Sunday 17 July 2016

Emma Bridgewater's motorway stopover

On Friday we had an unexpectedly enjoyable lunch break whilst we were bombing up the M6toll on our way to the ferry. We took a 10 minute detour from the motorway to shoot into Emma Bridgewater's lovely factory in Stoke-on-Trent.  And it was a wonderful sight for road-weary eyes.

The Bridgewater factory is a joyful little spot of homestyle served up in a post-industrial setting. It's all about rejuvenation and turning things around so that, to coin own her strap-line, it feels like home. For hungry folk like ourselves, who'd had more than enough of the M6 traffic, it felt like an oasis in the desert.

There's a wonderful restaurant where they serve up wholesome fare. In the winter it's heated by the most colourful Aga I've ever set eyes on. Who knew Emma Bridgewater did Agas? I can imagine that in the cold, drab, grey of a Staffordshire winter it makes everything cosy and colourful.

It was a grey drizzly day when we touched down, but all that colour (they serve their food on Bridgewater pottery - what else?) and good tucker soon had us perking up for a look around.

The shop is pretty wonderful. I stocked up on some pretty mugs as presents for family and friends in Ireland. 

And I simply had to get one of her schnauzer mugs for myself in honour of the WonderDog even though the schnauzer depicted doesn't look much like him (salt and pepper versus coal black), but it would have been impolite not to.

Emi thought it was all wonderful, and had a grand old time choosing gifts that he thought people back in Ireland would enjoy.

Everywhere you look there's pottery stacked up. Cheerful colour abounds.

And nowhere more so, than outside in the pottery garden. This is a glorious little space of raised beds that has been reclaimed from what would otherwise have been a lifeless corner of the factory yard. 

An apple tree and a few chicken arcs are surrounded by dahlias, cosmos and any number of other cottage garden stalwarts. We were very taken with the Sweet Pea arch. When we've grown Sweet Peas we've only every managed a staked-up pea drill, but this way is a treat for all the senses. On a sunny day it must be lovely to linger under the arch enjoying the beautiful colours of the flowers whilst you inhale their wonderful perfume. 

There are lots of dahlias and things growing in old dustbins and reclaimed industrial containers, which felt very much like my mum's style of gardening: a lovely, frugal waste not, want not sort of elegance.

And if you're super organised (which we weren't) you can book a tour to see all those lovely pottery what-nots being made in the factory.

We did have an eyeball-full of what they were up to as we walked past a few open windows on the ground floor. Lots of folk were busy with moulds getting things in and out for firing and painting. And they didn't seem to mind in the slightest that we had our faces pressed up to the glass to have a nosey at what was going on.

This place is on course to become my favourite motor-way service stop-off of all time!

If you're in the neighbourhood and you'd like to check it out you can find the website here: Emma Bridgewater Factory.

All the best for now,

Bonny x

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