Explore the World of Wedgwood

Was out and about on the weekend, and ventured to The World of Wedgwood. I’ve been meaning to go for sometime but just not got round to it.  Well last weekend was a rainy day (nothing new there) so needed to go somewhere undercover and this was perfect.  The factory site has been recently redeveloped and has a very contemporary look and feel and with blue sky would have looked even better.

wedgwood shop 5

I took a look around the museum, which led you on a journey from the first ceramic production at the Etruria works in 1759 right through to present day, follow the link if you want more history.

World of Wedgwood

Being someone who likes to experiment it was fascinating to see all the original trial samples for achieving the colours and finishes.  If you’re looking for design inspiration these kinds of collections are a must.  It was interesting how some of the oldest pieces were more in line with today’s tastes than those of the early to mid-1900 when from my point of view design appears to have lost its way a little.

I was especially surprised by the contemporary look of the plain kitchen everyday ware, off-white in colour it wouldn’t look out of place in any modern apartment – I looked for a picture on the online collection, but can’t find it, hmmm. Note to self…. take more notes!

Of course there was the opportunity to make purchases in their flagship store, which as you can see above was a visual feast.  And if tea is your thing, then in amongst the wares is a tea bar (they call it the Tea Emporium) where you can order from a vast array of speciality teas, all served in Wedgwood china of course.  For something a bit more special there is a elegant modern tea room serving afternoon teas.  Take a look below at the creature made of plates and cups, it was huge and very impressive.

wedgwood bull

 

We choose a bite to eat in the Dining Hall, which used to be the canteen for the hundreds of factory workers.  Unlike the refined shopping and tea areas they had retained the industrial feel in the decor of Dining Hall.  The food was delicious, a lot better than what the factory workers were given I think.

I did make a purchases from the pop up retail store on the site, some everyday dinner plates, only 6 – they were actually Royal Doulton, (Hemingway, Knotted) but as I learnt they are all part of the same group now (Fiskars) so didn’t feel too guilty and with 25% off it would have been rude not to.

Hope my little visit has whet your appetite, you can get all the details from the World of Wedgwood site.

In case you didn’t know Stoke-on-Trent is home to many British Ceramic factories so, if you are in the area you can tour factories from the likes of the Moorcroft, Emma Bridgewater and Middleport Pottery home of Burleigh, who incidentally are the makers of the dinner service bargain I picked up in Lancaster not so long ago 😍😍😍.

Burleigh ware

 

 

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Design enhances science

Having had a long career in science, I love it when science and design come together. An instance of this I was reminded of the other night while watching the BBC Horizon programme (I do like a good documentary).  In case you didn’t see, it was all about the moving of the Halley VI Research Station, a global earth, atmospheric and space weather observation centre in Antarctica. Check out the British Antarctica Survey website if you’re interested in reading more.  By the way that is where I have got these fabulous pictures from – no I’ve not been lucky enough to have taken these myself on my phone camera.

The Halley VI British Antarctica Survey Research Station

Halley VI Antarctica Research Station

Halley VI Antarctica Research Station

The Halley VI Research Station was put into operation in 2012 and I imagine the primary design aim was for the structure to be 100% practical for the job in hand, allowing robust scientific research to be carried out in extreme conditions AND giving the Station the ability to be relatively easily moved across the ice and out of danger (it’s on massive skis).  Film maker Natalie Hewit documented for Horizon, the moving process that occurred earlier this year.

However, in addition to ticking the practical boxes you can see the design aesthetics were not ignored.  They could have just produced square uninspiring blocks, but instead they choose to produce a science inspired design using vibrant colours.  I love the modular approach, suggesting growth, and when viewed from above it reminds me of a schematic chain of sugars, but maybe that just my constant craving of carbohydrates.

Halley VI Antarctica Research Station

Carbohydrate chain

I would imagine the occupants get a great uplift when viewing this structure whether the sun is beaming or a blizzard is ripping through the landscape. Unfortunately the Halley Station is not occupied at the moment due to the uncertainty of the ice shelf stability. Hope they get back in soon.

I think both the design and work undertaken at the Halley Station is awe-inspiring. Is this somewhere you would like to visit? ☃️☃️☃️

 

Get the perfect pouffe on a budget

This is a short post to provide some very light relief today. Just had to share with you the fabulous pouffe I bought the other day, with my groceries.  I know, I just popped in for some daily staples but couldn’t resist as it ticked all my ‘What I look for in a Pouffe’ boxes

  • the right height for the feet
  • nice and big to stably hold a tray if needed
  • sturdy fabric, you put your feet on it don’t you know
  • round, round, round, always beats square for me
  • needs to look good

This is what I found, they actually call it a bean drum, to me it’s a timeless Monochrome Geometric Design Pouffe and yes it’s from Aldi.

