Thursday, 1 December 2022

Pottery history..for Barbara

 I first met clay when we moved to Eastleigh. I was eight, and there was a dustbin full of dubious looking and smalling grey clay for us to use and construct things.

The main problem was that everything had to go back in the bin at the end of the lesson..that did not seem right!!

No more clay...but always plenty of drawing, and from age 12, photography, until in Grammar school at 14 in art lessons. We had two teachers who had been to the Slade school of Art. No experience of anything 3 D. A little stand up kick wheel, slip and a couple of glazes for decoration and one kiln..must have been between 4 to 6 cubic foot capacity.  

I got top marks for Art GCE 'O' level, then went on with pottery being the main subject for 'A' level.  I made a small cruet set...white glazed with added manganese around the rim.

Unfortunately one teacher managed to drop the small spoon I had carved..twice! Anyhow I ended up with a second 'O' level in that...and an 'A' grade in Geology A level....quite apt, as ceramics is applied geology!!

Without the required 'A' level grades I couldn't go on to Aberystwyth university..but a good thing as now I realise that that was Art History!! Why no-one said about applying for Art Colleges I don't know..perhaps they thought that was beneath a grammar school to consider.

During this time on my spare time wanders by bike I visited the mill with a pottery near Salisbury I think, and saw the work of Oldrich Asenbryl

I moved to Cardiff..a short lived marriage which didn't work..and he walked out...but one of his comments was, You should go to Art College....and in 73 I did the foundation course at Cardiff college of Art...which, at Howard Gardens, was on the fifth floor!!!! With fantastic light.

I applied for a 2 year course at Derby and was accepted...but also was accepted on Cardiff's 3 year ceramics course.  

On the day of my interview I was queuing for the canteen, and heard a jokey comment from behind me...and turned to see who it was...and looked up...and met a friend for life...whose life sadly ended a few years ago. Peter Goodridge.

I accepted Cardiff's offer. There we were, eighteen of us at the start!  It was a testing time for both students and staff as it was the transition time from diploma to degree courses for Art...and at the end of two years I had had enough..having to justify my work to four tutors constantly...I had had enough!! By that time there were only nine of us left..

I went to work for David Frith at Brookhouse Pottery near Denbigh in North Wales, until I married again in September 1977.

Much travelling ensued again following his employment. But eventually we bought a house in Nantlle in 1980, and workshop then family ensued.

Four offspring later we moved to a small smallholding in Garn Dolbenmaen near Porthmadog.  No workshop, but with my children we established a large fruit and vege garden and planted the beginnings of an orchard. 

I worked for two seasons in the Golden Dragon bookshop in Porthmeirion village, before joining Snowdon Mill pottery in Porthmadog as a designer/maker.

Everything went pearshaped in 1997 and I was on my own as a single 1998 I got a job in a pottery gifts factory in Barry in South Wales, and we were off moving again!!

It wasn't a good place to work, so I was fortunate to get a part time.bookshop job again, in the National History Museum at St Ffagan outside of Cardiff.

This gave me a chance to join an arts cooperative for a while and develop my work.

I bought a house in Cardiff, and after renovation I could afford a house part way up the Ebbw Valley, that had a garage...which after rebuilding became a workshop!!

The work in St Ffagan moved sideways...and I started working for the potter in the museum, making small sheep!! He sold me a kiln...which I hope to get working again soon. That worked well until I moved north to Scotland.

I was fortunate to meet up with Peter Goodridge again and help with saltglaze firings at his workshop, with other potters..his wife, Melanie Brown, Rosemary Cochrane and others.   It was such a good time, also being a member of the Black Mountains cooperative and doing a turn in the gallery and cafĂ© outside Abergavenny once a month and selling my work well there, and in markets at Hay on Wye, Brecon, Builth Wells and Usk.

Then came the pirate...and the move to Scotland!!

Now I need to get back working, as we have built a good workshop extension...

A break away in Aotearoa NZ is just what we need to boost health and inspiration..there will be no excuse after that!!

