall and although the weather was superb over the bank holiday weekend nowhere was what I would consider packed. Yes Abersoch may well be the exception to that rule and is firmly set on the Cheshire radar but even here what’s on offer is nothing special, and is in fact the one place I would avoid as it’s a bit trashy if I am to be totally honest, as well as being probably the least interesting destination that this area of coast has to offer.
Sweeping views through rusted bracken and purple heaters across fields of verdant green to oceans blue and green to the tip of the peninsula and on to Bardsey Island.
Having lived in Manchester for many years now and having spent any spare time, and nice weather weekends, exploring the Lake District and The Peak District I felt sure I had found, visited, and seen, pretty much every place of note. How wrong was I. Recently whilst preparing for the visit of some friends from London I fired off an email to Geoffrey, one of my visitors, asking where himself and his partner Alan might like to visit, should the weather be favourable.
My suggestion was either to be the Lake District, or The Peak District, both being a comfortable drive from Manchester for a day trip. When Geoff replied saying he would like to visit The Roaches I was slightly confused, initially thinking he had friends he wanted to visit. Inquiring further, he told me it was a place in The Peaks he had visited with his brother some 20 years ago on a bike trip around the UK. Needless to say I was intrigued, and more so, stunned, when we visited. A breath-taking and beautiful piece of landscape steeped in fine history.
On a clear day like this one the views across the countryside to as far as Cheshire and a wondrous sight.
Weather worn gritsone stands sculptural amid this landscape
This is also a very popular spot for mountaineering with many climbers using it for training purposes. The British Mountaineering Council also lease the Don Whillans Hut used as accommodation for its climbers.
Geoff a dance movement therapist in London likes to connect with the landscape find out more by clicking the link at the base of this post.
Sunset outside The Bottle and Glass Pub in Picklescott, South Shropshire.
I took this picture a little while ago whilst visiting Picklescott of horse and rider taking a break outside the pub as the sun went down. Charming village and pub and great place to stop if you happen to be in that neck of the woods.
More info on the Bottle and Glass can be found by clicking this link
A recent road trip to Devon and Cornwall taking in parts of the Jurassic Coast.
A UNESCO world heritage site its not hard to understand why once you have visited. You can read more of its fascinating history by clicking this link. The plan was to head for Lyme Regis but as the weather was good and a Bank Holiday weekend to boot it was packed. Stopped long enough though to catch a pic along the beach. Heading off we happened upon a quaint and quintessentially English village where I stopped to buy a paper and I reckoned if you want to find where the locals go to avoid the crowds what better than to ask. the shop keeper. Helped by her grandson they both conversed between themselves for a few minutes one suggestion this place and the other that until they both settled on Tyneham.
Lyme Regis Coastline
I had seen any mention of Tyneham on the list of places to visit along the Jurassic coast so was immediately fascinated. It turned out to be far more intriguing than I could initially have imagined, or hoped for. It transpired that Tyneham had been evacuated by order of the war office in December 1943. The abandoned village of Tyneham has stood quiet, ghostly and forlorn since. You can read more of the fascinating history of this place by clicking this link. Access is not always available and the entire area around it is still used today as a military firing and practice range. During military maneuvers the road is closed to traffic, best to check in advance if it is open. Luckily for me the road was open on the day I visited.
As a consequence, whilst all other places along the Jurassic coast were crowded, Tyneham was virtually empty apart from the savvy locals we joined. A beautiful place with a few pictures below to prove it!
Passed this bridge along the way to the Jurassic coast in Devon
The Coastline at the abandoned village of Tyneham
Fields of wild garlic in full flower, pungent stuff!
The Eden Project, the brainchild of Tim Smit (also responsible for the restoration of The Lost Gardens of Heligan) and designed by architect Nicholas Grimshaw and engineering firm Anthony Hunt and Associates. It was constructed on the site of a reclaimed Kaolinite pit, land is situated about 3 miles from the well-known town of St Austell, Cornwall, with the project taking 2½ years to construct it opened to the public on 17 March 2001.
I imagine for most people the mention of Liverpool brings to mind, and is synonymous with, the Beatles, but for me the main attraction is the architectural heritage of the city, with some fine examples both from its rich historical past to it dynamic and forward looking present. Below is my picture post from a recent trip to the city.
The wonderful docklands area with a faint glimpse of the Liver birds in the distance.
The Dockland is also home to The Tate Liverpool a fabulous space and with Free entry a must visit when in the city. The view out through one of its windows caught my eye on the day and has an almost Lowery type quality to it For more info on Tate Liverpool click this link
Manchester Whitworth Street and Manchester Canal in Pictures
On a rare sunny day a different Manchester appears as it shakes off its cliched gloom and reveals itself in warm shadows that make it feel somehow different, basking in tones of a more continental glow.
This area of Manchester is now known as the Whitworth Street Conservation Area. Below are a few pictures captured along Whitworth Street and the towpath by the canal.
This section of Whitworth Street was apparently designed to create what is known in architectural terms as the Canyon effect and i think this picture very clearly demonstrates that.
There was a time when the erection of a new building was something to be marked in time as a moment of pride. I fear most of the current round of development in Manchester City Center will leave little other than a sour taste in the years to come. Most may well end up demolished as it is not only of poor aesthetic consideration, but equally of poor construction.