Enjoying the data as I do, here are the stats. Kirkton House Zig Zag Bean Drum  60x60x30cm £29

 

Adli black and white geometric pouffe

I tried to put together a montage of similars for you to browse but struggled to find any comparable in size and price,  but here’s the best three I could find.

pouffes asda , maisons du monde

So the lesson here appears to be it’s always worth checking out the grocery store to see if they have any home furnishing bargains, but remember food is always the priority. One cannot live on decor alone.

You may have seen my Facebook post about this last week when I bought the pouffe.  I use Facebook  for quick ‘of the moment’ info.  I’ve also begun a Pinterest Board with a wider range of stylish pouffes for you to browse if that’s your thing.  Why not give them a follow.

DIY – How to make a ‘family’ kitchen rug

I want to share with you my attempt at being creative, I do try my best.  This is a rug I made from the off-cut of sisal matting used to carpet our VERY small entrance hall.  I bought it online as it was the best price but even buying the smallest piece I could, it still left a substantial bit left over.

Now my kitchen floor has tiles, which I was not going to change, just too expensive and too much hassle for me.  However, I get cold toes very quickly so I put two and two together and made…… well you be the judge of that.

So where does the family come into this little story. Well, I made it at the time The Son was just about to move out (again) and was finally sorting out his stuff. I don’t enjoy nagging but really, I sometimes despair 🤦.  In the ‘things to chuck’ bag was a very old and worn pair of jeans and me, always looking for ways to recycle thought I could keep a piece of him in the house. Creepy I hear you think, but really I was just being practical as I need something hard-wearing to edge my rug.  I then raided Mr Husband’s drawers and found an old pair of his jeans (from the 1970’s me thinks).  Two sides of the rug was to be Mr Husband’s legs and the opposite sides The Son’s legs, from the jeans of course.

Here’s some pictures, you will see this is not a craft master class.

 

 

Now if like me you have limited craft skills here are the details.  With the aid of a sewing machine I joined and hemmed the cut denim.  Is it just me but I find sewing quite stressful and just pray I can get to the end of what I need to do without the bobbin running out, I know I need more practice. I then with the aid of a glue gun, stuck the hemmed denim to the rug edges front and back.  The back edge I also taped to give a bit of extra fixing.

To my amazement two years later this has all stayed intact despite extensive wear and tear as this is the route to and from the front door.  To be honest the denim is getting a bit dirty so now might be time for some fresh fabric.  Maybe this time something from The Daughter’s wardrobe.

Let me know if you’ve tried similar 😘

 

Explore Leek, Staffordshire UK

I was out and about on the weekend to do some much needed shopping.  It was a sunny Saturday so I thought I’d take a trip to Leek, which is about 12 miles from where I live. It’s a little old market town nestled in the Staffordshire moorlands.  The surrounding scenery and walking opportunities are stunning if that’s your thing and Leek would be a great base for this.  It’s also a great place to have a good old browse around the architecture, covered markets and local independent shops, of which there are plenty. So if you’ve never been to Leek and your passing that way it’s worth a stop, maybe for a bit of lunch.

Here are a few pictures I took during the day to tempt you.

This is the Nicholson War Memorial dedicated in 1925 and just a taster of some of the eye-catching structures. The town is stuffed with architecturally and historically interesting buildings both public and private, dating back to the Victorian and earlier periods…. you can read more on the Wikipedia page.

Nicholson War Memorial Leek

The old market square holds an antique / bric-a-brac market every Saturday with many bargains to be had, including the old bamboo side table I bought  (see it later).  The square is surrounded by independent shops and cafes, which seemed to have multiplied enormously since my first visit about 3 years ago.

leek market square

Alcove provides an eclectic mix of home wares and it was here I once bought a very nice hook for the kitchen. I always pick up a loaf of bread at the  Live Love Loaf  bakery, why wouldn’t you? This time it was tomato bread, which went perfectly with Mr Husband’s homemade hummus.

There are two undercover markets as well.  One is just off the market square with butchers, fishmonger and a greengrocer to name but a few.  The second, Gettliffe’s Yard is tucked away at the other end of the high street and houses independent shops with a focus on crafts and decor. There’s a great space at the end with restaurant seating so you can sit under a glass roof, getting the sun but avoiding the cold, which is always good in my books. A hidden gem of a place

The trip was finished with lunch at the Cock Inn, a Joules pub with a long and engaging brewing history, where I sampled a glass of the Joules pale ale  – it not often we can sit and enjoy a leisurely lunch on the weekend, but its highly recommended. And to finish here’s pics of the bamboo sidetable and the bread and hummus 😘😘😘

Hope this may have inspired you to explore Leek and spend a few hours of happy wandering 🌞🌞🌞

Capture

How to create wood from MDF

I was set a challenge by The Son.  He needed kitchen shelves as he and his partner were rapidly running out of space.  Secretly he just missed being at home with us and our kitchen shelves but just didn’t want to say 😘. Anyway being my son he was quite exacting in his requirements, they needed to be dark wood, match the colour of his kitchen units, have black brackets, increase in size as they went up the wall and they needed to be cheap.