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

History , for Weave.

 Grandpa, as far as I know had been working as a purser on liners.. certainly between Liverpool and New York....ended up in Australia, and being that time, joined the Australian Army.  

He was apparently an artist, working where a camera would not be suitable. He was in Gallipoli, and invalided out with thanks to the Aussie army I am here...the British army had a nasty habit of shooting people with what woul now be called PTSD.

He then after the war travelled back to London...and married his first cousin, my Grandma. Being astute (aka tight!) with finances he realised that he could get her a free passage back to Australia!!

He studied and worked at the Art school in Adelaide. Learnt to swim by wading in a river and suddenly finding a deep pool. Rode a fixed wheel bike..I have a photo at home.

Grandma was extremely happy there...I have a photo on my wall of her wearing a hat that she made for a garden party in Adelaide.

Come the late 1920s and the strikes and hunger matches in England...her mother, grandpa's aunt, helped to run a soup kitchen in London. Grandpa thought that was not respectable, so decided to return to London...Grandma was broken hearted at that.

So mother was born in 1928 in Bromley, Kent.

My grandparents, after several moves (including being flooded out of their home beneath a church in London where he was the the bottom end of the Caledonian Road where five roads meet and a main water supply was hit by a bomb.) lived in one end of a terrace of three thatched cottages in Micheldever.

Mother returned there to have me.

An aside....the village is two miles from its railway the station is a farm, where they had a lodger. Six years ago we started tidying the garden of that lodger, now living in Kirkmichael, South Ayrshire!! He had also been at Gallipoli....

Their next move was to one of the Homes for acre of ground, a concrete base and a wriggly tin house with wooden panelling and two good fires back to back. A dunny out the back and ice on the inside of the windows in winter!!

We had been living in North Wales where my parents were youth hostel wardens, and my brother was born, then in Darlington over a bike shop on the A1 road by where it went under the railway. Six o'clock every morning you could awake to the BingBingBing of the shunting yard.

I started school there, age 3..the playing was boring, the learning fascinating...and school milk defrosted on the school radiator was foul!!

I loved living in the tin house and started gardening there when I was 5. We had Walnut and plum trees and an apple orchard with Beauty of Bath early apples, and a barn where apples were stored.

Despite having thin soil over the chalk the vege and fruit garden was very productive.

Grandma used to call us "CooooEeeee" from the house...the call of the Grandma Bird she called it!!

Moving on to when I was at Junior school in Eastleigh in Hampshire. Grandma bought Arnotts biscuits from Australia, the thin savoury oaty ones, and Tim Tams, from a local deli run by German Jewish refugees.

A big jump then to the mid 60s..I was in Grammar school, Dad was working as a technician in Southampton University. He applied for a job in Sydney University in 1967, and we jumped through all the hoops in the application. At the last minute his sponsor pulled out, so no job and no emigration.

So in bits and bobs, there are some of my Antipodean links....

Pirate nearly moved to Auckland at the same time as we didn't move to Sydney..but his then wife wasn't he wasn't going to take her 13,000 miles away.

He still has the letter of introduction..and the firm is still going!!

When we got together, he had just booked tickets to go to New Zealand for just under six months....and he wasn't going to leave me I bought my own ticket.

That was in 2012....and I have felt at home here on every visit since.

Glad to be here

 We are definitely glad to be here. It just feels like we are back home.

Giving our friend a hand around the house and garden. Visiting mutual friends.

The hills there appear to have snow on them...or was it just the sunshine?

Christchurch harbour is the other side of them.

Then we had the delights of the Westfield Mall in Riccarton.   It is huge! Not my idea of fun atall, but we did miss the rain while sorting pirates NZ phone.


Monday, 28 November 2022

The last hop to here

 Brisbane airport was a pleasant place to be...even when one had slept on a firm sofa! The coffee shops open at 4.30 am, and we found a corner to sit outside for a while as well. It was a long day...and communication problems with setting up roaming on my phone meant that we missed seeing our friend, even though she came after work in the afternoon to see us...and missed us.

There are real trees growing inside, plus the roof supports look like tree trunks. This all makes the place beautifully airy even when busy.
Off to the next aeroplane...looking rather small after the 777 then the 380 "scarebus"...the most modern apart from the Dreamliner, a 737-800.
I was fortunate to have a window seat, to see the sunset and clouds. We saw the moon as well, but that photo didn't come out well.

Our host was waiting for us as we cleared customs, then a twenty minute easy drive to Tai Tapu, where his eldest son was excitedly waiting to see us!!
He is probably reasonably severely autistic, but although not able to work he is a nice helpful person and lives in a sleepout so has his  self contained space to call his own.
We all chatted and drunk tea for a couple of hours or so, which helped us unwind after the journey.
Yesterday we helped get a campervan ready to go out...just the final polish of the windows. Then I drove our host's car following the van as he delivered it.
He hadn't thought to get back into renting camper vans again after the lockdown...but regular renters contacted him...and off they went in their regular vehicle.

It was good way of getting used to NZ roads again and easing us back into things.

Today it is cooler and a little showery...maybe warmer later...and we hope to get the camper car for our travels!
It was good to wake a little before 5am to the dawn chorus. Something we have really been missing. It is so good to be back here.

Saturday, 26 November 2022

Getting there.


So far so good...

The sofa benches were more comfortable than an economy airline seat!!  Twelve more hours least it is light and airy.  Plus Pirate can watch football to his heart's content!!He wandered off to do that at 2.30 am to do just that, but omitted to point out exactly where the TV is....he was rather in my bad books...I woke again at 3.15 and he wandered back half an hour later!!!! He has been through here before, four years ago but we have never been through here together, only Melbourne or Sydney.

Thursday, 24 November 2022

Ghost signs

 By the Auld Brig in Ayr.

We were there yesterday, a few last minute things plus a dental appointment for Pirate...and the dentist did this re check on his work for free... thankfully!!

Today it is blowing a hoolie here..yellow weather warning and all, with added rain.

No reason to be out then...just packing and getting the house ready for our house sitters.

We are so glad this time that the house will not be empty.

Monday, 21 November 2022

A long day

 Up at six, out at first light..and off to collect a reading magnifier that belonged to a friend's late wife. 

It looks like a microfiche reader that archives and libraries used to have..but has different degrees of brightness, colour and magnification that you can adjust, so that you can read on the screen what you place on the movable flat plate below.

We have bought it (luckily it is third hand, so far from the full price..which is eye watering!) for Pirate's ex-wife who has developed macular degeneration, the same as its previous owner.

Coffee and tattie scone and egg set us up there, and we retraced our steps along the Solway Coast to Castle Douglas..5 miles further than the cross country route, but we had found a short section of flooding which we had no wish to repeat!

We watched the end of a rather muddy Cyclo-cross..after a long night of rain! Our Fife friend was second in the 60+ is a series, so he still leads that.

The course was in a park by a municipal camping ground, just off the centre of Castle Douglas. It has a beautiful loch in the park, with all sorts of waterfowl..all looking healthy, thankfully.

Lunch was bought at the event catering..for a change, not a burger van!!

Quiche, samosas and a chocolate brownie were welcome at the next stop!

Gretna Green shopping village was too full!! A quick foray for underwear in one shop then on down the motorway to Tebay and the Westmoreland of the few that you can quietly cross from southbound to northbound! As we left Scotland the weather turned grey and definitely unfriendly!!

There we met with Pirate's machine to exchange presents and pass on the reading machine to go to his mum.

A meal and chat...after saying hello to a junior Scots team on their way home from a track event at Newport Velodrome!

Then the long drive back home, with the weather initially improving again as we left England! A break for a rest and a drink at the services where we left the motorway..very sensible ones that are off the motorway so can get business from all sides.

Then across on the A 70 all the way home, with some sleety rain on the highest parts as we came back into Ayrshire.

A long day, but not too tiring as we had enough breaks.