Now dark wood is not cheap so I dragged back my knowledge from the 1990’s, acquired from watching room makeover programmes of the time – do you remember Changing Rooms?  Well MDF was used in abundance and I remember, because I’d tried it, you could use stain to give MDF a fairly respectable wood finished.  And MDF definitely ticked the cheap box.

I had to convince The Son so I first took a scrap of MDF and stained it ……… with gravy browning (I didn’t have any wood stain to hand).  It served the purpose to show how you could get a grain effect, and he approved.  Of course, at the time I didn’t tell him it was gravy browning. Next, I just had to match the colour of the units with a real stain, although gravy browning finished with wax would have done the job a lighter colour was required as you can see below.

DIY MDF wood stain shelves

I used Sadolin Extra Durable Woodstain, Rosewood. it gave stain with a semi-gloss finish. One coat worked really well but the colour was just a bit too red.  So, I took some matt black paint and just gave the MDF a light covering.  I rubbed the black paint with a rag to give a streaky grain appearance and again when I added the stain I made sure there were brush marks, as this added to the illusion of wood grain.  And of course we purchased the MDF from the local  Buxton Building Supplies, who also cut the MDF to size. Here’s the pictures

 

 

I hadn’t realised getting plain black bracket was such an issue, the DIY stores only seem to stock either white or grey and if you remember The Son’s exacting requirements only black would do.  We eventually found them online from IronmongeryDirect, and they arrived the next day, spent more on the P&P than the brackets, but if we had spent more the postage would have been free. Don’t worry I’ll be adding up all the cost of this at the end. Oh and a message from Mr Husband who says if you try this make sure the brackets and fixings are suitable for the wall on which you are fixing the shelves and the expected load  – thank you 😍😍😍.  This is how the work progressed.

And this is the finished look.  The Son was right the insist on the black brackets I think.

DIY MDF wood stained shelves

We only fitted them last night but before we had driven home he had filled them!

DIY MDF shelves wood stained shelves

And finally the cost

DIY MDF KITCHEN SHELVES how to stain MDF

Let me know if you’ve tried giving a wood finish to MDF and how it went. 😍😍😍

GIVE MDF A WOOD LOOK

 

How to find the perfect brass planter on a budget

You might remember a few weeks ago I decided to go with the trend and get some houseplants.  You can read all about it on my previous house plant blog. You may also recall my next mission was to find some fabulous planters, which I had great fun doing. I was looking for treasure…. gold maybe?  No, I was looking brass, the gold colour without the expense. Oh did I mention I was on a budget.

I was taking a trip to the Lake District UK for a bit of hill walking (I’ll show you the pictures in a later blog) and on the way decided to stop over in Lancaster. Noticed there was a big antique centre just on the outskirts of town so thought it would be worth popping in for a browse.  I love poking around an antique centre, this apparently is one of the largest indoor centres in the UK, GB Antiques Centre .  Great place to visit, a really huge place.  We had to do some hunting (yes Mr Husband was there too), but found an old brass planter, which was v large and only £15.  It’s got a dink or two but only minor.

umbrella plant in brass planter

A few weeks then passed and I found myself one Sunday in the border town of Leominster, with only antique shops.  Hiding away on the 3rd floor of such a place I found this brass jardiniere, it weighs 5kg but cost only £25! Snapped it up. Luckily Mr Husband was on hand to carry it back to the car.  It polished up a treat and is the perfect vessel for my crazy spider plant.  It also doubles up perfectly as a champagne chiller! It’s a beauty.

spider plant and brass jardiniere

 

Decided that was probably enough brass for now so turned my attention to this elegant Sylvac planter circa 1940’s I think, but I really don’t know. It’s in perfect condition and was only £4 for a local Buxton fair. Now I will be perfectly honest with you, this planter is a little too small as the plastic pot peeps out the top, you can spot it hiding under the leaves.

gardenia and sylvac

I still needed to find another planter as I’d bought a new little palm.  This pottery planter was just the ticket and found in a local Buxton charity shop for less than £1… Plain white with a geometric pattern, it will be very flexible around the house for years to come.

palm in white planter

 

Here’s the whole collection, as you can see I’m still managing to keep the houseplants alive.  I love reusing old things rather than buying new…. saving the planet and all that. But I’m always mindful the house doesn’t start looking like a museum, blending the old with the new works for me. What do you think of my choice of planters?

group of house plants